The End-All Discussion of Whether Loot-Boxes Are Gambling

Short version:
Loot boxes are not gambling in the legal sense unless you could win actual legal tender from them, and that’s all there is to it.

Long version:

1. I live in Texas, where gambling is illegal by state law, with the exception of a state-run lottery system. I live nearish the north border, and it is common here for people to travel to Oklahoma casinos to gamble, where it is legal to do so there.

2. Texas does, however, allow Chuck E. Cheese’s to exist, or the “insert coin, get plastic toy” gumball-machine style devices that children can blow their entire allowance on if left unchecked, because you don’t receive legal tender from them. Even if you are inserting tokens into a device that spits out a random number of tickets based on no skill whatsoever, or even if you are playing a completely rigged claw machine whose claw-strength is random to offer an illusion of skill, those are legal under anti-gambling states because your potential prize is not actual money.

3. Using your favorite dictionary entry to try to officiate language as if to “prove” that loot boxes are actually gambling, is a definitively false understanding of the existence of dictionaries.

4. The issue is not that you’re risking actual money for something, but that you’re risking actual money for a possible prize of actual money. If all you can win is something not-money, even if that not-money prize can be used like money, it isn’t gambling unless the prize is actual legal tender.

5. If the loot box you bought with actual dollars could win you actual dollars, then it is definitively gambling in the legal sense. If the loot box you bought could not even possibly win you actual dollars, even if there is any level of “risk” of not getting the non-money prize you’re hoping for, it is is not gambling in the legal sense, period.

6. The ESRB is not a legal-regulatory body. It is a review system like Siskel & Ebert or the MPAA, who have no authoritarian control over whether children are legally permitted to view films. They can issue ratings like S&E/MPAA about recommendations, but their ratings are not law, and a retailer cannot be taken to court for failure to restrict a child from buying an ESRB-rated game, because the ESRB does not institute legally-binding ratings.

7. Considering this to be gambling would not only undermine Chuck E. Cheese’s and claw machines, but also basically any kind of “blind” unreturnable product packaging such as baseball, Yu-Gi-Oh/Pokemon, Magic: The Gathering, and other collectible cards that have a randomized set of cards that propose you collect the full set of or could have more valuable kinds within and could be resold for profit. For that matter, cereal boxes that have a collect-all-three plastic toy gimmick, or Happy Meals. Perhaps those who shoot down loot boxes as gambling may have even gotten their legal degrees in the form of a lick-and-stick tattoo from a random Cracker Jack box..


My Suggestion List for Smaller Destiny 2 Changes / Oct 2017

Dear Bungie:

I’ve been playing Bungie games since Myst when CD-ROMs were a new thing. I have a 12-year XBL account, and a demo disc for Halo 1 is a treasured part of my collection of Bungie offerings I’ve followed over the years. I went to midnight releases for most of the Halo games. I was a semi-regular of #HBO ( then) and I was even credited with a news story in the HBO news once =)

I made several suggestions before Halo 2 came out, many of which were actually implemented into Halo 2 — either I was really good at predicting them, or the ideas really stuck with someone.

I was the kind of D1 player that couldn’t wait to get home from work to dive in, even years onward. Icebreaker was my jam, and before D1’s year 2 light raise, Timur’s Lash was my go-to Hand Cannon. I was Hunter main then, but in D2 am Titan main. Destiny 2 has been out about a month now, and I’ve got about an equal mixture of rants and raves to offer.

I’m trying my best to avoid comparing early D2 to late D1, considering D1 had about 3 years of development while we played, and early D1 had its share of frustrating things. I’m also trying to avoid suggesting major changes like reworking the power/light system, which D1 did itself at one point). What I consider more major changes would be things like halting this Quickplay garbage, returning 6v6, etc — but for the purposes of this article, I mean to address more subtle things like UI or additional vendor ideas.

1. Show the actual vs. displayed Light-Power level if it is modded.

We know that purple-modded weapons give a +5 boost to the total light-power, but displaying the number with the 5 added, seems to confuse too many people who can’t seem to grasp that you can infuse a 267 blue that has no mod, into a 270 purple that has a purple mod, because the light-power is actually just 265 with a +5 bonus, raising it to 272 total. Displaying only the total needs to change to perhaps “265/270” or “288(293)” or whatever, to properly display the actual unmodded light-power.

2. Make an option at the gunsmith to allow us to extract a mod from a weapon, at a legendary shard cost.

When you dismantle a weapon with a mod, the mod is just lost to the ether somehow, but I would presume Bashee more than qualified to be able to extract it from the weapon, for a price. Since there are so few things to spend shards on, this would be a great start.

3. There needs to be an emblem vendor, who can mod/customize them, with tally/etc mods that record specific variables I want to show off.

Currently there are some cool emblems that record, say, Striker Titan kills of any kind, but the emblem colors/design itself is not to my liking. Arguably no one in the entirety of Destiny 2 wants to show off that they’re level 20. Let us pick which stats can go on which emblems that we prefer, or even let us grind to find the emblem mods we’re after.

4. The “Clan XP earned” notification function is very strange.

It still displays earned Clan XP even after the cap is reached, so basically informing us that we’re earning Clan XP that is wasted because it can’t be applied. The function could also be used for other more-badly-needed notifications, such as “match has begun” while sifting thru menus would be helpful, especially when a guided-game match has been assembled.

5. There needs to be a shadow put on the background of notification text.

They currently are simply completely transparent backgrounds, so any white text in the further background clashes or blends into the same text of the notification text. The perfect example of this is getting something from Tess when decoding a Bright engram — it’s tough to read what the acquired object’s description is, because the text behind it clashes. Putting a dark or blurring effect in the background of the notification text to blur out any text/colors behind it, would be loads of help.

6. Allow us to re-scan PVE objects.

Currently we’re able to occasionally scan objects in PVE and get a morsel of story of it the object’s purpose, but if part of the dialogue was missed because of an interruption like a public event dialogue taking over, we can’t rescan it to hear it again. Let us do that.

7. There is no PVP kill icon for Titan Feedback gauntlet kills.

When you get a kill in PVP, the feed in the bottom left shows how you were killed, with a little gun icon, fist-action icon, etc, showing the method of the kill, but when someone takes fatal damage from the burst put by the Feedback Fence gauntlets (which reflects damage caused by melee), it just shows nothing, as if the icon is simply a spacebar character.

8. Challenges need be replaced by another challenge

Instead of simply saying 100% complete and hanging there forever, once a challenge is complete, have it zip away and be replaced by a new challenge, perhaps one of the same type but be incrementally harder and offer incrementally/proportionally better rewards.

9. The challenge list is obstructed from appearing by other items on that side.

If we do something that gains us glimmer, we have to wait until the glimmer notification goes away before the challenges will appear. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat. Make the challenges appear underneath it or alongside it, or make the glimmer/etc notification go away as soon as we try to pull up the challenges list.

10. Allow us to disable certain milestones on the list from ever reappearing.

I don’t ever plan to Raid or do Trials. Continually reminding me that I haven’t done them is both obvious and annoying to me. It’s fine if they want to flash across the bottom when reset happens, but let me remove them from the list.

11. Allow us to lock mods or shaders from being dismantled that we want to keep.

12. Allow vault legendary weapons to stack, or be made a collection item.

Since there is no variation in weapon stats, such that all of them have the same stats, allow only 1 slot per weapon of the same name in the vault, rather than 2 of the same kind of weapon taking up 2 slots, and have their light simply match the current blue-drop level.

13. Allow us to turn in a full row of legendary engrams in for a powerful engram.

Since we can keep up to 10 legendary engrams at once, allow those of us who grind, to keep a stash of undecoded legendary engrams to turn them into the Cryptchump in for a powerful engram. This would help people who only play a little at a time to still be able to get milestone-level rewards..

Once we’ve obtained one kind of shader (including ornaments), allow us to pay legendary shards to get another copy of it from the vault so we don’t need to waste vault space with them. These could be located in the collections side, maybe.

14. Make a shader vendor similar to Gunsmith.

In the way we can trade 3 blue mods for a legendary mod, let us trade in lower-tier shaders we have a bunch of but don’t want (or hate), into getting a higher-tier shader that is shinier/etc. This could be integrated into Tess to assist the player with being more-often interacting with her and perhaps therefore more likely to buy/spend silver on something. Additional vendors could be located at the Farm to have a reason to go there.

15. Make the communication beacons on EDZ serve a purpose.

I’ve noticed that sometimes I will spawn into an EDZ server where someone of under-20 level is, because there are a bunch of Fallen communication beacons around in places, but when I destroy them, nothing happens. Make these be a trigger for something like how there used to be a “mysterious message” patrol in D1, or make them give us at least glimmer or something once we’re past 20.

16. There is an occasional public event in the EDZ that isn’t shown on the map most of the time.

If you head out of Trostland, thru the U-shaped exit and continue south along the shoreline as it curves east, near an underpass/bridge by the shore, a Fallen tank public event with the domes will occasionally happen, but rarely seems to show up on the map unless already in that loading zone.

17. Reduce the number of invisible barriers.

This has been a criticism of mine since Halo 2, that there are too many invisible barriers that serve no rational purpose from the gamer’s perspective. If you don’t want us to see absent textures from up high somewhere, put textures in, don’t just put an invisible barrier that prevents me from walking there. Make the fact that I can’t go there reasonable. For instance, I’ve been able to climb up to one of the upper ledges of the Devrim’s tower.. the ledge above his window, but when I try to go higher, there’s some kind of invisible wall for no logical reason that prevents me from jumping even barely an inch. LET ME CLIMB!

18. Let us acquire the Dance Party key in some way outside of the raid.

19. Let us still be able to join or leave factions at will.

Outside of the faction rally week, we can’t earn faction tokens — if you want to have faction tokens only “count” toward the faction totals during the rally, fine, but let us earn faction rep rewards (or at minimum, their shaders).

20. Have way more secret things to do in the new Tower and on the Farm.

This could even rotate by each week, especially ones that have a series of nonsensical tasks similar to the Farm’s scout jumping puzzle or the new Tower’s ball puzzle, and related to that week’s theme (such as faction rally, iron banner, etc).

That’s 20 so far; as I think of more I will append them to this list. If anyone else commenting has an idea I like, I’ll add it to my list and credit..

Sincerely, thehomeland.

#SNSD Disbanding? They need to rebrand, #SMEnt!

A five-member SNSD needs to rebrand into a sub-unit, in order to maintain the idea of “still” being SNSD, despite the fact that 3 members have not renewed their contracts with publisher SM Entertainment. 3-member TaeTiSeo did just fine without affecting the integrity of the SNSD full group, so why not simply have a 5-member sub-unit, and leave the SNSD promotional things for when they do eventually regroup, if ever?

Did US Reject #UN Ban on #DeathPenalty for Gays? NO. Here’s Why.

As you may have read in headlines such as:

US votes against UN resolution condemning gay sex death penalty, joining Iraq and Saudi Arabia
US Rejects UN Resolution Condemning Death Penalty For LGBTQ People, Other Groups
These 13 countries voted against UN ban of death penalty for being gay
At UN, Trump admin sides with repressive regimes that execute gay people
Trump Admin Votes Against U.N. Plan Condemning Death Penalty for Gays would appear that the United States voted against a United Nations ban on death penalties for gay people.

However, that idea would be spin city.

Instead, the gay community itself should ALSO vote NO, in spirit, regarding this resolution.

Here is the actual text of the UN resolution in English, provided by (PDF).

What’s actually true is:

The US voted NO on a United Nations resolution to calling upon states to refrain from issuing death penalties for multiple reasons.

The wording that even loosely relevant to the spin of “gays” doesn’t even address gays at all.

Number 6, urging (but not requiring) states who haven’t abolished the death penalty already, to restrict death penalties on the basis of a “consensual same-sex relations” from being issued.

I believe the US was right in voting NO and that the LGBT+Ally community should agree with this vote, because, at least in the gay context:

(a) The resolution doesn’t go far enough.

The act of “consensual same-sex relations” is not “being gay”, and is a single act (rather than an orientation or preference).

A gay person can do these things, but so can an experimenting non-gay person.

A gay person can also entirely abstain from sexual activity and still be gay.

The so-called ban addresses specifically the act, not the state of being, and the resolution should include by wording rather than implication, all penalties applied to cases on the basis the individual(s’/’s) identity that lack the ‘relations’ element — otherwise merely being gay without relations is a loophole that is subject to the death penalty.

(b) Limiting specifically the death penalty for sentencing, still allows for barbaric non-death penalties for being gay and having consensual same-sex relations — penalties that can be worse than death — whereas there should be no penalties at all for such circumstances.

Isolating specifically the death penalty from eligible sentencing results does not remove other possible scary and barbaric penalties that could be issued (and could plausibly re-enforce the idea that such harsh penalties are approved so long as it isn’t death; banning any penalty whatsoever against circumstances of this nature is what is needed.

Destiny 2 “Sludge Farming” Multiple Farms at Once

As of under a week past launch, I’m up to around 273 (my destiny tracker profile here) and I’ve settled onto what I think is a pretty good farming location where multiple farms can be performed all at the same time.

The location is in the EDZ, northwest of Devrim, and just southwest of The Farm, at The Sludge.

Checklist before I head there:

>> Equip a ghost that offers Gunsmith Telemetry.

I use the Last City shell (offers telemetry for Arc and Solar weapon kills).

As I understand it, it seems like telemetry is similar to how Dusklight shards work with Devrim Kay.. another (and somewhat-slower) way to level up your reputation with them for more rewards in addition to tokens. I’m not sure yet how the telemetry is collected, but it just appears ready to redeem when I get to the Gunsmith. Since the items that gather it (ghost perks, for example) say that it is collect by element-kills (arc, etc), I wonder if it might be every 100 kills and you get one, or based on shielded/priority enemies (kinda like the old ultra requirement for D1), because I seem to have so few when I get back to the gunsmith and there’s no on-screen collection of it once I get one.

Even though I don’t understand yet how telemetry is collected, at least I’ll have it going and ‘farming’ in the background as yet another extra thing to be farming continuously as a side bonus.

>> Buy EDZ Scouting consumables from Cayde-6 in the Tower.

You can use a ghost that shows the location of EDZ cache and resource spots, but then you’d miss out on telemetry. If you’re willing to forego telemetry, then the ghost might be good for you, but just to add to the farming potential, I use a scouting report for detection and a ghost for telemetry. The scouting consumable offers a 4-hour on-screen marker of spots where a cache is located.

It might be worth noting that aiming down scope/iron-sights while this is active does increase the range slightly (but not cross-map distance), but I find it easier to just walk there instead of aiming back and forth.

Now you can head over to The Sludge, which is north-west of Trotsland.

I made this map highlighting points where (in yellow circles) that a cache is most likely to appear.

Points to note on these locations:

> There are more locations than this; this is just ballpark area of where they could be, and represent possibly more than one in that small area.

> The cache near the U/D of “sludge” is underground, and the entrance is ground-level over the cliff to the north, and sometimes a high-profile fallen spawns there (and sometimes get stuck inside) if there are about 4 shanks hanging around right there, shown (without shanks) in zoom-range example.

> There are several possible places for one to spawn at the south-east road.. particularly consider either going up the road a little to check whether one of them is underground (accessible via the nearby north-south-oriented freight container that is partially underground), shown here with zoom-range example.

> There are two possible spots for the cache at the south-west corner: one above the circular container, and one in a little cubby-hole underground accessible via the northwest side of the container.

> There are at least two possible spots for the cache at the southwest bridge that connects to the southern wall, reachable by jumping.

> There are at least two possible spots for the cache near the spawn in the north east corner, along the north wall.

Anyway, if you take this path just by sprinting (not by sparrow), making one complete circuit is enough time (especially while killing enemies to rack up telemetry) for the cache to have changed to a new location by the time you get back around. There are also a lot of Dusklight Shard scattered around in relatively predictable locations, if you’re interested. I just go by sight for Dusklight, but there is a ghost that will detect the location of resources and cache locations both, if telemetry is of no interest to you.

You’ll have the bonus of occasional high-value targets that pop up, in addition to public events that are fairly easy.

As of this post, I tried making an easy before-work 1-hour farming session and ended up with a total haul of 47 EDZ tokens, 1 telemetry, 16R/3L/1E engrams, and 4 public events. Not the greatest haul of tokens/hour compared to the Nessus loading zone trick, but could be partly due to distraction by public events =)

As a reminder, on the Taken public event where there’s a giant floating orb that seems (at first) immune to damage, just dip your guardian inside one of the domes without destroying the dome, and when you pop back out you’ll have about 4 seconds of timer that lets you damage the floating orb. If you kill the orb (it has a percentage health on screen) then the Heroic boss comes out. You only need to kill the Taken boss, not the chain-gun Cabal that also appears. If you have enough people, you don’t even need to bother killing the regular taken or destroying the domes, and can take out the orb and Taken boss in the original event location. Consider equipping grenades that stick and do constant damage while shooting it at the same time, and save your super for the Taken boss.

Did Best Buy Price-Gouge Water? NO. Here’s Why.

During ‘Hurricane Harvey’ in August 2017, a picture went viral that was widely misunderstood to be price-gouging (or inflating the price of something, typically gasoline or basics, unfairly in an area where it has become suddenly scarce), but actually wasn’t even true.

In America, you can often buy cases of bottled water for perhaps even $3 per case of 28 depending in the cheaper brands, so a case of water being sold for $40+ per case might SEEM like price gouging, UNTIL you investigated.

(backup screencap)

The masses who accused Best Buy actually misunderstood what was happening, and their outrage should be directed at themselves for failure to investigate, or simply believing that what was being reported were true without checking.

A concerned citizen took a photograph of a case of bottled water being sold for over $40, but that’s actually the regular price for that many single-unit bottles.

You see, Best Buy doesn’t sell cases of water — they sell electronics like computers and DVDs and such, not necessities for survival like a grocery store might. They stock drinks for customers to impulse-buy, and they sell those by the bottle, not in cases.

Think of buying a $12-pack of sodas, compared to buying from a vending machine. I just called my local supermarket, and their 12-packs of Dr. Pepper are on sale for $2.75, so that’s about 23 cents per can. If you bought 12 cans out of a vending machine for $1.25 each, you would spend $15 — and both of those are the regular price for the place they are sold.

If someone told you they had to pay $40 for a case of water, you might rightly assume the place they bought it from were someone price-gouging water, BUT, if you learned later, that the person who bought the water actually paid the regular price of $1.79 each for 24 individual bottles, then you would be calling the purchaser the idiot, not the seller.

As someone familiar with American retail in-store signing, nowadays you don’t generally just print a document with numbers you typed in — you enter in a product ID to a specific company sign-printing program and enter the quantity, and the computer automatically spits out a pre-formatted sign according to the company’s standardized font size.

The computer the sign was printed on didn’t even have a per-case price to set, because they don’t sell it by the case, so it simply calculated the number in the case times the single bottle price, which came up over $40. This is actually the REGULAR PRICE Best Buy sells bottled water at, hurricane or no hurricane.

Best Buy can’t legitimately be accused of price gouging, because the price would be that high before knowledge of a hurricane even existed. Had there been no hurricane, the water would have still been that price.

Is this 2017 Eclipse Picture Real? NO. Here’s Why.

Making the rounds on Facebook is a picture that is receiving a lot of praise as one of the best 2017 solar eclipse pictures..

(backup screencap)

Except it isn’t one. It was made in 2011 with the program After Effects, by DeviantArt user ObsidianDigital. The version pictured above is rotated 90-degrees to look more like a Jesus-cross shape, but the original is horizontal.

One possible explanation of why so many people were fooled into believing this were an actual photo, might be because thousands of people in the spectrum of religions that esteem Jesus as an important figure (Christianity and Islam, to name two) might be fooled into sharing it because the alternately-oriented version looks like a cross.

It should have been obvious that it were fake anyway, because you would not be able to see any of our side’s surface of the moon due to such massive contrast of the sun compared to any earthshine, and how light doesn’t bend around a celestial object at that severe of a curve. There would have to be a second light source shining at the moon from a different angle, and bright enough to win out the sun’s light, in order to be able to see the ridges of the moon as such.