Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Homeward Bound

I've been cleaning out my apartment, and it is hard work. One thing I've learned: the cleaning power of a product is directly proportional to the health risks on the label. To get something truly clean, I'm looking for a product that says, "in the event of contact with skin, contact a mortician."

PS. I did this joke the day before Colbert did it. I stole it from someone else, but I can only assume that he stole it from me.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Team Fortress 2 Get!

I got the stand-alone TF2 for the computer, since I've sold my XBOX copy of the Orange Box. I'm glad that they made it possible to play with little in the way of system requirements. Most people don't have unbelievably powerful game machines, and the game looks great even with very poor specifications.

Computer Troubles

No one likes losing. I'm frustrated and angry at the moment because my computer has been inexplicably shutting down and restarting every few hours. This problem has beaten me again and again, despite endless theories about the cause. I'm frustrated and peevish.

At the moment, we think part of the hardware is bad. It could be the memory or the power supply. I don't know, I'm not a hardware kinda guy.

Now playing: Chicago - Beginnings
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 23, 2008

Twilight Princess Get!

I beat Twilight Princess. I think it does a good job building character and story. I didn't want to do the sidequests because I felt that I should be getting the main quest done.

Now playing: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Fit the Eighth
via FoxyTunes

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gold Rush

I finally got to play that new TF2 map. Seems pretty good. That last push to the final point is hard, but not impossibly hard.

Those new medic achievements are crazy. Crazy fun! (Some of them are just regular crazy.)

An Open Letter To Engineers:
Please help the team. I know you enjoy setting up a little base on the sidelines and getting nothing done, but it would be nice if you would actually put your turret in a place the helped us get objectives.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Twilight Princess

Yahtzee likes to hate on Nintendo's repeating of games, but I think that Twilight Princess is awesome. The crazy top that you get to ride around is totally awesome. I just finished the dungeon that you get the top in, and I have a feeling I'm not going to have much use for it any more. It's too bad really, that top all by itself justifies the game.

Now playing: Radiohead - Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Farm Bill

So the congress has passed another disastrous farm bill. The Bush Administration is right *retch* to call it a bloated program with gimmicks. After all, this "farm bill" includes a tax break for racehorse owners.

However, this program that costs 300 billion dollars over 5 years costs half as much as the war in Iraq, and it doesn't kill one American or Iraqi.

PS. Of course none of the presidential candidates could find the time to vote on one of the most important bills of their career. What a coincidence...

PPS. I dare any member of congress to prove that they have even the most basic knowledge of this monstrosity. The table of contents is daunting by itself. I've tried looking at a few of the subsections, and they're impenetrable to anyone who doesn't have a lot of time to look at other bills that are being modified.

PPPS. It seems that congress' bills are designed to be unlinkable directly. This should take you to a list of bills. The real one is the last one.

Big Dog

So, this is pretty unbelievably awesome. At times, it seems that it must be fake, but it seems to be real so far as I can tell.

Monday, May 12, 2008

8-bit Theater

The venerable 8-bit Theater is ending soon. It's run through a demented version of Final Fantasy for seven years now, and the author says that he's wrapping it up when he gets to the thousandth page, although it might not be exactly 1,000. That leaves him roughly 10 pages to resolve a story that isn't anywhere near resolving. This from a comic whose first 15 pages could be summarized as "They arrive at town," and whose first 88 pages can be accomplished in the game by pressing the d-pad down for roughly 3 seconds after the opening text. Frankly, I don't see it ending any time soon, but I'm ready to be surprised.

There's a real evolution to the comic. It's gone from terrible art to art that is pretty good, but still in its signature 8-bit style.

I believe the author has said he's not going to do Final Fantasy II, but how could he not? That's like making The Empire Strikes Back, then retiring.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lost Potential

One of the frustrations people have about Iraq but rarely voice is the lost potential it represents. When the US pays 10 billion every month, or 1,000,000,000 every three days, on essentially nothing, it prompts some imagination on what could have been.

Example: Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. They have essentially no way of digging themselves out of poverty, since they've already destroyed any infrastructure or trees they have to survive in the short term. If we hadn't gone to Iraq, we could have had a Marshall plan for Haiti and other impoverished nations. Haiti has 8.7 million people. If Americans decided to feed Haiti at 1$ a person-day, it'd cost 3.175 billion dollars a year. That's a lot of money, but it's only 10 days in Iraq. Keep in mind that there are many Haitians that aren't in crushing poverty, and we find that 10 days in Iraq keeps Haiti fed for at least two years.

Let's skip a full month in Iraq. That leaves us with 6.825 billion dollars. I'm no expert on building roads, planting trees, or water sanitation, but I have a feeling that 2 billion dollars each can build a lot of roads, plant a lot of trees, and build the facilities to treat a lot of water. That leaves us with about 850,000,000 dollars for miscellaneous expenses and loans to help spur small business. If one in ten people need a loan to start a business, and half of the fund goes to loans, that means that we could lend each of them about 500$ without any hope of return. Most micro-credit loans are roughly 100 dollars or less, so this is probably more than necessary.

I'm not saying that we could have "fixed" Haiti for the price of staying in Iraq for a month. I'm saying that we could do it for the price of staying there for two months.

By the way, we've been there for more than 60 months now.

Now playing: Beethoven - Moonlight
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, May 08, 2008


As you should be able to tell from the right side of this page, I've incorporated Twitter into this site. Who knows if I'll update it frequently enough to justify its inclusion. I just thought it might be a good place to insert information that doesn't justify a formal post.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Genuine People Personalities

Humans have a tendency to see patterns where there aren't any. It goes back to our hunter-gatherer days. If you think a sound might be something rustling in the woods, it's better to assume it's real than to be eaten by a tiger.

There's a similar phenomenon in anthropomorphism. People assign personalities to almost anything. An owner of a Roomba will probably be willing to tell you about how their Roomba feels, and how it's "special". Most Roombas have a name, like you would give to a pet or a human.

When people hear about this tendency to assign personalities to things that have none, they smugly smile to themselves, sure that, "I'm not that silly." I look at it the other way. If humans are known to create imaginary personalities, then the most reasonable assumption is that people and animals don't actually have a personality, and we are merely projecting this facade onto what is essentially a robot made of meat.

Now playing: Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 02, 2008

GTA VP: Casual Games Suck

In a strange interview, the Vice President of Rockstar said he didn't like casual games. (This means the Wii, in game developer code). Instead, his company is leading in story based game play.

I guess no one told him, but the previous GTAs (I can't comment on the new one) don't so much have a story as a pastiche of other stories interspersed with random missions where you kill people for no good reason. No one is going to say that a game that stole its entire story from something else has good writing. (Well, idiots will.)

The other funny thing is that most people don't play GTA for its story, and the people that do go through the story mode aren't invested in it. Talk to someone who's been playing GTA for a while about what they've been doing lately. I guarantee their story will be about what they did for fun, and that it had nothing to do with the story mode.

I'm not sure why this guy is trying to sell GTA as a story game, since
  1. It doesn't have that great a story in the first place.
  2. People don't care how good the story is.
Anyway, GTA games are fine, don't take this as a rant against the games in general.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Book Review: Life of Pi

I just read The Life of Pi. I read it basically in one go, it was such a page-turner. It was a good book. If you have any interest in reading it, do not try to find out anything at all about it in advance. This is always my advice for consuming media, but Life of Pi is particularly spoiler-able. Don't look at the cover, don't read the inside cover. Just read the book straight through.

PS. Apparently, this is the first post I've made about a book. That's a little disappointing.