Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Video Games as Art: Little Big Planet

Finally there is hope again for the video game. For too long we have suffered the first person shooter with its lack of social value and contempt for anything worthy of technology and the action adventure horror flicks and rehashed and tiresome tricks of video wizardry. Now Media Molecule and Sony have brought us the highly stylized and completely unique "Little Big Planet". There have been few moments like this in recent years for video games. Now the gamers are allowed to express themselves in ways never before seen in an environment that is not only easy to use but suprisingly capable of complex works of art and social commentary as well as some good old tricky gameplay.

The unfortunate part of the game so far is that many users lack imagination, or at least the players that choose which levels are the most popular lack imagination. There are plenty of people who try to emulate existing games or re-make their favorite movies within the game which may be a sad commentary on our current pop culture driven world. Even Sony has played to this by selling add-ons to the game based on previous games. We should all stand up and say "Stop It"...let this be something untainted by what is and let it be what it was meant to be which is a place of dreams and imagination. Save the Sackboys and Sackgirls from the drudgery of our corporate spoonfed world. Let the artist and creator within you out of the dark place where you have hidden it away from the light of day and let it play within the world given to us by the masters of cool at Media Molecule.

This is a call out to anyone who creates levels on "Little Big Planet". If you have a level or know of a level that you feel is artistic and/or offers some sort of cultural value then post it here and discuss with others.

On the web:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here Comes Tesla

Tesla Motors has just announced that they will build a factory in Northern California. The company will build at this location its 5 passenger Model S all electric car that will go 225 miles on a single charge. It makes you wonder if this is the end of the decrepit American auto industry as we have known it.

Instead of talking of bailing out the obviously non-innovative and oil industry entrenched auto industry of old, the government should send that money to companies such as this to get these types of cars into production faster. Ford, GM and the likes are not moving fast enough to bring us alternative vehicles. These companies are too entangled with unions that they are unable to deliver us from the gas guzzling behemoths as quickly as another company might be able to. With all the talk of delivering us from our oil dependence it appears that politicians are ignoring the new and trying very hard to hang on to the old. I guess the old can afford more lobbyists.

And if you think electric cars have to be dorky, look at some of the vehicles Tesla has been putting out:

Tesla Motors Website

Monday, September 15, 2008

God Must Hate Bush

Shortly after hurricane Katrina many a christian and conservative stated that God was punishing New Orleans because the city was evil much like the biblical cities Sodom and Gommorah. Every christian knows that God controls the weather and the weather during the Bush administration has been very nasty. Either God hates Bush or he hates the American people because he keeps slamming the south (populated mostly by conservative christians) with these devestating storms, and he doesn't seem to just have his sites aimed on New Orleans. Ike has just slammed into Galveston, and I am sure has hit some pretty nice people that love God just fine and live good lives. It seems as if these storms are just aimed at whatever location God chooses.

In addition to devestating hurricanes, God has also cursed Bush with a bad economy that is getting worse as we speak as Merill Lynch sales off and Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy. Bush was cursed with faulty intelligence with the weapons of mass destruction, the horrible events of 9/11 and two long drawn out wars.

The high gas prices also seem to be hitting Bush rather hard. Not only are they hitting bush hard, but they are hitting the pickup truck and SUV driving south hard as well. Again, God seems to be focusing so much negativity towards the south, but with the economic woes the way they are, everyone is starting to feel the pain of Gods hatred for Bush.

I think God is sending us a message that maybe conservatives are making him mad and their way of life is not the direction he would like us to move.

Maybe God wants us to live better. Maybe we should take better care of the Earth and work harder to retain our Allies abroad while dealing with enemies where they are and not where we lie about them being. Maybe we should buy what we can afford and stop living above our means. Maybe some of us should realize that we have conflicting beliefs floating around our brains that are making us a nation that appears slightly insane to the rest of the world.

We must assume that God really hates Bush; otherwise, he would have granted him a next to flawless 8 years. I again state, maybe God wasn't punishing New Orleans during Katrina or Galveston during Ike, he might have been punishing Bush.

Let's hope he likes the next president better.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Left and Right: Same Goals Different Views

There's a strange co-mingling of ideas coming from the far right and the left and landing squarely all over America. The other day I saw an add on TV talking about rampant consumerism and how it is bad for everyone. It wasn't an anti-consumerist or environmental group flipping the bill for the add, it was a Southern Baptist Church. Now the probable reason for the church running the add is that they would rather see you donate your dwindling funds to the church (the recession has to be hurting them too) instead of buying that new pair of pants, but the message is still the same. In these hard economic times it appears as if America is awakening from a long slumber of 30 years and discovering something new. We don't have to buy everything we can get our hands on to be happy, family and community is more rewarding than a big screen TV. If we do buy everything within our reach, we're starting to realize that it isn't necessarily a sustainable practice and one day we may actually run out of the core stuff needed to make a bunch of not only useless stuff, but much needed stuff as well.

Not only can you see a convergence in thought when it comes to the lack of need in consuming large amounts of goods, but you may also see an amazing coming together in the areas of fossil fuels and the need for alternative energy as well. As fuel prices go up we see people ditching their SUVs and Trucks at an increasing rate. The losses posted by the U.S. auto manufacturers is proof as they are finding it hard selling their large inventories of gas guzzling behemoths. The message that our dependency on oil is not only funding terrorists, but is putting us at risk as the wells start to dry up. Not to mention, all that carbon spewing into the atmosphere is not all that great for us all either. People are buying more fuel efficient vehicles now just as they did in the 70's. The difference now is that we have technologies that are better and even more capable of delivering us from the dark ages of moving material around and putting us into a brighter cleaner future. In the green movement of the seventies, people had to give up their lifestyles in order to be truly green. Now with technology it is an easier and more logical move to change a few habits and a few light bulbs to save your self some money while inadvertently changing the world.

We have oil men (T. Boone Pickens) putting up wind mills and Southern Baptist Churches advertising the woes of unchained consumerism. We have retailers (Wal-Mart) and suppliers (Milk Produces and Toy Companies) changing packaging and their core products to reduce waste while still delivering low cost products. It is a changing world and the converts are growing at an alarming rate. It is highly possible that we are truly awakening into a new age where we think before we purchase and want to live less wasteful and more fulfilling lives. It will be nice to see further adoption of sustainable ideas by various groups regardless of their ultimate reasons. As long as we all see the same thing regardless of point of view and are willing to tackle it, then we will all benefit and be a stronger nation and world because of it.

The terrorists may have inadvertently created a stronger America. We now have a common direction that is driven mainly by the desire to drop the oil and the need to save money. Our incompetent president may have inadvertently set us up for success through recession. Without the high prices of gas and the dire economy, people may not be so willing to embrace more sustainable lives. Even though the left and the right are obviously charged and at opposite ends of the spectrum at the moment, they may actually have more in common than they think. The things they have in common are beautiful and is something that our nation should latch on to and use to keep us moving forward into the future. Reducing our need for oil will make us stronger and less resistant to foreign control. Our reduction of waste will change the way less wasteful countries see us. Sustainable energy and sustainable communities will give us stronger brighter futures and make us a healthier happier nation.

Talk to your friends and neighbors and discuss ideas on how to save money. Chances are, by saving money, you are also saving valuable resources that our country can use to propel us into the future. If we all started talking about saving money and coupled that with saving the planet we could find common grounds that will bring about the goals of everyone (except for the terrorists).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Trusting Those that Promise to Cure Us

Two articles have just been released (see links below) providing further evidence that pharmaceutical companies are in business to make money and are willing to take risks to raise profits even if it means killing a few customers in the process. You usually trust your doctor, but when he hands you samples for a drug and a slip of paper containing a prescription you have to wonder if he truly believes that it is the best drug for you. Is he basing his decision on his own research or has he been psychologically persuaded to dish out the drugs because some beautiful twenty-something pharmaceutical sales rep took him out to dinner and gave him a bunch of documentation on the drug that is slanted in favor of the company that manufactures the drug?

It seems that Baxter International was selling Heparin to people that contained a "heparin like" substance that was cheaper to produce. Now, Baxter says you can't blame them. They didn't intentionally alter the formula, it was their Chinese manufacturers that decided to taint the drug to make a profit. This raises a valid question. Should we trust a company that hires a factory in a foreign country to provide medicinal components to the drugs we take on a daily basis? We're already told to be weary of lead tainted toys, now we have to worry about the medicine that we may rely on to keep us alive. Where are the labels on our prescription bottles stating "Made in China"? The consumer has a right to know if their medicine is being off shored in order to cut costs for the producer of the drugs. When you think of China made goods, you think of cheap labor and often substandard materials. These two ideas are not what we should be equating with our prescription drugs.

Another appalling example of the direction drug manufacturers are taking is the case brought forth against Merc and their drug VIOXX. It seems that Merc hired outside "professional writers" to write what they provided as "solid academic research". This "professionally written" material was delivered to doctors as valid scientific information. These for profit pharmaceutical companies are hiring for profit writing firms to produce material that is marketed towards your medical provider in the hope that he/she can be manipulated into prescribing the medication to you. It is in the best interest of the pharmaceutical company to sell the drug. They market medications as if they are marketing a pair of shoes or a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee or a pair of shoes won't necessarily kill you, but a drug manufactured and marketed based on lies could.

The government is not helping regulate this to the extent that it should. It seems that our capitalistic system lets the consumer down hard when it comes to health. Drug companies should not finance studies into their own products. Doctors should research medicines and should not allow pharmaceutical sales reps into their offices, no matter how pretty they are and how many baseball tickets they offer or how many free lunches they provide the staff. The concept of ethics has deteriorated all the way around.

Visit the Google health news feed for at least a year and take note of the news stories there. You may come to the conclusion that things are good for you one week and bad for you the next. Breakthroughs are mentioned and then never heard of again. It seems that health news is hard to put your trust into because the medical field has lost its way. The truth is that these economic powers are wrestling to keep you buying what they have to sell. It appears that they don't care if it is good for you or not. They market to you and manipulate you and in the end they say it was your decision to take the medicine or to smoke the cigarette or to drink the soft drink. It's hard to make your own decisions when you have been brainwashed since your youth while you innocently watched your Saturday morning cartoons along with the heavy dose of commercials pushing goods in order to build brand recognition in your developing sense of self. We are just fodder for the systems we have developed. We are a renewable resource that feeds the non-sustainable consumerism machines.

One must be paranoid when it comes to health and trusting the "system". We must all wonder if we are given drugs to just simply "maintain" our illnesses. If a cure for something is discovered, then the pharmaceutical companies lose. They don't want to lose. They sell drugs and want to continue selling those drugs. It is in their best interest to develop drugs that offer a way of providing relief without providing a cure. It may sound sinister, but it is basic economics.

Further reading:
Hired Writers, not Scientists, Create Information for Doctors
Drug Altered for Profit
Fighting the Drug (Ad) Wars