Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Robot Unicorn Attack

You are a robotic unicorn, with incredible leaping aptitude, and the ability to turn into a rainbow composed of pure ramming energy. Your goal is to traverse a dangerous terrain for as long as possible, while listening to a sample from Always by Erasure.

Robot Unicorn Attack is a game that conjures a fantastic magical world, filled with graceful, mechanized, soaring equines, and whimsy. The gameplay is quite simple; there are two commands: jump, and dash. The Robot Unicorn has Jordan-like hang time, and has the ability to enact a second jump in mid-flight. The dash is a useful maneouver to implement when an obstacle blocks the horse's path. When dashing, your mare turns into a rainbow, and blasts through the blocking crystal star.

The game can be quite frustrating. As the unicorn accelerates into the ever more complicated environment, misadventure is more likely. A mis-step by your steed will result in a fatal robotic explosion. You are given three of these robots per round, and the goal of the game is to maximize the distance you can travel with those three.

The soundtrack is an integral part of the game; it sets the fantastic mood, and directs the experience to take on a magical quality.

All told, the game is a wonderful and joy-inducing experience. It should not be missed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Musical Stylings of Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen's music has wit, style, grace, poignancy, and allure. In its depths swim melodies and themes as beautiful as any of the exotic fauna found in the colourful reefs of the tropics. Such wonderous aural delights are born through the mating of years of experience and hard work.

Messiaen could illicit deep, unambiguous horror, or nerve-cutting ecstasy. His work graces some of the most relatable scenes in modern cinema, and much of our cultural debt is owed to him.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Red Dwarf

Here in Canada, we receive the best that television has to offer from around the world, it just takes a little while for it to get here.

Quality shows will eventually be picked up on cable, or shown on public broadcasting stations. Inasmuch, this quality programming isn't heavily advertised, and doesn't receive the kind of attention that it really deserves.

One day, between 5 and 10 years ago, I was cruising the cable channels, looking to be entertained. I made a brief stop at The Comedy Network, hoping to let my time waft away on the gentle breeze supplied by a steady stream of comedic gaffs and gaffes. But on that day, it wasn't to be; what I saw was a very cheap set with a dirty man insulting a tightwad with a big shiny H on his forehead. The comedy was too dry for my liking, and I was not amused.

Thankfully, aging isn't all just homeostasis, and the subsequent gradual degradation of our body parts. We also become more mature and refined with age. And, as luck would have it, I was exposed to Red Dwarf again. This time I was not disappointed. What I saw was an introspection about introspection, and the story of a brave man calling out into the void against an indifferent universe filled with nothing but loneliness. It's a hilarious, heartbreaking, and genius thesis about life, and it's a story of rebellion against the infinity that awaits us all. Red Dwarf is surely one of the most poignant comedy series ever to be made. It's not to be missed.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


A dog, as the old idiom goes, is a man's best friend. I contend that a hound is doubly so.

Consider the boorish manner of some breeds. The wayward tail of the Labrador is enough to render the entire breed a nuisance. Long furred breeds like the collie and the malamute require extensive and expensive clearing of fur. Small breeds often suffer from an imperious temper, and are no more companions than they are capable of guarding a domicile. Retrievers are nice, but they lack grace. German Shepherds bark too damn much. Poodles are too toffish. Akitas, rottweillers and dobermans have wild tempers and cannot be trusted.

You'll find that all breeds of dog, with the exception of the hound, have some flaw. For those of us who don't find flaws endearing, the choice is obvious: hound dog.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Data Backups

It grows nonchalantly. You don't think about growing often, but you tend to it faithfully at least once a day. Under your gentle care, it grows. Slowly, it burgeons forth, outward. It flows in the wind like a ripe field of wheat in August. The delicate tendrils float on a carefree breeze; alighting, they lighten the mood of any who see them.


You love it. It looks good. People see your hair, and it makes them respect you. Your hair is power.

So why would you want to pull it out? Why would you pull out your beautiful, carefully groomed, shining, flowing, glimmering hair? You wouldn't want to.

The Intermediate Value Theorem

A continuous path must cross any given point between the end points of the path.
That's pretty useful information. Imagine a world where we couldn't count on this knowledge:
  • Phrases like "I'll meet you half-way" would be meaningless. People could only reliably meet at destinations, unless those happened to be halfway to somewhere else.
  • When travelling between two places, one might cease to exist at any given point along the route. The transportation industry would suffer.
  • Crafty bank managers could claim that your money had disappeared when they tried to apply interest to your balance.
Clearly it would be chaos. Such a world would be a difficult place to live. A lot of the things that we take for granted would become much more tenuous, and thereby life would be much more randomly harsh.

Be happy to have the intermediate value theorem in your life.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


VHS by Marta Crowe.

Time's arrow is a metaphor used in the study of physics used to illustrate the fact that, although it is a dimension of space-time like any other, its progression is monotonic. That is to say, we can't go back and forth in time.

But while the past is gone forever, just like Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca, we'll always have the memories. What a tender mercy it is to look back on the good times through the fuzzy lens of recollection. We can always think about how good those halcyon days were: riding bikes down the boardwalk on a hot summer day, and later buying a soft-serve to cool off; the ecstatic joy of running home in a rain storm, arriving at home soaked through, but feeling oh-so alive; the simple joys of going out for breakfast; thoughts of playing with your now-deceased pup in the park, and seeing that loving smile that you'll never see again.

Oh, memories. I like them like I like my scotch: warm, complex, and lovingly crafted, with a touch of bitterness. This brings me to the topic of today's review: the VHS format.

VHS was the predominant format for home video recording and playback from the mid 80s into the late 90s. This means that through my childhood and adolescence, and trailing off into my early adulthood, VHS was how I consumed a lot of my movies. It saw me through my entire Jean-Claude Van Damme phase, and through several phases beyond. These were good times; I must have watched my old Mars Attacks cassette 20 times.

But those days are gone now. Now VHS is an obsolete format. People have since moved on to DVDs, Blue Rays, and watching movies directly on the computer. VHS won't be making a comeback, but it was great while it lasted.

John Ralston Saul

John Ralston Saul is an excellent writer, and an inspiring individual.

His forte is the written word, which he expresses in one of two ways:
  1. Non-fiction: Saul is an essayist who has written at length about social issues and how they might be resolved. His philosophy is humanist, so his work often explores themes of the individual versus the elite echelons of society. He urges the reader to question social norms for the betterment of all people.
  2. Fiction: I haven't read any of his novels, but they're supposed to be pretty good.
Saul has taught the world that it is cool to be a thinker. His status as one of Canada's top pop-philosophers has garnered him all of the things that people might want out of life: fame, political influence, riches, and an attractive and successful spouse. As such, he is a well-respected member of the Canadian intelligentsia, and an inspiration to future generations to pursue philosophy.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Germ Theory of Disease

"The steam engine," he decried. "Surely the steam engine is the machine that drove the revolution of society from being largely agrarian to predominantly industrial. It is to this machine that we owe the debt of a century and a half of progress."

Smoothly, I interjected: "My good man, surely you know that the steam engine was invented nearly 2000 years ago by none other than Heron. How could a machine invented 2000 years ago only come to change society 150 years ago?"

Using the cold-forged weapons of facts on logic, he shut down my argument thusly: "Heron invented a steam engine, but it was never exploited as anything more than a curiosity in his day. As such, it had no affect on society until the industrial revolution. I must say that I find your argument to be a tad disingenuous and a non sequitur."

So I lost that argument, and to some extent my friend and I lost respect for each other: he for my fallacious argument, and I for his unforgiving harshness.

Nevertheless, I was right about one thing: the germ theory of disease was a heckuva step in the march of progress, enabling longer life, better education, healthier people and resplendent happiness. All hail the germ theory of disease!

Monday, January 11, 2010


We learn in all avenues of knowledge throughout life. As children, we learn about the necessities of life. In class, the teacher will ask her pupils to name a few, and they'll reply:
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Water
And the replies will always be in that order, because children are hungry, while take shelter and water for granted.

After this brief verbal intercourse, the teacher will ask her students if there are any other necessities. They'll scratch their heads for a moment, but find their knowledge lacking. She enlightens them:
  • "Sexual reproduction via coitus,"
She'll say. A mist of uncomfortable thought would settle on the room, as the loss of innocence belies a fact that the children all subconsciously knew: two entities of opposite sexes must engage in the copulative act to produce offspring, and this is a cornerstone of almost all life.

As such, any mature individual knows the importance of coitus and will affirm the need for the continuance of the ritual by all species extant in the biosphere.