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All posts for the month September, 2006

Isn’t it strange how little hypocrisy has evolved over the course of human civilization? Invariably, it sticks to a couple simple propositions:

– Believe in an issue.
– Protest an antagonist issue except if it applies to you.

So the Democrats grabbed on to a report pulling selective quotes about how the Iraqi war has only engendered more conflict. The Bush Administration tried to intercept the critics by saying it was going to release specific portions of the document claiming overall threat has decreased. Democrats then scorn the administration for “selective declassification” and dismiss the whole charade as propaganda.

Apparently pulling selective quotes to begin with wasn’t “selective declassification.” Is anyone else getting sick of this game? I can’t believe how many people out there believe more in the game than in reality. It saddens me that 60% of Americans believe recent drops in oil prices is somehow right-wing oil manipulation. Maybe it serves Big Oil right for having such shitty PR, but most Americans do not know that Big Oil is a drop in the barrel compared to other oil barons in Saudi Arabia or Venezuela. Exxon ranks a distant number 15 in size, and only half of that even is oil.

The Fed thinks we’ve peaked on inflation. My portfolio has risen precariously on that news. I’ve made enough in the past few days to buy myself a PS3, but that would be succumbing to Harrisonragi’s “selective declassification” of next-gen details. All I can be bullish on is the Xbox 360’s version of Guitar Hero 2 with DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT! I want that wireless X-Plorer dammit! No doubt the chum in the picture is struggling with his Democratic desire to tell all his friends about it, and his Republican desire to rock out against the man.

Shame it’s the other way around today in real politics, where Democrats do nothing but tell all against the man, and the Republicans do nothing but rock out with their friends.

TJ writes:

One of my superiors is hellbent on getting a PS3. He mostly just wants it for the Blue Ray thing that it comes with, since current Blue Ray players are supposedly $1K, and the PS3 is gonna be $600.

I was telling him I'd bring my Wii over when he has his PS3 and we'd see who got the better deal.

-TJ

There's been alot of talk about the coming forced evolution to HD. I'd like to clarify for readers what the real deal with Blu-Ray is at the moment.

  • Blu-Ray stores more data than HD-DVD by packing information in a smaller space, and is named for the narrow blue laser used to read the disc. Actually, both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD use blue lasers.
  • Blu-Ray stores about twice as much as HD-DVD, theoretically. In actuality, since Blu-Ray is expensive to manufacture and license, most Blu-Ray media will be encoded with MPEG-4 instead of the improved VC-1 codec, essentially making HD-DVD a superior choice pricewise.
  • Blu-Ray discs have not yet hit dual-layered dual-sided formats yet, which HD-DVD has, so practically, HD-DVDs hold more at the moment.
  • Blu-Ray has better sound encoding.
  • As it stands, copy-protection standardization on Blu-Rays is up in the air, and the Sony/Warner Bros. discs may not (and don't with the latest PC Blu-Ray drives) play movies from other publishers. They also require an HDMI output or the Blu-Ray players will output at a severely downsized image resolution.
  • Even if Blu-Ray problems are solved, how likely are we going to see studios release one $150 3-disc set, instead of three $60 separate sets? Did we see anything more than extras added when DVDs upped capacity?

Basically, just because Sony says $1000 for a Blu-Ray player, a price they made up, makes the PS3 a good deal, doesn't make it so. Games will be a better factor in determining the worth of the PS3, which today had its price knocked down a bit in Japan and for the Japanese base machines only. Conclusion? Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is like choosing between a blond and a brunette. Regardless of which one we have, we all know which one is better.

Details for the upcoming Nintendo Wii were finally released, and it's been quite a doozy. Any gamer should be able to use his pants as a substrate for ludological pregnancy about now. Yes, I really do feel as if I've been knocked up in a good way, because it's been so long that the industry has catered its adolescent demographied garbage to the lowest common denominator, the bedazzled consumer whore. Nintendo has put its words down in the edifice of the casual market, and its booming, Lovecraftian voice not only prophesizes a paradigm shift, but delivers, to the doom of this stagnant market.

Let's recap:

– US Release November 19th, $250 w/ Wii Sports included.

– Japan Release December 2nd, $220 w/o Wii Sports.

– 30 Launch titles by year's end.

– New gameplay trailer just astounding! Watch it!

– Built-in Opera browser, image surfing/editing tools, weather/news channel, and more. Link here.

Mii avatar creation system. Awesome. Here and here.

– 24/7 connection for the Wii to stream in game updates and community stuff daily.

– Virtual Console featuring downloadable NES, SNES, Genesis, Megadrive, Toshiba MSX, and Turbo-GFX 16 games, $5-$10, 60 games by year's end, 10 more added each month after.

As tasteless as it is, this is my favorite reaction from the public…

If you've ever watched the classic short film The Way Things Go, you can't help but be fascinated by the frightening fluidity with which a precarious but self-conscious house of dominoes will fall, and how fascinating it is to watch as it unwinds. Car-crash syndrome. It gives us an epic tale of constructions and deconstructions, near-misses and satisfying clunks. It is, after all is said and done, a turning mobile gently emanating musical chimes to the delight of the tot in us all.

This is but a long-winded way of saying, the housing market is FUCKED. And I'm dancing the happy dance in anticipation for a market-bottom in a year or two, which will be followed by a globalized recession as consumption contractions shatter the world of fiat trade. One researcher from MIT said that the people in the best position were young, first-time home buyers who can enter that bottom in a year, and rent for now. That's us!

Following Santa Clara housing statistics and Foreclosure.com, you can see that it's a bloodbath out there with median housing prices diving -$47K in four weeks! In the local paper, I saw a whopping y-o-y six-fold increase in for-sale listings in Palo Alto!

For those of you who want to know more about why a recession is going to smack us in the ass, and not on our lips, I recommend this EXCELLENT article by Nouriel Roubini summing up the situation:

Eight Market Spins About Housing by Perma-Bull Spin-Doctors…And the Reality of the Coming Ugliest Housing Bust Ever…

Indeed, in a matter of months, the gravity-defying housing boom and bubble turned into an alleged “orderly slowdown”; then, the orderly slowdown turned into a euphemistic “soft landing”; and next, the soft landing slipped into a “slump”; most recently, the slump worsened into a hard landing; while the latest data suggest that the hard landing recently turned into a bust. And soon enough this housing bust will turn into a rout and an unprecedented meltdown.


Last nite, hungering for a challenge, we grabbed a guildie cleric and three-manned Tempest's Spine, one of DDO's raid instances. I finally just couldn't take another run hearing people bark out desperate orders that inevitably led to group wipes as they cowered behind their shields and took the most weak-kneed route to a demi-victory.

And we did it! Albeit with a couple mishaps, as none of us knew Tempest's Spine that well. I think despite the lack of content, what DDO has done to keep us as players is the relative de-emphasis on gear, unlike MMORPGs of other ilk. To design games around gear checks is unfair, and insulting to all but the most hardcore players. People should be rewarded for taking risks, not for sinking massive amounts of playtime into epic raids repeated ad infinitum.

Guild Wars had headed this route, and it did seem to reward skill over play-time, but not to the extent that DDO does. It offered an increasing options base to choose from, but sadly some gear advancement is necessary to keep players interested. On the other side of the spectrum is World of Warcraft, which offered a tremendous diversity of content and perfect treadmill of gear advancement, but that left working folks like us frustrated at losing to people with sickening gear and the patience to wait for all their timers to reset.

It was Russian Roulette, with some folks having way more chambers. But hey, with 13 Tzameti looking so good, maybe that's just some folks' prerogative style.