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NZ Election 2020

by snowman1989

October 16, 2020

My country has been getting a lot of international attention recently over the last year and a half. There's been the terrorist attack, the eruption at Whakaari and our success in keeping COVID-19 at bay, despite the fuck-ups we've had along the way. Jacinda Ardern - the leader of the Labour Party and current Prime Minister as of this writing- has become something of a holy figure for international left-wing movements, and from reading news articles they seem to believe that New Zealand is Eden on Earth or something. And they're very surprised to hear that she has heated opposition at home. How can anyone be critical of Saint Jacinda?

I don't fault them for thinking that. As of late we appear to be the last functional representative democracy left, with strongmen on the march and the leaders of the Western World appearing weak, feckless and incompetent. But as great a place as we are, we're not perfect. Jacinda's politics of "kindness" are all well and good, but apart from the immediate crises - which she has responded very well to - the last three years have not produced much in the way of results. Housing is still in shortage and chronically overpriced. Child poverty is still rising. Very little has been done to decarbonise our economy or restore our environment. And while her COVID package did ensure most Kiwis kept their jobs during the lockdown, it was all very business focused, rather than on bailing out the people. As a result, our rich/poor divide has grown further.

But despite her glaring faults, she's currently on track to win re-election, by virtue of the fact that people want stability in a turbulent time, and she did successfully guide us through the pandemic where most other countries have failed spectacularly. Kiwis appear willing to give her one more chance to prove herself.

The right-wing National Party is currently in a nadir of fortunes as they've had three leaders in the space of a year, with Judith Collins currently in charge. Despite her vicious nickname of "the Crusher" (her time as Police Minister had her threaten to crush the cars of boy racers), she's become less and less effective at putting a dent in Jacinda's popularity. Ever since Key left, the party has appeared to be rudderless.

The neoliberal ACT Party, on the other hand, has never been more popular - to my surprise and utter disgust. The minor party is leeching support away from National and is increasingly popular with the Asian community. You'd think after the disasters that 2020 has given us, people would wake up to the fact that neoliberalism is a failure and needs to be replaced.

The Greens and New Zealand First are the current coalition partners of Labour as of this writing, but if the polls are right (and I maintain scepticism there), NZ First may be on the way out while the Greens are set to take a dip in popularity. Despite NZ being an MMP system, people still appear to think in terms of winner-take-all, and the voters appear to be punishing the Greens - and especially NZ First - for the failures of the coalition government. For the first time in a quarter century, Labour may even gain enough votes to govern alone. If this happens, it'll be a possible game-changer, since the whole purpose of MMP was to make sure that one party couldn't gain a full monopoly of power. Labour would have an unprecedented mandate to push whatever it wants without obstruction or dealings with any smaller parties. If that happens, Kiwis will want a true transformation of the country - they'll look at the victory and say that Labour now has no excuses and has to implement real, tangible changes to get us through the pandemic and prepare for the challenges of this century.

OH, almost forgot we have two referendums on top of the election. One to decide on legalising assisted dying, the other on legalising cannabis. At the moment, it looks like assisted dying will pass, but cannabis will remain illegal. We'll know for certain on 30 October when all the votes are counted, but these shouldn't have been put up for a referendum. They should have been decided in Wellington by our representatives and experts, where information on these subjects is more readily available. Leaving it to the public has only resulted in a deluge of misinformation and fear mongering, as you can expect with social media. To me, a referendum is just the government asking the public to do its job for them.

Denis Villeneuve's DUNE

by CWS

September 10, 2020

For the past several years, acclaimed French director Denis Villeneuve has been quietly working on a new, big-budget adaptation of Frank Herbert's monumental science fiction opus, Dune. While information about the cast and crew have been known for some time, as well as the fact that this will be they will be splitting the adaptation of the novel into two movies, all we've gotten as far as concrete visuals from the production side has been a few scattered photos and screenshots.

Until now. Now, we finally have the first long-awaited trailer.
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Dune has been adapted for the big screen before, of course; by David Lynch in 1984, in a movie which starred Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Dean Stockwell, Jose Ferrer, Max Von Sydow, Linda Hunt and Brad Dourif, among many others; and again in 2000, in a miniseries produced by the Sci-Fi Channel. Both efforts were, well, mixed. The Lynch movie was epic and grandiose, with a particularly memorable musical score and full of truly over-the-top acting, but it had the burden of trying to compress a 412-page novel into 2 hours and 17 minutes, and took some controversial liberties along the way. The miniseries, meanwhile, was longer and more true to the book, but had to make due with a much lower budget, and ultimately failed to impress.

With all of that in mind, I'm quite eager for this movie. I was very impressed by Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049, and I think the decision to split this adaptation into two movies is a very good one, because there is sooooo much background info that needs to be properly established and explained.

And based on this trailer, it is looking damned impressive so far.

RIP Chadwick Boseman

by CWS

August 30, 2020

Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer on Friday. The following message was posted on the actor's Twitter feed:
Chadwick Boseman Twitter statement.jpg
This is truly shocking news. Apparently he had been battling cancer for years, but had never publicized his condition.

I don't know very much about Boseman personally, but from what little I saw, he seemed a genuinely decent person, unlike so many of the pretentious fools that populate Hollywood. I remember being struck by an event a couple of years ago where he received some award, and gave it to a man who had been injured stopping a shooting at a restaurant.

The Batman

by CWS

August 25, 2020

So DC just had their big FanDome event, and hell if it doesn't look like they may actually be trying to make a comeback of sorts. There were trailers for the long-awaited Snyder Cut of Justice League, Wonder Woman 1984, James Gunn's Suicide Squad reboot, and last but certainly not least...this.
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Thoughts?

I think it actually looks shockingly good, and at the same time, very different from all the previous Batman movies (with the possible exception of The Dark Knight), striking a very deliberately cerebral tone and promising an ominous new take on The Riddler. I've had my doubts about Robert Pattinson as (a very young) Batman, and I still think he'd be a more natural fit as Dick Grayson, but having said that, I also had a lot of doubts (to say the least) about Ben Affleck in the role, and he completely surprised me. So this looks like it could be very, very interesting.

I'm also not familiar with director Matt Reeves' previous work on the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy, but they were obviously pretty popular.

U.S. Election 2020: "It's all a joke."

by CWS

August 6, 2020

So, you might not have heard about this, but there's another big presidential election here in the U.S. this November. Unfortunately, it looks like our choices will once again boil down to:
  • More Of The Same
    -or-
  • Even Worse
This is a particularly raw deal because, as you may also not be aware, the country is currently in a bad way. (And that may be the single greatest understatement on this entire website.) First, an outbreak of a virus from China threw the country into a panic and prompted the government to destroy our economy, which caused more than forty-four million people to lose their jobs and decimated countless industries. Then the same government decided to spend several trillion dollars to try to compensate, because if there's one thing the country needs, it's more debt. Then, a video came out showing a police officer in Minneapolis kneeling on the neck of a man who subsequently died, and a bunch of people across the country decided that the best response to this was to burn down their cities, loot and destroy local businesses, and physically assault and/or murder a bunch of people who had nothing to do with the incident everyone was supposedly so enraged about. A lot of people also decided to tear down, vandalize or otherwise deface countless historic monuments to everyone from the nation's Founders, to President Abraham Lincoln, to Frederick Douglass, many of which had stood for decades or even centuries. People in several cities also decided to claim parts of those cities for themselves and set up so-called "autonomous zones", complete with armed checkpoints, which they declared to be their own sovereign nations. Most of those have finally been broken up, but several of them were allowed to stand for several weeks.

This has all been allowed to go on, to a greater or lesser extent, for nearly two and a half months, and counting. One almost gets the impression that the country is suffering from a complete and utter lack of leadership.

And to add insult to injury, come November, we will in all likelihood be asked to choose between President Donald Trump, who I am beginning to seriously think does not even want a second term in office, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who, depending on the time of day, may not even be aware that he's running for President.

This is why I began this post by quoting The Comedian, from Watchmen: because it's all a joke.

So, instead of putting up my usual serious election-year thread, I have decided this year to treat this as what it is. So here's what we're going to do. Rather than hold a limited debate and/or poll featuring the candidates who are actually running, I say we instead pitch our own. Everyone is invited to contribute to this, and be as serious about it as you wish, or go as nuts as you want to. Propose any candidate you want, and make a case for them. And I mean any candidate; historical figures, alive or dead, or even fictional characters are all fair game. Thomas Jefferson, Steve Rogers, Megatron, or Commander Shepard would all be valid and acceptable options.

I'll add my own proposal in a subsequent reply.

We're back, with a new look.

by CWS

June 16, 2020

So you may or may not have noticed, but the forum was down for a couple months. But now it's back, and with a fairly dramatic new look, too.

I'm curious to hear what everyone thinks about that. :geek:

COVID-19 Pandemic

by snowman1989

March 15, 2020

So... how is everyone? :| I'm currently fine. My parents are a little stressed, but coping. New Zealand's currently going into a hardline lockdown over this pandemic, with large events being cancelled left and right, and anyone coming here having to go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days, except for people coming from the Pacific Islands. A recession is pretty much inevitable.

And we're already dealing with the worst drought in a century to boot. This is a major double-whammy. :(

Castlevania anime: a missed opportunity

by CWS

January 19, 2020

So I recently watched the first two seasons of the recent Castlevania anime, and I have to say I was pretty disappointed with it.

I was expecting it to more or less follow the plot of Dracula's Curse, with Trevor setting out on his epic journey to the castle, meeting and teaming up with his new allies along the way to eventually confront Dracula and put a (temporary) end to his reign of terror.

I was not expecting nearly the entire first season to center almost exclusively around how much Warren Ellis hates Christianity, which, even if that's your thing, has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot of any Castlevania game, ever. The second season was nearly as bad, with the majority of it getting wrapped up in vampire politics, Carmilla manipulating everyone, and ultimately making the main character of Curse of Darkness her personal bitch. Meanwhile, Dracula just sat and stared at his fireplace in a state of complete apathy, and Trevor, Sypha and Alucard literally spent half the season sitting in a library, with the show barely remembering to come back and check on them for a couple minutes per episode, before going back to the Transylvanian equivalent of some stupid reality show.

Having said that, the (one) episode where the heroes finally stormed the castle and fought Dracula was flat out incredible. But that only served to underscore what the show should have been doing, all along.

My bottom line: the animation was decent, and the voice cast was terrific. But as it is, I think most of the series has been a huge missed opportunity, spending far too much time on boring side characters who weren't even in the games, and not nearly enough time on the ones who were. If they'd followed the games more closely (which Ellis is on record as not having bothered to play or research any of them), the series could have been a lot better.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020

by CWS

January 1, 2020

Insert bad pun about hindsight here.

Also, now Blade Runner is no longer in the future. :cry:

Reintroduction

by Jude

December 30, 2019

Must be midlife that's leading me back to past things. Been a while since I've been here. Hello to all. :)

Merry Christmas!

by CWS

December 25, 2019

Well, it's that time of year again. And while none of you will be surprised to learn that I spent the past hour or two hunting for some very specific topical images, apparently Goji doesn't do Christmas so here we are.
this_is_the_xmas_way______by_14_bis_ddmy6m4.jpg
I have spoken.

Whakaari Eruption

by snowman1989

December 12, 2019

Whakaari (White Island) should be a goddamn case study on learning where to draw the line on casual visitors approaching an active volcano. The sad news is that a few days ago, the volcano erupted while tourists were visiting the island. So far we have 16 confirmed fatalities and many more suffering horrific burns. Some of them have virtually no skin left anywhere. :o

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A few weeks before, GNS issued a bulletin putting the volcanic alert level at 2, indicating significant volcanic unrest. This is also 1 step away from alert level 3: a localised eruption. Despite that, tour operators chose to head to the island anyway. I suppose they rationalised that eruptions can happen at any alert level - which is true - and felt that the risk was worth it. All visitors to the island have to wear hard hats and gas masks, which in normal circumstances would have been enough to ensure their safety. After all, White Island is constantly active and churning out steam and poison gas, and that activity lulled us all into a false sense of security. We thought the volcano to be predictable.

I've tried putting up a bird's eye view of White Island, but I've had no luck. Google Images has plenty of them, so if you want a visual aid, go there. I was going to try to visually demonstrate why any visitors would be absolutely fucked if there was an eruption - which there just was. And why it may be time for these tourist visits to STOP.

Here's the gist: White Island is a stratovolcano that is about 70% underwater, with only the tip-top of the mountain above water, and the crater is only 30m above sea level. Part of the crater wall is collapsed, allowing easy access by jetty to the crater itself. But that means there's only one way in, one way out. You're hemmed in by high crater walls on all sides except the part open to the sea, the air is thick with toxic gas, there's no man-made shelters and the main crater is only 700m away. In an eruption - if you're on the island, you have nowhere to go. Whakaari often erupts with bursts of hot ash, steam and gas that certainly rises upwards, but just as often travels across the land via the path of least resistance. That is to say, it follows the same route to the sea as the tourists. And anyone caught in that shit gets steam broiled.

Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy: "no source material" for Star Wars

by CWS

November 22, 2019

You've probably already heard about this, but it demands a forum thread for posterity because...well, I'll just let it speak for itself.

So Rolling Stone published an interview with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy the other day, and the opening paragraph must be read to be believed.

Interviewer Brian Hiatt asked Kennedy, "Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was slated to write and direct Episode IX before you brought J.J. Abrams back in. Is this final entry in the trilogy a particularly hard nut to crack?" Her answer:
Every one of these movies is a particularly hard nut to crack. There’s no source material. We don’t have comic books. We don’t have 800-page novels. We don’t have anything other than passionate storytellers who get together and talk about what the next iteration might be.
Emphasis mine.

So. Yeah. Compared to, say, comic book movies, Star Wars movies are harder to write because there's no existing source material to draw on. She really, honestly said that.

And to be fair, I'm sure she's right. I mean, it's not like there was 20+ years of published material by highly accomplished, distinguished authors and creators that they decided to arbitrarily broom in its entirety when they took over the company, or anything like that. It's gotta be tough.

Okay, let's cut the bullshit now. This woman is a complete embarrassment and a disgrace. She's an ideologically-driven hack, which might be excusable were she not also a staggeringly incompetent airhead who has no idea what she's doing, and as supporting evidence for that I direct you to the production of every Star Wars movie after Rogue One. The development of Solo was such a legendary train wreck that it's nothing short of a miracle that anything remotely viewable came out on the other side (and for the record, I don't think it was a terrible movie). Both in that case and now with The Rise of Skywalker, they hired unqualified directors only to fire and replace them well into production for one reason or another. The developers of Game of Thrones just walked away from a planned trilogy Lucasfilm wanted them to make -- not just one movie, but an entire trilogy of movies. And you'll notice I haven't even mentioned that other movie, though on that note, Rian Johnson's public statements about his own long-planned trilogy have grown increasingly vague, evasive and self-contradictory of late. Disney's Bob Iger has also announced that theatrical Star Wars movies would be going on "hiatus" after the release of TRoS, for an undetermined period.

So yeah, go read the entire interview for yourself. 'Cause if you think I just cherrypicked the worst of it...you'll quickly find out, I didn't.

"Perfect" 10s

by CWS

October 3, 2019

If you had to rate every game you've ever played on a scale from 1 to 10, how many would you actually rate a full 10 out of 10? And which ones would they be?

Mind you, this does not mean the games in question have to be without any flaws whatsoever. Only that their strengths, in your view, so outweighed their weaknesses that they might as well have been flawless, or that you felt truly raised the bar for their entire genre. Games that you can play for hours, days, weeks or even months on end, and never grow tired of or lose your appreciation for.

Anyway, here are mine.
  • Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  • Bioshock (Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  • Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  • Castle of Illusion (Genesis)
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Playstation, Xbox 360)
  • Chrono Trigger (Super NES, DS)
  • Final Fantasy IV (Super NES, Playstation, Game Boy Advance, DS)
  • Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)
  • Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
  • Gunstar Heroes (Genesis, Xbox 360)
  • Halo 3 (Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  • Halo: Reach (Xbox 360)
  • The Legend of Zelda III: A Link to the Past (Super NES)
  • Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360)
  • Metal Gear Solid (Playstation)
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (Playstation 2)
  • Metroid 3: Super Metroid (Super NES)
  • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium (Genesis, Playstation 2, Xbox 360)
  • Resident Evil 4 (GameCube, Playstation 2, Xbox 360)
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (Xbox)
  • Starcraft II (PC)
  • Super Street Fighter II (arcade, Super NES, Playstation 2)
  • Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Playstation, Playstation 2)
  • The Walking Dead (Xbox 360, Xbox One)

Is War with Iran inevitable?

by snowman1989

September 18, 2019

We've all heard about the Saudi oil fields being hit by drones and the Trump administration is blaming Iran. The Saudis are also blaming Iran. I'm more inclined to believe it was the Houthis in Yemen, though, seeing as Saudi Arabia has been invading their country and committing genocide against their nation for several years now. A strike on Saudi oil facilities is logical, as it would slow their war effort and hit their bottom line.

I don't see Iran benefitting from a brazen attack like this, which would invite an attack from the US, which has been practically begging for an excuse to invade since Trump took power. Make no mistake, I don't like the regime in Tehran. AT ALL. But if the US decides to invade Iran on false pretenses, we'll be looking at the biggest conflict since WWII, and millions will die. You can expect Israel and Saudi Arabia to join you as they're equally eager to see Iran destroyed, but don't count on anyone else. The sentiment I've picked up indicates the rest of the world is fed up with America right now.

I hope it doesn't come to war. But the way things are going, war seems inevitable.

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