Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Jun 22, 2012

Assassin Country

(A little short story/thought experiment/whatever.)

I wonder, sometimes, if we're now in the business of manufacturing martyrs.

It started as a political theory.  Well, no, it really started because people were fed up.  Fed up with being bled, with nothing to show for it.  So there was a revolution, which is hardly anything new.  With most revolutions, all that changes is whose boot is on whose neck.  It's even worse if the theorists get a hold of it, because we're all just numbers to them.  They have no compunctions and no hesitation when it comes to making those numbers add up.  Somehow, we pulled the lucky number.  Or maybe this is God's little joke and we just haven't seen it yet.

I don't know most of the details, and those I do know I shouldn't write down.  Or speak about.  It might just be superstition, but most of what keeps us alive is what people don't know.  It buys us a little more time, another few minutes when the Republic of Naught isn't being invaded or bombed or glared at by the U.N.

Even our name is a joke.

It's a horrible thing, to survive buying your life a few minutes at a time.  If we're still lucky, things will get better, and we won't be the Most Important Thing to anyone any more.  That's what we really want; for people to forget we exist.

Anyway, the Boss has a new job for me, so it's my turn again to go out and maybe die for my country.  He seems to understand my mixed feelings about this; he's a regular guy underneath all the Orwell and Heinlein and Rand novels.  He doesn't expect a True Believer, doesn't want one, even.  He called me because I volunteered and I haven't quit yet.

And I'm a pretty good shot.

How does a small country survive when everyone around is bigger and better-armed?  It should be impossible.  They should roll over us and not even notice, like giants stirring in their sleep.  So, instead, we knock off the ones who make the threatening noises.  Kill the man before he gives orders to kill us.  That's our theory.

Is it working?  Who can say?  In practice we don't dare get too ambitious, and picking the right targets means you have to be practically omniscient.  Sooner or later, it just has to fail.  It's a strange country.

We're all assassins now.

Jun 17, 2012

Orange Spice Low-Carb Ice Cream

So, I got an ice cream maker.  I made chocolate for my first batch (you're shocked, I know) and it was okay but Adam was right when he said it was a tad chalky.  Plus, I thought it was too sweet.  Ice cream takes a little practice to get right because the cold sensation and the fat content changes how you perceive the sweetness, so I added more sweetener than I normally would have and it was too much.  I think if I decide to make chocolate again I'm going to heat the coconut milk so it'll absorb the cocoa powder better, then add the cream and chill it overnight.

Anyway, for my second batch today I made an orange spice flavor, and it is awesome.  My only regret was that I couldn't fit my head in the freezer tub to lick it completely clean.  Probably best anyway, not sure I'd want to explain to Adam later what all the white stuff in my hair was.

Here's the recipe I used (somewhat approximate)

1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon orange extract
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup xylitol or other non-caloric sweetener (adjust to taste--non-caloric sweeteners vary enormously)
Zest of one orange
juice of one orange
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk drink
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Basically just mix it all up in a bowl and pour it in your prepared ice-cream maker. I chilled the mixture overnight but I don't think this is mandatory, also the fat may separate out when you do this.  When it's done churning I decant it out, put it in tupperware (after resisting the urge to lick the apparatus), and freeze it for at least a couple of hours to let it stiffen up a bit. I  Some ice cream recipes use egg yolks but I haven't found this to be necessary, it makes the ice cream stiffer (and yellower) if you like it that way.

Jun 16, 2012

Saw this Coming

So, S. Korea has banned the sale of virtual items for real money.

There's really nothing more to say about this.  It's a stupid violation of people's rights, supposedly to "help combat crime" or because "games should be entertainment".  What a crock.  You don't combat crime by turning perhaps millions of previously honest citizens into criminals.

The funny part, to me, is that they don't seem to realize that they have basically BANNED INFORMATION by doing this.  You could argue that they've also now banned e-books and Netflix.  After all, a digital movie is a "virtual item".  What else does this stupid policy cover?  Cell phone minutes?  Online airplane tickets?

Oh, the wording probably restricts it to items that are used "in games", but that doesn't make it any less stupid. If the game producers have any sense, they'll shut down their offices in Korea, not release games there, not localize games for Korea, and basically treat the country as though it's ceased to exist, because you don't have any clue what kind of innocent-seeming transaction could land you with a $50,000 fine and 5 years in jail.

You'd think game companies were peddling child pornography, not imaginary swords and ammo.