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

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?