Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Well, that's just swell...

I've shamelessly stolen this from those fine chaps at Gin and Tacos, politics blog and internet home of several burly Americans whose house I once slept in while they talked about 10,000 maniacs and vomited.

Ladies, gentlemen, may I present to you...

Conservapedia! The apparently 'much neeeded' Conservative Christian answer to WIkipedia. Did you know that many of the 2 million articles on Wikipedia were written by athiests? Did you know that an online digital knowledge base, written by the public, might occasionally show signs of bias? If you're shocked and appalled by these things, you need Conservapedia. Not only is it apparantly free of such bias, you can also read about all the great things Christianity has acheived, such as fighting against vaccination programs for children!. Hallelujah!

Don't worry, I'm not going off on the vaccination thing again.

I'm going to have to come out and be clear on this one. I hate these people. They argue strongly for the existence of the unicorn. The fact that people are willing to go on the record as arguing for the existence of unicorns really confirms a whole fucking bunch of things that I've previously suspected.


Some choice slabs of spam, fresh from my inbox:

For the Northbound

Yes indeed. God bless the northbound.

She will be surprised you are a man

She usually is.

Loveliness half-mast

The first line of the worlds worst haiku.

That's it. Go about your business.


As in, I am back. I haven't written anything for a few days, which makes me very sad indeed. But I've been ill, as I'm sure anyone reading this is very much aware of. In tonight's (maybe tomorrow's, depends how much Gears of War I play) update:

Hot Fuzz! It's like Shaun of the Dead, but not as good! But I'm compelled to like it because Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright are like unto gods!

Why I can't buy any games this month! Why this is like castrating me!

Twitches I've developed since starting work at Borders! Part one: The face! Part two: Sphincters: many and various!

It's going to be a blast, I assure you.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

There's good eat'n on that there Cthulhu...

Meanwhile, down in New Zealand, where killing people and wiping shit on them isn't a way of life, this happened.

Reuters reports that our dread lord from beyond all time and space tastes like scallops, and is great with lime and chilli. Ftagn!

And again, and again...

This is on CNN at the moment, and has been receiving a fairly large degree of coverage in the US media. I wish there was a day when I didn't have something like this to write about. Two kids kill a homeless man, then wipe their own crap on his corpse and poke him with a knife.

There was just enough reason left in their twisted head to know that if you mention the word 'videogame' to the police after something like this, it draws the attention away from you. Everyone loves a witch hunt! I'll be very keen to see if Jack Thompson steps into the fray with this one, particularly as the partner of one of the kids fathers has gone on record as saying it's just flat-out got fuck all to do with videogames.

I'm pretty sure he won't though. For Jack, one less homeless person is another tentative step towards his gleaming conservative paradise, where there will be no tramps, or black people, or any of that troublesome freedom of speech.

Monday, February 19, 2007

That's that...

Possibly the most disturbing use of the word contingency.

About as welcome of the use of 'insurgent'.

As if by magic...

I realised I hadn't written anything about religion for at least a couple days, but then, nothing had mangaged to stoke my intolerance fires to incandescant levels. Until now.

I can't really elaborate on this story. Someone is dead because they all took a little bit too much advice from their imaginary friend. I'd like to pin this on Romania being backwards, but it's not a backwards nation in any way. There are exorcists in many developed countries. Just fucking insane. With no apologies to Jack Thompson whatsoever. He's not done anything batshit in ages, so suggesting that belief in exorcism as is misguided as his slanted crusade is the closest I can get to bitching about him.

Gotta take your yucks where you can get 'em. I'd also like Gillian McKeith to sue me, so here goes:

Gillian McKeith is an absolute abomination. When she's not just gibberring incoherently, she's suing people for pointing out that the nonsense she tries to pass as common sense (Chlorphyll providing oxygen to the body? Anyone with the slightest grasp of science would see the problem there), is in fact, totally, utterly wrong. She's wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. I am of course hoping that her crack team of lawyers sit typing 'Mckeith + wrong' into search engines all day, looking for someone with a grasp of human biology to sue, purely on that basis.

For a good laugh, I suggest reading the published form of her Phd thesis, full of interesting facts, including referencing 'Health Food Store News'.

I'm bored. So, Gillian Mckeith is either a lying, or an idiot. Either way, please try to sue me. Please.

Project Heroes

Suda 51 is my favourite wacky Japanese game developer. Possibly equal with Hideo Kojima, but definitely one of my favourites. Killer 7 was a work of mental genius. No game before or since has an ambulatory afro as a boss character.

The games industry would be in much better shape if there was more of a directorial culture. What's needed is people of clear vision, and genuinely dictatorial, mentally ill people in charge of millions upon millions of dollars. Just like the film industry.

The reckoning

There comes a time in a mans life when he must sit back and think "How much time and money is too much time and money to spend acquiring a Nerf sniper rifle?"

It's not available in the UK, and probably costs quite a lot to get shipped over here. But, on the other side of the coin, it's a Nerf sniper rifle.

This is possibly the greatest philosophical quandry mankind has ever faced.

How do these people get funding?

When I was leaving University, there were still occasional thoughts rattling around my brain about doing a Msc or Phd. Trouble was, I couldn't really find a research project of any value. Well, it turns out you really don't need to.

I'd love to read the paper this comes from, because it sounds like absolute nonsense. Of course, you can never rule anything out, but I remain dubious that you can make any real assumptions about someone's personality based on a few concentric rings of muscle. If you could, proctologists and psychotherapists would be the same thing.

The once and future king

Woke up this morning to find that my throat had closed over almost entirely, leaving my voice sounding like one of the uber-butch marines from Gears of War. So once again, I'm not at work. It's hard to provide customers with the help they so dearly need when everything you say sounds like "Get to the chopper!"

So I'm at home, reading. This, specifically. One of the big problems that the 360 launch caused was that releases for the original Xbox dried up. Not so with the PS2. Partly, and this is shown by the article, this is because of the higher proportion of Japanese games, which tend to have longer development cycle. But to a certain extent, it's because Sony hasn't abandoned the PS2 in the same way Microsoft did the Xbox.

The strange thing is, I find myself playing on the PS2 more than any other consoles at the moment. This certainly has not been the case for the majority of it's ugly, squalid lifespan, but I now realise it was squalid and ugly because it was a pupal stage, one that has now burst forth to reveal irridiscent wings. Long story short, Okami's out now, and Final Fantasy 12 will be on friday. They're the wings. It's a metaphor. Sorry.

There aren't many games on that list that I'm not interested in, mainly because I have a burgeoning interest in Japanese RPGs. I may need to stop going to work altogether if that's something I can easily support. I remember playing Red Star a few years ago, on Xbox I think. I distinctly remember enjoying it's old school beat 'em up/shoot 'em up hybrid shenanigans. I'd even consider Yakuza 2, as long as it doesn't have the crude stealth sections of the original. Persona 3 looks particualrly interesting, though it does have the greatest potential for fanfic yaoi. I shudder at the thought.

In other news, food for gamers? Because we need to be ghettoised further. I want it on the record that I do not trust any food that lists amongst it's ingredients 'toffee bits'.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Spammed up the spam hole

Two standout spam headlines today:

Ordeal butress

Sounds useful.

But schema my pontiff

Nonsensical, but it sounds like it might inconvenience him.

And again...

As is becoming pretty much par for the course, a video game has been implicated in a crime, this time Gran Turismo. What's interesting is that, despite both men being cleared of death by dangerous driving, the fact that one of played a racing videogame has been singled out in this report.

It's clear that both of these men were idiots to be driving in such a fashion. And the judge's comments regarding the monitor in the car are in no way unreasonable. What bothers me about this artice is the 'games of death' featurette at the bottom, presented out of context, and with very little explanation. If I didn't know any better, I'd think a right-wing newspaper was being deliberately misleading and reactionary.

Lets address these points then, shall we? Original article in bold, my comments in italics.

Killer games

Manhunt Players earn points for killing people in a horrific manner. Implicated in the 2004 murder of Stefan Pakeerah, 14

Implicated by the Daily Mail, not by the police. The Daily Mail still has very little to do with judicial proceedings in this contry, to my eternal relief. The hysteria started on the basis of the victim's mother saying, and this is a direct quote "I think I heard some of his friends say he was obsessed with that game.", referring to the killer, Warren LeBlanc. It transpired however, that the killer had not played the game and did not own it, but the victim did, despite being under 18. The police and judge ruled out any link to the game, in the case of the police this was publicly, through the media. The Daily Mail didn't cover this though, despite having given two front pages to the story that week. So, in other words, bunkum.

Carmaggedon Racing game where players can run over pedestrians. Was initially refused a certificate by the censor in Britain

The crucial term being initially. It was later granted a license. It was still a little bit naff, however. Also, this game is over ten years old, doesn't run on most modern PCs, and therefore is unlikely to be much of a threat to society.

Canis Canem Players are encouraged to torment homeless people and be violent and abusive to vulnerable youngsters

Blatantly untrue. From the first encounter with the homeless character in this game, you befriend him, and his sections of game act as tutorials. Whilst there is a large amount of violence in the game, it's incredibly tame. The point of the game is not to bully the other kids, but to unite the various cliques and end the bullying at the school. It seems churlish to point out that The Times also got the name of the game wrong, but there, I did it anyway.

Prejudiced and lazy journalism? Slanted reporting? In a NewsCorp paper? You can see where I'm going with this...

That's the stuff

It's been about for a while, this whole interwub business, but finally this series of tubes has ceased to be pure potential, and has crystalized into it's final, luminous form.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you:

The true purpose of the internet.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A faint glimmer of hope

Another blow for creationism, as Kansas, a state traditionally associated with batshit educational practices, has had the teaching of creationism or intelligent design banned from school.

Now we just need California to do the same.

A plea for sanity

I would like to encourage all sane and rational folk to buy a copy of Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. You don't even necessarily need to read it, as it's basically a list of things that are common sense, such as:

Religion is the single most damaging factor in modern society.
The majority of Americans are frothing fundamental Christians.
The world is insane.

If, like me, you had a firm grip on these facts for a while now, then the book will provide the comforting glow of recognition. This is not why I suggest people buy it though. Everyone needs to buy a copy and send it to a publically-funded organisation in America, so we can prevent things like this from ever happening again.

You need to register for that article, so if you can't be bothered, here's a summary. In 2005, scientists developed a vaccine against the human papillomavirus, a very that every person carries on their skin. During sex, deposits of this virus are left in the vagina. It's fairly benign, as far as viruses go, but as with any virus, it can mutate cells via random insertion of DNA. The more exposure to the virus, the greater the risk of mutation, which is why the earlier a woman becomes sexually active is linked to an increased likelihood of cervical cancer.

The vaccine was 100 percent effective, meaning that cervical cancer could be effectively wiped out. There would still be some cases, but this would be close to a 100% reduction of cervical cancer. Just to reiterate, this is the closest we've ever come to a cure for cancer. It's cheap to produce, and could be rolled out to every girl at age 12, and prevent the suffering of millions.

So why is there not a nationwide vaccination program? Because it has been blocked by Christian pro-abstinence groups. They consider the increased risk of cancer to be a tremendous incentive for discouraging unmarried sex. The fact that you can get cervical cancer all the same from married sex seems to have passed them by. Not that I would ever genuinely wish it upon any one, but these people (I can only assume that they're male) need to have their loved ones suffer from this, and know that it could have been prevented. That is is their fault, directly, that their loved one is dying, dead, or has had their womb removed. They need this to happen, so they know what they have inflicted on future generations. I would strongly recommend anyone suffering from cervical cancer should contact these folk, and let them know about their suffering. I would also sugggest that they spare no detail. Conservative Christians can be a little bit sqeamish about the female reproductive system.

This is the single most twisted application of twisted Christian morality that I have ever encountered, which is saying something, given that I come from Northern Ireland. That one person could consider this is surprising. That the American government could listen to a group of these lunatics, and agree with them, suggests that these people are not only dangerously deluded, but financially powerful as well. And that scares the crap out of me. Because, coming from a rational standpoint, this isn't a dubious decision, morally. It's evil. It's flat-out evil. No two ways about it. In an attempt to scare a few teenagers out of having sex, they are directly responisble for the slow, painful deaths of 3700 women in the US per year. And I don't know about you, but that makes me feel physically sick.

If you're wondering why this vaccine isn't available outside of US, that's because it was developed with public funding in the US, and the patent should therefore be owned by the US governement. Way to fucking go.

God Bless America

As seen on CNN, this headline:

Boy, 3, on fire runs into tree crying for mom Video

I cannot get the link to work, but hey.

I do like the 'You've Been Framed'-style presentation of what is probably the major defining event in this child's life.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Not again...

I'd assumed when I 'relaunched' (connected to internet, upgraded to Google, started rambling about spam) that I would be able to update on a daily basis simply by writing something pithy about spam. I hadn't thought that I would be able to post on a negative article about games each and every day.

Here's today's. Kids banned from exercising because they're imitating games? Games are rough and kids are getting hurt? Usually, the form these rants of mine take are: several vaguely moderate sentences, then a punchline. Not today.

This is fucking madness. When I was a kid, I fell over and hurt myself. This was because I was tearing around the place pretending top be Optimus Prime, Batman, or whatever the hell had been on Saturday morning television that week.

It has taken a different form. Instead of kids explaining to teachers that they are 'playing Batman' , they're playing at being from whatever the fuck videogame kids like these days. And this scares the raging bejeesus out of people.

Here's the thing. Kids run about. They fall over, push each other, pull each others hair, fall out, make up, and all the other htings kids do. It has been so since time immerorial. If these people genuinely believe they have a place in the education of young children, why don't they learn the basic fucking principles of child development? This kind of competetive play is absolutely vital for developing motor skills, social skills, and to a large degree, self-confidence.

Without a hint of hyperbole, this makes me angry to the point where I am shaking and feel physically ill.

Out of Spam headers already?

Todays Spam tagline:


Almost pure in it's understated simplicity, it raises more questions than it answers. I like it, but I don't like like it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

You clearly don't know Jack

Previously I mentioned how Jack Tretton, Sony's VP of Marketing for the US, and effective mouthpiece for that territory, was perhaps a little unclear on some of his facts, staing how the Wii was not backwards-compatable. The fact that the Wii reads Gamecube discs in addition to it's own, downloads games from every Nintendo home console before it, can play Megadrive and PC Engine games, and has the capacity to have this feature set expanded in future, had apaprently passed him by. This is an unfortunate slip if you are say, a farmer. But to be fair, if you're a farmer chances are it doesn't really interest or concern you.

The trouble comes when you are the VP of Marketing for Sony America. It's a bit of a problem then, because you've just proved that you're a complete imbecile, in a very public, Tech-savvy environment, namely Wired magazine, or Time for nerds, as it's often called. Once. By me.

You'd think, 'once bitten, twice shy', right. Not with Jack. He just blunders on, oblivious of the fact that, while Sony have always seemed arrogant, under his helmsmanship, they now seem both arrogant and stupid. I wouldn't be surprised if Phil Harrison, Executive Snake Oil Development Officer for Europe, started to pretend that the guys in the US were a different Sony, rather than deal with the fallout.

I want his job. I'm clearly more articulate, and with his constant attempts at sabotage, I clearly have more love for Sony.


Or, Spam then.

Today's winner by a country mile:

I hasten to add that the potential problem lies not with the raft but with the valve itself.

Why? I'm honestly not sure that a water-borne vessel needs a device that exists solely to let liquid through, but that could just be me.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What's wrong with plain ol' quim?

This is everwhere, so chances no-one read it are pretty slim. It's just a shame it didn't happen in the UK.

Because we've missed out on 'The Mimsy Monologues'.

In terms of oblique and wholly unneccesary synonyms, we're still kicking your ass, America.

We're No. 1! We're No. 1!

A late entrant

Consider this to be...

5. Not at Mackerel

Well, of course not.

A spot of Spam

Decisions, decisions. I'm not sure how to do this. I have four very, very strong candidates for today's spam tagline. I may put this to a public vote, but since I know you're reading this, and never leaving comments, I'm not sure that's wise. Regardless, today's choices:

1. That or Mincemeat.

Leaves it open. It's not phrased as a question, and what that is is never made clear. I like to think that is something that's not only a delicious and practical pie filling, but also something that, should you desire such a thing, make sweet love to. Just like mincemeat.

2. The fore-feet are larger than the hind ones, are round, proportionate in size, strong, thickly padded, and covered with short hard hair.

Seriously. Just wow. How did they come up with that.

It even sounds more erotic than mincemeat, if anything.

3. His at Rufus.

Deconstructionist. Fuck language, fuck structure. Stick it to the grammatical man!

4. My Centrix be Saginaw.

Not English, nor any language I speak.

People; you have the power, elect this Spammy champion, and leave a single fucking mark on this page that is not my own!

Viva la revolucion!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Perversion at 22khz

I'm glad to see that the United States media can be as frenzied as our own in inventing, and publicising, new ways in which people will molest your children. OK, fair enough, this story come not only from the notoriously "fair and balanced" Fox News, but Fox News Milwaukee, which is less a state, and more an assortment of farm machinery with senate representation.

It's not as bad as it is here. But even so, this is pretty stupid. As has been pointed out, Pictochat has never been used for anything other than sending pictures of penises to one another. It seem that Fox News are the only people unaware of this. The thought of a mall full of seedy looking men, all propossitioning one another, does amuse me however.

Dumb customers

About 5 days ago:

Woman: Will this DVD play in the U.S?
Me: No, I'm afraid not, it's region 2, it'll only play in Europe.
Woman: Then why does it say Universal on the case?

Give me one good reason why shop assistants shouldn't be licensed to sterilize members of the general public.

Okami (oh my).

A little over three years ago, I bought a PS2. This was pretty much with the express intention of getting Okami when it came out.

Today, it arrived in the post. A lot can happen in three years, but it's good to know that I am still the sort of idiot manchild that can get very, very excited about a game in which you play a Japanese sun God, taken the form of a wolf.

It basically takes the Zelda-style gain attribute/open new area model, and puts an RPG-lite levelling system on top of it. If you've played any of the 3D Zelda games, you'll be right at home. One of the genuinely original ideas in the game is also one of the best, however.

You can pause the game at any point and draw directly onto the background, creating swordstrokes, changing the time of day, causing the environment to bloom, and so on. You can even incorporate this into combat, which is welcome.

The presentation is stunning. When the level is strongly back-lit, you can see the grain of the paper the whole game is taking place on. There are thick, strong lines around each character. It's cel-shading, but possibly the best yet. The music is wonderful.

Along with Shadow of the Collosus, this is one of the few games that makes owning a PS2 worthwhile.

Spam o' t' day.

Attain Jellyfish.

The body of the text was unclear as to:

How the jellyfish are to be attained.
What dread purpose this serves.
Crucially, how many I need.

It did, however, present me with some rather interesting share options. I am, apparently, to buy now.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Book of Revelations

And it came to pass, and I enjoyed 2 EA games in one day.

I have made no bones about the fact that I like Fight Night on 360. It's a genuinely decent, nuanced fighting game. There's no buttton mashing, because there are pretty much no buttons involved. If you lost, it's because you're not as good as the other guy. That's rare in a beat 'em up. There's usually the option just to hammer 'n' hope. I lived with a blind friend of mine for a few years, Ed, and he could easily beat anyone at Mortal Kombat on the N64.

Yada yada. At the end of the day. I like, and bought, an EA game. If you're a serious gamer, they are The Enemy. EA have long represented the death of ideas, and all that. But Fight Night is great.

Today I grabbed the demo for Def Jam: Icon. And it's pretty damn good as well. I liked the previous two (pretty much putting paid to the first two paragraphs of 'oh, yeah, I guess I've heard of EA), and this one is very, very different. It's made by EA Chicago, the team behind Fight Night, and it shows. The previous games were essentially wrestling titles (I think they were developed by Yukes), but this is more of a brawler. It takes a lot of the Fight Night ideas, the risk/reward structure of heavy blows and counters. It's also fucking wierd. The background bounces around in time with the music, which isn't as distracting as it might sound. But the deep background is a series of angular sprite planes, looking like a German expressionist movie set. Occcasionally you get hit with a fire extinguisher by an elderly Korean man.

Basically, they've taken an overblown, ridiculously macho idea, and turned it into the oddest fighting game since JoJo's Bizarre adventure. I may have to buy it. To use special moves, you hold down the left trigger, and move the right stick as though you were scratching a record. It fits the subject, and it's also delightfully batshit.

The other game is the new NBA Street. It's also very good, but I haven't played it enough to rant to the same degree. It's very fast, OTT, and very street. I don't even know what that means.

And lo,

I am returneth. Returned. Whatever.

I have the internet back, and here's what's in store in the coming days:

Ideas for horrible little sketches.

A collection of dumb customer service anecdotes.

Best of all: a collection of the daftest and most surreal subject headers spammers are using to beat my filters. To get you started:

Spinach Outage.

I'm confused. Is my spinach temporarily down, or do I have (whisper it) homosexual spinach?

Once I find out, I'll be sure to update.