Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Mexican Border Obsession

I just caught the glimpse of a TV in a restaurant and it was Fox News with a story about "ISIS could use Mexican Border to Sneak In".

What the Hell is the obsession with Fox News and Conservatives about the Mexican border? They've even linked the Ebola outbreak to the southern border. And they're the only ones. Let me get into how stupid this is.

First, Ebola: The virus is currently in West Africa. If someone were to travel from West Africa to the United States, how would they do it? "Fly to Mexico and illegally cross into the US?"

NO. They would fly directly into the US. If you're worried about the virus, then you should screen people who originated from the countries affected by the outbreak to see if they're contaminated.

Onto ISIS: The terrorist organization seems to be recruiting people through the internet. They don't need actual people on the ground to recruit new members, just an internet connection and a server. So, arming the border to the teeth is not going to stop Joe Schmoe in Boulder, CO from becoming radicalized after watching a couple of videos. And let's not forget that the terrorists that committed 9/11, entered the country legally. The Tsarnaev brothers? Legally.

Regarding both issues, are conservatives unaware that the US borders TWO nations? You know, that big country called CANADA? Why does the issue of unsecured borders only mention the southern one and not the northern one? That border is probably less secure than the southern one, and yet, Fox never seems to bring that up. Gee, I wonder why...

The 9/11 Commission mentioned that a lack of imagination let the terrorist attacks occur. We didn't think it could happen so we didn't plan for it. But when it comes to conservatives, their imaginations seem to be in overdrive and stalling at the same time when it's about the Mexican border. Every bad thing is related to the border and can be fixed by securing it. I wouldn't be surprised if in 2016, Fox News has a week long commemoration event of the centennial of the Battle of Columbus to talk about the unsecure southern border.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

15 Ways ‘The Simpsons’ did not predict the Future.

I keep seeing this list on clickbait sites of how ‘The Simpsons’ predicted the future.

And I’m getting sick of it. The “predictions” are a huge stretch and I don't think the the people who created this list watch much of the show, as they get some information wrong and don't cite the episode name.

Let’s go over every single one and see how much they miss the mark (I fixed the spelling and grammar mistakes).

"Way back in 1998 the Simpsons had an episode where the children of Springfield are crazy for a video game which centers around "Virtual Yard Work". A little over a decade later children and adults alike would be enthralled with games like Farmville and Farming Simulator."

Somehow, virtual reality is the same as tap games for your smartphone, and “yard work” is the same as “farming”. This in no way predicts the popularity of games such as Farmville. Why not use this as an example of predicting virtual reality, like the Oculus Rift? It would make a bit more sense. Oh and the children are crazy for this game? It was a 10 second joke and never mentioned again.

"In a 1999 episode Homer creates a tomato/tobacco hybrid by planting his crop with radioactive waste. After the disaster at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, farmers throughout Japan began reporting mutant tomatoes as well as other crops."

Radiation mutates living organisms? I had no idea! What an accurate prediction made by the show!

"In a 2008 episode for The Simpson's annual Halloween Special Homer is seen attempting to vote for Barack Obama but the machine continuously registers a vote for Mitt Romney instead. This amazingly accurate prediction came true during the 2012 Presidential elections when electronic voting machines caught on cell phone video doing EXACTLY what The Simpsons had predicted."

This isn’t as much “predicting the future” as it is “reflecting on current society”. When electronic voting machines were introduced, there were a lot of concerns about glitches and fraud. Heck, it was a major plot point in the 2006 movie, 'Man of the Year'. The segment was more of an extension of people’s fears in 2008 about the machines than an actual prediction of what will happen.

"In a 1997 episode it is revealed that horse meat was the secret ingredient in Springfield Elementary's food. This was a disturbingly accurate prediction of the 2013 scandal involving horse meat being used instead of beef in a variety of fast food restaurants."

Schools are not the same as fast food restaurants. Also, this is from the 1994 episode, ‘Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song’, not 1997. Plus, “Mystery Meat” is a common trope. It’s a joke, not a prediction.

"A 1998 episode of the Simpsons depicts the town inventor "Professor Fink" as having invented hamburger earmuffs. As a testimonial to the truly amazing predictive powers of even the silliest Simpson's gags (or perhaps a testimonial to human stupidity), someone actually invented this product in 2013."

Here’s the thing; life imitates art. ‘The Simpsons’ were at the height of their popularity and quality when ‘The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace” premiered. So it’s not surprising that someone might actually create the product. Plus, they were real hamburgers in the show, not made of fabric and whatnot. I’m surprised they didn’t talk about the person who actually created Tomacco. Same principle.

And it's Professor FRINK not FINK.

"In a 1994 episode the school bullies are seen trying to type the words "Beat Up Martin" into an handheld Apple device which repeatedly replaces it with the phrase "Eat up Martha". It wasn't until over a decade later that the world began to entertain itself with hilarious auto-correct fails."

That “handheld Apple device” was the Apple Newton, a failed PDA from the early 1990s. The handwriting recognition was an issue for the machine. So, this is pretty similar to the voting machine prediction, just a reflection of the current culture. If the internet was as prominent then as it is today, we probably would have seen sites dedicated to “Newton FAILS”.

"Homer's older and more successful half-brother Herbert Powell made his first appearance on a 1992 episode when he invented the "Baby Translator". It wasn't until 2013 that an app for the iPhone allowed parents to translate their baby's cries."

A phone app isn’t the same as a standalone machine, but I guess it’s close enough. Wait, 2013 for the app? I see an article from 2010 that says it was out. Of course, the same article from 2010 says it’s on sale through November 11, 2009, so who the hell knows. I’m getting side tracked…

Wait, did they say Herb Powell’s first appearance was in the episode "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?"? That was his SECOND appearance, his first being "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" Watch the damn show before you write the article!

"In a 1995 episode the Simpsons gives a flash forward to show the future of many characters. During one scene you see Lisa in her college dorm room with her boyfriend. Her wall sports a poster for a 2010 Rolling Stones tour jokingly called the "Steel Wheelchair Tour". Today the band is still doing its rounds."

This seems to be a running joke for the group; they are never going to retire and/or stop touring. Garfield made this same joke. Not really an amazing prediction.

"In a 1996 episode several characters are seen using a state of the art intercom. While the product isn't an Apple itself, it is an identical match to what the original iPod looked like. It's so creepy one has to at least entertain the idea that Steve Jobs saw this episode and filed it away for future design ideas."

If you’re going to design an intercom in a cartoon, you’re probably going to make the design as simple as possible (especially in the era before high definition). So is it really that surprising that it’s just a white box with one button and a speaker? Yeah, I’ll admit that it really does look like an iPod (except much larger than the first one), but it’s just a coincidence. Here’s an intercom that looks similar.

"In 1993 there was an episode of the Simpson's depicting a fictionalized version of Siegfried and Roy named Gunter and Ernst. During the episode the pair are attacked and mauled by one of the tigers during a performance. Ten years later the real life performers suffered the same fate."

Okay, this is pretty accurate. I remember thinking of this episode when the incident happened. But when you take a wild animal out of its habitat and make it perform on stage like that, I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner. This kind of thing seems to happen with performers working with animals.

"In 2005 the Simpsons do another episode that gives a glimpse into the future. During said episode Marge celebrates the fact that "science has invented magic" by using a 3D printer to turn a photograph into a cake. Today 3D printers create everything from cake to functional human organs."

This one pisses me off the most. It makes me wonder if the author even watched this episode. Marge takes a Polaroid picture and the picture morphs into a cake. THAT IS NOT 3D PRINTING. Turning a picture into an edible cake is NOT 3D printing. Please do some research into 3D printing and come back to me and see if this still makes any sense.

"During a 2005 episode Homer is watching a Super Bowl between the Broncos and the Seahawks. In 2014 this prediction actually came true, although the result wasn't even close."

Again, this makes me wonder if the author even saw the episode. This is from “Bonfire of the Manatees”, and Homer is not watching the Super Bowl, he is watching a random game. ‘The Simpsons’ predicted two teams from opposing conferences would play each other? Wow, what a surprise! Oh, and the score wasn’t even close. If it was similar, then I would give them some credit. But seeing as this “prediction” was making the rounds before the game was even played, it’s still stupid.

"This scene was cut from syndicated episodes of The Simpsons, but it showed characters playing virtual games in the future using headsets and motion tracking gloves. Thanks to new technology like the Xbox One's Kinect and the Oculus Rift VR headset, this prediction came true!"

So wait, you do include an example of virtual reality games in this list? Fine, they predicted it, but who hasn’t been predicting the idea of virtual reality video games for the last 30 years?

"During a 1991 episode Ringo Starr is shown replying to fan mail 50 years after he received it. While Ringo never actually did this, a pair of friends who sent the Beatles a recording back in 1963 actually received a thank you from Sir Paul McCartney himself in 2013!"

 So, it's not even the same member of the Beatles we're talking about here. But this is probably the closest thing to an accurate prediction on this list, besides the tiger incident.

"In a 1995 episode it is shown that when Lisa gets to college the librarians are robots. In 2011 the University of Chicago actually began using robotic librarians in its futuristic library."

The “robot librarians” in question are more like vending machines than human-like androids. These are not machines with A.I. and are virtually indistinguishable from humans (with the exception of the fires started by inexplicable tears), they are vending machines. This is a huge stretch only made possible by lumping all types of robots together.

Wow. This list was really grasping for straws. And it doesn't help when they get their facts wrong.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Obama and the Lawsuit

All politics aside, I am curious to know if Obama has really exceeded his authority with some of his Executive Orders. CAN the president modify laws like that, specifically, delay implementation of ACA requirements? Is there precedent? I know I'm a big fan of the President's, but I really don't know much about all the legal stuff.

I really don't like the argument of "Bush had more EOs and the GOP didn't complain!" They're not complaining about the amount, they're complaining about what they do.

Also, I don't like the President's (whiny) defense of "Just because they aren't doing their job, doesn't mean I'm not allowed to do my job!" Well, if what you are doing ISN'T constitutional, then it means it ISN'T your job.

It doesn't help that people in the media or politics either don't understand the difference between Executive Orders and Executive Actions, or they intentionally mislead the public into thinking the President is doing more than he is. For example, the President never signed any Executive Orders restricting guns; he created a bunch of Executive Actions (basically memos) outlining what he thought should be done to curb gun violence and asking Congress to please think about considering to look at them.

Yeah, it seems weird that the House is suing the president for delaying parts of a law that they've tried to repeal 50 times, but the same people who complained about executive overreach under Bush now seem pretty silent with Obama (some liberals do seem pretty consistent, but Democrats are definitely shutting up).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wow, I haven't written in half a year. This might just be the end of my writing. I really don't have the time or the passion to write anymore. It seems like no one does.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sexist, Racist, Anti-Labor Retail Store under Fire for using “Happy Holidays”.

ATLANTA - National retail chain, Arme’s (NYSE: ARS) currently being investigated by the US Justice Department for racist hiring practices, has come under fire for using the phrase “Happy Holidays” in its over 3,000 US stores. 

The Atlanta-based company, facing a sex discrimination suit from over 5,000 former and current female employees, recently made the change that will go in effect this November.

Director of Marketing, Toni Sticks, and currently awaiting trial for insider trading explained, “We are trying to make our stores open and welcoming to all of our 200,000 daily customers, regardless of belief.”

But many see this as yet another store bowing to the pressure political correction.

Head of the American Family Association, Jeremy Arschloch, has called for a boycott of Arme’s, in which fewer than a quarter of employees have any health benefits and over half require public assistance programs to get by. “The censorship of the word ‘Christmas’ by this store is yet another battle in the War on Christmas. The use of ‘Happy Holidays’ is an affront to the good Christian people of this nation. I urge everyone to boycott this store at once!”

“It’s one thing to allow a dozen employees to die in a warehouse fire because of the lack of a functioning sprinkler system and various other violations of the fire code,” stated Mary Annadale, a frequent shopper of Arme’s, “but this fear of ‘offending’ someone has gone too far. I might have to think about shopping somewhere else.”

Arnold Arme, the president of the company, grandson of the original founder, and financial supporter to a right-wing militia known for killing a Lansing, MI police officer, said he was currently rethinking the company’s decision because of the backlash.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Zimmerman Filter

Like I've said on Facebook, (because I can't think of a better way to start this post, so I'm shamelessly recycling it) After this Zimmerman verdict, I've had to unfollow a bunch of people or I'd wind up in the hospital, normal or psychiatric.

Events like this do expose whom among your friends are racists on Facebook. My cousin posted this picture: 

With the Caption: Marley didn't fit The Obama Administration's Race War agenda, that's why it did not get the same coverage! Are you AWAKE yet America?!

Yes, I'll tell you the difference. Marley Lion wasn't killed because of his race, it was a robbery. He wasn't pursued by a Security Guard because he was black and wearing a hoodie. While it took about as long for the four men involved with Marley Lion's death to be arrested and charged as George Zimmerman was, it was because the police were looking for them, not because they were dithering around not sure what to do. Also, Marley Lion was always portrayed as an upstanding citizen, whereas Trayvon Martin was a victim of character assassination.

But really, thank you for trying to combat racism with racism with that caption up there.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Tropico 4: Modern Times review.

The game is “jaw-dropping”.

However, I mean that in a negative connotation. I am very disappointed by this game.

I reviewed Tropico 4 some time ago. With some very minor reservations, I really enjoyed the game. I thought it had added enough from its predecessor, Tropico 3, to warrant buying the sequel. To sum up the game as best as I can, you rule the Caribbean nation of Tropico as El Presidente. Build up the island’s economy, try to keep the competing factions on the island happy, and stay in power as long as you can…by any means possible. It is a very fun Construction and management/Government Simulation game.

When the “Modern Times” expansion pack was announced, it looked very promising. I liked the idea of new buildings and edicts reflecting the modern world and a timeline feature that allows world events to affect your island. 

It wasn’t until recently that I obtained the game (almost a year after it had been released), and that was a headache. I couldn’t download it from Steam because I had purchased a physical copy of the game and it would only recognize a digital download from them. It’s nice that they would stop me from purchasing a game they thought I couldn’t play…but I had the game! Going to the Kalypso website (the publisher) led to other problems. I broke down and ordered a physical copy on Amazon.

Finally obtaining it, installing it was another hassle. I had the most recent version of the game, 1.06, but it wouldn’t install because update 1.05 was already installed. I had to uninstall Tropico 4, reinstall it, and before doing anything with the base game, I put the “Modern Times” disk in. After several failed installation initiations and a restart of my computer, I finally got it to work and I started playing.

If only the headaches ended there. My technical problems were solved, but the game was still broken. As a new building is discovered, the older building becomes “obsolete” and no longer able to build. I first noticed this in game-year 1957, when the grocery store replaced the market and I could no longer build them.

This is what made playing this game a jaw-dropping experience.

 “What?”, is all that I could ask after making this discovery. After making sure there was no way to get the old market back, I quit the game and haven’t played since.

Why is this a deal-breaker?

Taking away control: I have less control over the game than I had before. The design and layout of my nation is now based on these forced upgrades. Part of my frustration is from an aesthetic perspective. The upgrades are ugly and/or oversized. If I wanted to keep up the “traditional” look of my island, I can’t. In my games, I always build up a nice, ritzy section of condominiums around the presidential palace. I think it creates a nice old/colonial feel. Screw that! Now I am forced to have these hideous eye-sores. If my older buildings are destroyed, I can only replace them with the upgrades.

It makes no sense, from an in-game perspective: I understand that my buildings should upgrade as my nation improves, but the improvements are based on the year. Time might be advancing, but my nation isn’t. As I mentioned, grocery stores become available in 1957. But at this point, my nation is poor and has very low food diversity. A grocery store does not fit my needs at this time! Maybe when I establish a thriving middle class and have a surplus of a wide variety of food, then I should build one. When it comes to housing, middle and upper class housing units upgrade in the mid-1960s. They are more expensive and require more of electricity (old middle class housing didn’t require electricity, the upgrade does). Having electricity by the mid-60s might be a tall order as you are more interested in producing food to consume and exporting basic raw materials to balance your budget.

It makes no sense, choice of upgrades: Since when does a solar-power plant make windmills obsolete? Why can’t I have both wind and solar power on my island? And water treatment plants replace landfills? How does filtering water replace the need to store garbage? Like having nice little bank branches on the street corner? No more! Now can you have a huge National Bank instead! Remember when the US established a National Bank and all small banks were closed and replaced with gigantic structures? No? The worst decision of all must be the decision to replace restaurants with giant, ship-themed eateries. What. The. F*ck? I’ve never been to Cuba, but I’m sure not all the restaurants there are like the taffy shop from that Simpsons episode.

No warning: I don’t expect an expansion pack to take things away from a game. None of the reviews ever suggested that most of the new buildings will permanently replace older ones. If I had known this, I would most likely have never bought the game. It was mentioned that buildings become obsolete and can be upgraded, but I thought it was along the lines of horses becoming “obsolete” and “upgrading” to automobiles; horses didn’t become extinct and still had uses after cars were invented. This is the first time I have felt like I have been suckered by false advertising. I really feel cheated.

I was really excited to play this game, but this asinine system really ruined it for me. I like the new buildings! I want solar power, water treatment plants, grocery stores, and modern apartments! I just wish they didn’t completely replace the old ones. Couldn't they give me the new building and make me decide which one I want to construct based on trade-offs? "The new apartment building costs more to maintain and build, but it houses more people and the quality is higher. Hmmm..."

Maybe I’ll give it another chance, but not for a while. If this whole upgrade thing doesn’t bother you, then you should like this game. But if it bothers you, Tropico 4: Modern Times is a huge disappointment.