Deep Thoughts

So, recently, certain topics of existentialism have arisen in a few conversations I’ve had with friends and very close friends. It sort of knocked off some dust and rust from the ol’ intellectual cogs upstairs, and I began to revisit subjects and positions I had not considered for some years, now. In that respect, I went back through some of my old research papers and philosophical writings and discovered that my perspective has actually changed very Little, in the grand scheme of things. I was rather surprised. I thought perhaps a decade would have added some wisdom to the process.

That being said, I am either no wiser than I was in college (a sad prospect), or I was wiser in college than I gave myself credit for (an arrogant prospect, to say the least). Thus, I will simply lie and tell you “Yes! I have gained Much wisdom since college!”

Anywho, I thought I would share a paper I wrote, about 10 years ago, while deep in my heavily cafe-cool, caffeinated, wanna-be über-philosopher, university phase of life. 

 

Useless Passions, Wasted Lives

            Imagine, for a moment, that everything in the universe is connected. Everything moves in a colossal cycle, from a beginning to an end that transforms into a beginning, and so one. Or, rather, envision the universe as a highly ordered, higher ordered cosmos in which humankind are the get of a deity that created everything on a whim or with divine purpose. Suppose that each human has a soul, ephemeral essence, Chi, or some type of life force. And when that human being’s life on this earth comes to an end, that “spirit” ascends, or transcends, to another place of happiness, knowledge, contentment, rejoicing, or perhaps even to pay a price for a life of “less-than-ethical” variety. Imagine obtaining the greatest of rewards for living by mooring theological ideals and constraints. After a lifetime of disciplined self-control and abstinence in many things, you finally move on to meet your maker.

            Now, imagine that when you lay down upon your deathbed, and your family is there, surrounding you with physical reassurance and words of comfort such as, “We’ll see you again in heaven.” You begin to feel life slip away from you and your senses dull. At long last, you finally close your eyes for the last time. And there is nothing but darkness. You cease to be.

            Terrifying thought, isn’t it? An entire lifetime… wasted on a gamble. But that’s ok. Because you would no longer exist. Thus, you would not be upset. You would not be anything, save a vanishing memory in the minds of the living. Or if you are lucky enough, a part of your facticity will live on in some fashion of printed text. Maybe a photograph. But these are simply objects that dimly represent subjectivity. Things that only vaguely open a window into a piece of an identity that once was. Beyond that, they are useless.

Such are the passions of a human’s life. Humans can become so fervent about their lives and the aspects that they believe creates who or what they are. Mankind has the ability to become embroiled in war, empowered by valiant quests, enchanted by romance, or devoured by hatred.  But to what end? According to Jean-Paul Sartre, existence is meaningless. All of the passions that humans think are so very important are, in the end, ultimately futile. Life is purposeless and “man is a useless passion”. I agree fully with Sartre on this point, though our outlooks vary somewhat.

            Why is life a useless passion? Is it because we are dead inside? No. In order to be “dead” inside, we would first have to have been filled with something with a semblance of life. But as Sartre states, we are hollow at the center of our being. There is simply nothing there. We are filled with nothingness. Neither a thing dead or alive does, or ever has, resided within us. We are hollow. Most people, however, refuse to acknowledge this, because it entails a two-fold terror that human beings in general are ill-equipped to accept or process. One “terror” being the knowledge that there is no divine entity awaiting them in an afterlife, or even an afterlife, for that matter. And two, the awesome and ultimate freedom that comes with the knowledge that humans are no longer the finger puppets of some quizzical and mysterious deity. Man is free, in the purest sense. His mind and his will are his own.

            Where, I think, most people would crumble under the concept of this, there are a few that breathe a sigh of relief. Instead of feeling disjoined from a spiritual parental figure, those unique few would be elated that they finally have total privacy of their thoughts and ideas. However, this still brings us back to a singular major issue. If now we are no longer a part of some larger, divine plan… that means we are part of no plan. One begins the troubling brood. If there is no purpose, then life is meaningless. If life is meaningless, then why bother at all with anything in our mundane lives? If we are nothing more than biological accidents spewed forth from enigmatic originations… what is the point attaching value to anything we do or think? In the end, we will simply die and cease to be. Our lives are our own, yet not. We have our lives, mundane and reflective as they are, but in the blink of an eye, a factor of random chaos may rob us of what very little life we do have. And then we cease to be. We are nothingness, then we exist with nothingness, then we become nothingness once more.

All that we do during our relatively short lives may simply be nothing more than a distraction from the fact that our lives are empty, meaningless, and vanish in the blink of a blink of geological time. What now? Do we simply fold up our tents and just hang out, awaiting the great void to envelope us once more? Can we truly do anything more than “distract” ourselves? What of a fundamental project? It’s just another type of distraction. What about understanding that everything we do is a distraction and focusing our thoughts on that particular philosophy? Still just another distraction.

            No matter how hard we try to think of some way around it, everything we do is simply something that distracts us, knowingly or unknowingly, from the truth of nothingness. So, back to another question. What do we do about it? If everything is a useless passion and ultimately futile, then what can be done? To this I answer “nothing”. Nothing can be done about nothingness, for there is nothing there to do anything about. How does one plug a hole? By placing something in it? This may be done, but you still have a hole. Except now, there is a something within it. But the hole still exists.

            In conclusion, to the reader, I will simply say this. Don’t worry about it. If there is nothing to be done about the void at the center of our being and everything we do is a useless passion, then there is nothing to gain by worrying about it, and wallowing in anguish and despair because of it. Live your life, enjoy the distractions, and forge a meaning out of the distractions, even if those distractions are simply various paradigms of bad faith. Because even though life is a useless passion, it’s all we have. And once you have wasted it… you can never get it back.

 

Aliens: Colonial Marines

I saw the trailer… I totally had a nerdgasm.

I’m still shivering. If you are a Ridley Scott fan, this is a must see – must have.

Watch… drool… enjoy.

*Problems seeing video? Click HERE.

More game info at http://gameshadow.com/games/aliens-colonial-marines/

Infinite abyss

Some very cool ambient SciFi Music If you’re an astro-nerd like me, you’ll love this.

I watched a show, recently, on H2, titled Ancient Aliens. This particular episode dealt with extraterrestrial viruses and mass epidemics (is that redundant?) of lethal plagues in the past, as well as strange phenomena being sighted in the skies overhead prior to these horrific outbreaks.

For example, The Plague of Athens in 430 BCE. The Justinian Plague (Eastern Roman Empire) in 541 CE. The Black Death (Europe) in the mid 1300’s CE. And the Spanish Influenza of 1917-1918 CE. All of which had (allegedly) people reporting that they saw things, up in the sky, varying from brilliant, fiery rotating bronze discs to something akin to the sun itself, but rotating in a clockwise or counterclockwise fashion. In some cases, there were horrendous explosions of sound in the sky (a ship punching through the atmosphere at supersonic speeds?), and in other cases a fiery streak, visual and audial explosion, and then atmospheric disturbance, such as sudden and deep cloud cover and something in the air causing a reddish rain to fall. Then people dropping dead from a sudden illness by the tens, hundreds of thousands, even millions, over the next year or two.

So… from what I gather, there are three camps running, with regrads to this topic.

Camp 1 – the “Bullshit” camp. “These were earth-born diseases that happened along as result of poor sanitation, medical knowledge, and intermingling of cultures that had remained separated for very long periods of time.”

Camp 2 – the “Astrobiological/Xenobiological” camp. “Viruses, bacteria, micro-organisms all born of space. We have conclusive proof that microscopic life exists outside of Earth, such as the fossilized microbes of Mars and the amino acid collected by the Stardust probe, in the tail of a comet called Wild 2. It is most probable that these fundamental building blocks of life came to our planet, during it’s infancy, and planted these seeds which over billions of years became ‘us’. It is Also just as probable that these Same building blocks have dotted Other planets, throughout the galaxy and universe, and that we are most assuredly not alone in the cosmos.”   Personally, I like this camp.

Camp 3 – the “Ancient Aliens frakking with us” camp. “Aliens came to earth and used us as their biological, pathological, biochemical warfare testing ground. Thousand of people saw what must have been space vessels. Thousands more saw what must have been aliens in hazard suits or environmental suits or space suits, because look at the statues!” 

I was going to Totally rip on some of the frequent …I don’t even know what to call them… they’re not experts… they’re not scientists… they just write very questionable books (and I say that as one who loves SciFi, Astronomy, and Totally believes in the existence of alien life)… anyway… I suppose “Guests of the show” would work. So these “Guests” always say the same shite. “Aliens built this. Aliens brought that. Aliens gave humans the plague. Aliens carved every single megalithic structure because humans were just not smart enough to figure out how.” And One of them is in Dire need of a tailor who doesn’t try to immortalize the disco era, as well as a barber who doesn’t idolize Einstein’s hairdo.

Anywho… after reading this other blogger’s post… I think it fair to direct you to her site, because her ripping is so much better than what I had planned.

Good read, no?

So, nutballs and self-proclaimed Indy Joneses aside… I wonder about the possibility that we Have been used as lab rats. I’ve often wondered if we are also some alien civilization’s giant In Vitro tube, genetically directed over millennia to evolve into our current state of homo sapien sapien. I suppose it’s plausible, too, that if aliens Did infect us with these super plagues time and again… they are trying to prepare our species for entry into some great galactic-wide superwar, by building up our immune systems to the assortment of diseases known out there in the vastness of space.

Aw shit… this might be a prelude to our being conscripted by some alien empire.

Not cool, man. Not cool.

Auction House Galactic Trade Network 101

OMFG

Well… here we are again. Pull up a chair. I’m gonna bitch.

First, I would like to draw your memory back to a fun and familiar (well, to those in the States, maybe) academic theatrical endeavour.

Sesame Street.

Remember that game they played… one of these things is not like the other? One of these things just don’t belong? Well, examine the pics below with that diddy in mind, eh? (Notice the Purple items)

and…

Do you See the difference?

One is posted by a seller on his First Day! Yay! Let’s re-enact Black Tuesday, 1929.

The Other is posted by the more thoughtful, and economy-minded sellers who are Not having their First day on the Galactic Trade Network.

Now, I usually don’t grief over shit like this… but when I spend countless hours grinding one type of crafter. Then another type. Then another type. All in what seems like a fruitless attempt to master a craft profession, so that One of my characters can Not be destitute… I begin to take the fiscally handicapped players a bit personal.

Just as I achieve some semblance of livelihood, some Schmeckle comes along and sells their items for a 90% discount, because they do not understand that you must first go and Look at the current market, supply, demand, utility of said item and THEN figure out a nice price that will make you a decent profit but not gouge the customer.

Instead, the newbie seller gets out his box of crayons, makes a sign that says “Purple Stuff – 5 cents each!” and completely destroys the economy. Why not just stand at every intersection in the Fleet Station and GIVE the shit away. That’s essentially what you are doing already.

For frakks sake… understand how long it takes many of us to achieve the level of skill necessary to make credits via the GTN in this game. Realize how many hours, credits, materials, blood, sweat and virtual tears required to Get to the point where we can sell even Mid-range purple items of our own making. And acknowledge that you will become a total and complete douchebag if you sell orange moddables for 1200 credits a piece… of purple lvl 39 crystals for 1500 creds a piece… or blue and purple armoring mods for Less than the auto-GTN bottom price.

And yet other schmucks will try and sell a stack of 10 of the lowest grade craft materials for 100 times what it’s worth.

If you want to play in the market, junior… learn the rules and do not cut your own virtual financial throat. Premature ejacuposting will only sell yourself short.

Here endeth the lesson.

The MMO Death Knell

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the Free to Play model for MMO games. I have heard pros and cons for this debate, and thought I would toss out something for you to chew on (spit or swallow – your choice).

From a profit standpoint, I suppose F2P (Free to Play) is a financial win. The player, who feels $15 a month for a game subscription (can’t afford $15/month? Really? Cheap bastards) is not possible, can still buy the game and enjoy playing it, but without a number of options in-game that are available only to paying subscription players. Then, the MMO company opens an online game store, where a player can go to buy game expansions, certain types of gear, modes of transportation, special abilities or skills or crafting items or attire or experience point boosts or whatever. In essence, the player might as well have paid for the monthly subscription, because they’ll get proper reamed (in the pocketbook) for buying all the extra crap F2P players can only acquire through this specialized e-store. And the corporation makes money. huzzah.

Now that I think of it… it’s rather Sithy in its endeavour…

Image

Now, the Downside to F2P is that (not all, but most) the free players tend to be adolescent spazzoids juiced up on red bull, twinkies, and ass-hattery. They swarm the nodes like cockroaches. They cause amusement park lines to form for boss spawn points. They further degrade the chat channels with idiocy (as if we didn’t have enough of that already). In general, the whole social atmosphere goes right in the toilet, reducing enjoyment of a game that is already struggling along like a gimpy slug. Since so many people have already left these games due to lack of enjoyment, further digression seems counterproductive to me. But wtf do I know, right? It’s not enough that these belch mutts have their cracked out friends over for 36 hour Xbox game marathons… now MMO companies are making it possible for them to invade our sacred virtual getaway world. Thanx, Frakks. Appreciate it.

So… I watched the community degrade and dwindle with LotRo (Lord of the Rings Online). Now I get to watch SWtOR either dwindle or fill up with the worst kind of poopulation (thought I typoed, didn’t ya?) in a couple months, as they go F2P. Granted, I have a couple friends who will finally join the game (who are just against the whole subscription model), but I won’t hold it against them. They’re good people – just broke.

I even read that TSW (The Secret World) is considering it. Wouldn’t surprise me since they just went live not two months ago and have already laid off half their staff.

I am just glad I am in a solid guild that might ride this out.

Personally, I would rather Bioware fix the game, add the things we have been TELLING them they Need, since Beta testing, and draw back all the clientele they lost. I’m sure most of them would Gladly pay for monthly subs if they fixed space missions, clothing, brought in A LOT more species to play, added more classes, planets, space stations (or other social gathering places), added more ship types, gave us some kind of housing (that people can enter and socialize in), made furniture you could frakking SIT on (not just look at), and a few dozen Other things that would Greatly increase virtual immersion (like chat bubbles in social areas).

However, with EA at the reins, and Bioware semi-stuck in past precedence, I doubt it will happen. Thus, we’re gonna get stuck in a game with 90% kids. Frakk me.

By Mac

If only people would listen…

Ever notice how you think you have the answer to most of life’s problems? At least, I imagine that people think this. I know I do. Cool thing is that I really do have the answer to most problems that arise. It’s just that nobody listens to me. Then, later, in retrospect, they’re all like “Gee, we should have done it the other way.” (The other way being my way)

Then, of course, it’s a concerted effort not to throttle the piss out of he/she for not listening in the first place. Let’s take, for example, children. As in offspring of any age group, not just little kids. You tell them not to do something, and I’ll be damned if they don’t do the very thing you say not to do. You advise them the best course of action for a serious decision, and I’ll be damned if they don’t pick the Stupidest choice that just leaves you standing there blinking absently, like some retarded monkey. 

The worst part is when you explain to them how you have been there, done that. For some reason, they believe everything that happens to them is brand new and someone from the ‘old’ generation could never understand. Even though said ‘old’ person went through the same damned thing, made the Same stupid choice, and explained to said child that it turned out badly.

But that can’t possibly happen Now. Not to Them! It’s Different now! Things are done differently than back when the old people were teenagers.   *rolls eyes*

I remember getting the same speeches from my parents. Granted, I didn’t always listen… but a lot of the time I did. Just not when it really mattered.   o.O

—————–

 

By Mac

John’Aeryn, and twin sisters Morrganna & Sanguina

 

Been awhile.

I was BUSY!

Crikey.

 

So, anyway, let’s catch up. I got my wife hooked on Big Bang Theory. Score one for nerdom (nerddom?).

We have been suffering thru the worst drought since 1956 – which, I think is why my paternal grandparents left Nebraska, in the latter 1950s, to find work in Indiana. They’re farm went south, so to speak.

Whole lakes and ponds, in the Midwest (as well as the Southwest, I’m sure) have disappeared. They have water restrictions over half the country. Fire bans in nearly every county. Half the west seems like it’s on fire, already. I saw one picture, from the Indy Star, I think, that showed someone’s million dollar wanna-be Barbie dream house, on some lake. Their pontoon boat was beached next to a hundred foot long pier. The pier was sitting on a dried up lake shore. The nearest water was about 50 yards beyond the end of the pier. Of course… it was hard to feel sad for Richie Rich. I felt bad for the fish.

And yeah, climatologists are stating this is now the warmest year in recorded history (since they have been keeping measurements, anyway, since the 1880s I believe). Every year gets warmer. Every winter, with the exception of a few violent tantrums, get shorter, less snowfall, and warmer. Summers get hotter and either slip into longer drought periods or torn to pieces by a large series of wicked storms. This year, super drought. Last year, super tornadoes and thunderstorms. Not to mention the hurricanes, which are becoming more frequent.

But there’s no global warming.

o.O

Hey, denialists. Stop drinking the ass hat kool-aid and open your eyes. Frelling R-tards.

 

Let’s see… what else. Oh, finally installed Win 7 on my system. Let me tell you, opening up all 8 Gigs of Ram on my board sure made a helluva difference with my MMOs. I can run SWtOR with little trouble. It’s nice.

I have to try out TSW yet, with the new setup, but I have high hopes.

And speaking of SWtOR… I found a new guild, on a new server. Don’t get me wrong, I still belong to XFOR, and love those guys. But they don’t RP. And they rarely plan events, or coordinate things together, because of the weird work schedules everyone has. But a great bunch of ppl, none the less.

So, the new guild (well, new to me) is the Thirteenth Legion, on the Ebon Hawk server.

Ebon Hawk is an RP server, with a solid population, swinging from Standard to Full, depending on day/time. It, as any server, has its ass hats, monkey spanks, and trolls. But overall, much of the populace is made up of good folk and avid RolePlayers. There are sporadic RP scenes all over the place. Most of the players have good themey names (Avarek Zlarran = Good.  Fatso Buckethead = Bad.)

So, the XIIIth Legion is a large guild, mostly professional & managerial types, higher educated (or just plain smart), good-natured, and very friendly & helpful. I think I will be with them for quite a while. They also have collaborative RP and RP stories, which is neat. There is a full calendar of scheduled events that people actually show up for. They are firm about being mature, nice, and use good behavior as a rule rather than a rarity. Currently, the recruitment is closed, due to the amount of active members, but players may get special consideration, depending on their application and if they have someone that can vouch for them.

So, the picture I have up above… 3 of the current characters I play:

Master Sergeant John’Aeryn – Trooper Vanguard – Eldest Addams sibling (a toddler during the sacking of Coruscant and wounded by shrapnel and exploding debris during that attack. Cybernetic implants were necessary due to the extent of the damage he suffered.)

Captain Morrganna – Smuggler Gunslinger – One of the Addams twin sisters (though she and John are unaware they have another living sibling. She was also injured during the attack on Coruscant, and required cybernetic implantations, as well.)

Lord Sanguina – Sith Juggernaut – The other Addams twin sister (though, she is unaware of Any relation, as she was kidnapped from Coruscant, during the sacking, while still an infant.)

I’ve found that if I actually breath a bit of life into the characters I play… they become more interesting and fun for me. Probably why I was fairly attached to my SWG character Sevryn Blakk. I had done quite a bit of Role Play with him, and thus it became more personal with each accomplishment and encounter. And this would be the main benefit of RP servers… IF you get with a good group of ppl.

 

The last thing I want to discuss is Batman. Well… the incident at the Batman premier. In Colorado. *sigh*   First, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost someone or have an injured someone. There are truly no words.

Second, why is this person even on trial. He was caught Red-handed, at the scene, with a hundred witnesses, weapons in hand, attire still on, booby-trapped apartment, pretending to be the Joker or some damned thing. So… why is he sitting in a court room? He should have been shot, right there in the alley they found him in. No jury, no insanity plea. Just pop pop, double-tap, sayonara.

Third, Gun Control will NOT stop this sort of thing from happening. That dog won’t hunt. If there had been More armed CC permitted citizens in that theatre, then Capt. Nutjob might not have made it past his third or fourth shot before someone else put his ass on the ground. So… I don’t want people going around crying about how we have to have less firearms, small clips, OMG! AR-15s are the DEVIL!

Horseshit. You know what happens with gun control? The crazy feks get Creative. Homemade napalm. Run down people at carnivals – with their minivans. The reimagination of the AX Murderer! Insane and mentally goofy people WILL find a way to do Mass damage, with or without bullets. The ONLY thing gun control laws do is lessen the capacity for the Legal owner/carrier population to protect themselves.

Personally, I think there should be Psych-evals for anyone wanting a gun permit and wanting to purchase a gun. But it’s hard to standardize a test like that for quirky, yet harmless people.  *Shrug*

 

Ok, enough rants and such. Cheers!

A Bounty Hunter’s worst day

A short story I wrote, originally for Star Wars Galaxies MMO, but adapted to a new character for Star Wars the Old Republic MMO. Enjoy.

Image

 

The chatty, steely din of the cantina washed over Nee`kolai as he stood by the bar, peering into the crowd. He hated this place. The cantina had become such a dive over the past year. Many of the people he had previously known had died, moved on, or simply rejected this desert-spawned liquor-hole altogether. This day, the miasma of drinkers were strangers to him, entirely… except for one man.

After bribing the door Rodian, he learned that his target had been indulging himself for most of the day and became quite the nuisance. Nee`kolai watched him casually, as he had for the past three hours, nursing his drink and waiting until just the right moment to make his move.

Cyntharia stepped directly into his view, “You want anything else, hon? My shift is almost over.”

Nee`kolai glanced at his nearly finished Jawa juice and shook his head. She smiled and sauntered away, “Alright then. Have a safe one, sweetie.”

Peering across the room, a knot began to tie itself within Nee`kolai’s stomach. His bounty mark was gone.
“Fek.”

He waved absently, at the departing waitress, as he swiftly scanned the cantina. Nee`kolai caught just the tip of fluttering robes disappearing through the back hallway. In a shot, he was up and on the move, checking his weapon, injecting his Mustafarian serum, gulping a swig of adrenal booster, and popping a blue endorphin capsule into his mouth. He wove in and out of the crowd, reaching the back hallway just in time to here the rear magnetic door reseal. He bolted through the rear corridor and burst out the exit, quickly surveying the sand-laden alley.

“There,” he whispered to himself, a feral grin inching across his face.

His prey was casually strolling toward the Anchorhead shuttleport, some young and shapely Twil’ek hanging off his elbow and bumping hips as they bantered away, giggling and teasing in that sensual way that indicated the prelude to a one nighter.

Nee`kolai checked his weapon one last time, prepped his razor-wire snare and moved off in pursuit, shadowing the couple into the main avenue that serviced the Mayoral structure. As he stepped out from the corner, snare ready for the throw, he saw movement beside him.

“Nee`kolai, you are hereby ordered to die by the Alliance Bounty Hunters Association, for the slaying of one Aledar Amensia,” a rather large and foreboding figure in full RIS armor stated flatly.

“Fek,” Nee`kolai spat.

He and the other bounty hunter rolled in opposite directions, taking cover behind some parked land speeders. They exchanged furious blaster fire, tossed laser snares, and lobbed phosphorous mini-grenades at one another. Citizens ran screaming, Anchorhead police officials hid behind mudbrick buildings and binary loaders, and Imperial troopers simply flipped off safeties while remaining at their posts. It was one hell of a fight, both hunters blackened and bloody. But in the end, Nee`kolai fell. His inferior armor simply could not compensate for the more seasoned bounty hunter’s Mustafarian lightning cannon. Damn that planet and its weaptech nerds.

As Nee`kolai agonizingly began to fade from consciousness, the titan in heavily scored and burnt RIS limped over to his broken form lying in the sand-blanketed street, “You scorched my armor, ruined my shield gen, and cost me half a case of enhancement drugs. I’ll just take this as payment,” the Republic hunter bent down sorely and removed Nee`kolai’s favorite sidearm.

Too tired to move his lips, let alone anything else, Nee`kolai simply thought his last comment as the blackness finally claimed him.
‘…fek.‘

Sometime later, Nee`kolai awoke, dizzy and nauseous. He immediately emptied his stomach contents. He felt terribly weak and disoriented – like that one time he acquired a vicious pox on Kashyyyk, from one of those cave-dwelling, fecal-scented Wookiees.

He stood up straight, slow and gingerly. His right hand hurt terribly. A metallic voice droned through his bewilderment, “How do you feel?”

Nee`kolai tried to focus his vision, but to no avail, “Like ass…. where am I?”

“You are in cloning facility 273-D,” the voice droned once more.

Shock and recognition ripped through his mind as he recalled his last moments. Nee`kolai set his jaw firmly, anger rising.

“That sonuva bothan… he made me miss my mark. And why the Hell does my hand hurt so fekkin much?!”

The surgeon droid looked down at Nee`kolai’s hand, “Oh dear.”

Nee`kolai’s vision was finally starting to clear. He saw the droid just as it jabbed a needle into his arm. He saw his bloody hand fused inside the carbine he was holding when he fell. He saw that he was missing one boot and his favorite sidearm.

“…fek.”

He saw blackness.

Nee`kolai roused from a deep sleep. His hand was a bit sore, but whole and unattached to, or fused with, anything other than his arm. One foot felt a warm draft, but he was fine otherwise. He sat up on a med cot, and looked about. He was in the Anchorhead med center. A few doctors were off to one side of the room, fretting over some little boy that had been trampled by a bantha or something. No more than a bit groggy, Nee`kolai checked his belongings, gathered up what gear lay next to him, and crept outside.

A few days later, Nee`kolai came out of hyperspace. A beautiful, large planet rushed into view before him. Naboo. Lovely as it was, he hated that planet. He had spent part of his early career in the med center there, getting cybernetic limbs and other bits installed, after some botched ambushes.

He wriggled his foot, smiling at the comfort of his new boot. Checking his nav comp, he adjusted his heading toward a smaller planetoid nearby, a few hundred thousand kilometers distance. The moon, Rori, was not only his current home, and the latest front of the war between the Empire and the Republic, but this was also the last known location of his mark. Nee`kolai was determined to not lose this one. It had cost him more than he cared to admit. Not to mention, he would be filthy rich after this. But more importantly, after his botch up in Anchorhead, this was no longer a mission… it was a quest. He would see this through, to the end, and be victorious, if he had to kill every single damned person on Rori to do it.

Nee`kolai skillfully landed his ship at what was left of the Restuss starport. Not much more than a shuttleport with a few market vendors and a cloner, now. The city had mostly been destroyed in the intitial moments of the battle here.

He stepped out of his starship and glanced about. No one was really paying attention to him, which was how he liked it… at least when he was working. He pulled off his backpack and withdrew a small seeker droid. Entering the biosignature into its core memory, Nee`kolai released the tiny droid and watched it dart away, towards the city. A moment later, his datapad was all abuzz with information on the mark and his exact position. His bounty was nestled right in the center of Restuss. Nee`kolai expanded his comm-radar to one thousand meters and brought the city into view, along with three or four dozen red blotches… Republic patrols. His prey was in their midst.

“Fek.”

Shouldering his pack once more, Nee`kolai fetched his small speeder and shot off toward the ruins. He circled wide, looking for a spot he might be able to sneak in but was having no luck. Three times he made his pass until luck finally reared its pretty face. An imperial raiding party had been formed and was inbound not but two hundred meters from him. In seconds, he was dismounted and marching with them, twenty strong, and he recognized several of the Empire’s finest special forces among the band. Confident, he entered Restuss with his meaty trooper shield surrounding him.

It took mere minutes for the Republic troopers to realize they were being infiltrated and mount a counter-assault. Blaster fire rained upon them like a locust plague. Imperials were diving every which way, seeking cover and lobbing grenades. One Imperial was on his comm, screaming for reinforcements, but was abruptly cut off as a lightsaber plunged through his skull in a sickly searing manner, leaving the distinct burning scent of flesh and hair wafting through the air.

The Republic troopers engaged the Imperials, face to face, in close combat. Nee`kolai’s mark was among them. The bounty hunter targeted him and him alone, locking in his auto-target and auto-fire, letting him have it. In a matter of moments, his prey was down. Nee`kolai donned a wolfish smile as he moved closer for the killing blow.

He stopped short, however, as he suddenly noticed all was silent. Peering about, he saw every Imperial soldier had fallen, and nearly every Republic trooper, as well as several Jedi, stood, in a semi-circle, surrounding Nee`kolai, with victorious smiles parked upon their faces.

“Fek.”

Nee`kolai dropped two snares right on his position and bolted for it. He flipped on his auto-return fire option and ran like hell, darting in and out of rubble, taking ferocious shots to his backside, but none bad enough to pierce his armor and slow him down… yet. Around and around they swarmed, following close on his heels, like razor cats hot on a scent, but not quite catching up to him. The debris was too tight and twisting for the Jedi to use the force to run after him, and they could not quite get a clear shot to snare him, so he simply kept dropping snares to slow them, and in a few more seconds, they were well behind. He had gained some distance in the labyrinth of crumbling stone and broken homes.

Thank the Emperor for that, he thought.

As he sprinted through the battle torn streets, lithely hurdling blackened debris left behind by walls that no longer stood erect, he rounded a particularly large crumbling foundation corner and skidded to a halt. A feral grin crept across his dust and soot smeared face. Lying prone, not ten meters away, was the incapacitated form of his prey. Nee`kolai took note of the large mob of Republic troops still in pursuit, and closing on him. But he had enough time to squeeze off a killing shot and still lose his assailants in the hills beyond the city. It would be simple. The city was like a maze now. He would easily give them the slip and sneak into the wild beyond. Just one shot …and he was a very rich man, indeed. Finally, luck was on His side.

Nee`kolai took swift, but careful aim, smiled widely, and squeezed the trigger.

CLICK!

He paled and swiftly checked his weapon. He hadn’t noticed until now that his carbine’s power cell was drained. Nee`kolai hung his head, and sighed one final time, as the mob caught up to him.

 

“…fek.”

By Mac

American Dream – a fading dream, at best.

Warning – this is a Rant and I descend into the broody Vernacular!
There WILL be F-Bombs. You’ve been warned.

Que Music
I was born in 1968.
“GOOD GOD! He’s NOT a 20-something radical?!”
No… he’s a 40-something radical.
I got to thinking about this, after I read an article in Time magazine this past week.
The topic was the American Dream (with an emphasis on the ‘dream’ part). References were made to Jeffersonian ideologies, Franklinian work ethics, Lincolnian direction and drive, and Rooseveltian perseverance and salvation. Once upon a time, my ancestors lived a pretty good life. A golden age of America, if you will. I would very much like to see us return to those days.

But how do we do it? Austerity? Revolution? Reclusivism on a national level? Obviously college education and hard work aren’t nearly enough anymore.
It also spoke of a fading window of opportunity for Americans today, and likely most of the industrial world. The gap between wealth and poverty was ever-widening, and the numbers in the poverty stricken sector were growing exponentially (Yes, this means they will eventually overpower the scant, few rich folk left in the world, by the way – Hope those less than 1% yuppies live in a fortress).

So, as I read this article, about the vanishing American Dream and the stagnation of our wages and the constant cost of living increases… I asked myself – Why do we put up with this shit? We put those fuckers in office. We number in 300+ million. DC is what … a few thousand govt. personnel? They have Obviously failed to control the greedy fucking market speculators, corporate CEOs and all their hummer-giving toadies, bank execs and their wall street poker buddies. Not to mention, how many of those pricks in Congress, the Senate, OR the White House regularly take kickbacks from special interests and lobbyists, because they are too fucking dumb to realize that we KNOW how they operate and we are not as Ignorant as they take most Americans for.

So, they exploit and damage the system beyond repair, for decades now, and we watch our chance to propel ourselves up the financial ladder fade. Unless, of course, we are some anthropofailure like Bill Zollars – a wanna-be CEO – who managed to drive Kodak, Yellow Freight, YRC, and some major airline into the ground… and yet this sonuvabitch kept getting hired to run corporations! Really?!
What the Fuck, people? Then there’s the asshat Bernie Madoff and his Wall Street fiasco. Or the Lehman Brothers CEO… or the dipshit in charge of JP Morgan Chase who stated, “Oh… sorry about that.”
These people should not be allowed to walk in public, let alone get away with what they did. Granted, Madoff got his deserts… but WHERE’S OUR MONEY??
It is because of people like these, that think the economy of a nation is their personal game of Texas Hold’em. And they SUCK at POKER!
Where’s my American Dream, daddy? I’m sorry, my child… but someone on Wall Street went all-in when he should have folded.

How many homeless people do we still have in this country? How many people in $50k to $150k student debt because they were raised under the premise that if they did good in school, ate all their vegetables, behaved themselves, went to college, and worked hard… they would have that Middle Class life; Home, car, vacation, 2.3 kids, happy spouse, bowling league, barbeques, little league, pool, nights out on the town, college for the kiddies…

Right now, cost of living is outpacing earning potential for most Americans (hell, most HUMANS, for that matter).
Which brings me back to my birth year. 1968. Back then, an average home cost $15,000. A new car averaged $2,000. Rent, about $100 per month. Fuel, 34 cents a gallon. The average salary? Between $7,000 and $8,000 per year.

Now examine today… I will use me as an example. I am at the Bottom end of Middle Class (though, as much as we struggle here, we should be lower class). My salary as about 6 times what the 1968 average was. However, rent is averaging 9 to 14 times what is was then. The cost of a new car is Damn near what my salary for a year is (the cheap ass models are at least HALF my yearly salary). A new home is 3 to 4 times my salary, instead of double. And fuel is who knows how much… it spikes and plummets every week. A month ago it was $4 a gallon… now it’s $3.35… next month it may be $4.50 (this is one of those times I would agree with government price control).
Food is also about 6 times as expensive, in relative dollars, as it was back then. And why? Why do prices have to increase? Who said things have to become more expensive with the passage of time?
That’s really a stupid concept and will eventually, one day, in the far future, result in a loaf of bread costing several billion dollars. Stupid. Bread is bread… 50 cents a loaf, there ya go.
If you do not raise prices, then you do not need to raise wages, and everyone can afford what they need by just working and saving. The economy would be so much more stable and secure if we knew the costs of everything in the foreseeable future. But then again… that would make too much sense and eliminate the potential for greedy stockbrokers, bankers, corporations, politicians and Wall Street gurus to make shit tons of money at the expense of the working person.

And of course, we get little help or direction from our government. The two ruling political parties are about as useful as a mule with three peckers, as my grandpa would say.
And those fools who blindly follow their parties, like some favorite college sports team, are equally to blame for this current mess. And not only do they stand around with tunnel-vision to the issues, but they spend half their time name-calling. Conservative bastards… flaming liberals… right-wing nazis… left-wing radicals. Here… Let ME join in. Rush Limbaugh – Suck my D***!  Now I’m part of the political process.
We spend so much time bickering about titles, labels, pigeonholes, that we lose sight of the base facts. Such as… the word Democrat comes from the word Democracy.

Here’s a fairly accurate definition, snagged from Wiki, “Democracy is an egalitarian form of government in which all the citizens of a nation together determine public policy, the laws and the actions of their state, requiring that all citizens (meeting certain qualifications) have an equal opportunity to express their opinion.”
Now, some of you might not quite understand ‘Egalitarian‘, so here is a link that (yes, to Wiki) will give you more insight. Basically, Egalitarianism is about equality of living beings, regardless of ethnicity, religion, social status, gender, etc. . We sorta have this whole Amendment based on the silly notion of equality. Damn those democrats. What were they Thinking?!

Now, don’t get me wrong… the Democrats have Really been fucking up the past decade or two. They have moved Way the hell away from Liberty, Freedom, Democracy and towards Bigger government, more government control over aspects of our lives. Currently, you have women in congress asking why the Republicans want to control their vaginal rights… well, I ask those same women why they support the abolishment of Other rights, simply because they do not agree with them. Did you know that I Have to wear a seatbelt, in a vehicle I bought with my money, supply my own fuel and maintenance and car insurance for, and I ALSO spend nearly $800 a month on health insurance (Oh Yeah… $800 a month for Blue Cross Blue Shield family plan… Thanx Obama… yer notion of spooking the Insurance companies, causing them to Gouge us in premium hikes worked like a Charm. No, really. Thanx a lot, buddy.).

So… I do ALL of this… and some schmuck in government decides that I HAVE to wear a seat belt because I might cost someone money if I am involved in an accident. Are you fucking Kidding me? I pay $9600.00 a year in health coverage, not counting all my car expenses, taxes for the roads I use, and the ambulance bill I will receive if it ever happens… and they are worried about money? So, they pass this draconian law. I realize it May save lives, particularly children (ALL kids should be buckled up – period), but to tell me I HAVE to wear one or I will be Fined… and pay MORE money into the system? …really?

Anyway… I digressed… so, we have people in the Dem party telling us that they do not think we should be doing things they do not agree with. Like smoking in public. OUTSIDE in public.     O.o
And then we have nuts in Middleborough, Massachusetts, who voted 183-50 to slap a $20 fine on Anybody swearing (cursing/cussing) in public. Really? Well, here’s my thoughts on that particular violation of the First Amendment… Hey Middleborough Town Council! Go FUCK Yourselves, you Pinko-Commie Bastards.

Anyone who is under the misconception that they can dictate “appropriate behavior” to this degree, on a public and legal level, should have their ass removed.
Telling these young kids to pull their pants up in public (because you Do look like a bunch of dorks) is one thing… telling someone to not swear, particularly if that person is of legal adult age… no, fuck you, not gonna happen. What is this, Amerika?
Also, the level of invasion into our private lives, purported by the Democratic bills and laws, is scary. So much power they wish to give institutions like the Family and Children division, the School systems, the IRS, the Police, the Courts… controlling on a level that is absolutely terrifying (unless you are lucky enough to be oblivious). ALL in the name of safety and acceptable whatever.

A far cry from the days of actual freedom… democracy… liberty… these are but an illusion anymore.

So anyway, now let’s examine the Republican trend…
In all fairness, Republicans were Great coming out of the gate: Lincoln, anti-slavery, equal rights for all men, reconstruction, high wages / high profits, railroads, industrial growth and commerce, unions… but somewhere around the turn of the 19th-20th century, they lost their way.
The GOP, as it were, became sickened with greed, uber-conservatism, big business, wealth, and power, even at the expense of fair labor and wages (hence the state we are in now). The actions of the GOP have brought about such powerful megacorporations as to be considered nations unto themselves at the same time they are purely transnational and nearly untouchable. Shoulda been named the Frankenstein party.

As sad as it is, you HAVE to have Some form of Opiates (no, not drugs, dumbass… keep reading) for the masses. Beer, Scotch, smokes, Playboy, Playgirl, video games, cheezits, sports, soda, outdoorsman activities… when you removes these things from society, said-society, that has nothing left to do (that they consider leisure), becomes angry, resentful, and prone to sparking off rebellions and revolutions that can be (and have been) REGIME-changing, if you get my meaning.
When the Republicans supported Prohibition, siding with the fanatical religious movement of the time, they doomed themselves and their constituents. They sparked an era of bootlegging and crime syndicates never seen before. The methods of transporting and hiding the booze likely led to better means of sneaking in Other illegal substances, just a few decades later. Thanx for That influx of crap into our youth and culture, boys. Appreciate it.
So, think hard before you hit tobacco anymore… or put some stupid fat tax on chips and pop… or continue to allow theatres to raise movie rates… or reduce our wildlife regions for development or mining or drilling (which, thereby, reduces fishing, hunting, hiking, and camping), or dictate what we can and cannot see, hear, read, play… each day that passes, I see/read more and more examples of Orwellian trends in this country. Attacks on basic rights that I know My family fought and died for centuries ago, so that ALL Americans would be free from this sort of creeping oppression, as a Guarantee (in some quirky little document about constitutions or something).

So, back to the point, Republicans, and their greed, were Also responsible for the overly prosperous 1920s and the Stock Market crash of 1929, resulting in the Great Depression.
And we allow these fuckers to play with our national budget? They should not even be allowed to have credit cards or checking accounts. Piggy banks might be too much fiscal responsibility. They bitch at the Democrats for overspending or not agreeing to budget cuts (like cutting funding for education – way to go, retards… make our kids Dumber than you… beautiful plan)… yet the national debt SOARS under Republican administration and control.

On a side note – REPUBLICANS recently voted NO for WOMEN to NOT be DISCRIMINATED against when it comes to FAIR WAGES (as compared to Men in the same position). Read more here CLICK ME!
WHY any Woman in this country would vote for these fuckers is Beyond me.

I’m just curious as to which ‘Republic’ the republicans of this nation attune themselves with. Or if they even understand the word.
Let’s not forget one Republic in particular… the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic. Wait, here’s another… the People’s Republic of China. Oooo and Another… the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. Gee… too bad there wasn’t a theme here.

Now, I have heard that they (our GOP) fashioned themselves after the Roman Republic, with the Roman Senate representing the people’s interests and governing wisely and intellectually, creating the greatest nation of all time (until us, that is).
The Roman Republic, however, was not so much a realm of free people, exercising their right to pursue happiness and wealth. More so, it was an Empire, ruled by the wealthy, and at times, either an emperor or a senate (the wealthy), or both. It embodied ethnocentrism and imperialism and conquest, at the expense of freedom, opportunity, and cultural heritage. And Most Romans were subjugated, on some level… not equal and happy to just be Roman, by golly.

And as for the argument that Republicans make, that They are for Smaller government? Bullshit. The government expanded to an unprecedented size under the reign of King George… er… I mean, George Bush (Jr.). We have so many agencies tapping into our lives, that privacy is more myth than fact these days. Homeland Security? Gimme a break. Modern day Gestapo or Soviet Secret Police – NKVD, that’s all they are. We already HAVE an agency to protect our citizens domestically. It’s called the FBI. Not to mention our State, County, and Local Police Departments. When you get asshat politicians thinking up agencies like Homeland Security, the ATF, the DEA, etc…. you don’t have to look far to see what party they belong to.

I don’t know… at the rate we are descending… I’m not sure we can fix things and recoup the American Dream, or any semblance of Equal Opportunity. As the Time article stated, equal Outcome is most certainly not considered anymore… only Opportunity. You can run out there and Try… but failure is the most likely outcome. Because we are pushing this big ass jobless, debt wagon up a steep hill… and have ran out of steam, and now the wagon is slowly slipping back down the hill, and we’re trying like hell to stop it from sliding down, but without help (from, oh, I don’t know… a Responsible and FUNCTIONAL government), this wagon is eventually gonna run us over and go careening to the bottom of the hill. CRASH!

Personally, I think this country is fucked. But, I’m a realist.

Ever read Orwell’s 1984? If not, you must read it. Everyone must read it. It’s a warning that too many deaf ears cannot hear.

*Here’s some tidbits from 1968 – incase you’ve read this far and aren’t quite ready to leave just yet, because you find my low-brow rants strangely compelling, if rather offensively vernacular.
**I nicked all these tidbits from The People History. Check them out. Pretty interesting facts about the past.

-Factoids-
April 4th Martin Luther King, Jr. is shot and killed by James Earl Ray.
President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
August 20th and 21st Eastern Bloc armies consisting of 200,000 troops and 2,000 tanks from four Warsaw Pact countries – the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary invade Czechoslovakia.
North Vietnam and Viet Cong troops launch the Tet offensive.
Anti Vietnam War protests throughout the western world.
Japanese imported cars and other goods were continuing to rise and trouble the governments of UK and USA as they worried about industries in their own countries being effected and jobs lost.
50,000 people participated in ” The Poor Peoples March ” on June 19th Washington, D.C.
The Zodiac serial murderer begins his reign of terror in California in what has been described as the perfect crime ( He claimed in letters sent to the newspapers to have murdered 37, but police files put the number at 11. ( HE HAS NEVER BEEN CAUGHT )
Student Occupation at Columbia University over Universities affiliation with the Institute for Defense.
The nuclear-powered U.S. submarine Scorpion sank in the Atlantic Ocean with the loss of 99 crew members.
Black power salute is seen on Television worldwide after the gold and bronze medalists in Olympics show salute during medal ceremony in Mexico City, Mexico.
The Aswan Dam in Egypt is completed.
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is dedicated.

-Technology-
Boeing 747 made its maiden flight.
NASA launches Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission.
Air Bags , Allen K Breed invents an air bag that deploys and inflates automatically on violent impact using nitrogen gas.
Apollo 8 orbits the Moon, becoming the first manned space mission to achieve the feat.
Dr. Christian Barnard performs the first successful heart transplant.
US Explodes experimental hydrogen Bomb.
The Emergency 911 Telephone service is started in the USA which provides a single number for reporting emergencies and is manned 24 hrs per day 365 days per year.
ATM First Philadelphia Bank installs the first automated teller machine in the U.S.