Monthly Archives: Jul 2017

What’s the deal with online petitions?

Petitions are weird. On the one hand, they’re part of a healthy democracy – the people making their voice heard when other channels have failed them. They definitely have their place.

But they’re also pretty bonkers a lot of the time.

For a long time I’ve been suspicious of the efficacy of online petitions. Sites like change.org seem to be churning out hundreds of petitions daily, and you’ve got to wonder… what’s the point? How often do petitions actually change anything?

Are petitions a symptom of so-called slacktivism? Where people thing they’re making a difference, but in the most low-effort/low-impact way possible? And, even worse, is there a danger of online petitions snowballing into quasi-witch hunts? (I’m thinking of those petitions you get that demand companies fire employees who’ve done something Twitter has decided is bad).

But rather than attempt a serious discourse on whether or not petitions are bad (my position in one sentence: mostly harmless and sometimes good), I thought I’d rather do the MUCH FUNNIER THING of just digging up some funny ones. Stuff like these –

And yeah, I’ve personally signed all of those.

Change.org has a great section where you can browse by most recent. And that’s just great for finding bananas ideas. Here’s some I’ve dug up in the past –

But these aren’t real petitions. They’re directed at nobody in particular, or at least, no democratic entities. Let’s have a look at what people are actually petitioning their government for.

Sadly, the UK Parliament Petitions website is no longer accepting submissions because the recently general election screwed things up for everyone. But there’s still some gold to be mined from their archives.

There’s a lot of this kinda stuff –

But thankfully for every one of those, there’s one of these –

907 people signed that one. 907! The Government was not obliged to respond and so it has closed.

There’s something absolutely mad about letting people have their say about things. I know that’s literally an argument about democracy, but just look at this…

Like what. There’s a good argument to be made about making the HoL more accountable (though I think a fully-elected Upper Chamber would be a disaster, cf. my Year 13 Politics Coursework). But I don’t think any constitutional expert has ever, ever, ever considered the possibility of a ‘House of Heroes.’

The petition itself goes on to explain what this would mean. “The new House of Heroes will consist of 100 members, who will be known as ‘My Honourable Hero’. Of these 100, 33 will be “Everyday heroes”, 33 from the Armed Forces and Emergency Services, and 33 Heroic National Treasures, plus 1 speaker to moderate

So, instead of a body filled with specialist industry experts free to scrutinise upcoming legislation without the pressures of fixed-term service, the proposal is to let this job be done by ‘Everyday Heroes.’ I can’t quite determine what this would involve, but presumably it’s something like nurses, soldiers, firemen. The ‘are lads and ladies‘ that ‘should be paid footballers wages‘ you often read about.

I dunno if it’s a good idea to be honest. But hey, democracy is all about debating ideas. 100 people thought this was a good idea. But it too got closed.

This one was almost certainly a joke. But I like that someone in government still had to look at it, read it, reject it, and write a response. What a good use of everyone’s time.

What a disgrace.

I like ones like this, where it’s not that the idea is deliberately stupid, but rather betrays an absolute misunderstanding of the system. It’s not ‘get enough votes and this will definitely happen.’ It still has to be debated by Parliament and all that stuff.

But just imagine. Theresa May logs onto her Government Petitions account to check out the day’s business. The ‘Deport Theresa May’ petitions has reached x number of votes. “Well,” she says, “I guess that’s that then” and proceeds to start packing her bags.

I think that’s enough for you to get the idea. Yes, petitions can be a good way of making your voice heard on a particular issue that falls outside the general scope of an election (or even a referendum). But in opening up the door for everyone to have their say on every topic, you invite chaos. Not everyone understands how governments work, and how policies are implemented. The system won’t work if it has to bow to the whim of every individual.

And I really, really don’t want us to bring back the death penalty after Brexit.

Minions Cakes (or, Why Does God Hate Us?)

I did this before for Shrek cakes and it remains one of my favourite things I’ve done. So I’m recycling content like a madman, and turning my cynical eye to the world of Minion cakes.

Yeah, Minions. Those little yellow tic-tac creatures that are beloved by everyone below the age of five, and loathed to the very depths of Hades by the rest of us. They’re a pretty popular cake design these days, which is probably helped by the fact that they’ve got a very simple design. Just make a big yellow oval, give it some big eyes, whack on those dungarees they all wear for some reason, add a dumb smile, and boom – you’ve got yourself a Minion cake.

And yet somehow, people are still screwing this up.

We start with this great example. And it’s easy to see where they’ve gone wrong. They went against protocol and went for just the minion face instead of the full body. But then they decided they wanted to do the body anyway? And so the entire lower portion of the body – dungarees and all – is squeezed into the lower 3% of the cake? The proportions of such a creature in reality would be horrifying.

They’ve also made the odd decision to show the Minion bearing its teeth. This only adds to the unsettling feeling that this is not a Minion, but some kind of child-devouring monster.

I can only assume that this was made by someone who’d never seen a Minion before, but had it described to them over the phone, but there was some atmospheric disturbance causing issues on the line, so they couldn’t quite make out what the person was ordering, but they tried to go ahead anyway. Sorry, Evan. I’m very sorry.

This is a real Hall of Fame-r. My best guess is that its somehow collapsed in on itself. As if the weight of having to exist as a Minion cake was too much for this collection of atoms to take, and they spontaneously decided to give up. This deflated mound of what-was-once-cake, though ugly in itself, really resonates with me. It’s a perfect representation of how I feel at all times; deflated internally, but somehow still smiling.

This cake was designed by the text-align formatting options in Microsoft Word.

Wow. This is what you get reincarnated as in the next life if you have an England flag in your Twitter pic in this one.

I mean, it’s not horrible. It’s just… abhorrent, abominable, appalling, awful, cruel, disgusting, dreadful, eerie, frightful, ghastly, grim, grisly, gruesome, heinous, hideous, horrendous, horrid, lousy, nasty, scandalous, scary, shameful, shocking, terrible, and terrifying.

I’m gonna need to hear a pretty solid argument that this is even meant to be a Minion at all. It came up in the Google search. But it could genuinely be anything.

This one is perfect. Don’t change a single thing about it.

This one just feels lazy. You’ve clearly not been bothered enough to make a proper Minions cake, but you’ve still gone to the effort of putting a moustache on it. And yet the moustache isn’t very good, or even straight. Strange, and confusing.

LOL

Ok, so I’m 99% sure this is actually Spongebob Squarepants. But I’ve only just realised that Spongebob is literally just a minion. They’ve squared off his corners and changed his dungarees to… chinos? But he’s literally just a sea-minion. Can’t believe I never noticed this before.

I do not agree this this person nailed it.


Ok, so what have we learned from our overview of the world of Minion cakes?

Nothing. Cool. Bye.

Things You Need In Addition To Love

Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time. It’s easy.
All you need is love. All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

Ok, so this is demonstrably untrue.

There are many things you need in addition to love.

1. Oxygen

This is the big one. The body requires oxygen as a kind of combustion source to break down food into energy. Without oxygen your brain cells start to die off pretty quickly (other cells in the body not so much). So that’s pretty important.

I guess you could also add ‘respiration’ in general to this. The act of breathing is also about removing carbon dioxide from your body. You don’t want that hanging around or I guess you’d just suffocate. So yeah, Beatles, BREATHING is really important. Y’all not gonna mention that?

2. Food

Can’t get energy if you’re not eating! Food is our energy source, and is required to literally fuel our lives. I guess you can technically remain alive without eating (we do it daily between meals), but you’re not gonna last more than a few days if you go entirely without.

People have reported living for up to two months without food. But you do get really, really hungry. So I wouldn’t really even call that living. You need to eat.

3. Water

Ah, water. Now water you can’t go without for more than a few days. The body is constantly using up water for all kinds of things; sweating, respiring, that kind of stuff. They say our bodies are about 50-60% water, but I don’t know where it is. I guess in the feet or something. I dunno. But you need water.

4. Warmth

Get too hot and you’ll burn; too cold and you’ll freeze. I know right, it sucks. You’re only ever a couple of tens of degrees away from certain death.

It gets worse. The human body temperature is a steady 37C. But if that drops to just 35C you’ve got hypothermia and bits of you will start falling off. Upwards, between just 37.5C and 38.3C is considered hyperthermia. You’ll start feeling dizzy, your heart will go nuts, and you’ll generally just have a bad time. Then you die.

So when I say ‘warmth’, I really just mean a nice stable temperature that doesn’t change too much.

5. Sleep

God only knows why we sleep. Something to do with the body needing to recharge, or the mind having to process stuff. Anyway, we gotta do it.

The record for going without sleep is somewhere between 11-18 days. But you’re not really having a good time. Sleep, guys.

6. A functioning immune system

Yeah, there’s lots of bug and microbes out there constantly trying to kill you. So if you’re immune system isn’t up to scratch you won’t last long. This is why auto-immune or immune deficiency diseases are so rough. Even a common cold can wreak havoc.


And that’s about it, I guess. And you don’t even need love. Many people live without love, so we can remove that from the list.

Let’s return to the song.

Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time. It’s easy.
All you need is oxygen, food, water, warmth, sleep, and a functioning immune system.
All you need is oxygen, food, water, warmth, sleep, and a functioning immune system.
All you need is oxygen, food, water, warmth, sleep, and a functioning immune system, oxygen, food, water, warmth, sleep, and a functioning immune system.
Oxygen, food, water, warmth, sleep, and a functioning immune system is all you need.

Much better.

Review: Risk Legacy

Risk Legacy is the greatest board game I’ve ever played.

COOL THANKS FOR READING BYE.

Nah, I’m gonna write something proper here. Because I think Risk Legacy is a game that everybody should play.

Spoiler Warning, maybe? It’s best played with absolutely no knowledge of what actually happens in the game. But I’ll just be talking about gameplay mechanics, etc. Just don’t look too closely at the photos if you’re worried about that kinda thing.

But what is Risk Legacy, anyway? Isn’t it just plain ol’ boring Risk? No.

Risk Legacy ain’t yo momma’s Risk. It’s an arduous campaign of death and destruction that demands your blood, sweat, and tears. It’s a game that you have to literally sign before you start, swearing that everything that happens from that point on is your own fault. It’s a game where your mistakes come back to haunt you forever. And it’s so much fun.

The basic idea is this: the classic territory-domination gameplay of Risk, but with ‘legacy’ elements. By ‘legacy’, we mean that the outcomes of previous games affect future ones. Found a city in a region in one game, and it’ll be there the next game. Ten games later that might the stronghold that everyone’s fighting for. Real choices with real consequences.

There’s personalisation elements: winning games gives you the option of naming cities and continents. And there’s destruction: cards are literally torn up and discarded. Permanently. The game chews you up and throws you out, but you’re also doing the same to the board. The resulting wine-stained, food-encrusted, scribble-laden board is a unique treasure.

Then there are the boxes. Every game should have boxes. These are sealed compartments within the game’s case, only opened once certain conditions are met. And their contents literally change the entire game. I remember one in particular had us all screaming for ages, and we never scream out loud. The only letdown with this element is that a few times we played in a way that would specifically lead to a box being opened, because we loved them so much, rather than them naturally occurring in the game. But it’s such a great concept I don’t even care.

With a campaign of 15 games to play, and a playtime of a couple of hours for each game, there’s hours of entertainment to be had with Risk Legacy. Alliances are formed, rivalries develop, and – most of all – memes are born. Oh my god, the memes. For instance, dice rolling is a large part of the combat, and we ended up using a massive Oreo tin as the arena for these rolls. Somehow it became known as “The Thunderdome” and I still call it that to this day. Or how we would all raise a glass and toast “to the game!” at random intervals.

There’s not much else to say about this game other than I wish I could erase it from my mind and play it all over again. The game works in such a way that you could keep on using your board for endless games after the campaign is officially done. But that feels somehow profane. Our completed board is a sacred thing, and shouldn’t be desecrated by ersatz imitations of previous battles. I proposed burying the board in the garden, but that wasn’t a popular idea.

I guess the elephant in the room here is Pandemic Legacy. Somehow this is the one that everyone always talks about. If you don’t know, Pandemic Legacy is a co-operative disease-battling game… with legacy elements! (Risk Legacy came first by the way). I’ve also played a full campaign of Pandemic Legacy, but it just didn’t do it for me in the same way. It couldn’t scratch that itch.

I’ve been trying to figure out why it didn’t compare, and I think it’s because PL is co-operative while RL is PvP [player vs player]. There’s something about everyone trying to beat each other over the course of 15 games that I really love. A clear winner emerging and everyone temporarily banding together to bring them down. There’s power dynamics at play that a co-operative game, where you all win or lose together,  just can’t have. I’d recommend both, just Risk Legacy first any day.

So, should you play Risk Legacy? OH MY GOD YES WHY AREN’T YOU PLAYING IT ALREADY? Just invite me to come play too.