There are just some thing you never, ever expect to see happen in a sane world. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the invention of the Double Down, our world is far from a sane one and crazy stuff does happen. Stuff like…
#1: People Missing Communism
Imagine yourself back in 1990. How different would your life really be from now? Let’s start with entertainment. There’d be no obesity-generating Xbox’s or PS3’s, Hugh Laurie or Angel hadn’t started making TV programmes yet, you wouldn’t be able to buy a TV that was smaller than the moon, and even if you somehow could, it wouldn’t have four hundred channels available. Fashion-wise, it’s debatable; whilst some scholars could argue that, by today’s standards, it was better back then, remember that the world was still coming out of the 1980’s and, consequently, the fluorescent hammerpants were still coming out of the closet. The internet? Forget about. Somewhat-cheap air travel? Ditto. So, despite benefiting enormously from these and many more developments, who would be mad enough to want to give it all back?
In 2006, a poll conducted by the VCIOM (one of Russia’s leading social research groups) found that over 66% of the Russian people regret the fall of the Soviet Union. Or to put it another way, two-thirds of Russia miss communism, bread-lines, and a time where the definition of a family holiday meant a trip to Lenin’s mausoleum.
“He’s still dead. Food’s nice. Wish you were here.”
At least none of the country’s leadership started all of thi-
“It must be admitted that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century”- Vladimir Putin, 2005
Goddamnit. And this movement started at a time when the worldwide economy hadn’t taken a nosedive down the toilet. In fact, many would argue that the only serious thing that happened that year was the release of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
But hey, take solace in one fact. This was, like, five years ago. Surely we would have seen some kind of signs by now. Unless you’re counting the repeated intrusions by Russian nuclear bombers into British, American, and Canadian airspace or the infamous assassination of Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko.
#2: God Loving Shoot ‘em Ups
Video games and religion have always had a tempestuous relationship. Remember the scandal in 2006 when the Church of England threatened legal action against Sony over the use of Manchester Cathedral as a location of a gun battle in Resistance: Fall of Man? How about that time when it transpired that background music in LittleBigPlanet accidentally used lyrics taken from the Quran? The worst culprit of all though? Pokemon. Christians hate it because it acknowledges evolution, promotes materialism and contains occultist themes. The Jewish hate it because of its gratuitous use of a Manji (reversed swastika). The Muslim faith hates it because it endorses Zionism and encourages gambling. The really big question though over all this though? When did Pokemon get so badass?
Pokemon as I remember it
So, it’s quite a relief to hear that a Jewish rabbi in the US recently commended a game for unflinchingly depicting the consequences of your in-game actions. Surely though, he’s got to be referring to Jewish games such as the rip-roaringly exciting Shuki or maybe the thrillingly-tense Ehud’s Courage and the Cunning Blade? Eh, no.
Here’s a quick excerpt:
“The game culminates in a thrilling battle between the Red Army and the Nazis in the Reichstag. You fight all the way up to the famous bombed-out dome, then see the defeated German army from the roof and the city of Berlin in ruins. There is simply nothing in video games that compares to storming the Reichstag.
As a Jew, being involved in virtually ending World War II allows you to experience the closest thing possible to killing the sense of victimhood created by the Holocaust. And you do it without actually hurting any real people. In fact, it’s so satisfying that when you get to shoot down the golden eagle on the Reichstag, while sniping headshots at flame-throwing Nazis, you simply don’t want the war to end.”
Again, the above section hasn’t accidentally been copied from a gaming website; it’s actually quoted in the article. Normally at this point, I’d be sitting here mocking this, but sadly I can’t because I’m running late for my Bar Mitzvah. I’ve finally found a religion that’s OK with me shooting virtual enemies in the face and I’m not going to waste any more time without it.
#3: Landmines Doing (Some) Good (Eventually)
First things first, let’s get this point sorted out. Landmines are an extraordinarily bad thing. And by god, there’s a lot of them. The United Nations and other various human rights agencies and charities estimate that at least 110 million of them are in circulation at the moment in warzones such as Korea, Bosnia, Sudan, China, Cambodia, and of course, Iraq and Afghanistan. Worse still, if you’ve kept up to date with the news any time over the past- I don’t know- 10 years, you’ll notice that many of these places aren’t even at war, or worse still, aren’t at war any more. It’s not uncommon in fact, for farmers in these regions to be harmlessly ploughing or digging their fields one minute and being blown up the next after finding a stray landmine; in fact, it’s such a problem that the act of laying landmines without recording where you put them and removing them at a later point is now a war crime.
So, it’ll certainly come as a shock to hear that the residents of the Falkland Islands recently petitioned against the removal of the 20,000 landmines left on the coastline following the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982. The reason? Penguins.
Not this type
It turns out the tuxedo-wearing little mites are too light to set off the mines, and as such, are perfectly content to just waddle around the minefields all day, safe in the knowledge that because we aren’t exactly penguin-sized, we can’t get near them. Which means no poaching, hunting, or baby-snatching can take place. As an adorable result, the penguin population of the islands is now booming at 880,000, numbers which scientists hope will push the species out of extinction. Aw. Good job landmines!