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A commentary and journal site for the author. Topics will include Christian issues, gaming, comics, cartoons, news, and anything else I feel like talking about at the moment. Send comments to stranger894@yahoo.com


Friday, June 14, 2002

Interesting JunkScience Article on Medical Hype

Steven Milloy often comes across as a corporate shill, there's simply no other way to put it. It seems like the majority of his articles are defending some company or market from a "spurious" scientific claim. This article shows that the James Randi of scientific hype can at least be as fair and consistent as he can be caustic and skeptical.

Speaking personally, I have some experience with the "family of the victim" side of this equation. I've often found the line from "Gangster's Paradise" about how "too much television watching's got me chasing dreams..." interesting. People are very quick to believe that the cure for what ills them is somehow just a chance encounter away -- that if they just have the guts to do something different, they'll succeed. They have to *try* and fight this, you know.

Cemetaries are full of people who thought that, but I get accused of being morbid as it is. I'm sorry, you can only watch so many people suffer from the chemotherapy that was supposed to give them a "fighting chance" that instead ended up being a fate worse than the cancer itself before you become a little jaded about this sort of thing. My tolerance was two; by the third and fourth person I cared about falling for the chemo trap, well, let's just say it hasn't done a lot for my faith in the medical profession.

But, to quote another secular song (Mr. Jones And Me), "We all want to be someone who believes." This applies even to the James Randi's of the world too -- they believe so strongly in the power of disbelief that it's almost a religious thing for them. Granted, there's a LOT of nonsense out there that people swallow without chewing -- for example, I can't believe one of the local broadcast channels has moved John Edwards into the just-after-school slot -- but there are truths out there.

And that's a tangent. The point is, especially for people that limit themselves to the secular, they are far too often far too willing to put hope in something like this. Better living through technology, because despite the history of technological advance the *next* one will be the one that works. Right. Meanwhile, forgive me if I wait for the proof.

As an aside, the article mentioned Martha Stewart's latest woes. Martha is one of those celebrities that just makes my skin crawl, and has from the moment I saw a picture of her (long before I knew who she was). I can't explain it beyond that, and I really don't need to either. I have to be careful, though, or I'll take joy in her misfortune (which is pretty explicitly forbidden by the Bible).

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Woody Strikes a Nerve

Please note that the link is to his front page; the cartoon in question is for June 12 but he hasn't archived it yet.

Anyway, Woody has always had a knack for displaying the numerous little insanities of EverQrack -- especially the people behind it, Verant Interactive -- with that sting of reality that only a comic or cartoon could get away with.

I've long been of the stated opinion that Verant's much-maligned Vision(tm) was doing EverQrack more harm than good. In particular, VI's unwillingness to actually put The Vision(tm) in definable, enforcable terms just perpetuated the us-versus-them mentality that was Whineplay at its peak.

The #1 reason I buckled and bought the EQ Trilogy and started playing again (new characters on new server) was that after Brad's departure I saw a number of positive changes. While the monetary emphasis of several are amusing -- notice I didn't say surprising -- most of the changes to EQ recently are things we Whineplayers were asking for years ago. Most could be -- and were, but mentioning that would constitute saying "I told you so" -- changed very quickly with minimal fuss.

An idle daydream I'm guilty of sometimes involves imagining what EverQrack could have been had VI realized we were right sooner, and been strong enough to admit it AND actually do something about it (because there were several points they admitted we were right about in the old Forum FAQ but refused to change). It's a daydream that currently exists as an unfinished article, called "BetterQuest", on my harddrive. Someday I'll have to finish it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002


Here's a LINK to an interesting article about the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

MONTE COOK has some interesting, if mildly selfish and one-sided, things to say about the future of one of RPGaming's oldest franchises.

For some reason, I still find THIS Flash movie funny after several months. The in-joke about the "Flint Michigan" terrorist cell is a particularly funny one (even though the person being referenced actually lives in New York these days).

One of the things I like about THE BLOGFATHER is his knack for finding and giving attention to hilarious pages like THIS ONE. Be sure to check out the sidebar links to "(in)Famous Gun Nuts" and "The RKBA is Outdated" in particular.

One of gaming's best and most talented comic artists, Aaron Williams, runs what is probably my favorite web comic called Nodwick. I identify with the title character the way most office employees identify with the characters in Dilbert. His cartoon for this week is especially funny for me, given my long-standing hatred of camping and similar "great outdoors" activities. Check it out, then start at the ORIGIN of the series. Don't be surprised if you find yourself going through all his archives in a single sitting.

New patch in for EverQrack. Check out the message HERE. My award for Best of Patch goes to the ability to turn Tarnished and Fine Steel weapons into ore.

OJ Still Looking For Killers 8 Years Later
In an unrelated story, OJ's home in Florida found to be devoid of mirrors or other reflective surfaces

Gee, I spend a lot of time talking about murder it seems.

Anyway, a buddy of mine at work and I noted that today was the 8th anniversary of the "unsolved" murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Brown. We got to talk about some of the odd comparisons to other famous cases, like the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping/Murder and Lizzie Borden. As part of the discussion, he came up with his own variant of the infamous ditty about Lizze.

OJ Simpson took a knife
And sliced and diced his former wife
And when he saw what he had done
He slashed the witness just for fun

Turn out lots of people have done this. Check out this one.

Or maybe this one.

He found lots of others too, I may add them in.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

There's optimism, there's wishful thinking -- and then there's Arthur C. Clarke

A buddy of mine at work emailed me a list of predictions Arthur C. Clarke (of 2001 fame) made at a panel before Dec 3 2001. The predictions are what he says will happen in the next century. Said buddy is a techno-optimist, that strange brand of people that believe technology is capable of miracles that will solve the problems of life. This despite the consistent history technology has of just creating new problems, of course. Clarke makes the classic mistake of trying to put dates on these predictions; a couple wouldn't be bad at all if he didn't try to date them.

But something Clarke says on the list goes beyond optimism, and mere wishful thinking -- and crosses the line into willful ignorance. It's the only one I'm going to comment on, because this point invalidates anything else he has to say.

To set the stage, Clarke predicts that in 2009, a city in a 3rd world country will be devastated by an atomic bomb explosion. I'll set aside the whole putting-a-year-on-it thing. Personally, I'm surprised (and thank God regularly) that we've gone 60 years without a 3rd city getting nuked. As time goes on, more and more people are going to become nuclear capable on their own. Figure in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the trouble-making opportunism of China, and there's a lot to be pessimistic about. If you consider India and Pakistan third-world countries, the likelihood of this just gets more frightening.

If Clarke had stopped there, I'd have laughed at him putting a date on it but respected him for stating an uncomfortable truth -- sooner or later, some wacko is going to be dumb enough to do this.

The problem of course is that he didn't stop. He goes on to predict that before the end of that same year every nuclear weapon on the planet is destroyed.




How ignorant can a person be, anyway? That goes beyond wishful thinking. When I dream about a supermodel falling madly in love with me -- that's wishful thinking. But expecting people to do what NOBODY in their right mind would do, let alone the vast group of people in another state of mind? I'm too shocked to even mock him.

The immediate result of such an explosion wouldn't be a rapid disarmament of nukes any more than World War 1 made war unthinkable. Chemical and biological weapons have been "illegal" for 80 years now, and that hasn't stopped many people from making them -- if it's stopped anyone. If anything, people have been making them in case the other guy uses them, so they can retaliate in kind.

But let's grant Clarke his personal version of the supermodel and say the good guys really disarm themselves. How can you POSSIBLY be ignorant enough to believe nations like China would give them up? Or that the Saddams and Osamas of the world would quit trying to make them?

Monday, June 10, 2002

FoxNews article on Rudeness in the Workplace

"Amusing, Watson. An article about rudeness in the workplace that fails utterly to mention the #1 source of the problem..."

"I'm a medical professional, Holmes, what are you talking about?"

"Management, of course. The truth of the matter is that in far too many offices, the employees are forced into an adversarial relationship with their employer. The article also blatantly misses the fact that most such problems can't be solved because the individuals causing the problems are generally of a different employment bracker, or caste to be less polite, than the people suffering them."

Elementary, my dear Dilbert.

I'm Baaaack!

It seems I need to make a note on this site that I can't post much on the weekends. Insert crack about how many things you forget when you make it up as you go along.

Bought Morrowind for the XBox Friday. Got to play for maybe two hours. My initial opinions are as follows:

#1 -- The game takes too long to load, especially from a save game.

#2 -- There's way too little information about what the spells actually do in game. What, they actually expected me to read the manual or something?

#3 -- The game takes too long to load, especially from a save game.

#4 -- There's definitely a sense of "What the Sam Hill am I supposed to be doing now?" at first, but only because I put off going to the next town. Experience dictates that I wanted to get better with the interface first. I didn't get any further than the platform in the next city though, primarily because of (cough) time issues.

#5 -- The game takes too long to load, especially from a save game.

#6 -- Graphics are pretty good, but a little dark. Maybe I should put a higher priority on light spells?

#7 -- Have I mentioned the pathetically long load times, especially from save games? I was having flashbacks to my early days of EQ, with 10-15 minutes between zones. At least on the XBox, I can use the remote to check out other TV channels during the multiple-minute loads. Put another way, of the 2 hours I had this game in the drive I probably spent maybe an hour actually playing.

#8 -- I can already see what all the good buzz is about. Yes, my first couple fights were... interesting (part of the reason I'm making such a big deal about the load times; I never claimed to be GOOD at twitch-style fighting you know). Once I got the hang of it, though, I reloaded from an older save game and mowed through them.

#9 -- I actually almost pity computer gamers right now. Part of the reason I mowed through the first few fights once I had the hang of combat was the wonder that is the unfairly-maligned XBox controller and it's twin sticks. Once I had the hang of what I was supposed to be doing in combat, I was Fred Astaire (spelling?) in a world with two left feet. I do NOT look forward to having to do this on a computer.

Reminds me, I need to get my strategy guide back from my buddy who can't play Morrowind due to system problems...

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