Milky Way Stuffed With an Estimated 50 Billion Alien Worlds
So, we have equations estimating the number of planets that exist in a habitable zone within our galaxy. And from that, we've extrapolated a relatively large number.
But the other equation is, from a perfectly habitable planet, what's the chances of life evolving? There require a lot things to come completely in alignment for life to occur. Who knows, a day later and the earth might have missed out on life entirely. My suspicion is that the chances for life occurring are extremely low. Maybe not as low as 500,000 to 1, but probably lower than the average person would seem to think. Then from that number, what's the chances of life evolving to such a level that they can even develop the means to envision space travel or communication? It's only happened once on earth, after all.
People think that just because there are a lot of planets that there should be lots of aliens. But I think that there are a lot of big equations left to work out. We have a very huge number which is probably countered by a number of very small numbers. I could easily imagine that we eventually find that the chances of life occurring on a "habitable" planet are less than 1 billion to 1, which would make the chances of life occurring elsewhere in our galaxy fairly remote.
Then again, I'm no expert. I'm just trying to bring up the other big questions we have yet to really tackle... at least as far as I'm familiar with.
Milky Way Stuffed With an Estimated 50 Billion Alien Worlds
C) So far removed in time (evolved to spacefaring, lasted for thousands of years, and still died off before we stopped throwing rocks at each other) that we simply missed the evidence that they existed.
Your other arguments have merit, but this one I really don't believe is possible. The more a species spreads out, the greater its chance of survival is. For the most part, any civilization that has developed the ability to move off world in large numbers has freed itself from all known forms of extinction. Any other "what if" scenarios you throw at the equation are likely to be countered by advancements in technology, distance, or rapidly-growing numbers. As I like to say, "humans are just as resistant cockroaches, we just require our technology to do it." The same would be true for any alien species that developed past our level of technology.
Milky Way Stuffed With an Estimated 50 Billion Alien Worlds
On the flip side, with the current level of human technology, we could probably survive (to a non-extinctional level) any of the conditions that made many former species extinct:
Meteor? Early warning defense system, missiles, cave habitation, and post-collision: air filters
Early earth? Lead radiation suits, air conditioning, shelters.
The list continues.
Of course, most of these things would still wipe out huge swaths of the world's population, most likely the poor, less educated, and less technologically sophisticated. But killing enough humans to cause permanent extinction would take something beyond what our world has seen in its lifetime. Of course, something of our own making could, but I highly doubt it would lead to mass extinction. Call me an optimist, but the human race is about as resilient as cockroaches, even though we require technology to be that way.
72% of US Adults Support Violent-Game Ban For Minors
As a teen, I was always convinced that sexuality was something that the adult world wanted to horde for themselves. As an adult, I still feel this way. There's a strange "mine, not yours" attitude towards sexuality with minors. It's not "protection", there's really nothing to protect from. It stems from a desire by parents to keep their children innocent as long as possible. Reality? Innocence is an adult ideal thrust on children that really doesn't mean anything. There are African and Islander cultures in which children masturbate and have sex with eachother from a fairly early age, and grow up to be perfectly normal members of society, and they are still considered "innocent". This is all cultural, there is nothing biological about this.
Wired Youths In China & Japan Forget Character Forms
Farsi isn't related to Arabic in any shape or form. It's an indo-european language. Closer to Greek and Hindi than it is to Arabic. People often forget that the Persians have no historical connection to the Arabs. Their ancestry came from the migration between India and Europe. Arab ancestry comes from north africa and asia-minor. The languages haven't intermingled much either.
To Ballmer, Grabbing iPad's Market Is 'Job One Urgency'
Microsoft have been chasing the big red ball for almost a decade now. Apple made the iPod, they came out with the Zune 4 years late, without the "must have" factor. Apple made the iPhone, Microsoft scrambled, stumbled, fell, and have basically given up. Apple made the iPad, now Balmer wants to chase the ball some more. Problem is, even if they catch the ball, Apple will have already cornered the market, and will have created the next "must have" item, which will likely replace the current one.
If Microsoft REALLY wanted to catch Apple at it's game, they should just bypass the whole Tablet thing, and look ahead at what the next big "must have" is. Apple's probably already working on it, and the only way Balmer will ever beat them to it is if they throw their resources and analysis at THAT. Let Apple take the tablet market, the way Apple is successfull is because they create their own markets. Microsoft should learn to do the same.
PC Gamers Too Good For Consoles Gamers?
who had more fun?
Struggling To Bridge the Casual-Hardcore Game Gap
I think everyone is defining "casual" and "core" not as amount of time people are putting into games, but the amount of thought. Needless to say, Final Fantasy and MGS are, no matter how you look at them, NOT casual games, and never will be. They are lengthy, complex games that take not only a player's time but patience and full attention. I would argue that those two series are pretty much the antithesis of casual gaming.
HTML5 vs. Flash — the Case For Flash
Designers HATE Flash. HTML stems from traditional typography layout languages. Designers have been used to and comfortable with that format for over 5 decades. Flash is NOT a designer-friendly environment. It's a motion graphics and video editing-friendly environment... if it's friendly at all. Flash was made popular by the geek teen crowd for making crude animations, and has been picked up by some websites, which more-often-than-not, use it in garashly over-elaborate ways. It's a hack. That's all there is to it. It's buggy, it has compatability issues, and often slows down or prevents users from accessing content that they could have just as easilly gotten with HTML.
As long as I've been a designer and a user, I've hated Flash. I've crossed my fingers from over 5 years ago and hoped that it wouldn't catch on. Thankfully, most of the big sites stay away from it, and that is a credit to their sense of simplicity in design. Flash is just too unstructured.
The Rise of Nanofoods
If that's the case, then why do so many beer lovers drink in small amounts and not get drunk? I think you'll find that it's the one's who don't like beer or don't care that are likely to get drunk so frequently. That's my experience anyway.
I drink maybe one good beer every couple nights. I can't even feel the alchoholic effects of one beer. Why? Because I love the taste. Other people argue about the taste of coffee, or the enjoyment of spicy food, or the taste of seafood. One person's "pile of piss" is another person's luxury, you'll find it in just about any type of food, or music, or even personality traits.
So, if it holds true for opinions of all flavors, why you gotta think that beer is any different?
Oh yeah, because you happen to be one who hates beer. Grow up and accept that not everyone has the same taste buds as you, man.
Texas Schools Board Rewriting US History
Not having intercourse with the opposite sex don't necessarily make you a virgin. Realistically, Sir Isaac Newton was homosexual, according to most reports. There are conflicting reports as to whether he had sexual relations with the men he was with. No, he never had heterosexual intercourse, but only because he wasn't inclined to. He likely made the "greatest accomplishment" comment as a sort of joke.
That said, he was devoutly christian, though the church he belonged to seemed to look down at heavy-handed proselytization (not that this is any relevance to the conversation).
Don't Talk To Aliens, Warns Stephen Hawking
I understand that nay-saying humanity is a popular pastime around here, but it's largely irrelevant. Our wars and monstrosities may simply be a natural course for a growing intelligent race it's way through cultural adolescence. Simply assuming that humanity must be "much worse" than anything else out there is kind of like saying that America is much worse than anything else out there. I'm no gung-ho "America is the greatest country on the planet!" whore, but from various subjective and objective standpoints, there is much worse out there.
Don't let your "human guilt" cloud your intelligence. There's nothing to say that humanity's atrocities are any better or worse than any other sapient race. You're right, they could be like the aliens from "The Abyss", and judge that our fighting is a horrible problem to be ended before we become more powerful, or they could also be empathetic enough to realize that we have other sides as well (like the aliens from The Abyss finally did). Who knows.
Human guilt is silly, just as White guilt is.
Kojima Predicts the End of the Console
Here here. I work as a video producer/editor and end up doing a lot of software troubleshooting at work, my main hobbies are music recording and sound design. At the end of the day, when I've finally been able to get myself into "leasure mode"... I don't want to have to do MORE technical things just to relax. It's hard enough to get myself settled into a non-productive mode, why would I want to turn around and risk stressing myself out even more?
Xbox Live Now Allows Gender Expression
Morally, I have no problem with polygomy. But when we're talking about legal contracts that bind financial assets, things can get really complicated really fast. Unlike gay marriage, it also has the ability to be abused fairly severely for purposes completely unrelated to spousal arrangements. I'm not an economist or a lawyer, but I just have a feeling that this would cause a lot of complications and problems. Yes, some would argue that that, in of itself, is not a reason to ban polygomy outright. Maybe it is something we should look into, but that's a different notion altogether.
Homosexual couples are simply asking for the same benefits and legal recognition that is in place for heterosexual marriages. Polygomists, by nature of them being more than 2 people, inherently CAN'T ask for the same exact rights, since what they're asking for doesn't actually exist. And once again, maybe it should... but way too many people use it as an analogy for gay marriage, when it brings up a huge host of new complications that the gay marriage issue does not.
Xbox Live Now Allows Gender Expression
Agreed. Abolish marriage as a legal contract. Allow civil unions to define legal pairings, and let individual churches choose whether or not to recognize certain "marriages". Everybody wins... ...that is, everybody except those that want to force their hangups on everyone else. I say 'fuck 'em'
Xbox Live Now Allows Gender Expression
Having sex with an unconsenting rock.
Two consenting adults is very different.
PS: same goes for marriage.
Toei Animation Thinks Mobiles Could Save Anime
And finally, DVD copies simply translate spoken text and pop them up as digital subtitles. For some text and sign heavy anime, that's not good enough. I have a fansub version of Azumanga Daiho where not only do they translate every sign, but they also pop up some footnoots explaining obscure cultural references, for those interested. Yes, that level of detail isn't for everyone, but for a lot of anime fans, it's quite nice.
Why Apple Doesn't Market Squarely To Businesses
Tiger is pretty well supported, and that's 5 years old. And I'll echo the others that the Windows XP thing was a complete fluke, and had nothing to do with MS wanting to support people for a while, but because they did such a piss-poor AND late release of their next OS (Vista), that XP remained the de-facto OS for about 9 years. If Apple had waited 7 years to release Leopard and it had sucked, they would be in the same boat. The reason why Apple stops supporting OSs faster than MS is because their users seem to upgrade a lot faster. Maybe it's a trust thing, maybe it's a lack of complexity thing, I'm not sure. Usually a company will stop supporting previous versions when the install base gets to be a negligable percentage. So blame Mac users for keeping with the times.
Amazon Surrenders To Macmillan On eBook Pricing
Sorry, but the poster is right. Humans and animals alike are hard-wired to enjoy things that are familliar to them. There may be the paripheral fascination with exploring new territory, but by-and-large, humans are very slow to accept new things, and are much more likely to choose the familliar over the unfamilliar. In the right setting, with the right mindset, people can be willing to branch out a little, but for the most part, it's contrary to our nature. Playing a song over and over again, in the background (as radio usually is), is a good way to build familliarity, and thus, a comfortable center for individuals. So, when people go down to the record store to buy some music to listen to on a regular basis, they buy the things they've heard, that being the stuff that DJs have shoved down their throats.
Even those of us who claim to enjoy exploration only do so because the act of exploration itself has become familliar and comfortable with us, but we all have our self-imposed limits.
Why Has No One Made a Great Gaming Phone?
That's really tough to compare. Console manufacturers make the bulk of their money off of game sales. The consoles themselves are usually loss-leaders, except for Nintendo, who consisantly sell their hardware at a profit or at the very least, break even. If you're comparing sheer hardware sales figures, of course the DS has sold a lot more than the iPhone, it's twice as old, and was a quick seller right out the gate. But if you're talking profit made off of games themselves, it's a lot harder to say. Every person who ever put a piece of software, no matter how small, on the App store paid apple $99. I think larger companies who wanted more front and center distrobution may have paid more (not sure). Apple is sitting back and raking in the profits. So is Nintendo. Both business models seem to have worked wonderfully.
AK Senator Ted "Tubes" Stevens Loses Re-election
The Alaska Division of Elections has officially declared Democrat Mark Begich the winner of the 2008 Alaska senatorial election against incumbent Republican Senator Ted Stevens. With only 2700 absentee ballots left to count, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich leads Stevens by 3724 votes (1.18% lead). Begich needed to beat Stevens by approximately 1500 votes in order to avoid an automatic state-paid recount. Stevens may appeal to the Republican party to pay for a recount, however, ongoing questions surrounding the legitimacy of the 2008 Alaskan election, as well as Stevens' status as a convicted felon, make the prospects of a Republican party-paid recount fairly dubious.
Ted Stevens is famous for his diatribe criticizing network neutrality in which he described the internet as "a series of tubes." The comment went on to be lampooned by the media; most memorably by John Stewart of The Daily Show. The Alaska senator is also famous for his "bridge to nowhere", and brought his 40 year (10 term) career to a close by being found guilty of 7 felony counts of failing to properly report gifts from VECO executives.
Mark Begich is a highly regarded mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, and ran an unusually positive campaign against the incumbent Stevens, focusing mainly on expanding energy production and alternative energy solutions, as well as the Alaskan economy.
With Begich's victory, this puts Democrats at the 58 seat mark in the senate, with Michigan and Georgia still up in the air.
What is required for an eBook to succeed?
In the wake of the Amazon Kindle, the possibilities of an "eBook world" seem ever closer. However, some major oversights may likely keep the Kindle from being the device to win the hearts of the reading world. In various interviews, including one on PBSs Charlie Rose, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos seems to have his head in the right place, but the actual product doesn't seem to quite meet the philosophy he tries to represent. A successful eBook needs to evaluate the big picture a little more than the Kindle has.
First, design. Let's face it, all readers, world wide, have grown up holding paper books. We are comfortable with this, we are used to it. Maybe 30 years down the road, after the entire population has been "curling up" with eBooks for a few decades, will a "Tricorder"-like device feel comfortable, but not yet. For now, we're going to need a bit of hand-holding, a bit of prodding and ingenuity in order to ease the reading world into switching to these devices. The first widely successful eBook needs to feel, and operate, even if superficially, like a traditional book. It likely will need to have two folding screens, and be encased in a material that is pleasant to hold: possibly even a leather or vinyl covering. Electronic paper displays will make the experience much more conventional. Any buttons need to be visually and tactilely invisible during the course of reading (touch screen, most likely). We're going to need to be tricked, at least for a while, into feeling like we're reading an old-fashioned book. All that extra high-tech functionality must disappear during the reading experience.
Secondly, infrastructure. Reading books isn't just about information gathering. There's a community aspect, and an aesthetic one as well. Libraries and bookstores have, forever, been more than just information repositories; they're communal and aesthetic locales. Barnes & Nobel has figured this out. Each store offers a partially secluded area with comfy chairs and a fireplace. It works so well, that many people go there to read even if they don't purchase anything there... but you can bet that their next book purchase will be from there. If I were to walk into a traditional bookstore with a Kindle, I'd be a heretic. So a widely successful eBook needs to offer an alternative to the traditional community experience. And it can. For example, an eBookstore: within the confines of which, any eBook can be downloaded and read for free, and offering places to sit, along with food and drink, as well as a pleasing aesthetic ambiance. This may not require a new chain of bookstores, but traditional bookstores, themselves, should be approached to allow themselves to be eBook repositories. Without sounding morose, I think it's clear that an eBook revolution is inevitable, and the end of the paper book is an eventuality, and bookstores, if they wish to continue to exist, should embrace the most genuine of eBook technologies, and play a direct role their evolution.
I believe these are the biggest hurdles in front of eBooks, today.
Sonic Confirmed for Brawl...
In a surprisingly early move (or late, depending upon how you look at it) Nintendo has officially confirmed that Sega's mascot: Sonic the Hedgehog, will be a playable contender in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Brawl, according to the official Smash Bros. website. They openly acknowledge that Sonic is the "most desired" challenger in the Smash universe, and ccompanying the update is a short video containing gameplay footage and some ideas of Sonic's gameplay: wavedash, spin jump, and Super Sonic transformation (most obviously his Final Smash), as well as his own expectedly cheesy buttrock soundtrack.
On a bit more worrisome note, however, the release date, previously confirmed as December 3rd on the website, has been removed and replaced with, simply "TBD". Whether this shoves the game back into 2008 or not remains to be seen.
Clear Channel Goes Private and Streamline
Clear Channel Communications Inc., the nations largest radio, billboard, and entertainment outlet, announced, this morning, their intention to sell the company to a consortium of private-equity firms for over $26 billion. In addition, Clear Channel's TV division, as well as its smallest 448 radio stations would be sold out of the company and will be looking for potential buyers.
I, myself, am an employee of a Clear Channel TV station, KTVF in Fairbanks, Alaska. This may mean a major shift for my company. Being out from under the wheels of one of the largest iron-clad media corporations in the nations may feel like a positive thing, yet I believe their decision to go private is a step forward for them and their reputation. I would have been interested to see the growth of the company out from under the talons of shareholders.
Oh well... anyone looking to buy a small local TV station in the arctic?
Okami and Art...
With the recent dissolution of Clover Studios, and having been playing Okami myself lately, I have begun to question when and how future games may take on an artistic vision. I have no intention of debating the endless question of "Are Videogames Art?", in fact, this is irrelivant, as I'm approaching this from the standpoing that games are a medium in which various arts can exist (music, painting, architecture, acting, litterature, etc).
I fall onto the question of whether Okami is really art, or simply a copycat, exploiting the creativity of previously concieved styles, which are accepted as "high art"? Banning the possibility that the entirety of the visuals are ripped directly from existing japanese water color (which is rediculus since there's also much cartoon/comic influence as well), I think it's safe to say that a lot of creativity went into its design.
So, how do we proceed? What can we expect and hope for? Will indy studios spring up in a similar fashion to modern cinema, in which there will be attempts to push the envelope of creativity and style? Or should we not get our hopes up, at least any time soon?
What I hope to see, someday, is a progression from our current trend of absolute realism (which requires very little subjectively artistic vision) to copycat works, exploring pre-existing artistic styles, and then finally to games that extend beyond the boundaries of those styles, forming new movements in the community of interactive/visual arts. Can we expect this, someday? This is how photography began, it's also where cinema began. Or will it eventually sink, as Rock & Roll did, into the common conception that it enherently lacks any sort of sophistication (even progressive rock is considered, by many, to lack the same level of sophistication as other styles... maybe someday)?
What can the history of the creation of creative mediums tell us? Proportionally, games have large obsticals to overcome. They began as works for children and young adults—an even younger audience then rock music did. Cinema and Photography started as copycat mediums, but there was always a general push toward creativity and sophistication, even from the beginning. Yet, there's the anomoly of Jazz, which began as Rock music did, but which now houses idols like Charles Mingus and Miles Davis, whose portraits can virtually sit on the mantle next to those of Mozart or Stravinsky.
50 years from now, will Okami be regarded as a Charles Mingus, at the forefront of a fresh creative field, or as a Keith Emerson, pushing, desperately into a field which will never gain the status of "high art"? This will make a huge difference in the perception of games, and the direction they will take.
Why Apple won and Why Nintendo will...
I'm going to make a fairly bold statement that will go against the current grain of many analysts and gaming editorialists: Nintendo will win the coming console war. It will seem fairly unintentional and noncompetitive publicly, and they will win precisely because of that. The reason has nothing to do with gizmos, sexy stats, promises of multiple add-on services or even basic functionality, but by sheer public persona.
Consumers use their purchases to help define themselves as individuals: "I'm a Ford guy", "I'm a Windows kinda girl", "I'm the kind of person who won't shop at Walmart". But people are very sensitive to the issue of mass consumerism to the extent that they don't want to outwardly appear, to themselves or to others, to be simply following current trends. People wish to feel in some way enlightened, while at the same time having the security of following the actions of their pears. What are you willing to pay for feelings of enlightenment? Well, as it appears, quite a bit.
Apple struck a chord with people when it introduced the Think Different campaign, shortly preceding the launch of the iPod; endearing itself to consumers as the bastions of innovation and individuality. Consumers were willing to pay (and pay quite a lot), to buy into this "enlightening" product line... and I'm no exception. Let's be fair, Apple's innovation was legitimate, the idea of putting a video-editing-style shuttle wheel on a portable music device was a very clever one, indeed, but the effect wasn't nearly as appealing as the feeling consumers got when they felt like they were buying into innovation itself. No one has been able to touch the iPod, because Apple are the good guys, and therefor everyone else is the enemy of individuality. Are the other products as good? Probably. Do they have the functionality that people need and are willing to pay for, even above and beyond Apple's line? Certainly, some do. But until one company steps forward to replace Apple as the supposed kings of innovation and individuality, the iPod will continue to dominate.
Enter Nintendo, a company who I've always felt (and written about) portrayed a similar public persona and philosophy: appearing noncompetitive, "friendly" products, not afraid to take risks with their products, innovative design and user philosophies. While the other guys are duking it out with objective system specs, and add-on features, Nintendo announces the Revolution, which by it's design interface, looks to take the gaming world in a completely new direction. They downplay any system specs and make no move to challenge Sony or Microsoft—on the contrary, having such a distinctive product makes competition with them seem fairly benign. Suddenly, Nintendo has secured themselves, with gaming audiences, as the bastions of innovation and individual thinking. This comes at a time when the gaming community is quickly recognizing that the source of their entertainment is being championed by large corporations who are utilizing closely monitored social analysis to develop their products; the idea of being a corporate whore is not a positive one. A truly independent company does not have much of a chance being able to reach large audiences, but Nintendo offers a close alternative: a large enough company to have significant market penetration while retaining the identity of a smaller, more agile, more "independently minded" company. The Revolution is bound to be the gaming industry's iPod; for Nintendo offers its audience the chance to feel neither more powerful, faster, or stronger, but more empowered, more innovative, and more enlightened. And in this case, they're not simply selling enlightenment, but selling enlightenment cheaply, at a third the price of the cold, corporate competition.