The truth about this generation of video game consoles

The truth about this generation of video game consoles (Wii, PS3, Xbox360).

Wii Pros:

  1. Created a new audience of gamers
  2. Did motion control first and best
  3. Made gaming a physical activity
  4. Ingenious games
  5. Cheapest console
Wii Cons:
  1. Relatively high ratio of crappy games, or overpriced motion control demos
  2. Motion plus add-on should have been standard
  3. No other entertainment choices; not used often
  4. Could fade fast: outdated graphics, new gamers won't buy a lot of games or upgrade
  5. Cheapest: limited memory, loud fan noise, disk drive is low quality
  6. Expensive games: lower price tag but many games should be $5 mini-games (Smooth Moves, Wii Sports Resort, Wii Play, etc.)
Truth: Mixed

PS3 Pros:
  1. High cost offset by 1080p HD graphics and super duper computer-like Cell processor
  2. Outstanding games like Little Big Planet, Rag Doll Kung Fu
  3. Is almost a one-stop entertainment hub: , upconverts DVDs, Blu-ray player, extensive library of games, trailers, demos, extra content and movies to download
  4. Motion control gamepad a good mix for a variety of games
  5. Sony diligent about upgrading the software, improving it after purchase
PS3 Cons:
  1. Later start and expensive hardware caused lowest sales
  2. No Netflix access, despite web browser
  3. Limited multiplayer interaction: Playstation Home has been a laughingstock
Truth: amazing, may be Tesla Roadster of consoles, ahead of its time and equal to or better than the next gen Wii and Xbox, especially if Sony keeps tweaking and upgrading software.

Xbox 360 Pros:
  1. Out first, built a big lead
  2. Innovative trophy system and other multiplayer features
  3. Has Netflix (although this is no better than a $100 Roku box because of graphics limitations)
Xbox 360 Cons:
  1. Rushed/sloppy - extremely high hardware failure rate, even in later models
  2. Only 720p, no Blu-Ray (adds about $300 to cost to buy a Blu-ray player and still doesn't equal features of a PS3)
  3. Best games are ports from PC franchises, which are cheaper (COD, GTA)
  4. Backed HD-DVD, and only as an add-on
  5. Poor design: console looks squashed, Xbox controller not made for human hands
Truth: A failure in slow motion. Microsoft is not a hardware company

Deconstructing Batman, Hon

On the eve of the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum, which could very well be the best Batman game ever, and possibly the 2009 Game of the Year, I feel the urge to pontificate on the dark knight.

Batman has had his hokey periods, but with the Chris Nolan-Christian Bale reboot and the animated Batman series of recent years, the Dark Knight has improved greatly. (Batman: The Brave and the Bold series is a turn to the hokey, which is fine for my 6 year old, but Batman may as well fight dragons too, which he kind of does in that cartoon.)

But even the Chris Nolan take on Batman is a bit too unrealistic, as awesome as it is. The essence of Batman is that anyone could be him: no super powers, just focus, hard-work and brains. Batman is realistic. Chris Nolan's Batman is a white guy billionaire, fighting white guy villains (psychologists, drug dealers/mobsters, the Joker) because his parents were killed by another white guy. This seemed plausible in the 1930s (John Dillinger, Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, etc.) but today it sounds farfetched. (Maybe, if the Joker was the billionaire, or a talk show host.)

Take the billionaire thing first: being a billionaire is a superpower, even if it is a hyperrealistic power. Even Superman needs a job to pay the bills. Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne don't have to do squat. Bruce Wayne could just bulldoze whatever neighborhoods he thought were crime ridden.

Next, his motivation rings false: a child orphaned like Bruce Wayne would probably be wrapped in a blanket of therapy, treatment, sycophants, and doing something else with one's life. Do you know how much trauma rich kids are subject to, but don't put on a cape and cowl? Look at the Kennedy's or kids of music or film stars. Why didn't Carrie Fisher become BatGirl and beat up men who cheated on their wives? But becoming obsessed with criminals and crime is just a bit odd. We accept it with Batman because it is the origin story and has been retold so often, but it makes little sense.

Batman seems a bit picky about the crime he wars on. Bruce Wayne lives in a mansion outside the city; when he's in the city he's in the swanky parts. Most of the crime does not happen there (unless it's white collar crime, but apparently Bruce Wayne only goes after poorer criminals?) Does he punch out drug users, prostitutes, embezzlers, jaywalkers, undocumented workers, panhandlers, people driving with suspended licenses and corrupt building inspectors? It would be dramatic for Batman to take down a Ken Lay-Bernie Ebbers type or a deadbeat dad. But someone bending contracting regs down at City Hall? No.

Finally, race. One look at Batman and you know he is a 6'2" white guy with blue eyes, fighting urban street crime in parts of town that he has no connection with. Does that sound likely? Would he be well received by the Black, Asian and Hispanic residents? Put it another way, what if he were a partially disguised Black man fighting crime in Oslo, Norway? He may be easy to track down, is all I'm saying. And it would be a bit odd, don't you think?

A modern Batman ought to be:

  • Black and/or Hispanic
  • Fighting crime he grew up around
  • Have limited resources
  • Only fight certain crimes, and for a particular reason (possibly morally-compromised)
  • Less like the Punisher, more like a ninja Sherlock Holmes
  • Built less like a linebacker and have more martial arts and stealth skills
  • Based in Baltimore, which has Gotham-like problems, but its buildings are relatively low and it is kinda weird, so Batman would fit in.

I've stopped drinking

Sugary drinks, that is. Not alcohol, although on the cruise I did have a sip of both rum (while on a pirate ship) and champagne (on a cruise ship) because you're supposed to try things at times like that. And didn't like either: they are bitter, like grapefruit, which reminds me of vomit-inducing medicines people give kids to convince them to swallow the pill form instead. Escargot: thumbs up. Alcoholey drinks: yecch.

As part of my contribution to the health care reform, much like the discounts that drug companies and health insurance companies promising to create billions of savings, I have given up drinking sugary drinks. Sugary drinks are supposed to be very bad for health, adding empty calories, inducing too much eating, bad for teeth, etc.

Of course, like the drug and health insurance industry, there's no way for the President to hold me to this, but really, I'm doing it more for me than for the country.

Let's review the various parts of the beverage industry that I will be personally ruining and causing job losses in:

Pineapple juice
Orange juice
Orange soda
Root beer

With spiraling health care costs, either the cookies or the sugary drinks had to go. Note that I've already dropped almost all high fructose corn syrup, so these are actual sugary drinks (except Sprite). Anything put up against a good cookie will lose. Tasty, tasty, tasty. The drinks will be missed, but all is not lost.

I've found something that is a pretty neat substitute. When you take the sugary drinks, like orange juice, out of your taste palate, the natural sugar of fruits and veggies stands up and drills your sweet tooth. Say hello to my little sugary friends:

Sweet potato
Red peppers

Next target: french fries

Things I found out on my summer vacation

I can survive several days without internet access: Twitter, email, Facebook, news sites, etc. I cannot survive several days without being able to read and do some writing.

I prefer waffles, especially Belgium waffles, to pancakes. Pancakes are hard to cook well: waffles are hard to screw up.

I bought nothing at the Lego Store, mostly because luggage space was tight. But I spent a crapload of money at the House of Blues store. This was unexpected.

I can eat eggs now. Scrambled eggs, omelets, egg pastries. No allergic reaction.

San Miguel in Cozumel, Mexico was exactly as I expected thanks to popular culture depictions of Mexico, from the buildings to the people, etc. The kicker was that I totally got the Mexican vibe.

Key West was what I expected, at least the western half. Not impressed. Sunburns and beer bottles and misogynistic t-shirts. Cool pirate museum and butterfly exhibits though.

Grand Cayman: I didn't see enough of to have an impression. I spent almost the whole time on a pirate ship and did walk the plank.

I need a swimshirt with long sleeves. The forearms took multiple coats of sunscreen and still got roasty.

Homo sapiens are splitting into two species: homo sapiens and homo sumo. I know and admire plenty of overweight and obese homo sapiens. But they are not homo sumo. I'm not making judgements here, just observing that it seems like we've hit a fork in the evolutionary road, because even the children of homo sumos look different. Maybe having seen Wall-E before going on the cruise had something to do with this thought.

Older kids are much easier to vacation with. We discovered a whole ton of stuff about the Disney Cruise that we didn't know about simply because our kids are older (spa and fitness center, etc.).

I think I met the actual Jack Sparrow and Peter Pan, not people playing them who were very much in character. The scary thing is that I think they each believed this more fervently than I did. Still, Disney characters are the best, even when it is in the 90s outside and hardly any one is looking.

The kids had a blast, and that was as enjoyable as any enjoyment I got out of it personally.

My better half is an amazing operations/logistics research talent. Having your wardrobe planned out by spreadsheet, and getting $54 flights to Orlando are two ways that she made everything go very smoothly.

I would SO go on a DC Comics-themed cruise.

Coming home on a Saturday afternoon is much better than at night, or any time on Sunday.

Our gold fish may very well be immortal.

Disney Cruise Line can and should continue to milk the pirate angle for all it is worth: they have cruise ships, their own Caribbean island, and they own the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Aye, they even have the Flying Dutchman anchored at the island. The only way to make it better would be to board and capture some of those ugly Carnival cruise ships: floating casinos on the Spanish Main? Savvy?