Monday, September 30, 2013

Recording Plans

Heyo! I figured I might as well post my video recording plans on the blog here. My general plan is to follow a "scary games" theme for October.

Besides for Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion, I have five games with the word "Haunted" in the title. Those would be the games in the Haunted Legends series and the Haunted Halls series.

Basically, ERS Game Studios was having a sale one day, and I bought...um...ten games. They pretty much make up my entire horror games library, besides for a couple of games (the pirate game and the witch game).

I was going to do a walkthrough for Otherworld: Spring of Shadows.  I recorded the first video twice, and I failed horribly at making it interesting / worth watching.  So you'll have to settle for my video of the demo.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Arglefumph's Best Fans

Oh dear. Youtube has instituted a new "fans" feature, which gives me a list of my best fans. Why does Youtube insist on ranking my viewers? What criteria do they use? Will they every stop trying to get me to join Google+?

I don't know. But here's what Youtube says.
  • Top Ten Best Fans: Xanxer, zjayzjay, Alysia Parker, WardenDarlingClement, GameOverTown, Apple Jack, MysteryGurl125, wildtk123, equinoxpromotions, Aaron Page. Thanks for doing whatever it is you do that makes Youtube say you're the best!
  • Top Ten Oldest Fans: LucarioDrew, hphippogriff, sk8rgrlteen, Francine7, Angel Delabio, topotoonoon, Victoria Hidalgo, May Kelly, Maya Burgos, jes381990. Thanks for sticking with my channel for 5+ years!
  • Worst Fan: That one girl who asked me out on a date, which is completely inappropriate because she didn't tell me how old she is or where she lives in relation to me you shouldn't do things like that on the Internet.
I wonder if there's a way to see if I'm on anyone's "best fans" list.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

40 Days For Life

Yesterday marked the start of the 40 Days For Life vigil in Portland. I was gratified to be able to finally attend one of these, rather than hearing about it second-hand.

I think I've said it before on my blog, but I'll say it again: I don't like the active anti-abortion protests that are very loud and in-your-face. They usually feature people who hold up graphic pictures in public, for shock value, and they tend to yell at everyone who passes by. I am not sure why people hold protests like that, because those tactics don't work.

Those people aren't allowed at 40 Day For Life.  We invited them, under the condition that they would act civily and not provoke anyone, but they turned us down.  I guess they'd rather not oppose abortion, if it involves being nice.

I'm signing up for two shifts.  It basically involves sitting and praying for an hour. You don't engage anyone in conversation, unless they talk to you first.  In my experience, no one ever tries to talk to you, except for the people who drive by and shout obscenities.  But as I said earlier, the tactic of "yell at everyone who disagrees with you" is not an effective way to negotiate with other people.  (Someone really needs to tell this to the US Congress.)

So that's 40 Days For Life: a pro-life prayer vigil, as opposed to an anti-abortion protest.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Baron Munchausen Meets Cleopatra

I know a little bit of Latin, although I pretend to know more than I actually do. When I mentioned my Latin studies to my friend Baron Munchausen, he said that he could have used my help a few months ago in Egypt, when he met Cleopatra!

He arrived in Egypt by means of a flying caravan wagon (long story). After landing, he came across a salesman who sounded suspiciously like Robin Williams. The salesman claimed that he had Aladdin's magical lamp and flying carpet, and he sold these to Baron Munchausen for a heavy price.

It turned out the salesman was a liar and a crook, because they were just a normal lamp and carpet. But when he rolled out the carpet, lo and behold!  Queen Cleopatra sprang out, having been trapped inside the carpet for years!  I suspect that this is the same carpet she used to first meet Julius Caesar, but I can't prove this without seeing the carpet for myself.

You are no doubt wondering how Cleopatra was alive after two thousands years.  Well, those of you who have read Romeo and Juliet will remember that Juliet took a magic potion, which made her seem dead for two days.  Apparently, Cleopatra tried to make this potion herself, but she made a mistake somewhere.  Instead of putting her to sleep for two days, it put her to sleep for two thousand years!

This magic potion also appears in Thomas Jefferson's Miracle-Free and Purely Scientific Bible. Jefferson claims that Jesus Christ must have visited the same apothecary as William Shakespeare, where they both got some of the magic potion.  Shakespeare used it in his play, while Jesus used it to take a long nap after being crucified.  Of course, this is an utterly ridiculous fictional tale, and Baron Munchausen refused to believe it.

Sadly, Baron Munchausen does not know any ancient languages, so he was unable to communicate much with Cleopatra.  After giving her a nice meal, he dropped her off close to her palace, where I understand she made quite a stir with the local residents.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. To the people who said I can't write about Herlock Sholmes, because he's a copyrighted character in the Arsene Lupin series...



2. The weather is getting colder, and I do not like it. I'd turn on the heat, but heating the house is too expensive for me.  Why isn't there a way for me to heat up my bedroom by itself, instead of heating the whole house?

3. Okay, here's a question which usually results in pointless debates. Ursula, the villain from The Little Mermaid--is she an octopus or a squid?  I've heard people have the same debate over Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants, despite the fact that "squid" is in his name.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Five Games I Might Write

Continuing from yesterday, I want to work on writing a game. Here are five possible projects, currently on my docket.

1. The Misadventures of Herlock Sholmes.  This should be a fun parody story. Mainly, I just want to write the scene where Sholmes tries to rip off the King's beard, because he mistakenly thinks the King is an imposter. Maybe I'll just write out that part and pretend it's a full demo.

2. Boy Meets Worlds. This is a sci-fi humor story, starring Corey Matthews and his wisecracking buddy who want to work on the Starship Exitprise. Before they can join the crew, they need to go through Whirled-World Training.  They are sent to three different planets, and on each planet, they are challenged to perform a specific task. If they can finish all three tasks, they win!

I have written nothing for this story besides the premise, a pun which explains how Corey Matthews got his name, and a pun about space.

2. Pride and Prejudice and Hot Babes (title pending). For the past month or so, I've been writing Pride and Prejudice and Ponies, a crossover between My Little Pony and Pride and Prejudice.  The project was basically a fun excuse to annoy my friend Diana Gray (no relation), who is a major P&P fan.

Diana has now turned the tables on me, and she wants to force me into writing a Pride and Prejudice dating sim.  Right now, we're outlining the game, to see if it's feasible.  If I do this project, I want it to avoid the mistakes of the other P&P dating sim.  I also want to avoid the mistakes of the original novel; in my opinion, Jane Austen suffers from "skip over all the interesting scenes" syndrome.

3. Historical Book.  Two people have suggested I write a game based in the 1800's.  I guess that means people like this time period?  I'll keep that in mind, but unless I can think of game-worthy adventures starring Abraham Lincoln, it'll probably never happen.

4. Wizard of Oz / The Odyssey.  I would love adapting either of these books. As a matter of fact, I have the 1980's text adventure games, based on them.  The problem is that those games are basically unplayable without a walkthrough...like most 1980's text-based adventure games.  I'd have an uphill climb in figuring out how to adapt the books in a way which doesn't make them completely horrible. Also, I'd want to avoid "you can only beat the game if you remember all the minute details from the book" syndrome, which The Lord of the Rings 1908's text-based adventure games suffered from.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Sherlock Holmes Game

Recently, I've been working on writing and programming a text-based Sherlock Holmes game. On Sunday, I officialy finished the demo, which covers Chapter One of The Valley of Fear.

Go ahead, click the link and play the demo.

Along with releasing the demo, I submitted it to the publishing company. They liked the idea behind the game, but they immediately put the project on hiatus.  See, it turns out I have awful timing, and there's currently a huge lawsuit going on, over the rights to Sherlock Holmes.  Until the courts make a decision, it's uncertain whether I have a legal right to use Sherlock Holmes as a character in a game, without paying royalties.

Right now, it's looking like these are my options:

1. Come up with a completely original game.
2. Try adapting a different, public domain book. Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Odyssey, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Hercules...I guess there are choices.
3. Continue with the game, only turn it into a parody starring Herlock Sholmes, the ridiculous detective.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Adapting Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill

When Her Interactive adpated Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill into a videogame, they made some changes to the book. Today, I'll discuss some of them.
  • The game shifts the timeline a bit. Jake dies a third of the way through the book, whereas the game starts after Jake's death. That's a big change, but it was very well done, and it doesn't feel like the game is lacking anything at all, by leaving it out.
  • The video lab is mentioned three times in the book, and Nancy goes there twice. It's important to the plot, because Jake was stealing supplies from that location. This plotline gets dropped in the game, and Nancy finds the blackmail tape in a different location.
  • New/different locations is sort of a hallmark of the game. Maxine's Diner, the library, the student union, the teacher's lounge and the study area were all absent from the book. The boiler room from the book becomes more important.
  • The captain of the football team gets a name change, from Walt "Hunk" Hogan to Hector "Hulk" Sanchez. In the book, he is being blackmailed because he played football while severely injured. I have to admit, this is kind of a weak premise for blackmailing someone. The game definitely improves Hulk's subplot.
  • Hal Morgan becomes Hal Tanaka, and his motivation to get good grades is solidified. He steals SAT answers in the book, whereas in the game, he plagiarizes an essay.
  • Carla Dalton is not a character in the game. Brenda Carlton isn't either. Bess, George and Ned are only included as phone characters.
  • Daryl Gray is Nancy's romantic interest in the book, who takes her to the dance and kisses her several times. In the game, he flirts openly with Nancy, but she doesn't reciprocate.
  • Connie Watson is completely transformed. In the book, she's a shy, overweight girl who wishes she could be a cheerleader. She is hiding the fact that she's a kleptomaniac. Connie in the game is nothing like that. The game expands on what Connie was blackmailed into doing, which the book doesn't discuss much.
  • In the book, Daryl is a runner, in a crime ring that is selling government secrets to the Soviet Union. In the first game, this is changed so he is a runner, for a drug ring. In the remastered game, he is once again selling government secrets, this time to an unknown person.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nancy Drew Files: Secrets Can Kill Video Review

I just now realized I forgot to post my video review for Nancy Drew Files: Secrets Can Kill up here. I posted it on Twitter, but not here.







Tomorrow, I'm going to discuss changes between the book and the game, which I haven't talked about anywhere so far.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Baron Munchausen Goes Hunting

I have not mentioned this before, but I am friends with Baron Munchausen, the famous German adventurer. I met with him recently, and I was lucky enough to hear the story of the first journey he ever took.  This happened when he was around thirteen or fourteen, and a relative took him to the island of Ceylon (what is today called "Sri Lanka").

The journey itself was rather smooth, except for one day, when they had to land on a nearby island, due to a horrendous storm. The storm was so bad that it tore up a number of trees from the roots.  The trees flew over five miles, up in the air!  As soon as the storm ended, though, the trees all fell back down to their original locations and took root again.

As you probably know, cucumbers grow on trees in that part of the world. An elderly couple was out picking cucumbers when the storm hit, and they were stuck on the branches the entire time.  Their extra weight caused the tree to tilt off-balance, and it ended up falling on top of the island's chief, killing him instantly.  Fortunately, the chief was a greedy tyrant who no one liked, and the natives were so happy to see him gone that they elected the cucumber-pickers to replace him.

But back to my good friend, Baron Munchausen. He landed at Ceylon after six weeks, and one day, he went hunting with one of the governor's brothers.  Munchausen fell behind the rest of the party, because he was tired, and he stopped to take a drink at a nearby stream.

This proved to be a mistake, because as soon as he turned around, he saw a large, angry lion approaching. There was no way Munchausen could fight the lion, because he only had a hunting knife and a gun filled with swan-shot. He turned around again, hoping to swim across the river to safety, only to find a large crocodile with its mouth wide open, ready to eat him. To the left was more of the river, and to the right was a large cliff with venomous snakes at the bottom.

Baron Munchausen is probably the bravest man I will ever meet, but he was still a young teenager at the time, so I suppose you cannot blame him for what he did in this terrible situation. He sat and cried, just as the lion and the crocodile attacked.

As it turned out, the lion was aiming for Munchausen's head. When he sat down quickly, it ruined the lion's pounce. The lion ended up jumping over Munchausen's head, and it fell directly into the crocodile's mouth.  Munchausen quickly pulled out his hunting knife and cut the lion's head off in one blow. Then he punched the head farther into the crocodile's mouth, which caused the crocodile to die from suffocation.

If you don't believe me, you can go to Amsterdam, where the crocodile's body is on display in a museum. If you ever go to see it, please don't talk to the museum curator there. Sadly, that man likes to make up stories to excite people, and his version of the crocodile's death is so ridiculous that some people end up doubting Baron Munchausen's real facts about the entire adventure. Poor Baron!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Time Travel Is Real

In the news this week, time travel was invented. The time travellers went ahead 30 years in time, to see how much the modern American mindset would change in a generation.  They were shocked and disappoined to learn that pretty much nothing happened.

"Everyone still thinks and acts like it's the 1970's," said one traveller. "At first, I thought we accidentally went backwards in time.  But no, it just turns out that nobody has made any intellectual progress in a long time."

The trip to 2043 went well, until the time travellers logged on to the Internet and saw a list of the past 100 Tweets their older selves posted.  They quickly went back to today and destroyed the time machine.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nancy Drew Mini-Mysteries

I am loving the Nancy Drew Mini-Mysteries that are popping up on Facebook.  Here are some of them.

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A Nancy Drew Mini-Mystery: Nancy Drew knocked on Mr. Stratemeyer's door. It was a case of robbery. Mr. Stratemeyer's diamond, worth millions of dollars, had been stolen. The thief was very intelligent. He first disabled Mr. Stratemeyer's safety device and then stole the diamond.

Nancy Drew went to the safely guarded place where the diamond had been kept. She tried getting some fingerprints but failed to get any. Then Nancy Drew tried questioning Mr. Stratemeyer.

Mr. Stratemeyer said that he had been sound asleep when the incident happened, and he did not know at what time the diamond was stolen.

Nancy Drew then went out to question the housekeeper, the only other person living with Mr. Stratemeyer at that time. The housekeeper said that she had been to her mother's place and did not have any information on the incident.

Then Nancy Drew walked around outside the house to see if he could get any more clues. Walking on pieces of the glass, she saw that the window was broken. After a closer examination she saw that the window had been broken with the help of a hammer.

After some time, Nancy Drew decided to arrest Mr. Stratemeyer for faking the robbery. How did Nancy Drew come to know that Mr. Stratemeyer had a part to play in this crime?
 
Answer: ???
 
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A Nancy Drew Mini-Mystery: Nancy arrived at the scene of the crime, during the museum’s after-hours. A large ruby had been stolen from a glass display case, which was broken and the shattered glass scattered around the floor. Three people were crowded around it arguing. Nancy recognized each one of them: The security guard, a large man wearing large boots and had a jingly ring of keys around his belt, the janitor, wearing gloves and had left three large trash bags nearby, and a museum curator in a nice uniform. When questioned, the janitor claimed to have been upstairs cleaning, the curator claimed to have lightly dozed off at her desk in the office just down the hall, not hearing anything until the alarm went off, and the security guard claimed to have been patrolling the halls on the first floor, and he knew how many people were currently in the building. All three claimed to have heard the alarm go off and came running. Someone was lying about their story. Who was it?
 
Answer: The museum curator, she would have heard the security guard’s jingling keys and large boots if he was patrolling the halls, and would not have been lightly dozing.
 
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A Nancy Drew Mini-Mystery: Nancy Drew arrived at the scene and heard the news of a double murder that occurred on a train. 

 "The driver and the conductor were on the opposite ends of the train, but both were shot at the same time", reported a policeman who was at the center of the train at the time. The policeman had heard both gunshots at the same time. The train was travelling 150 kilometers per hour. Nancy Drew immediately realized that the driver and the conductor were not killed at the same time. How did Nancy come to that conclusion?
 
Answer: Since the train was going at 150 km/h, the sound of the gunshot in the front of the train would reach the policeman's ears faster than the gunshot from the back of the train. So the conductor was shot first.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Q&A

Today, let me answer some questions left yesterday, which I don't believe I'll address in a video.

Q. In Fire Emblem Awakening, which character, if any, did you get your avatar to S-Rank with and why?
A. I did not get that far.

Q. As an Oz fan, why do you think Baum introduced the character Woot the Wanderer in "The Tin Woodman of Oz", when as far as I can tell, he's just Button Bright in a different suit?
A. The prevailing logic seems to be that Baum wanted to balance out the series, with three main female characters (Dorothy, Betsy Bobbin and Trot) and three main male ones (Button Bright, Woot and Ojo the Unlucky).  Personally, I think that book would have worked just as well with Button Bright or Ojo.  I don't know. I didn't think that book was particularly good, except towards the end where the Tin Woodman met his former self.

Q. What is your opinion of the "Tintin" comics?
A. I haven't read any. I don't read most comics. For example, when Iron Man 3 was a big deal this year, my reaction was "Who's Iron Man?".

Q. Reality TV Opinion?
A. I don't watch it, except for the Total Drama series.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Arglefumph Talk

This week, I'm bringing back "Arglefumph Talk", or whatever it is I'm calling the Q and A series now. Let's see if I can do two videos per day for a while!







Feel free to ask some questions here on my blog, if you want. And before anyone asks, I don't watch Doctor Who. Please stop asking, especially on the video where I explain that I only get four TV channels.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy

Preorders for Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy start today!  Also, we have a brand new trailer!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Changes

Fr. John Poncini told me that when a priest is assigned to a new parish, he shouldn't change anything for the first six months, except for his clothes.

Pope Francis has been following this program, more or less. He's been Pope for six months now. At the start of next month, Pope Francis and the Reform Crew (not the group's actual name) is going to meet and set out a plan to fix the problems with the Catholic Church.

The three day meeting hasn't happened yet, so no one knows the scope of the plan. Maybe they'll limit themselves to reforming the bureaucracy at the Roman Curia.  Then again, maybe they'll do something extreme, like make changes to the mass. That's one of the few big changes Pope Francis has made in the past six months; he added a bit about St. Joseph to the eucharistic prayers.

It's hard to tell what will happen.  As per usual in these situations, the reporters are making up rumors, based on what they want to see. Thus, the liberal reporters want to see priestly celibacy go from mandatory to optional, and the conservative reporters want to see them remove the option of communion on the hand.

So let me throw in my two cents. If I was consulted for making changes to the mass, I would recommend reviving the tradition of having a second Gospel reading at the end of the mass, after communion.  Most churches I've been to use this time for announcements, which is obviously inferior to a reading from the Gospel of John.  Plus, it would prevent people from leaving mass early, which is an epidemic in some churches I've been to.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Nancy Drew Files: Secrets Can Kill

The response to my review of Nancy Drew Files: Secrets Can Kill seemed to be rather positive, so I went ahead and finished the project.  The videos will go up on my channel today. I'll be interested in seeing how the general public reacts.

I had to do a little bit of research on the The Nancy Drew Files series. It was the first Nancy Drew spinoff series, and it started in 1986, two years after Simon and Schuster purchased the syndicate that wrote every Nancy Drew book up to that point.  A second spinoff series, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mystery, followed afterwards.

The spinoff series tried to appeal to older readers, by including more romance and adventure. Secrets Can Kill tries to appeal to teengaers by mentioning rock music a few times (specifically, the music video for Madonna's Material Girl) and Coca Cola.  Apparently, Coke had fantastic sales with teenagers in 1986.  People say this is due to the commercials starring a man pretending to be computer-generated, but...well, watch the commercials yourself and decide if you find the product appealing.

The Nancy Drew Files books sold for $2.75 each, during the 1980's.  The eBook versions are going to be released in the iTunes store next year, at a price of $5.99 each.  I don't know why the price has more than doubled, considering the fact there are no printing costs for these versions of the books.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Strong Female Characters

Last month, my friends all talked about a feminist article entitled "I hate Strong Female Characters".

The title is a mite confusing, as "strong" refers to physical strength and not how well-developed a character is (which is what "strong character" means in writing circles).  Sophia McDougall's main point is that movies today like to highlight the physical strength of female characters, in a misguided notion of feminism.

For example, let's look at the last three Disney heroines.  Princess Merida in Brave was always advertised with her bow and arrow, looking like a dangerous hero even though she did little fighting in the movie. Sergeant Calhoun in Wreck-It Ralph was a woman with a tough attitude who shoots and punches (and kisses) first, asking questions later.  Rapunzel in Tangled was the most competent fighter in the entire movie, with her frying pan that she used to keep Flynn Rider in line.  There's certainly a pattern with females asserting themselves physically.

The author deplores this tendency, for several reasons.  One, it's a double standard; if a male character asserted himself physically, (say Flynn knocked Rapunzel unconscious when they first met) he would be seen as abusive.  Two, it puts female characters at the automatic disadvantage of having something to prove.  Three, it's bad to define a female character with a traditionally masculine trait.  Four, it's a double standard because all male characters are naturally assumed to be strong.  Five, the strong female character is usually surrounded by an all-male cast, which only perpeutates the problem.

I'm pretty sure I missed a couple of reasons. She had a lot to say, mostly about movies I've never seen.

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My (male) friend who recommended the article said that this problem has been caused, by abandoning traditional gender roles.  When women are awkwardly placed into traditional male roles, it can result in humongous misfires, like the strong female characters mentioned in the article.  My friend sometimes complains about the disasters which arise from the reverse situation: men who have been awkwardly placed into traditional female roles.

I feel like our modern world is still adjusting to changing gender roles.  It's like people have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, and they're still not entirely sure where to stand.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. So, what's up with professional photographers, now that everyone has phones which take pictures?  Like, do they even have jobs anymore?

My photographer friend loves to make fun of iPhone cameras, because they only have eight megapixels.  Eight megapixels!  Ha ha ha ha ha!  I don't understand the joke at all, because I don't know what a megapixel is.

2. Why don't I have a camera?  Last time I checked, they cost over $300, and the only thing they can do is take pictures.  For that kind of money, a tablet with a built-in camera is much more useful.  Heck, buy a 3DS!

But here's a question for all you people with fancy digital cameras.  Do they automatically sync up to your computer?  Back in the 90's, the only way to get pictures off a digital camera was to use a super-weird USB cord which only worked with a special program that required a CD to be in the CD-ROM drive.  My parents (and various other older people) could not figure it out, and so they just looked at the pictures on the tiny screen on the back of the camera.

...Actually, I'm pretty sure my parents still don't know how to get digital pictures off of a camera and onto a computer. Mom just uses the photo printing booth at Costco, because it does all the work for her.

3. Every now and then, I hear about people who become rich, by robbing the poor.  I never studied finance in school, but...isn't that a bad business strategy?  If you want to become rich, the easiest way to do it should be robbing rich people.  At least, that's what I learned from watching Robin Hood.

Come to think of it, I think I learned more about economics from Robin Hood than I did from high school.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill (Book Review)

Here's a project I haven't told anyone about yet. I want to do a video review/summary of Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill.  I finished Part 1 (of 3), but I'm not sure if I want to continue.

Here's the video in question. I uploaded it as one of those "secret" videos, so only you bloggers will see it.

[Edit: Thanks to positive feedback, I've decided to continue the project. The video will be made public sometime early next week. I need to record parts 2 and 3 now!]

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Being Sick

My best bowling game ever was on January 4th of this year.  I got a double turkey in that game.  For those of you who don't speak bowling, that means I got six perfect shots in a row.  For reference, a perfect game is twelve shots in a row.

I bowled half of a perfect game, but the amazing thing in my mind is the fact that I did this, while sick.

One of my friends said that my game reminded him of Michael Jordan's sick game, in 1997.  In that game, Michael Jordan was so sick he couldn't walk off of the basketball court by himself, but he still managed to get 38 points.

Why do people sometimes perform better-than-average while sick? Maybe it's because they're harder to distract.  Or maybe it's just dumb luck. You can't spell "fluke" without "flu"!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Disputed Books

Yesterday, two people asked about the seven or so books which are in the Catholic Bible, but not in Protestant Bibles.  There are two types.

#1. The Old Testament books that people like to drop are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees. They are also parts of Esther, Daniel and Jeremiah that people leave out.  Why?

We don't have any copies of those books in Hebrew. We only have the Greek translations. Because they aren't written in Hebrew, the Jewish people don't include them in the Bible. Protestant denominations follow their lead.

When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the 1940's, they found the original Hebrew versions of Tobit, Sirach and Baruch. I do not believe that Jewish people have made the attempt to put these books back in their Bibles.

Historical oddity: The story of Hannukah (a yearly Jewish festival) is contained in 1 Maccabees. It is part of the Catholic Bible, but not the Jewish Bible.

#2. The New Testament books that people like to drop are Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Revelation.  When the Bible was being compiled, these (and six other books) were accepted and used by about half of the Christians in existence, while the other half didn't accept them.  Most of the debates of "which books should be in the Bible?" centered around these books.

But the main reason some Bibles don't include these books is because of Martin Luther. 1200 years later, he translated the Bible into German, and he tried to leave these books out, because they contradicted his personal philosophy.  I think Lutherans are split, on whether or not to include them.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Non-Canonical Books

Today's question was asked by two separate people, and I blended their comments into one.
So what about the books that aren't in the Bible?  What are we supposed to make of them?  I know you probably don't like the ones with crazy stuff, but the Bible has some pretty crazy stuff too, lol.
The decision of "what books should be in the Bible" was made when the Bible was compiled in the 300's.  It's kind of a long-dead issue, but I can discuss it, if you want.

The proper term for the Biblical-style books which are not in the Bible is "non-canonical" or "apocrypha".  There are three types.

1. Good books, which are worth reading.
2. Bad books, which are not worth reading.
3. Books which have a mixture of good and bad.  They are sometimes worth reading.

It's not always easy to determine which non-canonical books are bad and which aren't.  Who gets to pick what counts as bad, and what doesn't?  A general rule of thumb is that the bad books contain false or misleading information.  Examples would include books written by someone pushing a particular agenda, books which contain slander, and books which don't fit in with the other Biblical texts.

I can write more on the topic, if people want me to.  Like I said, it's been a moot issue for 1600+ years.  No real attempts have been made to add non-canonical books to the Bible.  There have been attempts to remove books from the Bible, but adding books?  Nobody has seriously tried that.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gays in Ancient Greece, Part 2

Wait...people liked reading my super long philosophical debate posts?  Weird!  The last time I did something like that, the response was mediocre at best.  Maybe it's time for me to start a new series...

But first! I have about twelve, half-written posts that I really should get out of the way. So today, let's have Part 2, of my post entitled Gays in Ancient Greece.

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In Ancient Greece, they had a double standard when it came to being gay. It was considered good to have a gay lover, but it was considered bad to be a gay lover.  ...This is easier to explain in Greek, because they had different words for "gay lover" and "gay lover": erastes and eromenos.

There's a modern double standard, which is kind of similar. A guy who has lots of girlfriends is often praised as being manly or good. A girl who does the same thing (i.e. has lots of boyfriends) is looked down upon as being bad and slutty.

So in the ancient days, a guy who had lots of boyfriends was considered to be manly and dominating. On the other hand, a guy who was the boyfriend to other men was considered to be weak and submissive. Teenagers often made fun of each other about this, by calling the submissive partners "girls".  (Male teenagers today still use that as a nickname to make fun of each other.)

The majority of information we have on ancient homosexuality deals with boys and men. We know about the sexual behaviors of adult women, but we know almost nothing about what young girls and teenagers did. They had a few publicly-funded ceremonies for girls, which dealt with topics like puberty and sexuality.  But it was illegal for men to attend these, with the heaviest punishment being banishment. So...no one really wrote about them, beyond the fact that they existed.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Economic News

In the news this week, Obamacare is...happening?  The news stations were talking about it, but I wasn't able to catch any specific details.

Well, okay, I caught some specific details, but they were all about Labor Day specifically, not Obamacare.  Here's what I heard:

Half the jobs in the United States pay less than $27,000 per year.  Which includes my job.  Technically, I'm living below poverty levels, although there was only one month this year where me being unable to get food to eat was a distinct possibility.  The people at my other job, a St. Vincent de Paul food shelter, were able to help me out.

Yes, I work at a food shelter even though I live below the poverty level.

Anyway, it seems that Obamacare is working to remedy the horrible poverty level, by changing the definition of "full time job" from 40 hours a week to 30 hours a week.  This means there will be more full time workers, so there will be more people who get full time benefits, such as health care insurance.

Contract employees like myself get squat.

As you may know, business like hiring part time workers, instead of full time workers, because it's cheaper to not give employees benefits or liveable wages.  That's also why businesses like to hire unpaid interns.  A lot of these businesses have responded to Obamacare by dropping all their 39-hours-a-week employees down to 29-hours-a-week.  That way they're still technically part time workers.  So...their job status hasn't changed, and now they're getting paid less than before.  Like, 25% less.

The, erm, good news is that this means companies are hiring even more part time workers than before.  So it should be easier for all the unemployed people to find jobs.  That's good for people like me, who are hovering awkwardly between "not considered employed" and "still not considered as unemployed".  Geez, US Government, decide if I have a real job or not, will you?  If I don't, please stop taxing me like I do.  If I do, stop making me list myself as "other" on all employment forms.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. The Portland area has around 9,000 abortions per year, and if you do the math, that's...about one abortion per hour.  This week, while reading up on the Portland news, I found an article written by a woman who thinks this is clearly not good enough. She argued that the government should provide abortions, free of charge, because there are too many women who need abortions but can't afford them.

Her main argument seemed to be that all non-aborted babies grow up to become lifelong criminals or people who abuse social services.  So, in the long run, taxpayers would save themselves money by killing these people, before they can become a menace to society.  It was a rather disturbing article, and I shudder to see how she intends on solving the city's problems with homelessness.

2. Speaking of Portland problems, they released an app for the public transportation system!  Previously, you had to get paper tickets from their machines.  Now you can use the app to get tickets.

I hope that the app is pretty accurate, when it comes to timing.  Tickets are only good for two hours, and you know what I don't like?  Buying a ticket, then having to wait ten minutes for the next bus / train.  When I only have two hours to get to my destination and back home again, the waiting time isn't helpful.

3. Speaking of unhelpful, only some of the train stations actually have the current train schedule posted.  I like having the current schedule posted!  Information such as "the next red line train comes in two minutes" and "the green line train has been delayed seven minutes" is really good to know, especially if you find yourself at a stop with a schedule you haven't memorized.

All the other stations, which seems to be the majority of them, force you to find your particular stop, then the particular train line, then the particular time, on the  humongous schedule which lists every train ever in tiny print. Why can't they have the good schedules at all stations?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Batman and Superman

In movie news, people have been going crazy over the fact that Ben Affleck will be playing Batman in Batman VS Superman: Dude, That's Righteous.  I'm not sure what the big deal is.  People didn't like it the last time he was in a superhero movie...ten years ago.  Talk about holding a grudge.

Who's playing Superman in this movie?  Is it the same guy who was in this summer's Superman movie?  I didn't see the movie, but all my DragonBall Z friends made fun of it.  See, the end of the movie is a huge fight between Superman and General Zod, and the two of them basically destroy Metropolis during their battle.

In DragonBall Z, Goku always made sure to fight the aliens in abandoned wastelands.  He never fought in cities, because he didn't want innocent bystanders to get hurt.  That's a plot point in about three places in the series.  Even when the aliens show up in a city, Goku leads them away before fighting.

New Superman, however, isn't as much of a hero as Goku, and he lets the fight happen in the middle of a crowded city.  Huh.  Is there a reason he doesn't fly 60 miles away, to the farmland outside the city?  Come on, Supes.  I know they have cool special effects for when buildings get destroyed, but try to show more concern for people's safety.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Phoenix Wright - Case 3

I'm replaying the first Phoenix Wright game right now, and I have to admit that there are problems with Case #3.  Here are three glaring problems I found.

#1. The murder takes place at a TV studio, after a run-through and before a rehearsal.  At the end of the first day of trial, the huge plot twist is that the director was there to oversee the rehearsal.

No, seriously. Up until this point, everyone took it for granted that no one besides the actors were there for rehearsal.  True, the security team lied about who was at rehearsal, but that's still something our heroes should have questioned earlier.

#2. There is an automatic camera, which takes a picture whenever someone passes by the gate.  The camera took a picture of the murderer, going to the crime scene. This photo is key evidence in the trial.

At the end of the second day of trial, Phoenix realizes that there is no picture of the victim going to the crime scene.  Um...why didn't anyone question that earlier?

#3. The last major plot twist of the case is about the murder weapon.  All along, everyone thought it was [Item X], when it was really [Item Y].  On the first day of the trial, you learn that [Item X] was broken, long before the murder took place.

No one questions this.  Everyone knows [Item X] was broken, but they still think it's the murder weapon. That's a huge thing to overlook.

Case Four of the game also suffers a bit from this, with "the second photograph" and "the third bullet" that no one bothers to look into, until the second day of trial.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tangled

For Labor Day weekend, I read a longish Tangled fanfic.  It deals with what happened after the end of the movie.  I like the story, but it's raised some serious questions for me.

Like...why does Rapunzel lose her magical hair powers at the end of the movie?  SHE STILL HAS HAIR. Eyebrows, eyelashes...And leg hair? Does Rapunzel have leg hair, or does she shave her legs?  It seems out of character for her to willingly cut her hair.

"To say nothing of my armpits!"--Bess Marvin, Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull

Also, if you think about it, Mother Gothel did a really bad job of hiding the kidnapped princess.  All she did was move Rapunzel one day's walk away from the palace.  She didn't bother to change Rapunzel's name or her birthday.  I would have moved as far away as possible and changed the kid's name.

Rapunzel completely glosses over the fact that Flynn is a serial criminal, who gets sentenced to execution for stealing from her family. Those are some pretty heavy charges.  I really hope this is a case of true love conquering all, and not a naive teenager falling for, literally, the first man she ever met.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

More on Free Will

There was quite a response to my blog post on Friday.  I guess I'll write more about that. Yesterday's long post worked kind of well, so I'll just duplicate the technique of dumping a bunch of different points on you readers.

1.  Our current society is formed around the idea that free will exists, and people are responsible for making their own choices.  If humans do not have free will, then all advice, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain.

2.  In response to C's question, it is important to note God's frame of reference, in regards to time.  That's because this particular argument forcibly constrains God into a certain time frame.  Another popular argument, "What was God doing before he created the universe?", does the same thing.  This is the point where those arguments fall apart; God doesn't fit into certain time frames as God exists outside of time.

The theologians teach us that God exists in "the eternal present".  This is to say that every time of eternity exists in the present, for God.  It is impossible for there to be a future or a past for God.  Hence, it is impossible to talk about past time, in regards to God, which is what the "before the universe was created" argument tries to do.  It is equally impossible to talk about future time, in regards to God, which is what the "God knows things before they happen" argument tries to do.

3. Also in response to C, you said "God has to be right; it cannot be any other way. It precludes all other outcomes there might have been."  I just want to make a minor clarification, because that's technically not how omniscience works.  If someone is truly omniscient, that person knows all actual scenarios and all possible scenarios.

That could make a good science fiction book.  You know, a book about someone who knows all possible scenarios, but doesn't know all actual scenarios.

4. I find it interesting that Albert Einstein would be a Newtonian determinist.  That's because Einstein sort of...um...disproved the Newtonian notion of how time works.  That is, Einstein worked to show that time is relative, in direct contrast to the idea that time goes forward, in one direction, at the stable rate of one second, per second, for everyone and everything.

Of course, the world mostly still follows Newton's view of time (source: Back to the Future). And if we really want to get technical about it, that's Aristotle's view of time, in more modern scientific terms.

5. In response to Athena, I must protest against your portrayal of the Christian view of free will.  There are some deterministic Christians, such as Saint Augustine (to a small extent), or the heretic John Calvin (whose heresy mostly centered around the issue of determinism. He held other heretical views, though).  I would say the majority of Christians are not determinists.

Specifically, though, I must emphatically insist that Christ's life was not predetermined.  The fact that Jesus was able to predict things ahead of time did not mean they necessarily had to occur.  Jesus had three types of knowledge, one of which is called "knowledge of blessed" or "knowledge of divine things", which he received from his participation in the Beatific Vision.  From this, he knew that he would suffer much and be handed over to his enemies.  And, in fact, anyone who closely and correctly reads the Old Testament, like Jesus did, would know this fact.  But the specific manner in which this was to happen was not determined.  Jesus could have been betrayed by one of his other disciples, but Judas was always the most likely to betray him, seeing as he was the greediest, and he left the Last Supper early.

Um...that was kind of an info dump there.  Let me try a different tack.  The Christian philosopher teach us that two specific moments in regards to Jesus (Mary's acceptance to give birth to Christ, and Judas' betrayal of Christ) had to have chosen freely, because they would lose their efficacy if they were predetermined.  Intellectually speaking, it's interesting that these two crucial moments in salvation history are almost exact opposites; one is accepting the will of God, while the other outright rejects it.

6. Here's a crux of the matter. What would you consider to be "adequate proof", either for or against the existence of free will?  Clearly, examples of people exercising free will is not considered adequate proof, for reasons I don't understand.  Has anyone brought up St. Thomas Aquinas' teaching that free will is a necessary condition of rational thought?  For him, the argument isn't, "Does free will exist?"; the argument is more "Does rational thought exist?  Yes.  Therefore, free will must exist."

7. Anonymous asked how we reconcile the concept of free will with the idea that "God has a plan for everyone" and "everything happens for a reason".  Let me answer by quoting the Book of Sirach. The Protestants removed this book from their version of the Bible.
In the beginning, God created humans, and he left them to follow their own wills. If you choose, you can keep the commandments, which will place you in God's favor.  Set before you are fire and water; stretch out your hand to the option you choose  Before everyone are life and death, and whatever they chose shall be given to them.  The Lord's wisdom is immense; he is mighty in power, and he sees all things. The eye of God sees all that he has made; he understands every human deed.  He never commands anyone to sin, nor shows leniency toward deceivers. (Sircah 15:14-20)
This Bible passage actually explains a lot of what I've discussed today.  Maybe I should have opened with it.  Anyway, if you want a Bible passage which directly talks about human free will and God's knowledge, this is a good one. Note that the two are not at odds with each other here.