Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dig Dug it up!

Jinkies, it's no longer a mystery! Researching a well-known (to nerds, anyway) myth, a documentary crew has managed to unearth a horde of video games long-believed to buried in a New Mexico landfill.
After hours of excavating in the sweltering desert heat, the crew finally hit pay dirt:
a cache of Atari games which experts agree will fetch ones of dollars on Ebay.
Above: footage from the excavation
reveals a serious alligator and goggle
 monster problem at the landfill.
For people with lives, I should explain that for years there's been this story that back in 1983, Atari crushed and then buried a shitload of cartridges, consoles and accessories during a particularly rough period for the video game industry. Since nobody wanted to be responsible for a bunch of kids with shovels poking around a landfill, both the company and the owners of the dump were kind of cagey about the whole thing. Sometimes they'd say that all the games and systems had been destroyed and were inoperable and other times they'd flat out deny the burial ever happened.

If you remember Atari fondly, you are
mistaken. It was objectively terrible.
What was so rough about the industry in the early 80's that Atari felt they had to make like the mafia and bury their problems in a desert? Awful games and lots of them. Look, this was a little bit before my time as a gamer but looking back, console gaming was total shit back then. Not all of it certainly, but for every Galaga and Ms. Pac- Man, there's like a dozen pong-clones and SwordQuest's. Even if you're dripping with nostalgia for gaming in the time of disco, you have to admit that the graphics sucked, the gameplay was shallow and those primitive wood-paneled consoles were ridiculously overpriced (about $700-$900 adjusted for inflation).

Incidentally, how much coke do you
have to be on to fuck up Pac-Man?
Ok, NES-era chauvinism aside, it wasn't just the utter lack of quality that made the early 80's a terrible time for gamers, there was also a ton of corporate greed and short-sightedness. Atari once famously slapped together a half-assed port of Pac-Man in six weeks and then produced 12 million copies of it, which was like 2 million more cartridges than there were consoles to play them on. I know people did a lot of blow back then, but you'd think someone would have done the math on that one.

Anyway, the mystery's been solved and in a weird way I'm kind of bummed. It might have been kind of cool if they'd let the site stay undisturbed for a few more decades so that future generations could see for themselves how our civilization dealt with shitty games.
"Note the poor condition of the cartridge and the way it was just sort of 
chucked into the landfill. This indicates that even our remote ancestors of 
the 1980's understood that movie tie-in games are, by definition, bullshit."

-Some Future Archeologist

Friday, April 25, 2014

So long, Galactic Jizz-Wailers!

Ok Star Wars nerds, you might want to sit down for this: Lucasfilm has just put out a press release stating that the Expanded Universe is no longer canon. Holy shit! What does that mean and why should anyone care? First, settle down, I can only answer one question at a time. Secondly, buckle your nerd belts, we may be experiencing some nerdulence.
Jean-Luc Picard, setting a good example.
Bea Arthur's singing bartender was as
valid a part of the Star Wars
canon as Boba Goddamn Fett.
You know how Star Wars, as a thing, consists of three good movies and three shitty movies (and three shitty remasters of the good ones)? You do? Well, you're wrong, or at least were. Until today, the Star Wars comics, cartoons, novels, that warcrime of a holiday special and pretty much anything else George Lucas slapped the name 'Star Wars' on and collected a check for was considered canon. Almost all of it counted in the continuity of Star Wars. This is, or was, the Expanded Universe (EU). The EU filled in the blanks between movies, fleshed out even the most insignificant background characters and just generally allowed Lucasfilm to keep milking the space cow.

But ever since the announcement that J. J. Abrams would be making new Star Wars movies set after Return of the Jedi, the question on many a nerd's mind was what does this mean for the EU stories that came after Episode VI? Today we got an answer and it was:
-Snit from the Max Rebo Band

"Like drawing, but way the fuck harder!"
Lucasfilm has effectively shaken the continuity Etch-A-Sketch, so from here on out, the existing films, the Clone Wars cartoon and the not-yet-released Rebels series along with whatever new stuff Disney pumps out will be the only stories that count. It's a move designed to allow the writers of upcoming Star Wars fiction to divest themselves of the considerable narrative bloat of the EU, and that's probably a good thing. Speaking of bloat, scroll back up to that thing that looks like a waterbear playing a hookah. That's one of the creatures from Jabba's palace, basically window-dressing to let us know it's another planet, right?

Well, yes, but thanks to the EU, he has a name, a homeplanet and a detailed backstory. Check out his page on wookiepedia. Did you know that Snit once went by the name of Droopy McCool and that the Max Rebo Band was formerly known as Evar Orbus and his Galactic Jizz-Wailers? That fact alone should be all the reason anyone needs to kick the EU out of canon. I mean, try writing Episode VII knowing it takes place in a galaxy where Jizz-Wailing is a form of music.
Pictured: Evar Orbus and his Galactic Jizz-Wailers.
No, seriously, Galactic Jizz-Wailers. Enjoy.
I know exactly how
you feel alterna-Spock...
So back to the question of why anyone should care. If you live a well-rounded, full life, you shouldn't. On the other hand, if you're like me and have an unnatural interest in fictional universes, Lucasfilm dumping the EU is kind of a big deal. When Abrams rebooted Star Trek, he kind of half-assed it, setting his movie in the original Trek universe but with some alternate-reality bullshit that amounted to Eric Bana's time-travel turning Khan into a white guy-a sentence that actually makes more sense than the logic it describes.

With the new Star Wars, Abrams is getting a mostly clean-slate. The Ewok cartoon, Boba Fett's increasingly implausible resurrections and that time R.A. Salvatore dropped a moon on Chewbacca are all off the table. Of course he still has to deal all the bullshit from episodes I-III: midi-chlorians, General Grievous, every line of dialogue between Natalie Portman and Hayden know, it's not too late for Lucasfilm to dump the prequels, seriously, one press release and presto: no more Jar Jar.
"I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough
and irritating, and it gets everywhere."
-Darth Vader, dark lord of the Sith,

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy 4-Tweaster!

Thanks to an unusual convergence of movable feasts and people who like to get high picking an arbitrary date, today is both Easter and 4/20, so uh, Happy 4-Tweaster everybody! Easter, of course, falls on the first Sunday after the full moon after the equinox (got all that?) and celebrates Jesus rising from the dead. For Christians, it's like a super big deal as the resurrection forms the foundation of their theology.
Death and resurrection also form the foundation of
what Marvel's writers do when they run out of ideas.
"Well, you appear to have a pulse.
I'll get the paperwork started."
I'm not really sure what's special about 4/20 in particular as the pot fans I know never seem to need an excuse, but for whatever reason it's the day and time stoners have chosen to celebrate their love of getting high by you know, getting high. And celebrate they should. Pot's been legalized in two states, decriminalized in a bunch of others, and 'cause I want to get high' qualifies as a legitimate reason to get a medicinal marijuana card. And if that's your thing, that's great. I mean, great for you. If you're not into weed, stoners can be a little...sorry, how do I put this gently? Exhausting? I'm not judging, but holy shit do you guys know what you sound like when you're high?

Anyway, I'm neither religious nor into weed, but I think it's kind of cool that these two celebrations line up this year. Like, regardless of whether or not you believe Jesus had supernatural powers, he was a long-haired, bearded dude who told people to chill out, give all their money away and love each other. Sound familiar? Like, does anyone really think he'd have a problem with people getting stoned now and then?

Ok, some people might think he'd have a problem with it...
Pictured: What rich, conservative evangelicals
think Judgement Day is going to look like.

Also, Happy St. Spockington's Day!

What am I doing to mark the occasion? I'm glad I'm pretending you asked. I'll be watching Star Trek II and III back-to-back. How come? Well, as the founder and only member of the Church of Vulcantology, I'll be reflecting on the life of Spock, who died getting the warp core back online and then was resurrected in the third movie when Leonard Nimoy realized that nobody cared about his poetry. Sorry, I'm not trying to be a dick but
you're always going to be Spock. Embrace it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Breaking News: Elderly Rich Man Unhappy About Paying Taxes

Hey, remember Donald Rumsfeld? He was the Secretary of Defense during the Bush administration, you know, the one with all the wars? Well he's back and he's angry with the IRS. So angry that he's written them a scathing letter outlining his frustration with how our tax system is like super complicated...if you're worth $15 million.
"Like most Americans, I am sick and tired of trying to figure out which
form to fill out to report income from the sale of my second beach house."
He went on to complain about the rap
music and how the youngsters are
wearing their dungarees too low.
"As in prior years, it is important for you to know that I have absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax payments are accurate. I say this despite the fact that I am a college graduate and I try hard to make sure our tax returns are accurate...This note is to alert you folks that I do not know whether or not my tax returns are accurate..." 

-Donald Rumsfeld,
suddenly giving a shit about 
providing accurate information

Looks like Don will have to do his taxes with
the accountants he has, not the accountants
he might want or wishes he had at the time
Seriously, read the letter and count the number of times he says that he doesn't know if he's done his taxes correctly. I know what you're thinking: he's rich, he should hire an accountant. Well get this: he did hire an accountant and he even says that he thinks they know what they're doing. Alright, cool, so what's he still complaining about? Got me. I think he just likes complaining. I mean, this guy basically ran two simultaneous wars, shouldn't he be able to figure out which boxes to check on a -yeah...I think I just answered my own question. 

Anyway, since congress actually writes the tax code and not the underpaid federal employee at the IRS who's going to have to read his angry old man letter, I'm not really clear on what he hoped to accomplish by writing and then posting it to his Twitter page which is coincidentally wallpapered with the cover of his book, Rumsfeld's Rules: Leadership Lessons in Business, Politics, War and Life. Available now on, now I get it.
Judging from the title, I'm going to assume that it's a cautionary tale.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Have you hugged a cyborg today?

What are they exploring? How no
one wants to talk to you when you
have a camera strapped to your face?
Have you ever felt like something was missing from your life and/or face? Do you find living in the real world to be a needless distraction from screwing around online? Or have you ever just wished that instead of talking to your fellow humans, you could just stand alone in the corner of the room recording everything other people do or say like a detached observer, silent, yet unnerving? You have? Oh good, you're in luck then because Google is giving early adopters another chance to get Google Glass early. It's part of their 'Explorers' program and happens tomorrow for one day only. Oh, and I guess I don't have to mention this, but regular people need not apply.

Above: Just the kind of idiots
Google is looking for.
Yeah, regular people. Google's plan is to sell the devices at a discouragingly high price (say, $1,500) in an effort to keep away the rabble and ensure that the people who snap one up on Tuesday are tech-savvy gadget whores who will provide the company with useful, informed feedback and not just complain about how it doesn't come in goldpaigne. Now if it sounds a little like Google is asking people to throw down $1,500 do do their market research for them, that's only because that's exactly what they're doing.

So Google Glass is expensive, makes you look like an idiot and essentially sends the message to anyone you might be talking to that they're not quite important enough for you to stop staring at goddamn Pinterest for five minutes and give them your full attention, but is that any reason to assault someone for wearing it? ...the answer I'm looking for here is 'no...'
"Yes, of course I'm listening. Inoperable, got it-oh my god,
have you seen these Minion cupcakes on Pinterest? So adorbs!"
To be clear: if you see this guy on the
street do punch him and then run away.
Their shields need time to adapt, so you
 should be able to get in a hit or two.
Check out what happened to this guy. His name is Kyle Russell and he was just walking around San Francisco, when some asshole ripped the Glass off his face, smashed it and ran away. The hell, right? My first thought was that maybe the mugger mistook him for the vanguard of a Borg invasion in which case he was sort of a hero, but it turns out he probably just blamed Russell for the gentrification that has transformed the city from an expensive playground for the wealthy into an astronomically priced playground for the super wealthy. Yeah, ok, understandable, but how's that Russell's fault?

That soft, mechanical whine you heard
was just his servos turning the other cheek.
The assailant, according to Russell, spotted the Glass and figured he was just another one of the thousands of rich, tech-company employees who've descended on San Francisco like locusts with stock options. Russell, who actually lives in Berkley, was pretty zen about the whole thing:

"...I can see why the person who smashed my glass did what he did."

-Kyle Russell, writer, possible cyborg

Look, we're hurtling uncontrollably towards the future and whether it's a smart phone, Google Glass, or some kind of the wireless device implanted directly into the cerebral cortex, we're all sooner or later going to become cyborgs, so why not embrace it? Sure, there's always going to be early adopters out there with more money than sense, willing to drop crazy money on untested, bleeding edge technology, but that's no reason to mug them. Besides, the machines have long memories...
In the future, high rents will no longer be an issue anyway.
Everyone will have their own nice, cozy alcove in which to
regenerate their organic components. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

It will never not be too soon...

...for this. This...what? The link. You can click on the blue text and-oh never mind, here: The ad below appeared in an AirAsia in-flight magazine. Notice anything, I don't know, heinous, about it? Yeah, I'm referring to the oddly specific line: 'Rest assured that your Captain is well prepared to ensure your plane will never get lost.' Wait, get lost? Why would the plane get...holy shit, are they talking a swipe at Malaysian Airlines for flight 370?
The whole thing started when someone Tweeted the passage using
 Instagram's new 'appalling absence of human compassion' filter.
"In our defense we never expected
anyone to actually read the in-flight
magazine. I mean, for real..."
The airline has since withdrawn the magazine and AirAsia Executive Chairman Kamarudin Meranun released an statement:

"This is a truly difficult time for the nation and words cannot describe how I personally feel of this incident...It truly saddens me that this article was released at such an inopportune moment."

-Executive Chairman Kamarudin Meranun,
master of the passive voice corporate apology

Visit beautiful Canada:
'We almost never get annexed by Russia!'
Kamarudin went on to explain that the magazine was printed months in advance and therefore was absolutely not a reference to flight 370. Um, ok... Seems like kind of a weird coincidence, doesn't it? Like, why reference losing a plane at all? Was that ever really a fear for flyers? Turbulence, screaming babies and getting stuck in the middle seat, yes, but the pilot getting lost? Unless the writer was some kind of pre-cog, this seems like a pretty jaw-dropping attempt to use the headlines about the increasingly hopeless search for the missing jet as a shitty marketing ploy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

94% Enemy

When OkCupid is against you, there really is no point in carrying on. It's over. What am I talking about? Gay stuff. Specifically OkCupid's excellent middle finger to recently named Mozilla CEO and noted gaycist, Brendan Eich, who donated money to the Prop-8 people back in 2008 and is now ruing the day.
"Whoa, whoa, I'm not anti-gay, I'm just anti-gay marriage. There's a difference:
I don't care if gay people exist, I just can't stand the thought of them finding happiness."

-Brendan Eich, CEO of...what?
Ok, he didn't actually say that,
but I don't think I'm that far off
If you try to go to OkCupid today using Firefox, you'll get a letter from them asking you to please be so kind as to use some other browser (like Safari, which is totally gay) so as not to get Eich's grody homophobia all over their gay-friendly site:

"May your loins wither and bear no fruit,
may you mouth be covered in sores and
may your Q4 earnings fall by 20-no, 25%."
"Mozilla's new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid...Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it's professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame and frustration are our enemies and we wish them nothing but failure."

-OkCupid, standing up to homophobes
and possibly laying a curse on Brendan Eich

With that, the dating site joins, well, most of the internet in calling for Eich to step down but he's not going quietly. In this interview with cnet, he insists that not only is he the best person for the job, but that there will be dire consequences if he's forced out. Dire consequences!

Is 'walled garden' a computer thing?
Because it actually sounds kind of lovely.
"A world without Firefox and without Firefox OS and without our approach to putting the user at the center of cloud services instead of having users get pulled into walled gardens -- I think that would be a pretty dark world. I would encourage people to think about that, even if they have a hard time understanding me or meeting me at the Mozilla mission and working on a common cause."

-Brendan Eich, Mozilla CEO and all 
that stands between us and the darkness

So if Eich is asked to resign, Firefox will cease to be and the world will be plunged into a dark, nightmarish future of not being at the center of cloud services. I guess we'll all just have to use Chrome or something.
Above: The bleak, Firefox-less world that awaits us if Eich gets fired. 
Above: The thing Eich
is being hoisted by.
What he's getting at is that in asking him to resign because of the Prop-8 donation, his critics are striking at his company's philosophy of a user-controlled internet. He's like, the victim here, see? The logic being that if you believe that the internet should be controlled by people and not corporations then you should also support him in his freedom to be an asshole. Ok, fair point, but doesn't this door kind of swing both ways? Fine, great, donate to the Prop-8 people, but don't get all butt-hurt (should that be hyphenated?) when 71,000 people sign a petition to get your ass fired.

In the interview he also asserts that his personal beliefs are not relevant to his position as CEO, and I'm going to have to call bullshit on that too. I'll admit that I'm not really clear on what a CEO does (something about synergizing paradigms, I think?), but isn't getting people to work together part of the job? Isn't that kind of difficult if everyone hates your rancid, homophobic guts?
"Cheryl, listen, if you're planning on bringing Lana to the company picnic,
do you think you could keep a lid on
 the lesbo stuff? We're a family company." 
"Yessss...attention...I craves it..."
-Mike Huckabee
(actual quote)*
Obviously at some point Mike Huckabee is going to catch wind of this and latch on to Eich like some kind of parasite that feeds on hate and relevancy. He'll probably organize a 'We like Eich' day at Chic Fil-A and his supporters will sit around soaking up free wifi and arterial blockages while complaining about the gays and Obamacare, but in the end Eich's tenure as CEO is likely doomed. Thanks to him, Firefox is now the #1 browser among homophobes. No amount of re-branding, or thinking outside the box is going to shake that off.

Of course he could do the classy thing and resign. It'd save the company a lot of grief. It's sort of like when Worf accepted discommendation rather than allow the Klingon Empire to collapse into civil war. Yeah, you like that? I made this about Star Trek.
Of course Worf wasn't donating money to a bunch of anti-gay
 tools, so the analogy kind of falls apart. But still...Klingons...

*no, no it isn't.