Wednesday, December 07, 2005

This is approximately my opinion of Animal Crossing: Wild World

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Blogging: It's better than what I should be doing.

I hate you Imageshack. You could never give me what I needed. Flickr listens to me. He's attuned to my needs.

I just thought I'd ruin someone's, anyone's, day by posting this link. With the Xbox 360 "shortage," this is positively decadent.

I wish I was a hot, dumb hotel heiress. Then I'd be able to get my hands on an Xbox 360. I'll just have to take my chances with a ski mask, a crowbar, and a foggy night...

Friday, November 11, 2005

I think I just had one, too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Not so extraordinary.

Myspace put up the full version of Fiona Apple's Extraordnary Machine, and it sucks, plain and simple. Which is too bad, because the bootleg mp3s of the album, the Jon Brion produced ones, were quite deserving of the praise it recieved.

Those fools over at Sony (or maybe it was Miss Apple; she didn't try to stop them) decided that these were just too good to ever see the light of day, and went back and re-recorded the album, replacing certified pop genius Brion with Mike Elizondo and Brian Kehew. Now they are going to release this pale imitation onto the masses.

There are still those Jon Brion cuts floating around, at least.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Today's topic is "Video games that made you feel guilty"

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Oh My Misspent Youth (#53)

I ran across a site that chronicles the history of video games in ad form. Hours of fun, really! Some highlights....

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Creepy Richard!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Zombie Grasshoppers!

I found this fascinating article on the New York Times' website about a parasite that apparently zombifies its host (in this case, a grasshopper) and forces it to kill itself while eating away at it internally.

A grasshopper was tricked into jumping into water by a hairworm that had infected it and had eaten most of its insides. In the water, the worm left the insect to start the next portion of its life. The grasshopper drowned.

Parasitic Hairworm Charms Grasshopper Into Taking It for a Swim
By Nicholas Wade

September 6, 2005

Only in science fiction do people's minds get possessed by alien beings. For grasshoppers, zombification is an everyday hazard, and it obliges them to end their lives in a bizarre manner.

Biologists have discovered and hope to decipher a deadly cross talk between the genomes of a grasshopper and a parasitic worm that infects it.

The interaction occurs as the worm induces the grasshopper to seek out a large body of water and then leap into it.

The parasite, known as a hairworm, lives and breeds in fresh water. But it spends the early part of its life cycle eating away the innards of the grasshoppers and crickets it infects.

When it is fully grown, it faces a difficult problem, that of returning to water. So it has evolved a clever way of influencing its host to deliver just one further service - the stricken grasshopper looks for water and dives in.

The suicidal behavior of the infected grasshoppers has been studied by a team of biologists from the French National Center for Scientific Research in Montpellier, France, led by Frédéric Thomas and David Biron.

They did their fieldwork around a swimming pool on the border of a forest near Avène les Bains in southern France. Hordes of infected grasshoppers - more than 100 a night - arrive at the pool during summer nights at the behest of the parasites.

The biologists captured grasshoppers before their suicidal plunge and removed the worms.

The worms grow to several times the length of the grasshopper's body before they emerge. Because of their unusual size, it is easy to extract and analyze the different sets of proteins that they produce before, during and after they compel their hosts to drown themselves.

"We found the parasite produces and injects proteins into the brain of its host," Dr. Thomas said.

Two of the proteins belonged to a well-known family of signaling agents known as the Wnt family that are deployed in developing the cells of the nervous system.

Though produced by the worm, the two proteins seemed similar to insect-type proteins and perhaps developed so as to mimic them, the French biologists report in an article in the current issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Parasites have long been known to influence their hosts' behavior in ways beneficial to the parasite. The rabies virus, for instance, makes animals rabid so that they bite others and transmit the virus.

An unusually specific instance of behavioral manipulation was discovered recently in a wasp that parasitizes an orb-weaving spider in Costa Rica.

The night before the wasp larva kills its host, it somehow reprograms the spider's web-building activity so that instead of its usual temporary web, the spider constructs a durable platform ideal for the larva to pupate on.

Somehow the larva reprograms the spider into executing, over and over again, just the first two steps in a five-step subroutine from the early phase of web-building.

If the larva is removed just before it can kill its host, the orb weaver will spin a platform-style web that and the following night, but revert to its usual web on the third night, as if it has shaken off some mesmerizing chemical the wasp has injected into its nervous system.

The hairworm seems to have perfected an equally intimate manipulation of its host by inducing a fantastical desire to swim, of which the grasshopper is scarcely more capable than the worm is of flying.

This is not the parasite's only trick. No one knows how, from its aquatic home, the hairworm manages to infect a terrestrial species. Dr. Thomas said he suspects that the larvae, minuscule on hatching, first infect aquatic insects like mosquito larvae and hide as cysts in their tissues.

When the adult mosquito flies away and when it dies, its body may be eaten by a grasshopper or cricket. The hairworm "will then develop, eating absolutely everything not essential to keep its host alive," Dr. Thomas said. The zombified grasshopper is reduced to just its head, legs and outer skeleton by the time it goes for its final swim.

There are some 300 species of hairworm found around the world. Their billions of larvae "will infect everything - frogs, fish, snails," Dr. Thomas said. But it is only in grasshoppers, crickets and katydids that these uninvited guests are able to usurp both the body and mind of their hosts.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Monday, August 22, 2005

AIM Screenshots

And second, in references to a rather ludicrous list of the "10 Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries"

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Saturday, July 30, 2005

When Cobain muttered, it was probably more inscrutable than this.

I saw Last Days--a film that is and is not about Kurt Cobain--where Michael Pitt escapes a rehab clinic, stumbles around his decrepit Northwestern mansion, dresses in Kurt-iconic clothing, eats Macaroni and Cocoa Puffs, and then shoots himself. Or was just trying to clean his gun. I'm not sure. That Courtney Love isn't the one shooting him already makes the film's events-portrayed-here-are-fictional disclaimer redundant, but just in case the film goes to great lengths to show that this is not Kurt. He just looks, acts, dresses, and sings like him. Anyway, one of the focal points of Pitt's impressive performance is the incoherent muttering. The only strands extending more than a couple of sentences that I could pick up through the entire film is something about artificial cheese and lynching.

This constant muttering and mumbling, while an interesting affection that Mr. Pitt has put onto his Cobain-but-not-Cobain character, isn't something I would have given a second thought about usually. But that's usually...what it has done is in this improbable instance is make me quite self-aware of the amount of incoherent muttering I partake in throughout the day. It comes up most prominently when I start making large associative leaps in my head and try to sort them out. I start holding imaginary conversation with people that aren't there, as if practicing for when I actually do meet up with them. I ruminate over embarrassing moments from the distant past and mumble about how I should have done this or that instead of what I did, and how stupid I was. And when I mean long ago, I mean something like ten or so years ago--a fairly substantial chunk of time. It gets worse when I'm drunk and alone. I go on long monologues, especially if I'm walking to or from somewhere, which I'm sure are completely incoherent to any observer (though it all always makes sense to me.) It probably also has something to do with artificial cheese.

I've been toying around with a short story idea. I hope I get it down on paper before it fritters away. I also hope it's good, but let's take it one step at a time. Let's drink to that hope!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Crates and Barrels

Ah, crates and barrels...a symptom of lazy game-art design, or some sort of archetypical symbol for our misspent youth? Either way, there are a lot of them, and now we have a site that attempts to document every gaming instance of them.