*we put the "mmm" in communism


This is the personal blog of Tim. Here, Tim writes on anything he has enough inspiration to finish a post on. That usually ends up being matters of science, pop culture, technology, religion, and philosophy.

This blog is around nine years old, which is over a third of Tim's current age. Back in 2003, it was called "Of Tim: Tim's life - or lack thereof", and it was as bad as you might expect the blog of a freshman in high school to be. Tim hopes that his writing is a little better, these days.

Tim welcomes any input that you, the dear reader, might have. Comments are very much appreciated, especially if you have a dissenting opinion. If you'd like to learn more about Tim, you might want to see his facebook or google+.

Also: Tim is a very avid consumer of various sorts of music. You may be interested in his playlists!

The Otaku Alliance
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I bring you a dual-media post, containing both a podcast as well as a post! This is Paul-style, with music and even a rip-off of his introduction! I tried to add some crazy effects to the introduction, but all I could do was make it echo, or change the pitch. Neither were what I wanted. Anyways, I had to chop this one up a lot, so there are some obvious changes in tone and inflection occasionally. Not intended (except for in the beginning).

#6 - "X3 Sucked"

Muzak - "Answers" by Vigilante, "The Price is Right Techno Remix" by a guy on YTMND.

As noted within the podcast, #5 was fully produced, but came out with large technical issues. If you're so inclined, you can listen to it, but it's pretty messed up. I reused some (a lot) of the content from #5 for #6, so that will make it even less interesting. I actually liked #5 a lot more than #6, but you can't reproduce this stuff at will. Anyways, I can see you're all desperate to procastinate, so, here you go.

#5 - "Super Deciding Banana Antics"

Anyways. I suppose I enjoyed my weekend - I have something of a tan from all the mowing. Speaking of which, I now have 6 customers, resulting in 80 bucks for every round of mowing I do. Not bad, although with all this mowing I'm gonna have to pay for the blade sharpening and the gas (I haven't had to before). Non-taxable, though. I'm still gonna apply at Greenstar, since I don't want to rely on such a varied resource for my income. It's nice having money again, though. Nothing makes me feel more out of place than having people pay for me. It's also nice to be able to get people presents on their birthdays.

Speaking of which, I went and saw X3 with Christopher on Saturday, as a pseudo-birthday present for him. I'm assuming most of you now realize that the title for Podcast #6 was a complete lie - I just wanted to proudly state that it sucked hard. Way, way hard. They completely overused Wolverine/Hugh Jackman, and gave him the worst dialogue heard in a movie since Star Wars ("It's a trap!"). Motivational speeches, TWO references to the title of the movie, and one-liners abound, attached to one of the most disorganized and improbable plots I've seen in a while, with mediocre production qualities (did they really need a 1/3 scale model of the golden gate bridge?), and total abandonment of the X-Men canon (Jean never killed any essential characters), combined for a truly terrible move. Christopher and I laughed about it the whole way home.

Soon after, Paul and Karen rescued me from certain doom, and we went to see Thank You For Smoking, which was still quite good the second time. Afterwards we realized that no Chinese places were open at 11:30 PM, so we went to Wegman's. Now, I was way confused - I thought we were actually looking for food, but we ended up in the candy section, and somehow, I ended up with 1.5 lbs of gummy bears and 3 boxes of Pocky (note this for later). Likewise, Paul was assailed by dozens of feet of licorice, and we managed to escape with our lives, and even a little money.

In all honesty, though, I was confused as to why we were strolling the empty deli section, as well as to why Karen was buying some of the nastiest salmon I've ever tasted, until I realized that I was actually buying my dinner. I remained confused when we just sat down and ate it in the car - perhaps I'm just silly, but the car seemed awfully lacking in convenience and an atmosphere conducive to eating. But hey, I shouldn't be complaining.

In other news, I think I'm turning into an otaku or japanophile or something. I've started searching for more anime, and I'm patiently waiting as 6 more download (ever so slowly). I've been thinking about taking up learning Japanese, too - I don't know exactly where I could learn around here, but I think it'd be totally sweet. I don't want to turn into Steven Segal or something, but Japan in general just fascinates me. Four large alphabets sounds somewhat scary, though. Although, I suppose I already know the romaji, so it's more like three. Except, you know, the kanji has like 2000 characters worth knowing.

I also found the the ultimate get-rich-quick scheme that I developed while mowing today.
  1. Wait for a controversial or "anti-Christian" film, book, or song/album to come out. The target must be fairly popular.
  2. Write a book addressing this piece of media. The title must include the name of the said media. In this book, "prove" that the media's focus is wrong. Place images from the said media onto the cover of the book.
  3. ?????
  4. Profit!
Seriously, there's like half a dozen or more books on Amazon focused on "debunking" The Da Vinci code. It's insanity. Who cares? Is boycotting or disproving the movie doing anything for the cause of Christ? Why not take the 30 bucks you spent buying that book, and give it to someone who actually needs it? These authors are literally living off of the laziness of those who are unwilling to go research this stuff on their own. You don't need super awesome laser technology with your lollornets and roflcology, you need common sense.

The movie apparantly sucks anyways.
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I'm finally taking the effort to talk about Oblivion. Yes, shoxxorz and awezorz.

Oblivion is a really, really weird game, in that it there are many comparisons that can be made with Fable. Not in the actual gameplay, but in the realm of it not exactly living up to expectations. What makes this weird is the fact that in all reality, Bethesda never lied and didn't drop features left and right - Oblivion is what they said it would be. Yet, it still isn't what they pumped it up to be.

Now, don't get me wrong. Oblivion is a great game. However, contrary to my original thoughts, this really isn't the best game ever made. It would almost certainly at first appear that way, until you really start to break the 50 and 60-hour barrier in terms of gameplay. Around that point, you start realizing that even though there's gobs more to do, you don't want to do it.

My favorite example is the environment. When we first saw Oblivion, we saw pictures of lush forests that truly are beautiful and well-made. Then we saw more. And more. By the time I started playing the game, I was already familiar with almost 90% of the game's environment. Everything outside of the cities (and technically inside, too) is just green forest. Exploration simply isn't fun - everything looks the same! Strangely enough, the dungeons and cities do not suffer the same fate, which is nice, however the entirity of the outside world (with very, very few exceptions) is just green, green, green.

On the note of exploration, Bethesda made an interesting trade-off with the ability to traverse the land - the cities themselves are insular, totally separated from the outside world. You cannot freely travel between the cities and the world, because of the required loading time, which is only triggered by entering through the gates. With several cities, I found obscure ways to scale the walls and jump outside of the city, at which point I found a totally untextured and decisively ugly world, devoid of buildings or people. I love exploiting games and all, but Oblivion was supposed to be about free-form playing, uninhibited action and exploration. That just don't flow right. This is also probably why they removed the massive jumping and running spells that made Morrowind so fun to explore. You can't jump 10,000 feet into the air. You can't levitate. You're stuck.

Beyond these issues, the another main problem lay in the myriad of quests you could do. Many of the quests, in general, were quite the same. With some very cool exceptions (entering a mage's mind and solving puzzles, jumping into an artist's painting to kill paint trolls), all of the guilds were just different variations of eachother, with minor exceptions. I didn't do all of the quests, but, I did go quite far into the Fighter's Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, the Blades, and finished all of the Thieve's Guild quests. The Thieve's Guild had an absolutely spectacular final mission that required you to sneak past veritable legions of powerful enemies at once, but such espionage was not to be found in many of the other quests.

My final complaint lies with the enemies. Variation was a strong issue here, as well as balance. I often avoided dungeons completely because most of them contained really creepy undead that I didn't want to fight. I just don't want to fight undead all the time. Outside the dungeons was a little better, but in general, I found myself meeting the same enemies regularly. Strength was a universal problem - later in the game, if you do not turn the difficulty down, you will not be strong enough to kill anything. This may have been fixed within the 1.1 patch, but, I do not believe so.

All that said, Oblivion is a great game. The leveling system is wonderful, as is the character creation all around. The world is totally immersive and responsive. The game improves upon tons of the issues of Morrowind and so much more - plus, the game is just really good looking. That's all I can really put it at - Oblivion is just great.
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Freakin' Lasers!
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Since I actually do need to go do that paper that I didn't do two nights ago, I will again keep this short. I did another podcast, and this time I didn't actually get the whole thing in one take, so I had to splice it together a little bit. I wasn't actually able to notice the breaks, so I don't think it will end up being a problem. It's getting a lot easier to do these as I learn the program, though.

Podcast 4 (4:30) - "Snakes on a Comic Book"

Yes, I'm giving these titles now. I think it enhances the experience. Oh, and here's the picture I was referencing.
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Podcasting, lol!
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So, I've gone ahead with the podcasting stuff. I won't spoil anything, but, I've done three so far.

Podcast 1 (last night) length: 1:30

Podcast 2 (last night) length: 4:30

Podcast 3 (this afternoon) length: 6:30

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Who Done It?
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Sony may have taken the cake (get it? if not, look at the first picture) with this stunt, but then again, this may be a journalist out to make a buck. I'm betting on the latter.

For those of you who don't know, Sony may have just given Blu-ray an irrevocable death sentence. Basically, some guy is accusing Sony of totally faking a Blu-ray demo at a recent PR event. He opened up one of the laptops demoing a movie on Blu-ray media, to find that the thing was on a standard, hand-made DVD-R. First impression states that Sony was faking the demo because they either did not have the content or did not have the capability to play it.

However, upon the addition of a grain of salt, one will realize that there's more to this than the journalist would have you see. There were, in fact, two laptops present, side by side. One was displayed the Blu-ray version, the other was standard DVD content. The journalist has provided no proof that the laptop was not the latter. Secondly, many people currently working with Blu-ray hardware have stated that they often use DVDs to hold the content - the drives can read it, they just can't hold as much. It is certainly possible that this demo could fit onto a single DVD, especially with no special features or other junk, which is why it was bootlegged. In case you were wondering, the DVD isn't actually bootlegged - Sony's film studios own the movie.

Even still, it's apparantly quite common to fake demos, especially with newer technology. This was not a high-profile event - only a handful of Sony employees were running this. There was no fanfare and no executive handshaking here. I call bull.

Besides, we all know what happens when we don't fake demos.

This probably runs in the same line as GTHD running on a PC. Plausible, but unlikely.

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This is not a Brothel
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I've been increasingly frustrated lately over the fact that if I write something that I actually, truly care about, it is guaranteed that at least one, and probably two people will say they didn't read it and/or don't care. I don't understand this - if you don't care, then I don't care to hear about how you don't care. Seriously. It's just obnoxious and, in the end, really just angering when people tell me they don't care, when I never asked them to in the first place. Yes, I like it a lot when people read what I write, and it like it even more when people respond and discuss what I write. I know I can't get you to be interested in everything that I am, but at least let me try?

A good example here would be if I wrote about the fundamental differences in the combat engine and character development between Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX, and what Square-Enix has to do to maintain the proper formula in the future without abandoning the basic idea of the TBC RPG. I can predict the following: Paul would probably respond by saying the FF7 sucked, but then continue to comment on what I wrote. An acceptable response. Someone else would say he stopped reading after the first paragraph. Someone else would say he never played FF7, and someone else would say he hated FF7 and/or FF9, with nothing else to add to the conversation. Someone else would say I have no life, and she would be right. And Ryan would probably leave some gem of wit, unrelated to the topic, and yet hilarious. Also acceptable.

I can handle getting fewer than ten comments on any given post, but if you look at each of those comments, not many actually stimulated true discussion of any kind. The actual number of comments lies somewhere between zero and two. I look at blog posts much the same way I look at books. Say you read the first chapter of a book, and you don't like it. Do you proceed to write the author about the fact that you didn't read his/her book because the first chapter sucked? Or do you write the author about how you didn't read the book because it wasn't about a topic you were interested in? Probably not.

Now, you might write the author after reading the whole book to disagree, or to critique the content or writing, or something. You might even go talk about the book with your peers, discussing its finer points or debating whether or not it sucked. Bottom line, you don't actually talk about the book unless you actually have something to say. That's what I'm asking for here.

That said, I've been considering a number of things. How about podcasts? Podcasts, as in, me, talking about something for 5 minutes, and then sharing it for you to hear. I thought this would be a fun thing to do, but, I won't bother if everyone says no. Podcasts are fairly easy to do, so it's not a question of effort. My bandwidth is large enough to support this, especially considering that the mp3s would be, at most, 3 or 4 MB.

I've also been considering starting a totally separate blog to talk about games and whatnot. Honestly, I'd love nothing more than to talk about games all the time to you, but as said before, I can't get you to care. Alternatively, I could just post anyways and you could not read them. That, however, seems like it degrades the overall quality of the content here, mixes things up too much.

Finally, I will revamp the design eventually. I'm getting way bored of the current look, and you can be assured that things will change. It might happen soon, it might not. I've technically got a lot of work to do to catch up from being sick, but then again, I've stopped caring about school again. It's all up in the air.

And I promise, I will post about Oblivion. Just not yet.
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Food for Thought
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Although extremely generic, the title is fitting. I was pondering momentarily on the earth in general after reading an article about how bananas will probably become extinct for a while, until some genius finds a way to resurrect them. And someone will, because there will be huge money behind it. But, it made me feel deeply sad in general to think of the possibility that I'd be telling kids 20 years from now what a banana tastes like, and how banana-flavored items don't taste like banana anymore (not that they do now).

Now, I'm not a frothing environmentalist by most standards. I like my hybrids and I think the earth is getting warmer, but whether or not it's our fault is up for grabs, in my opinion. But for once, I was actually deeply saddened that a common product might not be around in 10 years. It's not even my fault, and there's nothing I can do about it. I don't even like bananas, but now I want to like bananas, because of the thought that they might die out soon.

Isn't that funny? It's so human to miss things we don't like just because they aren't there anymore. I'm not even a sentimental person, but by golly, bananas can get me in the gut just as much as the next guy. So, please, next time you fill your gas tank, think of the children. Think of the bananas.
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For the Love of E3
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Notable stuff from E3 (if you haven't noticed, there haven't been geek tags on stuff, there's just too much geek stuff to label):
  • Halo 3. The trailer itself is fairly standard stuff - I thought the music was especially well done, the graphics were noteworthy, and the plot might actually be interesting this time. I've got a lot of brewing anger from Halo 2 that Halo 3 has to resolve, so I'm expecting the world from this.
  • Sony's Press Conference. It sucked. It sucked hard. It was definitely the most disjointed of the three - they would jump from talking about the PSP to talking about PS3 games, back to more stuff on the PSP, then about their stupid song service, and back to PS3 games. I exaggerate not. I noticed a fundamental difference in speech - where Microsoft and Nintendo called the users "players" and "gamers", Sony called them "consumers". Sony obviously doesn't care - especially in the fact that their console is essentially going to cost $600 bucks. I couldn't really care less about their assimilation of the 360 and Wii controllers, though. That's just smart tactics.
  • Nintendo's Press Conference. The best of the three. Not a lot of specs or details, but they've proven the ability of the controller, which is exactly what they needed to do. The Zelda demo looked freaking awesome, freaking awesome enough for me to buy it at launch come this November.
  • Microsoft's Press Conference. Surprisingly good, aside from Peter Moore's incessant clapping and complete failure to maintain dignity as he got a tattoo for freaking GTA4. Who cares? It was cool for Halo 2, so why go through the trouble? Beyond that, there were a handful of possibly nifty games, but nothing spectacular. The whole idea of connexting the 360 and the PC, though, was cool. It's definitely part of their anti-Mac and anti-Linux campaign, by setting down a "games for Windows" tagline, but, so long as they keep it otherwise open, it's just gravy. I'm still not sure how I feel about Vista, but, we'll see.
That's pretty much it for the moment. Today may bring some interesting things, or it may not.
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Hot Coffee v2.0
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As many of you should know, yet another video game scandal has boiled over, before even the mighty Jack Thompson trounced upon it (although we've only got, at best, a week or so before someone puts him on TV again). Oblivion has been modded to include teh nudities and was subsequently rerated to mature, at the protest of Bethesda.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. The last scandal was pretty ridiculous - there's no reason a game should be re-rated based on material not intended for inclusion within the game, but really, San Andreas should have been rated AO off the bat, with or without the Hot Coffee mod. In the end, though, it wasn't Rockstar's or Take Two's fault that someone uncommented some code. They shouldn't be blamed for that.

I don't feel so generous with Bethesda. Maybe their whole "pay us two bucks for a model of a horse with armor" deal put me off but, it seems that this is entirely preventable. Oblivion is an extremely well made game (and yes, I will eventually do that review thing I was talking about ages ago), and it also happens to have an engine comparable to that of the Source engine in terms of flexibility. They made it to be modded, and because their game contains female characters with an obvious need for breasts in order to maintain realism, they should expect someone to go out and do this. No, it's not their fault if someone does, but, whose fault is it if someone steals your car because you forgot to lock the door? Not yours, but you certainly aren't getting much pity from me.

What I mean to say is, why didn't Bethesda take some preventative measures? I see two options here. One involves making it harder to toy with the skins on the models - this would be the lesser solution, as it would be punishing all modders for the possible actions of one modder. The other would just be to ask any and all Oblivion mod databases to not host any nudity mods. Honestly, I'm positive every one of them would comply. It's totally reasonable. But, Oblivion didn't do that, and now Jack Thompson's got fresh meat.

A minor point of speculation on my part begins here. The degree of complexity to the nudity mod seems to be disputed - many people are under the impression that it requires some complex retexturing of the basic models, but that does not seem to be the case. Equally many people have described a much simpler process, one possible within the Construction Set (the editing program for Oblivion). I should stress the fact that when I was cruising through the thousands of available mods, I saw at least five mods claiming to add nudity (ironic wording there - "add" nudity). It's one thing if the mod is mildly complex, but I don't think this is the case.

As for the rerating of the game to Mature, I think it's stupid that it was rerated over a mod. It's kind of like (using the car analogy again) blaming the car manufacturer for car theft (there are obvious cases in which this is reasonable, but, stick with me here). Oblivion probably should have been rated M anyways, though. As many have pointed out, you're gonna find rotting corpses, on fire, hanging from the ceiling, with knocked over chairs below them. And once you get close enough, you can take the gold and meat out, complete with a squishing noise as you open and close the inventory! I'm no proponent of the idea that we should ban anyone below 18 from buying such horrid filth, but really, there's stuff in the game that makes me cringe occasionally. Are breasts really worse than decapitated corpses and festering zombies?

I think the ESRB generally does an okay job of rating games, but I just hate to see them become pawns of the lesser forces in our country. It is an inevitability, of course, but one that I hate to see nonetheless.
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Of Cinematic Proportions
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So, a weird thing happened to me today. I woke up miserable and coughing out the wazoo, and the chloraseptic (spray that numbs the throat) stopped working, so I resigned to chugging a whole bottle of Gatorade (and by chuigging, I mean sipping on continuously). Every time I swallowed, the resident sharp pain in the back of my throat moved down a few inches, until it was pinned down to my stomach, where it then converted itself into one of the worst cases of gas I've ever had. I'd like to think that I actually had a small alien living in my throat. One that just happened to have a weakness towards Gatorade (quick, I'm thinking of a movie!). Which would make for a very thrilling story to tell.

I won't be in school tomorrow, but hopefully Tuesday I will.
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For Honour
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I've got a fever, of 103.0, and the only prescription is more cowbell!

Including but not limited to Tylenol and Benadryl.

With what first seemed to be an allergic reaction to the pollen count of today and yesterday, the inexplicable feeling of being sunburned all over, and yet being very cold, this massive fever, and
having sore joints, it is quite possible that I am not allergic. We shall find out in a matter of days.

This comes at a bad time, too.

On second thought, I don't think I can keep writing. I'm kind of getting really fuzzy every few seconds. Sorry.


So, it's not allergies. It's most likely some virus, but the symptoms keep changing. I've started throwing up the Robitussin, so I have to spray this stuff to numb the back of my throat so I can eat frozen stuff. The fever's gone, along with the headaches and dizziness, but the codeine the doctor gave me isn't working, and I can't eat or drink without the numbing stuff because it hurts too much to swallow. I haven't really gotten any sleep for the past two nights, first because of the fever, and now because of the dehydration and coughing. I keep waking up with really bad chills. I also can't talk (literally).

This is not fun.

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Cliche, Sir
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Finalized schedule for next year:

1. AP Human Geography
2. AP Statistics
3. AP Lang
4. Precalculus AB
5a. Graphic Tech / 5b. Fractals & Chaos
6a. Government / 6b. Economics
7a. PE / 7b. FreePeriod
8. Free Period

I'm taking health over the summer (5 weeks FTW!).
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