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Topic: Society 10:52 am EDT, Apr 29, 2010

PowerPoint has become public enemy number one for many US officers who find themselves battling slide presentations rather than insurgents. Some have gone as far as to declare all-out war on the software after the military command was over-run with mind-numbing 30-slide presentations.

Brigadier General H.R. McMaster went one step further and banned the presentation package when he led an offensive in Tal Afar, Iraq, in 2005. "It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control," he told the New York Times. "Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable."

I'm going to start using the term "bullet-izable" at work.


Court: FCC has no power to regulate Net neutrality
Topic: Technology 2:27 pm EDT, Apr  6, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission does not have the legal authority to slap Net neutrality regulations on Internet providers, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. A three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. unanimously tossed out the FCC's August 2008 cease and desist order against Comcast, which had taken measures to slow BitTorrent transfers and had voluntarily ended them earlier that year.

Because the FCC "has failed to tie its assertion" of regulatory authority to any actual law enacted by Congress, the agency does not have the authority to regulate an Internet provider's network management practices, wrote Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Court: FCC has no power to regulate Net neutrality

Hadron Collider breakthrough as beams collide
Topic: Science 1:27 pm EDT, Mar 30, 2010

(CNN) -- Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider managed to make two proton beams collide at high energy Tuesday, marking a "new territory" in physics, according to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

CERN videos

Hadron Collider breakthrough as beams collide

James Lovelock: Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change
Topic: Society 11:40 am EDT, Mar 30, 2010

One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is "modern democracy," he added. "Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while."

A recent Rahm Emanuel quote comes to mind.

Lovelock, who 40 years ago originated the idea that the planet is a giant, self-regulating organism – the so-called Gaia theory...

I stand corrected; the man is insane, not retarded.

James Lovelock: Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change

Google Responds To Privacy Concerns With Unsettlingly Specific Apology
Topic: Technology 3:23 pm EST, Mar  3, 2010

The Onion - Science & Technology
March 2, 2010 | Issue 46•09

So far, Google users across the country have responded cautiously to the company's public admission of wrongdoing, with some claiming they will be careful not to reveal any personal information from now on, and others ripping up their credit cards, unplugging all electronic devices from their outlets, and locking themselves in their bathrooms away from any cameras, keyboards, satellite dishes, or cell phones.

"I forgive Google, I forgive Google, I forgive Google," said Ohio resident Darla Mackenzie, sitting on the edge of her bathtub, her head in her hands. "Please, please, don't tell Jonathan about the things I have done."

Google Responds To Privacy Concerns With Unsettlingly Specific Apology

A Call To Wear Black For Johnny Cash
Topic: Society 10:36 am EST, Feb 26, 2010

"February 26th, 2010, is Johnny Cash’s 78th birthday, and to celebrate his life we’re encouraging everyone worldwide to wear black for Johnny on this day..."

A Call To Wear Black For Johnny Cash

Senator Dikembe Mutombo Blocks Record Amount Of Legislation
Topic: Society 10:19 am EST, Feb 26, 2010

The Onion - Onion Sports
February 26, 2010
Issue 46•08

Following the rejection, Mutombo glared at Dodd from the Senate podium and said, "Get that weak-ass legislation out of my house," in a yell that was reportedly heard in the top rows of the Senate Chamber.

"He reminds me of myself out there, just rejecting stuff left and right," said former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), who retired in 2007. "Even when he gets called an obstructionist, or for goaltending, he's established psychological dominance and made his point: You don't come through his part of the floor."

Mutombo 2010!

Senator Dikembe Mutombo Blocks Record Amount Of Legislation

RE: Demon's Souls (PS3)
Topic: Games 4:15 pm EST, Feb 12, 2010

I'm still playing this game. I played the Chinese version all last Summer, and I've been playing the North American version since September 2009. After two Platinum trophies and doing everything there is to be done several times over, it's still addictive. It feels like I'm back in the early 1980s and playing Adventure (Atari 2600) over and over. I keep waiting for it to get old.

Stefanie wrote:
...the English dubs and subtitles are relatively well done, although some of the descriptive text suffered a bit in translation (such as item descriptions in your inventory). Hopefully, that will be tweaked for the North American release in October 2009 (currently available for pre-order).

I meant to get back to this sooner. Atlus did tweak some of the English subtitles and menus, although only about 10% are helpful tweaks that actually clarify things; the rest being a matter of style, such as renaming weapons ("Keel Smasher" is now "Dragon Bone Smasher"), spells ("Soul Light" is now "Soul Ray", etc. However, Atlus did offer a limited "Deluxe Edition" of the game, including a strategy guide, and pre-orders included an art book and a CD soundtrack.

I won't say that Atlus' release was perfect, but the company has done some cool things to promote the game (which Sony failed to do). Demon's Souls incorporates a tendency system, in which the tendencies of the five worlds, as well as the tendency of your character, can be anywhere from Pure White (enemies = weaker, you = stronger) to Pure Black (vice versa), depending on whether you're being good or evil. Normally, the servers for the online mode set the worlds to Neutral when you log in, with slight variations. Atlus turned the American servers Black during Halloween week, White during Christmas week, and there's currently a poll to vote for the world tendencies during St. Valentine's Day. Nice touch.

Anyway, if you have a PS3 and you still haven't played this game, you really are missing out on quite possibly the best game of the entire Seventh Generation. I now have four all-time favorite games: Adventure (2600), Zelda (NES), Tomb Raider (PS1), and Demon's Souls (PS3). It's that good.

RE: Demon's Souls (PS3)

Burj Khalifa (f.k.a. Burj Dubai) Opens
Topic: Business 3:44 pm EST, Jan  4, 2010

While development still surged forward at the Burj Khalifa, it was made possible only by gigantic billion dollar bailouts from rich United Arab Emirates cousin Abu Dhabi. And on the day of its official completion, interested parties face further problems. All of the apartments are said to have been sold but its still a mystery who will eventually move in. There is also said to be little interest in new Dubai office space. Developers still say that their vision will come true.

But as the city celebrates, the building is mainly vacant and could leave officials red-faced on Monday. Even though many of the building's 200 stories are unfinished, organisers are celebrating the launch with an arsenal of fireworks.

Burj Khalifa (f.k.a. Burj Dubai) Opens

Dragon Age: Origins (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Topic: Games 12:32 pm EST, Nov 17, 2009

I'm still in the early stages the game, but Dragon Age: Origins is an easy game to recommend, for RPG fans. Whereas another recent release, Demon's Souls, is more of a Zelda-style action-adventure game, Dragon Age: Origins is more of a traditional RPG, in the style of the Final Fantasy series. The combat action is more laid back, but there's a complex story involving history, politics, religion, sex, romance, and of course, war; and your actions determine the course of the story.

There's a lot to keep track of, including the various members of your party (you can take with you three at a time) and many side quests. You can choose to play as one of six race/origin combinations for your character (Human Noble, City Elf, Dalish Elf, Magi [Human or Elf], Dwarf Commoner, or Dwarf Noble), and one of three classes (Warrior, Mage [Human or Elf only], or Rogue). You begin the game by designing your character, choosing gender, physical traits, vocal style, makeup, facial tattoos, etc.

It took me a little while to get used to the menu and the combat system, and there are a lot of skills and spells that I still haven't learned, but I'm enjoying the game so far. The history is detailed, and the dialogue can be very entertaining at times. I have the PS3 version and I'm happy with it, but if you like the idea of using player-created content (see the Tool Set), or if you simply prefer using a mouse and keyboard, you might be better off with the PC version.

Dragon Age: Origins (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

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