Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm testing something.



Why are my ads coming through in German?  That is some weird stuff there.  Dear Google, I speak the English.


(I'd just like to note that I drank a beer REALLY fast and on an empty stomach before writing this)

Wow, so I'm almost done with school.  For REALS this time.  Just one more class this summer and then I'm through.  (Something about the word 'through' there doesn't look right to me)

So for those who don't know, it seems likely that I have Asperger's Syndrome, which is a type of autism.  Wikipedia tells me that one way that some autistic people cope with social situations is by emulating those that they are around.  Do what other people are doing, that way you can't be wrong.  At least, that's the logic.  What I'm getting at is that it's not good that I'm reading hyperboleandahalf, because it's making me crazier than I already am.  If you read that, you'll get the impression (and she'll happily confirm it for you) that she's got issues.

Of course, none of this would be a problem if Eric Schmidt would just let me hang out with him, then I could be a successful CEO.  (If you're reading this E.S., call me)

This whole revelation about myself (which I had long before I learned about Asperger's and autism) is disconcerting.  Who am I really?  I'm like Ditto, from Pokemon, except I'm useful for more than just breeding.  Seriously though.

I might worry that some people only like me because I act differently around them, and that this would somehow make the friendship a lie, but then I usually get distracted by my ADD.

It's nice to know that my ADD is protecting me from my Asperger's.

Thanks ADD, for always being there when I need you. :hugs:


So I put ads here.  I got an Adsense account so that when I make a website for the results of my WoW study, I might be able to make some money  off of the traffic to it to offset the fact that I had to spend $200 on that damn surverymonkey.com account.

Anyway, DON'T CLICK ON THEM.  Google tells me that if I tell you to click on them that I'm a bad, and that they will be very mad at me and do bad things to me.  So DON'T CLICK ON THEM.  We cool Google, we cool.  :wink:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shaman Changes Thoughts

I believe I can fly...

The Shaman changes preview notes were released today and I am giddy with excitement.  All specs are going to be benefitting, some more than others.  I'll be going from most changed to least.  Of course, we'll start with the general changes before the specifics, and I won't be giving the details, but my perspective on them.

Unleash Weapon is going to be a new spell for all Shamans that will do different effects depending upon what the Shaman's weapon imbues are.  I'm excited to see how this will increase Shaman flexibility.  Spiritwalker's Grace is a new spell (10 sec duration, 2 min cooldown) that will let the Shaman cast while moving.  This is going to be a great boon to all Shamans in PVE and PVP.

Modern Classics

Every art form has its classics.  Painting has the Mona Lisa.  Literature has things like The Scarlet Letter.  Music has the works of Beethoven and Mozart.  Movies has works like The Shawshank Redemption or Schindler's List.  These are just a few examples.  However, there are more modern classics, such as the work of The Beatles.  The thing about classics is that they are shared with each new generation, ensuring that they live on in our culture.  So here is my question:  What is it to be a classic?  What are the new classics of our time?  What pieces of our culture today are you going to share with your children? What are the video game classics? Yes, that's actually four questions.

The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman is like Harry Potter but...

Wait, that's not right.  Initially and superficially, one may think the two are similar, but in reality they are quite different.  The Magicians begins as a tale about Quentin, a very intelligent and diligent high school student in Brooklyn, and his two friends, Julia and James.  The tale takes a sudden turn and Quentin abandons his family, friends, and old life for a life of learning magic at Brakebills Academy.  Sounds like Harry Potter, yes?  It stops here.

In Harry Potter, magic is, rather aptly, magical.  It is fantastic and relatively easy to learn (for something which the distinct majority of the population have absolutely no possible talent with).  In The Magicians, magic is incredibly difficult to learn, with the most basic attempt, making a marble move slightly, being incredibly difficult to learn.  Spells are not single words and a quick flick of the wrist, they are incantations and complex finger hand movements (the constant practice of give you great manual dexterity).  Life for a magician is no different than the life of a regular person, filled with turmoil and dissatisfaction.  Maintaining meaningful relationships is difficult, and people are outcast just as easily in the magical world as they are in the mundane world.  In many ways, life as a magician is more difficult.

Much of The Magicians appears to be a thought experiment on the part of the author about what magic and being a magician would be like if such things existed.  Fortunately, all of this is conveyed narratively, with the story demonstrating all of these details to the reader, rather than being simply stated as if in a textbook.  This isn't to say that interesting and magical things don't happen in the book.  In fact, The Magicians is an enthralling read,  which held my attention far better than most other books.  Tales of The Beast and what happened to the Fourth Year students are gripping, and they push you to turn the page to discover the rest of the tale.

Slightly more than half of the 400ish page book is concerned with Quentin's magical education at Brakebills Academy.  Since Brakebills is a college-age institution, the characters are adults, and they have more 'adult' problems.  So this story isn't meant for young people, it's meant for those who can understand the mature thoughts and actions of its characters, as well as their mistakes and flaws.

I hope you don't take my description to mean that The Magicians lacks the epic moments and story that we have come to associate with magic.  Epic does indeed live in The Magicians, and truly comes to a head in the latter half of the book, post-graduation.  Keep in mind, however, that The Magicians is not just a story about events, it is a story about people.

An excellent book, and definitely one that I would recommend.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The first stage of grief

Above: A typical day in the life of a Death Knight

In this thread, Blizzard announced today that Blood would be the only Death Knight tanking tree in Cataclysm and that Frost and Unholy would solely be DPS trees.  This news was met with mixed anger and excitement.  The changes were made in the spirit of making the class easier to balance, since a single class having access to 3 DPS specs and 3 tanks specs provides a level of inter-spec competition over which is best and creates an extreme spec-of-the-month situation.  This simplified design will also allow the developers to focus more on other classes and not have to nerf/buff various Death Knight specs so often.

The cons are fairly obvious.  Death Knights will have fewer options for how they can reasonably play, and some people will be losing their favored role/tree combination.  Many people had specific concerns/frustrations with this new design paradigm for Death Knights.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

This Movie is Not Yet Rated

I watched This Movie is Not Yet Rated on Netflix.  It's a movie done by a Netflix and the Independent Film Channel about the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) ratings board.  You see, the movie raters are kept secret, their names aren't public.  The goal of the movie was to expose the process by which the board rates movies.  The director talked with various directors of movies that received an NC-17 rating upon initial review and had to cut down the movies so that they would be picked up in theaters.  The director also hired a private investigator to help him find out who the raters were, we'll get to that in a moment.

The ratings board isn't supposed to be an attempt to censor movies.  However, nobody wants to receive an NC-17 rating, because people don't go to see NC-17 movies.  It seems to me that the ratings board knows that they have that level of control and therefore the DO have the power to censor movies.  When American Psycho was initially reviewed, it received an NC-17 rating because they objected to the general tone of the movie.  Boys Don't Cry received an NC-17 rating because Hilary Swank wiped lady cum off of her mouth, because of the rape scene, and because a woman's orgasm was too long (even though the camera was solely on her face).  In fact, several movies have had problems that seem to be because the female characters are being pleased too well.  A woman receiving oral sex usually gets an NC-17 rating whereas when a man receives oral sex, it doesn't.

When Trey Parker and Matt Stone submitted Team America: World Police they deliberately extended the puppet sex scene with ridiculously more gross stuff that they had no intention of including in the final film.  So when they had to remove stuff from the scene, they were able to keep the parts that they actually wanted.

As I mentioned before, the director hired a private investigator to find out who the reviewers were.  So how did they find out who they were?  The investigator waited outside the studios, collecting license plates to look up who the driver was.  That, however wasn't good enough, they receive better information from when the security guard left his post and the investigator was able to walk up to the booth and take pictures of the list of extensions on the wall of the booth.  Oops.

She got final confirmation of the list of raters by calling the rating department of the MPAA and saying that she was going to be sending a gift package to the department and didn't want to leave any names out.  She then rattled off the list of suspected raters, the secretary confirming all of them, and then asking if she left any names out and the secretary happily filled her in on the rest.  Social hacking, FTW.  The movie then showed information on all of the senior raters.  All raters are supposed to have children, since the role of the ratings are to inform parents about what movies may be suitable for their children.  But many of the raters' children weren't children any more, there were in their 20's.  One of the raters didn't even have any children.

After rattling off all of this information, the director submitted the movie to the MPAA to be rated (he clearly had no intent of it being rated well, he just wanted to see inside the system).  It received an NC-17 rating due to all of the sexual material in the movie (a large portion of the beginning included sex scenes that had to be cut from aforementioned movies).  He, however, chose to appeal the rating.

There is a separate appeals board, which is kept even more secret.  Furthermore, during an appeal, you are not allowed to compare your movie to any other movie as support for why it should be rated lower.  It was also revealed by an anonymous interview that there are 2 members of the clergy on the appeals board, a Catholic priest and an Episcopalian priest.  According to an un-anonymous interview, the clergy are silent and have no vote.  According to the anonymous interview, they do have a vote.

When he went in for the appeal, the rating board director was so worried about the director exposing who the  appeal board member were that she drove them all there in a black van, to prevent their license plates from being run.  But, 3 months earlier, the private investigator was waiting outside of the appeal area, and ran the plates of all the cars and you'll never guess who's on the appeals board.

The appeals board consists mainly of movie buyers and executives from various theater companies, as well as the two clergy.

There is no other ratings board in the world that keeps its raters anonymous.