If men *really* ruled the world

With tongue only partly in cheek…

  • Most of the world’s shopping malls would go out of business.
  • Hallmark wouldn’t exist.
  • Every girl between sixteen and twenty-two would be required to wear miniskirts in public.
  • From twenty-two to twenty-eight, they would be required to wear dresses.
  • Throw pillows and cushions would be made illegal.
  • Cats would be an endangered species.
  • Dogs would be doubly tax-deductible, since they are both home Security devices and dependents.
  • As a public health measure, overweight women would not be allowed in restaurants unless they worked there.
  • They would also be banned from wearing yoga pants.
  • She won’t stop talking” would be grounds for divorce.
  • So would a fractious mother-in-law.
  • The 14th of February would be just another day.
  • Superbowl Sunday and the 14th of March would be national holidays.
  • Nagging would be considered as a form of domestic violence.
  • No laundry hamper would ever have a lid.

Astronest Review

While playing Vega Conflict, I saw an ad for another game – the oddly-named “Astronest: The Beginning“. That was before the brains behind Vega Conflict stopped offering coins in return for watching ads.. but that is another story.

I gave the game a whirl, and was delightfully surprised. While the initial concept looks similar to Vega Conflict, the execution is far different. For one thing, building ships and research are instantaneous, but use up a number of turns (called Access Points or AP), which accumulate over time. The player’s AP limit depends on the level of their “nation”.

Your Nation is a collection of colonized planets, Heroes (people that you recruit) and fleets. Each planet has facilities that generate Gold, Minerals, Research, Energy, Fleet Production and Cosments. Each facility can be upgraded for the requisite amounts of AP, Gold and Minerals. Upgrades are instantaneous, but AP takes time to accumulate, which amounts to the same thing. There is also one other currency – crystals – that cannot be mined, but may be received as a reward for missions or purchased.

Each planet may have a Minister – one of your heroes whose Governing skill gives the planet a bonus. Other heroes can be assigned to fleets (Destroyers, Cruisers, Battleships or Motherships). A planet can be operated without a Minister, but a fleet cannot go into battle without a commander. All heroes level up with experience.

The Good: Compliments

  • Boots fast – under twenty seconds, far quicker than Vega Conflict or Star trek timelines.
  • Runs on lower-end hardware than VC, and does not require a persistent internet connection.

The Bad: Criticisms

  • The game does a good job of explaining the basics of combat, but leaves the player floundering when it comes to Trons, training, LDs, cosments, colonizing other planets and lots of other stuff.
  • All of the female heroes (heroines?) are slim and pretty. I am not sure how I feel about this. I despise political correctness as much as anyone, but when you say “female head of a planetary government”, I think Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel or Madelaine Albright, not some gorgeous Blonde babe. Having said that, I do not want to see old, unattractive women introduced to the game for the sake of political correctness, but at the same time I don’t want to see people who don’t look the part. There are some who may consider that attitude sexist; I don’t care – and that will be reflected in my purchasing decisions.
screenshot_2016-12-29-07-34-07Hi. I’m Kayla. You can like, take me to bed, or, like, put me in charge of your planet. Like.
  • On a similar note, half of the men look effeminate or gay. These are the less experienced officers. The other half, the most experienced S-class heroes – have the mature, grizzled look that one would normally associate with experienced fleet commanders.
screenshot_2016-12-29-09-51-04My Gaydar is going off. And the guy in the middle looks like George Lucas.

The Ugly: Errors, mistakes, and Bugs

  • Poor Grammar: e.g.: when fitting out a fleet, it says “Equipping” instead of “Equipped”.
  • Spelling errors: Nuff said:

 

screenshot_2016-12-29-11-59-28This. Should. Not. Happen.
  • In the Heroes screen, a Planetary Governor is erroneously described as a Fleet Commander.

Bottom line: A highly enjoyable game that I will continue playing, at least for the foreseeable future. Whether it will supplant Vega Conflict is yet to be seen.

The Blame Game

Or: Why your side lost

I take no pleasure in gloating, but yet again, I forecasted the outcome of the election several months out. A month before the election I listed the reasons as to why I could not vote for Hillary.

As I said before, the biggest losers have been the media. How did they manage to get it so wrong? They did not see this one coming because they put their faith in polls instead of the American people. I can’t say that I blame them; it is difficult to see see Main Street USA from Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, but it was obvious to me.

Six weeks on, we have only seen more of the same. Bill Clinton, who went up three notches in my estimation when he said that Obamacare was “the craziest thing in the world“, went three notches back down again when he blamed the election result on “Angry white men“; these are presumably the same “Angry white men” who handed the house majority to the Republicans in 1994. So deeply do they believe in their ideology that it never occurred to them that any sane person would rationally disagree with them. Even now, with the writing on the wall, they are still in denial.

hillarys-fake-news

Hillary, and the Democratic party in general, have blamed the election on everything else. But this is not the case. There is a simple reason that the Democrats lost.

They fielded a poor candidate.

This is nothing new; the Republicans fielded poor candidates in 2008 and 2012, and lost. The Democrats fielded a poor Candidate in 2006 and lost.

Elections are not won, they are lost

I have already articulated why I could not vote for Hillary; nobody has yet shown up to refute my arguments. I rest my case.

Vega Conflict: Timing is Everything

Vega Conflict is not a game for the impatient. Ships take days, or even weeks, to build. You can only build or refit one ship at a time. High-level fleets can take months to put together. Most of the top players have been in the game for years.

Similarly, base modules take time, and you can only build or upgrade one module at a time. Fortunately you can also equip another module at the same time. None of these items can be queued; new build/upgrade/refit operations have to be queued manually.

Fleet Bay 11-12.png

Planning is crucial. Here are a few hints and tips to help you:

  • While one ship is being built, no other ships can be refitted. Make sure that you have all refits done before starting a long build. It would be a shame to waste time and resources by stopping a ship build in order to do a quick refit.
  • Always plan ship builds and refits so that they end when you can quickly start off another one.
  • Always know the next thing that you are going to do with your fleet bay, and time builds and refits so that they end at a time when you will be in the game.
  • All operations but ship repairs will have a 10% alliance help reduction; if you are in an alliance,
  • Watch for Ship build/refit/repair “discounts”. These are usually found during events and civil wars, and usually only last for a short period of time, sometimes only hours. Any operations started during that period usually get the discount until they are finished or canceled. For instance, if there is a 25% discount on ship builds, a ship that takes ten days to build will only take 7.5 days. The 10% Alliance Help discount will then knock off another 18 hours, bringing it down to 6 days 18 hours. Saving you more than three days time on the build. This is the one time when building a ship fully-fitted is a good idea, as you will get the discount on the whole lot, while subsequent refitting will lose you the 25%, as it will not be available when you refit.
  • Set an alarm if necessary.

Twitter has jumped the shark

Or: Oh, how the mighty have fallen

I have been a big fan of twitter for many years. I have sent nearly 1400 tweets since I joined the site more than seven years ago. Unlike FakesBook, Twitter had transparency and was completely public.

Was

For the last few years, however, something has become increasingly rotten in the State of Denmark. I have started to see more and more “censorship”, for lack of a better word. It all came to a head a few months ago when Twitter banned Milo Yiannopoulos, apparently for mean things that his followers said (??).

When Donald Trump won the election, I thought that things would improve at “Big Bird”. I was mistaken. Recently I read a story titled “Twitter Initiates Mass Purge Of Prominent Alt-Right Accounts Following Trump Victory

The real problem is that Twitter’s grievance/abuse standards are applied arbitrarily and unilaterally, which reeks of Political Correctness and Editorializing. Nothing says it better than the following graphic – sorry about the bad language, kids; grown-ups say bad words sometimes.

twitter-bias2

Image from Twitter. Oh, the Irony…

There is still time to right the ship, so to speak, and to return to the days of *real* tolerance and free speech (including the bits that you don’t like), but given that the leadership and management hasn’t changed, that is not likely.

The writing is on the wall, if you pardon the pun; Twitter’s stock price is not doing well. It occurs to me that once the good folks at “Big Bird” see the tweet containing this story I may well be next for the chopping block. That’s OK. In fact, I would be honored, and it would just prove my point. I have I have already started an account with a competing service called GAB.AI. See you there.

Twitter, wise up, or go out of business. Your Choice

Vega Conflict – Alien Invasion

No folks, this is not yet another screed about Illegals crossing our southern border, rather a new quasi-faction in the game. They are not a true faction, as you cannot build any alien ships, nor is this expected at the current time.

  • The Aliens first appeared in the “Incursion” event in September 2016. They were a total surprise, and were completely unexpected.
  • Unstable (one-way) wormholes appeared in every sector, and started disgorging alien fleets at regular intervals. These fleets would then head to regular wormholes and disappear.
  • Initially they would aggressively pursue and attack rebel fleets within ten levels of their own.
  • They initially came in Level 50, 55, 60, 65 and 70 variants.
  • After a couple of months, they modified their attack strategy to only pursue fleets in extra-solar space (i.e., they would not attack within solar systems).
  • Soon after that, Level 40 and 45 variants started to appear, and it became possible for two players to engage one alien fleet
  • Only alliance members and players you have designated as “friendly” may assist in engaging an alien fleet.
  • As well as loot or intel, destroying an alien fleet yields “unknown objects”, which remain in the player’s inventory. Nobody knows what they are or what they are for.
alien-hunting

Hunting for Aliens with my good buddy Crescent Wind

Rules of engagement

  • An alien fleet typically consists of three carriers known as hives; usually one heavy and two light.
  • They launch waves of drones at the player fleet. Originally armed with beam weapons, these drones are currently a mixture of beam and explosive weapons.
  • Originally, the three carriers would spawn in different corners of the battlefield. Later variants spawned together, and later still they arrived in a tight formation, which made is difficult to engage them individually.
aliens2

When the going gets tough…

Battle tactics

  • Initially, Aurora rays did high damage to the aliens, but as they modified their weapons and tactics, explosive weapons, such as Creeper torpedoes with Volatile Fuel, became more effective. Currently the most effective weapon is the Manifold missile.
  • Current combat wisdom is to use a heavy carrier such as Ragnarok, Valkyrie or Valhalla. Freyja works too, but has lower range.
  • The carrier has to be protected. Heavy cruisers work well, but battleships appear to be best. Battleships in line formation protect each other and have the double-broadside ability to engage enemies on both sides simultaneously.
  • When using battleships, they may be arranged in a line in front of the carrier, or the carrier may be in the middle of the line.
  • Keep your ships in tight formation for mutual support; any ship that gets out of formation will be targeted and swiftly killed by the alien drones. “the nail that sticks out gets hammered”.
  • If you group them together they will all move and turn at the same rate.
  • When playing co-up, keep carriers together to double the damage.
  • The initial maneuver should be diagonally off to one side, in order to engage one of the hives while minimizing exposure to the other two.
  • You get the same number of points whether you engage a fleet solo or co-op with another player. However, two fleets deal out more damage than one, and take less damage. So co-op is generally better.
  • Successful co-op engagements yield two “corpses” of resources, each of which may be freed up by one of the players.

This article is an excerpt from my recently-updated Game Guide, over a hundred and sixty pages of hints, tips, tricks and tactics that will help you get to grips with the finer points of the game, all for a paltry $3.99. However, if you use this link, you can get it for $1 off. Make me smile – buy my book!

Brave New World

Or: You can’t keep a good man down

More than two years ago I blogged about one Brendan Eich, the short-lived CEO of Mozilla, who committed the cardinal sin of having a politically incorrect opinion.

Way back in 2008, he made a donation opposing Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that made same-sex marriage legal in the state of California. Even though the donation was made as a private citizen and even though he never discriminated against gays in any way during his time at Mozilla, his disagreement with the love-and-tolerance mob was such heresy that a witch-hunt was in order and he was figuratively burned at the stake. Following a political firestorm, he stepped down as CEO and resigned from Mozilla, and lived out the remainder of his days in obscurity.

Or so they thought.

What he actually did, as tech entrepreneurs are wont to do, is to start something new. A new initiative. A new vision. A new browser called Brave.

Brave is more than a browser, it is a new way of looking at, experiencing, and financing the web. Instead of the horrendous ad-supported model that we all know and… er… love, it allows users to financially support websites that they frequent, while featuring state-of-the-art ad-blocking.

I’ve been using it for about a month, and while it still has a few rough edges, but it is fast, smooth and stable (hardly surprising, given that Eich invented Javascript), at a time when predecessors like Firefox and Google Chrome are becoming bloated, slow and crash-prone. This blog post was written in Evernote running in a Brave tab.

Most important of all: No gays were persecuted during the making of this browser… though a large number of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

Whiners and Losers

Or: When History repeats itself

Or: One week on…

Well, it’s finally over… unless you are one of the “By-hook-or-by-crook” protesters who think that Hillary has some kind of divine right to be President. But for the rest of us, including the vast majority of Democrat supporters, Donald-Trump is our president-elect. That got me thinking about who won, and who lost.

Extremists will try to paint Hillary’s defeat as a loss for Women. This is simply not true, except in their minds; a lot of black people think that President Obama let them down. But he never promised black people special treatment, nor should he. The president is *everyone’s* president – or is supposed to be. So women who expected Hillary to “do something for us” are likely to be similarly disillusioned. The same folks who accuse Trump of sexism fail to notice that KellyAnne Conway, was the first female winning campaign manager in history. If that isn’t a victory for women, what is?

The biggest winner – after the unsinkable Mister Trump – has been Scott Adams. I have been reading his predictions for nearly a year, and he has been making them for longer than that:

  • 8/5/2015: “I’m watching the Donald Trump campaign for president with the same amount of amusement as everyone else. The only difference is that I think he has a legitimate shot at becoming president”
  • 8/13/2015: “I’m going to predict he will be our next president. I think he will move to the center on social issues (already happening) and win against Clinton in a tight election.”
  • 8/28/15: Media gives Trump 2% change of winning the nomination “based on historical patterns, solid data, and sound reasoning”. Scott says Trump “would win the general election by a large margin” and gives a 98% chance of winning.
  • 9/12/2015: Scott Adams predicts a Kanye West presidency (you heard it here first).
  • 10/23/15: Scott Adams predicts a Trump landslide and forecasts media embarrassment. “The Huffington Post moved Trump to the entertainment section and sealed their reputation as a useless wart on society… If Trump wins the presidency, every pollster and every pundit (except me) is wrong to the point of irrelevancy.”
  • 11/19/2015: The media says Trump and Carson’s odds < 10%
  • 12/29/2015: “One way is if Clinton’s health or legal issues rise to the point of being disqualifying, and Trump persuades us to think about those things more than we think about anything else. Once you imagine there is one candidate in the race who is eligible and one who might not survive the term, or might be in jail, you start to imagine it as a one-person race. And you will. That’s how you get a landslide.” Spooky

…and those are just the posts from last year.

Another winner is… men. Time after time I have found men reluctant to discuss their political preferences until I boldly speak my mind and say “I’m voting for Trump”. Only then will they speak out, comfortable that no-one will castigate them for having the “wrong” opinion. Gentleman, the coast is clear; you can come out now. If Trump can say it, so can you.

There have been many losers. The sheer amount of raw emotion among Hillary’s mostly-female supporters when it finally dawned on them that she was not going to win was telling. Grief, drama, tears, trauma… and that was just the (few) men in the room; many of the women were having full-on meltdowns, of not outright breakdowns. Do you remember Republican supporters weeping and wailing uncontrollably when they got their hats handed to them in 2008? Me neither. That’s because it never happened.

And it didn’t end there; a week later, there are still demonstrations going on.

The biggest loser has been… the media. ABC (Always Broadcasting Crap), NBC (Nothing But Crap), CNN (Clinton News Network) and CBS (Continuously Broadcasting… um… Stuff) have consistently stumped for Hillary at every opportunity, with the notable exception of Fox news, which has remained studiously neutral – except for Megyn Kelly, who was, I suspect, furious at the Donald for pointing out that she got her job because of her looks. While politically incorrect, this seems reasonable: smart and pretty beats smart alone every time, and as I am fond of saying, “there are no ugly women in TV-land”. One talking head on CNN even admitted their clear bias on national TV.

The elephant in the room is that What is most alarming is that the media is bending over backwards to avoid stating the obvious: “We screwed up. Horribly”. But rather than admitting their clear and obvious bias, they are trying to blame everyone and everything else.

As far as I am concerned, the 2016 election is the coming-of-age and ascendancy of the Internet…

…and the beginning of the end and the proof of the irrelevancy of the “Lamestream Media”.

To My Progressive Friends

The political shenanigans of the past year have shown us both the dark side of human nature and the dirty side of politics.

I have listened to the name-calling, vituperation and insults, both to my chosen candidate, and to those who chose to follow him. You have called me Deplorable, Racist, Misogynist, Homophobic, Bigoted… and that’s just the epithets hurled at us in public.

I did not respond to those insults. There is no effective way to do that; denial that you are a racist just makes you look more like a racist. Sometimes the best defence is to smile, tip your hat and go on your merry way.

The race is over. And once again, I successfully forecasted the result. To the surprise of everyone who took the polls and the media seriously, your candidate lost. That’s democracy; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

The real question, and the one that nobody is asking, is “How could the media have gotten this so very wrong?” With all of their resources, polls, think-tanks, and focus groups, they utterly failed to see it coming. Media bias has been obvious and self-evident to me, concentrating on his alleged sexual misconduct while downplaying bribery, corruption, and potentially, treason.

This is Brexit all over again, complete with the howls of anguish from those who found themselves, as a great man once put it, “on the wrong side of history”.

I know just how you feel. Eight years ago, I greeted the election of Barack, Hussain Obama with this message. I did not vote for him. I did not vote at all. I did not share his philosophy. I did not believe in his policies (particularly Obamacare, oh how right I was…). but I was willing to get behind the new president and wish him the best success. Because he was the duly elected president, and I respected the office, even if I did not respect the man.

Now it’s your turn

Why I can’t vote for Hillary

I recently got a well-meaning email from a friend, exhorting me to vote for Hillary in the upcoming election. Sadly, I cannot, in good conscience, oblige him. Why? Let me count the ways:

1: Too many questions

  • Her conduct regarding the Benghazi situation — It appears that she was unable/unwilling or unavailable to authorize reinforcements and as a result, four Americans died. Then she blamed it on a video.
  • The Email scandal: There is nothing wrong with using a separate email address for strictly personal content. However, the fact that she was discussing Government business using her private email is negligent at best. At worst, it is treason.
  • Potential health issues: She has been seen falling over, collapsing and having a seizure in public. She passed out on 9/11, initially claiming that she was “overheated” (it was early in the day, not that hot, and she was the only one in the crowd who passed out). Then she claimed that she had Pneumonia, a claim that, if true, means that she has no respect for the health and well-being of others. The fact that she refuses to give clear answers to questions and refuses to even discuss her health until after the election is alarming
  • Allegations of corruption/Financial irregularities: People donate to the Clinton Foundation, then later get appointed ambassador later in the same day. Coincidence? I choose to believe otherwise.

I do not dispute that one of more of these bones of contention may not be valid, but there are too many of them to ignore.

2: Abysmal track record

For someone who has walked the corridors of power for 26 years (First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State), she has a poor record for original thought or real change. But if you vote for her, everything will be just fine. Right…

3: Nothing New

I’ve said before that Elections are not won, they are lost. Gore lost in 2000 (yes, he lost, get over it) because of Bill Clinton. Kerry Lost in 2004 because people who knew him doubted his fitness to command. McCain lost in 2008 because he couldn’t prove that he wasn’t George W. Bush. Romney lost in 2012 because he wasn’t offering anything new. Ironically, Barack Obama offered “Hope and Change” and… well… he disappointed us. The only question in my mind is whether Hillary’s presidency will be Bill Clinton’s Third Term or Barack Obama’s.

4: Too much media bias

The media’s pro-Hillary stance is obvious and palpable. In their minds, She can do no wrong, and her opponent can do nothing right. The mass media are even refusing to ask the hard questions about her health. This is hardly surprising, as the oligarchs who own the media are the same ones who have bought and paid for all of the candidates on both sides of the aisle… with one notable exception.
There is also evidence that Twitter and Google are censoring Dissenting voices, but only those on the right. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is Milo Yiannopolous, about whom I have already posted. A more recent example is the sad case of David Seaman, a liberal journalist, who was fired from and erased from the Huffington Post for daring to ask questions about Hillary’s health. This is the very definition of the “Useful Idiot” described by Stalin. The trouble with Useful Idiots is that once they realize that they become disillusioned and realize that they have been duped, they become your most dangerous enemies.