January 12, 2009

I return from the swamp of real life with lots of news.

Since my last post I've been through a horribly failed relationship and switched jobs (my day job is now at my local convenience store, KIWI). I hope I get the hang of the Art of Girlfriendery soon, because I'm beginning to learn that I'm miserable without a partner (even though the relationship failed it still felt nice to have someone to hold). So what do I do about my predicaments? I bury them under a heap of things which keep me busy (I first learned this technique from Thomas Jefferson, and it works). So on to the things which make life (or at least mine) pleasurable:

I finished reading Dawkins' The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, and I extracted some more essays from it. I also read I. Asimov: A Memoir, Asimov's third (!) autobiography (I want to read his two previous ones) and from it I learned that he's written a string of books in the vein of Words from the Myths (Words from the Exodus and Words of Science and the History behind Them for example), which I will definitely read. I've linked to the famous book Kunstformen der Natur (Artforms of Nature) but I haven't read it (I don't know German well enough). However, there are tons of pretty, high-resolution images, which are absolutely wonderful. I also bought a huge hardback volume of all of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and I'm paying keen attention when I read, looking for that phrase, "Elementary, my dear Watson", which, apparently, is found nowhere in the stories.

I've populated my Essays page with more essays. They are "Seven Wonders" (Lewis Thomas), an extract from The Periodic Table (Primo Levi), "Can We Really Know the Universe?" (Sagan), "A Skeptical View of Karl Popper" (Martin Gardner), and "Mr. X" (Sagan), all thoroughly excellent in their own ways.

I learned of (and linked to) two excellent web comics, AmazingSuperPowers and A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible.

I'm coming around to liking the PS3 a lot better than the 360. It's a common enough comment that the 360 has more fun games, and I accept that to a degree, but I really like the PS3's Trophy system a lot better than the 360's Achievement system. On the 360 all of your Achievements give you Gamer Points, which are accumulated into one big heap. The PS3's trophies, by comparison, are divided into four categories, scaled by difficulty of attainment: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum (usually given when all other trophies are collected). In addition, your profile levels up as you collect trophies, making for a neat RPG meta-game (I like to say that I don't play PS3 games, I play PS3). I've thrown up my PSN handle (Hermiene) on the Contact page.

On my Links page I've linked to Jeff Dee, Golly, and The Vault. Also, there are no longer images on the page.

I've played a number of games, but Fallout 3 has been my obsession.

In LittleBigPlanet I've gotten all trophies but the ones requiring you to build levels and play community levels. I want to sink some time into doing just that, but I need a good idea for a level. The community levels which are there already, however, are truly excellent.

I played Gears of War 2 with Even all the way through in co-op mode, which was epic. GoW 2 is just more of the same from GoW, but if you like the original you'll love the sequel.

The reason I bought Dead Space, I admit, was because of the name of the protagonist, Isaac Clarke. (Wouldn't it sound lame, by the way, if he was named Arthur Asimov?) It's an ok game, but not as scary as it could have been. System Shock 2 is still the king of the scary derelict spaceships hill. One of the damning points of the game is that it has such awesome zero-g, yet there's so little of it. (I have all the trophies for it.)

The ill-named Prince of Persia is pretty fun for a while, but the highlight of the series is still PoP 3D and The Two Thrones. There's nothing truly memorable in Prince of Persia the way there is in PoP 3D (climbing the huge dirigible) and The Two Thrones (climbing the Tower of Babel). The newest game does have awesome banter, though. (I have all the trophies for it.)

Now, Fallout 3 is truly epic. I've finished it once, playing Good (reaching about level 15), and I'm now playing it again, playing Evil (I've reached level 20, which is the level cap, and I have the Explorer perk, which gives me all the Map Markers). The Capital Wasteland (post-apocalyptic Washinton D.C.) is huge and there are so many places to explore that I didn't know about on my first playthrough, when I lacked the Explorer perk. The only complaint I have is that because it's so huge and you spend so much time wandering around, the radio channels you normally have available to you (Galaxy News Radio and Enclave Radio) quickly become boring (though on the positive side I now know many of the songs GNR plays by heart, and I love them). Fallout 3 really captures the atmosphere of a broken humanity struggling to rebuild, especially because of the cities, which are ad-hoc but plausible (one is built out of scrap metal from an abandoned air strip around an un-detonated nuclear bomb, another is built on the slope of a broken bridge, a third is built in the corridors of a split hangar ship).

As for my plan to install XP, Vista, and Ubuntu on my RAID-ed machine, that didn't pan out because I don't trust RAID to be stable. My current plan is instead to wait until SSD becomes cheap, and triple-boot from that.

"The love the liveliest, the life the loveliest."

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