2008/06/29

3 Games to Buy

So I'm not nearly the gamer I once was, but I still appreciate a good game.  There are three games I will definitely buy in the next 5 years as they come out.  In chronological order:


Spore is by the Sim City people but is more like Sim Life.  It's a few games in one, apparently, starting with a single cell pack-man style game.  Eventually you get to the creature creation, which is the most interesting part for me.  In Spore, you can create just about any creature your heart desires within certain game balancing limitations.  The game engine helps you paint it, design it, and it figures out how it walks, attacks, dances, etc.  This is like legos on steroids.

One of the ambitions of Spore is to pack multiple genres into one game.  I find it hard to believe they will all be fun to play for long, but I'm sure some will.  I'm most looking forward to the tribal RTS style stage.



The creature creator is out now for 10 bucks.  Mines coming in the mail, so I'll post some creatures when I make them.  The game comes out in like 70 days.


This one is obvious to anyone who knows about me and knows about games.  I love real time strategy, and Starcraft 1 was the king of all RTS games.  SC2 is coming out around November.

Trailer (not gameplay):



Diablo, like Starcraft, is made by Blizzard.  They always release their games on PC and Mac at the same time, and their games are always super popular.  Diablo 3 was announced yesterday and the gameplay video looks downright amazing.  It's a dungeon crawling click-fest that is sure to be extremely addictive.  The other Diablo games largely owed their addictiveness to their massive re-playability.  The dungeons are randomly generated and each of the classes has a lot of variety in style choices.

For the really high quality videos go to the diablo 3 website.

Trailer:

Game Play:



2008/06/25

Shared RSS Feed

If you use an RSS reader you can subscribe to my shared feed.  I mark interesting stories occasionally as they pop up that you may not see.  If anyone else has one, let me know.


If you don't have an RSS reader but want one, I recommend google reader.  It is nice and easy to use.   http://www.google.com/reader/

Brain Cells

Things that increase brain cells
  • Chocolate
  • Tea
  • Blueberries
  • Alcohol (moderate)
  • Stress Management
  • Cannabinoids (marihuana)
Things that decrease brain cells
  • Saturated Fat
  • Sugar
  • Nicotine
  • Opiates
  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol (excessive)
  • Chronic Stress

2008/06/24

Genes, Memes, and Temes

This is a great TED talk about the 3rd replicators that are almost upon us. It will really make you think.












Science fiction has spent a lot of time on the idea of robots taking over after becoming artificially intelligent. Terminator, the Matrix, etc. But they always make the robots out to be another race who competes with humans. The reality is that they in no way need us once they can replicate themselves. They won't need to be malevolent, greedy or evil. They just need to be able to reproduce. And if they do so at our expense, or at the expense of the planet and its resources, we are screwed. The fragility of it never really occurred to me.

2008/06/19

Shakespeare

Shakespeare invented over 1700 words by either changing existing words or making them up. Here are a few you may not have known about:

Bump (Romeo and Juliet)
Hint (Othello)
Rant (Hamlet)

more info here.

He also created a lot of phrases and idioms we use to this day.

From Bernard Levin's The Story of English:

If you cannot understand my argument, and declare "It's Greek to me", you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise - why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I were dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut, tut! for goodness' sake! what the dickens! but me no buts - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare. (Bernard Levin. From The Story of English. Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil. Viking: 1986).

2008/06/17

Random Stuff

Racism vs Xenophobia.

I'm sure there are racists in every country throughout the world. I don't think racism depends on age, but rather the way one is brought up and educated. Xenophobia, on the other hand, is directly related to conservatism. It is for that reason that I think it goes up significantly with age, and is much more prevalent in homogenous societies like Japan. I would say I experience almost no racism, or at least none directly targeted at me, but I see xenophobia all the time. One interesting affect of xenophobia here is that foreign born Japanese people experience it too.

There is a anime based on a manga that runs in the train I ride on my commute. If it were to run in the USA it would be considered extremely offensive and probably would never be published. It's called 'My Darling the Foreigner.' In it are absurd oversimplifications, generalizations, and plain and simple xenophobic lies. What bothers me most is that with just one change, the author could simultaneously make it inoffensive and retain all the meaning and humor. Instead of 'My Darling the Foreigner' make it 'My Darling, Tony' Everyone would know Tony is a foreign name. Then instead of saying 'Foreigners blah blah blah' say 'Tony blah blah blah' which, to her credit, she sometimes does. It's a real shame that the show is so offensive, because some of it has potential to be cute or even funny. Today there was an episode about how Saori learned that 'the' changes pronunciation depending on the next word (the apple vs the banana, for example). She triumphantly tells Tony her findings only for him to shrug and say 'oh, really? I never noticed that before' and hilarity ensues. I like this episode because it's about them, and it's educational. It doesn't have any needless generalizations about foreigners because it's personal.

Conservatives Depress Me

I feel like I understand where conservatives are coming from, but it is so clear to me that they are wrong about some fundamental issues. How often do you hear people say they want the government to build the roads, protect the borders, deliver the mail, and get out of the way? What percentage of those people are rich? I understand that they probably think everyone can become rich, opportunities are everywhere, and so on. But even if that were the case (which it isn't) I still find it to be a bleak, selfish outlook on life. Why do people insist that taxes are bad? Why don't we hear more politicians working on ways to eliminate wasted or poorly allocated tax money, instead of simply cutting taxes and spending the same amount? I see taxes like this:

Imagine you live in a small dorm with 100 people. Everyone has to pay for internet who wants to use it. You could each pay X$ for it, or you could all split the money and set up some kind of wireless system. Arguments against this system are obvious: What about Johnny who doesn't use internet? Why should he pay?! Well, like many things we pay taxes for, like roads, it is often impossible to tell who uses it and who doesn't. But the price should be cut by so much that it doesn't really matter. And the more things the government can provide en masse for low prices, the lower every individuals daily cost of living. Sure you keep 50$ less of your paycheck, but your cost of living just went down 100$! Sweet! Well... in theory.

Opportunistic Vegetarian

I've decided to call myself an opportunistic vegetarian. I don't buy meat to cook or take home (and I'm cooking 1-2 meals a day now), and if there is a decent vegetarian option when eating out I'll order it. School lunches often have meat, but not eating it would be more trouble than it would be worth. I am also going to avoid leather and other animal hide products. I think a lot of people don't realize the scale of damage to the environment by cattle and other animals. It really is staggering. Here is a very good TED talk on the issue.

2008/06/10