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breaking character
judgement Posted 2011-06-10 22:32:36 by Jim Crawford
Found this on Neil Cicierega's tumblr. No idea what the origin is.



All the miniature american flags and sappy bumper stickers in in China aren't as real as the gravity of the moment touching two dumbest, most callous people in the world.

But beyond that, there's the sheer nerve of using the characters in this context. Is the artist making fun of the people with the flags and the bumper stickers? Maybe. Is he one of them? Maybe. (There exist genuine patriots who well up listening to the Team America: World Police soundtrack.) Is he one of the mercenary entrepreneurs cashing in on the miniature flag phenomenon? I have no idea if the creator intended me to flail so wildly trying to figure out what to make of the image, but as far as I'm concerned, this shit is high art.
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voting methods
judgement Posted 2007-12-17 17:30:02 by Jim Crawford
In the Condorcet Ranked-Pairs election system, every voter ranks the candidates in order of preference. Then, the system compares every candidate to every other candidate and determines whom the electorate, overall, prefers. Putting your favorite candidate at the top of the list means you prefer him to all other candidates, and putting your least-favorite at the bottom of your list means you prefer any other candidate to him.

One problem with this system is that, unlike the Plurality and Instant Runoff systems, every voter must rank every eligible candidate or the system may have unexpected results. For example, if one voter puts Mr. Potato Head at the top of his list, and everybody else leaves Mr. Potato Head off their lists, the system considers Mr. Potato Head to be an excellent candidate, since everybody who expressed an opinion likes him best, and nobody dislikes him at all.

In the United States, every natural-born citizen over the age of 35 is eligible for the presidency, so to institute the Condorcet method in our presidential elections would require adding some hacks. One possible hack is adding an “everybody else” token that people can insert in their list. This allows the voter a level of expressiveness not currently available, giving them the ability to, for instance, submit a ballot that reads:
  1. Everybody else
  2. Incumbent
As Danny pointed out, however, there might be problems when “everybody else” wins the election. I say this is when we just call democracy a failure, pack our bags and head home.
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a review of actionbutton.net
judgement Posted 2007-06-22 19:24:56 by Jim Crawford
This is my favorite part of Heather Campbell's ActionButton review of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
“Show it to a friend who doesn't game, and they'll disarm you with the simplest question: Why? Ask the game why, and it falls apart like a sculpture of ash.”
This is brilliant persuasive writing. It's phrased so that you're supposed to be totally disarmed by the realization that she's totally right, you don't know why! Except the reason you can't answer her question is that she never actually asks one. Why what?

I can offer a guess, though: because it's more fun that way.

For instance. Here's my second-favorite part of the review:

. . .

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anonymity
judgement Posted 2006-11-13 18:18:02 by Jim Crawford
Alex:The Brazilian senate is considering a bill that will make it a crime to join a chat, blog, or download from the Internet without fully identifying oneself first. Privacy groups and Internet providers are very concerned, and are trying to lobby against the bill, but it seems they won't have much success.
Me:That's creepy. How do you identify yourself before downloading something? You'll have to look up the registration info and call up the domain's owner to let them know you're about to grab a file.
Alex:“Hey, RapidShare? is this the guy in charge of RapidShare? Yeah, I'm Diego Santo, from Sao Palo. Just wanted to let you know I'm gonna grab some porn. Alright, catch you later.”
Me:“Damn it, it's 4am! Stop calling me!” “Sorry, it's the law!”
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digg
judgement Posted 2006-07-28 00:20:32 by Jim Crawford
Judging by the Digg team's scorched earth policy on stories -- and the occasional user -- mentioning competitor Reddit, they seem to believe that Reddit is so much better than their own site that Digg users visiting Reddit would uniformly make the switch.

Looking at Reddit I'm not totally convinced, but I think I'll take their word for it.
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tetris: the movie
judgement Posted 2005-01-22 23:32:39 by Jim Crawford
It feels odd talking about a movie that few if any of you will get the chance to see -- for all I know, this may be the only copy in existence -- but here I am anyways.

Jason was going through his pile of VHS tapes last night, and came up with a tiny nugget of joy that a friend of his created, called “Tetris: The Movie.” It is, I kid you not, a 65 minute movie of the director and star, Placenta Ovaries, playing Nintendo's NES version of Tetris. Drawn by hand in blue ink, the cover quotes child-star-turned-junkie Todd Bridges as saying “I like this movie.” I would probably never have watched it by myself, but as a foil for amusing conversation with Jason, it was pretty good.

So, the review. Placenta is, um, an okay Tetris player. He gets the city to take off rather than the flying saucer on the pad, for instance, and he finishes game type B, level 9, height 5, after many, many tries.

But the interesting part of the movie -- and thank god there is one -- is that after about 10 minutes, Placenta starts messing with things. The best of these messes is when Placenta overdubs a commentary purportedly criticizing the gameplay of his best game. The commentary is precise in its manner of speaking, full of the kind of unnecessary clarification you get from nerds (such as myself) who are loathe to make a technically incorrect statement. Contradictorily, the commentary goes from hoping that the player doesn't think he -- or she -- is a tetris master to insulting the player for thinking of himself -- or herself -- as a tetris master. To top it off, the commentary doesn't even match the game, referring to a particular bad move with a block when there were no recent block placements. He also refers several times to the player's number of lines, and not only do they not match the number of lines the player actually has, the number he quotes is lower each time.

Other things I can remember:

  • The game cuts to the NES version of Narc for a few seconds.
  • The audio is replaced by a recording of an entirely different game of Tetris. This is remarkably disconcerting at first, especially hearing the “rotation” sound when the square piece is in play.
  • The game pauses, then unpauses to a different game.
  • The music is replaced by a remix of Hit Me Baby One More Time, which I'm told was made entirely within Windows Sound Recorder.
  • In one of the later games, he doesn't “drop” any of the pieces that will give him a tetris. He just waits for them to fall on their own ... very, very slowly.
  • He uses a cheat code of some sort to skip right to level 19. He gives up getting to level 20 after a few tries.
  • Jet engine noises.
  • At the end, after a few minutes of blank screen, there's a few seconds of bad porn and then a few more minutes of Tetris, with a loud droning noise drowning out the NES soundtrack. That's the actual ending, as far as I know.
So. I don't regret watching it, but I wouldn't want to see it again. Unless it was to show it to a curious party; that could be amusing.
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grapples
judgement Posted 2005-01-09 05:24:29 by Jim Crawford
These “grapples,” man. The first syllable is pronounced “grape,” they come in packs of four for about $4, and they're described by the tagline “looks like an apple, tastes like a grape.” A more honest tagline would be “completely indistinguishable from an apple, except by price.”

Fuck. I'm wondering, now, whether grocery stores tend to have return policies. And now I'm wondering whether they picked an existing word as a name in order to make it difficult to find out about the scam via search engines.

Hm. Evidently it's allegedly done by dipping the apples in some sort of patented yet secret grape-flavored space-age polymer that somehow permeates the apple skin. Ten years ago, I would've said something here about how you'd think they wouldn't bother to patent an invention that was completely ineffective.

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watchmen
judgement Posted 2004-10-15 05:16:33 by Jim Crawford
I've been debilitatingly ill for a few days now. On top of what I'm guessing are standard flu symptoms, all day in bed yesterday I had a recurring dream in which I was Dr. Manhattan and the ant-like beings surrounding me were making requests that I knew wouldn't work out, but I kept following them anyways. Alternating between that and a high fever and intense pain when swallowing; hellish.

I was probably thinking of Dr. Manhattan because I'd reread Watchmen recently, and even more recently I've been reading about 10 random pages a day. It is so good. It's what you'd expect from someone who grew up reading simplistic superhero comics once his tastes evolved past the good/evil dichotomy. And was living in the middle of the cold war nightmare, in which the nuclear apocalypse was imminent and inevitable... which really isn't very surprising, because that's pretty much the description of the guy who wrote it.

Apparently there will be a Watchmen movie in 2005. The screenwriter, David Hayter, has a spotty track record, having written both X-Men and The Scorpion King. Hard to know what to make of that. I'm hopeful.

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mr. lucas
judgement Posted 2004-09-20 05:11:33 by Jim Crawford
I'm starting to think that George Lucas belongs in the ranks of Dan O'Bannon, who wrote Alien and then did nothing with the rest of his career (except Return of the Living Dead), Bob Gale, who wrote Back to the Future and then did nothing with the rest of his career (except Tattoo Assassins), and Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, who made the Blair Witch Project and are in the process of doing nothing with the rest of their careers, ash Larry and Andy Wachowski, who made The Matrix and then made the two Matrix sequels.

All these people stumbled on one great idea, made a huge hit, and then, surprise surprise, couldn't come up with another great idea, probably because the first one was an accident. The George Lucas difference is that he did it at a different time in Hollywood's history. Star Wars wasn't just a blockbuster, it invented the blockbuster. And since previously, sequels hadn't been considered important and weren't big money makers, he left The Empire Strikes Back in the competent hands of Leigh Brackett and Irvin Kershner. It's hardly a surprise that that movie is widely considered the best of the series, and of course George Lucas was credited with it in the public eye, solidifying his position as more than just a one-hit wonder.

Unfortunately, after taking over directing again, he's made it pretty clear that he deserved to be. The Phantom Menace sucked. Attack of the Clones sucked, though slighty less. Let's face it, even Return of the Jedi pretty much sucked. And with the special edition DVD release -- and lack of an actual edition release -- he seems intent on making the first trilogy suck in its entirety.

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alcohol: is it for you?
judgement Posted 2004-08-17 17:03:28 by Jim Crawford
The study that this article cites, which shows a positive correlation between drinking alcohol and intelligence test results, fairly cries out for a followup study: do the people who started drinking as a result of the study show increased test scores afterward? That would be some useful information.

Considering how much I detest the taste of alcohol, I don't know if I'd be willing to bring myself to make the sacrifice simply for an increase in my already gargantuan mental faculties! However, I'm not averse to theoretical calculation: Two pints of beer is the amount they seem to be recommending, and I assume they mean Imperial pints. Google Calculator, which is awesome, shows that Two Imperial pints is equivalent to about 1.2 quarts. As a rough guess, I'd say that that's about how much liquid I currently drink in a day.

Sadly, though Google Calculator knows about middle c and the speed of light, it couldn't convert Imperial pints to kilocalories or U.S. dollars.

I also thought this Chick Tract parody was pretty funny.

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