Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Meet Leela

Puppeteers, meet Leela. We pick her up on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

We Need Standards, Damn It!

The boys at have created a manual of style for video game journalism. I can only hope it becomes a widely-adopted industry standard, because frankly we could use one (is it "video game" or "videogame?" The question has not been answered satisfactorily.. yet.) Maybe it'll even be adopted by the APA or MLA.

The Crazyness of Weight

If you want evidence of just how bipolar our culture has become, look no further than today's headlines. On one hand, we have a 196-pound eight year old whose parents might be charged with child abuse because they let him get so tubby. Then there's a link to a video story (sorry, it's a javascript link so I can't link to it directly from here) about a sorority that's being accused of kicking out members who aren't thin enough. The United States has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world, but we also have one of the highest rates of "thinning" eating disorders, and a subculture that is trying to redefine anorexia and bulemia not as diseases but as lifestyle choices.

In the words of David Lynch, it's a strange world.

It's almost like a perfect microcosm of our culture. Americans strike me as kind of like teenagers; we're still trying to figure out what clique works for us. Do we like the wholesome, goody-two-shoes Britney Spears? Or the sex kitten, drug-using Britney Spears? That conflict is one of the things that leads to people shaving their heads and going into rehab; motherhood is an ideal, but so is going out without any panties and partying with Paris Hilton.

Someday we'll make sense of ourselves. But these growing pains are a little, well, painful in the meantime.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Can We Clone Dinosaurs Yet?

Or at least can we have an awesome, cartoony sandbox game like Crackdown featuring an island full of dinosaurs you can interact with?

Really people, why is this so difficult?

The Pitter-Patter of Little Feet (Paws)

The Mical-Griffin (or is that Griffin-Mical?) household is about to get larger by one. Pictures to come.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Responsible Lights

I mentioned that PSE supplied me with five $2 off coupons for CFL light bulbs, so I ran by Home Depot today to pick them up. CFL light bulbs consume far less energy than regular light bulbs (about 23 watts per bulb, depending on how bright you get - my CFL 100 watts are 23 watt bulbs, and I believe the 60 watt ones are as well), and last approxim We'd purchased CFL bulbs before, but the light they gave off was pretty sallow. I'm happy to report that Home Depot has a much larger selection of CFL bulbs. You have "soft light," "bright light" and the awesome "daylight" to choose from. As a test, see if you can tell which lights in the attached graphic are CFL bulbs and which are "normal", wear out in one year, consume 3x the power bulbs. Can't tell? Yeah, me neither.

So even if you're against this whole global warming thing, even if you think it's a bunch of LIE-beral nonsense, look at it this way: you won't have to replace a light bulb for nine years (there's actually a warranty with each bulb), and you're using two-thirds the power, which shows up on your monthly bill.

I'll be the first to admit that CFL bulbs are more expensive than normal bulbs (except the stupid bathroom bulbs in the picture attached, but that's only because our bathroom fixture was installed by idiotic monkeys). But a small investment up front will save you much more over the life of the bulb, and is more environmentally responsible.

Oh, and you home-owning, children-having tax itemizers? It's tax deductible, courtesy of the Bush administration and our Republican congress. Yes, I'll openly admit when the "opposition" does something right. Kudos to Bush and the (formerly) Republican Congress for giving you a break for saving oil/power/the world.

Did I mention it cost me about seventy bucks to switch (almost) every bulb in my house (except the already-efficient LED bulbs in the track lighting in my TV room)? Yeah. Seventy bucks. To use one-third of the power and replace my lights in nine years.

It's not just a matter of saving the planet and all that hippie shit. This is how all that "environmentalism" nonsense is supposed to work: offering cost-effective alternatives so even if you don't believe the "planet needs to be saved laugh out loud," at least it is a smart decision for your pocketboot.

So, uh, what have you done lately?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Now You Need to Go Green

Alright, pay attention Puppeteers. Today my information packet arrived for switching to green power. It included $10 worth of coupons towards CFL lights (which use 75% less power than regular lightbulbs and last ten times as long), and a little introductory letter about the program.

It turns out that in my environmentally-conscious, liberal, blue-as-blue-can-be city of Seattle, only 2000 homes are currently being supplied with green power.

2000. Granted, that's PSE's customers (as opposed to Seattle Light), but 2000.

So here's your mission: for the $16 a month, skip four fucking lattes and sign up for green power. Or at least consider it. Or consider signing up for partial green power (you don't have to go the whole $16 if you don't want to.)

If we demand it, by law the power company is required to buy green power. If they can't buy it, they're required to build the infrastructure (wind, hydro, etc.) to support it.

So demand it. 2000 is pathetic.

Watch this space for more opportunities to see what you can do to help.

What have you done lately?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

How You Too Can Go Green

Following my previous post on Going Green, more than one of the Puppeteers asked how they could Go Green, especially given that they are in a rental situation. It turns out that my brother out-liberaled me on this one; he's been using green power in Denver for a while now, and he's renting an apartment. He, like my wife and I used to do, had our own account with the power company, so for him it was simply a matter of calling them up and asking them to switch him.

For those who are splitting a bill or are paying through your landlord, I suggest calling your landlord/neighbors and getting the "OK" to switch to green power, and then calling the power company (or having your landlord call) to make the switch.

Of course I joke about this being a liberal issue: the fact of the matter is, it's an issue across the board no matter your politics. When churches are getting into the act because they realize that humans might have the ability to screw up stewardship of the planet, and even my conservative-run Alma Mater takes steps beyond its halfassed token recycling program, perhaps this finally does indicate a shift in the right direction. No pun intended.


It's probably going to suck (OK, it stands a very high chance of sucking) but I'll still buy the Xbox 360 Hellboy game, because someone's got to keep feeding him pamcakes. Judge for yourself - Joystiq has a trailer up.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Web 2.Obama v1.1

Via a coworker comes, which lists, among other things, how many "friends" each candidate has on MySpace, and what the percentage of change was for that candidate's friends since last week.

Now mind you, just because Snakes on a Plane got a lot of Internet hype doesn't mean that it made any money, so be wary of any numbers on the Internet claiming any kind of victory. But it is interesting to note that Obama, with 44k friends, has more friends than any of the Republican candidates combined. I don't think that's because he necessarily will win, mind you, but it certainly goes to show that one thing the Democrats actually know how to do is use the Internet to mobilize people.

Now if only they can figure out some actual policy that isn't just "LOL NOT BU$H."

The Cost of Going Green

I just called PSE, our local energy provider, and switched entirely to green power. Green power comes from sources like wind plants and hydro plants (of which there are plenty in Washington state) rather than coal/oil burning plants.

I made the switch because after watching An Inconvenient Truth and reading comments on this blog and others, it really is up to us to get off our asses and do something about it. This problem isn't going to fix itself, and the only ones we can blame for not taking action are ourselves.

The PSE person explained to me that they can't control exactly where the power comes from on the grid that flows into my house, but that I would be feeding the proper amount of green power into the grid. Of course, if everyone on PSE did this, the entire grid would be green. So I realize that while my power might come from some rootin', tootin,' pollutin' source (and likely will until I install my own solar panels and windmills), someone else somewhere is getting green power.

The total cost of my power bill will go up by all of $16 a month, on average. That's far less than the money we saved by properly insulating our attic this year, and it's a price I'm willing to pay.

So what have you done lately?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fallout Valentine

This is too cool not to link to: a Fallout Valentine. Love never changes indeed.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Web 2.Obama - Get Involved

It's official: Barak Obama is running for President in 2008. And what better way to show you know how to appeal to and communicate with the online community than to start a social networking site - If you're interested, head on over - sign up for newsletters. Join discussion groups. Find people who are interested in the same issues you are. Even post your own blog. Why should candidates rely on third-party sites like DailyKos when they can have a networking site of their own?

And I'm sure the Grand Old Party will figure out how this devious series of tubes works one day. That, or they'll just label it the "loony liberal blogosphere" and ignore the issue yet again.

So I ask again: what have you done to get involved today? Here's something you can do without leaving the comfort of your computer: click some links. Let's change things for the better.

Friday, February 09, 2007

What is the Threshold for Being Wrong?

A couple of years ago, I saw a documentary on Karl Rove that explained how he began to hone his tactics in political discourse (a YouTube search has not yielded the clip). In this documentary, the biographers - many of them his friends - explained that Rove always thought he was right. That he was thoroughly convinced of his own position, and that he wouldn't take that position if he wasn't convinced.

Fair enough. I'd have to say that I feel the same way. If I'm not necessarily convinced of something, I'm not going to argue for or against it.

The show went on to explain that in his high school (or college, I can't recall) debate class, Rove would often use intimidation tactics on his opponents. If they showed up with a few index cards worth of notes, he would show up with a box of index cards. They would bring two boxes, he would bring four. Eventually he wheeled a dolly full of boxes of "notes" into a debate before someone put a stop to it - but Rove knew the value of psychological warfare, and it is something he has continued to refine since. As a marketing person myself, I have to admire him as a kind of mad genius. As a person who'd like to think that discourse doesn't have to sink to suck levels, he makes me ill.

Because that's the rub, isn't it? If you're really so convinced, why bring the boxes of cards? One could argue it's a tool in the overall debate, but wouldn't a true master of discourse be able to convince his opponents through - I don't know, logic and reason? Perhaps it was all that Greek philosophy I studied and the Platonic dialogues I read, but when I listen to an argument for or against something, I'm sure as fuck going to weed out the psychological warfare elements (doubly so since as a marketing schlub I recognize them) and cut to the actual reasoning behind the position. And if you can't explain that, what good are you?

Which brings me to the point of this post. What exactly is the threshold for being wrong? At what point can you throw away the psychological warfare and your smug self-satisfaction that you've used to belittle and denigrate your opponents, and admit "hey, maybe this isn't the way to go after all." After your "slam-dunk" WMDs aren't there? After you realize that labelling people who aren't on board with you destroying civil liberties as "traitors" isn't working? How about after the levees break, and the help that you promise doesn't come?

Most recently, it's been two attacks on the opposition that have raised my eyebrows. As the Democrats have already done more in the first month they've been in Congress than the Republicans did in the last six years of controlling the legislative and judicial branches of government by raising minimum wage, how do Republicans respond? With rational discourse? No. They accuse (falsely) Barack Obama of attending a radical Islamic school, and accuse Nancy Pelosi (also falsely) of trying to traipse around the country in a plane that it turns out was requested by Homeland Security?

What exactly is the threshold for being wrong? When does the psychological warfare end? How many "Barack HUSSIEN Obama LOL" jokes are we going to have to tolerate before enough is enough? When will people demand that the boxes of index cards be put away, and we finally return to civil discourse in this country?

I think a lot of people are getting tired of those boxes, and more and more people are seeing them for what they are. And that's really the sad part about warfare, psychological or otherwise: you need to keep providing bigger and bigger boxes. And when you can't anymore, it's time to sit down and settle things like civilized human beings - by talking it over.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Web 2.0 in Less Than Five Minutes

Want to know about what I do? That I'm not just some marketing sleaze trying to smarm a few more bucks out of unlucky suckers?

This video can explain more than I ever could. Watch. Observe. Enjoy.

Hat tip: Seth.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Activism Ad Absurdium

Meet I-957, also known as the Washington State Defense of Marriage Initiative. Washington, like many states, will put voter-sponsored Initiatives on the ballot. These initiatives are for all kinds of different things: banning smoking in public places, pull tab casinos, and so forth. The Defense of Marriage Initiative, sponsored by the Washington State Defense of Marriage Alliance, wants to expand on the Anderson v. King County court ruling that defined marriage in Washington State as something specific to a man and a woman. Here's WA-DOMA's goals, from their website (bold mine):

  • add the phrase, "who are capable of having children with one another" to the legal definition of marriage;
  • require that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled;
  • require that couples married out of state file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as "unrecognized;"
  • establish a process for filing proof of procreation; and
  • make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.

  • Good golly Miss Molly but that is a kick in the pants! I've been happily married for more than five years, and my house has yet to see the pitter-patter of little feet (unless you count the romper-stomper of kitten paws.) And what about couples who are impotent? Or choose to adopt? Or couples past the point of menopause? True, conservative Christians feel that marriage is about procreation but mother of God, we didn't actually expect to have this thrown in our face this much!

    Are your panties in a wad yet? Because here's the punchline. Scroll down to the bottom of the site I linked above you you'll find WA-DOMA's mission statement:

    The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance seeks to defend equal marriage in this state by challenging the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling on Andersen v. King County. This decision, given in July 2006, declared that a "legitimate state interest" allows the Legislature to limit marriage to those couples able to have and raise children together. Because of this "legitimate state interest," it is permissible to bar same-sex couples from legal marriage.

    The way we are challenging Andersen is unusual: using the initiative, we are working to put the Court’s ruling into law. We will do this through three initiatives. The first would make procreation a requirement for legal marriage. The second would prohibit divorce or legal separation when there are children. The third would make the act of having a child together the legal equivalent of a marriage ceremony.

    Absurd? Very. But there is a rational basis for this absurdity. By floating the initiatives, we hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions which make up the Andersen ruling. By getting the initiatives passed, we hope the Supreme Court will strike them down as unconstitional [sic] and thus weaken Andersen itself. And at the very least, it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric.

    So there you go - it's activism ad absurdium, attempting to weaken an existing law or decision by introducing one that takes the reasoning behind the existing law or decision and inflating it to the point where its absurdity - and thus invalidity - is revealed.

    Frankly, I'm not sure what to think about this. It reminds me of the town of Dayton, Tennessee, who put a teacher named Scopes on trial for teaching evolution - not out of some principle that banning the teaching of evolution was bad, but that Tennessee state law contradicted itself (the textbook teachers were required to use taught evolution, but the Butler Act prohibited them from teaching it.) That, and it was good for the local economy and would put the town on the map.

    It also seems as if it's a little out of place in this context. I used to think "well, the voters are smart enough not to pass anything that seems too absurd," if the last six years have taught me nothing if not that the American voters probably shouldn't be trusted too far.

    This will certainly be an interesting local politics story, and I'll be keeping an eye on it closely.

    Randy Newman Kicks Ass

    From the guy who reminded us that some people don't know their asses from a hole in the ground comes "A Few Words in Defense of My Country." If you're not offended by at least some part of this song, be you liberal or conservative, then you probably weren't paying attention.

    Via MeFi.

    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    What Have YOU Done?

    I wanted to share with my readers the letter I sent to the Federal Way school board, the fine folks who decided that pseudoscience and science were the same:

    Greetings again members of the Federal Way School Board,

    This last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report stating that humans are "very likely" the cause of global warming - you can read about it here: These scientists used terms like "It's unequivocal" and "90 percent certainty." As the news article to which I linked states, even President Bush himself addressed climate change in his recent State of the Union speech.

    More scientific evidence. Almost unilateral support from both sides of the political spectrum. Perhaps it is time you recognized that you made a grevious misake by capitulating to the pseudoscience of a religious extremist rather than a decision grounded in scientific research and fact. Please do not continue to do your children a disservice by pretending that there is an "opposing point of view." Simply put: there isn't. Frosty was given a venue at which to share his ideas of not only global warming, but creationism and lack of birth control education. Good for him. Let's admit our mistakes and move on.

    I look forward to reading in the Times that you have admitted you were wrong and reversed your previous decision.

    So what have you done?

    Friday, February 02, 2007

    More Warming

    The proof just keeps on coming - more and more scientists, more and more studies, all saying the same thing: global warming is happening, and humans are causing it.

    Is it any wonder that the same people who oppose it are often the same people who think creationism should be taught alongside evolution in science courses? Or that Saddam was a "slam-dunk" for having weapons of mass destruction?

    Yeah. People who live apart from a little something called "reality."