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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

commondreams.org

Cyclops! Get it?

OOTS is still pretty funny. Less geeky (Burlew just lost 10 geek points for the Lost reference – even though I am watching it, too), but funny.

EDIT

Since at least one person didn't get it: The hatch with the Dharma initiative symbol on it is the reference to Lost. The last panel in the OOTS strip was a reference to Odysseus and the Cyclops. I guess referencing ancient literature is pretty geeky, so I guess I have to give Rich Burlew his geek points back.

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Friday Free Game: Dino Run

Pixeljam brings us a casual triumph called Dino Run, and it's this week's Friday Free Game. Jay Bibby gave it a rave review and I'll have to admit that I agree: it succeeds admirably on a number of levels, and I have no hesitation putting it in contention for one of the best Flash games ever made.

It has simple controls, nice visuals, and mega-fun gameplay with a strong theme, a cool soundtrack, and lots of rewards to string you along. Even the retro, pixelated graphics work for the game rather than against it. When you're playing Dino Run, you're delighting in the veritiginous feeling of movement, captivated by the flashing shapes on the screen. It's game design that would make Shigeru Miyamoto proud, just running and jumping. It's very original but feels incredibly familiar.

The end is coming for the dinosaurs, and you're just a sauropod who's fleeing its impending doom. As the prehistoric world comes to an end, throwing flaming meteors at you, you have to run as fast as you can, trying to escape the onrushing doom. While you're add it, collect various powerups and bonuses, hitch a ride with a pteradactyl, and eat worms to get a boost of speed. Linger too long or get stuck, and the wave of destruction will overtake you, dooming you to extinction.

This game has everything: seamless multiplayer, trophies and achievements, hidden stuff, character advancement, character customization. I've spent hours playing this game, first seeing what it's about, then trying to raise my stats, then trying multiplayer, then trying to unlock the trophies... the production value for a Flash game is stratospheric. This is a game made by professionals.

If there are any real complaints about the game, it might be that the gameplay does become shallow after a time, but that's inevitable for a game this perfectly casual. Stop whatever your doing and play. I cannot recommend Dino Run highly enough.

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And I Quote...

And I quote:

As for guns, I could mention the hugely satisfying penis extension gun that pins baddies to walls with entire trees but all you really need to know is that there's a gun that shoots shurikens and lightning. I wish I making something like that up. It shoots shurikens and lightning! It could only be more awesome if it had tits and was on fire.
Go watch Yahtzee being hilarious. Again.

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American Propaganda, Then and Now

I've begun work on a new game based on Cold War ideas: the Atomic Bomb, the Red Scare and J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. So I've begun doing some research on the period: McCarthyism, American propaganda, and the blind jingoism of political discourse of the day.

As a result, I stumbled upon the work of artist Micah Wright. He creates what he calls "Remixed Propaganda" posters, taking classic works of this age (such as Rosie the Riveter of "We Can Do It!" fame) and Photoshopping them to provide new messages from the "Ministry of Homeland Security". His work is smart, poignant and extremely well executed. Here are some examples:

I've added Micah's book to my Amazon wish list and you should, too.

Another thing I stumbled across was an absolutely fascinating reprint of an interview of J. Edgar Hoover conducted by U.S. News and World Report, on the subject of communism. It's a fascinating look at what amounts to mass hysteria. Remember: this is words spoken by the man who runs the American federal police:

QDo your investigations show that the basic allegiance of a Communist is to a foreign government rather than our own Government?

A Most emphatically. As I mentioned in my previous answer, the ultimate loyalty of fully indoctrinated Communist Party members is to Moscow. Stalin is represented as the foremost leader of international Communism, the omnipotent oracle from whom all wisdom flows. The Communist Party is today a Trojan horse of disloyalty, coiled like a serpent in the very heart of America.

It may mouth sweet words of "peace," "democracy," "equality," and flourish gay slogans of "international solidarity" and "brotherhood of men," but its body and feet are from the Russian bear. Wherever the Trojan horse of Communist fifth columns has walked, the indelible footprints of Russian imperialism remain behind.

Read this next bit, replacing "communist" with "terrorist" and "club" with "mosque" or "madrasah", and suddenly you gain a whole new perspective on today's political landscape:

QHow do the Communist "cells" operate? Are these the training units out of which larger numbers of Communists are recruited?

A The basic unit of the Communist Party is the club. These clubs may be "shop" or "industrial" clubs, that is, Communist units within a special manufacturing or industrial plant, or "neighborhood" clubs, drawing members from residential areas. These clubs are co-ordinated through an elaborate apparatus, from ward, city, county, State and district organizations to national headquarters in New York City. Because of security reasons, they have now been divided into small groups consisting of three to five members. In these clubs the Communist Party conducts its basic and fundamental activities: instruction in Marxism-Leninism; organization of pressure campaigns; the passing out of leaflets and handbills; the circulation of petitions. Here Communist literature is sold; dues collected; instructions received from "higher officials" disseminated. The club is the basic operating unit of the Communist Party. Through the club, of course, new members are recruited and indoctrinated.

I think the imagery and rhetoric of the fifties still has a lot of power in a way that is uniquely American and should cause any thinking person to step back and question the hysteria he's surrounded by. If anyone has any additional suggestions for material, I'd love to hear about it.

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I am a Dethklok Fanboi

Kathleen Parker: Clinton More Manly than Edwards and Obama

I'll be damned if this isn't one of the most slanted and manipulative op-ed pieces I've ever read. It plays on classism, racism, and homophobia, all at the same time.

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Torturing the Twentieth Hijacker

Mohammad al-Qahtani, the so-called "twentieth hijacker" is one of six key suspects that have been held and tortured at Guantanamo Bay since 9/11.

The reason for this, says the Bush Administration, is that we need to use every means at our disposal in order to gain information to safeguard our country from another attack like 9/11. After all, nothing says we're serious about the War on Abstractions like abandoning a thousand years of legal precedent and dunking terrorists like they're Salem witches.

Earlier this week, as reported by the Associated Press, the charges against al-Qahtani have been dropped. And while the government has not offered up a reason for this, it is widely suspected that they cannot move forward with their show trials because their evidence has been tainted by the use of torture.

But that's not the whole story, is it? There are still five other suspects being held and the government has already admitted to torturing them. So why drop the charges against this prisoner? The disqualification of Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann from participating in the case due to a lack of objectivity has now thrown the whole military tribunal system into doubt and lends force to its critics. Blogger emptywheel relates a communique with the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represent al-Qahtani:

The government is finally admitting what we have been saying all along, that the government's claims against our client were based on unreliable evidence obtained through torture at Guantanamo. Using torture to string together a web of so-called evidence is illegal, immoral and cannot be the basis for a fair trial.

Mr. al Qahtani never made a single statement that was not extracted through torture or the threat of torture. The unconscionable techniques used on him are well-documented and were authorized directly by the White House. His torture log is a shameful window onto the depravity of this administration and the depths to which they have been willing to sink.

Mr. al Qahtani should be returned to the custody of the Saudi government, where they have a system in place to maintain custody of any former Guantanamo detainee who presents a danger, as well as a strong rehabilitation program supervising those that are released.

The Military Commissions are sham political show trials designed to do nothing but obtain convictions for the government. Col. Moe Davis testified to that effect in the Hamdan proceedings, and the presiding judge removed the legal advisor to the Commissions, Col. Hartmann, just this week for undue political influence. The Military Commissions allow secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and evidence obtained through torture, which violates every international and domestic legal principle of due process and fair trials. They are designed to hide the criminal conduct of U.S. personnel and to obtain nothing but convictions. [emphasis original]

This is the latest in a series of challenges to the authority of the administration that has been holding its breath and stamping its feet all year. We may not be able to evict these criminals, but it looks like we can at least limit the amount of additional damage they can do. Torture is no way to "win hearts and minds".

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Dethklok and the True Meaning of Metal

Honestly, I think Dethklok has taught me the true meaning of Metal.

And as a life-long metal-head, that is saying something.

And if you don't know who Dethklok is, then you should find out. If you have ever rocked out to Metallica, then you owe it to yourself to find out about the band who is also the twelfth-largest economy in the world.

I have always been a fan of the driving riff. That's what it's all about. Straight-up: it's the riff that is the heart and soul of every rock song. And when you're pissed off about it, it becomes the centerpiece of your Metal wannabe-symphony. The masturbatory guitar solos. The I-can-drum-faster-than-an-amphetamine-popping-beaver drumming, the ridiculously high, ridiculously growling or ridiculously operatic vocals. Everything about Metal is going over the top.

But they mean it. They want to be the angriest, the fastest – in short – the most brutal. The most Metal. So it takes on a sinister-if-surreal seriousness.

Metalocalypse is over the top, but Dethklok is not. They're Metal. They mean it. And the guys who played on the Dethalbum get it. They bring it. Case in point: "Thunderhorse".

Is it over the top? In a way. But it's also remarkably spare. There are four total words in that song: Ride, Revenge, Thunder and Horse. And it rocks.

Case the second, read the lyrics to "Murmaider":


There are no fingerprints
Deep under water
Nothing to tie one to a crime
And if you seek vengeance
All you need are instruments of pain

You need your

Knives? Check.
Rope? Check.
Dagger? Check.
Chains? Check.
Locks? Check.
Laser Beams? Check.
Acid? Check.
Body Bag? Check.

Murmaider x 16

But beware
For when you quench your blood thirst
Others will seek their vengeance on you
And they won't rest
Until you're dead

They'll have their:

Shiv? Check.
Pipe? Check.
Hammer? Check.
Axe? Check.
Subject? Check.
Location? Check.
Desire? Check.
Vengeance? Check.

Hold your breath, swim and strain
The smell of death, can't escape
Blood will cloud and drift away
Attract the murders of Murmaids
It's so cold they all know

What you've done, you can't run
Vengeance is the law for thee
A thousand leagues below the sea
You've been tracked, you've been seen
Murdering the next of kin
Ate their hearts drank their blood

Washed your fins in blackened mud
Now you swim try to hide
Heart beats faster from inside
Thought it was a big charade
Your life was ended by Murmaids.

Murmaider x16

Swords? Check.
Saws? Check.
Clubs? Check.
Claws? Check.
Hatred? Check.
Anger? Check.
Mermaid? Check.
Murder? Check.

MURDER! MURDER! MURMAID MURDER!

Your life was ended by mermaids.

Now Listen to it. That, my friends, is Metal. Somehow the fact that acid and laser beams would never work underwater doesn't diminish its intensity. Maybe it's funny, but whoever put these songs together has an understanding that comes from a deep love for Metal.

Watch Metalocalypse. If you love Metal, then you, too will understand me when I say that I want my pain waiver.

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Evil Floating Head

Many thanks to Critical Hits for this heartwarming tale of a boy and his lost, evil, floating head.

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Friday Free Game: Vector Wars

Vector Wars certainly isn't the best space shooter around, but it's a perfect candidate for the Friday Free Game. It's a fun 15-minute time-waster with fast-and-furious gameplay and cool, trippy visuals, including some pain-in-the-butt enemies that look like they're the light cycles from Tron. They keep killing me and taking me away my double-shot!

And by the way, if you're a Tron geek like me: GLTron is a downloadable, fun and very faithful rendering of the light cycle action in full, glorious OpenGL 3D. The board looks just like it did in the movie, and there's even a Recognizer floating menacingly above you as you race. It takes a little bit of time to get used to the first-person perspective, but I've been playing this one a bit obsessively. But alas, since it's not an instant-play experience, I can't recommend it for the Friday Free Game, but you should do yourself a favor and download this extra-bonus game.

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Stuff White People Like

Stuff White People Like:

For the record: I'm white, and I think this is hilarious.

I was also on vacation in sunny Florida and drove a hybrid for a week. Thus the lack of posting.

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.