Thursday, March 27, 2014

TRYING to delete Google+

I am starting to get VERY pissed off with Google.

Like anyone else that uses Gmail for anything, I have been maneuvered/forced to get a damned Google+ account. I tried to get rid of it a few minutes ago. It's not difficult but, it does come with a few caveats.

According to this help page, you can't get rid of an unwanted Google+ account without also getting rid of various other Google services. Those 'services' include things like your Gmail address and YouTube account. I don't recall this site saying anything about my blog here but, I wouldn't be surprised if that got disabled too. So, basically, they are trying to force you to use Google+, whether you want it or not. Yeah, like that is actually going to happen...

That being said, you can still disable EVERYTHING on the account with the link I just provided. That makes it invisible to everyone but you. I consider that to be valuable since it keeps people from trying to add me to their circles, whatever that is... More often than not, it's either someone I don't know or someone I stopped talking to years ago for a very good reason. The last thing I want is some crazy ex looking to cyberstalk me on Google+ after I've already blocked her psycho ass on Facebook, MySpace or whatever other social media might someday exist.

Google, If you think you are untouchable, just remember this:

1.) Yahoo does offer free web-based e-mail addresses and an excellent search engine. They were around long before you and they will still be around long after you've self-destructed.

2.) Vimeo is also proving to be an excellent alternative to YouTube for posting web videos.

3.) I got rid of Windows and the Office Suite, replacing them with FREE Linux software that comes with no caveats at all. All it took was a few hours of my time. It's quite easy to use when you get the right distribution. I can even play my old computer games made for DOS or Windows on that platform using programs like DOSBox and WINE. If I can find a way to flip Microsoft the digital finger, I can do it to you too.

I can tell you goodbye. Is that what you want? I'm already quite pissed at you for your involvement in the NSA-PRISM scandal. And now, you are trying to force something on me that I quite clearly DO NOT WANT. What the fuck?! I use your software apps because you're supposed to be the best. Now, you're acting like I'm your bitch instead of your customer. That's a good way to put yourself out of business, dumbass.

Google, you're starting to become almost as much of an ASSHOLE as Microsoft. The only reason you're not yet is because you don't (yet) sell any consumer products that you know to be flawed. As I have heard in so many weekend safety briefings during my years in the Army, don't be that guy.

- Lord Publius

Screw VR, I want holograms!!!

There has been some talk in the tech news world lately about VR technology being on the horizon. The 2 companies I hear about are Oculus (which was recently bought out by Facebook) and Sony developing VR for the new PS4 console called 'Project Morpheus.'

Personally, I don't see this as a big deal. VR technology is not exactly a new idea. It's been around in one primitive form or another for many years. There was even a VR Pac-Man game created by a company called 'Virtuality' in 1995 just to show off the technology. It looked quite impressive for 1995 but, it didn't go anywhere. It was too clunky and slow. I'm guessing the new stuff from Oculus and Sony will be a LOT better but, I don't care. I wear glasses. VR headsets (which are still as clunky as ever) are not going to fit over my face very well. That is just one of many reasons why I think VR is never going to catch on with consumers. Cost, comfort, taking up lots of space and requiring lazy gamers to actually get up off the couch (assuming there are motion controls involved) could also prove to be a problem for VR.

So, what would I like to see instead? What 'cutting-edge' solution do I have? Well, it's more evolutionary than revolutionary. In fact, Atari experimented with some of this technology back in the early 1980's and Nintendo implemented it in several devices. My solution is holography and stereoscopic 3D, taken to a much further extreme than we have so far seen in consumer products.

Nintendo's first experiment with stereoscopic technology was the Virtual Boy. That device failed miserably (and rightfully so) because the red and black color scheme hurt people's eyes. Like VR helmets, it also required you to stick your face into the device to see what was going on and was VERY uncomfortable. Fortunately, their next experiment in stereoscopic technology, the 3DS, was a raging success. It has 3D visuals that don't need any kind of glasses or headgear and it works great.

What I'd like to see is for this technology to be taken to the next logical level and turned into a holographic projection. I have no idea just how exactly that is going to happen yet. The only way I can think of how it would work is to have 2 holographic projectors projecting the image into the air, creating the stereoscopic 3D hologram/image. I've seen numerous examples of this in science fiction over the years. There's the tactical display on the White Star ships in Babylon 5, Princess Leia's message to Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV (Help me, Obiwan Kenobi! You're my only hope!) and several in various episodes and films of the Star Trek franchise. The one that sticks out the most for me is an arcade game featured in the bar scene from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. A human in a Starfleet Academy uniform is playing a game with a female alien featuring fighter planes from the First World War. The graphics were just simple vector drawings but, what can you expect? It was a special effect made for a movie released in 1984. I have a picture of it here:




This picture (and the scene it came from) also provide a good test market for the technology: Arcades. Sadly, Arcades have become something of a dying breed in recent years. Home computers and consoles caught up to the technology of the arcade machines and the arcade beusiness has been in decline ever since. Various 'family fun' outlets, movie theater lobbies, hobbyists and collectors have kept it alive but, it's not a growth industry. Nowadays, almost any arcade game you see is a racer, a light gun shooter or a machine filled with old arcade classics like Pac-Man's Arcade Party from Namco. There isn't much innovation or anything to convince players to go to arcades in droves like the 1980's and early 1990's. Since many of my happiest childhood memories involve arcade games, I would love to give that business a good shot in the arm.

Of course, the technology will also find its way into the home again. And that is fine with me. When it does though, there's one feature I'd like to see: ports for old consoles and devices. This device is a projector, right? Why not give this '3D Projector' a ton of ports so I can connect my game consoles, both new and old, to it and play my games without the need for a TV? That would be awesome! Sure, it won't work for NES Zapper games but, that's why I still own several old CRT monitors.

Also, the ports should not just be limited to standard RCA components, RGB, VGA and HDMI inputs. There needs to be a coax port as well. I want to see how games from a really old console like the Atari 2600 would look in holographic 3D. Imagine being able to play Asteroids, Battlezone or Space Invaders on your 2600 without worrying about modding the console to have RCA component output or keeping an ancient TV around? Even better, how about Super Mario Bros. being projected into 3D holograms. That will be awesome. In fact, I found a video of something like that and have it here for your review...




Even if the projector only played media from the devices you plug into it, just having a device that could do what you see in the video would still be a huge hit. Games, movies and TV shows would never be the same.

- Lord Publius

Monday, March 24, 2014

Questions on how Mercury causes Brain Neuron damage

Here we go again... back into Crazyland where anything is possible, including things that Science has already debunked... Why do I keep having to explain away the same BULLSHIT about mercury causing neurological problems (including autism) again and again? Why must people cling to this crap and employ as much cognitive dissonance as a devout Catholic blindly following his orders from the Vatican?

Anyway, enough with the rants for now. It's time to get down to business. Earlier today, I saw a link to a YouTube video on Facebook posted by my best friend's older sister. It's about an experiment to see how mercury affects neurons. That caught my attention. She's also the mother of an autistic child. She believes that vaccines using mercury-based preservatives (which have long been removed from the market) might have had a hand in causing her son to become autistic, like the former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy thinks. We have had a LOT of conversations about this over time. I have tried my best to tactfully explain why Jenny is wrong but, she doesn't seem to believe me. I might have also unintentionally stepped over the line and been less than tactful a few times. Either way, I didn't seem to get through to her. She also does what most NT's do and assume that I don't understand the world very well too. Kind of annoying but, that's the unintentional arrogance that I expect from 'ordinary' people. I get that from all sorts of NT's all the time. Someone not seeing things the way you do does not necessarily mean that they don't understand, folks.

Anyway, as a naturally born Mad Scientist (aka someone with Asperger's Syndrome), I found this notion that mercury in vaccines somehow causes autism to be quite dubious. The burden of proof is rather high and there has been no convincing evidence to back these claims. The study from a now disbarred British Doctor named Andrew Wakefield that they tout as the proverbial 'magic bullet' was debunked and retracted. Conducting illegal experiments on children at a birthday party will do that... And yet, they still believe what that quack said in his so-called 'study.' I swear, that miserable asshole gives all the rest of us Mad Scientists a bad name!

So, she posts this video from the University of Calgary about how mercury exposure can cause damage to neurons. My immediate reaction was along the lines of... Well, no shit? A substance that is NOT supposed to be in your body in large amounts caused damage to a few cells in a petri dish? Who would have thought? [/sarcasm]

Anyway, you can see the video for yourself below...





After watching this video with the most open-minded mentality that I can muster (which I assure you is much more open-minded than you might expect), I still have several unanswered questions here...

1.) The description for the video mentions Alzheimer's disease and nothing else. How do I know this applies to one of these 'autism spectrum disorders' that shrinks keep labeling kids with these days?

Also, please remember, the video itself never did mention any specific neurological disorder, let alone Autism, Asperger's, PDD-NOS or any other issue. All it shows is that exposure to mercury can cause neurons to lose cohesion and become malformed. That's all. Nothing else.

2.) How much mercury was used in this test? Is it the same amount that one would get over time from various vaccinations?

Even if the amount of mercury these neurons were exposed to was the same amount as the mercury that were once used in vaccines, this test is still potentially flawed. Vaccines are not always given once and then never again. Many childhood immunization shots are given in doses over the course of years, including the much-demonized MMR vaccines. Wouldn't the mercury ingestion being spread out over years help to lessen the effects it could have on your neurons? This test also does not take into account whether or not the mercury you ingest from whatever source (vaccines, tuna fish sandwiches, et al.) even gets to your brain. The body will absorb a large amount of the mercury as the vaccine is pumped through the bloodstream. Much of it will probably never get anywhere near the brain.

It is worth noting that the Thiomerisal additive was removed from vaccines in 1999 as a precautionary measure. Children born and/or receiving the MMR vaccines made after that precautionary recall have absolutely no need to be concerned. Truth be told, you'd get 9 times more mercury in your system from eating a tuna fish sandwich (about 28 micro-grams) then you would get from ALL of your childhood immunizations before the Thiomerisal additive was removed.

So, why do I have to be so concerned? Why do I need to prevent my future children from getting these vaccines? Why do I need to risk them getting sick with Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Tetanus, Polio, Whooping Cough, Small Pox, Chicken Pox, Hepatitus, et al? Is the risk really that great? Of course not!

Ignore the emotional influences that are obviously at work here and think about this logically for a moment. Why would you virtually guarantee that your child will get sick with easily preventable diseases just to avoid a ridiculously small (and probably non-existent) chance of him getting something else? Especially if that disease/disorder/condition/whatever that is so scary is also quite rare and probably genetic? This anti-vaccination movement makes no sense at all.

3.) How was the test conducted? Where are their research notes? Has this test been run by other researchers? What were their results?

No one who knows anything about Science is going to think that ONE study will conclusively prove ANYTHING at all. There needs to be a lot more research and debate. The results of this test must be replicated many times to be proven reliable.

And finally, one question utilizing simple logic (or as Neuro-typicals erroneously call it, 'Common Sense') that Jenny McCarthy and her ilk just refuse to answer...

4.) What makes you so damned sure that Big Pharma and Uncle Sam set out to poison your children?

I find it extremely unlikely that any pharmaceutical company is going to deliberately market a product that they know could do such great harm to people. If nothing else, it would hurt their bottom line. No business is going to deliberately do that to themselves.Also, these so-called 'evil corporations' are run by people like you and me. Okay, maybe more like all of you. Either way, your average Joe is not going to go out of his way to poison people. That is both really freakin' crazy and something most folks would consider unconscionable.

It is also unlikely that they knew these drugs MIGHT be harmful and then talked the Feds into forcing these potentially dangerous vaccines on people. That creates a conspiracy that just does not exist. It would require government to be acting malicious when, more often than not, they are too stupid to come up with something that devious. After all, why poison a future taxpayer and potentially turn him into a future 'ward of the state'? That would be *quite* counter-productive...

Also, while I just hate to look like I'm sticking up for that bastard Uncle Sam, the government is also made up of people like you and me. Okay, maybe more like all of you... Anyway, like all of you, it's pretty unlikely that they are going to go out of their way to knowingly hurt other people. That would only come back to haunt them by getting them fired from the bureaucracy they work for or get voted out of office. So, can we please dispense with the obviously BULLSHIT conspiracy theories you all found on some crackpot's website?

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Don't be so quick to believe something just because someone else claimed to have done their homework. Remember, Science = pure, unadulterated skepticism. This test should be conducted again and again by numerous people in numerous locations. If the results are replicated time and again, then we can be reasonably sure that it is true. If the results differ when someone else runs this experiment, we need to go back to the original hypothesis and see what went wrong. Even if this experiment's results turn out to be accurate, there is still a lot of room for further research. Like I had brought up in questions 1 & 2, the video does not mention how much mercury was used or what kind of disorders and diseases that this neuron-degeneration can cause.

I do feel bad for Jenny McCarthy and other parents like her. They are burdened with a serious issue that will affect them and their children for the rest of their lives. They are desperately searching for answers to their questions, including the most important one: Why did this happen to my child? Sadly, that is a question that we just can't answer yet. I am quite sure that a vaccine I was given as a child did not cause me to become an Aspie. Asperger's, Autism and neurological differences have been part of the Human genome long before vaccines were ever created.

The rise in the rates for these conditions is also easy to explain. The diagnostic criteria was changed and it's now easier for doctors to diagnose someone as having a neurological issue. After all, do we really have a rise in the occurrence of things like ADD or, are the kids just being kids? Have you ever tried to get hyperactive children to pay attention in class when they're bored with the subject matter? Neuro-typical or not, that is often an impossible mission. If you don't believe me, just ask your child's teachers. Kids are always bouncing off the proverbial walls. That does not make them mentally ill or neurologically different in any way. It simply means they are being rambunctious and immature, like all children.

- Lord Publius

Sunday, March 23, 2014

MOST game cases are too large...

Lately, I have noticed something that I'll bet most gamers didn't. I've noticed that most plastic cases for video games are actually too large for their intended purpose. These cases, at least when first used, probably cost more than standard jewel cases and also create a lot of wasted shelf space. I have pictures to demonstrate what I mean...

First, we have the plastic case that SEGA made for cartridges on their legendary Genesis console. This is where the idea of using plastic cases really took off. They used similar clamshell cases for the previous console, the Master System. There were also plenty of 3rd party companies making cases for other popular systems of yesteryear like the NES. However, no 1st party companies did this before the Genesis became a hit. Atari, Coleco, Mattel, Nintendo and anyone else that made a system in those days used cardboard boxes instead. That's why it's hard for collectors to find boxed games for a lot of these older systems. Cardboard doesn't hold up as well as plastic.

Here's a picture of a standard case for a standard Genesis game cartridge...



EA also made their own versions for their slightly larger Genesis cartridges...



So, why is this important? Because it started a trend of making cases that were too large. These cases could have actually fit at least 2 Genesis cartridges if you removed the brackets that held the cartridge in place. The cases for old cartridge-based games on SEGA consoles has actually been a blessing for owners and collectors. They have done a great job of protecting the games. So many well-preserved copies means that (so far) collecting the games for these systems is still relatively cheap. That amazes me considering how popular the Genesis was (and still is) but, I'm also not complaining either. My only issue is just how much shelf space is being taken up by these cases.

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Of course, it gets worse with Sony systems. Most games for PS1 came in jewel cases like regular audio CD's. For example...


However, there are the 'long box' games that were put out within the first year of the system's release, like this copy of Ridge Racer...


Now, tell me one thing: Why is it necessary for a game disc that is the EXACT SAME SIZE AS A REGULAR AUDIO CD to be in such a large box? It can't be simply for the manual. That could have been (and usually was) printed at the same size as the booklet that accompanied regular audio CD's. I suspect this was a case of 'monkey see, monkey do' on Sony's part. SEGA used these exact same kind of cases for the games on the CD add-on for their Genesis console and the Saturn console. This was when they first entered the console market and there was no guarantee that they would succeed. They were borrowing ideas from established players in the market who were successful.

So, why did SEGA use these unnecessarily large cases? I have no idea. My best guess is because they wanted the games to be seen and large-sized objects usually leave quite an impression on a person's psyche. After all, most of us do prefer to have a large house, large car and large TV set. Of course, the logic of using such a ridiculously large case didn't stand up to scrutiny and Sony quickly dropped the idea. I'm guessing SEGA quickly followed suit but, I can't say for sure. I haven't seen many Saturn games but, the ones I have seen (and own) are always in those large plastic cases.

And if you think those large plastic cases were ridiculous, it gets worse. Sony also made a few long boxes out of cardboard, like this copy of PlayStation Doom...



Was it really necessary to make a box for this game that probably could have fit at least 10 CD's inside for just one disc? I don't think so...

When SEGA released the Dreamcast, they started using ordinary CD jewel cases like PS1 did and audio CD's still do. Sony, however, decided to use the same case as a DVD movie for their games when they released the PS2. Here's a picture example of one...



Why did a disc that is the exact same size and shape as a regular audio CD need a case like the one used for DVD movies? I do like how they (at first) had a bracket for holding a PS2 memory card in the case but, it's not necessary. I could easily put it in another safe and secure place, assuming that I didn't just leave it in the console. That's what most gamers did.

While we're on the subject, why does a DVD need a case that big? They are also the exact same size and shape as an audio CD. Most DVD's don't come with any kind of manual or booklet anymore and they still use these kind of cases most of the time. Why? That takes up unnecessarily large amounts of shelf space. Using the same case as a DVD does make it easy to get replacements that fit the manuals and title cards for PS2 games (and virtually every other console since) but, again, why did they need to use these specific cases?

If I had to guess, I'd say it was part of selling the PS2 on its hardware features, which Sony does with its consoles. In this case, they wanted to go to whatever lengths necessary to remind people that PS2 played DVD movies. That feature is also what sold a lot of people on buying the console. When it was released, the PS2 was cheaper than stand-alone DVD players.

Now, moving on to PS3 (and finally finding a use for that perfect condition sports game disc that I recently acquired for free), we again see the cases are needlessly larger than the actual game media...



As usual, the game disc itself is exactly the same size and shape as a regular audio CD. So, why is it using the case of a Blu-Ray movie? And again, why are Blu-Ray movies using cases that are much larger than necessary? Sony can't even claim they are leaving a space for a memory card anymore. PS3 uses an internal HDD, cloud storage or USB thumb drives for save files and other game data. So, what is going on here?

The most logical answer is that this is the same scenario as with the PS2 and it's DVD playing abilities. Now that I think about it, the PS1 being able to play audio CD's was also a selling point for some people. CD players, while not uncommon, weren't quite as ubiquitous in 1994 as they are now. (Of course, every other CD-based game console could play audio CD's. So, why was this something that Sony went out of their way to advertise?)

The only difference here with the PS3 case is that Sony is now promoting that PS3 (and the PS4) also makes for a great Blu-Ray player. Like PS2 with DVD's, it was also MUCH cheaper than stand-alone players at the time of its release. Again, Blu-Ray movies are also the same size and shape as regular audio CD's so, there's no need for them to be in cases larger than a regular CD jewel case, either. What is going on here?

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Just so it doesn't look like I'm picking on SEGA and Sony, let's move on to Nintendo and some of their more recent systems. Nintendo isn't without sin here, either. When they finally switched to optical media with the GameCube, they went with a much smaller than usual proprietary format for the game discs used by the system. However, the cases they used were still the same size/shape as a standard DVD case. You can see one in the picture below...




The game discs for the GameCube are about the same size as a MiniDisc audio CD. That format didn't catch on anywhere except Japan. Even there, it never had more than a cult following, at best. Even if they were worried about the manuals being too small to for most folks to read, they still could have printed out some that were large enough for standard CD jewel cases and put the discs in there. It's not like they would have any trouble fitting in one...
We won't bother mentioning the Wii or the Wii U since those are using standard-sized media discs and standard-sized DVD cases like everyone else.

If you think this is getting a bit ridiculous with the consoles well, it's semi-ridiculous for portables too. When the Game Boy and Game Gear were both released by Nintendo and SEGA, they came in small cardboard boxes. Inside these boxes with the games were also these small plastic clamshells for the cartridges. This way, you could take the games with you and keep them fairly well protected. Those cases are a blessing to this day and collectors often hoard and re-sell them for a considerable profit. SEGA didn't continue with protables after Game Gear. Nothing could stand up to the Game Boy line in the marketplace. Despite making money hand over fist with their portable systems, Nintendo inexplicably stopped making the plastic cases for the cartridges. I'm not sure if this coincided with the introduction of the Game Boy Color or if it happened a little earlier.

However, years later with the Nintendo DS, they brought them back... in a way. They sold the DS games with a plastic clamshell box that (at first) also had a slot for a Game Boy Advance cartridge. That came in handy if you were taking the games on the go or just needed a place to put a loose GBA cartridge. These cases also made it a lot easier for retailers to make the games visible on the shelf. It also probably helped to deter theft since a case that wasn't much larger than the tiny cards used for game media would be easy to put in a pocket. For once, a case that's considerably larger than the actual media is starting to make sense! Hallelujah!!!

A picture of one of these early cases is shown below:


After a while, the cases no longer had a slot for GBA cartridges. You could still put one (or several) in the box but, they would be rattling around. Why did the slot for GBA games go away? Because the DS eventually lost backward compatibility with the GBA after the introduction of the DSi model in 2008 and 2009. Having that slot there was no longer necessary since GBA was no longer supported in any form.

Why would Nintendo get rid of the GBA slots in the cases? It's not as if the earlier forms of DS were no longer supported. Most folks did not throw away their old DS systems and rush out to get the new version. I didn't replace my original unit from the 2004 launch until 2010 when the DSiXL became available. I still have and use that original DS as well, for both DS & GBA games. I have more than a few loose GBA games too. It would be nice if I could just slip them into a DS game's case somewhere. I could easily keep track of their location in my manifest and this would make storage a LOT easier. (Not to mention taking up less shelf space...)

There's no need to look at cases for 3DS games because they are virtually the same as the original DS game cases. I'm not going to bother with cases for PSP or PS Vita, either. It would just be another example of case that is much larger than necessary and that would be redundant. However, the cases for PSP are large enough to fit 2 UMD's inside and that can be beneficial for multi-disc releases. I have one of them in the form of the Mega Man Dual Pack.


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CONCLUSION

To summarize, I am forced to conclude that game companies are wasting resources with these larger-than-necessary cases. These cases aren't a problem for most folks but, they tend to be a pain in the ass for those of us with large media collections. The market has responded to the need and provided special media shelving options that handle DVD/Blu-Ray/Game cases. However, none of that would've been necessary if they had just stuck to regular CD jewel cases.

Standard CD jewel cases are perfectly fine for ANY console or computer that used/uses optical discs for it's media. They are also quite easy to acquire. That same argument can be made for DVD and Blu-Ray style cases too but, would they be as cheap as the standard CD jewel cases? One thing is for sure, the standard jewel cases take up a lot less shelf space. That means I have more room for more media. That means I have a little extra incentive to buy more games, movies and audio CD's. Starting to get the picture, game companies and movie studios? You didn't have to re-invent the wheel or try to fix something that was never broken. You should have just followed the music industry's (and to an extent, the software industry's) lead on this one. The 31 titles I have for the PS1 take up considerably less shelf space than the 25 titles that I have for the PS3.

- Lord Publius

Friday, March 21, 2014

BLOG VIDEO: Nintendo 'Destroys' Microsoft In Video Game Hardware Sales




The title is only there to grab attention. The video is really about why this talk of Nintendo going 3rd party is ridiculous and counterproductive. The blogger here talks about how we should want all 3 console makers to do well since competition is good for consumers.

I'm also loving how he points out that the 'Nintendo = the next SEGA' attitude is a fallacy. SEGA was going broke BEFORE Dreamcast was murdered by the PS2. Right now, Nintendo has more cash than many 3rd world countries! :O

Finally, there is one more point he makes that I thought was quite well-made. At the time SEGA went broke, they were also supporting numerous different platforms in numerous different regions. The Master System & Genesis were still being supported in Europe and Latin America at that time. The Saturn was also still alive and well in Japan until 2000. (I think...) They had their hand in a lot of different cookie jars and that handicapped them when trying to stand up to the PS2 juggernaut. That being said, they may not have survived even if they threw everything they had at the Dreamcast and hoped for the best. Atari did that with the Jaguar and we all know how that turned out...

- Lord Publius


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Youtube Now Has Super Flaggers to Monitor Videos (Including Gov. Officials)



This isn't one of my videos but, it does have some important information. This is also the last straw for me. I will NOT be posting any more videos on YouTube. I am switching to Vimeo.

I am not sure how this will affect my various FB groups that utilize YouTube videos so much but, I am not going to sit by while Google lets Big Brother stick his nose into my business. Since when is it the government's business to determine whether or not something is 'inappropriate' or not?

- Lord Publius

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

12 Things to do when I return home to NOLA

1.) Ride a street car somewhere. It doesn't matter where as long as it doesn't take me into the Ghetto...

2.) Go to the St. Louis Cathedral & thank Jesus that I got out of the Army alive and reasonably well...

3.) Go to Jackson Square and salute the General that saved my city from becoming English...

4.) Go to the Cabildo and curse at some politicians that are long dead, especially William C.C. Claiborne. (Just kiddin' about Claiborne. He was alright.)

5.) Wander around in the French Quarter drinking in public, just because I can. I will also bring long beads with me so I can encourage the females to show off the goods. In the Quarter, it doesn't have to be Mardi Gras day to encourage women to 'disappoint their parents' for long beads. :)

6.) Go to the Old Absinthe House and dance with the green fairy. I hear that she's a lot of fun. ;)

7.) Go to Crazy Johnnie's Steakhouse and have the largest slab of heart-attack-inducing red meat that I can possibly eat/afford. (I'm probably taking home a doggie bag...)

8.) Go to Commander's Palace and have another fabulous meal of some kind... (I'm probably taking home a doggie bag from this place too...)

9.) Go to Marie Laveau's grave and ask a favor of her...

10.) Find the offices for Edwin Edwards' congressional campaign headquarters and donate a million dollars... in Monopoly Money... Which he will then find a way to launder like the convicted felon that he is...

11.) Throw a party like none other with all my friends and family members that want to come, celebrating my permanent return home from government-imposed exile. There should be free-flowing alcohol, loud music, strippers, arcade games, a bouncy castle (you're NEVER too old for a bouncy castle) and a second line for the casket filled with my old military uniforms. That casket will be cremated immediately following me wiping my ass with that stupid beret they put so much emphasis on during BCT.

12.) Start life over with a new zest for everything that really makes life worth living and, this time, appreciate what I do have in life and NOLA rather than worry about what I don't. Besides, things have a way of attending to themselves...

- Lord Publius

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ducks Playing Duck Hunt (Parody video)



Everyone keeps talkin' about shooting the dog but, what if he had a chance to shoot you?

- Lord Publius

Friday, March 14, 2014

So is this what it's like to have Classical Autism?




There isn't much I can say about what's in this video because I don't have those kind of issues and disabilities. I think what we all just saw in this video was what the shrinks call 'Sensory Overload.' I can't really say for sure. I have weird sensory issues whenever I go running, which is why I don't do that anymore. It's also one of the many reasons why I've decided to leave the Army but, that is for another blog post in the future.

- Lord Publius

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

With all due apologies to Peter Lanza

I did a YouTube vlog about Newtown, Asperger's and Adam Lanza shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre. I was right in that Asperger's had nothing to do with Lanza's motives. However, I had also opined that 'maybe this kid just didn't get enough ass-whippings from his daddy.' After reading this article from The New Yorker, I think I was wrong. You can see the vlog below:




Peter Lanza and his ex-wife Nancy did everything they could to figure out how to reach/help Adam. However, he wasn't responsive and often refused any kind of help. He didn't even want to accept the Asperger's diagnosis that various shrinks had given him. In hindsight, I don't believe it was wise for Nancy to essentially allow herself to be 'enslaved in her own home' by her son's special needs but, how could she have guessed what kind of evil was in his heart? He kept it well-hidden.

I don't have any children yet but, this is something I am going to research as much as possible. There is a good chance that my future children will also have Asperger's Syndrome. I don't want this to happen to them. I can keep them from being exposed to a LOT of the crap that I dealt with as a child just by NOT sending them to the same school that I attended as a youth. That so-called 'Christian School' isn't really all that Christian anyway. More like a 'football factory' that loves money and pigskin more than Jesus and their fellow man.

However, is that enough? What else is in my DNA besides Asperger's Syndrome? What else is just waiting for the right time to become a dominant gene? I might be worrying too much but, until those kids actually exist, there's no way to really know.

And to those who want to use this as an excuse to impose new/utterly useless gun control laws and/or accuse Nancy of being a bad mother, you need to remember this passage from the article...

"Everyone tried to encourage Adam and looked for ways to engage with him. Nancy would take him on trips to the shooting range. Nancy and Peter thought that their son was nonviolent; the best way to build a connection to someone with Asperger’s is often to participate in his fascinations."

I'll bet that sobering rationalization would make my parents EXCEEDINGLY glad that my childhood obsessions were in science, technology, video games, LEGO and Star Trek...

As for Mr. Lanza, who I now feel very bad about criticizing in an indirect manner, well... I'll let him speak for himself:

"I wondered how Peter would feel if he could see his son again. “Quite honestly, I think that I wouldn’t recognize the person I saw,” he said. “All I could picture is there’d be nothing there, there’d be nothing. Almost, like, ‘Who are you, stranger?’ ” Peter declared that he wished Adam had never been born, that there could be no remembering who he was outside of who he became. “That didn’t come right away. That’s not a natural thing, when you’re thinking about your kid. But, God, there’s no question. There can only be one conclusion, when you finally get there. That’s fairly recent, too, but that’s totally where I am.” "

Parents, learn from this tragedy. Don't let your kids get isolated. Spend time with them whether they like it or not. Don't cave to their every whim just because they have a neurological difference or some kind of disorder. I doubt strongly that Aspies in general are anything like Adam Lanza but, I don't ever want my unique group of people to ever again be put in such a negative spotlight, either. No one needs bad press, especially when it involves the wanton slaughter of school children.

- Lord Publius

Sunday, March 9, 2014

New methods for Basic Math in Common Core look ridiculous

Lately, there has been a picture going around Facebook showing some 'new math' problem that's taught to kids in this 'Common Core' stuff that is showing up in schools across America. Here's a copy of it for reference...

Seems stupid to you? Well, you're right. It is stupid. According to this guy who claims to be a math teacher, It's also supposedly NOT the way that basic math is being taught to school kids in this new Common Core regimen. He says this is a bad example. I have to admit something here: I'm not liking this dude trying to stick up for Common Core. He just had to make it political and take an unnecessary swipe at what he calls 'Conservatives' because the image above has been seen/widely shared by actress/comedienne Victoria Jackson. I get the impression that he's looking down his nose at her and I'm not cool with that kind of behavior. It's not just Conservatives that have issues with Common Core. I am beginning to think ill of it too.

Anyway, he claims that this 'new method' is supposed to help kids learn a new way of thinking about numbers and arithmetic that 'doesn't involve just simply plugging digits into a formula.' He also claims that the new method will make it easier to learn more complex forms of math later on in higher grades while admitting the example in the picture is horrible. Well, that example in the picture is pretty terrible... Other than that, I'd have to say this guy's claims are...

Wait for it...

BULLSHIT!!!

Higher Math is nothing but formulas and processes! You would think that a Math Teacher would know that Algebra and Geometry use a LOT of formulas, processes, standard forms, theorems and methods. Ever hear of PEMDAS, Pythagorean Triplets, Slope Formula or the Standard form of a Quadratic Equation before there, genius? Almost ALL of that is plugging numbers into a formula!!!

The reason why people find math difficult (myself included with the higher math I don't use very often) is the way you teach math to children: rote memorization. Instead of teaching the logic behind mathematics and how it really works, you just make them memorize multiplication tables. That, or count on their fingers and toes for addition or subtraction. Those methods might be a good way to get them started (and essential since pre-pubescent minds are not well-formed yet and mostly incapable of logic and higher-order reasoning) but, it doesn't really help much past the 3rd grade. Yet, sadly, that is essentially how kids continue to learn math all the way up through High School. From my own experience, I can promise you that rote memorization is NOT effective for learning processes in Algebra and Geometry.

Even worse, Educators have completely failed to explain why math is even important. It's not enough to say 'You need to know this stuff' or 'Math is the language of the universe' to your students. Try telling them what kind of job opportunities that math skills can provide and the large paychecks associated with them.

As for the supposed Math Teacher's explanation of this 'new method'... Well, I think I know what the creators of Common Core were trying to do. It won't work, either. This 'new method' looks like they are trying to teach the kids to do what I do in my head. They are essentially trying to make ordinary kids think like 'little professors.' Or, make a Neurotypical think more like Me (and all the other Aspies) and 'look at the big picture'. Interesting approach but, at least in this example, you're trying to teach them to do something that doesn't require that kind of thought process. I don't need to have any 'number sense' as this (supposed) math teacher referred to it, to do basic math. If I don't need this 'number sense', then why would an ordinary NT child?

Also, due to the differences in neurological wiring between Aspies and NT's, most people will never be able to think like me... especially since this so-called teacher still has it all wrong. I don't do any of that number skipping crap he tries to explain in his example. It's needlessly complex and obtuse. It also violates ALL logic known to Humankind, especially the 'golden rule' of logic, Occam's Razor. So, instead of that stuff he used in his example, I simply do what any good naturally born Mad Scientist would do: make it simple instead of more difficult on myself.

Here's what I do...

First, I break the original problem down into smaller ones that are easier to solve.

Let's pretend that the problem on the proverbial test says: 82+17 = ???

So, I reduce the numbers to 2 sets: 80+10 and 2+7.

Then, I add the results from those smaller problems to get the answer to the original problem. I'll demonstrate...

80+10=90 and 2+7=9 so, I then add 90+9 and get 99.

So, that means the answer to the original problem is this: 82+17=99.

Yes, it is that easy and yes it does work EVERY time. You might fool people but, you can't fool numbers. Feel free to check my work on a calculator, if you wish. It's a LOT easier to use/understand than the method in that so-called teacher's example and it complements the old ways rather than conflict with them. It shouldn't confuse students very much, if at all.

Truth be told, I don't remember how I came to learn that trick. It might have come from a teacher of mine in elementary school or I might have developed the technique on my own. Either way, that's how I handle basic mental math. I have become so good at it that I tend to solve basic math problems in my head in a near instantaneous fashion. That proved quite useful when making measurements on a job site when I was working with my father's old contracting business years ago. (See what I just did there? I provided a real-life example of how useful math can be and how it helped me to make money!)

If you think the little trick I just demonstrated was impressive then, check this out...

In college, I learned every prime number between 0 and 100 and committed them to memory. It's actually pretty easy. All you have to do is find the numbers that can't be evenly divided by 2, 3, 5 or 7 since those are the smallest divisors of non-prime numbers. Any other number you use for a divisor can be reduced to 2, 3, 5 or 7. I would recite them all in front of my professors and math tutors (It was several years between High School and College for me so, I needed some help to get back up to speed) and leave them stunned. I then told them how I did it: look for numbers that can't be evenly divided by 2, 3, 5 or 7 in my head as I'm writing them on the board or reciting them aloud. What makes this even more impressive is that it wasn't required for any lesson or course. I did it just for my own amusement.

If the methods I just demonstrated were what's being taught in Common Core, then I wouldn't have an issue with the basic math portion. However, this is yet another brainchild of the Federal Government (via the essentially useless/Constitutionally-questionable Department of Education) so, I don't expect it to work out well. I do understand that Math is not an easy subject to teach. It requires imparting a system of logical thinking to young, undeveloped minds who are rarely capable of any logic whatsoever. I do sympathize with the Teacher's plight on this one issue and quite a few others, I'm sure. That being said, this particular 'new method' just doesn't work. If geniuses like me go cross-eyed looking at it, then the kids don't stand a chance.

My advice to teachers is quite simple: Quit trying to make NT's think like Aspies. It won't happen. I know this from personal experience because I have tried countless times to impart logic to NT's. It's generally not possible for them... and it's also rarely necessary. We naturally-born Mad Scientists will make sure they can use the new sciences and technologies that we discover and create. We're kinda used to 'idiot-proofing' the world for all of you anyway.

- Lord Publius

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Genius strikes again...

Ever hear the expression that 'Necessity is the mother of all invention' before? Well, that's not entirely true. Sometimes, Imagination helps you to figure out things and come up with new (possibly insane) ideas too.

This past weekend, I got an idea for the ultimate 'nerd command center', made possible by HDMI, composite and various other forms of cables. One day, after I have returned to NOLA and am living in my own place, I will put it all together. This happened after a neighbor complained about the radio being too loud when he should be thanking me for exposing him to good 1970's era Hard Rock.

Anyway, I wondered why he never complains about the computer's speakers being too loud when I'm watching music videos on YouTube. Then, it occurred to me: The stereo is probably MUCH louder since it's a Bose Wave radio and has much better range. Then, I started imagining what it would be like if I connected that thing to my desktop. It's easily done with the same simple cable that's used to connect the iPod dock to the auxiliary port. It sure would make for some awesome sound in a computer game...

Just imagine, The stereo, TV, computer and as many game consoles as possible all combined into one massive entertainment center. It's all possible with HDMI, Composite cables and a few A/V switchboxes to add the extra ports that are needed. I could even build a custom switchbox if I wanted. It will be GLORIOUS!!!

Also, I already know the concept can work because I have done this with the stereo components by themselves (via the turntable and tape deck being plugged into a A/V Switchbox which then outputs the signal to the Bose Wave radio's aux port with a Stereo Y-Cable) and numerous game consoles plugged into the same TV at once. This new nerd command center is just the next logical step since my desktop has that HDMI Output on the video card...

My future man cave is going to be so freakin' awesome...

\m/O_O\m/

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The incredibly addictive Atari puzzle game you've never heard of...

And no, I am not talking about Klax. That one is known to gamers already, albeit erroneously as Atari's attempt to cash in on the puzzle craze started by Tetris. I mean a title that I have only recently discovered, Atari Video Cube for the Atari 2600. This game is just as addicting as Tetris was and has so much variety that it will take years for you to get bored. I highly recommend this title.





Besides the original Atari cartridge (which I still haven't found), you can also find this title on several compilations like Atari Anthology for the PS2 & XBOX and Atari Greatest Hits: Volume 1 for the Nintendo DS. Get a copy of this title any way you can, even if it's through an emulator.

- Lord Publius