Saturday, December 30, 2006

Misc.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I did. It was good to spend time with friends and family and take a few days off from thinking about or working on school stuff. I gave and got lots of awesome presents. My parents have this magical ability to find things on my Christmas list, even if they're rare or sold out everywhere. It's nice to be spoiled once in a while.

The comments on this blog aren't working right now, and haven't been for a while. I have no idea why. I'll work on it.

And hey, Saddam eh? I know he's done horrible things...I know that his hanging was in accordance with Iraqi laws and not the US's...if anyone deserves to be murdered, he does...but it still feels so wrong.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Book Review: Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories, by Chuck Palahniuk


This is the first book that I listened to in audiobook format. That is, I downloaded an audio file of someone reading the book, and then listened to it on my iPod. I got it from Audible, which is a pretty cool site. The books are a lot cheaper than buying them physically, or even getting the same audio files from iTunes. And here's a secret...follow this link and you get two books for free. You're supposed to have bought a certain iPod accessory to get the offer, but it's not like they check if you actually have it. I just signed up, got the two free books, then cancelled the account. Nice.

Anyway, Stranger Than Fiction is a collection of essays that Palahniuk has written for various sources. Thus, it's sort of a mish-mash of random topics, some of which are fascinating, and others less so.

I enjoyed the autobiographical stuff the best. Much of it is about Fight Club, and the consequences of it being adapted into a popular movie. Palahniuk writes about how his jealousy of Brad Pitt's lips caused him to invest in a lip pump (sort of like a penis pump, but to give you bigger lips instead of a longer schlong); how most of Fight Club is based on true stories that he and his friends experienced, and the weirdness of seeing people imitating actors imitating characters in a book imitating real people; how people get annoyed when he doesn't reveal the location of real fight clubs. Funny stuff. There is also some material about writing itself. For me, it's always fascinating to hear about what fiction writers think about writing itself, given how mysterious of a process writing fiction can be.

Less interesting, but still worth reading, are some of the other random topics. The worst offender was the overly long chapter about people who dedicate their lives to building castles. I like hearing about the people who do that, but I really didn't need to hear the details on how to keep moister out of a concrete building.

Overall, it's worth reading, to see a bit into the mind of a unique author like Palahniuk, and learn a bit about some of the fascinating people and situations he has encountered. Especially if you are a fan of his fictional work.

One last note, though...don't get the audiobook version. It says "Unabridged Selections" in its title, which apparently does not mean you get the whole book. You get whole chapters (i.e. "selections"), but not all of them. I have no idea why two or three chapters were left out, but it sucks that I missed them.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tofurky Makes You Crave Cock


I've always wondered what determines sexual orientation. It turns out it's not genetic, not hormonal, not social upbringing. Nope, soy makes people gay. This comes from a site called WorldNetDaily - a site so crazy that it seems like a parody at first glance. Alas, I don't think it is. This guy is convinced that soy is a "devil food" that is turning kids gay. Seriously. He's serious.

It's hard to extract evidence from the poorly-written article, but he seems to think that a rise in soy consumption occured at the same time as a rise in infertility, cancer, and leukemia. Therefore, soybeans make you gay.

So hold off on that Tofurky you were gonna eat at Christmas; it's full of soy. Jesus would rather you sacrifice a real turky than turn out gay.

P.S. Yes, that's Ewan McGregor above, putting his lips on a cock.



Monday, December 11, 2006

New Words I Learned Today

  1. Hyperopia: An excess of farsightedness. Most people aspire to be farsighted. It's good to delay pleasure now so that we can be better off in the long run. But a recently published study (read about it here) interviewed people about what they regret. In the short term, people regretted partying when they should have been working. In the long term, though, people wished they partied more.

    On the surface, this seems like evidence that I should be partying right now instead of writing FOUR damn papers by the end of the month, but that's probably not the case. The people they interviewed were probably the ones who did work hard to get to where they were. They may regret not partying now, but fail to realize they wouldn't be alive to express their regret if they spent their entire life eating finger food and drinking martinis. I doubt they'd find the same results with less successful people. The homeless drug addict on the verge of death probably wouldn't say "yeah dude, I wish I partied more...my life would have been so much better if I had even less self control".

    Still, it illustrates that we should enjoy our lives in addition to working, or we'll hate ourselves later.


  2. Pseudocyesis: Fake pregnancy. This article tells the heartwarming story of a pregnant woman who went to see her doctor. She was quite far along, with a big belly, kicking baby, screwed up nipples, etc. The doctor, however, could not detect the baby's heart beat. After further research, he discovered that there actually was no baby. There never was a baby. She just wanted to be pregnant so bad that her body changed to look like she was.

    The hilarious part of the story, though, is that the doctor didn't tell her that she didn't have a baby. Instead, in a mind boggling breach of ethics and human decency, he told her that the baby was ready to be delivered that very day. Then he drugged her, and when she came to, he told her she'd lost the baby.

    You'll have to read the article to find out the rest. The power of the mind over matter in this case is fascinating, but equally fascinating is how horrible (but, looking back on them, hilarious) things have been done in the name of science.

    Thank science we have ethical standards now. Science bless you all. Merry Sciencemass.




Thursday, December 07, 2006

Book Review: The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene

It has literally taken me years to read this book. Not because it's uninteresting or anything, but because I have to be in a certain mood to read it. A mood in which I'm ready to read slowly and think deeply.

The Elegant Universe is about superstring theory and M-theory; basically, the "theory of everything" that physicists have always been searching for. It's written for a general audience, but still gets pretty deep into it - without much math. While that's a good thing, since most people (myself included) would need years of training to even begin to understand the math involved, it also left me with a feeling that I was always missing part of the picture. I guess that's unavoidable in a book of this sort, though.

The book answers a lot of questions, but also brings up just as many - most of which are things that the average person has never considered before. Many such questions are very very deep. So deep that it's nearly impossible to really grasp what's being talked about. Whenever possible, Greene illustrates things with 2 or 3-dimensional analogies, but again, you feel like you're missing something when, in reality, the theory involves 11 dimensions.

That's the thing, though - humans will never intuitively grasp a world with 11 dimensions. We live - and evolved in - the 3 space dimensions (and one time dimension) that we're all familiar with. Our brains simply weren't built to understand any more than that. Like a goldfish can never understand the math involved in buying a chocolate bar, maybe we will never fully understand the math involved in describing the universe.

People will damn well try, though. I have much respect for the physicists involved in string theory (and other cutting-edge stuff like it). Many would probably hate this word, but it involves a lot of faith. Faith in at least two things: 1) That humans are able to understand the universe, and 2) That the universe is understandable at all. As briefly discussed in the book, maybe there is no ultimate theory that ties everything together. Maybe planets just work a certain way, and photons work a certain way, and there is no connection between these two ways of working. Until they find it, these physicists don't even know if the theory they dedicate their lives to finding exists. Of course, they feel it exists, as I'm sure most scientists do. How could it not? And so far, everything has gotten closer and closer to meshing together cohesively. But it could stop at any point, and yeah, that feeling that it won't, in some way, that's faith.

These are deep issues, and I can't really get into them in a brief review, so you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. But if you want to have your brain challenged and get a better understanding of one way the entire universe might be explained, give The Elegant Universe a shot.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Review of My Wii

Let me get the jokes out of the way first:

- My Wii is small, hard and white.
- Many people can play with my Wii at one time.
- Stuff comes out of my Wii when you touch it in the right place.
- Etc. L0Lx0Rz.

Now, by popular request, here is what I think of the Nintendo Wii.

From the moment it's turned on for the first time, I was struck by how smooth and white everything is. It's very pretty to look at. The control in the Wii's built-in software is also surprisingly slick. It's pretty much like controlling a cursor with a laser pointer; just point where you want it to go. However, whenever you move over a menu item, the controller vibrates slightly, giving it a tactile element. It feels nice.

The Wii's interface consists of several "channels" that you can browse through. One channel is the currently inserted game, but it also comes with a few built in channels. The one we played first was the "Mii channel", where you can create little polygonal characters that can be used in certain games. Of course, the first thing we did was create everyone in the room, and then all of our close friends. Here is me as a Mii: (photos courtesy of Nick. Thanks Nick.)



The Mii thing alone is highly addictive, and shows off the kind of thing the Wii is meant for: simple but fun little games that everyone can pick up and play. Even V liked it, but she probably won't admit it.

The Wii comes with a full game, Wii Sports. This, too, is a fun but shallow little game, with bowling, boxing, tennis, golf, and baseball. It shows off the other thing the Wii controller can do (in addition to acting as a pointer): motion sensing. You play most of the games as if you are holding the sport's tools (instruments? what the hell do you call things you do sports with?). That is, you swing it like a bat in baseball, whack with it like a racket it tennis, etc. It's very fun, and you immediately know how to play without any instructions. However, as I said, Wii Sports is quite shallow. You can play each sport over and over, and it tracks your progress and gets harder so you're constantly challenged, but that's pretty much it. I can see it getting old pretty quick. Still, for a "free" game, it's pretty good.

Here are some action shots of me and Nick playing sports:





The only other game I've played is Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz. I can see how some people would be into this game, but personally, I hate it. It's weird, because it's rare that I outright hate a game. It's just really frustrating though, because all you do is try to get through the level with your little monkey in a ball, trying not to fall over the edge and die, instantly, over and over. Bleh. Not for me.

The last thing I've tried so far is the Virtual Console. This lets you download games from old systems, like the NES, Super NES, Genesis, even Turbografx 16. Nice. So far I've gotten Bonk's Adventure and Golden Axe. They look even crappier than I remember, which is awesome in a retro sort of way. I'm looking forward to when they get some better games on there though, like the old Super Mario 1, 2 and 3, Zelda for SNES, etc. Right now the selection is limited.

So overall, I like the Wii. The built-in stuff is all awesome, the controller gives a whole new feel to playing video games, and the games (except Super Monkey Ball...more like STUPID Monkey Ball) are fun. It's mostly potential at this point though; the games I've played, both regular and Virtual Console, are fun for a while but not deep enough to play for more than a few minutes at a time. Zelda: Twilight Princess should be arriving as soon as Best Buy gets it in stock, and then I'm sure I'll be even happier with the thing.

I recommend that everyone gets a Wii. Even you non-gamer people will have fun with it. Oh, and it counts as exercise, too. You want to be healthy, don't you?

Here is one last picture, with no connection to the rest of the post other than it was taken on the same day I got the Wii.



It's the dog, Willow. Cuuuuuute.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pacific Mall. Wii.

So last weekend I went to Pacific Mall. It's the largest indoor Asian mall in North America. It was pretty kickass, with so many things that you wouldn't see in any other mall in Canada. Like DVDs that cost $20 for 7 of them. Depending on how lucky you are, some of them are actually DVD quality. The rest? A poorly compressed video of a guy in the movie theatre with a camcorder. Nice. And it's all perfectly legal, I'm sure.

Here are crappy cell phone pictures of other fun stuff.



This is basically what it looks like in there.



A robot liger. Awesome. The liger is pretty much my favourite animal.



This turtle's neck is friggin long. I think it's a mutant. And probably a teenager.



Hairy tattooed man-ass.



You can't really see it, but this is a screen along one of the hallways where they show a live feed of people getting tattoos inside the store. Neat.



Ancient stone relics guard the women's washroom.



Awesome fake iPods.

The other thing I did last weekend was extremely nerdy. I probably shouldn't be making this public. I waited in line to buy a Nintendo Wii. It's not as bad as some people; I only waited 3 hours, indoors, as opposed to the poor bastards who waited since 2 A.M. in the cold. I didn't even intend to wait in line...I just drove by the mall and happened to see a security guard letting a bunch of people in early, so I followed the crowd and ended up with a good place in a line. It would've been just wrong to give up such a privileged spot, right? Right? I'm normal right?

I managed to avoid getting shot. I guess Nintendo fans are less prone to violence than followers of Sony. There was almost a fight at the front of the line, though, so maybe not.

Here is a picture of the other hopeless losers in line with me. At least some were smart enough to bring chairs and/or entertainment with them.



Friday, November 24, 2006

Cars Suck

I had a dream last night where I was travelling somewhere in the United States. I hate driving (in real life, and in my dream), so I was worried when I discovered that I would have to merge onto a big-ass highway which I saw on my map. However, when I got there, I saw that it was not quite a traditional highway. Instead of driving, you park at the base of a giant tower. You then take an elevator to the top, and there, you are given a piece of wood that looks sort of like a cross between a skateboard and a luge. Then you slide down this giant rubber ramp on the board. It had many lanes, you could go as fast as you want, and even if you fall off your board, it's ok because you're landing on rubber. There are ramps going both ways, so you can get wherever you need to go. It was much much funner than driving on a regular highway.

I think they should implement these in real life. The only problem is, how do you get your car back from the parking lot at the tower? My brain didn't think of that detail. Please try harder next time, brain.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I'm Still Alive

I just don't have much time to do the blog thing. I did have quite the adventuresome weekend though, so I should post pictures and write about that here (mostly for myself when I get old and don't actually remember it any more). Briefly, I went to what's basically a foreign country on Friday, then on Sunday I committed an act of geekery so horrendous that Bill Gates would probably laugh at me, call me a loser, and stuff me in a locker.

To keep you loyal readers entertained, though, here is what came up when I searched for "funny picture" in Google:



Funny!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

An - Throw - Po - Morph - Ick

My novel is coming along steadily, but not at the pace it needs to be at in order to finish 50 000 words by the end of the month (it's still under 8000 right now). Still, I gotta try, and that means I can't waste time blogging. Unless it's about the novel. Which this is. Hi.

Oh, it also has a tentative title now. "Anthropomorphic". I like one-word titles, and this one pretty much sums up the concept. If the school system failed you in the vocabulary department, look it up. Then see below for an example of an anthropomorphically rendered squirrel. Then, as homework, please use the word "anthropomorphically" at least 3 times in conversation today. Thanks.



Friday, November 10, 2006

To Him, Life is a Great Big Bang Up


Holy crap, there's a new Spiderman 3 trailer. And just like the trailers for previous Spiderman movies, it gives away the entire plot.

So here is my early review of Spiderman 3 (spoilers ahead!):

It was a very entertaining movie. There was more action than in the previous movies, which was good. Peter finally got some action himself with Mary Jane, on a giant web. Action is his reward, after all. Gwen Stacey also showed up, and he may have gotten a little on the side with her, but it really wasn't his fault, because he was possessed by an evil black goo from space. Still, this makes Peter pretty confused, especially after he realizes that Mary Jane would look better with blonde hair and Gwen Stacey would look better with red hair. If only he could invent a machine to combine them. Next movie maybe?

Now, in the comic books, I don't remember Sandman being the one who killed Peter's uncle. I bet this will piss a lot of people off. However, it does have a certain elegance to it, with the Green Goblin Harry Osborn revenge story coming to a climax in this sequel. Both Peter and Harry get to deal with revenge in different yet similar ways. It works out nicely.

And Venom (the combination of the evil black space goo and Topher Grace) is awesome, but is really only in the movie for a few minutes. This is probably good, or else the Spiderman series would fall into the Batman series' "too many villain" shittiness.

Overall, I really enjoyed Spiderman 3, and I look forward to seeing it.

Spiderman, Spiderman,
Does whatever a spider can,
Spins a web, any size,
Oh my God, he's eating flies!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Template


I had to change the look of the blog because I switched to Blogger's new beta site. I know it's much worse than the old one, but oh well. I'll fix it later. It needs to be much wider.

There's a picture of me here because I had to upload it to put in my profile over to the right. In it, I am sneering at someone. Don't fuck with me or I'll sneer at you next.



Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Growing Pains

No time. Gotta write a novel. My good friend, whose secret internet identity is, as of today, "M-one", also signed up for NaNoWriMo. That's awesome, because I think he has the ability to make a kickass story, and also because it'll motivate me to write more. It's sorta like competition now.

In other words news, I've converted to Christianity. Why? Bananas. It's so obvious. Click here to bask in the good news (with a little help from Kirk Cameron).

P.S. You know, Growing Pains really was a great show. Even watching old episodes now, it's still pretty funny. Remember the episode when Mike Seaver skipped school, and was completely shocked to find out that the world continues to operate even when he's not participating in it? That's deep stuff for a sitcom. God bless Alan Thicke.



Sunday, November 05, 2006

Remember Remember the Fifth of November

After being reminded by Shora and I Should Be Writing that this month is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I've gone and signed up to participate. That means I'm supposed to write a 50 000 word novel by the end of the month. You can keep track of my progress, and everyone else's, at the official web site.

I ain't never written a novel before. The longest thing I've written is my Masters thesis, which took just a bit longer than a month (um, 2 years), and was only 25 000 words. Keeping with the spontaneous spirit of the event, I decided not to waste one of my golden story ideas on something that will end up being crappy and rushed, so I just closed my eyes while I took a dump and waited for my brain to generate a novel (in both senses of the word) idea. What came was a jumble of westerns, a murder mystery, and squirrels. Hmmm...you know, brain, that doesn't sound all that good, but I'll write down what you tell me to and see what happens.

I started late (on the 5th of November...remember remember), so I'll have to write 2000 words or so a day. Yeah. Right. I'm destined to fail, but it's the participation that matters more than success. Maybe I'll work my way up to actually completing NaNoWriMo next year, but for now, I'll just give myself an A for effort.

You should write a novel too.



Thursday, November 02, 2006

South Park is God

I have nothing to say today, but everyone should watch the episode of South Park embedded below. It's pure genius. It combines everything from the Nintendo Wii to Richard Dawkins and intelligent design in classrooms. Awesome.



Saturday, October 28, 2006

Adventures in Caffeine


Have you heard of Coca Cola Blak? Coke advertises it as "Coke effervescence with coffee essence." I didn't know what the hell effervescence meant, so I looked it up. It's another word for fizzy. Thus, Blak is coffee dumped in fizzy Coke.

The other day, I went to buy a bottle of Diet Coke at Mac's, and the clerk told me that there was a deal on: Buy two Coke products, get a Blak for free. I can't pass up trying new stuff, especially for "free", so I went for it. The guy said that I'd hate him for pointing out the deal. "Because it's good and I'll spend too much money on it, or because it tastes horrible?" I asked. "The second one," he replied.

To my horror, though, it actually tasted pretty damn good to me. Since it's marketed as an "energy drink", the stuff costs $2.00 per (tiny half-sized) bottle. Fuck that shit. I immediately got to work on creating my own version of Blak, for a fraction of the price of the real stuff. After many weeks of effort, millions of research dollars, and much trial and error, here is the perfect recipe for pseudo-Blak that tastes just like The Real Thing©:

1. Take some Coke.
2. Take some coffee.
3. Mix them together.

You are so lucky I'm giving away this recipe for free. Here are some additional helpful hints: Don't add cream; aim for about 30-35% coffee in the mix; and drink it cold.

"ENJOY."

Edit: In a sizzling ball of syncronicity, just as I was writing this post, the following news story broke: DEEP FRIED COKE. I guess it really is possible to deep fry anything.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Video Games Make You Smart


I'll stick with posting about psychology, since school/work is all I've been doing lately.

I came across an article (Teasdale & Owen, 2000) which looked at trends in intelligence scores over the last few decades. As you may know, intelligence has been steadily going up over time. This study looked at a Danish population, to see if IQ is still going up. The graph above shows what they found. It's not going up as much as it used to, except visuo-spatial abilities (working with shapes in your head), which continue to increase.

Why is this? The researchers guess: "..it is tempting to speculate that [...] it has been growing exposure to video games and geometrically configured computer screens via operating systems, applications programs and the Internet, that have particularly accelerated the development of visuo-spatial abilities during the last decade."

So there you have it. Contrary to what some believe, video games are not responsible for the downfall of society; it's the opposite. Video games are making everybody smarter. Parents: start your kids off on the right foot. Get those toddlers playing Grand Theft Auto right away.

This also gives me an idea for my Ph.D. dissertation: "Does Playing Video Games All Day for a Year Make People Smarter? A Self-Administered Case Study. By Phronk."

Here's the full reference for the article I'm talking about:

Teasdale, T., & Owen, D. (2000). Forty-year secular trends in cognitive abilities. Intelligence, 28, 115 - 120.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Psychobabble


You know, there are a lot of interesting things in the field of psychology, but not a lot of people know about them. When most people think of psychology, they think of Sigmund Freud sitting behind a patient on a couch while they talk about their childhood, while he fills out a prescription for crazy pills. That has very little to do with real psychology.

I think one of the reasons that most people ignore psychology research is that we use stupid jargon for very simple things. This makes us feel smart, but just confuses everyone else.

As an example, here is a line from an article I came across, defining what a "home page" is:
A home page is an entry interface of hyperdocuments for presenting a Website's information to visitors, which is mostly concerned with human perception in terms of users’ comprehension and mental representation.
Seriously. I barely know what it's talkng about. How about this? "A home page is the first thing you see when you visit a web site." Much better.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hiro is the Hero of Heroes


I've been watching a few of the new shows that have been coming out this fall. I think the best by far is Heroes. It's about superheroes, but is more like Unbreakable than Spider-man, so it's much more subtle and adult than you might expect. The best part of the show is Hiro, a Japanese office worker who suddenly realizes he has powers. A lot of fiction in this genre says it's about "ordinary people with extraordinary powers", but Hiro actually fits this bill. Like, if I got super powers, I'd be like "HOLY SHIT I'VE GOT SUPER POWERS", go spy on naked women, try to teleport to Japan, make some money, and then save the world...which is pretty much what Hiro does. He got even awesomer after the last episode's revelation. The dude makes the show.

The show also has many other strong points. It contains a few of my favourite things:
So, you should watch it if you haven't already.

Also remember to watch Lost tonight. Wanna know if it's a repeat or not? Check IsLostaRepeat.com - the simplest, yet most useful, web site in the history of all the internets.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

El Chupacabra

Hey, look, the chupacabra - a mythical creature which sucks on goats - has been captured at last. Apparently it's a cat-dog-monkey-rat-kangaroo thing. Just watch the clip below. It's short.



I hope they catch Bigfoot next.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Snow

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think it's supposed to go from being a cool but sunny day, to a raging snow/hail storm, in a matter of minutes. In early October.

I think the planet is broken.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On Certainty

So hey, guess what! I forgot to tell you blog people about this when it happened, but a few weeks ago I officially became a published author. A research paper I wrote with two professors was accepted for publication in a psychology journal. Can I call myself an "author" because I published a research paper? Bah, whatever, I'll just add that title to myself anyway.

The paper was about a concept called uncertainty orientation. It's the idea that people differ in how they react to uncertainty. Some people (certainty oriented) avoid it at all costs, wiggling out of uncertain situations in whatever way they can. Others (uncertainty oriented people) approach uncertainty, determined to resolve it themselves. It's kinda interesting, and it's funny how after you study something like this for a few years, you start to see these differences in everyday life.

Speaking of which, here is something I wrote in a comment on another blog a while ago. The owner of the blog is most definitely certainty oriented. She is absolutely convinced that her beliefs are true, and avoids any uncertainty regarding them, no matter what. She asked, "what makes being 100% certain about something a bad thing?" I'll paste my reply below, just because I thought it had some pretty nice points in there and I want to show off:

Why is being 100% certain about something a bad thing?
It's not, unless you happen to be a human being. All humans are fallible, subject to biases in their thinking and errors in their reasoning.

If one does not recognize these fundamental features of being human, then they can make themselves 100% certain in something, but it is not 100% certain to be true. If human reasoning does not always lead to truth, then beliefs are never guaranteed to correspond with reality, no matter how strongly held they are.

The more realistic human will realize their fallible nature, and maintain a certain degree of uncertainty in their beliefs. I know you may see this as a flaw, but as I've said many times, it is actually a strength.

Here's why:


when you are comfortable being uncertain and you refuse to acknowledge other possibilities which would lead you to be certain that isn't a good thing.
I think it's actually the opposite. When you are 100% certain of something, there is no point in even considering another possibility - it can't possibly be true if you are already 100% certain. On the other hand, if you hold even a bit of uncertainty - just .0001% - then there is still a point in having curiosity about conflicting viewpoints. There is a reason to examine information about the world, which is constantly increasing in volume and leading to different conclusions than the information before it. This will allow beliefs to be modified if the evidence about true, absolute reality reaches the point where the previously strongly held (but not 100%) belief becomes unlikely to be true.

For example, people used to think the world was flat. All the evidence they were exposed to verified this. I mean, look out the window, it's friggin flat. Now let's say two people believe the world is flat, but one believes in flatness with 100% certainty, and the other believes with 99%.

A few years later, people begin to travel. They discover that they could actually travel past the "edge" of the world they thought they saw before. Philosophers posit that maybe the earth is curved. People on high mountains swear that they can see a slight curve on all horizons.

The dude who believes 100% that the earth is flat ignores this liberal crap. He's already rejected all possibilities except flatness, so why even bother listening to this new evidence? The 99% person is skeptical, but listens, just in case the new evidence can wedge into that 1% chance that she is wrong.

Eventually, space travel is invented. The 100% guy ends up living in a cabin in the woods eating worms and wearing a tin foil helmet because he believes the government is involved in a grand conspiracy to fake space travel and convince everyone the earth is round, to brainwash children with their evil round-earth agenda. The 99% girl, however, becomes 90% girl, then 50% girl, and eventually 1% girl, because the new evidence about reality becomes too strong to maintaing belief in a flat earth. She lives a normal, healthy life, and doesn't have to resort to ridiculous extremes to maintain the belief which was proven wrong.

I hope you realize that this has little to do with religion; little to do with atheism. It's about belief in general. I just want to convince [people] to reserve that .000000001% uncertainty, so that [they] are slightly open to other possbilities. Not to accept those possibilities, but just to listen to them. [...]

Unless you like worms.


Yup. There you go...now there's some philosophy on this blog (since I mention philosophy in the description to the right there). Enjoy (?).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Alan Parsons Loves Me

I've been away from the tubes of the internet lately. It's mostly because I've been busy with the usual school stuff, but also because the iPod has been fulfilling my technology addiction, thus replacing blogging.

I'm back now, though. You can thank Alan Parsons for that. For those who don't know, Parsons is a big shot music engineer, who worked on such kickass albums as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, The Beatles' Abbey Road, and I think he was tangentially related to The Alan Parsons Project. You see, I checked my email today, and it said that Alan Parsons wanted to add me to his Myspace friends. I recognized the name, and thought it was funny that someone would so blatantly name themselves after another person.

But no, BEHOLD: The real Alan Parsons wants to be my friend!

Finally, something mildly interesting to blog about. I realize that there are plenty of famous people on Myspace, and it's probably just their hired help doing this, using Myspace as a promotional tool, but it's still pretty fun that they sought me out, for whatever reason. Probably because The Crystal Method is also on my friends list there (I put them there), and Parsons is doing some project with TCM.

Speaking of which, I listened to them on my iPod just today. You can see this if you visit creepy stalker-friendly Last.fm, that lets you see everything I listen to. Small world. (?)

Ahh yes, the beauty of the internet, connecting everybody and everything.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Apple Cult

So yes, I got my iPod. That's why I haven't posted here in a few days. I've been fiddling with the iPod and my music collection the entire time. It's addictive trying to manage over 10 000 songs, getting the album art, release date, and genres correctly labeled on every one of them.

I'm happy with the iPod overall. One side effect of owning one now is that I've started to notice just how damn many other people own them. On my latest coffee run, I swear that more than half of the people I saw were wearing the iconic white earphones. It's amazing that one product can suddenly change the primary colour of earphones from black to white. Even more alarming is the sheer number of people with their ears plugged with music. It used to be just joggers and people on the bus listening to their Walkmans; now standing in line at Tim Horton's is an occasion for music. They should just start permanantly installing white earphones on babies when they first pop out of the womb. It'd save the hassle of messing with chords all the time.

Then there are crazy Apple people who only buy Apple products. I realized today that I'm 2/3 of the way there. I have an Apple laptop and an Apple MP3 player. The only major Apple category I'm missing is a desktop computer. I almost wish I could convert all the way, too, because the PC version of iTunes 7.0 is absolute shit. See? Apple has this magic cult power over people, to make them want to buy one of their computers because they screwed up the software on the PC. Yeah, reward them for screwing up. That makes sense.

Ah well, enough about iPods. It's all I've been writing about lately. I'll think of more interesting stuff to type later. Maybe.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

iPoo


I did it. I ordered an iPod. I just did it yesterday, figuring I'd have a few days before it shipped in case I wanted to change my mind and cancel the order, but no; it shipped this morning. This is the first time I've put something on my credit card without having enough money to pay it off immediately. Stupid me. Soon I'll be on that crappy "Till Debt Do Us Part" show, being yelled at by that lady with the weird accent, telling me how to avoid becoming homeless.

At least my week-long obsession with iPods is now over. I can quit laying awake at night as I waffle between buying it or not buying it, black or white, and what I should engrave on it. It's pathetic, really. Of course, now I'm obsessed with reloading the tracking information. It just left Shanghai. [Insert racist joke about my iPod being Chinese].

As you can see, I have nothing interesting to say. Move along.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Triumph of the Rossi Possi


I'm quite chuffed with the fact that Lukas Rossi won Rockstar: Supernova. He's been consistently great from the beginning. I guess being Canadian helps too, tapping into that tiny bit of national pride in me. That's two Canadians to win Rockstar in a row, proving beyond a doubt that Canada is full of people who don't give a shit 'bout no one and will rock your fucking face off.

One thing Canadians can't do, apparently, is competently manage a TV station. Global TV, whichs show Rockstar here in Ontario, screwed up big time by starting the show an hour late. They let it play for about half an hour, then suddenly flashed forward to the live show, skipping an hour of the most important part of the show. Oops. Well, at least we got the "reality episodes" on TV while the rest of the world had to watch them on the web.

But anyway, I look forward to Supernova's music. Lukas has enough personality and a unique enough voice to make a good frontman, and with the previous experience of the other three, the band is sure to be at least a moderate success. Dilana will probably put out some cool solo stuff too. I can't wait for next season. What I'd like to see is the House Band searching for their own singer and launching a career. Those guys are friggin' awesome at what they do. Probably as good if not better than the bands which have been the focus of the show.

On a completely seperate note, I'm still deciding on the iPod. Microsoft's Zune is rumoured to be coming out today, so I guess I'll wait and see if that's any good. I doubt it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Fruit of the Tree of Music

I feel like the biblical Eve. Except I have a penis, and the Apple I'm tempted by is a large corporation rather than a fruit, and the devil's name is Steve Jobs.

Get it? I compared being tempted to buy an iPod with the story of Eve. See what I did there? It's very clever.

Anyway, stupid Apple released new iPods yesterday. I don't need a new mp3 player, but my old iRiver is getting a little outdated. For one thing, I've run out of room on it. I've got a shitload of CDs, and it would be nice if they all fit on one portable device rather than only 250 CDs at a time. The new 80GB iPod would hold them all nicely. Plus iPods do all that fancy but unnecessary stuff like showing album art, playing videos, and keeping track of what you listen to.

Plus, you know, I need something to entertain me at the gym, because I'm all trying to lose weight now. I'd work out so much more if I had a brand new iPod to keep me company. It's for my health, right? And the fact that I literally have 50 bucks in my bank account? Well, I've got a credit card, and I'll easily be able to pay it back in the future. Like, in 4 to 8 years, when I'm done school and have a real job. Four hundred dollars will be nothing to me then.

Oh dear blogfriends and real life friends reading this, should I do it? Should I buy an iPod, or is it obvious that I'm just needlessly addicted to technology and making excuses to spend money I don't have on things I don't need?

And if I do get one, what should I engrave on the back (it's free)? I was thinking something nice, simple, and inoffensive, like "Tom Cruise is a couch humping homo", but alas:



All the other good ideas have already been done too:






Sunday, September 10, 2006

Book Review: Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

Just finished reading Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. Most people know him as the guy who wrote Fight Club. Invisible Monsters is so full of twists and turns that I feel that I'd give important plot points away with even a brief summary of the book. But basically, it's about a fashion model who gets her jaw blown off, and ends up going on a physical and psychological journey with some, um, interesting characters.

The style of this book sets it apart from most others. It's written like a fashion magazine; that is, it uses too many adjectives, the paragraphs are short, and it jumps around from topic to topic so that you feel like you're never getting the whole story at one time. I actually found that this made it more enjoyable to read, rather than less, though perhaps that just says something about my attention span.

The content is loud, shocking, hilarious, and campy. Easily disturbed or easily disgusted people will probably want to avoid this (though if you really wanna throw up in your mouth while reading, check out his short story Guts (click to read the whole story)). The themes running through Invisible Monsters will be familiar to anyone who's read Palahniuk's other novels, or seen Fight Club.

I've heard rumours that Invisible Monsters was being worked on as a movie. I find it hard to picture this as a movie, though. Without giving much away, let's just say it would have to employ some "unique" actors and/or actresses. I enjoyed the book from start to finish, though, so I'd recommend it to anyone with a strong stomach looking for a fun read.


Friday, September 08, 2006

The Neighbours (Part 2)

I've written before about how the people who live around here, and their kids, have problems. It has not gotten any better since then.

Here are some of the charming things they have done lately:

  • Left various toys in the parking lot (their primary playground). Since it's a parking lot, cars tend to, you know, park there, so when they pull in or out, they either run over the toys or the driver is forced to get out and move them. I've witnessed parents' vans running right into their kids' bikes, but they casually move them aside, and the bike is back in the same place a few hours later.
  • Destroyed cars. V and I saw two kids stomping on a car the other day. The metal on the front of the car was literally bouncing in and out. When that was dented enough for them, they got right up on top of the car and started bouncing up and down there. Getting bored with that, they moved to the car beside it and proceeded to tear the license plate off, then throw it into the bushes. Another time, a baby was given the keys to her family's van. She tried to open the door, but babies ain't so good with the hand-eye coordination, so she missed the keyhole and scratched up the car door instead. All this has made me extremely paranoid about our own car, so I compulsively check out the window whenever there's the smallest noise. The paranoia is somewhat justified though, since there is a big scratch on our car, and it doesn't look anything like usual mall-parking-lot scratches (i.e. the person beside you slams their car's door into yours, or bumps it when they pull out).
  • A few days ago, I was doing one of these checks out the window, and there was a baby (an even younger one...this one in diapers and unable to walk) on our front lawn. Alone. Furthermore, it was chewing on a piece of garbage that had been left on our lawn a few days ago by some other kid. But hey, I'm no parent, maybe that's good for babies, so I just closed the curtains. (Note: I'm sure there was a parent nearby but out of my sight. They're not that bad. I hope.)
  • Playing soccer and hockey in the parking lot are favourite past times of the neighbours. Not an empty parking lot, no, because you need cars to use as goal posts. Little smart cars that belong to the strangers whose front lawn you're sitting in are perfect.
  • Combining parking lot sports with doing weird stuff with babies, the other day I saw one of the parents join their kids in a hockey game. On roller blades. With a baby strapped to his back. OK, let's say he's really coordinated, so he won't fall on his back and squish the baby. Let's say the kids he's playing with are also coordinated enough to avoid slashing the baby with their sticks. Hockey still requires a lot of quick movements and turning, which causes the baby in its little harness thing to shake back and forth violently, hitting its head on the sides of the harness. The weirdest thing? Apparently, the guy is a doctor.


We've seriously considered calling someone. The police or child protection or whatever. But these are supposedly smart adults, and like I said, we don't have kids, so who are we to judge them? I'll tell the kids to stop touching our car (or taking apart our fence, as the case may be), but when it comes to their kids' lives apart from us, I'll let the community of parents deal with them. I know they are all nice, good people when you actually talk to them; but I have this theory that when people have kids, they immediately become mildly retarded. Suddenly, their kids' happiness is all that matters, and things like personal property and respect for neighbours take a back seat.

I sound like a grumpy old man I guess. Whatever. Lots of crappy stuff is happening lately so I guess I felt like venting.

Incidentally, if I ever had a metal band, I think I'd call it Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Monday, September 04, 2006

It Sucks That Steve Irwin is Dead

I can't believe Steve Irwin died this morning. He's one of those people who I wish I could be if I wasn't such a pussy. He also seemed like such a genuinely good guy, helping wildlife in his home country and entertaining people by being goofy on TV. This sucks ass.

You could say you saw this coming, but you'd be wrong. What you saw coming was Steve being mauled by a crocodile, or poisoned by a snake, or disemboweled by a velociraptor. But stabbed in the heart by a stingray? You didn't see that coming. Stingrays are harmless. I've swam with stingrays. Hundreds of people swim with them every day, and none have been killed since 1945 (in Australia at least, according to this). If you saw this coming, go out and buy a lottery ticket, because hey, maybe you can see the winning numbers coming too.

Another sad thing about this, which says something about the culture I've grown up in, is that one of the first thoughts that went through my head after hearing he had died while filming a documentary was "I wonder if it was caught on film?"

Also somewhat strange is that fact that Animal Planet is already planning to name a garden after Steve, and also start a charity in his name. You can find this at his Wikipedia entry, which is fully updated regarding his death and the reaction to it. And he died this morning. I'm not saying it's bad, but it just seems weird to me that information can travel so quickly, and decisions can be made so fast, about an event that happened in an Australian ocean less than 24 hours ago.

Incidentally, yes, it was caught on tape. Not that it should matter.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Food Logic Volume 2: Peanut Butter Coffee

Premise 1: Peanut butter tastes good with chocolate.
Premise 2: Chocolate tastes good with coffee.

Conclusion: Peanut butter tastes good with coffee.

I put my logic to the test this morning. Here is the recipe: 1 mug of coffee, 1 pack of sweetener (no sugar, thanks, I'm on a diet), and 1 tablespoon of smooth peanut butter. Scoop peanut butter into mug, add cream and sweetener, then slowly stir in boiling hot coffee. Warning: using chunky peanut butter may result in injury.

How did it taste? This may seem surprising, but it was actually very good. The PB gave the coffee a mild nutty flavour, and also made it a bit creamier, presumably due to the "butter" part.

I'm surprised nobody has thought of this before (and they haven't; I searched Google for peanut butter coffee and found nothing). There is hazelnut coffee (mmmmm) and almond coffee (mmmmm), so what's so gross about peanut coffee? Nothing. Mmmmm! And butter? There's already butter caramel coffee at Tim Horton's. I'm just putting all this deliciousness together for the benefit of mankind. You'll see; Starbucks will see this blog and copy my idea, and soon there will be peanut butter coffee wherever there are pretentious people willing to pay too much for it (me included).

One disclaimer, though. When you get to the bottom of the mug, there is a thick sludge of PB that didn't want to dissolve. It feels like drinking warm snot. So, uh, there might be a few bugs to work out. But hey, the first 90% of the cup? Delicious! Try it!

See also: Shrimp + Chocolate = Yum


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Blogger Sucks Volume 2

Thanks Sachz for explaining what's going on with Blogger. I tried out the new Blogger beta with a new blog, and it sorta sucked. There are some nice ideas in there (e.g., I've been waiting for a way to categorize posts for years), but none of them actually worked. It gave me error messages whenever I tried to do anything. Better luck next time, Blogger.

I tried Wordpress, and it seems pretty awesome as far as blogging tools go. I just can't bring myself to switch everything there, though. I have an irrational attachment to Google-owned products. I guess it's because they're working on services that do everything that computers can possibly do, and I'm hoping that one day they'll all work nicely together. Like maybe I can write a document in Writely, which will automatically post to Blogger, while simultaneously marking when I posted something in my Google Calendar, and keep track of the dates and number of posts, comments, and visitors in a Google Spreadsheet, then email any comments on the post to Gmail. Oh, and all these files could be saved on some sort of online Google Web Storage which I'm sure they're working on (although others are already hacking a way to do it).

Ideally, this would also all sync up with with non-internet software on my Mac too. But maybe that's asking for too much. Still, I'm betting that one day all software will be internet based and will work together like this. The technology is there; companies just need to cooperate and get it polished enough to be useful.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Blogger Sucks

Yesterday I went to change the template for this blog, and got an error message. No big deal, I'll do it later. Then I came back today, and the entire template was gone.

So, I had to redo a lot of it. It looks OK now but there might be problems since I don't really know what I'm doing.

Be sure to back up your templates, people with blogs. Anyone know what's with Blogger lately? Buttons are starting to look different, plus it's screwing up all the time. Weird.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dr. Phronk's Weight Loss Challenge

I'm back. One thing I've recently discovered is that writing on this blog is not a hobby, but rather, a procrastination technique. This is demonstrated by the fact that I only blog when I have other, more productive, things to do, and neglect the blog when I'm sitting on my ass all day.

Which brings me to the main topic today: I'm a lazy fat fuck and I need to lose weight. To the right is a photograph of me at the amusement park yesterday. As you can see, lots of bad food has driven itself into my ass on an insane clown-faced train. Or maybe I've just been forgetting to eat healthy. In any case, I am 20 pounds heavier than I was a few months ago.

Twenty pounds. That's, like, more than the weight of my dog. The me of three months ago could eat my dog whole and be lighter than the me of today.

I don't want to be one of those people who gets chubbier and unhealthier as they get older, because really, I like life, and I want to live as long as humanly possible (if not forever). So that's it, I'm losing this dog-load of weight by going on Weight Watchers. Not real Weight Watchers, mind you, but I'll use their secret forumla to calculate points (calories/50 + fat/12 - fibre/4 [maximum of 1]) and try to stay under my point allowance (about 22/day with 30 extra per week). I even have a nice spreadsheet made to keep track.

I'm only writing about this because it's supposed to be easier to lose weight if you make a public commitment or something. At least that's what it said in the magazine I read while taking a shit in my mom's bathroom. So this is now a boring weight-loss blog that nobody will read. Sorry.

I currently weigh 160 pounds. I know I know, I shouldn't even be complaining, but I'm short and it's more than I should weigh. My goal is 140 pounds. I started my pseudo-diet on Monday. I'll keep you updated on the results.

Update (Aug 31): The formula was wrong before. It's calories/50, not /100. Thanks Jason.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Starfucks

starbucks escher


Here is an interesting article I read recently: Product Sabotage helps consumers. The title is a bit misleading; this "product sabotage" doesn't really help any consumers.

They use Starbucks (mmmm, Starbucks) as an example of what they mean. If you go to Starbucks, there are a lot of things that you can buy that are not on the menu. For example, a "short" cappucino is a tiny little cheap drink. A lot of people would probably only want this Tim Horton's-sized inexpensive drink rather than a larger one, but they don't know it exists, so they buy a bigger one. The small one is still available though, for the people who know about it and buy it because they can't afford the big drinks.

The idea is that people who can afford more expensive items buy them, and the poor bastards who can't will still shop at Starbucks because they're motivated to seek out the poorly advertised deals. So Starbucks gets both of their business.

I don't think this idea is inherently unethical on the surface. People who put the work in to find "deals" will get cheaper drinks. Good for them. The rich people can buy expensive drinks and the poor people can still enjoy the cheap drinks. I fall into the latter category, so I already knew about the Short size (but I don't buy that shit...I need more coffee than that to function normally). Rich people pay the normal price, and poor people can get a discount.

At least, it doesn't seem unethical when you say it that way. But what if you say it this way: Poor people pay the normal price. Rich people get tricked into only ordering off the menu and paying an inflated price.

This is called "framing" in psychology. There are different ways of saying the same thing that will differ in how they are percieved. Another example is getting a 5% discount when paying for something with cash (vs. credit card) at a store. Yay? But what if, at another store, you are charged a 5% fee to use a credit card? It's two ways of saying the same thing, but you'd probably be happier shopping at the former store than the latter (no matter how you're paying).

I guess my point is that you gotta think carefully about "deals", because they can be framed in two ways: paying less for the deal, or paying more for the non-deal. Corporations are intentionally exploiting these quirks in the English language and human reasoning to trick us into buying things for more than we have to. In other words, don't let the man fuck with your mind, man.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Music and Camping

Hello. I am back. I went camping. Here are some observations:
  • How do forest fires start when it's so damn hard just to keep chunks of dry wood burning?
  • Apparently, if you leave garbage out overnight while camping, animals actually will find your campsite and rip it open. It's not a myth.
  • Real snakes are less exciting than the kind that hang out on aero-planes in movies. Yes, I did see Snakes on a Plane, and it fulfilled my unreasonably high expectations. It was enhanced by the fact that I saw it at 10:30pm, when only other hardcore moviegoers were in the theatre. Their fits of inappropriate laughter and random comments (e.g. screaming "SNAKES!" in response to questions from characters in the movie) made it even funner than it would have been otherwise.
  • I like how music - even crappy music - sounds better after you've gone several days without hearing any music whatsoever.

Speaking of music, I've tried putting a new thing in the sidebar there that shows what music I am currently listening to, and/or the last few songs I've listened to. This is from Last.fm, which used to be kinda lame but is now pretty damn cool. It keeps track of what you listen to and can create radio stations for you, or show you people who listen to similar music, and stuff like that.

Here is what the sidebar thing looks like, except more fancy:



Oooo, it worked. Neat. You can even click on it for more info. Now I can pretend that people actually care about what music I'm listening to.


P.S. I hope you realized that the dude pictured in that last post isn't actually me. Look at those glasses. They're huge. I wouldn't wear those.



phronko's Profile Page

Friday, August 18, 2006

Blinded With Science

Here is a test of your intelligence:

He-Man and Friends are to the Universe as Phronk is to __________ ?

That's right, I'm a MASTER OF SCIENCE, fuckers.

Now I will leave civilization for a few days. Bye.


P.S. This is a picture of me graduating


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'm Obsessed

OK this is the last Snakes on a Plane post for a while...I promise. But you blog reader people need to see this clip from The Daily Show if you haven't already. It's Sam Jackson talking about SoaP. I just love how much fun he seems to have had making the movie, and how nobody seems to take it seriously, which is what makes the whole phenomenon awesome.



Tomorrow will go down in history for two reasons: 1) Phronk will become a MASTER OF SCIENCE; and 2) Snakes on a Plane will be released upon the world at midnight. Yes. YES.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Breaking News: Snakes Poop

In a follow up to yesterday's post, I came across a news story today with a startling revelation: sometimes, snakes poo.

As you'll see if you click, the story is literally just a few words long. It can be summarized as "Snakes poo a lot. Go see Snakes on a Plane!"

Perhaps the marketing for this movie is going a little overboard? Naaaah.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mother Fucking Snakes on a Mother Fucking Plane

I got a phonecall from Samuel L. Jackson the other day. A friend of mine, who I will call Nick, actually got Sam Jackson to call with his special knowledge of the inter-net. Click here, motherfucker, if you want to get a call from him yourself, or send one to your special someone. I sent one to V, and despite Sam's insistence, she still doesn't want to see the movie (OMG IN ONLY 4 DAYS WTFOMG!!!!1!!). Even if you have no friends, it's still fun to play with this thing and hear all the things you can make Sam say. I like how he sounds as if he's so angry that he's fighting the urge to slip a "motherfucker" somewhere in there.

I just noticed that the movie is directed by David Ellis - the same guy who did Final Destination 2 and Cellular. Both were great movies in an over-the-top sort of way, so my confidence in SOAP (haha...soap) is greater than ever.

Four days, motherfuckers.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Horror of Horrors

Here are some things which I have seen, read, and played lately, and the eerie connections between them:
  • White Zombie (1932): This film is believed by many to be the first to ever deal with zombies. I find it a bit difficult to watch movies this old. Today, the acting seems cheesey, the plot slow-moving, and the special effects terrible. There is no blood or gore. Still, it was neat to see where movie zombies started. Back then, zombies were just mindless drones under the control of a magician, doing menial tasks like carrying stuff around and working in a factory. Far from (and I think far less interesting than) today's Romero-inspired flesh-eating brain-chomping undead. They're even starting to run instead of shuffle in today's movies. Yup, zombies have come a long way. I'm proud of the little buggers.

  • Rob Zombie - Educated Horses: This is the newest album from Rob Zombie, former frontman of White Zombie, the band who drew its name from the movie above. I've only listened to it once, but it seems good so far. Pretty similar to his previous two albums, which I must admit, are some of my most listened-to.

  • Dead Rising (Xbox 360): Still on the zombie theme, this is a game which was clearly inspired by George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. There's even a sticker on the cover saying "this game is not endorsed by the creators of Dawn of the Dead." In other words, "we totally ripped off the premise of this game, but we didn't get permission." You couldn't ask for a better premise for a game, though - you're a dude stuck in a mall full of zombies, and you have to survive for three days waiting for a helicopter to show up. It's quite awesome. As you can see on my Xbox's blog, I've been playing way too much of it.

  • Beyond Re-Animator: This is the third movie in the Re-Animator series, originally based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft. Like the second movie, this one puts a loose plot in as an excuse to show what creative and gory things can happen when a crazy scientist (Herbert West, played by the best actor of all time, Jeffrey Combs) invents a liquid that can bring living things back to life. So it's sort of a zombie movie, but not like any other zombie movie you've seen. I would say it is definitely worth seeing, if you're into that sort of thing. The best scene happens during the end credits. I won't give it away, but let's just say it involves a severed penis doing things that a severed penis does not normally do. The second best part is the horrible acting, which I really hope is intentionally terrible.

  • H.P. Lovecraft - At the Mountains of Madness: Continuing with the connections between everything I am absorbing lately, I'm also reading this book by the author who inspired the movie above. It's a story of an expedition in the far North, where researchers find evidence of ancient horrible things in the mountains. I've heard that this will be made into a movie sometime soon. Lovecraft has a unique style which takes getting used to. It can seem quite slow, as he goes into minute detail about everything. Well, everything except characters, who he describes only by their name. There isn't even any dialogue. Personally it's a refreshing change to see a world imagined in such detail, and the impersonal tone of it only adds to the isolated atmosphere of the novel. I'm certainly going to read more of Lovecraft after this one.

    You can find the book above, as well as many other Lovecraft books, online here. I don't know how it's legal...maybe because they're so old. I love free stuff. Thanks to Dr. Zombie for the link.

So there you go...everything I do is unintentionally connected through zombies and H. P. Lovecraft. I don't really know why I'm blogging about this. I guess I just thought it was kind of weird. Move along now.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Everyday Mistakes

If there's one thing I strive to do on this here blog, it's to educate people about the English language. I'm not picky about proper spelling and grammar myself, usualy, but there are certain common mistakes that bug me.

One of those things is squishing two words together when they should remain two words. An example of this I have seen a lot of recently is "everyday". Now before you start yelling at your screen, I realize that "everday" is a real word. However, "everday" is an adjective used to describe a noun. It is not an adverb used to describe the frequency with which an action occurs. So you use "everday" to describe things. "Every day", on the other hand, is used to describe actions.

It is correct to say "everyday people", or "dwarf tossing is an everyday occurrence in Canada". It is not correct to say "I toss dwarves everyday", or "some people shower almost everyday".

A tricky example is a sign in front of a restaurant saying something like "hamburgers, $1.99, everyday". I think this is wrong too, because it implies that hamburgers are that price every day. "Everyday" does not describe the price itself, but the state of the burgers being that price. Although I can't judge the store's sign manager's intentions, I think the lack of grammatical sensitivity is clear enough that they will be destroyed in the upcoming grammar apocalypse.

Now go think of some examples of correct usages of "everday" and "every day", and get back to me tomorrow. This will count toward your final grade.

P.S. Anyone who tells me why the album cover above is there will get a fake internet cookie!

The_More_You_Know



Thursday, August 10, 2006

T.U.R.T.L.E. Power

tmnt-20060727021737344


Hell yeah. This new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie looks kickass.

I think you can tell a lot about a person and the progression of their life by what Ninja Turtle is their favourite at any given time. When I was very young, I used to be a Michelangelo fan. He was borderline retarded, but liked pizza and provided comic relief. At this point in my life, I hated Raphael. I used to draw detailed pictures of Raphael stabbing himself in the head with one of his sai. However, as I grew older and more angsty, Raphael's angry, sarcastic, anti-hero ways grew on me until he had become my favourite.

Unfortunately, I have lost touch with the Ninja Turtle universe since my Raphael stage. However, if I was still into them, I bet Donatello would be up there. While I still dig Raphael's rebelliousness, Donatello is the nerd of the group (he "does machines", as the unabashed theme song says), and as anybody reading this knows, I am pure nerd.

Oh and Leonardo? He's the obligatory but boring leader with all the responsibility. Meh. Maybe I'll be into him when I'm an old man with grandchildren, who will probably still watch the show and love it when Michelangelo eats the futurey genetically modified pizza and reads comics on his 20th generation iPod.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Thesis

Have you ever noticed that you can rearrange the letters in "thesis" to spell the word "shites"? That's Scottish for shit or something. Quite the coincidence. Quite.

Anyway, I'm finally done writing my thesis. Here is a picture of a vampire, because it came up when I searched Google Images for "thesis." Maybe somebody out there did their thesis on vampires, which would make me quite jealous, because my thesis is actually not about vampires.

I might as well tell you guys what it is about. Bascially, I studied the relationships between three things: Creativity, Intelligence, and Intuition.

When you hear highly creative people, such as novelists and physicists, talk about the source of their creativity, they often speak of intuition. Their ideas seem to come out of nowhere. They reach their conclusions with little or no conscious, deliberate effort - which is the conception of intuition that I adopted. Past empirical research (though very little had been done) backed this up by finding a relationship between creativity and intuition.

We also know, however, that intelligence plays some role in creativity. Going back to highly creative people, they talk about exploring and refining their ideas after intuitively generating them. This requires conscious, deliberate effort, and the ability to solve problems, make good choices, and consciously manipulate information. Things that highly intelligent people tend to be good at.

Intuition_razor-thumb
So I figure that intuition generates potentially creative ideas, and intelligence manipulates them into truly creative ideas. If you measure someone's level of intuition, and their level of intelligence, you should be able to predict their level of creativity with some accuracy. This is not an entirely novel hypothesis, but as far as I can tell, it had never been tested scientifically before.

So what did I find? Well, not so much what I expected. There was some support for the idea above, but not as much as I would have hoped for. However, what I did find is that you can predict someone's intelligence from their creativity and intuition. Nobody had really thought of that before. Going back in the literature, though, it makes some amount of sense; people who are flexible and able to evaluate the appropriateness of ideas (i.e. creative), as well as able to quickly come to conclusions without slow conscious deliberation (i.e. intuitive) should do well on IQ tests.

This relationship between creativity, intelligence, and intuition, though not exactly what I expected, is pretty neat. Perhaps a practical application that you, dear readers, can put to use is this: Don't be afraid to be different, and don't be afraid to rely on your gut feelings. At least to a certain extent, being both creative and intuitive can be the best way to make intelligent decisions.

I am simplifying things here; intuition, especially, is a tricky concept that needs more room to fully explore. A full description of the research would take, oh, about 100 pages containing 25 000 words. But there ya go...that's what's been occupying my life for the last 2 years or so. In two weeks I do my oral defense (hahahahahah "oral"), then become a MASTER OF SCIENCE. Muahahahahahahhahahah