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Welcome to the Internet
by Darknut

WhiteWhine Readings

Before you submit the dumbest words ever put in writing, think about how they might sound out loud. It's called "accountability," eh? Or you might end up on WhiteWhine.com, among other things...

Apparently Facebook is for people who don't know what they sound like.

Leet Gamxrz
by Darknut

It is pitch black.

You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
With cameo of Game God Steve Meretzky.

This is only going to make sense if you're old enough to have played Zork, a computer game circa 1980 with no graphics, only text. Its text parser (its ability to understand English commands) is still today more advanced than any other game I've played (although there are probably a few good MUDs out there). But the confusing layout of the rooms in the game required the player to draw a map and even still could drive one to madness. I lent my copy (indefinitely) to a kid in high school whose computer couldn't do graphics at all and therefore couldn't run any other game. I'm only sorry that I lost the feelies in the box. There's a reason I collect the original boxes...

This is just a glimpse of the nerdery you can enjoy if you buy your very own copy of the documentary Get Lamp. (Although if you're going to buy a nerdy documentary about the history of pre-Internet computer culture, The BBS Documentary is way better.)

Pure Nostalgia
by Darknut

Falco is at least as great as the Beatles

I've been to Germany a few times, and usually at some point I hear Falco playing on the normal, everyday radio. He's still popular there even today.

So this last time, I haven't heard of Falco yet, but we check in to a hotel, and the lobby looks like this:

Tributes to famous musicians.

I'm thinking... hmmm...! Who's the guy on the left?

So I ask the hotel clerk (in English), and he says, "Oh, it's... a famous Austrian musician," as if I wouldn't know.

And I'm like, "That's Falco, isn't it."

"Yes, it is Falco."

So once again, in Germany, Falco is placed on the same level as Michael Jackson and the Beatles.

It turns out these prints are used to decorate every single room and hallway in the hotel. Falco in every freakin' room, singing you to sleep. "Rock Me, Amadeus."

Book Review
by Darknut

Jurassic Park: The Book

1990 by Michael Crichton

Verdict: Not as good as the movie.

I've been having trouble evaluating this book, primarily because the movie is already so pronounced in my mind, but also because the book was published in 1990, and it's hard to remember whether various concepts in the book were genuinely novel at the time.

Many scenes were rearranged for the movie, and although the book creates a terrific suspense, the movie effectively streamlines everything for double the punch. But that's no biggie. Let me get straight to the main problem:

If you think about the "moral" being presented by the time you get to the end of the movie, it seems to go something like, "Dinosaurs are far more terrible than some people imagined while bringing them back to life." It's hard for the message to be more damning than that because the critical sequence of problems that occurred was caused by one villainous person acting incidentally. Underneath the thrills and excellent visuals, Jurassic Park could almost be considered a formulaic "disaster" movie that shows how things could go wrong.

But the book emphasizes more errors made by uncharacteristically sloppy engineers. While highly unlikely, it is entirely conceivable that the billionaire founder of Jurassic Park could have hired only impetuous "hotshots" without knowing how to really evaluate their skills. That kind of BS happens in real life way more often than you might expect. Yet despite that all the mishaps and treacheries were avoidable, the book has a much more explicit message than the movie: "People can't handle bringing dinosaurs back to life, because things not only could go wrong in this situation, they always will go wrong, and 'math' can prove this is so. Not only that, but the arrogant practice of science itself is intrinsically flawed, because science has limits, and we've already reached them. It's downright foolish for science to try to explain some things."

I'm afraid the book's message is, well, stupid. The author plays with several scientific topics that were rather fresh at the time, yet doesn't seem to understand what "science" means. Science does not mean to contrive a means to an end. Science does not dictate a religion or a philosophy or a mindset perpetually prone to absent-minded mistakes. Science simply means using logic to understand the world we live in as best we can. Why does the author think that fractals control people's fates? Why does the author think we're stupid?

I sure am glad the movie watered down the message! (Even if it did have that girl who thought she was a hacker...)

Book Review
by Darknut

Ender's Game

1985 by Orson Scott Card

Verdict: Outdated.

This is almost a pretty good book about the ethics of boot camp, but I have two problems with it that just totally break the whole thing for me.

First, Ender has been selected for super-soldier training because he's supposedly a genius. But a five-year-old human, no matter how intelligent, shouldn't have emotions and concerns and physical development belonging to a teenager. It's so hard to repeatedly ignore this anachronism when it's forced so frequently. Everything would have been just fine if the author made him oh maybe eleven instead of five. Or if the author gave him some other inhuman trait to show that he was a mutant.

Second, the story was unfortunately written before the invention of the Real-Time Strategy game. The author couldn't have predicted how underwhelming his description of the most advanced war simulators of the future would sound to an average kid playing the games of the year 2000. We now know that many of Ender's feats don't require genius to perform, just a lot of Mountain Dew.

In other words, the author bent too many common-knowledge truths to be believable, although perhaps they weren't common knowledge at the time.

On a side note, it's a bit telling of the times that Ender spends a lot of time playing this fantasy scenario exploration game having more in common with games of the 1980s than with today's genres.

Book Review
by Darknut

Gabriel Knight: The Book

1996 by Jane Jensen

Verdict: Surprisingly good for a book based on a computer game.

Apparently this book closely follows the plot of the game, such that it's practically a walkthru, and some people thus found it a boring read. That seems only natural since playing an adventure game should always give a more interesting experience than reading a book.

But I didn't play the game, so I thought the book was pretty good. Maybe it was a little formulaic, in the style of a detective novel, but there was only one point when I felt the book was transcribing an adventure game. Actually, the style of writing was quite informal, vulgar, almost adolescent, but I thought the author handled it very well. It really sounds like the earnest perspective of someone from the year 1993, and I think that extra vitality, however crass, is what I enjoyed about it.

I guess this was like the time I found that the book of The Princess Bride was very similar to the movie, and just as enjoyable, and perhaps it was because same person was directly involved in each production.

Book Review
by Darknut

Elric of Melniboné

1972 by Michael Moorcock

Verdict: The father of all cheesy fantasy schlock?

"What the fuck am I reading?" That's the correct response to the first page of the book. It's the worst kind of homemade, D&D-inspired, Clinkenbeardian rhetoric. It's so bad, it's funny. It's even funnier if you can't help reading it out loud in a silly voice. No wonder Dave Sim saw it fit for parody.

But wait! This was published in 1972... Before Highlander and the Beastmaster and Hawk the Slayer and Heavy Metal and all the other cheesy 1980s movies it invokes. Before high school students were writing Lord of the Rings fan-fiction (mostly). Before D&D, and most importantly, before Drizzt. This book could very well have set the precedent for a whole generation of overwrought, pretentious cliché that can't be taken seriously!

Furthermore, after you read it for a while, it's actually better than all of those followers. Despite the endlessly pretentious handling of the protagonist, the story's actually not terrible. The lurid amount of description is actually under steady control such that it paints a pretty effective picture. It's even a little bit thoughtful. The first chapter is the best because the words are metered frugally so that it almost has a poetic rhythm, although that mood wears off in the rest of the book.

Also, I strongly suspect The Dark Crystal was influenced by this book. The descriptions of the important characters in the wanton empire, their roles and attitudes, and the slaves, are all very familiar to the portrayal of the Skeksis.

I guess I feel the same way about this writing of Moorcock as I felt about Lovecraft: I thought it was horribly cliché until I realized it was way, way ahead of its time.

General Nerdocracy
by Darknut

The Secret to Happiness

The secret to happiness is to always be expecting something in the mail. It doesn't matter what, as long as it's something you would look forward to receiving.
Tom Carlson, Obsolete Computer Museium

I think eBay has something to do with it.

The Usual Spiel
by Darknut


Regarding the latest world news, why hasn't anyone made any "Kurd Kobane" jokes?

Insert tasteless suicide bomber joke here.

Irreverent Rants
by Darknut

It's Official

A Wikipedia page says that Wikipedia is suitable for research by 8-year-olds. This fits in well with a conversation I had recently in which we asserted that Wikipedia seems to have been written by an 11-year-old.


Darknut's Web-Blargg

This site contains irreverent rants, pretentious game reviews, and general nerdocracy.

As such, it probably should not be read by anyone.

Scroll up to read previous posts. You know, like in English?

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