Friday, September 14, 2012

New York's Soda Ban

I’m worn out with all the political chat. It’s debatable what the right thing to do in the Middle East might be. I can only guess the best way to fix our economy. To combat my mental shutdown on all things truly nation-changing, I am writing about a “big” topic that doesn’t confuse me.

In six months, residents of New York City will be limited in the purchase sugary drinks over 16 oz . Apparently, this is going to make strides in solving the obesity problem. Restaurants, concessions, food carts and delis are affected. Grocery and convenient stores are not.

So if I live in NYC, I can buy as many three-liter bottles of soda as I like (with food stamps even) at the grocery store. I can drink soda during all my waking hours as long as I do it at home. In contrast, if I attend a Yankees game, I can only buy 16 oz at a time.

This proposal was passed by the New York City Board of Health. The board is appointed by the mayor with approval of the city council. The positions are unpaid and terms are six years. The council is officially 11 members, all experts in various health and medical issues according to this web site.

In addition to improving the waistlines of New Yorkers, the new law will purportedly save money. NYC spends $4 billion per year on medical care for overweight people. Reportedly, 58% of the population of the region is obese. I assume that the $4 billion is spent on only the overweight people without their own health insurance. I didn’t see any statistics listing how much is spent on those that are not overweight. It seems like a pertinent question.

Presumably, diet soda is still subject to the law.

Another good question may be what economic effect might this have on outfits that currently sell large beverages? Supplies shouldn’t be an issue. They have warning. Sell down the stock of 32 oz cups and only buy 16 oz. The danger is in sales. But that’s easy, isn’t it? Just increase the price of the 16 oz. In fact, double the price of the 16 oz drink then offer “buy one, get one free.” Same amount of soda, same price, two containers, double the environmental impact! I suppose free refills work too.

Mayor Bloomberg has stated this is not the last step in combating obesity. I have some ideas for him. Limit the amount of meat on any sandwich to be not over 6 oz. A slice of pie can only be as large as 1/8 of a 12” radius dessert. No appetizers allowed. After all, these things may have some nutritional content but all of them have more fat than a giant soda. Also, alcohol has more calories than soda and also impairs judgment, so back to prohibition.

Before long, we will be living in a peaceful future where we are all vice-free. No swearing, no guns, no sex, no rock music, no violence and nothing that could possibly be bad for you. Also, Sylvester Stallone will save us. Or was that a movie?

Yeah, forget that last paragraph.

I rarely drink soda and I truly think no one needs copious quantities of it in a single serving. But since when does a body of government (non-elected at that) decide personal soda limit? I will decide what to do with my body. It is my property after all.

Suggesting to people what is best for them is a pretty good idea. Forcing them to do what’s best just breeds resentment and rebellion.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Seven Bad RPG Character Names

I enjoy creativity in character names, forum handles and other unique forms of Internet nicknames. The lore behind a name can be an interesting tale that rounds out my vision of personality for a given individual.

The flip side of enjoying such details is that I am annoyed at stupid names. I realize stupid is a relative term in this case. While I might think “Angelkiss” sounds pretty dumb, there are many who would enjoy such a name. But this is my blog. I’ll make the completely arbitrary judgment calls around here, so here is a list of name types I hate particularly as they relate to online RPGs.

1. Directly lifted names of popular characters
If I meet one more elf named Legolas (or Legollas, Legolass, Leggolas, etc…), I may injure myself or others. Yes, we know you are a fan. This is a fantasy game where nearly everyone is an appropriate level on the geek index to have read or watched LOTR. A decent percentage probably own prosthetic elf ears. If you’re going to name yourself after a character in popular media, at least choose a lesser known one that plunges deep into the fandom. How about Thranduil? No one would mistake you for a superficial fan with a name like that. You’re deep! Plus Legolas calls him “Dad” and he’s a king.

Don't make me shoot you for abusing my good name.

2. Obvious names
I once knew a ranger named “Tracke”. Come on, man! You’re not even trying.

3. Evocative names
Ever met a player named “Foxypants” or the like? Did you try to flirt? If not, chances are you missed an opportunity. Dependent upon the gender of said player, it was either an opportunity for cyber or an opportunity to be told, “um, hey, I’m a guy.” Admittedly, there is a third possibility that I am keenly aware of. I named my character “Jajunk.” It seemed harmless at the time as it was a song title. I added a surname later that sort of fits in this category. I forgive myself because I added “Inzetrunk” for the humor.

4. Names I can’t type
I can’t find the umlaut key on my keyboard. If you use an accent mark of any kind that I can’t figure out in less than three seconds, we’ll probably never be friends. Unless there is an option to reply without typing your name, I will also appear to be ignoring you. I’m sorry. I’m sure you’re a fine person though perhaps complex.

A helpful Aperture employee locates an umlaut that is not on a keyboard.

5. Long-ass names
As with names I can’t type, you will be receiving neither direct communication nor group invitations from me. I may have known you for years, but we are talking about my entertainment here and I will be lazy if I want to. I’m looking at you, Imwalkinthepath (additionally, a sentence is NOT a name).

6. Titles in names
“Ladysarah” or “Darthmeanie” are not very subtle. Chances are Ladysarah is either not smart enough to realize what she has done or “she” is actually a guy pretending to be a woman. In a number of RPGs, “Lady” is actually an attainable title. If you start off with the name, you may look dumb later when you earn a title and suddenly you are known as “Lady Ladysarah” or “Darth Darthmeanie.” Lucky for you, most games also allow you to turn off titles. But isn’t it cooler to earn it than to immediately promote yourself to a higher social status?

7. Outright stupid
“Hail, Luvtheheals.” “Perhaps you could assist with my collection, Buttface.” “Can you help me find my missing little brother, Dirtyoldman?” Quest dialogue just isn’t the same with a stupid name. Almost any name has a place in some game, but I prefer when it’s kept in the spirit of the game. Stupidity is sort of cool in Kingdom of Loathing, but calling yourself “Lazerbeem” in a fantasy game is out of place and erodes the role-playing illusion.

I know we all get frustrated sometimes trying to select names online. Many are already taken. But I look at it as an opportunity for broader creativity. If someone already has that name, I don’t want it anyway. It’s common.

In the end, I usually say nothing to those that I feel have unoriginal or stupid character names. I don’t discriminate. I even group with them though all the while shaking my head and giving a small sigh.