Category Archives: Miscellaneous

A dark epiphany of sorts

(I had this epiphany in the spring, but it bears repeating)

So I was sitting in the train listening to “Belfast Child” by the Simple Minds, and it again occurred to me that the only thing that really gets to me (apart from cruelty to animals) is the death of innocents caused by violent conflict or war – regardless of who causes the death.

I stand by Robert Fisk when he says that war is the total failure of the human spirit. Films about these things always get to me. Hotel Rwanda, Schindler’s List, The Pianist, Hotaru no Haka all struck a chord. In contrast, stories of personal tragedies or hardship, love episodes and all that stuff don’t really get to me – sometimes I will semi-empathize but mostly I’m indifferent. It is really in times of collective misery, of senseless mass death caused by the faceless beast that is state-monopolized violence or (otherwise large powerful bodies of people) that my heart gets rent to pieces.

With that in mind I sincerely wondered why I wasn’t at all troubled by the violent games I play – the kind of games where you play as part of an army (whether general or foot soldier). I would think about Real Time Strategy games like the Command & Conquer series, or shooters such as the Call of Duty or the Battlefield series. I’m not much of a determinist and I do not believe these games influence or cause anything specifically, but I was fundamentally troubled when I realized why there was no inner moral conflict for me while playing these games (and having a lot of fun while doing it)

It is because these games are sanitized of innocent death.

Most first person games I know of take place in virtually deserted locales. The only thing you find in the city streets you traverse are enemy combatants. If it moves and if it’s not one of your teammates, it’s a legitimate target.

Ditto in strategy games. When you play through Company of Heroes or, you fight zee Germans in villages and cities alike – which are all ghost towns. The gameworld has become a military playground, an idealtype world where there are no innocent deaths because, plainly, there are no innocents available who would be able to die.

There are exceptions, of course. In certain C&C games civilians sometimes function as propagandistic plot devices; if you are the Good Guys (the yanks) you Protect Civilians. If you play the Bad Guys (Chinese, Arabs, terrorists etc) you Indiscriminately Slaughter Civilians.

This is also what upsets me. Besides presenting a skewed picture of war (where it comes down to pure tactics in areas with nothing but legitimate targets) it also denies the reality of war: that there are no good sides, and that everyone involved militarily acts beastly. Similarly, you will never find US ideological opponents – The North Koreans in Crysis, the Chinese and Arabs in C&C: Generals, the terrorists and the Russians (I shit you not) in Call of Duty IV, the Venezuelans in Mercenary 2 – do anything remotely honorable or morally sound.

Maybe one could blame the market – who would buy war sim games if civilians would die all the time? Because this is the reality of modern war: whereas in the days of yore the majority of casualties were soldiers, in modern times it’s mostly civilians, a large part of them children. Looking at a child torn to shreds by your grenade launcher, even in pixel-form, is bound to upset people (not to mention causing public moral outrage)

Still, I cannot help but feel disturbed by this selective amputation of reality from games who have have historical or current/near future themes.

Truth doesn’t sell?

Or?

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Pep, sociology, background

pepijn.jpgI started writing this bit in the train a while ago to figure out my current affairs. This summer I made another one of those “what am I going to do with my life” decisions for the coming years. I chose to start studying sociology, so that’s what I’m doing now.

Why did I do that? To answer that, I needed to define part of who I am as well. This post is the result of that introspection. Enjoy.

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Eight things about me, eh?

The rules:

  • We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
  • Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Thanks :/

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whine post

I actually want to keep specific personal shit out of this blog, but I calculated for fun the time I spent travelling wednesday november 16th, and I was kind of surprised with the ridiculous results.

I had three things to do that day: 1) attend class 2) eat at my aunt’s 3) have theatre practice.

1) is in Amsterdam, 2) and 3) are in Bovenkarspel. I live in Leiden.

So travelling back and forth between these places yielded these results:

Wednesday 16/11

9:00 – 9:14 <– bike to trainstation — 14 mins
9:14 – 9:55 <– travel to a’dam central — 40 mins
9:55 – 10:12 <– walk to uni due to fucking strike– 17 mins

13:12 – 13:44 <– walk to a’dam central + wait for train – 32 mins
13:44 – 14:24 <– travel to leiden central — 40 mins
14:24 – 14:38 <– bike back home – 14 mins

16:00 – 16:21 <– bike to leiden central + wait for train – 21 mins
16:21 – 17:47 <– travel to hoorn + wait for train- 86 mins
17:47 – 18:06 <– travel to bovenkarspel flora – 19 mins
18:06 – 18:18 <– walk to aunt – 12 mins
19:00 – 19:10 <– bike to theatre – 10 mins

22:45 – 22:55 <– bike back to aunt – 10 mins

23:15 – 23:29 <– walk back to flora + wait for train – 14 mins
23:29 – 00:23 <– travel to sloterdijk – 54 mins
00:23 – 01:36 <– travel to leiden central + wait for train – 73 mins
01:36 – 01:50 <– bike back home – 14 mins

Total time spent traveling + waiting: 7.83h or 470 mins

so yeah, when theres prototype teleporter technology, ill volunteer as (the first) human guinea pig 😛

I’d describe myself as a lazy, barely motivated person so I kind of deserve these traveltimes, but I bet there’s scores of people who do this shit daily and feel it’s necessary or worthwhile or acceptable. Shoot me if I become like that, k?