Speech jamming gun: a step toward a dystopian society?

The world may not end this year, but we might end up living in a dystopian society anyway. It looks like Big Brother is taking another step forward.
I came across this article the other day that talks about the creation of a “speech jamming gun.”
Oh sure, while I want to shut up the annoying, shrieky people (or *coughmykidsinthestorecough*) I’m not entirely sure this is a good idea.
The story behind the speech jammer is this: Japanese researchers Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada created the SpeechJammer device based on the principles of Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF). According to the researchers, DAF has been used successfully to treat stuttering. (Where they made the leap from “treat stuttering” to “forcefully shut people up” I’m not quite sure, but leap they did.)
Continue reading “Speech jamming gun: a step toward a dystopian society?”

First Impressions: I Am Alive (XBLA)

[wpspoiler name=”First Impressions vs. Reviews” ]First Impressions are based on demos while Reviews are based on entire games.[/wpspoiler]
I Am Alive tells the story of a man who spent over a year crossing the ruins of a ravaged country to get back home to his family. He’s practical and cautious, prepared with just enough of the right tools and abilities.
Gameplay is also practical and cautious with just the right amount of badassery.
Ubisoft makes such a wide variety of games from Farcry to Rayman so depending on how you’ve personally interacted with Ubisoft, this gritty, post-apocalyptic, personal journey might be something to add to the deck of awesome or something very unexpected but still very awesome. Continue reading “First Impressions: I Am Alive (XBLA)”

Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

[1.Provided for review by Open Road]
Considered one of the great dystopian novels-alongside Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange and Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World-Ira Levin’s frightening glimpse into the future continues to fascinate readers even forty years after publication.
The story is set in a seemingly perfect global society. Uniformity is the defining feature; there is only one language and all ethnic groups have been eugenically merged into one race called “The Family.” The world is ruled by a central computer called UniComp that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of regular injections so that they will remain satisfied and cooperative. They are told where to live, when to eat, whom to marry, when to reproduce. Even the basic facts of nature are subject to the UniComp’s will-men do not grow facial hair, women do not develop breasts, and it only rains at night.
With a vision as frightening as any in the history of the science fiction genre, This Perfect Day is one of Ira Levin’s most haunting novels.
Grade: DNF
The trouble with classics and parents of a genre is that they often use tropes that are very common to the modern reader, or tropes that are outright nauseating due to values dissonance. Even if these things were acceptable and new when the book was written, a modern audience may struggle.
I struggled with this book. It’s not that I’m a girl with no love for the classics and no ability to look beyond the demands or the era in which a book was written- I’m probably one of the few people who reads classic literature for fun.
I just… really stuggled with this one.
Continue reading “Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin”

Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

[1.Provided for review by Open Road]
Considered one of the great dystopian novels-alongside Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange and Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World-Ira Levin’s frightening glimpse into the future continues to fascinate readers even forty years after publication.
The story is set in a seemingly perfect global society. Uniformity is the defining feature; there is only one language and all ethnic groups have been eugenically merged into one race called “The Family.” The world is ruled by a central computer called UniComp that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of regular injections so that they will remain satisfied and cooperative. They are told where to live, when to eat, whom to marry, when to reproduce. Even the basic facts of nature are subject to the UniComp’s will-men do not grow facial hair, women do not develop breasts, and it only rains at night.
With a vision as frightening as any in the history of the science fiction genre, This Perfect Day is one of Ira Levin’s most haunting novels.
Grade: DNF
The trouble with classics and parents of a genre is that they often use tropes that are very common to the modern reader, or tropes that are outright nauseating due to values dissonance. Even if these things were acceptable and new when the book was written, a modern audience may struggle.
I struggled with this book. It’s not that I’m a girl with no love for the classics and no ability to look beyond the demands or the era in which a book was written- I’m probably one of the few people who reads classic literature for fun.
I just… really stuggled with this one.
Continue reading “Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin”

"The Reapers won't stop at Earth." – The Mass Effect Universe

Mass Effect 3 is the final installment of the much beloved trilogy. Though mainly established through revolutionary action RPG games, the universe spans comics, novels, film, and amime. It’s almost as pervasive as the Reapers themselves.
The story of Commander Shepard and crew is set in the far future where humans and other alien races have a tenuous balance of power and trust. Enter the mysterious Collectors and the wicked Reapers bent on taking over the entire universe.
In anticipation of the ME3 launch on March 6th 2012, let’s look at the major milestones (SPOILERS) in the the franchise in (in-universe) chronological order: Continue reading “"The Reapers won't stop at Earth." – The Mass Effect Universe”

Comic Review: 30 Days of Night #1

30 Days of Night #1 (of 3)

Part 1 of 3. The story of an isolated Alaskan town that is plunged into darkness for a month each year when the sun sinks below the horizon. As the last rays of light fade, the town is attacked by a bloodthirsty gang of vampires bent on an uninterrupted orgy of destruction. Only the small town’s husband-and-wife Sheriff team stand between the survivors and certain destruction

At first I didn’t like the look of 30 days of Night. It was dark and smudgey like it had been drawn in a hurry and someone was trying to hide something. Then, like a Monet, I found the ambiguity beautiful. It was a part of the story, the setting, and the feeling imparted by not knowing exactly what that thing might be. Continue reading “Comic Review: 30 Days of Night #1”

You May Now RAGE on a Mac

Why you’re trying to game on a Mac is beyond me, BUT if you choose to do that, you are now free to play RAGE on your fancy show piece[1. Think someone might not be a Mac person…?].
RAGE is the post-apocalyptic wasteland first person shooter complete with mutants and bandits and dune buggy races, oh my. Bethesda Softworks announced via a press release that the standard RAGE: Campaign Edition will come with features that were previously, on other consoles, only available in the special RAGE: Anarchy Edition:

In RAGE: Campaign Edition you will take on bandit gangs and hordes of mutants with an arsenal of exotic weapons and special items, such as Wingsticks, personal turrets, sentry bots, and remote-controlled bomb cars as you play through the game’s full unaltered single-player campaign. The Mac version will also include bonus equipment formerly exclusive to the RAGE Anarchy Edition, including a Double Barrel Shotgun, the Rat Rod Buggy, Fists of RAGE and Crimson Elite Armor. You’ll also have access to the Wasteland Sewers Missions which feature additional mutant blasting gameplay and looting opportunities.

Luckily for Mac gamers, this isn’t just a port from one system to another. id software worked with Aspyr to ensure that the game was just as good on the Mac as it is on real gaming platforms[2 Why are we encouraging them? They can’t even right-click.].

“Aspyr has been a great partner, bringing id Software’s games to the Mac platform for years,” said Todd Hollenshead, President of id Software.  “We’ve worked closely with them again to offer the amazing graphics and intense combat that RAGE is famous for to Mac gamers.”

It’s a video!

Fiction Review: Wormwood, by D.H. Nevins

[1. Wormwood was provided for review by Black Wraith Books]
In the post-apocalyptic paranormal thriller, Wormwood by D. H. Nevins, the Earth has been decimated by a legion of half-angels. But while most of these creatures are bent on sending all humans to their final resting place, one, Tiamat, is tormented by the tasks he is called upon to do. When he rescues a woman named Kali, both their lives change forever. Kept alive by the grace of Tiamat, Kali defies him by trying to save as many of the human survivors as she can. The attraction between them is irresistible, but can Kali trust one of the half-angels who has sworn to destroy her world and everyone in it? And can Tiamat justify helping one of the very people he is meant to kill? The more he tries to keep Kali safe, the more his own life is in danger. As Kali struggles to find a way to survive in the Earth’s vast, devastated landscape, she finds herself plagued by the half-angels hell bent on her destruction. Forced to trust Tiamat, the one being who could prove to be her greatest enemy, she walks a thin line between life and death.
 
Grade: B-
Wormwood is a curious book. I enjoyed it a great deal, but a few unignorable flaws stopped it from being an A grade for me.
Continue reading “Fiction Review: Wormwood, by D.H. Nevins”

Book review: The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse by Nina Post



Publisher’s blurb:[1. Review copy provided by Curiosity Quills Press]

Kelly Driscoll tracks down monsters for a living, but the job isn’t what it used to be.
Vampire hunters are the new big thing, but Kelly doesn’t swing that way. When a reclusive client hires her to locate a rival angel, Kelly’s search takes her to a downtown highrise that has become home to hundreds of fallen angels and dimension-hopping monsters.
As the fallen angels take over the condo board, argue over who’s handling pizza delivery, and begin planning for a little shindig otherwise known as the apocalypse, Kelly must team up with an unlikely group of allies to find her target and keep the fallen angels at bay. In the process, she befriends a reluctant Angel of Destruction, gets tips from a persistent ferret, uncovers the mysteries behind Pothole City’s hottest snack food empire, and tries to prevent the end of the world.
The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse is a light-hearted urban fantasy novel, combining angels, monsters and other supernatural elements with realistic characters and a comedic tone.

I…am not quite sure what to say about this one. I had a really hard time writing this review, because I want to say why it didn’t work for me, but I don’t want to give away huge chunks of the plot. Especially since the WTFery goes into overdrive in the last half of this thing, and from my experience most people don’t like it when I give away huge chunks of the end of a book.
But. I will try my best to explain why this left me in an ambivalent state of dazed confusion without giving away the ending. I will TRY. But be warned: this review may end up with a boatload of spoilers in it anyway. So if you’re planning to read this book and don’t want to know what happens, then read this review AFTER you’ve read the book. If you don’t care either way, then by all means, read on.
Continue reading “Book review: The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse by Nina Post”

Did a drought contribute to the decline of the Maya civilization?

I came across an article titled “Global warming, drought likely lead to decline of Mayan civilization.” Now, word choice error aside (pretty sure the ancient civilization isn’t still declining) the title caught my attention, and I promptly saved it for later reading.
The article talks about the possibility of a drought/dry spell being the possible final nail in the Maya coffin (not global warming per se).
Let’s back up here a minute and look at global warming, the phrase. Global warming is:

an increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, especially a sustained increase sufficient to cause climatic change.
(The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

but, no, actually, it’s linked specifically to the greenhouse effect:

an increase in the average temperature worldwide believed to be caused by the greenhouse effect
(Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged)

but wait–it’s a general warming and a warming caused by the greenhouse effect?

An increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere, especially a sustained increase great enough to cause changes in the global climate. The Earth has experienced numerous episodes of global warming through its history, and currently appears to be undergoing such warming. The present warming is generally attributed to an increase in the greenhouse effect , brought about by increased levels of greenhouse gases, largely due to the effects of human industry and agriculture. Expected long-term effects of current global warming are rising sea levels, flooding, melting of polar ice caps and glaciers, fluctuations in temperature and precipitation, more frequent and stronger El Niños and La Niñas, drought, heat waves, and forest fires.
(The American Heritage Science Dictionary)

Continue reading “Did a drought contribute to the decline of the Maya civilization?”