Adventures in Stuff

Earlier this year, I created a comedy webcomic called Adventures in Stuff.

Check it out:


Common misconceptions about Landover Baptist Church (LBC)

These are some of the most common misconceptions I see on the web regarding the Landover Baptist Church (LBC). As a True Christian, I find them profoundly infuriating.

“Some users don’t realise that LBC is a work of satire”

False. Everyone is vetted before attaining the rank of True Christian. It’s safe to assume that anyone with more than about a hundred posts is in on the joke.

“LBC is a just a parody of fundamentalist Christianity and right-wing extremism”

False. At least 90% of True Christians are devout anti-theists. We actively hate religion. The aim of LBC is to demonstrate the stupidity of all religion. Many of the best posts lampoon belief in any kind of supernatural deity.

“LBC twists scripture by misquoting, misinterpreting or taking it out of context”

False. In fact, the opposite is true. Many of the views found on LBC are supported by what the Bible actually says. It’s much easier for progressive Christians (usually those who have never even read the Bible) to dismiss LBC as an out-of-context hate machine than to accept what’s actually in their holy book. The Bible is a hateful and intolerant piece of literature. This is a book that advocates the execution of gays, “witches” and disobedient children. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that these Old Testament laws are void. One of the core aims of LBC is to show the Bible as it is rather than through the cuddly rainbow lens of acceptance and peace.

England vs Sweden

In recent years, this has been my favourite fixture in international football. In the last four games between the two sides, there were 16 goals. England’s record from these last four is 2-1-1.

One of the highlights of the fixture is obviously Ibrahimovic. He’s just an incredibly exciting player to watch. He scores goals in ways that nobody else would dream of attempting. Having said that, England haven’t exactly slouched in these games. Both sides have scored wonder goals.

Ibrahimovic bicycle kick (2012 friendly)


Cole volley (2006 World Cup)

Why I boycott Steam

Occasionally, someone will ask me why exactly it is that I boycott Steam. I’ll try my best to explain it here. Put it this way: I don’t think Steam is good news for PC gaming overall.

Fundamentally, I’m opposed to DRM from an ideological perspective. These days, the majority of us have heard the arguments against DRM. You merely have to state your position on the matter and most people will understand the reasons – even if they don’t agree – so I won’t say too much about it.

The theory behind DRM is that if you use a big enough trawler net, you catch lots of edible fish. You also catch plenty of dolphins and other nice sealife but who cares about them, right? DRM is the police force that arrests whomever they want without any reason. Sure, you’ll be let out eventually because, after all, you’re innocent, but your time has been wasted and your patience, tested. The problem is that DRM isn’t even a very effective police force; a lot of the criminals have convenient alibis, with names like RELOADED and TiNYiSO. In practice, software DRM punishes legitimate customers while having really very little effect on pirates.

DRM alone is not a good reason to boycott Steam, however. Almost all modern games, whether acquired through Steam or not, are DRM-encumbered through the nose. What makes buying games on Steam worse than buying them outside is that Steam simultaneously functions as both DRM and an unnecessary vendor lock-in. Say that one day you get tired of shopping on Steam (heaven forbid) and want to take your business elsewhere. Man, have they got you by the balls. Sure, you can just stop buying stuff from Steam but you’re going to need their shitty little client installed for the rest of your fucking life just to play games you’ve already stumped up cash for. Once you’ve made a purchase, you can never truly pack up and leave because you’re always going to have monetary value tied up somewhere you can’t get to it without having the Steam client installed. You can’t transfer your games and you can’t truly leave. Once you’ve bought a game from Steam, you’re locked into a baseline level of involvement with the Steam ecosystem forever (with them trying to encourage you to buy more shit all the while).

Let’s say, instead, that I buy a DRM-free PC game. There’s no perceptible lock-in because I’m probably always going to own a PC and, for the foreseeable future, that PC will probably be capable of virtualising current operating systems so that I can play it for decades to come. Effectively, I’ve purchased a product that I’m free to use in any way I can for as long as I’m able to. Anything less than this is just a rental or right to consume.

With a lock-in, you also have to be concerned about the possibility of the business or service shutting down and taking all your shit with them. This is a pertinent worry for Steam users – especially those who’ve invested sums of money large enough to justify paranoia – considering that access to their games is contingent on the availability of the Steam infrastructure. Valve’s method of keeping the masses docile on the subject is to claim that, in the eventuality of Steam closing down, all users would be given access to their games without the need for Steam. Excuse me for being cynical but you have to wonder whether Valve, sans Steam for leverage and presumably now strapped for cash, would have the clout necessary to make it happen.

I regularly buy games from GOG as a form of voting with my wallet. By virtue of its entire business model, GOG is intrinsically free from all the bullshit that clouds my perception of Steam. With the recent regional pricing fiasco still at the forefront of many users’ minds, it remains to be seen whether GOG is the benevolent saviour of PC gaming that some like to think it is. That doesn’t matter though. I don’t buy games from GOG because I love the people behind it. I want to promote DRM-free as a financially viable alternative business model. Brand loyalty, on the whole, is naive bullshit.

I guess that last point brings me nicely to the subject of Valve fanboys. Let me tell you something: I never managed to finish Half-Life 1 or 2 because they both bored me to tears. Needless to say, I have no sense of loyalty to or affection for Valve as a developer of games (y’know, those things they used to make before Steam put them on easy street). In fact, I’d go one further and say that Valve is the single most overrated developer of all time.

A lot of people like Valve as a developer and that’s cool. To some extent, loyalty to a developer makes sense, because the same group of people working on the IPs you love have a good chance of creating something that you’d want to play. What I don’t understand is allowing a love of Valve, the games developer, to spill over into a love of Valve, the operator of Steam. A proven track record of creating games that many love is insufficient evidence that the same company can wield the power of something like Steam to the unanimous benefit of all parties. When it comes to corporations, you have to be skeptical of their every move. Why should you ever trust an entity whose superceding directive is often contrary to your best interests?

Steam now acts a gatekeeper to the PC gaming market. Its near-monopoly position in the market allows it to do so. The amount of times I’ve heard people say they won’t buy games that aren’t on Steam is hard to believe. Not putting your game on Steam is commercial suicide and it’ll only get worse. This puts Steam in the position of deciding what sells and what doesn’t. If they blacklist a game for any reason (as they recently did with Hatred), it’ll tank. There will never truly be parity of promotion. In an age where some gamers are basing their purchasing decisions on the content Steam shows them, this is bad news. I don’t know much about Greenlight but I’ve read some scathing things from indie developers so I assume Valve aren’t doing a great job of opening Steam up to the indies either. It all comes down to this: can you trust Valve to act as a responsible gatekeeper to the industry? For me, the answer is a resounding “fuck no”.

Let’s briefly talk about yet another problem with Steam: its vehemently anti-consumer policies on refunds and resales. For starters, Steam’s “no resale” rule is actually illegal in the European Union (at least by my reading of EU consumer protection laws, which are pretty clear on the matter) but nobody is calling them out on it. Not giving consumers the ability to resell their games is restrictive at best. Even worse is their policy of not giving refunds under any circumstances. No refunds for products that aren’t guaranteed to work? What the fuck? Honestly, from the outside, Steam’s terms and conditions read like they were written by a company with complete distain for its customers.

What will Valve do once Steam becomes a legitimate monopoly in the PC gaming market? Well, probably not a lot. I’m not saying they’re a fundamentally evil company or an Illuminati conspiracy. Monopolies are rarely good news, no matter how well-intentioned those involved are. Personally, though, I don’t want to wait around to find out what’s going to happen. I’d rather take my pre-emptive leave now.

And, Gabe, if you’re reading, I found this cool new product for you:


I got my boss fired once

Sometimes I like telling stupid little stories. I’ve forgotten most of the stuff that has happened to me in my life. Sometimes I randomly remember an event and then, in my efforts to preserve the memory, I write about it.

In my late teens, I was doing voluntary work for the British Heart Foundation (BHF). I was in college at the time so I already had a pretty full schedule (lol jk). Every Saturday, I would do several hours of retail work in my local branch of the BHF charity shop. It was monotonous stuff: putting sizing labels on hangers, steam-cleaning new donations of clothes, working the till, tidying up and restocking. I don’t have particularly fond memories of the job; the best part was the infrequent arrival of a beautiful girl who sometimes worked the same hours as me. Then again, it’s not the kind of work you do for intrinsic fun. I was happy pitching in my little share of community effort.

The only real problem I had was with the manager of the place. Unlike me, he worked there full-time and was paid a reasonable salary for his efforts. He utterly abused the privilege. It was always abundantly clear that his motivation for working there was not altruistic. It was just a job to him. There is nothing inherently wrong with impure intentions but when you’re an intentionally shit employee extracting money from a fucking charity, you need to take a look at yourself.

This guy took three hour lunch breaks. After “lunch”, he would often announce that he was leaving and then not return for hours at a time. He would return clutching bags of personal shopping. He skived off in order to piss away the money he was earning for doing the very job he was skiving off. Worse, he didn’t care what the situation was like when he left. He would happily leave a solitary teenager to run the entire store in his absence, despite none of us having the training to do so properly. It was an unfair amount of responsibility to give to a bunch of unpaid part-time teens. I used to dread it happening to me, which was pretty much every other week. We would get phone calls about all sorts of shit that we were entirely unqualified to deal with. I whine about it but I feel I handled the impromptu promotion to store manager rather well. Nonetheless, it was a situation that should never have been allowed to arise.

Being incompetent is one thing but being incompetent and taking money from a charity to facilitate further incompetence is a pisstake. Incompetent might not even be the right word (though the guy was hardly a stellar manager even when he graced us with his presence); sheer, wilful laziness comes closer to the truth. There are people out there who would’ve relished the opportunity to do the job properly and it seemed right that they got the opportunity.

During my time there, I heard rumblings. Our dear manager had a propensity for groping volunteers in the back room. Given that the manager is unnamed, I see no harm in relaying unsubstantiated claims. For reasons I don’t particularly want to enter into, I believe it was almost certainly true (no, he never tried it with me). He was a strange guy. I had no problem seeing how the rumours could be true even when they were just rumours.

Anyway, we eventually raised the matter with head office. They investigated, made us sign sworn affidavits and then fired the guy. Good riddance.