Sunday, August 30, 2015

Valentine's Day

I thought about writing this for a while now, at least on and off for the last few months. Its not really that important of a topic. I can never really remember any Valentine's Day in specific detail. I've never had a long term relationship and I've never had a relationship around February.

Valentine's Day is just a normal day. Nothing really special about it. As a little kid, you just think of that day in elementary school where all the students exchange cards and give each other candy. When you become an adult, it is one of those days where couples get romantic and hook up. If you are alone and have no one to hook up with, you are supposed to feel bitter and miserable.

Supposed to feel bitter and miserable? I've never seen the reason to do that. I can only vaguely remember Valentine's Day of 2012. I remember I had a job interview that day for some lousy sales position at some company. After that, I think I was skating the park with my friends. Around that time, I was excited that Metal Gear Rising: Revengence came out. I had been waiting for that game to release for 2 years. Of course, I didn't buy it. I just watching the game on youtube. And that is all I remember about that Valentine's Day. I wasn't down because of some woman. I remember being stressed out because of unemployment.

I think it was earlier this year that a few people wanted to make February 14th international MGTOW day. Personally, I think a better day for it would have been the independence day of the respective country. Celebrate freedom, that's what I say. Even though I'm indifferent to Valentine's Day, I just didn't like the idea of pooping all over it. I wouldn't like to be the Grinch and ruin something that other people were enjoying. Its for that reason I won't hate on Valentine's Day.

On February 14th 2011, I spent $32 on gas and $1.23 on a container of Tic Tacs. That is the only information I have about that particular day. And that is just because I keep a record of all of my purchases.

But there are some people that get absolutely miserable about being alone on Valentine's Day. I guess this is a common television trope. The first time I remember it was from the cartoon Alvin and the Chipmunks. Man, I must have been only 6 or 7 when I saw it. Alvin was completely torn up about a former girlfriend. I don't remember the rest of the episode though. I think Alvin dressed up in some kind of Zoro costume though.

I guess when you are younger, it is easier to believe in romance. But as you get older and more cynical, any sort of relationship just looks like the exchange of attention and resources for physical intimacy and affection.

This experience ruined a few things for me. One of which is the Goo Goo Dolls. I will admit that I liked a lot of there songs as a little kid. Slide and Iris were the two best. But when I hear them today.... Ok I still like those songs. It is a little bit of a guilty pleasure. However, I know that the songs are just complete nonsense. I like those songs for the nostalgia.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The best advice no one ever told me: Always have an exit strategy

I have to say, one of the worst feelings in the world is being trapped in something. And then slowly watching the jaws of doom bite out your kidneys. Getting trapped in a situation tends to be more common in long term commitments. Be it a business partnership that goes sour, a marriage that goes sour, a career path that goes sour, all of this can be miserable. For this reason, I remember a quote from some movie that I don't remember.

I never agree to anything that I can't walk away from at the drop of a hat (or maybe it was in 5 minutes). This is why I've never wanted a wife or kids. This is why I reconsidered buying a traditional house. This is why I never dropped a ton of money or took out a ton of debt to finance a business. This is why I haven't invested a ton of money in the stock market or bought 30 year government bonds. But I have taken on a job in a miserable career path.

There are some long term commitments that are a necessary evil. With my current career path, I've had days where I've wanted to shoot myself in the head and days where I've wanted to drive into on coming traffic and I've experienced everything in between.

But whether it is a marriage, job, investment, or any other long term obligation, you will do yourself a favor if you try to keep your options open and have a way to get out of there. Made some dumb financial decisions? There is bankruptcy. Got stuck in a lousy career path? Save up several thousand dollars and find another opportunity. Got trapped in a terrible marriage? Consult a lawyer.

The other important part to this advice is deciding when to execute your exit strategy. A lot of fret and worry is caused by not knowing when to follow through. Make sure to draw that line in the sand ahead of time and execute your leave once that line is crossed.

Hopefully this will prevent you from doing the Smith and Wesson retirement plan.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Personal Spending Report: December 2010

For the month of December 2010, I spent a total of $595.79.

$223 was spent on full coverage car insurance
$108 was spent on gas
I spent $100 on a new skateboard
$44 was spent on fast food. I hadn't yet made it a bad habit.
I spent $30 on beer (can't remember if it was at a bar or a case of beer for a party)
$20 was spent on a haircut
$20 was spent on prepaid minutes for my phone (total of 120 minutes)
The rest of money was spent on miscellaneous items.

The most notable change on this month was that my employer at the time brought me on as a full time employee. My time as an independent contractor was over. This did have some pros and cons. The major cons was that withholding from my paycheck started. Had I just worked 40 hours at $12 an hour, I would have made $480. After getting on salary, I started out making $500 a week. After taxes and fica, my take home pay was $400 a week. The pro was the fact that I was expected only to work 8 hours a day and had a set schedule. I was also not required to show up on Saturdays. At this rate, my annual salary was $26000 annually and my take home pay was $21100 (I rounded off the numbers).

This month, I took home $1600. After expenses were deducted, I saved my goal of $1000.

This was one of the worst months of work I can remember. My job duties was to send payments out for child care benefits. While not just processing invoices, I also handled customer service which meant I would get constantly interrupted to talk to the clients.

With it being December, these families depended on getting reimbursed on time to pay for Christmas related expenses. This resulted in some really hostile and nasty phone calls. Constantly I was tempted to tell those jerks that they shouldn't have had kids they couldn't afford but it wouldn't be until a few years later that I realized that those kids were being used as a source of income to gain benefits via the federal government. I think it was December 23rd or 24th that my coworkers were going to go out for lunch after work but I was so pissed off from work that I just left and went home. It was only going to get worse for the next few months.

I used a tracfone for all my phone calls. I had a phone that gave me double minutes for life. It was the same phone I had been using for my last year of college. $20 gave me 120 minutes.

This was also back when I used to go to a barber to cut my have. The hair cut cost $15 each time and I always gave a $5 tip.

This month, I felt kind of secure. I decided to buy a new skateboard as I had been putting it for for some time. I also remember getting some pizza and beer with some friends. Out of the three of us, they both looked at me like I was the successful one of the trio. I was the only one who graduated college at the time and found a white collar job.

I looked up my birthday and saw that I spent no money. I remember my coworkers bought me lunch from Steak and Shake. That evening, my parents took me to Dave and Busters. I remember having one or two 22 ounce Blue Moons. There was some guy playing an acoustic guitar. He was paying a cover of the song "Secret Agent Man".

2010 had been just an absolute miserable year. I was glad to see it go.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dragonball Z linked to Body Building Confirmed

I started lifting weights when I was 14 just because of all the DBZ I watched as a little kid. Although, at the time, I thought it was because I was just some kind of nerdy otaku.

I just came across this video where George Leeman was deadlifting 800 lbs multiple times. Apparently he was a big DBZ fan when he was younger too. He says this around 7 minutes and 30 seconds into the video. I know it is just an anecdote but hearing him say that is just too priceless. And man, this guy is jacked.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Personal Spending Report November 2010

One of the things that kids don't really learn about is how much stuff costs. If a kid wanted to make estimates about cost of living, it will be kind of tricky because of a lack of real world experience. Since everyone is different, everyone will spend different amounts of money on different items. For this reason, there is no real book a man can read to find out what the cost of living is. It is here where I would like to lend some assistance.

Ever since October of 2010, I've recorded all the stuff I've purchased into logs in order to know how and where I spend my money. I've created detailed reports for myself and put my life down on spreadsheets. In this chain of posts, I'll report real data of all the stuff I've bought over the last few years and how much it cost. All this is done to provide information for how much stuff costs in the real world for kids that haven't entered the working world yet. The other reason for this is for me to remember my journey for the last few years.

Here is where I was in November of 2010.

In November of 2010, I was working my first job fresh out of college. At the time, I was being paid $12 an hour as an independent contractor and I didn't have a cap on the amount of hours I worked. Because of this, I was happy to work more than 40 hours each week. With the timing of the paychecks, I earned a little more than $2700 that month.

At this time, I was still living with my parents as it was my intention to save up enough money to buy a house with 100% cash in order to avoid taking out a mortgage. As soon as I started working, I made the decision to never get married or have kids. I did still want a house. My parents encouraged me to live with them in order to not waste money on rent. I was glad to do so.

I had no girlfriend and made no real effort to date. The furthest extent to finding a woman was to reach out to maybe one or two girls I remembered in college.

My work site was the closest I ever had. It was more than 11 miles away but less than 20 miles. I had no reason to take the highways.

Lastly, in my free time, I would play videogames, skateboard, and lift weights.

The car that I was driving was given to me by my father. I had no car note. Speaking of loans, I had none. I came out of college with no debts. I had merit based scholarship that paid for my tuition.

I was in a very good position for where I was. Even though I would eventually be working for a salary of less than $30,000 a year, I was still able to save $1000 each month because of how little I spent.

For November 2010, I spent a total of $478.20.

The biggest expense I had was my car insurance. I spent $222.75. My premium was expenses but I did have full coverage.

My gas expense was only $61 for this month. Normally, gas would have cost me over $100 however my dad filled up my tank because we took a trip to South Carolina to visit relatives.

I spent $51.79 on fast food. I got fast food 7 times this month which would average about $7 per visit. In later months, I would spend way to much money at Krystal because it was the closest restaurant to my work site.

I gave my dad $40 for some reason. I can't really remember why though.

I went out to two restaurants with some friends. I spent $40 at the Vortex with two friends from church. On a different occasion, I spent $8.50 getting pizza and beer with my two bros.

This month, I spent a total of $35.53 on CD's and DVD's. I think I bought the second season of Metalocalypse because I saw it at a Walmart. I also picked up the Demon Days album by Gorillaz at some music shop.

In November 2010, I spent less than $500 and it would be a long time before I subbed $500 again. The first few months after graduating college were incredibly bad. I had the nervous compulsion about spending as little money as possible. In later months, I felt like I could relax a little and spend a little more money.

I also get the feeling that recording all my transactions made me spend less month than I otherwise would have.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Will Rob Fedders Return?

With a vast amount of information available at the fingertips, the average Joe can find information about almost any topic. Need to find out the actors in some obscure black and white file from the 50's? Just Google it an you will know the answer in a second. Curious if there is a good Chinese place in 20 miles? You can find that too. It seems like most of the wonder and whim has been removed with this amount of information available. However, there are still some mysteries out there.

There is a movement out there where men have decided to reject the traditional "American Dream" in order to pursue their own goals and interests without considering what society thinks. Of course, there have always been men doing this however this movement didn't really have a name until about 2001. The name was simply "men going their own way". What does it mean? It depends on who you ask.

Today, the most prominent figures are Stardusk and Barbarossa and a lot of people would believe they came up with the label however these two have only been around making content since about 2009 or 2010. There channels are currently up and you can see their earliest videos. You can hear their voice and in rare instances you can see their face. Both can be reached by email or easily reached on some sort of social media. You can probably interact with them. However, they didn't create the label. I wanted to know where the label came from.

There is a video on youtube where Rocking Mr E interviews two of the founders, Ragnar and Solaris. In this skype conversation, you can hear their voice and their story. However, after listening to podcasts from Davis Aurini and Matt Forney, I heard one name that kept being repeated. His name was Rob Fedders.

Rob Fedders wrote the No Ma'am blog. I don't think he ever released any videos or podcasts so I have never seen or heard this guy before. All that remains is his writing. That is all that remains as Rob Fedders died in 2013. The death was tragic but at least the guy had a good run.

According to this report, Rob Fedders was being chased by about 30 middle aged women wearing bridal dresses who were infected with baby rabies. Their eyes locked on to Rob Fedders and they demanded that Rob Fedders would marry each one of them, produce each one a kid, and subject himself to a life of servitude so that all these women could sit in McMansions while drinking flirtinis and watching reruns of Sex in the City and Roundhouse Kicking Chick Cop Show on the weekend.

As the 30 bridezillas chased Rob Fedders, Rob Fedders was chased into a corner. Almost captured, he ran up the brick wall and did like 3 backflips and landed on the opposite side of the gold diggers. He ran with all his fury towards a cliff and started shimmying down a vine as the gaggle of women stopped at the top of the cliff.

He thought he was in the clear but he was mistaken. Below him, there was a priest and a lawyer cutting off his escape. Both demanded and threatened that Rob Fedders marry all 30 women as it was his duty to create more people to perpetuate the welfare state be a productive member of society.

"Rob Fedders, your days are numbered. Stop running like a coward and submit your life to those with the correct genitalia."

With the blood thirsty resource sucking vampires above him and the traitorous white knights below him, he did the only logical thing any freedom loving individual would. He pulled out his emergency ham and cheese on rye sandwich and ate it. And it was delicious.

With that job taken care of, Rob Fedders flung himself off the cliff and exploded in a giant fireball of fury and freedom. Oh yea, and did I mention that he strapped a whole bunch of C4 to his body? That part is kind of important otherwise that fireball of freedom and fury wouldn't make much sense.

So ends his story. Or does it? Rob Fedders is dead but he was just a figment of the imagination of the man who ran the No Ma'am blog. Either the imagination or alter ego. It is for this reason that he is so mysterious. I don't know who Rob Fedders really was. Maybe it was Ragnar or Solaris. I don't even know how to go about identifying who Rob Fedders is. I don't think Matt Forney even knows.

Most of the founders abandoned their blogs however No Ma'am is still up. I subscribed to it and noticed that the last update was years ago. However I saw some new activity in the last few weeks. It makes me wonder if Rob Fedders really died in 2013. Maybe he found some kind of submarine as he hit the rocky waters below the cliff. Maybe he will come back.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Short list of No Go Zones

The No Go Zone is a concept created by DT and The Man at The Black Brigade. Essentially, a no go zone is a place that is so deplorable or mismanaged that is is encouraged to completely black mark the area and avoid it completely. Don't live there, don't visit or vacation there, don't support the area, and try not to buy anything produced in that area.

I've thought about putting a short list of places to remind myself to never go to for various reasons.

California - the "yes means yes" law
New York City - arresting men for taking up too much space in seats on subways
Detroit, Michigan
Portland, Oregon
Baltimore, Maryland
Ferguson, Missouri

That last one was sticking in my mind for a little while but then I saw the news headlines as I was buying coffee this morning. Apparently, it was one year since some guy got shot by a cop after robbing a gas station for a box of cigars. Now, I remember the riots being covered on the news. I remember seeing coverage of cop cars being set on fire and looters were stealing toilet paper and Doritos from CVS. What I wasn't expecting that protests and riots would happen on the one year anniversary. But since this is a thing, I guess this will become an annual event and I'll see the same thing on the news in 2016. Since this is happening, I am going to guess that the same thing will also happen in Baltimore, Maryland in April of 2016.

These two cities aren't safe. Avoid at all costs and try to get out of there if you live there already.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Considering Male Values in Career Paths

I get the feeling that most men are dissatisfied with their jobs because their jobs don't reflect or reward their personal values. I'm a staff accountant and I will admit that it is not a very manly job. I've only ever had 3 jobs and they were all desk jobs in some office. Phone calls, paperwork, meetings, and emails all just kind of swirl together in endless drudgery. Being an accountant is a good job and it pays my bills but I kind of hit an epiphany that something was wrong when I had a meeting with my boss and he asked me how I was doing.

I told him that I felt like sacking a village, burning it to the ground, impregnating all the women, and stealing all the treasure just like great men (Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan) had done in the past. My boss really didn't know how to respond to my statement.

Earlier that day, I had been listening to the song Alexander the Great by Iron Maiden. And it made me feel like I should shoot for higher goals in life then just getting my freedom and living in the desert. Maybe when men became free, they decided to set up campaigns to conquer lands far and wide. I could just picture Alex getting a band of men, getting super drunk, and going on rampages smashing peasant villages to the ground just for the lulz. Should I want to start my own campaign, I'd have to travel to places without government jurisdiction and those places on Earth are very rare.

It got me to thinking that masculine values aren't really considered when choosing a career path. Even though salaries are a bigger factor for consideration, picking a career that is in line with your values would lead to higher levels of job satisfaction. A man will be the happiest when he can be a man. Since these sort of values aren't taught in the public school system or passed down from most parents, I thought this post would be a short guide or spring board to matching a set of values to a career path. 

Like the snakes of MGS, there are men that have the warrior spirit and have the desire of finding glory in combat. Those men that are willing to risk life and limb would be best suited to join the military and try to achieve high ranks or become elite fighters in the SEALs. While all men may have that desire to fight, destroy, and conquer, only a select few are willing to risk life for it. These men will make the best fighters. 

If this is too risky, men can still fulfill the values of being an enforcer and protector by becoming police or SWAT. Military and police all go through weapons training and endure physical training.

For those that want to rescue lives, firefighters, paramedics, and doctors would be good options. Of these three choices, being a firefighter would be the most dangerous and probably a good choice for adrenaline hits. Every job involving a fire means that there is always a time limit especially if there are people in danger inside the building. These men have to use a variety of equipment to protect from smoke inhalation, breach doors and walls, or extract people from windows.

For men that like to build or create, I can't think of a better choice than construction work. Building houses requires pouring concrete foundations, building frames, laying bricks, putting up drywall, and a hundred other steps. On the other hand, men may enjoy destroying things and there are jobs involved in tearing buildings down via wrecking balls, bulldozers, and explosives. If building or destroying isn't appealing, maybe repairs or maintenance is a good line of work. This would include professions such as mechanics, plumbers, and technicians. 

For those that want to hunt and seek, they have to become salesmen or entrepreneurs. Essentially, they are both the same but these jobs are most directly tied to your efforts. Because of this reason, your salary is only limited to how well you can perform. These are the only options for men to earn six figure salaries with only a high school education or less. Become a sales man or entrepreneur. 

A further note to consider is that career options will be limited by the job market. It may be necessary to find a job and build up capital before finding a job that you may enjoy and reward your certain set of values. Also note that a man's values can change over a period of time. Maybe a construction worker gets sick of it after 10 years and would prefer a job handling customer service in an air conditioned office. Maybe a plumber would rather become a day trader after saving up a few hundred thousand dollars. Remember that you career path doesn't have to be fixed for your whole life. It can be changed but doing so will require some effort.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Cost of Movement

A few years ago, I really enjoyed the games Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2. Both games are turn based strategy games where you build and direct units to smash the opponents units. One integral part of the gameplay was considering the movement of your units. Different units can travel different terrain and the terrain will affect how far a unit can go. Vehicles can't cross mountains, forests cut movement in half, and tires can't travel well off road compared to treads.

I think about how this is a great reflection in real life. Just moving a thing over a distance will take time, effort, energy, and money. In a sense, it is all about money. This is why shipping is more expensive the further is has to go. Moving an object will mean it has to be loaded on a truck, ship, or plane which burns up fuel to move. And one status symbol of the rich is how easy or fast they can move around.

The more money a man has, the easier it is for him to traverse the world. Simply by walking, a man can cover more than 26 miles in a day. By traveling on foot, the limitations faced is the human body. Walking will cause fatigue over time. Muscles will ache and a man will need some shelter if traveling multiple days on foot. Of course, he could always hitchhike but that method is dependent on someone else having a vehicle.

By traveling in a car, 26 miles can be covered in 26 minutes on the freeway. Of course, a man will need to spend the money on a car and spend money on gas. The car also need maintenance over long periods of time. If a man spend 12 hours driving on the highway, he could cover more than 700 miles. Of course, cars have their limitations. They travel the best on roads but not so well on water. A car will take you wherever the roads will take you in the Americas, but it is not an option if you wanted to go to Europe.

For the average man, the only way to get to Europe would to be to take a plane. Planes can cost millions of dollars so most men will never own one. So commercial airlines will take people wherever airports are. The cost over the ocean will cost a few hundred to a thousand dollars. The cost of the plane ticket will go towards jet fuel, maintenance, overhead, and the salaries of the airline workers.

In this sense, the average American can travel around the entire Earth in a day. It isn't a really big status symbol if you can fly. The status symbol comes in if you have your own aircraft like a private jet. The limitations of airlines is that flights are set on certain schedules, airline security can be a pain, and take off takes a long time because hundreds of people have to be coordinated and serviced all at the same time. In having a private jet, a rich man can take of whenever he is ready and can travel wherever an airport will allow him. The cost of having this freedom of movement is a few million dollars.

When men become very rich, their movement options become vastly expanded. He could get a yacht and spend time hundreds of miles away from the coast of California. If he wanted to, he could buy a submarine in order to see how far he could explore under the ocean.

The furthest place men have gone was into space and on the moon. This required the money from the tax payers of the entire country of America. Doing this required a large rocket, the infrastructure to launch the rocket, and a mission control team to oversee operations. The Apollo 11 program costed $355 million in 1969. Adjusted for inflation, the cost would be roughly $2.18 billion as of 2011. There are several billionaires that could potentially go to the moon if they wished.

To go further than space, I could only think that technology would have to be developed to travel between dimensions or time. I couldn't imagine how much money that would cost.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

When TV started becoming obsolete.

One thing I encourage people to do is stop paying for television service. If you have a reliable internet connection, there is a plethora of media available whenever you want in. As far as I know, the only reason to pay for television service is if you want to watch live sports however I think you can just stream that on ESPN now.

It didn't happen overnight, but television was slowly starting to become obsolete when services like Netflix and Hulu started popping up. If you are really cheap, almost any topic can be watched on youtube for free. For me, the point when television started becoming obsolete was when I first watched the Angry Video Game Nerd on Screwattack.

A few notable episodes that I can think of off the top of my head is Ninja Baseball Batman, Super Mario Bros 3, Big Rigs, and Hong Kong 97. These are all gut busting episodes and I remember being a fan of AVGN ever since 2008. AVGN was the first internet personality I ever knew about. Shortly after, I found Nostalgia Critic and then Team Four Star. Around 2010, youtube personalities were all over the place. In 2008, I was subscribing to as much content and I would get excited just to see a new video a week. Today, my inbox gets flooded with content. With all this content, it seems silly to pay for television.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Living conditions for millennials: Update from Zero Hedge

While checking the only news source I trust, I came across two articles regarding the reality that my generation faces.

The first article linked here shows how many people still live with their parents. Apparently, in the age 18 to 34 demographic, 31% of this demographic is currently living with their parents. This is a figure I want to track in the future as it might be an indication of two things. This is most likely the result of kids racking up too much student debt and not getting a good paying job that will allow the kid to live on his own. A much smaller percent of this demographic might be kids living with parents in order to save up money to buy a house or other property without having to take out a mortgage.

The second article shows how tight millennials might be pressed and how far kids need to strip away in order to live independently. There are more in California paying rent to live in shipping containers. The rent for a shipping container in San Francisco is $1000 a month. And that just sounds insane because shipping containers only cost about $2500.  One year worth of rent could buy a shipping container and some land in Texas.

I predict that in the next few decades, populations will start dispersing from heavy populated cities into more rural areas just because of the high cost of living in cities.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Kids need to play Final Fantasy

After playing several games from the Final Fantasy series, I started to wonder if games like Final Fantasy do a better job teaching critical thinking skills than public schools. To be fair, courses such as calculus, chemistry, and physics are far more rigorous than playing a video game but the bulk of classes I endured in school were liberal arts and humanities. Throughout high school and parts of college, I had several classes where you simply just memorize a set of facts and spit them back out on a multiple choice test. I usually did very well in these courses but I felt like I wasn't really learning or smart. All I was doing was memorizing facts for a test.

Of course, I did have challenging courses. There were exams that made you think about every choice to the question. For those exams, you couldn't just jump straight to the correct answer because you could have made a mistake in a series of calculations and get the answer wrong. You had to find the correct answer and figure out why every other option was incorrect. Even then, the hardest questions always had the option "none of the above" which would always leave you with a seed of doubt.

As challenging as these courses and exams were, there was something regarding the critical thinking skill that they could never do. However, games like Final Fantasy did it all the time. In games like Final Fantasy, you fight several bosses and you have several different options how to defeat these bosses. In other words, you are given a long series of tasks and you are given a toolbox filled with stuff that will help you complete those tasks but you have to figure out how to complete the tasks yourself.

For example, the standard logic of most RPGs is that you get stronger the more you fight. If you come to an enemy that is too strong, you can typically grind up levels to become stronger and destroy your enemy. However, if you find out that the boss has a weakness to ice, you can try using some ice magic on the beast to kill it faster and advance in the game. Maybe you don't have any ice magic available. If that is the case, you might be able to collect healing items from other enemies and save them for a boss fight. If this isn't an option, you might have magic that will speed up your party or slow down your enemy which will allow you to deal more damage or take less damage.

Two notable bosses from Final Fantasy 7 are Jenova Life and Carry Armor. Jenova Life will fight by only casting water attacks like Aqualung. What makes this fight so memorable is that a water ring can be found shortly before the boss fight. The water ring lets a party member absorb water attacks. If you give one of your party members a water ring, you already won the fight. Jenova can't hurt you. If that ring isn't picked up or equipped, the boss fight can actually be challenging as Aqualung does a lot of damage and hits everyone in the party. In this situation, the water ring is pretty much a free pass.

In this way, the game encourages experimentation and exploration to figure out what is the best way to manage your resources and get the most amount of plunder/money/experience out of every random battle.

The second notable boss, Carry Armor, is memorable because of how difficult this boss can be. This boss is unique in that is has two arms that can capture two of your party members and hold them hostage. If your third party member is dead and both the other members get captured, you lose and the game is over. Carry Armor is one of the few bosses that does this and this boss makes solo character runs really tough. The two arms of Carry Armor can be destroyed which will disable the boss from holding your party hostage. This boss in particular reminds you that You cannot always rely on the same strategy all the time. With this boss, it is useful to use a spell like Trine which targets all opponents and destroy the arms first.

Final Fantasy 5 and Final Fantasy Tactics are the games where strategy is experienced to the fullest. In Final Fantasy 5, almost every boss fight requires a different strategy. In Final Fantasy Tactics, each battle will have a different amount of enemies and some fights have different victory conditions. What makes these games unique is the amount of randomness and uncertainty. Often times, I've been destroyed by a boss or battle up to 20 times and I was forced to either optimize a particular strategy or create a new strategy.

In my opinion, games like this are good preparation for facing the real world. I'm not saying that getting good at Final Fantasy Tactics will turn a man into a successful day trader or beat out the stock market, but these games may encourage kids to ask the following questions.

What is my goal/objective?
What resources do I have available now?
What resources can I acquire in the future?
What are the obstacles that are in my way?
Do I have a back up plan in case things go to pot?
How long will it take me to reach my objective?
What is possible?
Can I achieve this?

When facing the real world, a man might have the goals of buying a house, starting a family, creating a business, or earning a certain amount of money. These goals may conflict with each other so he has to prioritize the goals that he deems most important.

Each goal will require a certain amount of resources, mostly money. At that point, a man needs to figure out how much resources he needs and how to achieve them. At that point, he needs to know what financial position he is in currently and figure out how he can accumulate more resources.

He will know what his current job is, how much money he spends in a month, and how long it will take to save up a certain amount of money. Now there are always unknown factors that aren't that reliable. He may find a better job that pays more money or he might get fired for a petty reason. It is always good to have a back up opportunity. If a man is a customer service representative, he could take classes to eventually become a computer net-worker. He will have to spend time and money to dedicate to these studies. Will the possible increase to earnings be worth it? If so, how long will it take to pay off?

All these kinds of questions and considerations are things I've experienced in some fashion while playing games like Final Fantasy, Sim City, or Advance Wars. It is for these reasons I think these video games teach kids better critical thinking skills than 50% of public schools.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Fake morality. The population is controlled by the media.

I've been mentioning Metal Gear too much, but lately I've been thinking about how crazy the population has been getting and how it relates to the end of Metal Gear Solid 2.

At the end of the game, you get contacted by the AI. The AI talks about how ridiculous and immoral the general population is.

Billions of dollars are spent on new methods to humanly kill humans. Rights criminals are more valued that the privacy of the victims. Money is spent on preserving endangered animals when people are starving in the streets.

The world goes crazy because a dentist kills a lion. The man is getting death threats from high level figures. A business owner is fined $130,000 because the owner would not bake a cake for a lesbian couple. A man gets fired from his job because he makes a donation to a certain politically incorrect charity. A famous golfer gets into hot water for practicing infidelity.

I'm convinced that selfish jerks to more good for the world than people who "care". In most of the instances I listed above, I'm sure most of the outrage is coming from people who think they are supposed to be outraged. Either than or the outrage is coming from people that need to launch a crusade.

The Black Brigade did a really good podcast about this craziness. It is debrief number 74.