Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year...Again

Hopefully 2009 will be better than 2008...but I'm pretty sure I said something similar on the last 3 or 4 NYE's, and we all know how that turned out. So instead I'll leave you with a proverb conflated from some biblical sayings, "Let us eat, drink and be merry today, for tomorrow we may die." (Thanks for reminding me of that one Pete!) Enjoy!


Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Real Decline of Western Civilization

We are slipping. I have felt it for awhile now. When we look back at these times in the future and ask "Where did it all go wrong?"...I don't think there will be one specific moment. Most people I know look at the economy and think, it's bad now but we can overcome. We're Americans, we can do anything if we put our mind to it. They look at the power and oil problems and think it's just a matter of time before some scientist comes up with a fix or a new form of power. To me, I have never seen any of these problems as isolated. To me they are more like a web...or better yet, a chess board. And like any good chess player, I read ahead the moves. You don't just look at the current predicament your piece is in, you look 5 or 6 or more moves down the line. To me it looks like the board is set for an eventual checkmate...and we are the queen in peril. Finally I have found someone who has put my concerns and feelings on the matters afflicting our world in words. I hope you take the time to read the entire piece called Witnessing the Decay of Western Hegemony and the Role of the Organic Intellectual, below is a selection from the article by Pablo Ouziel. Enjoy.

"For many decades, society has been indoctrinated with the belief that liberal democratic capitalism was the benevolent solution to all world problems. Through this model of society, hunger was going to be eradicated, wars would come to an end, the environment would be saved, and justice would be distributed equally amongst all members of the human species. Entering the new century, western society celebrated the new millennium with the euphoria of success, once and for all..."

"As western society struggles with rising tensions, both within and outside of its borders, as those being colonized begin to throw their shoes in despair, and those who thought they belonged to the empire begin to realize that their dream is no longer sustainable, the organic intellectual is able to grasp the severity of the global crisis. As bankers announce their losses, the banking cartel slowly collapses. First, the major investment banks and hedge funds, then their traditional counterparts, all showing loses which only a year ago had been presented as ground breaking profits, as slowly the deck of cards unfolds and everything crumbles. Soon the job cuts begin, across continents furious workers revel against their enslaving owners, demonstrations, walkouts, sit-ins, failed negotiations between trade unions and shareholders. The sky is falling and the capitalist always strives to win. For a while, dormant workers watch their colleagues being laid-off, at first it seems an unavoidable aspect of capitalism, the dirty side of a casino culture, which rewards some at the expense of others. But then, neighborhoods begin to witness empty houses, people evicted, squatters moving in, the law can do little to prevent it, the numbers are too big to contain. The lobbyists in Washington are eagerly fighting for pieces of the bailout money prepared by a government, which faced with complete anarchy must regain a foothold in the corridors of power. Confidence must never be lost. Hence, a new face in the White House, a new man, a new dream, perpetuated by the chanting of hope. But things will never be the same in America, as young bankers spend their holidays in despair not knowing if their job awaits them in the coming year, the dark thoughts of unemployment begin to creep in. Obama proposes solutions, three million jobs to be created by rebuilding the fallen infrastructures of the great American empire. An empire, which in its boom forgot to cement its foundations and now collapsing, will offer its unemployed bankers the opportunity to go and fix roads."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Best Christmas Moments From The Daily Show

Hopefully this will make your Commercialism Day just a little merrier...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Don't Buy From Bigots - List of Prop 8 Donors By State

Link goes to a site that keeps a list of businesses (by state) that donated to Prop 8, so that you can conveniently avoid doing business with them.

And if you missed it, don't forget to check out my other Prop 8 related post.

A Brief History Of Christmas

Americans tend to not know history very well...or ignore it on purpose. So to celebrate December 25th right (I like to call it Commercialism Day), I had planned on writing up a history of Christmas...but as I started my research it seemed many people have all ready done this for me (and likely more eloquently than I). So I decided to repost a good one. 

Below is some excerpts from a Capitalist Magazine article by Leonard Peikoff, follow the link for the full article. Enjoy!

...Christmas as we celebrate it today is a 19th-century American invention... 

Historically, people have always celebrated the winter solstice...Ancient Romans feasted and reveled during the festival of Saturnalia. Early Christians condemned these Roman celebrations -- they were waiting for the end of the world and had only scorn for earthly pleasures. By the fourth century, the pagans were worshipping the god of the sun on December 25, and the Christians came to a decision: if you can't stop 'em, join 'em. They claimed (contrary to known fact) that the date was Jesus' birthday, and usurped the solstice holiday for their Church.

Then came the major developments of 19th-century capitalism: industrialization, urbanization, the triumph of science -- all of it leading to easy transportation, efficient mail delivery, the widespread publishing of books and magazines, new inventions making life comfortable and exciting, and the rise of entrepreneurs who understood that the way to make a profit was to produce something good and sell it to a mass market.

...Early Christians denounced gift-giving as a Roman practice, and Puritans called it diabolical. But Americans were not to be deterred. Thanks to capitalism, there was enough wealth to make gifts possible, a great productive apparatus to advertise them and make them available cheaply...The whole country took with glee to giving gifts on an unprecedented scale.

Santa Claus is a thoroughly American invention. There was a St. Nicholas long ago and a feeble holiday connected with him (on December 5). In 1822, an American named Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem about a visit from St. Nick. It was Moore (and a few other New Yorkers) who invented St. Nick's physical appearance and personality, came up with the idea that Santa travels on Christmas Eve in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, comes down the chimney, stuffs toys in the kids' stockings, then goes back to the North Pole.

...Santa implicitly rejected the whole Christian ethics. He did not denounce the rich and demand that they give everything to the poor; on the contrary, he gave gifts to rich and poor children alike. Nor is Santa a champion of Christian mercy or unconditional love. On the contrary, he is for justice -- Santa gives only to good children, not to bad ones.

All the best customs of Christmas, from carols to trees to spectacular decorations, have their root in pagan ideas and practices. These customs were greatly amplified by American culture, as the product of reason, science, business, worldliness, and egoism, i.e., the pursuit of happiness.

America's tragedy is that its intellectual leaders have typically tried to replace happiness with guilt by insisting that the spiritual meaning of Christmas is religion and self-sacrifice...but the spiritual must start with recognizing reality. Life requires reason, selfishness, capitalism; that is what Christmas should celebrate -- and really, underneath all the pretense, that is what it does celebrate. It is time to take the Christ out of Christmas, and turn the holiday into a guiltlessly egoistic, pro-reason, this-worldly, commercial celebration.

Here are some links for more info about Christmas and the birth of Jesus (or lack there of):

When was Jesus really born?

The Chronology of Jesus

Christmas History

and don't forget my own winterly posts!

Santa vs God and 'Tis The Season

New Tim Burton Film 9 Looks Absolutely Gorgeous

9 is an upcoming 2009 post-apocalyptic animated film being produced by Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas, Sweeney Todd, etc...).  It looks nothing short of breath taking; using the sort of near photo-realistic animation we got a taste of in such features as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, The Animatrix - Final Flight of the Osiris & FFVII: Advent Children. The trailer is below. Enjoy!

'Tis The Season...

...for lots of GOW2!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Santa vs. God

In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I would post this neat chart for everyone to enjoy. I found it on a blog called: Unreasonable Faith - A Former Christian's Thoughts on Faith, Science, and Skepticism. Enjoy.



And Just for fun, a classic (might want to have those headphones on if you're at work):

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ok. I Was Wrong. Santa Does Exist!

An Iraqi journalist calls out "This is a farewell kiss, you dog!" and proceeds to throw his shoes at Mr. Bush. This is the highest of insults in Iraqi culture; throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. Iraqis struck the statue of Saddam with their shoes after it was toppled it to the ground during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003.

I could just sit and watch this over and over for hours on end, with a big frickin' smile on my face. I guess there really is a Santa Claus...and he came early this year. Enjoy!



UPDATE: Now you can play the home game!

Footage of New BioWare Star Wars MMO - The Old Republic

BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic 1 and it's sequel were award winning and fantastically fun action-RPG games. And the BioWare version of the Star Wars universe just begs for more stories to be told within it. Thus, below is the long awaited sneak peek at footage from BioWare's first MMO: Star Wars - The Old Republic. Don't forget to wipe off your drool. Enjoy!




UPDATE: BIOWARE has an HD version of this on their site, but it autoplays, so I had to post using the lower quality version from YouTube.

Friday, December 12, 2008

R.I.P. Bettie Page

Bettie Page died yesterday at age 85.  I can't think of a better way to remember her but through photos.  Although if you're interested the film about her The Notorious Bettie Page, was quite good (trailer below).


Gotta Love Religion

Nothing makes me happier than finding the silver lining to sad situations. For example: when religious zealots refuse modern medicine and their children perish prematurely. Sure, we are all shocked and horrified that this could happen to some innocent kid in this day and age. But look at it this way; that is one less indoctrinated kid who will grow up to be a religious douchebag like their folks were. Sounds to me like Darwin's theory at work. And don't forget the added bonus of the parents being dragged through the media as poster-children for bad parenting...we can only hope that some other ultra-religious family will see the result and maybe take their poor kid in for a doctor visit.

And just for fun I decided to add this wonderful advertisement I found. Don't ya just love religion? Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go pray to FSM to bring an end to all religious belief. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Now THIS Is Real Hip-Hop!

The artist is Murs, newly signed to Warner Records. The album is "Murs For President". Every song just gets better than the last. There is a little bit of talking between Murs and the shows' host before he starts singing; you can fast-forward if you like. I suggest just leaving it play in the background while you are surfing. It's simply excellent. Enjoy.



The album is available through Amazon here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Pacific Garbage Patch - Plastic Soup of the Sea

Some of you may have heard about the giant garbage island the size of Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. I don't really like that analogy because it brings to mind a garbage heap on land...something tangible that could be picked up. Better imagery would be this: Take a plastic coke bottle and put it into a blender; blend until the pieces are teeny tiny. Now pour those coke bottle fragments and particles into a glass of water. No imagine this plastic particle soup covering the surface of the ocean. This can never be cleaned up. Never. Fish and other ocean life eat these particles and the accumulate them (bioaccumulates) in fat tissues, then we eat these animals as consumers. We are all consuming these pollutants on a daily basis. Now drink the glass of water.

Truth is, my analogy doesn't do justice to what these filmmakers found during their trip into the North Pacific Gyre. While I highly recommend watching the entire documentary from the beginning (as it is much more potent and powerful as a whole), I realize that most people suffer from short attention spans, so below is the most effective & informative clip. Enjoy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Most Elaborate Lego Design Ever - Huge and Complex!

The theme is a terraforming space ship that would land on a planet, workers would assemble prefabricated modular pieces into living quarters, parts of the ship would be left behind to attach to the living quarters, and the rest of the ship would depart for home. There is nothing more I can say here except, do yourself a favor and look through all 6 photo albums on the site (containing 74 pics in all), or you will never see the intricacies involved in this mammoth project. This was built by a father & son team and they really did try to build it as realistically as possible; they thought of everything a real space going vessel would need and built it to scale. Enjoy.

Here is the link routed through Babelfish for translation (it's a german site)

The direct link takes you to 1000steine.de





Sunday, December 7, 2008

What's Bush Done To You Lately

The Huffington Post has an article outlining the final evils that "still president" Bush has pushed through in the eleventh hour of his dictatorship...err presidency. After the jump is more info behind what has happened and what hopefully can be done to rectify it, but here is a list of some of the atrocities:
• EPA would not regulate a contaminant in drinking water
• Mining permits near Grand Canyon and other national parks
• Gut the Endangered Species Act
• Power plants could be exempted from installing pollution controls, allowing an added 70 million tons to be released into our air
• EPA narrows the definition of solid waste
• Less reporting on animal pollution proposed
• Rules for dumping mine debris erased
• EPA lowers air quality standards for lead
• Fisheries rule calls for less public input
• Loaded guns possible in National Parks
• Public lands may be leased for the development of oil shale (public, not to be confused with proprietary)
• Interior Department rules could limit public environmental comments
• EPA lets factory farms decide if they need a permit to discharge animal waste into waterways

UPDATE: Here is an even more in depth and specific article about the Bush "midnight regulations".

Happy Holidays from Mr. Bush!

Post-Apocalyptic Downtown Detroit

On the eve of a bailout for American auto makers, Time magazine online has released some chilling photographs of some of the abandoned buildings in downtown Detroit, Michigan. After the jump, there is a short explanation and background attached to each photo. Enjoy.



Friday, December 5, 2008

Disney Plots Not So Ridiculous Anymore

Traffic camera video of a dog rescuing another dog from the middle of a busy highway. WARNING: although it is a distant shot, this video actually shows the first dog getting injured by traffic. However the ending is so moving, it's worth watching.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Upset Over Atheist Sign at State Capitol

A couple years back someone sued for the right to place a religious display at the Washington State capitol building, claiming freedom of speech. And since most politicians and law makers are religious minded themselves, the fools let it pass. Now ever winter holiday season we have this bickering over what should be allowed and what shouldn't. This year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation decided to place a sign next to these religious displays; it reads as follows:

"At this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail. There
are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our
natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens
hearts and enslaves minds."


Yesterday Bill-O decide to chime in in his usual way and during his rant tried to claim with impunity, that the reason Christmas is a Federal law is because President Grant (and presumably many Americans) believed Jesus was a great philosopher and needed to be recognized in the same way we recognize Martin Luther King. He also threw in there that the Supreme Court ruled that a Christmas tree is secular and not a religious display. There are, as usual, so many things wrong with what Bill-O says here that I almost don't know where to start.

EDIT: FOX had the full report taken down from YouTube...all that is left up is the talking points memo from Bill-O's show. The rest can be seen at Crooks & Liars website.

First of all, lets address Bill-O's comments, then I'll get to the main topic at hand. Jesus is not celebrated in this country because he was a philosopher and our constitution was not based on Christianity. For all those folks who think "In God We Trust" has been around for our as long as out country has:

"In 1861, the Reverend M.R. Watkinson persuaded the secretary of the Treasury to try to introduce 'In God We Trust' as a motto on the coins of the land, arguing on the theological premise that in a Judeo-Christian nation, 'There is but one God.' Congress, then beginning to be responsive to the religious community and the votes that it was presumed to control, passed the Coinage Act of April 22, 1864, which designated that 'In God We Trust' be put on coins 'when and where sufficient space in the balance of the design' would permit it." - Madalyn O'Hair; "Freedom Under Siege"

And to those who seek to further the myth that our Founding Fathers based this nation on Judeo-Christian beliefs...click here for a reality check and try to remember this line: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

Christmas is and will continue to be recognized as a Federal holiday for one reason; it's good for the economy. Back as early as the 1930's people were becoming concerned with the commercialization of Christmas when President Roosevelt tried to move Thanksgiving earlier to make the holiday shopping season longer, in hopes of boosting the economy. Are there a lot of Christians in this nation? Unfortunately yes. But face it; that is not the reason why this seeming Federal endorsement of a religious holiday stays on the books. And it's definitely preposterous to suggest for even a moment that there is any kind of parallel to be found between why we Federally recognize MLK Day and Christmas Day. As a matter of fact, I think Bill-O just insulted millions of Black Americans by making that association.

Let's get down to the point. There is a difference between endorsing religions and respecting the peoples right to celebrate their religions appropriately. The Supreme Court has ruled that a holiday tree is not necessarily a religious display. Some reindeer and candy canes can be placed and still considered secular celebration of the "holiday season". However, it's when you get into crosses, songs about Christ, nativity scenes and such that it becomes an endorsement. Put up a tree, decorate it with lights, ornaments, tinsel, candy and presents and you can place it on public property. On that same tree add some angels, some Santa's, a nativity scene, a cross on top and a banner that says "Christ is our saviour" and you are now breaking the Establishment Clause (Amendment 1 of the United States Constitution).

So here is what should be done. The nativity scene should be removed. The menorah should be removed. The Atheist sign should be removed. Then a plaque should be permanently placed in every federal, state and local office in this country that reads something to the tune of:

"During all seasons and in all locales of this, our natural world, may reason prevail. Let never the religious myths and superstitions that harden hearts and enslave minds, encroach on the decision making within these revered halls."


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prop 8 The Musical (Gay Marriages Will Save The Economy)

From the website Funny or Die; Prop 8 - The Musical. Starring Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Margaret Cho, Andy Richter, Neil Patrick Harris and so many more...

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die


I decided I had to throw the credits up from the website, cause this is just too awesome:

Credits: Conceived and Written (six weeks later than he shoulda) by-Marc Shaiman Directed and Staged by: Adam Shankman Produced by Adam Shankman, Marc Shaiman and Mike Farah Edited by Bradly Schulz and Drew Antzis Cast (in order of appearance) California Gays and The People That Love Them Jordan Ballard, Margaret Cho, Barrett Foa, J.B. Ghuman, John Hill, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, Rashad Naylor, Nicole Parker Proposition 8'ers and The People That Follow Them Prop 8 Leader- John C. Reilly Prop 8 Leader's #1 Wife- Allison Janney Prop 8 Leader's #2 Wife- Kathy Najimy Riffing Prop 8'er-Jenifer Lewis A Preacher- Craig Robinson Scary Catholic School Girls From Hell-Rashida Jones, Lake Bell, Sarah Chalke The Frightened Villagers Katharine "Kooks" Leonard, Seth Morris, Denise "Esi!" Piane, Lucian Piane, Richard Read, Seth Redford, Quinton Strack, Tate Taylor Jesus Christ Jack Black A Very Smart Fellow Neil Patrick Harris Piano Player Marc "Marc" Shaiman ---- Co-Choreographer: Anne "Mama" Fletcher Recorded and Mixed by Frank Wolfe & Greg Hayes Director of Photography: Michael Barrett Camera Operators: Jake Szymanski, Bradly Schulz and Drew Antzis Production designer: Nelson Coates Costume designer: Shanna Knecht Costume assistants: Leslie Schilling, Annalisa Adams, Elizabeth Abate Hair: Laura Sanchez Make-up: Shauna O'Toole, Atticuss Sharp Production sound: Bradford Craig Music editor: Lisa Jaime Music assistant: Brian Naguit Snacky: "Snacky" Special Thanks to Adam McKay for the nudge

How to End Terrorism; By the Numbers

Seth Jones knows how to correctly end terrorism. Who is he and why is no one in government paying attention?



From the article:
Through his work as an analyst for the Rand Corporation, he has found that 40 percent of terrorist groups are defeated by police and intelligence operations. Forty-three percent end because they give up violence and join the political process. Only 7 percent end as a result of military force.

For a new book called How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa'ida, Jones studied 648 terrorist groups and accumulated overwhelming evidence that the United States may be about to make the same mistakes in Afghanistan that were made in Iraq.

Military force is often just too blunt an instrument, Jones says. History proves that the clearest path to success is using local police and intelligence agencies that have deep local knowledge.

More info here: U.S. Should Rethink "War On Terrorism" Strategy to Deal with Resurgent Al Qaida

Moon, Jupiter & Venus over L.A.


Click on image for original source.

The Evolution of "God" and how Religion is a Meme

I actually had to look up the definition of meme today. It's one of those words that I know what it's associated with, but never new where it came from or it's exact definition. The definition of meme, (pronounced like the word jem) via wikipedia:

A meme comprises any idea or behavior that can pass from one person to another by learning or imitation. Examples include thoughts, ideas, theories, gestures, practices, fashions, habits, songs, and dances. Memes propagate themselves and can move through the cultural sociosphere in a manner similar to the contagious behavior of a virus.

Richard Dawkins coined the word "meme" as a neologism in his book The Selfish Gene (1976) to describe how one might extend evolutionary principles to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. He gave as examples melodies, catch-phrases, beliefs (notably religious belief), clothing or fashion, and technology such as the arch.

Meme-theorists contend that memes evolve by natural selection (in a manner similar to that of Darwinian biological evolution) through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance influencing an individual entity's reproductive success. Thus one can expect that some memes will propagate less successfully and become extinct, while others will survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. "Memeticists argue that the memes most beneficial to their hosts will not necessarily survive; rather, those memes that replicate the most effectively spread best, which allows for the possibility that successful memes may prove detrimental to their hosts."


Why do I bring this up?

I stumbled upon an article today with the explicit title "How One Catholic Priest Destroyed the Entire Mayan Written Language". It is a fascinating read about the intolerance of religions, in particular the Intolerance Meme of Christianity. That being the "idea that evolved in the Jewish religion a few centuries before the birth of Jesus, and was taken up with a vengeance by Christians in the third and fourth centuries AD" that "declares that not only is Yahweh the only god, but in addition, anyone who worships other gods is committing a sin. The Intolerance Meme justifies all sorts of atrocities in Yahweh's name: Murder, slavery, forced conversion, suppression and destruction of other religions, racism, and many other immoral acts". In this case the atrocities and immoral acts amounted to an inquisition that "resulted in torture and death across the Yucatan region" and the wiping out of "all knowledge of the Mayan religion" via destruction of the Mayan language and hieroglyphs.

This article was written by Craig A. James, who has written a book called The Religion Virus. The entire book isn't yet available (coming 2009) but the first few chapters are available to read online through his website. Here is a couple excerpts:

The loving God you know today is the result of the longest and best “marketing makeover” in history – four thousand years of changes and improvements to Yahweh's image, from Abraham's time to yours. Yahweh has evolved into the Almighty God, the God of everything, the loving, forgiving God, the only God. The Yahweh makeover is so complete that we just call him “God” now, with a capital “G”. We don't have to distinguish God from the other gods, because most Westerners are monotheists. Yahweh completely dominates Western religions. The other gods that Abraham and Moses worshipped – the gods of your spiritual ancestors, the Israelites – are either forgotten, or are grouped together under the dismissive title “mythology.”

This is the story about how humans created God, and shaped God's image, not the other way around. The God you know today is the result of an evolutionary process, the powerful and inexorable forces known as "survival of the fittest." But it was cultural evolution, not biological evolution, that was at work, changing and improving Yahweh's image over the millenia. And it wasn't just Yahweh who was shaped by cultural evolution; these same forces created and refined all of our religious beliefs. Evolution created religion, just as it created Yahweh.

Dawkins realized that it was the replication of information that was the underlying principle common to genes and ideas (memes). A century earlier, Charles Darwin had spelled out the principles of natural selection, which in spite of the staggering amount that has been written, boil down to three simple ideas: reproduction, mutation, and natural selection (survival of the fittest). If we rephrase these three ideas in information-theory terms, we would call it transcription (copying), transcription errors (mutation), and filtering (natural selection). And these concepts apply to both genes and memes. With this "grand unification" of the two disciplines, Dawkins laid the foundation for the study of memetics, which uses Darwin's evolution science to predict and explain the very foundations of human culture and knowledge.

And finally, on a side note, in his book James quotes the Greek philosopher Epicurus. If you have never read about this man and his teachings, I highly recommend it.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
– Epicurus

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Watchmen: Motion Comic Episodes Available Now!

A few weeks back I posted about 6 comics telling the prequel story to the hit Xbox survival horror game Dead Space, being turned into animated comics through the use of actual stills from the graphic novels, with a bit of camera panning, some lighting effects, really excellent voice acting and music to bring the comic to life in motion video. A few days after that post the Dead Space motion comics became available as free downloads on Xbox Live Marketplace in glorious HD. Now imagine my surprise and giddy excitement today when chapter one of the Watchmen motion comic turned up today on Xbox Live.

Now, I will state this very clearly up front...I typically do not advocate any service that uses DRM (digital rights management) to stop me from being able to watch video I have legally purchased anywhere, anytime on any device I want. I dislike the Xbox Live video download service mostly because their content is too expensive and the DRM is ludicrous, especially when I can purchase elsewhere DRM free , watch online or pirate most of the content they make available. However, the 160 Microsoft points cost (roughly $2 USD, the MS points being another reason to hate the program...) was worth it this time, especially since the Watchmen motion comics are only available via Xbox Live Marketplace, Amazon VOD and iTunes.

[NOTE: While iTunes has started offering some DRM free music, songs are only available as AAC files not MP3's. Amazon is currently the only legal digital music store I support right now (and their catalog is continuously growing), but when it comes to purchasing legal digital video downloads, no one seems to have gotten it right yet - so keep pirating your videos till they get it right!]

I am really intrigued by this amazing new animation style, now being referred to as "motion comics". Actually I'm using the term "new" loosely, as all of the animation elements are all pretty rudimentary, but it's the quality of the work emerging right now that makes it stand out from anything similar you may have seen previously. An article from watchmencomicmovie.com described it quite eloquently:

...simply a conglomeration of different scenes from the comic book given motion and set to dramatic orchestral music. In order to animate the comic, the production team has apparently dissected the elements from each panel that they wanted to move — such as a cloud or a character — and animated it in front of a restored or “filled in” background. For example — they animated the iconic comic panel that shows The Comedian’s funeral from above to not only have falling rain and lightning, but wind that realistically blows the coats and clothing of the mourners surrounding the open grave. In another, Ozymandias sits in front of his monitor bank — each commercial and TV program on the screens in motion — scratching the back of his pet Bubastis’ head.

Since there is frustratingly still no video search tool available on Xbox Live; to find the Watchmen motion comic, go to the Marketplace blade on your 360, click on "Video Store", then "TV Shows", then "All TV Shows" and then find it on the list alphabetically. Click the following link for the iTunes & Amazon downloads.

Check out my other Watchmen posts.

UPDATE 1: While doing some research for this article I discovered yet another beautiful motion comic! Batman: Mad Love is currently exclusive to Xbox Live Marketplace and Verizon's mobile phone V CAST service, can be found on Xbox Live in the same location described above to find Watchmen and is equally as excellent of an example of motion comics. Warner Premiere announced earlier this summer: "Batman: Mad Love" is taken directly from the pages of the Eisner Award-winning single issue graphic novel by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. The story revolves around The Joker's sidekick Harley Quinn who is madly in love with him. She uses crime to demonstrate her love for her "Puddin'" and sets out to commit the ultimate act of love – killing Batman.

UPDATE 2: Found a couple more motion comics out there that may perk your interest...Stephen Kings' "N.", MTV's Invincible and a 5 part prequel to I Am Legend called I Am Legend: Awakening





Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Watchmen Footage!

The 3rd Annual Spike TV Scream Awards, dedicated to the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres of movies, featured a preview for Watchmen with some re-edit tid-bits from the previous trailer with some new footage mixed in to entice us. Prepare to salivate...

Also check out my previous posts regarding the highly anticipated Watchmen film, this article from io9.com regarding the length of the film (3 hours?!) and all the extra Watchmen featurettes at themoviebox.net (my favorite source for film trailers).

video

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Two Cool Things I Saw Today

The first is a music video using the same art style as the now famous Obama "Hope" posters.  Check out the artists blog here.
The second is a picture of the only man who really is "our on the only hope".  Enjoy.


Obama '08 - Vote For Hope from MC Yogi on Vimeo.


Obama Rally Draws 100,000 in Missouri

It's ironic that in my last post regarding protests in Iraq, I posed the question, when was the last time you saw 50,00 Americans come together for a protest.  In truth it's only been a year or more.  The irony comes from this article by The Wall Street Journal covering today's Obama rally in Missouri which drew over 100,000 supporters.  Amazing!


Thanks, But No Thanks...

For all of you out there in net-land who still think the Iraqis are happy we are in their country...

The BBC reports on the 50,000 person strong protest that took place in Baghdad this week, in protest of the possibility of the US presence in Iraq being extended another year. When was the last time you have seen 50,000 people come together for a protest in America? Enjoy.

video

This video is ripped from YouTube post since they offered no embed code.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama Roast's Himself And Others At Memorial Dinner

Barak "Steve" Obama shined last night at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner, where he was asked to give the opening address. Obama took the chance to make fun of himself, his running mate Joe Biden, McCain, former opponents Guliani & Clinton, along with the media and sevearl other senators in the room. Obama really showed his lighter side and that he was able to shake off all the personal attacks being levied against him. This "stand-up routine" could be the death blow to the Republican campaign that we have been waiting for. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Turns out Senator McCain actually spoke first (added video below) and was amusing in his own right. Although he may regret the introduction he gave to Obama...

Bioshock 2 Trailer Leaked

A trailer for the sequel to the critically acclaimed Bioshock is apparently available after completing the game on PS3. Since the PS3 version of the original Bioshock is not due to hit shelves till November 4th, we must be thankful to the intrepid leakers out there for uploading this to the net, several weeks in advance. I fyou would like to know more about this award winning game and why it's emersive atmosphere captured the hearts and minds of gamers the world over...read here. The name of the sequel is Bioshock 2: Sea Of Dreams and it is slated for a holiday 2009 release. Below the trailer is some footage from the original Bioshock, just for the sake of nostalgia.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

StarCraft 2 is now a TRILOGY!

Flashback to 2001 with me...every afternoon after work me and my friends would link PC's, make ourselves a rum & coke in an old super-size cup and take out are frustrations all evening long in the original StarCraft title.  Ahh the memories.  Years later the original game still has a huge foothold online with thousands of players still choosing Starcraft over newer shiner RTS titles.  Now, as wee near the sequel's release, Blizzard has announced that the single player story mode was just too large for one game and there fore they are releaseing it in 3 titles: Wings of Liberty focuses on the Terrans story, Heart of the Swarm focuses on the Zerg, Legacy of the Void focuses on the Protoss.  For more info check out Kotaku's BlizCon coverage.




Friday, October 10, 2008

Legislative Panel Finds Sarah Palin Guilty Of Abuse Of Authority

Finally.

From the NYTimes article:
Sarah Palin unlawfully abused her power as governor by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, the chief investigator of an Alaska legislative panel concluded Friday.  ...a bipartisan panel that investigated the matter, found Palin in violation of a state ethics law that prohibits public officials from using their office for personal gain.


Never heard of Sarah Vowell?

Who is Sarah Vowell?  I had never heard of this writer before, but after her appearance on The Daily Show this week, she may very well be my new hero. I immediately went over to Amazon to see what else she has done. Turns out she has done tons of writing, audio CD's and was the voice of Violet in the animated feature The Incredibles. Time to set aside some reading time. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Politics Of Hate - McCainninites & Palintologists

So if you are planning to vote for the Republican ticket next month here are a couple of very scary videos of your fellow McCaininites & Palintologists lining up for their respective rally's recently. The things that come out of these peoples mouths are just astounding. Is it so hard to educate oneself? So difficult to seek truth? So challenging to challenge rhetoric? I am constantly amazed that people still come up with ways to justify voting for McCain and Palin, regardless of the tremendous and ever-growing mountain of reasons and information of why doing so would be a bad idea. But after watching these videos, I think I have some new insight into why Republican voters are so unlikely to change their thinking and opinions and turn toward the light of rational thought. Sigh...enjoy?

UPDATE 1: The first video is from Ohio, the second from PA.

UPDATE 2: Added video of McCain being booed at his own rally for assuring attendees that Obama is not a terrorist or an Arab or not to be trusted.



Saturday Night Live Thursday Update: AIG Bailout

I laughed so hard tonight during SNL that I may need to go to the hospital tomorrow, to check if I have ruptured something vital. Below are the two videos. The first is Really?! with Seth and Amy regarding the AIG bailout and the subsequent $450 million they spent on a retreat for their top earners last weekend. It's highly recommended you not be drinking anything during watching that skit, as it will most likely come out your nose. The second is the skit mocking Tuesday's debate between Obama and McCain. The second video is of course only funny if you actually watched this week, so for those who haven't seen it, I added the full length video of the 2nd Presidential debate too. Enjoy

Dead Space Animated Comic Videos - MUST SEE!

The producers of the upcoming (October 24th) Dead Space survival horror video game have also released a series of six graphic novels that act as a prologue to the games' story. However, in an effort to use every type of media available, they have also released an animated version of the comic. To clarify, its the actual stills from the comics, with a bit of camera panning, some lighting effects, really excellent voice acting and music to bring the comic to life in motion video. I have never seen anything like it with this high level of production value. Below are all the videos in order, each is about 5 minutes in length. Chapters 2-5 are available in HD, couldn't find the first one in high definition for some reason. I for one, would love to see other comics given this treatment; you just have to see it to understand. Enjoy!

UPDATE: There is also a fully animated Dead Space movie called Dead Space: Downfall coming straight to DVD this month, added the preview below. The movie tells the story of the ship above the planet (where the game takes place) call the Ishimura the comics tell the planet-side story.








Halo 3: Recon - New Prologue Campaign

It's official.  At the annual Tokyo Game Show yesterday, Micro$oft confirmed the new Halo 3 campaign called Recon from now free-agent .  It's unclear where exactly in the cannon timeline it takes place, but it is, at least, a prequel to the Halo 3 storyline.  To put that in perspective, the new Halo Wars RTS game takes place 20 years before the events of Halo CE.  The storyline of Recon will star not the Master Chief, but instead you will play as an ODST soldier, maybe several depending on the game play style.  ODST's or Orbital Drop Shock Troop are the bad-asses of the fictional space navy in the Halo universe and can be likened to the U.S. Marines in terms of how they are used/deployed.  During the first three Halo games they were the human marines always by your side helping you drive vehicles and such.  The only sad end to this story is that Halo 3: Recon will not be available till Fall 2009! I guess until then you will have to make due with the pics and video below.  Enjoy!

The pictures and story i picked up via Joystiq.com, they did a full review of the game announcements at the Tokyo Show.  If you're interested check out the full article.





Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Getting To Know Candidate McCain

The one thing the Republican party is very good at (and how it has one elections) is smear tactics and attack politics. The assumption being that if they can make the opposing candidate look equally as bad as theirs, then the decision between the two will be a "wash" and voters will be more likely to side with the one who appears "just like us"...a main street, Joe six-pack, that we all can identify with. The problem with this is two fold, especially in the current Presidential race. One, the Obama/Biden ticket is trying to take the high ground, steering away from and sometimes out-right refusing to participate in, mud-slinging and personal attacks. While this is a positive step forward, it leaves the Republican party with the ability to fill the vacuum with more anti-Obama rhetoric. I have personally seen this in action with long time Republican friends who are now fed-up with thier party's ways and would like to see change, but have been slowly moved back toward voting for McCain because of misinformation. Two, since the Obama ticket is focusing mostly on voting record and decision making and trying to stick to the important issues, many voters are not getting the full picture of just how bad of a decision voting McCain Palin might be. So I have decided to post some video and news articles from reputable sources, to give voters a clearer picture of MCCain and Palin. Check back on this one as I will continue to update it as I find more time. Enjoy!

Five myths about John McCain - Short video from Rolling Stone contributing editor Tim Dickenson that accompanies his latest RS cover story "Make Believe Maverick".

Why McCains Time With Council Of World Freedom, Matters - HuffingtonPost article by Sam Stein regarding McCain's time on the board of an organization that supplied arms and funds to paramilitary organizations in Latin America.

Below is the 13 minute documentary on McCain's involvement in the "Keating Five" Savings and Loan scandal, which CNN's fact checker's went over with a fine tooth comb and found to all be TRUE with no partisan bias.

McCain's anti-Asian sentiment has been documented by several media outlets, including the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Whose Fault is it? - The Economic Crisis & The Newly Passed Bailout

In light of the blame game being played by both political parties in the debates and the utter lack of understanding by most Americans about how our economy got into the toilet and why, I decided to post this much needed info by Factcheck.org regarding who really is at fault for this current economic catastrophe.

The article is from Newsweek. Enjoy.

UPDATE: added short video clip about a recession being a necessary medicine for the fever that ails our economy; that we should welcome recession instead of continuing the same practices and trying to postpone it.

VP Debate - "The Reciter"

Well the verdicts are in on the VP debate (this one is even better, and here's another) last night and while everyone is amazed with the performance of Sarah Palin (and by amazed I mean, surprised she didn't wallow in complete gibberish throughout), it didn't make up for the fact that almost all intelligent people could tell she was just reciting talking points (sometimes just reading verbatim) and not answering any question, either directly or with any substantial specifics. Not only that but the fact-checkers have are having a heyday with her. Her answers all went something like this:

Moderator: What policies and plans will your ticket implement to effect positive change in the nation's floundering economy?

Palin: We're gonna' fix it! Believe you, me...us couple of small town American mavericks are gonna make big changes and ruffle feathers in Washington. You can count on that.

If "Still President" Bush is "the decider", I'm dubbing Palin "the reciter". Bellow are some pics, some clips and the debate in it's entirety. Enjoy!

UPDATE: SNL delivers another scarily familiar but utterly hilarious skit, this time based on the VP debate, and once again starring Tina Fey as Palin. She better win an award for the amazing performances she has given in the past few weeks as Palin.

UPDATE 2: Monty Python veteran John Cleese comments on how the republican ticket sounds like a Python skit and how "The Reciter" resembles a parrot.




CBS Post-Debate Poll:

Reactions:



Full Debate:

Monday, September 29, 2008

House 228-205 Vote To Reject Bailout!

American can breathe a sigh of relief today.

From the MSNBC article:

Stocks plummeted on Wall Street even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was announced on the House floor.

Bush and a host of leading congressional figures had implored the lawmakers to pass the legislation despite howls of protest from their constituents back home. Despite pressure from supporters, not enough members were willing to take the political risk just five weeks before an election.
Ample no votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats opposed the bill.

Update: Apparently House.gov received so many emails from concerned voters that the website went down (or at least slowed it to a crawl and made it unusable). So maybe people can make a difference in government sometimes...OK rarely... I'm sure the protests didn't hurt either. The problem is they are protesting the wrong place. Although every financial institution in America is scrambling to be included in this potential handout, the idea for the for the bailout is coming from Washington, from all those politicians with something to lose if their buddies companies go tits-up. Thankfully the will of the greedy and "Still" President Bush was not imposing enough to force the bailout through the House uncontested. So thank whatever higher power you may or may not believe in, that there are still a few souls left in politics who look out for the nation as a whole.





It's Already Happening - Defrauding Voters

From the HuffingtonPost article:

In Montgomery County, Virginia, the county registrar issued a press release warning out-of-state college students, falsely, that if they register to vote in Virginia, they won't be eligible for coverage under their parents' health and car insurance, and that "if you have a scholarship attached to your former residence, you could lose this funding."

In Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, Democratic voters received a mailing containing tear-out requests for absentee ballots addressed to the clerk in Caledonia -- the wrong location. In Middleton, Wisconsin, Democratic voters received absentee ballot requests addressed to the clerk in Madison -- the wrong address. Both mailers were sent by the McCain campaign.


Funny...you don't hear a lot about Republican voters being defrauded, do you?

UPDATE: Added recent (October 8th) ComputerWorld article about the current state of e-voting machines and full length HBO Special - Hacking Democracy.

NOTE: I have read that if you are worried about being defrauded that absentee ballots are the way to go...but nothing is really secure. You can register to vote or change your location at voteforchange.com (this site makes the process as easy as possible, there are many others), just print out the form and mail it in. You can also choose to request an absentee ballot. Check the deadline to register date for you state here.