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All posts for the month December, 2005

Yes. The move is complete. As we moved about 600lbs of trash out of our apartment, the O A K did its worst, hitting us with a veritable storm, and a congenial retard at the Safeway steam cleaner rental counter who had trouble spelling his own name, obnoxious pre-New Year's drunks, and a couple outstandingly worthless Korean assholes who stood in the way of our move without budging or speaking English as we struggled to move 40lbs of Khetti and Shiva past them and their smoke rings aimed at our face point-blank.

We hydroplaned too. It didn't stop us. When we finally swung north on the 280, the rain parted into a feeble sprinkle, and we tasted sweet sweet victorious home. The Raiders have been sucking anyways, they're too old. All of Oakland is too old.

Hearkening back to Y2K, which I'm still astonished at how many people thought it was a technoclysm in waiting, there is a new virus out more serious than ever in its sheer contagiousness. Simply put, if you use Internet Explorer, Google Desktop, or something else similar, you're fucked. It can be passed in even an image or header. Fixing it temporarily is simple:

1. Goto Start > Run
2. Type "regsvr32 /u shimgvw.dll" to disable *.wmf files.
3. Wait for patch to be released.
4. Type "regsvr32 shimgvw.dll" to re-enable.

Disabling may ruin some thumbnail views, but for now, if you view a thumbnail of your cache and it has the virus, prepare to open up your computer like a Millenium whore at a bachelor's party.

Merry Xmas everyone, to the faithful and the faithless alike. We're in the midst of our big move, hope to have pics of this winter wonder apartment up soon. It is like puncturing through this psychic curtain of tar and cynicism to carry our payload of personal treasures over the great 880 divide, the cleanly upper middle-class of Campbell greeting us refugees of that war-torn Oakland nation.

I hope good tidings and safe drivings await you all. Remember the cardinal sins to avoid, fruitcakes and mooncakes most mentionable, and let yourself go for a few days to the benefits of those around you. Feast ahoy!

On the gaming blog Kotaku, a poll was put up asking people what would be the best console to introduce children to. One avid reader replied with "none" and proceeded to write a very cogent piece on why, for the sake of his children's creativity and physical well-being, responsible parents should limit their media saturation.

And it's as if all that has ever been wrong with education in America was summed up for me in one deficient diatribe. There is no doubt video-games (or any media) can greatly affect people. What he's completely ignored, as the median figurehead of the modern parent, is that PEDAGOGY FAILS WITHOUT INTENSIONALITY. Repeat after me.

PEDAGOGY FAILS WITHOUT INTENSIONALITY.
PEDAGOGY FAILS WITHOUT INTENSIONALITY.
PEDAGOGY FAILS WITHOUT INTENSIONALITY.

What does this mean? How is this philosophological abstraction the damning mark on what seems to be a reasonable argument? Bear with me.

The inexperienced parent teaches only by example. He picks and chooses the "influences" his child encounters. He teaches by EXTENSION. In the very worst degree, it becomes learning by rote. Extensional education means a set of objects of like characteristics are given to represent X, and are constituent examples of a concept. This is backwards.

Teaching INTENSIONALLY, we describe a concept, and encourage the child to filter out what he ascribes to this concept. We teach with meaning. To treat games, books, or comic books all as GTA, Harry Potter, and X-Men fluff, the child will absorb them as fluff meant to be consumed in disposable glory one hour a day after homework. Instead, they should be treated as a lesson in social tracking of the underprivileged, a lesson in the evil that complacency engenders, and a lesson in prejudice and distrust. Without context, there is no meaning, and without meaning, there is little to learn.

This requires parent participation. However, in this parent's case, he obviously had the time to spend, he just categorically demeans these into mere "necessary diversions." Before the child can even come to a conclusion on the literary importance of these objects, they've already been established as fluff. But in order to teach intensionally, parents need to educate themselves and actually experience these scapegoats themselves. Otherwise, they cannot provide context, the very context from which creativity eroded children read a book and decide whether its value to them is Hamlet or Nancy Drew.

What's really interesting to me is that today, when we confront a child, we ask "can you do this." This word, "can," replaced "will," "may" and "might" and it robs us of choice. "Can" asks if we have the ability to do it. It doesn't ask if we have the desire to do it. When America was a more puritanical country, our answer was "I shall do it," taking away our choice, our intentionality, and putting the occurrence of the event in God's hands. Today we say "I will do it," but not to children. Subconsciously, we command and demand, and finally present answers instead of asking them to search themselves. We say "you will do it," and the child's "will" is decided.

It's time to teach children that anything dismissed without intelligent reference will enter the mind and be regurgitated back up as uncreative thought, because that is the way it went in. Can it be done with all games? No, but the child needs to learn how to make the distinction as well. Or the shall remain a student of circumstance and not of choice.

"I believe in having a few pupils at one time as it requires a constant alert observation of each individual in order to establish a direct relationship. A good teacher can never be fixed in a routine… each moment requires a sensitive mind that is constantly changing and constantly adapting. A teacher must never impose this student to fit his favourite pattern; a good teacher functions as a pointer, exposing his student's vulnerability (and) causing him to explore both internally and finally integrating himself with his being. Martial art should not be passed out indiscriminately."

-Bruce Lee, for whom nothing had nothing to learn from.

Well I've had my DS for a while now, and I've got to say I'm not sorry I sold off the XBox. I think UC2, KOTOR, Psychonauts, Jade Empire, Norrath, and X-Men Legends 2 were all I really needed to play, and even then much of these were redundant. 'Cept Psychonauts, which was brillianza.

So I think it's time to do a quick DS review.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Just finished last night, it really took me back to old school text adventure days. Engaging story, interesting characters, and some real laugh-out-loud moments makes this a must have. The forensic stuff on the fifth mission was hilarious… I was on the BART blowing fingerprint dust off my DS and yelling OBJECTION! into the mic, netting me stares aplenty. It even jerked a tear out of Xstine.
9 outta 10 Clarence Darrow unibrows.

Kirby's Canvas Curse
Fun, but not mandatory. However, every so often I bust this one out just to get the glee of drawing magic rainbows for Kirby to slide around on. As an outsider, you'd think it's pretty flamboyant for me to play. As an insider, you'd understand this is what's going on in my mind.
7 outta 10 Lucky Charms

Meteos
This is supposed to be the DS' answer to Lumines on the PSP. I can't say it's better or worse, just different, the way PCP is a patently different high than morphine. Yeah. You scrub tiles and when they form the lovable trio every puzzle game on earth courts… BAM! The whole thing lifts off! Very fun, but I need someone to destroy badly.
7 outta 10 Siberian craters

Metroid Prime Pinball
Holy fuckin' funballs, Batman, I think I'm in love. I love handheld pinball, but this has been the most thematically replete one yet. Killer soundtrack, great minigames, tough bosses, and perfect physics. Even though it uses the stylus/touch screen the least, the dual screens really help since pinball is all about verticality. Addicted.
9.5 outta 10 Angry Chewbaccas

Overall, I'm loving the system, although it's screens really have poor visibility from an angle. It's been a while since I've fought myself over which title to get next, but I've been doing it at every buy.

It's absolutely preposterous. And by preposterous I mean an adjective who's trademark encapsulates that three-ring circus of media, police, and San Francisco. Their respective roles, then, are ringleaders, clowns, and gullible spectating sight-seeking chumps. Regarding the recent shananigans of the SFPD, who recorded skits parodizing the homeless, the drunks, the taichi asian boxers in the park, and Charlie's Angels, the news had this to say:

"The controversy is growing as the city is in uproar over the video made by San Francisco police…[etc]"

This is after two weeks since the issue first came to light, and the report (and every report every day about it) goes on to repeat facts about this video that were known since day one. So, my literate consumer, what is causing this controversy to grow? Could the culprit be the evening newshour who chooses to play edited and out-of-context clips of this so-called "sexist, homophobic, and racist" prank at every opportunity? Or is the culprit the mayor and chief of police, who conspired to take this video out of the department and splay it across the whole city to whip up the pretense of critical scrutiny?

I can't tell what's the bigger joke, the video itself (a typical frat stunt whose participants include women and blacks) or the fact that it was taken out of the inner circle for whom it was at worst private tastelessness, and at best a much needed satire of the day-to-day realities of being a COP. I would like to break into the mayor's home, steal his kid's emails and find the word "fag" so that I can show how he's breeding homophobia in his own home. Unfortunately (rather fortunate for him) I have no political aspirations.

The funniest thing is when the NAACP rep said to the camera that these videos were harming the numerous low social status peoples who's daily realities were being mocked. God forbid if those are also a reality for a COP from SAN FRANCASTROCISCO or OAK#1PERCAPITAVIOLENTCRIMELAND who's job is to deal with said trash and still be warm and lovable and fist-fucking Mother Theresa's ashes. You should treat police like pizza men, except instead of a cold pizza you risk getting raped and shot by a flying nut. I guess in SF, you'd fire them, hold their pay, and invent a crime that they can now be considered to have committed… being a clown and carrying a nightstick at the same time.

Capital punishment is one of those issues that, unlike gun control or abortion, can't have its efficacy proven nor can it forever stay in the safe haven of moral subjectivity. It is a morally ambiguous approach to a utilitarian purpose that has remained an issue because "cruel and unusual" is legalese slang for "in my humble opinion." Tookie Williams, father of the crips gang, died this midnite morn, executed by the state. He was, in the twilight of his life, a reformed man who sought to give kids on the gang track the hope and wisdom to derail.

But he never admitted his guilt, and for that he should die.

Wow, now that causes a protest even within myself. I'm very conflicted about this issue. For the purposes of efficacy even, executing him will either strip all hope and inspiration from current felons and cause them to direct their anger at the "man" with renewed strength, or it will send a message that a crime is a crime is a crime and you can't just reform after your sins are satiated.

So clearly, no right answer. Personally, I think he should have confessed, then had the decision for his execution given to the families of the victims. The murder itself should be sanctioned by the state, and if the victims desire it enough, they should do it themselves. One may argue that the victims would be the least objective, but that's entirely the point. Capital punishment needs be a justice for victims, and no more. It should not even be in Arnie's power to say so. If the court system is fair, then only the victims should have veto. If the court system is not fair, then it should be made so. I believe over time, it has only gotten fairer.

Revenge is healthy. I love it. It is personal and the state has no business but in sanctioning it. Those who think it leaves you empty have not tasted it, or have not had the right reasons for it. Dominique, I'm looking at you. If your children only knew. But it's too soon, and we'll let the dish cool as that's how it is best served.

I've been trying to name the greatest American film-makers of our time, and I've gathered a contemporary list that I still feel is rather sparse. It needs help. For now, I'd choose the Coen Brothers, Clint Eastwood, and David Lynch as the most discerning eyes in dissecting what composes the American dream, our manifest failure, and the reflection of national identity in personal development. Their films embody the seldom appreciated mysticism of the americana, the almost mythic qualities honor and absurdity in what in the blistering speed of social evolution has delegated as common, and thus by extension as simple, perhaps even backwards and irrelevant.

Now there are some others I'd want to add, namely Scorcese, Mann, P.T. Anderson, Mendes, Wes Anderson, Spike Lee, and Solondz, but in the end, what they've mastered is not the soulforming undercurrent that forges the iron of the melting pot itself, but just one shard of that flame. They do it well. As I've commented before, Mann and Anderson create films that are concentrated drops of L.A. in ensembled veracity. Scorcese and Spike underscore the New York we may not have been to but have always known. But. But! They've taught me, shown me, but they haven't understood me better than I do myself. Sincerely, Uncle Sam.

Actually Solondz is the one who got me thinking about it. We plodded through Palindromes last night, and while I must give it credit for a fairly successful disembodiment of the main character, which he accomplished by using several actresses (and one actor) to play, it was ruined with the same judgemental anti-fundamentalist shlockery as I :heart: Huckabees. Yes, the movie upholds genre "Experimental," and I really embraced the composite Aviva, a girl who's quest for true love leads her to desire creating her own baby. Be she an Eve or a Mom, her palindromic journey almost left the post of film vehicle to become that ghost of America past I wanted to idolize. And then he ruined it by giving us Mama Sunshine who went from a pre-appearance Baba Yaga to post-appearance pro-life straw-woman. Boring! A supporter of abortionist assassination? Insulting!

Good movie, but it sure pulled the Happiness and Storytelling Solondz out of my choice American film-makers list.

Done with class! Yah be blessed, albeit agnostically, as winter break has come. I'm very proud of the students' work, and I think there's alot of promise for the next year. Many of these folks started in August having never touched Maya, never pushed a pixel, never met a Polly. One student even got an internship at Pixar just today. With their feedback, I'll be able to improve the class considerably next time around.

So anyways, time for me to unwind and smack up a little Metroid Prime Pinball as I wait for Xstine to finish overtime. She's assembling a tide of scantily clad (but emminently approachable and servile) digital females that will forever emasculate the throbbing landscape of adolescent cellphone giggolos in China. I'd pray for their young souls, but I think her company would prefer royalties. So would Xstine. And so would my pinball. Ding!

I know this picture gives the geek inside you the chills…

That's right, the X-Men 3 teaser is out. It's very good. I can't wait to hear Vinnie Jones quip "You can call me Juggy if it makesh ya happy." I had my doubts, but this one looks like a heck of a lotta fun, even without Bishop (HOW CAN THEY NOT HAVE BISHOP). I was playing the X-Men Legends 2 on Xbox and he was pure badassery with a melee build, smokin' even Juggs and Kurt. I think Xstine would have played it with me if they had White Queen and made the menu screen much less painful, but I'm sure that wouldn't have sat well with feminazi's world wide. The menu screen I mean. 😉

Speaking of the Xbox, here's neat side-by-side screenshot comparison survey of the Xbox and the 360. Very interesting. I also saw Dan's 360 last night and I've got to say, Kameo is as frikkin' sweet as Perfect Dark is a big, sad zero. Enemies seem to need a couple minutes to check their watch and contemplate Nietzsche when you headshot them, punctuating their pain with a hilarious "Crap!" followed by a parenthetical "Dude!" Kameo, on the other hand, looks like a real launch title: it's gorgeous, well animated, has rich characters, and doesn't abuse the normal maps past the bounds of good taste. I got the giddy feeling I got at first touch with Bonk and Super Mario Bros.

This weekend we went to Xstine's boss' house for a crab feast. They are incredibly hospitable people, and I'm ecstatic Xstine has made good friends at work. So, what kind of maudlin revelry did we engage? Why… shellfishgasm!

Let me tell you people a secret.

Take the freeway 1 north from the beautiful town of Half Moon Bay, get off on Capistrano Rd. and, ya can't miss it, there is a harbor filled with boats from which you can buy cheap, fresh, juicy crabs straight out of the traps. I swear I saw a turkey neck starboard side. So, $3.50/lb and a camo fishing bucket later, we were hauling ass to the party, stopping only for sweet meyer lemons and golden yukons.

Now bear with me. A fresh crab, one that was scavenging a hearty meal of detritus just an hour earlier, needs ample cleaning. You have to scrub it and squeeze black filth out of its long hypodermic anus. When they get boiled, they do eject some seaweed vomit everywhere. Once you're past that, the reward is worth it. I'm going to attempt to wax eloquent about it, but there is no way you will get it until you put that silky sea-salted crab flesh, quivering in clarified cholesterol, into your mouth, and the fibers burst and give you a throat length broth of coast. The chinese believe the yin of crab must be balanced by the yang of ginseng, so imagine if you will this delicious crustacean dipped in a rice vinegar and ginger sauce. I walked sideways the rest of the night.

The town, to recap, is called Princeton-by-the-sea. I love that name. Its streets are named after famous colleges, but are the homes of humble and worldly fishermen. I think what this town says is that only when the life of Princeton curiously leads you to appreciate the life of Princeton-by-the-sea do you become a fully educated person.