Rant: Physics

Apparently, science is too hard for students in Britain. This exam is their answer.

For reference, page 34 of this pdf has some sample SAT physics questions. The exams in question are analogous to the SATs to an extent. They are taken around the same age, and serve many of the same purposes.

I am aware that not everyone has a knack for physics. I am aware that not everyone easily understands science. I am aware that some students are just really, really bad at studying. I am aware I don't know the UK's education systems well enough to be an authoritative commentator. However, I am not aware of any high school level physics exam that is a greater waste of time and resources that this.

Is science really that hard? Is there some magic to my brain that isn't present in others?

Call me elitist, but people who failed Physics should be able to score high marks on an exam like this. It's the biggest joke of an exam I've ever seen. If my child came home with this exam in high school I'd go ballistic. Fourth graders should know 90% of what's on that exam.

Maybe I'm delusional, maybe I've lost touch with how hard things really were back before college, but I'm beside myself in terror that this is what people are being tested against. I think I'd cry myself to sleep if my high schooler came home after being one of the apparent 55% who couldn't score an average level grade on this exam.

I'm going to have to guess that there are simply enough people like me in Britain that the statistic is skewed by people storming out of the examination room in disgust at the insult.


Prognostication: Princesses and Monkey Business

Double the fun in this post because I didn't particularly bother before.

Peach is in. She was in the "Sure Bets" category. I don't think there's much to say here, except I hope her final smash is a giant radish.

Diddy Kong looks like he'll actually be an interesting addition. I don't expect to see anyone else from the Donkey Kong zone, and I still only expect a total of two from the "Maybe" category. This means that Toad, Black Shadow, Wolf Link/Midna, Dark Samus, some character from Mother 3 and Star Wolf are all going to have to duke it out to see who is in the game. However, I'm officially downgrading Toad to "Iffy". Peach clearly can still use him as a shield; fighting him at the same time would be awkward.

The pace for character announcements has been about what I expected on average. There was a dry spell for a while, but we've been recently hit by a slightly greater number of characters. I'm personally still waiting for Luigi, I'll never get enough of the Green Missile.


Automatic Mario

There are at least eight of these for you Mario fans. The audio sometimes desyncs, but they're amazing. Who'd have thought someone would use Mario as a kinetic sculpture of sorts?



At 3:30 PM today my grandmother died. This picture is her with my brother, seven and a half years ago on her birthday.

I am eternally grateful to God that I had the opportunity to see her one last time when I vacationed back in Massachusetts several weeks ago. I became melancholy during my time in Japan almost two years ago when I realized that I might not see her alive again.

Callous is the person who, even preparing for the certain and coming death of a loved one, feels nothing at their passing. Though this day has been approaching for months and years, though I have said my final goodbyes and showered my dear grandmother with my love at every visit, though I have comfort in God I find upon my cheeks the caking salt of tears.

I despise the role of the eulogist, it is impossible. How can one possibly take the lifespan of one person and memorialize it properly? How can one distill the love, the person, the memories known and forgotten, the places and times, the world as it was and now is, the others who passed and have since come, the meals and gatherings, the lessons and mistakes, the heart and soul of any one person? It is a fool's task. Should it ever be asked of me, I will do little but stand at the podium and break down in tears. There is nothing else that befits the position.

Words, those tools that I have often plied with great precision and care, and other times with incredible inaccuracy and wanton abandon, completely fail their master. I could apply any number of adjectives, descriptors, stories and prose to attempt to capture the essence of who my grandmother was; I would certainly scrawl a miserable account that could not even begin to describe this woman.

For now I shall simply grieve.

Rant: Stuff

People have too much stuff. I submit the following as proof.

The white house on the right, the tiny one, is where my grandparents used to live. The house on the left is indicative of what has happened to all the other tiny houses in the area. The two door garage only looks like it's as big as my grandparents house, it's probably only almost as big.

I'll say it again, people have too much stuff. I will openly admit that for a number of families my grandparent's house would be a little uncomfortable. I'd recommend a house of my parent's size for 3+ children any day. For reference, here is said house.

Now, despite my mother's continued complaints about room for her books/art, her desire for a larger kitchen, and my dad's passive tolerance of his notably cramped office this house is quite nicely sized for a family such as ours. There were minor inconveniences to be sure, but there are minor inconveniences no matter what house you have.

There are situations where a large house is useful. Three generation families can definitely use large houses, as could a family with a sizable number of children. I'm not naive to the endless possibilities where such houses are not only justified but arguably necessary for comfortable living. However, even taking into consideration such situations there still should not be such demand for mansion-like houses.

From this, I can only conclude people have too much stuff. Right now I'm living in an apartment, and I have too much stuff. There is lots of stuff I have that I don't use, lots of stuff I used in the past but probably won't again, and there's room for more stuff that won't be necessary to my continued existence or happiness.

In short, consider your stuff. If you need a huge house for it all, you probably have too much of it.


Rant: Gnus

There's a reason I don't watch TV for news.

The cafeteria at work as some televisions showing the news, and every time I sit down to eat I become less impressed with the broadcast. Today really highlighted the problem.

There have been a number of interesting food and health product recalls lately, most involving China. On the news today, the anchorwoman boldly announces there has been yet another. Piquing my interesting, I listen to hear what has happened now that I should be aware of.

But first we'll cover some cross-dressing shoplifter, Britney Spears, and a guy who takes photos of teenage girls in thongs and latex while their parents watch!

The fundamental question: How is any of that crap or even Karl Rove's resignation more important than my health and well-being? Seriously, how can we call any news agency "responsible" if they blatantly refuse to inform me of something supposedly dangerous to my continued existence.

Imagine if you went into your doctor's office and during the examination there a brief moment of awkward silence signaling the obvious discovery of a ailment. The doctor speaks, "Well, that's possibly going to kill you." Afraid and curious you ask, "What is?" The doctor shakes his head, "First, lets measure your weight and height, and then we can talk about your children's Flintstones vitamins."

In the end it was just more toothpaste; a complete waste of time. I certainly didn't stick around for their latest spreading of fear, uncertainty, and doubt for any reason other than that I was still eating.

The news is supposed to relay information to us about what we should be paying attention to. We are supposed to be made aware of things we otherwise wouldn't be made aware of. We are supposed to be shown issues that are hard to keep track of. Instead, we get the kind of setup that out paces even an ADHD's short attention span. I didn't even get to read where a church shooting was before they'd moved on to the congestion at the LA international airport.

It's a bad day for journalism when people who can't even be bothered to type out "you" are more informative.

Prognostication: Pokeyman Championships


I have to admit here and now, I didn't see this coming at all. I had reasoned as followed.

1) Many, many people would love to beat the ever-living crap out of Ash or a look-alike.
2) Ash or a look-alike are both completely devoid of viable combat skills.
3) Therefore, Ash and/or a look-alike are not viable as fighters, although they'd make excellent shoe-in replacements for the home run bag.

Obviously, Nintendo thought differently.

Sadly, we will not be able to beat the ever-living crap out of the trainer himself, but only his pokemon. This is fine, so long as they don't use Ash's whiny voice. I will change the voice options to Japanese without blinking if I hear that horror upon horrors again.

In any case, it looks like we're going to see a lot of very unique fighters. Ridley's chances just shot up, in my opinion.


Fury of the Winds

Warning: Another World of Warcraft related post.

Blizzard has hotfixed the Windfury totem such that its effect no longer activates on 'yellow' damage save for 'On Next Swing' abilities. This has caused another uproar on the forums.

I made a thread defending the change, arguing that the totem was a crutch. All Melee DPS was depending on that one buff, and as such there was a single point of failure. Most Melee DPS classes arguably were overdependent upon the totem, and now can receive buffs to increase their individual capabilities.

I did acknowledge that no such buffs have been received, and that there are no details on buffs for the Warrior class which was the most dependent on it of all Melee DPS. However, I still happen to have faith that Blizzard knows what they're doing (this change is evidence in my mind).

My thread generated a rather large amount of interest/flames, and now sports 3 posts from a 'Blue'.

What is interesting is the utter hostility I received, although it isn't surprising. While there are many factors, I believe that in any situation where a mass of people are upset about something any dissenting view that they're overreacting will quickly be punished. The idea that anyone could be content with the horrific change is one to be eliminated immediately. Hence, I was on the receiving end of a fair amount of anger, ad hominems etc.

Personally, I'm excited about the possibility of buffs to offset this.


For the living!

Hellgate: London was recently announced to be launched on October 13st. Here I had thought I'd never look forward to Halloween again.

For the uninformed, Hellgate: London is a game being made by a group of ex-Blizzard employees largely responsible for the Diablo series, including the legendary Bill Roper. It's a game that looks quite capable of being all things to all people.

It can be played in third or first person perspective, you can pay to play like an MMO or just play for free minus a few spurious benefits. You can be a technophile, a holy warrior, or a demonic spellcaster (all cliches perhaps, but well crafted). The game looks good.

This is going to be a good fall. Halo 3, Brawl and Hellgate. I may just have to quit WoW.


Date an Ugly Person

You don't have a choice. Allpeople are ugly.

The standards that the media have concocted for what a woman or a man should look like are absolutely ridiculous. Don't abide by them, because there isn't a beautiful person alive if they are the measure.

So date an ugly, hideous and twisted visage of all that is right and natural*. You'll thanks yourself later.

On a side note, this site lead me to that link. Visiting is highly recommended. You might not agree with the man, you might not like him, but he's more than willing to talk about whatever subject with you on equal terms, so long as you aren't being a jerk. He'll make lots of fun of you if you're a jerk.

*according to cosmetics companies.



There's an interesting article from the bbc talking about why we play video games. I find the idea that we like video games because of the learning aspect fascinating, but that's not what I'll address here. Give the article a good read, it's short.

What struck me about the article was summarized very nicely by a quote from withing the article itself.

" And - here's the kicker - games aren't just boring, inconvenient, and over-priced. They're designed to make you feel like a failure.

There's a very good chance - a certainty in most games - that there will come a point where the game will beat you. Where you'll sit in your own house while a bit of software you paid big money for, and devoted hours to, calls you a loser."

That portion stood out to me. I immediately wondered when the last time she tried some new hobby was.

For those of you adept at [insert hobby/skill/talent here], it can be very hard to remember when things were difficult. That first G chord on the guitar was probably sour, bit into your fingers, and you probably took a minute or two to even get your fingers in the right place. The first time you fell off a bike probably wasn't 15 second after the first time you got on one. The first time you strung a sentence together your handwriting was likely unreadable, your grammar reminiscent of a Neanderthal, and your spelling resembling a typewriter's nightmare. In short, from the very beginning you were a loser (in the sense the article portrays one).

Perhaps video games are special in the wealth of learning they provide, but they are not unique in being repetitive or punishing. How much time must one spend "grinding" their guitar skill before that G chord is passable? How much more before you can even attempt to play those nifty music pieces that inspired you to try? How many pancakes or eggs must one cook before one's hands are no longer frequented by burns from skimming the heated metal pan? These things are incredibly time consuming, frustrating, and even cause direct physical harm. They, like video games, require a fair amount of repetition before one has "beaten" them.

That is my only real critique of the article. From here we could spiral into endless musings about the differences between video games and other hobbies, but I think I've made my point.

Prognostication: Missing Links

What's this? Another successful prognostication by yours truly? Indeed, once again I have correctly divined the future of Super Smash Brothers Brawl's roster of fighters.

But wait! This is blasphemy, this is madness! There has been no update to the official website that details such juicy information! Madness? This is a helpful URL to information from Eiji Aonuma!

That's right, Sheik and Ganondorf will be returning. There is nothing official as to any changes, drastic or simple, to the legendary villain's moveset. However, chances are we will see him more in tune with the recent Twilight Princess interpretation.

Now I really need to beat that game.

Lastly, in honor of an excited friend and my last successful prognostication, I end with the following image.


Rant: EA Sports

A lot of gamers often criticize their more casual, sports-oriented fellows for continually buying the regurgitated sports games every year. I've stated it before, but the mind of the pure geek doesn't understand the worth of the updated rosters, seeing them only as arbitrary math values, and only sees the lack of worthwhile other features.

I am not one of them, as I can understand the value. However, I despise these games for a completely different reason. Specifically, I think EA Sports is exploiting these gamers.

No, it isn't charging $60 for an updated roster that bothers me, it's the completely unprofessional quality level these games exhibit. Maybe it's because there isn't anything better out there, but the gamers who buy these games year by year are buying crap.

For example, the box covers. Look up an EA sports title and tell me you don't immediately notice that the production value is less than that of some fake video game someone made for giggles on the internet. The Logo is professional enough, if placed somewhat low, but the rest is absolute blah. Too cheap to actual hire their own photographers, they take stock photos of popular athletes and paste them awkwardly onto the packaging. It only gets worse from here.

The in-game main menus are frighteningly reminiscent of menus I saw on early 3D shareware games in the 90s. Random and poorly chosen pictures dominate the screen, changing with the menu option while not providing a shred of useful information. The menu options themselves are strangely ordered, small, unemphasized and poorly laid out. It makes one wonder if these people were asleep during the part of their classes teaching the absolute basics of GUI design. Has no one heard of visual noise?

The games themselves lack any sense of polish or finish. I know that they aren't arcade games, they are simulations. They are, by definition, attempting to bring as accurate a sports experience as possible home. EA Sports games do not accomplish this. The controls are clumsy, which certainly doesn't help, but there's more than that. Maybe this is "Hollywood Fencing" syndrome where they slow everything down for the benefit of the audience, but any football team that takes 3-4 seconds after the hike to actually collide with the other defenders is in serious trouble.

There are exceptions, I've seen a number of decent games from EA sports. But I am continually astounded by the horrible games that manage to not only be released, but sell well.

Gaming sports fans, do yourselvesa favor and ask for more. You deserve it, you're paying for it, and you're not getting it.


Prognostication: Ike

As an FYI, I'm good.

Ike was just announced as a playable character. If you'll recall, I called that just a few days ago. As an encore, I predict lots of whining from Marth and Roy players before they even know how he fights, with a mild bit of tempered commentary from people who are intelligent enough to wait and see.

Also, the lottery numbers will be 6, 32, 17, 63 and 4 with the bonus ball being 12.