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Last update: 27 Sep 2006 -- 3:24pm
 Wednesday
27 Sep 2006

MICROSOFT GAME STUDIOS, MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT AND CRYPTIC STUDIOS UNVEIL "MARVEL UNIVERSE ONLINE"

(click for movie)

A LETTER TO OUR FANS:

When we saw the opportunity to work with Marvel to create their super hero universe, we couldn’t resist. We love comic book heroes. The masked hero genre started over sixty years ago. Its stories, characters and themes have changed with our society. Nearly every type of story imaginable has found its way into the colorful pages of a comic book. [...] [W]e feel that there’s plenty of room for more than just one comic book hero game in the MMORPG space. Fans will have an option about the world they will play in, just like they do with the half dozen fantasy titles available. [...]

[...] We’re fully committed to City of Heroes and City of Villains. They are our first games, in a universe we devised. These products are the foundation upon which Cryptic is built. Cryptic and NCSoft are jointly investing in a team dedicated solely to creating and maintaining City of Heroes and City of Villains. We will continue to update both titles with new content [...].

Compared to the fantasy MMO games, the possibilities for the comic book hero universe are grossly untapped. Creating two worlds that will grow in their own ways means the true potential of the comic book hero MMO can come into its own. For the "City of" games, this expansion of the market probably means an influx of new MMO players who have heard of the Marvel characters but not "City of Heroes," and will likely try both.

 Tuesday
26 Sep 2006

The Prestige has been made into a movie.

Not the graph of CO2, but a (misleading) graph of the temperature over the last 1.35 million years. It's misleading because the last 150 years are zoomed in on. If drawn on equivalent scale, this graph would indicate that there may be historical precedent for a "hot" Earth (around 425 My ago).

 Tuesday
5 Sep 2006

The recent CO2 increase is unprecedented over last 800,000 years. Many years ago, I wondered if "global warming" wasn't part of a very long term cycle of the planet. Recently, data have been collected indicating that it's not part of a cycle shorter than (as of the above article) 800,000 years. That's long enough for me to say that it's a bad thing for civilization.

The data further show that CO2 and temperature increase together.

I would love to see a graph of the data they've collected.

 Monday
4 Sep 2006

The Poe Shadow, Matthew Pearl
I received this as a gift for my birthday this year. (I can't remember if I had wishlisted it or not; I do remember considering The Dante Club by the same author at some point). The novel explores Edgar Allen Poe's largely unexplained death in 1849. It's written as a first-person memoir of Quentin Clark, who is brought to the brink of ruin by obsessively investigating the circumstances of Poe's death.

Clark enlists the aid of the real-life inspiration for Poe's hyper-rational detective in The Murders of the Rue Morgue: C. Auguste Dupin. Of course, he needs to figure out who that is first... and is the person he finds really Poe's Dupin or just a poe-seur?

The main characters in the story are fictional, but the majority of incidental characters are based on fact. It takes place in historically accurate Baltimore and Paris and has a fair bit of interesting information about what it was like then.

Verdict: It's a pretty good read if you're into the general subject matter. It was perhaps a bit directionless and slow in the middle, and the conclusion is more Arthur Conan Doyle than Clive Cussler.

Let me rail briefly on a literary mechanic which drives me mad:
Why must authors have the protagonist do things which are plainly stupid? I understand the device. One can use it to create tension; we can perhaps see the upcoming problem but the narrator does not. When done well, the stupidity isn't obvious to the protagonist. It is obvious to us because we are observers.

But when the protagonist ought to know better given his experience thus far and the character that they are, it sets off my "inconsistent world" alarm. Please, authors, let your characters live their lives as you have created them.

 Saturday
2 Sep 2006

Ramifications of deceptive practices in the home loan industry:

Burger, a solid earner with clean credit, has bought and sold several houses in the past. In February he got a flyer from a broker advertising an interest rate of 2.2%. It was an unbeatable opportunity, he thought. If he refinanced the mortgage on his $500,000 home into an option ARM, he could save $14,000 in interest payments over three years. Burger quickly pulled the trigger, switching out of his 5.1% fixed-rate loan. "The payment schedule looked like what we talked about, so I just started signing away," says Burger. He didn't read the fine print.

After two months Burger noticed that the minimum payment of $1,697 was actually adding $1,000 to his balance every month. [...] He says he was told by his lender [...] that he'd have to pay more than $10,000 in prepayment penalties to refinance out of the loan. If he's unhappy, he should take it up with his broker, the bank said. "They know they're selling crap, and they're doing it in a way that's very deceiving," he says.

The article makes a good case that the only one who are going to suffer are the people who fell into the trap. The market and the lenders are insulated to a certain extent from the fallout.

I fear the coming housing market collapse.

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