Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This was my dinner

It was good. And so was the butternut bisque.

Sent from my iPhone

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


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.

Sent from my iPhone

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


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?


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

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. "


"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

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?


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.


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
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
Danny Boy Mario Lanza
God Bless the Child Billie Holiday
How Much is that Doggie Pattie Page
If I didn't care The Ink Spots
It Had to Be You Django Reinhardt
It's Bad For Me Rosemary Clooney
Jitterbug Waltz Django Reinhardt
Just One Of Those Things Lee Morgan
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
Night and Day Billie Holiday
Papa Loves Mambo Perry Como
Please Be Kind Django Reinhardt
The Party's Over Now Noel Coward
The Waltz of the Flowers Pytor Llyich Tchaikovsky
This Is A Changing World Noel Coward
Wild Ride Faux Frenchmen
World Weary Noel Coward
Wrap your troubles in dreams Bing Crosby
You're Getting To Be A Habit Harry Edison Bing Crosby
You're the Top Cole Porter

One problem:

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


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?

Upcoming game releases - ah, crap

Games I want to get in the next 3 months (some of these are "like but not need". If it has a star next to it, I will likely buy it. Long story short: I hate the holiday game release season.


Oct. 23: Rockstar Games Presents(TM) Table Tennis from Rockstar Games
* Oct. 28: Guitar Hero III(TM): Legends of Rock from Activision
Oct. 29: Battalion Wars(TM) 2 from Nintendo
Oct. 30: THE SIMPSONS from Electronic Arts
Oct. 31: Manhunt 2(TM) from Rockstar Games
October: Mercury Meltdown Revolution from Ignition Entertainment
* Nov. 5: Fire Emblem(R): Radiant Dawn from Nintendo
* Nov. 6: Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party from Konami Digital
Entertainment, Inc.
Nov. 6: LEGO(R) Star Wars(TM): The Complete Saga from LucasArts
Nov. 6: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games(TM) from SEGA
* Nov. 12: Super Mario Galaxy(TM) from Nintendo
* Nov. 13: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary from Eidos, Inc.
Nov. 13: MEDAL OF HONOR HEROES(TM) 2 from Electronic Arts
Nov. 13: LUXOR: Pharaoh's Challenge from MumboJumbo
Nov. 13: Geometry Wars(TM): Galaxies from Sierra Entertainment, Inc.
* Nov. 19: Link's Crossbow Training(TM) (packaged with Wii Zapper(TM)) from
Nov. 20: Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords(TM) from D3Publisher of
* November: Trauma Center(TM): New Blood from Atlus USA
November: Star Trek: Conquest from Bethesda Softworks
November: High School Musical: Sing It from Disney Interactive Studios (Note: for my daughter. Honest.)
November: Ghost Squad(TM) from SEGA
November: Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 from Ubisoft
November: CSI: Hard Evidence from Ubisoft
November: Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 from Ubisoft
December: Super Swing Golf(TM) Season 2 from Tecmo, Inc.
December: Rygar(R): The Battle of Argus from Tecmo, Inc.
Holiday 2007: NiGHTS(TM): Journey of Dreams from SEGA
Winter '07: SoulCalibur Legends(TM) from NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Feb. 10: Super Smash Bros.(R) Brawl from Nintendo
February: No More Heroes from Ubisoft
March:Obscure: The Aftermath from Ignition Entertainment
Spring '08: Mario Kart(R) Wii (name not final) from Nintendo

Nintendo DS

Oct. 15: Flash Focus(TM): Vision Training in Minutes a Day from Nintendo
* Oct. 23: FRONT MISSION(R) from Square Enix, Inc.
* Oct. 23: Lifesigns: Surgical Unit
Oct. 31: Dementium: The Ward from Gamecock Media Group
Oct. 31: Solitaire Overload(TM) from Telegames, Inc. Probably for My Lovely Wife
October: Touch Detective 21/2(TM) from Atlus USA
October: Chessmaster: The Art of Learning from Ubisoft Probably for my daughter
Nov. 6: DRAGON QUEST MONSTERS(TM): Joker from Square Enix, Inc.
Nov. 11: Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
Nov. 13: Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends from Majesco Entertainment
* Nov. 20: FINAL FANTASY(R) XII: REVENANT WINGS(TM) from Square Enix, Inc.
* November: Ontamarama(TM) from Atlus USA
* November: Contra 4 from Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
* November: Ninja Gaiden(R) Dragon Sword from Tecmo, Inc.
* Jan. 21: Advance Wars(R): Days of Ruin from Nintendo
* Feb. 4: Professor Layton and the Curious Village(TM) from Nintendo
March:Insecticide from Gamecock Media Group


Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions
* Oct. 23: Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles
* Oct. 30: Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
Nov. 11: Silent Hill Origins


Folk Lore
Nov. 13 Assassin's Creed (Anyone else realize that Assassin is spelled Ass Ass In?)
Nov. 20 Kane and Lynch: Dead Men
Nov. 20 Time Crisis 4 with Guncon
Nov. 20 Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Nov. 27 Haze

I'm still waiting to hear anything about Rock Band, and I'm still debating on getting Guitar Hero III for the Wii until I hear what Rock Band is doing on that platform. If they announce a version, then I'll get Guitar Hero III for the Wii. If not, then I'll suck up and live with the ugly dongles and get the PS3 version.

Either way, it's an expensive holiday season. Odds are I'm just going to have to cut back. Which is the problem - why do developers do this to themselves? Come Spring and Summer there's a "gaming draught", and developers realize that they released all of their games for the Giftmas season.

Guys - spread it out! Most of these games I'll wind up renting, or just passing on until some distant future. Either way, it seems that publishers are only hurting themselves.

Where does he get this from

Me: Matthew, come down for dinner!

Matthew: Hold on, Da!

Me: Matthew - come down! I haven't seen you *sob* all day *sob* *sob*. I need my Matthew *sob, sob*.

Matthew: Not right now, Da! I'm busy and be down soon.

My Lovely Wife: *Snerk* I wonder where he gets that from.

Me: Matthew!

Matthew: Coming!

*Later on*

Me: Hey, you guys have no school on Friday. And I don't have to work that Friday. Maybe we should go to the movies.

Kids: Yaaaaay!

Me: How about Ratatoille?

Kids: No - we already saw that!

Me: Well, I haven't!

Kids: Sucks to be you!

MLW: *snerk*

Me: They totally get this attitude and sarcasm from you, you know.

Emily: Nuh-uh. Mommy says that all of our sass comes from you!

Me: ...

Exclusives: The Last Ditch of Desperation

When I see a company say "This game/movie/market item is *only* available here", then I know that it's in real financial trouble.

Today's example: Blockbuster. They are now offering the movie 1408 *only* as a rental through Blockbuster. As it turns out, this isn't accurate (it's available through Netflix, their main competitor right now).

But I always hate these moves. Instead of competing based on how good their service is (and people I've talked to say that Blockbuster online system really stinks, though it's getting better), once you start the path of "Oh, well, we made a deal, and if you want X, you have no choice than to deal with us" - that's when I know they're in financial trouble.

If you can't compete off of value, don't try to get my money by making yourself the only way I can get to something. It's the reason why I never bought Chulip from Gamestop with their "only *we* are allowed to sell this game - suckers!", and it's certainly not going to make me rush into a Blockbuster any time soon.

Looks like she's not getting back to Lost anytime soon

Remember, kids, drinking and driving is bad - even if you are an attractive Hollywood star.

Phoenix Wright Temptation

I won't say from where. But someone gave me access to the Japanese version of Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations.

I have the US game reserved at my local Gamestop (yeah, I know, usually I don't reserve games and give Gamestop a loan that they can then use to invest and earn interest on, but with the reservation you get a Phoenix Wright plushie!). I plan on playing the US version.

But I'm oh so tempted to start playing it *now*....

Stay strong, John! Stay strong!

Stop the Presses - Romney said something I agree with

OK - hold on before you bash Romney for saying he'd consult his attorneys before bombing Iran..

Let me start with this: I can't stand Romney. Hell, I'm a Mormon and I think Romney is a major flip-flopping speaking out of both sides of his mouth say anything to get elected Guantanamo supporting Constitution illiterate douchebag.

That said - in this case - he's right. If the President discovers - as in the case of this question - that a foreign country is going to do something "bad", he doesn't just say "Fire up the planes - let loose the dogs of war!"

This is why we have Checks and Balances in our government. First he needs to find out - is this information true? Then, if he wants to blow some shit up, he has to decide - does this constitute a Clear and Present Danger to the United States (as established in Supreme Court precedent, which enables a President to use emergency war powers if necessary to protect the nation), or do I need to go get authorization from Congress first? If the former, then go blow shit up. If the latter, then go to Congress and get permission, *then* blow shit up.

This is one of those rare times where Romney actually gets it right: you discuss with advisers - people who are experts in their fields (intelligence, constitutional law, etc) - and then make your decision. You don't fire the ones that disagree with you or push them aside in favor of someone who agrees with you (as per the Bush administration), but you don't just run off half cocked thinking you know everything.

Holy crap, I can't believe I'm agreeing with Romney on anything - but this time, he's right.

Nintendo then, Nintendo now

Nintendo released a link to an audio English translation of Mr. Iwata's keynote address in Japan.

Almost as much as the announcements, I was surprised that Nintendo would even do this. In the old days, the North American market would have found out via Nintendo Power or other magazines. Now, Nintendo themselves realizes how key the "outside Japan" market is.

It's also a sign I think of Mr. Iwata's openness compared to his predecessor. He doesn't mind sharing information (well, other than industry secret stuff). But with his gaming development background, I wonder if this isn't him being both a very savvy businessman, as well as understanding the "gamer need to know" mindset.

Either way, it got my attention. More goodies to look forward to. (Even if my wallet is feeling very sad and hurt right now.)

Pure Colberium

A coworker and I were talking about the appearance by Stephen Colbert at the White House Press Dinner all those years ago. We were going over the transcript, and frankly amazed that there he was, 3-4 seats away from the President, basically saying that he was a liar, an idiot, and someone who would rather take the country down in flames than admit "OK, I was wrong, I made a mistake - let's fix it".

I can't imagine being that close to a guy who's #2 shoots people in the face - and then gets them to apologize for getting shot. I remember watching the video, and how quiet the room of journalists became as he realized that Colbert wasn't so much ripping on the President, as ripping on them for not having the balls to look into his lies and distortions.

That's when my coworker and I decided that Colbert must have balls of solid brass. No, not solid brass - something denser, stronger. A substance I have termed - Colberium. A metal that lives within the balls of Stephen Colbert so strong, that nothing can escape it. Not even apathy.

Keep going, Mr. Colbert! Continue to lead us with your balls of might!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

DS 3rd party sales - this is interesting

This is a graph shown by Mr. Iwata at the recent Nintendo Conference in Japan. Look at the difference in the market share of DS games in 2006 and in 2007. You can see how in 2007 the tide suddenly changed from Nintendo dominating the sales of games on the DS, to third parties taking off.

Right now, I'm hearing complains from developers such as "I don't want to port my game engine to the Wii, because most of the game sales are taken up by Nintendo". Which really means "I'm afraid I'll have to put out a high quality game against a company which has a vested interest in making high quality games."

And looked what happened on the DS - game developers who could make high quality games for it have profited thanks to a bigger hardware market, and the quality of DS games rose overall.

I'm wondering if the same is about to happen to the Wii. Look at the history of the PS2 - lots of home sales lead to lots of games. Yeah, there was plenty of crap - but overall, there was also a lot of good stuff. The Wii is going to have 86 games released on it this holiday season, with something like 40% being exclusive to the console - compared to 35 games for the PS3 and the 360, of which only 20% of those titles are exclusives.

With the announcement yesterday by Capcom that "Monster Hunter 3" will be dumped for the PS3 and brought to the Wii because of the expense of developing on the PS3 hardware, I think the Wii is about to get an explosion of third party developers. Sure, there's going to be plenty of dreck - but now that the year after launch is almost up, and the Wii has proved itself more than a fad, I think we can safely say that the Wii had entered that "golden upward spiral" that consoles need to succeed.

The question now is: will the PS3 reach that next year with its heavy hitters (Final Fantasy XIII, Metal Gear Solid), and has Microsoft actually hit that point, or will it plateau and still be unprofitable by the end of its 5 year life span?

And this is why I support a national health care system

Because it would be cheaper. Kind of like when you buy spaghetti sauce from Costco - cheaper in bulk.

The story is right here.

Oooo - Advance Wars 2

With a more mature look.

Daddy like.

I stole this from Daily Kos

Who stole it from Balloon Juice. But it fits what I think about that Graeme Frost kid getting blasted for supporting S-CHIP:

If you look through this family’s dossier, it appears they are doing everything Republicans say they should be doing- hell, their story is almost what you would consider a checklist for good, red-blooded American Republican voters: they own their own business, they pay their taxes, they are still in a committed relationship and are raising their kids, they eschewed public education and are doing what they have to do to get them into Private schools, they are part of the American dream of home ownership that Republicans have been pointing to in the past two administrations as proof of the health of the economy, and so on.

In short, they are a white, lower-middle-class, committed family, who is doing EVERYTHING the GOP Kultur Kops would have you believe people should be doing. They aren’t gay. They aren’t divorced. They didn’t abort their children. They aren’t drug addicts or welfare queens. They are property owners, entrepeneurs, taxpayers, and hard-working Americans. I bet nine times out of ten in past elections, if you handed this resume to a pollster, they would think you were discussing the prototypical Republican voter. Hell, the only thing missing from this equation is membership to a church and an irrational fear of Muslims and you HAVE the prototypical Bush voter.

They are, however, not without fault. They are unable to afford insurance through normal means (and now that they have pre-existing conditions, probably couldn’t get traditional insurance anyway), and managed to get several of their family members injured in a traumatic accident. And, it appears, those are the big blind spots for compassionate conservatism. That, and the real big sin- allowing themselves to advocate for a policy that the Decider was going to veto.

*sigh* I used to be a Republican when I was younger. Now I'm just sad to watch them being taken over by people who aren't real conservatives - just terrible, terrible people.

I hate gamers.

Good Lord, do I hate gamers.

So today, Capcom announced that "Monster Hunter 3" would be coming out for the Wii. They were canceling the PS3 version because it's too expensive for Capcom to make.

Let's think about that for a second. Capcom is going to take a game that makes millions of sales in Japan, and is cancelling it because it's too expensive to make. Instead, they're going to put it on the Wii, which right now has outsold every other next gen home console system in Japan.

Personally, I think that's pretty cool. Good for Nintendo. They've played the game differently, they did something new, and like the DS, they're being rewarded for it.

And what do I read all over the Internets? Gamers bitching and moaning.

"It's going to look terrible! It'll just be a PSP port!"

"I don't want waggle with my game!" (Side note: not every fucking Wii game needs waggle, or has waggle. This is like the DS: at first, every damn game used the touch screen, until developers realized they didn't have to shoehorn it.)

"I don't want friend codes with my game!" (Side note: Not every Wii game needs friend codes - see also the upcoming Medal of Honor. It can use them, but Nintendo has made it clear that developers are not forced to use them.)

"This is a slap in the face by Capcom." No. It's a slap in the face to Sony for putting out a way too expensive game console system. I'll have more on this later and what I see as the upcoming schism in gaming between East and West, but Capcom is doing what it needs to survive: make money.

And right now, making money means putting its game on the system that's the Next Big Thing across both continents, not just 1. The choice was either the PS3 (low sales in the US, halfway decent in Europe, and decent in Japan), the 360 (low sales in Japan, great in the US, decent in Europe), or the Wii (great in Japan, great in Europe, great in the US).

Monster Hunter games do well in Japan, and just "ok" in the US. So, what's Capcom going to do? Sell to a system that's barely got a million sales in Japan, or the one that's going to sell out until sometime next year, and it outselling the PS3 3 to 1?

But gamers can't have that. No, they have to bitch and complain because they're not getting what they want. Well, guys and gals, deal with it. Don't like it? Well, go buy up a whole bunch of PS3's to make it worth Capcom's while.

Let me know when you're done. I have the feeling that I'll be waiting awhile....

I used - options

For the first time in my life, I exercised my stock options - since they expire on the 22nd (after leaving my old company).

Here's the deal: I actually have 300 shares of stock in the old company, but I can only use 64 until 12/2007, then I get another 159, and by June 2008 I get all of the rest. But I also have 300 shares of *options*.

Today, I have become a man of the financial world. I used my old stock to swap for the value of the options. I am now - after taxes - $500 richer.

On paper.

Next week with my paycheck, I'll probably buy another $1000 of options - that should net me another $500 after taxes, so my stock "current worth that I can use" will go form $1200 to $2200 in a week. And, everything else holding steady, means that by this time next year my stock value should be worth $10000, and with the savings my wife and I are putting together we'll have another $10000.

And then we'll spend it all on a down payment on a house.

And - maybe a big screen.

But the house first.

Heroes: They're Flying!

Claire: You don't understand - I'm tired of pretending to be someone I'm not!

Flying Boy: Claire - Shut up!

(Flying Boy picks up Claire. A horrible greenscreen background shows up. They're flying into the air together.)

Me: Can you read my miiiiiiind?
Do you know what it is you do to me?
Don't know who you are
Just a friend from another star
Here I am
Like a kid at the school

My Lovely Wife(MLW): (Throws pillow at my head.)

Me: Look at me - shivering! Like a little girl -

MLW: Do I get out the squirt bottle?

Me: I'll be good.

Phoenix Wright - the manga?

Could be cool, could be suck. But it looks like its coming March 2008.

My hope is that this is more than just a rehash of the game. I'd love to see them play up a bit more of the possible love triangle between Phoenix and Mia and Maya. Don't think there is one? Phoenix could be in love with a dead woman, and the only way he can see/talk to her is through her little sister - who crushes on Phoenix.

Just an idea. I guess we'll have to see either way.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Side note on Aliens in America

I couldn't remember the name of the show, so I just typed in "aliens muslim tv show controversy".

What's the first link in Wikipedia with that information?

Ann Coulter.

Go figure.

Aliens in America

OK, let's be honest: I only checked it out because there was suppose to be a big controversy about the show. If I go by the thing I saw on CNN, this TV show was getting Muslims panties in a bunch.

Here's the setup: midwest family applies to get a foreign exchange student from Britian (mainly because the son is such a loser Mom decides importing a friend might be a good idea). When the kid shows up - he's Pakistani and Muslim. In small town America.

Hijinks ensue.

I watched the show and - actually enjoyed it. Granted, it's a place that only exists in TV land, with moment such as this:

Teacher: So, who has an opinion on Rahja being different?

Girl: It makes me angry, because his people flew those plans into the World Trade Towers on 9-11.

Rajah: Pardon me, but those were not my people.

Teacher: Rajah, don't try to cover things up. Who else is mad because of what Rajah's people did?

Basically, the show is more about the stupidity of Americans about the outside world (and stupidity in general, such as when two bullies get into a fight about who would be boning their hot sister more. Right.). What I found interesting is that nobody seemed to be prejudiced against the blacks or hispanics in their school - just the "new" strange ethnic group with funny dress. Interesting, because one or two generations back the idea of a black school counselor in middle America would have been a crazy idea - as crazy now as a Muslim foreign exchange student, I guess.

But just when you think they're just going to pound you over the head with "Americans stupid", they show some flashes of brilliance. Such as when the teenage boy starts talking to Rajah (after ignoring him for an entire day), and discovers that this guy is actually pretty cool about stuff. Different, sure, but cool.

I'm curious to see if they can make the show more than a one trick pony of "Americans stupid and prejudiced", but if they can expand it out a bit more, I think the show will end up having a lot of things to say about people's perceptions of "those people", and how stupid those perceptions are.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I am - so old

Melissa Joan Hart is going to be in the next Law and Order show as a "naughty teacher".

Melissa Joan Hart. The girl who used to have the show "Clarissa Knows it All", which was long before "Sabrina the Teenage Witch". I had a crush on her as a teenager.

Yeah. Her. I am so old.

Suikoden 2 Poop

I seem to have discovered something called Clive's Quest, which I can not fulfill, so I can not get all 108 Stars.

So, do it over again, or not....

Edit: Might be OK. There's a previous save game I might be able to work with....

I have too many fans

Lately, my Digg account has been getting a lot of "fans". This is where someone ads you to their friend's list, and you haven't added them.

Seems to be a lot of them, with comments like "Nice post!" or "Wow!" or "Check this out!" Yup - seems that Digg is getting its first spam bots.

And here I was thinking I was just popular.

Dancing with myself

If I get Dance Dance Revolution for the Wii.

And then if I dance to Billy Idol's "Dancing with Myself".

Would I then be dancing with myself while playing with my Wii?
Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A picture

25% will always be wrong

I had a coworker convinced of several - odd things.

First was that we had found WMD's in Iraq, but the "liberal media" was covering it up. When I pointed out that sure, we had found 10 year old munitions but not the "current and ongoing" labs that we were told existed, he pointed out the buried old crap as proof.

We were talking about nominees, and he said he could never vote for Obama because he was a Muslim. When I pointed out that a) no he wasn't, and b) even if he was, why did it matter, the response was "Look at his name! He's a Muslim!"

And finally, the Rush thing, that people were accusing Rush of calling Iraq war veteran protesters "phony soldiers". He had the transcript that proved otherwise.

"Dude, that's the doctored version by Rush. They didn't start talking about fake soldiers until 90 seconds later - before that, they were only talking about veterans who opposed the war."

He shook his head at me sadly. "That can't be - Rush said that this was true."

And then it all made sense. Rush said it was true. If it turned out that one thing Rush had said was a lie, then what? What would that say about my coworker - that he had spent years being dumb enough believing a lie, defending a lie?

Evidently, it was easier to go on believing a lie than just say "Huh. Guess I was wrong."

Which is why no matter what happens, Bush will *always* get 25% of the population to support him.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Mmmm - chili!

TV with CSI Rerun: I can't get this guy's head out of the helmet!

My Lovely Wife(MLW): This isn't going to be pretty.

TV: Man - his face looks like hamburger.

Me: (Half way with spoon of chili to my mouth.) Mmmm - chili. So num-num.

It's not God, you moron - it's just your speaker phone!

Evidently, Bush might be thinking that God wants him to invade Iran to save the world.

Look, dude - it's not God. That voice you hear in your office when nobody else is in the room with you? That's your speaker phone. Really.

Amazon MP3 store? Oh, lordy, yes.

For some time, there's really only been one choice for a good online store. Yes, there's and others that sell stuff by independant artists. Don't get me wrong - I like independant artists, and if I hear a good song by an indy band, I'll go get it.

But there's some stuff I just like. Nirvana. The other day, I caught "Wayward Son" and went "Dang - I need that on my iPod!" And for that, it's the iTunes store all the way. The other stores, from Real to Wal-Mart and especially the Zune store, didn't work on anything but either a Microsoft Plays-for-Sure, or a Zune - which wasn't even Plays-For-Sure! What the hell was that about?

I liked the iTunes store. Easy to use, click, click, done. Good prices. Yeah, I was worried that some day if I ever left the world of iPod that my songs didn't work, but that's not going to happen soon.

But then - Amazon.

Le sigh.

MP3 files. No DRM. Works on anything that'll play MP3 files, from iPods to Sony to Microsoft to Joe Bob MP3 player. Has a downloader that works with Windows and OS X, and will have a Linux version soon. Not a huge library yet, but good sized. Prices cheaper than the iTunes store. Heck, way cheaper - the entire Pink Floyd "The Wall" was only $9 for a 2 CD set. 256 bit encoding, so it's so close to CD quality you can smell it.

I told my wife if she's going to buy a song online, let me know first, because I'd rather go to Amazon than iTunes at the moment. Bravo, Amazon.

You actually get it, and you got me to spend $20 on you already. Bravo.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Lady Death. Most boring bikini girl ever

I had a roommate once who was into Lady Death stuff. She (yes, she - it was platonic, trust me. Personally, I think she was bi-curious - she had this complete Angelina Jolie fetish and loved watching girls making out in shows, but that's a separate issue) had Lady Death posters and figures and old comics. I never read it - it all looked like buxom girls in leather bikinis.

Late last night I was working on transferring my iTunes library (a task that still continues - it's a big library), when I was surfing through Netflix and decided to give their "Watch this movie now" service a try. I click Anime, and spot "Lady Death". Sure - why not.

Little did I know that "Lady Death" is actually an experiment to see if it is possible to have a double-D cupped woman running around in a leather bikini, and still make it so boring guys will not want to watch. You've got a girl named Hope who is pious and good, who later learns that her midevil era evil overlord father is actually Satan.

And not only that, but Satan is something of a wuss. When the local villagers get tired of their king kidnapping people for his "army", only to send their souls to hell, they lift up pitchforks to storm the castle. Satan's response in his 9 foot red skinned giant muscled form?

To run away. Of course, they never did explain why people who did nothing wrong and were perfectly decent were forced to go to Hell just because Satan rounded them up. But the movie also had a pretty strong anti-religious tone - God didn't seem to care that innocent people were being forced to go to Hell, and the local priests were more interested in being stereotypical ranting priests.

Priests who, upon finding Hope is Satan's daughter, torture her and set her to burn at the stake for her father's sins. (Sure. That's justice.) Which lets us take Hope from hot big breasted blond girl with long hair to chained up big breasted prison girl with her clothes half torn off. She decides to go to Hell, confronts her father because her wussy "make love not war" boyfriend's soul is held by Satan, he throws her out, she gets glowing eyes and becomes Lady Death. Why did she get glowing eyes? Uh - no idea. She just has super powers that are suppose to be even greater than Satan's because she's Satan's daughter.

Then came the training montage, where she learns to fight and use her new powers. Which involves her hair turning white (no explanation), and as she gets better with her powers and swordplay her clothing grows smaller and smaller (no purpose) until she is running around in literally nothing but high heels (perfectly suitable for fighting in) and a black leather bikini (sure. Why not.).

Then it's time to go start fighting bad guys. And about the time I stopped watching. Success, ADV! You were able to do what I never thought possible: make 90 minutes about a big breasted woman with a sword boring.

I salute you! I'm going to go cleanse my palatte and watching another episode of "The Irresponsible Captain Tylor" before I have to go to Chucky Cheeses with the kids and doing homework. Somehow, I think I'll have more fun figuring out shellsort routines than watching any more "Lady Death".

Final Fantasy Tactics on the PSP

I've been messing around with "Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions" for the PSP. Lovely? Yes. Still the same tactical goodness with the delicious choices (mix Knight and White Mage powers? Have a Wizard with Monk punching abilities? Or perhaps a Calculator?). And the story with the updated translation is just joyful to read, much like the dialogue of "Final Fantasy XII" (though I was annoyed how the ending basically boiled down to "get the big ancient weapon and kick ass).

And the cut scenes are so very, very pretty. Like paper cut outs moving, the characters animated with a kind of static reminiscent of parchment paper. It really grounds you in the idea that this is ancient history retold. The voice acting is also pretty good as well, though I wish the main character didn't sound like he was 15. As an online friend of mine mentioned not too long ago, it seems like Square main lead voice actors always sound like guys who's testicles haven't dropped yet.

But - there is the slowdown. It's a *little* annoying when you're doing some action like Tailwind (formerly Yelling), and you can feel the PSP chugging along. But it gets worse when you cast a spell like "Cure" or "Protect" that can hit up to 5 people at once. And then - chug city. The same spell, hitting 5 people, each time moving through very pretty sprite slowness.

Which makes no sense. It's like the developers have their own PSOne emulator, and it's not nearly as good as the one that Sony made. The good news is that it hides a lot of the PSP's pinnings, such as the save system. When you save your game, all you see is Final Fantasy Tactics, not the big glaring PSP system going "Hey! I'm saving! Look at me! I'm a PSP!"

But the slowdown. It's something you try to ignore, but there's really no excuse for it. It's the same problem Square-Enix had with "Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth", another PSOne to PSP remake. And it seems like they still haven't figured out how to fix it. Which is so odd, because I can take my copy of "Final Fantasy Tactics" for the PSOne, run it through the PSP emulator machine, and it runs faster (minus the additions that the native PSP version give).

If you never played it before and want a good PSP game, you'll want it, even with the slowdowns. If you are a major fan, I don't have to tell you - you'll get it. And if you're on the fence, you might want to play the PSOne version since you can find it pretty cheap.

I didn't know there was this much instant watch anime on Netflix

Huh. Netflix has this "watch it now" system. Works only with Internet Explorer on Windows, but they've actually got a fair amount of anime up for viewing. This might be useful.

Volton! Yes!

Very funny, God

My Lovely Wife (MLW): So to fix the switch on the car, it'll be $140. But they can't find the leak yet, so we might have to take it to a body shop.

Me: Dang it! I *knew* this was going to happen when I got that 70 hours of vacation time paid all at once. Our cars were fine until I got that. Then, just as we're about to put a big amount into savings, my car light turns on and the dealership thinks it'll cost $1000 to fix, your car gets a leak and the AC stops working, the phone charger stops working - I'm telling you, it's like God figured "Huh-huh, this'll be funny - I'll screw with John a little."

MLW: Really.

Me: Yeah. That's why I'm not an atheist - I just figure God's a jerk.

Thunder: Roll!

Me: Yeah, I heard you. And let me guess - 15 minutes from now when this data transfer I'm doing only has 1 minute to go, you'll knock out the power just because you've got a lame sense of humor!

MLW: OK, breath, honey. Breath.

(15 minutes later to the dot.)

Thunder: Crash!

Power: Off!

Me: Ha, ha, ha, God! You're still a jerk!

Guitar Hero III suckage

First, check out this picture. That's how the Playstation 3 version of "Guitar Hero III" is going to be wireless.

By having big nasty ugly dongles hanging off of the PS3.

Ah, hell no. Look, I was going to get the PS3 version of Guitar Hero III for 3 reasons. 1. Wireless. 2. Download new songs. 3. Rock band compatibility. Why not just use bluetooth? Then it would be wireless without extra crap hanging all over.

Yeah, I'm petty. But I just canceled my Guitar Hero III preorder with Amazon, and then my Rock Band preorder. I'll wait and see how it all plays out. If Rock Band doesn't have nasty stuff all over, maybe I'll go for that - or see if/when they do a Wii version.

Patroit first. Nationalist last.

There was a discussion about Barack Obama deciding he wasn't going to wear a pin of the US flag any more, because he felt that it was better to show his patriotism by his actions, not by what he wears.

Which set off a whole burst of news articles around the net, from bloggers for and against his position. But that's not what I want to talk about. It was a comment I saw over on Digg that went like this:

Patriotism is a maguffin -- a thin disguise for destructive nationalism. People put too much stock in caring about their "country" rather than their ideas. What does it matter whether you're from America or England or Germany, Australia, Indonesia, Iraq, or Iran -- as long as you believe in inalienable human rights? When we become absorbed in the concept of patriotism, we put more stock in government than in individual liberties. Stop caring about whether the United States is the "greatest country in the world" and staring caring about diplomacy.
I'm a patriot. I love this country, even though that sentiment seems to be unpopular right now among the faux-intellectual set. I believe in inalienable human rights. I believe nationalism and patriotism are different things, and that one can be the former without being the latter. I think a lot of people who try to conflate patriotism with nationalism do it because they believe doing so makes them look like a sophisticated internationalist, or they hate or are ashamed of the country and don't want to say so in as many words. It saddens me to that think that one of the essential civic virtues has been turned into a vice by people who, in all likelihood, live in this country and have benefited from it.

Which got me to thinking: just what is the difference between patriotism and nationalism?

Here's my own take: the former is to ideas. The latter is to borders.

I am a patriot. I believe that the highest value is to a patriot to the United States. When the President swears the oath, he does not swear it to the country - he swears it to the Constitution, a collection of ideas that the country is run by the collective will of the people. When a soldier in the army raises their hand, they swear to protect the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic.

Lately, though, it seems that all people care about are the borders. If you're not a US citizen, well, torture rules don't apply to you. Democracy is great - unless you're sitting on oil that we want, then you don't need it that badly.

Now people are telling us we are a "Christian nation". What does that mean, anyway? It certainly doesn't mean that we help the poor and the sick, or else the SCHIP bill wouldn't have been vetoed. We certainly aren't doing what we can to really promote education and learning, or to ensure votes in all areas are counted. But we're great at lifting up foam fingers and shouting "U-S-A".

I'd much rather our soldiers be used to support patriots, and that supporting our troops wasn't by whether you wear a symbol on your chest, but by how well you protect the values they stand for: a nation by the people, and justice for all.

No matter *where* you fall under the borders lines.

I need some cream, honey

Me: Hey, we're all out of lotion, and after mowing the lawn and washing up, I feel really dry.

My Lovely Wife (MLW): Well, here. You can use this.

Me: No I can't.

MLW: Why not?

Me: It says "night cream". It's day time.

MLW: Well, then use this.

Me: Uh - it's brown. I'm not putting brown stuff all over my face.

MLW: It's not brown - it's cream colored.

Me: It's the color of poo.

MLW: You are acting like such a - girl!

iPhone. iiiiiPhonnnnnne!

My Lovely Wife (MLW): I'm going to go buy some books.

Me: OK - hey, what about me?

MLW: iPhone.

Me: Oh.

(One week goes by.)

MLW: So what do you want for Christmas.

Me: What's my budget for asking?

MLW: $100.

Me: That's it?

MLW: iPhone. iiiiiiiPhooooonnnnnne.

Me: Uh - how much longer does this go on?

MLW: Another $150.

Eating with babies

This morning I used some leftover chicken and made myself an omelet.
And then I realized:

I am eating chicken with eggs. Isn't that like eating a chicken with -
chicken babies?

I felt guilty. Well, not really. Well, a little.
Sent from my iPhone

Yay! My day off!

Every other Friday I get a day off. Which means I get to do the lawn, fix the car, build a table, do my homework -

Yup. A day off.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Test mobile post

I'm testing sending this from my phone.

Hm. Religoius recital

My daughter has been taking guitar lessons for the last 6 months or so. She's learned to read music, and though I have to remind her to practice, she's at least getting musical proficiency.

Within the last month we've switched guitar instructors to someone more local - saves me a 20 - 25 minute drive down to about 5 minutes. So that's fine.

Yesterday I didn't take her - I had a long day at work, and My Lovely Wife offered to take my daughter to practice instead. That was fine. I kept working on dinner so when they came back it would all nice and hot.

After dinner was served, my daughter told me in breathless tones about how she would get to play in a recital. For a Christmas recital. At a church!

"Hmmm." I said. Not very nicely, to be honest.

My wife looked at me. "What's that 'hmmm' about?"

This is where I mention that the music shop where Emily gets her lessons is a music/Christian book store. I know what you're thinking. "John, aren't you a Christian?"

Yeah. I am. I'm also a gamer, but you don't see me hanging a Game Boy around my neck either. I take very seriously the idea that "let not your left hand know what your right hand does" - the stuff that Jesus talked about that said you don't wear your religion on your sleeve for the praise of man, but just do your job. Be nice to people. Help the poor and the sick and the needy.

The idea that you'd wear an instrument of torture around your neck to show off how much you believe honestly offends me. That you need your own branch of music and literature to be "pure enough" bugs me as well - we're suppose to live in the world, not separate ourselves from it.

And to be honest, some of my own personal history coming through. I was plagued as a teenager by people trying to "save me" from being a Mormon (since evidently believing in Jesus as the Son of God, the resurrection, the atonement, and that the guy walked on water isn't good enough for some people out there). They'd bring up the stupidest things ("Do you really believe women are eternally pregnant in heaven?")

Now, up until this point, I kind of ignored the store's secondary function. I noticed the cross earrings and the video tapes of cartoons for children taking them on a tour through the history of the bible. It was there, I didn't care. I was there for my daughter's guitar lessons.

And then, she's invited to play at a church.

Yeah. I have a problem with it. I have a problem because now I'm worried the first time my daughter says "Uh huh - I was baptized and my daddy did it in California".

Then someone says "What church do you go to".

And my daughter says "I go to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

And then someone gives me The Look, and they try to "convert" my daughter, or my family. Or tell her she doesn't go to a "real" church. Or start arguing about whether their God is bigger than my God or some stupid crap like that. Those that know me know I won't just be able to let it go. Odds are, I'll be sarcastic at first as a warning of "Hey, let's not discuss this, I'm not going to get into your arguments." Then if they get pushing I'll use reason as a "Does it really matter, let's just focus on something else."

Then I'll get mean.

Maybe I'm worrying too much about it. Maybe I'm projecting my own negative experiences onto the situation. Maybe I should just go, not worry about it, and let things fall as they may.

Damn it, Windows!

Look, it's pretty damned simple. I have a laptop. I have an external monitor. The monitor is to the left of the laptop. I have the monitor to the left of the laptop. I have "Extend my display to this monitor" enabled so I can have two displays at once.

Then why is it every third day or so, I have to ****ing remind Windows "Hey, dumbass, the monitor is to the *left*, not the *right*?" Come on - I don't move it. It's not a new monitor or docking station.

Get it already!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dr. House and the Mormon Doctor

Last night I was up late enough to watch "House". By now, the formula is pretty clear: someone has an illness, and either they're hiding something important - or the disease is throwing up a lot of red herrings.

To give them credit, the writers seem to get that the formula has to be tweaked every so often to make things seem fresh. For example, last night you had a patient who wanted all of her tests "off the record" so her job (and dreams) wouldn't be ruined. And, at the same time, House had to reduce a potential crowd of 40 would-be assistants to just 3. Let loose the cat fighting the nastiness, people!

What caught my eye though was the portrayal of one of the doctors as a Mormon - an ethnic minority. Compound that with the same doctor being black - a racial minority, and a minority within a minority (not that many black Mormons, though the number is growing).

Being a Mormon myself, I was kind of apprehensive. For some reason, Mormons usually don't get great billing time on TV. We're usually weirdos who won't touch a woman (even if their a paramedic - that was one show I recall), or we're cultists (like "Angels in America" I think it was, where Mormons were pretty much homophobic jerks).

But here, we had a Mormon who was more like me. There was a moment where House had to determine if Patient X had a failed liver without doing a biopsy. The solution: get her drunk. If she goes into toxic shock, then she has a liver problem. To test, they needed a control group of a hard drink (House), a moderate drinker (one of the other doctors), and the Mormon (who doesn't drink at all).

At first, Mormon guy wouldn't do it - wrong to drink alcohol. And then House asks a question: Would you help an ass out of a pit on the Sabbath. For religious people, the question is clearly a reference to when Jesus stated that the Sabbath was made for man, and not the other way around. Therefore, it was perfectly all right to do some work or good deeds even when they conflict with commandments.

Mormon guy then decided well, that a good point. If my drinking can save a woman's life, then it's no longer sinful. When later challenged by House about why he was abandoning his beliefs, Mormon guy gave the same answer I (or hopefully any other decent Mormon would have):

You have a convincing argument.

I hope they keep him around. Yeah, self serving becaue he's a Mormon, but because he's one of the few on a show who isn't portrayed as someone weird. He's got beliefs, but as he says, people in the Mormon faith are free to make their own decisions. Yeah, we've got our own jerkoffs who think that they should set the rules for all other, or who judge others because they drink or some stupid reason like that.

Maybe, if nothing else, it will be a reminder to other Mormons as well that we are suppose to have our own minds. The thing I always remind people when they say to "Follow the Holy Ghost" is to remind them of the advice Joseph Smith gave to Oliver Cowdery: First *reason it out in your mind*, *then* ask God if its correct. Too many Mormons seem to forget the first part and expect the answers to just come.

House had a good, reasonable argument, and for once, I don't feel embarrassed to see how my faith is portrayed on a TV show.

Thinking about using this

I can't ever get to Livejournal save through some stuff through my phone at work, among other issues, so I'm thinking about moving my blog posts over here.