I smell an approaching Thompson

A few days ago a terrible tragedy took place in Brockton, Massachusetts: 18-year old William Suarez shot and murdered 15-year old Olivier Baptiste over a petty dispute. This is horrible and unjustifiable by any measure of human understanding, as murder has always and will always be.

If the aforementioned dispute involved a cell phone, an iPod or any other technological device, it would draw no special attention, other than depict the proportions of Suarez's insanity. But you see, the object in question was a videogame... and this is, of course, the tidbit of information the media will grossly exaggerate. The media and a certain Mr. Jack Thompson.

For those not obsessed with videogame related yellow press, Jack Thompson is a Florida-dwelling attorney who has been fighting against certain parts of the electronic entertainment industry, blaming them for everything short of natural disasters. So long and so loud has he been complaining for the past few years, that the Florida Supreme Court recently has issued him a restriction which can only be described as a legal talk to the hand.

The recipients of Mr. Thompson's hate are almost always Rockstar Games, the developers of the (in)famous GTA series. GTA IV, one of the most feverishly anticipated games in the industry's young life, is about to hit the shelves, and it promises to be everything the series is known for: a mixture of sociopathy, utter disregard for everything mankind holds dear, and an amount of random violence never imagined outside of the US Postal Service.

The concatenation of the game's release and the tragedy in Brockton is bound to make Mr. Thompson and several hundred other speakers with similar mindsets rush to the papers and TV stations, grabbing their pitchforks and torches on the way.

They say videogames are all that's evil. I disagree.

I'll take my own experience as an example: I have been playing videogames pretty much since I can remember. Throughout my life I have owned an Atari, two Nintendos, a Super Nintendo, a Game Boy, a Playstation, two Playstation 2's, a Wii, a Playstation 3 and countless computer and cellphone games of all kinds. Furthermore, I love the GTA series. I played all three PS2 installments for hours on end, and the promise of GTA IV was enough to make me shell out for the ridiculously expensive PS3.

Obviously, my in-game alteregos have committed every crime possible in the GTA games several hundred times over, and throughout my years, I have killed enough videogame characters to make a bloodthirsty tyrant cry himslef to sleep.

Now, I'm not going to say I'm a flawless person in real life... after all, nobody's perfect, and I'm willing to admit that certain people (Emos) bring out the long dormant head-severing Celt heritage in my blood. When I act on it, sarcastic remarks and a smug visage of superiority are my weapons of choice. Other than that and a couple fistfights in my teens, I am an utterly peaceful person. I condemn all forms of violence, even towards animals, and I'm such a wuss that even stomping on a spider makes me feel guilty for a couple minutes.

Why then, having been corrupted since early childhood by the devilspawned joystick, don't I hurt and murder people? The same reason why I don't stab my girlfriend with a Tai-Chi sword after watching Kung-Fu flicks: Because (to the extent of my knowledge) I'm not fucking insane.

Say what you wish. I, for one, think that if you shoot someone, chances are you're not very stable. There were murders before videogames, because there were fucking lunatics before videogames. In fact, I have the theory that videogames are a pretty effective anger management therapy. They provide a cathartic experience, allowing you to shed out your violent instincts (we are animals, after all) rather than bottling them up so they can explode one day. GTA works particularly well for this, because a) it's more akin to the real world setting your frustration hails from and b) it gives you a greater sense of control and decision. I'll elaborate on this some other day.

One final attempt at sophistry: If you're walking through a dark alley and a teenage boy playing Nintendo DS is coming in the opposite direction, you think:

a) The kid is a harmless geek, entranced by the task of raising a Nintendog.
b) Holy shit, run!

Just in case you people hadn't realized that I really love GTA, I'm putting up the GTA IV widget.

Futurama is back from the dead.

Four years ago, when the Matt Groening cartoon Futurama was cancelled, I cried like a baby... well, not really, but I could have. Now I wake up to find that Fox is releasing a straight-to-dvd Futurama motion picture entitled Bender's Big Score.

This goes to prove that my theory was correct: Futurama will keep gaining and gaining fans as the Simpsons-influenced generations grow from their teenage years into young adulthood. For now, I will enjoy this movie. Oh, that I will.

John Perkins

I just found this on Kinetic Reaction, a Ron Paul support blog. It's an interview with John Perkins about his life as a U.S.government-sponsored corporate grifter, as detailed in his book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman". I read this book about a year ago, and unlike many people in the US, I wasn't surprised the least bit: Anyone born or living outside the US can tell you this is exactly the despicable way in which american foreign policy is conducted. It's not much of a secret. What I find terrible is the fact that, even though most US citizens are good willing, hard working people, their government and corporations' maneuvers all over the world have earned them the hatred of so many.

Now, I don't care what your nationality, political inclinations, age or sex is. You HAVE to watch this interview. Then, if what you hear in the interview comes as a surprise to you, buy the book. Now.

More people means more CO2.

China's been taking a lot of heat lately for its coal emissions (pun intended). Apparently, the asian behemoth took the infamous place of "greatest greenhouse gas emitter" from the U.S. in 2006, emitting 6,200 million tons of the stuff, surpassing the 5,800 million tons emitted by the U.S. This has triggered a wave of criticism aimed at the chinese government and industry. I have one comment regarding this particular piece of information:

Well, DUH!

Let me show you something: it's the World Population Data Sheet for 2006, straight from the PRB. According to it, China had around 1311 million residents last year, when the CO2 was emitted. The U.S. had 420 million. Let's do the math.

My calculator shows the following result: roughly 4.73 tons per head for China, roughly 13.80 tons per head for the U.S.

As you can see, the U.S. generate way more gas per head than China. Around three times, to be precise. So sure, China is still the biggest emitter, but maybe that's just because they have a myriad of chinese people to provide energy for. And now the States, quite probably the more environmentally unconscious country in the world, are actually considering "giving China a hand with their greenhouse gas problems". Well, that's a good one.

I don't care the least bit for the whole holier-than-thou environmental attitude the U.S. have been giving the rest of the world lately, especially since Al Gore won the Nobel Prize. Don't get me started on that.

Niggy Tardust.

I have just received an e-mail from nin-thespiral.com. It bears a message from industrial music wizard Trent Reznor himself. I take this e-mail as proof that Radiohead can indeed change the world, which scares the hell out of me.

Mr. Reznor's message reads:

As many of you know, I've been working closely with Saul Williams on his new record. We've spent many hours together in hotel rooms, busses, backstages and studios around the world working on something we knew was great. This is the most involved I've been with any project outside NIN since Antichrist Superstar, and I've been impatiently waiting for the chance for you to hear it. Well... guess what?

The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! has arrived! After my own recent dealings with record labels we decided to release it directly to you. Head over to http://www.niggytardust.com for all the details. Register now and you can download the record November 1st. Working on this project was a real pleasure. Saul was interested in breaking boundaries / crossing genres / defying expectations and we learned a great deal from one another in the process. When asked about the sound of the record, I've had to resort to "... I really don't know HOW to describe it." That's a good thing more than ever these days.

A word on the way we've chosen to release this. There are obvious similarities in how Radiohead just released their new record and the way we've chosen to. After thinking about this way too much, I feel we've improved upon their idea in a few profound ways that benefit you, the consumer. You obviously will be the judge of this in the end. One thing that IS very different in our situation is that Saul's not the household name (yet!) that Radiohead is, and that means we need your support on this more than ever. If you like what you hear, spread the word.

I hope you enjoy the music,


Wonderful news. I applaud both Trent Reznor and Saul Williams. I read during the In Rainbows hype that Reznor had decided to go AWOL from his record label, but I didn't think he would act so quickly. Kudos.

Receiving this e-mail makes me feel so special, I have to return the courtesy by displaying his widget.

We don't need natural language in our searches

You've probably heard of it... it's the old utopia of search engines, the one true messiah that will deliver us all from the hands of the Google empire: the natural language search engine.

Normally, I'm willing to embrace any sort of goofy web innovation… I enjoy them, in fact; this idea, however, I've never been able to swallow.

I think Darwin had a point. I, for one, see natural selection at work on the internet every day, and I believe it can be applied to people using a search engine. It goes like this: If you're incapable of learning how to properly Google something, then maybe the internet is not for you.

Simple, but true as can be. If you use Google Analytics you'll understand what I'm talking about: I have seen searches like "I want mp3 music for my wedding reception" and "Find me donut shops near my home". I mean, come on... googling something is not precisely difficult... oh, and forget about + - "" site: etc. I consider myself fairly competent at finding things on the web, and I never use any of those things. My searching philosophy is pretty straightforward: If I want to find out what a red herring is, I type red herring. Search. If I want to find a restaurant in downtown Helsinki I type restaurants helsinki. Search. Chances are Yahoo travel or another website of that sort will answer the call, offering me maps, reviews, and dozens of search refinement possibilities. So, to me (and I'm guessing to millions of other people), natural language searches are rather pointless.

Last year, I wrote a thesis. Due to the lack of related work in the libraries, I tried the internet. Ever tried to google academic papers that may be used as reference in a research about the influence of plastic minimalism in the work of film directors Abbas Kiarostami and Kim Ki-Duk? I did. And guess what? I found enough. It took me a week, but I did, and without the help of a natural language search engine. Furthermore, I'm sure such a search engine couldn’t have helped me find it faster.

How about "natural language C++"or "natural language Javascript"? Now that would be helpful.