Archive for January, 2006

World Of Warcloset

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Via Venusberg, one hears that Blizzard (publishers of World Of Warcraft) prefer don’t ask, don’t tell.

Sara Andrews thought it was a big misunderstanding when she received an e-mail from a game master in Blizzard Entertainment’s popular online role playing game “World of Warcraft” citing her for “Harassment – Sexual Orientation.”

Andrews had posted that she was recruiting for a “GLBT friendly” guild in a general chat channel within the game.

Believing that her notice had been accidentally flagged, she e-mailed Blizzard to correct the problem. Blizzard, to Andrews’ surprise, upheld the decision…

…In her follow-up letter to the company, Andrews explained that there was an obvious misunderstanding and that she was not insulting anyone, but merely recruiting for a “GLBT friendly” guild.

The response from Blizzard was, “While we appreciate and understand your point of view, we do feel that the advertisement of a ‘GLBT friendly’ guild is very likely to result in harassment for players that may not have existed otherwise. If you will look at our policy, you will notice the suggested penalty for violating the Sexual Orientation Harassment Policy is to ‘be temporarily suspended from the game.’ However, as there was clearly no malicious intent on your part, this penalty was reduced to a warning.”

Blizzard’s stance was clear that recruiting for a guild using “GLBT” was inappropriate as, the company said, it may “incite certain responses in other players that will allow for discussion that we feel has no place in our game.”

Apparently, Blizzard then floundered around for a bit trying to think of some better reason why they wouldn’t have to deal with the fallout of umpteen teenagers trolling GLBT groups:

“Many people are insulted just at the word ‘homosexual’ or any other word referring to sexual orientation,” Blizzard responded to Blatzheim in an e-mail. “Also to discriminate against other players, such as not allowing any heterosexuals into the guild simply because of their sexual orientation, could cause extreme offense to a large percentage of our players and should be avoided.”

but may have settled on something which doesn’t sound quite so pathetic, though is clearly just an excuse given that insulting sexual orientation seems to be quite appropriate as far as they’re concerned:

“We have determined that advertising sexual orientation is not appropriate for the high fantasy setting of the World of Warcraft and is therefore not permitted”

I wasn’t aware that Aragorn, say, ever came out with the line “omg heal me u fag” but perhaps I’m just not familiar enough with high fantasy settings.

Anyone spending any time on the internet, and particularly in any sort of gaming context, will be aware that various forms of “gay” are routinely used to mean “lame”. The idea that it’s a linguistic progression and that “gay” doesn’t actually mean “homosexual” any more, it just means “lame” – so that’s okay then – and more importantly that you can’t do anything about it so you might as well not try, is surprisingly common.

It’s balls of course. The three forums that I use most often all have quite strong positions on the practice, and, believe me, it’s really easy. If somebody turns up and calls people “faggot” because they disagree on some point of computer advocacy, you say quite clearly “that sort of homophobic language is not tolerated here” and then, if they continue, you ban them. All that’s required is posters and moderators who give a shit.

Blizzard, it appears, don’t really give a shit, or at least are more concerned about the purchasing power of stupid kids (and also perhaps any parents who wouldn’t want to hear about their offspring playing on an internet with gayers) than the concerns of people who aren’t even trying to change wider WoW society, just trying to establish a safe space not full of arseholes. Well. Perhaps some wider publicity might change their mind. I already know of one person who’s cancelled their subscription over this.

(Quick plug: said shit would absolutely not happen on Second Life.)

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Just in case anyone was curious

…which they’re probably weren’t, but here’s a section of what the control panel looks like in WordPress.

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2328 spam comments means that that page was three and a half megs. Imagine if I’d been on dialup.

For readers under the age of 25, dialup was back when computers used to talk to each other over the phone. No, really. They’d make this annoying squeaky squawky noise at each other, and that would apparently mean something. You had to plug them into the wall socket. For readers under the age of 20, wall sockets were not originally for ADSL, but for an old sort of phone which didn’t come with an aerial.

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Two things that you see

The stupid, utterly sybaritic expression on the face of a cat as you scratch it behind the ears, or under the chin, is one of the best sights in the world.

The phenomenon of office workers with pictures of their husbands, wives or children on their laptops could be seen as a breaking through of humanity, expressing itself on the very tools of depersonalising corporate culture etc. Every time I see it, though, it makes me sad. “This is where I want to be,” it says to me, “this is who I want to be with. But I’m not.”

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It’s the economics

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I tell you what I do care about, and that’s ID cards, which seem to be getting less press time than that bloke with the moustache at the moment. Regardless, they’ve once again met with opposition (2, 3) on the basis of a refusal to actually say how much the project is expected to cost, a number which we can then triple to find out a reasonable lower limit, under the ineluctable rules of government IT projects. Okay, yes, this is still talking about money, and I would prefer that the ever-so-slight data protection and civil liberties issues came out more, but as I’ve said before you have to start somewhere and cost is (a) an entry-level issue that everyone understands and (b) not something that’s ever going to have the government looking good. They will always screw up on the cash issue.

I was going to include some theorising on why that is, but my theories started to turn into a much longer piece than anticipated, and for a change I’d rather get it right than take a load of cheap shots, so I’m going to wait and do a bit more work and hopefully come up with something meaningful rather than just abusive. Yes, I know, a bit of a departure.

Incidentally, in my Christmas stocking I received a book called Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? which I’ve been taking on the tube recently. It basically reads like an extended edition of my blog without the penguins or the geekery – there’s even a lengthy bit about the Daily Mail. I’m not sure whether to take this as meaning (a) there’s a demand for sarcastic commentary on public life and public figures and thus I should continue or (b) there’s a glut in the market and I should desist. I think I’ll just carry on writing whatever I like.

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I do not want to be the cat

I would like to publicly state that I do not care that George Galloway is in Big Brother. I’m neither pro or against it; I just don’t care. I don’t think it’s an appalling disgrace and that he’s betraying his constituents and, by God, making a mockery of Parliament and his position and probably the Queen. Parliament is a farce anyway, and I’m sure his constituents are quite capable of making their minds up about him without fake demos and astroturf campaigns from the Labour party.

If there is one thing I do find annoying about the man making a fool of himself in a house full of idiots on the telly, it’s the continuing procession of opportunistic MPs and self-righteous journos wagging fingers, tut-tutting and generally putting the boot in while he can’t respond. I’d be interested to see how many would be happy to say the same things on Any Questions with Galloway actually present.

The significance of it merits perhaps a mention on page 8 and perhaps a sarcastic dig in the Diary, but that’s it. Shut up, the lot of you. You’re polluting the already foul waters of the political media with Big Brother bickering, for christ’s sake. I don’t need that.

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I discovered that the Sainsbury’s below me sells Bloody Mary soup.

Apparently, it’s 2% vodka, which, given that the container is around 500ml, and vodka here is standardised at 37.5% alcohol, means 3.75ml of alcohol per container. That’s not even enough for me to notice, even before heating the soup, which would get rid of even more of it.

It does give the office worker a chance to add vodka to individual taste, though.

“Hey, something smells like booze in here.”

“Yeah, this soup, it’s Bloody Mary soup. Only 2% vodka, but it really smells like a real one, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, right. By the way, is that report ready?”

“fuggoff y’wanker hehehe”

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This is the shit we want

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comin’ atcha like Semtex, only slightly easier to get through customs

After waffling on about .mac services and iPhoto for an hour, two utterly rubbish Apple products for which I have no time, that bloody Jobs bloke waits until I leave work to announce dual-core Powerbooks. Or, in fact, Macbooks – a slightly dodgy name, but I’ll forgive it. (The difference between Powerbooks and iBooks was getting smaller and smaller anyway, and just confusing people.)

Yes, this is what we want – dual core Intel, four to five times faster than current Powerbooks, amazing screen, built-in iSight, motion sensor, backlit keyboard blah-de-blah. I suppose if there’s even a slight chance that people might buy another x86 laptop and stick a hacked OS X on it, you want to give them reasons not to. Priced, as one might expect, for a top-of-the-range notebook of course – $1,999 or $2,499 – making it the shit we want but can’t afford right now. I make myself feel better by telling myself that the first run is likely to have lots of problems, anyway.

An Intel iMac that runs like a PowerMac sounds quite nice as well.

At the back of my mind when I was whinging about the switch to Intel, I knew that when the first machines came out I’d forget the whole thing, and guess what? I can’t even remember having written anything negative at all. Who did? You must be thinking of some other fridgemagnet. Are you making stuff up about me now? I’ll sue you.

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more needed please

Oh God, I’ve become one of those inactive bloggers. Soon my Google Adwords revenue will dry up and people will stop linking to me! I’ll drop off the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem! My Technorati rating will go down! In case you didn’t guess I’ve just gone into another one of my “current affairs blogging is a waste of fucking time” moods, which always coincide with a period of general alienation, and that combined with Christmas and New Year means very few posts.

I had two attempts at explaining why current affairs blogging is a waste of fucking time but I’m just going to leave it at this for the moment, particularly considering I’ve said it all before:

  1. I can’t look at anything appearing on the media now without thinking “why has this story appeared?” rather than considering the content, and 95% of the time the content is irrelevant, pointless and/or stupid;

  2. Even if I decide to write something analysing why the story has appeared, why it’s being reacted to as it is and so on, 99.9% of the time I ends up coming to the same old conclusions.

…oh christ. That’s it, that’s the last time that I’m going to post my “god the news is so rubbish” thing. I can’t keep doing this. Okay, I’m just back at work, I’m tired and a bit ill, I hate everything and everybody and the constant flood of stories telling us how the majority are so terribly persecuted (“taking the Christ out of Christmas” / “you can’t criticise a Muslim but they can say what they like” etc) along with the fact that some people actually seem to believe these things… they’re really not helping.

N.B. This auto-blogsearching Firefox extension is excellent.

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