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Friday, July 26, 2013

The Streisand Effect

Good day, gang!  We are going to have an absolute BLAST today.  Some of you may know that I follow a great legal blog,  If you didn’t, you do now.  And really, you should read up over there. Ken is a champion of the little guy when, in his words, “censorious douchebags” threaten, or even file, lawsuits to chill free speech. 

Some of you may also know that I enjoy LARP, that is, Live Action Role Play.  It’s the geekiest of geek, more fun than grownups should be allowed to have playing dress up, and also, when done right, a kind of awesome interactive theatre/gaming experience. 

Today, these two interests of mine have a Venn diagram overlap, and that makes for a happy Dangerboy.

There is a man who owns a large LARP franchise, the McDonald’s of LARP if you will.  Although there are many, many things we could call him, we’ll call him Joseph Valenti, because that’s his name.  This giant among businessmen has a habit of doubling down on bad ideas.  Look, if you run/own/participate in a game in which you dress like elves, barbarians, dwarves and orcs and smack each other with foam weapons while casting pretend magic at each other (and I do), you need to grow a thick skin for criticism from other human beings. 

When people call you an idiot, a nerd, a dork, or a dumbass, you have to let it roll off.   (Fortunately most of our events, when seen by the public, get the “this is kind of cool!!” reaction instead.) 

Poor Joe, well, he hasn’t learned this lesson as I have.  When somebody slights his name or NERO (the game he owns) he goes a bit off the deep end sometimes.  I present here, in its entirety, the latest and best example of said jumping.  This was posted on a group on Facebook. 

From the Desk of Joseph Valenti - NERO Live Adventure Games, LLC.

June 25, 2013

To All the Internet Bullies Who are Harassing and Bullying Joseph Valenti.

You must Cease and Desist.

You all must stop your internet bullying and harassment of me and the Nero organization.

You must stop stating lies about how Joseph Valenti interacts with NERO Chapter Owners, and how decisions are made – they are not correct and you are harming the NERO Organization by making incorrect statements.

You are depicting the NERO organization and its leadership – not just me but the 35 chapter owners too – using lies, and those lies are harming not only my reputation but the reputation of every NERO chapter owner and the NERO chapter staff.

I am willing to meet with any individual, or group of individuals, to review any statements or topics that anyone would like to review, to insure that you and I both get our say on any given topic, but it must be with the understanding that you will not return to the internet and continue to make derogatory statements, and that you will stop your internet based bullying of me, my staff, my friends and of NERO Chapter Owners.

We all know that nothing good will come from your constant and repeated bullying of me on the internet.

Nothing good has ever come from internet bullying, and in fact, internet bullying has been found to be responsible for multiple suicides.

You must stop your internet based bullying, you must stop stating lies to the public LARP marketplace, and you must no longer make false statements depicting myself or anyone associated with NERO, or you will force me to make a complaint with the courts.

Thank You
Joseph Valenti

I think we can all agree that this is a fucking CANNONBALL into the deep end, splashing butthurt on everyone at the pool.  For a guy who keeps trying to bring our hobby into the mainstream, he sure manages to make himself a caricature of silliness.  I picture Joe in this instance as Ken Jeong’s character in Role Models, desperately holding on to his crown.  

 How darest thou insult mine sacred honor?  I shall sue thee!

Look, it is fine n’ dandy to feel a bit of outrage when somebody says you’re an asshole, but you can’t file a lawsuit over it.  If someone says “It’s an indisputable fact that you’re an asshole”, you’re still in the world of opinion, and that, my friends, is protected speech.  You're on shaky ground if you threaten legal action against one person's opinion.  Trying to serve the entire Internet with a Cease And Desist?  Well, that’s just dumbfuckery on the scale of plucking a troll's nosehair.  

I’ll be honest.  As a fellow owner of a LARP myself and Big Damn Geek, I’ve refrained from commenting about Joe, his business, his methods, or anydamnthing else about him.  Hell, once upon a time I made some of the same mistakes, trying too hard to “control the message”, as they say it in corporatespeak. But once he tried to use legal threats to quiet his detractors, he crossed the line with me, and I feel it’s time to spread his words far and wide to receive the ridicule they so richly deserve.  

You see, the answer to speech you don’t like isn’t lawsuit (unless in those cases where true, actual libel/slander occur), it’s more speech.  That’s the whole point of our First Amendment rights and the “marketplace of ideas.”   

Besides, there’s no way to quiet the whole internet…wait, wait a minute  

OK, there’s no easy way to quiet the whole internet.  Joe, I introduce you to the Streisand Effect.  Enjoy it. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Five Things I Think, July 23

1) I think it can be hilarious having a toddler.  What’d he do this time, you ask?  Well, it’s that whole being a copy-monkey thing.  He will occasionally parrot the last thing he hears, a phenomenon that has caused me to curtail the use of my very favorite word.

Recently, at his second 3rd birthday party (the one with our friends), Wifefish tossed an epithet at one of the attendees who, as he was leaving, made an off-hand joke about going home for a ménage a mois.  “Masturbator!” she called him.  Fortunately, Little Danger wasn’t paying much attention.  “See you later!” he yelled.  We all lost it.   My boy is a comedian. 

2) I think it was an absolute blast watching my boy’s first T-ball practice.  He hit the ball with authority, then ran after it to throw it to first base.  Not quite getting the structure of the game just yet, that one.  It was also somewhat adorable how he would get to each base and stop, jumping on it with both feet.  I’m looking forward to seeing how he likes the game as the rules are processed and understood.  

Little Danger the adventurer!

3) I think I’m a bit tired of the whole Zimmerman trial thing.  Look, here’s my quick take on it.  Yes, it sucks balls that a kid died.  No, it wasn’t “murder”, because that’s kind of specific, and the prosecutor really should have damn well known it.  No, it wasn’t a “proper response by a gun owner”, because a responsible gun owner should have, knowing the police were on the way, surveilled the “suspect” from a safe distance, and not been in a position for anyone to be beating their head against pavement in the first damn place. 

My strongest condemnation, though, goes to the fucking media for turning this thing into a racist circus, calling Zimmerman a “white Hispanic”, editing tapes to make it sound as damning as possible, and creating a hue and cry where truly it shouldn’t have existed.  Responsible reporting is dead, people.  As a fucking doornail.  It’s become hard work to read any story, because you have to dig through all the fluff and bullshit to find any facts, and then go look for the rest of the facts across 18 news sources.  This condemnation may in fact lead to a Things I Hate sometime soon, because it really grinds my gears.

4)  I think that occasionally, one must make a silly decision, that is, a decision to be silly.  Today I made such a choice.  Wifefish has an alarm on her cellphone that is a string quartet, beginning with a nice cello line that is supposed to gently entice you to the land of wakefulness from out your blissful slumber.  Whereas it fails to do so quite as gently as one might wish, I have decided to pretend that it is not a cellphone at all, but the girls of Bond playing for us.  Wearing bowties.  That’s all.  (Yes, I’m going to the lecher’s hell, but I’m comfortable with my labels.) 

5) I think I may end up in the special Hell.  I had some lamb shoulder chops last night for dinner, broiled with a roasted peach whiskey sauce.  They were absofuckinglutely delicious.  This is not, however, the reason that I’m going to hell. 

Little Danger watches a show on Netflix sometimes called “Timmy Time”, a claymation show about a group of barnyard animals in preschool…Timmy is “A little lamb with a lot to learn”, according to the theme song.
That is, according to the theme song which I was gleefully humming while eating my dinner.  According to Wifefish, “You’re just not right.”  I agree with her.  

So what do you think, gang?  Let me know right there with the comment button...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Beer, Beer, Beer, vol 3

Greetings!  It’s time to tantalize our taste buds once again, beer fans!  Today, I’ll be taking a look at the remaining brews available from Finch’s: the Golden Wing blonde ale and the Secret Stache Stout. 

These two beers were, just as the other Finch’s offerings, enjoyed while floating upon the Lake.  There’s just something about the fresh air and sunlight that makes beertasting a better experience.  Granted, this time my first tastes were had while corralling Little Danger in the Relaxation Station, but fortunately I am nothing if not a faithful reporter. 

Let’s start with the Golden Wing.  First, a little pro tip…if you’re saving a can for display, and you decide to drill a hole in the bottom to avoid wrinkling the can with the churchkey, be prepared for a bit of a beer bath.   Just…just trust me on this one, gang.  (On the plus side, oh, that can looks so nice and unwrinkled.) 

I found the taste pleasant, like many blondes I’ve known.  Wait, that sentence is guaranteed to get me in trouble with Wifefish.  Let me say “like many blonde ALES I’ve known”.  It’s a very refreshing beer, not in love with the hops but using them to say “hello”, and bringing in an almost lemony fruitiness on the backside that works well.  Note the word “almost;” this is not a shandy by any means. 

It’s not aggressive at all, but still light years better than mass marketed muck.  It is, perhaps, a perfect floating-in-the-lake-in-a-lifejacket-with-your-beer-in-a-coozie beer.  While I recommend pairing it with any pork or poultry, I do not recommend swimming 65 yards to that really neat waterfall with the full pint can in hand.  It will be the slowest swim you’ve done in a while.  (No safety lectures, folks…this blog isn’t called Safe Leanings, or Smart Leanings, or This Guy Never Did Anything Stupid Leanings.)

Now, on to the Secret Stache Stout.  First, I just love the name.  It’s mindful of the monocle and moustache crowd, and thus inspires a certain manliness before ever popping the top, a desire to sound one’s barbaric yawp.

Upon opening, a bit of this brew splashed on my hands (I believe a jet ski had zoomed by just then).  I immediately observed that I had opened a very stout Stout indeed, something a bit thinner than motor oil, but infinitely more appetizing.  There was about zero head on this beer, and not a lot of carbonation at all, but a whole lot of bold flavor.  

The typical chocolatey coffee stout flavor is bolstered in this beer by a definite vanilla taste.  I wouldn’t really pair this with any entrees; I would prefer this as a dessert beer, best for after-dinner or as a mid-afternoon snack in itself. 

Well, as that exhausts the current Finch’s list, it’ll be time to move on to new brews next time.  But for now remember Golden Wing and Secret Stache from Finch’s…give ‘em a try and Bottoms Up!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Five Things I Think, July 8

1) I think the garden is faring far better this year.  I know the Southwest is hurting, but the Midwest has been enjoying enough rain to really support the crops.  Last year’s drought made our garden an anemic exercise in futility, whereas this season we’ve been dragging zucchini the size of your head out of this bad boy. 

It’s kind of awesome to dice up Squashzilla, throw it in the grill basket with some Roasted Peach Whiskey Sauce and some onion, and enjoy the fruits…well, the veggies of our labor.

2) I think it’s a good day.  For many reasons do I think this, not least of which is that today, Little Danger turns 3.  It’s amazing to think that 3 years have gone by so quickly, and that we will now have known him for longer than we looked for him.  

It was a long road, but it was more than worth it.  I do not get tired of people telling me I have a cool kid.  I do not get tired of his ability to charm, to make friends, to share, and to care.  I hope he doesn’t, either.

3) I think one of my favorite things to watch Little Danger do is dance.  He abandons all pretense at civilization, and jumps, runs, wiggles, and even rolls around on the ground in his appreciation of both music and attention.  

We went to a local club to watch a friend throw down some good oldies tunes with his band, and Little Danger ate it up.  He owned the dance floor like a lobbyist owns a Senator. 

At one point, he just lay down and logrolled across the floor, and repeated the action when the onlookers giggled.  His wild gyrations inspired the sound guy to come join him, both of them logrolling in a toddler-inspired joie de vivre that left a wide smile on my face for the night. 

4) I think I’m tired of working too hard for my fun.  I’ve been running a project for almost 10 years now that is like a second full time job at times.  Whereas it’s been fun and rewarding, I’m ready to pass the torch to someone who has the fire to keep it going.  I have a new career to focus on, licensures to gain, and a book of business to build, and this requires a tighter beam of attention than I’ve had for quite some time. 
As an example, I opened my email to more than a dozen requests that add up to an aggregate 6 or so hours of work, all preparing for a weekend long event.  Sadly, the simple math is that those who need the most are getting the least, as I triage the hours of effort into more important endeavours.  I’m letting people down, but in the thing that only pays me in fun.  It’s a strange dichotomy of “right choice” versus “feels like failure” that never sits right with me.  

I’m really not sure how this one gets fixed, and it’s giving me some stress.  But on the bright side, it’s totally a fucking first world problem. 

5)  I think it’s getting close to the time when public opinion crosses the tipping point on government overreach.  The liberties we’re losing are looking more and more like the days of McCarthy, a time when people went through the Red Scare and tiptoed everywhere in fear of the fucking commies.  

Now our boogeyman is the terrorist, and to this boogeyman we have sacrificed a great many things.  From the recent FISA court issues, to the NSA metadata overreach, to my favorite jackbooted thugs the TSA, we keep giving and giving more liberty for an illusion of safety.  When, I wonder, do we finally look up and say “Enough?”  Soon, I hope.  

Given that we have just celebrated Independence Day, a day that saw us throwing off the chains of unreasonable searches and overreaching government, this has been on my mind of late.   

So, gang...what do YOU think today?
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