Monday, May 30, 2011


Terraria. It's basically Minecraft in two dimensions.

Pros: Freedom and Exploration

You get to run around, digging and exploring, or building as high as you want into the air. There are a lot of things to find all around you. The items are neat, and the interface works well. Thankfully, you don't have to figure out recipes, it just lets you know what you can craft with what's in your inventory.

I particularly like messing with water and lava. Water is the ultimate safety device; you can ride waterfalls down any hole, and it makes a safe platform of obsidian on lava. You can jump higher in water too, so you can "ride" waterfalls up to places that you couldn't normally jump to. I just wish water had some effect on your opponents.


The enemies are terrible. There are three kinds of enemies, and they're all stupid.

The default enemy walks at you until one of you dies. If you're in a small area with them, you can get bounced around by the damage knockback, which prevents you from doing anything at all.

Then there's the enemies that teleport near you and shoot a projectile that goes through walls, so they can shoot you, but you can't shoot back.

Then there are the enemies that "fly" through the ground. Basically all you can do is attack as they get near you, trading damage until one of you dies. Once you get to the biggest ones, it's even odds which it will be, and they just keep coming.

The main problem with all of these opponents is their spawn rate. When enemies spawn as fast as you can kill them, and shoot magic shots at you from another room, it gets old extremely quick. Even the normal enemies can overwhelm you with numbers when they start dropping down from above, and you forget to seal yourself against them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Saxxys

I've been spending quite a bit of time voting on The Saxxys, and I have this feeling that not many other people are.

When I start voting in a category, it is thick with ineligible videos. As I proceed, the number of videos that have nothing to do with TF2 thin out as I flag them.*  If my work is making a significant change in the proportion of ineligible videos, days after the beginning of the contest, there must be very few voters indeed.

I can't blame the people that don't vote, why bother voting between two videos which obviously aren't going to win anything? This is by far the most common pairing of videos, and it's a waste of time.

I'd guess about half the videos are ineligible. Half the remaining videos are so terrible there's no chance of winning.** Only about one percent of the videos are good enough I would suggest anyone watch them. If I were running the contest, I would change two things: I would allow the voter to flag both videos as ineligible, and I would have a button that would indicate a vote against a video. An average voter can recognize that a video's general crumminess means it's not going to win anything, even if it's technically appropriate for the category.  If a video got enough of these anti-votes, it'd be moved off the list of eligible nominees.

*this could be a psychological effect, which would mean that none of this is significant.
** A particularly annoying kind of video is a demoman sticky jumping to the enemy, and hitting them with the Ullapool Caber (see below). If it had never been done before, I could see the attraction. Instead of a novelty, it's become the most common thing in the contest.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Best Animal Ever Tourney

Fill out your brackets today, if not earlier!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pirates 4

I saw Pirates of the Caribbean 4. It's just about what you would expect. It's clearly the work of people who just didn't care. It's one of the many modern movies where you have no idea where you are or what's going on most of the time. They made the shot very pretty, but it's clear they didn't do the work to flesh out the world.

Al Swearingon didn't get as much to do as I would have liked, but he had an entire HBO series, and that didn't satisfy me.

Apparently some idiot in marketing thought the movie didn't skew young enough or something, so they added in a pointless romance between a young couple of "actors" with all of the "acting ability" (generic good looks) and none of the name recognition of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly. I thought cutting the boring romantic pairing was the best improvement to the series, only to see my hopes dashed. At least it didn't take up much screen time.

Speaking of, I hate that Hollywood seems to think "romance" is the same as, "the woman is attractive, and the man is attractive/funny", so they fall into each other arms, often having spoken for less than ten minutes. I'm not saying you have to show ten minutes of dialogue, although Tarantino shows it's possible. A movie can indicate that a romantic pair has had time to talk off-screen before they decide they'd die for each other. Pirates 4 was particularly bad, considering one of the pair was a monster, and the other was a priest.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No More Politics

I know no one cares about my political stuff, especially since I generally just agree with Paul Krugman, so I'll take a break from that sort of thing, after I've said this one last thing.

Ralph Nader liked to say  that people should spend as much time and effort judging political figures as they do thinking of sports teams. Apply the same process, ignore the rhetoric, look at the numbers, and do some real research. I think we can all agree this is an extremely low bar, but we don't live up to it.

Most political debates are completely tangential to the important things, and the basic premises of those arguments are usually incorrect or disingenuous. This only works because people spend less time analyzing politics than they do their local sports team.

Maybe Americans don't deserve America, even in the state it's in.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Couple Political Planks

I know everyone loves it when I write ill-founded political rants, (something largely missing on the Internet), so here's a couple things.

First of all, no one should ever die of being poor. We don't have to make everyone equal, but we should have an arrangement where basic preventative medical care and basic living needs are provided to those that would die otherwise. Right now, people below the poverty line, (a quickly increasing population), die five years or more, on average, than those that have a living income. That's not OK.

Second, we need to pay more on schools and education, with a focus on having decent facilities and teachers. Yes, technology teaching is good, but the first priority must be on having teachers capable of teaching.  I heard once a teacher say that they had never received an evaluation of any kind in how they are teaching. Helping teachers measure their own performance would be the first step, after which, if the teacher could not reach some sort of standard, they would be removed from their position. In other words, you'd have a chance to shape up before you were kicked out, just like any regular job. Where a Republican plan has the goal of firing a lot of teachers, my plan would increase the amount of teachers, and only fire those teachers that couldn't meet a standard of quality.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Logical Impossibility of the Trinity

If I told you two "persons" were in the same body, had the same abilities, are made of the same material, and had the same mind, you'd say I was stupid.

You'd say the "two" persons were actually just one dude.

I would concede, "yes, they're the same nature, and the same being, but they're different persons."

Again, you'd say I was stupid. What's the point of being two persons, if you're obviously only one thing, you may ask.

"See, when they are active, they're one person. When they are simply existing, they're the other. It can be difficult to impossible to tell which person is being displayed at a given time, since there's no evident difference between the two, since they're made of the same stuff, and have the same abilities, as I said earlier."

You probably think this entire argument is stupid, and doesn't make any sense at all. What's the difference between a person and a being? Why should we care which is which, if no one can tell the difference? You would probably argue that they're not two people, it's more like two moods, or attitudes, of one person.

My theoretical dual person is self-evidently absurd, but this is precisely the position of the Divine Trinity celebrated by the majority of Christians. God is supposedly three persons at all time, but the "Holy Spirit" and the "Father" are essentially indistinguishable. They're both omnipresent and omniscient, and have the same intent. It's superfluous to describe such an organization as two persons, especially since the Bible doesn't describe the Divinity as three persons, it's inferred from indirect references to "the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". There's nothing to say that the Holy Spirit is a person, whatever that means, especially since "Spirit" means "Breath", and has obvious other potential meanings.

It seems to me the "Holy Spirit" is simply the feeling or attitude or ethos that a person has when they are holy. A person infused with the "Holy Spirit" isn't being ridden by a divinity*, they are living the divine life.

This diagram from Wikipedia is self-evidently absurd. Any first-year logic student knows that if A=B=C, then A = C.

The worst part is, none of this effects a single thing. Even the Bible doesn't indicate that belief in a Trinitarian God will affect a part of your life, or determine what happens in the afterlife. All of the endless debates about the nature of God are absurd and semantic, yet people have died for their belief in a non-trinitarian God.

*It's clear the Bible does not think that God is omnipresent, but if God is omnipresent, he can't be more or less with you at any given time.

Monday, May 02, 2011

TF2 Hat Update

Man, all these new hats, I need to get my butt in gear and update my old hat list.