Category Archives: Entertainment

Violent Video Game Controversy

So, being a fan of video games, I was excited to see that the Supreme Court issued a ruling today upholding the decision of a federal appeals court to prevent California from banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

Yup, you heard me right. That ruling made me happy 🙂

Over the years, there have been tons of arguments on both sides regarding violent video games and kids, with the most common being “kids who play violent video games become more violent”.

I say that is absolute horse shit.

You see, I love video games. I’ve been playing video games, violent and not, since I was 9 years old. My parents bought them for me, and played them with me. Heck, I still play video games (though far less than I once did). For me they are engaging, entertaining, and cathartic. There are plenty of things in the world that make me irritated and angry, and playing a nice violent video game is a phenomenal emotional release.

20 years of playing later, here I am, not violent, not out shooting people, not beating people down or running people over in my car. I imagine that 99.9999% of all other video game players are in the same boat.

There have been dozens of studies, many of which have shown absolutely no link between violent games and violent kids. And in the studies that did find a link, experts have questioned the conditions and parameters of those studies for various reasons. While they may have found correlation, they’ve yet to find or prove causation. Huge difference between a correlation, and causation.

Here’s the thing: if a kid is violent, I’d bet even money that that child has suffered (or is suffering) some form of abuse, either at home, school or elsewhere. Whether that is an abusive parent or a bully at school, I’d wager you would find some form of abuse present in every instance of child violence. While a violent video game may theoretically elevate that violence, I think it’s much more likely that it would provide a safe outlet for that violence.

It’s the job of parents to regulate what ideas their kids are and are not allowed to be exposed to. That is not now, nor ever should it be, the right of a government to define. That is a very dangerous line. People need to stop trying to force people to their way of thinking. People like Jack Thompson, the noted (and in my opinion quite crazy) opponent of video game violence, do just that. (you can read up on both sides of the argument at the Video Game Controversy article on Wikipedia)

The reality is that no law regarding something so relatively minor as violence in video games is ever going to be able to effectively prevent kids from playing whatever games they bloody well want to play. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Nothing short of stellar parenting will do the trick. A law that doesn’t serve as a deterrent is crap. A law that infringes on Constitutional rights is even worse.

I agree that there are things that children shouldn’t be subjected to, but every kid and situation is unique, and it is unlikely that anyone but that kid’s parents know enough about the kid and the circumstances to effectively define what they should and should not be involved with.

Blaming video games for violent kids is such a cop out. It’s something that makes crappy/lazy parents feel better. Why is it that people have this deep seated need to blame other people or other things when bad things happen? No matter what it is, or whose fault, people just love to blame someone or something else. If you’re a crappy parent, face the facts, suck it up, and do better!

Apparently Einstein had it right when he said “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the former.”

So, to the Supreme Court, thank you for being intelligent and thinking things through (a rare thing in this day and age).

And to people who don’t want their kids playing violent video games…stop relying on the government and others to do your parenting for you. Set rules, set consequences, and take the time/make the effort to develop the type of relationship with your child necessary to effectively parent them.

Trafalga in Orem – Awesome Fun for the Family

Did you know that Provo UT was rated as the most boring city in the US? You might think that Orem wouldn’t be much better…but you’d be wrong 🙂 If you are looking for an awesome place for family, friends or even a date to have a blast, there is no better place than Trafalga Fun Center in Orem.

Trafalga has been around for years, but my oh my has it changed! The whole place has had a makeover, and I have to say it is the best place of its kind I’ve been to. From mini golf to go karts, batting cages to arcade games, Trafalga has it all. Where to begin…

Well, the go karts were a blast. The track is a bit small, but the carts felt fast and handled well. I lapped my wife like 8 times 🙂 They have both single and dual seat karts, so you can race your buddies head to head or sit side by side if you happen to be on a date. It costs $5 for 5 minutes for a driver, and $2.50 for a passenger.

The batting cage is awesome, although I’ve learned that my hand-eye coordination is much better playing video games than it is in real life. Alas, my wife is a better batter than I 🙂 50 pitches is only $3.75, which is a killer deal.

I’ve always loved mini golf, despite being terrible at it, and this was no exception. However, unlike most traditional fun centers, Trafalga has an incredible indoor black light mini golf course. 18 holes of awesome mini golf in one of the coolest indoor environments I’ve seen. They have an outdoor course as well. The price is $6.50 for adults, and $5 for seniors and kids 4-11.

In addition to a ton up awesome arcade games, Trafalga had something I’d never seen before: an XD Theater 4D Motion Ride. This thing was literally just like riding a roller coaster. You sit in an animatronic seat, wearing 3D glasses, and virtually ride a ride. There is even light and wind to simulate the environment, and I thought it was an excellent approximation of a roller coaster 🙂 Cost? $7 each.

Best of all, Trafalga offers a ton of packages and deals. Packages for dates, packages for families…you name it, they’ve got a deal for it. Best of all, there is $3 Thursdays! Each ride and attraction costs only $3 per person, from 10am to midnight. Trust me, it’s an awesome deal.

However, if you really want to experience all that the Trafalga Fun Center has to offer, I highly recommend the Ludicrous pass. For $20 per person you get unlimited access to all rides and attractions (go karts, batting cage, mini golf indoor and out, and the XD theater), plus 25 tokens and a dippin dots. Way more fun than an IMAX movie, for about the same price.

Seriously, if you live in Utah Valley and you are bored to death, head out to Trafalga and have a blast! They are located at 168 South 1200 West, Orem UT, 84058. They are open Monday-Thursday from 10am to midnight, and Friday and Saturday from 10am to 1 am. Cal 801-224-6000 or visit Trafalga.com if you have any questions. (If you live in or near Lehi, Trafalga Lehi is opening this weekend where Liberty Land used to be.)

Check out this video to see what all Trafalga in Orem has to offer:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjK5wJ9XM3g]

MMA is for Sissies

That’s right, MMA, or at least the sport known as MMA (mixed martial arts), is for sissies. Though less brutal than it was originally, it is nevertheless a corruption of true martial arts. Granted, UFC and MMA as a sport shouldn’t even exist, as they go against everything that true martial arts stands for, peace, harmony, self-control. Martial arts are not meant for entertainment, nor as a sport. They should never be thought of as a hobby.

Martial arts were developed for war, and for the protection of one’s self and others. The study of martial arts is a way of life, a path, a calling.

I love martial arts and I always have, but MMA is not, by definition, “martial arts”. Oh sure, the people competing in UFC study a variety of martial arts, from boxing and Judo to Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. However, the process of taking those fighting styles, and then diminishing them by creating a sport around them, is truly offensive to me.

You see, I began studying Tae Kwon Do when I was 8 years old. At 10 I started learning Kenpo. At 14 I progressed to Tai Chi and Shuai Chiao (a fairly rare form of Kung Fu). At 16 I moved on to Ninpo Taijutsu and Aikido. At 20 I spent some time studying with the man who helped develop the brutal hand-to-hand system used by the Hong Kong Police Tactical Unit. And finally, over the last couple of years, I’ve been studying Krav Maga, a truly effective art developed in Israel, designed to seriously injure or kill multiple attackers, armed or unarmed. It is safe to say that I am well versed in mixed martial arts, as I have studied and learned to effectively blend a wide variety of systems.

From watching TV and movies, to simply driving around town, it saddens me to see what the martial arts have become to our culture. The study of hand-to-hand combat dates back almost 3,000 years, to the Pankration of ancient Greece. It has been an integral part of Asian culture for roughly 2,000 years, and is still treated with great reverence there. Alas, it has been a part of our culture for only a century or two, and like so many of the things our culture absorbs, it has become corrupted.

I see things like UFC, or the local Tae Kwon Do dojo, and I grieve for what our children are learning. Martial arts, the true art of war, is actually about both inner and outer peace. Peace within one’s self, knowing that you have mastered your body and mind. And peace without, as others know that you are not an individual to cross. It brings a self-confidence that literally radiates from within. It brings true power. But true power is meant to be used for the good of others, never for self-gratification.

Martial arts, though seen by many as violent, are not really about violence. Sure, there are instances where violence is necessary…there is a peace that sometimes can only be found on the other side of conflict, and certain people in our world will respond to nothing else…but overall, the true goal of martial arts is peace and harmony.

So why do I say that MMA is for sissies? Because only a weak person would study something that has no purpose beyond sport and brutality. The things MMA fighters are taught are based around rules, the rules of UFC or whatever competition they are fighting in, and that creates an intrinsic problem. From Tae Kwon Do and Karate to MMA and beyond, systems of martial arts are being modified to fit within the ring. By doing so, their effectiveness and purpose are lost. People are learning to fight a single opponent, under specific circumstances. Real life doesn’t follow rules, and it does not believe in fair.

You see, when you have been trained to limit your fighting style to avoid penalties in the ring, you create and solidify neural pathways, creating habits that will not go away should you ever need to defend yourself or others in real life. Most of the dangerous situations where martial arts would be needed are not one-on-one. If you are attacked by multiple attackers, and end up on the ground playing with Jiu Jitsu maneuvers trying for a submission, you will die, because the other person or persons will not be playing by any rules. They will kick you in the head, stab you, shoot you…whatever it takes for them to stay alive.

I have deliberately chosen to never study a single martial art to the point of mastery. No “black belt” here. Why? Because to do so creates limitations. When all you know is one art, and then you face a very different style of fighting, you face a problem. By studying many martial arts, and learning the kinetic science behind them, you can gain the ability to face anyone, using any style, effectively. Be it against one person or ten, you can have the knowledge necessary to survive, and are not handicapped by the rules of a worthless ring.

However, the true essence of martial arts is to avoid conflict. Few dojo’s teach you the art of social engineering, how to effectively defuse a situation, how to talk down an aggressor. In most instances, fighting is unnecessary. Money can be replaced, jewelry can be replaced. Lives cannot, neither yours nor theirs. The heart of a true warrior seeks peace, not conflict. Miyamoto Musashi, believed to be the greatest swordsman who has ever lived, discovered this truth in his later years, and recorded it in the Go Rin No Sho, the Book of Five Rings.

When you take something like Aikido, or Jiu Jitsu, or any martial art, and make it ugly by using it for sport, or brutality, or vengeance, you take away its true beauty, and you diminish yourself in the process. No self-respecting martial artist would ever compete in something like UFC, for it goes against everything that we stand for.

Ok, enough of my soapbox…but I rest my case: MMA as a sport, and UFC in general, is for Sissies.