Monday, January 31, 2011

Untangling headphones

Those few common tasks and puzzles that are so common in our daily lives and yet so unmentioned in conversation. The one that I recently consciously realized was the task of untangling headphones or other wires. It's like a puzzle, and one that I do almost daily. It's such an ordinary part of my life, I don't even really think about it, I just do it.

If you can think of others, throw some in the comments :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rioting in Greece

Hey everyone, quick post today. I've been running on four hours of sleep and lots of coffee all because I had to write this essay. Tell me what you think of it, it's not a final draft yet, so please, feel free to critique. Or troll. :)

btw, this is written from the perspective of a USAtian college kid.

tl;dr: revolution is good. so are Molotov cocktails.

 Though we may be removed from our forefathers in this country by nearly 300 years, the revolutionaries and intellectuals responsible for the founding of our country provide inspiration for anyone living in the United States or even in the world; a shining example of the People triumphing over authority. Time has diluted the messages of these men, but the world we live in provides many modern examples for those willing to look for them. In Greece during the December of 2008 a 15-year old student, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, was shot and killed by two policemen, prompting protests and riots in Athens and other cities in Greece and Europe ( 1). Violence tends to be viewed as ineffective in the modern world when other possibilities, such as compromise or reasoned (and ponderous) debate exist, but occasionally it can be a quick way to make a point of a magnitude that cannot often be matched by the simple expression of an idea through words. Not to advocate the use of force, but a picture (or an action) that can inspire such a significant range of emotion is worth thinking about, no matter what the content.
Perhaps the most impressive image to come out of the riots in 2008 shows four people: a protestor in the foreground on the left, dressed in a leather jacket, wearing a beanie and gloves, and holding a flaming Molotov cocktail in his right hand. Another protestor in the middle ground appears to have just thrown a similar device, and is dressed comparably to the first protestor: in all black. Both protestors face away from the camera towards two riot police officers who are farther away in the background. One of the officers is engulfed in flames from the Molotov cocktail just thrown by the protestor in the middle ground, and another officer on the right side of the picture looks on, likely about
to help his flaming compatriot. A part of a series of pictures, the image will undoubtedly garner a divided response. The picture supports the cause of the protestors: it shows a riot officer on fire, but there is the impression that the photographer is simply recording important events in his/her time. The most striking part of this photo other than the action displayed is the environment in which it takes place: an average street, one of which variations exist in many cities. There are some trees and other plants on the left, with buildings dominating the distant background. This picture is rife with symbols to elicit more of a response, but that advantage can also be a bane as it serves to divide rather than unify it's audience.
The photograph argues two seemingly contradictory points, which is likely why it is such an emotional appeal (and so likely to divide people in their opinions of it). This visual text uses pathos and symbolism to make it's argument. The Molotov cocktail has represented revolution, rebellion, and the fight for freedom against oppression (or at least the struggle of the underdog against impossible odds) since it's christening nearly 100 years ago, and the men dressed in black and throwing incendiary devices at police officers – symbols of authority rarely resolve more clearly than in the police force – inspire either thoughts of revolution, injustice, and anger or simply fear, especially considering the political environment in which we live where those who are viewed as freedom fighters in other countries are portrayed in the United States as terrorists. It is easy to give into fear, and the argument of the picture is marginalized by the obsession with fear in our culture.
The argument is most effective when the viewer is of the expected audience: younger people, with education or without, who feel dissatisfaction with their government, and those who feel mistreated by the authorities. Though the photo can be shocking, the context of the picture is very important to remember: these men aren't sadistic criminals trying to inflict pain, they are merely citizens attempting to take revenge and make their voices heard for what they perceive to be an abuse of power by the police. The photo leaves it up to the viewer to decide whether the actions of these anonymous men is something to be respected, feared, or even hated. Such a polarizing photo will
certainly have those who are offended by it: those who believe violence is never justified, those who question the motives of the rioters, those who feel the police are just doing their jobs, and those who would jump at the chance to term the masked men as terrorists.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Written out

Just wrote a 3-page in class essay, so I'm sorry that I can't really post anything of consequence. Not 'cause I don't want to, more just that my brain sort of ... is written out right now. So instead I'll just post about how dumb Jersey Shore is.

Here, have a shamelessly stolen picture:

So honestly, this show just represents to me how stupid the United States populace at large is. Seriously, this show isn't even close to anything resembling real events, and it's simply terribly written drama. On the three occasions I've watched it, my impression is that MTV is trying to influence the values of their viewers. Not that I can really dictate what other's views should be, but these are some lame-ass values being expressed in this show.

What about you guys? Jersey Shore good or bad?

Monday, January 24, 2011

More iPhone Update Grumblings

So it turns out that not only did Apple change the font for the Note app in the recent iPhone update, but apparently they also made my music on my iPhone inaccessible. I'm currently re-uploading my songs onto my device, and hoping that this will remedy the problem. To be honest, I didn't lose anything but time, so one might think it unnecessary to complain, but seriously, why does an update, supposed to make my product either, a) better, or b) less buggy, disable one of the major features of my device? If there were a similar product out there, Apple would totally lose my business. It's a good thing they know what they're doing I suppose.

tl;dr: I bitch about Apple some more.

PS, this song is awesome:

iPhone Note Application

Recently, Apple changed the font used on the iPhone Note application, and I don't like it. It used to be a very practical and readable font, but now it looks like one of those "fun" fonts. Now this is completely unimportant, but I do use the Note function on a daily basis and the change seems completely unnecessary. Now a useful addition in the update would've been the option to change the font, but instead they simply arbitrarily changed the font. Like seriously Apple...double you tee eff mate?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Musings on Time

Here's some stuff I wrote about time. It's not enlightening, just something I wrote to try and be less bored in class XD

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Youtube Channels, p2: Machinima

Of course the legendary Rooster Teeth had to be on this list. They are most famous for their machinima series Red vs Blue, and are some of the pioneers of the machinima community. This is just their YouTube channel, but they post all the videos that they post on their site here as well. If you haven't seen Red vs Blue, you MUST check this out. And if you haven't, they have many more videos that you may not have seen from them.
Some more machinima creators, responsible for the CS:S machinima series Leet World. More recently they made a live action series called Web Zeroes. Both of these series are worth checking out, although Leet World definitely got stale near the end. I've only watched a few Web Zeroes episodes, but they were certainly funny and worth a look. As of right now, they are not making any new content.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Back to School

Hey everyone. I'm headed back to school (college, don't worry, I'm not some little kiddy [not to hate on little kids or anything]) today and I can't wait! I mean, Winter break was fun and all, and it's great to see my family and friends, but college...well, how can I say it? I've spent one semester in college, and in that time, I have had more fun, made more friends, learned more interesting things, failed more classes, smoked more cigarettes, drank more coffee, broken more laws...the list goes on, but I think you get the idea.

Unfortunately, school takes a huge amount of time, even considering I ended up failing a full half of my classes (I could make excuses all day long, but it basically all boils down to "lack of interest in general education"), and now that I plan to NOT fail any of my classes, I expect even more of my time will be used up, leaving very little time to post updates on this blog. While I will try to update once a day, I can't promise any specific frequency of updates. On days where my blog remains stagnant, you can just imagine me slaving away over piles of books, taking notes, or generally being a miscreant with my various college buddies. Which actually gives me an idea:

Is anyone interested in hearing (reading) some of my college stories? I'd be happy to share the ones that stand out in my memory if there is interest. And if not, I'll just keep writing on completely random subjects that come to mind. And with that, I am off.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Hey everyone. Another post about an MMO, but this one isn't out yet, and rather than being based in a fantasy world with elves, orcs, dorfs, and the usual other elements found in your average MMO (not to seem like I'm trash talking fantasy MMOs, I'm just so much more excited for Star Wars: The Old Republic than any other MMO out there that, well, it's necessary to show the this is a really long parenthetical...anyways, back to what I was saying), Star Wars: The Old Republic is based in, obviously, the Star Wars universe.

The game is set in a time long before that shown in the Original Trilogy, when the Republic was still strong and the Sith Empire has only recently shown it's true power. As in all MMOs, the setting is highly contentious, allowing for Player vs Player content that is justified in the lore. The reason I and so many other MMO gamers are excited for this game over others, though, is because of the immense amount of work that has been put into it. The entire game...let's rewind...the ENTIRE game (at least according to advertisements, let's not get too carried away here) is voiced over. This means any character in the game that you interact with will respond in their own voice, and rather than the standard MMO quest system with two options: Accept or Decline, you will be able to choose from a variety of dialogue options, allowing your character to be good, evil, or any combination of those two options.

Another reason why this game has me so excited: it's made by Bioware, who brought the gaming community such masterpieces as Knights of the Old Republic and it's sequel (notice the similarity in titles?), Mass Effect, and Dragon Age: Origins, along with countless other games. Bioware is arguably the best company in the business at making RPGs, and they will certainly be bringing that experience to the table.

Finally, this game has huge potential in terms of who it could attract. Not only will it attract fans of MMOs and the previous RPGs made by Bioware, it also taps into the fan base of the Star Wars universe, perhaps one of the largest communities of nerds (let's be honest with ourselves here) in existence! Now I realize that every MMO that comes out is hyped up to a degree that is generally unreachable in practical terms, but I do believe that this MMO could be the "WoW killer," a term used too often by the marketing people behind just about every MMO that has come out since WoW beat out the competition.

I'm not naive enough to think that this game will live up 100% to what it's creators say about it, nor do I think that it will truly "kill" World of Warcraft, but what I do see is a game that has extraordinary potential. In fact, when I think back over all the MMOs I have played, the only one that seemed this promising pre-release was World of Warcraft. So whether you enjoy MMOs, played a KotOR game back in the day, or even just enjoyed watching the Star Wars movies, do yourself a favor and take at least a glance at the soon-to-be-released Star Wars: The Old Republic.

What do you guys think? Will SW:TOR be as great as I hype it up to be, or will it be a flop? What other MMOs are you looking forward to? I remember seeing a comment about Rift, but I'm going to be honest, other than that and SW:TOR, I haven't really been keeping up with the MMO scene.

YouTube channels worth watching, p1: Starcraft 2 commentaries

Hey everybody! I watch a lot of YouTube videos, and I figured that I might as well throw out some of my favorite YouTube personalities. Today, I'll write about some Starcraft 2 commentators, who add (as you might have guessed) their commentaries to pro Starcraft 2 games. If you want to improve your gameplay in SC2, you should certainly take a look at these channels.

HD offers commentaries on pro-games as well as his own games on the ladder. He's a good player (Masters league Zerg on his main account and Diamond league Terran on his secondary account), and he shows games played by the best of the best. The main race he plays is Zerg, although he comments on all types of match ups, usually 1v1s.

Huskys channel is very similar to HDs, although I do prefer Husky. He comments on pro games and on his own games, just as HD does, but he posts less of his own games than HD does. Husky is funnier than HD (if you're into nerd humor), which is the reason why I prefer his channel. Huskys main race is protoss (Diamond league, I believe), and will occasionally post larger team games which are great if you like seeing epic battles.

If you guys are interested, I can post more YouTube channels that I watch as soon as later today or tomorrow, but my current plan is to post another part of "YouTube channels worth watching" every other post or so. So let me know, do you want more YouTube channels or other random content? Also, what are some of your favorite YouTube channels?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lord of the Rings...Online?

Hey everyone. For those MMO addicts out there with nothing to play, I'd like to bring to your attention (if you didn't know already) that Lord of the Rings Online is now free! The game has a reasonably sized community full of helpful people, as well as a variety of classes that,  though they resemble standard MMO archetypes, all have their unique twists. For example, instead of the traditional healer class who uses divine power or whatever else you want to call it, LotRO has the Minstrel, who uses his music to heal and buff allies. There is also an interesting take on the standard MMO crafting system where you choose a pre-made set of three crafting abilities of various types (gathering, crafting, etc etc).

Despite being free, a trait that would often speak of a lack of quality in video games, LotRO is a very well-polished game. And hey, since it is free, it's not like you'll lose anything by giving it a try!

Friday, January 14, 2011


Now I know there are a lot of people talking about this game, but I enjoy it so much that I feel like I should write about it too (probably why everyone else writes about it too). Minecraft is one of the most simple and yet most complex games I've ever played, as oxymoronic as that sounds. The entire world is composed of blocks of different materials (such as stone, dirt, water, and even trees are made of blocks of wood and leaves), and is quite ugly at first, I must admit, but if you give the game a chance, you will be surprised at the breathtaking beauty of much of the randomly-generated terrain.

Where Minecraft truly excels is in the freedom it grants to the player. You can walk for hours on the surface, exploring the blocky, yet beautiful terrain, you can build a house or any other structure you could imagine, you can mine for precious minerals, you can create giant caverns, you can fight monsters, and you can even open a portal to another dimension called the Nether! There are no objectives except those you define for yourself and staying alive, which, though easy during the day, is very tough at night unless you are prepared with weapons, armor, and food to fend off the variety of monsters that come out when the sun is down. Even if you die, you will simply respawn (without any of the items you were carrying) and can continue whatever quest you feel is worthy of your time.

Minecraft is a game of paradoxes: simple, yet complex, ugly, yet beautiful, a game with no goals, but at the same time, one of the most fun games you will find. I highly suggest that everyone try it out despite it's seemingly unpolished exterior, because what you find will surprise you.


The Big Lebowski

Considering my namesake comes from the movie The Big Lebowski, I though I'd write a little about the film I love so much. The movie follows The Dude, a self-admitted loser who gets embroiled in the affairs of another man who shares the same name as him, Jeffery Lebowski. This other Lebowski is rich, but his wife owes money to the wrong people, and some of those people come over to intimidate The Dude who they mistake for the mistake for the rich Lebowski. If you haven't seen it, you should definitely check it out! And if you have, what was your favorite line?

Hay gaise!

Hey everyone, another newbie on the blog scene here. This blog will be about things that interest me, and hey, if you want me to write about something, leave a comment and I'll certainly consider it. This blog will also be a place for me to put any creative writing I happen to do. Feel free to critique! I would like to note that for all intents and purposes, everything on this blog should be considered FICTION, and whenever I refer to myself, I am actually referring to a fictional version of myself. Anyways, I hope you enjoy my future posts, and Viva la revolucion!