Monday, October 29, 2007

Even samurai have teddy bears. . .

Everybody, sorry for the lack of updates lately. I've been taken completely off guard by the deluge of midterms, assignments and reading. Things will get back to normal pretty soon and I even have a little announcement of sorts later in the week. I guess we'll all have to wait and see. . .

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Minesweeper: The Movie

This is particularly funny to someone like myself who has lost countless productive hours to minesweeper. I'm aware it's from that moronic CollegeHumor site, but it's surprisingly good and has some nice in-jokes.

"What do we do now?"

"We guess."

Friday, October 19, 2007

How The Morning Show Used Psychologist Susan Bartell

Earlier this week, a Fox affiliate doing a segment on the effects of violent video games dragged out pop psychologist Susan Bartell, author of a children's weight-loss book, for comment. Bartell commented on some brain scans indicating that the minds of children involved in "violent" video games are far more active than the minds of a "control" group of children who played "non-violent" games. This image showed up briefly on the screen:

The show apparently didn't consider context important for their audience. (What is considered a "violent" game? Why is it bad for a brain to be "more active"? The host's comment paraphrased: "Couldn't the same thing happen at the symphony?")

Apparently not. Dr. Bartell's response:

". . . it’s negative activity that the child really has to get into the character of the person that they’re playing that’s killing all these people. So when they walk out of the room and they go out into the streets and someone might bump into them, what are they going to do?"

What a relief - now we can account for the scores of hyperactive children on hair-triggers absolutely MASSACRING classmates in the hallway every day.

Sarcasm aside - let me get to the point. Dr. Bartlett didn't make the graphs. She didn't even bring the graphs to the show. She was shown the graphs by a Morning Show producer minutes before the show began. Anybody with a mouth and a memory could have done her job - regurgitating the show's positions back at our televisions - but it took a special kind of moral weakness to come masquerading as an expert, purporting to know just what on Earth she's talking about.

My question: why don't we have a scandal when these things happen? Connecting yourself to anti-game warfare seems to get you a free pass from any kind of character study or attempt at moral fortitude, as scumbag ambulance-chasing "lawyer" Jack Thompson has proven.

Link to the Original Story at GamePolitics

The Story About the Scam

Now if you'll excuse me, I've been playing violent video games and I have to go hang my neighbors.*

Satire! Parody! Whimsical sarcasm!

A History of Religion in 90 Seconds

I found this fascinating - a time-elapsed map of the spread of various religions throughout the world, including crusades and the births and deaths of major religious figures:

History of Religion in 90 Seconds

Congressman Pete Stark's Emotional Rants

Regardless of whether you agree with this guy or not, and regardless of whether you think such comments from an elected official are appropriate, this video of Congressman Pete Stark's recent rant on Capitol Hill should be enlightening:

Among other comments: that President Bush just "likes to blow things up" and derives "amusement" from war casualties.

I'm not particularly offended by the statements made - I understand the guy's emotions ran away from him. He was chastised for referring to the President in a personal manner and that's enough.

It made me ponder the devotion some have to this children's health care proposal. I don't know anything about the proposal and thus don't have a strong opinion about it, but cooler heads should prevail on stuff like this.

What do you think?

Chris Gilmour's Amazing Cardboard Sculptures

Well, another person in the news with a talent that I will never, ever be able to develop.

This guy makes cardboard into stunning sculptures: garden watering pots, a typewriter, even a Fiat automobile. The thing goes 75 imaginary miles per hour.

He's based in Italy so most of you won't be able to check out the displays in person. Check out the site for a complete gallery:

Chris Gilmour Cardboard Sculpture Gallery

Random Merch Extravaganza

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, everybody. School took me a little off-guard but I have a treasure trove of links and such for us today. I'll be posting the rest later so be sure to check back.

(I found most of these on BoingBoing. Seriously, if you haven't visited that site. Do it now. You might find it uninteresting upon first visit but after some time you'll find out how truly wonderful it is.

First some bizarre items for sale on teh Internets:

The "scariest mask of 2007": the Michael Jackson Fright Mask. Actually, I believe this is the face he makes every morning as he stands in front of the medicine cabinet. "Nope - still me."

A bacon candy bar, from a self-proclaimed bacon and chocolate enthusiast. (I'm a bacon and chocolate enthusiast, but not really a bacon and chocolate enthusiast - kudos for the man with the gravitas to combine the two.)

The Hello Kitty Assault Rifle needs no explanation.

Ridiculously-Cute Kids' Costumes. Well, babies' costumes really. Whether you've got a kid or not you'll want to check these heart-meltingly cute costumes out. (Particularly the "Peas in a Pod" costume.) Not surprisingly, the fuzzy bunny costume has sold out. I'm glad I'm not a baby anymore, when people would take advantage of me by making me wear humiliating outfits.

Google Hit Count Jewelry. An "update of the ring as a status symbol", these rings display constantly the number of hits received by a Google-ing of your name. I'd set it to my pseudonym "Bruce Springsteen" by which I'm more well-known.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More Stupid Nooses

Once again, racist morons have continued to garner undue publicity with another noose stunt. First the incident at that backwater high school, then some hicktard hangs a noose on a professor's door, now a noose from a forklift in Long Island.

My take on the whole thing: CAN IT WITH THE STUPID NOOSES ALREADY!

To those attempting another go at a forgotten era of this sort of thing, Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune has some words for you:

"Sorry, young man, but I knew the '60s. This is not them."

These guys are making a statement about as subtle as doorbell ring-and-run. Everybody gets their knickers worked up but in the end you haven't accomplished anything. I don't know much about racial demographics but a know a coupla racists, and they're not the moustachiest nazi in the Reich, if you catch my drift (bad metaphor translated: you're stupid).

Shave your head and tattoo racial slurs on your forehead if you're really serious about this sort of thing. At least you'll show an ounce of backbone before the rest of us break yours.

Monday, October 15, 2007

levelHead: The Amazing, Interactive. . . Block

Seriously, though - check out this thing in action. The idea is to help the little white silhouette of a guy to navigate a maze by tilting the gameworld. Gizmodo's report says that there will eventually be several connected intelinked cubes. Cool.

Obsess much? Full text of every published Calvin and Hobbes available online. . .

Looking for a particular Calvin and Hobbes comic? A certain Bernardo Malfitano has made us all a little happier by posting a complete index of the venerable comic strip, searchable by keyword.

The scary - and questionable - part is that most of these comics link to the original strips. I don't know how this is possible, but anybody willing to invest the time to read the entire series one strip - and one click - at a time may now do so.

Calvin and Hobbes Searchable Index

UPDATE: The link to the Calvin and Hobbes Browser, a far more convenient way to read the entirety of the strip.

Netherlands Bans "Mario" Mushrooms - Nederlanders Turn Elsewhere For Their Power-Up Needs

As Kotaku reports, the Netherlands has taken action to ban the Amanita muscaria mushroom - (otherwise known as the "power-up" mushroom), due to the proliferation of hallucinations and death in the country recently following a surge in consumption.

Well, sure it causes hallucinations and death - if you don't eat it right. Pay attention, kids:

Note: Those who feel that Cracking My Knuckles in Public is mocking the deaths of the foolish should note that we do not find natural selection funny, but a grim reality of daily life.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Artist" Implants Third Ear on His Own Arm. . .

In our continuing quest not to shy away from the shocking and disturbing - perhaps even to focus on such things - we present the story of an Australian artist whose grand statement to the world has been made by implanting a third ear onto his forearm. (When added to the two already on his head, we mean.)

What a statement! What art nouveau!

Others have been less charitable (Drudge's headline: "FREAK: Artist implants 'third ear' on his own arm. . .") or even taken the opportunity to crack childish jokes: (The Mirror: "He's a kind of Vincent Van Gogh in reverse."). I, for one, welcome this freak into the United Consortium of Artists and Artisans.

Let us loose the shackles of myopic ignorance and see this masterpiece for what it is. Listen to this man's ideas:

"I hope to have a tiny microphone implanted to it that will connect with a bluetooth transmitter; that way you can listen to what my ear is hearing."


Friday, October 05, 2007

Bow to the Death Worm

So. . . I've got a Death Worm Simulator for you.

I'm talking an enormous, subterranean creature devouring camels, elephants and soldier and destroying tanks and helicopters in a frenzy of pure uninterrupted feeding.

The game's a download but I highly recommend it.

Commence the rampage at this link.

"Copyright Lawyer Tells Universities to Resist 'Copyright Bullies' "

Wendy Seltzer, visiting professor and recognized authority on intellectual property has urged colleges to resist (I prefer "not to negotiate") with MAFIAA copyright bullies and disclose personal information of students. The RIAA and MPAA do not typically file lawsuits against individual students, but give the college a sheet of I.P. addresses, demanding proprietary student information.

Since when is corporate bullying such as this condoned by the government? Doesn't this violate due process? (Answer: yes.) Doesn't this destroy Habeus Corpus? (Answer: yes.) Are RIAA lawyers held to the same standards of investigation in the courtroom?

No. As recent action against Jammie Thomas has proven, the RIAA cares less about increasing music industry and artist profits than punishing people for filesharing. Music industry executives have proven that these lawsuits are a money pit. Why do they continue? Why do they destroy their fan base and reinforce their negative public image?

I'm not sure they know anymore. As dirtbag RIAA attorney Richard Gabriel tellingly said: "This is what can happen if you don't settle."

Remind you of the big dumb kid asking you for change in third grade?

Image from toothpastefordinner.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Artist Gets Probation For Building Secret Mall Apartment

This is truly grand. Michael Townsend, Rhode Island artist, recently. . . well, read the post title. It's all over now, but what a grand time it must have been. Remember, these people occupied this apartment in the Providence Place Mall for weeks at a time for four years. This is something of a dream for anyone who's ever built a living room fort. I suppose I'll have to settle for fitting my future home with a panic room.

The impetus for the secret apartment:

"During the Christmas season of 2003 and 2004, radio ads for the Providence Place Mall featured an enthusiastic female voice talking about how great it would be if you (we) could live at the mall. . . This, along with a wide variety of theoretical musings about my relationship to the mall - as a citizen and public artists - provided the final catalyst for making the apartment. From those Christmas seasons to the present, I have spent the time to quietly create this space and occupy it from time to time.

Plans to finish the kitchen, install the wood flooring, add a second bedroom and replace the outdated cutlery were put on permanent hold recently as I was apprehended leaving the apartment."

Visit the man's website for the complete rundown or the article for the typical joyless news rundown.

One final note:

"Providence Police Major Stephen Campbell said he and other detectives were so intrigued they visited the apartment to see for themselves.

'I was surprised at what he was able to accomplish," Campbell said. [Childlike look of wonder leaves his eyes as he remembers his duty.] "But what he did was clearly criminal. The mall is private property.' "

Note: boingboing again.

PC Dominoes and Puppet Magic

Two more YouTube videos of inscrutable strangeness:

Chinese Magic Trick-Performing Clockwork
This is apparently up for auction at Strangely beautiful.

PC Dominoes: "The Best Thing to Come Out of the Dot-Com Crash!"
Laugh, but when the computer revolution comes we're going to see this on . . . somewhat of a larger scale.

Thanks once again to the always-excellent boingboing for first directing me to these links.

OSC Book Covers

As long as I'm on the subject of Orson Scott Card, I'm going to point out how terrible the covers of some of the foreign editions of his books are. Check out the pudgy German kid on the German edition of "Ender's Shadow":

Save some room for later, Augustus liebchen.

What about the puzzling Narnia-style cover for the Spanish Portuguese edition of "Speaker For the Dead". Simplifies things a bit?

The Japanese cover for "Lost Boys" is just. . . puzzling. It's kind of endearing, though - is this sort of thing commonplace? It's definitely uniquely Japanese.

One of the most wrenching, personal novels
of all time has become a Doraemon episode.

This isn't a foreign edition, but I'd like to point out the horror of the Young Adult printing of Ender's Game.

For Mega Man, it's not a game anymore.

In other news, they've given the audiobook edition the Star Wars treatment:

This should be the poster for the Ender films in 2017 when they finally get around to releasing them. And I would make my casting choices according to the poster: Ender played by Christopher Lee, Han Qin-Jao played by a very sleepy Bjork, and the Hive Queen motion-captured by Andy Serkis, as always.

Note: I apologize for the inconsistent formatting on this post. I'm still getting a hang of this whole "HTML" thing.

Slinky Friends

Quote from a friend of Orson Scott Card, from a "friend" of his:

Some people are like Slinkys. They aren't really good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when they're pushed down the stairs.

That's Educational

I don't think I'm going out on a limb by saying that many of us who are students hate the grading curve. It negates something vitally important: context. With three or four professors over a single subject at some universities, it's no secret that a grading curve can turn a good grade into a bad grade very, very fast.

Brian Marquis of U-Mass took his C personally, with a fifteen-count lawsuit against the university for "civil rights violations" and infliction of "emotional stress". Mercy me.

As reported by The Boston Globe, the suit has been dismissed, but it looks like Marquis will be continuing to pursue the case. If you'd really like to, you can also read the man's filed complaint.

My natural tendency is to call the guy a dipwad and move on to more stupid flash games, but let me play devil's advocate here: think about the impact that a grade can have on your future. Your future career could be affected if a professor assigns you a C because he/she doesn't like the cut of your jib. If damages are determined by all future harm you may experience, the guy may have a point.

Still the fact remains that suing over a grade feels. . . immature somehow.

Required context: The guy's 51.

Mario Shampoo Ad From the 80s

Yahtzee Croshaw of Zero Punctuation fame has a great (and appropriately uneven) blog at Therein I found this lovely Mario shampoo ad from the 80s. To view the full ad and its disturbing ramifications just follow your nose.

Yoda on Drums

There's something oddly compelling about Yoda on Drums, from the creator of Bowmaster Prelude. The guy can be sprightly when he needs to be.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Casual Games Explained

The mad geniuses at The Escapist get to the essence of casual games with this excellent review of Peggle. I don't think I actually laughed out loud, but smiled inwardly. This is the same thing that Douglas Adams stuff does to me, so. . . good thing.

"I preferred Bookworm Adventures, but then again I'm one of those hopeless mutants who genuinely enjoys playing Scrabble. . . It's unfair, isn't it? Once your funding hits the seventh digit you're supposed to start making Gun Battle Slap Fight for the Playstation Twelve and leave the color-matching tile puzzles to the bedroom programmers."

Take the jump! Take it!

Zero Punctuation Reviews: Peggle

(Some mild language on the link)

Flashback to a Friendly Web Mindfreak

For those who never had a chance to play the twisted psychological experiment "Don't Shoot the Puppy" by 5555THATS5RS.COM, I'd like to propose the following experiment: How long will it take you to find the secret? Will you beat it?

Bonus points for any of you who shows this to your friends. Watch them squirm and demand help. Heh heh. Twits.

Don't Shoot the Puppy - 5555THATS5RS.COM

Good luck.

The Top Ten Secret Celebrity Scientologists (which may be related to the weirdo teenage humor magazine of the same name) has presented a list of ten celebrities who, for better or worse, have embraced the writings and theories of L.R.R. Hubbard and gone the way of Scientology. There may be the occasional joke here or there, but I've confirmed enough of these to believe the list is genuine (exempting, perhaps, Bart Simpson).

I've never been ambiguous on my opinions about Scientology, but this is neither the time nor place. I'll merely post the link for your enjoyment:

Top Ten Secret Celebrity Scientologists

"Clearly the label didn't want anybody to think that Beck, a 100-pound Fraggle who writes acoustic guitar raps about plastic eyeballs spraypainting vegetables, was weird or anything."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I've commented in the past that "Pearls Before Swine" just doesn't do it for me anymore, but the last few days of the comic have filled me with inexplicable mirth. something about the mashup of the grammar-challenged crocodiles and cute little kitty just work for me.

To view the full-size get to the link before the archive on expires:

Sunday Cat Introduction
Day 2
Day 3

Pastis is milking that cute kitty for all it's worth, and it still hasn't worn thin.

Study: Parents Who Don't Know How to Read Instructions May Make Bad Decisions

According to a new study on GamePolitics, new parental chips on gaming consoles are being tested with a high failure rate - as high as forty-seven percent. This arises not from a problem with the software itself but with parental inability to read the instructions, displayed clearly on screen, no doubt in large, friendly letters.

This begs the obvious question: we know that one in four adults read no books last year (the rest read Harry Potter), but how can parents who could not, by any standard, pass a reading comprehension test make objective decisions for their family?

The solution, as depicted in the study:

Just hold this position for the child's formative years and everything will be fine. If you have more than four children you're pretty much screwed.

Three New Record Reviews Up at Sputnikmusic. . .

If I may stoop to a little more self-aggrandizement, three of my new record reviews are now up at

Battles - Mirrored (Pictured at Left)

Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit (Pictured at Center)

Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare


Gaming As a Religion

I've seen this sort of religious imagery applied to sports, but rarely to gaming.

Seeing it now - done retro, of course - is refreshing. I could never wear the shirt for a variety of reasons, but kudos to Digital Gravel for finding a need and filling it.

Source (As Always): Kotaku