Town of Salem

Main Screen

One of my friends showed me a new game this weekend called Town of Salem.

Town of Salem is a Flash game produced by Blank Media Games that you play in your web browser. The company recently finished a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund mobile versions of the game, an independent PC client, and translations to play the game in other languages. The Kickstarter just finished so those projects are all still in the works.

The game is a more fleshed out version of the party game, Mafia.

For those of you who haven’t played Mafia, it’s pretty simple. All the players sit in a circle and are secretly assigned roles.

The game is effectively split into two teams, the Mafia and the Townies.

The Mafia want to take over the town by killing everyone and the Townies want to live, which means hanging the Mafia members after a swift trial.

There are fewer Mafia than Townies, but the Townies don’t know who the Mafia are.

The game is played in a series of days and nights. The party game simulates night by having everyone close their eyes and put their heads down.

At night the Mafia wake up and silently decide who to kill that night by pointing at people and gesturing wildly. In Town of Salem they can still talk by typing to each other secretly.

In the morning that person is dead and the Townies can vote to hang someone for the murder.

There are a few other roles that occasionally get included in the party game. The Doctor can heal someone each night and prevent the Mafia from killing them. The Sheriff can investigate someone and find out if they’re Mafia or not. Other stuff like that.

Town of Salem gives a special role to everyone. There are Mayors, Lookouts, Escorts, Mediums, Framers, Jesters, Executioners, Jailors. Tons of roles! There’s so many that a wiki page was created to keep track of them.

Town of Salem takes all the intrigue and guess work of Mafia and turns it into an easy to pick up internet game.

Each game has fifteen players. There are a couple different modes, but the classic mode has 3 Mafia members, 3 Neutral people who have their own agenda outside of killing all the Townies or all the Mafia, and 9 Townies that want to eliminate all the evil people like the Mafia or the Serial Killer role.

The game is just like the party game. People die each night and the Townies try to figure out who did it while the Mafia spread misinformation among the townsfolk.

Its a lot of fun and super quick to play as well. You can try it out at Blank Media Games if you’re interested. I’ve also posted a Youtube clip of one of my games with my friends for your viewing pleasure.

-Mister Ed

Montana Home Invasion

A still from a security camera of Diren Dede stealing from Markus Kaarma's garage.
A still from a security camera of Diren Dede stealing from Markus Kaarma’s garage.

What topic do I want to write about tonight?

Hurray! It’s another sketchy self-defense/homicide case that went international on the news! (sarcasm)

I read this on the New York Times. You can check it out at this article.

So what’s the story?

Diren Dede was a 17 year-old exchange student from Germany going to school in Montana.

He thought it’d be fun to go out and steal stuff from someone’s garage.

He found an open garage and went in to take some stuff.

The owners, Markus Kaarma and Janelle Pflager, were cautious because there had been other burglaries in the area.

They’d installed cameras and motion sensors in the garage.

They chose not to actually close the garage all the way because they like to duck under it to smoke outside.

Not closing the garage didn’t make sense to my Californian mind at first. Why not just open your door to go smoke?

The case is in cold Montana though. The couple probably smoke in their garage and just duck down to breathe the smoke outside.

Anyways, Markus Kaarma saw the motion detectors. He grabbed his shotgun and fired into the garage.

Janelle Pflager says she heard someone in the garage shouting, “Hey! Wait!”

Montana law gives someone the right to use a gun against a home invader only if the trespasser is violently threatening someone in the house.

That’s pretty clearly not the case.

To make it worse, Kaarma had spoken with his barber recently about wanting to “shoot some kid.”

And there’s a purse at the back of the garage that was placed there with marked items, so that if it was stolen they could track down the thief.

So… it’s almost a clear case of premeditation.

They didn’t burglar proof their house. They set up stuff to tell them if a thief was in the garage. And Markus talked about wanting to kill someone.

The facts as I see them make the case clearly second-degree murder, if not first.

People have the right to protect themselves and their property, but there is a limit to how far that protection goes.

Kaarma could use his gun for intimidation, but when he heard Dede telling him to wait, he should’ve realized that firing his gun was a bad choice.

All that aside, I’m also a little surprised he could afford bail for a murder case.

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed

American News

This comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal jives with my opinion of American news networks as I mentioned in my previous post.

American news networks seem to universally never cover anything newsworthy. They cover election news and stuff in politics when relevant, but the rest of it is just buzz.

The news networks are often set up where they service an area of about 5 million people or more. Within that area they could pick a story about how one person is over a hundred or how a single school out of the hundreds needs books. The news never covers something like a school district wide book shortage by having in depth interviews with the librarians from that district.

Another example from my local news. They’ve jumped all over a recent murder case. Some of the headlines are “Crime On The Rise” or “What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?” The murder was committed by a self-confessed psychopath. There is no crime on the rise in this situation, its just an individual. There sadly isn’t really a way to protect yourself from crazy people either. What I noticed from these headlines was that the local news is capitalizing on the fear the headlines and story creates to push more of their newspapers/page views.

I do get a little conflicted at times on the issue though. I never feel like reading or watching American news its almost all fear, puff pieces, or politic information I can get faster from the internet. But when I do watch it I occasionally see why they reported on that topic. With the psychopath murderer, how could you not report on that as a local news agency? It’d be foolish not to as it sells papers and it’d be dishonest to the public. We deserve to know that someone like that was in the neighborhood.

It’s just when there isn’t something to report as sensational as that, the new flounders. There could be constant updates on the situation in Ukraine or a daily update on WHY stock numbers changed instead of just the numbers themselves. Those important stories could easily fill the news when something else interesting isn’t happening locally or in DC. Instead, the top story today is “Coaches Turn Out to Hear Athletics Policy Debate”

Really? I can see the value of the story, but is it front page material? I don’t think so.

Just some of my rambling thoughts.

-Mister Ed

Jordan Davis Case

One of my friends posted this on Facebook today.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/02/17/no-justice-for-jordan-davis-more-worry-for-parents-of-black-children/

I found it pretty interesting. I followed the Trayvon Martin case and this one is very similar. A young black teenager is killed in supposed self defense. The court system supposedly commits errors. And the accused walks away.

Of course both cases are more complex than that. In the Martin/Zimmerman case the justice system did commit errors. The police checked Martin’s body for signs of drug use, but conducted no such tests for Zimmerman. The police also let Zimmerman walk free for a month after the killing based only on his own word that it was in self defense. The police most likely did this because Martin was black and Zimmerman was not.

I do believe the correct verdict was reached in the Martin/Zimmerman case. The physical evidence reported clearly shows that Zimmerman was attacked. Zimmerman had several injuries while Martin had one. Zimmerman stated that Martin saw Zimmerman’s gun and that Martin then said, “I’m going to kill you.” If that was true, then stand your ground laws would certainly apply. The incident would not have happened if Zimmerman had not profiled Martin as a troublemaker, but that doesn’t excuse Martin’s decision to attack Zimmerman and threaten to kill him.

The Jordan Davis case suffers from the same problem of racially profiling the deceased. Dunn clearly saw Davis and his friends as “thugs” because of their race.

Let’s talk about the word “thug” for a minute. I haven’t experienced the word’s usage myself that much in my sheltered suburban life, but it is beginning to have the same racial connotations as nigger. When used in an offensive way thug will almost always mean a young black man who is making too much noise, carrying a weapon, selling drugs, etc. Any crime in a neighborhood will be explained away, “Oh, the thugs did it.” Meaning that the young black men did it.

So when Dunn calls Davis and his friends thugs, he’s already setting himself up as the committer of a hate crime. Davis and his friends were playing loud rap music at a convenience store. Dunn got out of his car and told them to turn it down. A reasonable enough request. They did and he went in to shop. Upon coming out they turned the music back up, presumable thinking he wouldn’t mind as he was leaving. He told them to turn it down again and they refused.

This is where the witness reports conflict. Dunn said that he saw a shotgun stick out the window of Davis’ car. No one else saw that. None of Davis’ friends saw that. Dunn’s wife didn’t see that. No one in the convenience store saw that. No shotgun was found in the car and none of the Davis’ friends owned one that mysteriously went missing. Dunn reacted to the imaginary shotgun by grabbing his pistol from his glovebox and firing on the teens before driving away. Davis was killed and his three friends drove away fearing for their lives. Dunn turned himself into the police soon afterward.

The trial just concluded and Dunn was found guilty of attempted second degree murder for Davis’ three friends. A mistrial was declared on a first degree murder charge for the killing of Davis. In order to deliver a verdict in a murder case, the jury must be unanimous, but they apparently weren’t for the murder of Davis. This isn’t particularly unusual. I imagine that it is very stressful to decide cases of life and death as a juror. The prosecution is appealing the case.

My personal opinion, Dunn is not guilty of first degree murder. He’s guilty of second degree murder. First degree murder is premeditated. Second degree murder is committed in the moment. The state views first degree murder as worse because most people will not choose to kill someone after thinking about it.

Did Dunn think about killing Davis? I seriously doubt that. Additional evidence makes it clear that Dunn hated black people, but he no evidence suggests that he went to that convenience store with the intent of killing someone. He went there to get some wine and chips. I hope the appeal court decides Dunn is guilty of second degree murder as that appears to be the truth to me.

The Davis/Dunn case is a great example of how complicated our justice system can get. More importantly, its an example of how racist my country continues to be.

-Mister Ed