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All posts for the month May, 2006

In my world of nitty-picky pseudoscience, the news of the the resolution of the legendary Chicken-n'-Egg debate met with cynicism. The shockwave whooshed over our snorting countenances. The scientists aren't wholly right.

According to this eggciting study, the egg came first because an animal's DNA does not change while it is alive. The embryo in the egg would be the first to have a redesigned DNA that we could taxonomize as "chicken."

Sure. But flaws abound.

1. Genetic material CAN change during an animal's life. Not all single-celled organisms, for example, have invented conventional sex. It is possible to be mutated into the first of your species, if you survive.

2. The chicken or egg debate is understood to ask which comes first, a living being or the egg it was born from. Of course, if you are asking for the specific species of "chicken" then the genetic material was first found in the egg, as any high school bio flunky can tell you. If you mean a being or its egg, then the evidence of proto-cells and the theory that a blast of lightning into the primordial soup sparked the first life tells us that Adam wasn't an egg. He was a being capable of making eggs that make more Adams. Adam was a chicken. The chicken was a proto-cell.

3. What the debate really means is that while the egg came before the living species of "chicken," what came before both was conception. Meiosis is the true winnah.

4. Finally a personal rant. One and one are two, but one plus one is greater than two (albeit infintesimally so), so long as E=mc², and "plus" is a verb.

It's been a long week for us, and it continues in fashion. Xstine's dad is in town, and we are obliged to keep him and her newly MBA-minted lil sister occupied with the diverse exotic that is the Cali americana. It was quite a challenge to balance their distaste for American prices with their desire for American products, but such contradictory stances are common in the Asian tourist.

In fact, after a night of supping them with fresh caught Half Moon Bay crab, we went late into the nite trying to explain to Xstine's sister the intricacies of Western sarcasm, which for us is a both a style of humor, and also a social tool to introduce potentially socially inappropriate subjects by being literal and rhetorical at the same time. If that sounds confusing, then you must not be American. See? Admittedly that bit of sarcasm comes across poorly on the internet, but it is almost culturally absent from Asia. Her sister's stories of improprieties towards her by us residents often underlined cultural misunderstanding more than actual insult.

I found it funny that while we still could not convince her that the ABC she was dating wasn't necessarily wrong to respond to her comments about Taiwanese girls trying to hook a citizenship through ABCs here with a sarcastic "well what are your intentions then," she hammered in a day's end irony by stating she didn't like the guy anyways, and dated him just to learn English. The Chinese tend to speak very directly about their feelings, or not at all. Rarely do they use jokes as a way to accomodate dissidents. We experienced that once with a Romanian friend as well, whom we didn't know it was inappropriate to rib poke with more risque ribaldry. Perhaps as an ABC myself, I see nothing wrong with what he said, nor find it rude not to want to divulge details about how much I earn, what my parents do, etc. on a girl I may stereotype as golddigful. Unlike FOBs, I won't introduce what my parents do before introducing myself.

How whimsical is other peoples' etiquette!

We'll be busy with Dungeons & Dragons Online and my new remastered Aeon Flux DVD set until the typhoon passes.

Like knights of old, our group of adventurers went to take purveyance of the critically berated DaVinci Code movie last night. In all honesty, it wasn't bad at all, and I was shocked at how much the critics hated it, with the notable exception of Roger Ebert, my preferred reviewer. It seemed to suffer from Memoirs of a Geisha syndrome, where people demanded it to live up to the legendary status of the original book without remembering that the original books were, in fact, alot more entertainment than literature. One critic's sole reason for giving his thumbs down was that the DaVinci Code didn't live up to any greatness. Since when is a fictional narrative based on hack documents and flimsy conspiracy theories expected to be Oscar-worthy?

Like a horror movie, this was a flick that required active suspension of disbelief to create mutual enthrallment. Like most horror films, it had terrible cinematography in dark or darker sets, and wooden acting. And like most horror films, it had a premise that was more clever than original, relying on twisting turns to keep you in suspense. But today it's hip to be too smart for this kinda thing, regardless of what the movie was actually like.

Since most critics deemed it talky and boring, this would imply that the extensive "evidences" in the book to support Dan Brown's vast conspiracy theory could have been better explained with sign language and musical interludes… maybe a touch of blackface heel-clicking as well, or would that be razed for being too "manipulative" for a THRILLER? It's a historical thriller for legions of mal-educated teenagers and their parents who haven't touched AP Euro texts in thirty years. I felt it wasn't talky enough, and that's having read the book.

Finally, and most curiously, it seemed that while the majority of audience members loved the film, clapping respectably after the film, the crux of the conflict was lost on a few heathen stragglers. If you didn't get what the big deal was about, it's basically this:

1. Church offers salvation by way of belief in Christ's divinity.
2. Pagans offer "salvation" by way of belief in innate divinity of the feminine.
3. #1 and #2 don't go well together, especially when #1 has spent a heck of a lot of moola.

For some, the idiocy of this movie will not be something to your liking, but for the rest, the conversation it generates afterwards is worth the $8.

Stock markets have taken quite a plunge in the last few days, its biggest drop in three years. The combination of a backlash against commodity speculation, profit taking, and the inability of the Fed to stop rate hikes has really put the hurt on investors without the nerve to stay. My advice at the moment is to stick with companies with profits in strengthening currencies, and costs in the weakening dollar. Rate hikes will pause in the short run, rise in the long, especially with the yuan breaking the 8 RMB/$ barrier and the yen fluctuating at the 110 border.

Despite the hubbub of E3, seems like the market has not been kind to game companies. Wedbush Morgan insinuates we're already at a plateau in the game industry, with apparent gains from console sales actually only coming from people buying two consoles. In other words, market penetration is not up to snuff. Atari, fer instance, is clinging desperately to its AD&D license. The only thing they've got left is Call A Friend.

What was up to snuff, and by snuff I mean the film variety, not the 'baccy, was the horrifying crash and burn the Phantom Console with the departure of Kevin Bacchus and the catch-in-the-act of ex-CEO Timothy Roberts, who allegedly faxed unbacked promises for Infinium stock to drum up the price. The SEC replied with "BOOYAH!" Did I not tell people to stay away from this fictitious fiction of a company? Anyone get it on tape? 'Cuz that's snuff.

Let's hear what Guitar Hero babe has to show say.

Yep, made it into the 10,000 finalists. I cautiously unscrewed the cryptex they sent me and a scroll in it told untold secrets. Lemme tell you what DaVinci's code really deciphers into. When placed in front of a mirror, his text actually reads:

"Yon asinine chump whosoever participates in the corroborated evil of the cults of Google and Sony to crack this life's work encoded shall, by a portion greater than the Golden Ratio, be taxed on the fruits of his divination and persistence. I've scientifically derived an estimate of $128,170.54 per prize, leaving the foolish quester one fucked-up 1099 upon returning to the US from the kingdoms of Britannia and Avignon, France. Preparest thou eBay account should thou find what ye seek."

Fuck sweepstakes tax, just give me cash.

E3 pics are up!

Most of the big news probably slaps you in the face at each and every game site, so I'm going to stick with impressions and hands-ons, and leave headlines out of this. Overall, this E3 was probably the best one I've been to, with less focus on graphics and more focus on gameplay overall, with the exceptions of the two you-know-whos. Booth babe quality wasn't bad even with clothing restrictions, and watching Fatal1ty bring some wannabe to the brink of tears on the The Longest Yard conversion to Quake4 had me and Xstine laughing our asses off.

So without further ado…

Microsoft Impressions:
Xbox 360 games continue to look better, and I continue to think about getting one. Games look as a they should on a $400 system. Gears of War looked phenomenal of course, but Huxley was surprisingly fun too considering the amount of lag this FPS MMO had, and I was dukin' it with a roundtable of over 30 people. And its framerate was still a SIGHT better than the Crysis engine game, which when not in that Siberia known as the 10-minute loading screen, was trying to impress us with spring-collision driven foliage bending nonsense at a blistering 4 fps. 3D benchmarks are a FAR CRY from being games, please.
Still, Lumines on XBox Live and the announcement of Windows Vista allowing PC and console gamers to meet in sweet swiss bliss gave the system the edge. In Peter Moore's own words, why buy a PS3 when yyou can get both a Wii and a 360 for the same money? As much as I hate the guy, he's right as rain.
Oh yes, Viva Piñata looks rad (see pic), and besides some framerate problems, has got real style. Good job Rare… finally…
7/10

Nintendo Impressions:
As fanatical as the gaming media has been so far about the Wii, I have a huge complaint. I never got to play the damn thing since the line of lines, the sweat-infused meta-line that wrapped itself around the vortex of Nintendo's creative navel, was so entangled that I had not the ken to locate its extradimensional entry point. Dammit Nintendo, you spoke of playing is believing, but put your new console in the furthest reaches of E3's 9th circle of hell. My heart wept for a chance to play Super Smash Bros Brawl, but my melatonin begged for just one more day of sunlight.
Still, just watching the announcers playing Wii Sonic on the big screen by just tilting the controller left and right filled me with an instinctual, pheromonal kind of parasymptomatic gravitation back to West Hall over and over. Instead, I settled for some DS games, like Magnetica (aka Zuma) and Brain Training. Why is Sudoku so damn addicting.
8/10

Sony Impressions:
Let's forget about the price for a second, and the feature trickery. Do the games look good? Well, as you can see in the photos, their setup at E3 was still running on a bunch of dev kits, but at the moment it looks good. Not $200 good, mind you, but good. Warhawk wasn't very fun, but had that impressive kind of fluidity and SFX density that reminded me of great Dreamcast rail shooters. Madden looked godawful, honestly, with horribly overdone fur/grass. Heavenly Sword looked pretty good, like a PC version of Devil May Cry, although pixilated self-shadowing and jerky animation need work.
The booth area was pretty packed, and people were cheering like mad at the Final Fantasy trailers, but the actual wait time to get into the private showings was about 5 minutes. There will definitely be a market for PS3, evidenced my the throngs of people in the Singstar booth and the Country Karaoke Revolution game. The PSP, btw, went the way of the N-Gage.

4/10

PC Impressions:
I was pleasantly surprised. Hellgate: London continues to look great, and although the avatars are ugly, the gameplay is smooth and addicting just to even watch. The Conan MMORPG was graphically beautiful, especially the horse animations, but it seems like there was stuff being killed only when I looked away. Boring.
Xstine and I are both excited about Neverwinter Nights 2, and eye-rolly about World of Warcraft's expansion and its new Dranei Alliance race. NCSoft held a pretty exciting Guild Wars: Factions tournament with Koreans slaughtering Koreans, but nothing was nearly as exciting as THIS…..


8/10

Finally, some of the coolest things we saw there were these two toys:

So we're taking off tonite to hit up E3 and check out a few churches for wedding arrangements. We're eager to see for ourselves why people are going NUTS for the Wii. I hear there's a two hour around the block wait just to try it. I also plan to rock out to you know what:headbang: , and hopefully get a chance to see Gears of War in action… it looks frickkin' Contra-ed delish at the moment. Seriously, check out the direct feeds at IGN.

But before I go, I want to just say show one thing to all of you who haven't bought a DS yet, and you might want to put on a diaper first:

On the GBA. I ruined my Depends.

Hurray! After living in Opera day in and day out, I've finally got a chance to wax poetic about Opera not just to to every living thing around me, but across the evil empire of unwashed masses. From now on, as part of the the Opera secret police, I will be able to feed you the latest regarding Opera and Nintendo. I hope to invent doublespeak next, and declare war on Oceania.

So folks, what is Opera, the most revolutionary browser, going to do with Nintendo, the most revolutionary game company? Well, how about the soon-to-be-officially-announced Opera Wii.

Opera Wii.

It will load nigh-instantly, and one can only imagine the synergy that is Opera mouse-gestures vis-à-vis the incredible Wii controller. Could it form the UI for the Wii network? Or even for the whole system? Not impossible.

I am currently extracting more information from my hapless leaks, but I hope this gets your imagination roiling. Official statement. With the Wii's 24/7 constant connection that promises to bring new content in daily, we aren't playing Animal Crossing anymore, we're living it. Meanwhile, read more here.

Signed,
Tom "Big Brother" Nook.

So the news is out. Sony Playstation 3 will be out November 17th at a cost that could buy you two hot hookers for three hot hours. And if you're the kinda swank who shells out extra for greek lessons, you'd be able to get a REAL PS3.

That's correct, there are two versions of the PS3, the poor rich man's edition, and the rich man's edition. The first is for people who somehow can cough up $499 for a 20GB version, but not $599 for the 60GB version. The $599 version includes Wifi, HDMI outputs, memory/SD slots, and rumble… which renders the other version impotent for all intents and purposes. It's like shelling out for $499 for a lady of the night and having her tell ya she ain't going to do it standing. Or sitting. Or even with YOUR dick. Heck she ain't even got a hole.

But that's not the announcement that bothered me, no sirree boob. Here's the shocker. Remember the boomerang? Well, it went flying out the window, and has flown back stripped of all original innovations, but dripping in the blood of victimized Wii. They've gone back to using the original controller design, except with bluetooth and… MOTION SENSING! Who didn't see that coming? Who didn't expect Sony to fake an orgasm and deem it the performance of the night? Oh, that's right, gamer virgins. Of which only 6 out of 10 Americans still are.

Sigh. Honestly, their plagarism would be a lot less shameful if it was implemented with a modicum of creativity. I mean, the controller only detects tilt while in motion! I call shenanigans! And I mean the urethra burning type!

As I write this, it is 5 am and Xstine is furiously trying to master Cowboys From Hell. I feel zombified.

We had a dinner party with some of her company folks, where her inebriated boss drew upon his fifteen extra years on her as a long-haired metal hippie to whup her thoroughly on CFH expert in a duel, even though his strategy was mostly pressing random buttons but to a fairly accurate beat. Xstine, raised on a simpleton's diet of J-pop, is now on a warpath to defend her gamer's honor. I think she has hope. The blood of true dirtcore still flows within this young padawan.

For myself, I think I've plateaued at still being unable to conquer expert Bark At The Moon. Her CEO gleefully tried to take me down on the fastest songs, and my lack of stamina almost didn't meet the challenge. But I wasn't about to let his $20k speakers smackdown this whippersnapper. Still, no game has so thoroughly balanced players of skill and players of life experience as well as this. I'm dying for a sequel.

We also happened to run into a fellow who was one of the main guys responsible for the awesome Unreal Tournament 2k7 tech demo for the PS3. I should have known a guy who looks likes Jesus 'cept with UNREAL across his T-shirt would pick up Guitar Hero faster than any of us had. UT2k7 is the only thing I could possibly consider a PS3 for… but ah, no. Mouse will always be superior. And how the hell will Xstine cover me from massive turrets all on one screen? That's ok, I prefer we work on teamwork with me as lead guitarist and her as bass.

Now that I'm digging beat games, maybe I should get Ouendan for the DS? I think my masculinity is safely ensconced in riffing to Ozzy, let's give it a try.