Wings of Liberty: Jim Raynor
Have you ever played StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty? It's a complex RTS (real-time strategy) game that allows players to connect online in simulated battles. You must gather resources known as minerals and vespene gas in order to mass an army and attack your opponents. You can choose to play in a team or alone, against other players or A.I.s. The game not only offers competitive laddering but there is a campaign and infinite arcade games. (You can find it on my Top 10 list for Co-op Video Games.)
Battlenet Championship 2012
Due to its brilliant gameplay and ever changing nature it has exponentially increased popularity for e-sports. There are numerous pro-gamers that play in international tournaments to claim victory as one of the best. SC2 (StarCraft 2) is not only featured in live online tournaments but it also boasts numerous gamers and commentators who broadcast their daily games such as Day, HuskyStarcraft, Scarlett and White-Ra.
Wings of Liberty is just the first installment of SC2. It features Jim Raynor and the Terran army struggling to fight back against the injustice of Mengsk, the cold and calculating Protoss, and of course the overwhelming and powerful Zerg. Terrans are basically humans in space. Everything is very familiar and mechanical. Just imagine a future where humans have achieved space travel and have found the necessity to build war machines. Protoss are an advanced telepathic species that have no qualms exterminating the Zerg pestilence or anyone who gets in the way. Zerg are the "bad guys" of the galaxy. Originally controlled by the Overmind, the Zerg assimilate advanced species, incorporating their genetic code into their own. Remind of you anything? Maybe the Borg but in a much more disgusting, insectoid representation. Most SC2 players have favourite races they like to play again and again. Personally I enjoy playing Zerg and my partner is a Brotoss (an affectionately coined euphemism for players who enjoy playing Protoss).
My appreciation for Zerg is why I'm particularly excited for the upcoming release of the latest expansion, Heart of the Swarm. It features the Queen of Blades, formerly known as Kerrigan, a Ghost (expert espionage agent and assassin with powerful mental abilities) for the Terran army and Jim Raynor's love interest. She was infested by the Zerg Overmind and quickly assumed control, making her the Queen of Blades. She now seeks to gain dominance of the entire galaxy.
I recommend watching the opening cinematic for Heart of the Swarm. While it only hints at plot, it certainly makes an impression. Heart of the Swarm comes out March 12, 2013.
Last Monday I chose three YouTube videos to share on my Blog. So in continuing with the YouTube spirit I thought I would pick three more videos to share. I think Mondays can be stressful for everyone so it is my goal to make it a little better or in other words, more tolerable.
As you may or may not know, I live in Canada. As soon as you hear that I'm sure there are preconceived notions that come to mind. No, we do not have winter year round but when it is the winter season it will get VERY COLD. Like, 40 below cold in extreme weather, which means snow and wind. I'm not kidding. Okay the average winter temperature is probably closer to -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit my American friends) but still. Let's just say Canadians are familiar with cold temperatures. As a side note to America, Y U NO CONVERT TO METRIC ALREADY! IT MAKES MORE SENSE! Water boils at a 100 degrees as opposed to 212 and freezes at O instead of 32! Seriously! Stop being stubborn and get on with the rest of the entire world. Anyway, here are some videos!
See you next Monday!
Hello readers, today I'm going to discuss my own perspective of life and death. If you are sensitive about these topics, please feel free to stop reading right here. My blog is a place where I can express my opinions but I certainly don't expect you to share them. You are entitled to your beliefs and it is not my intention to tread on your dreams. However if you are curious, please read on. I realize these topics are complex but I'm hoping to provide the simplest answer I can.
Over the course of my lifetime I have been plagued with the thoughts and unanswerable questions of generations before me. What is life? What is death? (What is the meaning of life? I will attempt to answer that in a later blog post.) Before I could answer these questions I spent all my life asking questions of my own. In university I chose all of my courses to learn the most I could about people, be it individuals, groups, cultures or beliefs. With much thought and consideration, I have finally come to the answers that satisfy me.
For the answers to life and death, I personally found that a mixture of ideas and intuition was best for me. Everyone will come to their own conclusions and this just happens to be mine. After studying tribal cultures such as North American First Nations, Australian Aboriginals and African tribes like the nomadic Kalahari, I discovered something very similar between them. They all believe that life is cyclical. I don't think this is by mere coincidence. Somehow, very different people across the world all came to the conclusion that life is not linear but it is cyclical. I've combined this belief with pieces of Buddhism, neo-Paganism and a dash of mysticism.
It is a common Buddhist belief that what brings us misery is desire and ego. In order to separate ourselves from misery, we must abandon our desire to want things and at the same let go of our ego. Doing both of these things will only leave room for happiness. When I think about things that make people miserable, ego and desire are often the reason. Things such as "wants" are unnecessary and inevitably create more want. We are never satisfied with just one thing, there is always something ready to take its place. For example, "I want a flat screen television" turns into "I want a bigger flat screen television". It's like a never-ending goose chase. We are never satisfied. Perhaps the real reason is that none of these things truly satiate the appetite for happiness. They are mere distractions. They may entertain us but they will never fill that hole. (In a previous post I discussed The Key to Happiness and the hole borne in each person's heart.)
Then there is neo-Paganism. If you aren't familiar with the term, let me help acquaint you. In my own words, neo-Paganism is a collection of sub-cultures that derive their practices, ideals and beliefs from the history of Paganism. People who are a part of neo-Paganism would simply call themselves "Pagans" since they do not separate themselves from the cultures before them. To sum up, neo-Pagan cultures include many diverse groups such as witches and druids but they all tend to share similar beliefs, that is respect for people, the Earth and the belief in Karma. More importantly, neo-Pagans believe we are all connected. The environment, the animals and of course each other. We are all united and share the same energy and in turn to harm the Earth or another living being is to harm ourselves. To love each other is to love ourselves.
I have described pieces of beliefs that I have come to accept for myself from tribal cultures, Buddhism and neo-Paganism. The last part is mysticism. Again, in my own words, Mysticism is the idea that we privately seek our own answers using our intuition to reach conclusions. Perhaps this means meditating or praying in private or maybe communicating with nature, whatever it is, is up to you. In my own thoughts and times of meditation, I have come to accept certain ideas.
Life is cyclical. We are born, we live and we die but only to be re-born again. I am a true believer in reincarnation. Just like the Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy can neither be created or destroyed, I believe that we are beings of energy and therefore cannot be created or destroyed. Our bodies are mechanical but the "energy" that makes us tick exists almost separately. We are all connected and to me that describes life as a ball of energy. When we are born, energy is borrowed to make us breathe and when our bodies fail us, the energy is returned. Perhaps it is easiest to compare to people's notions of a soul. The difference for me is that the soul is described as individual, as though it has a personality of its own. I'm not sure that's true. I am more inclined to believe that due to life's connected nature, the energy is without personality. For me this means, there is no judgement and therefore no heaven or hell.
I realize it may seem like a lot to take in and perhaps it's somehow offensive to you but that would be silly. I am not here to persuade you to think like me. In fact just the opposite, I'm hoping to inspire you to search out your own answers. I am here to say that I have come to this conclusion after much deliberation and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to reach their own conclusions. If something I've said rings true with something deep inside of you, please follow up and do the research. Learning is always a good thing. If you want to ask me questions, just use the contact form and I will get back to you. In the meantime let's try to spread love, not hate; peace, not war.
These past few days I've been writing up a storm and in turn I've ignored the blog. Right now I've just been prioritizing my novel ahead of everything else. Honestly, I'm very pleased. I'm making excellent progress and at the moment I know exactly where I'm going. It's a wonderful feeling. Still, I realize that I will need to be updating content on a regular basis so today I will be thinking about what I can add to the website in the meantime.
You can expect another update later this week. Probably a lot later in fact but there will be one. Anyway, thanks for visiting!
I was contemplating what to write today and thought about many subjects until I realized that Mondays shouldn't be bogged down with anything too serious. So I've decided to share a few funny and interesting videos.
As a Canadian I thought it would be interesting to share a little about Canadian history. Today is Sir John A. Macdonald Day, he was the first Prime Minister of Canada. He played a very important role in Canadian history by joining the provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the province of Canada under the British North America Act in 1867. This act created a federal dominion and defined the government of Canada.
After the official creation of Canada on July 1, 1867, John Alexander Macdonald was knighted and designated the first Prime Minister. He is credited with creating a Canadian Confederation. In the 19 years he served, he took what was a small colony and spread the population across the land with the help of the railroad. Despite his great efforts he was never truly honoured with any fantastic monuments unlike his American counterpart, George Washington. It wasn't until 2001 that Canadian parliament named January 11 Sir John A. Macdonald Day, yet you wouldn't know it since it passes by unnoticed. Largely because it's not a holiday. It's a shame since without his hard work and dedication there might not be a Canada. Yet it truly speaks volumes about Canadian culture.
Happy 39th birthday Jemaine Clement!
Jemaine is a terrific albeit underrated actor. I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate one of my all time favourite television shows (and musical groups), starring Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, Flight of the Conchords.
If you haven't watched Flight of the Conchords yet, you're missing out. This television series is absolutely hilarious with clever and irreverent moments. At first the music is a surprise but you inevitably end up falling in love with their folksy beats. I know I can't help singing, even long after I've watched an episode. They make songs about real life moments, making fun of the serious and dramatic.
Some of my favourite songs from their show are: "Not Crying", "Business Time", "Foux Du Fa Fa", "K.I.S.S.I.N.G./A Kiss Is Not A Contract", "Feminist Toothpaste", "Sugalumps", "You Don't Have To Be A Prostitute", "Hurt Feelings", "Too Many Dicks On the Dance Floor" and "Carol Brown". All of their songs are truly great especially since they're well timed and always hilarious.
Flight of the Conchords is the name of both the musical group and the television show. The group has been active since 1998, making appearances on shows to perform their original and amusing songs. In 2004 they had a BBC radio show and in 2007 they started a television show that ran 2 seasons.
Their fame was recognized when they made a cameo on The Simpsons in "Elementary School Musical" as two camp counselors. At first their life appears flattering until Lisa finds them living impoverished in "Sprooklyn" (homage to their show where they live in Brooklyn).
Jemaine's career was launched by his musical fame into new and interesting roles. For instance, he plays Kieran Vollard in Dinner for Schmucks. An artist in touch with his hedonistic and animal nature. His character poses a threat to Paul Rudd's romantic relationship due to his animal magnetism. It seems women just fall for him and he certainly doesn't hide his affections for them.
An even bigger surprise was Jemaine's role in Men in Black 3 as the villain, Boris the Animal. He does an absolutely superb job creating an aura of arrogance and infamy. I truly enjoyed this role. It was unexpected and well executed. It's such a stretch from his musical comedy that it was refreshing. If you haven't watched this movie yet, I would recommend it. It's definitely better than Men in Black 2.
Jemaine is not the only one making appearances on the silver screen. His musical partner, Bret has also made startling appearances. He plays a small part as an elf in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King. He must have made an impression since he's returned in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with a speaking role and name, Lindir. He is also scheduled to appear in The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again.
I hope to see more of Jemaine and Bret in the future. They are comedic geniuses and terrific actors. I should mention, there are rumours of a Flight of the Conchords movie. I really hope it's true! For now, I leave you with "Foux Du Fa Fa".
Undoubtedly you've heard of static electricity, well today is National Static Electricity Day! To better explain how it works, I've picked a Bill Nye video. Trust him to explain things simply and in a humourous manner.
To celebrate today you could do any number of things. Rub your socked feet against a carpet and shock someone. You could also inflate some balloons, rub them against your hair and put them on the wall. It really does work! Whatever you do, make sure you have fun. After all, this only comes once a year!
Today is my younger brother's birthday, he is 21. In honour of his birth I will be discussing a condition that is very important to me, Down Syndrome (DS).
My little brother has Down Syndrome. It is a condition present even before birth. There are prenatal tests to assess the possibility that a fetus has Down Syndrome. What does it mean? Down Syndrome is a chromosomal condition where there are too many copies of chromosome 21. Babies can be born with any number of chromosomal abnormalities or mutations which result in infinite possibilities. Down Syndrome just happens to be the most common.
The effects of Down Syndrome are typically mild. They might take a bit longer to learn something but once they do, they don't forget. Most people with Down Syndrome function quite normally in their day-to-day lives. They have responsibilities like working and cooking but they also share meaningful relationships with those around them.
It's funny to think that something so simple can affect someone so much. I'm not necessarily referring to slower cognitive abilities but the attitude surrounding their condition. What makes me particularly sad is the fact that mothers who carry a baby with DS often choose to abort. That sort of attitude only reminds me of other narrow minded beliefs such as aborting female babies because males are more desired. Of course I do believe in the right to choose but I'm hoping that choice is not based on something as superficial as sex or DS.
My mother was aware that my little brother had DS and chose to keep him. I could not be more grateful. He has brought more light and love into our lives than anyone ever could. He is sweet, compassionate, thoughtful, wise and most of all, funny. He is my favourite sibling by far (and I have 5). What hurts me are the attitudes and behaviour of others. However people find out my brother has DS, the reaction is usually the same, judgement. They'll make a sad face and tell me they feel sorry for me, going on about how it must be hard. The only thing that's hard about it are their reactions. They shouldn't feel sorry for me because in all honesty, I pity them.
They don't know the joy and love my brother shares with everyone. They don't know what it feels like to be unconditionally loved no matter what. He doesn't judge, he doesn't hate, he isn't negative and he'll always be on your side. How many people can you say that about? None? The vast majority of people are just the opposite; they're quick to judge, they hate easily, they get down on themselves and everyone around them, and you can forget about them being on anyone's side but their own. I wouldn't call that "smarter". I would say that they're more susceptible to human fallacy.
Therefore I put forward that my brother is smarter than the average person. In fact, I wish more people were like him. Perhaps then this world wouldn't be so filled with hate and fear. The next time you see someone different than yourself, stop yourself from judging. Everyone makes snap judgements, the trick is to find where that judgement is coming from. Is it coming from a place of knowledge or fear of the unknown?
If you ever have the pleasure of meeting someone with DS, don't be awkward. They're people, like you and me. They have feelings just like we do. The best thing you could do is be yourself. Honestly, as a general rule, you should never stop being yourself.
I would like to recommend one of my favourite books about DS: Our Brother Has Down's Syndrome: An Introduction for Children by Shelley Cairo. It's short and sweet, offering a simple explanation and concluding in a similar fashion. I'm very lucky to have such a fantastic brother.
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