The Blood is the Life for 21-10-2017

Oct. 21st, 2017 11:00 am
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Posted by Jim Sterling
Jimquisition Merch

Some folks have been lukewarm on Pinball FX3, but personally I’m digging the hell out of it.

Plus, that sort of backwards compatibility and “pay for the game you want” model is a rare and pleasant sight.

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Putting this behind a cut given the “Guy In Your Office Who Gives Weird Backrubs And Ends Every Sentence With ‘That’s What She Said’ Is Totally #IBelieveYou About Your #MeToo Social Media Posts” and “Pretty Much Every Movie You Loved In The 1990s Is Now Kinda Gross To Think About” week we’ve had.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’m a lady who has been friends with this guy for about a decade. He moved away to a nearby city a few years ago for post doc work so most of our conversations are through WhatsApp and Skype. A couple times a year we’ll visit and sleep on each other’s couches. We’re both unattached hetero-ish opposite gendered folk, but I have talked about how I’m basically asexual and never looking for anyone and he’s looking for someone to marry and have babies with. So that’s been discussed while neatly avoiding the ‘I’m not into you like that’ more direct conversation. We have always just been normal friends who are friends. I really like hiking, and he’s one of my only friends who shares that hobby so it’s something we’ve also done a lot together. A decade. No issues.

We went on a weekend camping/hiking trip this summer, and on one of the days we trekked out to a beach that happened to be clothing optional. He asked me if I was OK with him being naked. I said that while I would rather be clothed myself, I didn’t mind in the context of our hanging out sunbathing and reading our respective books at a nude beach if he’d rather ‘run free’. Since then, he’s casually WhatsApp’d me a few articles that tangentially relate to nudism. It’s clearly on his mind. “Look-these Germans are totally fine with going to the sauna naked with co-workers!” Neat. “Hey, have you seen this BBC article about naked co-ed swimming pools in Poland? It’s nice they’re comfortable about perfectly natural human bodies.” Sure, that’s cool. “Isn’t it terrible how clothing is used as such a marker of class and social difference?” I guess that’s true. Why are we so weird about bodies? But also, I like my tyranny of clothing?

Then I went out for another visit. Crashed on the couch as ever. Everything perfectly non sexual. We talked philosophy, pop culture, politics, hiking, the usual. In the morning I was getting ready to leave and he came out of the shower while I was packing up. “Do you have the bus schedule?” I asked, and as he checked the times he just fully removed his towel-one-Mississippi-two-excruciating-Mississippi-before tucking it back around his waist. I averted my eyes in panic and then said nothing, because, well, you’re the Captain of Awkward. You know.

He moved apartments just after our trip, and I’d been asking to see what his new place looked like. “Give me the virtual tour!” I suggested. He WhatsApp’d back a five minute video. Wow, it does have great lighting! And there he is casually narrating how great the appliances are here and the closet space is there, and 4 minutes in, in full view of the mirrored closet doors but not looking at them, he’s just totally naked. Dick a swinging. OK, I thought. Plausible deniability… it was a heat wave. Maybe he wasn’t thinking about the mirrors? Maybe he was, and he’s just chill with the human body? I can’t be chill this way. But I said nothing. Pretended that wasn’t in there. “Love the counter-tops” I wrote.

A few weeks have gone by. Conversations on WhatsApp are normal. “Maybe we can do more camping and hiking next summer?” he asked. Maybe. A few days ago I sent him some photos of a new hiking bag I’d gotten. He’d been shopping too. “And on sale because it’s end of season!” declared the caption on a perfectly innocuous photo: a box of new hiking boots on his living room floor. I scrolled past it and replied “Those look way better than the old ones, how much?” And so it went. We move on to other topics. Politics. Hikes. OK, maybe I wouldn’t have to deal with this situation. Things are… fine? But going back through the photos today, I clicked on the boots image this time to see them better and there, in the now fully expanded view on my phone, was his dick. Just hanging out in the bottom corner of the image. NothingwrongwithbodiesbutcomeONadickisnotahandoraknee….WHAT DO.

Lest I make you do the summarizing work yourself, here is a less full-picture but probably sufficient TLDR alternative:

Dear Captain Awkward,

I am a lady whose close decade long platonic friendship with a dude has taken an awkward turn. He lives out of town now, so we mostly communicate online with the odd visit to one another’s respective city. We both share a passion for hiking. We stopped by a clothing optional beach when hiking earlier in the year, and he asked if I was cool if he took advantage and let it all hang out whilst we sunbathed. I said that was fine, though I was gonna carry on wearing my clothes and enjoying my book. Since then he’s sent me a number of ‘isn’t nudism/naturism? great’ articles. OK, fine. What even are bodies anyway. The menace of class expression through clothing and the joy of non sexual naked bodies has been a recurring theme in his recent ‘check out this news link’ communication.

When I crashed at his place during my most recent visit, he let his towel slip for a moment too long after getting out of the shower, but I said nothing. A few weeks later he sent me a video tour of his new apartment where four minutes in he’s just casually and totally naked in the reflection of his mirrored closet doors. Just for a short few seconds. There was a heat wave. He’s maybe a nudist/naturist now? I was uncomfortable but pretended it didn’t happen. Now this week we exchanged innocuous ‘cool new hiking gear purchases!’ photos. But I realized upon expanding the shot of his hiking boots that his footwear was photo bombed by his dick. It’s autumn. There is no heat wave. Nudism surely does not equal what feels like stealth dick pics. WHAT DO? :/

Hi there! I included both the longer version and the TL;dr because you summed it up so well in both.

So, your friend is exploring nudism. Many people in the world are into that. There are clubs, days, events, hikes, bike rides, runs, online communities, resorts, and an entire Wikipedia page for “nude recreation.” Your friend can be free-falling and free-balling in the great outdoors as long as he a) finds like-minded people (i.e. not you) and b) he respects certain limits.

Speaking of limits, your friend is testing yours by repeatedly showing you his bathing suit area. He started with “accidentally-on-purpose” towel drops and escalated to “Oh hai, my apartment tour has some very special features!” Not cool. The chances that the hiking boots were accidentally photobombed by his junk approach .001%., though to be clear I don’t actually care if it was an accident.

We could spend a lot of time discussing his intentions, does he MEAN IT-mean it like, in a sexual way, or is it just part of his new lifestyle and he’s really comfortable with you vs. is he trying to be creepy/provocative, is it just a mistake where he thought because he asked you that one time that it’s okay forever,  is it just that he’s too shy/socially awkward to ask you about it again (though somehow not too shy to do it). And, why stop at “shy/socially awkward” as descriptors? Why not dive into his entire psychological makeup and history for explanations so we can find a diagnosis that would make this somehow less his fault? Or, we could try to separate a clear pattern of behavior into totally unique isolated incidents that definitely do not have anything to do with each other and definitely do not have anything to do with gender or misogyny or culture. We could write it all off as probably “harmless,” we could discuss body positivity and why are people so weird about a little bit of nudity it’s not all sexual/why are we making it that way with our dirty minds and narrow-minded upbringing, are we some kind of prudes or something? We could do the 1,000 other absurd, exhausting mental and emotional gymnastics where we deep-dive into the intentions and feelings of men and try to find the most reasonable, gentle, benefit-of-the-doubt approach that won’t startle them or make them feel bad for even a second about the things they do to women.

I think there are two questions women can ask themselves when a man does something that creeps them out that are way better than “but did he MEAN IT-mean it”:

  1. Does he do this behavior to other men? Do his dad or his boss or his male buddy have to say “Whoa dude, consider the pants” when they chat with him?
  2. Do we think he’s doing even a tenth of the emotional labor in this situation that you are? 1/100th? 1/1000th?

This week has felt like a century. I don’t know about y’all but I’m done with doing this much work around men behaving badly.

Here are the facts:

1) Your friend repeatedly exposed himself to you.

2) You don’t like it and you want it to stop.

That’s enough. That’s enough to block him from your life if you want to without any further communication or work on your part. It’s enough to change whole story to “I had this really lovely friend for 10 years but then it got weird between us and we’re not friends anymore.”

It’s certainly enough to send him a text that says: “Can you make sure to put on clothes if we’re going to video-chat? Thanks.

See also:

  • “Can you make 100% sure that your penis doesn’t show up in photos you share with me, thanks.”
  • I’m glad you’re enjoying all that. I don’t really like reading or talking about it with you, so you should find someone else to send these articles to.”
  • Also, while we’re talking, that hiking day at the clothing optional beach was a one-time thing for me, please opt for pants when we’re talking or hanging out in the future.”
  • I don’t like that.” = Good general script for unwanted nudes.

If your friend has sad or embarrassed feelings about what he’s done…okay? Good? He should feel some awkwardness about making his friend so uncomfortable? He should be the one writing to advice columnists right now about how he’s really into this new hobby and he’s afraid and uncomfortable about maybe fucking up a great friendship by getting carried away with it and constantly showing her his penis, so, how can he apologize and how can he make it right.

Honestly, if you tell him to knock this off, “I’m really sorry I made you uncomfortable” + STOPPING THE BEHAVIOR AND DROPPING THE SUBJECT IMMEDIATELY & FOREVER = is pretty much the only acceptable reaction from him. If he gives you an iota of pushback about this, your friendship is probably over. “Wait, did you think I was harassing you? I was just enthusiastic about my fun hobby!” = “Cool story. But now you know that I don’t like it, so, STAHP.”

If that pushback becomes about how this is all your fault somehow, like “But you said it was okay that day when we were hiking, it’s not fair for you to change the rules on me now” or  “I didn’t think you were such a prude,” we’ve crossed over into friendship-is-over-with-extreme-prejudice territory. “It was an accident and I didn’t mean it, but, also, it was all the woman’s fault since I reasonably and objectively assumed she liked it” is not how great guys who are safe to be around talk when they get busted for behaving badly.

I’m so sorry, this sucks and none of it is your fault. Neither his penis nor his feelings are your work to manage.






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So, it used to be that we hadn’t upgraded to Windows 10 because our IT department hadn’t cleared it as “secure” enough (it’s not that it wasn’t secure, it just hadn’t gone through the security affirmation process). Now apparently it is, since they upgraded me to 10. I’ve never really had 10; I decided not to upgrade my personal laptop, though for a while the laptop I used for travel had it. 

I know this is just me getting older, but I am weirdly suspicious not of Windows 10 as a system but of the Windows 10 aesthetic. Everything is too smooth and square. Things that should be rounded are pointy and things that should be pointy are rounded. Everything is well-animated and in soothing pastel greys. 

I come from an era where computers weren’t even MEANT to be soothing, where it was just accepted that they would challenge you visually as well as implicitly. And I’m not saying we should go back to a Windows 3.0 aesthetic or anything, I don’t want computers to be difficult, I’m just saying. It’s…

It’s quiet. Too quiet. 

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Posted by Jim Sterling

Don’t even pretend you didn’t see this coming a mile away.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War has become more famous for its boundary-pushing loot box system than anything else – and that’s a good thing, because any game designed to fleece its customers and exploit those with addictive personalities deserves to be known for nothing else.

While most professional critics glossed over the microtransactions – which, for all their defenders, really have had a dire impact on the game’s entire structure – many others have voiced extreme displeasure at this gacha simulator passing itself off as a “AAA” game.

And you know what means… it’s time for a METABOMB.

The PS4 version got off lightest, with an average user review score of 3.5. The Xbox One version has an average of 2.8 while the PC alternative brings up the rear with 2.6. Check ’em out for yourself if you’re brave.

Common criticisms are exactly what one might expect – the microtransactions and other DLC shenanigans are well documented, while others complain about the (quite related) grind enforced upon players.

As always, I’ve scoured the wastes of Mordor to bring you the funniest, strangest, brightest and bestest user reviews Metacritic has to offer.

ConnorMak kicks things off, but is adamant their score isn’t about the microtransactions (though personally I’d say that the grind is inherently tied to them).

No, the low score is not because of the infamous micro transactions. It’s because the game is a frustrating and boring grind. Wait until after Xmas and pick it up for under $20. $10 if you wait longer. (4/10)

Some reviews are… unique… in their critical approach. Here’s Valtazarkane with a sizzlingly hot take.

A strong middle-aged man. A strong middle-aged man.A strong middle-aged man.A strong middle-aged man.A strong middle-aged man.A strong middle-aged man.A strong middle-aged man. (5/10)

IonStorm delivers some simple truth.

The game would have been great if it wasn’t made intentionally grindy so that I pay real money for what is essentially cheat codes also known as loot boxes. These people have no shame. (0/10)

Meanwhile, ryxerg is an adamant defender of the game’s economy, sadly parroting the propaganda utilized to make microtransactions sound okay.

All the microtransactions are LIES! you can purchase every item in the game via daily mission, and the grinding system are Middle-Earth WAY, if you don’t like it just don’t buy the game!
The story are a little bit linear but its good anyway, the main reason you want to buy this game is about the gameplay not the story.
The gameplay looks nice, but the control of the main char are not too good, i play it on my ps4 slim and the main char sometimes do something that i don’t want him to do.
Overall the game is good but need some improvement at graphic and controlling (7/10)

Sure, the game’s grind and repetitiveness can fuck off, but Ubisoft comparisons are a bit harsh, axel64701. Actually no, they’re very apt. Carry on, even if your review reads like a “presidential” tweet.

Wow , this is like a ubisoft game, it’s so boring,so repetitive ,so grindy..and ACT 4 is a disgrace to us all, just to take some bucks from microtransactions… very very low game, we have to discourage this type of games. (0/10)

See, xavla91 gets it.

“You don’t need lootboxes and can play through the whole game without a problem” that is if you are willing to grind your ass off with repetitive battles to slowly raise your level… The beginning is fun and progressing as expected, but after leaving Minas Tirith you are suddenly stuck with endless grinding and meaningless story missions on the side….

Thanks to the proper early phase it does not get ZERO points as it deserves for being a greedy **** (3/10)

I’m going to truncate hollday_hawk’s giant unbroken block of text, but I need to post highlights because this attitude is a major problem. Here, the reviewer claims microtransactions have NO impact on the game, but then complains about all the ways the game’s design – which has been built entirely to make microtransactions enticing – has impacted their experience.

The disconnect people have between these two things is an issue that needs rectifying.

I’d like to start by saying that micro-transactions have almost no affect on the game. I’m one trophy away from beating the game while platinuming it on PS4 and have not spent a cent on the game. If today’s gaming community is foolish enough to buy them then I can’t blame the developers for putting them in. With that said, Shadow of War is one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had in a while…

… There are far too many collectables, far too many missions for each faction, and the end-game fortress capture is horrible. I can’t believe that when this game was playtested (and it’s polished enough that I know it was well playtested) no one said “doing the same type of mission four times isn’t fun, how about making fewer, but more memorable missions.”…

… I’ll just say that the final chapter of the game requires to defend your forts over and over again, each fort multiple times. This mechanic goes from amazing to beyond annoying so quickly. I found myself tired of it before the final act…

… The developers should have left it a short, fun romp leaving you wanting more instead of a long, drawn out process leaving you wishing it was over. (6/10)

Others, like nLcouou, see the grind for what it really is.

An otherwise good game ruined by loot-boxes, micro-transactions, pre-order bonuses and different editions. I advise anyone to boycott this game and all other games with these anti-consumer business strategies. Even just buying the game but not the scummy stuff still shows the publisher that you’re okay paying for a game where it is in it, regardless of if you use it or not. They will intentionally make the game more tedious and/or difficult if you don’t buy their greddy sh!!t to encourage you to buy it. Want an example? Just look at GTA V Online. While it might not seem too devastating now, If we allow this stuff to happen, it will only get worse over time. If you pay for a AAA priced game you should get the full experience, no excuses (real expansions made afterwards is an exception, of course).  (0/10)

Oh my God… did this person just say that people who dislike Shadow of War are fucking TERRORISTS? Uh, samadhi2016, my friend, what drugs do you have and can I have some of your drugs?

I consider that metacritic should take urgent action against people who put zero (0) to a game causing great damage, many will be haters and other terrorist companies, a game is a play and however bad it may be may lead a 4 or 5 of note, but zero ?, I hope metacritic take this orientation pages as 3d games and are taking with the people hater, this game is a good game, in history, playability and fulfills its mission (9/10)

GoddamnVIctor almost gets it, but again their disconnect suggests maybe I need to do a video about how microtransactions actually change the way games work.

A sad thing about this game is that the lootbox controversy is completely taking attention away from how much this game is lacking in creativity as a sequel, the story is great for Tolkien fans but there is just SO MUCH GRIND to go thru, and there are so little improvements to core gameplay, graphics look the same, menus are still ugly as hell (I think they are the same of the past game even).

The game deserves a hall of fame place on how little improvement they have made, it is the laziest sequel I have played ever and would really like my TIME back (0/10)

Basicbic is being hyperbolic with much of this, but the word “predatory” is one that can’t get used enough. That’s exactly what any system based on making money from “whales” is. It’s pure predation, plain n’ simple.

Full of predatory forced in-game purchases. This game developer lacks the integrity required to get your business. Avoid this game and any other game released by Warner Bros. at all costs. (0/10)

DeadlyLemming brings up something I don’t see mentioned enough. As bad as it is that the loot boxes are in the game, the process of using them is terribly implemented and a total drag.

Amazing underlying gameplay which makes it all the more heartbreaking that they leave a large amount of fun items and orcs exclusively for people who pay extra real money. Its like they tried to make the normal game as underwhelming as possible (for a game with such potential) so that you would have to buy golden/mithril chests just to have unique loot with any amount of flair. Sadly the loot/market system itself is also so cumbersome it is undoubted the game would be better off without it. (4/10)

I can’t find much wrong with Asallah’s interpretation. The skills part is relatable the more I play – I’m at a point in the game now where I keep gaining skill points but can’t even be bothered to spend them – there’s nothing I want anymore.

Huge fan of the first one, I bought this one day one.

It was a huge mistake:
-It’s exactly the same game
-It’s full of bugs (character stuck, bugged quests,…)
-It’s super repetitive
-90% of skills are useless
-Can’t skip Orcs’ speech (trust me after several hours you CAN’T stand it anymore)
-Graphics are very meh
-I’m ok with lore “twists” but here the story is super basic and poorly written
-And the cherry on the cake: microtransactions, it’s totally UNACCEPTABLE
-Secondary characters are super cliche

If you don’t pay, either use a cheat engine to finish it or stop midway and watch the real end on youtube. It’s litteraly dozens of hours of grinding. (4/10)

As always, some of the 10/10 reviews act as aggressive marketing. Here’s Veronus chatting utter bullshit about the game. Trust you? I think not, friend.

Haven’t spent a penny on micro-transactions. This game rules them all and it’s easily a 10. Such a great job making this game EPIC and addictive. Unfortunately too many people have seen that you can buy orcs and items (if you choose) and assume that it’s a pay to win. Simply put that is dead wrong. Nothing is going to make this game EASIER, and while it might be nice to have some extra gear or orcs around they are not required, simple jump off the tower go recruit and don’t spend $$. A great job of giving players a choice has blown back in Monolith’s face because of a fickle demographic. Don’t miss out on this game because of cosmetics. Trust Me. (10/10)

theplayer23 keeps it concise.

Although the game looks very good – MT MT MT – oh and MT MT and than some more MT –
i am blessed that waited till my friend buy this game. now I know I will never buy it. (4/10)

I’m adding Abdul701’s review because they’re the first person outside of me to suggest Warner Bros. Interactive is as bad as the rest of ’em.

I don’t normally write reviews, but I think this has to be said: don’t buy this game. If you buy this game, you are supporting one of the largest anti-consumer companies I’ve ever seen. I’d say that at this point, WB Games is even worse than EA.

The only reward for the grind is more grind, lootboxes are unnescessary. Also microtranactions for loot things really? (0/10)

Exactly, Chronos1. Exactly.

Not acceptable to make a awesome game and then load it up with greedy MT and lootcrates.. sure you don’t have to buy them but it was clear they made the game extremely grindy towards the end in order to try to get lazy people to pay $$ for lootcrates.. this is why your game fails and guess what?? BF II will fail also because you **** never learn. (0/10)

CuteHat’s plan to “quarantine and destroy” games like Shadow of War absolutely delights me.

I shouldn’t have to pay full-price for a game with microtransactions, especially one with some awful lootbox casino. These games need to be destroyed, they should never exist. OpenCritic has the right of it, making a separate category for games with lootbox gambling, because they are indeed not games, they don’t exist to entertain, they’re worthless and stupid and need to be quarantined and destroyed, and the freaks who made this game need to be punished and ruined for it. (0/10)

I have no fucking idea what game easterfields played.

Anything less than a 9 for this masterpiece is a crime against gaming! This whole package is a masterpiece. People whining and wetting themselves over the loot feature havent even played the fantastic story mode. Buy this game and appreciate it for what it is, one of the most fun adventures (and best looking) around. Warning though! The AI, aka Nemesis System, is scary good. (10/10)

Sadly, GuerillaTaktics, this is where the “it’s just cosmetic” argument led us. As I’ve said a dozen times, you give publishers an inch and they take everything.

Can we stop with the microtransactions already? This is a single player only game and they still managed to throw in a loot box mechanic, the only games where microtransactions are a good thing is when they are purely cosmetic. (0/10)

That nun from Game of Thrones reviews games? And calls herself PsychedelicRA? Mindblowing!

Shame Shame Shame ! I’m very disappointed. Down with the micro-transactions !!! This is a real shame. I wait so long to get this money starving machine. (0/10)

When you’re done reading Dimitris29’s review, why not book yourself a trip to a beautiful little town called Stepford?

All the people are hating just cause of the microtransactions… They AREN’T required to complete the game. Stop b****ing and just enjoy the game. I’ve played for 5 hours so far and enjoyed every second. Story is good, gameplay is great, Nemesis system is fantastic. You complaining about the microtransactions isn’t gonna change anything. Just play the game without them. Everything about SoW is great! (10/10)

Well, I’ll give Wallasuko some points for effort. Delivery could’ve been better.

“I’m starvin. We aint had nothin’ but maggoty fans for three stinking years!”
“Mmmyeah! why cant we haves some money!… what about microtransactions? they’re fresh!”
“What about loot boxes? they need those! Aww they look tasty!”


When I see reviews like ArchibaldDuke’s, I like to think The Jimquisition is rubbing off on people. No wonder GameStop’s sick of me.

Micro-transactions in $60 single player games. $60 single player games with premium editions. With gold editions. With.. well, you understand. The greed obviously knows no limits. (0/10)

Jesus Leenat40, I agree they’re bad, but you make even me look reserved about it.

Cancer cancer cancer cancer! Loot boxes are cancer and this game is cancer. Please do not buy it, if you don’t want to support trash like this. We need to put a foot down and say: NO. (0/10)

The nun’s back, and she’s changed her name to Celestinos.

they finished the game doing these microtransactions to be able to continue in the history, this is a shame! the gamer community has to come together for this kind of thing not to invade the consoles.
shame, shame, shame! (0/10)

CccyrussS’ contribution just makes me giggle a lot.

I don’t dislike this game because of microtransactions. I hate this game because I hate the stupid Orcs jabbering at you for 5 minutes before and after you get killed by them. I just can’t stand it. Also the fighting is ridiculous dumb compared to something like Dark Souls. I just got the game yesterday and I’m bored to Tears by it and I almost threw my controller at my TV to try to get the Orcs to shut up and that’s not a good sign. (1/10)

That’s what I’ve been trying to tell them, Lgit!

This microtransaction crap has to stop. For God’s sake. It’s a 60$ singleplayer game. We already paid for the game. If you buy this, you encourage the companies to put more of this crap into next games. And don’t tell me this **** “you don’t have to pay for microtransactions” Are you really so naive thinking that the game won’t be designed in a specific way to make you pay for it sooner or later? Endless grind and other ****? No, thanks. DON”T BUY THIS. (0/10)

epistm87 even brought up the Shexy Shelob, though I’m not sure “wea2boos” would be the target demographic here, whatever they are.

making a giant spider a sex figure for wea2boos.
Microtransactions in single game.
this is not cheapy mobile game.
dont buy this game in full price . (0/10)

Typh is doing the “sarcastic review” thing, not realizing that a score of 0 is still a score of 0, regardless of intent. Not that user reviews matter. Not that anything matters.

Absolutely brilliant gameplay! So addictive, and I’m probably shooting myself in the foot for saying this, but best game I’ve played since I could remember. They’ve made improvements to literally everything that made Shadow of Mordor shine, which I thought would be impossible. This will surely resonate in me for future nostalgia. Rating it a 0 however, because it has microtransactions…still not sure what they are, but apparently they make a game unplayable I’ve heard. (0/10)

I’m gonna leave us with Midirataj who… in a MASSIVE TWIST… is the nun from Game of Thrones!

I don’t write reviews. A lot of people do that for living and passion. I am more of a introvert.
I always took refugee in games. I found acceptance and friends there. It allowed me to feel able and free, unlike in real world. Once you are in the game you are not ugly, stupid or poor, or pretty, smart and rich. We are all adventurers. We are all EQUAL. We are all what we want to be, commit our time and effort to excel in what we believe in. We had to earn everything with our bare mouse and keyboard and gamepad.
Microtransactions is killing the heart and soul of gaming.
Wanna be more powerful? Pay up!
Wanna look cool? Pay up!
Don’t worry we made your beloved game a piece of grindy mobile dumpster.
And Publishers say it is for your own freedom of choice.
A testament to greed and falsehood.

Bad Cells. So Many Bad Cells.

Oct. 20th, 2017 12:26 pm
[syndicated profile] in_the_pipeline_feed

Posted by Derek Lowe

Let’s file this one under “We’ve seen this before, and I’ll bet we’ll see it again”. Anyone who’s worked for some years in cell culture (or with people who have) should appreciate the dangers of cell line contamination. You can get mycoplasma, you can get other cell lines entirely (particularly others that are more vigorous and hardy than the ones you’re trying to grow), and you can get viral thingies that cause you so much trouble that your entire company gets bought by someone else.

Here’s a new paper in PLoS ONE that tries to get a handle on the problem. The real kicker is that some of these cell lines became contaminated along the way, so that earlier papers and later ones in the field are actually referring to different cells. And others became contaminated (or mis-identified) so early that basically all of the literature on them is mistaken. Warnings have taken place about this stuff again and again, and the current literature is surely cleaner than the older papers. But how bad is it in the published record?

By correlating the literature with a list of known contaminated cell lines (many of them invaded by HeLa cells), the authors estimate a lower bound of over 32,000 papers that have worked on the wrong cells, compared to what they report. In turn, these papers are cited by at least 500,000 more articles, and that total excludes self-citations. And as the authors note, they were quite conservative with their name strings in the searches, so although there are also still a few false positives in those numbers, they are surely tiny compared to the false negatives – the mistaken papers that haven’t been flagged yet. A representative example:

In a 1994 report, the establishment of a group of novel thymic cell lines (F2-4E5, F2-5B6, P1-1A3 and P1-4D6) [39] was announced. In a report by MacLeod et al. [40], the cell lines were found to be misidentified, having been derived in fact from a liver carcinoma. In total, 69 articles were found that refer to these cell lines, in turn cited by 2092 articles. Of the primary articles, 43 were published after the report by MacLeod et al. and the most recent one was published only in late 2016 [41]. Of the fifteen most recent articles referring to the 1994 report, thirteen actually refer to it because they use the cell lines, all thirteen reporting research on thymic cells, without mentioning any knowledge of the misidentification of these cell lines. The other two articles refer to the establishing article for the sake of the method used in it to establish novel cell lines.

So yeah, there’s a lot of crap out there. All you folks who are trying to machine-learn your way through the medical literature, you now have a half million more papers to flag: and remember, there are plenty more where those came from. And as the authors note ruefully, just flagging a cell line as misidentified is not enough to stop people from using it. The “Chang Liver” cell line was established in the early 1950s, but as early as 1967 it was suspected to actually be yet another culture of HeLa cells. Ten years later, more evidence was presented, but the cell line originator argued at the time that these were real liver cells that had changed in cell culture, not HeLa. The question was resolved beyond doubt in 2001, so that should have been that. Right?

Wrong. A search through the literature will show “Chang liver” cells are still being used as if they were liver cells, with no mention of the misidentification. Hundreds of papers in the last fifteen years have done so, and their appearance in the literature shows no signs of going down. If anything, it may be slightly increasing. This new paper finds the same trend. The number of papers citing cell lines that are known to be wrong is increasing – perhaps not as a percentage of all scientific papers, but it sure isn’t going down, despite numerous warnings and exhortations.

You’d think that this would largely be a problem for areas where research has not been as well established, or where appropriate safeguards haven’t yet been put in place. For example, a 2015 report – from China – suggested that 85% of the cell lines established there were wrong, and were almost entirely HeLa cells. This latest work finds that China’s share of the contaminated cell line literature is indeed rising rapidly (like, congratulations, guys), but that the majority of such papers are still from the US, Japan, Germany, and the like. No one has any room to feel superior, for all have HeLa-ed.

What to do? At the very least, the authors suggest, we could flag these papers in the databases with a note that they used a cell line that is known to be misidentified. Later readers can then deal with them as they will. But for papers going forward, I’m stumped. Nothing seems to have worked. Just as with bad chemical probes, people just plow right ahead no matter how many warning flares you send up. Any ideas?

The Blood is the Life for 20-10-2017

Oct. 20th, 2017 12:00 pm
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
miss_s_b: (feminist heroes: Sarah Jane Smith)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
... and while not everybody on these two playlists fits the definition of feminist or metal (especially not metal, TBH) I would say that these two spotify playlists are the place to start:

Emma Jay Olsen's Angry Feminist Playlist
and my very own Ladies Who Rock

But in terms of feminist metal bands, you can't go far wrong with:

Hysterica (esp Heels)
McQueen (esp Not For Sale)
Wicked Wisdom (esp You Can't Handle)
Halestorm (esp Rock Show - principally because I've never heard anything capture that feeling better)
In This Moment (esp Comanche - we've took all we can and we won't take any more)
and of course
Skunk Anansie (esp Rise Up)
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
So, I think someone high up in management at my institution got hacked last year or something, since in the past year we have developed some serious paranoia regarding data security. Not to say that data security isn’t important or that I dislike the changes, I think they are for the most part sensible, but we went from like, zero to Steranko-System-in-Leverage in the course of a month or two. 

The latest development is a mysterious edict that we all have to leave our computers at work but logged out tonight so that they can “encrypt” our computers somehow – I assume it’s some kind of software they’re going to install, but there’s been a dearth of information over what exactly this Encryption Of Computers entails. Furthermore, I was told that my computer is incompatible with encryption (loose lips sink ships, laptop!) so it will have to be wiped completely and upgraded. Which I’m fine with, all my work is on a network drive anyway and I just had to remember to move a few files. 

But my laptop apparently heard them and knows it’s being wiped. Yesterday the flash stopped working and today my Outlook has decided to neither send nor receive any email. Additionally, a retail clothing website just broke Firefox so hard it no longer allows me to log into anything. 

What I’m saying is that this laptop is going down swinging, and I kind of admire its fighting spirit, but goddamn, could it not have waited until the end of the workday so I wouldn’t have to use Microsoft Webmail to do the last two hours of business today. 

from Tumblr
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Not much to report back, really. It was the debrief meeting. It was mostly us examining the things you lot had reported back to us.

I fed back all the things that you folks asked me to feed back in this and this post; pretty much all of them were received loud and clear. Especially popular was [personal profile] hollymath's suggestion that we put "would you benefit from step-free access" rather than "are you a wheelchair user" on Speaker's cards; this is definitely going to be done, hopefully for spring, but if not then for next autumn.

I've been given more work to do, which is mostly my own fault for volunteering to sort shit out. Nick Da Costa and I have to redesign the end of conference survey, so if you have any specific ideas about that do let me know. Is it too long, too short, too fiddly, etc? What questions do you think should be asked, and which ones do you think should be retired? As usual, I can;t promise to act on every suggestion, but I promise to at least read and respond to every suggestion.

Specifically regarding the app, which I know a few of you talked about: there was a feeling that we've sunk a lot of time and effort into the bespoke app, and it gets better every time - which it definitely does - and the developer is very responsive to requests for changes, so Grenadine is not going to fly. The specific comments about line numbers and clock hiding and too much nesting are definitely going to be fed back to the developer, so if those aren't sorted out for Spring you can take me to one side, spank me, and call me Gerald.

I'm going to go get a well deserved drink now.

FCC Meeting 19th October 2017

Oct. 19th, 2017 06:19 pm
miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
I'm attending this meeting right now, by dialing in to the phone conference machine in the middle of the meeting room.

It's interesting to note who has a clear speaking voice and who doesn't. No, I couldn't possibly name names :P

Will report back on actual happenings later...

ETA: Have just been christened The New Gareth Epps due to my scathing comments about real ale provision; I'm taking that as the compliment it was doubtless meant to be
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

The headline says it all: The Dispatcher is an Amazon Deal of the Day, so you can get it for under a buck on the Kindle. What a deal! But it’s only for the day (October 19, 2017), and it’s for the US and Canada. I’m not sure if the price applies on other retailers today, so you’d have to check it out for yourself. Regardless, if you’ve not picked up this novella yet, today is a good day to do so. Enjoy!

[syndicated profile] thejimquisition_feed

Posted by Jim Sterling

We went far too long without a Father Ted reference.

Anyway, we chat more Shadow of War, discuss The Evil Within 2, and dump on WWE 2K18 a little.

Also, you damn right we chatted about Activision and Visceral.

You can listen/download directly here and get the RSS feed here.

Also, check out Laura Kate at Kotaku UK!

Also also, check out Miracle of Sound’s channel and Patreon page!

[syndicated profile] thejimquisition_feed

Posted by Jim Sterling

This week, the wrestling world was stunned by the long-awaited arrival of Sterdust. As with any good wrestler, merchandise has been made very quickly.

Not as quickly as The Shield, but we’re gettin’ there.

Justin had a brilliant idea for this one, which is why it got done so quick. The shirt lets you have a taste of Sterdom yourself with a design based off his Sterling outfit. Purple, with the silver Jimquisition wings on the front and the Sterdust logo on the back.

Order it now, for Christ’s sake! Don’t just watch the Sters, BE a Ster!

And check out some other tat while you’re there.

Decline of the Midwest?

Oct. 19th, 2017 12:21 pm
[syndicated profile] in_the_pipeline_feed

Posted by Derek Lowe

Here’s an article at The Atlantic (via the Washington Monthly) that should concern anyone involved in R&D. It’s about the funding problems of many of the large public universities, particularly in the Midwest. Chemists will recognize several historically strong departments in that part of the country – but may also have noted that faculty poaching (always a feature of life in academia) seems to have been increasing over the years. The biggest private universities have, for the most part, been operating on a more stable financial footing (and usually at a much higher baseline) than the schools that have to depend on their state legislatures. And state-level financial problems don’t allow for much optimism about where those funding levels will be going.

As the article points out, there are some large public universities (such as the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia) that get more of their funding privately than from public funds. But Ohio State, the University of Wisconsin, Iowa State, and many others are caught in bad positions. It did not pass without notice when Wisconsin fell out of the top five schools in the NSF research rankings for the first time ever.

A continuing slide like that will be bad news, because a lot of research gets done at these places, in a lot of different fields. That matters to science as a whole, and it matters even more to the universities’ regions themselves, where they (and the companies that have spun off from them) are often the main technology-based employers. The risk is that entire sections of the country find themselves sliding off in a different direction – and as someone who did not exactly grow up in a technological wonderland (Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas in the 1970s), I don’t like the sound of that. We have enough places that feel as if they’re stuck years behind everyone else without creating more of them.

I realize that I’m being a bit self-serving here, because I’m implicitly conflating “lack of any scientific research” with second-rateness, and scientific research happens to be what I do for a living. Convenient! But in these cases, we’re looking at places that really have been large-scale research centers that may be allowed to slide into that second-rateness, which is really shameful. I have the greatest respect for the work being done at the Harvards, Stanfords, and MITs, but I don’t think that we should sort of throw up our hands and allow university science to concentrate in their hands alone. There’s too much to do, for one thing, and the more sets of eyes (and hands) we have working on all these topics, the better off we are. Industrial research at least has the startup route, where small companies come along and tackle problems on their own, but starting your own university is not such an easy task. Keeping the ones we have going would seem to be a better plan.

But even in industry, there’s been a tendency towards just this sort of thing, albeit for different reasons. I write this from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and you cannot throw a rock around this neighborhood without going through some biopharma or tech company’s window. Northern New Jersey and Connecticut are not exactly Pennsylvania coal-mining country, but from a biopharma pespective, they’ve been emptying out pretty thoroughly in favor of a few big concentrations, Boston-Cambridge very prominent among them. This is not good for the places getting emptied, but at least the R&D is still being done somewhere new. But no one’s going to relocate Ohio State to a hipper location; it stands or falls where it is. Letting it and the other big public schools decline gives you the worst of both worlds.

Update: as pointed out in the comments, this problem doesn’t break on strictly geographic lines. The state of California, famously, has severe budget and tax-base problems, and that’s been showing up in the funding of the state’s universities. When there’s turmoil at a chemistry department as historically strong as Berkeley’s, then you do have trouble indeed. What we’re looking at is more of a state-versus-private breakdown, rather than a Midwest-versus-the-coasts one; it just so happens that the Midwest has a lot of big public universities with strong research histories.

Update 2: I also meant to include a note about Neal Stephenson’s memories of growing up in Ames, Iowa, in the atmosphere created by the university (in his introduction to David Foster Wallace’s “Everything and More”). Some of that shows up in this interview as well.

The Blood is the Life for 19-10-2017

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:00 am
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