"With notably rare exceptions"

The headline there comes from Alan Greenspan, from his recent comments offered in lieu of a more appropriate statement begging for forgiveness from the entire world for recently destroying the global economy:

With notably rare exceptions (2008, for example), the global “invisible hand” has created relatively stable exchange rates, interest rates, prices, and wage rates.

Henry Farrell sees this statement as: “a carefully thought-out bid for Internet immortality. It has the sublime combination of supreme self-confidence and utter cluelessness … but with added Greenspanny goodness.”

“Have at it,” he tells his commenters. And they do.

“With notably rare exceptions, Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the play.”

“With notably rare exceptions, warnings in Presidential Daily Briefings have been heeded with the utmost caution.”

“With notably rare exceptions, when you wake up in the morning, you know for a fact that you will still be alive by the end of the day.”

“With notably rare exceptions, Scott Walker has always negotiated in good faith with unions.”

“With notably rare exceptions, hydrogen-filled airships have been a remarkably safe mode of transportation.”

More than 350 so far, and, with notably rare exceptions, the funny is cumulative.

* * * * * * * * *

Well said …

Jeff Cook:

There’s not one controversial idea in [Rob Bell’s] Love Wins that is not clearly voiced as a real possibility by the most popular evangelical writer of the last century, C.S. Lewis.

Duncan Black:

They care that their perceived tribe is not in charge, and are animated by the fact that they imagine some other tribe is getting all of the goodies, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with “fiscal issues” as we generally understand them.

Mike Todd:

If you’re in the car but the view out the window never changes, then that car is probably up on blocks, with the weeds growing up around it.

BioWare (on the subject of Dragon Age 2):

It has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, and everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.

The Revealer:

I would hedge that the best definition of tolerance comes from those in society who aren’t tolerated.

* * * * * * * * *


(Note: Fortunately, none of those disasters involved solar or wind power. Thank God we were spared the horror of an offshore wind farm leaking light breezes for months while cleanup crews raced to protect the shoreline from gusts washing up on the beach.)

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  • muteKi

    Yes! Someone else with White! (I have Black and have been spending FAR too much time on it — disappointed that I don’t know anyone else IRL who plays, though, for the new local-wireless stuff. I do have the National Pokedex for the game nearly completed…with notably rare exceptions.)

  • This is a valid concern. Perhaps we can ask some otherkin who identify as elves what they consider their sexual orientation to be, and do some surveys.

  • Whoa, people still hang out on talk.origins? O_o

  • Anonymous

    This is a valid concern. Perhaps we can ask some otherkin who identify as elves what they consider their sexual orientation to be, and do some surveys.

    “I am completely, steadfastly, unchangingly heterosexual. Aside from some, erm… Notably rare exceptions.”

  • Anonymous

    I love it! It honestly feels like a new Pokemon game, as compared to the rehashes we’ve had for the past few generations. And the Team Plasma story is SO much better than the various Rockets ever were. I didn’t think having just the new Pokemon til the national Pokedex was going to be so awesome at first, but it really went over great.

    They are kinda phoning it in with some of the designs at this point, though.

  • muteKi

    Mm, I think my issue with the designs is that a lot of these new creatures’ roles are the same as ones from the older games: the not-Machop, the not-Zubat, the not-Hitmonchan, the not-Chansey, etc.

    On the other hand the same game that gives us a vulture wearing an eggshell diaper gives us a power ranger made of knives.

  • Hm. I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think this can be quite right.

    In the real world, there is a huge difference between (on the one hand) walking into a party and knowing that, in general, it’s socially OK for me to flirt with anyone there, and (on the other hand) walking into a party and knowing that, in general, half the people there are not socially OK for me to flirt with.

    I expect that, in a video game, the same sort of difference applies.

    Perhaps not quite so strongly… I mean, I assume that there aren’t many video games out there where you have the option of flirting with a same-sex character, but they may freak out and beat you to a bloody pulp in response because they are so offended by your violation of their social norms… but still, I expect that walking into a game knowing that it’s programmatically permitted to flirt with anyone there is different from walking into one knowing that it isn’t.

    And that difference exists, regardless of who I explore romance with, or even if I don’t explore romance with anyone.

    *** Possible Minor Spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins ***

    You’re right, insofar as that’s why douchehats complain about it.* Specifically, they’re usually upset about the “canonicity” of NPCs’ sexualities. After all, if we know that any given character not only will fall in love with us, but would fall in love with us if we were the other gender.**

    But here is where it behooves us to recognize the difference between a book and a story-driven RPG. In a book, and to a large degree in Dragon Age, we are discovering what happens in a story. Our character will become a Grey Warden, and they will survive this battle, and they will stop the Blight, because that is the story. And the choices we make are set within the framework of an existing world, with characters who have specific backstories and personalities — we do not time-travel and change their past; we simply choose how to interact with them in the present.

    However, the reason we play Dragon Age — the reason the game exists — is to write our own story within that story. That story involves how we resolve a dwarven dispute, and whether we let certain people live or die. It involves how a conflict between two warring races ends, and whether or not we save literally the only authorized group of mages in the nation — an institution that has survived for centuries!

    And that story involves who, if anyone, the player’s character becomes involved with in a romantic relationship. In the first game, there were four characters to romance — two of each gender. One of each was canonically bisexual, providing three potential bisexual romances (two straight, one gay).

    You know what the big, huge, game-ruining change in DA2 is? Four NPCs, and they’re all romance-able. So, by making this minor change, BioWare provides straight characters the exact same freedom, gives gay characters the same freedom as straights, and gives bi characters the freedom they deserve.

    So who the fuck are you to insist that someone else can’t tell the story they want to, just because your sense of “realism” is hurt by the knowledge that they can?*** Go tell your own story about straight people being straight, and leave the rest of us alone.

    * And yes, I am calling everyone a douchehat who is upset about NPC bisexuality.

    ** Eh, binary gender and all that, but what’re you gonna do.

    *** Impersonal “you,” of course. Not saying Dave said this.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I went out and bought Dragon Age 2 specifically to vote with my bisexual wallet.


  • Shadsie

    Well, I don’t *believe myself* to be an otherkin, but I’ve encountered a person on the Internet who claimed to have “read my spirit” and says that I’m an elf. If I’m not human, I’m pretty sure I’m more of a cat, but, eh.

    I also play a *lot* of Legend of Zelda, running around the land of Hyrule as a Hylian (an elf-like person).

    I… am aesexual. Kind of straight-leaning, in a straight romance, but honestly not interested in the more naked activities that most seem to be into.

    So, my kind of elves? Wouldn’t be flirting with anyone.

  • Anonymous

    Has he ever encountered a girl gamer in his life? We aren’t nearly as rare as we used to be, and we play most of the same games male gamers do.

    Because everyone knows there are no girls on the internet. With notably rare exceptions.

    In all seriousness, as a female who plays MMOs, I’m amazed how often the “no girls on the internet” meme comes up in the public chat channels. Even in games with lots of features derided by the hardcore players as “for girls” – cosmetic pets, frilly costumes, etc – and with lots of people who come off as female talking in the public chat channels.

  • Anonymous

    One of my favorite blogs recently posted this photo, http://tsutpen.blogspot.com/2011/04/action-now-19.html, and it made me depressed to think that today’s Catholic leadership would order mass excommunications if the same thing happened at a Gay Rights march.

  • Caravelle

    A lot less than they used to (and I’m talking 2004 here, not exactly the heyday of Usenet) but it’s still good for a couple hundred posts a day.

  • Moleman

    Dragon Age 2’s love interests aren’t, strictly speaking, all bisexual- of the four, one explicitly mentions it (Anders), another is implied (Isabella, who, judging by her dialogue is a Captain Jack style pansexual).

    Of the others:

    1. One is available to romance by both genders, but doesn’t specify an actual preference (so, Hawke-sexual?)

    2. Another is a celibate member of the priesthood, who will admit he cares for you deeply, but won’t break his vows (there is an option, crazily enough, to become the Dragon age version of a nun, and enter a “chaste marriage” with him, but I have no idea what the male version of the romance ends at)

    3. And another has dialogue options that indicate flirting/romantic paths, but isn’t interested in you at all.

    A lot of the furor over “everyone’s bisexual, which is totally unrealistic!” comes from a misapprehension of the game- as with sports, if the ref didn’t see it, it didn’t happen. There was a similar to-do over the branching paths in Starcraft 2- at two points in the game, you have your choice of two missions, both mutually exclusive. The thing is, regardless of which you take, in one, you made the right choice (Choose to protect the colony, and they weren’t infected- choose to destroy it, and they were), in the other, arguably, you made the wrong choice. (You’ve either recruited a vengeance-crazed group of psychic operatives whose experimental treatment may have turned them into sociopaths, or betrayed your ally to kill that same group- and a minor character will give you information that the treatment didn’t affect their minds at all, but only if you’ve killed them).

    Regarding Mass effect, I think that homosexual paths have been dummied out of both the games- ME1 had an F/F relationship, but you can’t tell me that they kept the laughable beefcake conversation intro for male Shep walking up to Kaidan, and hadn’t at least considered making him a love interest. And there were apparently dummied out F/F and M/M relationships in ME2- Tali (who actually retains the almost identical “stage 1 love interest” conversation for Female Shep) and Thane (there are, IIRC, dummied out scripts in the files suggesting it, similar to KOTOR 2’s, well, entire satisfying plot)

  • Hawker40

    Girl Gamers on MMOs…
    I know irl five people who play World of Warcraft. Three are female. One is me.
    I know six people who play City of Heroes. Three are female (not the same three, but there is overlap).

    Sad to say, when dealing with unknown people on the internet, it is safer to assume you are dealing with a male pervert pretending to be a teenage girl than a actual teenage girl. Actually, on second thought, it might be better to assume you’re dealing with a vice squad officer pretending to be a teenage girl…

  • To clarify some on Dragon Age romance: As far as I can tell, there are no same-sex romances in Dragon Age outside your party. Bioware has put a lot of thought into making an internally consistent and very detailed setting, so the “it’s not supposed to be realistic” angle doesn’t fly here. In DA1 and DAA, there were only a couple romance options per gender, and it was difficult to unlock most of those options, and the gameplay balance and character ratios ensured that you spent most of your time traveling with characters who were not potential romantic options. Certain paths had extra content and plot relevance, so it was generally possible to pick out a pseudo-canonical romance along with a pseudo-canonical origin story. In DA2, the situation is reversed: you are given explicit, early opportunities to pursue romance with almost everyone you recruit, and the flirtatious lines are not exactly subtle. For me, this creates an immersion-breaking divide between the player’s sphere of influence and the world, on par with the game essentially ignoring that you are a mage, or walking into the same cave a dozen times.

    There are lots of good reasons for Bioware to go down this road. It means more players see their content, it means they can cut down the number of characters without cutting the total number of romances, it means homosexual players have 2 options instead of 1. The message I heard was not about sexuality, but that Hawke has some sort of Player Character pheromones that make her irresistible, because they only had time to implement a half-dozen characters and they didn’t want the game to feel sparse.

  • Guest at strange parties

    I hesistate to generalize my social group’s experiences to all elven-type people, but… elven otherkin I have met include a ridiculously, amazingly high percentage of genderqueer people who laugh at gender binaries. Even the ones who do identify as female or male seem less likely to care about potential sexual partners’ genitalia than the average person does, though there are still some who are 100% heterosexual or 100% homosexual. At parties I’ve been to, it often *seems* like everyone is bi, so the game may, in fact, have it about right.

    Then again, I’m a sexless cisgendered human who doesn’t always pick up on the subcultural social cues, so take what I’ve said with a good sized salt mine.

  • Inferiae

    I generally find that when people talk of ‘realism’ in video games or tabletop games, they are not actually concerned with matching the physics and social situations that exist in the real world. It is more a codeword for fitting one’s own preconceptions.
    Indeed, if one is striving for true realism in design, the game will rapidly become too complex to either create or to play, or both! The real world is a massive, complicated place.
    Personally, I believe it is a mistake to strive for ‘realism’. ‘Verisimilitude’ is a better fit for most games. In this situation, it refers to having a coherent and internally consistent game world. Have a game with a high verisimilitude makes it easier to suspend one’s disbelief, and to ‘live’ in the game world for a while.

    If the game features lizard people who breath fire, I would expect to not see them building with a lot of flammable materials (when one misplaced sneeze can burn your house down, you’ve got a problem). In terms of gender and romance, if romance is a large portion of the society presented in the game, and they only show heterosexual relationships, then it seems odd for the player to be the only gay / bi example. If romance is not focused on by the society, or is not presented in the game apart from the player, then the player’s choice won’t create a suspension of disbelief.

  • I have no experience with otherkin (and only vaguely understand what the term refers to), but in general I would expect any community that has genuinely embraced the idea that their identity is not defined by the bodies they happen to be born into to take traditional gender roles less seriously than communities that haven’t.

  • Thanks for clarifying.

    And, yes, I’d absolutely agree that if many of my adventuring allies are (potentially) queer while it seems nobody else in the world is, that creates an odd disconnect, and I can see how that would break the game’s verisimilitude. (Come to think of it, this was also my initial reaction when I first moved away to college… my environment was suddenly implausibly queer, compared to the world I’d come from, and it broke the real world’s verisimilitude for a while.)

    Anyway… so, would the game be less “immersion-breaking” for you if the world included more same-sex couples outside of the adventuring party? (e.g., if the armorer and the weaponsmith who work at the bazaar were presented as a same-sex couple?)

    Actually, now that I think about it, this might not be a bad way to train writers out of using gender stereotypes: write the scripts without reference to any character’s gender, and assign genders to characters afterwards.

  • Jim

    Wait, Jennifer Knapp is a lesbian? That’s . . . totally unsurprising, actually. I had the chance talk with her for quite some time – we had her at my college for a big hall concert and a coffee house concert, and I was her “minder” for the latter, which went so smoothly I had a lot of free time. This seems consistent with what I saw of her then, in a way that I find it difficult to articulate.

  • Madhabmatics

    Fallout: New Vegas had gay characters boy in and out of your party – although one of the ones outside of your party was pretty offensively done.

    Bonus: it had even funnier homophobic fans freaking out because they didn’t realize that “Confirmed Bachelor,” the romance perk that gave you bonuses with / against men, which had an icon of two shirtless pip-boys with one massaging another and little hearts above their head, gave you access to even more homosexual dialogue and party options.

    Even the developers commented on it! http://www.formspring.me/JESawyer/q/1792563742

  • Anonymous

    To follow up on StraightMaleGamer, he or a friend of his or a like-minded troglodyte started a petition about the middle of last week, to get David “Get over it” Gaider fired.

    As of just now, the petition has… 331 signatures. This is me trying to not giggle at work.

  • To clarify some on Dragon Age romance: As far as I can tell, there are no same-sex romances in Dragon Age outside your party…

    “…with notably rare exceptions.”

    Wade and Herren. Leliana and Marjolaine. Isabella (not a “romance” per se in Origins, but clear and canonical bi- or pan-sexuality).

    And if you’re whining that it breaks versimilitude to have to many characters that are “romanceable” by either gender, then I have to wonder whether you were complaining that DA:O lacked party members who were exclusively gay.

    What’s that? You weren’t? Then it would seem that you are actually just upset that Dragon Age doesn’t conform to your own expectations of how people’s sexualities should be.

  • Lunch Meat

    For the monotheists: With notably rare exceptions, God does not exist.

  • With notably rare exceptions, politicians are faithful to their spouses.

  • Lawfairy

    Now, now. To be fair, there are also two humans you can romance. One is a mage possessed by a spirit that makes him glow blue, and the other is a hot pirate.

  • I’ve already sexed the hot pirate! Whee! I’m going for the mage next. :)

  • Lawfairy

    I *think* you might have left out one person in your rundown of DA2 flirting/romance options? If I’m reading you right, you’ve only mentioned one of the romanceable elves.

    As for ME, funny you should mention the obvious flirting between ManShep and Kaidan. Apparently they had originally planned to make Kaidan romanceable by male PCs, but scrubbed it fairly well into development. If you have the PC version of the game there is a mod out there where you can have your male PC romance Kaidan, complete with dialogue voiced by the actors (the cutscene, however, hilarious still has a female body — they did the voice acting but not the graphics for the male/male love scene).

    The heterosexism (and double standard) in ME has been hand-waved by saying that Shepard is a less malleable character than DA protagonists and Shepard Just Isn’t Gay OK Guys (though, funny enough, even after they took a much more ME-style approach for DA2 PCs — human only, background and last name predetermined — they still allowed you to romance NPCs of either gender), and by suggesting, rather ridiculously, that because the Asari are monogendered they aren’t “really” women, even though every single Asari is voiced by a woman and has an unmistakably female figure. Trying to talk themselves out of the double standard corner is even more ridiculous in light of the fact that either Shepard can have a fling with Yeoman Chambers.

  • Anonymous

    OK, since we seem to have quite a few people here who’ve played it…Could I get a few opinions on DA2? Origins is in my Top 5 Bestest Ever games list, but I keep hearing that people who loved Origins hate 2.

  • Anonymous

    you can’t tell me that they kept the laughable beefcake conversation intro for male Shep walking up to Kaidan, and hadn’t at least considered making him a love interest.

    Dude, you need to search for Kaidan/Shep on YouTube. They must have taken out the gay romances at the last minute, because the content is still there and can be accessed (and recorded!) if you know how to edit saved games. They didn’t go quite so far as to animate the actual male/male sex scene, but the preceding conversation is fully animated and voice-acted.

    Kaidan: blah blah blah it’s been great serving under you.
    Shep: Actually, I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of you serving under me.
    *more talking, followed by makeout session and then a sex scene in which the part of Commander Shepard is played by a female model*

  • muteKi

    So apparently this is Transocean’s explanation for the bonuses their executives are getting. That they’ve had an excellent safety record this past year, with notably rare exceptions.

  • PJ Evans

    With notably rare exceptions, the natural gas pipeline system is perfectly safe.

  • Anonymous

    Robyrt: To clarify some on Dragon Age romance: As far as I can tell, there are no same-sex romances in Dragon Age outside your party. Bioware has put a lot of thought into making an internally consistent and very detailed setting, so the “it’s not supposed to be realistic” angle doesn’t fly here.

    I would think then that the best way to fix that would be to include more same-sex romances outside of the player’s party.

  • What is kind of annoying regarding this is that Bioware actually recorded same-sex romance dialogue for both Kaiden and Ashley, and the voice clips are on the disc, but they were never implimented in the game itself. Likely they just tried to get as much dialogue recording done as they could with the voice actors in case they decided to include some same-sex options with those characters. But I think that the fact that Mass Effect takes place in the future rather than in a fantasy world, while coming under scrutiny from Fox News, might have had something to do with it.

    In something like Dragon Age, Bioware can justify it as being “well, that is just how that world works.” However, in the setting of Mass Effect, they cannot include it without someone crying that it is making some kind of political statement about how gay marriage is legal in the future and the “traditional values” people lost the cultural war. Sure, the asari are a mono-gendered species of blue-skinned space women, but it does not count if they are aliens. However, if it is with humans, that creates a different kind of implication. Given how big a deal some ignorant “experts” made of Mass Effect‘s already modest sexual content, I can see why they might have been a little more timid about it than they were with Dragon Age

  • I think it’s more likely that BioWare is simply learning and growing over time. After ME1, they gained the confidence to add M/M romance options, and fuck anyone who doesn’t like it. By DA2, they realized that they could (and should) be less heteronormative, and opened up the romances to everyone. Moving forward, I think it’s about time to start talking about gender representation in their marketing (male Shepard/Hawke on 100% of promotion materials!), and about race in, well, everything.

  • Jason

    FemShep is vastly superior to ManShep anyway. Whenever I pick up the game case to put the game in my X-box I look at the box art and think, “Who is this dude? Its not Shepard.” I’d actually like some box art that somehow avoids picturing Shepard at all, since I don’t think of default Shepard as Shepard but instead as a marketing poster boy.

    My Melissa Shepard is the real Shepard. All the others are just imposters.

  • And that’s the weirdest part. Even the creators acknowledge that female Shepard is the “fan favorite,” while ridiculously (and self-fulfillingly) insisting that the male versions are more “iconic.” I know the guy in the link wasn’t speaking officially, but it’s a view clearly seen in the marketing and treatment of the female characters.

  • Lawfairy

    As someone who loves Bioware games and consumes them voraciously, the marketing is perhaps my biggest disappointment with their games. I love how dismissive they are of notion that a female commander could ever be as “iconic” as a male commander. How ridiculous, particularly in light of the fact that, as you note, even *male* fans of Mass Effect prefer FemShep to ManShep.

    The marketing is basically a way of communicating to the fans: just so we’re clear, the canon character is a man. But, hey, if y’all want to pretend he’s a girl, we’ll letcha. Like, oh, how magnanimous of them. Argh.

  • Rikalous

    I think there’s some truth to that argument, but back in 2005 they made Jade Empire, which includes a gay romance option, a lesbian romance option, and a threesome romance option. Even then the same-sex kisses don’t get shown, but the het ones do. I get that they were put under some negative scrutiny over ME’s “graphic sex scene”, but it’s annoying to see them taking steps back.

  • Dan Audy

    Actually it was almost entirely a political decision by management to avoid same-sex relationships in Mass Effect out of fear of backlash from homophobes despite the writers pushing for it. There has been a low key internal struggle within Bioware for many years with the writers wanting to create an inclusive game and management fearing that straight male gamers (their primary audience) would abandon them if ‘teh gay’ got on their games.

    Ultimately the inclusion of gay romances in DA2 can be lain almost entirely at the feet of lead writer Dave Gaider who argued that they were saying that he was good to write the romances but not have his own romantic interests reflected in their games. Luckily the feared backlash has basically not manifested (thanks Obama for giving conservatives something else to be apoplectic about) other than a handful of forum posts that the primary response was to point and laugh at them. Having had a successful set of gay romances in DA2 virtually guarantees that they will become standard in future Bioware games.

  • Moleman

    Man, the male Shepard thing is irritating, especially as it’s driven mostly by lockin from game one. And that male shepard is the only one with a high res, custom face model (which puts them in a pretty crappy position, even if they wanted to change it- you can add that for female Shepard -now-, but since more than 50% of people apparently carried a save over from 1, that would mean that a significant portion of your fanbase wouldn’t .

    Male shep isn’t as bad as he gets made out to be (adjusting for the fact that video game fandom has fallen into a binary classic for the ages/worst ever rating system of late)- Marc Meer does a good job, barring the occasional disconnect between the “investigate” and “renegade” options, (“Thank you for that polite exposition. I will now punch you in the face, pretty hard.”) which mostly dried up by the second game (It certainly didn’t hurt that the writing got better). He’s just a regionally successful Canadian actor up against Jennifer Hale, voicing the female lead in every single animated show since ever.

  • Dan Audy

    My brother is a lead programmer with Bioware and up until 3 days before the game went gold the default female name was Diana after his wife. However at the last moment the switched to John and Jane to make the generic name really generic.