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Archive for April, 2012

On Morality and Punishment

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

One of the great things about reading things on the internet is how much time you can effectively pass away from the string of reading material. xkcd puts it best with one of their strips, “The Problem With Wikipedia“. In any case, I found myself reading Wikipedia’s article on the honor system (if you must know, the sequence went “5 Screw-Ups on the Battlefield That Accidentally Won the War” on Cracked, “5 Battlefield Screw Ups That Were Hilarious (Until People Died)” also on Cracked, the Wikipedia article on Lew Wallace, the Wikipedia article on the Confederate States of America, the Wikipedia article on Robert E. Lee, and finally the Wikipedia article on the honor system).

The honor system, for those who have never heard of it, is effectively a system where people are obligated to do certain things without active supervision or mechanics that would ensure the behavior. For example, many public transportation systems in Europe do not actively check if you’ve bought a ticket, nor do they have turnstiles to prevent people who haven’t bought a ticket from entering; there will be random inspections every now and then, but the idea is that you’re trusted by your honor to do the right thing and purchase tickets without someone or something looking over your shoulder. Same for certain bars; cocktails may be left at the bar while the bartender is away, and anyone can pick them up, but they’re expected – without being watched – to be honest add that to their tab.

In that Wikipedia article, there’s a section titled “Criticism of the concept”, which includes the following line:

Honor systems are often criticized for promoting laziness and bad behavior. Some have suggested it is paradoxical to ask people to obey a law if there is no readily apparent agent of enforcement.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a realist (or, really, to an optimist, a pessimist, or however else you want to phrase it), and I recognize that laws exist because a lot of people would be jerks otherwise. On the other hand, this is an argument I disagree with, an argument that is used by many religious debaters all the time, and – quite frankly – one that I hate with a vengeance. Read more…

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Categories: Politics and Society

Mass Effect 3: A Crucible in More Ways Than One

April 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Taking a shot at writing a Mass Effect 3 crackfic. Also here on FanFiction.Net. Please read and review. In both places. X3

*****

Mass Effect 3 – A Crucible in More Ways Than One (Ver 0.98)
By Ysionris Gavotte

When history looks back at the human side of the Reaper War, it will remember Admiral Steven Hackett as the least important corner of the heroic trinity of leadership comprised of himself, Admiral David Anderson, and Commander Shepard.

This downplaying of his contributions to the war has little to do with any perception that he didn’t do enough in the fight against the Reaper, and is almost certainly an unfair assessment. Still, Anderson had the distinction of leading a human resistance on a Reaper-infested Earth for weeks until help arrived, even when communications worldwide were cut, and Shepard went on an epic galaxy-wide quest to garner the support of all races across the galaxy while doing battle with Cerberus and saving the Councilors. Again.

Plus they were both – in the best traditions of martyrs everywhere – kind of dead.

All of them suffered under adversity. Adversity brought people together, helped them overlook hate, grudges. But there was only so much adversity could accomplish; nowhere was this more obvious in the galaxy – not on Earth, not on the Normandy – than in an undisclosed location where the fleets built the Crucible in secret. It was a hard lesson Hackett was about to learn. Even a common goal under pressure could not overcome the power of culture, individuality, zaniness, absurdity, pyjaks, ryncol, and krogan. And ryncol.

The difficult part was not completing the project. The Reaper invasion brought plenty of motivation for that.

The difficult part was getting out of this project sane. Read more…

Categories: Gaming, Writing