Archive for March, 2012

03/30/2012

Two! Two years!

by wfgodbold

Mwah ha ha!*

In my first year, I had just over 3,000 views and wrote just over 300 posts.

In my second, I’ve had more than 17,000 views, and 600 more posts.

Thanks to North and the GBBL for the traffic they drive my way, to everyone who clicks on my twitter links, to the dozen wordpress.com followers, and to the dozen people who subscribe via RSS (and to everyone Google leads here). Without you guys,  I’d be just another guy who rails at everything while everyone else crosses to the other side of the internet to avoid him.

I look forward to continued griping about games, government, and guns, and hope the rest of you look forward to reading it!

*If you didn’t read the post title and first line in the style of The Count, you’re a horrible person.

03/29/2012

Congrats to North Carolina

by wfgodbold

On having their ban on carry during declared states of emergency struck down in federal court as unconstitutional.

The Fourth Circuit judge applied strict scrutiny and found that the law excessively burdened law-abiding people who chose to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

I had completely forgotten about it since I posted in June of 2010 about North Carolina’s gun laws being the next target in Alan Gura’s genius master plan.

I look forward to his next victory with great anticipation.

03/28/2012

Good news on the PSN front!

by wfgodbold

Atlus has finally lowered the PSN pricing for some of its PSP games (most of which were originally priced at the release MSRP).

I’ve been interested in giving one of the Shin Megami Tensei games a try; sure, the Persona series is just a spinoff, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

I just haven’t decided if I should start with Persona (the first game in the spinoff series) or Persona 3 Portable. I don’t think they’re strongly connected, more just set in the same universe (or even just with the same basic battle options and game mechanics, like the Final Fantasy or Tales of series).

On the one hand, Persona started the spinoff series, and I do like starting at the beginning.

On the other hand, it was a PSX game, and is bound to look dated, especially compared to Persona 3, which was ported from a PS2 game.

On the gripping hand, the characters in Persona 3 have an … interesting … way of summoning their personas into battle.

I’m not even considering starting with Persona 2, since for some reason it’s $10 more expensive than the other two games. Good job on consistency there, Atlus.

I suppose I should be happy they responded to the demand from Vita owners, though; since the only way to play PSP games on the Vita is by purchasing the PSN version of the game, everyone who was interested in Atlus’s PSN catalog complained vociferously about how they hadn’t reduced prices on most of their games since the first of them were listed digitally almost three years ago.

If anyone has any suggestions about whether Persona 1 or Persona 3 is the better starting point for someone who’s never played a SMT game in his life, feel free to share them.

03/27/2012

Quote of the Indeterminate Time Interval – Anthony Kennedy

by wfgodbold

During the oral arguments before SCOTUS today on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked:

But the reason, the reason this is concerning, is because it requires the individual to do an affirmative act. In the law of torts our tradition, our law, has been that you don’t have the duty to rescue someone if that person is in danger. The blind man is walking in front of a car and you do not have a duty to stop him absent some relation between you. And there is some severe moral criticisms of that rule, but that’s generally the rule.

And here the government is saying that the Federal Government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases and that changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in the very fundamental way.

p. 30, lines 9-23

I haven’t read the whole thing yet (indeed, I’ve only skimmed the first part), but I thought this was an interesting point.

Given the reactions in the media and the blogosphere, my impression is that things did not go well for the government and its case.

Fine by me.

03/26/2012

Thoughts on Uncharted: Golden Abyss

by wfgodbold

I finished the game Sunday night on normal. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty good handheld adaptation of the console Uncharted experience.

The gyro-assisted aiming was great; I think this would work even on the console versions of Uncharted with the PS3′s Sixaxis controllers. Once I figured out how to use it properly, I was getting headshots more often than not.

There wasn’t much deadtime; the game was good about taking Nate from one action setpiece to the next.

The story was decent; it’s set before Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (the first game), but aside from Elena not showing up at all, you’d never have known.

However, there were some things I didn’t like at all.

The final boss fight was terrible; it combined the tediousness of quick time events with the annoyance of swiping all over the Vita screen. If I wanted to play a touchscreen-based game, I’d have bought a damn iPad. There were plenty of touchscreen quick time events throughout the game, so it’s not like they surprised me with it; but I didn’t like those either, and so I really didn’t like it when I had to swipe around on the screen for five minutes to beat the final boss. If you miss three of the swipes, it’s game over; it’s also game over if you miss the final swipe, even if it’s not the third.

The graphics were pretty good, in spite of the jaggies. It looked better in motion than in the screenshots I took, but the jaggies were still noticeable.

Your sidekicks are morons. They get in the way, and thanks to collision detection, you can’t just walk through them; you bump into them and have to go around. It was especially annoying when they would start climbing down ropes before I could and then when I tried to follow them, I’d roll off the ledge and fall to my death.

I’d say if you’re on the fence about whether to buy it or not, either pick it up used or wait for a sale. It’s good enough to play, and a fun game, but it’s definitely not worth the $50 MSRP. Maybe if it had been made by Naughty Dog instead of Bend, it would have been a bit better; I guess we’ll never know.

03/24/2012

More on the coming riots in Florida

by wfgodbold

The Occupy Wall Street hooligans have already proto-rioted in NYC; Politico and Al Sharpton are agitating for an emotional response (as are the many crazies on twitter); and the New Black Panther Party has posted a $10,000 reward  for the “capture” of George Zimmerman.

Once again, I’m only a lowly first-year law student, and only have had 2/3 of a semester of criminal law, so if you use any of this work, on your own head be it.

ten thousand dollar reward for the “capture” of Zimmerman. Under Florida law, kidnapping is:

(1)(a) The term “kidnapping” means forcibly, secretly, or by threat confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person against her or his will and without lawful authority, with intent to:
1. Hold for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage.
2. Commit or facilitate commission of any felony.
3. Inflict bodily harm upon or to terrorize the victim or another person.
4. Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 787.01 (West).

I think it’s pretty clear that if someone were to “capture” Zimmerman for the NBPP, they would be guilty of kidnapping.

After my overview of the Florida “stand your ground” laws the other day, I did some more thinking about possible ways Zimmerman could have provoked Martin and lost the protection of the stand your ground provision of the law; all I could come up with was assault, battery, and maybe stalking.

Stalking is actually right out;  a key element in the offense is that the conduct was repeated; if this is the only time Zimmerman ever followed Martin, then he can’t be guilty of stalking him. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.048 (West).

Assault is more murky:

An ‘assault’ is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.011 (West).

While regular assault is merely a misdemeanor, aggravated assault (F.S.A. § 784.021) is assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill (or with the intent to commit a felony), and is a third degree felony. Zimmerman would have had to do more than merely follow Martin for his conduct to meet the standard required for an assault. For aggravated assault, Zimmerman would have had to commit the assault with his weapon drawn (or visible); if it was concealed and not used in the assault, it wouldn’t be aggravated assault. Owens v. State, 475 So.2d 1238, 1239 (Fla. 1985). Owens distinguished between an offense committed while carrying a weapon and an offense committed while using a weapon, and held that mere carrying of a weapon was not sufficient.

Battery might work; its elements are relatively simple:

1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.03 (West).

The touching element of battery would be satisfied by any physical contact Zimmerman had with Martin, no matter how slight. Johnson v. U.S., 130 S. Ct. 1265, 1269-70 (2010). If Zimmerman so much as grabbed Martin’s arm, or even tapped him on the shoulder, that would constitute battery.

Zimmerman could only have committed aggravated battery by using a deadly weapon in the commission of a battery (or by attempting to cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement) (F.S.A. § 784.045).

As we saw the other day in F.S.A. § 776.013 (2)(c), the presumption that a person had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm to himself does not apply when the person who uses the defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity. If Zimmerman assaulted or battered Martin, then he no longer has that presumption.

However, as I understand it, that does not mean he can’t claim self-defense as a defense to any prosecution; it merely means that he is not presumed to have had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm to himself.

If Zimmerman tapped Martin on the shoulder to ask what he was doing, and so battered him and gave up the presumption, and if Zimmerman could convince a jury his fear was reasonable, his killing of Martin still would have been justified.

Given recent witness statements about Zimmerman lying on the ground and yelling for help, with Martin on top of him, beating him up, I think Zimmerman’s lawyer’s statements may be right: this isn’t going to have anything to do with the “stand your ground” part of the law at all; it’s going to be a straight up self-defense case.

And since the race hustlers are involved, I’m afraid we’re going to see riots if Zimmerman’s defense prevails (which, given the witness reports, seems more likely now).

Riots we wouldn’t see if a black guy had killed a white teenager in self-defense.

03/22/2012

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law

by wfgodbold

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the shooting in Florida; Zimmerman, patrolling the neighborhood as part of the neighborhood watch, called 911 and reported a suspicious person. He followed, and eventually got into a scuffle with and shot Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old. The anti-gunners have made great hay about how this proves the folly of Florida’s “stand your ground” laws, and how those laws should be called “shoot first, ask questions later” laws instead, and how as written, they let people get away with murder.

Robb has some comments on the incident from an actual lawyer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hold forth with my limited knowledge.

That said, I don’t know all the facts; I’m only going to look at the law itself, and see if it legalizes murder, as the anti-gunners claim.

The so-called “Stand Your Ground” provision is in Florida Statues § 776.013(3), but to get the context, we’ll start with the overarching provisions first and see what they cover, beginning with § 776.032:

(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.
(3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).
Fla. Stat. Ann. § 776.032 (West)

Well, that’s as clear as mud! We need to look at §§ 776.012, 776.013, and 776.031 to see when persons are permitted the use of force.

From § 776.013, we see that:
A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or
(2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 776.012 (West)

Okay, that clears things up a bit; the first situation in which a person is immune from criminal and civil proceedings for the use of force is when they reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or others, or prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

Or under the circumstances detailed in § 776.013:

(1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
(a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
(b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
(2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:
(a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or
(b) The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or
(c) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or
(d) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
(4) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.
(5) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night.
(b) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.
(c) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.
Fla. Stat. Ann. § 776.013 (West)

This section is quite a bit more detailed. It first sets out two situations in which a person is presumed to have a fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm (which, from § 776.012, remember, was one of the requirements for a person to be justified in using force): the first situation is when the person against whom the force is used is in the process of unlawfully entering a dwelling, residence, or vehicle, or was attempting to remove a person from such a place against that person’s will; the second situation is when the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry, or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

Part (2) of this section details the various exceptions to this presumption; the key “stand your ground” subsection is in § 776.013 (3), which is bolded above. Note that the person standing his ground and using force must “reasonably believe” that meeting force with force is necessary to prevent death or serious injury to himself or others, or to prevent a forcible felony. He must also not have been engaged in an unlawful activity.

The final section mentioned in the statute that lists which uses of force are justifiable and immune from civil or criminal action is § 776.031, which reads:

A person is justified in the use of force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate the other’s trespass on, or other tortious or criminal interference with, either real property other than a dwelling or personal property, lawfully in his or her possession or in the possession of another who is a member of his or her immediate family or household or of a person whose property he or she has a legal duty to protect. However, the person is justified in the use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person does not have a duty to retreat if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 776.031 (West)

Okay, so you can use force (but not deadly force) to prevent a person from trespassing on or interfering with the property of another member of your household, or of those to whom you owe a legal duty to protect; again, deadly force is only allowed in this case to prevent the immediate commission of a forcible felony (which are listed in § 776.08, and are “treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.” Fla. Stat. Ann. § 776.08 (West)).

The final line, “A person does not have a duty to retreat if the person in in a place where he or she has a right to be,” is more problematic, especially in this statute. It seems almost superfluous, but when interpreting statutes, there’s no such thing as superfluous language; the legislature put it there for a reason, and so it must be considered. I can only think that it means that if someone has the right to be on a specific piece of property, but the person who has the duty to protect that property believes the first person is trespassing, the supposed trespasser has the right to defend himself agains the force used by the supposed defender. I think.

Back to the main part of the stand-your-ground controversy:

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

This hinges, as most things in law do, on the “reasonableness” of the actor; generally, an actor’s reasonableness is a question of fact that the jury must decide. In this case, since that reasonableness is directly related to whether or not the actor is immune from prosecution, I think (and once again, while I am a law student (and a lowly first-year, at that), I am not a lawyer; I don’t even play one on TV) this would be determined by a judge; if the judge determines that no reasonable jury would find that the actor acted unreasonably, then the actor will likely be immune from prosecution (this is how a judge determines that a judgement a jury has handed down should be overturned).

It looks to me like Zimmerman’s immunity (or not) from prosecution will depend on two things: the reasonableness of his actions, and whether he started the altercation (if Zimmerman assaulted Martin, then he falls under one of the exceptions in § 776.013(2), since he (the person using defensive force) was engaged in an unlawful activity)).

Since the facts I’m familiar with regarding this case are only what the media have published, and the media are notoriously inaccurate, I’m not sure whether Zimmerman’s actions were protected by this statute or not; I do think, though, that it’s pretty clear that Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law does not legalize murder, as the anti-gunners claim.

Isn’t law fun?

03/21/2012

Ys I Symphonic Medley

by wfgodbold

Because I can’t think of anything worthwhile to post, here’s more Falcom music:

The whole CD this track is originally from is pretty good; it’s got two symphonic medleys from Ys I, and two from Ys II, and even without any hint of electric guitar, Falcom’s music is still great.

03/19/2012

At the risk of sounding like a paid shill*

by wfgodbold

Ys: The Oath in Felghana is on Steam for $15. If you like old-school action games where you either learn the boss patterns or you get destroyed, you should check it out. Especially since if it does well, it could pave the way for more of Falcom’s catalog to come out via Steam.

I’m not buying it** (though I am sorely tempted); I have the original Japanese PC release, the Japanese PSP release, and the US PSN release. I don’t need to buy it a fourth time.

If you like great action and great music, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.

*Which I’m not; I don’t work for Valve, XSEED Games, or Falcom. If you buy Ys: The Oath in Felghana off Steam, I won’t see a cent.

**Though I will buy the Steam release of Ys Origin; it uses the Felghana engine and is supposed to be the best in the series.

03/16/2012

I had an idea for a post when I clicked “New Post”

by wfgodbold

But it’s completely gone now. Like it never existed.

I think it was something about Kickstarter and how it’s reviving long-dead series and genres (Wasteland 2, a new Tim Schafer adventure game, etc.), but I’m not really sure.

I guess I”ll just do some tab clearing, instead.

Falcom posted some samples of the rearranged music from Zero no Kiseki Evolution, their PS Vita full voice remake of the PSP game. Like the most of their music, it sounds great.

New this month from Baen Night Shade Books is a sendup of the John Carter of Mars books, called Jane Carver of Waar. Good timing on their part, what with the movie release (which everyone has seen, right?). I may have to buy it.

Sony sent out the Super Stardust Delta download codes for PS Vita 3G buyers who signed up for their free month of 3G with AT&T. It’s just as addictive as the PS3 version; you keep playing one more game to try to better your score.

Diablo III comes out on May 15. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to buy it.

The newest Rurouni Kenshin trailer looks awesome. They even have plans to release it internationally!

SNK is getting back into the handheld market with their new Neo Geo X, which comes with 20 Neo Geo games and an SD slot for future expansion. No word on pricing yet, though.

I added a link to my Amazon store on the right side of the page under the twitter widget; if you want used imported video games, knock yourself out. I’ll add more to it this week after going through my PS2 collection.

And finally, a comparison shot with my Vita and PSP-1000, with a game case from each:

Edit: Fixed the publisher for Jane Carver of Waar; it looks like Baen is handling the ebook, and Night Shade Books is publishing the trade paperback.

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