Friday, December 28, 2007

Abstinence Only Gun Control?

<a href="">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, 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:

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Too many accounts

I have a myspace account as johnhummel.  I'm on facebook as  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 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.....
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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 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.


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:

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.


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?