Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone! I don't go trick-or-treating anymore, obviously, but here are some old pictures of Halloween costumes I had when I was a kid.

Jesus:



Abraham Lincoln:



Zorro:


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Common Excuses for Evil

Uh oh. The due date for my five page paper on evil is fast approaching, and I've been neglecting my writings about evil.

Last time, I left off talking about how evil is its own punishment, because it is self-destructive. "Self-destructive" is probably not the right term; it seems to me that it would be more accurate to say that evil is "all-destructive".  That is, evil harms everyone. An evil act will result in negative consequences for its victims, its perpetrators, and even those not directly involved.  Evil doesn't play favorites and skip over certain people; it hurts everyone.

This is a particularly easy to see today, when all of our actions have far-reaching consequences. With the Internet and globalization, it is relatively easy to affect people we will never meet, without knowing about it.  In the case of evil, this is particularly dangerous, because we can directly hurt other people and still be so removed from the consequences of our actions that it feels like we haven't done anything wrong.

For example, people will often do something wrong, if they think it doesn't affect them personally.  Even worse, they will do something they know is wrong, as long as they think it won't have any sort of negative effect.  A common argument is "I know I shouldn't do such-and-such, but I'm not going to get in trouble for it." That's one of the most common excuses used to justify illegal downloading.  There are many, many examples I could give, but the point I'm getting at is that people will often try to distance themselves from the consequences of their actions.

People not only try to distance themselves from the evil consequences of their actions, but they try to distance themselves from the actions themselves.  That is, people love to make excuses for why they aren't responsible for what they do.  Blaming someone else is probably the most common way that a person tries to avoid reponsibility for his actions.  People will say, "It's not my fault; it's so-and-so's fault" as an excuse to justify doing something wrong.  The results of the Milgram Experiment, sadly, should not be a surprise. Most people can blame someone else for their actions, in order to escape personal responsibility.

Another way people try to distance themselves from their actions is by minimizing them. "It's not a big deal."  "It doesn't really matter."  These are common excuses that people give.  Today, more and more people refer to their evil actions as "accidents" or "mistakes".  For example, a person will say, "I didn't mean to do it.  It was just a mistake" or "it was just an accident".  Sure, it might make you feel better to say you made a mistake instead of admitting you willingly did something wrong, but is it the truth, or it is just an excuse?  What were your intentions when committing your action?

In conclusion, it seems that when people do something wrong, there are a myriad of excuses they give, ranging all the way from blaming other people to pretending nothing bad ever happened. But from these many excuses, I think we can see that there are, in general, three different things people make excuses for:

1) The intentions, or what led up to the action.
2) The action itself.
3) The consequences of the action.

This brings me to a  thesis: the moral status of an action depends on the action itself, its consequences, and the intentions of the person who performed the act.

This seems like a good point to stop and get input. Thoughts, anyone?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Let Me See...


How much longer do you think it will be before my video views count hits ten million?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney: Investigations

Note For People Who Don't Care About Miles Edgeworth: Skip to the video and enjoy it, without reading this blog post.

---
I recently finished with Case Four of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth.  Case Three took me a long time to get through, but Case Four went relatively smoothly because it's a good murder mystery.  In fact, it might be the best case of the game!

And because I'm in Edgeworth mode right now, I think I'll explain how Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney: Investigations breaks down.

Case One: Very Good! It's a short, sweet and simple introduction to the game and gameplay mechanics. If the rest of the game was just like this (a balance of investigation, followed by cross-examination), I would be happy.  The bad guy in this case is more memorable than all the other bad guys in this game put together, except perhaps for the bad guy of Case Four.

Case Two: Good! The concept behind this case is that a murder is committed in the First Class section of an airplane, so the murderer has to be one of the people in First Class. That's an interesting concept, but it sort of falls apart in the game itself, because the plane is super-unrealistic. For example, the plane has an elevator that services three floors, a 50-foot tall cargo hold, a working bar, and a gift shop. I know it's a jumbo jet, but come on!

This is also the case where the poor translation job rears its ugly head. In particular, Franziska von Karma appears in this case, which should make it interesting and exciting, but instead, it's just...boring.  Her dialogue with Edgeworth is rather devoid of life and energy.  They should have peppered it up with jokes or something, my goodness.  It is nothing like the interesting Edgeworth/Franziska conversation we saw at the end of the second Phoenix Wright game.

Also, it seems that Rhoda Teneiro was designed to be a semi-romantic interest for Edgeworth, but due to the poor translation, you can barely tell she has a crush on him. That's a real lost opportunity.

Case Three: Not so good! The concept behind this case is that a murder takes place at a theme park, during a kidnapping scheme, and all the people involved with the case were wearing giant animal costumes at the time. Um...that's just weird, and it plays out as such.

Problem #1: The flow of the game isn't smooth here.  For some reason, Part 3 is really, really short; it's a fourth as long as Parts 1, 2, 4 and 5. Also, for some reason, Part 4 contains no investigation at all. Maybe they should have combined Parts 3 and 4 to make things flow better.

Problem #2: The investigation in the stadium seems like an excuse for Ema Skye to have an under-utilized cameo appearance. Is it nice to see her again? Sure. But she only shows up for four minutes. She either should have appeared more, or she should have been cut from the game.

Problem #3: In this case, we finally meet the new main characters of the game: Agent Lang and Kay Faraday.  I don't think this was done well. For super-important, brand-new main characters, they show up really late in the game, and get almost no screen time outside of this case.  Plus, their backstories are just sort of...huh.  Lang is a meanie, and the reason why ("he hates prosecutors") is just sort of...generic. Kay is a Master Thief who shows up as a Deus Ex Machina (for reasons that aren't explained), spends the whole day with Edgeworth (for reasons that aren't explained), and has magic crime-scene recreation powers. Edgeworth should just buy his own Little Thief and tell Kay to take a hike.

Case Four: Best case of the game!  It's a flashback to seven years ago, when Edgeworth was a bad boy.  In this case, you get to cross-examine the Judge from the Phoenix Wright series, hang out with Franziska, and meets a detective who loves lollipops.



This case is the one that feels the most like a Phoenix Wright game, which is what makes it the most enjoyable.  It takes place in a courtroom, we get to see characters like the Judge and Manfred von Karma, and there's even a courtroom battle between Edgeworth and a rival defense attorney. It's pretty enjoyable.  There are problems with this case, to be sure, but it's still rated as the best case of the game among fans.

Case Five: Good-ish! Of course, it's the last case of the game, so it's super-long and super-complicated, and it tries to bring everything together in a way that makes sense. Personally, I wouldn't have minded if the game was just a series of non-related cases--it might be better that way--but I admire them for trying to have an overarching plot.

Overall, the first half of the investigation was pretty good, up to the point where Bad Guy #1 was caught.  Catching the first bad guy definitely felt like an achievement.

The second half of the investigation, capturing Bad Guy #2, though, was hard to enjoy. Let me summarize it for you:

Bad Guy: Ha ha ha! You can't stop me!
Edgeworth: Oh, yeah? This evidence shows you did it!
(Edgeworth cross-examines the Bad Guy's testimony 1-3 times.)
Bad Guy: Ha ha ha! You tried, but you still can't stop me!
Edgeworth: Oh, no-saurs!
Another Character: HOLD IT! I have...NEW EVIDENCE!
Edgeworth: Aha! This new evidence will end the case!
[Repeat the above steps for three hours.]

Three hours of non-stop cross-examination, with the same character. It was painfully boring at points. It would have been more tolerable if, like Bad Guy #1, there was a clear motive for Edgeworth to stop this villain...but instead, Edgeworth just seemed to want to stop the villain because (s)he was the villain of the game, and not because he had a personal connection to the case.

---

So that's Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney: Investigations, the game that has pretty much nothing to do with attorneys.  There is some investigating, but the game's main focus is not really logical deduction and crime solving. What will happen in the upcoming sequel to this game? Will Edgeworth stop pretending that his BFF, Phoenix Wright, doesn't exist?  Will Edgeworth fall in love with his new rival, a female judge? Will the translation be easier to put up with?  We'll have to wait and see.

Josie and the Pussycats

On Monday, I watched the new episode of Total Drama World Tour on the fancy TV they have here.  I have to watch it on the fancy TV, because my personal TV is older than me, and doesn't get anything but local stations.  The fancy TV is HD Flatscreen Way Too Expensive, and it gets a bunch of different channels, such as Cartoon Network West Coast and Cartoon Network East Coast.

Really?  We need two separate channels for Cartoon Network, both of which play the exact same material, just at different times?  Come on.  Get real.  They shouldn't even offer East Coast Time Zone channels here on the West Coast, because, duh, we don't run on East Coast Time.

Once my show was over, I flipped through the channels at random, and it turns out they have four Nickelodeon channels and three Cartoon Network channels, which seems overly excessive to me, when I noticed that Boomerang was playing an episode of Josie and the Pussycats.

A chance to see the TV show based off a comic strip I enjoy?  Great!  I have some interest in the show because I like the original strip, but the show was cancelled in the 1970's, so I never got a chance to actually see it before.

The episode didn't have much of a plot. A French spy gives a top-secret black box to Josie and her friends, telling them to keep the box out of the hands of the bad guy. The bad guy then chases our heroes, trying to get the box.

That was the plot of the entire episode.  It was basically a twenty-minute chase sequence. It worked, but it could have been better.

I was surprised to find out that the theme song to the TV show is totally not the song in the YouTube theme song video.  YouTube, you liar!  The fake video is below, but the real theme song has different lyrics. Plus, you know, you can actually understand the words.



Also, there were some..."interesting" changes to the characters' personalities, which is a nice way of saying nobody acts the way they should.

The only success story is Alexandra, the girl with the awesome hairdo. She's Josie's rival, and she's kind of mean and selfish. Alexandra likes to come up with evil plots for becoming the band's leader / getting the attention of Alan the Hot Guy, and she always fails in a humorous fashion. That's the way she acts in the comic strip, and she acts this way in the TV show. Good fun!

Then there's Alex, her twin brother. The two of them are pretty similar because they're twins, but in the TV show, they forgot about this and replaced Alex with Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

No, seriously. The same guy does his voice and everything. It was kind of odd.

Speaking of Scooby Doo, Alan the Hot Guy got replaced with Fred from Scooby Doo. His hair and clothes were altered to look more like Fred's, and he acts just like Fred does. Again, it was kind of odd. I dunno, it didn't ruin the TV show for me, but it was still weird to see Alex and Alan with complete personality transplants.

Melody's personality confused me. I couldn't tell if she was supposed to be smart or dumb or what.  She made a lot of jokes, but it wasn't clear if she was telling those jokes on purpose, or by accident.

Josie and Valerie didn't really show any personality in this episode. They were just sort of...there. It's like the producers thought there were too many characters in the show already, do they cut out all of Josie and Valerie's screentime.  That was kind of weird, because Josie is supposed to be the main character of the show.  Why make the main character completely unnecessary?

Overall, I'd say that the characters were different in the TV show, but they weren't so completely different that it's completely unbearable. I still would have liked to see the characters act the way they do in the original comics, though.

The show almost completely ignored the premise of the series, which is that Josie and the Pussycats are a band. The only reference to the band was thrown in randomly, when they started playing a song for no reason whatsoever.   There wasn't even an audience to watch them perform; they just set up their equipment and started playing a song in between scenes of the bad guy trying to kill them.

It was quite ridiculous.  They're being chased by a murderous villain, and they take a break to play a song.  I guess that's how Josie and the Pussycats roll. Nothing gets in the way of their music.

To make things even more ridiculous, they blatantly reused the animation from the theme song.  So, you saw the band totally rocking out and playing their instruments.  The actual song that was played, though, was a slow, sad song.  It was hilarious to see the wrong song get played to the wrong animation.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Site Design

As you can see now, I played around with the layout of the blog.  Let me know what you think.

Two items are of interest:

1) I figured out how to do the archive thingy on the right-hand side of the page!  So, it's no longer super-impossible to find old blog posts.

2) I want the blog to run from the left of the page to the right of the page, but they insist on adding a large empty spot on the left and right sides.  Why is there a large empty spot everywhere?  Get with the game, empty spot!  Do something interesting!  Don't just take up space uselessly!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Who Done It?

Okay, this is sort of a filler post, but before I reach the end of Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge, I'd like to know who you guys think the culprit is.  I always enjoy seeing theories on who the criminal is, and why.

For example, here are fun theories I've heard so far:
  • Takae definitely has to be the culprit, because she talks slowly. Therefore, she is secretly a robot. Robots are evil, so she is the culprit.
  • Yumi is the culprit, because there is something seriously wrong with anyone who likes pink that much.
  • Rentaro is the culprit, because only a puzzle maniac like him would come up with so many puzzles for Nancy to solve.
  • Miwako is the culprit, because she wants to quit her job at the ryokan and become a professional baseball player.
Any of those explanations sound convincing to you? Who done it?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Best of SAW

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dudes and chicks, robot cats and kaloi kagathoi, I present to you the highlight of my video walkthrough for Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge...

...Forty two minutes of me solving a Sudoku puzzle.







I'm seriously considering ending my video walkthrough here, because there's no way I'll ever be able to top the awesomeness contained in this epic trilogy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Phoenix Wright VS Professor Layton

It was recently announced that my two favorite non-Nancy Drew mystery game series--Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton--are going to do a crossover game, starring the main characters from both series. They're calling it Professor Layton Versus Phoenix Wright.

Naturally, I'm super-excited, because I like both of them, and because mystery crossovers are always good.  Think about it!  Nancy Drew meets the Hardy Boys...Sherlock Holmes Versus Arsene Lupin...okay, those are the only two mystery crossovers I can think of, but they were both entertaining.

I have about a million things to say about this game, but I'll try to limit myself to three.



1. The game takes place in an imaginary, magical fantasy realm...and in the Middle Ages.

Wait, what? Can't the two of them meet in a normal way?

Now, some people are saying that there is no possible way Phoenix Wright could ever meet Professor Layton.  After all, they live in different countries.  That's why they had to use magic to explain how the two could meet. Any other explanation would just be silly.

I say, "Nonsese!" You want an explanation that makes sense? Phoenix Wright goes to England at the request of his British friend, Miles Edgeworth. While there, he runs into Professor Layton. There you go! That's a really easy and believable backstory for Phoenix being in London, and no magic is involved!

Also, the Middle Ages is kind of a thousand years long. Could you be more specific as to when this game takes place?  Personally, I think it should take place during the 1200's.  That was the height of Scholasticism, when everyone was super-excited about logical thinking and argumentation, which is the perfect fit for Layton and Phoenix.

Of course, the Professor Layton series tends to not take place where it's supposed to. For example, in the third game, Professor Layton goes to the future...but then it turns out that all he did was use an elevator.  So it's entirely possible that this game will not really be in a magical medieval town.

2. The Plot

An evil beard and mustache combo? This guy means business!
The plot of the game is that a bad guy called "The Storyteller" has a magic book. Everything he writes in the book comes true!  Clearly, the game's producers were inspired by my Phoenix Wright fanfic where everything Maya writes on her laptop comes true.

I'm pretty sure that the big revelation at the end of the game is that the book isn't magical.  "The Storyteller" is just really good at guessing what will happen.

Also, there's a woman being accused of witchcraft. Phoenix is defending her from those charges, while Professor Layton is accusing her. She has read The Storyteller's book, so she knows what will happen...she knows that she will be killed soon.

Drama!

I'm pretty sure that our heroes will put aside their differences and team up to save the young lady and stop The Storyteller.

3. Phoenix and Maya are in this game



Phoenix and Maya are in this game! Hooray!  They might be the main characters of the series, but the last time we saw them together was in 2007.  Since then, there have been two new games in the series, but neither of them had Maya in them.  Also, one had a plotline where Phoenix becomes a drunken hobo.

...It was not a pretty sight.

So, yes, it is a good thing that we get to see Maya and normal Phoenix Wright together again.  Also, Phoenix and Maya now have voices!  Hearing them talk should be pretty cool!  The voice work for the Professor Layton games has been good so far, so I'm guessing that their crew will do a good job on this game.

Especially because the voice actress who plays Nancy Drew also plays Luke in the Layton games. If she does her Nancy Drew voice for this game, it'll be just like a Nancy Drew/Phoenix Wright/Professor Layton game and--

[Article left unfinished because Michael's brain just exploded from considering that possibility.]

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Three Things

1. Well, it's official: I failed the piano audition again this year. Apparently, my version of Amazing Grace was more like Amazing Disgrace (how sour the sound!). I'll have to try again next year.

I might not be able to play piano, but I can play the hand bells!  That's right, I'm in the hand bells choir this year.  It's rather easy, because I can read music, and because I only have two hands, so I can only play two notes at once.  The bells choir rarely performs, but it still looks good on my end-of-year review.

As for the singing choir, I'm still in the B-team Choir, which is just fine with me.  Just like at my old school, Santa Clara University, the A-team Choir does a lot of polyphonic stuff that I don't like very much.  But I'm willing to admit I don't have much taste for complex music.  My favorite song is still Swanee River.

2. I took a crash course in Japanese pronunciation, so I could avoid embarrassing myself when pronouncing the names of Japanese towns.  I haven't had any complaints so far, except for one that says I put too much of an American accent on the name Matsue.

My new favorite part of the whole subway challenge was how I totally dodged having to pronounce Miyazaki by calling it "the city that starts with the letter M".

3. I got a question on my post about Pope Benedict's recent letter.  The question asks, "Why are priests necessary for confession? Did God not tell us that we can open up to Him whenever we want? He's always with us, so why must a Priest and all these rituals be involved?"


To be sure, the Catholic Church allows for the possibility of confession without a priest, but only in super-rare circumstances that you'll probably never find yourself in.  Normally, you need the presence of a priest for any sacrament to be valid.

In the sacrament of confession, a person's sins are forgiven and his/her soul is cleansed. That's pretty heavy duty stuff, and not just anyone can do it. You need someone who has been specifically set apart, i.e. consecrated, for such a mission. In other words, you need a priest. Only someone who shares in the fullness of the priesthood can act in the person of Christ, and this is what gives him the power to forgive sins.  The priest cannot forgive sins by himself or as himself.  The priest can only forgive sins by acting in the person of Christ.

If you just want to repent from your sins, that's fine. No priest needed. You can pray a prayer of contrition anytime, and God will hear you.  If you want the sins to be removed, however, you need a priest to administer the sacrament of confession.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October Newsletter

The Nancy Drew folks released a new newsletter today, which means I get to do a cop-out blog post and simply describe what's in the newsletter.
  • The newsletter has all sorts of things about Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge.  If you're looking for all of the preview material for that game in one place, the newsletter is where you'll find it!
  • There are also advertisements for other scary games in the Nancy Drew series.
  • They're also releasing a collector's edition fan favorites tin!  Three of the most popular games in the series, collected together in a fancy tin, with a journal containing a bunch of pictures. Cool!
  • There are more advertisements for other games in the Nancy Drew series.
And that's the newsletter for October! Happy Halloween, everyone!

...Oh wait, it's not Halloween yet. Um...Happy Almost-Halloween?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Figuring out SAW

In order to prepare for my video walkthrough for Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge, I decided to go through Nancy's task list and get a general idea of the different puzzles/tasks/things you have to do in the game. Here we go!
  • Find Nancy's room, and explore it. You need to get her train ticket/Japanese dictionary. This allows her to travel to different places.
  • Meet Granny-San and take her cultural lessons on caligraphy, origami and tea. Each lesson takes place on a different day.
  • Examine Miwako's cat after 1:00 to learn that Suki is in protection mode. Call Bess and George about this, and they will give you a monster Sudoku puzzle to solve. Solving this will let you get past Suki. When you do this, you get access to a tile from the baths and a sealed envelope with the computer password.
  • Use the tile from the baths in the baths area in order to see a cutscene starring Miwako and Rentaro. After this, I think, Rentaro asks you to get him a prize from the pachinko parlor.
  • At the pachinko parlor, buy a comic book to learn about EVP. Nancy can learn about EVP at any time in the game, I think.
  • Meet Yumi and talk with her. She sends you to her apartment, where Nancy gets the phone number for Savannah Woodham.
  • Contact Savannah Woodham. The direct approach doesn't work, so call Bess and George for help.  Then, play matchmaker with Logan and Bess to get a copy of Savannah's book from Logan.
  • Once Nancy gets Savannah's book and reads it, she learns where to do EVP. So, read Savannah's book and solve the EVP puzzle. This results in Nancy finding the key to Granny's room.
  • After finding the key in the gardens, you can do the rock puzzle (and a few more puzzles) to get half of the super nonograms puzzle. This can only be done if Nancy knows origami.
  • If Nancy knows about tea, she can then use the key to Granny's room to steal Granny's tea kettle, and use the tea kettle to open the sealed envelope (from Miwako's desk). Nancy can now go onto the computer and see which rooms in the ryokan are never rented out to guests...in particular, room #33.
  • Open up the Krolmeister Security Thingy near the front desk, using the red card found in Granny's room. This gives you the key that opens all rooms which end in 8 or 9.
  • Using the 8 or 9 key, in conjunction with the star card taken from Rentaro's shed, go to room #33 and solve the puzzle that arises there.
  • Call Savannah for info about room #33. Then return there and go the hidden passageway. The hidden passageway contains the super nonograms puzzle. Sadly, Nancy only has half of this puzzle--the half she got from solving the rock puzzle.
  • Nancy needs the second half of the super nonograms puzzle. Once she gets seven photos from Yumi, she can solve the photo puzzle, which eventually leads to her getting the second half of the super nonograms puzzles.
  • Using both halves of the super nonogram puzzle, solve the super nonogram puzzle in the hidden passageway.
  • This causes a series of puzzles that Nancy has to solve in order to catch the villain.
Okay, so I think that's a pretty good overview of how the puzzles in the game are interconnected. I forgot to mention a few things, like grading homework or the phone avatars, but that's okay. I think I can use this overview to successfully avoid getting confused during my video walkthrough.

So! That's it, then, right? I think I'm ready to start recording my video walkthrough later today, after finishing with classes and homework.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pope Benedict's Letter to Seminarians

Today, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to seminarians, that is, to people like me who are currently studying to become Catholic priests. I find it interesting that he sent the letter today, because I spent all of last night making notes on his book, In the Beginning.  That book is the shortest of the books on our reading list for that class, but I still managed to get seven pages of notes out of it.

The letter he wrote today has several important points to make, and because I'm currently in a "making notes on things Pope Benedict has written" mode, I'll list these things here. Of course, my commentary on what the Pope says is intermingled with my notes on what he says.
  • The world will always need priests, because the world will always need God.
  • Community is a necessary part of the seminary, as it is a necessary part of any authentic spirituality.
  • The priest must live in constant intimacy with God, so we can lead others to God.  How can we lead others to God, if we do not know God ourselves? In fact, I believe a personal relationship with God is an important thing to have, not only for the priest, but for all people.
  • The priest should have a particular concern for and dedication towards the Eucharist, which is the source, summit and center of the life of the church.
  • In addition to the sacrament of communion, the priest should have a particular concern for the sacrament of confession.  Confession leads people to a true knowledge of themselves.  We must not let indifference overcome our desire for self-improvement, our attempt to grow in holiness.  To ignore confession is dreadful, because to do so is to ignore God's grace.
  • Confession is also good, because it softens our hearts to the struggles of others. Through confession, we become more humble and more compassionate.  We also develop a greater sense for the unity of all humankind through the sacrament of confession; it strengthens our connection to everyone else.
  • The Pope wants us to retain an appreciation for popular piety. I'm not entirely sure what this means, but I think he is referring to particular modes of devotion, like the Divine Mercy chaplet or a particular emphasis on a certain saint.
  • The seminary is a time for study. We must not forget the rational, intellectual roots of the Catholic Church, which has always searched for the truth.
  • "I can only plead with you: Be committed to your studies! Take advantage of your years of study! You will not regret it." This is certainly good to keep in mind, seeing as we have just come out of midterms, and many people are feeling rather unhappy about their classes.
  • The Pope lists all the fields of study we encounter in the seminary and encourages us to study all of them. He puts particular emphasis on canon law, for "law is the condition of love".
  • The time in the seminary should include not only spiritual growth, but also personal growth. The priest must be a fully integrated, fully mature person. Today in particular, we can see the disastrous results of certain priests who did not properly integrate the virture of celibacy within themselves, and as a consequence, they acted out sexually.  Only a truly mature person can accept the value of authentic celibacy.
  • Today, unlike in the past, most seminarians had jobs in the outside world before entering the seminary. As a result, the different people in the seminary can have vastly different backgrounds, and boy is this true here!  My class has a banker, a physicist, and a fisherman, among others.  But despite these differences, we must remember what we have in common.  As said earlier, community is an essential part of any authentic spirituality, and it is especially essential to seminary life. We must grow and support each other in mutual self-giving, as all members of the church must do.
  • The letter ends with these consoling and comforting words from the Holy Father: "Dear seminarians, with these few lines I have wanted to let you know how often I think of you, especially in these difficult times, and how close I am to you in prayer. Please pray for me, that I may exercise my ministry well, as long as the Lord may wish. I entrust your journey of preparation for priesthood to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, whose home was a school of goodness and of grace. May Almighty God bless you all, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
So that's the letter that Pope Benedict wrote today.  When I lead the walking rosary tomorrow, I will certain include the Pope in our intentions.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Finished with Shadow at the Water's Edge

Hey, I'm back! It turned out that my computer had three parts that needed to be replaced: the fan, the motherboard, and something else.  My computer is now guaranteed to keep working for the next 283 days, so I have plenty of time to mess it up again.

I played through Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge, and it was pretty good. It took me longer than it should have, because I was really dumb and kept skipping ahead too early.

For example, there's one part of the game where Nancy is supposed to get a package delivery. What you have to do at this point is make three quick phone calls: one to Logan (the package delivery guy), one to Bess (who is dealing with Logan), and a second call to Logan. It took me about twenty minutes to get through this challenge, because I kept skipping ahead.

(Nancy calls Logan. He says agrees to get the package for Bess)
Me: All right! I'm skipping ahead to the next day to get the package!
(Skips to next day.  Package is not there.)
Me: ?
(Calls Logan again. This does nothing.)
Me: Hm...maybe I should skip ahead another day, just in case.
(Skips to next day. Package is not there.)
Me: Aw, man!  What do I do now?
(Calls Bess. She is now expecting the package.)
Me: Awesome! I figured it out! Now, I'll skip ahead to the next day to get the package from Bess.
(Skips to the next day.  Package is not there.)
Me: What the bento? Where's my package?
(Calls Bess again. This does nothing.)
(Skips to the next day again. Nothing changes.)
Me: (pulls out hair in frustration)

Fifteen minutes later...

(Calls Logan again. He says he'll deliver the package to Bess, now that she's expecting it.)
Me: Oops.
(Skips to the next day, when the package has arrived.)
Me: YES!

So clearly, my love of skipping ahead to the next day of the game, coupled with the fact that package delivery guys don't deliver packages unless they're told to (who knew?), stopped me from progressing with the game like you're supposed to.

This happened to me again, near the end of the game. I skipped ahead about six times, when there was absolutely no reason to do so. Whoops.

I'll try to get started on my video walkthrough pretty soon, but before I do so, I think I'm going to plan out what to do ahead of time, so I don't mess up again. More on this later.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Plans

I got the new Nancy Drew game yesterday, but it was delivered to my old house. I need to stop by sometime and pick it up so I can play it over midterm break (starting Thursday).

However, my computer is acting up, and I need to get it to the shop. The best time to do this is during midterm break, when I don't have classes. I could try to do a video walkthrough for the Nancy Drew game while my computer is acting up, but that most likely wouldn't work well.

So it's starting to look like I won't get to try out the new Nancy Drew game until next week. Oh well.

Edit: Ten minutes from now, I'm going to be computer-less! Uh oh! I'm not sure how I'll survive.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Picture

Hey, remember a few months ago, when someone made a pie chart of the death scenes in the Nancy Drew series?

Well, our artist buddy is at it again! This time she drew a picture of all sorts of Nancy Drew characters, while watching my video walkthrough for Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon.



I think my favorite is Donal chasing after fairies. Thanks to Little Otaku for the picture!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Midterms

It's officially midterms week this week, but two of my teachers held midterms last week. The idea is that they're spreading out the study time, but it feels more like they're prolonging the agony.
Last week was Spanish and Epistemology. Earlier in this blog, I poked fun at the fact that the epistemology textbook has several lists of hard-to-translate ancient words, like logos and nous.  Well, Question #2 on the midterm was "List all five of Aristotle's terms concerning knowledge and provide a definition for each of them".  It was a pretty rough.

On Monday, I have my humanities midterm, which should be easy enough. I have about 20 pages of notes, so I'm going to re-read them for the midterm.  We were given a study guide for the midterm on Tuesday, but I haven't looked at it yet; I'll study for that once Monday's midterm is over.

In other news, how is the semester halfway over, again? It feels like we just got started. Seriously, some of our regular duties (like field education, sacristy work, and prayer styles) just started last week. That kind of makes it feel like the year is just starting up, not marching past the midway point.

At least midterm break is coming up soon! Midterm break is Thursday and Friday, which is two days off. Wahoo!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Professor Snaglefoompus Learns How to Read Manga

One day, Professor Snaglefoompus got lost in the library at his school.

Normally, he started off all his library trips with a visit to the American Literature section, but the library had gotten rid of almost all of their books and replaced them with computers, because computers involve less reading. So naturally, Professor Snaglefoompus got lost trying to find the bookshelves that were no longer there.  All he could find were students using computers to do important scholarly activities, such as looking at pictures on Facebook.

Eventually, Professor Snaglefoompus gave up on trying to find a book, and he wandered towards the magazine section to get the latest edition of Buffet Quarterly, his favorite magazine. Along the way, he passed the manga section of the library.

With a cry of joy at having found something that wasn't a computer, Professor Snaglefoompus grabbed a manga and started reading it. He didn't quite understand what was happening in the story--something about a giant robot teddy bear who was also a werewolf and a fashion photographer--but that was because he didn't know how to read manga.

Fortunately, Tokyo-San, the Japanese exchange student, was there to help.

"Professor!" Tokyo-San called out. "You're reading it wrong!"

"Huh?" Professor Snaglefoompus asked.

"In Japan, we read from right to left," Tokyo-San explained. "So when you read the Japanese manga, you read the pages from right to left."

Professor Snaglefoompus scratched his head. "But this is in English, not Japanese," he said.

"I know, but the pictures are drawn from right to left," Tokyo-San said.

"So I have to read from right to left and left to right at the same time?" Professor Snaglefoompus asked.

"Yes, Sensei Snagle-San!" Tokyo-San said.

Professor Snaglefoompus tried reading like this for a while, but it made his head hurt. Eventually, he put the manga down and left the computer lab library. He went back home, in hopes that his wife Wendy could help him feel better about the bookless library and the strange comic books that were read in multiple directions at once.

Wendy knew all about manga. She was currently reading a manga for girls, which she liked to call a woman-ga.  She showed Professor Snaglefoompus her top-secret manga reading technique: holding the book upside down.

"Now you can read it from left to right, just like normal!" she said.

"But now all the words and pictures are upside-down!" Professor Snaglefoompus said.

Wendy shrugged.  "That doesn't matter," she said.  "Neither of us can read Japanese."

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (Part 5)

Time for the last installment of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future! Right now, we're at the dramatic conclusion of the game, so you might want to check out the previous installments of this series in order to catch up with what's going on.

Professor Layton and his friends have all gone to a restaurant on the River Thames to confront Creepy Scientist. Creepy Scientist is evil, has kidnapped Prime Minister Sleeps-a-Lot, and he is desperate need of a haircut. At this point, Creepy Scientist tells Professor Layton his backstory.

Ten years ago, Creepy was working on a time machine with his assistants, Prime Minister Sleepy (although he wasn't the Prime Minister, then) and Claire, Professor Layton's girlfriend.  Mr. Sleepy sabotaged the time machine so it would explode and kill Claire, due to pressure from several large corporations.  Apparently, there is great demand for exploding time machines in Britain. Who knew?

So, that's why Creepy Scientist kidnapped the Prime Minister: he wants revenge. He also feels partly responsible for Claire's death, which is why he's building a time machine to prevent the death from happening.  Great!  Now everything makes sense, everyone's motives are perfectly clear, and there are no longer any mysteries to solve.  Creepy Scientist decides to stop being evil, everyone goes back to the present time, and they all live happily ever after.  The End.

......

No, wait. That's what would happen if the game made sense. But this is a Professor Layton game! It's the tradition of the series to come up with completely unrealistic explanations for everything! In the first game, everyone in town was a robot.  In the second game, the vampire and the entire town was mass hallucination. And in the fourth game--spoiler alert--Professor Layton reveals that he is actually the Queen of England in disguise.

Following in this bold tradition of wild and crazy plotlines, Professor Layton explains that they are not really in the future. Instead, they are inside a humongous cavern, 100 miles under the Earth, where someone has built an exact duplicate of the town of London. It's like they're in the world's largest movie set! Everyone agrees that this makes complete sense, and Professor Layton gets complimented on his keen deductive skills, even though it is the most ridiculous explanation ever.

Ah, but who went through all the trouble of tricking everyone into thinking they are in the future? Was it Creepy Scientist? No, it was...CLIVE!

Wait, who?

At this point, Future Luke jumps up and goes, "Raw ha ha! That's right! I am evil! My name is Clive! Fear me! Raw ha ha!" He then kidnaps Flora and runs off into his Giant Robot of Doom, which is about three times as tall as Big Ben and is shaped sort of like a cockroach with a spiky back. It also shoots out canonballs.

...No, seriously. That's exactly what happens.

Clive's monster robot jumps up through the surface of the Earth and starts destroying the real London. Fortunately, Don Paolo has modified Professor Layton's car so it can fly, and our heroes drive/fly the car up to the top of Clive's Giant Robot of Doom. Inside, they find the Prime Minister, who is still sleeping. Prime Minister! You're going to miss the whole game, at this rate!

From left to right: Professor Layton, Claire, Luke and Flora. Flora's eyes kind of creep me out during these cutscenes.
Professor Layton manages to stop the Giant Robot by turning off the main generator. This causes a ten-minute self-destruct sequence, which is very dramatic and filled with animated cutscenes. It's so exciting that the Prime Minister wakes up! But don't worry, everyone; the game has a happy ending. Everyone escapes from the giant robot, and it explodes harmlessly in the fake London, which has been evacuated.

Clive is arrested by Inspector Chelmey, and we finally figure out that the girl who looks like Professor Layton's girlfriend...is Professor Layton's girlfriend. Yep, she was sent ten years into the future in that time machine explosion. Alas, the time stream is dissolving (or something like that), and she only has time for a quick smooch with Professor Layton before she disappears. Professor Layton tries his hardest to sob emotionally at this point in the game, but since his eyes are tiny black circles, this doesn't come across very well.

Layton takes off his hat at this point, and he has a very messy hairdo. Put the hat back on, Layton!

Anyway, that's basically the end of the game. London is saved, Layton is officially single again, and Flora goes back to doing whatever it is that she does. There are about ten minutes of ending credits, followed by blatant sequel fodder. Luke (who has now moved away with his parents) just discovered a mystery! Boy, wouldn't it be great if the Professor came to solve the mystery? Stay tuned for the next installment of the Professor Layton series to see what happens next!

Spoiler alert: Professor Layton solves the mystery.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Finished with Shadow at the Water's Edge Demo

I'm officially finished with the demo for Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge.  Thank goodness! That took much longer than I wanted it to, thanks to technical difficulties.  But now I can sit back, relax, and not have to worry about Nancy's hard-to-pronounce adventures in Japan.  For a little while at least.  It's midterms week next week, so I can't spare the energy to get all sleuthy right now.



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More of the Demo!

I played more of the demo for Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge!  Sadly, I had technical difficulties where the sound skipped randomly, so I had to throw out ten minutes of footage and replay that part of the game. So if it ever looks like I know what to do ahead of time, that's why.

I still don't know how to do the last thing on my to-do list: find out what a yurei is. I mentioned this about five times, so people who have actually beaten the demo can give me a helpful hint.



Funky Stuff!

Remember last month, when a fake news article I wrote about Back to the Future 4 (which is a movie that doesn't exist) suddenly became popular?

Well, another fake news article I wrote is getting a lot of attention. This time, it's about a videogame that doesn't exist.  Capcom announced that they're making a second Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney game, and I joked that it is called "Ace Attorney Investigations: We've Got the Funk".

For some strange reason, a lot of people have been Googling that exact phrase in order to find my article. Do people really think that's the real title of the game?

And so, just for fun, I took the trailer for the real game and played around with it to make it a trailer for Ace Attorney Investigations: We've Got the Funk.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (Part 4): In Which Things Get Weird

It's time for another installment of my increasingly unpopular series that detail the plot of the new Professor Layton game. Hooray!

When we last left off, Professor Layton and his friends were captured by the bad guy of the game, who I like to call "Creepy Scientist". Creepy Scientist has impersonated Layton, kidnapped the Prime Minister, and taken over London.  This is all part of his plan to build a time machine so he can go back in time and steal Professor Layton's now-dead girlfriend.

...Weird, I know.

Well, things get even weirder! Because we then have Weird Plot Twist #9, when a second Professor Layton steps into the room and frees our heroes. Two Laytons? Oh, my!

But instead of capturing Creepy Scientist like you'd expect them to, our heroes let him run away with the Prime Minister. Way to go, Professor Laytons! Professors Layton? In any case, the two Laytons leave along with everyone else, so they can explain the crazy plot twist that just occurred. The explanation was most likely made up on the spot, and it goes like this: the second Professor Layton is Don Paolo, the Master of Disguise from the first two games! It turns out that, back in the day, he was Professor Layton's buddy, Paul.  He was also in love with Professor Layton's girlfriend, which is why he's helping our heroes.

So, to recap...
  1. The main villain of the series is now a good guy. Um...yeah! That destroys the entire continuity of the series, but let's go with that!
  2. The Prime Minister spends most of the game sleeping.
  3. Professor Layton's girlfriend, Claire, somehow managed to make three men fall madly in love with her at the same time. I'm starting to have serious doubts about whether she's the right girl for him.
Speaking of Claire, her younger sister Celeste shows up around this point in the game. Celeste looks just like Claire, she's a scientist just like Claire, and she's working on the time machine, just like Claire.  But she is totally not Claire, who used the time machine.  Nope.  Totally not her.  The fact that she looks and acts exactly like Claire is a complete coincidence, by jingo.

[It's pretty obvious that Celeste is really Claire. You'd think that Professor Layton and his friends would be able to figure this out on their own, because they're all super-geniuses, but apparently, they're not smart super-geniuses.]
Let me see...what else is happening in the game so far?
  1. Flora gets to solve puzzles for the first time! I was pretty excited about this new development until I realized she only solves about three of them. Come on, Flora, I know you can solve more puzzles than that!
  2. There is a three minute cutscene featuring a talking rabbit.  It has almost nothing at all to do with the plot of the game, and I have no idea why they included it.
  3. The Prime Minister is still asleep.  You'd think that he would have woken up while being kidnapped (twice!), but no.  He sleeps like a baby the whole time.  His chances of being re-elected aren't looking so good at this point.
  4. Future Luke mysteriously disappears and reappears, twice.  Hmmm...
In my next (and final) installment of this series, our heroes go to the River Thames, where they have another dramatic confrontation with the game's villain.  Professor Layton explains how they're not really in the future, the Prime Minister wakes up after his ten hour nap, London is attacked by a giant robot, Professor Layton tries really hard to show emotion, and the game ends. It's an exciting ending to the third Professor Layton game!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Shadow at the Water's Edge - Demo

I had some free time today, so I played through the Nancy Drew: Shadow and the Water's Edge demo for a bit. I think it's slightly obvious that it's my first time playing the game, so I don't know what to do.  I think I spend about four minutes wandering around in circles, trying to figure out where it is I want to go.





Tomorrow, I have my Spanish midterm, but if I'm lucky, I might have some free time to play more.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Quick Update

I still haven't gotten a chance to play the demo for Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge, so it'll probably be a while before I make any videos for it.

In the meantime, enjoy this joke comment someone made on one of my videos! You know Heather McKay from Danger by Design?  The girl who wants to be a fashion designer? Here's a blurry picture of her:



Does you really think she'll be a good fashion designer, when she wears those pants with that tie? Ugh, fashion disaster!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Karma Doesn't Punish Evil; Evil Punishes Evil

Following up on my previous post about evil, I want to talk a little bit more about the idea of karma.

...I don't believe in karma.

Strictly speaking, karma doesn't kick in until after you die.  If you have good karma, you get reincarnated as something good, like an eagle.  If you have bad karma, you get reincarnated as a worm or something.
Karma (or a similar process) is a necessary part of reincarnation.

...I don't believe in reincarnation, either.

The thing about reincarnation is that it goes on forever.  It never ends.  You just keep getting reborn and reborn and reborn.  The problem with this mindset is that the world doesn't go on forever.  Time is not like a circle that has no beginning or end. It is more like a banana peel.  That is, time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.

St. Thomas argues that the world has a definite starting point. Today, we call this "The Big Bang". There's a specific point in time where everything came into being. So, the world hasn't been in existence forever, and it won't remain in existence forever. It has a starting point, and there's going to be an ending point too. Take that, Plato!

That's the main reason I don't believe in karma. It presupposes reincarnation, which presupposes the world existing forever, and the world won't exist forever.

The other reason I don't believe in karma is because post-life punishment is fair, but pre-life punishment isn't. I can't control who I was in my past life, so it seems grossly unfair that I would be punished/rewarded for what happened in my past life. It's like punishing me for something I didn't do.

So, karma is out for me. I can't use karma to justify the fact that evil is its own punishment. Why is evil its own punishement then?

I have an inkling that it might have something to do with the nature of evil. That is, perhaps punishment naturally flows from evil. Earlier, I talked about a greedy person who steals from others. Let me see what punishments naturally result as a consequence of that evil action...

1. By doing evil, the greedy man destroys his good character, which is a dreadful loss. Accordingly, people will begin to distance themselves from him.
2. The greedy man is doomed to be disappointed and unhappy as a result of his actions. This is because greed is never satiated, and because true happiness cannot be found in material possessions.  As long as the greedy man seeks to gain material possessions, he will be forever disappointed.
3. The greedy man will be punished by his conscience for having done evil.
4. The greedy man tends to become paranoid. That is, he becomes afraid that someone will steal his possessions, in the same way he stole the possessions of others. He also becomes paranoid that he will be punished for his evil actions.
5. The greedy man sets a dangerous precedent. As said earlier, greed is never satiated. The greedy man is in danger of become more and more greedy, until he reaches the inevitable end point of all evil: self-destruction.

I think a general principle I can pull from this specific example is "evil is its own punishment because it is self-destructive"; the one who does evil harms himself as well as others. Evil, when left unchecked, gets more and more self-destructive, to the point that it destroys itself. This is why Edmund Burke says that in order to destroy evil, the good man has to do...nothing. Just sit and wait, and eventually, evil will destroy itself because it's self-destructive.

Of course, Mr. Burke's plan to eradicate evil is ill-advised, because although evil will eventually destroy itself when left unchecked, it will also destroy many good things along the way. Eddie had a good insight into the nature of evil, but I don't recommend doing nothing in the face of evil.

Hmmm...I have a lot more I want to say about evil, but this blog post is getting long enough as it is. I'll save my other thoughts for later.

Brilliant Idea!

I don't make DS walkthroughs often, becauser recording them is a pain. I have to manually reset the recording equipment every time I switch from the top screen to the bottom screen. With something like the Professor Layton games, where I have to switch screens four times for each puzzle, it becomes a MAJOR pain.



So, I just now got the brilliant (aka obvious) idea of running two programs, one to record the top screen and one to record the bottom screen. This works much better than just running one program and having to reset the parameters every half-minute.

Heh heh...I don't know why it took me so long to figure that out.

In other news, the demo for the upcoming Nancy Drew game has been released, and I'm going to play it right away! ...As soon as my slow Internet connection can download it. Right now, my computer gives an estimated download time of one hour, twenty-four minutes.