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Joshua A Davis

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  1. This is the story of my entire experience with MMORPGs. I started playing MMOs back in the old days when Ultima Online was fresh and shiny and new. To be honest, I'd attribute the current state of MMOs to what happened with UO from the years of 97-2000. Back then, you could PVP freely and without bounds. Combat was non-consensual and completely skill based: who had the fastest fingers, the best strategy, the best combo. There was no such thing as a best character. Lots of people couldn't handle that, though, and the whining got to a point where the game was massively changed. Of course that served as a springboard for EQ, followed by Asheron's Call, AC2, Star Wars, Shadowbane, WoW, Dark Ages of Camelot, Planetside, Eve, etc. Since UO, though, I can't think of a single game that didn't have levels and experience. Ah, to be in those days again, running around with two or three of your friends attacking people while you communicate and coordinate mana dumps in teamspeak or ventrilo until you yourself get attacked by a group of five. Sometimes you outmaneuver them and win, sometimes you get lucky enough to escape with your skin, and sometimes you get crushed horribly in one blaze of mana dump.
  2. I've just read through this thread and a few of the previous ones. Everyone seems to throw around names like tree hugger, hippy, eco-terrorist and even mongrels, but I haven't seen a single person post a single article from a scientifically founded source to say that global warming is in fact a hoax. Michael Crichton aside, a quick search on Wikipedia provides a host of references and further reading links (Source) and I'm sure looking on Google would turn up even more. Earlier this year, I took a public speaking course at my uni in which I was charged with doing three speeches on the topic of global warming. My instructor demanded numerous sources (at least 10) and recommended that I start by reading on Lexis Nexis. Let me tell you, for every 10 links that I found where people would say that global warming was something to worry about, I found one where someone say it was all a bunch of hoo-ha. Now what I found interesting was this: in my research, I came across articles that were written in 2001, 2003, 2004, etc up to the present. A vast range of scientific papers and news articles across a broad timeline. What I noticed was that the older the article, the more confusion there seemed to be in the author's opinion. In other words, in the articles from 2003, there was "no scientific consensus." In 2004, there was "no scientific consensus." In 2006, there was "some evidence pointing toward human impact on the environment." And in 2007, the overwhelming majority of my research stated that scientists were suddenly agreeing with each other that global warming was a real issue and had to be addressed, be it a researcher from MIT, from World Bank, etc. Now, I understand that I'm posting something that's contrary to a lot of people's opinions on this forum, and I've seen from reading other threads what happens in those cases. But know this: I would not classify myself as a leftist, tree-hugging hippy, mongrel, eco-terrorist, greenie freak. You can label me such if you want, but all I'm saying here is that my readings have indicated something vastly different than what you all say here. Does this mean I support the destruction of our economy? No. Do I support the enslavement of the free world? Absolutely not. Am I religiously fervent about pressing my opinions on people with regards to global warming? No. I'm simply searching for the truth here, and offering a different opinion than what's been shown here. I think it's completely possible to be concerned with man's impact on the world around us and concerned about our future (as all people should be with every aspect of life) without seeking to scare the living daylights out of anybody for the ulterior purpose of destroying your spirit.
  3. I saw Sicko last night. Debates aside on the question of whether or not there are long lines, whether or not healthcare becomes base-line upon the nationalization of said health care, etc, there were a few omissions and almost outright lies that I spotted from the onset when Moore said them. First thing that really got my blood moving in resentment was when, in the beginning, Moore stated that this movie is "about the 50 million Americans who don't have health insurance. The other 250 million of you? You're living the American dream." Honestly, how dare he. Maybe I am preaching to the choir here, but arrogance like that, in the opening credits for that matter, makes me want to write a few letters to say the least. 1. Moving on, toward the beginning, Moore stated that through their shady techniques and underhanded contracts, the health insurance industry has made a killing in profits over the past few decades. Now, as someone in the insurance/insurance consulting industry myself (I'm an actuary), I can honestly say that yes, that's true, but he's not stating his basis for comparison. Relative to other industries, the insurance industry has the second smallest growth rate of any other American industry, the lowest one being airlines. What he also fails to mention is that the mainstay of insurer profit over the past 20 years has not come as a result of denying people claims, but rather the result of more advanced and more predictive modeling methods employed by actuaries. 2. The next thing that Moore sort of left out was the salary of doctors. He interviewed a British doctor to ask about his salary and the doctor said that he's paid 85,000 pounds a year and after bonuses and incentives, about 110,000 pounds per year. Moore goes on to say things like, "Wow, that's 220,000 dollars. That's amazing! You really are paid the same as Americans." It is honestly beyond me who would fall for this tripe. He completely fails to mention the fact that he's interviewing only one single doctor, and more importantly, failing to mention that the British pound is worth twice as much as the dollar, yes, but the purchasing power of a single pound in Great Britain is virtually the same. So if you think of his 110,000 pound salary in terms of dollars, well, a quick search on Google revealed that a doctor in a family practice averages 150,000 dollars in the US in 2002. And that was 5 years ago! [Source] Furthermore, I remember this past winter, I went to Brazil for a month and I met three British girls who were newly made doctors. (Imagine my surprise when they told me that they never had to do undergrad -- that they went straight from secondary school to medical school and were now doctors at age 22!) When I told them that I was an actuary, they actually told me that actuaries actually get paid more than they do, to start, in England, something that would never happen in the states. 3. Next, Moore attempts to refute the claim that Europeans must be drowning in taxes from all their socialized healthcare. So he interviews a French family that makes 8000 dollars a month, which equates to about 6100 Euros (assuming 1.3 conversion) and goes on to marvel at the size of their home, how nicely it's decorated, spends time awing at how their only expenses are their mortgage and groceries, but never once actually says how much of their income is taxed. Honestly, does he think that every single one of his viewers are complete morons? 4. Finally, at one point he says that our healthcare system is ranked 37th in the world, just above Slovenia, but never actually says what his basis of comparison is. Are we ranked 37th in the time it takes to get treated? 37th in the amount of successes per surgery? There's no information. This was just at a glance. I'm sure if I'd looked harder, I could've found more flaws, and that doesn't even cover the issue of whether or not there really are long lines (as he claims there aren't) and whether or not it's burdensome on the consumer (he claims it isn't) and whether or not the quality of the healthcare is decent (he says it's top notch). At the end, he talks about how a man with the largest anti-Michael Moore website on the internet was in danger of shutting it down last year because his wife had contracted cancer and he was forced to choose between the website and paying for his wife's chemo. In the end, Moore sent the website owner an anonymous check of 12,000 dollars (that was how much the website owner needed to stay running) to help. At this point, I was reminded of Ellsworth Toohey's speech on how to control a man's mind from the Fountainhead. In the end, I watched this on my computer from Google video. Whether this was posted by Moore himself or by a bootlegger, call me Ragnar Danneskjold, but I'm glad I didn't support this propaganda in the form of the 9.75 it would've cost me to walk in the theater.
  4. As someone else said, in the end, it all depends on the goal you're hoping to achieve from your music. Personally, I enjoy majestic, grandiose classical music so I'm a big fan of Beethoven, particularly his 9th, 3rd (can't believe no one's mentioned Eroica!) and 5th. Chopin is also a favorite with his nocturnes for relaxation, but his piano concerti make me wonder why he never wrote a symphony. Dvorak's New World Symphony is just stunning. And the last movement of Brahms' Double concerto is delightful. For relaxation on the other hand, as I said the nocturnes, and also there's Beethoven's moonlight, the pathetique, pastorale, and appassionata to name a few. Any of Vivaldi's chamber music is also very pleasant, and Albinoni's Adagio for Strings and Organ in G always does a number on me.
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