Thursday, April 30, 2015

Synthetic Outrage

"We were spittin' venom at most everyone we know
If the damned gave us a road-map then we'd know just where to go"

Modest Mouse - Spitting Venom

I wouldn't put Bill Maher up there with Voltaire and Socrates, but every once in a while he does manage to make public discourse look like more than a rotting scrap in postmodernism's teeth. For instance, I loved his recent "new rule" on liberal proselytism. Granted, that's largely because the phrase "bedazzle codpieces" by itself should win one of his writers a raise, but also because facetious wannabe liberals' in-group dynamics and tribal loyalties have become a major impediment to progress over the past half-century and it's so goddamn gratifying to hear it said, if not on prime-time major networks then at least on HBO.

It's particularly poignant to me because I have often felt guilty of the sort of Procrustean declamations he mocks. In my snarlier moments I have mercilessly vituperated against people whose company I'd previously enjoyed, or at least tolerated to an order of magnitude above that of the average naked ape. Still, overall, I say damn the social graces, full vitriol ahead. We should be aiming for the moon, shooting at the stars, and those who only espouse petty, narrow, socially favorable views in order to be lauded as some sort of eusocial moral paragons within their local civic milieu, well, they're just blocking our shot.

Every social movement or point of contention, through the mutual validation it provides its participants, will soon become dogma. In the constant blind competitive social climb, social apes will constantly push thine envelope ever holier. From humane treatment of livestock to vegetarianism to veganism to different levels and honor-badges and Olympic medals for veganism, there's always one more way of saying "Oh, you're only an angel? Well, I happen to be a saint." Each climbing his own tree sees it as the forest. Each seeks the high inquisitor's seat in enforcing the ever-stricter orthodoxy of whatever dogma serves as moral high-horse. Feminism, proletarianism, pacifism, what-have-you-rights' activism, all become pretexts for grandstanding. This cannot even be called "hijacking" because it is the tendency of the majority of the species. It's the enlightened few who sometimes manage to hijack base inter-human competition, to enlist the masses in a worthy cause through promises of socially advantageous moral rectitude.

No social movement is worth adherence once it becomes a recognizable movement. Every individual sentience must tend toward anarchy and as such should trend-backflip away from righteousness-by-association. However, let's not forget that it takes a great deal of pushing to secure even a chance at progress. Maher himself has joked on previous shows about the need for more left-wing extremists to push the "middle" of various debates away from the American public's overall reactionary tendency. We may rightly despise those outliers but it's dangerous business to truncate them no matter how much neater they allow us to plot whatever we might care to call "liberalism." That gayer-than-thou outrage has its place - in "camp." The overall media narrative, the unappetizing presentation, managing how we discuss such buffoonery, that's a much bigger issue.

That being said, there is especially one area of thought which could stand a much greater dose of intransigence, and that's the importance of thought itself. We are thought. We do not possess minds. We are minds. The capacity for reason, for clear, incisive analysis and bountiful creativity are the measures of our existence. Stupidity, thoughtlessness and willful ignorance must be beaten down mercilessly, dropped like so much ballast. It's all well and good to talk of alliances of convenience, but when your ally is incapable of providing a coherent rationale for his views, you're only setting yourself up for future disaster. Instead of saying "can't liberals all get along" you may simply have to make up your mind that mindless fanaticism even in the service of a supposedly humanist goal is not liberalism, but merely chauvinism of a modern flavor.

By-the-by, I'm tickled pink that a couple of gay fashion designers seem to have as thorough a knowledge of human reproduction as your average grade-schooler and just as much perspective. "Synthetic" my vaccinated, plastic-clothed, hospital-delivered ass.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Serial Experiments Lain

Googling the seemingly innocuous phrase "and you don't seem to understand" yields any of a number of videos like this one of an anime's opening theme. It's now been seventeen years since Serial Experiments Lain first aired, and people are still arguing over what the devil the show was about, but we're not going to stop talking about it anytime soon. Apparently it's even drawn some academic attention, though I think it slipped past hard-nosed would-be intellectuals' defenses simply via casually dropping a Proust reference as pass-code.

Given that the primary descriptor (even in the wikipedia article) which anyone can come up with for Lain is "weird" one has to wonder exactly how the show has gained and retained is popularity. It's become one of those artsy staples which certain segments of the population feel obligated to watch so they can nod along to conversations about it, like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Donnie Darko. What made it so captivating to begin with, though? You can take it as a conspiracy-themed adventure, but that's barely scratching the surface and other shows have done that better. It's certainly not action-packed or trendy.

If solipsism were reality, what would you make of yourself? Lain's philosophical leanings get the most attention, inordinately so, I'd say, suspiciously so. Methinks the public doth protest too much. After all, the show's writers sort of bit off more than they could chew and the several episodes of musings on the nature of reality don't come through very clearly, even by the somewhat lax standards of metaphysics. People's desire to focus on Lain as a philosophical piece I think simply masks their more taboo fascination with the title character herself.

Yet Lain is too unstable a character to sustain a realistic accusation of pure moe. Her image as a sexualized waif (embodied quite succinctly in one image during the end credits of each episode) is certainly near the core of the issue, but that alone wouldn't have carried the show so far. Anime is littered with more blatantly exploitative teenaged heroines and Lain occasionally goes out of her way to make herself unlikeable. In addressing the series in terms of transcendentalism, it may be more fruitful to apply the term not to the general assumptions of its world, but to the character herself. Lain the user transposed to embody the network, the ghost haunting static, the oft-vicious recurring demon of our individual psychological projections onto the zeitgeist, now there's a more likely explanation for her appeal. Ultimately, the vulnerable, confused ego caught in that limbo of early adolescence becomes capable of owning her various facets. We like Lain because we envy her that unassailable core of transcendent self-identity, we who cannot scream our desire for inner being loudly enough in a world of seven billion faceless carbon-copies.

Lain is the realization of individuality, the becoming of pure pattern. We project our own abandoned hopes of transcendence onto that innocent seductress pervading the static of human society, and thus remain fascinated by her.

Damocles and Narcissus

A very long time ago I was discussing RP with an online game guild and happened to mention that I do most of my roleplaying in single-player games. Some were a bit puzzled at this:
"Isn't that like talking to yourself?"
"No." I replied "It's like talking to the walls."
I still maintain this to be a crucial distinction, though I'm much less certain now that it applies to most gamers. I don't think they can distinguish the sounding-board of AI interaction from their own internal monologue. However, I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's the basic thrust of this post: we act differently in single and multi-player games. Our aggressively competitive and sycophantically competitive, individual and tribal, id and superego-driven sides of our competitive instinct feature to varying degrees depending on whether we're playing to single-player literary constructs which act only as our foils and straw-men or to the viciously competitive audience of a multiplayer game. Unfortunately, game designers pander to our weakness of character instead of offsetting our moral relativism.

Morality's what you do when nobody's watching, right? I'm starting to see this as a deceptive abbreviation of observable behavior because the author of our personal fable is always watching. We want to think of ourselves as being well thought of, even when facing a pixellated AI face on a computer screen. The situation changes according to whether that face represents an algorithm or another player, though, on whether that other player is capable of playing us in turn. Incentives must be designed to challenge and compensate for players' tendencies, to balance players' self-serving tendencies between self-serving self-aggrandizement and self-serving viciousness and destructiveness.

Case-in-point: Lord of the Rings Online has a PvP option, relegated as in any WoW-clone to an inconsequential minigame divorced from the main game world. For the low-low price of whatever, you can create a "monster class" (giant spider, warg or various flavors of orc) and duke it out with other payers who bring their elf/dwarf/man/hobbit characters into the PvP instance. Now, when LotRO launched, the Free Peoples were significantly more powerful than their monster counterparts. Thematically, this fit with Middle-Earth tropes (an elf hero would be the equal of any number of orc redshirts) but in practical terms it combined the worst of both worlds. Given the option of an advantaged or a disadvantaged play option, most players will choose... well, 'nuff said. Top that off with the fact that the heroic "pretty people" faction was by default the one most people would choose, and you had a completely one-sided conflict. In terms of self-image, everybody wants to play a bad-ass Aragorn impersonator already. It took many a year for Turbine to realize the obvious: under those conditions, you have to incentivize customers to pick the denigrated, filthy orc side. In recent times they've beefed up the stats on monster classes and though LotRO's PvP system still ain't worth spit for lack of adequate server, interface and other functionality, it is at least utilized by many players who apparently haven't heard there are actual PvP games online. It became possible to get a fight going. The self-serving power-mad profiteering balances out the self-serving moral high-horse.

PvP games are practical. People will play as a glob of snot if it gives them an extra 5% damage boost and extra odds to ruin someone else's day. Sadism is the name of the game, and it is always necessary to police those who deliberately sabotage games. Without repercussions, players default to griefing, to the satisfaction of hurting others by any means: cheats, sabotage, team-killing, whatever feeds that social primate need to beat others down. Multiplayer incentives must push toward positive behavior.

Single-player is a whole different issue. If the internet reveals humans' true nature as sadistic parasites, solo role-playing reveals their pathetic desperation for self-deception. Players want to see themselves as knights in shining armor no matter their actions. In the absence of actual competition, it becomes entirely too tempting to game the system in the other direction, to simply try to get as many of those simulacra of social interaction on screen to sing your praises. Thus, in single-player games, it is not immorality but morality which should be counterbalanced. Sadly, almost every game out there sells moral justification. Take something like Dragon Age or The Elder Scrolls. Even if you play the scoundrel every step of the way, by the end of the game there is no way that you won't save the kingdom and be lauded as a hero.

Even in the best RPGs like VtM: Bloodlines or Planescape: Torment which laudably allowed for conscious, self-denigrating malfeasance, the "good" gameplay choices were more fleshed-out. We need more of the features which made these so memorable. As much as we need multiplayer games to reward good gameplay and not just facetious profiteering, we need single-player games which tear down the player's self-image. We need adventures which make the player feel ugly and weak and despised, in which the character can and does make mistakes and petty cruelty is acknowledged as such while at the same time being made tempting through gameplay mechanics. The Heather Poe subplot in Bloodlines should serve as a prime example. Make a negative course of action appealing initially, then throw the consequences in the player's face

More than that, we need entire storylines which cast us as the dregs of society or as outright villains. The Cat Lady, Miasmata, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, STALKER, Bloodlines and Torment, though they all had their failings, deserve everlasting praise for NOT padding the player's ego unnecessarily. We need a new generation of games like that old favorite, Dungeon Keeper, which allow us to play as skulking boogeymen.

When they're in a position to sabotage others, players need to be beaten into shape. When alone in the safety of their self-image, they must be beaten out of it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Greetings, citizens.
I come before you today to speak of a dire plague afflicting our people. I speak of a disease which has run rampant through every human society since the dawn of time, turning the lives of individuals to helpless suffering and toil. It affects nearly the entire population, is incurable except by the most drastic, unethical and illegal measures and infects its victims for decades at a time, destroying what little ability for self-determination they may possess in the prime of their lives. It sentences sufferers to spend almost all of their time, energy and material resources addressing the manifold and grievous symptoms of their malady. It affects the young more than the old, the poor more than the rich, females slightly more than males and its incidence sadly has been correlated with certain ethnic and religious groups. It is even, to some extent, transmissible!

I speak, of course, of parenthood.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Exemplary Bad Multiplayer: PS2 Sniping

Once upon a time, I used to play World of Warcraft. As per my usual high-fantasy preferences, I was an elven druid herbalist. I liked exploring. I'd often find myself out in the middle of nowhere, overlooking grandiose swaths of persistent world filled with a myriad players and interactable resources, monsters, NPCs, etc, most of which were sadly out of render distance. A crafty gnome I knew mailed me a gift one day: a telescope! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I scrambled up a cliffside by Maraudon caverns with as wide a view as possible over the desolate scrubland terrain imagining myself spotting rare monsters and encroaching orc parties and relaying their movements to my faction. Hero of the Alliance I'd be, brave wilderness scout extraordinaire, yessiree. I lifted the telescope to my eye (okay, fine, I clicked the damn thing in my inventory) only to find that it did indeed magnify... terrain. Everything else was still out of render distance. What a frikkin waste of development time.

Before that I'd played Counterstrike when it came out as the mod to beat TFC before it was out-done by Natural Selection and Day of Defeat and though I normally shun internets slang, sometimes it's apt. I loathed AWP-whores. You could fit a one-shot-kill weapon into the game, arguably. You could fit long-range weapons into the game, sure. However, a gun which out-damaged and out-ranged everything in the game with pinpoint accuracy was simply blatantly, idiotically, inexcusably overpowered... and at the same time useless. AWP-whores sat back and did nothing to help anyone else, leeching killing blows on enemies I'd flush out of hiding but never providing actual backup and never bothering to actually attack/defend the team objective. This was my first exposure to the parasitic sniper mentality which has now become so entrenched in team FPS games. Of course if you really want to make AWP-whores even more idiotically overpowered you'd give them invisibility as well.

The first Planetside included some sniper rifles, but these were only one of many long-range gimmicks like player-guided MIRV warheads, high-altitude bombers and indirect artillery fire. Planetside 2 unfortunately picked up on the new industry standard, the perceived necessity to pander to idiotic parasites by including a playable class which can kill one-on-one with impunity. Brain-dead gamers demand ways to win 1v1 in team games without actually playing for the team. As in most games these days, that... well, I can't call it "role" in context since by definition it lacks synergy, but it's filled by the rogue archetype, in PS2's case termed Infiltrators. They get one-shot kills, they get ridiculous range, they get invisibility. They are utter wastes of space who contribute nothing to the control-point push around which the game revolves, but in terms of moronic dick-measuring they're manna from heaven. Boom, headshot! Just watch your K/D ratio rise.

There is nothing wrong with the disparate elements here. Range, killing and invisibility are all excellent game devices and topics which have been talked to death online since there were games online. There are proper ways to implement them. PS2 even includes some true utility for infiltrators in the form of sensor darts which reveal enemies on the minimap and "hacking" which gives access to enemy equipment and vehicle purchase terminals. Both valid roles for a thief class... except that hacking is melee-range and sniper rifles vastly outrange sensor darts, which means most players who like playing infiltrators never make use of these team-friendly abilities, but merely sit back on hilltops and leech killing blows off the edges of fights. A PS2 sniper is an utter parasite using his teammates as bait, refusing to put himself in danger. Instead of having a teammate nearby with whom to share the risk, you get an opportunistic leech who will cloak and run as soon as an enemy appears allowing you to be focus-fired. I'd love to see some PS2 session stats on the number of snipers a faction has and the likelihood of it winning an alert. I'm betting on an inverse correlation.
There is no room for that kind of stupidity in a team game.

Again, the MMO rogue archetype is made idiot-friendly by the emphasis on damage-dealing. Infiltration adds a great deal to multiplayer games when divorced from the instant gratification of assassination. In Planetside 1, infiltrating an enemy base meant finding some quiet spot to place a teleportation beacon through which a horde of friendly infantry could pour behind enemy lines. You could hand your faction victory over a base, break an hour-long siege, without ever firing a shot. It was elegant, dangerous and above all, team-friendly. It was the best of James Bond, as opposed to the bloodthirsty caveman American Sniper craze of today.

Or take the question of range, for instance. There is a place in team games for dealing large amounts of damage from outside your enemy's range. It's called artillery. PS1's Flail vehicle could shoot halfway across continents in a lovely ballistic arc for massive AoE damage. It required a spotter at the front line, anyone, to mark intended targets and therefore required some willing cooperation from other players. Unlike opportunistic sniping, the flail was not a way to rack up kills but mostly suppressive fire limiting enemy movements, and a deployed Flail was an easy mark for enemy aircraft unlike PS2 cloakers. It both required and provided synergy with other gameplay elements. PS2's greatest flaw is that it avoids such devices in favor of opportunism. There is some artillery fire in PS2 via tank cannons but it's completely divorced from whatever anyone else on your faction is doing, disorganized potshots.

Instead of pandering to imbeciles who take up space on crowded continents without contributing anything to their faction by handing out sniper rifles, put infiltrators in their proper place as spotters. Here's me today, watching one flank of a large fight from a nearby base:

That thing I'm looking at is an enemy AMS, a mobile spawn location for infantry (a priority target if there ever was one) plus it happens to be flanking my team's defenses to boot, sneaking in below that hillside out of sight. Now, the sniper routine is to wait for enemies to start spawning from it and take some potshots, maybe get a kill or two, set them back by fifteen seconds each over a few minutes' time. Spawn-killing. Big e-peen boost for me, pnz0ring sitting ducks who have no chance of hitting me, but almost entirely meaningless in terms of the faction conflict. I could also spot the vehicle and the players spawning from it, but that only lasts a few seconds and since I can take the chance of killing them instead, the game actively de-incentivizes me from taking the time to do so. Only so many buttons I can mash at a time. My ability to spot that enemy target is actually less relevant to my faction than if I were playing a gunner in a vehicle and had a free finger for not having to use my movement keys.

So fuck snipers. They're worthless, brainless parasites who add nothing to the game and though they help keep players moving by making it dangerous to stand still, that's a cheap way of making the game seem intense and fast-paced. Fuck snipers and their rifles. Instead of sniper rifles, give infiltrators tagging rifles instead. Return the Liberator to its high-flying carpet-bomber role, re-institute long-range indirect fire a la Flail bombing, and tie these into team-oriented targeting via infiltrators. Allow me to fulfill that wilderness scout role I so wanted as a WoW druid a decade ago.
Give me a rifle which marks enemy targets for twice or three times or five times as long as the normal spotting which any class can do.
Give me a rifle which acts as an automatic rangefinder for friendly ground-based artillery or long-range beacon for friendly bombers up in the clouds.
Give me EMP bullets for disabling enemy vehicles without doing damage to them.
Give me an "infectious" spotting rifle which marks the first enemy it hits and spreads the effect to his nearby teammates.

Hell, give me, anything, anything at all, instead of the imbecilic "BOOM, HEADSHOT!" routine. Take away those worthless retarded AWP-whores' dick-measuring and turn infiltrators into team players, then see how many people will actually play the class. You'll lose all the right customers. We don't need their stupidity cluttering team games.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


"There's no stoppin' the cretins from hoppin'
You gotta keep it beatin' for all the hoppin' cretins"

The Ramones - Cretin Hop

You can sometimes catch Idiocracy on cable, which is good because you sure as hell couldn't catch it in theaters or even on video a decade ago when it came out. For references on how the Fox corporation tried to bury the movie, consult your local Internet. My purposes are served well enough by simply admitting that calling Idiocracy "controversial" would understate matters, dealing as it does with modern society's great taboo: intellect.

During my life I have listened to several psychology / neurology professors and lecturers state quite blankly the reality that some individuals are simply better able to reason than others and that statistical analysis of varying complexity supports the case that intelligence is strongly heritable. Yet such statements are always given as polite asides in closed classrooms. Outside the doors of scientific reality we condemn each other to an anti-intellectual dreamscape of socially convenient platitudes. Whatever your qualities and achievements in real life, you're forced to attribute everything to determination, hard work, teamwork, divine inspiration... anything, anything at all so long as you never claim the taboo virtue of intellect for yourself. You can tout your social superiority through every facet of conspicuous consumption, but never dare claim that you, the individual, the mind inside the body occupying that social rank, are superior in and of yourself. We're all equal. Pass me the keys to my new Dildozer.

Not that you can fix such skewed perceptions with one comedy, no matter how threatening it may have seemed to corporate overlords, and the writer/director knew better than to try. In fairness, Idiocracy is neither a grimly-detailed treatise on dysgenics nor a paean to eugenics, but dark comedy lending its deadly serious subject matter the farcical sugar-coating it needs to go down easy. Judge seems to have had little intention of soapboxing for ninety minutes straight and for the most part adopts dysgenic prognostication for the jester's "he's saying what we're all thinking" angle. Somewhat to the detriment of its coherence, the movie's heavy-handed first half peters out somewhat in favor of strung-out slapstick and it overplays the "rehabilitation" scene as a climactic special-effects payoff.

It's thankfully salvaged by a concisely narrated epilogue but one can't escape the realization that as with many of the best Science Fiction stories, Idiocracy can be distilled to one or two monologues encapsulating its progressive ideology. The introduction concerning the two case studies and the second narrated introduction to the world of the future could be watched quite easily as disparate shorts. The rest, the myriad forms stupidity takes in the contemporary "developed" world, from Ow My Balls to the House o' Representin', well, that's just added catharsis for those of us who were sold on the flick's premise already. Delicious, delicious catharsis.

You know, maybe that's what made this thing so threatening. The public is impervious to reasoned argument, as the upper classes know all too well. Shameless, uncompromising satire presenting a progressive point as a fait accompli, now that has some potential in the political arena. In the famous words of Boss Tweed "My constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing them damned pictures!" Mike Judge provided pictures: lurid, sickening, vibrant, laugh-the-pain-away imagery of humanity's suicidal refusal to adopt quality control measures. It's no more a recipe for salvation than Joe Average's failure to save the world of the future but where reasoned discourse comes up against the public's ignorance, shortsightedness and outright stupidity, Idiocracy does get the ball rolling, and that's pretty good for an average satirist.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Clevon Cometh

You know, we always joke about disfigured inbred redneck mouthbreathers but we take it as comedic exaggeration... until you find yourself in line at a rural Wal-Mart behind a family with three children... all three obese, all three with overbites, all with the same splotchy skin, all listlessly wobbling in their sandals and flip-flops as they wash their surroundings in a gaze so vacuous that even fish would decry it as hollow-eyed.

All three get the same vote as my parents' only child and you can bet there are thirteen more at home.

Holy mother of Darwin, the Idiocracy is upon us.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Sinecure is Worse than the Disease

"This is not a noble game
It's also not the price of fame
Expect that I may lie
About the things you have to try"

Neuroticfish - Prostitute

My working theory on the collapse of the persistent world concept a decade ago has always cast investors or the knuckle-dragging public as the driving force, the drag placed on creative development. However, I've been giving computer game developers entirely too much credit. I keep forgetting that no matter all the propaganda about capitalist efficiency, ours is a parasitic society which encourages profit from waste and inefficiency.

Let's take it from the top. Single-player games (RPGs especially) are highly dependent on the amount of content they provide, through visuals, audio, storylines and preset goals. It's a labor-intensive process. A well-crafted multiplayer game, however, is largely self-perpetuating. Given a minimal amount of initial, player-alterable material, players drive each other to keep playing through their various permutations of that material, with only occasional novelties thrown in by the creative team. So, I've always been astounded at the single-player content in MMOs, the sheer volume of wannabe artsy drivel interposed by developers between players and that interaction which justifies putting a game online. I'm not talking here about "kill ten rats" as that sort of repetition actually excuses a great deal of labor, but about the myriad instances and zones which every WoW-clone accumulates, going entirely unplayed as customers cram into the latest release. Try getting a Maraudon group in WoW or a Fornost group in LotRO and you'll see what I mean.

I've never been able to explain to myself how developers can justify all the wasted work-hours spent on cut-scenes, constantly re-skinning monsters to make them seem new, landscaping zone after zone knowing full well they'll just be abandoned next patch, etc. Why focus on all that instead of crafting a self-sustaining system of player interaction which would prompt customers to keep each others' interest active through competition and cooperation? Alas, I am not yet cynical enough for my mind to jump immediately to the logical conclusion: the waste is the justification.

Not to bean-counters of course. To your publisher, you pitch your ideas piecemeal, citing numbers of customers you expect to gain or retain by creating x more kinds of big colorful zombies to farm, x more variations on the same generic music track, x more cosmetic items for sale in the cash shop - all of which naturally requires keeping a certain number of artists and programmers on staff. However, in the case of game designers themselves, we need look no further than that wasted effort as existential pretext. Better planned obsolescence than self-obsolescence, right? There's no money in creating endless replay value, in elegantly simple designs which require no updates or reformulation. It's the same phenomenon you encounter in every other industry. Make yourself necessary. So long as you pitch a business plan which requires constant content updates, at least you won't be out of a job.

Boss is coming.
Look busy!

Thursday, April 2, 2015


"Why was it assumed that poverty gave one the instincts of cattle?"
"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."

Ayn Rand - The Fountainhead

I had intended to write this post yesterday, as its subject matter consists of the sort of pop-culture drivel which seems like it must've started as a joke mistakenly taken seriously, or as all-out trolling. Sometime late last year we began to get the chance at rolling our eyes at the latest feminist gimmick for bashing men: manspreading. Move over, acid-burned women of the middle-east, there's a new symbol of gender injustice in town! Before long, the catchphrase had been pushed into public consciousness, being adopted by every left-wingnut desperate to score some hippie cred by adopting the politically correct stance, infecting even otherwise lucid social commentary like the Daily Show. After all, if it's a complaint about men by women, it must be justified, right? What the political correctness police are seeking however is not justice but entitlement, an excuse to bash men and claim moral superiority, however flimsy. Entitlement is addictive and PC addicts will all too gladly trample reason, fairness and perspective in seeking their next high.

However, let's ignore for a moment that we've all encountered women pretending to stare out a window while their purse claims the seat next to them. Let's grant that more men than women do it. Is taking up too much space on a subway bench a real issue? Hell, why not. We should all be fighting against the various indignities of daily life, so by all means, let's address the fact that using public transportation means being crammed into a piss-soaked tin can until the volume of human flesh rises so far above that of available air that you're all gulping up at the vents like goldfish. Pancaking oneself out on a bus seat may be an idiotic reaction but let's not ignore that it's a reaction to a disgusting state of affairs.

Existence is not communal. It's personal, individual. Yet communal life ceaselessly herds us into pens: cubicle farms, buses, cafeterias, waiting rooms and elevators in which, let's face it, someone always seems to have just farted. It's bad enough being crammed into a body without that body being crammed into the inimical mass of other ape bodies which under normal conditions we do our best to avoid. There's a long-running gag about men choosing urinals so as to stand as far from each other as necessary which has occasionally grown into some impressively detailed calculations. Good. We are not cattle. Using a public service should not entail subjecting oneself to, well, the public. Using a public restroom should not mean leaning on some random trucker's arm while you piss, and using public transportation should not entail being poked in the ribs by some bimbo's Macy's bags while she wiggles her fat ass against you trying to claim another inch of seat from under your own ass.

Males rebel faster. Males are less tolerant of the intolerable. Good. That's a point in our favor. The form that automatic, unthinking revolt has taken in this case, of taking up more space to discourage others from elbowing you in the ribs, is admittedly stupid. Know what's even dumber? It's the worthless xx-chromosomed cretins who see a packed bench and wedge in between people trying to fabricate space in violation of physical reality. It's the woman who sees a bus packed to the stairs and squeezes in anyway, looking at you accusingly because you fail at being a good sardine and sucking in your bones to make room for her. It's the chick with the ridiculous poofy hairdo poking up your nose and the opera singer resting her barely-hammocked tits on the back of your neck apparently expecting you to pay her for a lapdance.

Want to address the indignities and insufficiencies of public transportation? Write an angry letter to your city's transit authority and be willing to pay an extra dollar in taxes. However, if you're just looking to slam the everyday crowd making the worst of a bad situation, then in addition to manspreading you will have to address fempacking. Also, don't even dare tell me I'm citing ridiculous examples which rarely happen, you hypocritical dimwits.