Friday, December 26, 2008

Modern PC gaming

Well-reviewed game that's been on the shelves for about 18 months and is marked down: $20.

Time to install game from DVD: about an hour.

Time and effort to apply all the damn patches that are necessary before actually playing: three days, 37 GB of downloads and a net connection that's useless for anything else in the meantime.

...Sigh. I hope I get to play Neverwinter Nights 2 before next Christmas.

Your computer loves you and wants to kill you

Via Boing Boing, a scan of a computer "how does it work" book from the 70s... with some surreal photoshopped edits.
Remember, however, that electricity is like magic: no one really understands it, and it is very dangerous.

If computers are not regularly fed with programs they may become listless and unhappy.

When the kitten is ready, the Encyclopedia Brittanica is first consulted, then Wikipedia. If the answer is not obtained, the kitten hands control of the operation to the puppy, which then consults Google.
Poem written by a computer for its operator:
If I could feel, I would feel love.
If I could touch, I would touch God.
If I could see, I would see truth.
If I could dream, I would dream.
And if I could kill, you

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No surprises

Update: yes, it was a laptop. We are now a two-laptop, two-desktop family, while millions starve.

So I'm pretty feeling good about myself. I've bought the wife's main Christmas present weeks ahead of schedule. This is nothing short of amazing for me; I've been known to emerge from contemplating the fairies and unicorns in my head on 24 December and been horrified to realise I've done nothing. "Not this year," I chortled to myself. "Done and dusted."

I can't tell you what I actually got her, seeing as it's still Christmas Eve, the wife does read this occasionally against her better judgment, and I want to maintain some pretense that the gift remains a surprise. But I need to tell you that it needed some preparation: setting up, configuration, updating, some other things that I can't go into detail about without giving too much away. I wanted to give it to her so it was good to go out of the box without any stuffing around. So I'm sitting in my bedroom, configuring the thing, thinking that the wife is otherwise occupied. I've told her I was going to lie down for a while - which I need to do most days, due to my high painkiller intake. (Yes, I nana-nap. Wanna make something of it?)

Suddenly she bursts in without any warning. I react badly. "Yaaahh!" I yell, blush a deep red (as I tend to do when I've been caught at something, even if I wasn't actually doing anything wrong), and thrust the thing under the covers in a vain attempt to get out of view. This makes her think I was doing something quite unsavoury that we won't mention here, and I need to do some quick verbal tap-dancing. "No, it wasn't what you think AT ALL. You'll understand later. Really. Really later. Don't ask me any more right now."

Of course, because she's not stupid and did actually see what I had on my lap, she put two and two together correctly and knows what I got her.

This wouldn't be a major deal except that every present-giving occasion - her birthday, whatever - either I don't have a clue what to get her, and I need to come right out and ask, or she finds out because she's convinced I haven't done anything. If I just look smug and say "It's under control," she will find a way to make me so insecure about what I've done/am doing that I need to give key information away to ensure that she will, in fact, like it. So this time I was hoping - and fairly certain - I'd be able to give her something that was, actually, a pleasant surprise gift.

So no surprises for Lorraine this year. And it was fairly expensive, and I really really wanted it to be a surprise. Damn, damn, damn, and bugger.

We've been wrapping the kids' and ther people's presents over the last couple of nights. I note a distinct lack of anything labelled as being for me. So I say, casually, "If you need me to leave the room while you wrap mine, just let me know".

"Um. I haven't bought you anything yet. I don't know what to get you!"

This is the night of 23 December. Two days before Christmas. I'm a little put out by this. YES, I can be hard to buy for. But really I'm not that hard! Books, computer games, anything in that line would be good. I have a little hang-up where I need some sort of toy-equivalent as a Christmas present or the day just doesn't work for me. Just one; the rest can be socks, soap on a rope, whatever, I won't mind - I just need one fun thing and I'm happy.

Lorraine went out this afternoon to finish her Christmas shopping - there were quite a few other things she needed to get, and having worked up until midday today, she hadn't had a lot of opportunity. She came back with a quite a few pressies, puts the bags on the kitchen bench, and asks me to wrap them. I ask, "Is there anything here I shouldn't see?" "No, no," she says. Okay. We start going through the bags. On the third bag, I see a gift that can be for no-one except me. "Um, Lorraine, I thought you said..."

"Oh, no! Did you see it?"


"Did you really see it?"

"Yes. I saw the title. I know what it is."


I do love surprises. Giving and receiving. It ain't gonna happen.

Maybe next year...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Naked man jumps on cars, tasered

I can't decide if the manner in which this story completely fails to hang together or make any kind of sense is bad journalism, or just because it's the USA and hey, stuff like this happens.

Naked man hit with stun gun

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) - It was a shocking sight for North Austin neighbors on Sunday morning, when a stark naked man ran around a parking lot, jumping up and down on cars and trucks. Police responded to a call of two men fighting at the 8200 block of Sam Rayburn Drive, but when they got there, they found a man on top of a car, jumping and beating on its roof.

"When I came outside, that man, he was jumping off the fence, jumping on the truck," said Martha Gonzalez, a neighbor who witnessed the scene. "He just wanted dope. He was just trippin' because the guy didn't want to give him none."

Police officials said Sunday that they believe the 28-year-old man was under the influence of some kind of drug, possibly PCP.

Go, Chief Wiggum, that's some bad-ass detectorin' there.

"He was like butt-naked," said Gonzalez. "He didn't have nothing, no underwear, nothing, just going off."

Another neighbor, Maria Leal, said they were waiting for the police to take him away, when he damaged their fence and dented their truck.

"Naked, without clothes, without nothing!" said Leal. "It's not right. I want them to help us clean the streets."

Um, what?

Leal's grandaughter, Lanina Castillo, was also home when it happened.

"I got scared because I heard this thing fall and all the stuff just fell and broke," said Castillo.

What thing? What stuff? What the fuck are you on about?

Neighbors believe the man wanted drugs.

Thanks, Captain Obvious! He was on them. The neighbours were on them. This reads like you were on them, Mr Small Town Journalist.

"We have had other conflicts, other issues in the neighborhood, but never someone stripping down and creating a seen [sic] like that," said Gonzalez.

Police say they used a Taser [on] the 28-year-old man and took him to Brackenridge hospital for further assessment.

In accordance with standard procedure. "Lessee what it says here in the police manual... un-huh, page one zero four, 'Disturbed individual, subtype five: naked, unarmed, but clearly out of their mind - taser them until they shit themselves.' Hey, don't look at me like that, Travis, that's what it says. Got to keep the lawyers busy somehow."
He was later booked in the Travis County Jail. APD officials are not releasing his name at this time.

Just wow. Only in Texas.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

We are not all lost to the demon of stupidity

Sometimes, just sometimes, there are news stories that regenerate my fervent hope that the entire demographic of the human race does not boil down to "100%: clinically retarded".

Remember those Nigerian "Christians" who have been torturing and abusing their children, and about whom there has been a remarkable dearth of comment from the Christians that I know do read this?

A man who has claimed to KILL one hundred and ten child "witches" has been arrested and charged with murder.

Only 999,999 deluded emotional cripples left in Nigeria. But I give thanks, anyway, that there is one less child-killer roaming the countryside.

I repeat my call to Christians and their churches to diassociate themselves from these self-proclaimed Nigerian Christians and dedicate resources to their re-education. Instead, of, you know, sending truck-loads of missionaries to countries that don't need or want them, because they're happy being Muslim (or whatever). Here you have a part of your own faith that has run amok: you have a responsibility to them and to the children of Nigeria to do what you can to stop it. Hell, pay my plane ticket, and I'll go with you.

Second item: it is not often that I will find myself in agreement with a clergyman. But the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has, in this caes, gotten it exactly right: throw out Mugabe and try him in The Hague. Okay, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, I suppose.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Stupid, stupid people

We have a three-for-one deal today, folks. An atheist, a Christian, and Islam in general, as fine examples of classic stupidity.

Labor MP James Bidgood says the current financial crisis is because people pray to Jesus.

It’s interesting to see this kind of overt brain damage from politicians in Australia. Thanks, Mr Bidgood, for a momentary diversion. Now STFU and get off the stage.

Bidgood has simply fallen prey to the simplest illogical fallacy there is: post hoc ergo propter hoc. One thing happened after another, therefore the first thing caused the second. Bidgood says that there were marches for Jesus in April 1987, therefore the stock market crash in October of that year was caused by those marches. By the same logic, the sun rises every morning after I’ve slept, so if I don’t sleep, the sun won’t rise. All together now, children: BWAHAHAHA!

This is such laughably awful reasoning that it doesn’t even deserve the name. A few key points:

• Logical fallacy of the first order. Fail.
• There were six months in between the two events cited. Why the delay? Fail.
• Ignores the well-understood actual causes of stock market crashes, none of which have a flipping thing to do with Jesus. Fail.

…oh, I’m bored already. It’s like beating a quadriplegic in the 100-meter sprint. Next.

Police in Iran have arrested 49 people for wearing “satanic” clothes.

Satanic clothes. Riiiiiight.

I really don’t know why fundamentalist Islam thinks Allah gives a good shit what clothes anyone wears. Did Mohammed speak out against bikinis? Did the Archangel Gabriel express disdain for the sight of a woman’s nostril? Was there a jihad against thongs? Where, in short, is the sense to this, even within the obviously crippled logical constraints of a decidedly stupid religion?

I’d laugh, if it wasn’t for the fact that in Muslim countries, women get killed horribly for wearing the wrong thing in public. A fitting retribution for these criminally insane self-appointed little tin gods would be to be forced to wear those clothes themselves in a public street in Iran, and be stoned to death as transvestites as a consequence. Or to have Tim Curry in full Frank-n-Furter drag suffocate them by face-sitting. Either will serve. Mr Curry? You’re wanted on the phone…

Finally is a (probable) atheist by the name of Ron Williams, who seems to have mislaid his sense of proportion and any shred of intelligence. His daughter’s school mentioned God once. So he’s pulled her out of that school, launched action in the Anti-Discrimination Commission, and is suing for the cost of educating his daughter elsewhere.

Another taste of American-style insanity and inability to grasp the concept of “civilised discourse”. If the school in question had demonstrated a repeated intention to teach Christian scripture, then he would have my support. But Mr Williams is wrong-headed on quite a few counts.

Firstly, the Australian “separation of church and state”, based on section 116 of the Australian constitution, does not operate in the way that he thinks. He’s been indoctrinated somehow (by American television, or by visiting too many US-based websites) that the American First Amendment is in effect here. Bzzt, wrong, and thanks for playing. Section 116 of the Constitution of the country we’re actually in does not prohibit the teaching of religion in state schools.

Secondly, the kid was four years old and was reportedly making a model of Noah’s Ark. Hardly the thing of which road-to-Damascus conversions are made. Lighten up, dude, seriously.

Thirdly, the only thing that was actually shown in class was… an excerpt from “Evan Almighty”. Saying this is teaching religion in schools is like saying "Happy Gilmore" is a documentary on the ethics of professional golf.

Finally, stipulating for the sake of argument that there was anything real to object to in the school’s behaviour, withdrawing the kid after one episode like this is simply stupid. It smacks of sheer intolerance for other people’s views, and the additional action in the ADC and the lawsuit are complete overkill. How about, oh, I don’t know, teaching your kid some critical thinking skills? Start with Dawkins’ The God Delusion, then… oh, that’s right, she was four. FOUR. So maybe she wasn’t going to be crippled for life by one mention of the G-word, and you didn’t need to recoil like a vampire exposed to a crucifix, hey, Williams?

On behalf of Australian atheists everywhere, I would like to bequeath this nutball to a fundamentalist sect sitting in some compound in Texas, polishing their guns, screwing their cousins, waiting for the end times. C’mon, some brainwashing and he’ll fit right in. Sense of humour failure: check. Inability to see things in proportion: check. Bloody-minded insistence that the rest of the world operate to his liking: check. And inability to check even the most basic premises of his arguments: check.

We sure don't want him here.