A Wall is a Wall is a Wall

I've been quite silent since the US election cycle about most things America. I haven't gone too in-depth about the election in social media or forums I frequent, or here on the blog for that matter. I saw Bernie's rise in popularity, and his quick an painful downfall, and I saw Clinton's non-campaign as an alternative choice to Trump. I can't say I was shocked when I saw Trump won. I was surprised, but not shocked - I had been watching the US media devour with glee the rise of groups such as the Tea Party and give untold hours of airtime to far-right conspiracy theorists during the eight years of the Obama presidency, being shocked would necessitate having hope in the American public. Any smatterings of hope have been quickly extinguished by the "you lost, deal with it" crowd of conservatives that have popped up everywhere in the aftermath of the election, despite the more recent protests against Trump's executive actions and orders.

The United States doesn't make sense, no matter if it's blue or red politically. To great degree, I believe, that is because the world's greatest superpower is reaching - after less than a decade on top - the point of no return in it's decadent downspiral. The infrastructure network is in shambles, the political system is infested with lobby groups with practically bottomless pockets, and the services afforded to the general public are utter self-defeating crap. Not to mention, the general public is also infatuated with a cult of individuality: everyone is best, everyone can pull themselves up if they really want to, everyone can be rich and damn the rest. This downspiral is going to happen eventually to each great power, and now it's the turn of the "land of the free and home of the brave" to suffer that same fate. How they cope with that is for everyone to find out.

See, walls can take many shapes and sizes. They can be as high and deep as you can make them out of whatever material you want, or they can be words of a paper, but there is always one singular goal to them: to limit movement. When you limit the movement of one or more groups, you limit the movement of all groups. There is no such wall that does not have two sides to it. Either the wall will contain those it should be protecting, or simply the act of erecting the wall will make those outside of it more hostile towards those coming out of the gates. It's as simple as that.

In the coming years, if Trump gets what he wants and promised during the campaign, we will see an increasingly protectionist and isolationist USA. It might also become more belligerent at the same time, which will not lead to anything but grumpy allies. It will also lead to increasing defiance of the current global order. Russia has already started by reigniting the proxy war inside Ukraine, Iran is conducting in missile tests in direct defiance of the Trump administration's warning not to, and China... well, who knows how China will be enforcing their claims to the South China Sea from now on.

My concern is no longer on the United States' internal issues and politics. Well, they are, but not directly. My concern now lies much more on the response to the internal politics. An emboldened Russia is a direct threat to all countries that surround it - mainly the Eastern European countries and Turkey in this part of the world, but also Finland and Scandinavia. I do not fear is not one of Trump picking the wrong fight, it's Trump choosing not to pick fights where it matters. My fear is that during the next four to eight years, I will have to plan for the very real possibility that I might need to rush to the airport and fly back to Finland because the reserves are being called up, and no matter where I live I will always go back to defend my homeland if that is necessary. You may think that Russian hostilities are unlikely to happen, but Finland and Sweden stand directly in the way of Russian hegemony over the Baltic region, and they have already been prodding a lot more than usual ever since the war in Ukraine began.

Use of Force

North Miami police shot an unarmed black man who was on his back with his hands up


I need to try and clear my mind of some thoughts that this kind of an incident brings to me. Take it as you may, since I come from a society where the relationship between citizens and law enforcement is very different - for a multitude of reasons.

Let's assume that in this instance the use of lethal force (by US law enforcement standards) was legitimate. Let's assume that the autistic man did not follow what the police told him to do. Let's assume that the toy truck was identified from a distance as a weapon. Let's assume that the police identified this as a suicidal man with a hostage.

We are still talking about trained police officers, who I would assume have had extensive training with each and every one of the firearms that they might be liable to fire in the conduct of their tasks. This was an extended period of time where the police obviously negotiated with the two men and called out orders to them, and the police had that time to line up shots in case of imminent danger.

Let us assume that the police in question did panic and in response did pull the trigger - which might I say on the assault rifles that I've handled requires a fair bit of pressure and cannot be done just by flinching - and so let ring what should be aimed shots. He hit the leg of the man who was lying lying down with his hands in the air. Not the autistic man providing a much bigger target and who was holding what might be a weapon, but the man lying down and making himself appear even less of a target.

Do the police in the United States get their badges after a two-week correspondence course or something? Why is it that these completely inept officers are allow to roam around and do no service to the actual people they are supposed to serve and protect? With all due respect America, get your fucking shit together.

Not Best of Us

Alright, enough time has passed so I can finally address the very small elephant in the room that is my new gamebook. While the reviews have been (overall) mixed, with many of the written criticisms pointing out the short length and abrupt ending, I can call the gamebook a critical failure.

This isn't me beating myself over the head with it, it is addressing the truth of it - a truth that I knew already by the point I turned it in to Hosted Games, although I hoped that the public would accept it as it was. Of course, they didn't and shouldn't be expected to.

To me, Best of Us was always an experiment in storytelling and literary conventions. It was both an experiment on finding where my limits run as to the kind of prose I am able to write, and an experiment on going against the tropes and conventions of the superhero genre. Needless to say, I found the going difficult and there is a reason behind that - I was neither having fun writing a majority of the story, nor was I comfortable in the story. In addition, I was from the very beginning thinking about the story from the absolute worst angle, as when I was trying to keep away from the tropes I was also dismissing the very heart of the genre. I failed to capture the story idea I had and contain it in a way that would prove both interesting and enjoyable.

While the story itself was definitely not something I was very good at fleshing out, another issue of testing the way I wrote it is also apparent in the reviews. In the way that Best of Us is laid out, it is the widest gamebook I have so far worked on. Lords of Aswick was fairly linear, with a few major branching points that trickle down all the way to the very end of the story. Best of Us is much more open in the way it branches, with only one major branch while the others are branches of a few pages in length. In addition to this, I also attempted a dungeoncrawl style for a fairly significant segment near the middle of the story, which nearly drove me insane. This branching, unfortunately, ends up contributing to the feeling that the story is short.

Overall I have mixed feelings about Best of Us. I feel it was a story I wanted to tell and it was good to get it out there, but it has many flaws in the way I told the story and in the way I constructed the mechanics around it. I will fully admit that towards the end I was rushing to just get it done, even as the final scenes remain something I am proud of from a core plot significance. Best of Us is a major step forwards in the way I write and think of the stories I write, as well as the sheer step up in grammar and code. I will be taking the lessons learned into everything I write currently and in the future. Every failure is an opportunity.