Monthly Archives: August 2011

Can’t Blog*… Deus Ex…

Crack. Video game style.

Like many people I’m a huge fan of the original Deus Ex, it’s a game that totally blew me away and I find myself reinstalling it and diving back into that world again and again.  There’s something irresistible about a game that gives you the freedom to approach every situation from different angles and succeed VS the usual blow everything up option (which is still available).  The gameplay was solid, multiple endings and the story was compelling – plus it keeps going whether you succeed in your objectives or not.  Most games would force you to restart a mission in those circumstances, but so long as you survived you can press on – it make for an interesting, reactive world with lots of replay value – advancement is not necessarily contingent on you completing every mission or how you complete them.  Make no mistake though, there are consequences to your choices and your failures.  You could play this game 10 times and have 10 completely different experiences.  It’s a work of art.

I never got around to playing the sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War but by most accounts it was an inferior game – I’ll have to play it one of these days to see for myself.

Human Revolution, the third in the series and a prequel, has been a long time coming.  It’s one of the few games that I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on, usually I can wait…not this time – the trailers alone are intense and visceral – to say nothing of the game itself.  By the time I made it to the introduction video (you play through the prologue) my heart was pounding and I was sweating, this thing had me hook, line and sinker – it’s as great as you hope it is.  I’m not all that far into the game and I already have plans for how I’m going to play it differently next time around.

So far, I’m playing things as stealthy and non-lethal as my skills and situations allow, I’m not sure if I’ll up my hacking skills or keeping going the stealth route…maybe I’ll go hardcore gank & tank next time…I’m trying to play Adam as a somewhat nice, optimistic and warm character – next time maybe it’ll be cold, bitter and detached or somewhere in between.  There are so many options and routes to take – these are the kinds of decisions you need to make and there are consequences to all of them.  The character interactions are arguably just as important as combat, sometimes your choices and limitations are smacking you in the face…sometimes you have to dig to find alternatives or you can just blast through brute force and ignorance.

Like the original game, the story is deep and engaging – it’s like playing the role of the protagonist in an great book, you just can’t put it down and like a great book; it’s story asks real questions about our world and society.  What are the ethical boundaries around human enhancement?  How far is too far?  What are the repercussions, both good and bad, of developing a technology that would allow someone paralyzed to walk again or reverse neurological diseases?

Deus Ex: Human Revolution doesn’t seem to take sides in these questions – but they are thrown at you regardless.   Your character, Adam Jensen, is alive only because of such a technology – but the choice was made for you.  You experience the power and advantages of such enhancements, but at what cost?  How much of your own flesh would you sacrifice to be, effectively, superhuman?  You see the hypothetical good, bad and ugly of such a world in this game – where does your humanity end and the machine begin?

…it’s a cerebral experience that goes beyond the game and that is perhaps the greatest replay value of all.

A taste of what you’re missing:

I’m not a person who usually gets his hopes up, so if this game falls on it’s face by the time I reach the end I’ll be a little crushed – but I don’t see that happening.  The blood, sweat and tears that went into this are apparent from the get go, and I sincerely thank the entire development team for the experience.

* Heh – it would appear I can still blog after all – HUZZAH!


Seeing is believing?

The Bad Astronomer has an excellent post about about optical illusions including a video of one about how our brain interpret colours and shading.  I’ve seen this particular one demonstrated before as a still image – but it’s truly mind-warping to see it in action.

Details: This video illusion will destroy your brain | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

If you enjoyed that one, then you’d do well to check out another one of his posts on optical illusions – you may never trust your eyes again.


The Stupid…IT BURNS!!!

Created by plognark: http://www.plognark.com/?q=node/10536I enjoy wine and I know there are aspects about tasting & appreciating wine that I’m not entirely familiar with and that’s fine.

But this is ri-god-damn-diculous – I know enough about physics, chemistry & biology to know that wine, as a substance, doesn’t have cells nor is it alive!  And it sure as hell isn’t fucking magnetic?!?!!

GAH!!  The man in question goes on to state:

Now, as a master herbalist and aroma-therapist, and as someone who has lectured extensively on natural health, anatomy and physiology I know a thing or two about plants, and how people perceive them.

Oh, I bet you do…What could all this madness have to do with?  Why what direction you swirl wine in your glass of course!!  Clockwise and Counter-Clockwise will yield different smells apparently and the living, magnetic wine-cells like to be spun specific ways!  *twitch*

You know what?  Lets go and take a couple glasses of wine, spin them different directions in a controlled environment and see how it affects things.  Worse comes to worse we can get hammered.

If you haven’t been stabbed in the brain yet today and are really itching to read something that’ll make you either laugh your ass off, spin up your inner centrifuge of infinite rage (as in my case), give you a headache or you just can’t resist a good old fashioned train-wreck…then follow the link below, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Details: The Stupidest Thing You’ll Read Today : Uncertain Principles


This is frakkin’ amazing!

XKCD best summed up why I like Science.

Details: Robot-Finger Spinoff Can Model Microscopic Details in 3-D | Wired Science | Wired.com


TSA – Now with less crazy…?

Huh – The ultra intense wave of paranoia that’s gripped the TSA for the last several years seems to be receding.  The philosophy of “treat everyone as a terrorist” is apparently being abandoned in favour of something far more reasonable.

But late last month, at the Aspen Security Forum, TSA chief John Pistole opened his mouth — and Schneier’s words came tumbling out. Pistole said it was high time to “recognize that the vast majority of people traveling every day are not terrorists.” To “try to apply some more common sense to the process,” even.

Forget patting down kids and telling people with top secret security clearances to take off their shoes. “I think we can do a different way of screening children that recognizes that, in the very high likelihood, they do not have a bomb on them,” he said.

Besides, he added, “the best layer of security we have … is intelligence.”

BUH-WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA?????  *blink, blink*

I’m cautiously optimistic that this kind of thing will actually lead to the TSA looking like an competent entity VS well this…

There’s mention of a “trusted” traveller idea that I’m not all that struck on, seems like it presents an easily exploitable vector, however, the devil’s in the details – frankly, I’m just happy to see some sanity being brought to the realm of airport security.

Read More: Bruce Schneier’s Telepathic Takeover of the TSA | Danger Room | Wired.com


Plan B!

Malaria, scares the crap out of me – my fiancé and I recently took a trip to the Dominican Republic and stayed at a resort where the risk of malaria is pretty low.  We took malaria medication anyway, “better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it” being the mantra.

Now it appears we were double inoculating ourselves against the scourge known as malaria – HUZZAH!!

I’ll take my medicine in beer form thank-you very much!

NCBI ROFL: Want to cure your malaria? Get wasted! | Discoblog | Discover Magazine.


Nuclear Power’s Achilles Heel

I’ve been reading Climate Denial Crock of the Week for at least a year or more now and it’s truly an excellent resource. There’s great information there on renewable energy and how we can and are (albeit slowly) moving away from fossil fuels mixed in with some all around solid journalism – something of a rare commodity these days and is well worth your time.

As the name of Peter Sinclair’s blog indicates, he also deals with climate denial head on.  He has a series of videos on YouTube which quite simply rip to shreds just about every climate change denial myth you’ve heard of.

If you’re looking for ammo to combat the climate change denial nonsense that a friend, co-worker or loved one is spouting, like they had their own show on Fox “News” – this should be one of your first stops along the way.  Heck, just check it out to learn more about the whole issue, you have nothing to lose but ignorance.

The fun doesn’t end there either, a chap who goes by the handle of potholer54 on YouTube has a number of fantastic videos on science, evolution, climate change and other subjects.  These are just two of many fine examples of the internet fulfilling the hope that it would be used to distribute knowledge, reason and enlightenment…sadly what can be used for good can also be used for evil…like Conservapedia for example.  *shudder*

The reason I mention all this is because of a recent article that was posted about how a warmer world impacts our ability to generate power the conventional way.  Freshwater is used in massive amounts to cool traditional power plants (coal, gas & nuclear) – turns out warm river water isn’t that great for cooling things down and you can’t just start flooding a river with boiling water whenever it’s convenient for you.  Behold!  The liberal bias of physics, chemistry and biology being leveraged by the fragility of life and it’s demonic agenda!

I’m expecting that piece of environmental legislation to come under fire from Republican/Tea-Party-Wingnuts in the U.S. sooner rather than later.  The last number of years really has been quite the fall from grace for the states – it’s being gutted by those who claim to love it the most – it’s really fucking twisted.  Kinda like a rapist who claims to love you while violating you at the same time, this is effectively what they’re doing to their country.  As a Canadian, I tend to look at the U.S. as a sibling, we (more or less) have the same “parents”, though our relationships with them are very different.  We’re similar in many ways, but like siblings we also have our stark differences.  At the moment, I’d equate it to watching your older brother or sister self-destruct – it’s a painful thing to watch.  They’d do well to remember what John Adams said about facts and how they are, indeed, stubborn things…but I digress.

Back on topic, power plants have difficulty producing power at full capacity during prolonged periods of warm weather…like heat waves.  This is due to the fact that the rivers they get the water to cool the reactors from are warmer than normal as a consequence of said heat wave.  Which makes for a bit of a double whammy considering how much power air conditioning uses and how heavily it’s used during summer in general and, you know, heat waves.

Details:  Heat Waves Spotlight Nuclear Achilles Heel « Climate Denial Crock of the Week.

The hits for nuclear power keep on coming.  Meanwhile, wind turbines, solar power arrays, geothermal, hydroelectric keep on churning out power as if nothing is wrong.  The same was true in Japan during the earthquakes and tsunami that took out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant – while Fukushima exploded, burned and melted down (causing all manner of catastrophe and binding the Japanese to decades of commitment to clean up said mess), the nearby turbine blades kept on spinning, and still are by the way.


Noah’s Ark

I’ve been working on a post about how I came to the conclusion that I no longer believed in god and so on and so forth.  Turns out the more I examine this process the more I have to say about it and the post has undergone a number of reno’s so far…It may have to be done as a series, we’ll see.

In the mean time though I can’t help but share this brilliant 2-part video about the complete implausibility of the Noah’s ark myth.  It’s hilarious and beautifully illustrates how corrosive our increasing knowledge of the universe is to creationist myths:

Aaaaand part 2:

I particularly enjoy how the videos are annotated so you can look up the crazy shit they’re referencing.  It’s amazing what can pass for truth when you’re forbidden to question it.