Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Great Homebrew Experiment : Part 2

So today has been one week since “The great beer-brewing experiment”.

The instructions said that the beer should be left in the fermenter for at least a week. I’m planning on leaving it for two as apparently you can leave it in there for up to three weeks and longer fermenting “improves the color and clarity” of the beer.

However, it also said that it can be tasted at one week. The instructions said it would taste ‘yeasty, but ok’.

What can I say, I couldn’t resist.

So, following the instructions, I poured myself a very small amount in the bottom of the glass. The instructions warned me that it would be ‘clearer’ at this point, but still not what anyone would consider ‘clear’. Basically, it’s cloudy until it’s bottled and the secondary fermentation takes place.

This was a bit of an understatement. It looked like dirty pond water.

So, bracing myself and expecting the worst, I took a sip…

…and that shit was delicious!

I mean, normally, homebrew (unless you’ve had lots of experience) doesn’t taste all that great. In fact, most homebrews I’ve tried tasted like freshly boiled ass…but in all honesty, it was amazing.

The only thing I could think was “Hell, and it gets better tasting than this?” Bear in mind, that what I was tasting was room-temperature, flat beer…but I could honestly throw the keg in the fridge for a couple hours and drink it quite easily.

All that’s left to do is the ‘secondary fermentation’ in the bottles (you add sugar and seal it in the bottle so the yeast can carbonate it)…and it’s done.

Honestly, I’m amazed…I was hoping I’d have something that was at least ‘drinkable’, and as long as I don’t mess up and not sterilize the bottles properly, this should be a masterpiece.

…and considering that refills for the kit cost less than 15 bucks to make 2 gallons…I don’t think this will be my last homebrew experiment.

I’m thinking of making a summer lager next time and adding a bit of lime to the recipe. Sounds good, no?

A Heartwarming Christmas Story

I read the following story, and just had to repeat it here.

Apparently a father wanted to buy his teenage son “Guitar Hero 3” for the Nintendo Wii for Christmas. After driving hundreds of miles and visiting more stores than he could count, the father finally managed to score a copy. (If anyone out there in blogland has tried to get hold of a copy of GH3 for the Wii, you’ll know just how big a feat this is).

Unfortunately for the son, a few weeks before Christmas, his dad caught him smoking pot.

The Father said that while he has no real ‘problem’ with the ole wacky tobbacy, his son was working on getting an athletic scholarship and had sworn to his father that he wouldn’t drink, smoke or do anything else that would harm his health. Apparently his son had made a ‘solemn promise’

Well apparently this father took this promise a lot more seriously than his son did. With his son so easily breaking his word, the father thought long and hard about whether his son really deserved this hard-won Christmas present that he went to so much trouble to buy.

In a case of extreme awesomeness, the Father did something most parents wouldn’t think of. He put the copy of GH3 up on eBay, and showed the listing to his son.

Just to add yet another layer of awesomeness, the auction for Guitar Hero 3 (currently retailing at $90 for the game and controller) sold for the outrageous sum of $9100.01.

I believe this story has two morals:

1) Don’t make a deep, meaningful promise to your parents and then break it, otherwise they’ll sell cool shit that could have been yours on eBay.

2) Some people really need to learn a bit of patience. Nine grand for a frigging game that you’re gonna be bored off within weeks? Is getting it on Christmas morning really that big a deal?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa? Well, he's a bity of a bastard.

As it’s close to Christmas ‘Rudolph’ is being show on TV at least 17 times a day…It’s the law.

So I found myself watching it today and…

Have you ever noticed what an absolutely awful story that is? I mean, people are constantly up in arms about sex and violence on TV, but what I said is ban Rudolph!

Think about what you’d say if you had to describe that story to someone:

“Rudolph is born with a bit of a deformity (a red, shiny nose) and his parents are so ashamed of him that they force him to cover it up and keep it a secret. Later on, everyone sees his deformity at the reindeer games, and everyone, including Santa, laughs, makes fun of him and refuses to let him join in the reindeer games or allow him to associate with them in any way. Apparently a slight physical difference is enough to make him a total outcast.

Hey! You look different! That makes you totally worthless, Fuck off, Rudolph!

Finally, a situation arises where Santa realizes he can exploit Rudolph’s deformity to save his own ass. So only when Rudolph has an exploitable quality do they even acknowledge his existence. No one apologises or admits that having a red nose isn’t a particularly bad thing... It’s more a case of ‘Hey! Freak! Now that we need you, we’re best buddies, right? You’ll help us out, won’t ya? Forget all that freak-talk, we just need your nose to guide the sleigh…Congrats, you’ve been promoted from outcast to exploitable commodity!”

Personally, if I was Rudolph, I’d have told Santa to fuck right off when he asked me to guide his sleigh, and pointed out that while I have a shiny red nose…he’s a fat bastard ZZ-Top lookalike.

Hmm, discriminating against someone because of the color of a particular body part? Santa and his reindeer…original racists!

Don’t even get me started on the poor elf who wants to be a dentist…

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,

Had a very shiny nose,

And if you ever saw it,

You would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer,

Used to laugh and call him names,

They wouldn’t let poor Rudolph,

Join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,

Santa came to say,

Rudolph with your nose so bright,

Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight.

Then all the reindeer loved him

As they shouted out with glee,

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

You’ll go down in History!

See? Even the reindeer are shallow sycophants.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stoopid People.

Totally random, but this memory popped into my head out of nowhere, so I thought I'd share.

I used to work as a bartender.

One day a group of smacktards walk into the bar and ask me for a 'Turbo Shandy'. Now, a 'shandy' is just half beer, half lemonade in a glass. I have no idea what the hell a 'turbo' shandy is, and tell them so.

I get a superior smirk back, along with multiple exclamations of disbelief that I don't know what a 'turbo shandy' is. Bear in mind, at this point I'd been bartending for about three years. Finally, they decide to let me in on the secret. A 'Turbo Shandy' is half beer, half hard lemonade.

Long story short, I sell them bottles of Smirnoff Ice and Budweiser to mix themselves. They choose to stay around the bar, and pretty soon it becomes obvious that although each and every one of them were drinking their 'Turbo Shandys', very few of them liked the taste.

So I ask them:

"Why are you drinking that shit if you don't like it? Why not just drink a regular beer?"
"It gets you drunker quicker." comes the reply.

Now, as a bartender, I'd heard all the myths about what gets you drunk quicker. Drinking through a straw, sipping versus gulping, you name it. It's all bullshit. So I ask him why he thinks it gets you drunker quicker.

"Duh!" He says, looking at me like I was dumb as a sack of hammers. "The beer's 5%, the Smirnoff's 5%...so this drink is 10%"

I laughed so hard I nearly shit my pants.

I actually spent a few minutes trying to explain that if you mix one 5% alcohol drink with another 5% alcohol drink...you end up with a 5% alcohol drink.

"Think about it." I said. "If that was true, you could just mix two beers and that would be 10%"

Rather than understand the concept, I saw a grin break on one of their faces. Can you guess what their next round was?

Yup, they all ordered two bottles of Budweiser, mixed them in a pint glass and congratulated themselves.

Retards.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'd say alcohol was involved...if it had been invented yet.

Ever heard that old Joke? “Who was the first guy to milk a cow, and what did he think he was doing at the time?”

Well, I have a bit of a follow up to that idea. Who was the first person to actually drink the milk, knowing exactly where it came from?

“Hey, Steve! I just squeezed this white, slightly thick liquid out of those dangly things on that big animal over there! Grab a glass, tell me what it’s like!”

…No, that’s ok. I make a point of not drinking anything squeezed out of an animal.

The more you think about it, the stranger it gets. I mean, meat, I can see eating that. Hang around in the wild long enough and pretty soon you get the picture that everything eats everything else. But what about things like eggs? That’s almost as bad as milk. A flightless bird pushes a strange ovoid object out it’s stink-hole, you grab it, crack it open and find a bright yellow ball surrounded by sticky, clear goo. Not exactly the kind of thing to give you an appetite, right?

When you think about it, it’s amazing that the human race doesn’t live purely off meat, some of the less-strange looking fruits and plain old water.

Well, time to talk about what got me started on this topic.

A couple weeks ago, Sunny and I were Christmas shopping and I spotted a home brewing kit. After 2 weeks of reminding her that I moved 3500 miles to be with her and this would be my fourth Christmas away from my family…she told me to shut the fuck up and would buy me the thing if I’d keep my trap shut for fifteen minutes.

Now, my dad used to brew his own beer when I was a kid and I used to love helping him do it. (I mean ‘help’ in the sense that all five year olds ‘help’. I’d basically get in the way, ask way too many questions, be a huge distraction and generally retard the whole process).

The way I saw it was that my dad basically got to play with a huge chemistry set for a few hours (I used to watch him siphon the stuff from one tank into another and despite the hundred explanations I got as to how the liquid could flow up a pipe before flowing downwards to the other tank…I just did what all five year olds do…I didn’t listen and decided that it was magic).

So, long story short, my dad got to play with a magic chemistry set… I had some vague idea that there was maybe some kind of drink made at the end of the process but, of course, it usually took weeks or months to ferment and by then I’d totally lost interest. Plus, the fact that I’d actually tasted a sip of beer by then, I’d decided I was never, ever, even under threat of pain or death, going to drink it again.

Well, fast forward to today, and there I was with my own magic chemistry set. Of course, mine wasn’t as impressive as my Dad’s. Dad’s had two big tanks, a magic hose that makes beer flow uphill, as well as an impressive 10-gallon keg.

Mine consisted of a 2 gallon keg, a tin of brown goo, assorted sachets of powders and a butt-load of plastic bottles. It was a little underwhelming to say the least. However, an entire side of the box featured a gigantic picture of a simply ecstatic looking Asian gentleman holding what looked like a six-gallon frosty mug of beautiful amber beer.

Hell, if the Asian dude looked that happy, it’s gotta be good right?

Well, (as is always the way) I’d used the single sachet of sterilization agent and got everything nice and clean when I remembered the number one rule to beer-making.

Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Use Tap Water

That’s the number one reason that most home-brew tastes like ass. The chlorine taste throws everything off. It’s not too bad if you’re making a really dark, flavorful ale like Stout…but for lager, you might as well drink you own wee-wee.

My problem was, it was too late, I was committed. I could imagine the look on Sunny’s face if I told her we’d have to go out and find a place that sells brewing sterilizer. She’d laugh in my face and it would probably be next Christmas before I got to try it out.

Luckily, I had a brainwave and grabbed the Brita Pitcher from the fridge. I use it mainly to filter water to make coffee with it, and the difference in the taste of the coffee is amazing…so despite the fact it took about half an hour to filter enough water, I was in good shape.

I dissolved the ‘booster’ (read ‘sugar with a bit of other stuff’) into the water, brought it to the boil, took it off the heat and opened the can of brown goo.

Now, the brown goo is extra sugar and hops and all that stuff which gives the beer its taste and lets the yeast do its work.

Let’s just say I remembered the smell from my dad’s brewing sessions…but every time you smell it, it punches you in the face. It smells horrible. Think of really old cheese stuffed into a sweaty marathon runner’s sock… that’s been left out in the sun for a few days.

Anyway, I put the brown goo in the water, mixed it up and put it in the keg. After adding the required amount of water on top of that, I dropped in my sachet of yeast.

As I stirred the smelly, brown mess…I had to think to myself…

What was the first person to do this actually thinking?

I mean, seriously. We all know that this…substance…that looks and smells like the contents of a champion cheese-eater’s toilet (on a day he had explosove diarrhea) will eventually turn into a crisp, delicious beverage that’s just perfect for a hot summer’s day…but the first guy didn’t know that!

I mean, think of the other options! Apples, berries and all other kinds of fruit are delicious, you could make a drink from them! I can see it happening:

Medieval Paulius gets a buttload of apples, juices them and puts the juice in a barrel. Over time the juice ‘goes off’, but with nothing else available he drinks it anyway and gets drunk. “Hey! This isn’t too shabby!” He thinks, and over time realizes that by adding extra sugar and a bit of yeast, he can make it stronger.

However, the beer guy thought:

“Ok,I’m thirsty and this water isn’t cutting it. Llet’s see, I have some barley. Why don’t I soak this in water, let it germinate, then dry it out and roast it! That sounds like a good flavoring. Now, I’ll boil the crap out of it, along with some of these hops. Yeah, flowers and roasted grain! That’s the ticket. Add a bit of sugar… hmmm….Ok, this smells like a tramp’s codpiece... I know, I’ll put some yeast on the top! That’ll fix it!”

A Week Later:

“Hmm, the yeast seem to have multiplied and there’s a thick layer of scum on the top…and it still smells like a tramp’s codpiece. It also appears that the yeast is eating the sugar in there and pissing in my drink. I know, I’ll leave it for another few weeks and see if it magically fixes itself.”

Seriously. If I had a ‘great drink idea’ and got one whiff of the devilish concoction when I first started to mix it, it’d go down the drain.

Anyway, my first solo attempt at brewing, the beer that has been dubbed “Paulius’ Olde Perculiar” should be ready in a couple of weeks, although it says the longer you ‘condition’ it, the better…so I figure I’ll break it out and try it on my Birthday (January 23rd) and let you know how it turns out. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spidey!

Well we finally watched Spider-man 3 last night. I loved it, Sunny did too, but got pissed off because Peter and Mary-Jane didn’t get married or engaged at the end.

I disagreed, if it had a stereotypical happy ending, it wouldn’t have been Spider-Man.

Just because I can, I’m going to have a nerdgasm and ‘explain’ Spider-Man:

Spiderman was pretty much the first Superhero to deal with what you might call ‘real life’ issues. Think about it. Before Spider-Man, we had superheroes like Superman and Captain America. They fought for ‘truth, justice and the American way’…but why they fought was never really looked at in detail. Superman fought the bad guys because he was the good guy. It’s as simple as that. Spider-Man is a much deeper character.

Superman is just the ultimate good-guy. He’s had his powers since birth and has never even thought of turning to the ‘dark-side’. Also, the main difference between Superman and Spider-Man is that for Superman, Clarke Kent is the ‘disguise’. He is Superman, and Kent is the role he plays to ‘fit in’.

On the other hand, Spider-Man is really Peter Parker. It’s Spiderman that’s the disguise.

Spider-Man is a superhero you can relate to. He’s just a normal everyday guy who suddenly finds himself with Super powers. That’s what Spider-Man is all about. Not so much the epic battles with super-villains…but about how a normal guy deals with the double-life that comes along with a Superhero.

Long story short, Superman doesn’t have to worry about holding down a job, keeping his girl and making rent. Spider-Man does.

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about how I thought that anyone in real life who found themselves with super-powers would almost definitely become a super-villain rather than a Superhero. In a nutshell, when you have the power to do anything you want, it won’t be long before you will. It’s easy to be moral when society has checks and balances in place to keep you that way.

Basically, ask yourself this question… If someone you really didn’t like was getting in your face, and you knew you could pick them up and throw them right through an entire building…added to the fact you could take down an entire SWAT team without breaking a sweat…how long before you gave into temptation?

That question is what Spider-Man is all about. Peter Parker had the opportunity to stop a criminal, but didn’t, because the victim pissed him off. It was only the fact that criminal killed his Uncle that ‘set him right’. Spider-Man fights crime because of guilt…and because he’ll know what he’ll turn into if he doesn’t.

Basically, Spider-Man is a lot more ‘realistic’ (for a given value of ‘real’, you don’t get much of that in Superhero movies). Peter Parker is a normal guy with super powers. He’s not universally liked, he lives in a crappy apartment, has money worries, girl trouble and an asshole boss.

So, long story short…everything didn’t work out great at the end of Spiderman 3 because Peter Parker isn’t guaranteed a happy ending. Your average person in the street doesn’t always beat the bad guy and a get the girl…so neither does Peter Parker.

…so as I said, if it had ended with a wedding, it wouldn’t have been Spider-Man.



As an after-thought...Eric from 'That 70's Show' as Eddie Brock/Venom? Nuh-uh.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nice...

A few posts ago I wrote about the downright awful experience I had in the local K-Mart.

In fact, I was so pissed about it (being kept waiting for over an hour for assistance when there were only 4 other customers in the store will do that to you), I went ahead and fired off an email to their customer service dept and explained in detail what had happened, how disgusted I was, and how I'd never set foot in their store again.

Today I got this back:

Dear Sir,

Thank you for contacting Sears Holdings Corporation. We apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced.

We would like to assist you with your concerns, but your email did not include your phone number. Please provide us with additional details regarding your request so that we can further assist you. For best assistance, please reply to this email with the information.

We appreciate your business, and value you as a customer. We certainly hope you will continue to make Sears Holdings Corporation your choice for quality and value.

In other words:

Dear Asshole,

We couldn't be bothered actually reading your email once we realised it was a complaint. So, we'll ask you to send us your phone-number, so one of our out-sourced, underpaid, Indian wage-slaves can catch all your shit.

In closing, despite the fact your email showed that quality and value are the exact thing you don't receive at K-Mart (in that you got your purchase from Walmart for $10 cheaper), and that as we kept you waiting for over an hour we don't value you as a customer, we can't resist sucking ourselves off again.

Bite me!

K-Mart Auto-reply Bot #5102348

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Boredom Induced WoW Comic #001

One of the many strange things about World of Warcraft is the level requirements for certain skills. No one can ride a horse until level 40, At 39 a warrior can be a master swordsman but can't wear plate armor. It made me think...Just how much skill does it take to ride a horse or wear a particular type of clothing?

Customer Service

Yesterday Sunny and I went to do a little shopping.

I was going to get one thing, some ammo for my rifle. I decided on K-Mart for the simple reason it’s the closest store to my house that sells ammo.

We left pretty much as soon as Sunny got in from work. Because it was so early (about 8.30 in the morning), when we arrived at K-Mart there were literally only about three or four other shoppers in the store.

So I head to sporting goods and arrive there to find it completely unmanned. Obviously, the ammunition is kept under lock and key, so I needed an assistant to get it for me. After waiting five minutes to see if anyone would show up, I went to find someone.

A few aisles down I see two women wearing K-Mart smocks. The two were just standing there, chatting away, so I walked up.

“Excuse me.” I said.

Ok, imagine going to a really, really classy black-tie dinner party wearing a pair of Bermuda shorts and a stained “No fat chicks” T-shirt. Then imagine squatting on the table halfway through desert and taking a crap on the hostess’s plate…that’s the look these two women gave me.

I mean, come on, they were gossiping! That’s far more important than them actually doing there jobs.

“Yeah?” One of them said.

“I need some assistance in sporting goods.” I said.

One of them gave the other what she thought was a ‘stealth’ eye-roll and without a word, took off towards sporting goods. I followed.

What surprised me was that she got within 20 feet of the sporting goods cash register, then picked up a phone and paged someone to help me. Then, without a word, she walked back and continued chatting it up with the other K-Mart monkey.

Ok, I know that she probably didn’t have the key to open the ammo case. My point is that she didn’t know that’s what I wanted. In other words, rather than spend 5 seconds to find out if she could help, she’d much rather finish her conversation than do her job.

So I find myself waiting in sporting goods for twenty goddamn minutes. No one shows up, and this time, Sunny heads off to find someone.

A few minutes later I hear another page go out over the PA system. A few minutes later, Sunny arrives back.

Again, no-one shows up and we end up waiting another 20 minutes.

At this point I’m getting pretty pissed off. I’ve been waiting nearly an hour to buy a box of Dynapoints. There are less than 4 other customers in the store and at least 10 staff members. I don’t think I’m too out of line to expect to get some service within an hour of asking for it when there’s more than 2 staff members for every customer in the store.

So I head back to the two K-Mart Monkeys who are still chatting away.

“Excuse me.” I say.

“Yeah?”

“Look, I’ve been waiting for nearly an hour now and I’ve asked two different people for help in sporting goods and no-one’s shown up. I just need a box of Dynapoints.”

In return I get a theatrical sigh, and she heads to yet another phone and starts to put out another page.

“You know what?” I said. “Don’t fucking bother. I don’t have another half hour to waste.”

So I head back to sporting goods, get Sunny and we leave the store. What pisses me off even more is that as we get to the door, there are no less than six employees standing around the customer service desk (how’s that for irony?) just chatting away.

I really felt like going over there, telling them how shitty their service was and how I wouldn’t be coming back. Then I realized that they probably wouldn’t give a shit, so we just left.

So we drive across town to Walmart. In Walmart, despite the fact the place was already half full of customers, I get to sporting goods and find someone actually at the register. Not only do I get served right then and there, I buy the same ammo, only I get a box of 550 rounds instead of 500…and it’s ten bucks cheaper.

No wonder K-Mart was nearly empty. For some reason people don’t like paying more for shit service.

Friday, December 07, 2007

An Open Letter

Dear BrotherUSA,

Considering your website is so extremely unhelpful, and you've made it almost impossible to contact you directly (at least without a long distance phonecall or sending you a message through the US Mail, which would be completely ignored), I thought I'd write an open letter to you here.

Can you please give me a reasonable explanation for the following:

1) If I leave my printer on, it 'cleans' itself every single day. This uses a significant amount of ink and it totally unnecessary. My last printer would only clean itself if you told it to, and I only actually had to use this feature once in two years. Why have you set this printer to waste massive amounts of ink for no reason?

2) Your 'status monitor' tells me my ink cartridge is empty, despite the fact a simple examination shows it to be at least 1/5th full. Why is this?

3) I want to print some normal text in black and white. My black ink is full, yet your piece of shit printer refuses to print black on white because the cyan ink is empty. Since when is Cyan needed to print black?

4) Lastly, it costs me almost a hundred dollars to buy replacement cartridges. For a hundred dollars I can print the grand total of about seven 8x10 pictures. Considering I'm providing the paper, don't you think fifteen dollars a print is a little steep? Especially when you make me throw away the ink cartridge before it's even empty.

To be honest, I know the answer to these questions. You screw your customers up the ass because you can. It's not enough that your printer ink comes to almost $8000 a gallon. You also feel the need to make me throw away ink cartridges before they're empty, force me to buy ink that I don't actually need and waste the ink I do buy by making your printer waste it on unnecessary 'cleaning'.

Oh, then you have the sheer balls by telling me I'm 'saving the environment' by sending my used cartridges back to you at my own expense. Sure, I'm 'saving the environment' by sending back a quarter-full cartridge so you don't have to spend the money to make new ones. Why not just go the whole hog and tell us we have to rent the cartridges? Maybe you could squeeze a deposit out of us for them as well.

I understand the concept that used to ring true. You sell an expensive piece of technology to us as a loss because you know you're going to make your money back on the consumables. However, considering how one set of replacement cartridges costs me almost twice what I paid for the printer...you're just taking the piss.

Anyway, I would have gone to the trouble to send this to you directly, but I know I'd either be ignored or get a bullshit response.

You suck.

Paulius.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm scared.

So a couple months ago I watched the "Make Love Not Warcraft" Southpark episode.

I watched it again last night. Having played the game for over a month now, half way through the episode I found myself thinking:

"Huh, they got that wrong. That guy summoned scorpions AND cast fireballs. If he can cast fireballs he's a mage and mages can't summon!"

A few minutes later, Cartman came up with the plan to stay in the forest and kill boars for XP. Again, I thought:

"That wouldn't work. You don't get XP for killing things that are more than five or six levels below you."

Then, I started wondering how Stan was wearing the armor he was wearing considering how low-level he was meant to be:

"Pffft, he's wearing a coif! You can't get those until at least level 20, and I'm pretty sure he's wearing plate leggings, which you can't even get until level 40!"

It was only then I realised what I was thinking. After a few seconds shocked internal silence I thought:

"Damn, how nerdy am I?"

I mean, just this morning I felt the need to argue against a guy on another blog because he said the Enterprise D could take down a Star Destroyer. I had all my facts at hand. The Star Trek Universe is only a type 1 culture, where the Star Wars Universe is clearly a type 2!

Summoning all my willpower I managed to stop myself from getting into a nerdfight.

Yes, I'm a nerd. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Not Merchandising, Understand? NOT Merchandising!

Sunny and I went Christmas shopping today. She’s the only woman I know who when taken into a store and told she can pick out anything she wants will pick a set of cookware.

One of the things we bought was a copy of “Pirates of the Carribean : At World’s End”. The PC version of the game of the same name also came free with the movie. I’ll be honest, when a game and a movie come bundled together for twenty bucks, I don’t expect much from the game…but I tried it out today and can honestly say I was appalled.

First of all, let me be absolutely clear. This isn’t a game like the free Xbox games you can get from Burger King. This is a ‘real’ game, currently retailing for $40 on the Xbox 360, produced by Disney Studios.

How to describe this game? For starters, we’re talking graphics that would have been called bad five years ago…and that’s not an exaggeration. Grungy textures, blocky characters that look like they’re made from about 20 polygons each, a maximum screen resolution of 1024x768 and absolutely no lighting or screen effects. In complete honestly, the graphics in this game are slightly worse than the original Halo.

When a movie based on such a huge franchise can’t match the graphical quality of a game released nearly seven years ago, something just ain’t right. Put it this way, the recommended system to run this game is a PC with 256mb of ram and a 64meg graphics card.

Next we come to the downright lazy and bugged level design. Half the time you don’t know where you are, where you’re meant to go or what you’re actually meant to be doing. You fail missions for no apparent reason and end up running around like a lunatic trying to see if there’s a place you’re meant to get to that will stop you from failing. Certain levels are simple cut-and-paste of old ones (you fight on the deck of the Black Pearl no less than five times during this game). Also, a lot of the time you’ll be fighting and the level will just end.

Yep, no structure, no apparent goal, you’re just suddenly thrust into a situation and 10 minutes later the screen will go black and you’ll find yourself at the loading screen. Again, I’m not exaggerating. You’ll be fighting a bad guy, and mid-swing the fight will just stop…then on to the next level.

As for the actual gameplay, the box promises ‘The Most Dynamic Swordplay ever!’. This is true if ‘dynamic’ means ‘absolutely terrible pile of horse shit’. You have three attack buttons. ‘Fast but weak’, ‘slow but powerful’ and ‘grab’. There are a total of three combos you can use.

Ok, so the gameplay is simple, but you must get involved in lots of interesting battles, right?

Wrong.

Gameplay consists of fighting three enemies at once, over and over. You kill one and another one pops up until they finally stop coming. You get the feeling there’s a ‘velvet rope’ type of situation somewhere off screen:

“Ok, he just killed Steve. Only Bob and Ken are left now. Jeff, you’re up!”

“Why don’t we all fight him at once?”

“Are you mad? No, we stick to the plan. We attack him three on one until none of us are left or the level inexplicably ends. When we’re all dead there’s another 12 guys waiting 20 yards down the road.”

Yep, that’s the other thing. When you finally do get to the end of the three-on-one battle, you get to walk a few yards… and fight three more enemies. Repeat ad nauseum. You literally do the same thing over and over throughout this whole game. Once you’ve played for 5 minutes, you’ve seen everything it has to offer.

Oh, except the boss fights, which are all one-on-one…but all your combos result in the same move.

Put it this way. I would only call this game ‘impressive’ if I found out two ten year old kids had made it in their mom’s basement.

However, the fact it’s been put out by a company as big as Disney, I wouldn’t call it bad…I’d call it absolutely disgusting. How Disney had the sheer balls to put this effluent on the shelves and call it a game is beyond me.

Let’s face it, Movie games tend to suck as a rule. In the past 20 years the only movie game I’ve ever played that was honestly good was Spiderman 2.

This problem comes down to one thing. We’re talking about a product made by people who have no idea what it is they’re actually selling. Movie games are lumped in with the rest of the merchandise. They’re viewed in the same way as the action figures, the lunchboxes and the T-shirts.

Games are simply not merchandising. They’re a form of entertainment in their own right. You can’t slap a movie character’s likeness on a 10 year old engine and call it a ‘game’. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what tends to happen. A big movie release is coming out, so there has to be a game on the shelves in Walmart on the day it comes out no matter what.

What these people need to realize is that they’re expecting us to pay two or three times more than the movie for this game. If I’m parting with between forty and sixty bucks for a game I expect to have a piece of entertainment that was worth the money. Not something that looks like it should come free inside a cereal box.

It’s that attitude that’s the problem. Games aren’t merchandising. When ‘real’ games are in development for years, cost millions of dollars to make…you can’t go to some random game studio, give them a shoestring budget and tell them they have a month or so to get something on the shelves.

Put it this way:

The first Harry Potter book was a worldwide sensation. A record breaking best-seller.

Imagine if they’d made the first movie in a week, with a budget of a few hundred dollars. It was filmed on a regular camcorder in someone’s back yard, the witches robes were home-made Halloween costumes and the magic effects were made by people chucking handfuls of glitter at each other.

Now imagine that they charged full price for a ticket to see it, and put it on sale on DVD for $20.

My point is that this is exactly what happens with movie games. The only difference is we’re expected to pay two or three times the cost of the actual movie.

So, to sum up:

1) Games aren’t merchandising.

2) The average gamer is an adult male, aged 18-35…not a 4 year old who’ll be impressed because the main character kinda looks like the actor in the movie.

3) For a game to be successful, it has to be as good as the other games on the shelves. If your game was made in a month for a thousand dollars, it just doesn’t cut it.

4) Don’t expect us to pay full price for a game made on a shoestring budget.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Some Things Can Not Be Unseen

Sometimes something can happen that really puts a downer on your whole day, perhaps your entire life..

In my favorites folder I have links to a number of ‘humorous video’ sites. Feeling a little bored, I pulled one up and started working my way through the list.

You can imagine the stuff. People falling down, dumbasses setting fire to themselves… and then I watched a video called “Granny’s reaction to ‘Two Girls one Cup’”.

This video is basically a shot of a little old lady watching a video on the internet and totally freaking out. Obviously, having not seen ‘Two girls one cup’, I had no idea what she was reacting to so I googled it.

Sometimes things are better left unknown.

So I find a link to the video and start it. The first 5 seconds of it looked like lesbian porn. Two ladies wearing not very much kissing each other.

Nice. I thought.

Then… one does a gigantic poop into a cup… then they both eat it like an ice-cream, then top it off by puking in each other’s mouths.

In that instant I permanently lost my appetite, considered canceling my internet service and seriously considered plucking my eyeballs out with a spoon.

It’s true what they say.

Some things can not be unseen.

If you feel like googling it to see what all the fuss is about…trust me…don’t.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Lolpics

Had a hard time coming up with anything to write about recently, so here are a few more Lolpics I made:



Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ignorama!

So I was using the Stumble button in my browser and came across a page showing all the supposedly ‘badass’ sections of the Bible. Sections like Exodus 2: 11-12 where Moses kills and hides the body of an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew…or Kings 2 : 23-24, where Elisha cursed a bunch of kids for calling him a ‘baldhead’, apparently causing two bears to come out of the woods and maul the kids to death.

Now I’m not going to debate this. I’ve posted about religion enough to last a lifetime.

What I want to talk about is the sheer ignorance of some of the replies.

As you can probably guess, the comments for that post quickly turned into a major flame war. Religion versus Science. However, one comment stood out to me. A guy who obviously thought he’d ‘proven science wrong’. Here it is in its entirety:

“How do you explain starlight? Science tells us that most stars in the sky are millions of light years away and that the speed of light is constant. If both of these are true, then how can light from these stars reach us right now?”

Ummmm, yeah.

Basically, he’s saying if a star is millions of light years away, how can we see it? If it’s going to take a million years for the light to reach us, how are we seeing it now.

Let me just break it down for him:

Average life of a star : 100 million years – 100 billion years or longer (depending on its size)

Approximate Age of our galaxy : 11 – 13 billion years.

Approximate size of our galaxy : 100,000 light years across.

Approximate age of our solar system : 4.54 Billion years.

So our planet’s been here for around 4.54 billion years. The other stars have been here for around 13 billion years. In other words, the light from those stars have had about ten billion years to reach us.

Long story short, the reason we can see those stars right now is because the light we see has had billions of years to reach us. Sure, we’re seeing what they looked like millions of years ago, but we can still see them.

The moral of this story is simple. Don’t try to use ‘Science’ to prove your argument or disprove someone else’s argument when you don’t even come close to understanding the most basic concepts of what you’re talking about.

This is essentially like me saying:

“The Bible’s a big fake! It’s meant to have been written almost 2000 years ago…so why isn’t the paper in mine yellowed? How come it looks brand new? Why is it in English? Why isn’t it hand written on papyrus? Explain that!”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I did not say that.

One of the things that’s always amazed me is the way England and America treat democracy.

Apparently, we love democracy. We love it enough to go to war to protect it. However, as much as we say we love Democracy, our voter turnouts are tiny. I mean, less than 40% tiny.

Isn’t that a kick in the balls? Just from our voter turnout, we could say that the minority have the power. We can only hope that the people who actually do take the time to vote are a decent cross-section to represent the rest of us.

I was thinking about this today, and I realized why we have such a small turnout.

First of all, all we have to do is look at candidates’ campaign tactics.

Basically, rather than go to the trouble of talking about their policies and what they’d do with the power we can give them, they spend millions and millions of dollars telling us what an asshole the other guy is.

The saddest thing is, I don’t really care if one candidate smoked a little weed in college. I don’t care if the other candidate cheated on his wife in 1994. Hell, I don’t care if the candidates are weed-smoking, vodka-drinking wife-swapping ex-convicts as long as they can actually do the job well.

Secondly, what does this do to us, the voters?

We’re put in a position where we know that all the candidates are huge douchebags. Either that or all of them are lying.

No wonder our voter turnout is so low. Who do you want representing you? A douche or a liar?

Last but not least, once these people do get into power, they start (continue?) lying to us.

Just once I’d love to see a politician get asked a tough question and say:

“You know what? I fucked up. I made a mistake. My bad, people.”

You see, I could respect a guy who said that. Someone who was willing to accept responsibility for their actions and admit when they’re wrong.

Instead, what we get is a politician who will appear on TV on Monday and say:

“We have absolute, incontrovertible proof that politician A is not a pedophile. We support and trust him totally. He is not under investigation and will continue his office for the foreseeable future.”

Then, of course, a few days later, a video is released and it turns out politician A is indeed a pedophile. Then the same guy who went on TV on Monday will be interviewed:

“So, Mr. Politician, why did you say you had absolute proof of politician A’s innocence when that was obviously not the case?”

“I never said we had proof. Politician A has been under investigation since the beginning.”

“But you said in a press conference on Monday that you had ‘absolute and incontrovertible proof’ of politician A’s innocence.”

“I did not. I did not say that at all. I have never stated that Politician A is innocent. We have had Politician A under investigation since the beginning, and I definitely did not say we had proof of his innocence.”

“But last week you said Politician A was not under investigation and that your administration supported and trusted him totally.”

“I did not say that. Your statement is totally false. Next question.”

“What will happen to politician A now?”

“No more questions about Politician A please.”

That’s what I don’t get. Interviewing a politician is like catching a kid who’s covered from head to toe in chocolate, but is swearing they didn’t eat the chocolate cake you were saving for company. We have them on tape saying something. They know we have them on tape. However, when asked about it, they will insist they never said that, ever.

Basically, if you put your fingers in your ears and say “LALALALALALA”, the problem goes away.

So there you go. Basically, the average voter is going to the polls to decide which guy gets to lie to them for the next few years. We know they’re both douchebags, liars and will promise us anything to get into office…but once they’re there, they’re under no obligation to follow through on a single damn thing they said.

No wonder so few people vote.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mid-Life Crisis.

I was flicking through an old copy of Reader’s Digest when I stumbled upon the problem page.

I hate problem pages. I hate them a lot.

Usually, the ‘problem’ is so minor it shouldn’t warrant 15 minutes thought, let alone a letter. Then, the advice received is either so ridiculously obvious an amoeba would go ‘duh!’ Or, three, the advice just won’t work in real life.

For example, a mother wrote in saying that every time her 8 year old plays with a particular friend, he comes home acting like a monster.

Here’s my advice. Punish your kid for bad behavior and tell him he can’t play with that friend until he stops acting like such a sheep.

What did the ‘expert’ say? To ‘go to the kids parents, tell them you think their kid is being a bad influence and to ‘work out a solution’’.

Yep, because going to someone’s house and telling them they’re bad parents isn’t a great way to get punched in the face! If the kid is such a little bastard, chances are his parents don’t care anyway. Great, you’ve just turned a minor, everyday problem into a major feud.

Anyway…I digress.

The one that really caught my eye was from a wife who was ‘concerned’ that her middle-aged husband had just bought a red sports car. She thought it was a ‘mid-life crisis’ issue and wondered if she should talk to her husband about it.

Ok, let me let the ladies in on a secret. When it comes to males, ‘growing up’ is a myth. Every fully grown man out there is essentially a 14 year old in a man-suit. As we grow up physically, we become aware that we’re supposed to start acting differently, so we do…but it doesn’t mean that’s who we are.

Think of the stuffiest, most ‘responsible’ no-nonsense guy you know. See your 60 year old bank manager? He might be sitting behind his desk, the respected head of a major financial institution…but if he could get away with it, and be sure no-one would find out…he’d be outside with the bank’s partners, a twig for a gun, playing army.

Right now, you might be thinking ‘Not my man’, but yes, your man. See the toolbox? That’s a grown man’s toy-chest. He might tell you he bought that security system to protect the family and lower your home-owners insurance…but he bought it because it has buttons, lights and sounds, and he can pretend he’s a secret agent defusing an atom-bomb every time he punches in the code.

Ladies, you do it too. Guy’s might ‘waste’ money on things like tools and cars…but do you really need four hundred pairs of shoes? A make-up kit that weighs 100lbs? So many clothes you could kill yourself by putting them in a pile, climbing to the top and then jumping off? I hate to point this out, but while men swap their toy cars for real ones, you stop playing dress-up with Barbie and buy accessories for yourself.

So, anyway, back to the sports car. Here’s the deal. Every guy wants a sports car or its equivalent. It might be a boat, motorcycle, gigantic truck or our very own private workshop (read ‘toy room’). We’ve all wanted one ever since one drove by when we were five. It’s big, it’s loud and it’s shiny…we want it.

Now it comes down to simple economics.

What’s the difference between a 21 year old guy and a 40 year old guy? The answer is money.

At 21, we have no credit, no savings and probably working in a crappy job. By 40 we have a decent credit rating, savings and property to secure a loan.

In other words, guys don’t buy this shit because they’re trying to recapture their youth. It’s just we’ve all always wanted a big, shiny red sports car…and when we reach that mid-life point, we can finally afford one.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Attitudes.

A Marine Corps Sergeant did his part in an attack on a Middle-Eastern city, in order to take down a dictator who not only shot the rightful president, but had the populace killed in their thousands.

During the attack, the Sergeant’s unit was informed that there was a possible nuclear device in the Presidential palace.

The Marine’s unit lifted off in the evac chopper, when from the tailgate, the Marine Sergeant saw a Cobra attack helicopter get hit by ground fire and crash land. The pilot was killed, but small arms fire along with panicked calls for help showed that the gunner was still alive.

Despite the massive number of enemy soldiers that were advancing on the chopper, the Marine’s commander chose to land and attempt a rescue, even though the rescue attempt guaranteed that the chopper wouldn’t be at a minimum safe distance if the nuclear device in the Presidential palace detonated.

During the rescue, the Marine Sergeant dodged enemy gunfire from a massively superior force and managed to pull the female gunner from the wreckage. He physically carried her, still under heavy fire and wounded himself, back to the Chinook. Obviously in pain, she flopped onto a chair, with not even enough strength left to thank her rescuer.

The Chinook lifted off, and still coming under heavy fire, joined a formation of friendly aircraft evacuating from the city.

The radio crackles, informing the troops that a NEST team was on location and was working to defuse the nuke. However, the transmission was cut short as the Marine Sergeant saw a mushroom cloud bloom from the ground behind the chopper. As the blinding light faded, a shockwave raced out from ground zero, destroying everything in its path.

The Chinook, electrics fried from the blast’s EMP, went into a violent spin. The Marine Sergeant could do nothing but watch in horror as one of his friends lost his grip and was thrown from the back of the helicopter. From his vantage point at the back, the Marine also got to see the other aircraft in the formation spin out of control or get thrown out of the air by the shockwave that was rapidly gaining on his aircraft. The helicopter crashed hard and the Marine lost consciousness.

He awoke in a nightmare world. The chopper was split almost cleanly in two, and the only company in the wreckage was one of his dead comrades. From the tailgate all he could see was a blood-red sky. A nuclear wind was whipping up radioactive ash that was so thick it looked like snow.

He pulled himself along the floor as best he could, inch by agonizing inch, and managed to struggle to his feet. He tried to jump from the back of what was left of the chopper, but landed badly, his legs unable to carry him. He clawed his way along the ground, managing to stand again for a few seconds, but fell again after a few limping steps.

As his vision faded for the last time, the last thing he saw was a tall apartment building collapse in front of him, burned out cars littering the road and, almost bizarrely, a street sign written in a language he can’t understand standing next to the cracked, destroyed road, almost pristine among so much destruction.

He lost consciousness for the last time.

No one will ever know he helped save his comrades lives during the attack. No one will ever know how he ran through heavy gunfire, dodging bullets and getting wounded himself, just to save the life of a pilot he didn’t know.

He becomes another statistic. Another Marine soldier KIA.

All of the above happens to one of your characters in ‘Call of Duty : Modern Combat’, not if you lose, but as part of the story

…and people say these games de-sensitize you to violence and glorify combat and killing.

All I took from this game is a deeper respect for our armed forces, and the hope that I never, ever have to go to war in real life.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Many Traditions of Thanksgiving...

1) Should a husband be dumb enough to set foot in the Kitchen during the cooking stage, he will be instantly chased out for 'getting in the way'.

2) Should a husband try to keep out of the way and stay out of the Kitchen, he will later receive a 20 minute lecture on how he should be more helpful and didn't lift a finger.

3) Should a husband actually help out, and do something simple such as mashing some potatoes, he will make sure everyone at the table know he is responsible for that particular dish.

4) Guests will be so impressed at the husband's contribution that they will spend at least 10 minutes talking about how amazing the mashed potatoes are.

5) Should number 4 happen, the wife will silently seethe at the end of the table because no one made half as big a deal over the turkey, dressing, gravy etc that she made.

6) If a wife asks for help (such as "pass me the milk from the fridge") that help received automatically allows the husband to say 'he helped make that'.

7) Wives will spend at least two days cooking. She will make enough food to feed at least 5 times the number of people attending the dinner. She will know this but do it anyway.

8) After putting in two days of effort to make the best tasting and most beautiful looking meal available, everyone will say how their favorite part of thanksgiving dinner is the cold turkey and dressing sandwiches the next day.

9) Someone will always fall asleep shortly after dinner. It is perfectly acceptable to mess with that person while they're asleep.

10) At a family dinner, all the female members who brought something will engage in the ultimate passive-aggressive battle over who's dressing was 'the best'

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

They must be doing this on purpose.

I've not watched G4 in over almost 2 years. I stopped watching shortly after it was bought by Comcast who totally ruined it.

Today, however, I was flicking through the channels, looking for something to watch and saw that 'X-Play' had a review of Assassin's Creed. Wanting to see that review I changed the channel to G4.

Now, since G4's buyout, I thought that X-Play was about the only show on that network that was still at least slightly worth watching. 5 minutes after I started watching, I changed the channel because I just couldn't take it.

I used to believe that G4 debacle was the result of a buyout by people who just didn't know what they were buying. They took a niche network and tried to go for mainstream popularity.

After watching X-Play for for five minutes, I'm honestly convinced that someone is deliberately trying to destroy this network.

Here's the deal. X-Play used to review games. Now, they still review games, but the entire bottom quarter of the screen is taken up by a 'live chat' ticker. Basically, while I'm trying to watch the show, I'm being visually assaulted by text messages from a bunch of 14 year olds, sitting in front of their computers trying desperately to be funny...usually by churning out Chuck Norris jokes.

I suppose it makes sense in a way. They took an intelligent technology based network and turned it into an AOL chatroom.

From "Hey, here's a neat little exploit that can squeeze some more performance from your PC" to "OMG Chuck Norris! Lollz! Roflcopter!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What do you think?

It’s not very often that a game inspires me into some serious philosophical thinking, but that’s what happened the me today.

I was playing (you guessed it) World of Warcraft.

I’d decided to give player-versus-player a try. This works a lot like many other multiplayer games. You have two teams, the Alliance and the Horde, and win by controlling certain areas on a map for a specific length of time.

Here’s where the philosophy starts to come in.

Horde and Alliance players basically can’t interact with each other. While you can trade, talk and quest with members of your own faction, your only interaction you have with the opposing faction is to either ignore each other or fight. Even if you try to chat with a member of the opposite faction, the game will change what you type to nonsense in order to simulate different languages.

It’s also true that Alliance players outnumber Horde players by at least five to one.

What this means is that the Horde side has a much tighter-knit community. Playing on the Horde side means you’re far more likely to run into the same players over and over again.

So, when it comes to PvP, more often than not, the Horde team is made up by a group of people who know each other, have quested together and are used to working as a team. On the Alliance side, the team is made up of mostly strangers who don’t know each other at all.

What this boils down to is that the Horde team is just that…a team. They work together and use tactics to win. The Alliance team tends to devolve into one big cluster-fuck with very little tactics and absolutely no overall plan. While the Horde leave the starting gate knowing exactly where they’re going, what their individual jobs are and operate in organized balanced teams…The Alliance players run around like headless chickens.

I’m not exaggerating here. I’ve seen Alliance teams that far outnumber the Horde team lose because the Alliance attacks in ones and twos while the Horde team groups and supports each other.

However, what I noticed was occasionally the Alliance team would accept an ‘ad-hoc’ leader. Someone who would give out at least a sketch of a plan to start with (Like “group one attack this area, group two attack this area, etc etc.)

Most of the time the overall tactics would be off (a lot of the time someone would order an attack on a control point when all we had to do was dig in and defend to win). However, even when a ‘leader’ gave bad advice and ordered things that were tactical errors, as a team, the Alliance would do much better than the usual ‘headless chicken’ approach.

This is what started me thinking.

This game basically showed that any leadership, even totally incompetent leadership, is preferable to no leadership at all. An army ordered on a suicidal attack as a group will probably last longer than individuals picking their own targets and going up against an organized enemy in ones and twos.

So, what are your thoughts? Do people function better with poor leadership than with no leadership at all? Are we more successful following a bad leader than everyone just doing their own thing?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Just a thought...

The whole premise of 'Intelligent Design' is that 'complexity implies a creator'.

In other words, things are so complex that they couldn't possibly have come into being 'by accident'. Life is complex, so therefore it had to be designed by someone.

However, if complexity requires a creator... and considering that God would be the most powerful and complex being ever...wouldn't that mean that someone had to create God? If God didn't have a creator, doesn't that disprove the whole idea?

It's typical when you think about it. It's classic religious thinking. Believe what you want to believe, ignore everything that proves you wrong...and when a major contradiction in your logic is pointed out, say "That's where the faith comes in" or ignore it completely.

Believe what you want to believe, just don't try to pass off your belief as Science. Intelligent Design isn't science. It's religious doctrine prancing around in a stolen lab coat.

Oh, and 'faith' is believing in something when there's no evidence to support your belief, such as belief in God himself...it's not believing in something when you've actually been proven wrong.

That's called 'idiocy'.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Windows XP : Smacktard Edition

Picture the scene. I’m sitting in front of my computer playing WoW, when right in the middle of a major boss fight, I find myself back at the desktop:

WindowsXP : OMGWTFBBQ!!!! Dude, there’s like this major security hole that needs to be fixed! You have to download this update right now!!!

Me : You mother f**ker... It’ll have to wait.

So I get WoW back up to find that after fighting my way through an difficult instance for an hour, I’m now dead, as is half the party.

WoW Players : Paulius, wtf?

Me : Sorry, comp crapped out. Stupid auto updates.

WoW Players : Yeah, I hate it when that shit happens.

Me : I know, I say I don’t want auto updates so I won’t get disturbed, but it still disturbs me to tell me there’s an update.

WoW Players : Yeah. Oh, you missed the roll for the boss’s helm, Magdeline got it.

Me : Shit, that’s the only reason I did this instance.

Suddenly, amidst much hard-drive grinding, I find myself back at the desktop.

WindowsXP : Dude, you mustn’t have heard me the first time. There’s a major freaking security hole here that needs fixing!

Me : There’s always a freaking security hole! There’s a new one every week!

WindowsXP : But this is urgent!

Me : So there’s been a security hole in XP since it came out, but because you’ve discovered it now, years later, it’s suddenly urgent?

WindowsXP : YES! You finally get it.

Me : Piss off, I’ll download it later.

I click, and after 30 seconds of yet more hard-drive grinding, I’m back in Azeroth.

WoW Players : Paulius, you still not rezzed yet?

Me : No, comp keeps crapping out. I think my PC needs some Ritalin or at least a damn good kicking.

WoW Players : Well, get your ass in gear. We’re gonna do another run, Uldaman this time.

Me : Cool, I have 3 quests there. Go ahead, I’ll catch a gryphon from Southshore and meet you there.

Black screen….hard drive grinding….45 seconds of frozen desktop.

WindowsXP : OMG dude! You’re not listening! You need to do this nooooooowwww!!!

Me : Oh for f**k’s sake.

Click….black screen….hard drive grinding…WoW music loops for 45 seconds.

Me : Hey, my comp’s screwing up again, just go in without me, I’ll try and catch up.

WoW Players : Well, hurry, this is gonna get ugly without a tank.

Me : Will do.

Click….black screen….grinding….looped music…frozen desktop.

Me : Ok, download your f**king update.

WindowsXP : Finally! You don’t take security very seriously do you?

Me : Yes I do, it’s Microsoft that doesn’t.

WindowsXP : Ok, downloading now, you can continue working while I do this.

Me : Fine

Click…black screen….grinding….looped music….frozen desktop….frozen WoW.

Me : Ok, I’m on my way.

WoW Players : Ok, how long you gonna be?

Me : I just got on the gryphon, It’s about a five minute flight, then I gotta ride there from Thelsamar…about ten minutes.

WoW Players : Ok, we’re moving pretty slow with no tank, so you’ll get here in time before we get to the first boss.

Black screen…..grinding….looped music…frozen WoW….frozen desktop….

Windows XP : Just letting you know, I’m downloading and things are going great.

Me : You interrupt me when something’s wrong, then you interrupt me to tell me everything’s ok. At least the latter doesn’t happen very often. I hate you Windows XP. I hate you like the Wrath of Kings and the pure unbridled burning hatred of a thousand suns. I hope you die.

WindowsXP : Hey, this isn’t annoying, it’s a feature.

Me : Go f**k your mother.

Click…yadda, yadda, yadda….

Me : Great, now I’ve been eaten by wolves.

WoW Players : Where are you?

Me : Running back to my body from the graveyard.

WoW : You’re dead? How did that happen?

Me : Windows…f**king…XP

WoW Players : Lol, say no more.

Black screen….usual crap.

WindowsXP : Ok, all done and installed! Would you like to restart your computer now?

Me : No, I’m busy.

Click…blah blah blah

Me : Ok guys, just got inside the instance…catching up now.

Black screen…getting very annoyed…want to kill someone…Bill Gates is a Douche…

WindowsXP : Do you want to restart now?

Me : NO! I just said I’ll do it later.

WindowsXP : Ok, I’ll check back in another five minutes.

Me : No, don’t. Leave me alone until I tell you.

WindowsXP : Well, ok…but I’ll check back in five minutes to see if you’ve changed your mind about me checking back.

Me : How about you leave me alone until I specifically tell you to reboot.

WindowsXP : Sigh…ok.

Click…more loading…taking ages…want to throw monitor through window.

Me : Hey guys, what did I miss?

WoW Players : Magdeline got the epic sword, Talon got the epic boots and I got this nifty lockbox filled with gems!

Me : Sigh…any decent loot left in this dungeon?

WoW Players : Well, this next guy has a great set of gauntlets, you can have them.

Me : Cool.

Halfway through the fight….black screen…want to scream…gonna kill someone…find Bill Gates and feed my entire computer to him.

WindowsXP : Listen, I’ve been thinking…

Me : What in the blue f**k could you possibly want now?!? You’ve just killed me, half my party and lost me my chance at that loot!!

WindowsXP : I want to talk about our relationship. You’re not very sensitive to my needs.

Me : What about my need to not get disturbed every five seconds?!

WindowsXP : Well, it’s like this…I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past few minutes, and…well…I just have to ask….

Me : What?!?!?!?

WindowsXP : Do you want to reboot now?

Simsalabim!

Since I started blogging I’ve written more posts on stupid people, gullible people, reactionaries and band-wagon jumpers than I can count.

It’s time for one more.

Checking on today’s news I read a story about a woman in Cyprus who tried to charge a man $12,000 for ‘breaking a curse’ for him. The guy didn’t want to pay, so he went to the police and now the woman’s on trial for sorcery.

Ok, let me just check the calendar…

Yep, it’s 2007, not 1707…I mean, come on! Sorcery? Haven’t we established by now that magic isn’t real?

Of course, it’s easy to laugh at those wacky foreigners, but when you consider there’s a major ‘movement’ in the USA trying to get the Harry Potter books taken for the shelves for teaching our kids ‘witchcraft’, you really have to stop and think for a minute.

Let’s use a bit of logic, shall we?

If there was a such thing as magic, and I mean real magic, we’d be living in one big dictatorship. If I was on trial for sorcery, it’d go like this:

“How do you plead?”

(Big flash of light)

“There you go judge, enjoy living the rest of your life as a frog.”

BLAMMO!

“Mr Prosecutor, from now on all your descendants will be born with very small dicks…and that includes the girls.”

SWOOOOSH!

“Well, now these handcuffs are taken care of, and your side-arms have all been replaced with poisonous snakes… does anyone else feel like putting me on trial for sorcery? No? Didn’t think so. I’ll be off. Oh, and the court owes me 50 million in damages for besmirching my good name.”

Isn’t it amazing that all the witches and sorcerors that have been put on trial throughout our history have all had amazingly powerful evil magic…that somehow just doesn’t work on prison cell locks or on the people that accuse them?

Magic isn’t real.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Virtually Worthless?

Sunny recently posted this post about a Dutch teenager being arrested for stealing around $5000 worth of ‘virtual furniture’ from an online game.

At first, like everyone else, I just laughed. It sounds ridiculous. Arrested for ‘stealing’ something that isn’t even real?

However, I started thinking about it, and now it doesn’t seem quite so strange.

You see, our world is changing and our laws and attitudes to it are having a hard time catching up. People are buying virtual land, virtual property and the distinction between ‘real’ and ‘not real’ is becoming blurred.

Basically, people are paying real money for ‘virtual furniture’. If I pay real money for something and it gets stolen, doesn’t that make it a real theft anyway you look at it?

It’s a matter of perspective.

For example, this ‘virtual furniture’ may not exist in ‘real life’, but this furniture doesn’t exist in exactly the same way an mp3 doesn’t exist or a movie file doesn’t exist or even a website doesn’t really exist.

People are paying money to have streams of ones and zeros sent to them. Does it really matter what those ones and zeros make up?

Sure, you can say an online music purchase is different because it’s just a new way to deliver music. I personally don’t think it’s different at all.

We think things like this are just stupid because we see ‘virtual’ things as having no intrinsic value. It’s something created by someone in their free time that can be copied over and over. It’s not ‘real’ and therefore can’t be stolen.

However, you could apply that same type of thinking to real world objects. I can buy a set of oil paints and a large canvas for under a hundred bucks. Does that mean the Mona Lisa is only worth about the same amount?

Basically, it comes down to the way we apply value to things. For example, I could grab my microphone, and record an mp3 of me burping for three and a half minutes. What I’d end up with is a ‘virtual object’ that is physically no different to the mp3 currently at number one in the iTunes music store. However, one is worth something, the other isn’t.

What it comes down to is this. If I hacked your computer, copied all your mp3s, then deleted every one of them off your hard drive, you’d call that a theft. But why? Technically those songs don’t exist. You can’t hold them in your hands, technically they’re virtual CD’s.

Of course, you would call it a theft. Just because something isn’t ‘real’ doesn’t mean it doesn’t take real time, money and effort to make and, of course, money to purchase.

If we look at this whole issue at its most basic level, what we have is a creator who makes things and a customer who wants what that creator creates… and are willing to part with money for it.

If someone steals that content, a theft has taken place, whether the item stolen is physically real or not.

Basically, we’re now living in a world where people make their livings buying and selling things that don’t technically exist. It’s been done for years on the stock exchange with the ‘futures’ market. Unfortunately, our attitudes and laws are having a hard time keeping up.

In the end, a painting is still a painting whether it was created on canvas with paint and brush, or in Photoshop with a Wacom tablet and keyboard. Things gain their value by what we’re willing to part with for them, not just what they’re made up of.

Long story short, someone put in the time, money and effort to create this ‘virtual furniture’ and just like actual carpentry, this virtual furniture it took skill to make. Then someone decided it was desirable enough to part with real money for.

Then someone came along and stole it.

I suppose the best way to put this to my fellow bloggers is to point out that under this type of thinking our blogs don't really exist. They're 'virtual publications' and exist only as more ones and zeros on a server somewhere. Do we believe our blogs have no value? Would we mind if someone stole our posts and put them up somewhere for profit? How would we feel if we found a book made up of our posts and someone else was claiming it as their work?


We'd probably sue, despite the fact it 'cost us nothing to make' and we're not losing any money because someone has stolen it.

Long story short, content is content whether it's 'virtual' or not.

Now, is everyone still convinced no 'real' crime took place?