Monthly Archives: June 2007

Sid Meier’s Civilization for next-gen consoles

If you’ve ever played Civilization and also ever been addicted to the game (usually, these two go hand in hand), you’ll be happy to know that Take 2 Games has just announced that Civ is coming to “next generation consoles and handhelds” in Spring 2008. (I recall hours wasted playing Civ during both high school and college, and I know the family will be none too happy about the release.)

And it doesn’t sound like a dumbed-down version, but rather, along the lines of the original, a “strategy game,” with the addition of “auto-matching, ranked games, leaderboards, achievements, downloadable extra content and integrated video and voice chat.”

Sounds promising. If you haven’t taken the leap yet to consoles, read the reviews of Battle for Middle Earth II and Command and Conquer for the 360, each of which proved that strategy games had indeed come into their own on consoles, and that the PC could no longer claim dominion over the strategy market.

Link to the video trailer is HERE.

Lime

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Filed under Gaming, Tech, Xbox 360

10,000

Thanks to you, we now have had 10,000 “reads.”  Woot woot!

Thank all of you for visiting and reading our daily prattle, humor, thoughts, and occasional deeper thoughts.

We’re just glad to be here.

Cheers,

H Lime, yojoe, and Fredegar.

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Filed under Personal, Uncategorized

June 07 Comparison: XBox 360 Graphics vs. PS3 Graphics

Gamespot editors have just published a second iteration of their comparison of XBox 360 and PS3 graphics, wherein they post photos from identical games from each of the two systems. In December 2006, one year post-360 release and just after the November 06 PS3 release, Gamespot conducted a similar comparison. The December 06 comparison concluded:

  1. “The Xbox 360 had better graphics in almost all the games we examined.”
  2. “[T]he Xbox 360 games generally offered better framerates.”

The result of Gamespot’s June 07 comparison? While the PS3’s game graphics have improved, the 360 still offers the better graphics of the two systems. In detail, after the jump.

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Filed under Business, Gaming, Tech, Xbox 360

iPhone/Mac Guru Steve Jobs to Disney: Cut the Crap

Steve Jobs new iPhone is getting mostly rave reviews (check out WSJ’s Walt Mossberg’s video review HERE), and Steve Jobs’ name again gets linked with eminently good taste.

Journey to a New World (Widescreen)Bambi II

Lion King II - Simba's Pride (Special Edition)

In an equally smart move, Mr. Jobs, who’s both a member of Disney’s Board of Directors and Disney’s largest shareholder, was reportedly a “decider” (or at least an “influencer”) in Disney’s wise announcement last Friday: Disney will no longer make those atrocious direct-to-DVD animated sequals.

Parents everywhere: rejoice.

Those of you who are parents know that those DVDs are enjoyed by few in the family but the little ones who are sucked in by the lure of those (erstwhile) luminous characters from the originals.

Or, as Mr. Jobs put it: “If you look at the quality of [the direct-to-DVD] sequals it’s pretty embarrassing.”

Hear hear. We save money, and Disney puts its money into more quality original fare.

Lime

Reported in Yahoo News

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Filed under Business, Culture, Humor, Movies

Shining What? I Just Thought It Was Cute.

In the picture below is Ms. Diaz wearing a bag emblazoned with the slogan “Serve the People.” This was a political slogan of the murderous leader Mao Zedong.


Diaz Peruhttp://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/core9/phalsall/images/mao.gif

This was understandably upsetting to the people of Cuzco, Peru as Shining Path was the cause of some 70,000 deaths in the 1980s. Shining Path was inspired by Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China. Camron Diaz, like the vast majority of morons donning Che t-shirts, has no idea what she is doing.

Ernesto Guevera was the commander of a prison in Cuba, where he presided over the show trials and executions of former members of the Batista government. It is therefore quite fitting that he was executed in a schoolhouse in Bolivia. Prior to this demise, Guevera held a number of other high-level posts in in Castro’s government.

Famousphotoche-cropped.jpgFelix Ismael Rodriguez.jpg

Left: Che Conducting Summary Executions

Right: Che About To Be Summarily Executed

What about Himmler? He was in charge of Nazi prison system, why not a t-shirt for him? Himmler, Goring, Goebbels, were all revolutionaries that engaged in murder just like Che. Himmler even has a better mustache and better hair than Che.

http://www.holokausztmagyarorszagon.hu/images/portraits/himmler.jpg

yojoe

P.S. This does not constitute an endorsement of an official yojoe Himmler t-shirt. The point is, we should not celebrate any of these people.

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Filed under Culture, International, Politics

Researchers Discover Six New Branches of Government

There has been a buzz on Capitol Hill in recent days not seen since Joe Kennedy installed a mechanical bull on the floor of the Senate. The discovery by Dick Cheney that the Vice President’s office constitutes a fourth branch of government has triggered a flurry of projects and papers by government researchers. As in the heady days of the discovery of high-temperature superconductors, new announcements are coming in by the day. In such a fast-changing environment, information becomes outdated almost as soon as it is posted. However, as of the writing of this post, six additional branches of government have been announced by D.C. researchers, bringing the unofficial total to ten:

1) The House Sergeant-at-Arms (part executive, part legislative)

2) Military Tribunals (part judge, part jury, part executioner)

3) Ted Kennedy between the hours of 10 pm and 3 am (part legislative, part drunk)

4) The Jefferson Memorial (via loophole, governed by neither Congress nor the President, but by groundskeeper Thaddeus Hatch)

5) Project Stargate (part executive, part woo-woo)

6) The US Den of Espionage (neither executive, legislative, nor judicial)

We here at AO will bring you further updates as they come in.

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Filed under Humor, Politics

2007 Global Markets Forecast: Gaming Industry Set to Outpace Music Industry

ArsTechnica today releases some results from Price Waterhouse Cooper’s “Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2007-2011: Industry previews“. Global spending on video games is forecast to, as early as during 2007, surpass global spending on music.

Among the factors influencing this prediction:

  • music’s continual struggle with DRM (digital rights management) issues;
  • ripe field of in-game advertising (which revenues could increase tenfold by 2011)
  • the increasing penetration of both broadband and consoles with online capabilities
  • cell phones capable of downloading games
  • increasing penetration of “next gen”/technologically advanced consoles

PwC predicts the global gaming industry to experience a compound annual growth rate of 9.1 percent from 2007-2011, increasing the market from $37.5 billion today, to $48.9 billion in 2011.

Lime

Thanks to ArsTechnica

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Filed under Business, Gaming, International, Tech, Xbox 360

CIA’s pre-1972 Illegal Domestic Operations Declassified

[UPDATED 26 Jun: the full 702-pages of primary source materials, referred to below, were posted today on GWU's National Security Archive. Download or keyword-search the files, HERE (24 meg, .pdf).  GWU's summary of the documents is HERE, with links to brief/meaty selections.]

Thank “nature’s God” (or your own preference) each day you’re able to discuss and debate the merits of Guantanamo, NSA surveillance, and other matters du jour. Although I leave my own personal opinions out of many of these matters, the freedom to blog and debate is quintessentially the right of a free and democratic people–relish it. History, too, must inform our debates: Jefferson presciently believed that an educated electorate was the sine qua non of democracy. With that in mind, A.O. welcomes the yesterday’s revelations about CIA history.

In recognition of the need for “Government of, by, and for the People,” the Central Intelligence Agency will as soon as next week declassify materials revealing some 25 years of illegal domestic spying activities against Americans until official investigations and reforms took place in the 1970s. CIA Director General Michael Hayden made the announcement Thursday, 21 Jun 07, in a speech to a conference of foreign policy historians. For decades, the documents to be declassified had been sought under the Freedom of Information Act by Americans, but the requests had been Continue reading

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Filed under Criminal Law, Culture, Law, Politics

Xbox 360 sales increase 300% in Japan (June 11-17)

 On a second notable occasion, the Xbox 360 has now seen a significant rise in hardware sales in Japan tied to releases of Japanese-friendly software titles. Signs and portents of further good fortune or another blip on the radar?

Media Create Company reports today that, last week, the 360 sold three times the number of units from June 11-17 (7,583 units) over the previous week (2,533). The PS3, from June 11-17, sold 9,481 units. Punchjump reports the sales were buoyed by both debuts of Namco Bandai’s RPG Trusy Bell, and Capcom Co.’s Dead Rising Platinum Collection, which each ranked in the top 50 of software sales.

This pales in comparison to the temporary leap to 35,000 units sold in Blue Dragon’s debut week in December 2006, but represents a significant temporary increase in sales in the Japanese market, which has perpetually challenged Microsoft.

Keep tabs on Media Create’s weekly report to see if this spells a glimmer of hope for MS in the Japanese market, or it, as with the Blue Dragon release, represents only a temporary blip.

While MS has much more diligently courted the Japanese market with its Xbox 360 than with the previous Xbox console, the Japanese market has proved stubborn. Time will tell if the courtship results in a match.

Lime

[UPDATE 28 June 07: For the week 18-24 June 07, the 360 dropped to 3,369 units.  Looks like the 300% increase was temporary.  HL]

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Filed under Gaming, International, Xbox 360

Iran’s Ex-President Charged with Shaking Ladies’ Hands

Life is very difficult for former Iranian “reformist” president Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) these days. As the video below (after the break) depicts, he shook

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami (left hand unaccounted for)

hands with women on a recent trip to Italy–and is now facing trial following condemnation by Iranian conservatives. Ultra-conservatives a protest in the city of Mashhad and delivered a formal complaint, along with copies of the below film, to a special clerical court calling for Khatami to be put on trial. Placards carried by the crowd read, among other choice phrases, “Death to the Clerics’ Foe.” A second lawsuit has also been filed against Khatami by the Hezbollah militia for the handshakes.

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Filed under Criminal Law, Culture, Humor, International, Islam, Law, Politics, Religion

AP’s “BREAKING” story: White House “near” decision to close Guantanamo?

So reports the AP: “Senior administration officials said Thursday a consensus is building for a proposal to shut the center and transfer detainees to one or more Defense Department facilities, including the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where they could face trial.” Three senior admininistration officials spoke of ongoing discussions on the subject on condition of anonymity.

A White House meeting Friday regarding a possible closure, however, was removed from the calendar around the time the AP story was made public, and White House spokeswoman Dana Perino commented, “No decisions on the future of Guantanamo Bay are imminent.” Reuters reports, “Perino said several steps would have to be taken before Guantanamo could be closed, including setting up military commissions and the repatriation to their home countries of detainees who had been cleared for release.”

All these caveats call into question just how “near” that “consensus” is to action.  More to come.

Lime out

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Filed under Afghanistan, International, Law, Military Law, Politics

The Intelligent Design fallacy: “Plenty Scientists believe in some sort of God anyway.”

As a matter of fact, the results of a new survey, released in the latest American Scientist, reveal something to the contrary, at least, with regard to evolutionary biologists. The “so many scientists believe in God, and that’s proof there’s no conflict” argument, of course, is one of the arguments forwarded by proponents of “Intelligent Design” as proof of the lack of any real conflict between teaching of both creationism and evolution.

The results, depicted in this chart, revealed that of 149 evolutionary scientists, approximately 80 percent stated they did not believe in God. These evolutionary scientists were comprised of scientists whose specialties included organismic evolution, phylogenetics, population biology/genetics, paleontology/paleoecology/paleobiology, systematics, or organismal adaptation or fitness.

This was a drastic change from the 1914 poll asking the same questions: then, 32 percent of the Continue reading

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Filed under Culture, Religion, Science

Keeping “rape” out of the courtroom.

In yesterday’s Slate, Dahlia Lithwick reports on a Nebraska judge’s decision to ban the words “rape,” “sexual assault,” “victim,” and “assailant” among others from, well, a sexual assault case. The decision was made because, supposedly, the use of the terms was biased against the defendant. A retaliatory prosecutorial motion to ban the words “sex” and “intercourse” was denied. So those are the only words available to describe the allegedly criminal act, which one can imagine would lead to probing questions such as “did you have ‘sex’ with this woman or did you have ‘sex’ with her?” Ms. Lithwick points out that if calling an act “rape” is prejudicial against the defendant, calling it “sex” is probably prejudicial against the prosecution. In this vein, I propose that the words “plaintiff” and “defendant” be stricken from the courtroom, as they connote aggression and passivity. Instead, the two parties should be referred to as “Party 1″ and “Party 2,” with the numbers determined randomly beforehand to prevent bias, or, if that be objectionable, “Tweedledum” and “Tweedledee.”

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Filed under Appellate Law, Criminal Law, Law, Psychology

SCOTUS decides Federal Sentencing Guidelines case, Rita v. U.S.

SCOTUS handed down today its decision in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines case, Rita v. United States, No. 06-5754, holding 6-3 (J’s Scalia, Thomas, and Souter dissenting) that appellate courts may presume that sentences are reasonable (and holding 8-1 as to the issue I don’t discuss below, that the District Court properly analyzed the relevant sentencing factors) .

The petitioner, Victor Rita, was convicted and sentenced for two false statements made to a grand jury about his purchase of machinegun parts. The trial judge’s sentence was 33 months, and the recommended Federal Guidelines sentence range from 18 U. S. C. §3553(a), had been 33 to 41 months based on petitioner’s physical condition, likely vulnerability in prison, and military experience. 4th Circuit affirmed, holding that a sentence imposed within the properly calculated Guidelines range is presumptively reasonable.

In a decision that will make it more difficult for appellants to challenge their sentences arrived at in consultation with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, SCOTUS now holds that courts of appeal may apply a non-binding presumption of reasonableness to Continue reading

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Filed under Appellate Law, Criminal Law, Law, Supreme Court

Liver Pate linked to Alzheimers, Diabetes, other diseases?

Nothing sensationalist about this headline, despite our imaginary 24-hour buyout by Rupert Murdoch.

Indeed, new study results published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the first evidence of a link between a compound found in fatty goose and duck liver and the rare disease amyloidosis, which is an abnormal buildup of amyloid deposits.

Such abnormal buildups of the substance also factor into diseases including Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers caution that the study results are preliminary only at this point.

Lime

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