Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from My Back Pages: Question the Answers!

Yes, I do understand that this blog, being a one-man project, does not have a huge staff contributing content to it. Still, there is a multitude of people that I would like to acknowledge who have worked behind-the-scenes for the improvement of this site. This site has been around for nearly a year and a half and has witnessed tremendous growth in popularity and content quality. I would like to give thanks to the following people for helping me with this blog, I could not have possibly done it without you.

Diego Otero-Caldwell, Alex Hillan and Michael Kreher for contributing reblog content and quotes. Expect to see these people later in the blogosphere.

Joshua Wretzel, Lisa Turner and Scott Roos for making me think in logical and different ways. Without you, My Back Pages: Question the Answers could have become just another generic personal journal

Daniel Kutznetzov, Diego Otero-Caldwell, Sean Patrick, Jackie Myers, Jack Taylor, Whole Wheat Toast, Alex Hillan, Kirill Volchinsky, Michael Kreher, Vincent Wong and Roger Troiani for giving me encouragement and support throughout this entire endeavor as well as reading nearly every post that I have put out throughout all this time. My friends and fans, all of you have made my life worth living.

Whole Wheat Toast for introducing me to the concept of blogging altogether, as well as several other publishing technologies including Twitter, Flickr and Youtube.

the roundtable for publishing my work and thereby allowing me to reach out to new audiences.

An Unknown Number of influential people who have made their mark on me and my work, including, but not limited to Chris McCandless, John Lennon, Banksy, Valve Software, David Anderegg, Siddartha, Timothy Patrick McCarthy, my family, Streetlight Manifesto, Charles Darwin, J.D. Salinger, Lorraine Hansberry, Ayn Rand, Justin Walsh, Lao Tzu, Shigeru Miyamoto, 2D Boy, Diego Otero-Caldwell, Gordon Freeman, Sean Patrick, Tal-Ben Shahar, Rene Descartes, Jean-Paul Sartre, Sergio Vasquez, Shannon Halkyard, Thoreau, Harvey Milk, Scott Young, Cal Newport, Tynan, Karl Marx, Bob Dylan, Peter Mundy, Russell Shorto and of course, Link. All of you have made your marks on my life, enriching me and making me a better person. I love you all and give you my sincere gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Sites 46

Here is this weeks Sunday Site, as well as an important video that you all might be interested in. A fairly small, but interesting collection. Difficulty in Video-Games, or the lack thereof and why it is important to the pleasure.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Darwin Project

About a week ago, Convent and Stuart Hall, my high-school, held a special event titled The Darwin Project. Where a set of five panelists visited to give presentations on evolutionary controversy and the possibility of harmony between the opposing viewpoints. Here are photos from the event. 


There were five panelists.

  • Dr. Francisco Alaya: Biologist and Philosopher at U.C. Irvine
  • Father George Coyne: Former Director of Vatican Observatory
  • Peter Hess: Faith Project Director at National Center for Science Education
  • Leslea Hlusko: Associate Professor of Integrated Biology at UC Berkeley
  • Stanley Pruissner: Nobel Prize winning Neurologist and Biochemist









I was planning to have video content on this blog post. But my slow upload rate prevented me from having it up on time. As a result, I will have the videos up on a later date.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Sites 45

Guess what? Sunday Sites had its first birthday just a week ago! Here is this week’s sites. Everytime I go on Facebook, my newsfeed is plastered with Farmville stories, if not socialinterview requests. Here’s a good document on the phenomenon. 50 Amazing Blog Designs. Good, good read. Alternatives to schooling? I am in an unusually jovial mood as I write this post. Thus, that’s why something like this shows up. zzz3333 is one of the most interesting Vloggers I have ever had the chance to meet. Here’s one of his films. Watch, and appreciate. If you click on only one link for this Sunday Sites posting, let it be this. Zero Punctuation is one of the funniest vloggers out there. Highly, highly recommended.

Well, that’s it for the first anniversary of Sunday Sites. Look forward to a special photoblog post. If you haven’t already, be sure to add yourself as a fan on the Facebook page for My Back Pages. Thanks!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rebuttal to “Why Video-Game Legislation Would be Ineffectual”

Please openly welcome Diego Otero-Caldwell in his debut in the blogosphere. Diego is a close friend of mine who wrote a rebuttal to my previous blog post on why video-game legislation would be ineffective, published here as a reblog. Diego is a fan of Modern Warfare and Half-Life and has reached Round Eight of Nazi Zombies, a very impressive feat.
I was playing Call of Duty: World at War with my cousins last summer, and my character had just gotten killed by my cousin’s character’s trench gun. As I was watching the killcam replay my entire left arm getting blown off, I looked to my right and noticed that the cousin who was responsible for killing my character was only about eight years old, and there were even younger cousins standing behind me watching our game. Suddenly I started to worry about my little cousins, and by the end of the night I was thinking about all the small children in this same situation.
What does violence like that do to a kid? It is well established that young children (by young I mean between ages 6-10: the effect of games on teenagers is an entirely different matter that I will not bother getting into) have a natural tendency to absorb and imitate almost everything they see. Considering this bit of common knowledge, it seems obvious that exposure to intensely violent and disturbing games such as GTA IV, Dead Space, and Call of Duty: World at War is terrible for a developing child’s behavior and psychological state.
Still, many young kids in America are playing these games, and so far the government has made no laws to stop it. Measures exist to protect children, but the are not enough. Some private organizations (namely the ESRB) do rate games to suggest what is safe for children to play. Some stores such as GameStop that will not sell “Mature”-rated games to children, but methods such as these are far from enough. Many vendors such as Best Buy will sell any game to anyone, and many parents see no problem in buying an inappropriate game from GameStop and giving it to their children. The United States needs a better system of game censorship, and it is the government’s duty to provide us with such a system.
Doubts exist about the effectiveness of legal regulations on inappropriate game sales. As SHHS junior Marco Garcia stated, “it doesn’t matter what’s illegal or legal, people will always be getting things they’re not supposed to.” Although it is true that simply making a law cannot guarantee that something will not happen, possible ineffectiveness is not an excuse for a law to not exist. In 2008, only 12.5% of all burglary cases in the USA were cleared  (meaning someone was declared guilty of the crime), yet burglary still remains illegal. The government does not base its laws on whether or not they are easy to enforce; it bases its laws on what is just and what will protect the people of the country. So for the protection of our country’s children and their healthy development, it should no longer be legal for a eight-year-old to get his or her hands on a M-rated game.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Sites 44

Jumping off the morning’s post about why video-game legislation would be ineffective, here are related sites for that. People like Jack Thompson are usually unemphatic and fail to view gaming through the eyes of a gamer, thus, their accusations come off as ignorant and malicious. It’s relieving to find well researched and unbiased studies on the effects of violent games. Highly recommended reading. Neutral and unbiased dialogue. The most vocal, and if not ignorant and immoral, critic of video games  Welcome to the Jungle

More will come on this topic later. Until we meet again!

Why Video-Game Legislation Would Be Ineffective

There is no denying that exposure to violent video games has an adverse effect on young children. Playing through Ocarina of Time's Shadow Temple at the young age of four was slightly disturbing for me. Although I am unfazed by games like Half-Life 2 and Gears of War now, I expect that young children would find the gore in such games hard to swallow. Most video-game publishers engage in self-censorship, console manufacturers place restriction on the development of AO-rated games for their systems and retailers refuse to sell M-rated games to young children. Despite this, young children can still circumvent these systems and access potentially disturbing games. Politicians have called for sharper legislature to prevent the access of such games from minors. However, legislation restricting minors from accessing disturbing games would be ineffectual, if not wholly unethical. Screenshot of MadWorld for Wii

Postal 2 was released to major ridicule from both opponents and proponents of gaming, politicians decried the game in Congress while critics dismissed it as a bad game devoid of any entertaining facets, made solely shock its players. While video game legislation would prevent the sale of sadistic games such as Postal 2 to minors in retail stores, many other methods of acquisition, including piracy, online distribution and simply having an adult purchase a game for a minor, go unaccounted for. In addition, the underground indie development scene made of individual hobbyists cannot be regulated by legislation. While some indie developers such as 2D Boy (World of Goo) and Jonathan Blow (Braid) have their games published and regulated by mainstream distributors, the great majority of hobbyist developers self-publish their works. Self-published and open-source games like SuperTuxKart are regulated by neither publishers or legislation. Thus, indie games like Super Columbine Massacre RPG lie out of anyone's realm of control.