Of Piracy and Liberty

For more than a decade,  Wikipedia (the free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.) has spent millions of hours painstakingly building what has to be the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, Congress is considering legislation that could all but kill free and open Internet.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in December, and the powers of the Internet—web based companies that innovate and users who populate internet—joined forces to defend the idea of a free and open ’net. Some websites have even joined in blacking out in response to SOPA and PIPA. Because of all the controversy (more than 700,000 tweets and a million emails…give or take), there may no longer be the legislative desire in the House to pass it, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, one of the bill’s most vocal opponents.

Despite that fact, bills often come in pairs, and SOPA’s twin in the Senate is the Protect IP Act, or PIPA as it is commonly referred to. Both bills threaten to rip apart the very fabric of the Internet, compromise the world’s digital security and open the doors for censorship the likes of which have been most recently seen in China. While SOPA may be damaged, PIPA has yet to attract the same levels of negative attention. It’s scheduled for a Senate floor vote on Jan. 24 and could easily weasel its way through, under the radar. It’s quite clear that PIPA is the new SOPA, making it the next logical target.

It’s understandable that the entertainment industry is sick of sitting by while its films, records and software are being stolen by large-scale online file-sharing operations based overseas, known as “rogue sites.” But, in the name of “intellectual-property rights”, media companies have enlisted a bipartisan chunk of Congress to pass anti-piracy legislation weighted irrationally and unfairly in their favor. Copyright holders want to give themselves and the U.S. Department of Justice the power to block any and all websites accused of “infringement”. They seem to want to force Internet service providers to create a wall between their customers and these websites. To force banks and payment services like PayPal to cut off these websites’ money. They want the websites removed from search results and to ban people from linking to them. And all of that, without any kind of formal hearing.

That won’t stop people from infringing on copyrights. So long as there are people out there, information’ll find a way around the walls the entertainment industry wants built. That’s just the nature of information.

An alternative bill for possible consideration is  the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, or OPEN, which like SOPA, also has a twin in the Senate, introduced by Senators Ron Wyden, Jerry Moran and Maria Cantwell. OPEN would place rogue sites under the purview of the International Trade Commission, which already oversees patent infringement. The ITC would be given the authority to block the flow of all money and advertising to these sites, but nothing more.

I’m not sure about you, but to me that seems ridiculous. If anything, PIPA might just cause a surge in pirating information. Tell someone they can’t do something and that’s as good a reason as any for them to do just that. And get enough people who aren’t allowed to do something and you’ve got the same thing that happened during the prohibition. Sure, I realize there’s a difference between pirating information and bootlegging information… it’s a small difference, but the comparison stands valid.

This blog post has been spawned from an amalgamation of online information. If a bill such as PIPA were to pass, who’s to say I would have been able to gather the information I’ve posted.?. Who’s to say I would have been able to post it.?.

Advertisements

Gadget Corner

Whenever I come across tech things, I feel the unwavering need to share them with the masses…or at least as many of the masses as will read this.

1. The Smallest Live-Streaming Video Solution- Contour announced a partnership with Japan-based Cerevo to unveil the world smallest and least expensive live-streaming video solution. Contour is a hands-free video camera maker and in 2011 they released the Contour+ and ContourROAM cameras.  The Contour+ works seamlessly with the Cerevo LiveShellfor live streaming video solution.

The Contour+ weights only 5.3 oz and has a 170° wide angle lens. It delivers HD video up to 1080p at 25/30 fps or 720p at 50/60 fps. With the new Contour Connect App any iPhone and soon Android can be used to stop and start and recordings. Contours exclusive Bluetooth technology allows Contour Connect to turn the users cellphone into a wireless viewfinder, so the user can adjust shots in realtime. There are multiple mounts available allowing the camera to be attached to almost anything. What the Contour+ was missing was the ability to stream directly to the Internet.

That is what Cerevo adds to the equation the Cerevo LiveShell. The Cerevo LiveShell attaches to the Contour+ by HDMI cable and then it can send out a live stream either by wired LAN or 802.11 b,g and n compatible wireless LAN. The Cerevo LiveShell can run for 2 hours on batteries. You can control the LiveShell thru a Web-based application on a smart phone or computer. The LiveShell has a maximum resolution of 480p. It is the first device that was given the “Ustream Compatible” seal of approval by Ustream. It does come with a power adapter allowing for 24/7 stable broadcasting. If you want to see an example, the Cerevo LiveShell is currently running in Akihabara, a section of Tokyo, Japan. The Cerevo LiveShell works not only with Contour products but a multiple number of video cameras, including cameras with analog inputs.

The vision for Contour began in 2003 out of the University of Washington business plan competition when two undergraduate students and avid skiers, Marc Barros and Jason Green, devised a simple helmet camera to record their exploits. The two wanted to share video of the thrills and spills of their downhill skiing adventures with their friends and family, but they couldn’t. The frozen mountaintop was a grueling and unforgiving environment for video camcorders. Besides, when you’re zooming downhill, crashing through trees with ski poles in your hands, holding onto a camera is the last thing on your mind.

After winning third place in the competition and enough money to afford the rent on a chilly warehouse, the two friends began building and selling the Twenty20 Helmet Camera. Over the years Contour has introduced a series of innovations to make storytelling easier for outdoor enthusiasts.

Cerevo is a Tokyo, Japan based company started in 2007 they specialize in live streaming. The Contour Connect is currently available in the iTunes store and should be coming to Android 2.2.1 and above in April. The app is free. The Cerevo LiveShell was launched in Japan in November 2011 and will be available through the Contour Web site starting February 1, 2012. If you want to stream your adventures live to Ustream than you need to take a look at both the Contour+ and their new partner Cerevo LiveShell.

2. Griffin’s Gadgets on the Go- Griffin has one of the best  ranges of accessories for smartphones of all kinds, as well as MP3 players and tablets, so it’s no surprise that they’ve got a few additions to their product range. This year they’re announcing  two in-car mounts, some power solutions and a mount for air travelers.

First up, if you have a car that has an aux port (3.5 mm socket), then the WindowsSeat 3 Handsfree is the windshield or dashboard mount for whatever your drive. It comes with a combined aux cable and microphone that that can be used to make handsfree phone calls and stream music/navigation commands through the car speakers. WindowSeat’s mounting cradle holds iPods or iPhones in most shell- or skin-type cases, as well as a similar sized MP3 players and smartphones, including some popular models from BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung.

If you don’t have  an aux jack, the AirCurve Window Mount is the alternative. This windshield mount is designed as an acoustic amplifier which can raise the volume by as much as 25 dB without any batteries or cables. Designed for the iPhone 4 / 4S, simply put the smartphone in speakerphone mode and chat away.

Griffin’s PowerBlock range has been updated with new models –  PowerBlock Reserve, a wall charger for iPod and iPhone that can be plugged into any AC wall outlet to provide a quick boost of power that also has a built-in rechargeable 2,000 mAh lithium-ion battery pack for charging on the go. The PowerBlock Reserve Universal, is the same concept but quickly charges any USB device. Both models charge their own batteries at the same time they’re charging connected devices, which is often not the case with competing models. A row of LEDs serve as a power gauge, indicating how much charge is left.

Finally, Griffin is bringing a new product to the market in Q2 of 2012 with a Tray Table Latch Mount. Specifically for the air and rail traveller, the mount is designed to be compatible with 90% of the world’s airline and commuter rail tray table latches and holds your eReader, tablet or smartphone at eye level for comfortable viewing. Very handy.

3. Blue Mic’s New Microphones- If you are a Podcaster you are familiar with Blue Mic. Founded in 1995 they sought to improve the front-end of audio recording by utilizing the increased bandwidth benefits enabled by digital technology. Advances in digital processing (e.g. extended frequency response, dynamic range, project recording capability) have fundamentally changed the recording process as well as the potential for the performance of microphones. Basing many of their concepts, designs, and technology on knowledge gleaned from years of repairing and improving classic microphones from a wide variety of manufacturers, but by simultaneously integrating new technologies, materials and a first-hand knowledge of today’s recording process, Blue began to pioneer the perfect analog input devices for the digital age.

They are the maker of the Yeti and Snowball mics. This year at CES 2012 they introduced three new mics, the Spark Digital, the Mikey Digital and the Tiki.

The Spark Digital is a studio grade condenser mic. It allows for high fidelity recording. There is an onboard control for volume, gain and instant mute.  There is a headphone jack for realtime monitoring.  It connects to both the iPad and a USB device easily. It is plug and play and has LED meter which provides visual feedback. It comes with an adjustable stand.

The Mikey Digital is made for the iPod touch 4th generation, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPad 1 and iPad 2. It allows for automatic or manual gain control. There is a three gain setting. It is set up to allow for stereo recording. It has a 230 degree rotating design and comes with a built-in USB charging port.

The Tiki is an intelligent ultra-compact USB microphone. It has voice isolation and noise cancellation. It can eliminate constant background noise by the use of intelligent muting. It is optimized for podcast and music recording. It improves voice clarity for Skype and iChat.

All three microphones work with most recording software including Garageband and should be available soon. If you are a fan of USB mics, I’d suggest taking a look at these three.  Blue Mic provides quality at a reasonable price.

Sounds to Listen Out for In 2012

I’ve already talked at length about the movies, gadgets and tech, toys, and doomsday events to look forward to this year, but one thing I’ve yet to mention is the sounds of 2012.

I’ve come across some pretty decent bands that are up and coming, have yet to up and come, or already here, and I figure what better thing to do than to share them with all you fine people out there in cyber space. Keep in mind though that as usual… this list is in no particular order.

1. Howler- A ban originally born out of boredom in 2010 by Jordan Gatesmith, Howler’s been described as having a west coast sunshine meets east coast garage/surf rock sort of sound. Their first EP ‘This One’s Different‘ was released in the US on February 14, 2011. The bands lineup consists of Jordan Gatesmith on lead guitar and vocals, Brent Mayes on drums, Ian Nygaard on guitar, Max Petrek on keyboard, and France Camp (real name Jay Simonson) on bass. With a sound like theirs, they’re definitely something to look for this year.

2. Spector- These east London indie-popsters have sharp suits, snazzy specs, and  swooning melodies reminiscent of bands of yesterday(this is meant in the best of ways). Their single ‘Grey Shirt and Tie’ is sure to be a hit. They’ve been described as “reminiscent of The Walkmen mainlined into The Killers’ chugga-train drive”. With a lineup of Frederick Macpherson (vocals), Christopher Burman (guitar), Thomas Shickle (bass), Jed Cullen (synth, guitar) and Danny Blandy (drums), they’ve got  the style and the substance to make it well into 2012 and beyond.

3. Flux Pavilion- Known professionally as Flux Pavilion and otherwise as Joshua Steele, is an English dubstep producer and DJ. This newcomer’s ‘Bass Cannon’ shot him directly into the public consciousness and saw him “Zane Lowe-d” as the hottest record of the week. A recent Tweets boast” recording my first string section – that’s why I love music”. And that’s why people are going to love him. I myself wasn’t the biggest proponent of dubstep, but even I have to admit that this guy is good…really good. I think he has what it takes to make it big or even bigger than big.

4. It Lies Within- In 2011, this band signed to Luxor Records.  For 2012, this means touring and new music.  Their sound is purely melodic.. in that deep, dark, metal way. The band consists of  Zachary (Vocals), Matthew (Guitar), Michael (Guitar), Justin (Bass), and Torrey (Drums). I see a ton of great things coming from this band next year, so make sure you check them out.

5. The Uptown 4- Unlike many of the other bands mentioned/to be mentioned, they’re an A Capella group. What originally started out as a few friends singing in their backyards and having fun has become one of the fastest-growing A Cappella quartets in the entire Pacific Northwest. Their lineup consists of  Orion (Affectionately nicknamed onion-ring.) (Tenor 1), Jeffrey McGlinn (Tenor 2), Jeff Weister (Baritone), Sky Lewis (Bass), and Shawn Dudley (Vocal Percussion) Their unique sound is sure to make them a continued hit throughout 2012. If you haven’t checked them out, you should.

6. Good Weather For Airstrikes- In 2011,  this band has released a full-length, gone on a Midwest tour, and played a ton of awesome shows.  Their Indie sound is quite unique(at least to these ears.) They definitely seem to have more than a hang on their craft. Look for them to keep the ball rolling in 2012 and beyond.  With a lineup like James Radick, Joe Hillier, Josh Fenn, & Bill Grant just wait till you see what they’ve got to offer.

7. Act As One- After a bit of a brief indefinite break, Act As One is back and better than ever.  Their pop-punkish sound is quite refreshing. They bring to mind Sum41, though they are of course quite different. Along with great vocals, they boast some great instrumentals. Look for some awesome new music from these guys this year. There’s nowhere but even further up to go for Taylor Nagel, Shawn Brown, Jared McNally, Levi King, and Ben Hoffman.

8. Toy-  This indie rock/psychedelic rock band from London is comprised of Tom Dougall, Dominic O’Dair,
Maxim Barron, Charlie Salvidge, and Alejandra Diez. Toy emerged from the smoking ruble of Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong(That band having been roundly shafted by a major label who paid for the recording of, then shelved, their debut album.) Now safe on indie shores with Heavenly Records, Toy are pushing a thoroughly mellow post punk sound that should have indie discos and clubs swooning throughout the year.

9. In The Name Of- These guys are a collection of musicians assembled and managed by the singer/songwriter Danny Worsnop, from various locations across the USA. They’ve raised the eyebrows and captured the attention of many. In The Name Of breaks all the rules written on how the music business works and is a fast rising new band that is definitely a name you won’t be forgetting about any time soon!

http://www.facebook.com/officialitno

That concludes my list of the sounds you should definitely listen out for this year. Though there are a slew of other bands out there who were not mentioned in my list, that doesn’t mean they’re not worth listening out for either. And while you’re at it.. keep an ear out for those artists already known… who knows.. they just may come up with something utterly amazing.

Another Geek Peek

As a followup to my blob post titled “A Geek Peek At 2012” while talking to folk I’ve come across seven more things that might catch the interest of some of you out there. Keep in mind, nothing on this list is in any specific order.

7. E3- E3 2012 may be the biggest show ever, with the new Wii U, XBox, and the PS4 tease. It’s rumored that the NetBox will be making an appearance at E3 2012. In a surprise move, Sony executives have hinted that they will reveal a new console at E3. If the rumors are found to be true, then this could mark the first time ever an entire generation will be revealed in a single place, single time.

6.  Marvel Legends- Hasbro’s line of 6-inch action figures is poised for a comeback in 2012. The first wave is said to feature figures of Steve Rogers, Iron Man, Hope Summers and the return of “Build-a-Figure” in the form of  Terrax. If that’s not enough, a new Wolverine, Punisher and a Nova Prime are just a few of the figures about to become Marvel Legends! If you’re a collector, your wallet’s going to hate you.

5. The Dark Knight Rises- Due to the disappointment of some of you for not placing this on my previous blog post, I’ve seen fit to place it here. The Dark Knight Rises will be showcasing Bane and Catwoman for the first time in the current movie franchise.  This may be the final installment of the billion-dollar Batman movie franchise. The promise that  “The Legend Ends” = the one movie in 2012 you and I would be crazy to miss if you’re a Batman fan. Will it be all it’s made up to be? Who knows.

4. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter- I have yet to read the book, but I have seen a preview for the film and honestly it looks interesting. Not necessarily 100% historically accurate, it should still make for an interesting watch. Thanks to Twilight, I’m sure Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter won’t be the worst vampire film I’ve ever seen. If you’re like me and haven’t read the book, here’s a blurb about the plot: President Lincoln’s mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers.(Told you it was a blurb.) What can go wrong with pitting the Great Emancipator Vs. the undead?

3. The Last Airbender: Legend Of Korra- As huge a fan as I am of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the world of the story, I’m sure I’ll enjoy this continuing of the Avatar story. This second Nickelodeon series is set in the world of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The difference is that this time it’s not Aang who is the hero. Seventy Years after Ang, a new Avatar named Korra appears as the hero. Though there’s a new Avatar, I’m sure this new series will dazzle me as much as the first one did.

2. Rurouni Kenshin- Also known as “Samurai X” the wildly popular ’90s manga-turned-anime series is back on with three new offerings. The first is an original animation video (OAV) called “Rurouni Kenshin: Shin Kyoto-Hen,” which retells the epic battle between our favorite red-haired Meiji-era swordsman and his heavily bandaged archenemy, Shishio Makoto. The graphics are said to be similar to the main anime series, with voice actress Mayo Suzukaze reprising her role as Kenshin Himura along with the rest of the original cast. The OAV’s first half premiered in Japan last December; the limited-edition DVD and Blu-Ray version is set for release this March.

Secondly, the  live-action version, produced by Warner Bros., finally hits theaters in Japan on August 25th. The hype broke out when the film staff released a trailer and several set photos online, plus an ad featuring actor Takeru Satoh (“Kamen Rider Den-O”) in full getup as Kenshin Himura in the January 2012 issue of Jump Square magazine. The cast for characters Kaoru, Sanosuke, Yahiko, Megumi, Saitou, and the series’ “first” antagonists Jin’e and Takeda have all been confirmed.

Lastly,but not least Jump Square announced that the manga series will resume running in May 2012, with creator Nobuhiro Watsuki at the helm. Whether this is a  “reboot” or an actual sequel is unclear, but I’m sure fans would like a new arc; or at least, for it to pick up where the manga left off 12 years ago. These dates though are for releases in Japan, to the best of my knowledge.

1. Dredd- Most people could probably agree that the first attempt to make a movie based on the popular 2000 AD character was completely awful. Just the thought of it has me hearing Stallone shouting out “I am the law!” Hopefully the remake can’t be any worse.  Danny Boyle is  producing the remake, Alex Garland is on script writing dutys and Karl Urban is playing the lead role. Given the lack of Stalone in this film, I think it’s safe to say that the new version is going to be far better than than the 90s version. Here’s to hoping.

Though this post lacks some of the flair of my previous post, I still can’t help but be excited by some of these things. Just more proof that this is going to be one heck of a year.

How to Survive a Horror Movie.

Every time I sit and watch a horror  movie, I think about all the things the characters do wrong. All the things they do but shouldn’t do. All the things that no rational person would do in those sorts of situations.

So, I give to you dear readers my list of Horror Movie Rules. (In no particular order of course.) Sure, 10 rules may be sufficient enough for survival under most circumstances, but I feel that 30 rules will get you a hell of a lot further than 10.

1. When it appears that you have killed the killer/monster, never  ever check to see if it’s really dead. If you have a gun, shoot it in the head repetitively. If you  have a knife, you might as well have nothing unless you’re skilled with it. Even then.. assume the killer/monster is still alive.. That is.. until you see its head detached from its body. Basically… overkill

2. Never ever read any sort of ancient books of the dead or of demon summoning aloud, not even as a bad joke. All you’ll get in return is those you care about possessed by whatever evil you call forth. They’ll die, then you’ll die. Unless of course you happen to be an occult expert. Even then.. it’s a risk not worth taking.

3. Avoid the basement at all cost. If your power goes out and your fuse box is in the basement.. skrew the power. Grab a flashlight and make sure you have your eyes on every possible exit from whatever room you’re in.

4. Never leave the large group you’re in to venture off on your own. They say there’s strength in numbers for a reason. The more of you there are, the more difficult it is for you to be picked off… usually.

5. As a rule.. always avoid graveyards, cemeteries, tombs, crypts, or any place where the dead are laid to rest. It may be hallowed grown, but that sure as hell doesn’t mean you’re safe there.

6. If anyone is bitten by a zombie, even if that anyone is your best friend, husband, wife, child.. they will become a zombie. (Unless they’re somehow miraculously immune to the infection.. which is unlikely.) This of course means you kill them or you will be killed. Regardless of who they may have been.. they’re vicious, bloodthirsty, and they want you for dinner.

7. If you’re alone in your house in the middle of the night, you know your significant other is out of town for a few more days and you hear your name called; leave the house… through whatever exit is opposite direction of the voice. If there is no exit.. make one.

9. If you’re going to shoot something.. shoot the hell out of it.

10. If you think your house is haunted, it just may be. Treat it as such. This of course means get a priest, rabbi, monk, pastor.. whomever is a person of authority or respect in your perspective religion and have them come over immediately if not sooner. Even simpler… just leave. grab your things and leave.

11. Creepy music means something bad’s probably going to happen. If you can’t hear it.. then you’re done for.

12. For the love of all that is holy.. do not, under any circumstances take or accept anything from the dead. It didn’t do them any good while they were alive and it’s certainly not going to help you out. Besides, if you steal from them, they’ll come back and kill you and there’s not a lot you can do about it.

13. If you do decide to run from what’s chasing you, be sure you have someone with you and while you’re at it, be sure you’re faster than them. It’s all about survival of the fittest. Be the fittest.

14. If you have large boobs, natural or fake then you’re doomed. Your bf/gf may like them, but they’re sure to get you killed. Try climbing out through a tight space to escape the killer/monster with those giant sweater puppies.. it won’t work.

15. Listen to your children. If they tell you their “imaginary” friend wants them to do bad things or that they’re afraid of said “friend” the best thing you can do is believe them. Children are more susceptible to the supernatural than adults are. Especially if you’ve just moved into a new home.

16. Always be prepared. One of the worst things you can do is give in to your fear. That leads to mistakes being made and it only takes one mistake to end up dead.

17. Always ask why the house you’re buying is being sold at such an amazing price.

18. Your dog can take care of itself. Worry about yourself, not about it.

19. If you’ve been traumatized in the past and have recurring nightmares about it and are seeing things that aren’t there… you aren’t crazy!  Relax, you’re just in a horror movie.

20. If the camp you’re staying at for the summer has rumors of deaths, mysterious disappearances, or other unexplained happenings… leave. Either one of your councilors is a psychotic killer, there’s a killer who frequents the camp grounds, or the camp is haunted.

21. Campfire legends are true.

22. Don’t bury your loved one or pet on any land that’s sacred to any people. They come back.. and they’re not nice about it.

23. If you have a dog and it  starts barking like crazy in the middle of the night, trust it. Even if you don’t see anything at all for it to bark at. The one time you ignore it, you’ll wake up to the sight of the Supernatural Menace turning your companions into jerky.

24. Local legends surrounding death, suicide, murder, ghosts, or supernatural entities where you are planning to move, vacation or visit should be accepted as fact. It’d be really sucky for the last words you ever hear to be “I told you so.” before you die.

25. Premonitions, dejavu, odd sensations or feelings of intuition: intuition is moreimportant than logic in Horror Movies. Logic will get you disemboweled. Listen to your gut.

26. On no account do anything because someone dares you to. Many a person has died in a horror movie just because of this. Don’t be one of them.

27. If something bad is chasing you, bear in mind that when you try to start your car, no matter how reliable the vehicle is normally, you’ll have to crankthe engine over many times before it will fire up. So, don’t be surprised.

28. Never use a Ouija board. It may seem like a harmless game amongst friends, but as with reading aloud from books about summoning spirits and demons, it can only end poorly.

29. Always always be nice to the unpopular, pale, creepy new kid. They almost always turn out to be the killer, and will massacre the bullies, while you get out with a nice thank-you and a hug. Hopefully.

30. Lastly, yet far from least is listening to the advise of locals, especially the random older local who comes off as strange. There’s a likely chance that you’ll regret it if you don’t.

Well.. this ends my list of horror movie rules. There’re a ton of others that I could have added, but they’re mostly covered by this simple rule: Don’t be stupid… which means don’t say stupid things, do stupid things, or be stupid.Follow these rules and you just may survive your horror movie…. I hope.

Santorum: Just Another Dirty Word.

If you were to go on to Google and type in “santorum”(Minus the quotes of course.), what you’d find wouldn’t be the nicest thing in the world. Now..I won’t type out what pops up at that search, but despite it’s not being all that nice, I find it more than deserving and fitting.

Before I begin digging into him, here’s a bit of information about the guy.  Richard John “Rick” Santorum is a lawyer and politician, and a  member of the Republican Party. He represented the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives (1991-1995) and the U.S. Senate (1995-2007). As a Senator, Santorum was the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, making him the third-ranking Senate Republican from 2001 to 2007.

Santorum is considered both a social and fiscal conservative. He is especially well-known for his strong social conservative positions,his role in enacting welfare reform in 1996, and his views on U.S. foreign policy towards Iran.

Since leaving public office, Santorum has worked as an attorney, served as a Senior Fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and been a contributor to Fox News Channel.

Santorum is a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in the 2012 election. He formed a presidential exploratory committee on April 13, 2011, and formally announced his candidacy on June 6, 2011. After running in the bottom tier of candidates for months, Santorum gained significant momentum in the weeks before the Iowa caucuses, and scored a significant second-place finish in the caucuses with just eight votes fewer than the first-place finisher Mitt Romney.

Beneath that politicians smile lies a man filled with ignorance; and not the blissful kind. In a Fox interview, Rick Santorum had some… interesting things to say on the topic of gays in the military. During the interview, a clip was played  in which he was heard to say (when asked by a gay soldier “Do you intend to circumvent the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”) “Any type of sexual activity has no place in the military and the fact that they’re making a point to include it to a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privileged to…in removing “don’t ask, don’t tell” I think tries to inject social policy into the military.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a yes if ever I’ve heard one.

If that’s not enough, in an interview with Associated Press reporter Lara Jakes Jordan, when asked for his position on the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, Santorum said that the scandal involved priests and post-pubescent men in “a basic homosexual relationship” (not child sexual abuse), which led the interviewer to ask if homosexuality should be outlawed.

Santorum then brought up the then-pending U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, which challenged a Texas sodomy law, and went on to say that:

  • he did not have a problem with homosexuals, but “a problem with homosexual acts”
  • the right to privacy “doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution”
  • sodomy laws properly exist to prevent acts which “undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family”

How does one not have a problem with homosexuals yet have a problem with homosexual acts? It’s like saying “I like black people, but I don’t like them doing things that black people do.” It’s ridiculous.. to say the very least.

When Jordan asked “Okay, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?” Santorum’s response concluded:

“In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —” (At this point, Jordan commented, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about ‘man on dog’ with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out,” coining a phrase widely used in connection with this incident.)

In the original version of the Associated Press story, Santorum was quoted as saying:

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.”

It also included additional remarks criticizing “homosexual acts”:

“Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, whether it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.”

Jordan produced a recording of the interview, after allegations of bias were leveled against her because she is married to a Democratic strategist.

This is a man who wants to be the President of the United States. A man who’s shown more ignorance than intelligence through his running for the most powerful office in the country. I don’t claim to be any sort of prophet, soothsayer, doomsayer or the like, but I’m pretty sure that if a man such as Rick Santorum was to win the office of President, this country, if not the world might as well be as doomed as those who believe in the Mayan calenders think it to be. As much as I value free speech.. and I do, it’s always sad when someone takes a gift like that and wastes it spouting such garbage. This is why “santorum” is just another dirty word.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with this gem of a video I found.:

Zombie Apocalypse/Zompocalypse 101

In an earlier post of mine entitled A Geek Peek at 2012, one of the things I discussed, though briefly was the Zombie Apocalypse. In a comment to that post, someone stated that they didn’t understand the Zombie Apocalypse, so I figured I’d take the time to try and explain it to all those who may not be familiar with it.

The Zombie Apocalypse is defined as being a particular scenario of apocalyptic literature . In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread rise of zombieshostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization.

In some stories of zombie apocalypse, victims of zombies may become zombies themselves if they are bitten or scratched by zombies; or if a zombie-creating virus travels by air, sexually, or via water source. In others, everyone who dies or has died in the past, whatever the cause, becomes one of the undead. In some cases, parasitic organisms can cause zombification by killing their hosts and reanimating their corpses, though some may argue that this is not a real or traditional zombie. In rarer cases, possession by a demonic spirit or demonic spirits (released through some ancient tome, rite, or incantation) has caused the long since dead and or the closest living being to become a zombie. In the latter scenario zombies also prey on the living though their bite may not always cause an infection that kills and reanimates. In either case, this can cause the outbreak to become an exponentially growing crisis: the spreading “zombie plague” swamps law enforcement organizations, the military as well as health care services; leading to the panicked collapse of civil society until only isolated pockets of survivors remain. Basic services such as piped water supplies and electrical power shut down, mainstream mass media would no longer function and the national governments of affected countries collapse or go into hiding. The survivors usually begin scavenging for food, weapons and other supplies in a world reduced to a mostly pre-industrial or possibly post apocalyptic, hostile wilderness.

Now fiction aside, there are reasons such an event could actually take place in the real world. Here are 5 reasons.. 5 scientific reasons backing up a Zombie Outbreak/Zombie Apocalypse:

5.  Brain Parasites- A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense. Brain Parasites are the same as any other sort of parasite, though they feed off of either chemicals produced by the brain, brain fluid, or other things related to the brain. In nature there are many parasites. One such being toxoplasma gondiiToxoplasma gondii is the causative agent of the toxoplasmosis disease. In summary, extensive studies carried out under different experimental conditions suggest that T. gondii changes the behavior of rodents so as to make them more likely to be predated on by cats, the parasite’s definitive host.

From cracked.com Chances this could cause a zombie apocalypse:
“Humans and rats aren’t all that different; thats why they use them to test our drugs. All it takes is a more evolved version of toxoplasmosa, one that could to do us what it does to the rats. So, imagine if half the world suddenly had no instinct for self-preservation or rational thought. Even less than they do now, we mean. If you’re comforting yourself with the thought that it may take forever for such a parasite to evolve, you’re forgetting about all the biological weapons programs around the world, intentionally weaponizing such bugs. You’ve got to wonder if the lab workers don’t carry out their work under the unwitting command of the toxoplasmosa gondii already in their brains. If you don’t want to sleep at night, that is.”

4. Neurotoxins- Poisons that act on the nervous system. Certain neurotoxins can slow your bodily functions to the point that you’d be considered dead. The poison from fugu (Japanese blowfish) has the capability to do this. The victims of neurotoxin poisoning can then be brought back under the effects of a drug like datura stramonium or alkaloids that leave them in a trance-like state with no memory. In this state they are still able to perform simple tasks like eating, sleeping, moaning and shambling around with their arms outstretched.

There are reported cases of this actually happening in Haiti, which is where the word “zombie” comes from. Some of the most famous books on the subject are by Dr. Edmund Wade Davis: “Passage of Darkness” & “The Serpent and the Rainbow” Clairvius Narcisse was declared dead on 2 May 1962, and yet in 1980 returned alive to his home village of L’Estère in Haiti. After investigating reports of “zombis” (including Narcisse and a handful of others), researchers believed that Narcisse received a dose of chemical mixture containing Tetrodotoxin (pufferfish venom) and bufotoxin (toad venom) to induce a coma which mimicked the appearance of death. He was then allowed to return to his home where he collapsed, “died” and was buried. Ethnobotanist Wade Davis, who did the research on Tetrodotoxin explains that a Bokor would have given Narcisse a powder containing the Tetrodotoxin through abraded skin. Narcisse fell into a comatose state, closely resembling death which resulted in his live burial. His body was then recovered and he was given doses of Datura stramonium to create a compliant zombie-like state and set to work on a plantation. After two years, the plantation owner died and Narcisse simply walked away to freedom. Though there is no way to necessarily make this sort of zombie aggressive or cannibalistic; if such a thing was able to happen and on a wide enough scale.. we would certainly have a zombie problem.

3. Rage- A feeling of intense anger. It is associated with the Fight-or-flight response and oftentimes activated in response to an external cue, such as the murder of a loved one. The phrase, ‘thrown into a fit of rage,’ expresses the immediate nature of rage that occurs before deliberation. If left unchecked rage may lead to violence. Depression and anxiety lead to an increased susceptibility to rage.

In the movies 28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later, the Rage Virus is a virus that turned human beings into mindless killing machines and is the cause for the zombie outbreak and subsequently the Zombie Apocalypse. Now, while the rage virus may not exist in the real world, we do have a series of brain disorders that do the same thing. They were never contagious, of course. Then, Mad Cow Disease came along. It attacks the cow’s spinal cord and brain, turning it into a stumbling, mindless attack cow. Combine the Mad Cow Disease with some people’s predisposition towards violence and there you have it.

2. Neurogenesis- The process by which neurons are generated from neural stem and progenitor cells. Most active during pre-natal development, neurogenesis is responsible for populating the growing brain with neurons. Some would even word it as being the method by which dead brain-tissue can be regrown.

Science can pretty much save you from just about anything but brain death; they can swap out organs but when the brain turns to mush, you’re basically dead. Right? Well apparently a dead body can be kept in a state of suspended animation to be brought back later. That just seems like it’s leading to bringing the dead back to life.. as long as they’re freshly dead. ya know.?. As nice as it sounds to have your loved one brought back from death’s very doorstep, the process of “reanimation” could cause a problem. The brain would die from the outside in. The outside of the brain, being the cortex, the part which makes people…. people. That would basically leave an individual a husk of their former self. Though the cortex isn’t needed for survival, you would be left a mindless shambling…zombie(for lack of a better word.). Take one freshly dead person, use the techniques of neurogenesis to regrow the dead brain-tissue or the brain stem and you have a living dead person, devoid of thought or personality.  All it takes is someone with considerable time, resources, and a need for a totally mindless workforce to obey their every wish.

1. Nanobots- Very small self-propelled machines, esp. ones that have some degree of autonomy and can reproduce. Basically they’re microscopic machines that can build or destroy anything.. in a matter of speaking.

Scientists have already created a nano-cyborg, by fusing a tiny silicone chip to a virus. One of the first things they found out was that these cyborgs can still operate for up to a month after the death of the host. Who knows…within a decade they may have nanobots that can crawl inside your brain and set up neural connections to replace damaged ones; rewiring your thoughts. Ask yourself…what could possibly go wrong with that? Nanobots in your brain after you’re dead… keeping your body moving and functioning and moving till there’s nothing left to move.  The nanobots would be programmed to self-replicate of course, and the death of the host would mean the end of the nanobots. In order to preserve themselves, they’d be forced to transfer to a new host. Therefore, the last act of the nanobot infested zombie would be to bite a hole in a healthy victim, letting the nanobots steam in and start the whole process all over again in the new host. Once in, they could shut down the part of the brain that resists (the cortex) and leave the brain stem intact. They would have added a new member to their undead ranks.

There you have it. Science has proven the possibility, feasibility, and the reality(No matter how unlikely it may be.) of a zombie outbreak.

All that’s left is surviving a Zombie Outbreak/Zombie Apocalypse. Good Luck.

In Memory of a Swordsman

I suppose I’m getting known for my geek-filled posts on here, but this one had to be posted. Bob Anderson is a name not everyone might know, let alone Robert James Gilbert Anderson. If you grew up in the 70’s or 80’s and were a sci-fi/fantasy fan then this man was undoubtedly part of your childhood. Even more recently, he’s had his hands in the fantasy/sci-fi world. In Case you don’t know the man, here’s a little about him.:

Bob Anderson joined the Royal Marines and won several combined services titles in the sport of fencing. He served in the Mediterranean during WWII. As a competitive fencer, he represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games in 1952, and the World Championships in 1950 and 1953 in the sabre event. He finished tied for fifth in the team sabre event at Helsinki in 1952. After his retirement from fencing competition, he studied under Roger Crosnier and was appointed the first official British National Coach. During the late 1950s through the 1970s he travelled around Britain, and between fencing courses he combined his official duties with television and film work. Eventually emigrating to Canada, he went on to become technical director of the Canadian Fencing Association in Ottawa.[5][6] During the 1960s and 1970s he was also the president of the British Academy of Fencing.

Anderson’s cinema career began in 1953 when he choreographed fights for and coached Errol Flynn in The Master of Ballantrae. During rehearsal for a scene he accidentally slashed Flynn on his thigh, leading to notoriety in Hollywood as “the man who stabbed Errol Flynn”. He went on to work as a stunt performer and/or fight choreographer in films such as The Guns of Navarone and the Bond films From Russia With Love and Casino Royale. His stature in Hollywood was cemented when he was selected by Stanley Kubrick in 1974 to act as the sword master for Barry Lyndon.

Anderson subsequently went on to be involved in all three of the original Star Wars films. Anderson did not receive much recognition for his work for years after their initial release, in part because David Prowse was so lauded for his portrayal that director George Lucas did not want to detract from the boost it gave the actor’s career. In a 1983 interview, however, Mark Hamill paid homage to Anderson’s contribution, saying: “Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader’s fighting. It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George I didn’t think it was fair any more. Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition. It’s ridiculous to preserve the myth that it’s all done by one man.”

Anderson continued to work in cinema for the next thirty years, and was responsible for the sword work in many films, including Highlander, The Princess Bride, The Three Musketeers, The Mask of Zorro, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Shortly before his death he was working on The Hobbit. He had a reputation for being a perfectionist, with director Martin Campbell giving him the nickname “Grumpy Bob”.[1] Anderson was interviewed at length for the 2009 documentary on cinematic sword-fighting, Reclaiming the Blade where he commented, “I never took up the sword, I think the sword took me up.”

On New Years day 2012, Anderson died in a West Sussex hospital at the age of 89. Though he is no longer with us; whenever anyone watches Star Wars and enjoys the fight scenes with Darth Vader, whenever someone sits riveted by the fight scene between Inigo Montoya & Westley on that high rocky cliff overlooking the ocean, whenever anyone sits in enjoyment of his craft, his memory lives on.

Below is a list of some of the films in which Bob Anderson was Sword Master, Additional Sword Trainer, & Fight Arranger:

The Hobbit, Alatriste, The Legend of Zorro, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Die Another Day, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Mask of Zorro, The Phantom, Highlander:The Series, The Princess Bride, & *Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

(Thanks to Wikipdeia for its wealth of information.)


RIP Robert James Gilbert Anderson (15 September 1922 – 1 January 2012)

A Geek Peek at 2012

Even if the Mayans, doomsday prophesiers , soothsayers and televangelists are right and 2012 is the end of history as we know it or the end of mankind; it’s going to be one heck of a year for geeks and nerds alike. This year’s going to see the return of favorites such as Doctor Who and Fringe, as well as a slew of new video games and Hollywood blockbusters. Whatever may come of this year, it’s certain to be the year of the geek. That all being said, I’ve taken it upon myself to compile a list (in no particular order) of some of the more noteworthy things to look forward to this year.

15. The Hunger Games Comes to Film

I’ve heard a lot of buzz going on about this one. The Hunger Games takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of North America, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and thirteen surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region that was formerly Appalachia. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol, every year, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by lottery and forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised event in which the participants, or “tributes,” must fight to the death in a dangerous, outdoor arena, controlled by the Capitol, until only one remains. The story follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12, who volunteers for the 74th Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose. Also participating from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son whom Katniss knows from school and who once gave her bread when her family was starving. I haven’t read the book, but that doesn’t stop me from looking forward to the film.

14. The Avengers Movie

Now I’m a huge fan of comics, mostly the Marvel franchise (not that I don’t like DC), and as such, I’m a fan of The Avengers. From what I hear, this year will see “earths mightiest heroes” grouped together on the big screen. It’s about time. I’ve seen all the separate movies that have led up to this point and I’ve liked all but one of them.  This year we’ll all have a chance to see Thor! Captain America! Iron Man! The Hulk! Nick Fury! And the rest in action on the silver screen. It’s something definitely worth waiting for, though the question of how they plan on giving each Avenger the proper amount of time on the screen as they go up against Loki and from what I’ve read(spoiler alert)… possibly the Scrulls. This film will either be worthy of comic book fan movie of the year, or it’ll be a huge bomb. Here’s hoping it’s not the later of the two. For anyone of you unfamiliar with the Avengers should check out their Wikipedia page by clicking here (Avengers)

13. iPhone 5

I’m one of the many fans out there of Apple products; namely the iPod touch, iPad, and of course iPhone, so it’s no wonder the iPhone 5 managed to find its way onto my little…not soo little list. A lot of folk seemed disappointed at the release of the iPhone 4S, but those who didn’t buy one will have their day in the sun as it were in the late summer or fall of 2012 with the release of the iPhone 5 which is a complete redesign of the iconic device. It’s also said that the new iPhone 5 will be sporting a larger screen as well as a sleeker body design. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to try it out.

12. Zombie Apocalypse

Now i’m sure you’re probably confused as to how the Zombie Apocalypse made its way onto my auspicious list of things to look forward to this year, right.?. But if you put into consideration the growing social unease regarding the state the world is currently in, irreversible damage to the earth, and dwindling natural resources, maybe a good push of the big red reset button is just what the doctor ordered. And what better way to usher in that restart than with a Zombie Apocalypse? Sure, some of your friends and neighbors might become flesh eating ghouls, but that’s the price of progress. And look on the bright side, some of your least favorite people might end up zombies.. and you know what that means. Time to grab your shotguns, shovels, swords and the like and get some undead revenge.

11. PS Vita and the Wii U

They’re not necessarily games in of themselves, but on one hand you have a handheld device that can mimic/replicate PS3 experiences on a smaller screen, and on the other, we have a sequel to a console that has pretty much helped to bring gaming to the masses as; it’s definitely a good time to be a gamer, regardless of what particular console you prefer. Sony’s PS Vita will attempt to take some of the handheld gaming market back from Nintendo thanks largely to the device’s use of Augmented Reality — a technology that utilizes a built in camera to juxtapose gaming action with real world environments. The Vita promises to translate all our favourite home console experiences onto it, and the Wii U promises better third party support, along with a range of top tier first party games that we’ve come to expect from Nintendo. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

10. Avengers vs. X-Men

Marvel is billing Avengers vs. X-Men as “the biggest comic book event in history.” Who knows if the 12-issue miniseries will even remotely come close to impacting the comic book  industry as much as DC’s recent New 52 initiative. Here’s a video that’ll tell you a lot more about it than I’ve managed to.

9. Apple TV

Steve Jobs told Walter Isaacson that he “cracked” the TV in his biography. Will we see a TV from the company, complete with some sort of Siri-based voice controls? One can only hope. The Apple TV is a small form factor network appliance designed to play digital content originating from the iTunes Store, Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, MobileMe, MLB.tv, NBA League Pass, NHL GameCenter or any Mac OS X or Windows computer running iTunes onto an enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen television.

8. iPad 3

Given the product cycle Apple adheres to, you can also expect an upgrade to the iconic tablet in March (as was the case in 2011) It’s expected that the new iPad 3 will come with major upgrading. Some of the rumored specs of the device are that it may come equipped with an enhanced retina display feature to its 10-inch screen. It may also come with a 2048A1536 resolution display. It may also become “modestly thicker” (0.7 mm) to accommodate the twin light bar system needed for its higher-resolution display. Next thing you know, all TV’s will be replaced by iPads hanging on walls. Who’s got two thumbs and is looking forward to that? This guy.

7. Tron: Uprising

This 10-part animated series will bridge the gap between Tron and Tron: Legacy by telling the story of a young program’s revolution against the tyrannical Clu 2. Despite having a new character in a leading role, the series will feature familiar faces like Kevin Flynn and Tron himself. The show takes its visual cues from the sequel film as opposed to the retro-like look of the original Tron film. Not that that’s a bad thing. The animation in the series will be a mixture of 2-D and 3-D  and is said to be stunning. Even better is the fact that the show’s voices are provided by Elijah Wood, Lance Henriksen and Bruce Boxleitner. Even though this is conceived as a limited run series, any further exploration of the Tron world is a good thing in my book. Let’s hope this is better than the Animatrix was.

6. Doctor Who: Season 7

From what I’ve heard, the Ponds may be leaving the company of the Doctor and there’s only one more year until the 50th anniversary?! Since the skilled hands of Stephen Moffat took over the beloved science fiction/fantasy series it has been a nonstop thrill ride through the big bowl of wibbly wobbly timey wimey… stuff with the Eleventh incarnation of the Doctor portrayed by Matt Smith.  Now he is promising to not only get rid of beloved companions, Amy and Rory Pond but there will be no two parters on a show known for its cliffhangers. How will this effect the show?? Will there be more new villainous villains more villainous than the Silence and the Weeping Angels??

5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I’ve talked quite a few times about The Hobbit in a previous blog or two, but that’s because I’m purely excited about the film. Any chance to see Ian McKellen back on the big screen as Gandalf is worth the wait and watch. Even if he’s coming back as Gandalf the Grey as opposed to Gandalf the White. If you don’t know, The Hobbit is the latest Tolkien based film by Peter Jackson to take place in the world of Middle Earth. Though you won’t see Gimli, Legolas, Aragornor Boromir, there’s sure to be a slew of likable characters in their stead.. and far more dwarves. If the world’s going to end this year, at least I’ll get to see this film before it happens.

4. The Woman In Black

It’s going to be good to see Daniel Radcliffe back on the big screen, even if it’s not as Harry Potter, the boy who lived. Based on Susan Hill’s 1983 novel of the same name, which was also adapted into a long-running stage play, The Woman in Black is about a young lawyer who encounters a malevolent ghost in a small British town. From what little I’ve seen of the preview or trailer for the film, I’m excited. How’s Mr. Radcliffe going to deal with this malevolent specter of a woman without his trusty wand in hand? I can’t wait to find out. This post-Potter film promises to be a winner. Hollywood needs more good old-fashioned ghost stories like this one.

3. Playstation 4

Sony Playstation is well into the development of its next generation console. Both Sony and Microsoft have publicly gone on record that their current consoles will have life cycles of 10 years, the PS3 was released in 2006. But that doesn’t mean they’re likely to wait until the very end of that shelf life. As for rumours about the PS4: Blu-Ray for certain, portable gaming data, a redesign of the PSN, more power (up to ten times more than the PS3 according to some estimates) and key for fans with shelves full of older titles: backwards compatibility, and who doesn’t love backwards compatibility? I know I do.

2. Video Games

Tomb Raider: 2012 sees a re-boot of one of the defining games of a generation as Lara Croft is due to return in Tomb Raider. With a trailer first unveiled at E3 last summer this new version of the game serves as a prequel to the original. Developed by Crystal Dynamics it has high hopes for this latest edition in the hugely successful series which sees the heroine stranded on a mysterious island and fighting for survival. Who doesn’t like a good survival game.?.

Grand Theft Auto V: One of the most controversial game series over the last decade 2012 could see a new edition to the Grand Theft Auto franchise. The trailer alone made shock waves around the gaming community when it was released in early November. Set back in San Andreas it left more questions than answers for the game’s fans. Who is the middle aged man featured in the trailer? Will it be as violent as previous titles? Will it prove big enough to break Call of Duty’s strangle hold on the video game market? Whatever the answers are,  if it does make it onto the shelves next year Rockstar North will surely have the biggest selling game of 2012 on its hands.

Mass Effect 3: This is one game that does have a release date confirmed for 2012 (March 9th if you’re wondering). You play Commander Shepherd taking on ancient alien race The Reapers. Following their all out invasion Earth has been captured and the Galaxy is on the verge of annihilation. And you’re the only thing standing in their way. So far so standard for fans of the sci-fi genre. But what makes this series’ different is it wide ranging game play. It boasts multiple endings which play out depending on the decisions you make during the game and the type of fighting you do it’s likely to earn another sure fire hit for developer Bioware (Reminiscent of the “choose your own adventure” books, I’d say.)

1. Windows 8 Tablet

From what I understand, Samsung and HP will be the first makers of any Windows 8 tablets which will use the “Metro” interface on tablet that is presently used in Windows 7 Phone .  These tablets are going to be thin and light with lots of supports, Apps, an App store, and it will run on ARM, Intel and AMD chips. The price of these tablets will be similar to Android tablets. Though I’m a huge fan of Apple and all its many fine products, I’m still a PC user, so while I look forward to Apples new products, I can’t help but find myself intrigued by the Windows 8 Tablet. Will it be enough to steal me away from Apples iPad 3? Only time can tell.


One heck of a year for geeks and nerds alike indeed…

A Not So Brief Lesson In Horror

As I’ve been a little heavy on the sci-fi of late, I figured I’d give horror another go.

HORROR
• noun 1) an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust. 2) a thing causing such a feeling. 3) intense dismay. 4) informal a bad or mischievous person, especially a child.
— ORIGIN Latin, from horrere ‘shudder, (of hair) stand on end.

Though this blog was made originally about the evolution of horror as a genre of film, you can’t go on talking about horror films without addressing their origins in literature.

For as long as mankind has told stories, there have been stories about the Unknown, the Other, things we might call speculative fiction. Every culture has its creation myths inhabited by demons, darkness, spirits, and the like.  Early Abrahamic, Egyptian, and Celtic mythology sounds stories of worlds beyond the physical, worlds of spirits, faeries, angels and the like, to be revered and feared.

Classical mythology is full of monsters –  Harpys, Centaurs, Cerberus, the Minotaur, Medusa, the Hydra, the Sirens, the Furies, Arachne, Scylla and Charybdis to name a few- and heroes had to navigate safely through the land of the dead on frequent occasions. Ancestor worship and the veneration of the dead began with the Zhou dynasty in China, 1500 years BC. The modern horror genre as we know it is only about 200 years old, but it has distinguished antecedents. Every culture has a set of stories dealing with the unknown and unexplained, tales that chill, provoke and keep the listener wondering “what if..?” Horror films are the modern-day version of the epic poems and ballads of old, told round the fires of our ancestors.

In the Gothic Tradition:  “The term ‘horror’ first comes into play with Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel, The Castle of Otranto, full of supernatural shocks and mysterious melodrama. Although rather a stilted tale, it started a craze, spawning many imitators in what we today call the gothic mode of writing. Better writers than Walpole, such as Ann Radcliffe (The Mysteries of Udolpho) and Matthew Lewis (The Monk) took the form to new heights of thrills and suspense. For half a century, gothic novels reigned supreme. As the Age of Enlightenment gave way to the new thinking of the early nineteeth century, Romantic poets of the stature of Coleridge (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel) and Goethe (The Erlking) reflected the strong emotions of the movement through a glass darkly, recognising that fear and awe aren’t so very different sensations. The first great horror classic (Frankenstein 1818) was written by a Romantic at the heart of the movement – Mary Shelley.”

Nosferatu (1922)

F.W. Murnau’s German silent classic is the original and some say most frightening DRACULA adaptation, taking Bram Stoker’s novel and turning it into a haunting, shadowy dream full of dread.

Dracula (1931)

This is the first screen version of Bram Stoker’s famous tale based on the smash hit stage production. Count Dracula arrives in London and immediately works to enrapture and transform into vampires young Lucy Weston and her friend Mina Seward.

Frankenstein (1931)

Scientist Henry Frankenstein and his hunchbacked assistant, Fritz, embark on an unholy mission by stealing a body from a graveyard and a human brain from a medical college. Unbeknownst to Frankenstein, however, Fritz takes a violent and murderous abnormal brain.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

A masterly mix of horror and black comedy, is the first in a series of sequels to FRANKENSTEIN. Mary Shelley resumes her gothic tale after the face-off in a burning windmill between Henry Frankenstein and his horrific creation, the Monster.

Village of the Damned (1960)

For 10 hours, something — or someone — causes all the residents of a small British hamlet to black out. Shortly thereafter, several women end up pregnant, and the babies they give birth to have startling physical similarities: they’re white-haired and frozen-faced, with formidable intellects and the ability to communicate telepathically.

Psycho (1960)

Bates presides over an out-of-the-way motel under the domineering specter of his mother. The young, well-intentioned Bates is introduced to the audience when Marion Crane, a blonde on the run with stolen money, checks in for the night.

The Birds (1963)

Wealthy reformed party girl Melanie Daniels enjoys a brief flirtation with lawyer Mitch Brenner in a San Francisco pet shop and decides to follow him to his Bodega Bay home. Bearing a gift of two lovebirds, Melanie quickly strikes up a romance with Mitch while contending with his possessive mother and boarding at his ex-girlfriend’s house.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Seven people secluded in a Pennsylvania farmhouse face relentless attacks by reanimated corpses seeking to eat their flesh. The group, which includes a married couple and their daughter, a pair of young lovers, and an African-American man, try to keep their sanity as the living dead keep trying to enter the house.

The Exorcist (1973)

Regan MacNeil, a 12-year-old who is possessed by the devil. After exhausting all other practical options, Regan’s mother, Chris, acknowledges the supernatural nature of her daughter’s condition and recruits Father Damien Karras to stage an exorcism.

Jaws (1975)

During the height of beach season, the Massachusetts resort town of Amity Island is terrorized one summer by surprise attacks from a great white shark. Three unlikely partners team up to hunt down the rogue and destroy it: the new chief of police from New York, a young university-educated oceanographer, and a crusty old-time fisherman.

Carrie (1976)

Carrie White has her first period while showering after a physical education class. Her mother, Margaret, a religious fanatic, never told her about menstruation, so Carrie thinks she is bleeding to death. Her cries for help are met with abuse by the entire gym class. The gym teacher, Miss Collins is horrified at Carrie’s naivete.

Halloween (1978)

An exercise in simple, pure horror, HALLOWEEN takes us into the world of a mad killer, Michael Myers, who at a very young age stabbed his older sister to death. Locked away for many years in a mental hospital Michael escapes one night and returns to his hometown to continue his killing spree.

Salem’s Lot (1979)

A writer returns to his New England home town only to find its genteel citizens are turning into vampires. This cable version of SALEM’S LOT was released theatrically overseas as BLOOD THIRST and… A writer returns to his New England home town only to find its genteel citizens are turning into vampires.

The Howling (1981)

Popular female reporter in Los Angeles who cannot escape the horror of a traumatic experience that she suffered while trying to capture Eddie Quist, a dangerous serial killer. When her psychologist recommends a retreat to “The Colony,” up the Northern California coast, she reluctantly agrees, hoping to recover from her nightmarish visions.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

David Kessler and Jack Goodman are two American students on a backpacking tour of Europe. Wandering the backroads of gloomy East Proctor, England, they find a pub where the unhelpful locals act suspiciously strange. The unsuspecting boys flee the pub in search of lodging after being warned to avoid the moors.

Poltergeist (1982)

Life in the Freeling family’s tract home is comfortably bland, but frisky poltergeists soon put a little excitement into their daily routine–moving furniture and communicating with their youngest daughter, Carol Anne, through the television set. Unfortunately, harmless pranks quickly turn nasty and the previously friendly ghosts kidnap Carol Anne, trapping her in the spirit world.

The Thing (1982)

A group of weary scientists enduring the winter in an isolated camp deep in Antarctica chance upon an alien spacecraft buried in the ice. Near the strange craft is the body of an alien being, frozen solid. Thinking they have made the find of a lifetime, the scientists bring the alien body back to camp and thaw it out.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A replusive, decaying figure with razor-sharp appendages (and an even sharper sense of humor!) suddenly appears in the dreams of four Los Angeles teenagers. It is the ghost of Freddy Krueger. A replusive, decaying figure with razor-sharp appendages (and an even sharper sense of humor!) suddenly appears in the dreams of four Los Angeles teenagers.

Hellraiser (1987)

The tale of a man and wife who move into an old house and discover a hideous creature–the man’s half-brother, who is also the woman’s former lover–hiding upstairs. Having lost his earthly body to a trio of S&M demons called the Cenobites, he is brought back into existence by a drop of blood on the floor.

Child’s Play (1988)

The Lake Shore Strangler, a mass murderer who has plagued the Chicago area for months, meets his untimely end when he gets shot in a toy warehouse. Left for dead, the killer summons the strength to.

Pet Sematary (1989)

Dr. Louis Creed, having just moved to Maine with his wife and two children, is heartbroken when he finds that his daughter’s beloved cat has been hit by a truck and killed. Thankfully, a strange, elderly neighbor called Jud knows a secret that may spare the young girl’s tears.

Scream (1996)

A hyper-intelligent serial killer preys on the teenage denizens of a small town, using their fascination with horror movie conventions to set up his diabolical doings. An intelligent, well-crafted… A hyper-intelligent serial killer preys on the teenage denizens of a small town, using their fascination with horror movie conventions to set up his diabolical doings.

Saw (2004)

A young man named Adam wakes to find himself chained to a rusty pipe inside a decrepit subterranean chamber. Chained to the opposite side of the room is another bewildered captive, Dr. Lawrence Gordon. Between them is a dead man lying in a pool of blood, holding a .38 in his hand. Neither man knows why he has been abducted, but instructions left on a microcassette order Dr. Gordon to kill Adam within eight hours.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

The action begins with nurse Ana waking up to discover her boyfriend has become a tasty midnight snack for a formerly cute neighboring kid. To her horror, she realizes that the whole town is in a similar state of ghoulishness, until she runs into still-alive cop Kenneth; the levelheaded Michael; and Andre, a rebel with a pregnant wife in tow.

Hostel (2006)

Paxton and Josh have embarked upon a hedonistic tour of the continent, and somewhere along the way they picked up an Icelandic lunk named Oli. In Amsterdam the trio partakes of the pastimes most dear to frat boys everywhere: weed, prostitutes, and nightclubs. But when a fellow traveler tells these thrill-seekers about the decadent scene that awaits them in Bratislava…

28 Weeks Later (2007)

Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan.

The Mist (2007)

This film adaptation of a Stephen King novel is an intense and terrifying ride from beginning to end. The monsters are scary to be sure, but it is the humans that provide the real horror.

Shutter (2008)

A newly married couple discovers disturbing, ghostly images in photographs they develop after a tragic accident. Fearing the manifestations may be connected, they investigate and learn that some mysteries are better left unsolved.

The Wolfman (2010)

In 1891, Ben Talbot (Simon Merrells) is confronted by a ultrahuman wolf-like creature in the Blackmoor woods. He tries to escape, but is mauled and killed by the beast. Gwen Conliffe , Ben’s fiancée, has contacted his brother, Lawrence Talbot, the world-renowned Shakespearean actor, saying that Ben disappeared a month ago. Lawrence leaves his theater tour to return to his family’s estate in Blackmoor where he has an uneasy reunion with his estranged father, Sir John. Later, it is revealed that Lawrence’s mother, Solana (Christina Contes), had committed suicide when he was a boy. Lawrence saw his father standing over her dead body, after which, Sir John sent his young son to an insane asylum in London, ostensibly for suffering delusions…

The Thing (2011)

In 1982, an extraterrestrial spaceship is discovered beneath the Antarctic ice by a Norwegian research team: Edvard (Trond Espen Seim), Jonas (Kristofer Hivju), Olav (Jan Gunnar Røise), Karl (Carsten Bjørnlund), Juliette (Kim Bubbs), Lars (Jørgen Langhelle), Henrik, and Peder (Stig Henrik Hoff). Paleontologist Kate Lloyd is recruited by Dr. Sander Halvorson and his assistant Adam Finch to investigate the team’s discovery. After viewing the ship, Kate, Sander, and Adam are informed that the group has also discovered a survivor of the crashed ship buried in the ice. The alien is transported to the Norwegian base in a block of ice. Sander orders the retrieval of a tissue sample from the creature against Kate’s warnings…

Enough with the educational side of this though. In the field of modern film, horror has come a long way from the days of F.W. Murnau’s German silent classic Nosferatu. And even though modern day horror films  tell the same age-old stories our ancestors once told (stories warning of mysterious strangers in the night, of monsters and things that dwell in the darkness, stories of things gone heard but unseen), they do it with a more interactive flair. The storyteller and the camp fire have been almost effectively replaced by Hollywood, the big screen, and special effects . It’s safe to say that as long as there are people, there will be stories and people to tell them. And so long as there are storytellers to capture the essence of the unknown with their words, there will be horror stories.