Saturday, December 13, 2008


Due to busy-ness in real life as well as my lack of money and their lack of appeal, I haven't played a game at all in the last few weeks, almost to the day of the last post on Nov. 23

I did try out Dead Space, which is a pretty awesome game. Beat it over the weekend of my last post, I think. It's fun. I thought about playing through it again, since it lets you "continue" with all the weapons and upgrades you got on the previous playthrough, but it doesn't allow you to "continue" on the next hardest difficulty level--only the same one--so it doesn't found that fun to play through it again, only much more quickly and easily. It wasn't even that hard the first time through. Weird design choice there, if you ask me. I did jump in my seat a few times. There were definitely some great, surreal moments where you really felt like you were in a horror movie like Event Horizon or Alien or something. Actually being in control of the character during those moments is an amazing feeling. Solid A- on that one, and the minus only because of a few minor gameplay frustrations and the lack of replay.

Acquired The Dark Knight on Blu-ray. Several different flavors of awesome. I only wish they had included some kind of commentary. I'm not normally big on commentary in my movies but this is one I'd happily sit through and listen. I also wondered if there ever been a Batman game where you have to choose what equipment ("wonderful toys") you're going to pack with you before each mission. Nothing comes to mind.

I'm tired of NBA commentators drooling over Chris Paul. He's good. He's not the freaking Messiah. I was watching some game a week or two ago and Paul casually dribbles uncontested into the lane, laterally, and does this little "around the leg" move where he's dribbling with his left hand and sort of puts the ball around his left leg and picks the ball back up again with his left hand. Anyone who knows anything about the game will tell you this is a very simple move to execute. You rarely see anyone doing it because it is not useful. It doesn't fake anyone out. It must be done too quickly for you to really move your body in any other direction to give it any real utility. In fact, my brother and I used to make fun of this WNBA commercial where a WNBA player does the exact same move, accomplishes nothing with it, and lays the ball up. So Chris Paul does this useless little trick move in the lane and then shoots a quick jumper moving away from the basket, and bricks the shot. The commentator (ESPN guy, can't recall his name at the moment) absolutely explodes. "This guy is a wizard with the basketball!" blah blah blah, he can't stop talking about it for what seemed like five minutes. They showed like eight replays of it from 45 different angles.

Seriously, guys? His little move did nothing. No one was faked out by it. Then he took a bad shot and missed it, and we're going to gush over him for it? This is another one of those cases where people believe what they're told. Everyone's so high on Chris Paul that everything he does is amazing, unless it isn't amazing and then it's someone else's fault. I can't stand that. He's good, but he's also flawed. He's a so-so leader, his shot selection is often suspect, he's disrespectful of his coach, and he talks like a ninny girl. Get over him, people.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I need a linear simulation.

Of the outcome of the election and what's going to happen during the next 8 years. Not that it would do me any good. I don't know if I'll vote, though. I know who I'll probably vote for if I do vote, but voting, period, is against my better judgment this time around.

I ordered a new video card, a 9800 GTX+ from eVGA. Amazon delivering I think through TigerDirect or some such thing. I haven't put significant computer parts together in about 7 years, and my ability to figure out if my power supply is adequate beforehand has vanished. I didn't even bother looking into it. PCI-E slot, check, 9 inches(!) of clearance, check. If the power supply can't juice it, then I'll have to get a new one of those as well. As for the 9 inches, well, I just hope it really will fit. I just found a hacksaw in the garage if not.

I don't play a lot of games on my PC anymore. PC time is homework time. The games I do actually play are MMOGs mostly, and those one at a time. Mostly I just got tired of having to tone down the graphics settings of any new game/demo I tried out. It's an inadequacy thing, you see. I wanted to try out Far Cry 2, so that was the catalyst. I couldn't resist the open world, or the setting. I love movies like Blood Diamond and I'm enamored of Africa seeing as I've lived there and seen some of the worst it has to offer. My 7600 GS is simply not good enough. I may need a CPU upgrade before the month is out, so I'm not bottlenecking the video card. I'm not Benchmark Guy, but by golly I'm going to get my money's worth.

I don't have enough time to play two games at once, so as soon as my focus leaves Fallout 3, it'll likely be on Far Cry 2. I may then try out LittleBigPlanet. Of course by then Left 4 Dead will be out and trying that is just a given. Co-op zombie-shooting survival? Sold.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Takers vs. Leavers

There's a debate going on about whether or not supposed "uncontacted" tribes discovered in the Amazonian basin should be contacted. This reminds me of the Prime Directive, although there are some obvious critical differences. A policy of noninterference is important because it allows people to make their own mistakes and they are forced to take responsibility for them. Letting them in on the "secret" of a greater, more advanced society means that those of that society must shoulder some of the burden that comes from the inevitably bumpy transition that must be made by that smaller, isolated people.

Anthropology will tell you that people in less-advanced societies work fewer hours and are generally happier than we are, in our big, globally-connected civilization. But then the question must be asked, why do primitive societies often opt to join our society? And when they discover not everything is fun and games, why are they unable to back out? I think it's for the same reason we ourselves adopt new technologies that do absolutely nothing for our overall personal happiness (cell phones, computers, etc)--because we can. Why pass up progress and innovation? We thrive on competition, and competition with everything around us drives us to find supposedly better ways to do things, when in reality all we're doing is forcing ourselves to work harder. So often, people who wish to retain the "old ways" of their people are painted as backwards and ignorant, but we're again forced to ask questions like exactly what our progress has afforded us. Are we happier, as a society? It's debatable, but probably not. Regressing, however, is simply not an option. It will never happen, at least not voluntarily. The more progress we make, culturally and technologically, the more we find that these things do not make us any happier or better, but paradoxically, in knowing that there exists what innovations we have made, we can't handle the thought of "going back" to the way things were. Why is that?

Should we tell the isolated Amazonian people that we exist? I don't know. If we don't, they live on for as long as possible just as they are, oblivious to us and what we've accomplished and their lives are certainly no less valid than ours. If we do, it's obvious they'll be unable to enjoy most of the truly revolutionary aspects of our culture for at least a generation or two, if not more, and I'm sure they won't be any happier for it in the end. If we do tell them, like Cain killing Abel, the farmer society will destroy the hunter/herder society like it has since the beginning of human civilization, and are we in some way guilty?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Nuggets need not apply.

Jason Whitlock thinks that one of the reasons the NBA is enjoying significantly higher ratings this year over last year is in part because the current participants of the playoffs (now down to Lakers, Celtics, Pistons) don't all look like "prison-ready brutes," and he refers specifically to the excessive tattooing undergone by a large number of NBA players. I have to agree, but only to a point. Last year's Finals teams didn't look like brutes, but ratings were in the toilet because the matchup was regarded as boring. Which, honestly, it was.

But the problem David Stern has is not just with "boring" teams. The Spurs are regarded as boring because they aren't young, fast, and don't run a lot. But the perception of teams who run a lot of half-court sets, picks-and-rolls and other basketball fundamentals is largely a product of who the NBA and media outlets market. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. These organizations market the teams and players they think and assume people want to see, and as a result they condition people to expect that, and then when people turn on the TV and don't see Kobe waltzing into the lane to dunk over some 7-foot center every 30 seconds, they decide it's boring and they change the channel.

Jordan's gone, guys. Stop marketing individuals, stop marketing dunks and buzzer-beater treys. Start marketing the game for what it is 95% of the time. If people can't accept basketball for what it actually is (that is, not a bunch of highlights of breakaway dunks strung together), then at this point you're only delaying the inevitable and the league is going under. But we all know that won't happen. We all know basketball is here to stay. So start educating people on the game. Help them to understand how the game works on a deeper level, and help them to appreciate fundamental offense and good, solid defense. Why do people around the world love soccer? There's a reason. People still watch baseball in droves, and that's one of the slowest sports on earth. And guess what, hockey is a very fast-paced game and how many people are watching that these days?

No, David Stern's problem is not because of teams like the Spurs, Jazz and Pistons. It's because he doesn't know how to properly promote his league, and while he and his colleagues run around trying to push the "new" MJs on us, fans drop by the wayside one by one. Couple that with the inconsistent reffing and the image problem Whitlock refers to, an image problem reflected in numerous polls conducted pitting the league against other major sports, and he's going to have a real problem on his hands real soon.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Vlade is just glad he got out early.

Apparently the NBA is going to start imposing fines on players who clearly flop. The fines will be assessed after games, following a review by some committee of "observers." The details are all a little fuzzy right now. All I can say is that while I'm glad something is being done to cut down on the serious flopping going on in the NBA these days, I don't know if it'll be enough. These men make enough money that a $10,000 fine is pocket change to them. Even to players making "only" around a million a year. Especially if they risk a flop, get the call, and their team wins a game as a result. A little fine isn't going to stop that, is it?

This'll only work if the fines are significant and repeat offenders are punished harshly. The main problem with this is that I doubt it'll be strictly enforced. What we'll see is a lot of flip-flopping (no pun intended) by the league and this committee of observers as to whether or not there was a flop. Most of the chronic floppers are not obvious about it, which is why they do it--because they can and because oftentimes they get the call. A repeat viewing is not necessarily going to make this and open-shut issue. They'll continue to do it, and a review of the action after the game is going to end up as a "we can't tell if it was a flop or not" kind of verdict and life will go on. The only flops that will be regularly fined are the really, really obvious ones while the more irritating, subversive ones that go on all the time will continue.

MLS has been doing better this year in no-calling or yellow-carding a player who obviously flops. In my opinion, flop-calling needs to be a foul-like judgment call by the ref as it happens, and while that may put more of a burden on the refs to make a subjective game even more subjective, it may in the end cut down on flopping because players would be less willing to risk it if it's a heat-of-the-moment call rather than an after-the-fact call. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The NBA acknowledged the no-call on Fisher, saying it should've been a 2-shot foul. Which most people would agree with. Lakers fans are now going back and arguing about previous plays--travels on Duncan, Manu, the bogus shot-clock violation on the previous play, etc. Unfortunately those arguments are largely invalid because you have to draw the line somewhere or you can simply keep going further and further back, and it'll never end. I think the best thing to do is to draw the line at the last play, and if you can, on the play that the game clock runs out on... which in this case was the foul on Fisher.

Now, the Spurs were outplayed and didn't really deserve the win, but you have to concede that had the call been made, the outcome may have changed. The fact is that the no-call disallowed any chance of the Spurs to pull out a win. If you go further back than that, who knows what may have happened when there was still enough time left to reasonably make a play? If the Lakers retained possession on the play prior, maybe the Spurs force a turnover before they foul. Maybe Kobe misses a free throw or two. Who knows? The difference between the last play and the plays previous to that are that there is no way to predict the game's outcome based off the previous plays, but there is only one game outcome based on the final play--the one that happened.

But the fact is, there was another no-call on the same final play before Fish fouled Barry. Barry lifted his pivot foot before putting the ball on the floor and that is by definition a travel. So two no-calls, one for each team. So the refs blew two calls, and the outcome ended up being what it was, and that's the way things go.


... the Lakers beat the Spurs last night, giving LA a commanding lead over the defending champs. I'm not a Spurs fan, but I do not want to see the Lakers in the Finals, and that's for several reasons. I do not believe there is some kind of conspiracy going on to get a Lakers-Celtics Finals, but I do have a real problem with the way the Lakers are treated like royalty by the NBA, and one thing I can't stand is the air of entitlement given off by the entire franchise, most notably Phil Jackson and one Kobe Bryant. Those two are too haughty and arrogant for their own good, and all they do is harm the league and the game when they treat other players, teammates, fans and the press like crap. Which they do regularly...

One example: in the series against the Jazz, following a game the Lakers lost, Jackson was asked at a post-game interview something to the effect of how the loss would affect the team's mentality going forth into the next game, and Jackson took this condescending tone and said "all it means is the series is going 6 games," and then he stood up and walked out. Who does that? How old is this man?

Last night, after a tough no-call that cost the Spurs a chance to at least tie the game, Kobe was asked what he thought about it and in typical playground-jerk fashion, he got that "I'm so great" amused smile and said "no foul." Hey Kobe, at least be gracious about it. At least acknowledge the fact that Fisher jumped into Barry and if you'd been in Barry's place and the no-call had cost you the game (or a chance to change a loss), you'd be furious. You make several million dollars a year playing a GAME and you act like you just got out of the sixth grade.

Lakers fans, stop wondering why it seems like everyone hates you and pay attention to the behavior of the two most prominent members of your club.