Don’t Poke the Bear

I paid little attention when Ray Rice, the Football player, got plastered all over the news earlier this year for beating up his girlfriend, Janay, and the media went nuts; I do not follow sports and celebrity gossip means nothing to me.

When the infamous elevator video was released – in which he dragged her unconscious body around like a sack of potatoes – I remember having two curious thoughts:

  1. What, exactly, did *she* do to provoke that kind of reaction from *him*?
  2. It can’t have been that bad – she married him afterwards, didn’t she?

When I was a boy, my brother and I used to fight, as boys are wont to do. Since I was far bigger than he, my parents instructed me “Don’t hit your brother”, as parents are wont to do. One sunny afternoon, we were playing in the garden when he started hitting me. At first I ignored him, but eventually I gave him a half-hearted swat. He immediately went running indoors with tears in his eyes “Muuuuuuum! He hit me! Tell ‘iiim!”.

Fortunately for me, our mother had seen the entire production and called him out on it. His crocodile tears dried up with alacrity, and he said “You didn’t say I couldn’t hit him”.

That is the unfortunate state of affairs between men and women in the western world today. Women are allowed to hit men with impunity, but the moment he even attempts to defend himself, he is immediately in the wrong. When Solange Knowles blatantly assaulted Jay-Z in that that infamous elevator video, he made no attempt to defend himself; he knew that if he had done so, he would be up on charges – and Solange knew that as a woman she was effectively immune from criticism. Had the situation been reversed, he would have been arrested and incarcerated as a matter of course.

So much for “equality”.

Indeed, thanks to the “Violence Against Women Act” (VAWA) passed during the Clinton Administration, police officers in many areas are instructed to routinely arrest the man in Domestic Violence disputes – even if he is clearly the victim.

Let me stop right here and state clearly that I do not condone domestic violence. However, there are two sides to every story; three, if you include “The Truth”. But statistics show that the majority of Domestic Violence incidents are started by the woman. A fundamental lesson of manhood is “Never start a fight – but always finish it”. But what’s a man to do if the aggressor is a woman?

Returning to the Ballad of Ray and Janay, she recently aired her side of the story… and that’s when the truth came out:

Ray and I were bickering. We were drunk and tired… As we were arguing… I went to reach for his phone, and when he grabbed it back, he spit at me and I slapped him… We got into the elevator and what happened inside is still foggy to me. The only thing I know – and I can’t even say I “remember” because I only know from what Ray has told me – is that I slapped him again and then he hit me…. The next thing I do recall is being in the casino lobby, surrounded by cops.

Aaaand there it is… the cold hard truth – she hit him first.

The man-haters out there would like to believe that woman good, man bad. But contrary to much of the yammering in the media, most men do not go through life looking for an excuse to hit women. In fact, most men have a protective instinct towards woman – an instinct which, I have found out from personal experience, some women simply do not appreciate.

Another thing that too many women do not appreciate is the fundamental nature of men. We have been designed and sculpted by evolution to confront and overcome danger and adversity. We still have that Cave-dweller living in our heads. And when we are roused to action, adrenaline multiplies our strength, sharpens our reflexes and short-circuits our thinking process to the singular task of fighting – to the death if necessary.

But being hard-wired for fight-or-flight is not much use when confronted by sharp-tongued, confrontational, aggressive or nagging women. Walking away is cowardice, hitting them, as we have already established, is abuse. So what’s a man to do?

Interestingly, nagging, haranguing, annoying behavior is not a crime – unless a man does it to a woman, in which case it is relabeled “Psychological abuse”, and it’s off to jail with you, Sir.. For too many women this is Standard Operating Procedure. For too many men it is “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.#One lamentable side-effect of the climate of fear and stress in which we live is that men are now actively suppressing the natural urge to help women, because too many men have found themselves jailed, injured or dead for “doing the right thing”. We men are now learning that discretion is often the better part of valor – to the detriment of women everywhere.

Let’s deconstruct the logic here:

  • Man hits man twice his size and gets knocked out = Idiot.
  • Woman hit man THREE times her size and gets knocked out = Victim.

How’s that equality stuff working out for you, ladies?

Rule 1: A gentleman never hits a lady.

Rule 2: A woman who hits a man is not a lady. She therefore cannot claim the protection of Rule 1.

Here’s a revolutionary idea: if you want your man to act like a gentleman, learn to act like a lady.

A man instinctively knows not to pick a fight with another man twice his size. Yet thanks to the laws of the land and the current political climate, a woman can pick a fight with a man three times her size who is capable of easily killing her with one blow, safe in the knowledge that she can put him in jail if he retaliates or even tried to defend himself.

Whoopi Goldberg made this surprisingly commonsensical point on “The View” (to the annoyance of the female presenters, and to the delight of the mostly-female audience) and this is one of the few times that I have ever agreed with her on anything.

Ladies, the lesson is a simple one: Don’t Poke the Bear.

Hysteria, Rudeness and Exaggeration

Or: Working as Designed

This video has gone the rounds. I am a little late to the party, but I wanted some time to process this.

Here’s the plot:

  • A shapely, attractive young white woman walks around predominantly “black” parts of New York, dressed in an outfit that accentuates her shape.
  • She says nothing, does not look at them, does not recognize their existence.
  • Men — mostly black men — say hello or call out to her. A few walk with her for a few yards. One walks alongside her for a few minutes, then takes the hint and gives up.

Some will view this video and talk about “street harassment”, but I see no such thing. Most of the men who spoke to her were respectful and polite. I would venture that most women who lack her obvious physical charms would be grateful to get some attention – the popularity of social media provides ample evidence of women’s insatiable thirst for attention (which is why FakesBook does not have a “dislike” button).

Here are my conclusions:

  • Women are safer than they think they are: During ten hours of walking around one of the busiest cities in the world, not one man laid a finger on her. None shouted abuse or called her names. Not once did she appear to be fearful for her safety – no-one tried to abduct her or tell her to get into their vehicles. No one tried to kidnap her and sell her into slavery. Try that in Riyadh, Rotherham or Kathmandu and let me know how you get on.
  • “Street Harassment” is an exaggeration: Since this video was produced with the objective of highlighting “street harassment”, we can assume that this selection represents the worst examples that were encountered during ten hours of walking through one of the busiest cities in the world. During that time she passed within sight of tens of thousands of men, and yet there was only one or two whose behavior could be described as “creepy”. That is statistically insignificant. As for the rest of us, remember, smiling, winking or saying hello to a girl is now considered harassment – so stop that.
  • Black male stereotypes are bogus: The popular portrayal of black men as pimps, muggers, thugs and criminals needs a little critical examination. An attractive white (ish) woman walking for ten hours through predominantly black parts of New York is the equivalent of dragging the proverbial hundred-dollar bill through the proverbial trailer park. I will ignore the obvious racist element and focus on the behavior of the men. Most ignored her. A tiny minority saw an attractive woman and approached her – that’s what men are supposed to do – working as designed. And almost all of them spoke with respect and broke off when it was obvious they were not getting anywhere. Where some see “street harassment”, I see gentlemanly conduct. Amazingly, some said “God bless you” as they let her go on her way. To my amazement, some (female) commenters actually thought that was “weird”. How sad for the neighborhood.
  • Women think it’s OK to be rude: In most of the world’s cultures, eye contact is a sign of respect and recognition, and deliberately avoiding it is considered extremely disrespectful. In ten hours of walking she studiously avoided eye contact or any other form of recognition. Most men are intelligent enough to understand a shake of the head, or the word “no”, but refusing to acknowledge someone’s existence is just plain rude, or worse, might be misinterpreted as “playing hard to get”. In a society where women care so much about what other women think of them, the increasingly acceptable practice of ignoring men they are not attracted to is not smart. Honesty is generally the best policy. If he likes you and you don’t like him, “woman up” and tell him – he can take it.
  • Women want to be ignored… except when they don’t: Some years ago I spoke with a young woman who was complaining that she was getting “too much attention” by men. I advised her to wear a wedding band; most of us can take a hint. That solution, while perfectly reasonable, was totally unacceptable to her; apparently she *did* want to be noticed… but only by the men who were “tall, muscular, handsome and rich”. Go figure.

I’m back!

I haven’t posted in over a month. This is because I have been working on my first book.

The book is entitled “Assassin’s Creed: Pirates – Game Guide”, and is a distillation of everything that I have learned from playing this game for several months. There is a free version and a paid version ($4.99, but discounted to $1.99 for a limited time). You can find more information about it here.

Tell your friends!

More weird stuff coming soon.

Fat of the Land

Earlier this week, I walked over to a nearby eatery to get some breakfast. As I reached the door of the establishment, I noticed a couple of women coming up behind me. Being the chivalrous fellow that I am, I held the door open for them and let them go before me.

Big mistake. They made a beeline for the counter, then stopped and started chatting with each other about something inconsequential. Then they checked their phones while the sole cashier looked apologetically at me.

A couple of minutes went by while these two women – who happened to be white and somewhat large – yattered on about something-or-other and tried to make up their minds about what they wanted to eat. I knew what I wanted. The cashier smiled at me, I nodded back.

Finally I could bear it no longer. I turned on my heel and left. No fuss, no bother, I just walked out, thinking to myself that these women had no business being in a restaurant unless they worked there, given the extra poundage that they were carrying.

In entirely unrelated news, I just realized that this week was Fat Shaming Week. Who knew?

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Just stumbled across this piece. “Feds Wonder Why Fat Girls Can’t Get Dates“.

To my amazement, more than half a million dollars was allocated in grants to explore why overweight obese fat girls lose out in the dating arena.

To those of us up here in the cheap seats, the answer is obvious: The vast majority of men do not find overweight obese fat women attractive. There. I said it. Let the games begin… If you don’t believe me, just look at the contortions and poses that overweight obese fat girls go to in order to hide their true size in their online profile photos.

For those who need to know — or care — here is a brief guide to what men find attractive in women.

  • Slim
  • Hourglass figure (waist-to-hip ratio is more important than size)
  • Long Hair
  • Good teeth/nice smile
  • Smooth skin/symmetrical features.
  • Few piercings/fewer or no tattoos
  • Friendly/good-natured

After reading the above, I am sure several heads of women wearing comfortable shoes exploded. But that’s the way it is. You can howl and yowl and argue and complain all you like, but you can’t argue with biology anymore than men can argue with the Hallmark Channel, selfies and attention-seeking on Facebook (which is why we don’t bother). So let me acquaint you with the underlying biological reality.

At the back of every man’s brain dwells a caveman, whom we shall call Mister Ug. Now Mister Ug is biologically wired to reproduce as efficiently as possible by coupling with as many fertile women as he can. To this end, he is able to visually identify a female from about a mile away by her walk.

Naturally Mister Ug wants the best mothers for his offspring, so he will seek out the healthiest women he can find. Long hair is a good indicator of good health. Short, lank, damaged or no hair shows poor health. Same goes for smooth, unblemished skin. An hourglass figure signifies the win-win of (relatively) easy delivery of babies, and free food, and a slim waist is in indication for a healthy metabolism.

Yes, modern society, culture and, dare I say it, Feminism has made numerous attempts to kill off Mister Ug, but it is an effort that is bound for failure, as Mister Ug, the ancestor of all action heroes, refuses to die; it will be a long, long time before they can entirely wash away half a million years of biological best practices.

In the meantime, ladies, put down the donuts, lay off the chocolate, leave the cake alone (the cake is, after all, a lie). cut out the sugars and starches, avoid junk food, and learn to cook real food from scratch.

Looking Good

And if your butt is wider than you want it to be, stay out of restaurants unless you work there.

Can I have my half-million dollars now?

Where it all went wrong

The Healthcare Disaster in a nutshell

Her Ladyship recently had some routine blood-work done. Here is a rather disturbing excerpt from the bill.

BillWhat does this tell us?

  1. Insurance has made healthcare stupidly expensive – nearly two grand for a simple blood test? #YaGottaBeKiddinMe
  2. Insurance is mandatory – With insurance, the cost is about $125…
  3. The uninsured are up the creek without a paddle. …but without insurance, I would be on the hook for the full – ridiculously overpriced – amount.

This is mute testimony to the game that Health Insurance has become: the providers send massively overinflated bills to the Insurance companies, who then cut them down to size using specially-negotiated “sweetheart” deals – while those who have no insurance pay full price.

This is simply not right.

Arrrr!

Assassin’s Creed: Pirates reviewed

I never intended to buy this game. At $4.99, it was more than I am normally prepared to pay for a phone/tablet game. Funny how that works: we spend huge sums of money on hardware and phone data plans, then balk at spending a few bucks on a game. This seems particularly odd given that PC and Xbox games generally cost $20 to $60, while the vast majority of Android/iPhone games cost less than $5.

I remember when in bygone years game publishers used to bleat about how piracy was the reason that games were so expensive. That was before they abandoned the PC as a gaming platform, switched to Consoles, and piracy pretty much disappeared — and the prices stayed high. But I digress; that is another story for another time.

Fast-forward to the present, and at the other end of the playing field, the bottom has dropped out of the phone/tablet gaming market. My guess is that with the staggering number of free and freemium titles on offer, the idea of paying up front for a phone/tablet game seemed ridiculous.

This point was apparently not lost on UbiSoft, publishers of Assassin’s Creed: Pirates (ASP). Recently, they decided to lower the cost of entry from $4.99 to just ten cents. Naturally, I decided to give it a try. The experiment must have been a success, as they eventually made it now free-to-play; it is available in the Android Play Store or the Apple App Store.

The initial download is 7MB, but then it downloads a gigabyte or so of data before the game begins, so make sure that you are connected to wi-fi if you have to pay for bandwidth. This may seem like a lot, but it is worth it if you have the space, as you will find out later.

You play the part of one Alonzo Batilla, who starts the game as a prisoner tied up in the hold of a trading ship. He is unexpectedly liberated by a pirate named La Buse (“The Buzzard”) and promptly starts down the well-worn path towards piracy, plunder etc.

Now the first thing that any wannabe pirate needs is… a ship. La Buse gives him one — a pathetic little gunship with a few miserable peashooters for guns. Before long, however, he gets to upgrade to a bigger ship: a schooner named “The Wanderer”. There are bigger, more powerful ships available, from the aforementioned gunships and schooners to brigs, frigates, to the mighty Man O’ War. But those are expensive and at the start you don’t have the money.

Some ships — such as the schooner HMS Drake — are unlocked by completing a mission. Others like a brig with red sails called “The Dragon” can be acquired as part of an in-app-purchase. But most of them require the expenditure of good old-fashioned gold coins.

Big-ass Ship Ahoy!

Ah, Gold… beloved of dwarves, dragons and pirates. Gold can be earned by completing missions, sifting through the flotsam and jetsam of vanquished enemies, or just sailing around and picking up objects bobbing around in the water.

Even the best ship in a pirate fleet is nothing without a crew of scalawags, ruffians, ne’er-do-wells and other dregs of the sea. They can be found in the Tavern end pressed into service in return for then requisite number of gold coins, and range in skills — and price levels — from the humble ship’s boy (what’s his job, I wonder? Don’t ask…) to the First Mate. Each bring with them special abilities called “Perks”, which may be normal, rare, epic or legendary. The perks may then be equipped to various parts of your ship, and provide useful features like extra speed, repair, instant reload of all weapons, and advantageous changes in various game parameters, such as number/power/width of shots, area of influence, cooldowns and timers. Most perks can be upgraded in return for more of your hard-earned cash

A minor irritation: before you can play the game you have to navigate (geddit?) no less than three separate loading screens. When you start the program, you are presented with a video that can be skipped (but cannot be disabled), then on to the “Home” screen.

You then click on a “Play” button, which takes you to a map screen. Then you select the location, and finally board your ship to shiver your timbers and swash your buckle. The entire process takes a minimum of X seconds on my Nexus 7.

The first thing that I have to say about this game is that it is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The screenshots do not begin to capture the fluid elegance of your ship gliding across the water; the lush tropical scenery; the reflection of the land in the water; the water-running-down-the-screen-when-it’s-raining effect; your scurvy crew walking about on the ship… it really does feel like you are in a movie. Different types of weather are faithfully and lovingly recreated; from the mirror-like seas on a calm day to rough seas, storms and lightning in the middle of the night. Kudos to the programmers for doing such a beautiful job. How they managed to fit it all into about a gigabyte of data storage is beyond me.

The sound is also beautifully done. The creaking of the ship, the roar of the cannons. The symphonic soundtrack is nicely done, and reminds me of the music in a certain pirate movie franchise I would mention, but *ahem* won’t. Even when just sailing along, the crew are prone to break into song. This is quite pleasing at first, but after a few weeks of playing, it can get quite irritating.

The gameplay itself involves sailing around — either interactively or by dragging your ship in map view, completing various types of missions. Each region on the map has a “primary” mission, that forms part of the back-story. Completing the primary mission at one location unlocks one at the next. However, in addition, each map has a bunch of secondary missions, which include Assassination, Races, Fetch-the-Treasure, Survival, Supership and Search-and-Rescue.

In addition to those missions, you can go fishing, whale hunting, attacking slavers (they always escape, but they throw the slaves overboard, and you can pick them up to complete the mission) picking fights with Merchants or Naval Vessels, hunting for treasure, or just sailing around picking up flotsam and jetsam.

Stuff Ahoy!

Stuff Ahoy!

The combat model is turn-based, but very nicely done; enemy ships either fire cannons (which you must dodge) or lob explosives at you (which you must dispatch with a tap or a swipe).

Here Comes Trouble

Here Comes Trouble

Once it is your turn, you start with Round Shot, Swivel shot, and canister shot, and later upgrades and ships unlock the Mortar and Heavy Shot. The ships dance around in front of you, and when using the slower weapons such as Round Shot and Mortar it is important to remember to aim where the enemy ship is heading, not where it currently is.

This leads me to biggest criticism of the game — the lack of a cloud save feature. Given that the game encourages you to log in to FakesBook and Google Play, this is an egregious omission. Let me be clear: If your game supports In-App Purchases (IAPs), the ability to save your progress in the cloud is an absolute necessity.

For those of us who are geeks, this is not a problem: if you have a rooted device (all of mine are), Titanium backup can save the game and the data, thus safeguarding your investment of time, effort, and, possibly, cash.

A cloud-save feature also makes it possible to port your progress from one device to another; a highly desirable feature, as this game is something of a battery-killer, and can kill a typical smartphone or tablet battery in less than three hours.

A close second to the lack of a cloud-save feature is the support… or more specifically, the lack of it. UbiSoft has a dedicated support board for this game, but the extent of their participation seems to be limited to setting the board up; there is very little in the way of moderators answering technical or gameplay questions. Bloody useless in my opinion, and the sort of thing that large software houses are (in)famous for.

Another feature that I would like to see is the ability to get in the first shot is you engage an enemy first. The way things currently are, you get to open fire first when engaging a merchant ship, but Navy ships always attack first, regardless of who initiates the engagement.

Here are some other suggestions:

  • I would like to see a “Quickstart” option that will pick up the game at the last location instead of having to navigate all those loading screens.
  • Either add some extra sea shanties to relieve the monotony, or add an option to turn them off — as they soon become maddening — Independently of the musical soundtrack.
  • The first mate has a tendency to sing out “Stay out of their range Captain!” when there is nobody around. Will somebody please keel-haul him or make him walk the plank or something?
  • If you should get a pop-up (like when you enter a fishing area for which you do not have a hook, or pass into engagement range of a naval ship), you are interrupted and your ship stops dead. This is annoying enough, but on a drowning-sailor mission, If this happens, the delay means that the sailor almost invariably drowns before you can get to him, making the Drowning Sailor missions among the most frustrating and difficult to complete, even thought they are not that difficult.

Drowning Man

To conclude, a lovely game with a few irritating lack-of-features. But that said, I recently spent $7.99 on a pack (100,000 gold pieces, a Double-XP perk and a cute-but-almost-useless ship with cool-looking red sails). Even though I do not need any of those goodies, I like to support good coding, and therefore consider it money well spent. Seeing the same pack on sale for $1.99 a few weeks later was a little annoying though…

But this game is in dire need of a cloud-save feature. And some decent support (I am thinking of writing a hints and tips guide). And some additional configuration options.

Sailing into the Sunset

Sailing into the Sunset

Beard

From time to time I try to grow a beard.

This is what I am aiming for.

The Most Interesting Beard In The World

The Most Interesting Beard In The World

This is what I end up with:

The Ugliest Beard In The World

The Ugliest Beard In The World

I guess I’m going to go clean-shaven…

Aston Martin

I finally upgraded to Real Racing 3 version 2.1.0 – the “Aston Martin” update.

As the title suggests, this update represents the debut of a brand-new marque – the prestigious British American name of Bond, James Bond Aston Martin. This version introduces double-oh-three new cars, namely the DB9, the Vanquish and the V12 Vantage S in ascending order of sexiness.

Screenshot_2014-07-21-22-52-40

The new Astons feature in a new series, “Aston Martin Expedition”, which fits in half way up the tree between “Prestige Powermatch” and “Euro Supercar Duel”.

Screenshot_2014-08-10-07-28-48

There is also another new series: “All Star Vendetta Series”, which is optional and may found tucked underneath the “Zenith Series”.

Screenshot_2014-08-10-07-29-48

Other new changes in this version include Customization, Photo Mode, Gold Achievements.

Banner

The new cars feel unique. The acceleration is powerful enough to reach some serious speeds, but it is the brakes that really impress – they are absolutely legendary. Unlike the Porsche 911s, however, the Astons handled beautifully and predictably with complete control and plenty of warning that the car is about to lose grip, which makes for cars that are great fun to drive.

Stay tuned for the next upgrade — Open Wheelers.

What a Socialist Paradise looks like

I recently came across this story: Brazil’s valley of beauties appeals for single men. It tells of a rural town in Brazil that appears to have a chronic man shortage.

Here, the only men we single girls meet are either married or related to us; everyone is a cousin…I haven’t kissed a man for a long time. We all dream of falling in love and getting married. But we like living here and don’t want to have to leave the town to find a husband. We’d like to get to know men who would leave their own lives and come to be a part of ours. But first they need to agree to do what we say and live according to our rules.” [Emphasis mine]

I see what you did there: “If you want to live with us, you must submit to our demands.” If you are a young man looking to start his tribe, do you really want to start from a position of supplication? No. Just… no.

The town… “has a reputation for its strong female community after its founder, Maria Senhorinha de Lima, settled in the town when she was branded an adulteress and exiled from her own church and home in 1891.”

Aaaaaaand that’s where the trouble started: with the sin of Eve — female rebellion. And the town’s women are lonely as a result. What a surprise. Action, meet consequence.

We have God in our hearts. But we don’t think we need to go to church, get married in front of a priest or baptise our children. These are rules made up by men.”

Whenever I hear the phrase “…in our hearts“, I mentally grimace and think “Cop-out”. Here’s my translation: We want spirituality — the cheap and easy part — but don’t want religion — you know, the part where you actually have to do stuff.

“There are lots of things that women do better than men. Our town is prettier, more organised, and far more harmonious than if men were in charge. When problems or disputes arise, we resolve them in a woman’s way, trying to find consensus rather than conflict.”

True enough, and I am sure that it’s all fun and games… right up till five hundred hairy, smelly barbarians — or worse, a crowd of Muslim men — show up at the gates. Then they will look for strong men to hide behind, as females of all species are wont to do in times of crisis.

“We share everything, even the land we work on. Nobody competes with anyone here. It’s all for one, and one for all.”

Sounds like the perfect utopia… for women. Men, however, are a little more competitive… and we like it that way. I have found it to be true that  women are wired for community and fear abandonment, while men are wired for significance and fear failure.

“The whole town came together recently to help buy a huge widescreen TV for our community centre so we can all watch soap operas together. And there’s always time to stop and gossip, try on each other’s clothes and do each other’s hair and nails”

This is the socialist/feminist paradise in action. A herd of women watching soaps/gossiping/clothes/hair/nails. Not like that happens here. Not. At. All.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the world there is a bunch of people working on a cure for cancer. And they are probably men.

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