Monthly Archives: September 2012

Wii, Bike, Jazz, Xen, NGINX

Not long ago an incredible games console was released that had astounding graphics and sound. Never having been into video games, I never bought one; they were expensive and so were the games. But there was one game that really intrigued me and could inspire long sessions playing on other people’s consoles. It was only today that I realised Ecco The Dolphin was released on the Sega Mega-Drive (Genesis) 20 years ago. 20 bloody years ago! How the hell did that happen? Time is cruel.
Some updates:

  • We got given a Wii by some lovely friends who are leaving Philly and heading home to the motherland. Today I hacked it for homebrew and can now not only play my beloved Ecco, but can watch my entire video collection without having to convert it to MP4.
  • On Friday, this blog, the server on which it and a number of websites were hosted, vanished. This is another in a long line of hosting cock-ups that have been hammering away at my soul for the last 12 months. The details are unimportant but yet again I’ve had to reconstruct my “recent” blog posts from Google’s cache and now I have to convert my extensive Apache configurations to nginx. As it turns out I’d planned to do this already but not at such short notice. BTW in case you weren’t aware, nginx is the dogs bollocks. So is mosh.
  • Mr B invited me along to see an excellent Jazz Band he’s promoting at Chris’ Jazz Cafe during the week. It was a truly brilliant evening.
  • With yet more encouragement from Mr B I finally stopped mincing and actually bought a bike on Saturday! I love it too. After actually getting it out of the shop we took a cycle from home to Kelly Drive. It killed my knees by the end, but thanks to some stretching exercises my legs were fine the next day. It’s just my arse that’s sore.
  • After realising that a Nexus 7 is a comfortable replacement for my work-bought iPad, I sent the latter to my family in London. Despite some unpleasantness with HMRC, they got it and now our weekly Skype chats from “the computer room” have turned into Facetime chats from the hub of the living room. It’s like being in the room with everyone! My niece grows lovelier by the week.

Er…that’s it.

Cabelas and other C-words

Youth GunsOnce a year, General Dan makes a long journey to the foothills of the Pocono Mountains in order to replenish his stock of woodsman-style outdoorsy clothing; he purchases his gear from a place called Cabelas, which proudly describes itself as “The World’s Foremost Outfitters”. In fact it is actually the foremost supplier of redneck survivalist equipment ranging from camouflage gear to light artillery; and for the past two years Dan has taken me along. This was an alien concept to me, coming from England, but to the patrons of Cabelas it is simply part of the outdoor sporting life. “Sport” is the key word here.
It’s not marketed as for survival or murder – but for sport.
Bear with me as I attempt to describe the experience from the point of view of, what the average patron there would probably describe as, a liberal fag.
On entering the store you are greeted by one of the beige-uniformed elderly greeters – greeting is what they do. You look ahead to a brightly lit aircraft-hangar-sized building packed with people and clothing, but at the far end is a huge artificial mountain decorated with stuffed animals ranging from squirrels to wildebeest. It is a genuinely awe-inspiring sight.
The main body of the store is filled with flannel shirts, camouflage gear, jeans, wooly-warmers and your normal set of cracker-wear. But as you dig deeper, you will discover so much more. Let’s go straight for the bit I, liberal-fag that I am, find most astonishing.
Guns! There are thousands of them! Shotguns, rifles, handguns, stun-guns you name it, they have fucking millions of them. Anything from a second-hand pump-action shot gun for under a hundred quid, to a M16 – the longest wall of the shop is lined with them. And it is the busiest part of the place. Families line up to hold, and ultimately purchase, these weapons and thankfully there is a large area of Windows 7 machines together with a pool of consultants waiting to help anyone through the overly intrusive state bureaucracy required to obtain the licence to buy them. Obviously this doesn’t apply to pump-action shotguns as in PA no licence is required.
There are aisles and aisles of ammunition in brightly coloured boxes that look like the old Pick and Mix at Woolworths. Kids amble around joyfully looking at all of this and the lovely stuffed animals with their little cards detailing when each animal was killed.
In fact it’s the enormous number of kids there that really astonishes me. They are positively encouraged to explore the wonderful world of hunting as sport. There is not only a shooting gallery, designed to make it impossibly easy to hit every target, but also a selection of “kill the wildlife” video games that really weirded me out. In fact one of them was so disturbing that I can’t get it out of my head…
Big Buck HD is a video game that allows you to enjoy the real hunting experience from the convenience of your own trailer or arcade. It’s about killing animals with shotguns and so you, the player, have a big plastic shotgun which you aim at the HD realistic animals. You choose which species you want to slay and then have a few seconds to kill as many of them as they run by without killing the wrong type of animal (otherwise you lose points). No only do you get a commentary by a vacuous cracker who sounds like “cletus the slack-jawed yokel”, but you also get a “trail guide”. I didn’t play this game but Dan got “Nicoleta” as a trail guide; she is wearing a camouflage-style bikini and her vital job is to bend over and wiggle her CGI arse just before you successfully kill a sentient being.
Meanwhile a father pushing his child along the knives and traps aisle stopped to observe a video. “Look jimmy, a fox” he said pointing at the screen as the soft-metal guitars created an exciting backdrop to the visual thrill of a real wild fox running into the open ground. There was a bang and a chunk of the fox exploded. That child will forever thank his dad for this introduction to the sporting life. Not far away from this aisle you can pick up “bargain” holographic sights – sights which are clearly intended for shooting humans in an urban environment.
So, now for the admission: I am a hypocrite. I eat and enjoy meat. I went there and spent money, which means I probably donated to the teabaggers. But I still find the place utterly disturbing, mainly because of the liberal use of the word “sport”. The killing is the part that is supposed to be enjoyable. Not the eating apparently. Kids are *actively* encouraged to come along and appreciate the killing…in the name of sport.
There’s probably only one area of debate in which I’m not a hypocrite in fact: I fucking hate all sport.