Death Is Easy

Russell Madden

Freedom As If It Mattered

As If
It Mattered
Russell Madden

Guardian Project

The Guardian
Russell Madden


Russell Madden






Russell Madden




It’s obvious that politicians routinely lie and cheat and murder to accomplish their ends. I think there are also enough documented cases in which someone in power has staged a conflict then blames enemy “X” as an excuse to attack that enemy. Or has backed X into a corner or acted in a recklessly provocative manner, practically guaranteeing an attack by X.

Whether 9/11 or Flight 93 or JFK or Vietnam or Pearl Harbor or whatever, it’s almost impossible to get the facts to make a fully rational decision as to whether incompetency and stupidity or deliberate conspiracy offers the better explanation. I suspect that the former often creates a situation that pols then take advantage of to maneuver the country where they want it to go. (E.g., the PATRIOT Act was waiting in the wings before 9/11 ever occurred.)

What is really sad and, I suppose, frightening is less whether pols have or have not committed a particular conspiracy, but how plausible and believable such charges are to so many people. In most of the big examples, I would not be surprised if they were not fully-blown conspiracies. I would also not be surprised if they were.

I think that simple fact says much more about the state of the State today vis à vis its citizens than any particular immoral and unconstitutional action the State has committed.

Video Games

I’m not a huge video game player, but I do go through cycles. For the average player such as myself, games can become very frustrating. Sometimes it is because I can’t figure out what to do to proceed. Sometimes it results from a section that is difficult to conquer, either because of time limits or due to opponents that overwhelm the character I’m playing. Even some players more advanced than I am give up on games that prove too hard or obtuse. When this happens, a game becomes a wasted purchase. Considering the relatively high price of new games, I’m reluctant to purchase as many as I might. Who wants a bunch of games that can’t be completed?

My suggestion is that game developers offer other options for “the rest of us.” One option would be for a player to have the game become easier after “X” tries at a particularly rough section. If this still proves beyond a player’s ability, he could have the game play through that section by itself. Fewer games gathering dust on the shelf. More sales when folks know they can — one way or the other — reach the end of a game.

There should also be an option for the game to play itself completely from beginning to end, searching every corner and revealing every secret, and playing all the cut scenes. After all, what does a game company gain by discouraging potential customers? Creating games that a wider range of people can enjoy is working for the Wii. Maybe some day games will not be tailored primarily to the geeks and nerds of the world.

I Am Legend

I recently saw the latest cinematic version of Richard Matheson’s book, I Am Legend. The scenes in a deserted New York City were evocative and effective in their portrayal of a world devoid of humanity. Will Smith’s character had to deal with loneliness and struggle to survive a society that has collapsed. In doing so, he evidenced ingenuity and an admirable determination to live.

The scenes showing that collapse also worked well. Indeed, more of them would have been more riveting than how the latter part of the film progressed. Though it is unsurprising for a movie to vary radically from its source material, this time the changes were not for the better.

The worst part of I Am Legend for me was having the major dramatic beats of the story result from the stupid mistakes made by Smith’s character. I realize that in real life, people’s lives can be affected in major ways by errors they should never have made. In fiction, I prefer that the protagonists act to the best of their abilities and that the roadblocks arise from the actions of their opponents opposing the heroes’ goals. I Am Legend advances dramatically by the main characters making decisions that no one would make with a few seconds of actual thought.

These egregious acts plus the introduction of a significant religious component towards the end of the movie left a bad taste in my mouth. While there are elements I enjoyed, the total package left much to be desired.

(from Don't Get Me Started!, 12-18-07)