Why is Postmaster Louis DeJoy Still a Thing?

Why is Louis DeJoy still Postmaster General? He appears to have conspired with Donald Trump in his attempt to scuttle the 2020 election by destroying mail sorting machines in the middle of a pandemic that had us all relying on the Post Office in a way we hadn’t seen in generations.

Now he’s cutting services and closing Post Offices again, and I don’t understand why he’s still in his job and not up on charges of conspiracy, treason, money laundering, whatever. If he was a friend of Trump, appointed by Trump, he’s dirty. Why does he still have a job that isn’t picking up trash by the roadside in an orange jumpsuit?

I’d really like an answer to this question.

Sent to the White House

The Postal Service had been set to purchase as many as 165,000 vehicles from Oshkosh Defense, of which 10 percent would have been electric under the original procurement plan. Now it will acquire 50,000 trucks from Oshkosh, half of which will be EVs. It will also buy another 34,500 commercially available vehicles, with sufficient electric models to make 4 in 10 trucks in its delivery fleet zero-emission vehicles.

The announcement comes after 16 states, the District of Columbia, and four of the nation’s top environmental groups sued the mail agency in the spring to prevent the original purchase plan, or compel it to buy more electric trucks. Activists at a minimum want the Postal Service’s fleet to consist of at least 75 percent EVs, though the agency’s Office of Inspector General found that 95 percent of delivery routes are suitable for electrification.

washingtonpost.com

That is still not enough of a concession on your part Mr. DeJoy. You are yet another unindicted co-conspirator in the coup attempt. I will not forget the fact that I was forced to go out and vote in person in November of 2020 because you slowed the mails down to the point where I couldn’t be sure a mail-in ballot would be received and counted. You forced me to risk my life in order to do my basic duty as a citizen of the United States. I will never forget you or your crimes.

Star Trek: Afterlife

News of its death had not been exaggerated.

One of my earliest memories is of a black lady in a red miniskirt, a beehive hairdo and what I would now think of as a Bluetooth headset hanging out of her ear. There were flashing lights on the communication boards behind her and she utters the line “Hailing frequencies open, sir” then the picture cuts to a man in a mustard colored shirt in a chair. I couldn’t explain the show to my mother, I also remember that. I was mad when they took it off the air and I tried to describe to my Mom about the alien with the pointy ears and the phasers and the bright red surfaces all over the bridge. The salt monster that had terrified me a few years previously. She didn’t remember the show although I got a hug for the disappointment of not seeing my show that day.

When I came home from school one day in 1977 and found my show in reruns for the first time, I was ecstatic. I remember dragging Mom into the den to watch with me. “It was Star Trek. See? I told you Mom.” I rewatched all but two episodes in reruns over the subsequent years as I watched the show after school with my brothers and sisters who would have rather been watching anything else.

I took my first date to watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture on its premiere weekend. I was stoked. I don’t think my date was because I never saw her again after that. The Motionless Picture (as the fans dubbed it almost immediately) wasn’t like original Star Trek but it was nice to see the characters again. I had no idea that what I saw onscreen was originally intended to be a second television series pilot that they punted into a movie instead. That knowledge came later with my introduction to the Wife and fandom at large, but I could feel Gene Roddenberry’s influence in every bit of it. The subtle trekkiness of it. It was there under the different costumes and muted bridge colors.

I went to see Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan by myself the first time. I thought it was so good that I dragged my friends with me to watch it a second time. I don’t think most people today would understand what that meant to me back then in 1982. I had never spent money to watch the same movie twice before, much less 27 times to see Star Wars over and over again like some of my friends in fandom had done. This was an action film that was also a Star Trek movie, and I loved it. It wasn’t quite as distinctively Trek as the first movie. Kirk’s son denounces Starfleet as just another military organization bent on perverting their science, er, their ridiculous life-generating magic bomb into a weapon.

If you ignored the embarrassing technobabble about the science it was a great movie that expanded on one of the best episodes of the series. If you had been a fan of the show for as long as I had been by that point, the fast and loose nature of some of the science in the show was just one of the things that you learned to suspend disbelief about. After all, you can’t enjoy the show if you are busy picking it apart while you are watching it. Spock’s death scene in Wrath of Khan still makes me cry decades later even knowing they bring him back in the next movie.

On The Media – I’m Brooke Gladstone and I Am a Trekker – August 11, 2021

I can say what Brook won’t in that episode of On The Media. I was a Trekkie, not a Trekker. I used to say that it was a distinction without a difference Trekker vs. Trekkie but I’m not so certain this is true any more. The Wife and I fell in love over a box of Star Trek (and Superman!) comic books. She revealed that she was much more of a fan than I had ever been, having ordered from Roddenberry’s groundbreaking marketing arm Lincoln Enterprises pretty much as soon as it was announced. She walked around with a golden Enterprise necklace the way some people walk around with a golden cross or a St. Christopher’s medal. She had also been on the official Star Trek mailing list and attended several conventions before we even met. She could win trivia contests about the show and I could not.

I turned in my fandom pin when I met the Wife and the cadre of fans that she brought me in contact with. For example, I can’t be a true fan (the sensitive kind that wants to be called a Trekker and not a Trekkie) because I didn’t know these three characters were all played by the same actress, Diana Muldaur. I have no idea why I’d never made this connection; or why, if one of the fans I lead as Captain of a local Star Trek club alerted me to this fact, I still don’t remember that they were all the same person to this day. Trivia is a thing that I’ve never found important enough to remember, thereby earning its label of trivia. The fact of this doesn’t keep me from losing when we play trivial pursuit.

The Wife and I went to see Star Trek III: The Search For Spock together as well as every Star Trek movie after that one. Every Star Trek movie until they stopped being Star Trek movies in 2009.

When Star Trek: The Next Generation aired I began to notice the change. In movies it is easy to plot a simple story and hand-wave your way through the deeper questions of social order and the fabric of society. In a television series that has to produce (at the time) more than twenty one-hour shows each and every year, the show has to rely on the actors who appear on the show to invest more of themselves into the characters than is asked of the average movie actor. This is also true of the writers who have to produce the scripts that create the bones of the social interactions that the actors lend themselves to. It is a herculean task to create a television show even now with computer effects, short seasons and padded budgets. Back in the day when Star Trek aired, 1967-69, it was nearly an impossibility and had never been done that way for television until Desi Arnaz made it the television standard.

Speculative fiction like Star Trek is meaningless unless it reflects facets of the world outside, and the world outside the view of the television cameras had changed quite a bit since the original series had been on the air. The Vietnam war had been raging outside the camera’s range back in 1960’s America and the Cold War had dominated the lives of everyone living on the planet since the 1950’s. We were all going to die in the the thermonuclear fallout from World War III, that was the world that Star Trek was born into.

Star Trek was a breath of fresh air in that climate with it’s portrayal of a bright future where we could all get along. When The Next Generation (TNG) hit television screens we were living in that future. The predicted nuclear wars hadn’t occurred and the future was different than we expected. It wasn’t bright and it wasn’t going to get bright any time soon. The destruction of world civilization had been delayed a few generations but it was still a possibility that we all worried about, even if it wasn’t nuclear holocaust and the USSR that dominated our nightmares anymore. TNG had to be different from the future that Gene had created for his original Star Trek thirty years previously.

TNG was more militaristic for starters. The militarism was still subtle, but it was there all the same. The science was weaker, too. Star Trek made science shortcuts for reasons of storytelling and cost cutting. You can’t tell a story about characters if those characters don’t survive the journey from one planet to the next, so you introduce warp drive to shorten transit times into something more like a sea voyage. You introduce transporter tech so that you don’t have to film separate scenes of shuttles taking off and landing on each planet you visit (just don’t think about dying each time you get into the transporter only to be reborn on the planet surface) we can print food now with fabricators so the replicators in Star Trek aren’t even that much of a stretch anymore. Your flip phone that you used to love did the flip thing that it did precisely because Kirk did the flip thing with his communicator in 1967.

There were goofy stories based on the goofy tech introduced to tell the stories in the first place, but TNG made whole seasons of goofy stories about goofy science and goofy tech a thing. Which was fine, if it wasn’t a little much in the way of content to consume.

Then there was Deep Space Nine. I liked DS9 but I liked Babylon 5 more, which was interesting because the theme of a remote station on the edge of known space was a central story point that seemed to be shared between the two of them? Well, I’m sure J. Michael Straczynski doesn’t care much anymore. He got to make his show with the money that wasn’t mentioned in the settlement between him and Paramount. DS9 was better than TNG just as Babylon 5 was better than DS9. They were more real and dealt with more real subjects and didn’t seem to have so many goofy tech stories in their repertoire.

After that was Voyager and Paramount’s first betrayal of Star Trek fandom. I wanted to watch the show but wasn’t allowed to because Paramount wanted the fans to carry their UPN broadcast networks on their backs. I wasn’t having any of that. Then there was Enterprise and Nemesis:

…and I realized that there was speculative fiction that I liked and speculative fiction that I distinctly didn’t like. I probably should have thanked Paramount for the revelation that I could hate some kinds of fiction, even fiction offered under the guise of being Star Trek. I would thank them, but they weren’t done ruining Star Trek for me yet:

The Abramanations were definitively NOT Star Trek. This assessment goes far and beyond not liking story points or characterizations in these movies. I mean; red matter was an impossibility, a stupid impossibility just as Khan’s magic healing blood was a stupid impossibility in Into Darkness (Another aptly named film) There were stupid action sequences and stupid humor sequences. Too much stupid to ever be able to talk to other fans about the stupid without my having an aneurism suppressing the desire to throttle said fans as they praised the stupid; and so, I declared Star Trek dead because of those two films. But it wasn’t up to me, was it? I’m not the rights holder.

I signed up for Paramount+ recently. I signed up because I wanted to watch Picard and Woman in Motion. (I still need to watch that, now that I think about it. We miss you already Nichelle) I like the actors in Picard and I like the characters that they are reprising in the series; so I watched it, and it was better than I had expected it would be. It was so much better than I expected that I talked the Wife into watching it. She also liked it. Could it have been better? Come on, it always could be better. It was good for what it was, a tribute to the shows and characters that have come and gone in Star Trek history. Was it really Star Trek? I think you could say it was. TNG Star Trek if not classic Star Trek.

(Et in Arcadia Ego one and two. The Eclogues)

I would have preferred if they had ended it in season one, but they made season two; and after finishing watching season two I had to say it was also worth watching. I won’t hold my breath for season three but I will probably watch that too despite reservations.

However, Paramount+ kept showing me ads for Discovery and Strange New Worlds at the beginning of each episode of Picard. After I had watched all of Picard that there was the watch, I decided I might try Strange New Worlds. It was, after all, about Captain Pike, Kirk’s predecessor as captain of the Enterprise. Unlike the show, Enterprise, which was not part of Star Trek canon in even the slightest sense (there was no warp capable ship called Enterprise before the one mentioned in the original Star Trek) Captain Pike had been established as being part of the Star Trek universe from the very beginning. Even before the beginning of the show itself since it represents the premiere of the show that could have been but wasn’t (See The Cage for those who aren’t Trek nerds) so I started the first episode and hit my first snag.

Pike had appeared in Discovery before Paramount had decided to create Strange New Worlds. Was I willing to try to suspend disbelief for two seasons of a show that I already knew was bad? I mean, I had panned Discovery claiming worlds with the Federation flag in advertising a few years ago, could I watch two seasons of the show knowing that they were probably going to do horrible things to my beloved Star Trek? I’d survived the Abramanations, I thought to myself. Surely I can survive two seasons of Discovery.

Oh, how wrong I was. It started with the first episode of the series. The ship, Discovery, travels on magic mushrooms. No, I am not kidding when I say that. They are mushrooms and they are magical; ergo magic mushrooms. Magic mushrooms, spore trails through sub-space, or whatever technobabble you want to make up. Same fucking difference. Might as well chew a fungus and go their in your dreams. Your dreams will be better, I can promise you this.

I made it to the end of season one. I don’t know how. The story arc itself might have been interesting enough to hold my attention if only EVERY SINGLE THING about the show didn’t pop me right out of the ability to suspend disbelief with an audible WTF!?! Giant tardigrades. Microscopic critters that could eat you whole. The entire saucer section of the ship, when they start up the magic mushroom drive, spins. There are people on those parts of the ship, and it spins like a gyroscope. Even in the Star Trek universe there ain’t inertial dampeners strong enough to negate those forces, so how does the crew survive? They never even address it.

When Pike popped onto the ship at the end of season one, I knew that I could not watch season two and put him in with the crew of Discovery and their magic mushroom driven atrocity. So I stopped watching and haven’t been back.

I wouldn’t even be writing about this now if William Shatner hadn’t called out the current crop of Trek wannabes for not being Star Trek. That got their attention. William Shatner says that our Trek isn’t Trek enough? Where does he come off saying that? They offer up Gene Roddenberry’s panning of Star Trek V, as if that is proof that Bill Shatner doesn’t know what he is talking about.

On June 3, 1987, Roddenberry wrote a memo to Shatner expressing his distaste for the story. “Bill, as you undoubtedly know, I expressed to Harve Bennett at lunch last Monday my deep disappointment in the proposed Star Trek V film story,” Roddenberry wrote. “I simply cannot support a story which has our intelligent and insightful crew mesmerized by a 23rd Century religious charlatan.”

Roddenberry went on to point out that Shatner had previously agreed to recognize using religion in the script, which Roddenberry felt was unsuitable for the post-religious world he had created in TOS. The memo continued: “I had also thought that we had a clear understanding, man to man, that I would be consulted before any story went to screenplay.”

Roddenberry was so upset by the narrative Shatner had proposed that he also wrote similar letters to Bennett (who ignored him and appears in a cameo role in the final cut), his lawyer Leonard Maizlish, and head of the studio Frank Mancuso. In fact, Roddenberry was so incensed by the narrative direction Shatner had chosen, that he also wrote to sci-fi literary legends Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke to enlist their help in discouraging the studio from making the film. Both authors sent letters agreeing with Roddenberry’s position: Star Trek V “wasn’t Star Trek.”

movieweb.com

You know what? Gene was right. Spock had no brother, ergo Star Trek V couldn’t have been canon and probably shouldn’t be considered Star Trek. So what? Citing authority about Shatner’s work has no bearing on what that same authority might say about your work, your favorite new shiny thing that you love so much.

Bill happens to be right, at least when it comes to Discovery. That show is a joke and the actors involved, while very talented and dedicated, should have insisted on there being science advisors on the show during filming and during the writing process. Paramount should have cared enough about their property, Star Trek, so as to not dilute it with the crap that they’ve made under the Star Trek mantle since Gene’s death. I don’t care what Gene’s son thinks about the shows, either. Gene Roddenberry, the great bird of the galaxy himself, laid it all out in the Star Trek bible.

I’m a little unclear about technological devices of the future.
Can we invent anything which sounds reasonable?

Simply think of something logical, with some kind of science
or projected-science basis. Generally best are projections
of things we have now or which science is beginning to
build now. For example, in the pilot we had a hospital bed
which continually monitored all the key bodily functions,
and in fact some advanced hospitals today are already doing
part of this and working on further improvements.

Star Trek Writers Guide

Magic mushroom drives do not meet that standard. Discovery is not Star Trek just as the 2009 movie and Into Darkness are not Star Trek because the crap they came up with to explain their plot points doesn’t make fucking sense. I rest my case. There will be more written here if I ever make myself sit down and watch Strange New Worlds. I don’t suggest you hold your breath on that subject, either.

In the meantime I will say this. I was a Trekkie. I might still call myself a Trekkie if that means I can isolate myself from the Trekkers that think that magic mushroom drives, magic healing blood and red matter are things they want to be mystified by; otherwise Star Trek is even deader in my estimation than it was in 2009. Bill Shatner, you are right once again.

Lying Phones

I sent a random text to a random stranger. In response I get this message:

I’m driving with Do Not Disturb While Driving turned on. I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going.

(I’m not receiving notifications. If this is urgent, reply “urgent” to send a notification through with your original message.)

We’ve all seen this message a few times now from iPhone users, the not helpful at all lie from holier than though iZombies who can’t be bothered while they are driving. If this person is like the other people who do this, then it would be more accurate to say something like the following:

I’m ignoring distractions while driving. You should thank me for this because I am normally an example of short attention span theater. Unfortunately for you I will forget to check messages when I get where I am going. You can text again, but you will only get this annoying message again. You can try the mystical “urgent” reply if you want. Good luck with that.

You might try emailing me next, but my inbox has in excess of forty thousand unread messages in it and the chances of me seeing your insignificant note are somewhere between slim and none. Again, you can try marking the message urgent but there are probably ten thousand of those unread in my inbox. My apologies for the insult and inconvenience of attempting to get my attention.

If you would like to actually communicate with me you will need to call me. One call will not be enough because I won’t pick up the phone the first time and my voicemail inbox is full since it won’t let me store unnumbered messages the way my email inbox does. You will need to call at random times for at least two days in order to get my attention. Again, I apologize for the insult and inconvenience of this effort you have embarked on.

If you ever do get to talk to me be assured that it will make your day, for I am the golden radiance that makes the day worth living for all of the people who speak to me. Please be patient and surprise me with a phone call when I’m not talking to another supplicant of your standing. We do thank you for your patience and wish you good luck in your other endeavors for you will likely have none here.

Yeah. Something more like that.

(24 carat gold iPhone? Yeah, that’s a thing.)

MAGA: Trump Can’t Fix This

The mindless stupidity of his supporters is what I find most depressing. Mindless stupidity that takes McCarthy’s statements at face value. How would you prove any of his claims? Why would today be any different no matter who the President was?

I can tell you the answer; it wouldn’t be better, it would be worse. Why? Because Trump didn’t even have a plan to roll out vaccinations. Trump has no knowledge of economics. No knowledge of science. He has nothing beyond bluster and charisma to draw on.

What might have made things better is if more people had voted Democratic down ballot in 2020 and put a solid Democratic majority in the Senate. That would have at least made a difference.

As it is now, in 2022, we are still bargaining with traitors in the form of Joe Manchin and the entire Republican caucus; a traitor because he holds the country hostage for his own personal benefits. He’s not a Democrat, he’s a Trumpist sympathizer. He’s a benefactor of 40 years of Reaganism. He’s wealthy from the dirtiest of power sources and wants to continue to profit from them. His backers in West Virginia are marginal Trumpists themselves and still solidly lovers of Reagan. They still think their god is going to save them. They still think their god wants them to have lots of money so they can get into heaven and they are planning to herald his second coming, soon. They are the stupid people, just like the people who still support Trump.

Oh, sure. Joe Manchin’s changed his tune now because he can see the writing on the wall. Anyone who’s paying attention can. This murderous world-wide heatwave is impossible to ignore unless you are a complete idiot. Now he wants to get onboard. Now he wants to be a Democrat like his President is. It may be too late though. It should be too late for him to change sides and be accepted as one of us, one of the people who aren’t blinded by greed and politics.

Trump can’t fix this. Republicans are incapable of fixing this. They have denied science for so long that they can’t even tell the difference between rain and being pissed on by their own political leaders. The economy is improving from Trump’s unprecedented failure at stopping a pandemic and two-time impeached catastrophic failure as a President. The Democrats are demonstrating the criminal nature of Trumpismo and the current Republican party with facts, live testimony under oath and recorded video footage and the leader of the party in the House is telling us “who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?”

Republicans have made the the 2022 Midterms all about Trump and his wounded pride at being solidly trounced in the 2020 Presidential election. He has forced the Republicans to make this election about him, and so you have McCarthy talking about how Trump could make the country better as if Trump isn’t the reason the country is suffering right now, and we all know it. Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, we know this is what Trump created as President. This thing we are living through right now.

Look in the mirror. Stare into your own eyes and admit this truth to yourself. Then go out and fix the problem that your votes created in 2016 and 2020.

The only solution to the crisis we are in now is to vote more Democrats into office, nationally. More Democrats and solid independents into office locally. Republicans will be compromised for a generation now; that is what the blind jingoism of FOX and it’s zombie Reaganisim over the last two score of years have gotten us. A functionally one-party political system incapable of governing without super majorities.

The California model can’t spread fast enough, in my estimation. We have to fix the primary systems across this country so that only smart, popular people with sane ideas can ever rise to the top of the political system. Only then can we be safe from the stupid people who threaten to burn us all to death with their off-gassing.

Because only Donald Trump loves America enough to give you a pony.

facebook/Stonekettle

The End of Word of Warcraft?

I take a walk through my long history of association with Blizzard games. An association that may soon end one way or the other.

When Blizzard announced their intention to create a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMO or MMORPG) out of their Warcraft real time strategy (RTS) gaming franchise, I dismissed it out of hand:

World of Warcraft? Oh, Diablo with no set storyline and no ending. That’s stupid.

That was me in 2003 while I was finishing Warcraft III’s expansion The Frozen Throne and reacting to the included teaser for the soon to be released World of Warcraft. I liked RTS gaming and I didn’t like the online gaming world very much; much less have the time and money to devote to one game out of the many that I was already playing at the time.

People who aren’t immersed in gaming culture may not understand the differences between these kinds of games. I can understand the confusion. The story I’m going to tell with this article may or may not require you to understand the varying kinds of games I’m going to talk about, the story of the evolution of World of Warcraft itself that I want this article to be about, but let’s start on this journey and see where it takes us anyway.

Diablo was a basic multiplayer game that Blizzard created alongside their Warcraft and Starcraft head-to-head or RTS games back in the 1990’s. Diablo was out at the same time as Ultima Online in 1997. It was very similar to what the first MMO’s looked like in testing, although it’s limited online access made it more playable than most of the original MMOs. The networks were slow and not very dependable back then. Diablo was a local area network (LAN) game that you could play competitively or cooperatively with other people on your local network. Basically; you could play with anyone who had a computer physically connected to your computer, back in the days before everything was online.

As everything online all the time began to become a thing, Diablo moved online with Diablo II and it’s online network, following the examples of the earlier entries, the first true MMOs; and with the birth of online networked games was born griefing and corpse camping and a whole host of toxic behaviors among gamers that are too numerous to mention. The fact that I recognized World of Warcraft as a directionless version of Diablo II, with the activities in-game being even less directed than the pretty one-directional type of play that Diablo II allowed, explains why I’m not a fan of player versus player (PvP) or competitive gaming in any form. In Diablo II you could have open world games that anyone could join; and most of the time what you got when you created an open-world game that anyone could join was griefers and con-artists that screwed you out of loot and left you dead while they laughed at you. This was in a game that had no market to speak of, and so no reason to screw over other players other than just to be mean at someone else’s expense. This kind of behavior happened more often than not, a sad observation on the quality of the average online human being.

That was my first experience with PvP play. This is why I still don’t PvP much and I don’t like PvP unless I’m ganking players as a rogue or healing on a Resto Druid or a Holy Paladin. A shiv in the back is what the average opponent deserves because payback is a bitch. Give me a class that can shiv you and steal honor from you as a designed game interaction, and I’m going to be there feeling your pulse through the pommel of my dagger. But enough about my personal revenge fantasies.

On November 23, 2004, the succubus of MMORPGs was born:

MadSeasonShowWorld of Warcraft – Pandora’s Box – Dec 24, 2021

It’s strategy of appealing to the casual gamer worked well. A little too well. Blizzard in now way was ready for the frenzy of players eager to get into the world. Disconnects, Rollback and lag would persist heavily throughout the opening months and still consistently though the next couple of years.

Forums daily would be filled with outrage, demands for a refund and even threats of lawsuits. The miraculous thing about it though is that it didn’t even seem to slow it’s growth.

It is the succubus because World of Warcraft sucked the life out of all the other MMOs that existed before it and took down many a challenger through its long years of existence since.

To say I was less than enthusiastic about World of Warcraft would be an understatement. I only started playing the game because a friend asked me to help him keep his online gaming hobby going for a little bit longer. He was dying of cancer. I was about to commit suicide. He saw my depression and despair and he threw me a lifeline in the form of connection through online gaming that essentially saved my life:

I showed up in the game as it was changing from Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King, about the same time that Activision bought Vivendi and Blizzard, although I didn’t know it then. From the start I restricted myself to servers that did not allow World PvP combat unless the players are interested in engaging in that type of play by marking themselves PvP. It was the reassurance that I did not have to engage in PvP if I wanted to that gave me the room to explore World of Warcraft in the first place. I wasn’t interested in participating in other people’s fantasies about blood and glory, especially if I was exploring or experiencing the lore and atmospherics of the world that Blizzard created. Open world PvP has never appealed to me, just as open world boss fights never appealed to me. I avoid both if I can.

Wrath of the Lich King (Wrath) fixed the thing that most annoyed me about The Burning Crusade (BC) as I experienced it. Leveling in BC was a solitary affair, a slightly less grindy experience than the original game had been. The only way that you could find players to play low-level content with was to join a guild and hope to find players who were at the same level that you were. It was almost impossible to find someone out in the world at your level who was looking to complete multiplayer areas at the same time that you were, much less find four other players to complete a multi-hour five man dungeon. In all the time I played BC I only found a dungeon group once and that experience was not a positive one.

Then came Wrath and it was suddenly possible to find a group to do things together with. For the first time in my experience playing WoW it became possible to complete the content as I imagined that the developers had intended. It was only one of many social changes to the game itself, but the Looking for Group (LFG) system made the game actually playable for the first time.

Time flies when you are having fun. Time flew for me in Wrath, Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria despite my dissatisfaction with several points of gameplay along the way. Time flew until I hit the wall of the Iron Horde and Warlords of Draenor, of having Khadgar lead me by the hand through content that seemed exceptionally tailored to waste the maximum amount of player time.

They took away my flying mounts that I had paid for with real money, because they wanted to make sure that you had to fight your way, repeatedly, through barriers put there just to slow you down in completing parts of the game that required you to move across the map repetitively. Gone with my ability to fly was my interest in professions, an integral part of the game for me up to that point.

No more crafting my own gear, feeding my own toons, crafting time-saving devices for my raiding guild. It would take too much time to get around to get the materials for these things. Gone was the pet battling side game, gone was the possibility of doing archeology (not that I liked it that much to begin with) gone was my fun.

Instead of taking the time to make the story of the Iron Horde interesting for all players (Alliance players deemed the Alpha of the game too Horde centered and so the developers removed whole swaths of planned content) they put all the focus of gameplay into running random dungeons. The raiders I played with were so focused on just running random dungeons until hitting max level that I decided I wouldn’t queue for dungeons at all. After two long years the next expansion of the game, Legion was finally released and I penned:

I canceled my subscription to World of Warcraft for the first time since I started paying them for monthly access in 2008. I spent almost two years away from the game, playing whatever I liked as I had done for many, many years before that. I played other Blizzard games as well as games from other companies. I came back to the game because I missed my friends that I had established over the years raiding with them. I came back and started to play again in order to experience the content for Legion before it too became surpassed, like all the other expansions before it.

I pre-purchased Battle for Azeroth, and why not? The game developers had decided that they would not keep me from flying in-game, taking away content that I had paid money for and could rightly sue over if they were still doing business and claiming that the game that I had paid for was still active. I was ecstatic from a player’s perspective. Was it as good as it could have been? No, but then it was worlds better than Warlords of Dreanor was even before they took out half the content for that expansion.

Battle for Azeroth was by far the best expansion to be released since at least Wrath. The gameplay seemed designed to bring the players back to the original game and the intent of the original game and its associated lore. So many of the areas were designed to remind the players of content from previous games (Did anyone else see Nazmir for the first time and say “ah, Flayer Jungle? I thought so) I just didn’t do the mindlessly repetitive islands or worry too much about the world battle zones that seemed pretty pointless. But then came Shadowlands, the current expansion.

The less said about Shadowlands, the better. I only bought this expansion so that I could continue raiding with my guildmates; and I only enjoyed that part of the game, the story being so patently not part of World of Warcraft lore that I failed to see why most of my characters would ever go there other than to save the soul of Azeroth (who knew Azeroth had a soul? A world-soul? Anyone? Apparently this was a thing revealed in Legion, if you read between the lines or read the books) an utterly forgettable expansion, all in all. Like BC, I won’t be going back to play this part of the game again.

The next expansion for World of Warcraft, Dragonflight, is due out by the end of the year, and once again I find myself wondering why I’m playing this game at all. Dragons are great, but I think there’s a fly in the ointment here, Blizzard.

In a tweet earlier this week, Nguyen explained that Blizzard made approximately $2.6M in sales for the crowdfunding toy, but only increased the AWC prize pool by $50K.

esportsobserver.com

Activision Blizzard has a few problems of its own to work out before they can convince me that spending money on their games is a thing that I want to do again.

Classic World of Warcraft?

It began with Nostalrius, an independent server running a mock-up of the original version of World of Warcraft’s server software. Activision Blizzard was able to get the server shut down, but the player demand that they have access to the classic game was loud enough that the owners of the content relented and allowed a competing version of their own game to exist on their own servers.

Classic WoW came into existence at the end of 2019 and for those of us who played it, the downsides of the original game were there to be cataloged. No guild banks. They weren’t in vanilla/classic. No way to realistically find guilds within the game structure itself. It is a lie that Blizzard tells, when it claims that Classic WoW is exactly the way it was when the game was introduced. It is not. The player base is different and there are significant differences in Blizzard’s monetization strategy visible in the purchase offerings for those classic games.

With the roll-out of Classic Burning Crusade you can now boost to get to BC content, for the first time ever. That is one example. I would have loved to have that option available to me when I subscribed back in 2008. Maybe I would have understood then that real gameplay only occurs at max level as far as Blizzard and the players it caters to are concerned. That would have been a highly valued bit of information, and it would have saved me an immense amount of time trying to play a completionist version of World of Warcraft. Just run to max level and skip the distractions. That would be the advice I offer new players today.

The original game and Burning Crusade still remain flawed in crucial ways. There is no system in-game for organizing groups and doing the one thing that MMO’s were set up to do; namely play in massively multiplayer areas of the game. There are no guild advantages in-game aside from the ability to create a guild. There is no guild bank in the original game, making organizing groups the only reason to have a guild since joining a guild is the only way to organize anything in-game. Cross-server looking for group and looking for raid functions did not exist until late in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, with patch 3.3.0 Fall of the Lich King. This makes dungeoning and raiding in both World of Warcraft and Burning Crusade the same kind of torture it always was, with one crucial difference.

In the classic versions of the game, there are elitist players who cater to the newbs so long as they obtain large quantities of in-game currency to pay them with. The black market for gold has never been larger or more vibrant than it is in World of Warcraft Classic. You are constantly barraged with offers (WTS) to lead you through dungeons on the public text channels. Just have a fat purse for them to loot in the process and you are good to go. Raids remain the domain of guilds and elites that come prepared to join the few pick-up groups that do manage to be created in the hobbled universe that was World of Warcraft and Burning Crusade.

I would have been more impressed with Blizzard’s classic roll-out if they had put forth the effort to incorporate the classic game into the current retail version of World of Warcraft, allowing all the expansions to be played directly together from one login. I erroneously assumed that was the reason that they proposed the level squish at the beginning of Shadowlands. With max level returning to level 60, all raids could be played at max level as if they were current content! What a feast that would have been to experience. Alas, they did not take that route and instead made everything before Shadowlands irrelevant to end-game play; just as each succeeding expansion has made previous content not only irrelevant, but apparently despised and envied in the eyes of the programmers who created it.

As they said when fans were putting the Nostalrius server together:

Why would anyone want to play that old game?

Apparently they have figured out that there is money to be mined from nostalgia, just as Hollywood did the first time they remade a silent and then black and white movie. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Vanilla WoW is as gone as 2008. I’m certain I don’t want to go back to 2008, either.

Wrath Ain’t Gonna Be Classic, Either

The proposed Classic version of Blizzard’s third expansion of World of Warcraft is premiering soon, and I have extremely mixed feelings on the subject; even though, as I’ve said many times, it is my favorite expansion of the game. Blizzard announced several weeks ago that they will be removing the dungeon finder tool that came with Wrath in the initial release and won’t be rolling out the looking for group/raid tools that came out with the Icecrown Citadel raid shortly before the end of that expansion of the game.

When I heard this news I resolved that I wasn’t going to be playing the game. It won’t be Classic. Classic would be slavishly following the patterns that evolved over the course of the expansion, just like they’ve slavishly done with the crappy group interface that was present in the original game and the slightly less crappy group interface that was in Burning Crusade. To this day there still aren’t guild banks in Classic unless the guild sets aside alternate characters to act as guild banks and all the risk that operation entails. The guild-finding interface is essentially non-existent and the same goes for group-finding.

I understand this slavish devotion to the past for what it is. The developers know the game is broken in this area. The players know the game is broken, but they liked their work-arounds for it better than the work-arounds that Blizzard introduced with Wrath and then evolved with each expansion after that one. The developers and the accountants at Blizzard want to make sure that the best version of World of Warcraft is the current version and not the classic version, that is what this slavish devotion to history represents. They created competition for their current content development based on player demand, but they want to make sure that if you want the most inclusive feel to your gameplay, you have to play the retail version of World of Warcraft, pay for the retail version of the game.

Their decision to not include the first cludgy version of Raid Finder/Looking For Group proves this base motivation of theirs. There will be no attempt to make the Classic games more playable than they initially were. Which is a sad development from a player’s perspective.

No Easy Fix Even With Dragons

This isn’t about making things easier. The Wife has said for years addons are cheating, and I understand what she means by that observation. If you walked into a Shadowlands raid without installing Deadly Boss Mods (DBM) or some equivalent raid training software, you’d be dead within a few minutes. I use DBM and the Raid Finder available in retail WoW together as a replacement for watching videos about particular raid fights, which is also cheating in the scheme of things. If you think that fights in the current game are too easy, delete your addons and don’t watch instructional videos. Let’s see how long you last that way. If you think that flying makes the game too easy, I invite Blizzard to make uninterrupted flight more difficult. I loathe being knocked off of any mount in game, but if that is what it takes to have access to the parts of the game I’ve paid for, then so be it. Don’t wave your hands and talk about immersion when what you mean is “we want to cut corners.” Don’t make me pay for stuff that you aren’t going to include in the same game I’m still technically playing.

They’re upping the levels to 70 again in Dragonflight after squishing them to 60 from a whopping 120 just two years ago. They don’t appear to have learned their lesson when it comes to just adding more levels onto an existing game, so they’re going to go through the process again and again until they do learn. Leveling in modern games is so streamlined as to beg the question why? Why is this part of the game at all? Just gate content behind other content and let the players progress through content or not as they see fit. What does leveling bring to the game if it doesn’t introduce new spells and teach you how to play your class better during this introduction?

In Shadowlands the leveling to 50 is effortless. Leveling is so effortless that you can easily find it meaningless. I honestly don’t know what purpose leveling serves, I just know that it’s been part of Sword and Sorcery games since Dungeons and Dragons, and leveling there meant more because you had to do all the math yourself. Math so daunting that I never managed to successfully complete a game once I had finally rolled up a character to play, much less achieve top level in the D&D system. Why are we still doing this, putting numbers on levels? Why?

I don’t understand this problem with getting groups together on the one hand, and forcing me to go to random dungeons in order to get through the leveling process more quickly on the other. Why are these the only two options available for organizing groups? Why not allow summoning at meeting stones in all Classic versions of the game just as it is in the retail version? Why not allow people to list themselves for that specific dungeon right at the stone, across all the servers where that dungeon is available? Why must I spam world chat channels looking to complete content that should be completable at level without having to annoy other gamers or buy gold to pay the boosters with? Why do dungeons have to be queued for and run randomly? Why is that the default? Why isn’t the story flow respected? Narrative is key to storytelling. Game developers should respect this basic understanding. Respect the narrative and maybe your player base will do the same.

Why do I have to have different characters to play the same game? That is the most important point I’d like to make. Why is my main character not my main character across all the various flavors of this game that is supposed to be the same game? Why are there servers that split us all up into groups so small we can’t do group content?

Most importantly among this list of suggestions and complaints about the games themselves, there is the culture of the business that my dollars contribute to the continuance of by purchasing the games. Bobby Kotick will get $500 million for handing Activision Blizzard over to Microsoft. I’m not sure that he deserves a dime more than he’s already taken in for himself. Microsoft itself may be a step up for Blizzard even though I consider Microsoft to be one of the least forward thinking of any software or gaming companies that I know of. At least it isn’t known to be a raging cesspool of sexual misconduct and does occasionally produce software that is worth investing in (to this day I remain stuck in the Windows operating system even though I spent a decade trying to get out of it. It just works right out of the box, which is more than I can say for Linux) so this might actually be a good thing for World of Warcraft as a franchise and for the player base as a group. Who knows?

What I do know is that I’m ready to play something else now. I simply don’t know what I will play. I might purchase Dragonflight and I also might not. If I do, I won’t be playing the game at anything close to the amount of time that I have historically invested in the game. One class only. The minimum work in professions necessary to advance to endgame and participate in raids (the only reason I’m there now) I’ll just have to see what the future holds for me and for Microsoft’s treatment of Blizzard properties. What the future holds in the way of new games from people who used to work for Blizzard but now compete with it at new companies.

My gaming world has been dominated by Blizzard games for more than twenty years. I raised my children playing Starcraft, Diablo and World of Warcraft with them. It would be a shame to see the company fall to ruin because of the shortsightedness of the business community, the sexual predation of some men who worked there. In the meantime, I think I have a few other games to get back to that I still haven’t finished yet.

Political Participation

Yeah, I know we all have important professional lives and personal lives, and it’s a sacrifice to get involved in these civic things that I’m talking about. But there’s joy to be found in that if you dedicate an hour or two a week to do something that is going to make this democracy better, stronger, something of a civic nature. It’s not going to necessarily be easy, but you’re going to feel better about yourself at the conclusion of that week. And in fact, our democracy is going to be stronger. There is joy to be found in this struggle, and that is what people should not forget.

Eric Holder
Amicus – Eric Holder’s Supreme Court Protest – JULY 16, 2022

Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote-A History, a Crisis, a Plan by Eric Holder

WE BEAT TRUMP, NOW LET’S SAVE DEMOCRACY

Meniere’s Testing

Back at the dawn of my personal Meniere’s experiences, I had been having what I saw as seasonal afflictions of tinnitus and ear pressure that I treated with Sudafed Non-Drying Sinus, an over the counter allergy medication. When the vertigo started to present itself along with the tinnitus and the ear pressure, which is also when I started to notice permanent changes in my hearing, I had no treatment options that I could fall back on because the nausea and the vertigo of spinning was something that I had merely endured as a child. That kind of vertigo was something that you braced yourself to endure until it passed; which was generally less than an hour’s time, sometimes even less than a minute. I had never experienced an extended bout of vertigo like the ones that started to take over my life back in 2001-3 when my life took a left-turn into the land of near-permanent spinning.

The first time that I spent the night on the bathroom floor suffering from vertigo; spinning, vomiting and then unconscious (the first time that wasn’t related to drinking far too many shots of liquor) I made an appointment with an otolaryngologist (ENT) and asked open questions about what these seemingly-related symptoms meant rather than assuming that they were just allergies or some other thing that I could easily treat with over the counter medication.

The second ENT gave me my first caloric stimulation test, warm and cold water in the ears. Light bars on the wall that I was supposed to track. They couldn’t tell me what was wrong with me, but even this inconclusive attempt at an assessment was better than the first ENT that I saw. That guy told me I was mental and needed a psychiatrist. That might have been a true observation at the time, but I wasn’t there for advice on my mental makeup. I was there to stop the vertigo and nothing more or less than that.

The third ENT gave me my first thorough battery of tests (thank you Dr. Thompson) Electronystagmography (ENG) and caloric stimulation, this time with hot and cold air. I have had audiograms run on my hearing for most of my life because of my frequent childhood ear and sinus infections. This was the first time that they showed me the results for one. There was a noticeable drop in the hearing in the left ear. That ENT first said the word Meniere’s to me.

Several of the ENTs I saw over the time I spent trying to figure out where the vertigo came from performed various versions of videonystagmography (VNG) and head-impulse tests (HIT) although they never explained what it was they were looking for until long after I had the Meniere’s diagnosis and I started asking tougher questions of everyone around me.

I’ve had several CAT scans over the years, the most recent one was run specifically to rule out superior semicircular canal dehiscence (missing or abnormally thin bone structure over the inner ear canals) I’ve also had several MRIs or magnetic resonance imaging tests run over the years. The brain looks good. The problem is in the ears.

I’m seeing a new ENT these days and they’ve decided that some essential tests were missed in my original diagnosis. I don’t know why they are questioning the diagnosis now but I’m not hostile to finding an alternative explanation and treatment for my symptoms, either.

The test that they currently want to run is an Electrocochleography (ECOG/ECOCHG) I’ve never had an ECOCHG before and was confused when the subject first came up in the Meniere’s subreddit because they kept calling it an ECoG, which is a widely-known experimental procedure involving placing electrodes directly on the brain. I couldn’t imagine how it could be a common test conducted on patients suffering acute vertigo. As it turns out I was right, but for the wrong reason. Par for the course.

Once that confusion was cleared up on my part I was curious to know what that test was like and what it might show for me. I was curious enough to initially agree to undergo the test when it was suggested. However, I’m beginning to have second thoughts on the subject.

I don’t think that much can be revealed from an ECOCHG now aside from ruling out a Meniere’s diagnosis, something that will not get me any closer to the kinds of answer that I as a sufferer will find helpful. I don’t really care what you call this collective group of symptoms, what I want to find is a cause and through that discovery find a more useful treatment.

From the very beginning of my symptoms I have been convinced that there is an autoimmune-caused quotient of the overall problem. While I have had several blood tests to rule out autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED) and other commonly known autoimmune issues that can cause the symptoms I have, none of them have come up as positive and so none of them have produced results that I found useful.

I remain convinced that this is true in spite of there being any evidence to back up this belief of mine. Betahistine and Guaifenesin added to the treatments that I already undergo for hypertension seem to be the most useful medications at preventing ear pressure and vertigo. I can’t get past these facts. An allergy treatment and the most common Meniere’s treatment in the world are the two drugs that produce positive results for me aside from just basic rest and exercise. This has to mean something.

Real Checks and Balances With a SCOTUS That is a Political Actor

This is what the court has been building over the last several terms is a pretty novel and historically unprecedented approach to the rights secured in the Constitution; which is that there are certain rights which are first class rights or top tier rights; and other rights which, if they exist at all, are really lower level, less important rights.

We’ve seen a kind of layering, particularly the end of this term, of the vulnerability of women and other people who could be pregnant, seemingly invisible to the Constitution, and the vulnerability of white men being hyper visible to the Constitution and gun rights and religious liberties are going to come to the rescue. This kind of tiering of rights is something new, and it’s certainly not something that the framers, even if that was where we wanted to anchor the meaning of these rights, had in mind, I think, in creating an ecology of rights among all of the rights that are secured in the Constitution, in ways that doesn’t elevate any other over any others.

Katherine Franke James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University

Why do people listen to us when we decide that the 14th Amendment requires one thing or another thing? Because it’s not necessarily the text. You know the text of the 14th Amendment or any other amendment in the Constitution is so vague. Like “Congress shall make no law” in the First Amendment. Yet Congress makes all sorts of laws that restrict speech or religion. So it’s not just the text, it’s what makes the court’s opinion better than others. And the court’s answer in Casey is it uses the term legitimacy and it says the court’s power lies in its legitimacy, which it defines as “…a product of substance and perception that shows itself in the people’s acceptance of the judiciary as fit to determine what the nation’s law means and to declare what it demands.” And what the court meant by that was; the reason why the court has power is because people think what the court does is engage in principled decision making. And to the extent that the public did not think that the court engages in principal decision making, they wouldn’t take it seriously.

All of the rules that you are describing, all the precedents that you are quoting is just cover for what we all know you’re going to do because you’re Sam Alito, and so to the extent that the court thinks we’re just going to automatically assume there’s a difference between an opinion like Dobbs and Mitch McConnell’s press release. I think that’s an unwarranted assumption, but it’s a cultural one and it’s a cultural force of the court’s power. And so what I am drawing optimism from at this moment is the extent to which members of Congress and the public are looking at these opinions and saying, you know, it’s not like the Constitution demands these outcomes. It’s not like these are the only outcomes you can think of.

In fact, the court is overruling itself, reaching alternative conclusions. And so we don’t have to live in a system in which children are getting shot every day. And we can’t do anything about climate change. And people are forced to birth when they don’t want to. Like all of these things, we don’t have to live in this system just because the court says so. And so the court is not worried about that, but I think it should be.

I think one notable thing about the court is for all of its contempt of Congress, almost every decision that it issued this term could be reversed by a simple statute passed by a majority of both Houses. So, Congress could in effect reverse Dobbs by enacting the Women’s Health Protection Act or a stronger version of it. The Supreme Court allowed Oklahoma and every state to regulate tribes by exercising enforcing its criminal law in Indian country. Congress could just pass a law saying, no, that was wrong. Please try again. The court harmed the EPA’s ability to regulate climate change. Congress could enact legislation to say that was a mistaken interpretation of our statute. The court reinforced qualified immunity this term. Congress could abolish qualified immunity and say “if you’re a police officer and you shoot somebody, you can go to court so that they can recover some damages for their loss of life.” Basically, everything the court did this term can in theory be limited by a statute. Even the decisions that reinforce gun rights or religious liberty could be modified by Congress, especially a Congress motivated enough.

But I think that that risk, the risk that Congress is going to pass bad laws, is a risk that in a democracy we have to take. We have to take the risk that in a democratic legislature, it’s going to enact laws we do not like. Instead, we have this system where we’re so fearful of what Congress might do that we have basically every possible veto we can think of; far more than every other country on the planet in terms of how difficult it is for the national legislature to pass laws. No other country basically requires a supermajority in one house, a second house, in a bicameral legislature, a Presidential veto followed by this Judicial veto afterward, which is just absurd.

It makes it really, really hard, and we do not expect anything to come out of our national legislature, and that’s what I think we need to get rid of. We need to start electing folks who are actually capable of legislating. We need to require that our president and the presidential administration not simply say, well, I guess if the Supreme Court said that this is the rule. So long as the Supreme Court is a Supreme Court, we have to listen to them. But rather like Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago saying, yeah, the court’s the court, but I represent the American people and I’m not going to tolerate this interpretation of our fundamental law. And so there’s obviously a political problem in that.

I certainly do not expect this Congress to legislate. There’s a cultural problem in a sense that most people think the Supreme Court should have the final word on what the Constitution means. But those are the two problems to focus on the political problem of building power through local organizing, through movement building, to demand a legislature that’s capable of legislating, and then a cultural problem of saying, look, Congress or the national legislature, for good or for ill, should have the final word on these questions in a democracy, because leaving it to the court is a terrible idea for a country that calls itself democratic.

Nikolas Bowie, Louis Brandeis professor of law at Harvard Law School

we should be ringing the alarm about this case Moore v Harper I think every day from now until it’s decided because the independent state legislature theory is one of the most radical and autocratic conceptions of democracy that this court has ever been presented with. And it really gives the court an opportunity to roll back some rights that many of us took for granted, including rights rooted in state constitutions.

Mark Joseph Stern
Amicus – A Supreme Court Term Like No Other – JULY 09, 2022

…as bad as this year has been for individual rights (if you aren’t a white guy) next year could be even worse, especially if we allow the Republicans to retake the House of Representatives and start the steamroll process that will bring back a President Trump in 2024. you have all been warned.

In Bush v. Gore in 2000 John Roberts, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh argued before the court, using the independent state legislature doctrine, that George Bush should be allowed to become President without the Florida Supreme Court dictated recount, when the margin of his victory was less than 500 votes. The Florida legislature had decided they wanted Bush as President, and that is what the State of Florida should do because the legislature has the last say on that subject.

They are now going to decide a case that they have a demonstrable conflict of interest in, Moore v. Harper. Their decision in this case is already known and because of their conflicts on the subject, should not be allowed to occur. There are things we can do to stop this, but we have to push our Representatives in Washington to do the work that now needs doing.

Congress can strip the court of jurisdiction. It can strip the court of its building. It can strip the court of its summer recess. It can strip the court of its clerks. It can say, if you want to strike down our democratic laws, do so yourselves rather than relying on these 24 year old’s. It can strip the court of its discretionary jurisdiction. It can strip the court of the power to enjoin laws. It can say ‘no more federal courts can enjoin national laws and a nationwide system without a supermajority of the Supreme Court.’ It can change the court’s jurisdiction. It can put the court’s jurisdiction in the D.C. Circuit.

Congress can do all sorts of stuff and in the past, Congress has done so. When Congress was worried about the court invalidating reconstruction, it simply took the case out of the court’s hand and said, ‘Court, you no longer have jurisdiction over these cases.’

The problem we’re facing now is a Congress unwilling to fight back, not a Congress incapable of fighting back. And I think the conflict is something that Congress needs to embrace.

Nikolas Bowie

Happy Independence Day!

The second day of July, 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.

John Adams

That the signing of the Declaration of independence is celebrated on 4 July is one of American history’s more singular mistakes. America did not declare independence on 4 July 1776. That had happened two days earlier, when the proposal was adopted. The proceedings on 4 July were a mere formality endorsing the form of words that were to be used to announce this breach. Most people had no doubt that 2 July was the day that would ring through the ages. … Still less was the Declaration signed on 4 July, except by the president of the proceedings, John Hancock, and the secretary, Charles Thomson. (Though John Hancock became immediately famous for his cockily outsize signature on the Declaration, the expression ‘Put your John Hancock here’ for a signature didn’t apparently occur to anyone until 1903.) It was not signed on 4 July because it had first to be transcribed on to parchment. The official signing didn’t begin until 2 August and wasn’t concluded until 1781 when Thomas McKean of Delaware, the last of the fifty-six signatories, finally put his name to it. Such was the fear of reprisal that the names of the signers were not released until January 1777, six months after the Declaration’s adoption.

Equally mistaken is the idea that the adoption of the Declaration of Independence was announced to a breathless Philadelphia on 4 July by the ringing of the Liberty Bell. For one thing, the Declaration was not read out in Philadelphia until 8 July, and there is no record of any bells being rung. Indeed, though the Liberty Bell was there, it was not so called until 1847 when the whole inspiring episode was recounted in a book titled Washington and His Generals, written by one George Lippard, whose previous literary efforts had been confined almost exclusively to producing mildly pornographic novels. He made the whole thing up.

John Dunlap, a Philadelphia printer, hastily ran off an apparently unknown number of copies. (Until recently only twenty-four were thought to have survived – two in private hands and the rest lodged with institutions. But in 1992 a shopper at a flea market in Philadelphia found a copy folded into the back of a picture frame, apparently as padding. It was estimated to be worth up to $3 million.) Dunlap’s version was dated 4 July and it was this, evidently, that persuaded the nation to make that the day of revelry. The next year, at any rate, the great event was being celebrated on the fourth, and so it has stayed ever since.

Bill Bryson “Made in America” (1994)

h/t to the Merbrat for the book recommendation. Very enjoyable.