Mac Crack

On July 4th I started an experiment with Apple's Mac when I bought a MacBook. I also started a measure of how much of Apple's hype is legit and how much is just hype. Time for an update.

The Applesauce meter was last at 80% water/20% apple, where the more water, the more fake Apple's hype. It shifted to 75/25 when I went looking for software and security updates. Not only was the process real simple, but the security updates actually sped up the MacBook's boot up process. I was stunned.

Now, two serious problems have popped up with the Mac. First, I noticed a hairline crack in the side of the case, near a steel screw by the optical drive slot. Let me say that I have treated the MacBook very gently, even bought a cushy backpack to carry it around in. The polycarbonate case is supposed to be near indestructible and the white MacBook's gleaming case makes you want to treat it very gently.

I checked the Mac site's support discussions and there are others who have had this problem. Some had the case replaced completely, and then had it crack again. The great number of cracks were stress type cracks in the case in the back hinge area or the screen's case top. Some people managed to get it replaced under warranty, others not. A trip to the Apple store resulted in them saying that they consider any such damage on a unit owned for several months to be the owner's fault. How convenient for them. Apple has a reputation for being stingy and unresponsive when it comes to support - see the iPod battery replacement fiasco.

The second problem is that in the last couple of days the battery, which has been providing about 4 hours plus since I bought it, decided on Thursday to go into tailspin and ran down in about 2.5 hours. The computer is about five plus months old - way too early for the battery to head into senility. It might be just in need of a calibration, which I did on Friday. It's still giving about 2.5 hours of charge, according to it's own estimate.

These are two hardware problems coming one after another. While Mac has fine software (Mac OS X rocks) and nicely designed hardware, there are people who complain that Apple goes cheap on the hardware. Case in point is the iPod case, which scratches real easy supposedly and launched a whole industry in case covers and skins. The early MacBooks also were knocked for running really hot.

The Applesauce meter now stands at 90/10. In the past I have faulted Apple for being so hyped about its design acumen that the design actually is poor. The crack in the case may be a sign of that. If it doesn't spread (I am not paying $300 to fix it), then it won't be a big deal. The battery, on the other hand, I will have to deal with if another recalibration doesn't fix it. That has to be a warranty-covered repair.

The Mac experiment is edging closer to being not just a failure, but possibly a mistake. The ideal situation, as one Mac analyst said, would be if Mac OS X could be put on non-Apple PCs and laptops to have the best of both worlds.

Evangelicals' morality is left behind in real time stupidity

Video games, like comics and Dungeon & Dragons before them, have become the societal punching bag for anything that anyone who might have played one has done wrong. Oh yeah, let's say violent video games, although no one really makes much of a distinction. Never heard someone denounce violent video games and extol the virtues of nonviolent video games. They probably don't think they exist.

The hypocrisy of this situation was brought to the fore with Columbine, where people blamed pretend violence for causing, inciting, training those two nutjobs to kill in real life. The truth is, that like any other form of imaginary play, violent video games are not bad. They are safe sandboxes where people can explore lives, worlds and conditions they would never do in real life. They can even be good where normal, natural aggressive feelings are vented in a safe environment. There will be more about this in a future post.

The stupidity about violent video games continues now, but has flipped all around because of religion, with the idiotic Left Behind video game. The Left Behind book series is a Christian fantasy series where the Rapture occurs and all the good people go to heaven and those left behind on Earth duke it out with the satanic nonbelievers as judgment day approaches. It's a thin cover for evangelical jihadist-Crusader fantasies. Now there's a video game about it.

The game is violent and is predicated on a Christian crusade to convert or kill the unbelievers. But since Christians are committing the Christian violence, it's all okay:

The game's makers contend that the violence from the good side — the Tribulation Force — is exclusively defensive, and should not be seen as contrary to church teachings.

"Christians are quite clearly taught to turn the other cheek and to love their enemies," the company website says. "It is equally true that no one should forfeit their lives to an aggressor who is bent on inflicting death."

Oh, so Christian violence is okay in self-defense (like in Doom, where the mobs attack first, right?). And, they point out, there's no police killed and no decapitations or blood. Apparently all of the police are sent to heaven in the rapture. The Trackball is cursoring over some serious bullshit here.

Christian websites that review the game speak in glowing terms about how Mom and Dad can play this with junior and how it is 'inspirational entertainment'. Look Mom, that evil nonbeliever just wouldn't convert, and he was getting kind of all 666-twitchy, so I took him out with an attack helicopter! Funny, but some of those same sites, endorsed by Focus on the Family, knock games like Call of Duty 2 for the same kind of self-defense violence that is in this one. Nazis were Christians, remember, and killing them is a bit more objectionable than wiping out 'nonbelievers' by the truckload, apparently.

If you are feeling some deja vu here, it's because the same thing happened when Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ came out. It apparently was bloody and gory as all get out, but because it had religious content, it was all okay to Focus on the Family.

You'd think that leaders of a religion would take a second and ponder a scenario that is straight out of Hypocrisy 101. Can we throw a cross in Grand Theft Auto IV and it will be okay to them?

Am I opposed to this game because it is violent? No. Do I think the books should be banned? No - the only way to ridicule these things is to put them out in the open. I do oppose the rest of the world sitting by and letting these fundamentalists spew hatred and in response simply turn the cheek only in their case because they are Christians. Maybe when one of the wack job fans of the series goes on a shooting rampage or tries to blow up a mosque or a temple or another government building, the media will raise an eyebrow at the Left Behind books and games.

Until then, please Goddess, forgive these double-talking assholes who have no moral core at all and just want to promote their religious PR. I pray to Humanity that they will see through this fig leaf of religious cover and have the courage to identify hatred and religious intolerance regardless of which invisible avenger in the sky is being invoked.

The limits of one brain

As one who is intrigued by the creative and innovative powers that people possess, I am still flabbergasted at how much better several minds can work on a problem compared to just one. Adults have burned so many white hot neural pathways into their brain, essential for developing one's mind, that they have created ruts. We are trapped in our own minds to a large extent. No matter how multifaceted we think our thought process is, it's nothing compared to putting some heads together. Somehow, focusing more than one brain on something can negate the individual ruts.

This collaboration, this interaction of intellects is a key ingredient to advancing any aspect of life. Someone can have a genius insight, or be totally stuck on a dilemma, and just running it by another brain can unlock whole new avenues of thought on the thing in question. That genius idea can be enhanced or shown to be foolish, that dilemma can be solved or explained or at least put in a different perspective. If this power were properly harnessed, human civilization would probably advance at a faster clip.

Many people abhor the idea of communicating with others and prefer to stay trapped in their own limited intellects. But those that seek out feedback are richly rewarded. Knowledge can truly only be built by multiple minds and the greatest minds are usually those that have surveyed a lot of other minds. There's a reason that renaissance people are so talented.

This is why I am looking for readers for the science fiction novel. The second draft is done. This thing has banged around in my head for so long that I don't know what else to do with it. I am facing seriously diminishing returns to tinkering with it and the overwhelming mental stench of me is getting to be... overwhelming. I need other eyes to see it, other minds to process it, other brains to influence it.

So if you are interested, contact me. I will give you a couple of sample chapters and probably use you as a guinea pig for my query letter for the novel, complete with tagline, hook, plot synopsis.

I realize that many of you are simply curious, or want to be supportive to be nice, but I would really like some hard-nosed, constructive criticism. If it sucks, tell me why. What parts work, which ones feel not right, like you just whacked your funny bone, what is not clear? If it were in a bookstore, would you keep reading? I will have a bunch of questions. Yes, it will be very much like being a test movie audience. If you hang in there, you can read the whole draft.

The title is The Crashpoint Cascade.

Thank you.