Blog Archives

The Guy Who Likes Stuff

An official geek flag was made of this

I went to a life recording of The Nerdist Podcast in Royal Oak, Michigan the other night, and it was an eye opening experience for me. Not so much because of the stand-up acts and the podcast, which were incredibly funny, but because of the realization of who I was among the sea of strangers who were cosplaying as well as tweeting whatever they could to read it on the big screen before the show started. (It was a great interactive measure, actually. They projected the results of a live reader that finds any tweet with the Nerdist hashtag. The problem is that not everyone who thinks he is a comedian is actually funny… In fact, most aren’t.)

This isn’t a new realization but rather a deeper realization following my final 2010 post about Patton Oswalt’s defense of geek media from mainstream consumption. Back then I denounced the status of the labeled enthusiast. I was ready to move forward on the same path I had already been walking, sans the luggage of status-seeking. It hasn’t been the easiest path. It gets really hard when married to an Astronomy PhD grad student who surrounds you with people who constantly use the labels and think it’s cool to do so. More power to them, but then I get looks when they make a graph to plot everyone’s level of geekery and I lack enthusiasm about it. When the graph includes an area for “fake geeks”, how can I give them them a thumb up? They’re what I’ve been considering wrong about the labeled culture. Read the rest of this entry

Watch out for the entertainment industry’s future protective acts in the name of copyright

The least honest, most selfish, things a person can say these days are that information “wants” to be free and that online piracy does more good than harm as it concerns copyrighted material. These are items we most definitely want to believe are true but exist just outside that realm of possibility. Information in and of itself has aims that are as clear and discernible as the aims rocks have, and the biggest contribution of online piracy is the option of bringing to awareness, through experience, a consumer’s actual opinion of a copyrighted item – which, mind you, does not necessarily translate into sales.

It is time to stop romanticizing our free love for free access to products and look at this more objectively. Consumers who pirate copyrighted goods are not bastions of a future free world. By and large they are parasites on the system of consumer goods. This is a horrible position to be in because these are entertainment goods, far from necessities. The drive to obtain these items is based on want. That want is actually created by the entertainment industry itself through their marketing departments.

It is no wonder that the entertainment industry is so upset by the state of digital piracy today. It’s no wonder that they created SOPA and PIPA to tighten the reigns on what can be posted online. Granted, their response to the situation is pretty horrible. Claiming that the bills were shot down as a result of a grassroots misinformation from the “copyleft” is a far cry from the reality – a strong reaction to a bill that gave an already powerful industry more control in the ill-defined but currently open world of the internet.

To an extent, though, the entertainment industry is right. Read the rest of this entry

Reading between the lines

Dating Site Says Android Users Are More Likely to Give It Up on the First Date

Thanks go out to the Consumerist for bringing this article to my attention. It says that not only are Android users more likely to have sex on the first date, but they are also more likely to have one night stands and access dating websites than people who use iPhones or Blackberrys. Meanwhile, iPhone users are more likely to have office romances and call someone a day after the first date. Lastly, Blackberry users are most likely to drink on the first date and admit to having experienced love at first sight. But what does this all mean? Read the rest of this entry

SOPA

Today is a blackout day for crowdsourced information site Wikipedia as well as crowdsourced time wasting site Reddit in order to inform people of and protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. These sites, and others, are doing what they can to keep the internet an ethereal place for free communication. There’s a lot to be said about SOPA, and it’s sister bill PIPA, but those sites and others will be much more informative than this blog. (EDIT: Consumerist is devoting the day to articles on SOPA.) The short of it is this: The acts would give the media companies the power to contact internet service providers and basically block any site that they see is violating their copyright in any way. An example of such would be Monster Cables’ attempt to shutdown Craigslist because someone used the site to try to sell his old Monster brand cables. If passed, SOPA would give Monster that power.

While the venom spewed at the bill is justified from my point of view, I want to take a moment to explain that some of the arguments people are expressing against SOPA don’t work. Mainly that our internet usage is a fundamental freedom. It’s not. The internet is privilege, and its remaining this free for so long has been an honest, amazing blessing. What people don’t get about the bill that makes it so frightening is that none of this was ever guaranteed to those of us on the user end, and the passage of the bill would only serve to define this chaotic world that we’ve taken for granted. And while we would see it as a horrible wrong, they would be within their rights. Unfortunately, to ensure that our usage becomes a fundamental freedom, we need to see this through. Only in the bill’s defeat can we have legislation that guarantees us anything at all.

But I don’t know how strong my faith is in things turning out well. Right now we can only hope for the best.

Porn hackers hit ‘Sesame Street’ YouTube page – CNN.com

Porn hackers hit ‘Sesame Street’ YouTube page – CNN.com.

I probably shouldn’t admit that I’m overall fine with the hacking of accounts of big corporations, even if the hackers have no other motive than a few laughs. Hack Apple and Sony all you want. But leave any and all aspects of Sesame Street alone! There is no reason to go out of your way to potentially expose children to pornography, and there is no reason to dirty the name of a brand whose purpose is education. Furthermore, they’ve always done a good job of being both entertaining and informative. They have definitely made mistakes along the way, like Cookie Monster’s saying that cookies are a sometimes food and Oscar the Grouch’s living near recycling bins, but those errors are on the side of positive messages. Hacking Sesame Street is basically akin to saying, “Hey, I’m an absolutely horrible person.” Yes, you are.

Online gamers crack AIDS enzyme puzzle

Online gamers crack AIDS enzyme puzzle.

Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week’s paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before.

Regulars here know my thoughts on games – at the core of the best games are puzzles. Gamers are puzzle solvers. The described ability of gamers in the article was absolutely no surprise. The skill is honed by playing games, and all we have to do is figure out how to properly channel it. I’ve mentioned here that I wish games were used to teach pro-social lessons to children, but I have no problem with pro-science and pro-health games popping up.

What happened to guys?

My friend Mellie linked this interesting TED Talk that discusses the downfall of guys and how the media might play a role in the whole thing. It’s amazing how convinced this man could make me of his stance in less than five minutes. Sure, I do take quite the stance against our current multimedia culture, but when someone else says something my knee-jerk reaction is to defend it. Not this time. He’s pretty spot on. Read the rest of this entry

Can we ignore Ebert now?

Poor taste isn’t reporting the facts on whether or not someone was definitely drinking and driving. Poor taste is trying to make a cute joke hours after the death of someone’s loved one. This is the utter definition of “Too soon.”

What happened? Well, hours after the reported death of Jackass‘ Ryan Dunn, Ebert twatted, “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.” It is true that Dunn had been drinking before getting in the car, but making it a point to crudely and pejoratively use the name of the show in a message to the masses was beyond unnecessary. It is snide and judgmental. What it should tell the world is that Ebert is a prick. Unfortunately, as I caught wind of the message on EW.com, it just puts the wind in the sails of other pricks.

We know that drinking and driving is dangerous behavior. It’s not a public service announcement. Be happy Twatter wasn’t around when Walt Disney died. Hours after the announcement of his death you might have encountered message like, “Smoking is dangerous. There isn’t much you can do about an Epcot-sized tumor in your lungs.”

I know that this message draws unnecessary attention to him, but from here on can we just ignore Ebert? It seems he knows he is on his last legs and his relevance is fading fast. The man does not make public appearances and cannot speak. All he has are his reviews and observations. Only when there is some sort of controversy for being snide (such as saying video games are not art) does anyone pay him any serious mind anymore. So let’s just stop responding to him.

Especially since a statement like that makes him a bigger jackass than some dude who put a toy car up his butt.

Building Cult Status

I'm not giving anything away about next year's top pick...

The idea of a cult classic film or television series has been bothering me lately. If one really thinks about it, it’s more of a marketing term than anything else. According to Wikipedia, a cult film is one that ” that has acquired a highly devoted but specific group of fans.” By that definition alone, almost any film (or piece of art) can technically acquire cult status so long as two people really like it. The article goes on to say that not everything goes on to acquire cult status for a multitude of reasons. To this I have to ask Why? Why are lesser known films that a handful of people like not automatically cult classics? The answer is recognition. Read the rest of this entry

Sith girl exposes fault of Star Wars films

I’m not late to the party in sharing the Sith girl clip that was popularized weeks ago. It was only recently that the reality of the young girl’s turn to the Dark Side really became clear to me. Over the course of six movies, a holiday special, 2 animated series covering the same span of time, and four-hundred (and counting) video games…the series has absolutely failed to present the Dark Side as deplorable and vile.

First, watch the video. The girl does what most adult fans would do. Maybe she’s ahead of the game as far as kids are concerned?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5mK7dzyUkM

Read the rest of this entry