But what do I know? I'm just a twice clicken brown shirt teabaggin tjroll. Right? --PatP

Not now. There are dirty, swaying men at my door. They’re looking for Brian. I need to go deal with that. --Thor

If Joss Wedon was near me, I'd of kicked his ass. --PaulC

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Elementary, my dear Cthulhu

Statue of Sherlock Holmes in Edinburgh

Image via Wikipedia

The title of this post is intentionally mis-leading. The recently-released Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law is not a faptastic romp down miskatonic lane. That’s what I was worried about when I saw the trailers. That, and that they were going to turn our beloved Holmes into a worldly, playful, man-about-town, bereft of any sense of dignity, who just happens to be the world’s only consulting detective.

All of my fears were needless. Holmes is brilliantly portrayed by the increasingly-impressive Robert Downey Jr, who must have spent many hours watching countless episodes of Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of the same character. That being said, this is not simply Robert Downey Jr channeling Jeremy Brett. While he certainly took some cues from the old man (dry wit, an air of detached amusement concerning the human race in general), he also brought his own unique touch to the role (indignant refusal to wipe away the wine thrown in his face).

The characterization of Holmes, both by writer and actor, are, in short, brilliant. In long: This particular adventure could easily have been written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It lacks none of his subtle attention to nuance and character, and the plot and themes are typical of his style. I don’t know what to say, other than “fear not. This is Sherlock Holmes.”

At the beginning of the film, everything felt so familiar that I kept trying to figure out what actual Holmes adventure the movie was based on. There are several elements pulled from different cases, and they kept gnawing at my brain. For example, upon the initial appearance of Irene Adler, I leaned over to Kerry and whispered “the woman.”

From Holmes’ dry (and mostly successful) attempts at wit, to Watson’s feigned unwillingness to participate in Holmes’ shenanigans, to the climactic end scene, in which Holmes reveals the few missing details of the case, this is a Sherlock Holmes tale like any other. In my humble opinion, it lacked only a visit from Mycroft, who could easily still have been played by the legendary Christopher Lee.

To those who have seen the trailers: Yes, there is dabblement in the occult, magic and the supernatural. No, these still are not real things in the world of Sherlock Holmes. Do not go into this movie with the assumption that this is anything other than an adventure of Sherlock Holmes, as recorded and reported (and embellished) by Dr. Watson.

I just can’t say enough how much this movie exceeded my expectations. After seeing the previews, I was setup for a huge disappointment. Had I done my homework, I would have known ahead of time that this is a Guy Ritchie film, and since it is not titled “Revolver” (don’t even bother with that one), I probably have nothing to worry about.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Verizon’s “outrageous” Early Termination Fee

First, here’s the link to the horseshit that sparked this rant. Within, there is the full (brief, unrevealing, biased, dataless) text of an FCC press release.

Second, here’s the rant. A DROID retails for 600 dollars. I paid two hundred for mine. Verizon makes up that 400 bucks by me subscribing to their service. If I open a new line for a DROID and immediately cancel it, VZW charges me 350 dollars. They're out fifty bucks. The ETF needs to be that high for Verizon to protect themselves from staggering losses. It not only covers most of their loss if I terminate my contract, but also discourages me from doing so. Not much "investigation" to be done there. Mignon Clyburn needs to learn some basic economics.

Also, this is not a "hidden fee." You know when you signup for a plan that the ETF is huge. If you don't like it, go to AT&T and be part of "the world's fastest 3G network." Verizon is overall the best mobile carrier for smartphones. If you want a good selection of devices, a comprehensive data network and an equally-comprehensive online user portal, you're going to pay more than you would for an outdated network, an iPhone and an orange box store.

Bottom line: Verizon isn't doing anything shady, and no one's being forced into a contract. If you don't like having an enormous ETF by which the carrier could still potentially take a loss, maybe a you shouldn’t have a phone that’s smarter than you.

My question is: how do other carriers protect themselves from this kind of crippling loss of money? Some carriers do it by selling their subscriber information to law-enforcement agencies. Some do it by holding on to their customers with misleading advertising.

The FCC needs to stop demonizing legitimate business practices and get on to important issues. For example: the obsolescence of the FCC. Anybody else remember the whole “Saving Private Ryan” debacle (in which, when asked by ABC affiliates “will we be fined if we air Saving Private Ryan un-edited?” the FCC’ responded: “dunno. Do it and you’ll find out.”)?

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Thursday, December 17, 2009


So PaulC shared this article in Google Reader today. After reading it, I was really excited to try out T3Desk. T3Desk is not a Terminator-themed desktop manager. It is a three-dimensional desktop manager. At first blush, wicked cool. After < three minutes, already uninstalled. Yes, the idea of this software is very cool. I’ve always had a soft spot for cool-looking desktop managers, even though I’ve never really found one that made my life easier. I remember there was one years ago that took away your desktop and turned it into a first-person 3D environment in which walking through a door represented opening a folder and desktop icons could be dragged and dropped within the environment. You opened a file just by walking into it. It was really cool. But, like T3 Desk, it had its limitations.

The article lists some drawbacks to the software, and they are all true. I just don’t care. Yes, it’s true you can’t re-map the hotkeys. But who cares? The hotkeys are what they are because nobody ever uses the “\” key for anything outside of writing code. You can only have 3D windows on your primary monitor. Looking back, that should have made me think “somebody’s not too familiar with their development environment.” But whatever. I only have one monitor, so who cares?

Well, the bottom line is it’s buggy, and it’s not customizable enough. The first time you “3Dmize” a window, no problem. It zooms out and goes transparent. If you then drag it to an edge of your screen, it docks there and tilts toward the center of your monitor. So far, so awesome. Well, now I want it back in the center of my screen. I don’t want it in focus, I don’t want it in the foreground. I want it to stay zoomed out and transparent, and I want it just hovering in the background. Sorry. Can’t do it. Once you dock a window, it’s docked for life. You can move it around your desktop, but when you move it away from the edge, it doesn’t tilt back toward you. It tilts gradually away from you, so that if your place it directly in the center of your screen, you can only see the “edge” of the window. It’s pretty much invisible.

So, check it out. It’s neat, but don’t use it for too long or you will get frustrated.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thor’s New Look

I’ve been getting complaints (most notably from PaulC) that the right-hand column of my blog was not formatting properly. I’ve known about this since I started this blog, but I haven’t done anything about it because Google has made me soft. All I had to do was go into my BlogSpot settings and choose a different layout template. The only problem with this is that I liked my old color scheme. I tried just copying the colors section of the html, but the new layout didn’t like it.

So now I have new colors (which I like well enough) in addition to my new layout (which I hate). It’s a shame, because  I really liked my old layout, with all the square bubbles everywhere. But, alas, all the layouts I like the look of have right-hand columns that don’t format properly. So, problem solved. Left-hand column and new layout.

Also, I’m trying out this new thing called Zemanta (at the behest of PaulC). It runs as a sidebar in Live Writer Windows Live Writerwhile I’m writing a post. As I type, it picks out words that it thinks I might want to link, and displays different options for linking them. That Google link, for example, links to Google’s NASDAQ info. It also shows me what it thinks are pertinent images and related articles so that I can easily insert them. Every link in this post so far was a one-click affair. Except for PaulC. That was a zero-click affair. I have Live Writer setup so that the first time I type “PaulC” in any post, it automagically links to his blog.Wookieepedia's logo.

In my Zemanta settings, I also listed teampaulc.org and Wookieepedia, so it will (presumably) offer me links from those site as well. It also offered me that Wookieepedia logo over to the right, as well as the Zemanta and Live Writer graphics above. Unfortunately, no such love for the Team PaulC logo. Dunno what that’s about. But I do know where to find it:

So I’m diggin’ this. What do you all think of it? I think it livens up the ol’ blog a bit.


PS Anybody remember when it looked like this?Google's homepage in 1998

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time's Best gadgets of the year.

My mom told me the DROID is Time's best gadget of the year. "Cool," I said. "Send me the article. so she did. Here's the article.


The article was basically a paid ad. Based on there's a plasma tv on the list, a canon and the nook instead of the kindle. I'm a canon man, but general sentiment is nikon or nothin. Also, the droid and the iPhone are both on it. The iphone is two years old, but still gets on this year's list because they make it "faster" now. But it's "okay" because the droid is number one.

And Dr. Dre headphones? Really? Sorry, but headphones that don't say Sony, Sennheiser or Skull Candy on them are not the best.

Neither is a plasma tv. coolest new technology this year? The DROID is really cool, but it's just an amalgam of old tech. the coolest new tech this year is the LED television.

Dyson air multiplier. Cool? sure. Best gadget of the year? surely not. It's just a fan. Put the new Dyson vaccuum on the list. That's a "best gadget."

Dell laptop. Any laptop that doesn't have a touchscreen is not the best gadget of the year. Any computer that is not a table or a window is not the best gadget of the year.

A Casio watch. It's a watch. A solar-powered watch. Is that supposed to wow me? It doesn't do anything, it's just a watch. Who even calls that a gadget?

Okay. Maybe it's not a paid ad, but it sure feels like one.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Alice was awful.

Oh my God. I can't believe I have to do this. To anyone who read my review of Alice from yesterday and subsequently watched it, I sincerely apologize. I wrote that review before I watched the second half of the miniseries. Having just now finished it, don't bother. PaulC: You're welcome for not reminding you about it. You can take those four hours of your life and… do nothing at all. You’ll be better off than if you had watched Alice.

This film was AWFUL. It was so bad you need to see it. Not even kidding. The first three hours were as good as Tin Man, because it was the same as Tin Man. The last hour was absolutely unbearable. Oh my God. I am so mad right now. I can't believe I just watched that terrible, horrible, awful, abominable film. I don't know if I'm madder that the first three hours were good and the last hour sucked or that I sat through three hours of what I thought was a decent film to get to that steaming pile of crap that was the end. I am almost as mad as I was at the end of the series that shall not be named.

And can we talk about Galactica for a minute? No, we can't, because Gramma reads my blog.

So, again, I apologize if anyone watched Alice because I said it wasn't horrible. I further apologize by way of admitting: it was horrible.

SciFi Channel's Alice

I don't know if anyone else saw Alice on the SciFi channel this week, but it was pretty disappointing. It's not that it was in any particular way bad, so much as it was uninteresting. It was basically the same premise as their previous miniseries, Tin Man. Alice takes place in what we would call the future of Wonderland, the original story having taken place in the almost-distant past. There might be people alive who still remember it, but probably not.

Again, it's not bad. It's just nothing new. It feels like the same writers, casting director and production designers had fun with Tin Man and decided to have the same fun with Alice. It's not poorly-written, poorly cast or poorly-designed. Quite the opposite. It's brilliant. It's just the same as Tin Man.

The casting is, in point of fact, pretty near perfect. Colm Meaney as the King of Hearts was brilliantly bumblesome, and the guy who plays Hatter was fun and plucky. The light comedy was as good as Tin Man, the clever interpretation of the characters and themes was equally fun.

The acting was... well... less than brilliant for the most part, but that's not to say bad. There were enough seasoned actors to pick up the slack when the inexperienced ones dropped it. The director was a bit below par for a SciFi Channel series, but the visuals were good enough that you really didn't notice his (or her) shortcomings.

So... As I said, all in all, not bad, just nothing new. If you saw Tin Man, you'll probably be a little disappointed with Alice, just because you've seen it already. If you didn't, you'll love it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Bad Guys Please!

This is a rant that's mostly about "same old Star Wars game." By that I mean Star Wars games tend to all have similar stories and situations, with one or two brilliant exceptions. If you didn’t follow the link here from 1up.com, follow this link there to know what I’m talking about, or it really won’t make any sense. This post is not linked, and really only exists because the 1up.com yak page has a 1000-char limit. Seriously. Who does that? On with the show.

Why are we hearing about "imperial agents" and seeing screenshots of what look very much like clone troopers? Is this The Old Republic, or the Dawn of the Empire? In the KOTOR games, Sith troops were vaguely reminiscent of imperial stormtroopers, but their armor was silver and they had Cobra Commander-ish helmets. They looked just enough like the boys in white that they were immediately identifiable as the bad guys. That screenshot of a Mandalorian getting hit with force lightning looks pretty much like an episode 3 clone trooper to me.

If I missed a memo somewhere, please excuse my ignorance, but if these things make it into the final product as is, I'm gonna be pretty pissed. I'll still play it, just like I still play Force Unleashed on my Wii, even though the levels are painfully linear and half of them (literally, every other level) are the same level over and over again. But as a die-hard Star Wars geek, I'm already pretty pissed.

I read some of the info on the game, and I get that it's the Sith Empire, and not Palpatine's Empire. So can we call them "Sith Agents?" Please? Better yet can we call it the "Sith Dominion," or better still the "Sith Kingdom?" Since it's not technically an empire, is it too much to ask that we don't call it one? There's no Sith emperor. There's a Dark Lord. For every practical purpose, it's a theocracy. The supreme pontiff of the Sith religion is also the supreme ruler of the Sith government.

And I get that those are Mandalorian warriors. So can we make them look like their armor was designed three thousand years before Vader's stormtroopers, rather than looking like a rough cut of that finished product? What's wrong with the armor from KOTOR? It looks just enough like the Stormtrooper armor that you can kinda see how the one inspired the other, without looking like it was backward-engineered.

Can we please stop using Star Wars as a creative crutch and come up with something original for me to swing a lightsaber at? If it's not KOTOR's "sith empire," who's silver-clad troopers look mostly like stormtroopers, but not quite, then it's Jedi Academy's "Imperial Remnant" with actual stormtroopers and absolutely no new ideas (see fifteen-year-old comics for Marka Ragnos).

And now TOR has imperial agents and Mandalorian warriors, that look just like Imperial officers and... well... Stormtroopers. Again.

Look, I'm all for getting away from classic Star Wars and playing a character that doesn't have a lightsaber (I too mourn the loss of SWG), but Can I have some new bad guys please? I've killed enough stormtroopers and Imperial officers to fill a large space station (or perhaps a small moon). How about something new? Or at least something that looks like it's new.

And how about a new story while we're at it. Is this only the fourth time we'll be fighting a war of liberation against a vastly superior empire? Let's count. There was the Galactic Civil War (the original trilogy), the Yuuzhan Vong invasion (New Jedi Order series), The Jedi Civil War (KOTOR)... That's three, and TOR makes four. And those aren't all in video games, I know. But we've had so many games that focus on the timeline of the original trilogy that any game that doesn't really needs to not be about a war of liberation.

That's what was (WAS) great about SWG. Nothing was at stake. The rebellion wasn't going to succeed or fail based on my actions. I wasn't a hero: just another soldier. When every player's a hero, what fun is there? When everyone's pointedly nothing special, then you make yourself a hero. Hopefully, TOR will take at least a few notes from pre-Smiley SWG.

I won't even get into what I think of the cartoon graphics. Clone Wars is a fun show, but it's just for kids. If that's what they want people to think of this game, they're off to a good start.

Speaking of visuals, this game is looking more and more like it was styled after the movies than anything else. Am I really supposed to believe that after three thousand years, droids will still need to be as large as people, lightsabers will still be... exactly the same, and there still won't be any such thing as blaster-proof armor? Here on Earth, we've miniaturized robots, made swords all but obsolete and have nearly figured out bulletproof armor. Three thousand years ago, we had neither robots nor bullets (and by that I mean firearms, not slings with rocks), and swords were mostly just metal clubs. We also no longer have most of the religions that were around three thousand years ago, while Jedi pervade every era of Star Wars. My understanding is that we have Roger Evoy to thank for this particular infestation of anachronism.

Now I'm beginning to ramble, so I'll quit the Star Wars rant and get on to the BioWare rant.

I'm as excited as the next guy that there's another Star Wars MMO in the works. I loved SWG (before Guy Smiley killed it), and I loved KOTOR. I've since been disappointed with BioWare's work. I've played KOTOR twice on purpose, and have been duped into playing it twice more, in the guise of BioWare's more recent titles.

Mass Effect was fun at first, but got boring after about three days. I'm actually dreading the sequel. Dragon Age has a great story, but absolutely nothing new as far as gameplay is concerned. I've had more fun playing Dragon Age: Journeys, the online flash game than I have with Dragon Age: Origins. They're basically the same game. For a flash game, it's freakin' awesome. For a full-blown PC title with a fifty-dollar price tag, it's a huge disappointment. It's basically Neverwinter with a facelift.

I hope against hope That The Old Republic is not just "BioWare Game 7: Kotor Online." I really want to love BioWare again, but they seem incapable of innovation. Steal some Blizzard employees. Hire somebody who hated KOTOR. Just do something different for God's sake. Dragon Age really and truly is a fun game, but it's the same game as KOTOR and Neverwinter, which detracts greatly from it's appeal, and makes me lose some faith in the potential awesomeness of TOR.

And are we going to have fifteen companions with a max party size of three again? From a gaming standpoint, this makes sense. From a storytelling standpoint, it makes none. I've got no problem only having two companions with me per mission. But you chose them for me, and tell me a good story that explains why I have who I have. Alistair won't go into Redcliff because of his history. Fine. Morrigan won't go because there are too many Chantrymen. Fine. That leaves me with Sten, Leliana, and my trusty Mutt. One thing that can be said for "BioWare game": there's no such thing as a bad party. They design the characters so that any combination can be successful.

In Mass Effect, there was no logical reason I shouldn't walk around with a six-person party all the time. It makes no sense to leave half my team on the ship when I'm heading into an inevitable firefight where one more gun could mean the difference between victory and defeat. Ditto EVERY OTHER GAME. Where three lightsabers are good, six are better.

Wow. When I sat down five hours ago to write this, I thought it was just going to be "want different bad guys please!" Well, I guess that's what a bottle of Blackstone and the internet at my fingertips gets me.

Here’s hoping this game really is about the Old Republic, and not the Elderly Republic.

Flame on.

PS As a side note: Please tell me we're not still calling "force push," "force pull," "choke," and "throw my lightsaber" four separate powers that need to be levelled-up individually. It's all telekinesis. If I can push a dude across the room, I can also pull him back, squeeze his throat, and throw my lightsaber at him, all with equal skill. That's just been my biggest beef with Star Wars games since Jedi Knight, and it's really beginning to wear on me. As far as I'm concerned, Force Unleashed featured two force powers: telekinesis and lightning.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Edward & Bella: abusive relationship?

If you haven't read the books or seen the movies, don't commentate. First, read this article from io9. I shared it in Google reader, so if you subscribe to me there, you can check it out there as well. Then, see below for my point-by-point rebuttal.

Before I get to that, a quick summary. About half of my rebuttal boils down to: "does not apply to vampires." The other half boils down to "you didn't read the book/see the movie."
Spoilers throughout.

Does your partner:
* Look at you or act in ways that scare you?

Okay. Won't deny that Edward does this. But he's a vampire. Scary by nature. It's supposed to scare you when he looks at you. Neither here nor there. Being "scary" is not abusive. I don't care what the NDVH says.

* Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?
"Stay away from the werewolves. I love you."

Part one of "you can't apply the same old rules to this unique situation." You're really arguing that “stay away from werewolves” is abusive/controlling? Werewolves are dangerous. In particular, Jacob is more dangerous for Bella than Edward is. Jacob is a nineteen-year-old, freshly made werewolf who has not yet learned to control himself. Edward is a 300-year-old (right?) vampire who has learned, not only to control himself, but to not feed on humans. "Stay away from werewolves" is not controlling or abusive. It's good advice, which Bella pointedly ignores.

* Make all of the decisions?

Part 2. Who should take who's advice: the eighteen-year-old girl who WANTS TO HANG AROUND WITH DANGEROUS MONSTERS or the 300-year-old monument to self-control? Also, untrue. Bella makes the decision to become a vampire. Edward is against it from beginning to end, but eventually gives in because it's what she wants. Other examples include: what to do with the baby, whether or not to run from the Volturi and whether or not to allow Jacob around the baby, whether or not to allow Jacob near Bella, and whether or not the werewolves in general are to be trusted. All things Edward and Bella disagree on, and all things that go Bella's way.

* Act like the abuse is no big deal, it's your fault, or even deny doing it?
"If I wasn't so attracted to you, I wouldn't have to break up with you."

How can breaking up with someone to protect them from yourself possibly be considered abusive? Healthy? Maybe not. Abusive? No. Edward is a vampire and doesn't trust himself to be around Bella, and doesn't want to see any harm come to her.

* Threaten to commit suicide?
"I just can't live without you. In fact, I'll run to Italy and try suicide by vampire if anything happens to you."

Edward never threatened to commit suicide. He tried to commit suicide, without a word to Bella. He would have died, and she would have thought he kept doing the “immortal vampire” thing, had his sister not intervened. Threatening to commit suicide can be considered psychologically abusive and a cry for help. Attempting to commit suicide and not telling anyone about it... not so much.

* Threaten to kill you?
On their first date.

Again, unique situation. Edward never threatened to kill Bella. He warned her that she should stay away from him because he might unintentionally cause her death. According to the letter of the law, I suppose this is technically a threat, but the connotation of a threat is that there is intent behind it.

These are some more signs of an abusive relationship.
Has your partner...
* Tried to isolate you from family or friends.
Bella doesn't have time for anyone else!

Bella's choice, not Edward's. On at least one occasion, Edward suggests that Bella ought to spend some time with her friends or her father.

* Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.).

No argument here. Edward has super-human strength. When he gets angry, things break. Things: not people. I break things when I'm angry too. I don't get angry very often, but when I do, I find something that will make a satisfying “crunch” or “boom” when I put my fist through it. I've never attacked a human being out of anger in my entire adult life. That doesn't mean I abuse my wife. Granted, this can be an indicator of an abusive personality, but not necessarily.

* Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you.
Does tossing her through a glass table count?

No, it doesn't. When in a house full of (friendly) vampires, one of whom is only newly “vegetarian,” Bella accidentally cut herself. Reacting quickly, Edward threw himself between Bella and harm (in the form of his “brother” Jasper), accidentally knocking her over into a table. This act of defense should not be confused with an act of aggression.

* Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
"We're breaking up. And I'm leaving you in the forest."

Yep. Absolutely happened. Total asshole thing to do. Unquestionably an act of abuse.

* Scared you by driving recklessly.

Super-human reflexes. While Bella may have been scared, she was not in danger. If I bring a new girlfriend home and my dog barks at her and she gets scared, does that make me abusive? New girlfriend is in no danger from my dog, but feels afraid, and has every reason to believe that she is in real danger.

* Forced you to leave your home.
She had to run away with him to flee from the other vampires in the first movie, and she had to drop everything and run to Italy in the second.

First of all, Bella was fleeing from danger, not running away to elope. She did not flee with Edward. She fled with two of his adopted siblings. Edward didn't “force Bella to leave her home.” He helped her flee from a ruthless murderer. She didn't have to go to Italy. If it were up to Edward, she wouldn't even have known he had gone there, he would be dead, and she and Jacob would have a long and happy life together. Bella knew all of this and chose to go to Italy to save him, even knowing that she stood little to no chance.

* Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
Check. Even in the hospital, nothing is a big deal.

Wrong. After the dance studio incident, Edward and his family (one of whom has been a practicing physician for centuries, and knows what's “a big deal” and what isn't) not only brought Bella to a hospital, but they called her parents (one of whom is “the police”) to let them know she had been injured. Which part of that is abusive?

* Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
Well, they are Mormon... (I know, I know, cheap shot.)

Yes. Absolutely a cheap shot. Personally, I'm impressed when an author can write protagonists that don't share their values. If you want an example of a strong woman in a leadership role, look no further than Alice, Edward's “sister,” who practically runs the family.

* Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
Check, wolf-boy.

Again, you're really arguing that “stay away from werewolves” is bad advice? Also, patently non-true. Edward is nothing but supportive of the notion that Bella should have friends outside his family. For the first two (three?) books, he encourages her, at every turn, to have nothing more to do with himself. He does not accuse her of cheating, and is not “jealous” of her relationship with Jacob. He knows what Jacob is and thinks (accurately) that Jacob is dangerous to Bella. I don't want my wife to hang out in prisons or lion cages. Not because I'm jealous, but because those are dangerous places. If I found out that she was visiting those places, I would be a lot more upset than Edward gets when Bella refuses to stay away from Jacob (one more instance of Bella doing something Edward doesn't want her to do).

I can't stress enough that you can't apply the same old rules to this unique situation. Edward is a 300-year-old vegetarian vampire who knows better than an 18-year-old girl what's good for her. He tries to protect her, even from himself. He's been practicing not eating people for centuries, and while he's pretty much got the hang of it, doesn't trust himself to be around someone to whom he is so attracted, as the vampire's natural hunting behavior is to seduce young humans. The fact that her best friend turns out to be a werewolf is just bad luck. If my wife's best friend turned out to be a werewolf, I wouldn't want her to hang out with him any more either.
All this being said, do Edward and Bella have a healthy relationship? Probably not. Is Edward abusive? Not by any of these criteria. Okay, there was that one. Can't refute that Edward left Bella in the woods. That was a total dick move.

My next post will be refuting a similar article with a slightly different attack.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Now I’m an Arduinoid

A while ago, PaulC posted on his blog about this thing called “Arduino.” From his description of it, I couldn’t really get a good idea of what it was. Well, now I know.

The Arduino is a microprocessor. Long story short, it’s a robot brain. PaulC has one. I have one. You probably don’t need one. Unless you have a little time on your hands and you get a thrill out of making some LEDs flash in specific patterns depending on the level of the ambient light. Or similar things.

Anyway. PaulC and I have them as a test-bed/jumping-off point for the robot(s) we’re going to build. I got mine a few days ago and went over to Uncle Paul’s to get a crash course in programming (pronounced: “geek ah-oot”). He showed me a couple of tutorials and sent me all the programs he’s written for it. There’s one to flash some LEDs, one to report data from an ambient light sensor, and one to receive data from the sonar units. There are others as well, but I haven’t played with them yet.

So I rewrote from scratch (just to get a feel for the programming environment) the LED flashing and the photoresistor reader. Then I threw them both in my blender and now I have a robot that lights a red LED when it’s not very bright, lights a yellow LED and a red LED when it gets a little brighter, and turns off the red LED when it’s really bright. When it’s dark, it turns off both LEDs. So much fun.

I haven’t started playing with the Sonar units yet, but I think I’m gonna need some more LEDs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

google wave

Google Wave is a really cool collaboration tool. Very basically, it's a chat client like google talk, but it keeps every previous message or "blip" and allows anyone who is invited to the "wave" to edit them.

For example, Paul C and i are working on a robot project. So we have two waves going. One is a parts list, which for now is what we're going to buy, but might become "what we used." The other is a wave with notes like "what we want the robot to do" that we can both edit.

The really cool thing is that we edit them in real-time and can see each other typing as we're doing it. It's still in beta right now, and is pretty buggy, but it is going to be a powerful tool. I haven't figured out yet if you can upload pictures and other files, but i'm sure that will be a feature evenrually.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Toys and Rocks

The day I got my DROID, Paul C and I were talking and he said that comparing it to the iPhone was a stupid marketing tactic. he said it's like comparing a miter saw to a screwdriver. I disagree. Comparing the DROID to the iPhone is like comparing a television to a rock. Television: versatile device that tethers to any other device i want, providing endless usefulness. Rock: good for hitting things and easy to use. the clear choice for those who want a simple device with a few innovative uses, but can only do one thing at a time.

more later. need groceries.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


oh my god! Summer Glau is gonna be on Dollhouse! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The internet: parting fools from their money since... forever

PaulC and I had a conversation about some shadiness on the part of Zynga, the developer of Farmville. He sent me this article from techcrunch. Read it first or I don't care what you think.

Okay. I'm not saying anyone is right or wrong, with the exception of the author of this article, who is an asshole. I have personally been fooled into spending money on several of these offers, and I can say with no doubt that every dollar I gave them was because I was stupid, not because I was tricked. Every offer (exactly like those on Farmville) said exactly how much the subscription or service would cost if I didn't cancel it within the trial period.

This guy did no research except to look at the links in the Farmville game client, which link to the actual offers, which ALL state clearly what will happen when you input your credit card information. He's inventing a conspiracy where none exists. If you're stupid enough to give the internet your credit card and/or phone number, you deserve to have your money taken away from you. I am right. I have no sympathy for people who claim to have been "scammed" because they are stupid. That being said, it has happened to me. I paid for a two-month subscription to Blockbuster and a three-month subscription to Stamp.com to get a free iPod. But I didn't get it. Did I cry about it? no. I said "well, that was stupid," and didn't do it again when they offered a free XBox.

This is nothing new. It's probably the oldest "scam" (I put "scam" in "quotes" because a friend of mine in high school actually did get a free xbox. Twice.) on the internet. This isn't going to be the end of the world that this fear-monger is predicting. It's not going to mutate or evolve into... anything. It's making oodles of money for a few people. If they get greedy and try to make more money off it, it won't work anymore. Just like that guy who was skimming a nickel a month from every account at some bank. Then he got greedy and started skimming a dime a month. Then people started asking questions and he got caught.

Again, I'm not saying anybody is doing anything wrong, except the fear-monger who wrote this article. I'm just saying I have no problem with somebody who's smart enough to separate a fool from his money, having been the fool on at least one occasion.

I get that it's "wrong" that Zynga takes money from "shady" advertising firms. But the bottom line is people give out their credit card info and phone numbers when they should know better, and when they are plainly told what will happen. Nobody gets mad at the guy who invented the pet rock. They think he's a genius because he thought of a way to get people to give him money and give them nothing in return.

Anybody reading this have leather seats in their car? How much extra did you pay for them? People don't like car dealers in general, but you don't get mad when you pay extra for leather seats, which do nothing useful and unless you're naked feel the same as cloth seats. If you are naked, they feel great. Until you shift in your seat the slightest bit. Then you get your skin ripped off. While it may be obvious how I feel from the tone of this post, I am not saying anybody (other than the asshole who wrote the above-linked article) is right or wrong. Just stupid. And while I won't say that Zynga is without blame, this article is an obvious and shameless smear attempt, behind which is almost no research and even less relevance.

Whenever I hear somebody complain about someone making money off other people's stupidity, I want to punch them in the boob. There are scams and there are scams. Lying to someone to got their money is a scam. Making the title of your advertisement make people want to give you money is called "marketing." I don't care what the link text was. If you don't read the website before submitting... No. If you click a link on a website and give them your credit card info, you are a retard and you deserve to have your money taken away from you for your own protection.

PS I just noticed that there is a later post explaining that Zynga has "admitted" that one third of their revenue comes from "lead gen and other offers." A third post says they have committed to cleaning up those offers. This is not an admission of guilt. It's a choice by Zynga to avoid a PR disaster. Just wanted to pre-empt that argument.

Security! Hello? Anybody!?

Dollhouse rant. If you don’t watch Dollhouse, gtfo my internets. But more importantly, don’t bother with this post.

Okay. So I just (last night) watched the first two episodes of Dollhouse season current. Still love the show, and I like the direction it’s taking. But one thing that has bothered me from the beginning, and is a continuing trend moving forward, is the dollhouse’s total lack of security. No video cameras, no guards, nothing. At least twice now, Echo has managed to escape. This time, she was completely helpless (had to figure out how a car works) and managed to escape.

WTF? What kind of circus are they running? How is it conceivable that an active can escape from the dollhouse? Why does the chair not have restraints on it? Okay that may be going a bit too far. Why is there not a second chair with restraints on it? Do they not even lock the doors? How can someone take the elevator up to the ground floor without knowing the password AND scanning their thumb? How does an organization so clandestine not take even the most basic security precautions? How is there one square inch of the dollhouse that is not under constant video surveillance? Money is no object for these people. How can this not be the most secure location in LA? Even after Alpha escaped and killed just about everyone in the Dollhouse, there is zero security in the place. Inconceivable.

The thing that really pisses me off is that this comes not from J. Michael Straczynski, not from Ron Moore or David Eick. This comes from Joss Wedon, of Firefly fame, who’s commentary on Serenity states that he cut from the film a scene or two that made the bad guys appear foolish. Seeing the cut scenes, they did make individuals appear gullible, but they didn’t make the evil organization with more money than brains seem foolish.

This ridiculous “plot device” of the dollhouse having no security does exactly that. This is a clandestine organization that traffics human beings. They make more money in one engagement than Bill Gates makes in a week. It is inconceivable that such an organization, while being so successful, is simultaneously so stupid. Completely inconceivable. Totally destroys every shred of the show’s (otherwise reasonable) believability.

I’m still enjoying the show, and I’m still going to watch it, but if this malarkey continues, I’ll be blogging about it a lot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My God. It’s full of stars.

I found this insanely entertaining. You will most likely find it silly, disturbing and/or thoroughly uninteresting. Also I’m testing some new blog features and I had this post laying around.

Here is a WMA. Don’t play it before you turn your speakers down. Don’t play it at work. Don’t play it in the library. You have been warned. I made this file with nothing more than a cheap microphone, the speakers (which are on either side of my monitor, about twenty inches each from the microphone) on my computer, and my mouth. When I say my mouth, I don’t mean my voice. There is no voice anywhere in this recording. I also tried really hard not to breath on or into the mic.

I was playing with the settings in Steam, when I noticed that it has its own voice chat module. So I clicked “test microphone” and spoke into the mic. I heard it come through the speakers twice because there is about a half-second delay built-in. Then I tried to make a sound so loud, yet also so short, that I could make it echo a second or a third time. While I was able to achieve multiple echoes, it wasn’t with a loud sound, but rather with almost no initial sound at all.

I put my mouth right up to the mic, opened wide, as if to shout, and before I actually shouted, heard a noise start to build up in my speakers.

Basically what happened is my mouth acted like an echo chamber, creating feedback between the mic and my speakers. Mostly a lot of screeching and wind-like sounds, but I found it intriguing that all of these various sounds came from zero dollars worth of equipment. So I loaded up Sound Recorder and clicked record. Then I played around for a few minutes. Like I said: interesting to me, probably less-than note-worthy to all of you.

PS Why is receive not spelled like achieve? It must be a holiday.

Monday, October 26, 2009

teampaulc mailing list

just testing to see if this gets posted to the teampaulc mailing list.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

We're cookin' with Hydrogen now, baby.

This is a rant about this week's episode of Stargate Universe. This is a five minute conversation with a three second “I f*#@ing called it.” You probably don't care, but on the off-chance that somebody else watches SGU and also caught this (or didn't), here's my rant.

If you saw Stargate Universe this week, read on. If not, spoilers ahead.

Glad you decided to stick around. So, last week on SGU, Destiny fell out of hyperspace, presumably for a good reason. The initial assumption was that the ship was completely out of power and that the engines simply quit. At this point, I thought “well just open up the solar panels and recharge the batteries. This is an ancient ship. They surely had solar powered spaceships.” But I digress.

Luckily, the remaining shuttle still had power. So they determined that there were three planets orbiting the nearby star that might be habitable. The ship, it seems, dropped out of hyperspace where it did to give those aboard the best shot of survival. It appears that the ship is on a course that will slingshot it around one of the system's gas giants as a breaking maneuver. The crew guesstimates that the maneuver will put them on course to intercept the orbits of the three possibly-habitable planets. But no. Turns out, the ship comes out of the slingshot heading directly for the star. Bad for the people onboard.

Long story short, the shields were still up, but nothing else had power (including internal sensors), so they assumed the shields were down. Everything turns out okay, but there is some suspicion that Dr. Rush knew that the ship dropped out of FTL and shut down so that it could fly into the star, open its solar cells and recharge the batteries. To which I immediately said: “No shit, McFly.” I knew that and I don't have a degree in astrophysics, anthropology, or ancient spaceships.

This is the DROID I’m looking for

*sigh* I was just browsing the Android market. I am so over Blackberry. Storm 2 = dead. I was browsing the "top free" category and literally every single page had an app I've just gotta have.

Just to be fair, I also browsed the “free” section of the BB appworld. Not impressed. About half the apps are trial versions of apps that are, at best, neat-o. The rest are nothing that interests me.

I'm going DROID. Here's the deal. The Storm had such competition from the beginning. If Apple releases an iThing, people buy it. It doesn't matter if it's junk. RIM and Verizon were not pro-active enough in their advertising of an inarguably superior device, and it has cost them the market (from RIM’s point of view, it doesn’t matter much, because they’re not in the yuppy toy business. They’re in the business tool business). Everything the iPhone thinks it can do, the Storm can do, but do right. But public opinion is "the iPhone is a device for the modern on-the-goer" and "the Storm is a touchscreen blackberry." Most people who need a blackberry don't need a Storm, and think it’s a toy. Most people who would love the Storm don't need a blackberry. So they get an iPhone.

Here comes the Motorola DROID. Android is an already-established (albeit youthful) OS. It's SDK is open, so there's an app for everything. Now they're releasing a product specifically tailored, not to compete with the iPhone, but to bury it. RIM never had such a goal. They didn’t even really want to compete.

After owning a Storm for six months, playing with an iPhone for five minutes, and never having seen a DROID or Storm 2, I will say without any doubt that DROID is the best of the four. Assuming it works. If it breaks easily or has sub-par hardware, then obviously I shall eat my words.

[rant]If the camera is as worthless as the one on every smartphone I’ve ever handled, I will line up forty-two orphan babies and punt every single one. Perhaps into one another. The details are unimportant at this point. This is both a threat and an illustration of how angry I will be. My RAZR V3 had an awesome camera. If Motorola can do it on a crappy little throwaway, they better be able to do it on Dr. Theopolis.[/rant]

And I must recant my opine that “apps” is not a valid category for comparison. While they do both have open SDK, Blackberry is an old news business tool. Yeah, they've got some wicked tech, but if RIM wants the Storm 2 to compete with other devices, they need to either make it Android-capable or re-brand it. And if they re-brand it, it will be a year before it will be a serious competitor.

DROID, on the other hand, is just kilt-wearin’ ball-swingin' cool breeze. Android = Luke Skywalker to Apple's Death Star. Motorola = just a phone-maker, no boon or stigma attached. Flip-out keyboard = tactile feedback, as well as fullscreen view while typing.

So, taken as devices alone, it's a close race. If we were talking about two Android devices, this would be a much tougher call. But I think Android beats Blackberry without even breaking a sweat. I will be sad not to have a piezo-electric touchscreen, but I will be happy to beta test augmented reality apps and finally be able to run flashplayer on my mobile device.

Also, I just noticed that Android has an NDK. I don’t know what that stands for, but I read the blurb on the website and all I can say is “giggity! Aaaaaaaaaaall-right.”

Friday, October 23, 2009

AI War: Fleet Command

I saw this link in Facebook’s ad bar, and it looked pretty cool, so I checked it out. AI War: Fleet Command is an AI-controlled RTS. For the layman, that’s a real-time strategy game in which the user issues general orders and the artificial intelligence controlling each individual ship does what it wants. If I issue a move order, the AI may or may not attack targets a opportunity, depending on the circumstances. If I issue a retreat order, the AI might attack targets of opportunity, but probably won’t shoot anything that will shoot back. Check out this video (hi-res and looks great fullscreen):

This is so cool. I’m saving my allowance right now (probably for a DROID), but this is definitely going on my wishlist.I’ll post a more thorough review after I play the demo, but I just thought this would be worth checking out.

PaulC: remember “Galactic Konquest”? This looks like that with AI battles rather than straight “who has the biggest fleet” calculations.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wedding Photos

Gramma asked, so here they are. All the photos I have online from my wedding. I put widgets over in the sidebar to the right, right at the top. They are in two different albums. The first one is all of the digital photos the photographer took, and the second is all the photos from my dad. Click the slideshow you see over to the right. That will take you to photobucket. On the left side of that page, there is a link that says “view album.”

Google Voice


Coolest phone toy ever. No kidding. I’ll never have to change my phone number again. PaulC invited me to Google Voice today, and I’ve done nothing but play with it for the past three hours.

Google Voice gives me a phone number (which I choose), and allows me to forward the calls to any phone number I want. It also has its own voicemail, WITH TRANSCRIPTS!! Forget paying for Verizon’s visual voicemail. Get it free from Google. I can setup custom voicemail greetings for all of my contacts (imported directly from my Gmail account), or I can put them in groups and assign a message to each group. I can even choose to always dump certain contacts or groups to voicemail.

My Google Voice number can receive SMS and forward them to my phone, or to my e-mail, or just keep them in my Google Voice inbox. It’s fantastic.

Also, you will notice the new widget over to the right. If you click it, it asks you your name and phone number. Google Voice then calls you and dumps you to my voicemail (which I then receive as an e-mail and an SMS). This widget has its very own personalized voicemail greeting.

So cool. Oh. And I can place a call from my web browser. I think. Haven’t tried that yet. I think that’s everything. I’ll post in the comments if I discover something else it does. Or PaulC will get there first.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blackberry watch?


I was trolling Crackberry today, and came upon this article. It seems RIM is developing (and will soon announce) a wristwatch that syncs (via bluetooth) with your ‘berry, and does basically what the caller ID on your TV does. When your phone rings or you get an e-mail/text message, it pops up on your watch. So rather than taking your phone out of your pocket every five minutes when you’re waiting for an e-mail, you just check your watch. “Way cool” says I. I won’t buy one (probably), but pretty freakin’ cool.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Eigenharp? WTF is an Eigenharp?

From BBC News:

What is claimed to be ''the most revolutionary new musical instrument of the last 60 years'' has been unveiled after eight years in development.

The Eigenharp is designed specifically for live performance, enabling a wide range of sounds to be played and improvised.

It is the brainchild of John Lambert, a musician and software entrepreneur.

David Sillito was given a demonstration of its range by three musicians.

Don’t know how to embed the video from there, so you should go check it out. Dunno what else to say. It looks like the first step towards what these guys are playing:

All I have to say is: Dammit. Now there’s a reason to buy a Mac. Eigenharp’s software doesn’t support Windows yet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fear not, till Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane

Dude. Did everybody see the DROID commercial yesterday? I’m impressed and I haven’t even clapped eyes on the device yet. I’ve been a huge anticipator of the Storm 2, but this bit from Verizonwireless.com is kinda the final nail in the coffin.

DROID is a trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. and its related companies. Used under license.

Dude. It’s the Star Wars phone. Let me repeat that for the visually impaired. IT’S A F#@*ING STAR WARS PHONE!!! AND IT RUNS ANDROID!!!

It’s 1:20 AM on the nineteenth of October, and Thor knows what he’s saving his allowance for.

And apparently, something will happen at midnight on October 30 (at least, according to the predator-style countdown on Verizon’s DROID page). Does that mean the ad campaign shifts into sixth gear on 10-30? Does it mean I can walk down to my Verizon store and buy the phone on 10-30?

I dunno. But I’m going to look into it. Not now. There are dirty, swaying men at my door. They’re looking for Brian. I need to go deal with that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Business Card

I don’t “do business,” as it were, but from time to time I’ve thought to myself “how did I get here?” Just kidding (but I do think that sometimes. Then I think “this is not my house”). I’ve thought to myself “I wish I could just give this guy my business card.” But I don’t have a business card. So I know at least one person who “reads” my “blog” knows something about business cards, specifically do’s and dont’s. So here’s my first draft. Your input is required.

business card2

The blurred bits on the bottom are my phone number and e-mail address. I’m not married to the font. It’s just the first one (alphabetically) I could live with. The photo is of Pi Scorpii, the northern “eye” of the constellation Scorpius (or Scorpio). Got it from Google Sky.

Sales Guy vs. Web Dude

You have got to check this out. PaulC and Dad, you especially will appreciate the humor here. I was trolling Crackberry when I happened upon this thread (which you should also read some of), in which was a link to this video:

“I P urine.” Classic. Come to find out, this is just the first in a series of videos from thewebsiteisdown.com

I haven’t watched the rest of them yet, but I bet they are all great.

PS Yep. They’re all great.

More power, Mr. Scott

So I’ve got this pretty powerful computer. But I run windows, (hyperbolic complaint) so about half of my system resources are tied up doing pretty much nothing. So every time I play a game that should look amazing, it looks like garbage, even though I exceed the recommended specs (and far exceed the required specs).

The solution to this problem has been sitting in my quicklaunch menu since I assembled this beast. The piece of essential software to which I refer is AMD Fusion for Gaming.

Here’s what it does. To get all the juice it can out of my RAM, CPU and video card, it basically shuts down everything in Vista that I won’t need while I’m playing a game. All those pesky “essential services?” Bye bye. COM+? Bye bye. Shell Hardware Detection? Bye bye. Terminal Services? Windows Driver Foundation? Telephony? Bye bye.

That’s all the functionality I use. The software also wants to use AMD OverDrive and ATI Catalyst Control Center to overclock my hardware to scare up a few more horses. Once I’ve fooled around with those utilities individually, I might use that option as well. But for now, actually having 4 gigabytes of RAM and 4 2.3 Ghz CPU cores available just for gaming is all I need to run just about any game wide open. I can even turn on dynamic shadows (Dynamic shadows? Surely not!).

So if you’re a gamer, or just somebody who wants a little extra power for a specific application, check out AMD Fusion for Gaming. I’ve only tested it on my machine, but I would be surprised to learn that it doesn’t work on Intel/NVidia hardware, since really all it does is pick up broken glass.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


"If you can type, you can make movies." And it's true. I cranked out this little gem in less than a half hour. Check it out. NOT SAFE FOR WORK!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Google Sky

I’m sure everybody else already knows about this, but Google Sky is the coolest thing ever. It’s a new(ish) feature of Google Earth that points the camera up instead of down. All the features of Google Earth, but on a sky map. Very cool.

So I just spent two hours looking at stuff. Some cool stuff I saw:

Pi Scorpii:

pi Scorpii

Click on the pic and it might blow up. I’ll check that after I post. This is the southern eye of the constellation Scorpius (or Scorpio, if you prefer). I just liked the lens flare.

An infrared view of The Orion Nebula:

orion nebula

The Hubble image was pretty cool, but the Spitzer Infrared telescope also has on image (this one) that is way more dramatic. I think it looks like a Scorpion.

The Tarantula Nebula:

tarantula nebula

Hubble is great. I think this looks more like a little ghost crab than a tarantula, but I’m not in charge of naming stuff.

Anyway. If you haven’t checked out Google Sky yet, do it. Open Google Earth, click “view,” “explore,” ”sky.” Have fun.

Monday, September 21, 2009

President Obama Visits Troy

Okay. It’s that time again. I had a small thought that’s turned into a big rant and you get to read it. This is way political so if you’re afraid of being swayed by my liberal ideology, skip this one.

I’ve just written half of this post, and I feel a brief (other) introduction is in order, just so you know where I’m coming from. Bear in mind as you read this that I am not a member or supporter of any political party. I believe in a no-party system (which is essentially the same thing as a one-party system, but the overlords have trained Americans to fear that phrase, so I call it something different so as to be taken seriously and not be called a Nazi) and voting for the guy best-able to perform the job, regardless of his religion. That being said, I am anti-republican.

If you are a republican, I automatically brand you as being one of two things. You are either a rich person who uses politics to stay rich (you are most likely either a politician or someone with great sway over one), or a sheep who believes what you’re told and still thinks going to war in Iraq served our national interest (you are most likely a someone who doesn’t pay enough attention to form your own opinion, or just doesn’t care and blindly believes whatever the church tells you to). I could be convinced that there are other kinds of republicans out there, but those are the only kind I’ve ever met/seen/heard of.

Until recently (the past year or two), I was convinced that the democrat party was no better. That they were equally heavy-handed with their message and equally dirty with their politics. I believed that because it’s what my overlords told me to believe (insert religion rant). I no longer believe it to any extent. I now believe that, while certain elements of the republican platform may be legitimate, they sully any good name their principles offer them, not by using a religion (which is bad enough), but by being a religion. I pray someone flames me for that, but I think all the republicans I know are too afraid of free information to read my blog (once again, my conclusion based on experience, to which I am not married and will readily abandon in the face of compelling evidence).

On with the blog.

So President Obama gave a speech at Hudson Valley Community College today. I just finished reading it and it made me sad. I’m not sad about education, healthcare and technological advancement being his top priorities. I’m sad that they’re not always everyone’s top priorities. What single thing could be more important than any one of those three? I suppose a case could be made for “defense.” But if you have education and technology, militarism will fall in line where it needs to be. It’s only in a nation where education is a joke that people need to be tricked into thinking that “defense” is important.

Prepare yourself. I’m going to vent a bit.

In my opinion, America’s hugest flaw is that we (as a nation) are uneducated. Every other problem comes back to that. And I don’t mean that people don’t go to college (though that helps). I mean people lack the basic education to be able to think for themselves. It’s the main reason the Republican party still wields a shred of power in a nation with “no official religion.”

After all he put us through, there are still people out there who believe that Bush II was a good president. If that’s not the work of some hardcore brainwashing, I don’t know what is. I won’t demonize him (at least I’ll try not to) because I don’t think he’s a bad man. He’s just retarded. And I don’t mean that to be insulting. Just a pure statement of fact. Someone as dumb as he is shouldn’t be put in charge of an ice cream stand. Okay, maybe an ice cream stand. But I’m so tired of presidential elections being about the “morality” of the candidates (remember, “no official religion”) rather than their ability to perform their job. Who gives a f*@% whether the president is honest? I’d much rather have a liar who knows how to run a government than an honest simpleton.

And before you say “all politicians are liars,” let me preempt by calling you a brainwashed sheep. “All politicians are liars” is republican propaganda. Republicans lie to get what they want (I know someone is going to argue that, but it’s the honest-to-God truth). They deliberately disseminate false information in order to further their own agenda. They know they do it, and they know we know they do it. The solution is simple: spread the idea that all politicians are liars, then nobody can hold it against you.

I’m a young man, so I have very little experience from which to draw. Really, it’s only fair of me to draw any kind of conclusion from our current president and our previous one. Before that, politics was not something that had anything to do with me, so I paid it no mind. I would love to draw conclusions from what I remember of Clinton’s presidency, but it really wouldn’t be fair because my mind at the time was not developed to the point that I was able to look at things like “the big picture.”

So I’m left with what I can only assume to be two shining examples of their respective philosophies.

Former President Bush: A draft dodger (and no, I never will let him live that down) and a deserter (anyone who thinks he should ever be forgiven for that can go enlist in the infantry to fight his war). For the purpose of this discussion, I don’t care. His goal, from the beginning of his term, was to rule America with an iron fist. To accomplish this goal (and accomplish he did), he exploited a national tragedy to start two wars (both of which we are now still fighting), manipulated two religions (Republicanism and Christianity) to guilt people into believing whatever he said, and flat-out lied about… well just about everything. The first thing that made me dislike this man was his stance AGAINST nuclear disarmament. Later it was his inability to understand the impact he would have on global politics, the national (and, by extension, global) economy, and his abundant ignorance of twentieth-century history. He took away your civil liberties (for which no man is ever forgiven) and showed his opinion of your intelligence by failing to even cover it up with competent fear-mongery. Logical conclusion: “I’m rich and I want to stay that way. But I’m stupid, so I’ll have to destroy the country to do it.”

current President Obama: Has not used his religion as a political weapon (and saying he’s Christian so that he stands a chance of being elected in a nation with “no official religion” doesn’t count), has not started any wars. From the beginning of his term, he’s made (and continues to make) an honest attempt to do all of the things he said he would do so people would vote for him. Professes to believe (and acts as though he believes) that education, healthcare and technological and social advancement are the most important things for his government to foster. Is he a draft dodger? Don’t know, don’t care. Is he a murderer? Don’t know, don’t care. He’s a man who knows why government exists: to “Establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.” Not only does he know this, he acts on it.

That’s really all for that (not really, but I’m just whipping myself into a frenzy and you don’t need to be here for that), but just to piss some people off, think about this. First answer this question. Don’t think about it, just react. Are you a socialist? If you’re American, you probably say “no.”

Now ask yourself this: don’t you think everyone should be able to eat every day? Don’t you think it’s the right thing for me to forego caviar so you can have bread? If you do, then like it or not, you are a socialist. If you also think that everyone should be treated equally in every way, regardless of their individual merits, and that it’s okay for the government to take something away from me and give it to you to serve that purpose, then you’re also a communist.

Just think about that when you go see Michael Moore’s new “documentary.”

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More M.U.L.E. please!

I recently (earlier today) found myself in need of a Multi-Use Labor Element. So I loaded up the ol’ C64 emulator and found the rom of EA’s last good game, which I haven’t clapped eyes on since three laptops ago.

No, that’s a lie. I scoured the internet for someone who had cloned it. To my surprise, I was able to find one (1) MULE clone. It’s called Space Horse, it’s a decade old and it costs fifty (50) dollars. Needless to say, I’m not writing this blog entry following a rousing round of Space Horse.

I kept looking. I found many (more than 4) abandoned (or seemingly so) Mule clone projects claiming to be updates or remakes, one of which even had screenshots that looked almost as good as the NES screens. That fruitless search lead me to compose this rant concerning the (lack of) evolution of the game called MULE. I was about to post it on the World of MULE forums when I thought “Dude. I have my own blog.” So here it be:

I'd love to see a MULE sequel. I'm not interested in a remake. I can play the old game on my NES or my C64 emulator any time I want (and as I write this, I want less and less). I'd love to see a re-imagining with some new features (longer game and bigger map top my list) which could gain a fanbase and spawn a sequel. On the WoM forum alone, there are at least three seemingly dead remakes. They die (imho) because nobody wants to play the same game with mildly better graphics. Give me the same game with eye-splitting graphics or give me something new. I'm not going to waste my time testing a game that has little or nothing to offer in the way of innovation.

MULE is an awesome game, but I already have it. I play it all the time. I would throw my soul into doing anything I could to help produce an updated version of MULE, but nobody seems interested in doing that. Everybody wants to make the same old game without all the "bother" of consoles or emulators.

The last update of MULE was in November 1990. That had graphics that were vastly superior to the original, and added a gameplay element: multiple Wampus hunts. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but since it's heyday, the evolution of MULE has been hindered at every turn by greybeards and other purists who just want to be able to play MULE again.

To all you old people: Keep playing MULE like the other twelve of us do! Let the developers make something new! It has been announced recently that the heirs of the game’s creator (of questionable gender) recently began producing a remake. I greet this news with both excitement and trepidation. Would I love to play a new MULE game on my Wii? All God’s Mechtrons say “hell yes!” Will I even bother pirating a remake? No.

If it’s just going to be “MULE 2: MULE” or “MULE 3D,” I’ll play Freelancer or X3 and have something to shoot while I trade crystals and foodstuffs. Or (God forbid) I’ll crawl back into the World of Warcraft bottle and make 300 gold a day crafting paper and playing the market (truth be told, about three fifths of the profit comes from crafting paper). No, I don’t know why it’s fun, but it is. It even sounds stupid while I’m doing it. But I damn sure won’t spend money on something I already own in at least two different formats unless it’s a Super Nintendo cartridge of Chrono Trigger or 7th Saga. Or Sim City.

But let me be serial for a minute. Wolfenstein (known to most as “wolf3d.exe”) is a neat game. When I first played it twenty (seventeen) years ago, I was floored. It’s legacy lives on in such games as LITERALLY ANY GAME YOU F*$%ING PLAYED YESTERDAY.

MULE is (not was) a fantastic game. When I first played it five (or something) years ago, I was equally floored. The dynamics behind MULE are still fascinating and that music (Gawd! That music!)! In MULE, four players have to work together and compete simultaneously. I want to win, but if the colony starves, we all die. Where is MULE’s legacy? If anybody sees it, show me. And the Sims doesn’t count. That’s not based on MULE the same way Halo 3 is based on Wolf3D. I’m looking for a direct descendant.

All the developers out there (and I mean the little guys who release to sites like Kongregate or sell their games to PopCap, not the juggernauts like EA and… who else is left…? Blizzard) spend months (years?) at a time making side-scrolling shooters and tetris clones when there’s meat out there like MULE (props to the guys who make tower defense games. You all rock. I don’t care how many different colors you paint the same game, I’ll play it). Where are all the MULE clones? Nay, the updates?

I realize what an enormous undertaking it would be (or maybe I don’t and I envision a mere space station where there exists a small moon), but it’s been nineteen years. Isn’t it about time? Ask yourself: Haven’t I waited long enough for that thirteenth month? That fifth commodity? A mouse? A GUI? 16-bit graphics? An AI that does more than whore out all the mountains for their smith-ore?

I dunno. Maybe this is the thing that finally makes me learn FLEX (after several months of saying I’m gonna do it and finding many resources, and having read the first chapter of several books, I am now very well-versed in what FLEX is capable of).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lightscribe and Photoshop

So I couldn’t get my lightscribe drive to print labels. Couldn’t get it to burn faster than 4x either. The buzz on the web was that Lightscribe just won’t play nice with a 64-bit OS.

I’m here to tell ya, Lightscribe works just fine on Vista Ultimate 64. I’m pretty sure it still won’t burn faster than 4x (haven’t had occasion to test it yet), but at least I’m able to print labels now.

That being said, Lightscribe is pretty cool. I don’t say wicked awesome because it’s just pretty cool. Burning a DVD, flipping it over and using the same device to print the label is pretty cool. Doing it in color (lightscribe just burns grayscale: it’s the new wood-burning) would be wicked awesome.

So now that I’ve got that working, I pose to all ye a query. Anybody know of a free photoshop-like software so I can design cool monochrome labels without using my pixel editor (and without shelling out six hundred bones)? Don’t get me wrong. Every now and again I open up MSPaint and sexify all the characters from Final Fantasy, Super Mario Bros, Zelda, etc. But usually I want something that does all the work for me.

I think my Canon came with such a thing, but I can’t find the discs. Anybody got any ideas?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The etymology of piracy

This was the second half of my reply to PaulC’s comment on my previous Pirate Bay post, but I thought it was an interesting enough thought to warrant it’s own post instead.

Taking something that doesn't belong to you is called theft. Thieves can be sympathetic individuals with all kinds of potential motivation. They could be nice guys with no job and eight kids. Stealing bread makes me a thief, because I took your stuff.

Declaring the unjustness of the government and saying "we're not English anymore" is called rebellion (not revolution). A rebel can also be sympathetic, depending on his motivation. A rebellion can be started "because taxation without representation isn't fair" or because a bunch of guys who want to be the new aristocracy want to stir up the public to make it happen (hmmmmm...). Saying "I don't live by your rules anymore" makes me a rebel.

The dissemination of intellectual property without compensation to its originator is not called "theft." It's not called "rebellion." It's called "piracy." Pirate = bad. There's no ambiguity. Pirates are drunkards and rapists who take what they want and will probably kill you to get it. They are motivated by greed 100% of the time. Making a backup copy of a movie to which I have bought the right to view makes me a pirate. Removing the copy protection from a computer game so I don't have to swap CDs every ten minutes makes me a pirate.

So because I'm guilty of what ought to be considered a "white-collar" crime (but I'm not taking anyone's money, no one’s life is being ruined because of me, and I don't drive a Porsche), I'm the same as those guys who hi-jacked that boat a couple months ago. I guess that makes sense, since they killed a bunch of people and stole a bunch of stuff, and I... killed a lot of... time. And I stole... umm... nothing. And I hurt... nobody. But because the government is a slave to the MAFIAA (their real name), who wants me to shell out fifty bucks every time I scratch a disc, I'm a pirate. I guess I should feel lucky they're not calling me an "intellectual property rapist."