Don’t Zerg Me, Bro

In Blizzard Entertainment’s Starcraft video game series, the Zerg are one of three fictional alien races who populate the known universe, alongside the very familiar feeling Terran and the technocratic Protoss.

The Protoss quarrel over superstition, tradition, and the ethical uses of their unrivaled advances in science and technology. The Terran fight over the role of government; how much liberty should be forfeited in the pursuit of civilized society. Both are violent and conflict ridden.

The Dark Templar, as an example, were a persecuted minority who sought more independence from the tribal militarism of mainstream Protoss culture. But their inherent humanity has allowed them to at least begin working on a peaceful duality, in remembrance that they are all Protoss.

Likewise, the United Earth Directorate ruled the entire Terran universe by authoritarian police state for centuries. But the objections to gross human rights violations (and a state sponsored eugenic movement, in particular) resulted in an overthrow by the Sons of Korhal.

The story of the first two races in Starcraft lore, despite the ugliness, is that each race is tethered to humanity. It serves as a compass; often overlooked, but always there, doing its general bend towards justice.

The Zerg, by contrast, operate solely for the unfettered proliferation of the species. Orders are not questioned, they are simply carried out. And there is generally a single order: Conquer.

Most fascinating about the Zerg is that they became better than they were designed to be, more than 15 years ago. They went from a noun to a commanding verb that has become bedrock in the gamer lexicon. The Zerg transcended their restrictive role as a fictional race in a video game. They became a strategy. Skynet became a little closer to self aware.

The Protoss have a massive technology base. Teleportation. Cybernetics. The Terran have tremendous military might. Siege tanks, mech warriors, and Leviathan battlecruisers armed with Yamato cannons that can one-shot entire enemy platoons (a personal favorite).

But the Zerg in combat are a different animal.

When playing player versus player (PVP), the object is to raise the largest army as quickly as possible; to hamstring your opponent before he can get the first battlecruiser up in the air (or ghost in the shadows). This means quickly harvesting minerals, building structures, and training units. As one might imagine, raising an army can take some time.

Not for the Zerg. They don’t have the gizmos and gadgets that make the Terran and Protoss elite fighting forces. They rely on two things: their raw numbers (to compensate for a lesser attack power, the designers quickened their ability to spawn) and their lack of humanity – their goal-oriented nature that does not take into account the person at the receiving end of said goal.

Works great, so long as you’re the Zerg.

If not? Well, you’re generally feeling nice and accomplished about finishing up construction on your nice space port when you see something purple creep onto your minimap. And then you see that the single purple thing is leading a steady trail of more purple things behind it. Your speakers alert you, in a condescending tone, that your “forces are under attack.”

You depend on the handful of bunkers you’ve built, but inevitably they are torn apart. You click furiously on your repair units – SCVs – to repair your barracks as a mass of purple things descends upon it, claws and projectile spines thrashing. If you manage to fend them off, you turn around and a new flank is tearing apart your factory, eliminating the hope of ground vehicle reinforcements. If you sacrifice enough space marines to ward off the horde dismantling the factory, just as you take a moment to breathe – dammit! There went my newly-completed space port!

You had high hopes for that space port.

In seconds, your entire screen is transformed into a purple puddle, blaring gnashing claws and falling SCVs. They just wanted to live a simple life harvesting Vespene gas, but the Zerg had other plans. Because that’s what the Zerg do, and that’s how one “zergs;” by attacking relentlessly, on all fronts, at any and all costs, with no regard for humanity.

* * *

Last Sunday, I was derided publicly by a Harvard grad, book author, and senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute (identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a Neo-Confederate Group that espouses the radical notion that any governmental intervention – banning slavery and ending segregation included – is destructive).

He took issue with a short article I had published, detailing an exchange between a Juneau Empire reporter and Alaska state representative Mike Chenault.

In that article, I expressed my own shock that, two weeks into 2013, the state’s Speaker of the House was introducing a bill advocating a nullification law.

This particular lower 48 gentleman didn’t care for my objection, and published a reaction piece on his blog, with nuggets like these:

“[A] local reporter condemns [Speaker Chenault] with the same old fourth-grade arguments.”

“Aronno is content to repeat his fourth-grade lesson, and has evidently never shown any curiosity beyond that.”

“[H]is own knowledge of nullification could fit inside a thimble, and most of what he thinks he knows is erroneous.”

He tossed in “morally grotesque” for good measure – all in four paragraphs about a bill he didn’t really get into, in a blog post that started with a link to this site, and ended with a link to where one can buy his book.

On twitter, I was further downgraded to third grade, and told I had “zero original thoughts.”

Comments on Alaska Commons started trickling in. Just a little bit of purple at the corner of my minimap at first:

“Mr. Arrono[sic] has a myopic view of American history. Quite limited, and founded on the Mythys[sic] of Nationalism.” He or she then, too, demanded a debate.

And then they were ripping through the bunkers, and tearing up the supply depots. “[He] just ripped this reporter a new one.” “How about reporting the news instead of attempting to spoon feed us your regurgitated pablum, John Aronno.” “[S]top selling your propaganda.”

On the conservative historian’s own website, a comment read: “He’s got a political science degree at UAA, and he had a failed music career.”

There went the factory.

But if I can hold them off here, maybe I can take a minute to train up some troops. I mean, I’d be happy to elaborate on why I view giving the supposedly united states veto power over the United States is a bad idea. I mean, we can start with –

“Have you openly opposed Obama’s civil liberty and foreign policy actions?”

Shit! Not the damn Spaceport!

And, lest it go unnoticed, right at the top of his post: “I wonder if the reporter would want Alaska to nullify a federal law to kill all reporters?”

Gee, where do I sign up for that debate again?

First off, it’s weird to be chastised as an elite by a self-touted New York Times Best Selling author and Harvard graduate.

Second: I write editorials. I am not a reporter. We have amazing journalists up here – I am not one of them. In all your magnificent research, (like where you established where I go to school and background as a musician) how did you miss the subject header right underneath the title of the post that reads Editorials?

Third: Attacking me for not dedicating a thesis to every point or argument I make on the site (comprised of common knowledge factoids, like “Civil War Bad”) would take a lot of time and make the Saturday Memes rather hard to do. How does one adequately disseminate the etymology of “Grumpy Cat” to your scholarly satisfaction?

Fourth: Some things don’t require more than a fourth (or third) grade education to understand. I’m not using my impending bachelors degree as an exibition of some grand knowledge or wizardry. I held that water and oxygen were both vital to my well being from a very young age, and, sure enough, I still hold those truths to be self evident. I learned at a similarly early point in life that 50 states with the ability to pick and choose which federal laws they recognized would produce a less than desirable result, as it demonstrably has. I think it requires a lot more purposeful training to wind up with a different conclusion.

Displaying disagreement is fine, and when I am wrong, I admit it. But a barrage of personal attacks and irrational anti-American sentiment followed up with an expectation for a debate?

Don’t zerg me, bro.

 

While I have no delusions that the neo-Confederate historian is a member of a fictitious alien species, he and his passionate followers employ their strategy. I’ve logged a lot of hours over the past 15 years at the computer, hopelessly watching all my SCVs disappear under a Zergy purplish hue. And there was purple all over Alaska Commons this week, jumping from building to building and topic to topic with a mistaken thought that rendering someone unable to effectively speak is equivalent to making a point.

Debate is critical in all things, but we have to remember our respective humanity within its confines. There is no point in prescribing diplomacy as the cure for the zerg strategy, and I’m not going to bother trying.

I’ve got space ports to rebuild.

One Comment
  1. January 27, 2013 | Reply

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