Friday, December 28, 2007

Abstinence Only Gun Control?

<a href="http://cectic.com/091.html">From Cetric</a>

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School Days: Holy CRAP!

I just got done watching "School Days", otherwise known as "The Freakiest Anime I've seen in a loooong time".

It starts out boring.  Mokoto has a crush on Katsura.  His best lady friend Sekai (who sits next to him in class) helps him win the heart of lady fair.  Except - Sekai is also in love with Mokoto.  Oh, no!  Not the dreaded anime love triangle!

But then - things get odd.  Mokoto finds that being a boyfriend to Katsura is harder than he thought, compared to being friends with Sekai.  But - Katsura isn't quite ready to give up on her boyfriend when things go south.  And there are other girls with crushes on Mokoto.  Insert plenty of fan service, and you're certain that this is yet another typical "cute girls with big boobs and short skirts anime", right until -

Holy.  Fucking.  Shit.  The ending comes at you from left field so hard, you do *not* see it coming.  Turns out the anime is based on an ero-game from Japan (basically, "Pick the right path a la 'Choose your own adventure' style, get hot nekked sex with the right girl), and the story fits that with so many girls crushing hard on one guy.

Unlike your generic harem comedy or even drama, things go very dark, in a very hard way.  There are real world consequences for toying with a girls heart - or recklessly engaging her body in ways that most 15 year olds aren't ready for emotionally.  The end result has literally left me thinking I am going to have some *very* scary dreams tonight.

I'm not sure if I can recommend this, but - damn.  Perhaps I should, because if art is the ability to move a person's emotions, then this anime series succeeds incredibly well.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Defending Bedford Falls

Several years ago, I read the article All Hail Pottersville!, a defense of, well, Pottersville.

If you recall from "It's a Wonderful Life", George Bailey gets to see the world if he had never been born. People dead because he wasn't there. Entire communities gone. A town turned into the personal playground of a rich land baron. We get to see how Bedford Falls would have become Pottersville, a place full of drink, dancing, gambling, and all manner of entertainment.

In his article, Mr. Kamiya defends Pottersville. Compared to Bedford Falls, it's a happening place. Who wouldn't want to live in Pottersville? Bedford Falls just has people walking about, maybe strolling through the grass. There's one loose woman of morals, while Pottersville has scores of ladies ready to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Mr. Kamiya wrote an article so strong, that for years, I've been troubled by it. I'm certain he wrote it as a sarcastic commentary upon the movie and our society. But - there was a kernel of truth to what he said. Pottersville *is* a fun place. Why wouldn't the people of Bedford Falls want to live there?

And then, after years of pondering this issue, I understood the flaw in Mr. Kamiya's defense of Pottersville:

It's a sham.

You see, the people of Bedford Falls *could* have everything that Pottersville have. They have no shortage of people who could make money. After all, didn't Martini make his bar off of a loan from George Bailey? There's a pharmacist in town who I'm certain could sell any number of pleasure enhancing drugs to the people in town.

The difference is that in Pottersvillle, there is no choice. Potter has decided that the town will be a sopping den of liquer and iniquity. In Bedford Falls, the people *could* have made the town whatever they wanted, and George Bailey would have supported them just the same. They could have gone ahead and turned it into another version of Vegas had they chosen, and Potter wouldn't have been able to profit a dime off of it with George Bailey there.

That is the issue with Pottersville. It isn't that Bedford Falls is a dull, boring place. It's that the people have the choice in their own destiny, and they choose a simple, peaceful life. In Pottersville, their lives become nothing but a living hell because the only choice is serving Potter, becoming another cog in his machine to fill his pockets even further off of their sweat and misery.

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I just seem to attract them

Today, I went to Busch Gardens with some friends from church, along with two of my children.  The third child and My Lovely Wife were at home (the former sick, the latter very tired and didn't want to leave the bed, so I volunteered to take the children instead of working from home like I had planned.  Which was OK - I had vacation time to use up.)

There I was sitting in one of the restaurants before another Christmas show was suppose to start, and this kid sitting at another table looks at me.  "Hey, that's a stupid hat," he says.

I look at him.  He was wearing a "My Chemical Romance" shirt and an attitude.  "Bite me, you little punk."

He stands up, all 100 pounds of him.  "Bite me?"  he says.  "Bite me?"  he approaches, then sticks out his hand and grins.  "Hey, cool.  Nice to meet you.  I'm Jeff."

"I'm John.  Nice shirt."

I shook his hand.  He then sat down and told me all about My Chemical Romance, how much he liked Insane Clown Posse more, about his favorite video (it's on Youtube - that's youtube.com, you know), and on and on.

I chatted with him, asked about his family ("not here, which is cool because I can ride all the rides I want and not hear them blah, blah, blah at me"), how he was doing, so on and so forth.

We talked for a bit, then I excused myself to get my own lunch.  By the time he had come back, he was gone.

I wish I knew what had happened to him.  I hope he's going to have a Merry Christmas.

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Best reason why you shouldn't smoke

At least not while playing with your DS:

GeMaga.com

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Too many accounts

I have a myspace account as johnhummel.  I'm on facebook as john.c.hummel@gmail.com.  I'm on pownce as johnhummel. 

I don't know what they're there for.  I hardly use them.

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I have idiots for siblings

Real world situation: I call my parents place asking for my sister's email addresses. Why? I don't have it, and I want to send them Amazon.com gift certificates for Christmas. I search my gmail account - they've never sent me a message.

So I ask for it.

I get a Facebook message from my sister. "Why are you asking for my email address. Don't you have it?"

This may be the dumbest question I have ever been asked. If I had it, would I be asking for it? It's 5 days until Christmas. Why the hell would I be asking for an email address?

And why would you send me a Facebook message *instead of just emailing me*? Do my sisters think I'm going to sign them up for tentacle nostril rape porn spam or something?

People wonder why I only visit my family once a year. This is why.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Greatest thing ever - or creepiest?

Chibi dancer in hoochie-skirt from Final Fantasy IV for the DS.

Great - or creepy?


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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Portal Song

The Portal song is running through my head.

And I'm still alive.....
Sent from my iPhone

Banking annoyance

I think I have figured out part of the problem with our credit system.

Yesterday, I went to pay my tuition for the last 16 credit hours of classes I need to finish before getting my Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science. Total: $3800 ($250 per credit hour, minus 5% for paying it all at once.) I had saved up $4000, so this wasn't a problem.

(Though I really wanted a laptop. But school is more important.)

I put in my bank credit card detail, the one that's tied right to my checking account. I don't use regular credit cards any more - if I don't have the money, I just deal without it.

Today, I get an email telling me that the bank couldn't authorize the payment. I call them up. "What up? I got $4K in the bank, and you won't authorize it?"

"You're only allowed $3k a day off of your bank card. Make the school split the payments."

The problem: they don't authorize based on what's actually in my bank account. Last week, someone tried to buy a $600 laptop off of my wife's credit card. Luckily, because we're anal, we check our bank account every damn day, so we stopped that in a hurry. But still - in the account we had $100 in checking. The bank should have said "Hey, there's no money in this account.

Instead, they approved it, then proceeded to charge us overdraft transfer fees and the like. What they *should* have done is deny the charge because there was no money in the bank.

Then, in my situation, there was clearly money in the bank, but they don't base the bank card charge approvals off of the money that you actually have. Does this make any sense to anyone?

I finally wound up using my corporate AMEX card, which means I'll put the $3800 into my high interest savings account for a few weeks, then transfer it out to pay the AMEX bill when it comes due on January 02. If nothing else, maybe I'll earn $10 in interest.

Still, the whole thing just bugs me. Bank cards are there to use like a check book. You swipe the card, the bank should go "You have X money in the account", and use that money. Period. That's it. Obviously, though, they don't.

And now we wonder one of the reasons why banks are starting to have issues because of the credit industry.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Rape in Iraq - I thought it couldn't get worse

Female American citizen, raped multiple times in multiple physical locations I can't bring myself to mention by her fellow KBR/Halliburton employees. Then locked in a container for 24 hours and told if she sought medical attention, she would be fired.

She finally got to a phone from one of the guards, called her father, who called his congressman, who got the state department involved. When they got her out of the container, Army doctors verified she had been raped multiple times.

Here's the part that kills me:

Jones told ABCNews.com that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.


WHY IN GOD'S HOLY NAME DID THEY HAND OVER THE RAPE KIT TO KBR SECURITY OFFICERS? What the hell is going on here?

And evidently, they're going to get away with it. Why? Because there's a "get out of jail free" card for all contractors in Iraq, so nobody from the US government is even bothering to investigate it. Even worse, now that she's filed a civil suit, Halliburton says:

1. Well, we've "divested" ourselves of KBR, so we're not responsible. (I have the feeling everything bad that Halliburton/KBR has done in Iraq will be blaimed on KBR so the parent company isn't hurt).

2. Because she was an employee, we get to hire an arbiter for the case, so she can't go to trial.

The story speaks for itself. I don't know what to do with my outrage. I really don't.

Source: ABC News

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Mitt Romney is Wrong: Religion requires freedom

I've been thinking about Mr. Romney's speech.

First of all, I'm Mormon. Which means that I'm about to be followed by a bunch of comments regarding holy underwear and wives and plates and whatever. To which I'll only say: whatever. Just as weird as believing that a piece of cracker turns to blood in your mouth, or that you get 70 virgins if you die defending your faith. Yes, we had a problem with racism up until the 1970's, and the whole polygamy thing is good for a laugh. Every religion "grows up", and mine is pretty young that suffered some trauma early on.

Second: Mr. Romney was wrong when he said "Freedom requires religion". He's wrong logically, he's especially wrong when it comes to the tenants of the Mormon faith. What he did was throw out a bone to the religious right who want to see separation of church and state brought down. Yet when you ask any Mormon (or at least, any one that I've talked to down here in Florida), they think that's a terrible, terrible idea.

Why is Mr. Romney wrong based on Mormon faith? Mormons like myself believe that God inspired the US Constitution. He didn't write it, but he inspired the people behind it. Why? Again, by Mormon belief, so that there would be a nation conceived in liberty that would allow religious freedom to allow the conditions of the restoration of the church.

Think about that a second: Mr. Romney said "Freedom requires religion". But right away, according to Mormon faith, he runs into a major problem: the history of the church believes that the Constitution was created with freedom of religion, in order to allow free expression of religion to occur.

Therefore, one could only conclude by the Mormon faith that it is not that "Freedom requires religion", but "Religion requires freedom"! Without free expression of religious beliefs, you can not have complete expression of any religion.

Then, look at other countries. Do they have religion in China? Sure. Do they have free expression of it? No. Therefore, people having religious beliefs haven't magically made China a flourishing democracy.

Mormons believe strongly in the separation of church and state. The 11th article of faith reads "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

I might have added "Or not, as they may", but hey, it was the 1800's, atheists were a crazy idea to some people. Then again, so was the idea finding plates that said that Jesus visited America, so forgive him. Mormons know what happens without complete separation of church and state - you get a situation where your religion gets murdered just because you have crazy ideas that Jesus was the son of God (literally) or something, and then you run to Utah.

Trust me - the vast majority of Mormons that I've talked to strongly believe in the separation of church and state.

I haven't met a single Mormon in my area that wants to vote for Mr. Romney. I don't want to vote for him. I would have supported him if he kept his "beliefs" that gay marriage was fine, and his pro-choice statements (yes, there are Mormons like myself who are pro-gay marriage and pro-choice because of my beliefs in constitutional freedoms, which are separate from my religious beliefs). By dropping them once he ran for president, he's only proven to me he's a guy who will say anything to get elected, so I don't know *what* he believes, save in power.

So, Mr. Romney is wrong - Freedom does *not* require Religion. Free expression of Religion requires Freedom of expression, separation of church and state to ensure that no other religion can enforce its beliefs on others. To say otherwise only proves that not only is he a bad candidate, but also a badly thinking Mormon.

Of course, this is all just my opinion. I could be wrong.
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Thursday, December 06, 2007

We didn't hide anything. Really.

In 2002, the CIA taped interrogations of suspected members of al Qaeda.

In 2005, they deleted the tapes. Evidently, they thought nobody would need them. Not Congress who was investigating whether the CIA was using torture techniques (such as waterboarding). Not the justice department. Not the courts who would want to know just how the evidence against the suspects was obtained.

Yeah. I'm *sure* there was nothing to hide here.

Great gaming article

You may have seen some articles about how bigoted and homophobic the people on Xbox Live are.

Destructoid - a site I usually avoid, to be honest, has a great article written by Jim Sterling, on how maybe the Xbox Live incidents aren't a problem with "frat boys", but people in general - and it's up to use to fix it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Charlie Gibson interviews President Bush

The transcript is here: http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Vote2008/story?id=3891196

The scariest bits:

But [President Musharraf] says he believes in democracy but this state of emergency, which he says he needs to do to fight terrorism, all he's done is arrest political opponents, he's arrested lawyers, he's arrested human rights people. It looks more about saving his own political skin?

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Well, as I say, he has done more for Democracy in Pakistan than, than any modern leader has...


He hasn't crossed any line, and he has done for democracy than any other modern leader? WTF? Arresting his political opponents, firing supreme court memebers who would vote against him to get the results he wants, banning lawyers, keeping his other opponents under house arrest - *please* tell me how this is good for a democracy.

I used to think that Mr. Bush was ignorant, taken advantage of. But when you say "Well, you have to suspend democracy, put yourself in power in a coup, keep your opponents from running against you - well, you *need* that from time to time for a healthy working democracy" - at that moment, you're not stupid.

You're evil.

HARLES GIBSON: Just one more question on Pakistan, are the, are the nuclear weapons, in your mind, safe from Islamic radicals, and can you be sure?

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: I certainly hope so.


Oh, that's comforting.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My daughter is playing

I got her hooked on "Portal" and "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney".

I'm so happy.

Swiftkids for Truth Uncover - Hilary's Cookie Recipe!

I thought this was amusing:

Swift Kids for Truth uncover Hilary's Cookie Recipe.

Shocking!

Deaf man tasered. In his bathtub. In the wrong house

Evidently, a naked man in his bathtub putting his hand to his ears looks so dangerous to police they have to tase him.

The only thing I can figure is they were terrified of getting wang smacked or something, because somehow, I don't think he was going to pull an Uzi from between his butt cheeks.

Appeals court says "No" to Faith Based Prisons

Religious group decides to run a prison.

Religious group tells the inmates if they convert to their religion, that they're saved - otherwise, they're damned.

Inmates start noticing if you join their religion, you get to parole boards faster and other perks.

Luckily, the US Federal Appeals Court unanimously shot it down.

Thank goodness.

Source: Crooks and Liars

Presidential Hopefuls who have lost my vote

From the Republican side:

Ron Paul: For wanting to dismantle pretty much every government agency (Education Department, EPA, etc) since "the market will take care of it", even though every historical indicator indicates that no, it won't. (I guess that's why I support Kucinich more than Paul - each share equal constitutional appeal, but have opposed economic ideals).

Mitt Romney: For being Janus on every issue before he became a Republican. And for wanting to continue the torture at Guantanamo.

Huckabee: For wanting to dismantle the Department of Education (really - what is it with a department that ensures that educational standards are met and financed across the country so you don't have "rich" states outstrip the "poor" states in spending, therefore creating a power shift to richer states? Don't they get this would make "blue" states the more dominant after 20 years?)

McCain: For walking around, with 200 armed soldiers, with a helmet on - and telling people things in Iraq are getting better.

Guiliani: For being like Romney on torture and Iran and everything else - only worse.

From the Democratic side:


Hilary Clinton: For attacking Obama for what he said as a kindergarten student. Yes, I'm serious. Oh, and for what he said in the 3rd fracking grade as well.

Monday, December 03, 2007

My Word Coach Review

This game - heck, this series, has the potential to be the next Brain Age for the Wii.

If only it wasn't so stupid about it.

Here's the idea:  a vocabulary/spelling game that has multiplayer.  Every day, you play by "writing" the missing letters, or selecting which word matches a certain definition.  Over time, you unlock more games, and learn more words to increase your vocabulary.

This is a great idea.  I was into this concept for all of - 15 minutes.

And then I was done playing.

PROBLEM #1:  The interface is the worst of those who would accuse the Wii of being purely waggle.  In order to select your options, you tilt the Wiimote right or left.  Even worst, tilting the Wiimote right moves the options/letters left, and vice versa.  So I think "OK, I want to select this item", I tilt the remote - and I'm punished because the game says "No, no - you must tilt *left* to go *right*".

But - why the hell can't I point at the option?  I know the developers can use the Wiimote as a pointer, because that's how you play all of the multiplayer games.  So why not do the same thing in the single player games and in selecting options?  Point - and click. 

Say it with me.  "Point, and click."

So, major loser points for a stupid interface that is not fun.

PROBLEM #2:  Like Brain Age, you set up a profile.  One of the fun things about Brian Age is seeing at a glance how you compare to the other players.  I put myself on, My Lovely Wife put in hers, and then my daughter.  I thought  this would be great.  I could compete with my wife (always fun, because then we have great "I crushed you sex" later), and I could see how my daughter is progressing with her vocabulary.

Only - you can't.  I'd have to go into my daughter's profile.  Why not a "Compare Stats" on the main screen so you can see "words recognized/words learned/etc".  And even if you wanted to know how well you're doing, you only get a little chart that shows a graph showing how many you got right.

So much potential.  Developers and publishers whine about how nobody can compete with Nintendo on Nintendo products.  Well, I'm sorry - I don't make games, and I could tell after 5 minutes of play why this game had so many user interface issues that I assumed it had to be made by Microsoft.

Ooo, harsh, I know.

Hilary Clinton: the Dumbest Thing Ever

Obama: Well, I haven't been planning on running for President as long as other candidates.

Hilary Clinton Campaign:

In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want to Become President.' "Iis Darmawan, 63, Senator Obama's kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, 'I Want To Become President,' the teacher said." [AP, 1/25/07 ]


Seriously. She's calling him dishonest because when he ws in kindergarten, he said he wanted to run for President some day.

OK - why don't I like Hilary again?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fire emblem oddity

I finally popped in the old Gamecube game "Fire Emblem", and had to take pause.

The lovely red headed knight in full armor?  I like that she's in full armor, not a chainmail bikini or something stupid.

But - her name's Titania?

Really?

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Debate Bummers

Most of this I knew, but - it's sad how corrupt even the debate process between our candidates is.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Two Articles on Guitar Hero III: One Message: Women, Leave the Stage

<a href="http://pandagon.blogsome.com/2007/11/21/6348/">Rock Band review at Pandagon</a> - and how Guitar Hero left them down

<a href="http://thecurvature.com/2007/10/29/you-really-got-me/">You Really Got Me</a>  - which explains the hurt by one Guitar Hero female player about how the female characters changed from hard rockers to porn stars with guitars

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Justice in Iraq

Bilal Hussein was arrested in Iraq.

Why?  The US military can't say.

When is his trial?  They can't say.

What's the evidence?  They can't say.

I recently wrote an article about how Phoenix Wright:  Ace Attorney is a reminder of how being a defense attorney was a noble thing once upon a time, and how the universe in the game was warped into a perverted idea of the justice system, where prosecutorers can question the accused without their attorney, and hide evidence from the defense.

Evidently, for the US government operating in Iraq, that fiction is now a truth.

Source:  <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/23/AR2007112301208.html">Washington Post</a>

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Scumm. iPhone. Nerdgasm

<a href="http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/iphone-gaming/native-lucasarts-games-emulation-makes-iphone-absolutely-perfect-326257.php">Scumm on the iPhone</a>.

Any guesses on what I'm about to install on my iPhone in about, oh, 30 seconds?

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Gunbuster!

I finally have Gunbuster, Aim for the Top on DVD.

The original.  Not that terrible sequel.  Which was too bad, because it could have been really good, and the "Woah!  No wai!" moment was rather interesting.

But - Gunbuster.

*Sweet*

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oooo! Oooo!

Iron Chef:  And introducing our judges.

Me:  Hm.

Iron Chef:  ...Tina Fey!

Me:  Oooo!  Oooooooo!

My Lovely Wife (MLW):  (Eyebrow)

Me:  I mean - oh, it's her.  Ah - big deal.

MLW:  That's what I thought.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

True Conversations with my Daughter

Me:  Emily, look - the last two Haruhi DVD sets arrived!

Emily:  What's that?

Me:  It's a pillowcase.  Look - it has Haruhi, and Mikaru, and Yuki on it in their sleepware!  Maybe I should put it on my pillow.

Emily:  Nuh-uh!

Me:  Why not?

Emily:  (Starts doing a "I'm teasing Daddy" dance.)  Because Mommy won't let you have it, because she won't want you to sleep on pretty girls.

Me: Really. Why don't you go ask your mother then and see what she says.

Emily: OK! (Runs upstairs with the pillowcase.)

(2 minutes pass)

My Lovely Wife: No, he's not!

Emily: I told you!

Me: ...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Unexpected Family Moment

Father in Law (FiL):  Hey, John.

Me:  Yup?

FiL:  You can sell stuff on the Internet, right?

Me:  Sure.

FiL:  How much would you get for this Harry Potter book.

Me:  (tap tap tap)  About $4.

FiL:  So you can really sell anything?

Me:  Just about.

FiL:  What about Playboy?

Me:  Uh - what?

FiL:  Playboy.  They got Playboy on there.

Me:  You want to sell Playboy.

FiL:  Yup.  Got a bunch of old ones.

Me:  Uh - sure.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I found the last copy of Rock Band in town

I was in Toys R Us looking for Wii games (they're nearly out), and they wheeled out the box.

I bought it.

Now it's on eBay.

Yes, I'm evil.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

YS I &amp; II Wii bound?

If true, it would be so cool - evidently Japan got the Tubro-Grafx version of YS: Book I & II on virtual console, and rumors are that .

My understanding is that the game had a translation on that platform (the PC version only has a fan translation), so this is actually possible. I never played it, but heard good things, so this could be my chance.

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Best justification for torture ever!

There are some who claim that torture is a nonissue because it never works--it only produces false information. This is simply not true, as evidenced by the many decent members of the French Resistance who, under Nazi torture, disclosed the locations of their closest friends and relatives.


Source: ALAN DERSHOWITZ, The Wall Street Journal

Need I say more?

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Congress fails to pass $50 billion war bill

Good.

Yes, I say good.  Right now, we're funding a war, and a government, purely off of credit.  So let's let the Pentagon decide which is really important to them - and use the money they have for a change.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles coming!

My Gamefly Resident Evil Chronices is coming.  I so wanted to play this, and now I get the chance.

Sweetness.

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School, and feeling like the worst father in the world

My son Griffen has been doing really well at school.  So well, we might have to skip him a grade.

Recently they changed his teacher and class around for some reason or another.  Then they changed his bus route (so we've been taking the kids, since getting to school 45 minutes early is silly), and for some reason, this is giving him problems.  When it's time to go to school, he doesn't want to go, he "forgets" things, and nearly has to be dragged from the car by a teacher and taken to class.

I've been understanding, but the other day I layed down the law:  if I heard from his mother that he didn't go to school properly, he would get spanked.  We set the terms, he understood them.

Yesterday, I came home.  And learned that he had been difficult in going to school.

So I asked him if he remembered what I said I was going to do.  He said he did, big tears in his big hazel eyes.  I bent him over, and hit him on the butt once.


I knew I had to do it.  I had set the terms, and he had to get his punishment.  Today, it seems like we're not having any problems getting to school. 

I still feel rotten.  And I'd do it again, if I could go back in time.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

This might be the dumbest thing in a review I've ever seen

Gamespot gave "Viva Pinata" for the PC a 7.5.  A pretty decent score.  And then I see this:

Getting right into those issues, at the time of this writing we're unable to play the game for more than a few seconds at a time without it crashing back to the desktop, and, as evidenced by posts in various forums, we're not alone. The problem halted our progress after around 10 hours, but can purportedly do the same thing at almost any time. This appears to be a compatibility issue similar to that in the PC version of Gears of War, which, not coincidentally, incorporates the same Xbox Live-like "Games for Windows Live" service. Refusing to log in to said service will let you work on your Viva PiƱata garden in most cases, but it'll also deprive you of the option to save your progress. These issues don't rob the game of its charm, but they do make the overall experience rather frustrating if you happen to run into them.


OK. Hold on. It doesn't run for more than a few seconds, unless you don't log in - but then you can't save.

And the game gets a 7.5.

What the hell?

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Why is Bush and Co fighting so hard for telco immunity?

Let's ask this question:

Why is Bush and Co fighting so hard for this immunity?

Because they know what they did was wrong. If they did not break the law - as they keep saying, then this immunity would not be needed. But, if they *did* violate the law by using wiretaps and requesting other FISA information (information that they could have requested through a secret court, 72 hours *after* they started, so the claim of "Oh, we needed this information and couldn't wait for the slow courts" is a load of shit).

Bush and Co know that if the telco's are held to account for violating FISA, it's only a matter of time before the telco's start ratting out the Bush administration, pointing at them and saying "They - they made us do it! We had no choice in the matter!" And with only 12 months before a possible change from Republican to Democrat, they have to act *now* to get the telcos their immunity.

Otherwise, they'll be finding themselves right in the cross hairs, and possibly even in jail. Sadly, as my teacher used to say, the chickens always come home to roost. After ignoring the laws of the land for several years, I think the Bush administration chicken hawks are going to get what's coming to them. Justice may be slow and blind - but she is one determined bitch.

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Zak and Wiki thoughts: Why isn't it selling?

It's the name.  And the look.  And the lack of marketing.

Look at the latter.  I only know about it because I follow the gaming media.

The game is sheer awesome.  I've been avoiding even looking at gaming faqs, because so much of the fun is going "OK, so I have an umbrella, and a shovel, and - oh, wait!  I got it!"

You fail, but every level can be restarted, and once you figure it out, you can blaze right through.

But - the marketing.  The name.  The look.  I keep comparing this game to Ico.  In Ico (and it's "sequel", "Shadow fo the Colossus", everything you needed so solve an area's puzzle was right there in the room with you.  You didn't have to go back and forth across the map to solve the puzzle.  But the look is very mature, very cool, and sold rather well.

I can't help but wonder what if Capcom didn't look at the Wii as "the kid and family friendly device", and designed Zak and Wiki with that in mind.  You could have the same story-line, without the cartoon cell shaded graphics and wacky cartoon physics.  The games play and mental puzzles are *far* above that of a child - perhaps a teenager and up, at least, so the childishness was really not needed.

Don't get me wrong - I like the look, and my children are enjoying playing it with me (well, I play, they point their Wiimotes on the screen and draw lines and shout suggestions that usually don't work - but I walk them through my thinking process).  But I can't help but wonder if the game wouldn't have sold more if it had, and God forgive me for saying this, a more "mature" look and feel.

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I'm thinking about getting this for my son for Christmas

Mario lunchbox. The extra DS stuff is gravy.

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Guitar Hero III for the Wii: What I want to see

Now that I have a version of GHIII that works correctly (glares at the PS3), I'd like:

A $30 Wii version of GHIII that includes the music from GH1, 2, and Rock the 80's.

Thank you. 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In which I almost kill a bank teller

Me:  Hi, I'd like to deposit this check.

Teller: OK!  Hey, while you're here, would you like to fill out this credit card application?

Me:  I'd rather have my tongue ripped from my mouth, stapled to my forehead, and asked to drink a glass of pure lemon juice.

Teller:  That's sounds painful.

Me:  That's the point.

Teller:  But you know - Christmas is coming!  With this, you could get your presents and pay no interest!

Me:  I've spent the last 4 years eradicating every credit card from my life.  I am down to 1.  I am not adding any more.

Teller:  But -

Me:  *GLARE!*  *EYEBROW!*

Teller:  ...

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mario Galaxy: Why I totally Suck

Today, Toy's R Us was selling "Mario Galaxy" for $50, plus giving you a $25 gift certificate.  Since I have three kids - and yes, I totally want to play this game - I went there to pick it up.

I actually went twice.  First at 11:30, where I was told they'd have the game there at 1700.  OK - so I left work at 1600, got to the Toys R Us at 1430, and saw a line.

I picked up one of the "Display Only - Bring to Register to purchase!"

And man - was I just in time.

Turns out they only had - 3.  If you didn't reserve it (which nobody in the line did).  And then, there were the couple in front of me (grandma and grandpa) who each bought one, after arguing for 10 minutes that the advertisement didn't say "One per household", just "one per person", so they each bought one.

Which mean - I got the last one in the store.

Luckily, the other 20 grown ups didn't lynch me on the way out (though it was a close thing).  Now, My Lovely Wife tells me I can't play it until Christmas morning with the kids.

Yeah.  I'm waiting until she goes to sleep.  I mean, I have to verify it works, right?

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

I wouldn't know what to do, honest!

TV:  Oh, I ran out of gas!  Let's make out!

Me:  I hate this commercial.  What kind of a make out technique is this?  "I'm so stupid I ran out of gas - make out with me?"

My Lovely Wife(MLW):  I hate this commercial because her laugh is clearly fake.

Me:  Well, I just hate his make out technique.  I mean, if I was going to do it - well, I wouldn't know what to do, because before I met you, I was totally innocent before you seduced me and put your tongue in my mouth.

MLW:  (Singing voice)  You're going to Hell, for being a li-ar.

Me:  ....

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Guitar Hero III on the Wii

I just got back from the Day o' Shopping. After walking into a Circuit City and finding a Wii version of Guitar Hero III, I got permission from the wife to pick it up and try out.

I can confirm the Wii version is better than the PS3 version - the guitar is working perfectly, star power works like it should, it is *very* responsive, and I think the keys actually feel better.

Funny that one console version of the hardware should feel so much better, but there you have it. Once I find a box big enough, I'll fill out the paperwork and return the PS3 version back to Amazon come Tuesday. Too bad.

I'm going to go cancel my Rock Band purchase as well and hope they come out with a Wii version soon.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Black Friday Deal: Get a Free GH2 With Xbox 360

Could this be what gets me a 360? Free Guitar Hero II?

Hmmmm....

http://kotaku.com/gaming/retail/black-friday-deal-get-a-free-gh2-with-xbox-360-321161.php


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Guitar Hero III slowdown

It's bad enough that the controller doesn't work properly - today I got slowdown during "Welcome to the Jungle".  I mean  - slowdown in a music game!  It caused me to break a 100-odd note streak!

Man - I am *so* going to return this in another week if there's no patch.  This is just getting ridiculous. 

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Date rape drug in toys

We have some of these in the house - you touch the little balls together, get them wet, and they stick together. Fun little toy for the kids.

Well, not any more, I guess.

Whatever happened to consumer safety laws? Did I miss something and they all get thrown out?

Money where the mouth is

Most homeless people are veterans.

We'll spend billions in the war on Iraq - but a pittance of that number taking care of our veterans. We'll give them a gun, and when they come home we tell them they don't have mental issues and kick them onto the curb.

What is wrong with us as a nation? Spending the equivalent of 40 days in Iraq on health care for children is "too much". Spending enough money and time and energy to ensure that our veterans hospitals have all of the support they need to serve the veterans is just too big of a burden.

There is something seriously wrong with us as a nation. And I don't know how to fix it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

That's it. I'm done with Digg Shouts

If you Digg Shout at me, I am removing you from my Friend's list. I don't give a crap about your story. If I post a diggable story, you can see it on your "Friend's Activity" list. You don't need me going "Heeeeeeyyyyy! Check me ooooouuuuuuuttttt! Please digggggg me!"

So - new rule: You shout at me for anything other than a real message like "Hey, I read your comment on X and had this thought I wanted to take offline", then you're off the friend list.

Energy costs based on carbon emissions?

The idea here is that instead of just taxing energy items by the gallon or the kilowatt, you shift it to how much carbon it generates. Gas and oil becomes more expensive than solar and nuclear.

It's an interesting idea, and it takes into account the total cost of the production of these items (aka - on the environment and pollution), rather than just the cost shipping and extracting them. It's the equivalent of going after a chemical company that dumps stuff in the local water - since they have to pay for the cost of cleaning up their mess, they're more likely to take care in how much they pollute.

Source: New York Times.

Pat Robertson on Giuliani: Reading between the lines

Rudolf Giuliani got a nice boost when Pat Robertson gave him support. For some time, some evangelicals have been considering going to a third party candidate should Giuliani get the nod, since he has been known to be Pro-Choice and doesn't really care about gay marriage all that much (even to the point to formerly lived with a pair of gay men, and announced that should gay marriage ever become legal, he'd administer the oath to them).

So, now that I have Mr. Robertson's quote in my hands, let's go over it and read between the lines.

“It is my pleasure to announce my support for America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, a proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans,” Pat Robertson said in a statement issued by the Giuliani campaign.


Translation: I had a chat with him, and he agreed that as President he'd still give my organizations money. And, he'd say he hates Muslims and gays every so often.


“Rudy Giuliani took a city that was in decline and considered ungovernable and reduced its violent crime, revitalized its core, dramatically lowered its taxes, cut through a welter of bureaucratic regulations, and did so in the spirit of bipartisanship which is so urgently needed in Washington today.”


Translation: I know that Jesus talked about helping the homeless, the poor, the sick and the needy - but fuck that shit! Damn it, I needs my tax cut so I can afford another really big house, and I can't do it if a leader actually does what Jesus said to do! So if cutting some "bureaucracy" means some guy on the corner can get shipped to California where those filthy Hollywood heathens can deal with them, fine by me!

Bhutto: What to do?

Ms. Bhutto, opposition leader in Pakistan, is planning a massive protest this Friday, even though President Musharraf is arresting protestors, has shut down all media services, and basically has put his country into martial law to keep himself in power.

So - what can I do? Will anything I write or say encourage President Bush to tell Musharraf "Either you get your act together, or you lose all of the funding we sent you?" Can we get Bush to have the balls to do what Clinton did to Milosevic, and make life so miserable through strategic bombings that kill power so that the people rise up against him?

I don't know. But I find it sad that we went into Afghanistan with noble ideals: get the terrorists who attacked us for 9-11, and along the way wound up invading and occupying the wrong country so we could "give them democracy", and supported a dictator who removed an elected leader for the same reasons.

Seriously. What sense does *any* of this make?


Source: New York Times

My Mother's Big Brain Stupid Wii Halo Advertising

Last week, I was watching "How I Met Your Mother".  It's a sitcom regarding 5 twenty-something year old's living in New York, and the antics that life brings.  It's a funny show, has some good wit and funny moments.

At the same time, there's another show called "Big Bang Theory", featuring 5 twenty-somethings living - I think New York.  Anyway, that show has 4 MIT multiple degree supergeniuses living across the hall from a Hot Girl, and crazy antics ensue.

On a recent "How I Met Your Mother", the attractive witty people were playing Wii Sports, getting so far into it that Marshall decided he had to play "Wimbleton Style" and strip to his boxers.

On "Big Bang Theory", the smart guys were freaking out because they couldn't play "Halo 3", and later on, they interrupted one of their friend's sexual play so they could have a full team, and still later, when Hot Girl's friends came over offering them all sex, they ignored them to keep playing Halo 3.

So, America, which would you want to be - the good looking people playing the Wii, or the ubergeeks playing "Halo 3"?  The sexy people who strip to their boxers playing the Wii, or the guys who turn down sex with hot girls?

What's odd is that "Big Bang Theory" is on NBC, which is a partner with Microsoft.  If you wanted a worse commercial for the Xbox 360, I can't think of one right there.  Now, if they had the geeks participating in a tournament and they needed Hot Girl's help to win, then the drama and excitement could have been cool.

Update: My Lovely Wife (MLW) told me that "Big Bang Theory" is on CBS, while "How I Met Your Mother" is on CBS as well. So, I guess if you're going to conspiracy theory things, then CBS is trying to make MSNBC look bad. Or - something.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The worst thing about being Superman

Planes.

Think about it. You're Superman. You can fly around the world in
seconds. But when you travel for a reporting assignment, you're stuck
in coach.

So you sit in a little seat for hours, all to keep your secret
identity intact. Bet that would suck.
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Monday, November 05, 2007

Suicide Bombers in - Halo 3?

I thought this was an interesting take, comparing the economic, military, and political power lack that can cause people to turn to suicide bombers - and how one man found himself turning into one while playing Halo 3.

Over at Wired

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Fatal Frame - the card game

OK - when I'm up in Seattle for PAX, I'm bringing this with me.  Who's up for a game?

Fatal Frame II the Card Game.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Phoenix Wright 3 note

Maya in an orange waitress outfit?

I'm sorry but - it's cute.  Not as good as when Mia takes over Maya's body and the hawt comes in, but - orange waitress outfit is still cute.  

Edit: Turns out there was a big surprise in stock for me, one that made me laugh out loud. Mia is *still* the queen.

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Guitar Hero III good and bad

The guitar is fine so far - the buttons work great, and I've got no problems with the wireless.

Until it comes to Star Power.  Then, the guitar either completely ignores me holding the guitar straight up, or the slightest movement activates the Star Power.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

I have met Jean Armstrong

From Phoenix Wright 3. Imagine a giant lumberjack in a pink
sleeveless chef's uniform who likes to swing his arms and shoe off his
swollen belly.

...

I am visually scarred for life.

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88 percent believed in slavery. Except when they didn't.

Right now, state diplomats have a huge problem on their hands.  A large number have been called to service in Iraq, a position that several are a less than great idea. Considering that the last time diplomats were called in large numbers to serve in a dangerous place, it was called Vietnam, and 30 of them died.

Add to this that several of the state department diplomats didn't know they'd have the possibility of serving until they read about it in the Washington Post, and you can imagine they're a little put off.

Then, we get this moment.

Thomas took full responsibility for the late notification but objected when AFSA President John Naland said a recent survey found only 12 percent of the union's membership believed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was ``fighting for them.''

``That's their right but they're wrong,'' Thomas said, prompting a testy exchange.

``Sometimes, if it's 88 to 12, maybe the 88 percent are correct,'' Naland said.

``88 percent of the country believed in slavery at one time, was that correct?'' shot back Thomas, who is black, in a remark that drew boos from the crowd. ``Don't you or anybody else stand there and tell me I don't care about my colleagues. I am insulted,'' Thomas added.


So, let's ignore that basically, this gentleman was equating that not wanting to go to a dangerous area of the world, where there are people actively kidnapping, beheading, and blowing up Americans becuase they really, *really* don't want us there - evidently, that viewpoint of not wanting to get blowed up is the same thing as slavery.

Hey, why not.

But did 88% of the country really believe in slavery? Let me just think off the top of my head. 50% of the country was made of "free states", 50% of the country was made of "slave states".

Most of the population has always been in the northern states, so let's pretend that the ratio was 65% of the population living in Free States, 45% in the Slave States.

Then, you have to figure that there were a lot of slaves in the south. Probably as many as there were white people, possibly more, but let's pretend about the same. So now you've got the south, which is 50% white, 50% slaves.

I think I can make a safe assumption that slaves didn't really *believe* in slavery, as much as slavery believed in them.

So, now we've got 50% of 45%, which is 22.5% of the population which, up until the civil war, believed in slavery as a "good principle". Which means that only 22.5% of the population once believed in slavery.

Which is still lower than George Bush's 25% approval rating today.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This was my dinner

It was good. And so was the butternut bisque.



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Timeshift notes

I haven't played the game - I put it on my Gamefly list, but I'm already a little bummed out about it.

I caught the mini-documentary over at Gametrailers, and it looks like the original title had some really cool features. It was going to tell the story of a father who's young daughter had been lost because of changes he made while time traveling. Evidently, changes which also caused the world to shift to one based on steampunk technology. So he has to go set things right.

As a dad, I thought this was a pretty cool idea, and the steampunk element was certainly unique.

But - I guess Sierra wanted something "easier" they could put into a franchise. So now, you are a nameless, mute hero that you never see (kind of like Half-Life), living in a dystopian future (kind of like Half-Life 2) where you have cool time travel powers, but you don't know what the heck is up with the story or why things or happening until you get closer to the end (kind of like - well, you get it).

I saw the original bits they were going to do, and I'm disappointed. They had a cool, original idea with a story that had some emotional impact. Looking at the "new" look and story feel, I can't help but feel like they gave up something great, in exchange for something more ordinary.

Guess I'll find out in a couple of months - or whenever I get around to renting it.

Why hold open trials

Recently, Spain sentanced terrorists convicted of, well, terrorism for the Madrid bombings. No "enemy combatant" status, no "prisons held off of the shore", no suspension of habeas corpus. Just good old fashioned trial like it was any other.

This response rather reminds me of when the Philippians prosecuted their terrorists a few years ago.

Using the court system brings the issues to light. It tells people - openly, without fear or prejudice, "This is how these criminals work". Now, all people can see what to avoid.

It brings the arguments and plans of these groups into the open, rather than keeping them in the shadows. Instead of mysterious, unknown reasons other than "They hate our freedoms", their grievances are now part of the public record, and shown where they are faulty in the eyes of the law and the community at large.

This prevents would-be terrorists from recruiting others based on ignorance. It's no longer "The evil infidels/imperials/etc are keeping us down because they hate us" - they lost that argument when the full use of an open court system is used. Then, they are shown that they are "kept down" because they conspire to kill innocent people for their own selfish reasons of power.

It also keeps the government in check - if the government is itself performing actions that are not in keeping with an open and just society, then it will be forced to expose this as well, which means that people can make positive changes *without* resorting to violence and terror.

And finally, the open court system has the same result as "secret renditions and using enemy combatant" techniques does - it puts terrorists and their supporters in jail, or in the execution chamber should the laws of that society demand it. Not in secret, not by violating people's civil rights, but by *using* those rights and legal powers - even on those we would despise the most.

That is what using an open court system does when applied to terrorists. And why the United States should be doing the same.

60 MPG Hummer. With jet engine.

Fascinating article here about how cars could be much more fuel efficient - only if manufacturer's really wanted them to be.

ABA Death Penalty Stay

I saw in the news the other day that the American Bar Association is calling for a halt to all death penalty executions until reforms are made.

This was followed by the Supreme Court giving a halt to some executions until they sort out the lethal injection issue, and whether it's "cruel and unusual".

I noticed that in both cases, they weren't saying that the death penalty in and of itself is wrong - but there's a problem with how it is carried out.

In the ABA's case, they focused on the process. And the statistics. The ABA took a look at things and went "Hm - if you're black, you're more likely to get the death penalty. And if you're black and the victim is white, then you're *really* in trouble, because people seem to think that killing a white person by a black person is more deserving of death than if you kill - well, anybody else."

Compound that with poor people getting more death sentences than rich people, and after awhile, it becomes clear that justice isn't blind - but the scales are being rigged with coins.

A month ago when I was traveling from DC, I was listening to an episode of "Tech Nation" that discussed prison issues in America. The person doing the study was British, and he found an interesting thing. The United States is going through the exact same thinking that the British did about a hundred years ago with prisons.

In the late 1800's and the early 1900's, the British thought they had it figured out as far as prisoners. You punish them - hard. Make their lives a living hell. Are they in debt? Well, then you put them into jail until they could pay their way out, and if they couldn't, then it would take them longer to learn their lesson! While in jail, give them the most menial tasks. In some cases, literally just sitting around breaking rocks, to remind them of how awful the experience was. The goal was to make prison life so unbearable, that upon getting out the criminal would decide never to go back. They would have been Punished, and thereby would learn.

The problem, they discovered, is that the prisoners would get out of jail even worse than before. They would go on to be even worse criminals.

So, the British system changed, and stopped being about punishment, and about reform. Eventually, things got better. Crime dropped. It's no paradise - but it certainly lead to a better system than they had before.

Now, America is in the same place. During the 1970's Perry Mason was The Lawyer to watch on TV. Now, Law and Order dominates three different shows, showing how those nasty, slimy defense attorneys do everything to protect their obviously guilty clients. We have supermax prisons where inmates get no TV, no time together, treated as little more than dangerous animals.

Sure - prisoners are bad people. But - where are the efforts to change them? Why are our new prison complexes being supported now by huge businesses which have no vested interest in getting prisoners to stop committing crimes?

Think about the latter for a second. If you're a business who builds, owns, and runs a prison - why would you want prisoners to ever leave, or leave and never come back? That's only going to ruin your business!

I don't want prisoners coddled. I don't want the death penalty to change. But - I do want some changes:

1. Changes in trials. I've been thinking about this one for some time, and I'm not sure on how it would be implemented. But I go back to a story in "Freakanomics", where the classical music industry changed so that judges would not be allowed to see prospective players, only listen to their music. This simple change lead to the "knowledge" that women could not play instruments as well as men being changed, and today the ratio between professional men and women in orchestras is nearly 50/50.

Juries look at a person in a bench, and from the ABA's discovery, race clearly plays an issue. They see a black person, a white victim, and death is more likely. I can't help but wonder what would happen if the jury could not see the victim, or the defendant? I know - this is just as impractical. They have to see the evidence. If there's a video tape of the crime, they have to see it.

I don't know how to solve this. Perhaps forcing a jury to be more racially mixed (kind of an affirmative action for jury pools?). I don't know the answer to this one - but clearly the system has to change.

2. Reform, not punishment. I can't say that one enough. Our prisons are *not* about reform. Yes, you need good security to protect inmates and guards. But I also want to see more education. Every prisoners should be exiting with at least a high school education, and hopefully a trade. They should be moved away from their home town so they are away from the influences that "caused them to stray". Post care should be given - not just probation follow ups, but real care, to make sure they are housed and clothed and healthy and working.

Remove any excuses for blaming it on bad home life. Daily therapy at prison so there's no reason why a prisoner won't know why they are being punished, why committing crimes is "bad". Follow up therapy to make sure they're remaining productive.

3. Give the death penalty only when they can not be taught. If a person gets all of the breaks I outline above, then - and only then - can we enforce the death penalty, because then a prisoner will have proven to us that they can not (or will not) be taught how to function in society.

It will be expensive, but I'm willing to bet if we do it right the first time, we'll reduce crime over the long term, and that will save us more money than just building more prisons.

Now the question is: what next?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Boycott the version of Manhunt 2 you can not buy!

Common Sense Media wants people to boycott Manhunt 2.

Mainly, they want people to boycott the version that they downloaded off of the Internet that is the "uncensored version", which you can not buy in stores. The version is stores was "toned down" so it could meet the "M for Mature" rating from the ESRB.

What I find interesting is that they are admitting they are going to be showing information from a version of the game they downloaded.

Which, unless I am mistaken, is a violation of copyright law.

Which, unless I am mistaken, means you could call the Business Software Alliance to perform an investigation of this organization who is illegally pirating software, which is punishable with jail time and a find of around $50,000 per violation found.

So, a law breaking organization wishes to institute a boycott against a version of a game that can only be obtained illegally. Interesting.

Gold Nintendo Zelda DS Lites!

Daddy want:

Gold Zelda DS Lite.

Daddy should save his money. But - shiny....

No Google IMAP for me

Google hasn't turned on my IMAP yet. I'm getting bummed out. I really wanted to use that with my iPhone.

Castlevania X disappointments

1. If you want to use the analog stick rather than the face buttons, you have to stop your game. The problem is, the analog stick is very mushy - you might not think you pressed "UP", but according to the game - you did, sucker. Face buttons though don't work for casting spells in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night takes *forever* to load once you've unlocked it. And it's not completely widescreen - just zoomed in a little! Sure, it looks great - but so did running it as a PSX on PSP emulated game (instructions at Gamers' Press on how to do that). And, if you emulate it, you can change your control scheme on the fly, get complete screen fillage (even if it is a bit stretched, it still looks pretty good).

You lost some points here, Capcom. I'm a little disappointed.

"Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness", though? Pure awesome. I never finished the original - I don't think I got past Chapter III, so I think I can finish it this time.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Prices

Walk to the local store from the hotel: Free
Withdrawing $20 from an atm: Free if scary at night
Milk, Corn Pops, bowl, spoon: $12

Not paying hotel price for breakfast so I get to keep $15 a day extra to put into my pocket: pricess

This is what they serve in airports

Plastic utensils. Because, you know, with a butter knife a terrorist would spread people to death.



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Create your own Smash Brothers Brawl levels

Total nerdgasm erupts

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Death Note note

The voice actor for L? Awesome. I think it's the guy who played "Joker" in "Read or Die". I'll have to look it up at the credits.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Awesome perfecting song



I know the "Obama girl" is the "hawt one" in the relationship - but I have a bit of a geek crush on Leah Kauffman.

Ninjabread Man

I put it on my Gamefly queue as a joke, really - the name was so good, I just had to. Turns out the 10 games on top of my queue is all rented out so -

Well, I'll be up in Albany next week anyway playing my Disgaea and Final Fantasy Tactics and Phoenix Wright and Castlevania X. OK, so I'll really be studying my brains out - but I'll play those games on break.

Still - Ninjabread Man. I know the reviews suck, but who knows - might be good.

Almost done with Suikoden II....

I'm just about done. And - there's some bug when the Beast Rune attacks, it makes this high pitch squeal. Really annoying, until my attack turn comes. So it's "Squeal - MUTE - attack - MUTE - attack".

I think I've almost got him, though. If I can just kill this left leg, that'll be half the battle. Curse status ailment attacks!

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm very worried about my son

He is bright. Bright enough that he can already graduate from kindergarten, perhaps even the first grade. He reads as vorasciously as I did as a child. Right now, he’s in the other room, going through all of the educational parts on the PBSKids page. The other day he wanted to do flash cards.

He’s growing faster in that gray matter between his ears. I’ve been charting his progress, and it’s fast. Faster than his big sister at the same age. If my estimates are right, he might pass her up in a year. She’s 8. He’s 5. Do the math.

He’s bright, generally positive (like his father, he can suffer dark moods, but they’re brief). He’s incredibly flexible. We signed him up for a young gymnastics thing, and the other 5 year olds are flexible as kids are. He’s practically rubber - can do just about the splits already.

And I’m utterly terrified for him. I know he’s going to have issues as he grows older. I’ve been looking for ways to keep him challenged. I don’t want him to be like me and have an easy time, only to leave high school and never have learned how to work hard to learn.

So, I’m working to keep him occupied. I’ve let his teacher know I want the graduation requirements for the first grade. I don’t want to move him up - I think that his maturity level isn’t at pace with his mental abilities.

My plan so far is this: keep him in regular classes, but get him extra advanced ones that will challenge him. Perhaps as he goes up the grade levels I can keep him taking the advance classes, so by the time he’s in high school a couple of his regular classes are at a local college. (OK, I’m thinking way in advance, but you get the idea.)

He gets the “best of both worlds” to quote my daughter’s favorite singer “Hannah Montana”. He gets to go to “regular school” and have all of those experiences - being on a sports team if he wants, going to prom, whatever.

Let him play his games (he is a Mario and Zelda fanatic), but he’s got to solve them himself. He doesn’t get to go “Daddy, I need help” and then I do it. He’s got to struggle, and read all of the words himself.

And, if he turns out “normal” later on, well, I’ll be a little disappointed, but it happens. But at least he won’t be in some school where he misses out on all the good stuff.

Of course, I have to worry about his little brother. He’s telling my wife how to play Solitaire right now, that that “Mom! Mom! You need the Red Two for the Black Three!”

He’s three.

I’m doomed.

Jail for BJ at 17 from 15: Cruel and unusual

Evidently the Georgia Supreme Court has set free Genarlow Wilson because his jail sentence was "cruel and unusual punishment.

You may recall the story: 17 year old kid gets oral sex from 15 year old girl (and it dumb enough to have it videotaped). Cops and prosecutor content that's child sodomy (aka - putting the weiner anywhere but the vagina), and put him in jail. Georgia law changes the law, and they *still* want to keep him in jail because lawmakers don't put "retroactive" in the law.

So, what next? Does this mean that the next teenager who gets caught having consensual sex with another teenager won't get arrested? I don't know. Personally, I'd prefer they not be having sex as minors at all - but barring that, I don't think we need to be incarcerating them, either.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Phoenix Wright III Weirdness

OK - Mia Fey. Defense attorney. Her client is up on the stand (which is already a bad thing - never let your client on the stand). And - she has to prove that he's lying, which would be bad for her client. Who is on the stand.

Somehow, this strikes me as a legal bad thing for her to do. But - I guess you really shouldn't think of Phoenix Wright as being a legally accurate game.

Dumbest Dumbledore article so far

By now, you've probably heard: Dumbledore is gay.

Personally, I don't think that detracts or adds anything to his character. It does fill in some of the gaps of certain things, but it by no means makes the character any less.

Unless, you're John Cloud of Time Magazine, who writes this incredibly stupid point:

Yes, except: Why couldn't he tell us himself? The Potter books add up to more than 800,000 words before Dumbledore dies in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and yet Rowling couldn't spare two of those words—"I'm gay"—to help define a central character's emotional identity? We can only conclude that Dumbledore saw his homosexuality as shameful and inappropriate to mention among his colleagues and students. His silence suggests a lack of personal integrity that is completely out of character.


Here's the major problem with the who article:

J. K. Rawling wrote a very complex, very "grey shades" (in that the characters - not even Potter, not even Dumbledore) are purely "good" or "evil" - they are imperfect, flawed people who are sometimes selfish, sometimes heroic, and try to do the best they can and have to choose between "what is Right, and what is Easy".

Perhaps there were good reasons Dumbledore didn't state his sexuality. After all, it really didn't matter to the storyline. J. K. Rowling, already recognizing that her books were controversial in some circles, didn't want to give her critics more ammunition. Maybe because Dumbledore wouldn't ever burden others with his issues.

Maybe because Rowling was writing about other issues - of power, and politics, and when to obey authority and when to appeal to a higher set of laws - and gay pride didn't really fit into the story.

So for her to say things afterwards and give more shading to the characters for the fans that wouldn't have fit into the story, I have no problem with that. I don't think that Dumbledore makes gay people look any worse or creepy for having a close relationship with Harry or anything else.

Dumbledore's out of the closet. Good for him. Maybe if Rowling writes another series of books, maybe she'll go ahead and have "Martin Fuzzlepot and his boyfriend Frank Blankenship" show up at a ball. Maybe she won't. But that's up to her, and I don't see how it makes her characters any less because they turn out to have more complexity later than we knew at the time.

Geek crush

I have a big raging geek crush on Mia Fey right now.

Hawt lawyer girl - in a scarf and business outfit. Rowr.

I have....

A 5 year old son who's ready to move into the 1st grade, according to his teacher. I don't know if we will.

A copy of Phoenix Wright, with a Phoenix Wright plushie key chain.

Dracula X: Rondo of Blood for the PSP, with the "8 bit Simon Belmont action figure".

The question is, which one do I crack open first?

Well, other than the boy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pownce

So, I got an invite to Pownce.

And I guess I got a Pownce address.

...

Now what? Looks like YAB (Yet Another Blog) site. Anything special about Pownce I should care about?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Still on jury duty

Still here on jury duty
Waiting for justice
To ask for my mind's service


Sent from my iPhone

Today's Tampa Bay Times headline

"A Wizard's Secret - J. K. Rowling outs the headmaster of Hogwarts."

Seriously- Dumbledore being gay was the most important news of the day?

Ye-ah.

Sent from my iPhone

Run, John, Run!

This is one of those days where I say:

I am *so* awesome.

I have Jury Duty today. And, today is also payday. And - it's also the day that my old stock options run out.

So I'm sitting in Jury Duty, waiting for my name, using the internet access to start the stock trade. Problem: they need a wire transfer *today* and a fax confirmation to complete.

I call My Lovely Wife (MLW) and email her the documents she needs to hit the bank and do the wire transfer. I run upstairs and find a fax machine - but I have to print out the documents I need. Which means I need a flash drive.

Problem: my work put on some security software to "protect us" that disables flash drives.

Except - it doesn't disable the flash drive if you're in Safe Mode on Windows XP. And, because I had hacked the Administrator password earlier in the month and replaced it with my own, I was able to get into to Safe Mode, get the document onto my thumb drive, hand it over to the printer, get my print and fax it out for $1.18 (including tax).

Call MLW, gave her confirmation, she's wire transferring now, and if I am correct, after the stock swap and buying $1000 in stock, I should make about $1000 (after taxes).

Yay, me. Now I'm all tired out from running up and down stairs and chasing after my own tail. But - at least I'll have used those options. And made a little money.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Death Note Episode 1

I like the voice acting for the Shinigami, Ryurk (?). Light isn't too bad, but I love the animation - so smooth and looks very professional.

Metal Gear Solid 4 Demo Trailer

There's a new trailer out for Metal Gear Solid 4 over at Gametrailers.com.

The first thing you see?

Snake's butt.

Go figure.

Who can run?

I had a chat with my lovely wife the other day about my annoyance with
Pelosi and Reid and the other democrats who don't have the spine to
stand up to Bush and his renditions or the wiretapping sans court
order or the wasting money on a pointless war or or or....

Contrast that with Feingold and Dodd who are going to make a stand
against them. I mentioned that really the only way to stop the wimpy
democrats and bring in ones strong enough to stand for children and
our civil rights.

"Won't happen," my wife said. "Who would beat them?"

"Well, there is Sheehan who may run against Pelosi-"

My wife snorted.

"Interesting. "

"What?"

"You still can't stand her, even though she's been proven right.
People are still mad at the Tillman family for claiming that he didn't
due as the military said - even though that's been proven true. So
what chance do these people have to run and lead - when we are still
annoyed at them though they were proved to be right?"

Neither of us had an answer. I still don't. We are annyed with what
Mauer said after 9-11 and cowardly sending missiles - though he has
been proven more right than others.

But we are annoyed with them - because they spoke out when we were
wrong - and we can't forgive them for it.


Sent from my iPhone

I'm proctoring a CISSP exam

Shhhhhhh...
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sexiest Thing Ever Said

Me: Here's your water. Hey - what are you watching?

My Lovely Wife (MLW): Dallas Cowgirl Cheerleaders.

Me: Oh? Enjoying that?

MLW: Oh, yeah. (Rolls eyes.) They're so - perky. I just love to watch them.

Me: That - may be one of the hottest things you've ever said.

MLW: Keep dreaming.

Me: Oh, I will. I will.

Disney - WTF

I don't know if the picture I'm attaching to this email, but
basically, it's a magical girl manga where the girl gets the power of
the Disney princesses.

So- the power of Sleeping Beauty makes our Magical Girl fall asleep
until rescued?

Ratatouie

I almost cried.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, October 19, 2007

If you don't know what you're writing about, shut up

This from Kotaku about Senator Brownback, soon to be former Presidential candidate:

Introduced in 2004, the Nintendo DS (for Dual Screen or Devil Screen), this game machine has sold some 700 million or so units. That's an epidemic. It's undeniable that it has been a "success" for its Japanese manufacturer, Nintendo (makers of Donkey Kong aka Monkey Donkey, a game in which a monkey kidnaps a young girl to satisfy his bestial desires). It's also been a tremendous success for pedophiles everywhere.


When I was a kid, my dad sneezed, and I replied "Gesundheit".

"Why did you say that?" my father asked.

"It's what you say when someone sneezes," I replied.

"What does it mean?"

I thought. "Bless you?" I knew that's what you said when people sneezed as well.

"If you don't know what something means, don't say it."

I later learned that Gesundheit means "Good health", and that's why it's a nice thing to say when people sneeze. Brownback, and others like him, might take the same lesson:

If you don't know what something is, don't talk about it.

Death Note - WTF?


I haven't bought all of the Death Note manga, so don't spoil it for me (I think I'm on like 7 or something).

But this caught my eye, and all I could think was - WTF?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Proflowers - wah?

Proflowers keeps sending me emails about buying flowers for someone named "Louann" because it's her birthday or something.

I don't know a Louann. I've never sent her flowers. It doesn't show that I've ever bought flowers from them (so it's not identity fraud or something weird) - they just think that someone named Louann should get flowers from me.

Odd.

The difference between Democrats and Republicans, #30257

Stephen Colbert is running for President - at least in South Carolina. What does it take to get on the Democratic ticket in South Carolina?

“Well, there’s two ways,” Mr. Werner said. “The first is, you pay a $2,500 filing fee. And if you can’t afford to do the $2,500, you can gather 3,000 signatures.”


Interesting. And what does it take to get you on the ticket for the Republican party in South Carolina?

However leery Mr. Dawson may be about Mr. Colbert’s plans, he said that he did not believe the Republicans could stop him from seeking both Republican and Democratic delegates. “There is nothing in our filing that would prohibit him from running on both ballots, if he chose to pay the filing fees,” he said.

And what is that fee? It is $35,000, Mr. Dawson said.


So, either $2,500 or 3000 signatures to be a Democrat candidate - or a straight $35,000. And who says the Republican party is just for the rich?

Source: New York Times

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bioshock Music List Issue

I have a list of the songs used in Bioshock here (the URL's indicate where the music can be bought DRM free online):

20th Century Blues Noel Coward
Academy Award Stanley Black
Avalon Django Reinhardt http://www.amazon.com/Avalon/dp/B000WBCFYQ
Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (means you’re grand) The Andrews Sisters
Best Things in Life Are Free The Inkspots
Brother Can You spare a Dime Bing Crosby http://www.amazon.com/Brother-Can-You-Spare-Dime/dp/B000QO8H7I
Danny Boy Mario Lanza
God Bless the Child Billie Holiday http://www.amazon.com/God-Bless-The-Child/dp/B000WAFXI2
How Much is that Doggie Pattie Page
If I didn't care The Ink Spots http://www.amazon.com/If-I-Didnt-Care/dp/B000S2SCQY
It Had to Be You Django Reinhardt http://www.amazon.com/It-Had-To-Be-You/dp/B000QONCNC
It's Bad For Me Rosemary Clooney
Jitterbug Waltz Django Reinhardt
Just One Of Those Things Lee Morgan http://www.amazon.com/Just-Those-Things-Digital-Remaster/dp/B000TE8IDI
Just Walkin' in the Rain Johnny Ray
La Mer (Beyond the Sea ) Bobby Darin
La Mer (Beyond the Sea) Django Reinhardt
Let's Fly Away Lee Wiley
Liza Django Reinhardt http://www.amazon.com/Liza-All-Cloudsll-Roll-Away/dp/B000VWQFV0
Night and Day Billie Holiday http://www.amazon.com/Night-And-Day/dp/B000UWWI94
Papa Loves Mambo Perry Como
Please Be Kind Django Reinhardt http://www.amazon.com/Please-Be-Kind/dp/B000VWLEFW
The Party's Over Now Noel Coward http://www.amazon.com/The-Partys-Over-Now/dp/B000V9GYHS
The Waltz of the Flowers Pytor Llyich Tchaikovsky
This Is A Changing World Noel Coward
Wild Ride Faux Frenchmen
World Weary Noel Coward http://www.amazon.com/World-Weary/dp/B000V9IKBG
Wrap your troubles in dreams Bing Crosby http://www.amazon.com/Wrap-Your-Troubles-Dreams-Dream/dp/B000V94AEM
You're Getting To Be A Habit Harry Edison Bing Crosby
You're the Top Cole Porter http://www.amazon.com/Youre-The-Top/dp/B000QYQH66

One problem:

There is no such song as "Academy Award" by Stanley Black.

Hm....

Guitar Hero, Rock Band - the Uncertanty is killing me

I really, really want to pre-order Guitar Hero III for the Wii.

But if they're never going to make Rock Band for the Wii, then I'll feel like I wasted my money.

So I'm stuck in pre-order limbo. And it's driving me nuts.

iTunes and Amazon: Competition FTW!

Once again, from "Information Security Economics - and Beyond" by Ross Anderson and Tyler Moore:

In January 2005, Varian presented a surprising result [55]: that stronger
DRM would help system vendors more than the music industry, because the
computer industry is more concentrated (with only three serious suppliers of
DRM platforms – Microsoft, Sony, and the dominant firm, Apple). The content
industry scoffed, but by the end of that year music publishers were protesting
that Apple was getting too large a share of the cash from online music sales. As
power in the supply chain moved from the music majors to the platform vendors,
so power in the music industry appears to be shifting from the majors to the
independents, just as airline deregulation favoured aircraft makers and low-cost
airlines. This is a striking demonstration of the predictive power of economic
analysis. By fighting a non-existent threat, the record industry had helped the
computer industry forge a weapon that may be its undoing.


So now what's happening? Well, Amazon released 256-bit DRM free MP3's for $0.89 - and now Apple is about to get their Independent labels in at $0.99, DRM-free tracks.

I think the music industry "gets it" - that offering DRM free will let them break the power of Apple. By now, it's probably too late - Madonna, Nine Inch Nails, and others aren't using labels anymore, just concert promoter agencies. They're selling their own music directly, and pocketing more of the cash.

Still, if you're Apple, I guess you have to worry a little bit that someone else could dethrone you. (Looks at the Zune.) Maybe not.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I'm on the treadmill, on my iphone

I am sweaty and my typing is slow. And I'm being a wuss and only going 2 mph.

Final Dance Fantasy

I can't decide if this is the best thing evah, or the best cosplay thing evah. Either way, the girl dressed as Tifa? Spot on.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Quick note on the Coulter Jewish comment

I had someone tell me that from a Christian perspective, Coulter had it right: that Jewish people are "imperfect" until they accept Christ.

I think the issue is not "is Ann Coulter, from a Christian perspective, correct". From a Mormon perspective, Mormons are Christians 2.0 (just like Christians consider themselves Judaism 2.0). From the Muslim perspective, they are the better followers of Christ than the Christians (first part of the Koran has some attacks against Christians for not following the things Jesus had taught).

The issue is with her statement of "Well, I want to see all Jews converted *to become perfected*." Just because something makes sense form your religious viewpoint doesn't mean you get to dictate to the rest of the world what to believe, and how to act. If the Coulters and their ilk had their way, then there would be no separation of church and state.

That, I think, is what prompted the hosts abject horror. Look at her other statements: that it would be best to kill Muslim leaders and force Christianity on them. Why? Well, because according to her religious views, that's the right thing to do, after all! How else will you save their souls if they won't agree - just force them, then.

That is the true terror of her statement and those who agree with it: it removes personal choice of religion, and replaces it with forced State religion of whatever religion gets the most votes to ram their beliefs down everyone else's throats. See also: Taliban and Afghanistan, China and Tibet. It's the exact opposite of what the Founders had hoped for.

So I don't care if she's "right" from a religious perspective - her views are dangerous, and I have no problem boycotting any show that decides they need to invite her on to peddle her ideas of hate and intolerance.

FBI would have to research those who guard them?

Congress wants the FBI to start investigating when Blackwater does odd things, like point weapons at US troops and order them to disarm. However, there's a small problem - the people that usually guard the FBI when they go into Iraq to investigate things are - Blackwater forces.

Until now, private security contractors working for the State Department, as Blackwater does, have effectively not been covered by either U.S. or Iraqi law, or military regulations. A bill that overwhelmingly passed the House last week would close that loophole. But the law would also require the FBI to establish a large-scale presence in Iraq in order to investigate accusations against private contractors. Law-enforcement officials worry that this would draw valuable resources away from FBI efforts to combat terrorism in the United States. Also, whenever FBI agents venture into Iraq now they are guarded by ... Blackwater operatives. The bureau has sent a team to Baghdad to investigate the Sept. 16 shooting in Nasoor Square, in which Blackwater guards are accused of killing as many as 17 Iraqi civilians. In order to avoid "even the appearance of any conflict [of interest]," according to an FBI spokesman, the agents will be defended by U.S. government personnel.


Source: MSNBC

I didn't know Yoko Kanno wrote the music for Macross Plus

No wonder it rocks so hard! I'm listening to all of my music, and up popped "After, in the Dark". I looked at the artist - and there she was.

I'm trying to think of a Yoko Kanno song I *don't* like.

Still thinking.

Nothin' comin'.

An interesting note

This is from a document on "Information Security Economics - and Beyond" by Ross Anderson and Tyler Moore. Check out this line:

Katz and Shapiro famously analyzed how network externalities influenced the adoption of technology: they lead to the classic S-shaped adoption curve in which slow early adoption gives way to rapid deployment once the number of 6 Ross Anderson and Tyler Moore users reaches some critical mass [16]. Network effects can also influence the initial deployment of security technology, whose benefit may depend on the number of users who adopt it. The cost may exceed the benefit until a minimum number adopt; so everyone might wait for others to go first, and the technology never gets deployed.


Made me think of Capcom and the PS3. Why work on developing their own engine and spending tons of money to make Monster Hunter 3 - when it would be a hell of a lot cheaper to go to the Wii, use their existing engine (with modifications), and call it done. Until the PS3 hits some sort of critical mass, publishers aren't going to want to put in huge efforts - they'll let other publishing houses (such as Square-Enix and Konami) do the heavy lifting for them.

At the same time, it also explains why the Wii has 86 games this holiday season compared to 40-something on the other two consoles: early adoption was very high, which lead to developers going "Crap - we better jump on that!"

The rest of the article deals with the economics of security systems and incentives, but this one part jumped out in my mind about "Why did Capcom stop making Monster Hunter 3 for the PS3?"

iPhone bug

I have discovered a bug in the iPhone.

I have some lists set up that look like this:

Rule: Song that hasn't been played in 2 months
Select 1 GB at Random

This rule is so that I don't listen to the same songs over and over, and I always have 1 GB of stuff I like on my playlist. When I drive back and forth to work, I listen to Podcasts, and at work I listen to my music. When I get home and synch, my iPod reports to the main music library what songs I listened to, so they get replaced.

However, I also sync my iPod between 2 computers - one just for music, 1 just for the calendar. This means that my laptop shouldn't put any music on my iPhone - just sync to Outlook. Only my home PC is my music source.

But - if I sync my iPhone to my laptop, then sync it with my home system, my "listened to" music doesn't get registered as having been listened to - the playcount remains the same. However, if I *don't* plug the iPod into my laptop for calendar synching, then my main music library gets the message that I've listened to a song.

I guess what I'll have to do is wait to get home, sync with my home library, then sync with my laptop, then sync with my home library again.

Who watches the watchers of the watchers?

Someone, explain this one to me.

The CIA has an Inspector General. Their job is to make sure the CIA isn't doing anything illegal. Think of them being like the Internal Affairs department of the police. Nobody really likes them in the department, but they are an essential part to making sure that cops don't go bad.

Evidently, Gen. Michael V. Hayden - director of the CIA - has a problem because the Inspector General is doing too many investigations into agents that might have participated in the new detention programs - you know, the ones that the Justice department said that it was OK to use extreme cold or simulated drowning to get answers. (But it's not torture, according to Gonzales - no organ failure!)

So basically, the Director of the CIA has a problem with the watchdog organization within the CIA - doing their job. OK. As long as we have that clear. I guess this is part of the whole "Yes, what I'm doing would be bad if someone evil was doing it - but we're the good guys!"

Illegal immigration - half of the solution here

Crackdown of illegal immigrants on a NY slaughterhouse that employs 5500 has left them 1100 people short.

Now, that's one half of the illegal immigration problem. Now you need to fine the business for having hired illegals in the first place. You do that, and suddenly it becomes affordable to hire citizens.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ugly Betty - I get it

I finally got why I enjoy Ugly Betty. The show is full of outrageous moments - people returning from the dead (or did they), people finding out they are so-and-so's daughter, relationships broken up by someone claiming they are pregnant when they aren't -

It's all over the top, but I couldn't figure out why it worked for me. If this was a daytime soap opera, I'd be retching into the nearest potted plant.

And today, I figured it out. It goes back to an idea in computer graphics where when something reaches near human looks, it becomes really creepy looking. And that's what makes Ugly Betty work:

It's not human.

In other words, they have their characters doing outrageous things in a humorous fashion. They play with the ideas of what a soap opera should be. For example, making us think that someone was back from the dead - when it was actually the sex changed elder brother now turned into a hot woman there to take over the company.

What? No, this doesn't exist in the real world, and it's so over the top and most of the time it doesn't take itself seriously - so when it *does* do something serious, you don't think "Oh, come on!" You think "Holy crap - That man is going to be killed unless he makes a perfect flan!"

Yes, that was a plot point. No, I'm serious. Really.

Of course, the fact that they always seem to be going one direction and then zag outside your expectations certainly helps the most. But I think it's that "create a separate reality of overblown craziness so anything that happens doesn't seem crazy" that helps.

I wonder if the writers do it on purpose, or if it's just a happy accident?