How Not to be a Dick in Election Cycles

Ladies and gentlemen, that wondrous time is upon us again.

A time where, suddenly, every social media user is a savvy political expert, and every party apart from yours is stupid, and people who vote accordingly for those other parties are stupid too.

I am referring to the election period in the UK. At the time of writing this, it’s an overcast, unpleasantly humid Thursday morning in Roath, Cardiff, on May 4th, 2017.

May the fourth be with you.

For those who like times like these, you’re in luck. Between May 2015 and July 2017 you will have gone to your local voting station around FOUR times, keenly grabbing the pencil, triple reading the sheet to ensure you don’t vote for that barmy party/policy accidentally, before submitting it into the box and turning to your phone to look for people who voted similarly to yourself to give them a pat on the back in your various corners of the internet.

Today is the third such election over the space of those two-and-a-bit years. Firstly we had the 2015 General Election (The One Where The Polls Started Getting Things A Bit Wrong), The EU Referendum (The One Where UKIP Voted Themselves Out Of Existence), today’s local election (The One Where You Vote About That Bloody Pothole In The Street) and finally the upcoming ‘Surprise!’ General Election on June 8th (The One Where You Choose Whether To Boost Theresa’s Ego Or Not).

One thing that all of these elections seem to have in common is an alarming amount of elitism, from both the left and right wing, regarding how people should vote. The following doesn’t necessarily mean everyone, just the ones who shout the loudest. The left is portrayed as a bunch of liberal ‘snowflakes’ whilst the left themselves consider any vote that isn’t Labour an apparent vote for the Tories, an affront, not only to left wing third party voters, but to basic mathematics as well. So I have compiled a brief list here on how to be a gosh-darn, swell individual during this divisive time, so maybe we’ll get through this without an eCivil War on our Facebook pages for once.

  • The secret ballot exists for a reason. If people don’t want to share who they’ve voted for, then they have every right to keep that to themselves. Don’t push ’em.
  • Secondly, and I can’t stress this enough, A THIRD PARTY VOTE IS NOT A THROWAWAY VOTE OR A VOTE FOR THE CONSERVATIVES, DAMNIT.  Like, switch on the news for a second, we aren’t a two-party state. Where I live for example, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats tend to fare better than the Conservatives, so they aren’t just a write off. I vote based on principle, not on who I think is most likely to win.
  • Politics isn’t a line, it’s more of a circle. Compare an extreme right, fascist government like Hitler’s Nazi Germany and an extreme left, communist government like Stalin’s Soviet Union and tell me where the major differences are. I personally find an extreme viewpoint on either side a bit jarring, to say the least. Yet the average everyday voter isn’t that intense. Voting for the left doesn’t necessarily make someone a FemiNazi-Commie-Special-Snowflake and voting for the right doesn’t always make someone a Pig-Shagging-Alt-Reich-Racist.
  • If somebody votes for the centre, like the Liberal Democrats, that’s cool too. Centre politics is based on compromise and trying to appease the left and right, without straying too far either way. They aren’t just undecided, stop giving them a hard time.
  • Shouting at people about their choice in party, more often than not, will do absolutely nothing. Take some time and read Dale Carnegie’s excellent How to Win Friends and Influence People, and you’ll find that all an argument does is cement each person even more firmly in their own beliefs, even if they know them to be incorrect. No one ever changed their minds based on Jeff Pratt’s ‘Lol Corbyn is Kenobi; Tories are the Evil Empire’ Facebook meme. Or at least, I really hope they didn’t.
  • I’m not saying politics shouldn’t be discussed. It’s for the good of the country to have real discussions about the many issues we face to find solutions to benefit everybody. All I’m saying is, it’s OK, and in the interest of a healthy, functional democracy, to think differently to other people. Just don’t be a jerk about it.
  • If someone doesn’t vote, ehh. It’s their choice, AND IT’S NOT A VOTE FOR THE CONSERVATIVES. By that logic it’s also a vote for Labour, Lib Dem, Green, Ukip, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the bloody Pirate Party. But seriously, it’s better to vote than not, regardless of who you’re voting for. I made the mistake of not voting in 2015 and I regret not doing so.

That’s all I got, because I’m tired, and I’ve written this and already voted, so I’m done with politics for the day. My biggest issue now is what I’m gonna have for lunch.

Where’s the Leadership Debate on that?

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UK STEALTH FIGHTER GETS MISPLACED – The Weekly Rag, Issue 12

By Our Military Correspondent

Official sources from the British Government declined to comment earlier today when questioned by The Weekly Rag regarding whether they had in fact managed to misplace their cutting edge new Stealth Fighter,  the ICU-12.

The Jet, which is rumored to have been constructed out of a compound which is ‘99.99% transparent’, was said to have been set down in a field in Surrey, whilst the pilot ‘relieved himself’. Upon returning to the field however, he was unable to remember where he’d parked it.

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Can you spot the plane? 

“It’s a big old field,” the pilot said in a statement, “It really could be anywhere”.

Local dog walkers and ramblers are encouraged to report in to their local police station if, on their travels in the area, they ‘happen to collide with thin air’.

A Tribute to Terry Pratchett

Two years ago, something horrible happened. My favourite author, and biggest creative inspiration, Terry Pratchett, passed away. Looking back, my life has changed a lot over the last two years, primarily for the better, and a big part of that is because I have so much more focus now, so much more creative drive, that I simply didn’t have before I read Discworld. To mark two years since his passing, I have written this, based on his work, which I hope illustrates how brilliant he was, and how much of an impression he left on myself and the rest of his fans.

 

I HAVEN’T GOT ALL DAY, YOU KNOW, said Death, looking, as sternly as one might with no eyeballs, at the old man in the black hat.

“Oh, bugger off a moment,” the old man said, looking at Death cheekily, fearlessly staring down those eternal eye-sockets, with a damning blue flame in each, “You said I could have one last meal and I intend to enjoy it.”

“I thought you’d appreciate it anyway, you like a good curry,” he said.

I NEVER EAT ON THE JOB, said Death, COMMITING THE SOULS OF THE LOST, THE PASSED, AND THE CURSED TO PURGATORY AND BEYOND DOES NOTHING FOR MY DIGESTION.

“Are you sure about that?” The old man asked, “There’s a chip going, if you want it.”

OH, GO ON THEN, said Death.

Lowering his spectacles, the old man looked at Death with some regard, curiously examining the Anthropomorphic Personification that sat opposite him, picking bits of potato out of its exposed teeth.

“So, is it like I imagined then?” he asked, “Will I cross the dark desert, to find exactly what I’ve always believed the afterlife to be?”

A TYPICALLY CRUDE, HUMAN WAY OF PUTTING IT, BUT ULTIMATELY, AND FINALLY, YES, said Death.

“I never believed in God, you know” the old man said, cautiously.

THEN YOU MAY EXPECT SEVERAL ANGRY LETTERS FROM HIM, said Death, ALL THIS ATHEISM BUSINESS RECENTLY HAS GIVEN THE POOR FELLOW A BIT OF AN IDENTITY CRISIS.

Death regarded the old man’s plate.

LOOK, HAVE YOU FINISHED? YOU’RE JUST USING THE LAST CHIP TO SCRAPE UP ALL THE SAUCE. I HAVE A BUSY SCHEDULE COMING UP, 2016 IS GOING TO BE A BIG YEAR.

“Fine, fine, I’m done, I suppose,” said the old man sadly.

“What an embuggerance, I suppose that’s it for little old me then?” he continued.

OH, I WOULDN’T SAY THAT, said Death, NOBODY IS TRULY GONE UNTIL THEIR RIPPLES FADE AWAY.

“That sounds familiar,” said the old man, his memory better than it had been in a long while.

I WOULDN’T NORMALLY DO THIS, DYING IS MEANT TO BE SUCH A SOMBRE, SERIOUS AFFAIR, BUT YOU DID ME THE LUXURY OF CREATING ME SO I SUPPOSE I CAN MAKE AN EXCEPTION. CLOSE YOUR EYES, AND TAKE A LOOK AT THIS.

The old man, seeing no reason to argue with Death itself, did as he was told, and was taken aback. He witnessed the future. An outpouring of messages, of tributes, of crying readers, friends and family, of fan drawings and writings, and people enriched by the wonders of his works.

“Oh my”, he said, “They’re all very nice, aren’t they?” the old man said, as he opened his eyes, and began to follow Death across the large, dark desert.

INDEED. THEY ARE CERTAINLY… ENTHUSIASTIC, said Death.

“What happens now then?” asked the old man, as they moved out of earshot.

I WILL HAVE TO BREAK THE NEWS TO THEM, Death said, THEY WILL HAVE TO LEARN THERE WILL BE NO MORE BOOKS, NO MORE YOU, AND NO MORE ME.

“Dearie me,” said the old man, “They seem rather fond of us, I don’t think that’ll go down too well at all, you know!”

The skeletal figure paused.

NEITHER DOES MEXICAN FOOD, Death said, finally, YET I HAVE LEARNED TO LIVE WITH THAT.

The two figures, the creator and the created, marched into the great finality, and forever out of the narrative.

The End – GNU Terry Pratchett

Image taken from :-https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–mT8armOZ–/c_scale,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/s1m3fgrs3xkabc0uih0z.jpg

President Trump goes about his merry day – The Weekly Rag, Issue 11

By Our Totes Legit Political Correspondent

Waking up at the very reasonable time of 7:30 in the morning, President Donald J. Trump leapt out of bed with a grin, keen to get on with another gosh-darn, swell day at the White House. Upon changing into his best suit, he didn’t want to let his presentation offend anybody, he sauntered down the corridor to the Oval Office, high-fiving the Mexican staff as he went.

“Another beautiful day today,” he tweeted with glee, “Can’t wait to end all conflicts and solve world poverty. Happy!”

Upon seating himself in the nice, cosy chair behind his desk, a loud farting noise jettisoned itself all around the room. Mr Trump stood up, and, upon inspection, found a deflated whoopee cushion where his elected bottom had just been sat.

“Goodness me,” he chuckled, “Thanks Obama; what a merry prankster he is!”

It was at this point that the President was beset by the news of the day. CNN, Fox and NBC to name a few, all mean blighters, keen to ruin his good name. “I know,” Donald thought, scratching his head, “I’ll write up a new deal to end all fossil fuel emissions all around the world, that’ll show ’em!”

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Mr Trump generously signs a waver allowing these poor folk to smile again. What a jolly feller!

“Just had a word with the Polar Bears,” he tweeted, enthusiastically, “They won’t be floating away anymore. Not Sad!”

The day passed rather quickly really. Curing cancer, solving the Korean conundrum, and crafting a nations worth of red caps takes time, but at least Mr Donald could leave his office feeling like he had accomplished something.

“Like to think I helped the world today, if only a little,” he tweeted, finally before bed, “tuning in to some SNL tonight, that Alec Baldwin makes me guffaw. Lad!”

President Trump fell asleep soundly that night, and lived happily ever after.

Pretty sure this is “Fake News”. You’re fired. – The Editor.

Images taken from:

-http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/660/cpsprodpb/15638/production/_93780678_97ec2f78-aad2-490a-9130-bdf4e390b1be.jpg

-http://michaelmoore.s3.amazonaws.com/wp/uploads/2016/07/23143828/trumpwillwin-notext.jpg

From PS2 to 3Ds, A Gander at the Portable Dragon Quest 8

A broken, overgrown castle, a horse-princess, and a troll-like monarch. An evil jester, a dead sage, and a missing crystal ball. Such are the problems that are handed to you within the first half an hour of Dragon Quest 8: Journey of the Cursed King, which is, as it happens, my favourite game of all time.

Growing up, I only ever had several “favourite games”. Firstly, it was the original Jak and Daxter, a platformer, developed by Naughty Dog, on the PS2 which saw you assume the role of the title character Jak, traversing and exploring quite a large, diverse world in order to stop Gol Acharon and restore your friend Daxter back to his normal self, after being transformed into an Ocelot, a rather unfortunate looking weasel thing. I always loved the variety of the locations to be found within the world and the quirky sense of humour that the game had, which I’m afraid to say rather diminished in the subsequent entries of the series.

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Seventeen years old, yet Jak and Daxter still looks amazing to this day.

After that, I played a game called Road Trip Adventure, in which you existed in on a planet of sentient cars, and had to travel around, winning races, building up your best team, until you could win the final tournament and become the President of the world, which, quite frankly, in light of recent events, is a better idea than the Electoral College, but I digress. It had elements of originality because the player could discover cars that wanted to move somewhere new, to live or to start a new business, so you could send them off into a big plot of land into the desert called “My City,” which would develop and expand as the game went on. It was a very fun game, and I am planning to replay it soon. Sure, the physics are a bit naff, but if science has to be sacrificed in the name of fun in a video game, then so be it.

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The nostalgia. It burns!

However, sometime during 2005 or 2006, fate struck, as I picked up a demo disk which had, among other things, a demo for the first game released under the merger of, long-time rivals, Square and Enix, and developed by a newbie for the series, Level 5, Dragon Quest 8: Journey of the Cursed King. The demo blew me away. I recall it having two modes; Story mode and Battle mode. Story mode let you play the first hour or so of the game, which was just about enough to see the first town and dungeon, and Battle mode was just the story but a bit later on, when you had all four characters and could run around the second continent battling monsters. Something about the visuals, the gameplay, and the scope of the potential world, got to me, and ended up purchasing the game not long after.

I ended up loving Dragon Quest 8 for the same reasons I liked Jak and Daxter and Road Trip so much. It was because of the adventure. You’d start the game, entering the first town of Farebury, seeing all of the buildings and characters rendered in proper 360° 3D graphics, stunning to this day thanks to it’s cell shading aesthetic, designed by the same mind behind Dragon Ball Z, Akira Toriyama. After a while, and a bit of plot, you’d be sent out into the world, an expansive area filled with rolling hills and winding roads, leading, in one case, to a waterfall cave, the first dungeon of the game. Over the next seventy five to eighty or so hours, you’d travel to castle towns to snowy hamlets, catacombs to moonlit peaks, in your pursuit of the force responsible for the aforementioned Cursed King, and a string of murders that you encounter of the course of your quest.

So, in short, a very solid, varied, and unique jRPG for the ps2, now a good 12 years old. Older, if you consider the earlier release date in Japan. So why is the 3ds version even better? Why is it a great port, and not just a cash-grab on nostalgia?

See, here’s the thing. Right from the first few hours, from your time spent on the first continent, you can tell that the remake is a labour of love. A game requested by the fans, made for the fans, and for anyone looking to jump into Dragon Quest, or jRPG’s in general really.

I like to think of it as a port of “They didn’t have to”s. They didn’t have to port over the voice acting onto the 3ds, but they did. They didn’t have to add in more monsters, an extra dungeon, and new ending, but they did. They didn’t have to add two fan-favourite characters into the playable party roster, but they did. They didn’t have to add a whole new, fun, fleshed-out photography mechanic sidequest, and they didn’t have to bring a host of new tweaks and fixes to streamline everything, but they did. Honestly, they could have just copied and pasted the game from the ps2 onto the 3ds, and I would have still bought it in a heartbeat, such is my confidence in the game being a great one, regardless of platform.

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The photography minigame in all it’s glory. This creature is brand new to the 3ds port, and will only spawn once certain conditions have been met.

The thing is, even though we’re all treading over familiar ground, like we still go from Farebury, to Alexandria, and beyond, it still retains that sense of wonderment and adventure again, because there are all new things to do and see and discover. Where there may have been nothing of note over yonder hill before, now there may be a brand new treasure chest, a new monster or a photo opportunity. Incidentally, the photography sidequest was a stroke of genius, and definitely adds a lot to the game. If you keep up with it as you go, the rewards are actually very useful towards the main quest, like a Holy Lance, which can be unlocked just at the time that Hero could use an upgrade from the Iron Lance you bought at Port Prospect. Additionally, it feels like a few changes were made to balance the game a little more. Jessica’s ‘Twin-Dragon Lash’ ability has taken a hit, which is a shame, but aside from that I have never really found myself short on gold or exp in order to progress the story and my characters. There’s still some levelling involved, but I do not think it to be anywhere near as time-consuming as before, particularly as you can now see the fights that you’re getting into in advance.

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Another feature of the 3ds port is the abolition of random encounters. Every monster is now, thankfully, visible on the field.

In terms of technical aspects, I am very happy with how the game performs too. It renders the world beautifully, and has never really, to my knowledge so far, approximately thirty hours in, dropped any frames or lagged at all. If I have any gripes at all, it’s that the pop-in trees make their return from the Dragon Quest 7 remake, which is a very minor issue in the grand scheme of things. The sound is also very good. The voice acting has all been brought over from the original, with more added here and there. All in all, it’s all very well done, with some hilarious over-acting from some of the characters, particularly the ones of non-British origin (looking at you, Morris!). The music took a bit of a hit, as the PS2 had these sweeping orchestral numbers, which, unfortunately, did not survive the switch in hardware. The same melodies are still here however, and the format in which they are still delivered hits all the correct highs and lows that it needs to. It’s full of wonder as you wander the world and sail the high seas, and its subtle and melancholy when the story calls for it, and triumphant upon achievements being reached. Curiously, the 3D component is virtually non-existent in this game, which is unfortunate as it worked so well for Dragon Quest 7, but it’s hardly a deal-breaker, just an odd design omission. It’s only present, to my knowledge, in the Battle Records.

All in all, I cannot recommend Dragon Quest 8 3ds enough. It’s a fantastic jumping on point for the Dragon Quest series due to it’s accessibility, and is a great gateway to numbers four through seven, and nine, which are all playable on the 3ds too. It is every part as great as I remember and then-some, and have thoroughly enjoyed my thirty hours in this new version so far. Here’s to another thirty, and then another, and then another.

 

Images taken from:

-http://static1.gamespot.com/uploads/screen_kubrick/43/434805/2864694-6229190741-Drago.jpg

-http://cdn3.dualshockers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Dragon-Quest-VIII-13.jpg

-http://cdn.gamer-network.net/2016/usgamer/dragon_quest_viii_3ds_02.jpg

-http://www.mobygames.com/images/shots/l/684715-road-trip-playstation-2-screenshot-the-adventure-starts-with.jpg

-http://fast1.onesite.com/capcom-unity.com/user/nettosgameroom/game_room_reviews/jak_and_daxter/eb02a4084e29e464e95f0987b1af75ed.png?v=193800

 

GOD MAKES BOLD CLAIM – The Weekly Rag, Issue 10

By our Religious Correspondent

 

The collective secular population of the planet Earth were left puzzled and conflicted earlier this week when the Almighty Father, God, released a controversial statement.

“I, the Lord thy God, do not believe in Atheists,” He declared.

The claim led to widespread confusion amongst the Atheistic communities on Earth, with some extreme cases even leading to identity crises.

“How can mirrors be real if my eyes aren’t real?” stammered one such case, a Mr J Smith, from the United States.

Professor Richard Dawkins, a long time militant atheist and anti-religious author brought his usual levels of charm and wit when he waded into the debate.

“Fake god says what?” he said.

The Weekly Rag caught up with one heavenly spokesperson, the Archangel Gabriel, and asked him where this damning stance from God had come from.

“They started it,” he claimed.

Just before The Weekly Rag had gone to press, we learned that some atheists had put together a case and are suing God for slander. Expect more from the God vs. The Unbelievers court battle in the following weeks.

 

 

 

LAD CRASHING AT PRE-DRINKS NEEDS TO TOUGHEN THE FUCK UP – The Weekly Rag, Issue 9

By our Student Correspondent.

Barry, Wales – A gaggle of local Lads are being left dismayed after it has become obvious that one of their squad has absolutely no intention of going to the club following the pre-drinks and getting utterly twatted like everybody else.

“Why the fuck is he even here?” says Lawrence Stiles, 21, Full-Time Lad, “What did he think ‘pre’ refers to, ‘drinks before bedtime’? Stupid prick should have brought four cans of camomile, instead of that weak-ass alcopop shit that he’s drinking.”

“I swear to Christ,” concurs Billy ‘The Nose’ Noel, 20, “He was acting all shifty earlier, not throwing out any good club suggestions, like. It’s probably because he’s never been to any!”

“Fuck sake!” he exclaims.

This is not just a misunderstanding. Top fucking experts, who absolutely know their shit, have confirmed in a damning report that the stupid twit is a certified little pussy-bitch who should know better by the age of 22.

“It’s a bloody disgrace, really,” agrees Doctor of Psychology at Oxbridge, Jennifer Devon, 45, “If the ‘#LADSLADSLADS’ are planning to get completely fucking slaughtered and you aren’t up for a cheeky ride on the banter bus, fair enough. But the least you can do is not bring the room down by turning up with your two bottles of WKD and an alarm set for 7am. Basic fucking human decency, that.”

Staff at The Weekly Rag have been kept on high alert following the breaking news of Judas’ betrayal, and are constantly monitoring the situation, awaiting the silly chucklefuck’s inevitable, slow, miserable crawl towards the camp-bed.

And there he fucking goes.