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The Unapologetic Geek

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12 Things I Learned in 2012 - Page 2

Has it been another year already? Damn, I'm getting old. Alright, I guess it's time to assess the last year and account for the things I've learned.

This is Not a Center-Right Country Anymore

2012 electoral map
All elections should be done in a cutesy cartoon style

For decades now, it's been popular common knowledge that this country leans, on average, a little to the right of the political spectrum, that we are generally more conservative as a nation than liberal. The 2012 election results dispell this myth. Perhaps you can look at the Democratic win as a failure for a viable alternative to appear (Mitt Romney was hardly the most endearing candidate from the right), but you cannot deny that the American people looked at a president who is an avowed fighter of class warfare, a believer in bigger and bigger entitlements, the biggest government spender in the history of planet Earth, a fan of government mandates and greater entitlements, and a quasi-Keynesian follower of the notion that the government can cure a faltering economy through higher deficits, and decided he deserved to be re-elected, even with an unemployment rate still hovering around 8%, food prices still inching upwards, and the wildly unpopular Obamacare law set to go into full effect in 2014.

You can explain this however you like. Disdain for social conservativism is at an all-time high; popular media and academia are more forgiving of liberal leaders than ever (Fox News notwithstanding); and the Republican party is looking to weaklings like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to lead them. Regardless of the reasons, though, it is unquestionable that America no longer leans to the right.

Pouting is Nature's Way of Keeping Parents from Eating Their Young

pouting kid
"Oh yeah? Well, I'm going to punish you by being completely quiet and still for a few minutes! Take that!"

When I was a kid, my parents always gave me a hard time if I started pouting after they scolded me. I hear other parents do it, too, growling at their offspring, "Oh, stop that pouting and be glad I didn't rip off your other arm!" Frankly, this baffles me. When my son gets into a pouting fit, I lean back, take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the blessed silence. Seriously, if he didn't pout after one of his level five toddler meltdowns, I would have sold him on the black market ages ago.

Of course I get it, though. Children try pouting at their parents to test their resolve, and the parents who are susceptable to big eyes and guilt are prone to lashing out at the pouter. I have to do it sometimes too, not because I feel guilty for scolding my child when he deliberately dumps chocolate milk on my iPhone, but because if he actually figures out that pouting doesn't bother me, he'll move on to a different strategy, like more screaming. Actually, come to think of it, my parents scolding me and those other parents scolding their kids for pouting does make sense. Nothing makes a kid do something more often like convincing him his parents hate it. Well played, Mom and Dad, well played.

Geeks are Unrelentingly Unforgiving

Mass Effect 3
180 hours of fun + 15 disappointing minutes = worst game series ever?

A year ago, the Mass Effect franchise was riding high as one of the most beloved video game properties in the world. Now, if you spend any amount of time online looking for opinions on Mass Effect, you will discover that it is one of the most hated video game properties in the world. What happened? Put simply, fans didn't like how Mass Effect 3 ended, and so they completely dismissed everything that got them to that point--the amazing action, the perfect gameplay, the great storylines, and the deep universe--and decided that they had somehow been fooled over the last five years, that all that time they spent playing the games, reading the books, and throwing money at DLC packs just because they were hungry for more, was a complete waste.

I'm not going to try to convince you that the ending of Mass Effect 3 isn't flawed (I'm pretty sure fans would torch my house if they knew I expressed such an opinion on the Internet), nor am I going to try to argue that a terrible ending can't ruin a story, but I find no reason to look at the ending of Mass Effect 3 and think that it calls for dismissing one of the greatest video game franchises out there today. Thanks to the "fans," I'm guessing we won't see a Mass Effect 4, and for that, they should feel nothing but shame and regret.

People Want to Believe You Are Either Black or White

Michael Jackson
But hey, it don't matter

Though I know it is unwise, I do not shy away from sharing my political opinions on the Internet. Unfortunately, people are so quick to form generalizations about me that they wind up misunderstanding me. I got a lot of that in 2012, even from people who know me personally. I voted for Mitt Romney, so I must hate homosexuals and the teaching of evolution. I supported the Patriot Act, so I must be in favor of drone warfare that kills children. I said I liked Paul Ryan, so obviously that means I agree with every stance he's ever taken on anything. Et cetera.

I have tried to counter this by showing how carefully I examine and re-examine my political beliefs--in 2012 I wrote an extensive series of essays about climate change and was exhaustive in my appraisal of the presidential candidates, for example--and though this is appreciated, I still get people making gross assumptions about me. This is human nature of course, and I'm sure I make similar assumptions about others as well. Luckily, there are a tiny handful of people who understand how I function and are willing to engage me in thoughtful, intellectually honest political debate, even when (or especially when) they disagree with me. You know who you are, and I would just like to say thank you. For the rest of you, please stop assuming you know my every belief just because you know a few others.

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-e. magill 1/8/2013

  • 13 Things I Learned in 2013
  • 11 Things I Learned in 2011
  • Mass Effect 3 Review