Monday, March 31, 2008

Hell of a Day

Ugh...

Sunny hasn't been feeling well for the past few days, we thought she was coming down with the flu.

Well, this morning I wake up to find a note from her to let me know she's gone to see the doctor, and what time to expect her back.

An hour or so later I get a phonecall from the doctor's office from a nurse who tells me that Sunny's perfectly fine, but she's very dehydrated, so they've sent her to the hospital to put her on an IV for a while.

So I start to get a little worried. About 45 minutes later I get a phonecall from Sunny herself. She is indeed in the hospital, but the reason she's there is because she has a bad bladder infection and that they're going to keep her in for a few days.

This is when not having a drivers license really sucks.

Luckily, my Sister in Law gives me a ride over there and my daugher in law gave me a ride back.

Well, it looks like Sunny's going to be fine, but I'll keep everyone updated.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

More Internet Phenomena

The real world has ‘constants’ like gravity and friction. The internet also has constants, although they are quite different from the ones you will see in the real world.

For example, you will never find anyone admitting to know a ‘little bit’ about a subject on the internet. Mention something about martial arts and the guy who disagrees with you will claim to be a 25th dan ‘Ninja Master’ who can disembowel a bull elephant with a small piece of undercooked spaghetti. Talk about cars and the 12 year old who disagrees with you will be the President of the Ford Motor Company, drive a formula one car to work and brag about the time they took a hairpin corner at 15,000mph in a go-kart.

My least favorite of the internet constants is the phenomenon that occurs if you create anything and put it online. Someone will always feel it is necessary to call you a ‘geek’ and make fun of how you have far too much time on your hands.

The irony of this situation is simply delicious.

Doesn’t anyone else find it ironic that someone can take the time and put in the effort to create something… and then the person who spends all day surfing the web, purely to make fun of people, is the one to claim that those creative people have too much time on their hands?

This is the real world equivalent of hearing a band you don’t like, and then following them on tour, purely to stand in the front row and shout about how they’re gigantic losers. Sure, that band might not be any good, but you’re the one spending your own time and money just to tell them so.

In the end, it comes down to this:

In the grand scheme of things, what’s the bigger waste of time? Spending time creating something that turns out to have very limited success and will only be appreciated by a very small group of people…or spending the same amount of time telling random strangers that their creation’s suck?

Bollocks.

Flipping through the channels today, I stumbled across a show about a woman who charges something ridiculous like $700 an hour to teach people ‘proper etiquette’.

Well, etiquette can suck my balls.

You see, there’s a huge difference between manners and etiquette. Manners are all well and good, they cover things like not eating with your mouth open, flicking peas across the room with your fork or eating a sit-down meal with your hands.

Etiquette, on the other hand, is just a bunch of made up, nonsensical rules that were designed by people for the express purpose of making other people who don’t know them feel inadequate.

Etiquette is for the country-club crowd, the ones who feel the fact that their great, great, great, great grandfather actually worked for a living and made a ton of money somehow makes them better than everyone because they inherited it.

I have a theory that those kind of people are incredibly insecure. They know deep down that the only reason they’re rich is because someone else had enough brains to make a lot of money. They know that if they were left in the real world and had to actually work for a living they wouldn’t stand a chance…but by God they can look down their nose and feel superior to people who don’t know you’re supposed to use the chilled, long tined fork for the salad and the short spoon for the caviar.

Etiquette is just a bunch of bullshit, made up rules. Does it really matter if you use the wrong fork? The only thing that’s important when it comes to cutlery is if the implement you’re using is clean and suited to the task you’re using it for. Even then, if you can somehow eat a steak with a plastic spoon, more power to you.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I'm totally, totally serial....

The longer I live, the more convinced I’ve become that we all take things way too seriously.

I mean, think about it. You’re born and you have until about the age of five before you have to start ‘taking things seriously’. I mean, the idea of a stressed 6 year old might seem laughable to us…but do you remember those feelings of complete and utter dread when you went to math class and you’d forgotten to do your homework?

I look back on my school years today and realize I didn’t really have that much to worry about…my point is, I didn’t know that back then.

Then, from age ten onwards it gets drilled into you that school is important. You have to start thinking about your future career, those tests and exams matter. I remember going to sit my GSCE’s and feeling like I’d drank and nice mug of molten lead that morning. These next few hours were going to decide the rest of my life.

Then, from that point on, it’s pretty much all downhill. Mortgage, House Payments, Crappy Jobs, etc, etc.

We only get one life, we’re on this planet for a ridiculously short time…and we spend more time doing unpleasant things than things that make us happy. Ask yourself a question…when was the last time you were completely worry free and relaxed?

Here’s what I suggest to make life a lot better:

3 Hour Workdays and three day weekends. Sure ‘productivity’ would drop, but who the hell cares?

All roads should be lined with tires, take interesting bendy paths and everyone should be required to drive a go-kart to work.

Every building over three storeys should be equipped with a slide to return to the ground floor.

‘Business’ clothes should be banned and people should be able to wear whatever they want wherever they want.

Every office building should be required by law to make lego bricks available to all employees.

All employees would be issued a soft, foam bat on their first day of work, and would be allowed to hit anyone, including superiors and customers with it, without penalty.

Speeding tickets should only be issued if you fail to beat the cops in a race or game of your choice.

Excuses for being late would always be accepted as truth, even if they’re obviously fictional, as long as they’re creative enough.

That’s all I have for now…if you had to come up with some rules to make life less serious and a lot more fun, what would they be?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Two Sandwiches Short of a Picnic

Every time I play an RPG, I’m stuck with the same thought. Are Heroes amazingly naïve, or just totally stupid?

The way we see heroes is, in many ways, very similar to the was we see Pirates. Say ‘Pirate’ to someone and they’ll instantly start thinking of epic sea-battles, the romance, the freedom, wearing a hat with a big feather in it and being totally free.

In other words, we’ve gotten so used to the romanticized, movie versions of pirates we’ve all kinda forgot that pirates were little more than sea-borne rapists, murderers and thieves. Imagine a group of guys breaking into your house, stealing your stuff, raping your wives and daughters and then killing you. Bad thing, right?

Now put that same guy on a boat in the 1500’s and he’s instant transformed into something to aspire to.

It’s the same with Heroes. We’ve gotten so used to the fantasy-hero conventions, that we completely miss that very little of it actually makes sense…and that the average hero must be a couple sandwiches short of a picnic.

For example, what usually happens is that at around the age of 18, the heroes village gets burned down and the kindly blacksmith tells the Hero that his real father was a King, that he was rescued from the burning rubble as a baby…and wouldn’t you just know it, those bandits that just burned down the village are the same people who killed his father. Oh, and they also happened to recover dear old dad’s sword…so run along and restore justice and freedom to the world.

My response to hearing that story would be “Sod off”.

Sure, my dad might have been a king, I might have his sword, but I’ve lived the past 18 years in blissful ignorance and had a nice quiet life as a swineherd. Putting that sword in my hands would be like giving it to any other swineherd…crown-shaped birthmark or not. When I’ve had zero fighting experience, as much combat training as is needed in the pig-husbandry industry and have never even held a sword before…does it matter who my dad is?

But no, the hero always takes the sword and heads out on lots of life threatening adventures, to avenge someone he’s never actually met…you know, instead of just moving his pigs and mud hut a few miles away and carrying on with his life.

Secondly, the ‘Wise Master’ tends not to be very wise at all. You know, I have absolutely zero tactical training, but sending a ‘swineherd prince’ alone to battle the forces of evil doesn’t seem like that great a move to me. Sure, the dude’s dad was a King and he’s got the sword and birthmark…but the forces of darkness have a very large, very trained and above all, very experienced army.

Plus, he’s usually the guy who trains the hero to fight. If you’re a powerful sorcerer or powerful warrior…doesn’t it make more sense for you to fight the big bad guy…instead of the naïve farmboy who’s never held a sword before?

The other big thing that strikes me is just how absolutely, completely and totally useless ‘the people’ are. I mean, these are the people that the hero ultimately risks his life to save, and the question I have to ask is…why?

I mean, in one game, I walked into a village that was starving and dying because a group of bandits had set up camp on the only road into or out of the village. Everyone was moaning and complaining and crying ‘woe is me!’ and ‘who will save us?’

This town had a population of a couple hundred. How many bandits where there? Ten.

Ok, so my job is to save a village full of people who are too cowardly or stupid to realize that 20 to 1 odds in their favor might mean they could handle the situation themselves. I mean, come on! I don’t care how brave of a bandit you are…if you see two hundred people heading towards you with torches and pitch forks…you’re going to leg it immediately.

So that’s the role of the Hero. To battle ultimate evil without any experience or training, in order to save a bunch of people who refuse to help themselves, while being guided by a guy who’s a hundred times more qualified to handle things than you are.

Awesome.

Wha????

Watching American TV as a British Ex-pat can be a huge mind-fuck.

First of all, we have Harry Enfield. He was one of Britain’s top comedians for almost a decade, before falling by the wayside and moving to America to start a ‘second career’.

If you don’t know who he is, I’m not surprised. He was ‘Dr. Angus’ in last summer’s Burger King commercials and currently does the voice of the ‘Roaming Gnome’ for those Travelocity ads. I doubt that was the second career he was looking for.

The second one that surprised me was Hugh Laurie. Hugh Laurie has been a household name in Britain for almost twenty years. For 90% of that he was known for sketch comedy shows and playing numerous different roles that were all essentially the same upper-class snobby idiot.

Seeing the guy who played ultra-naïve, stupid officer in ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ playing Dr. Gregory House is a bit strange to say the least.

However, the most recent total mind-fuck was when I finally caught an episode of ‘The Bionic Woman’. I was watching that show for half an hour with this nagging feeling at the back of my mind. I knew I’d seen the female lead somewhere before, but couldn’t work out where.

The American accent seemed genuine, so I doubted she was a Brit, but her face was just so goddamned familiar that it kept nagging away at me.

Then if finally struck me who she was, and I couldn’t believe it. In fact, I couldn’t believe it so much that I googled her to check. Then after getting the results from google, I googled her again to just make sure.

Nope, I wasn’t mistaken…The Bionic Woman is, indeed, Michelle Ryan…best known in England as Zoe Slater from Eastenders.

I know it might not seem that big a deal to my American readers, but when you know an actress only from her performance as a cockney teenager going around saying “Awight Gav’nah!” on a long running, gritty British soap…it’s just plain weird to see her talking in an American accent and kicking ass as the Bionic Woman.

All I can say is imagine going to England and seeing Gilbert Gottfried playing the Terminator…and playing it convincingly, and you’ll know where I’m coming from.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Limited? I don't think so...

This week I discovered 'Veoh TV'. It's a free standalone app that lets you watch streaming TV shows on your computer.

Nothing really new about that, except for the fact that it has an absolute ton of both new and old TV shows, and the best part is that it's all perfectly legal.

Well, the downside is that it has ads mixed in with the shows.

After watching a few episodes of the A-Team it's pretty much clear that advertisers just have no clue how to incorporate adverts into this medium. For example, in a 45 minute episode of the A-Team there are no fewer than five commercials. What's even worse is that it's the same five ads over and over.

Here's the deal. If I was watching this show and saw the "This show is brought to you with limited commerical interruption by Sprint" announcement, followed by one ad in the middle and one at the end, I'd think "This is awesome" and probably be a little more grateful to Sprint for paying for the bandwidth so I can watch my show.

Instead, being forced to watch the exact same commercial 10 times in the space of an hour and a half, that commercial just really starts to grate on my nerves, meaning that rather than watching it and thinking I might just go out and by a sprint phone...I'm thinking that Sprint are the assholes who keep interrupting my show to tell me the same damn thing over and over.

It's like if I have a conversation with someone, and they tell me a particular restaurant is a good place to eat, I might check it out. If that restaurant is all they'll talk about, and tell me the same thing every 5 minutes...I'm going to want that guy to shut the hell up and will probably make a point of never eating at the restaurant, ever.

Guys... it's not like regular TV when you have to run commercials over and over to make sure enough people see it and to make sure you have a couple of ads in every time slot. I'm sitting in front of my computer, I'm not going anywhere and I'm not going to be getting up to make coffee when the commercials come on.

A single ad in the middle is going to be enough to make sure I get the message. On the internet, more doesn't equal better.

Keep going this way and all you're going to do is get people pissed and turn them off your brand, because they're not going to think of you as the people who paid the cash that let them watch their favorite TV show whenever they want...they're going to think of you as the douchebags who keep interrupting their favorite show to tell them exactly the same thing 10 times an hour.

I get it, you have a new smart phone, I can email and surf the web from it. I got that the first time through, you didn't need to tell me 10 more times!

Games From Left Field

What is a ‘Game from Left Field’?

These games are new, innovative and receive almost no attention whatsoever. They’re the indie games, the games made on a shoestring budget. They might not be as pretty as mainstream games, but if you want something new, they’re the only way to go.

To be honest, a lot of indie games are quite bad. What I admire about them, however, is their willingness to try something new.

If games were cars, you could compare a new first person shooter to a ’95 Ford Fiesta with Sat-Nav, a body kit, neon lights underneath, a tuned engine and a top of the line stereo. It looks impressive and sounds impressive, it’s fun to drive, but underneath all the bells and whistles you’re still driving the same car you were driving a decade ago.

Left-field games are like the brand new ‘concept cars’ made by small factories you’ve never heard of. They’re the ones who decide to see if adding an extra set of wheels and a totally new type of engine is a good idea or not. Sure, a lot of the time you’re going to end up with spectacular failures, but every so often you’re going to uncover a gem that gives you an experience you’re just not going to get anywhere else.

The game I want to talk about today is, rather fittingly, ‘The Experiment’ from ‘The Adventure Company’.

The Adventure Company, as you can probably guess from their name, specialize in adventure/puzzle games. Having played a few, such as “And Then There Were None” and “Return To Mysterious Island”, I can say that they tend to be ok, but not great. I’m fine with that for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t expect anyone to spend millions of dollars to deliver a perfectly polished game that might sell 10,000 copies if it’s lucky. Secondly, ‘Adventure Company’ games tend to sell for around the ten dollar mark.

What surprised me about ‘The Experiment’ is that it’s not a ‘point and click’. In fact, I’d have a hard time defining exactly what genre it is. It’s definitely in the ‘point and click’ style, but it’s also completely different.

The game starts with a pre-rendered cutscene showing a wrecked ship on a beach. The camera flies through the interior of the ship until you see a young woman (Lea) in a hospital gown, unconscious, on a bed. You get a security camera’s eye view of her waking up, and then the game begins.

The first weird thing is you’re not given an identity. All you know is that you’re trapped on the same ship that Lea is on, and that you have access to the security cameras and computer system.

You play the whole game from this viewpoint. You don’t control a character by pointing and clicking, you’re just a guy sitting at a computer controlling security cameras and other systems on the ship. That’s the game’s interface, a normal computer desktop. You pull up a map of the ship, click on a camera icon on the map, and then you get a new window showing you a controllable view of what that camera is seeing.

So, how do you play the game?

Well, you have to team up with Lea. If you want her to go to a specific area, you flick the lights in that area on and off to get her attention. If you want her to use a computer, you activate it when she’s near it etc, etc.

For example, you might notice an interesting looking document on a desk, so you flash the light above it to get Lea’s attention. She’ll pick it up, tell you it’s a password and read it out loud. You then go into the computer system and use that password to open someone’s account. From there you might get pointed towards someone else’s account where you see an email which gives you a code for a door…so then you activate that door through the computer and punch in the code to let Lea through.

It’s a whole new way of playing an adventure game, very fun and very interesting.

So, the big question is…Is it any good?

Well, yes and no. While I commented in the past that games have been dumbed down, this one goes too far in the opposite direction. For example, I guided Lea around an area for an hour and a half without progress before finally jumping on google to find a walkthrough to get a hint.

What I’d missed was a reference in someone’s email which would lead me to a description of a particular decryption method in someone else’s files, which would then allow me (with pen and paper, mind you) to decrypt a phrase in someone else’s personal file…which would give me the password to someone else’s personal file…which would give me the code to a door.

Basically, it’s information overload. Every time you get access to someone’s computer account, you absolutely have to read everything in there. This not may sound like such a big deal, but some of those accounts have a couple thousand words in them, most of which is just fluff and back-story. Starting out, it’s incredibly difficult to work out what’s important and what’s not…so it can get very confusing. Plus, if you’re not used to this game type, actually pulling out a pen and paper to decrypt a word substitution cipher would never occur to you.

In other words, you’re wanting to explore and see what Lea can find on the ship…when to progress what you really need to do is leave Lea just standing there for half an hour while you do a lot of reading while looking for the slightest thing that might give you a hint on how to progress.

The only other big problem with this game is that it was originally made in French and has been translated into English. This means that it can get even more confusing because sometimes the translations are a little off. For example ‘backup password’ became ‘indirect password’. Plus, there are some instructions in places to some fairly complicated things that just don’t make a lot of sense.

The only other negative I want to comment on is that the voice-acting is pretty sub par. In one part, Lea walks into a room and comes face to face with a gigantic snake and says “Oh no! A snake!” Unfortunately, this is said with all the fear and urgency of someone noticing they’ve been given diet pepsi when they ordered regular.

So, if this game is too complicated, mistranslated in places and features voice acting that even an amateur dramatic’s society would laugh at, why am I bothering mentioning it?

Well, in case you haven’t grasped the ‘theme’ of this post yet, it’s because this game tries something new and offers me an experience I’ve never had before. While this game itself isn’t spectacularly good, the gameplay mechanic it introduces certainly is. The actual game might only be average, but the main gameplay mechanic is spectacular.

Why hasn’t anyone thought about this before? If you’re playing a game sitting at a computer, what could add to the realism more than making the game about a guy sitting at a computer, using that computer to guide someone through a dangerous situation?

It has a ton of potential. It doesn’t even have to stay in the pure ‘puzzle game’ genre.

Just off the top of my head, how about a sci-fi game, where you play a security officer, using a console to set up force-fields, traps and directing friendly forces around to foil the bad guys who’ve boarded your ship?

You pull up a camera view, see the bad guys running down a corridor, so you set off the alarm and trap them with a force-field. They break through one, so you pull up the layout to that deck, send one squad to chase them while setting up more force fields to funnel them towards another bigger squad. Maybe you can trap them in an area and cut off life support, but if you do that, you’ll cut off life support to an adjacent area, cutting off your own guys. Maybe you activate a turret defence, but by doing that it’ll use power that will weaken certain force-fields, etc. On the other hand, the bad guys can shoot out the cameras or fool the sensors meaning you have to leave certain options open…the possibilities are endless.

Basically I’ve played a game where I’ve stormed a starship or defended a base against invading bad guys. On the other hand, I’ve never played a game where I’ve been the guy on the other end of the radio shouting warnings about the bad guys breaching an area, activating automated defenses or closing security doors to funnel the invaders into a trap.

Long story short, ‘The Experiment’ is a fairly good game. Not great by any means, but out of this low-budget puzzle game could come the ‘next big thing’.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

God Hates Fags.

Yup, I saw a picture from a ‘protest’ today where a bunch of people were standing around holding signs saying “God Hates Fags”, “A Fag Dies, God Laughs”, “Fags Burn In Hell” etc, etc.

I’d just like to congratulate these people for being so amazingly insecure that they’ve managed to completely twist and pervert their religion into nothing more than a platform to hate people from. I mean, you have to be absolutely, completely and totally insecure in your own sexuality to be so homophobic you’re actually willing to stand in the rain, spewing hate, just to convince yourself you’re honestly not even a little bit gay.

God hates ‘fags’? You know, I’m not too sure about that one. I’m sure that there’s something in the Bible about God loving everyone unconditionally.

On the other hand, you know what I’m sure God probably won’t like?

Insecure little half-wits who use his religion in order to spread hate-filled speeches about something that doesn’t actually affect them in the slightest.

Maybe he doesn’t like gays, but that would be pretty odd since the Christian religion says he’d have had to purposefully make them that gay, just to have someone to hate.

How about “God Hates Intolerant Assholes?” Maybe “God Hates Neo-Nazis Who Think They Have The Right To Tell People What They Can and Can’t Do In The Privacy Of Their Own Homes?” or maybe even “God Hates People Who Hate People For No Good Reason?”

One last thing before I end this post:

Not too long ago I heard a local radio DJ frothing at the mouth because someone said that what gay people go through today is similar to what black people went through in Martin Luther King’s day.

This idiot raved on for half an hour about how it was different because gay people could choose ‘not to be gay’.

First if all I don’t believe that to be true for a microsecond. I don’t think any hetero male or female ever just woke up one morning and thought “I know, I think I’ll be gay today!”

A homosexual guy couldn’t ‘choose’ to be heterosexual any more than I could choose to be homosexual. I’m just not wired that way. I can’t suddenly decide that what I do and don’t find attractive. Secondly, I don’t see why anyone should be forced to live a lie just to please some ultra-conservative, redneck assholes who think they’ve got the right to tell other people how to live their lives.

Choice my ass. That’s like asking all the guys out there to stop finding Adriana Lima attractive and start lusting after Brad Pitt.

Personally, I don’t care if you’re gay or not. My best friend from back in England was gay, and the reason it didn’t make me uncomfortable is because I’m totally secure in my own sexuality. Plus, the idea that every gay guy is just dying to jump into bed with you is the same as assuming every female wants to as well.

It’s called homophobia for a reason.

People are willing to stand outside in the rain, shouting hate-filled slogans and holding up signs because each and every one of them is afraid that given the right circumstances, they might just be talked into it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Who the Candidates SHOULD Be...

Elections are possibly one of the most annoying things in the universe. Thanks to the candidates' usual backstabbing and mud slinging, deciding who to vote for has come down to voting for who you hate the least, rather than who you like the best.

Every election I’ve ever taken part in has felt like being forced to make the choice between getting my nutsack set on fire or having a couple of limbs lopped off.

So this started me thinking. If I could vote for anyone, even fictional characters, who would I like to see in the Whitehouse or in Number 10 Downing Street?

5) Lion-o


Not only does this guy have Leadership experience, an enchanted sword and serious ass-kicking abilities…He managed to build a fifty-story panther-shaped fortress in a single episode! Not only that, he made it out of scrap…and the only help he needed was from a bunch of robotic teddy-bears! Now that’s resource management.

Can any of the current presidential candidates make a rock-solid fortress out of scrap metal on a zero-dollar budget, using furby laborers? I don’t think so!

4) Dr. Samuel Beckett

The guy travels through time helping people and 'putting right what once went wrong'. Need I say more?

Imagine it, a President who knows the future and every time something starts to go wrong, a five minute conversation with Al would let him know exactly what to do to put it everything right again.

Remember that nuclear war that started last year? The one that wiped out all life on the planet? No?

That’s because Sam Beckett stopped it from happening!

3) Optimus Prime




Do I even need to explain this one? The leader of the Autobots?

Who in the world would be dumb enough to fuck with a country led by a giant robot who can hide in plain sight?

Plus, with the other Autobots as Generals etc, every country in the world would be dismantling their nukes in case they transformed and gave them a face full of laser.



2) Major Samantha Carter





It’s hard to come up with reasons for not voting for Sam. Not only has she actually saved the world more times that I can count, she’s a genuine genius. She doesn’t have to milk a two day ‘tour of duty’ in Vietnam like other candidates, simply because she could tell a different war story every time she appeared on TV and would have finished her second term in office before she ran out.

She knows when to use force, knows when to use diplomacy…and after negotiating with the Goa’uld, the Middle East probably won’t be a problem. Plus, you have to respect someone who can repair a Naquadah generator with nothing but a flashlight and a screwdriver…there’s be no more of this ‘series of tubes’ business.

1) Dr. Cox



This guy is my own personal hero. You’d never have to worry about him lying or getting caught in scandals because he’d be one of the few presidents who’d be like. “Yeah, I smoked pot in college, what’s that got to do with me being president now, Sally?”

As a Doctor, he’s used to making life and death decisions and certainly wouldn’t be afraid of shaking things up a little to get the job done.

Plus, we’d get Jordan as First Lady, so it’s a double-whammy there.




So there you go. Dr. Cox for President!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Murder's Fashionable

Remember the good old days when school shootings were actually rare, shocking and would be the main topic of conversation for weeks afterwards?

I think it’s a really sad state of affairs that when I heard about the last one, I just thought “Gah, another psycho? Sheesh!” …and those were my first and last thoughts on the matter.

I mean, what the hell happened to school kids getting ‘revenge’ by letting their teacher’s tires down or spreading a nasty rumor about the classmate who ‘wronged’ them?

Like iPods, Cell-phones and Myspace, shooting up campus has become fashionable. Mass murder has become the new malicious ‘prank’.

Not the most popular kid in school? Kill a bunch of people and then shoot yourself. The girl you like wouldn’t go out with you? Shoot her, her friends a bunch of random strangers and then off yourself. Failing a class? Shoot your teacher, your classmates and then shoot yourself.

Just don’t feel all that good today? Head to the mall with a shotgun.

Here’s an idea, idiots, next time just shoot yourself instead. At the very least, go on a rampage and then don’t shoot yourself…you know, so afterwards you’ll have to look the family and friends of your victims in the eye and explain exactly why you thought failing a test and not getting a date was a good enough reason for a bunch of people to die.

That’s why these people always shoot themselves afterwards. They’ve set themselves up in their own heads as these tragically misunderstood figures who were ‘pushed too far’. They’re the tragic hero in their own story. However, deep down they know that their twisted self-image will be about as believable as a Nazi daycare center when they have to look a teenage girl’s mother in the eye and say “Well, you see, I asked her out and she said no, and Mr. Jenkins said I was failing English 101 and none of the popular kids liked me…so I shot your daughter in the face. Can’t you see I’m tragically misunderstood?”

Well, I think I’ve found a solution.

Set up a match-making website for these idiots. Then, when these people think that normal teenage stress and ‘angst’ is a good reason for a killing spree, a bunch of them can get together in a warehouse somewhere and all shoot each other.

It’s win-win. They get to go down in a blaze of glory, our schools, malls and college campuses become a lot safer and the only casualties in the situation are shotgun toting morons.

Then again, I’m sure these people wouldn’t be too happy being put in a situation where they can’t pretend they’re the only person ever in the history of the world to face a bit of stress…and where’s the fun in shooting someone who can shoot back?

Then again, it might hold a mirror up to these people:

“What? You’re here because you got laughed at when you asked that girl to the prom? That’s nuts! Get over it, loser! I mean, I’m here because I couldn’t get a date as well, but it’s different for me because I’ve loved this girl for years and she tore out my heart etc, etc.”

Get over yourselves.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Lobster 'Experience'

Well today I ate lobster for the first time ever. It was something I'd always wanted to try and for some reason we didn't need many groceries this week...so after only spending $30 on groceries instead of the usual $60, I spotted a couple of lobster tails and thought "Why the hell not?"

To be honest, at first I balked at the price. It was something like $25 for two smallish tails, but you only live once, so we decided to go ahead and buy them.

Cooking them was an adventure.

I opened the package (eventually, because there were no less than 3 layers of shrink wrap), and once I got it open, the first thing that popped into my head was "Oh my god, I'm about to cook half a face-hugger from 'Alien'".

Seriously... it's like my beer-brewing question. Who in the blue hell looked at one of these armored alien-arachnids and thought "Hey, I want to eat that!"

Well I'd heard they were absolutely delicious, so I went ahead and cooked them anyway.

Then came surprise number two. I knew that lobsters turn red as you cook them, but I wasn't expecting it to happen instantly the second they touched the water. In fact, I think I've found a whole new use for lobster, crack the shells into little bits and then you can chuck a fragment into your bath before you get in. If it turns red, it's too hot.

So I boiled the tailsfor the simple reason it looked like the easiest way to cook them. Baking and grilling you can mess up. It's really hard to mess up chucking the things into a pot of boiling water.

Ten minutes later, I fish (ha ha) them out of the water and put them on the plates. The instructions on the package then said to 'Split the shells evenly down the middle'.

Note to lobster producers: *It would be nice to explain how to split them. After 5 minutes with a collection of knives, forks and even a tenderizing hammer, I was fully convinced the damn shells could stop a .50 cal bullet.

In the end I settled for just ripping them open...and it took some doing.

The recipe recommended dousing them in lemon butter, and they even came with two small butter pats, but I really wanted to just taste the lobster first. What's the point in buying $35 dollars per pound seafood only to drown it in lemon juice and butter?

So I took a bit on my fork, put it in my mouth and chewed.

It tasted exactly like very bland, slightly tough chicken. In fact, I was surprised at just how meaty the texture was. I was expecting something like fish or shrimp, so slightly tough chicken was a real surprise.

As I reached the end of the tail, each bite got slightly more seafood like. The thick end is very bland, the small end has a lot more taste to it. Halfway through I tried it with lemon butter. It was a lot better...but I was definitely disappointed.

All my life I've heard people raving about how great lobster was, how delicious it was and how it was just about the most delicious food you could eat.

Those people are full of shit. Unless I had really, really bad lobster or completely messed up the cooking of it (which I doubt, the instructions said "boil for 5-7 minutes") I'd say it was mediocre at best.

Don't get me wrong, it was definitely good, but it strikes me as one of those foods that's only as good as its seasoning. Why the hell would anyone pay around $40 a pound for a food that's only good drowned in seasoning? I can buy shrimp or crab for less than a quarter of the price, and it tastes pretty much the same when covered in lemon butter.

Long story short, I love every seafood except squid or octopus. Steak is much better than lobster, it's that simple.

Speaking of taste, when I've asked people what lobster actually tasted like, they tended to say something like "Lobster just tastes like lobster, you can't describe it, you just have to taste it. It has a taste all its own."

Bollocks. I can explain exactly what it tastes like. Imagine a flavor exactly in the middle between crab and shrimp, but weaker, with a texture like over-cooked chicken.

So, in the end, it was definately good. Just not $25 dollars for two tiny tails good.

For the same price I could have got two or three nice big porterhouse steaks...that's the way I'll go next time.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Printers are the Devil

Regular readers will know that I have a 'thing' about the printer consumables industry.

If you're not a regular reader, here is my opinion in a nutshell:

I resent paying $60 a pop for what amounts to a teaspoon and a half of ink.
I resent that cartidges are microchipped so they can't be refilled.
I resent that those chipped cartridges show as empty when they're not.
I resent that most printers won't let you print black text even though there's plenty of black ink left just because one of the color cartridges are empty.
I resent the 'recycling' program where they expect us to mail back (often only half) empty cartridges so they can refill them and re-sell them.

Well today I discovered a new thing to get annoyed about...and this one pissed me off so much I damn near shit my pants.

When I got my first inkjet printer it had an option to self-clean the print heads. In the year and a half I had that printer I had to run the cleaning program twice.

My current printer, a Brother MFC 210C, cleans itself damn near every time I try to print something...and that 9 times out of 10 that 'cleaning process' uses more ink than the actual printout. It doesn't need cleaning...but that's not the point. The money for the printer industry is in the ink... so anything that means we have to get screwed on ridiculous ink prices more often is a great deal for them.

Well, today, I was up and awake and at my desk (with the computer off) at a time I'm normally sleeping. Suddenly, I hear my printer spring to life.

I look over, yes it's turned off...and going into a 'cleaning cycle'. Then, just when I'm getting pissed off that my printer is using ink for absolutely no reason while it's off... it suddenly starts beeping.

I look over and the screen on the front of it says "Magenta Empty : Replace Cartridge"

I haven't used the printer in about 3 or 4 weeks, and the last time I printed something I checked the ink level. Magenta was at about 1/4 full.

Yep, even when I don't use it. Even when the fucking thing's turned off, it still uses ink.

So, just to do the math, the black cartidge costs $40, the three color cartidges cost $25 each. That's $115 dollars total. It's using a quarter of all that ink every month whether I use it or not.

Basically, I'm paying more per month for printer ink (even when I'm not actually printing anything) than I am for my internet connection.

Well, that's it. Once this ink runs out, I'm not buying any more for this printer. Brother, you can suck my balls.

When this ink runs out, Walmart sells printers for about $20 including ink. When that ink runs out, I won't be paying a hundred dollars or more for replacement cartridges....I'll just buy the same model printer, take the ink out of the box and chuck the printer away.

Sure, it's incredibly wasteful, but I'm tired of getting screwed.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Curses!

You know, I was almost there.

If I’d quit while I was ahead, it would have been a rare, sublime experience. Instead it left me feeling crushed and empty.

Whenever you’re on top of the world, there’s always some bastard who has to drag you down and spoil everything.

So there I was…after a two hour session of Team Fortress 2, no one had complained, no one had felt the need to call anyone else a ‘fag’, no one had questioned anyone’s sexual preferences or the promiscuity of other player’s female parents. I was riding high.

The penultimate round ended. My team destroyed the Blue Team with what can only be described as clockwork precision. As everyone waited for the next round to start, someone from the blue-team said:

“Lol, we did great that time!”

Another blue said:

“Yup…the aim of this game is to die horribly in entertaining ways, right?”

At which point a Red said:

“Well, you were a team member down, it’ll auto-balance for the next round.”

Followed by another red saying:

“Yeah, someone leaving or joining halfway through can really make a difference in the outcome.”

I was in multiplayer gaming heaven. Not only were all the other players treating the game as just that, a game, people were gracious in victory and magnanimous in defeat.

…They were also using punctuation.

I should have just quit then. Instead, I thought, ‘Just one more round’.

This time, the game was incredibly close. My team won by the skin of its teeth. If the game had lasted 7 seconds longer, we would have lost.

In the post-game chat, already filling with comments about how good and close the last round was, I wrote:

“Good game all, gotta go.”

Someone replied:

“See ya, have a good one.”

And then, just before I disconnected:

“OMFG, U FAGS CHEAT! That was the sux! 4 turets at last base? That’s fair u ghey fags!!!11!!!1”

Yep, after the perfect game, some ass hat ruins it all by calling the opposing team ‘gay cheaters’ because they had the sheer audacity to set up a solid defence.

I hate people.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Grindhouse

Ok this post can be put in the ‘incredibly late’ file, but I only got to watch ‘Grindhouse’ for the first time last night, so despite the lateness, here are my thoughts anyway:

I loved ‘Planet Terror’. It was exactly what I was expecting. Have you ever heard anyone say a film was ‘so bad it was good’? Well that fits ‘Planet Terror’ perfectly. What makes it even more impressive is that while a lot of films are simply bad and just luck into ‘so bad its good’ territory, ‘Planet Terror’ was made that way deliberately.

In the same way it takes a really good actor to play a bad actor, it’s the same in movies like this. It’s hard to make a movie ‘so bad that it’s good’ without ending up with something that’s just plain bad.

The effects and visual styling were pure grindhouse cinema as well. Again, this must have been difficult to achieve because some effects needed to be state of the art while others, for stylistic reasons, had to be obviously fake.

For example, the effects on Rose McGowan’s ‘machine gun leg’ were so good that you very quickly forget that Rose McGowan does indeed have two normal legs. However, in some scenes you see her flying through the air in front of explosions that look state of the art… if it was 1970.

‘Bad’ as a style choice. It sounds strange, but it just works. It’s a perfect blend of ‘modern’ effects mixed with some totally over the top 70’s style elements. I particularly liked the bullet hits. According to ‘Planet Terror’, a hit to any part of your body will result in a full-on blood explosion. In this movie, the average shoulder contains about 15 pints of blood under high pressure.

It’s the same with the acting. Certain scenes were perfectly overacted. It wasn’t long before you forgot that this was a recent movie and not something made on a shoe string budget in the 70’s. It takes a lot of skill, money and expertise to make something look so deliberately cheap and amateurish.

Oh, and the faux ‘trailers’ put in at the start were absolutely amazing…especially the one for ‘Machete’ that could actually out 70’s the actual 70’s.

‘Death Proof’, the second movie, however was a little disappointing.

Just to be clear, once it got going, it was actually a little bit better than ‘Planet Terror’. Unfortunately, the entire first half of this movie was a complete waste of time.

Basically, the first 45 minutes of this 90 minute movie is just a bunch of girls talking. Girls talking in a car, girls talking in a bar, girls talking outside the bar.

Let me be clear here, I’m not saying this in a ‘screw talking, get to the explosions’ way. I mean all this talk had absolutely nothing to do with the story. It’s nothing but vacuous small talk and pointless back story we don’t need (or want) to know.

If these girls were going to be the stars all the way through, the amount of attention they received would have definitely been excessive but at least necessary. However, these girls were nothing more than cannon fodder that were used to introduce Kurt Russell’s character before getting killed off.

Do we really need to know that one of these girls is a DJ? Do we care that one of them has a stormy relationship with a boyfriend we never see? Do we really care that they went to highschool with another girl and didn’t get along with eachother?

Long story short, the first half of ‘Death Proof’ is like watching a heist movie where we spend the first 45 minutes getting an in-depth look at ‘Bank Guard Number 3’s life before he gets arbitrarily killed off during the robbery. We don’t need to know, we don’t want to know and put simply, it shouldn’t be in the movie.

After watching the girls talk for 45 minutes and then see them get killed, the next sequence starts and we have a whole new set of girls that have absolutely nothing to do with the first part of the movie.

It’s especially annoying because after the lightning-pace and constant action of ‘Planet Terror’, it really does just drag. If the girls from the first part were especially sympathetic and we were made to care for them, it might have increased the payoff at the end. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. It is, quite frankly, a relief when they get killed because watching them talk about who’s getting that night’s weed is just so fucking boring. Especially considering it has absolutely nothing to do with the story.

Once the second half starts, it’s back to more pure movie magic. It’s gripping, intense and darkly funny. Kurt Russell’s character is just plain amazing and the payoff at the end is awesome.

Yes, this new set of girls do talk for a while, but this time they’re actually interesting, funny…and most importantly, what they talk about has a direct bearing on the story. The girls from the first half bore you to tears and you actually look forward to them getting killed. The girls from the second half engage you and make you root for them.

I’ve got to say I like a movie where a guy has just tried to commit vehicular homicide on a stranger just because it’s ‘fun’… and then cries like a little girl when he gets a flesh wound on his shoulder… and actually says ‘Be careful, my right arm’s broken’ when his intended victims haul him bodily out of his car.

I think it says something for Kurt Russell’s acting ability that he can effortlessly sell a character who would try to kill you for no reason and then expect you to accept a ‘no hard feelings? I was just playing!’ when you have him at your mercy.

Basically, when it comes to ‘Death Proof’, my advice is to just take my word for it that Kurt Russell’s character is a psycho who enjoys killing women with his car…and skip directly to the second half of this movie…you won’t miss a goddamned thing and the second half is definitely worth it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

War on Terror

I read yesterday that a politician (whose name escapes me right now) said that Barrack Obama’s statement that he would order a withdrawal from Iraq, should he be elected, is a reason not to vote for him.

He said “They’d be dancing in the streets more than they were on 9/11 and would declare victory in the war on terror.”

To be honest, I’m absolutely astounded that anyone with half a brain believes that there can even be a war on terror. Attempting to fight terrorism through warfare is a completely futile activity that can never, and will never, work.

Put simply, we were defeated as soon as we invaded. You can’t win a war on terror because you simply can’t use military power to combat terrorism.

Let me explain this.

Before 9/11 America believed itself to be invincible. If we were talking about conventional warfare, it could be said this was true.

However, the towers fell and America was shook to its core.

America came under attack, thousands died, a major symbolic landmark was demolished and America looked around and had no-one to retaliate against.

Long story short, America had never experienced terrorism before and reacted the only way it knew how. Unfortunately, terrorism simply cannot be fought with military power. By doing so, all you’re doing is playing straight into the terrorist’s hands.

Terrorism works by artificially exaggerating a comparatively small threat. The truth is that you’re far more likely to die on the road or be killed by a regular old ‘domestic’ murderer or in a robbery gone bad than you are by terrorist action.

Put it this way, just over two thousand people were killed in the 9/11 attacks. Around 45,000 people die every year on the road. In other words, more people died that September from car accidents than died in the attack.

While it in no way trivializes or makes those deaths any less tragic, my point is that terrorism only works when people believe the threat to be far greater than it is. By rights, we should be far more afraid of getting in our cars or slipping in the shower than we should ever be afraid of getting blown up by a terrorist bomb.

That’s how terrorists work. They commit small acts of violence, while making people believe that death is around every corner.

This is why you can’t fight terrorism through military strength. You’re not at war with a country, you’re trying to track down a small number of individuals. You fight terrorism through police action. You treat it like a serious crime, because that’s basically all it is.

What it boils down to is this. If a handful of American citizens declared war on Islam in Christianity’s name and started blowing up mosques overseas…is the entire American people responsible? Even if the American people and its leadership openly endorsed the attacks, would a foreign power occupying America actually do anything other than putting more of their own people in the firing line?

The thing is, America has come under similar ‘terror-style’ attacks over the past few decades without much outcry. Assassination attempts on Presidents, school shootings, the Unabomber etc. Because they were domestic threats by American citizens, they were treated in the correct way.

You have to treat terrorists as what they are. Small groups of individuals committing crimes. You beat terrorism by combating it in the same way you’d combat a serial killer.

I think I can put it best this way: Imagine that a disgruntled co-worker shot up his office building and managed to get away. If this happened would we declare martial law, put troops on the streets, roadblocks every five miles and arrest everyone in the general area who’d ever had a bad word to say about that particular business?

No, we wouldn’t. That would be just plain crazy. However, what it would be is a ‘War on Crime’.

Long story short, military action does very little in finding or bringing the guilty to justice. What it does do is generate bad feeling among the population and create a false sense of danger… exactly what the terrorists want. Terrorists want to inspire terror in their enemies and hatred for their enemies in their own people.

Add to this that your average citizen doesn’t really care about politics or world powers unless it directly effects them. They care more about things like keeping roofs over their heads and food on the table. I doubt very many average Iraqi’s had strong feelings about America one way or the other before the invasion…Now that there’s armed soldiers on every street, I wonder how many have strong feeling now?

Secondly, military action really is playing into the terrorists hands. Rather than having to get to America, operate in secret and do what they can, under constant pressure, to inspire terror…all they have to do now is wait for a patrol to walk down the street and open fire… and their own people will help them because when we do leave, who wants to be the guy who helped the foreign invaders?

Oh, and don’t forget the thousands of families in America under constant fear that their sons or daughters won’t return home. That’s terror.

Long story short, invading Iraq was completely the wrong thing to do. There really is only two possible outcomes.

We can withdraw now and things will be right back where they were before we ever went in…only now there will be more violence, most of it between the people who cooperated with the Americans and the people who didn’t.

Either that, or we can stay in Iraq for three or four generations until everyone in the country sees the American presence there as a fact of life, and just hope that hatred for the American people hasn’t been handed down from father to son before we leave.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, we lost the second we brought military power to bear against a terrorist enemy. Terrorists are stopped by investigation and arrests, not by invading the country they came from.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bite me.

You know what? I’m officially done with online forums.

Not for the general idiocy or the tools who think a single word ‘First!’ post is actually an achievement…but because of the constant parade of elitist assholes.

Here’s the thing. I want a new camcorder and found one on newegg that seemed to be a really good deal at just under $150. Everywhere else I’d seen this particular model it cost above 300…so I wanted a bit more info. Even at $150 bucks, it’s still a waste of money if the video quality isn’t better than my RCA Small Wonder.

Well, user reviews are totally useless and the manufacturer’s website is obviously going to say it’s the best thing ever…so I find what appears to be a good forum and post the following:

Hi all, I’ve spotted a (camcorder) on Newegg for $150. It looks like a good deal, but if anyone’s had any experience with this model I’d appreciate some info. All I need to know is if the picture is decent quality and if there are any known problems with it. It doesn’t have to be great, just equal or better quality that (other camcorder). I don’t need professional-grade here, just something that’s decent.

Thanks in advance.

Seems simple enough, right?

First reply I get says:

That camera is absolute trash. You should save your money and buy a ($3000 HD Camcorder).

Here’s the thing. Regardless of the forum, I post asking for advice and always, and I mean always, someone uses my thread as a way to show off their own high end and extremely expensive piece of equipment.

I want a camcorder with decent picture quality. The one I’m asking about costs a hundred and fifty bucks. If I could afford to spend three grand on a high definition camera why would I even look at sub $200 model? Sure, if I had my choice I’d have a $10,000 1080p camcorder with all the trimmings…but unfortunately, I live in the real world.

Chances are this guy’s never used or even seen the camera I was asking about. It’s just an excuse for some douchebag to look down his nose at me and let everyone know he owns a top of the line camera.

If you think I’m over-reacting, the last forum I posted on was a shooting forum where I gave a good review to my new scope…a $60 ‘budget’ model. I pointed out that it was cheap, missing a lot of high-end features, but gave a very bright clear picture, held its zero perfectly and was a great budget choice.

First reply? Some douche telling me that my scope was crap, that I might as well mount a toilet roll tube on top of my rifle for all the good it’ll do, and instead I should by a $600 scope like his. Oh, and I should bin my rifle and buy a $2000 rifle like his.

I have a two-hundred dollar rifle. I mentioned in my review that I shoot mostly from 50-100 yards and all I actually ask of my setup is that it puts bullets in sub two inch group at 100 yards. In fact, lifted directly from my post:

…Obviously, if you need sub minute of angle accuracy at 300 yards, this definitely isn’t the scope for you. If, like me, you shoot mostly at paper at less than a hundred yards, I’d say the Simmons Blazer is a great choice. It has a bright, crisp picture in low light even at its max magnification. For a $60 scope, the quality is outstanding.

Knowing all this, why in the blue hell would I pay ten times the price for a scope that does no better at the ranges I shoot at than the cheap scope I bought? Hell, why would I put a $600 scope on a $200 rifle at all?

Well, I’ll tell you. I just wouldn’t. These comments are the equivalent of going to an automobile forum, and posting “I need a car for commuting the 15 miles to work five days a week, I’m thinking of buying a Honda Civic.”…Then having some asshole telling you that the Honda Civic shouldn’t even be on the road and instead you should be looking at brand new Ferrari…Oh, and then spending at least a quarter million customizing it.

Basically, these forum posts appear for one reason. Because some douche spent serious money on an item for functionality they’ll never use, and wants everyone to know that what they have is better than what you have.

According to these people, I should have a $3000 camcorder to record family events and muck about with, and I should have spent enough to get a rifle-scope combo that can put bullets through the same hole at 500 yards, despite the fact I’m shooting at paper targets at 50-100 yards.

I’m sure there are plenty of people like me who want decent equipment but are on a strict budget. Also, I’m sure there are people who also don’t see any point in spending an extra few hundred dollars for features they don’t need. Sure, the sat-nav in that car is a nice feature…but if the car is for commuting to work and you already know the way, why spend the extra cash.

Unfortunately, the internet is populated by people who think amount spent somehow translates to penis size. They live on those forums for the express purpose of sneering at people who have the sheer audacity to own something that isn’t as expensive as theirs.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

How it feels to watch a Presidential Debate

video

Yeah, not great, but crap footage equals crap effects :-)

Oh, and unfortunately, yes, that is me. No effects on my face...I really am that ugly.

Friday, March 07, 2008

For the last time...

Ok, this will be a billionth post on this subject, so I’ll make it extremely short.

Creationism is not a scientific theory, it’s a religious belief and as such has no place in a high school science class.

You can believe what you wanna believe, teach your own kids what you want to teach them…but you can’t take your religious beliefs, throw a stolen white lab-coat on it and call it a ‘scientific theory’.

Scientific theories have to make sense.

So now, for your reading pleasure, I am going to blow creationism as a scientific theory right out of the water:

Creationism is based on the idea that complexity requires a creator. Therefore, if God exists he is without doubt the most complex life form in existence. Therefore someone must have created god.

Now, ask a creationist if someone created god, and they will ferverently deny it.

In other words, complexity requires a creator…apart from the creator himself, the most complex being in existence.

That just isn’t science. Science isn’t about faith or belief. It’s about evidence and reason. Creationism is a theory that disproves itself.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Marriage

The divorce rate is above 50 percent now. That means that over half the marriages that start will fail.

I put this down to three reasons.

The first is that a lot of people assume that marriage will be just like it is in the movies. Real marriage doesn’t work like that. Things are going to cool off a little and everything isn’t going to be perfect forever. People hit a rough patch and assume that because their marriage suddenly becomes work, that something is going wrong. Nothing’s going wrong, it’s just marriage.

If movies were like real life, Meg Ryan would eventually be chucking things at Tom Hank’s head because he left his socks on the floor again. My point is, successful marriages are equal parts work and fun. Two people simply can’t live together without some friction. There’s no such thing as an effortless ‘happily ever after’ marriage.

The second is rarer than people think, but some people meet, get married and work out over time that they’re simply not compatible. This, I think, is down to the fact that pretty much everyone at the start of a relationship acts the way they think their partner wants them too. Unfortunately, you can’t keep up that act forever.

The third simply comes down to misunderstanding the math.

This one takes some explaining:

Ok, ask yourself how many friends you had in high school. I don’t mean the people you just hung around with, ate lunch with and talked to. I mean the real friends. The ones you could really count on, trust with a secret, the person you call for help when you’re neck deep in the cacky…knowing they’d bend over backwards to pull you out.

If you’re like me, you probably had a biggish circle of friends, but out of that circle you probably only had one or maybe two real, close friends.

Your relationship with your best friend is basically like a platonic marriage. Before any of you think that’s just ‘icky’ and swear blind that you wouldn’t date Bob even if he was Roberta instead…I don’t mean that if you woke up tomorrow and got a call from your best friend saying that they’d spontaneously changed sex over night that you’d want to date them. Think of it as a ‘collection of qualities’

Ask yourself what you like about your best friend. He’s funny as hell, great fun to talk to, likes all the same things you do, always up for a game of Halo, etc, etc. Take all those qualities and put them in the body of a supermodel…isn’t that someone you’d be interested in meeting?

Ladies, imagine a husband who loved shoe shopping, actually knew what he was talking about when you asked him if your new purse goes with your dress and all that other stuff you love your best friend for.

Now we come to the math. There were over 1500 students at my high school. Out of 1500 I got on with about 30 or 40 and had just two people I’d call real friends.

A school is pretty good cross section of the population, which means that out of 1500 people, there were two I’d actually seek out to spend time with. That’s just 0.13%.

Ok, by now you’re pointing out the inconsistencies. Sure, looking at it that way, there’s only 0.13% of the general population that you’re really compatible with…but everyone knows seniors don’t hang out with freshmen, jocks don’t hang out with geeks. If you took the time to get to know everyone, you’d probably find a bunch of people you get on really well with!

Ok, fair enough…now tell me how that’s different from real life? Age differences and cliques occur there too.

Your average working class construction worker isn’t going to the country club looking to meet someone. Nor is one of the country club crowd going to the dive bar to find a husband or wife.

Secondly, 0.13% is a very generous number. 0.13% is just the amount of compatible personalities. Chances are you’re only interested in the opposite sex, so you can cut that number in half to 0.065%

Then, we come to all the criteria we require from a partner but not from a friend. Unless you’re exceptionally shallow you don’t choose your friends based on looks, how much they earn, what car they drive, etc.

I don’t want to sounds shallow myself, but there could be someone out there who is a perfect match for you personality-wise…but you’re just not going to find that out if you’re not physically attracted to them.

So, when we put physical attraction and all those other criteria into the situation, we can probably cut the number of prospective parners by about three quarters, leaving us at 0.016%

The other thing to take into account is that you might find someone you are perfectly compatible with, attracted to and they fulfill all those criteria…but maybe they’re not attracted to you. So, erring on the conservative side, lets cut that number in half again, leaving us with 0.008% of the population.

So what does all this mean?

It means that when you meet someone, there is only a 0.008% chance that that person is going to be a perfect match for you…and a 99.992% that that person isn’t going to measure up in some way.

So, if you actually manage to find someone who you actually enjoy spending time with, and is also willing to put up with you, that relationship is obviously never going to perfect, but is definitely worth working at.

In other words, leaving a marriage because everything isn’t absolutely perfect is pretty much madness because whatever way you look at it, you’re going to have the same problems with 99.992% of the population.

When you leave a marriage because you’ve decided it’s ‘too much work’ you’re basically throwing everything you have away for a 0.008% chance of something better.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Gee, ya think?

So I want a new camcorder (It's almost a hobby of mine to want things I can't afford).

Don't get my wrong, my RCA 'Small Wonder' is great in most respects, the fact it runs on double A's, is extremely easy to use, fits in a pocket, one-click file transfer to the computer etc...but as you'd probably expect with a camcorder that's only slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes, it leaves a lot to be desired.

In other words, great to carry around for those Youtube moments, but after editing some video of the new baby and watching it on a full sized TV, the picture quality could be a lot better. There's just too many artifacts.

So, of course, I decided to do some research in case I find two hundred dollars in the street.

During this research, I stumbled across this little customer review gem:

The video looked great on the camera, but when I played it on my 1080p Hi-Def TV, the picture quality dropped considerably. I'll be returning this camera as soon as possible.

Gee, ya think, fella? Standard Def footage from a camcorder looks worse on a big screen Hi-Def TV than it does on the 3" screen on the back of the camera? What did you expect?

Ok, let me break this down:

TV pictures are made up of 'dots' called pixels. The more pixels your screen can display, the sharper the picture. Simple, right?

So a standard definition TV picture is made up of 480 rows of pixels. (Just for clarity, I'm not mentioning the number of pixels across because that changed depending on how wide the screen is)

That's what 780p or 1080p means on a HD screen. For example, a 1080p screen has 1080 vertical rows of dots.

So, what do you think happens when you put some footage that's made of 480 rows of dots onto a screen that shows 1080 rows of dots?

I'll tell you. You're stretching that picture to two and a quarter times its size.

Ever looked at a picture in a newspaper with a magnifying glass? Same effect. Ever watched a youtube video full screen? Exactly the same thing.

So, long story short, this guy was actually surprised that 480 footage looked like ass on a 1080 screen.

What did he expect? That the camera was somehow going to invent those extra pixels between the video and the camera?

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Don't badmouth a product in a user review, just because you don't understand a single thing about it.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Go Violence!

Reading Ozzy’s latest post today got me thinking.

Does anyone else think that, pretty much as a species, we have a lot of things backwards?

Ozzy talked about the legal drinking age and pointed out that while we believe that a person aged 18-20 is perfectly old enough to join the army, risk their lives and kill people…they’re still not old enough to drink a beer at the end of the day.

Want to know why I think this is? It’s because we’re a very ‘pleasure negative’ society. We’ve somehow got it programmed into our heads that if something feels good, it must be bad, shameful or just plain wrong. Anything that is done purely for pleasure is looked down upon.

This is so bad that we’ve actually become a society where violence, murder and causing pain is actually more acceptable to us than something like drinking, smoking or sex.

Don’t believe me?

Today I was watching CSI : Crime Scene Investigation.

This episode covered two cases. One was the brutal murder of a guy with Downs Syndrome. The other was about a snuff film made by a pornographer.

I want you to think about what they actually showed in this episode.

For the Downs Syndrome case we saw a very grisly scene where a body, mostly eaten by red ants, has been stuffed into a truck’s toolbox. We saw ‘flashbacks’ where a guy threw his used chewing tobacco at a guy with Downs Syndrome, strapped him to the back of a bucking rodeo horse before eventually throwing onto a set of bull’s horns attached to the front of a truck, impaling him.

For the snuff film case we saw a woman getting her throat slashed, gallons of blood getting sloshed around…but here’s the thing. At one point the investigators walk into a guys house while he’s filming amateur porn…and we don’t see so much as a nipple.

Why?

Because if we saw a naked, female nipple on primetime TV, CSI would be off the air before you could say ‘concerned citizen’.

Vicious murders? Fine. Blood? Fine. Drug use? Fine. The naked human body? Oh hell no.

Am I going insane, or am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculous?

It’s true in any media. There were five or more GTA games before GTA San Andreas, all featuring the same level of reckless behavior and violence. In any of the GTA games you could steal cars, run people over, kill cops and so on… but no one got too worked up about them.

However, once it was discovered that there was a no-nudity, sex scene in GTA: San Andreas, not featuring actual people, mind you, the whole country was up in arms about it. It was all over the news and papers for months despite the fact that this content had been cut from the game, meaning you had to download and install a third-party patch in order to find it…The equivalent of demanding a movie be taken off the shelves because a janitor at the studio found a ‘questionable’ scene on the cutting room floor and released it over the internet.

Again, Cop killing is fine. Consensual sex in a game rated for people over the age of consent? Are you mad?

Then, we have ‘torture porn’ movies like Hostel and Saw that feature nothing but two straight hours of people getting killed and maimed in various horrible ways. With movies out there like that, what are people concerned about? Banning studios from showing people smoking in their movies.

Again, it’s perfectly fine to watch a guy get strapped to a chair and have both his Achilles tendons cut with a bolt-cutter. It’s also perfectly fine to watch a guy throw a girl into a pit filled with dirty hypodermic needles…but sex? No way! That might give people ideas.

If that hasn’t convinced you yet, think about this…While watching TV you are far more likely to see simulated rape than simulated consensual intercourse. People will watch a show where a girl gets dragged into the back of a van by five guys who beat and rape her and think nothing of it. Show that same girl get into bed with her husband with a smile on her face, and the switchboard at the TV station will be jammed with angry calls for days.

The weird part is that sex (with the proper precautions, of course) is absolutely harmless. Anyone with kids has definitely done it, anyone 16 or older has probably done it and anyone past puberty wants to do it.

We need sex to continue the species, and as a recreational activity it’s a hell of a lot of fun…so why do we consider it so wrong that murder is a staple of TV entertainment, but sex is absolutely forbidden to be shown on TV. What is honestly so offensive about a nipple?

I’ll tell you. It’s because we look down on anything that’s done purely for pleasure and recreational sex is just about the maximum amount of pleasure a human being can experience. It’s something you do purely for self gratification.

I guarantee you this. If sex was a painful activity rather than a pleasurable one it would be as commonplace in the media today as murder is.

So that’s the society we live in, folks. If it’s fun, it’s wrong. It’s just that simple.

Thoughts?