October 8th, 2009

GetDownAmerica

"When Things Are At Their Blackest, It's Up To Us To Shine" -- Rush

Folks, I'm detecting a very dangerous trend in the health care debate.  Take it from someone who has followed politics since the 5th grade -- this is bad.  They are getting ready to shaft us.

Over the summer, health debates were on the news every day.  Some media outlets mischaracterized the protests as violent.  One was held in New Lenox, IL.  I popped by.  It was very civil.  The local news (I believe it was Channel 7) used long shots and cherry picked clips to make it seem like the crowd was unruly and on the verge of violence.  It was a twist of fact that would have made Rita Skeeter proud.

Now?  Barely a peep about health reform.  And this is despite the current bill worming its way through Congress being the biggest threat to our rights yet (mandatory insurance?  Indemnification for those who have no business telling us what to do?).  The talking heads on Faux News are still yammering, of course, but that's their gig.

The news media, which was complicit in getting Obama elected, is coming to his rescue, with articles crowing about how the gap between supporters and opponents has narrowed to a 40-40 split, D's in Congress are now over 60% behind the plan instead of just under 60% (this is a statistically insignificant number, amounting to just a few people who are Democrats in Congress, at yet it gets a write up?), and testimonials from "regular folks" that they are no longer worried about Medicare and such being cut.

If you want more proof that they are trying to put the fix in, look at the R's.  The opposition party does whatever they can to get power.  They sold out their own candidate because they would rather have the money spiggot open under Obama than their own candidate in the White House acting fiscally responsible and enacting the will of the people instead of their own agenda.  When the R's could use public opposition to make Obama look bad, they were all over the news decrying health reform.  Now, they are very quiet.  With all the riders in the bill (such as a provision making other states pick up the tab for poor cash strapped Nevada, Illinois is one of the four states to foot their costs when we can barely afford our government NOW), it is apparent that the R's are getting something they want more than public opposition to the President, and they aren't talking anymore.

It is possible that, since the bill is not finalized, the opposition is just saving its breath.

But I doubt it.  They stand to gain more from this bill than they do public dissatisfaction.

Which means it's up to us to save ourselves.

Keep paying attention.  Keep the details of the bill where you can find them quickly (the nearly $1 tril cost, no increase in doctors to cover everyone, the beaucracy making decisions for you, the provision that lets some states off the hook and specifically sticks it to others, the indemnity, mandatory enrollment or jailtime, etc.).  Watch for new info to come out.  As the bill gets closer to the finish, start rattling your Congressmen.  Let them know that this creates an unfair burden and is a violation of civil liberties.  Hit them with a tidal wave and let them know that, if they want to keep their phony balooney jobs, they WILL listen to us.

And if they don't, vote them out, no mercy.  Get people in there who will repeal the bill and actually represent us.  Be the hero you are waiting for.
RockyHorror

I Gotta Get This Off My Chest

I listen to the Sirius XM Chill station (I believe it's 63).  Lately, a song has entered heavy rotation on their line-up.  It's by "Quiet Village", and it's called "Utopia".

It is the first roughly two minutes of "Steam Forest" by Andreas Vollenweider looped upon itself, just before it transitions.  And I mean, the first two minutes.  I've heard the song often enough (Down To The Moon is one of my favorite albums) that I know what it's supposed to sound like.  This isn't a cover.  It doesn't even qualify as sampling, all they do is repeat the first half of an already recorded song.  It is a derivative work in the truest sense of the phrase.
ChunLiGamer

Pascal...OUT!

I have been working hard on getting the hang of Pascal for my computer gaming projects.

Today, I tossed it on the rubbish heap.

I think I gave it a fighting chance.  I dug up a book on the basics of Pascal, and have even gotten to the point where I can make text mode games with it.  Which is amusing (and a perk from the standpoint that I can make stuff guaranteed to run on any platform, thanks to the CRT library), but not exactly the kind of stuff that gets you sales.

The reason is because of what is being required for me to learn Pascal.  Open Lazarus is a really great toolkit, and I know I haven't even scratched the surface of what it can do.

So how do I dig deeper?

Beats me.

I'm finding really bad documentation to describe the platform independent procedures and functions.  Go to Pascal forums, and there's people talking about Delphi.  Delphi is great from what I've seen, but it is Windows specific.  I want something platform independent.  Lazarus is being presented as an open source alternative to Delphi instead of as its own language.  As such, people looking to just pick it up have no frame of reference or tutorials (the book that lists the freePascal commands emphasizes it is NOT a tutorial).  The idea of learning Delphi just so I can then learn Lazarus seems like a colossal waste of time and energy to me.  For all the effort to learn a language I'm going to disregard just to learn another where the things I want are poorly documented?  I might as well pour that energy into my C++ studies, where I've already advanced past the basics and can work on stuff.

So, in my quest to find a less industrial language to make my games on a relatively short schedule, here's where I stand:

1)  eCere.  Forget it.  I couldn't even compile their own "Hello World!" example from their own instruction book!

2)  freePascal/Open Lazarus.  Forget it.  It's made for people who have already been taught how to make Pascal programs.  It's a sidestep, a very good sidestep, but unless you are already at that step, you're hosed.

What's left?

1)  FreeBASIC.  I turned up an instruction manual and am going to read it over, since I know how to handle the various licenses and stay legal.  Might as well.

2)  Python.  'Nuff said.

3)  Transcript (Runtime Revolution).  The one I want with all the bells and whistles is $500.  That's a lot of cash, but I have infinite rights, can make stuff for the three major platforms, libraries to handle just about any eventuality except 3D graphics are included and incorporated right out of the box, their tech support is quick and direct (they answered my questions within a day), AND IT COMES WITH A MANUAL!  When people on the chat channels tell me to RTFM, I'll have it right there!  I don't mind paying as long as I get value for the money, and RunRev looks like it really delivers those goods.

Pascal is supposed to be one of the easiest languages to learn.  It's a shame they had to muck it up and wall it off from the very people it was intended for.
RatReading

Oh, Wow. Didn't See That One Coming

Okay, exactly WHO read Archie anymore?

I gotta know.  I see the digests at the grocery stores, I see the comics are full color and still below the $3 mark, the stuff has to be selling somehow, but I can't figure out to who.

I have never gotten Archie.  The primary reason is that Archie is a dick.  The two girls in his life, Betty and Veronica, kind of illustrate the quandry of guys -- Betty is the perfect girl for him, but Veronica with her money is the one he should be chasing.  Archie has strung the two along since the beginning, oftentimes ruthlessly playing them off each other for whatever reason.  The fact that neither of them got fed up and told him to hit the bricks is wish fulfillment at its worst.  You want to see this stuff done right?  Honey And Clover is pitch perfect, going from a manga I skimmed through to the first one I grabbed out of the pile to read in a matter of months.  (Honey And Clover even has one character to sums up a situation that sounds very similar to Archie's -- you won't push her away, because, if things don't work out with this woman with money you're chasing, you still have a mint condition girl as a consolation prize).

Every once in a while, the editors of the Archie line will get it in their heads to have Archie finally decide which girl he ultimately wants, Betty or Veronica.  They tried this in the 90's, and the "ultimate choice" was a newly introduced character, Cheryl Blossom.  Cheryl fit the motif of the other girls -- Betty is the girl for guys, Veronica is the girl they want, and Cheryl was the girl of their dreams.  But it wasn't long before the relationship fizzled out and Archie was back to leading the primary duo around by the nose.  It just goes to show you can disrespect female characters without Rule 34'ing them.

A few months ago, the editorial board tried it again.  They started a multi-issue story where Archie proposes to Veronica and they get ready to get married.  Most of us who have seen this before (and, since we don't find the characters engaging, really couldn't have cared less) figured it would just be an imaginary story or there'd be a plot twist or something that would restore the status quo.  After all, Archie has been selling this set-up for decades.  Making him marry one character, future timeline or no, will have reverberations on how readers view the rest of the series.  There was no way they would kill the goose laying the golden eggs.

Called it!  Today, the cover for part 4 of the story shows Archie proposing to Betty as Veronica looks on in shock.  So those of you who thought Archie was going to have actual, you know, progression and development?  Nah.  False alarm.  So the rest of us are free to go back to ignoring the series.

It's an ancient dance.  But the band hasn't changed its tune, and my feet are really tired....
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Epic Fail

Oh My God! I'm Actually Light Headed From Laughing So Much!

I've written previously about French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who railroaded an anti-piracy bill through the French assembly, with a three-strikes rule and all kinds of stuff to stop French people from pirating movies and music by abusing their rights (the bill violates the EU Constitution, and he got it passed anyway).

Sarkozy just got busted pirating DVD's.

According to the Huffington Post, "A French paper, Le Canard Enchaine, has busted French President Nicolas Sarkozy for pirating 400 copies of a DVD. They even went so far as to doctor up a new DVD jacket, replacing the original DVD maker's name and logo ("Galaxie Presse") with a line crediting the President's "AV service" ("Service audiovisuel de la presidence de la Republique".)"  At least, that's what the Huffington Post SAID.  They took it down, and you get a 404 error if you try to call it back up.  (I've long been annoyed by the Huffington Post, and for them to attempt to hide like this reaffirms my suspicions about them.)

Lulz, nothing.  This is a lollercoaster!