Monday, March 28, 2005

Turns out we were wrong all the time

In the April edition of Scientific American, science will finally dispose of its most cherished conspiracy. Yes, that's right, according to this story the days of requiriing little things like "evidence" or "testable models" are passing along with the dinosaurs.

Evolution was a fun little evil, but I can see it's time has passed. Always one to see the value in new modes of thinking, I have re-evaluated some of my own positions, basing my new prospectives under logic that previously we rational people regarded as somewhat suspect.

It turns out that 300x50x30 cubits really is enough space to hold 3,858,920 animals.

It turns out that the earth really is around six to ten thousand years old.

It turns out that all those arguments we thought were "debunked" were actually dismissed a little too early by people who insisted on "evidence".

Well, I say so long to the monolithic tyranny of rational scientific models! It's about time our scientific discourses were guided by the principles of democracy and Christianity for which our nation has ever stood.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Fightin' Words

An associate recently claimed that there was a better Transformer than Soundwave.

It took about four guys to break us apart.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Choices, Consequences, and Injunctions

So a federal district court has refused to grant an injunction ordering the restoration of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. The right of the federal court system to review the case followed a bill passed by Congress granting jurisdiction. Notwithstanding the various legal issues that surround Congress' ability to pass such legislation, I find myself alternatively at odds with the situation.

To begin with, despite the bald assertions of Senator Frisk, many "life affirming" Americans believe that is it nonetheless consistent to insist upon an individual right to a comfortable and dignified end. I know, because I am one of them. I regard life as unspeakably sacred; certainly I hold it in higher regard than those who advocate the unchecked execution of the criminally suspect or the jingoistic use of force of arms. Even so, principle demands that people be allowed to dispose of their final affairs and their final days in a manner befitting the life they have lead.

I find the presumptive arrogance of the Republican response repulsive. I think certainly at least some of their public outrage is little more than disengenious manipulation of the body politic, and much of the rest is pandering to that disturbing bloc of ascendent fundamentalists. The legal action of the federal government represents the imposition of one set of principles for another, in contravention of all theories of self-determination. So it is with some trouble that I must admit that their action, if not their motives, may in the end be correct. Despite the fact that I believe everyone has what may be described somewhat crassly as a "right to die", I find myself unable to find complete accord with the position of Mr. Schiavo. Certainly, were there any clear and undisputed indication of Mrs. Schiavo's intentions then I should have little difficulty in asserting a personal position. However, I feel that in the absence of a manifestly declarative statement, we ought to error on the side of caution.

Caution, however, does not necessarily dictate action. Mr. Schiavo, as I understand the situation, is the proper guardian of his wife, and accordingly holds both the authority over and the responsibility for her affairs. On his shoulders rests the momentous decision, and I would think this legal battle is doing little to alleviate what must be a most harrowing experience.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Do your part to save a kitten

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Gencon, otherwise known as gaming mecca, is coming again. I'm not really sure where it is this year, as it has moved about a bit of late, but it's somewhere in the midwest to be sure. Unfortunately, poor as I am, I can't go.

Scratch one kitten.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Too bad I don't need VOIP

I really like the song they use in the Vonage IP commercials. If I needed VOIP, I'd get it from them. I like to support products that have good commercials. Conversely, I stay away from products whose commercials irritate me. So just a warning to any company that plans to use Carrot Top or David Arquette again, you can kiss my business goodbye.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

One sober Irishman

Well, it's St. Patrick's day again, another excuse for everyone to get totally and completely blasted. As if they needed one. St. Patrick's day is the total aggregation of everything that is crass, crude, and base in American society, thinly covered with a green shamrock.

Speaking as an Irishman, which I am somewhat though it is a title I rarely lay claim to, I find little to recommend in the holiday. I'm not Catholic, and even among the papists little is known about him outside of Ireland. Irish nationalism, too, seems a dubious cause. Ireland has no doubt suffered many indignities and even brutalities at the hands of the English, and they would have many legitimate grievences had they not turned to a kind of terrorism as reprehensible as any employed by al-Qaeda.

There are many ways in which St. Patrick's day could be meaningful. It could be an affirmation of Irish contributions to society. It could be a day of rememberence, of learning what it is to be Irish. Instead, it's just another excuse for people to drink and fight. However Irish these things may be, and I'm sure they are not completely unknown on the Shamrock Isle, they are hardly worthy of celebration or veneration.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Now everyone can have a bent Wookie

SOE has released information for the new SWG expansion. It's called Episode III: Rage of the Wookies. It includes a new planet, Kashyyk, the home world of the Wookies, a hundred new missions, and some new items among them the Jedi starfighter (As seen in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith!). All this and the assembled host of bugs, glitches, disappointments, and outright lies that accompany all of SOE's products can be yours for the bargain price of $24.99.

This will be the second expansion for SWG, the single most disappointing game in MMORPG history, the first being Jump to Lightspeed, which brought us the ability to play in space. RoTW will actually come with JtL for free, which if it follows the economic model of MMORPG expansions, has not made the portion of the user base who bought JtL when it came out very happy.

Besides the obvious marketing tie with a movie whose events take place some 25 years before the setting of the SWG game, there are plenty of other reasons to believe that the expansion will suck. At present there is no evidence to indicate that the "100 new missions" will be any better than the thousands of cookie-cutter UPS or destruction chores already available. Furthermore, Kashyyk will in all events end up as nothing more than another high level adventure planet, which in itself isn't all that bad, but I hardly think another Endor or Dathomir is worth $24.99.

Most of the SWG population awaits RoTW because the much anticipated Combat Balance will be released simultaneously. SWG users await the combat upgrade as fervently as the Jews await the messiah, and SOE has only fuelled this urgency by promising, for more than a year, that the combat rebalance will be that answer to all the game's ills.

I personally anticipate disappointment both from RoTW and from the combat rebalance, because SOE has never given us a reason to expect otherwise. Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure I'll be shelling out that $24.99, and I hate them for it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Nobody named Miranda here

Well, The Shield is finally back on the air with new episodes. It's been a long wait, for those of us on the hook, but if the rest of the season is anything like the first episode then I think it'll all have been worth it.

I am particularly pleased by Glenn Close, an actress who is not exactly anyone's first choice for a gritty police drama, she offered a convincing performance as a hardnosed, practical, but still (at least apparently) on the right side of law. The former members of the now defunct strike team have all advanced in accordance with their particular personalities. Shane appears to be sliding even deeper into corruption, Lem has transfered somewhere that'll soothe his conscious, and Ronny remains as faceless as ever.

It remains to be seen how far they'll take Dutch on his trip down sociopath lane, but strangling cats can't hardly lead to anything good. CCH remains prickly and disatisfied, but it remains to be seen how she'll work for a captain who's occupying what was supposed to be her chair. Julian and Danny put in appearences, but they didn't really do anything. Still, it's only the first episode.

All in all, it was a good hour of television. I anticipate a Vic-Shane standoff as Shane slides deeper and deeper into the abyss, and that'll be a great episode. Until then, all I can do is steer clear of the fuzz and wait.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Well, by now probably everyone has seen the new Star Wars trailer for Episode III. It is quite cool, I have to say, and I'm anticipating the movie with a sense of optimism I hadn't dare feel previously in light of how badly the other two movies completely blew. I especially like the part where Samuel L. Jackson and a bunch of other Jedi go to arrest the Chancellor, though the "Are you threatening me, Master Jedi" response was a bit weak. That part called for something better than a Beavis and Butthead flashback.

I actually rank prettly far down on the ladder of Star Wars fandom. I've seen all the movies, of course, but I didn't really bother with the books, comics, and other stuff that compromise the EU (Extended Universe in geekspeek). I did wait with a bunch of friends for 22 hours in line to see Episode I, but that wasn't really for the movie itself so much as to have a quixotic adventure and skip class. I play SWG, the Star Wars MMORPG, but that is pretty much a triumph of enthusiasm over experience rather than an endorsment of Star Wars or the game itself.

I hope that Lucas pulled out all the stops for this last film. The other two movies have done a hackjob on his reputation, not to mention permanently marring his masterpiece. If he can go out with a bang, people may be somewhat disposed to overlook his recent mistakes. Of course, in this movie he gets to work with Darth Vader, possibly the coolest villian in the history of the cinema. It'd take a real moron to screw that up, but when you think that he also came up with Jar-Jar and Ewoks, I guess all you can do is buy your ticket and cross your fingers.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Ten things I wish weren't true about me

1. I wish I wasn't allergic to so many stupid plants and animals
2. I wish I didn't have a hard time with dairy products
3. I wish I weren't such a lousy quarterback
4. I wish I weren't so judgmental
5. I wish I weren't still in school
6. I wish I weren't so fickle
7. I wish I didn't use the word "exceedingly" so often when I speak
8. I wish I were just a little less lazy
9. I wish I weren't as scared of taking risks
10. I wish I weren't so lax regarding automotive maintenance

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ten things I wish were true about me

1. I wish I had a photographic memory
2. I wish I liked vegetables more than I do
3. I wish I could play the piano
4. I wish I had a spaceship of some kind; a time machine would be acceptable too
5. I wish I had a little more paitence
6. I wish I'd have thought up a better series of posts
7. I wish I could speak another language
8. I wish I had a car that made fewer disturbing noises
9. I wish I were involved in the theatre
10. I wish I was a little bit taller; I wish I were a baller*

*= Well, the song may not be great, but the video was funny as hell.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Ten things that are true about me

1. I'm a Gemini, and a monkey too
2. I know all the words to the "Major-General" song
3. I don't like the taste of alcohol
4. I like the smell of cigarettes, but I don't smoke
5. I'm half-chinese, like the food at Mr. Chau's
6. I can describe, in disturbing detail, the causes of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire
7. My elbows bend weird
8. My middle name is Stewart
9. I like glasses on women
10. I don't believe in Nostradamus (or, rather, in his ability to predict the future)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Pointless Factoid VII

Babylon 5 actor Peter Jurasik was once on an episode of Night Court.

Okay, I don't care either.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Inequity of Chromosomes

I'd like to conclude my discussion on toys with a short exposition on how much it'd suck to be a girl. Now, I do not mean to imply with that statement those improper assertions of female inferiority, the maintenance of which is a disservice to both women and men, that have long plagued society. Rather, I conclude my entire premise solely on the available forms of "gender appropriate" child entertainment.

As a boy, it was my sole duty to engage in mock struggles the outcome of which would decide the fate of universes. Day in and day out it was I and my compatriots who kept Earth safe from Megatron, Mum-Ra, Dr. Doom, and Captain Planet. Especially Captain planet. That guy was up to no good. We had at our disposal guns, swords, monster-slave things, and other implements of ingenious malice. Even our buildings were cool. We had the sewer lair, Castle Greyskull, and Metroplex.

Girls, by comparison, were expected to remain within the dazzlingly insipid worlds of My Little Pony, Barbie, and Strawberry Shortcake. There the momentous issues are what color hat to wear, which flavor frosting to use, and the ever popular "what will my husband's job be?" guessing game. I suppose this monotony would be useful if we were looking to train house slaves, which was probably the intention, but as a form of entertainment these toys fall pathetically short.

Of course, I am just one man so I cannot really do anything to address this unfortunate inequity. Still, I feel it would be improper for me to mention toys and how much I enjoyed them as a child without noting how royally hosed the girls got.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The March of Progress

Since I'm off from school this week, I figured I'd use it to write a few words about some of my favorite childhood toys. When I see the things kids play with now, there's just no comparison. In any measurable sense their toys are just way cooler. I mean, to use just one example, I remember having an original gameboy. It was big and clunky, and the screen was this tiny black and yellow thing capable of rendering, on a good day, two or three pixels at a time. Now the damn things are in color, and you can play their games on the bigger machines. Still, it does seem to me that the toys of today have lost a little something, and I blame this on the wussification of child-directed entertainment.

When I was a kid, boys were supposed to play with guns and knives and other impliments of destruction. My toys had missiles, multi-barrel laser cannons, and backpack mounted nukes. They fought eternal (and pointless) wars against villians equipped with all manner of devistating weaponry. Today's kid's stuff, while certainly far from violence free, have taken a decidedly wimpy turn. Now, this may objectively be a good thing. After all, there is little to recommend in the pointless application of force. But even so, I can't help but feel that little boys (and girls, if they're into that stuff) ought to spend their time pretending to blow stuff up.

Friday, March 04, 2005

More than meets the eye

Of course, no discussion of late eighties childhood toys would be complete without the Transformers. Damn these things were so cool. Especially in the beginning, when they were made out of diecast metal. Later, when they got cheap, they were made out of plastic. But even that wasn't so bad, because they started to come with neat options like seperate little head robots.

As a child I had few ambitions greater than the pursuit of Transformers. I snatched them up by the accumulation of my meager allowance, forsaking other diversions such as baseball cards (which I always regarded as boring - I mean, they don't *do* anything! They're just stupid cardstock with some dumb jock plastered over the front!) or candy. Now I wish I'd just kept my collection in good shape. I don't have any of them anymore, I don't think, unless there's some put away in storage somewhere. However, even if any had remained, I'm afraid the tender mercies of an imaginative child would ensure they were in no better than abysmal condition.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Animal Farm

Today's toy spotlight falls on Barnyard Commandos. I'm not sure if anyone else ever had any, but they were these funny plastic animal things that you mounted with all manner of guns. There were two sides, pigs and rams. Every toy came with a copy of that side's secret battle language. The pigs spoke pig latin, and the rams had a language too but I don't remember the name. They were actually incredibly stupid toys, so it is to my credit that I never had more than one or two. Even so, I wish I'd kept one to have around.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Eternal Struggle

Did anyone else ever have any Battle Beasts? They were little rubber monster-things, approximately the same size as muscle men, but they weren't that weird pink and they had a holographic sticker you had to rub like old Transformers. The sticker would tell you what element the monster belonged to. Of course, with the earlier ones you could tell anyway, since they were all color coded. But they changed that later, so then you had to rub the sticker. I still remember the commercial.

"Fire beats Wood. Wood beats Water. Water beats Fire."