Ubiquitous Academicians

The Return

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Before I go about writing the particular thoughts that come to me at this time, I’d like to offer an apology to all our readers for my recent lack of activity on the blog. Although I’m somewhat tempted to cobble together an excuse for my inactiveness, the simple truth is that I’ve been downright lazy. It’s not that I don’t wish to continue contributing to the blog, for I think of many ideas for it each day, but that I have a severe problem with procrastination. Let us continue on, though, with no further ado.

I would like to show you to a clear and insightful article written by Stephen King. This column, which King wrote for Entertainment Weekly, clearly demonstrates my thoughts on the predicament of video game violence, ratings, and the constant disputes centered around them. The column manages to address my foremost point of frustration with the argument to ban violent video games or make them illegal for minors: it is a double-standard. Brutal, disgustingly violent movies such as Hotel and Saw predominate in today’s film industry, and they are NOT illegal for minors to view. These films trump, in there vehemence, anything that even the most violent video games have to offer.

Secondly, the column looks at the continuous conflicts over video games in the context of the grand scheme of things. King rightfully points out that politicians love to use violent entertainment as a scapegoat to pin the fundamental problems of the modern world on. He also reminds us that many entertainment mediums have undergone similar scrutiny (comics, rock music, etc.).

Stephen King manages to debunk the ludicrousness of the anti-video game debate with great succinctness and eloquence, making this an excellent read for anyone remotely interested in the topical debate.

Lastly, if the subject of video game politics interests you even remotely, I’d recommend you pay a visit to Game Politics, a monumental resource on the topic of video games in relation to politics.

Your writer,

An afterthought: Thank you, Ethan, for managing, unlike myself, to keep up with this project of ours.

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Written by Nicholas

April 12, 2008 at 6:15 pm

Olympic Hullabaloo – who really cares?

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I’m in San Francisco for a while, but one thing that is not on my agenda is watching the Olympic torch run. Let me say for the record, I have never watched the entire Olympic games – only sections I really enjoy, such as fencing. This isn’t because I don’t like the events; they merely coincide with other happenings, and don’t take top priority.

Basically, I don’t have very strong opinions about the Olympics. However, when ridiculous hypocrites create an atmosphere of fear and animosity during the celebration of a wonderful attempt at unity and sportsmanship, I am truly disgusted. I’m referring, of course, to the protesters for Tibet. Now I will admit, I’m not very informed on this conflict, so I won’t speak too ardently – but from what I have observed, the Tibetan people really do need our support, and China seems to be out of line. That’s all I will say.

But people – come on! When there is a close ratio of security personnel to spectators, you’ve must admit there is a problem. When people are being leaping around and attacking each other like battle-crazy barbarians, there must be a problem.

Especially when it’s being done in the name of PEACE!

You know, if you really cared about the Tibetan people, you’d be doing something to help them – not ruining this honored celebration.

And on the other side of the coin, it’s a flame! While it is symbolic, and crucial to the ceremony, it’s certainly not worth all this insanity.

Basically, I wish people would use theirs heads, instead of charging off to make peace using violence.

Written by Ethan

April 9, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Nice going WordPress!

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Great. A few minutes after I make one of the lamest posts in the history of humanity, wordpress goes and gives me excellent subject matter.

In case you didn’t notice, wordpress has just – and I mean just – updated their site. (Actually, they could have done it anywhere in the past 24ish hours. That’s what I get for using ScribeFire.)

The appearance seems to be the only thing, but I haven’t explored it very closely yet. So far, my opinions are mixed. It’s new and strange, and I’m somewhat lost.
That having been said, I like what I see. Many options seem more accessible – all my blogs are listed across the top of my window, instead of that silly drop-down menu I had to use before (which is still there; but I can smugly ignore it.)

Actually, it looks similar to Vista. I’m not sure how this is relevant, but it’s an observation I have made.

This post is brief because I’ve already posted today – I just figured I’d weigh in on the new subject matter at hand, while it’s still fresh.

Written by Ethan

April 4, 2008 at 5:26 pm

Posted in Blogging, Ethan

Tagged with , , , , , ,

Another Day, Another Post

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I just took a look at our blog statistics. Boy, what a good way to make myself depressed. Yesterday, we garnered a whopping 7 views – pathetic, compared to the 53 we earned on our debut. Granted, we debuted talking politics, at a time when politics were the absolute hot topic – and we posted about Wisconsin first.
We were also new, interesting and both writing.

Only one of these remains applicable.

Still, I will carry on. I’ll make a big deal about it, moping and whining in a manner unbefitting of an academician. But I’ll do it.

So, on to the actual subject matter of this post. I have resolved not to worm out of being interesting, like I did yesterday. Therefor, my subject is something pathetic. Indeed, today I am writing about when free stuff is good – and when it is not.

Funnily enough, I just listed all sorts of free software I’ve been downloading for my new laptop. Obviously, I am a fan of free stuff. (I’m keeping this to free software/media, not free anything.) Just today, I’ve downloaded even more – Pidgin, FoxLingo, and the most intellectual of all games: Line Rider. I also started OpenOffice, but when my horrible dial-up (I know, I know. I need to upgrade.) informed me that it would take 30+ hours, I put it on hold.
Lots of free software comes from the Mozilla Project (http://www.mozilla.org/), which I cannot praise highly enough. Projects such as this contribute more to innovation than most highly paid professionals.
All of this having been said, sometimes free stuff is not so good. An obvious example is software that comes corrupted with Spyware or viruses – trojans, miners, all sorts of creepy little things that haunt the dreams of my computer and wallet. These are not positive things, for anyone. The sad thing is, pretty much all of them come with free software; what kind of idiot would try to sell someone a virus?
There are other downers.
Not all free software is as good as “comparable” programs that you must purchase. In fact, this is often the case. Lots of free things are free simply because they aren’t good enough to be marketed.

There are many other pros and cons, but this post has gone on long enough. Please let me know what you think – and recommend our blog to your friends! The more readers, the happier we are; the happier we are, the better our writing.

This topic came to me courtesy of Chris Brogan (http://www.chrisbrogan.com/) who maintains a handy list for bloggers just like me – who are caught in a slump.

Written by Ethan

April 4, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Interesting Project

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Hello all!

I don’t have too much to say today, because I’m extremely busy. However, I didn’t want to start off on the downward spiral of not writing. Therefor, I’m going to throw out a discovery I made today, with the help of http://www.stumbleupon.com/

http://www.lookatbook.com/

It’s an interesting art project, created by four artists from New York and N. Ireland. I’d encourage you to check it out – the art is astounding, and some of it extremely thought-provoking.

Now that I’ve made this small contribution, with which I have shifted the responsibility of entertaining you over to said art project, I will clear up a small issue.

You are probably wondering why “Ubiquitous” proceeds “Academicians” – there are two of us, and we live very close together. Therefor, the ubiquity is not physical. Neither are our posts anything close to ubiquitous – sparse is much more accurate. This makes ubiquitous almost the opposite of what we actually are. So, why is it there? Well, for one thing, we like the flow of the title. For another, we like to consider ourselves ubiquitous. Thirdly, at some distant point in the future, we may have far more academicians writing for us, to the point at which our writing staff become ubiquitous.
Call it foresight.

Written by Ethan

April 3, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Carry-on Baggage Regulations: What would we do without them?

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I’m preparing for a vacation. The travel plans include flying – therefor, I’m checking up on carry-on regulations and such. On Continental Airline’s website, I’ve just left behind a large portion of my faith in security measures.
Here’s why:

“Items greater than 3.4 ounces and/or not contained in a zip-top bag may
be allowed on board but must be declared to the TSA at the security
checkpoint for screening. These items include baby formula, milk (to
include breast milk), baby food, juice, medications and liquids/gels
that are needed for diabetic or other medical conditions.”

Is it just me, or do you see an awkward situation when someone steps up to declare their breast milk? “Oh, and sir, I’m lactating. Don’t worry, I promise not to commit any felonies with my milk.”

And how about seminal fluid? Blood? Saliva? Tears?

“Due to higher security levels at airports worldwide, gifts and packages
are subject to the same inspection as your carry-on baggage. To reduce
delays at the airport security checkpoint Continental recommends that
you travel with your packages unwrapped. This will allow for easy
inspection, if necessary.”

Please keep your mind firmly in hand while reading this – don’t let it near that nasty gutter.

Haven’t there been multiple people who failed to do this, and subsequently were arrested for indecent exposure and/or lewdness?

“In addition to the one carry-on item, you may bring free-of-charge the below items:

  • one small personal article such as a briefcase, purse, day planner,
    small laptop computer, camera case, compact disk player or similar
    sized personal entertainment item
  • personal aid devices such as wheelchairs, braces, canes, crutches,
    prosthetic devices and walking sticks, provided passenger is dependent
    on them
  • one infant article such as a small collapsible stroller, a diaper
    bag or a government approved child seat (larger strollers can be
    checked in the jetway prior to boarding the aircraft)”

I’m not sure – am I dependent on my braces? I sure hope they don’t confiscate them like that poor old guy’s cane…

“Effective Aug. 4, 2007, laptop computers, full-size video game consoles
(for example Playstation®, X-box®, or Nintendo®), full-size DVD
players, and video cameras that use video cassettes and CPAP breathing
machines must be removed from their carrying cases and submitted
separately for x-ray screening.”

If your video camera uses a CPAP Breathing Machine, it must be examined separately, so as to make sure that… Well, never mind.

“For flights departing Delhi, the following items may be carried on in addition to the one carry-on item:

  • Purse, coat, rug or blanket, camera or binoculars, reading material
    (reasonable amount), umbrella or walking stick, infant food and bag,
    collapsible wheelchair or assistive devices and Duty Free items”

Thank heaven I can bring my rug on board. And my binoculars… I wouldn’t want to miss watching all the birds we’ll be passing!

All the quotes above have been copied directly from Continental Airline’s Carry-on Baggage page, and have not been modified in any way, except to change the font. This includes that “assistive” word in the Delhi bit.
Generally, I’m not much for lampooning stuff like this, but I figured this was too good to pass up.

Written by Ethan

April 2, 2008 at 5:27 pm

The Academician Lives!

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Well, one of us at least.

Don’t let me fool you – Nick is still alive and kicking; he merely has followed his all-too-normal procedure for blogging: Don’t. Oh well. At least I’m still here, even though I’ve been absent.

A few news items on my “home front:” I purchased a new laptop! Toshiba Satellite A215 – very nice. I’m extremely pleased, not only because I can surf the web anywhere I want, but because I can write almost constantly, whether it is here or in my word processor, with a goal of publishing something.
Anyways, I’ve been customizing it over the past couple of days, and downloading useful tools.
Let it be said here and now: When it comes to computers, I’m no minimalist. Here’s a short list of things I’ve added so far. It’s short, but with time it will grow.

StumbleUpon (http://www.stumbleupon.com/) – It’s a great little toolbar that allows you to – in addition to being a social network of sorts – list some interests, and then see what others with similar likes and dislikes have found, and rated. All with the click of a button.
I’m very pleased, and have already discovered several interesting new websites and blogs.

Mozilla Firefox (http://www.mozilla.org/) Duh! Only the best browser out there! Not much else to say, except that it brings me lots of other useful gadgets, such as:

Mozilla ScribeFire (http://www.mozilla.org/) Which is what I’m using now. Basically, it is a blogging tool that stores your blog(s) information, and, with the click of a button, has you typing away at your next post. This post, in fact, is my main test. Synopsis: Very nice.

That’s all for now, other than my IM systems. I’m off to check out Skype – but I’ll write again soon!

Faithfully to my readers,

Written by Ethan

April 2, 2008 at 12:26 pm