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Saturday, October 30, 2004

I Did It 

This web is made of money, made of greed, made of me

Oh, what I have become in this parasite economy

-- The Coup, "Not Yet Free"
Well, I got the freakin' thing. While there are scantily-clad women walking around in the game, you are not able to proposition them for sex, and from what I'm told, having sex with them (which happens further on than where I'm at) yields no health benefit. The marketing strategy is still disturbing (the disc itself has the aforementioned sexist cartoon lady licking her lips), but the game is apparently less hateful toward women than previous incarnations.

I am surprised, however, by the insipid racist stereotypes it profiles. One hefty black guy is very fond of fried chicken, and the wretched N-word appears once every three minutes or so.

As for gameplay, my two complaints thus far are:
  1. You can't rob stores. In GTA3 and Vice City, robbing clerks was a major source of income; this time around, you're supposed to sneak through houses. Yeesh! Are there any game designers who don't want to copy Metal Gear Solid? If I wanted stealth missions, I'd get Hitman!

  2. The one-screen radar is very tiny. In fact, the whole game seems designed for (and was most likely beta-tested only by) people with much larger TVs than mine.
That said, it's a pretty sweet game. I just bought my first house, and while the missions are tricky, I'm doing okay so far. (Others seem to be having more trouble, if the discussion boards are any indication.)

Much ado, I suppose...

Also today, I made myself a bowtie.


FuzzyMath is cute. Via ABS.

Today I'm listening to: IdealSound!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

ARRRGGHH!! I can't decide! 

This is so ridiculous. I can't decide whether or not to buy San Andreas. You all know why I'm hesitating, but I've been trying to sort it out in my mind. I went into a video game store today to try and find out whether or not you can still pay prostitutes for sex as a way to health-up. I couldn't find any info in either the instruction book or the strategy guide. The guy at the counter said "I assume it's still the game" with an idiot smile, which indicates to me that he sees this attribute as a good thing.

So then I started wondering: What sense does it make for me to keep from buying this game? It's not like I'm making some big impression to RockStar games. It's not like my students say to me: "Wow, what a refreshing and principled stance for an adult to take; perhaps I should rethink some of my assumptions about gender, given the points you make about the vast sickness in which we as young people are ensconced, vis a vis gender relations."

So then I start thinking about Dead to Rights, a game I bought and played an enjoyed. It features a scene where you must -- as a stripper -- perform a striptease as a way to distract guards so that the hero can sneak past them. Is this not worse than the optional prostitute feature in GTA? How can I reconcile this paradox in my mind? (I can't.)

So then Diane comes back from San Francisco and tells me about an ad she saw for the game featuring a women bending forward, licking her lips seductively as if to say "Play this game and you'll receive oral sex." Now, if a clothing company tried to sell its products this way, I'd boycott their product on principle. (Oh yeah, I did this back when Bugle Boy had its sick series of ads featuring scantily-clad models with the tagline: "We know what guys like.")

So then IGN comes out with its review which says "It's the defining piece of software for Sony's successful sophomore system, and it's almost impossible to imagine a PlayStation 2 library without it. . . . This is the best PlayStation 2 game ever made. Period." So what kind of a video-game addict am I if I hear nothing but glowing, off-the-chart reviews about how this is the absolute MUST HAVE game, but I refuse to overlook a (relatively small) aspect in the background?

So then I bring it up with my students and they all remind me (thanks, I was almost ready to forget, despite the fact that this is what EVERYONE says in response to my points) that I don't HAVE to sleep with the prostitutes. And it -- like so much else -- becomes just another case of me talking and going nowhere.

This is so dumb. I wish I could just find a way to allow myself to go and freaking buy the damn thing already.



I don't know. I'm too bummed out right now. This is the first thing today on ABS. Maybe it'll be good. I don't really even care.

Today I'm listening to: Myself typing.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Pass the Lavoisier! 

So at school today (during silent-reading time I'd reserved for the students), I was reading Manuel de Landa's excellent text A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History. Suddenly I hit this passage on p. 208:
The technical register of French would not be affected until the eighteenth century, when Lavoisier and others helped fix the way in which suffixes and prefixes should be used to coin new scientific terms.
Now, I had never heard of Antoine Lavoisier before, but I completely lost it. I was overcome by a vision of P. Diddy and Busta Rhymes wildin' out in the studio with an 18th century French scientific treatise. "Pass the Lavoisier, yo!" I had to put my head down on my desk and giggle as quietly as possible for the next three minutes. I tried to explain to the kids, but they just didn't get it. (Of course, there aren't many people in the world, I suppose, who catch both references.)


Thanks to Garrett for this page of Kerry photojokes.

And bless Diane for linking us to Ann Coulter being hit by pies. Now, where's the picture?

Diane will probably get a kick out of this video of a Diebold voting machine in action. Thanks, MeFi!

Speaking of Bush, thanks to Devoter for 100 Facts and 1 Opinion: The Non-Arguable Case Against the Bush Administration.

I don't know about the "turnabout" thing, but this Ted Rall cartoon is a very striking image.

Check out this photography montage. I was gonna use it as a TimeWaster™, but I found something even better. Still, those are some striking pix there.

And finally -- When Teachers Attack, coming soon to Fox.
After Amica wrestled the bag away, police say Rucker picked up a chair and hit her in the back, knocking Amica to the floor. Rucker then began punching Amica in the face and body.
Priceless. (TPCQ: "Your crayons are squeaking!!")


Give Bush a Brain. Well made, and filled with good quotes.

Today I'm listening to: DI Chillout!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Next Step 

For a while, I've been waiting to see -- mark my words, this WILL be the next step -- a commercial which uses reverse psychology to get people to buy the product. I don't mean the kind of you're-too-smart-for-ads ads like Sprite has been running; I mean ads like the one I made here for Folgers. Primus/KMFDM-style advertising, where the company claims its product is horrible and no one should buy it.

Then I got to thinking about viral marketing and those chowderheads Chris and Luke, who got a big corporation to sponsor their lives (can you imagine anything more pathetic?). And I got to thinking.

Corporations! Be the first to cash in on my new offer for this important groundbreaking market-penetration opportunity! For a small one-time donation of $100,000 each to the East Timor Action Network and Alachua County Labor Party, I will personally hold up your product once a week for a month on my blog and tell people it sucks.

Think about it -- what's the one unifying attribute of all ads? What do they all have in common? Right: The people are lying! Well, that won't happen when you hire me. When I tell people your product sucks, I'll be telling the unvarnished truth!

We all know that corporations no longer sell products -- you sell lifestyles! And what better way to appeal to jaded young people than by cashing in on their growing distrust of ads? If you let them know that you know that your product sucks, they'll be more likely to buy your product.

Trust me, people -- this WILL happen. You heard it here first. In fact, any corporation which uses this strategy without making the aforementioned payments to good-doing organizations is guilty of intellectual piracy and owes me several million dollars.

You're all witnesses.


I don't have time to find you stupid things to play with. Go find something for yourself at ABS.

Today I'm listening to: Music!

Yeah, Ha? 

You came up with a unifying theme for today's blog post, ha? (You want people to be careful cuz of explicit lyrics, ha?) Ah, you got it confused with Juvenal, ha? You a little concerned cuz the Wikipedia entry for Juvenile is twice as long, ha? You're a little skeptical of Boots' claim that Juvenile's track is "one of the most political songs out right now," ha? You wanna let people hear the track, ha? Or at least a part of it, ha? You wanna hear the "Ha"-related story of how I made Jeremy Collins spit out his beer while we were bowling, ha?

You're impressed by Revolution: USA, Coldcut's latest video remix project, ha? You want people to make sure they see the featured selection Coldcut vs. TV Sherriff, ha? (You wish they had smaller resolution video clips available, ha?) You wish you could find a clip of Bush walking to the podium, ha?

Oh, you wanna see the video of Jon Stewart on Crossfire, ha? Or maybe you wanna know how voters around the world feel about the US election, ha?

You went to see Michael Moore last night at the University of Wisconsin, ha? It was cold and too crowded, ha? You could only barely see him on the stage, ha? You tried to talk rationally with the pro-Bush crowd yelling "Four More Years," ha? You had one of them tell you "I'm not interested in having a discussion," ha? You heard them say that if Zell Miller or Arnold Schwarzenegger were there, and some Democrats were trying to shout him down, they wouldn't mind, ha? You were -- yet again -- dismayed by the fanatical lack of dialogue and discourse in modern politics, ha? You find it hard to keep your faith in dialectic engagement alive, ha? Especially with people on the other side of the political divide, ha? You want to avoid becoming strident and caustic, ha? But you find it difficult if not impossible because of the stridency and caustic attitudes of people you try to conversate with, ha? You despair for the future of American democracy, ha?

You want people to read today's Boondocks strip, ha? You sick of hearing this same song over and over, ha? Time to do some La'o Hamutuk work, ha?

TimeWaster&trade, ha?

You think you got fast eyes, ha? You wanna try to Count the Stars, ha? You wanna beat my high score of 150 points, ha?

You haven't figured out by now what I'm listening to, ha? You're sick of seeing me write like this, ha? You gonna leave all kinds 'a comments, ha?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

New Mos Def & New Saul Williams: 0/2 

I got the new Mos Def album tonight, and I must say that I'm VERY disappointed. The first eight tracks are not very good at all, and the whole thing seems to be a paean to guitar-heavy rock and roll (a la the second half of Track 10 on Black on Both Sides). Tracks 9 and 10 on this album are pretty good, but I'm really just sad at how non-hip-hop the whole package seems so far. Maybe there'll be some really good stuff on the last few tracks.

Saul Williams' latest is also very unimpressive, and also very rock-n-roll-centric. It's like each of these guys picked the weakest tracks from their mind-blowing first albums and decided to replicate those less-than-breathtaking qualities on the sophomore effort. It's frustrating; we should call it the Channel Live effect (except at least Channel Live's second album has that really good track on #3).

Is it a coincidence that Mos has spent more time in movie studios than music studios in the last few years? Or that Saul's last book was put out by MTV? Am I being paranoid if I imagine that the machine is eating their work too, that the electrifying energy and digital boom-bap that stunned me so joyously last time has been -- perhaps intentionally -- kept away from their new stuff?

This sucks. Back to Babbletron.

I suppose it could be worse.


Leave It To Bush. Hilarious! (A little blue, tho -- proceed with caution, kids.)

Today I'm listening to: Mos Def back when he could do no wrong.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I'm A Stupid Moron 

I totally forgot to watch the debate. I can't believe how stupid and idiotic I am. I don't suppose anyone in Madison taped it?

The funny thing is that I thought earlier today: Maybe I should tape it, in case Diane cannot for some reason make it to a TV. Man, I'm such a dingus!

See, what happened is -- I got Spider-Man 2 the video game (still haven't seen the movie) and I started playing it. It's really well done; totally free-form. I think this is my new favorite form of video game (now that they've stopped making actual RPGs). You can go all over the city, from the streets to the top of the skyscrapers, slinging webs and beating up criminals. Lots o' fun. Expensive to get it now (even used), but hey, I'm working full time so it's okay.

Sigh. Now I just realized that yesterday I also missed the second installment of "Wanda Does It." (Wanda Sykes is the funniest comedienne since Ellen, yo.)

Devoter is an interesting MeFi clone. I've already registered.

Well, I stayed up too late last night, so I'd better get some decent sleep tonight. Peace out.


Hard Working George is cute. Someone really ought to put a beat behind it. (I'm looking at you, Negativland!)

Today I'm listening to: Aphex Twin!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Stop Pretending to Be Black! 

Today I bought a book in ShopKo, which I'd never done before. The book was George Carlin's latest, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?, and it's got some pretty funny stuff in it. Plus, most of it looks new, unlike his last two. (Speaking of Mr. Carlin, I recently came across a military recruiting ad he did a while back.)

So then I look up and see Bill O'Reilly's latest book, The O'Reilly Factor for Kids. I swear I'm not making this up. I'd heard him plugging it on The Daily Show, so I had to take a look. I flipped to the section on music, and I found him railing against rap artists (as always), and he says something to the effect of (I wish I could remember the exact words): "So what if Eminem sells millions of records? You don't have to like him just like everyone else." Yeah, okay. Fine; think for yourself, whatever. But then he says: "These artists dis women and gays in their lyrics, so why support them?"

First of all, you've never given two spits for either women or gay people, Bill, so it's completely disingenuous for you to use that as a basis for attacking rap artists (even those as horrendously counterintelligent as Eminem -- but I've ranted about that elsewhere).

More importantly, Mr. O'Reilly, you are NOT allowed to use the word "dis" in your writing. You're not black, and you're not part of the hip-hop culture, so quit using slang words you pick up from Alan Keyes in an attempt to seem "cool" to kids you're trying to push your book on. Trust Me! If anyone knows how quickly young people will go deaf to phony "cool" appeals, it's the dorky white English teacher with an intensive rap hobby. (I know, I know -- worst Photoshop job EVER!)

Which got me to thinking: In the classroom, I have to act in a certain way, which is pretty different from how I act with my peers. (I don't use trying-to-be-cool slang like "dis," for one thing.) Because I don't want my students to think I'm trying to impress them by using the slang they use, I keep myself from using the slang that I use. In other words: I have to speak like someone I'm not in order to keep from seeming like someone who speaks like someone they're not. How bizarre.

Of course, Langston Hughes put it best.

Dred Scott, etc.

Did Bush reference the Dred Scott decision in the last debate because it's similar to Roe v. Wade? Makes some sense, I guess. It's amazing what you can find on the Internets. (You can even find out what Dred Scott was really about.)

Also from the Wikipedia, something for Jon -- Everything you always wanted to know about the tin-foil hat (but were afraid to ask -- because you knew that doing so would put you on the government's watch-list of people who know how to avoid their mind-control techniques).

Together is a good movie. Did I already promo this? (Just cleaning out the ol' bookmarks file, folks.) We also watched Horns & Halos last night. A very interesting story. And it features both Amy Goodman and Mark Crispin Miller! Woot!

Diane's away for a week. Time for some PS2.


Chocolate Niblet Beans. It's easy to do this sort of thing wrong; this person has done it right. (It's got the PowerPuff Girls!)

Today I'm listening to: DI Chillout!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

News Flash: I'm Tired 

I did a Google Image search for "drained" and found this image at this Russian site. I like the combination, especially since I've been somewhat cavalier with my money lately.

Today was a good day at school; not because of anything in particular that happened, but rather because of the lack of trials. Yesterday I got into a funk because it was one of those days that tests my faith. (In a class of 26 students, I always focus on the three that aren't paying attention and proceed to demand of myself: What must I do to motivate them?)

Anyway, big thanks as always to DLF for her lifesaving love and support. Sometimes what I need most is someone to be there as I mope at dinner and sigh repeatedly into my water glass.

As for the money -- this full-time teaching thing brings with it not only more papers to grade but also more paper in my wallet! Huzzah! So I was able to get the new CD player (no more constant skipping, woo) and many new CDs to go with it. The new Orbital, for instance, is a lot like their last one -- not very coherent, with only a few tracks that stand out.

I also found Capital D, who is one of only two rap artists ever to qutoe from Chomsky. (Five bonus points to the first person to name the other.) In the track "Blowback" (I think), D says something about "keeping the rabble in line," which of course is the title of a book of Chomsky interviews.

Which brings us full circle -- one of my students pleased me immeasurably the other day by revealing that the book he was currently reading is Propaganda and the Public Mind. How cool is that?

Okay, I'm off to play some Go.


War is good, but it ends a bit abruptly. Tiny Plaid Ninjas is more satisfying. (Both via ABS)

Today I'm listening to: duh!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

My Latest Track 

After several months of not producing any music, I finally got inspired. I turned on the radio and couldn't find any decent hip-hop, so -- as always -- I came home and made some of my own. I hope you also think it's decent:
The Drive-By
The image at right is borrowed from this site, which has many very disturbing images. Hopefully the allegory is clear in this track -- if not, please ask and I'll break it down.

George Shadroui: What Freaking Ever

So I had some problems with my email (apparently SBC didn't notify me that they were instituting a new spam-blocking filter which kept all but a tiny trickle of emails from reaching me until I went in today and turned it off (and downloaded the 800 that had backed up).

Anyway, George Shadroui had, in fact written me back on 27 September. Most of his email is a series of refutations to my refutations; so while I will gladly share with people his email (if you ask nicely), I won't quote many parts of it.

The main item I was interested to hear back from him about was with regard to East Timor, especially as that case disproves his claim that "the only real hope victims facing catastrophic repression or genocide have is the United States." I expected to get an apology along the lines of "To the people of East Timor I apologize for playing so fast and loose with my words. The US obviously did not offer them hope during their years of catastrophic repression/genocide."

Instead, I got this:
I have, of course, heard of East Timor. And I reference it in my article by way of mentioning Suharto. I agree that we could have and should have withdrawn or cut military aid to that government sooner than we did. What impact would it have had is, as you suggest, another matter. My guess is the French would have stepped in, sold the weapons, and things would have gone as before. We sustained a relationship with Indonesia because it was an important anti-communist country in a part of the world that was contentious and under threat of communist domination.
So whatever. I'm done with this man. He's obviously not interested in dialogue, much less considering seriously any of my main points about perspective, aside from giving Chomsky credit for "raising an occasional legitimate human rights issue."

So, I guess I'm sorry I wasted my time trying to talk rationally to his man, but I hope it served some positive purpose for others who were looking in.

Enjoy the music. Feedback is appreciated!


MonkeySlide is fun.

Today I'm listening to: Orbital! (Their "final album"? WHA!?)