Thursday, September 27, 2007

The best t-shirt I ever bought online

Undoubtedly the best t-shirt I bought online was one from the merchandising line of the then earth/industry shattering GTA III. The game involved you driving around and committing horrible crimes. It was genius. One of the many subtle in-game artifacts was a user controlled radio. Once you entered a car, you were able to change to the various radio stations.

One of the on-air ads was for It was a satirical take on the pervasive Web 1.0 business trend, where Joe Six-Pack could map out a business plan on a napkin and get millions of dollars in venture capital to start up ridiculous, or at best, poorly planned online products and services. promised a wide variety of animals available for sale and delivered to your home the next day. Some of the animals highlighted were: fish, rhinos, vermin, stomach parasites, pekingese fighting bitches, sharks, and mackerel.

Wearing this shirt back in 1998 when the game debuted was cool because:
1) people thought it was real
2) they recognized it from the game

Wearing this shirt now is cool because:
1) people think it's real
2) it's a reminder of what NOT to do

And yes, Rockstar Games is still in business, and are still producing morally reprehensible games that are pleasing fans across the globe.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Did you know that Mark Ecko, the fashion designer, bought Barry Bond's Hank Aaron 756th homerun ball?

Ecko then set up a site for people to vote on what to do with the ball. The options were:
  1. Send the ball to Cooperstown as is, where it'd be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
  2. Mark the ball with an asterisk, signifying the cloud of doubt on the issue of whether Bond's used steroids was deliberate, and then send to Cooperstown for admission.
  3. Send the ball into space, and effectively banishing it.
The results are in (I voted for asterisk) with over 10 million votes submitted. 47% voted to first mark the ball with an asterisk and send it to Cooperstown.

The fact that he bitched and moaned and whined about how everyone was trying to tear him down even before the steroid issue didn't exactly make him a likable figure in the game, and once all the issues about "the clear and the cream" came out and he went on the defensive to purport his innocence (he said he didn't know they were steroids) and reiterated that people were trying to bring him down just like they did his dad it didn't really help sweeten his image.

What if he had exerted a little more energy to be a "likable" guy...maybe hired some spin doctors? It's not like he wasn't a capable athlete. Would there had been such a controversy? Maybe, but had he been a 'lovable rogue who was out there playing the game the way he meant to', I bet Mark Ecko would've never bought the ball, and there wouldn't have been such a stink about the matter. We still might've had the steroid investigations and the banning of performance enhancement substances in the MLB, but Bonds would probably have gotten to stay with the he gets to wrap up his career as he lived it: bitterly.

Master Chief in Training

I promise this will be my last Halo 3 posting for a while...unless I need to post another one.

I was well on my way to discuss my excitement about finally rolling over 4 jobs worth of 401k plans into a Rollover IRA, and then I saw this story about some MIT students executing a geekly smart prank on their neighbors at Harvard.

Those kids.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dick was right: we can remember it for you wholesale

In case you were wondering, ign put out a pretty good video review of Halo 3. Some scathing remarks for the campaign mode, but nothing but kudos for the multiplayer.

This review got me seems like the trend with games these days is to develop a big sandbox environment so you can play online with folks from Uruguay, Minneapolis, Alsace-Lorraine, Manhattan, and Hayward...or just with your buddies on the block and spend six hours hacking away at each other.

Taking the evolution of games and considering the trend manifesting in other social vectors, like the online environments like MySpace and Facebook, and the plethora of gadgets that have come out that serve to blur the lines between offline and online culture, it could be argued that people are placing more value on their virtual selves, and thus their virtual relationships. There's actually talk of Microsoft buying a minority stake in Facebook...for $300-500 million dollars. The company is currently valued at $10,000,000,000.

Not to be a complete Luddite, as I can see the argument that some of these are new and useful artifacts of our culture's exploration into virtual reality. It's puberty all over again. We're awkwardly moving through a period where some people are "blossoming" sooner than others, and some are acclimatizing faster to the changes than others. However, unlike most things in human history, I think we'll not see this increasing trend of integrated technology dissipating. Rather, we'll see other aspects of our lives and communities ramp up to become part of the evolving new hegemony. Those that don't make the leap will become legacy artifacts.

On the other hand, regardless of how tech-integrated one might feel, or how many gadgets one might have, or no matter how many nanobots you have stimulating your neural pathways so you can totally kick ass on your ACT/SAT/GMAT/GRE test, or how many friends you have associated with your MySpace account, at our core humans are social creatures that require flesh-based face to face interactions. It will always be this way...unless of course a dominant trait surfaces: one that favors encoding genetic material into binary code and developing virtual offspring. Heck, some folks at Calvin College recently built a super computer for under $1,256. With distributed computing we'll each be able map the entire genome index of all earthly life by next summer!

I'll put my faith in humanity and conclude that we'll shuffle in the right direction: a balance of silicon and flesh. Unless, of course, the next iteration of the Windows OS requires a cybernetic implants so a recurring process can run to determine that you're running a 'genuine' copy.

More on Halo 3: Cnet has some great recent coverage of all things Halo.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Even though I'm under water, I need more fans

I haven't been able to commit to getting much new content up lately. Why?

I've been playing Bioshock, the game developed by Irrational Games, which was scooped up by Take Two Interactive shortly before the game was released. I've other posts on the game, but don't take my action nerd perspective for gospel: sales of this game have been phenomenal. It's a good thing that they released this sucker prior to the Halo 3 launch, as this final chapter in the Master Chief's saga is the reason why you should own the Xbox360. I don't have one, but I'm fortunate enough to work at a place where they have gaming rooms with the consoles with visuals served upon on sexy 60" LCDs. My lunch hours are consumed with battle royales and perfecting my head shot. Once we get Halo 3 I don't know what I'll do with the mid-day meeting...prepare for meeting or let Master Chief wreak havoc on the Covenant and Flood...hmmm...

I digress...Bioshock. It''s a game where...I'm at a loss for words. It's unbelievable. I read an article saying that it's a 20 hour game, meaning that if you sat down and didn't poo or pee (or just sat in your own filth) or eat or interact with outside world and forgot to eat or sleep you could finish the game. I don't see how it's possible. It's one of the first games in a long time in which your choices determine serious alterations in how non-playable characters (NPCs, as they say) interface with you and how game elements reveal themselves. Exploration is a must and there doesn't appear to be a time limit associated with a player's level of effectiveness in negotiating the obstacles. Oh. Did I mention that the visuals are astounding?

Astounding. The environment, which is an underwater city called Rapture, is a character in the game. The pressure of the fathoms presses on the decaying city and the relentless fingers of the deep are winning the battle to elicit implosion in the various structures. Throw waves of fire from your hand (the wonders of genetic manipulation) at an opponent, and he or she will run to water to put out the flames. Send bolts of electricity into water when an opponent is standing in it, and put them out of commission.

All these graphics come at a cost. My machine's graphic card heats up, and even with 3 fans, this sucker would cook an egg. The resolution? Why the Asymmetrical Cooling System on the EVGA 8800GTX 768MB KO ACS3, of course!

It's only about $745. From the picture above, it seems that some bloke spent that amount twice to sport these cards in SLI (Scalable Link Interface) mode, which effectively doubles the computing power done in high-end graphics processing, which allows graphics to be rendered at a better performance rate, AND it's geared for optimal heat dissipation.

I'm weighing the pros and cons of selling a kidney to get one.

As for politics, I've reached a point where I'm going to need less partisan bickering from the candidates, and more focus on rejuvenating American patriotism...and I don't mean more stickers of yellow ribbons on SUVs driven in communities where less than 1% of the populace enlist...and constructing an economic playing field that will allow this great country to utilize its passion and brains by getting all its citizens involved and participating in their democracy and the global community. It's a tall order, but things of value are seldom easily achieved.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ol' Blackwater keep on rollin'

Except this isn't the Doobie Brothers singing for the Mississippi to keep on shining.

So we had a recent troop surge, but not included in the hundreds of thousands of U.S. Armed Services we have over in the Middle East are private contractors. While some of these folks are harmless little hamsters like those lovable rogues in Halliburton, who stroll around in their WTO embossed jackets, others are big angry men who kick down doors and kill bad guys...but who aren't accountable to anyone.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry recently revoked Blackwater USA's license, which effectively negates the legality of them operating on Iraqi soil. Allegedly, a convoy of Blackwater escorted SUVs containing US State Dept was attached by a group of Sunnis, and the contractors and Sunnis engaged in a 20 minute gunfight, resulting in the deaths of 8 civilians and wounding 11 others.

You could say, 'that's what those Sunnis get for attacking 'Merkins', or 'that's not gonna be good for Blackwater USA stock', or 'that's a good sign that democracy is taking root and this action by the Iraqi government is a manifestation of a new independent state taking steps to protect itself', but what I would be saying if you happen to catch me in a pub with a wee draught of the good stuff is, 'damn. that's a sweet deal for the Blackwater guys...they get to travel the world and operate in secret and kill folks and not be accountable for their actions and get paid sweet sums of money and diamonds yanked from the teeth of rich Iraqi children!' What can I say, I'm a cynical drunk.

Haven't heard about any of this? It's all over the internets. Don't get me wrong, if I was a U.S. State Dept official in that convoy and I was attacked I'd want someone there to assist in getting my ass out of there in one piece, however, I think that task best be left to actual combat troops of the U.S. because they're better equipped to deal with these situations. In addition to the combat training U.S. soldiers are taught to understand the importance of winning hearts and minds, and killing civilians isn't generally a best practice measure in such an endeavor.

On the other hand, if you're in the State Dept and you're accompanied by Blackwater, or you're an 'insurgent', and you all have guns and bombs and you don't like each other and are fixin to spill some blood, how much does morality matter as long as your ass lives to fight another day?

What I mean is that in hiring mercenaries for certain jobs in Iraq:
1) it's a sign that the White House was planning to do some effed up isht, because it's on par with farming out torture to other countries, like our "sworn" enemy, Syria.
2) it doesn't make me feel good about my taxpayer dollars going to fund a such an organization because a) they are accountable to no one, and b) they tarnish the mental connection I have between the word 'blackwater' and The Doobie Brothers.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's the villain that makes the tale

Everyone remembers Darth Vader. Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The Alien (from the eponymous 'Alien'). Gary Oldman's character, 'DEA Agent Norman Stansfield', from 'The Professional' ('Leon' in some circles). Samara from the more current 'The Ring'.

Jeffrey Skilling. Jeffrey Dahmer...hmmm...2 Jeffs? Coinkydink? I think not.

Where was I...oh yeah. Villains. They seem to be slightly more of a compelling draw to a film. You want to see how bad they can be because eventually you know that they are sooo gonna get their comeuppance. Karma baby. It's gonna get that hand chopped off by your son, Darth! Lecter, you're going to have to hacksaw your hand off. Alien...Signourey's got a grapple gun and an airlock with your screechy name on it.

I could go on, so I will: Norman...there's a big explosion and a very bright light about to bloom in your face in the near future. Samara...get a haircut.
The recent book I read at the recommendation of a friend, presented another memorable villain, who is about to be brought to life on the silver screen. The Coen Brothers (of 'Blood Simple', 'Fargo', 'The Hudsucker Proxy', and 'Miller's Crossing' just to name a few), have recently presented 'No Country for Old Men' at several film festivals this year. The movie is based from a novel penned by Cormac McCarthy. In the words of Troy McClure, you may remember him from such other novels as Blood Meridian and The Road.

'Country' probably wasn't going to be a book I'd pick up on my own venture, but I'm glad I did. Basically it's a hide-and-seek crime-thriller, punctuated by a main character's 'what's in a life/let's reclaim our humanity' interludes. A guy finds dead guys and drug money, who, of course takes it, and has to skedaddle 'for the lawmen and killers track him down.

As you can see from the preview, the villain, Chigurh, is one bad guy. He has no fear, and no compunctions about how he mows through lives. If this dude walks into your Starbucks, it's bad for everyone around. He uses a captive bolt pistol (used to stun cattle) to dispatch folks and disable lock cylinders to gain entry.

I don't want to spoil it for you, in case you see the film or read the book, so I won't say much about what happens. I'll just close this in saying that you'll remember Chigurh as the perfect personification of utter evil and vile human nature.

Then think about the current executive administration in D.C. and know that Chigurh is fiction, and [with no semblance of hyperbole] that the Bush dictatorship (abuse of executive power, lying to taxpayers, and general moral hypocrisy exercised on a daily basis just to name a few highlights) will be remembered as one of the darkest times in American history.

Reclaim our humanity indeed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Teaser for The Dark Knight

Sweet. Christopher Nolan returns to direct Christian Bale as The Dark Knight.

This story is decidedly different than the overblown budgets, ridiculous casting and camp of Joel Schumacher, and is darker and more character driven. Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Aaron Eckhart star in this summer blockbuster which lands Summer 2008

Conservatives want to keep pressing the same button

A recent study conducted by NYU and UCLA uncovered some interesting findings: "political orientation is related to differences in how the brain processes information".

From the article:
Participants were college students whose politics ranged from "very liberal" to "very conservative." They were instructed to tap a keyboard when an M appeared on a computer monitor and to refrain from tapping when they saw a W.

M appeared four times more frequently than W, conditioning participants to press a key in knee-jerk fashion whenever they saw a letter.

Each participant was wired to an electroencephalograph that recorded activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects conflicts between a habitual tendency (pressing a key) and a more appropriate response (not pressing the key). Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives when they saw a W, researchers said. Liberals and conservatives were equally accurate in recognizing M.

Based on the results, he said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.
I could see Liberals and Conservatives taken this study to fuel both sets of arguments from their respective political cognitive spectrum: 1) Conservatives are automatons and so reflexive that they'd just as continue the war in Iraq because Dubya says it's the right thing to do, and 2) Liberals are wishy-washy and can't stick to their guns even when Al-Queda killer terrorists are breathing down their necks and marrying their daughters!

Ultimately, I would use these findings to propose that more Liberals and Conservatives have more sex together and make babies that engender the very balance our society sorely needs. That being said, I will now call Al Franken and Ann Coulter and ensure that they get a nice room with mood lighting and fondue and make some babies.

Let's talk about sequels

You may have heard, you may have not, but 3 big sequels are on the horizon.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opens on May 22, 2008. Wow. Karen Allen's back...and of course the Hollywood potato patch child, Shia Labeouf. He was constructed from body parts of lesser potato patch actors. In fact, both he and Dakota Fanning were constructed in the same manufacturing plant! Amazing! I'm just kidding...Fanning is a wonderful actor...I loved her in that one about the spider and the pig and the rat with the farm stuff...what was that movie...oh yeah, War of the Worlds.

The other 2 big ones are a Logan's Run remake, as well as a sequel for Tron...both to be headed by a new darling director, Joseph Kosinski. Apparently his awesome talent was recognized by David Fincher (Se7en, Alien³, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, and the adaptation of Rendezvous with Rama [which hasn't happened yet]).

I guess I'm a nerd if I say that these were 2 of my favorite movies when I was a kid. I remember seeing the last part of Logan's Run in the theater when my folks took me to see some other more age-appropriate film. I had to settle for VHS to see the whole film. Later, I got the book and read it in one night. How does one describe Logan's Run? The book and movie are different to be sure, but common elements are: Lifeclocks, Carousel, Sanctuary, sex, drugs, youth, freedom, and death at 30 (or 21 if you subscribe to the premise of the novel). Michael York and Jenny Agutter starred in the film, with a smaller role played by Farrah Fawcett. If that doesn't date the movie, then I don't know what does.

Tron was one of the first movies to make extensive use of computer assisted graphics, and for its time, one of most creative and avant-garde films ever. In case you're one of the 5 people who haven't seen the movie, here's the premise in a sentence: a scorned programmer gets digitized and sucked into a huge computing system where he allies himself with rebel programs and defeats the evil Master Control Program thereby liberating information necessary to put him back in the driver seat, aka the big CEO office where he was formerly employed.
Oh yeah...and this was the film that had the scene everyone talked about...lightcycle deathmatch.

The film was recorded in black and white, then the negatives were hand-painted. Additional scenes utilized prenatal CGI technology that was bleeding edge at the time. The writer-director, Steven Lisberger, of the first film is a co-producer for the sequel.

These could be good people. Then again...we could find ourselves waiting for DVD or worse viewing a pirate copy on ssupload.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Top 10 Favorite websites and associated user profiles (via Crave UK) has an awesome piece on the Top 10 Favorite websites. It provides info on several areas: "What's the Story?", "Did You Know?", "What [this website] Says About You".

My favorite part is the "What Twitter Says About You":
The average Twitter user is likely to have low self-esteem and feel insecure. They counter these feelings by reaching out to everyone they know, and creating situations where they can be the centre of attention. Twitter users are probably a danger to themselves and to society.

But these are gems as well:
The users find salvation in badly animated GIFs, music that auto-plays their voices and taking 'sexy' camera phone profile portraits in front of dirty mirrors -- all common modes of expression. The number of friends in a user's list is a self-esteem barometer. Anyone will do, but their top five friends usually consist of anyone who's shunned pop culture, is partial to facial piercings and is in a grunge rock band.

Most Facebookers have mastered the skill of anonymous stalking. They're loathe to admit it, but they'll happily waste hours peering into the lives of people they hardly know, assimilating every last piece of personal information they can -- particularly if their victim is good looking.
To them, Facebook is the equivalent of breaking into somebody's home while they're away, reading their diary, trying on their underwear and (through the Facebook wall) scrawling graffiti everywhere.

Even if you don't know what any of these sites are, you've probably heard of them. And if you're looking for a nice little summary of each, it's not a bad resource.

Blatant free content or Patriot Act scheme

"Free" being exactly the way I would describe it to you if we were chatting in person.

I'd hold my fingers up and make the quotey gesticulation as to indicate that it's not really free.

Universal has just leveled a lawsuit against Veoh, a company that hosts video content, like YouTube, because of alleged copyright infringements.

Another company,, apparently draws video content hosted at Veoh (per the explanation on the and allows site visitors to watch new release films. The site also offers additional tools which would allow a user to download content from the, for a fee.

You can catch a glimpse of a cam-held version of "Superbad", "Death Sentence", "3:10 to Yuma" and other recent, still-in-theater films. Some are copies uploaded from cam footage taken in the theater, while others are apparently leaked production copies.

I say "free" because, we know that the movie industry doesn't feel the same way, and quite honestly, I can't see why sites like and wouldn't expect some kind of litigation from Universal or other such companies. This activity directly impacts ticket revenue generated from moviegoers.

I'm wondering if sites like veoh and ssupload would exist even if movie tickets were not the wallet-raping prices they are today, or if the overall movie quality was more improved? I would think so. We're becoming more and more acclimatized to expect immediate gratification: instant content available ubiquitously, and the information infrastructure is in place to support our cravings. This behavior isn't going to go away.

This got me wondering...what if this is all a Homeland Security ploy to accumulate data to profile would-be terrorists who view pirated certain content. Maybe after applying their algorithms they'd be able to say that people who viewed "28 Weeks Later" in Indianapolis, IN between August 1-10 within a specific ZIP Code are more prone to detonating a homemade explosive device in a public place, than are those people who watched "Superbad" in Seattle, WA. Maybe is a tool used by the Homeland Security...

...nah...that's too creative for this administration. The evil quality is there, but not the creative. They're more of a "you bad, me good, me crush you with club" evil than an "you inferior mortals will cower beneath my god-like stature as I wield the most destructive power ever introduced! muah-hahahahaaa!"

Friday, September 7, 2007

Late night cracks on Bathroom-gate

Brilliant quips from David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and more on Bathroom-gate.

Here are some highlights:
"Actually, no one has even seen Senator Craig for like a week now. Nobody even knows where he is. They think he may have gone on a fishing trip for a couple of days with an old cowboy buddy to some mountain in Wyoming." --Jay Leno

"The best Republican sex scandal continues to unfold today, as Senator Larry Craig plead guilty to a misdemeanor after he got caught in a police sting operation in the men's room of a Minneapolis airport. ... The terror alert level in our nation's airport bathrooms has been raised to lavender. Some members of the GOP are demanding the senator give up his seat, which when you think about it, that's how he got in trouble in the first place!" --Jimmy Kimmel

"Several prominent Republicans are calling on Sen. Larry Craig to resign. And a couple are asking for his phone number." --David Letterman

"Sen. Larry Craig, who pled guilty to soliciting sex at an airport, is now being accused of having oral sex at a train station. When asked about it, Craig said, 'What can I say? I love public transportation.'" --Conan O'Brien

"A lot of people are calling Senator Craig a hypocrite because he was a very vocal opponent of same-sex marriages. ... But to be fair, he has never come out publicly against anonymous gay bathroom sex." --Jay Leno
In the same vein, has the Top 5 Republican Gay Sex Scandals. Oh the hilarity ensues on this one! Videos accompany each contender: Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Bob Allen, and Glenn Murphy Jr.

In depth coverage from the

Does this pinnacle of journalistic excellence ever suffer from lackluster content? Are their articles ever not germane to the human experience? Would I be erroneous in saying that they are the Camelot of castles, the Dom of champagnes, the Idi Amin of dictators?

Nay I say. NAY! I salute their recent hardhitting poll of regular Joe and Jane six-packs to find out what they think about the recent decrease of Black/African-American troops in the U.S. Armed Services.

More on memes with Internet People

So I recently revived the term, mememail. In the same vein, Dan Meth created a short video about "Internet People". It's a Flash montage of memeish material and phenomena that's coursed through the Internets over the years. Things like, Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain" (check him out live on Jimmy Kimmel), "Dick in a Box", Stephen Colbert roasting Prez Bush, Jib-Jab parodies, You're the man now dog, G.I. Joe voice overs (you should check these of my favs is the dancehall remix), Ashley Simpson's weird jig on SNL, etc. Check it out.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Experience new Getification

So what's the big 'search' difference between Google, Yahoo!, and Ask?

The new TV spot perfectly depicts how Ask continues to innovate how to deliver search results to users.

Notice no ambiguous "algorithm" references, or cameo appearances by Kato Kalin.

While Google continues to push ahead (and away?) from search and diversify its products, Ask has moved beyond just serving up 10 blue links.

Well the 10 blue links are still there...but did you see the Binoculars next to each link? If you hover your cursor over one, you get a chance to preview the page to see what it looks like. If there are any videos related to your search results, and you hover your mouse over the thumbnail, you can see about 3-4 seconds of the video to see if it's what you're looking for.

Pretty cool stuff. The approach is basically to provide your search results AND a variety of other related search possibilities, so that you locate what you want fast, so you can spend less time finding the right query terms to use to produce the search results you need.

Try it out. Interested in the new Apple iPod products and price cuts, as highlighted by Steve Jobs yesterday? Peep the search results from Ask.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Keith Richards leaves defeated

Absolutely hilarious material from I hope she's able to pull out of her tailspin and moderate her drug use. Maybe then she can renew some performance dates. If she's able to make a comeback, it'd be a killing. Otherwise, the best she could hope for would be to crash out at Dave Chappelle's spot in South Africa, get straight and come back to do small venues.

Did you see the Rolling Stone interview? You should check out the paper version as the online is just an excerpt, but it definitely paints a gnarly state of affairs of substance abuse. Not that I'm one to follow the drama rags, but anytime I hear the word "speedball" I think first-class, one-way ticket to a dirt-nap.