July 15, 2010

The Guild will return to comic form, too

Filed under: Gaming, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 19:00

A second comic series based on Felicia Day’s The Guild will be published in 2011:

Dark Horse will officially announce at Comic-Con International in San Diego that Felicia Day’s “The Guild” is set to return to comics in 2011. Day’s popular web-based video series, which entered its fourth season this week, follows the offline adventures of the Knights of Good, a guild within a massively multiplayer online role playing game referred to simply as “The Game,” though recognizable as a “World of Warcraft” analogue. Day writes and produces the series, as well as starring as Codex. This year’s three-issue “Guild” comic series served as an origin story, both for Codex’s gaming life and for the guild as an entity. The sequel series, however, will find each issue focusing on a single character and illustrated by a different artist. The first issue will star noble guild-leader Vork, and is co-written by Jeff Lewis, the actor who portrays him.

Pleated-Jeans identifies the modern Maslow’s hierarchy

Filed under: Humour, Science, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:09

Pleated-Jeans has done the heavy lifting to pull the old, outdated Maslow diagram into the 21st century:

H/T to Michael O’Connor Clarke who advises “Caution: may cause psych majors to eject hot coffee through nasal passages.”

Reasons not to get angsty over China’s growth

Filed under: China, Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:02

The ever-sensible and highly entertaining Monty points out that Americans fretting over the growth of the Chinese economy are bothered over (comparatively) minor issues:

The angst over China’s economic ascent continues to smell rather strongly of the same panic the US felt over Japan in the 1980’s. I respond to this panic in two ways: 1) I am happy for the average Chinese citizen, who is finally seeing some benefit from their labor after 400 years of failure and ineptitude — they deserve any success that comes their way; and 2) America is in the enviable position of being able to worry about unlikely hypotheticals because we are the world’s largest economy and will continue to be so for much of the 21st century and perhaps beyond. We face severe problems — public spending being #1 among them — but our competitors also have problems, in many cases more dire than our own. We as a people have a habit of overestimating our own problems and underestimating those of our adversaries. Don’t begrudge the Chinese people some measure of success; just hope that they can cast off their Communist government and move towards being a freer people. There may come a time when the US and China square off as enemies rather than just competitors, but that outcome is not inevitable.

Fitch agrees with me about taking the whole “China is taking over the world” thing with a grain of salt. The Chinese are hiding an enormous amount of bad debt. If China hopes to succeed beyond their export-driven economy, their finances are going to have to become more transparent. And when/if this happens . . . look out below. That crash is going to make our little economic vacation of the past couple of years look mild in comparison.

I know that it may appear that I’m anti-Chinese based on some of my past economic postings, but that’s not true. I’m actually quite positive about China in the long term — once they manage to get rid of the last trappings of authoritarian government and overcome the huge dead hand of army-controlled crony capitalism. Most Chinese markets are not yet free, but they’re in most cases far more free than they were a decade ago. That’s wonderful, both for ordinary Chinese people and for the rest of the world. China has immense untapped resources of skills, talents, and ideas that can’t be accessed in a controlled economy. If-and-when their economy becomes as free as typical western markets, sit back and watch all that human ingenuity go to work.

On the down side, while China is becoming a bit more free, many western countries are becoming less so: piling on regulations and creating additional barriers to economic growth (Canada, for the most part, has not been doing this . . . it’s a significant factor in Canada’s escape from recession). If these trends continue, perhaps the worriers-about-China will see the Chinese economy vault into first place as the American government tries to control everything.

Facebook usage patterns differ by gender

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:05

I have a Facebook account, but I use it infrequently (the vast majority of my FB activity is just status posts echoed from my Twitter account, actually). For certain groups, however, Facebook is far more critical to their lives . . . young women, for example:

According to a new report released by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research, about one-third of women on Facebook between 18 to 34 in age check this social networking site in the morning as the first thing even before going to bathroom. Some of the other astonishing facts deduced from this research on young women are as follows.

* 21% of women age 18-34 check Facebook in the middle of the night
* 63% use Facebook as a networking tool
* 42% think it’s okay to post photos of themselves intoxicated
* 79% are fine with kissing in photos
* 58% use Facebook to keep tabs on “frenemies”
* 50% are fine with being Facebook friends with complete strangers

Clearly there haven’t been enough stories about people losing their jobs over inappropriate posts on Facebook . . . maybe they aren’t being posted to Facebook itself.

QotD: Auto history repeats itself

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Government, Humour, Quotations, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 08:54

In the twinkling of an eye (by the standards of bureaucratic time, which is slower than geologic time but more expensive than time spent with Madame Claude’s girls in Paris) the thing was done. On March 7, 1989, the DOT-NHTSA-ODI-TSC-OPSAD-VRTC . . . effort produced an eighty-one page report written by an eight man group of engineering savants with more than fifty years of college among them. This document presented evidence from exhaustive experiment and analysis that proved what everybody who understands how to open the hood of a car had known all along about SAIs: “Pedal misapplications are the likely cause of these incidents.”

Yes, the dumb buggers stepped on the gas instead of the brake. [. . .] Anyway, the truth was out at last. The government had released a huge report showing that there was no such thing as unintended acceleration in automobiles. Stand by for huge government reports on fairies stealing children and poker wealth gained by drawing to inside straights. Meanwhile, cars did not fly away of their own accord. They could be safely left unattended.

. . . So the truth was out, and we people who like automobiles and can tell our right foot from our elbow should have been glad. But there was, in fact, no reason to celebrate. This message from the federal bowl of Alpha-Bits had cost us taxpayers millions of dollars and came too late to save Audi from the ignorance, credulity, opportunism and sheer Luddite malice directed toward that corporation and its products. Furthermore, the Department of Transportation press release introducing the SAI report absolved the paddle-shoed, dink-wit perpetrators of sudden acceleration. It just let Betty Dumb-Toes and Joe Boat-Foot right off the hook:

NHTSA declined to characterize the cause of sudden acceleration as driver error. Driver error may imply carelessness or willfulness in failing to operate a car properly. Pedal misapplication is more descriptive. It could happen to even the most attentive driver who inadvertently selects the wrong pedal and continues to do so unwittingly.

The next time I get pulled over by the state highway patrol, I’m telling the officer, “You probably intend to ticket me for speeding, which would be driver error. But pedal misapplication is more descriptive of what occurred. It could happen to even the most attentive driver who inadvertently selects the wrong pedal and continues to do so unwittingly.”

P.J. O’Rourke, Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire US Government, 1991

Apple to hold news conference on iPhone 4 today

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:42

BBC News reports that Apple has called a surprise news conference:

The company has refused to give details about whether the event will address reception problems that some users have reported with the phone, launched just last month.

Apple has faced mounting criticism from analysts and consumers over its handling of the issue.

Industry watchers said the firm was in danger of damaging its “rock star” reputation over how poorly it had dealt with what would normally be a minor problem.

“It seems there has been a real crisis of leadership here,” said Patrick Kereley, senior digital strategist for Levick Strategic Communications which deals in crisis managment and reputation protection.

“There are so many conflicting reports about this issue and a lot of confusion in the marketplace. They need a plan of attack. Today’s companies have to react quickly before chatter on Facebook or Twitter turns into news headlines as is the case here,”

Of course, blaming the problem on Facebook and Twitter users isn’t particularly appropriate: there is a problem with the iPhone 4 and even the most pro-Apple folks are noticing it and complaining. Apple has reacted very badly to their most enthusiastic customers, and (for a change) appears to be damaging their reputation. Now that they’re no longer seen as underdogs, the haughty and uninformative response won’t work.

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