Friday, August 31, 2007

How Sting is better than cussing

Sweet. The city's annual art and music festival is getting set up in the streets below me, and all of the sudden a wall of music struck my building. Muted strains of Sting's "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" leeched through the walls, with heavy bass to follow. Nice. Better than listening to my cubemates cuss about a faulty subroutine in their table schema automation for the Hyperion project. Sound check...1, 2, 3.

Here's what one of the main drags looks like with no traffic. It was like a movie set.

BTW, gaming is going to be twice as big as music by 2011. All you naysayers who think that games are just for kids and a minor passing $49 billion by 2011? That's no chump change. Maybe Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo will start offering educational grant and loan money based on your achievement or character level.

Pod People have reached maturity and are coming your way

New terms thanks to our elected officials:
Poulting: The act of political moulting...or perhaps

Coulting: The mindless hate spew emanating from the skanky neo-con death's head, Ann Coulter? Or maybe it could mean Sen. Craig having to step down as a result of Bathroom-gate.

Craiging: Meeting in the bathroom for hot man-Brad action initiated by doing a Fred Astaire footloose with your intended target

Autumn years:
Whether it's because folks know that it's time to throw in the towel on a soon-to-be lame duck President, his cadre is leaving for greener pastures. No doubt Karl Rove, Tony Snow, Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzalez, and possibly Craigster will soon be raking in buckets of ducats in book deals and speaker fees, assuming they aren't skewered with a subpoena. Does executive privilege extend to lowly common citizens who foot the taxbill?

Regardless, don't expect Cheney to step down. DARPA has constructed a special exoskeleton into which they will pour liquefied Cheney once doctors deem him unable to continue his job in his current soft, flabby form (being a Dark Lord takes a toll on the body). The model comes installed with a special facial engine which exhibits scowls and hateful expressions taken from the Dark Lord himself. It has a special leg holster for a double-barrel shotgun, a la RoboCop, which allows him to draw down on unsuspecting gay babies. The buckshot is comprised of the teeth of Iraqi civilians killed since Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced. When he pulls the weapon from its concealed location a metallic voice calls out "fuck off" or "go fuck yourself" a la his comments made on the Senate floor in reference to Sen. Leahy.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's Rapture without Deborah Harry


I feel like I've been blathering on about this game for months. I've been drooling in anticipation for its release, and I can assure you that standing near or in my drool pool was suffered not in vain.

This is the best game of the decade. I'm just going to come right out there and say it. The design, mechanics, gameplay, AI, and strategy blow the typical shooter-RPG game model away. This is a thinking person's shooter.

Picture a Citizen Kane like character (named Andrew Ryan) replete with Ayn Randian motivation (I'm looking at you Howard Roarke) who constructs a secret underwater city in the 1950s so people can explore their dreams and desires without fear of impunity. The city exists so people are unfettered by politics, religion, or morals. The city was supposed to be a mecca, a utopia for brilliant artists, scientists, and thinkers.

Of course, it sounds too good to be true, and the city decays upon itself after most of the population becomes hideously transformed from self-inflicted genetic manipulation and plastic surgery. In-fighting among internal enclaves further accelerated the decimation of the lofty city, called Rapture.

The game's character finds the city, and essentially follows the guidance of a man, Atlas, who takes him through the city for reasons not yet clear. It's not yet clear to me if Atlas is being 100% honest with the protagonist, named Jack, but it doesn't seem clear whether the Atlas is to be taken at face value.

That's the story in a nutshell.

The gameplay involves you being able to employ 'plasmids', or genetic modifications that allow you to expel fire, ice, or electricity from your hand, employ telekinetic actions, hypnotize enemy combatants, employ kinetic traps, while other 'tonics' allow you to better emit electricity when attacked, bulking up to improve your skills in handling melee weapons, hacking turrets, cameras, vending machines, and other devices and so on.

The city of Rapture apparently depends on a substance called Adam which makes all these actions possible, and Adam is extracted from dead Rapture citizens by 'little girls' who look like 7 year olds, and have a symbiotic relationship with another organism which allows them to transmute the substance from blood. These 'sisters' are protected by huge hulking genetically twisted 'Big Daddies', which look like deep-sea diver ghost from Scooby-Doo and speak in deep whale-speak baritones. You need Adam, which only comes from little sisters, and you can only get to the little sister by going throw the Big Daddy. Yes, they are difficult to defeat.

I'm simplifying greatly, but that's the gist of it. The protagonist must search through the underwater city and find out what the deal is with Atlas, Ryan, and the fate of Rapture.

I could go on and on about the elements of the game, but what sets it aside for me is the ability to approach situations employing different tactics. If you engage an enemy in a room full of water, you can shoot electricity into standing water, thus incapacitating your opponent for a melee attack or from some rounds from your pistol, shotgun, or tommy gun. If you blast them with fire, they'll run to standing water to put out the flames, but if they come into contact with anyone, the other person will catch fire. If you freeze them, you can shatter them. You can catch grenades in mid-air with your telekinesis and hurl them back at a foe. Pick up a discarded teddy bear, move it into a nearby source of fire, ignite it, and toss it at someone. Level design is loose and relatively non-linear, so there's plenty of room for exploration. Put simply, the environment is an active player in the game.

Graphics are unparalleled. The development team (Irrational Games, now 2K Boston/2K Australia) make use of textures and physics that mimic realworld behavior. The city is constantly assaulted by the pressures of the sea, and water is everywhere. Irrational apparently employed someone to focus solely on water effects and phenomena, and the attention to detail shows. I've come across some bugs here and there. I hypnotized a Bid Daddy and got wedged in a corner and had to wait for the "spell" to wear off before I could move again. It was like getting stuck at a bar with the bouncer crowding you into a corner. Let's hope they push some patches out soon.

It's only on PC and Xbox360 right now. PS3...not in development at present.

Get this game.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tap dance your way out of repression

Quite possibly the funniest thing I've seen this month...

From a loving Senator: I am not gay, but am willing to learn if someone shows me the dance moves. I am rather adept in toe-tapping. I wonder if that's how he courts his wife. Hey honey...check out my footwork...I'll make your body feel like Gregory Hines was making some White Nights at noon, baby...just make sure you dress up like one of the Village People.

Poor guy. So repressed and alienated that he was forced to find a hot strange date in an airport bathroom, which aren't exactly known for pleasant smells and cleanliness I might add. Airport b-rooms everywhere are like those in emerging countries, not that there's anything wrong with emerging countries, of course. Needless to say, the linkage between family values and the GOP seems to be growing weaker with each inappropriate bathroom stall maneuver.

Any-who, Romney went on to make the comparison of Sen. Craig's behavior to Mark Foley and Bill Clinton...hello...Bill Clinton scored a BJ with a consenting adult and didn't hurt anyone. Kenneth Starr and the GOP mafia took care of the hurt by laying a smack down on the taxpayer's pocketbook. Craig's probably been living with some serious self-hatred issues and Foley was trying to fondle an underage page's prepubescent unit. I don't really see the comparison there Romster, but then again, he's the bozo who publicly declared that he thinks we should have two Guantanamo Bay prisons.

I'll bet he'd turn it into a closet gay Republican love nest.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mememail, the wave of the long as you tell your friends

I received a couple emails from a friend. One of his emails consisted of a list about how to "Poop at Work", which was a list of smartly termed fart variants, and other related bodily functions, all descriptions couched in a pseudo-clinical fashion so as to bestow legitimacy. Frightfully charming stuff. I chortled. Crop-duster. Haha. The other was video taken from a "closed circuit security camera"which captures a husky dude placing his bare rump on the copier and giggles while the dittos come out. His joy is short-lived as the glass on the copy surface breaks sending his ass into the delicate nest of Xerox(tee em or is it just r?) machinery below. This brilliant piece was titled: Bad Day at the Office. There are other variants of this video out there.

I've seen these before at least 3 times each - usually through the email medium. These things just keep circulating and resurfacing...they're persistent little pieces of cultural material.

Which leads me to my current tirade. I'm going to start calling these emails with the funny/bizarre video or text "mememails". Why? Well 1) it sounds bloody brilliant [been reading a lot of British fiction lately...all those sodding idioms are become more and more familiar], and 2] because it's a near-perfect term for the behavior.

There are a bunch of definitions for a meme. Here are a couple I culled from the internets:
Meme, a unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. From the Greek mimëma, something imitated, from mimeisthai, to imitate.

Meme, as defined within memetic theory, comprises a unit of cultural information, cultural evolution or diffusion that propagates from one mind to another analogously to the way in which a gene propagates from one organism to another as a unit of genetic information and of biological evolution. Multiple memes may propagate as cooperative groups called memeplexes (meme complexes).
So...if you start using the term mememail, we'll know that we gave birth to a cultural artifact. We'll know it comes from exquisite stock. We'll help raise it through the years, guiding it away from the Perverted Justice haunted chat-rooms, or the superfluously meandering halls of, and leading it to nourishing resources like, or,,,, or, and we'll teach it to sift through the chaff to find the tasty morsels of e-wheat.

I know I'm probably not the first person to coin this term (Richard Dawkins having coined the term "meme" in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene). I found some sources in the ether who included an old link from MIT, which apparently took a pioneering long-view of the phenomenon and had created a repository for these types of emails. The content looks to be from 2001 and is no longer cached anywhere, however, someone did reference the FAQ MIT put up. Check it out here, and do a 'find' on "meme-mail FAQ". I'll just have to live with the knowledge that I offered up a large piece of self-referential memetic material that was later diffused into the human cultural experience.

Good? Yes? Let's get started. Say it with me...mememail (rhymes with theme).

Monday, August 13, 2007

What a nice way to wake up

To find that Turdblossom is leaving his role as senior chief architect of evil domination is such a nice way to wake up. That's right, Karl Rove is stepping down from the side of Dubya as his political strategist at the end of this month.

Insiders report that Satan requested from Dubya that he relinquish Rove for some work he needs done on the behalf of the Sudanese government in their efforts to exterminate the country's population of non-Arab Africans. Mephistopheles said that while he was proud of the work Rove did in the White House, but he needed his talents focused elsewhere on more "core" evil deeds.

Rove and Bush will undergo a medical procedure to remove the cranial surgical grafts between the two. Experts are certain Rove will be able go about his normal daily life stabbing angels in their eyes, raping truth and justice, and other delectables of unsavory and general nefarious behavior.

Cheney will be playing D-H in Rove's absence for Dubya in order to maintain a level of malodorous edicts that the public has come to associate with with most contemporary issuances from the Executive branch.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

iTunes secret assassinator for Outlook?

Word on the street is that the latest version of iTunes software is obliterating some Outlook recurring events. Not a big deal if you're using it at home to listen to the Sphincter Sister's podcast while you dial Mom and looking at the photos your cousin sent you from inside Space Mountain.

But if you're one of those people who have admin rights and can install the iTunes software on your work machine AND your work mail solution just happens to be riding on the Exchange/Outlook backbone, well then...for now you might want to consider disabling automatic updates of the iTunes software if the MS Outlook Calendar-iPhone synch is a concern for you.

The affected version of the software is version If have already have this version installed and have not yet synched, you can also disable the Outlook add-in.

For Outlook 2003, follow these steps to disable third-party add-ins:
  1. Open Outlook 2003
  2. From the Tools menu, choose Options.
  3. Click the Other tab.
  4. Click the Advanced Options button.
  5. Click the COM Add-Ins button.
  6. In the add-ins "iTunes Outlook add-in" and "Outlook iTunes Sync add-in" please uncheck and disable this.
  7. Deselect the checkbox for each third-party add-in in this list.
  8. Click OK.
For Outlook 2007, follow these steps to disable third-party add-ins:
  1. Open Outlook 2007
  2. From the Tools menu, choose Trust Center.
  3. Select Add-ins from the left column.
  4. Look at the list of add-ins beneath "Active Application Add-Ins" iTunes/Outlook add-ins ("iTunes Outlook add-in" and "Outlook iTunes Sync add-in") select the iTunes add-in
  5. In the Manage box, click COM Add-Ins, and then click Go.
  6. In the COM Add-Ins dialog, deselect the checkbox for each iTunes add-in in this list.
  7. Click OK.
Folks who were troubleshooting this couldn't find any other alternative order of operations or impact from other applications that would cause this problem, so tread lightly. This looks to be affecting Outlook Calendars on both PCs and Macs. More troubleshooting from Apple here. Although in this case installing the newest version of iTunes probably shouldn't be part of the solution. Steve Jobs wants to kill your Microsoft calendar...muah-ha-ha-hahahaha!!

Monday, August 6, 2007

At last - everything is done for me!

This is great news! I'm so looking forward to the next round of freedom laws that further chip away at civil liberties! It's great to be in a free society, because it's so easy to give away your freedom!

I'm glad my phone conversations and emails can be monitored by the NSA, if I happen to contact someone outside of the U.S. I can completely see the rationale in needing to see if my email to London is going to a terrorist. I'm not worried that this violation of privacy will ever impact me personally because how could a government with a completely endless and rich source of information on every single person's digital behavior that rivals those of Google's, Visa's, and Amazon's be a threat to me? It's not like they can build a profile of every single person in the U.S. then cross-reference that instance with a previously created index of terrorists (culled from Cheney's secret torture chamber diary), then pre-emptively detain you for questioning. That's preposterous.

Who needs checks and balances? Why should we care if Cheney claims he's neither part of the Executive or Legislative branch so he can't be held accountable in either? I think it's totally acceptable that Dubya extends executive privilege to Karl "Turdblossom" Rove. Why are so many people upset about the fact that Rove isn't an elected executive official, yet entitled to be above the law? Makes total sense to me because he's smart enough to fool the entire nation to put Dubya in office for a second term, then he's good enough to not have to explain his role in outing an undercover CIA operative because her husband foolishly made critical remarks about ol' monkeyface.

We don't need governmental transparency...I prefer opaque and nebulous and muddy to clear and pure. It's a good thing we hazy logistics personnel in place in the Pentagon, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to lose 192,000 U.S.-taxpayer supplied weapons in Iraq? I'd rather lose money on guns than on Jim Bakker's PTL corrupt faith-based ministry, which was taken over by the even more diabolical Jerry Falwell.

People need to stop worrying so much about the war and governmental accountability and personal liberty and national priorities and just get back to focusing on what's real having your 17th baby (praise the Lord!) or whether or not Branjolina will break up...or if Lindsey Lohan's SCRAM until was foiled by ice cubes.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Crysis release date for U.S.

Finally. 11/16/2007.

Don't knock the enthusiasm for games. Word on the street is that Al-Qaida is using Worlds of Warcraft and the Second Life online virtual community to run simulated terrorist activities because they can't do dry runs in real life.