BioShock – A gamer’s perspective

September 30, 2007

We at Geek Buffet appreciate that each of us approaches our geekiness in our own individual way. In our efforts to embrace this diversity of perspective, this represents the first of two posts about the game BioShock. This one is a review of the game from the perspective of a gamer who has played it. The second will be from the perspective of a non-gamer who had the chance to see the game while I was playing through it.

As a gamer, I appreciate being able to read a review of a game that gives me enough information about a game to be able to help me decide if I want to play it or not. At the same time, I don’t want a review to spoil the game for me. I have endeavored to write a review of the kind I would like to read. I hope you’ll agree.

By way of brief introduction, BioShock is a first-person shooter. It starts out when the main character is in a plane crash in the middle of the ocean, and escaping from the wreckage, finds what looks like a lighthouse rising up out of the water. Inside is a submarine, which takes him to Rapture, an underwater city. The nature of Rapture, and the story of what happened to it, are central to the plot of the game.

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Dinner at Chez Geek

September 27, 2007

In an echo of Jennie’s cry of “I’m an adult, I swear!,” as well as an amusing revisit of our previous conversation about dinosaur to chicken evolution, a picture of the dinner Mark and I had the other night:

Dino Nuggets!

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Blogging, Graphomania and the Age of Universal Deafness and Incomprehension

September 26, 2007

On my recent travels, I reread The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, originally published in 1978. That, dear readers, is two years before I was born — which makes his prescience all the more astonishing to me.

Kundera is a Czech-born writer-in-exile, living in France since 1975. The book addresses Communism and sex and lots of other things you can read for yourself in the Amazon reviews. What I found most interesting were his insights on writing, which I believe reflect the blogosphere in a way I don’t think even he could have imagined.

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Your Mao T-Shirt Won’t Get You Into Heaven

September 25, 2007

If you stand in the middle of Tian’anmen Square, and listen very, very closely, you can hear Chairman Mao spinning in his glass case.

Because, of course, to listen that closely, you need to tune out the hawkers trying to sell you such things as a watch or lighter featuring Mao’s likeness. (As an added bonus, some lighters play “The East is Red” when you open them.)

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Beautiful Iran, Vacation Paradise for Homophobes

September 24, 2007

Pretty much anyone with access to a news source today is probably aware that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke today at Columbia University. He was asked questions about the usual expected topics, such as his country’s nuclear program, his denial of the Holocaust, and so on. However, at one point he actually drew laughter from the crowd.

What hilarious insight did he reveal? Read on:

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Braai Day

September 24, 2007

Today is National Braai Day in South Africa. This is a celebration that was instituted to be in conjunction with SA National Heritage Day, beginning in 2005. According to this BBC article, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is now its patron:

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate celebrated his appointment by donning an apron and tucking into a sausage outside his office.

“This is something that can unite us. It is so proudly South African, so uniquely South African,” he said…

“We have 11 different official languages but only one word for the wonderful institution of braai: in Xhosa, English, Afrikaans, whatever,” he said.

“We’ve shown the world a few things. Let’s show them that ordinary activities like eating can unite people of different races, religions, sexes… short people, tall people, fat people, lean people,” he added.

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Show me the money

September 22, 2007

From a very young age, I have been fascinated with space. I was born well after the Apollo landings were over, but I still found myself riveted by the film that those astronauts brought back with them from the moon. Even in black and white, and under the constraints of the difficult circumstances they faced in filming their time there, that footage has the power to captivate me, even now. I’ve been sad to see the excitement about space exploration that was such a huge part of the American experience in the 1950s and 60s slowly slip out of the collective consciousness in this country. I still find that sense of wonder I suspect I shared with all children looking at the night sky tugging at me.

The recent excitement surrounding the Ansari X-Prize, which awarded ten million dollars to the first company to build a privately-funded spacecraft to achieve low earth orbit twice in two weeks, made me feel like some of that sense of wonder about space was returning. I heard people who had never shown any particular interest in space exploration or even in science in general talking about it, and it never failed to make me smile.

Now, there is a new X-prize up for grabs. This time, the prize has been doubled to twenty million dollars, and will be awarded for the first private venture to soft-land a rover on the moon. The robot will have to complete certain tasks to win the prize, but the short version is that a private venture has to build a viable scientific rover and safely land it on the moon within the next five years. The race to innovate at the bleeding edge of aerospace technology is once again in the running.

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How many children are ethical?

September 21, 2007

This has been an interesting couple of weeks for considering the ethics of reproduction. Last week, it seemed like there were suddenly people everywhere talking about how it just might be a great idea if Americans (and everyone else in the world, really) were encouraged, or possibly required, to have only one child.

As near as I can tell, a lot of the discussion got started with this article: Global Swarming: Is It Time for Americans to Start Cutting Our Baby Emissions? It is, in its turn, a review of the book The World Without Us, which is mostly about what the world would be like, environmentally speaking, if all the people disappeared. How long it would take the Earth to “recover” to a pre-human level, so on and so forth. But the author doesn’t really want to wait for people to suddenly become extinct; he’d like to see us start doing something that might conceivably save the planet in a way that people could still be around to enjoy it. The article summarizes his call for action like this:

Let’s cut the birth rate to one child per couple, for a few generations at least. The population would dwindle by about 5 billion people over the next century, he says, ensuring the habitability of the Earth for the 1.6 billion who remained. At that point, they could all reap the rewards of a more spacious planet, sharing in “the growing joy of watching the world daily become more wonderful.”

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I’m an adult, I swear!

September 19, 2007

When I was a kid, being a grown-up seemed like the ultimate. You could stay up as late as you wanted, eat chocolate cake for dinner, never have anyone tell you what to do, and have money all the time to buy whatever you wanted.

Of course, now I have so much to do I can’t get to bed as early as I’d like, I have to tell myself not to eat chocolate cake for dinner, and I now know that the checkbook doesn’t magically make money– it’s actually tied to something. Yes, my paycheck is bigger than my allowance, but after bills and gas and food and the like, not much.

Still, there are a few times when I catch myself going “heck, I’m an adult now! What’s stopping me?” Read the rest of this entry »

That Made in China label

September 17, 2007

Don’t you just love vilifying China?

Growing economy? (Check) Massive trade imbalance? (Check) And Commie to boot? (Check!)

Were you really surprised when they started poisoning our puppies? It’s a vast, Chinese, pink-o commie conspiracy against the American way of life people! Wake up and smell the green tea!

Well, ok, no. It’s not. But when it comes to buying things, why are we so anti-China?

You have books such as A Year Without “Made in China” by Sara Bongiorni and massive fear-induced boycotts of all Chinese goods, so maybe we do think it is a commie plot.

Oh! But Jennie! They all work in sweat shops! And only make 57 cents an hour! And their pet food/toys/toothpaste ARE all being recalled for poison/lead paint/whatever… China’s cutting too many corners! Chinese products are bad!

Well, no. They’re not.

Why are we blaming China for something that is fundamentally the fault of industry? American industry?

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