Tuesday, January 31, 2006

In The News

There are two news stories I wish to discuss today.

First, the controversy over James Frey's book "A Million Little Pieces". Apparently it's not a true story, despite being classified as non-fiction. This pissed off Oprah and lots of other people.

OK, I understand that it sucks to be fooled. Reading a book that you think is a true story adds something to the enjoyment of it, and finding out it's mostly fiction would take it down a notch. However, does it really matter all that much? Almost nobody who reads the book will ever meet Frey or be affected by his real life. They're just reading the book to be entertained for a few hours. So does it matter if what they're reading actually happened or not? The words on the page are the same as they always were...but is the book now less enjoyable?

And hey, here's another hypothetical question for ya...if it came out that one of Oprah's fictional books was actually a true story of the author's life, would she still be pissed off because she was betrayed and fooled into thinking it was fake? (assuming we're not talking about Lord of the Rings here).

Furthermore, is real non-fiction even possible? Even if Frey were trying his best to write down an accurate description of his life, the nature of human memory would require him to make up a lot of details. Especially if it was during a stressful or drug-addled time of his life. The overall picture would be true - i.e. "I did lots of drugs and it sucked" - but the details - i.e. "I met Bob on Monday morning at 8:00. He was wearing a yellow tie, and told me that there was some shit in my teeth" - would necessarily be fiction. So is it at all surprising that much of the book isn't true? It couldn't be true if he tried.

The second story is about some kids who were street racing, and crashed, killing a man. A copy of the game "Need for Speed" was found in the front seat of one of the cars.

First: I doubt that "Need for Speed" was found in the car. That game is over 10 years old...the kids were probably fetuses when it came out. The news stories are probably thinking of "Need for Speed Most Wanted", a much more recent entry in the series. It's hard to believe anything in the news when they can't even get a simple title right.

Second: The obvious implication is that the game was to blame for the kids street racing. But hey, here's an idea...maybe they bought a game about street racing because they like street racing. Saying the game caused the interest in racing is like finding books about elephantitis of the balls in my house, then saying "well, he was reading books about elephantitis...so the books must have caused his balls to grow to massive proportions." Sorta. And hey, here's another idea...maybe something else caused both an interest in street racing and in video games...like, say, shitty rich-ass parents who spoil their kids by giving them their Mercedes and money for video games, instead of teaching them not to kill people.

But it is possible that the game had an influence on the kids. Surely what we watch and do affects how we act, to an extent. So maybe the game should replace good parenting with a prominant warning against street racing, every time you play the game. Oh wait...it already does. And it's done by an extremely hot chick, so you'll pay attention. What the hell more could you want?

This is a clear case where video games were not to blame for a horrible accident. If blame needs to be handed out, it should go to the kids themselves. If that doesn't satisfy the need to blame everything on something, then blame the parents. Blaming the game is easy, but will only divert attention from the real, tougher issues.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Scientology Sucks Ass

I just saw the episode of South Park which makes fun of Scientology and Tom Cruise. Funny stuff. You can see the full episode here. Apparently it's not piracy because the creators don't care when people download South Park off the internet. Whatever.

In the episode, Stan takes a "free personality test" and learns that he's depressed. He then gets involved in the "Church" of Scientology, where he learns about their beliefs that an evil alien ruler put brainwashed alien souls in every human, which cause all of our problems. Text on the screen said "Scientologists actually believe this".

This inspired me to learn more about Scientology, so I searched the internet for it. I came upon their official site...what better place to go for information than that? Then I saw that I could actually take the free personality test online. Sweet! I started filling it out, but realized that it was hundreds of questions long. So I just put "neither agree nor disagree" for every single question instead. I also noticed that many of the questions in the show are actually on the test. Heheh. My results? I'm way below normal in all but two aspects my personality. Wow...so....without even providing any actual information on any items of the questionnaire, the baseline is to be completely inadequate. I guess that means that any average person is completely screwed up and needs Scientology to cure them.

Oh, and of course, the test doesn't tell you any detail about your personality results...just that you're screwed up. To get more detail, you gotta go to your local church of Scientology (easy to find, since they get your personal information right off the bat to refer you to the nearest church). I also looked for a reference to a published article describing how this test was validated, you know, scientifically, but I guess they forgot to include that. Further research on Scientology found a lot more hilarious and cheesey science fiction (apparently humans evolved from clams), but strangely, nothing at all related to science.

Other funny things about the South Park epsiode are that Tom Cruise didn't like it, and managed to keep it from airing in the UK. What a crazy, glib asshole. Also, Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, didn't appear in the episode because he's a Scientologist.

In conclusion, Scientology appears to be an insane cult based on the hilarious work of a science fiction author (summary of one of his books: "the epic tale of Jonnie Goodboy Tyler’s struggle to free mankind from alien Psychlos and so restore world peace" ... Jonnie Goodboy?!). It has nothing to do with science, and is probably even crazier than other religions.

P.S. I've come up with a great idea for a web site. It'll be kinda like Smash My iPod, where I take donations. Except instead of collecting $400 to smash an iPod, I'll collect $400 000 to join the church of Scientology and ascend to their highest ranks. Apparently that is how much it costs to save your soul from the evil alien Lord Xenu. When I get to the top, I'll smash all their fake technology, say "ha, I never believed any of this", then run away and write a book publishing all of their "secrets". I'll do all this with a fake name, and switch faces with someone else (like Scientologist John Travolta did in Face/Off), so they can't track me down and sue me. I'm taking donations now. It will only take 400 people donating $1000 each to pull this off, so send a thousand or two bucks today and we'll get there in no time!

P.P.S. Is believing that our souls came from an enslaved alien race any crazier than believing that they came from a magic dude in the sky and his bearded son? Discuss.

29369752_F_tn



Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Second Politics Post

So, Canada has a new government. I'm really not into politics, but it was an interesting election.

Here is a picture of the new president prime minister, being even more creepy than he normally is by standing in front of a giant picture of his own creepy eyes. Creepy.

I don't disagree with everything the Conservatives stand for. Some of their platform seems perfectly reasonable. Maybe, in some areas, they'll be better for Canada than the Liberals or NDP or Green would be (to me, it seems way too simplistic to categorize a set of unrelated beliefs into "left" or "right"). However, there's one thing that keeps me from ever supporting them in any way: they're against gay marriage and abortion.

How can a group of people too old fashioned/religious/retarded to support gay marriage and abortion be expected to run a country? It boggles my mind that any individual could hold such views, but when the political party who rules the country has them, that's a huge problem.

Thus, I declare Canada completely ruined.

Bummer.

tab


Thanks to my old friend Michael (no relation) for this comic.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Flock and Pictures



Ok this is kinda cool. You can just drag and drop pictures, then type stuff, and Flock will make a blog post for you. I don't even know where the hell it's storing these pictures. Weird.

Well, here's a picture of a pink smart car! I want one.



Flock

I got this new web browser called Flock. It's pretty cool....lets you blog right from the browser, along with integration with Flickr and del.icio.us and other things. It also fixes two things which have pissed me off about bookmarking: it lets you store them online, so you can get to your bookmarks from any computer, and it also lets you add tags to bookmarks (vs. categories). Tags are the way of the future, as demonstrated by Gmail. This makes bookmarks much easier to organize.

I'm posting from Flock right now and everything is underlined...not sure why. Let's see what this ends up looking like.

technorati tags: ,



Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Movies and Space Robots

I bought this PC game called The Movies the other night. It was on sale at Futureshop, so I thought, what harm can it do?

Well the stupid game is so damn addictive that I can't stop playing it. The basic premise is that you're the head of a movie studio who's in complete control. So you choose the actors you want in your movies, take care of them, decide the layout of the studio, what buildings and sets to spend money on, etc etc. All this is a pretty standard "tycoon" type game. The best part, though, is that you can actually make your own movies.

Although you don't have complete freedom over what goes into the movie, it is a pretty flexible system that allows pretty good movies to be made in a short amount of time.

My first movie which I produced from scratch is called Space Robot From Space. It is a touching art-house film about a lonely man's search for artificial life in space. Click here or on the picture to view this masterpiece. NOTE: Mac users might have to click on "download this movie" to view it.

Stay tuned for more blockbusters in the future.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Retrievr Exposes Bruce Lee's True Nature

I found this kickass thing called Retrievr. It allows you to sketch something, and then it will search Flickr (a photo organization/sharing service...all the pictures on this site are actually linked from my Flickr account) for a photo that looks something like your sketch. It's lots of fun to play with...I've already spent way too much time screwing around with it today.

I tried a few experiments with it. Obviously my first instinct was to sketch Bruce Lee and see if it could find a picture of Bruce Lee. So I did:

Bruce Lee


And got this picture of a really fat sheep back:



It looks sorta like Bruce Lee I guess.

OK so it's not exactly useful as a search tool for pictures. But in addition to being fun, it can help find photos that match a certain colour scheme, if that was ever needed. I think it'd be cool to search for photos that were all, say, yellow and blue, then print them out and cover an entire wall of your house with the yellow and blue pictures. It'd be like paint...except with photographs.

I'd try this if it wouldn't cost a few hundred dollars worth of printer ink.

The Power of the Mind

I have two fun things to share today, both dealing with the power of the human mind (which is sort of what I study). First, a site which dramatically demonstrates the blind spot we all have on each eye, and what our mind does to fill it in so we don't constantly see a gaping hole in the world. Click here to see it. Be sure to go past the first page...it gets better as you go. Try the pencil thing too. Also try putting the mouse cursor, or your finger, in your blind spot. Freaky stuff.

Second, I found this on Dvorak Uncensored:

Can you read this?? Olny srmat poelpe can.? I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!? If you can raed tihs psas it on


Neat.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Return of the Jack Bauer Power Hour

Warning: There are spoilers for last night's 24 here.

Twenty Four (a.k.a 24) started its fifth season last night, and it was quite the start to a season. Quite the start. First it's all like "President Palmer is back, and he's as lively as ever", but then it's like "NO HE'S NOT". Then it's like "hey, Michelle is back, and she's lost some weight and she's lookin pretty hot", and then it's all like "NOT ANY MORE". Then Chloe is back and she's skinnier too and having SEX with people, but I don't trust the dude she's porking. Was that a Russian accent he let slip, or does he just suck at talking? That is the genius of 24...it always keeps you guessing.

Then there's Jack Bauer, who has, in less than two hours, managed to kill like 8 people and scar a young boy for life. He hasn't tortured anyone yet, though. Unless you count offering to take a bleeding man to the hospital (but only if he cooperates) torture. And then shoot him in the face instead of taking him, even when he does cooperate. Hmm...ok, maybe he has already engaged in torture.

When you think about it, Jack is an evil, evil man. I think the underlying message of 24 is this: as long as you're doing it "for your country", or "for your bestest friend", horrific acts of violence, torture, and general badassery are completely justified.

On a related note, it seems like Kiefer Sutherland's voice is everywhere...car commercials, computer commercials, cartoons, video games, etc. His unique voice, however, isn't so much talking as it is controlled growling. In celebration of this fact, I have created a picture of Kiefer as a lion:

Kiefer Lion


Other Blog Updated: MRI Dangers

My other blog has been updated with a frightening tale of horror and suspense that will make your spine tingley and your genitals uriney...with fear. What's it about? You'll have to click to find out! *




* Or read the title.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Beautiful

I wrote a song:

I'm beautiful. I'm beautiful.
I'm beautiful, it's true.
I saw my face, in a crowded place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with ... me.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Smoke and Death and Elmo


I have a few lovely things to share with you today.

First, there's this ad campaign (pictured) that graphically demonstrates how gross it is to kiss a smoker. Even as a (mostly) non-smoker, I really don't find kissing smokers to be that gross. However, I think ads like this are a positive thing in the end. Anything to get people, especially kids, to stop or never start smoking, is worth doing...even if it's government money funding the campaign. Some people disagree: see The London Fog's post about this, and the heated debate which followed in the comments section. I think it comes down to the fact that smoking kills people. People need to know that, so that they can make an informed decision about whether to smoke or not. An attention-grabbing, and hilarious, ad campaign like this can at least get people thinking about it. I think part of the government's responsibility is to educate people about objective facts, so I have no problem with government money being spent on stuff like this. You go, government.

Second, also courtesty of The London Fog, are two stories of products being tampered with at the factory, with hilarious results. Here is a story about a talking Elmo doll which asks kids "who wants to die?" And here is a story about a person who opened their brand new sealed iPod package, only to find raw "mystery meat" inside.

The theme of this post is: "Things which were cute, but then made extremely creepy by death and/or raw meat."

....yeah, iPods are cute.


Bowel Movement Update

My doo-doo smells like gasoline today. AND I LIKE IT.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Return of the Saugeen Stripper

censored saugeen-stripper-20

Degrading for who?
The Saugeen Stripper Scandal happened at an unfortunate time. School had just ended for Christmas. The university newspaper never got a chance to write about it, and the gossip never got a chance to reach its full potential. However, I've noticed that the majority of the people finding my little web site here are coming from Google searches for information about the stripper. It's still a popular topic (it even has a Wikipedia entry!), and I have a feeling that with school back in, it will be even more so in the coming weeks.

So, I ask myself again, why is this a big deal?

With the rise of the internet, anybody can find thousands of pictures of naked women in a matter of seconds. Why do a handful of pictures grab so much attention, then?

I think it has to do with reality. Since this (supposedly) happened at The University of Western Ontario, it really hits home to any Western student. Most of them know that they will never meet or have anything to do with this girl, but the mere possibility makes this much more exciting than some random porn star on the internet. It's the same as any local news story being more interesting than something happening on the other side of the world. The London A-Channel news can devote 5 minutes to a story about a local man who wrote a book about squirrel etiquette, but then spend 1 minute talking about a war killing millions of people in some foreign country.

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Another reason that this story specifically is fascinating is that it validates all the dirty rumours about Saugeen Maitland Hall. The place has always been the subject of jokes about the stuff that goes on there, but nothing like this ever proved it was true (to my knowledge). UWO's "party school" reputation has also been validated, to an extent. Not that I think this is necessarily true...I'm sure stuff like this happens at every university all over the world. They just don't have the pictures to prove it.

In any case, this is a nice little chapter in UWO's history. I thank the stripper for providing me and many others with lots of material to talk, write, and argue about.

P.S. Here is another post about the stripper at Saugeen

P.P.S. More Saugeen Stripper crap

P.P.P.S. Thanks to the anonymous dude who pointed out that it should be "PPPS", not "PSSS"

Monday, January 09, 2006

Real Live Cyborgs

Related to yesterday's post about warp drives, I came across this story about people who implant chips in their hands in order to control electronic stuff. In other words, cyborgs.

Unlike yesterday's post though, this future-like technology is actually less futurey than it seems. People have already done it, and anybody can do it themselves, today, for as little as $52. Neato.

While very cool, I'm not about to go do it myself. Who knows what the long term consequences are...I don't want the little chip coming loose and floating around in my bloodstream. Or pushing itself out of my skin in some gory infected mess. Plus, the page linked to as the source for info about this technology isn't exactly professional, with its "techincal info" and "pages by memebers" [sic x 2]. But hey, I'm sure some compnay will develop a secure and well-tested commercial version soon, and then maybe I'll consider it. Because it is SUCH a pain in the ass to reach all the way into my pocket, pull out a key, put it in the door, and turn that doorknob EVERY time I want to enter my house.

BONUS LINK: Here is a review of the 1989 movie "Cyborg", starring Jean Claud Van Damme. It looks like a great shitty movie. Here's one of my favourite quotes from the review: "the distinguishing feature of the director’s works is that while they are often set against events of literally apocalyptic proportions, nothing actually happens in the films themselves."


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Intergalactic, Planetary, Planetary, Intergalactic

Check out this story at New Scientist about faster than light space travel. It describes how, in theory, a "warp drive" could be created which would allow a ship to travel to distance planets quickly, and even to distant stars.

On one hand, it's very exciting. We could finally send people to Mars, and then to other stars that may have planets with life. We could even start colonizing other planets, before we destroy this one. With unlimited resources, we could probably eliminate crap like poverty and hunger (though we'd probably still kill each other in wars for no good reason, like we always have).

On the other hand, there are a billion things that could go wrong. The warp drive works by transporting the ship to another dimension, where light speed is faster. According to the article, even top physicists are confused by the theory and don't fully understand it. For all they know, attempting to use the warp drive could rip some hole in space-time and destroy the entire universe. Or giant space creatures could follow us home from the other dimension. Then eat Earth in one bite. Because they're giant.

I think anything like this is a long way off, and we may never fully understand the universe beyond the 4 dimensions our brains have been evolutionarily programmed to understand. But hey, it could happen, for better or for worse.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Spiffy Iffy Shitty, Volume 2

It's time once again for Spiffy Iffy Shitty, where I pass judgement on the best, worst, and most confusing things in the universe.

Spiffy: Battlestar Galactica. I got the DVD set of the first season for Christmas, and V and I have watched almost every episode already. Battlestar Galactica is a great show on so many levels. For science fiction geeks, it's got all the action, fake technology, and nerdy little details that we all love. But it also goes beyond sci-fi with well-done drama and humour. Even V, who claims to be completely un-nerdy, is just as into it as me (though I have come home to find her watching Stargate Atlantis alone, so maybe it's just that my nerdiness is rubbing off on her). Anyway, anyone who hasn't seen Battlestar Galactica oughta give it a try.

Iffy: Futureshop and Best Buy. FS and BB are two of the biggest electronics/entertainment retailers in Canada. In the south end of London, the two stores are literally across the street from each other. The perplexing thing is that they are actually owned by the same company, and so are exactly the same store. Their prices are never more than a dollar or two apart, they have sales on the same things at the same time, and their web sites and online ordering system are identical. I don't automatically hate large corporations, but when they set up two stores across from each other to deceive people into believing they have a choice, when in fact both choices send money to the same company...well, that's getting a little evil.

Speaking of Best Buy, I ordered something from them recently. Below is the package it came in. A rather large box, which is currently taking up the whole kitchen table while I consider leaving the house to recycle it.



What did I order?

06-01-06_1759


This little card. Was it really necessary to package something the size of a credit card in a box the size of small dog? Not only does this fill up the planet with garbage quicker, but it must be costing Best Buy / Futureshop a shitload of money to be giving away 10 times as much cardboard as they need to. What the hell? You'd think at least one person from the giant evil corporation would notice this and think of the financial implications.

Shitty: The Goo Goo Dolls. After listening to their latest song on the radio, I wondered to myself, what happened to these guys? What made them start creating such shitty music? Then I realized that they've never been anything but boring radio filler. I think the Goo Goo Dolls should "reinvent" themselves to get peoples' attention again. Maybe change their name to The Goo² Dolls, or 2Goo2Dolls, or some other "clever" name the kids will love. Or maybe they could join up with the Pussycat Dolls...they're hot these days. They could be known as the Pussy Goo Dolls. Uh...on the other hand...that doesn't sound all too appealing.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I Saw the Sign



This is the funniest thing I've ever seen. A sign whose sole purpose is to warn people not to bump their heads on ... the sign itself. How deliciously self-referential. Apparently this is a real picture and it wasn't meant to be funny. Read more about it here.


Movie Review: The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcism of Emily Rose isn't really a horror movie. It has some mildly disturbing scenes, but they are few and far between. It's no Exorcist.

However, it is a movie that makes you think. It concerns the case of a young girl who died after claiming to be possessed by demons, and the courtroom drama that followed. The majority of the movie deals with what happened in the courtroom, with flashbacks telling Emily's story. The central conflict is whether the priest who performed the Exorcism on Emily was responsible for her death or not. This is all based on a true story; the real "Emily Rose" (actually named Anneliese Michel) is pictured here.

Where I think the movie succeeds is that it doesn't take sides. It's never entirely clear whether what Emily is going through is genuinely due to demonic possession, or whether it is simply a medical condition. The horror movie elements come from seeing what characters experience, rather than an objective telling of what happened. Both sides in the courtroom battle provide strong arguments, and it is mostly left to the viewer to decide what's right.

Personally, I'm not sure. If Emily, her whole family, and her priest all genuinely believe that a demon is possessing her, and they were doing everything they could to cure her, should any of them be responsible for her death? Would the same controversy erupt if she died while undergoing conventional medical treatment?

The fact that the movie can give rise to deep questions like this makes it worth seeing. Just don't expect to be scared out of your mind, and it's an enjoyable, thought-provoking movie.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy New Year

I just want to wish everybody reading this a happy new year, and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Even the nasty person who left a mean comment in my last post. I hope that the next year is happy and healthy for all of you.

Here are my new year resolutions:
  • Read more
  • Smoke more cigars
  • Gain some weight
  • Lose some fat
  • 640 X 480
  • Finish my thesis
  • Drink more water
  • Drink more beer
  • ...I can't really think of anything. Honestly, my life is pretty good and I don't want to change much. Why fix what ain't broken?

P.S. Today is my birthday. Everybody love me.