Saturday, February 28, 2009

N00b reviews: Street Fighter 4

Oh, and also my Dude picked up Street Fighter 4, because he cannot deny himself anything. For the past week or so, he's been hammering on his fancy-ass arcade-style controller and calling me over to show me the digitized ass-kickery that he's slowly mastering.

As far as serious 2d fighters go, I generally prefer the Mortal Kombat series myself, just because I grew up with it and the movie amused the hell out of me. Although, as a semi-pro casual gamer, I'd rather play Super Smash Bros. Dude grew up with Street Fighter 2, so that might have skewed his opinion somewhat. He seems to think that the gameplay and mechanics are very good, though. I also picked up a controller and I can see that this kind of thing would be fun at parties.

So, I suppose this is a recommendation. But all of the reviews in the universe will tell you the same thing.

Consider this an acknowledgement of the bandwagon, then.

I seriously thought this was a real disorder when I first heard about it, and I got all excited.

It explains so much!!

I certainly know people who suffer from Pugilistic Discussion Aphasia.

I wasn't very fond of the anti-Pharma sentiment there (I'm totally a Big Pharma fangirl. [Just so you don't get the wrong idea, I'm also a big Evidence-Based-Taking-All-Factors-Into-Account Regulation and Responsible Practices fangirl.])

Anyway, back to neurophysiology homework.


What any open atheist will hear at some point.

This. This, this this.

Also, sorry about the lack of posting. Midterms, you know. They will be over soon, and we'll get back to a more regular schedule. Promise.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

N00b Reviews: House of the Dead 4 - Overkill

I have always been a huge fan of the Time Crisis gun-controller games that you occasionally see in arcades. Knowing this, my dude picked up a copy of House of the Dead IV: Overkill for the Wii so that we could go all 2-P on its ass.

And, both of us being huge dorks, we sat down and played entirely through the game in one sitting on its normal setting. (Also available with Extra Monsters.)

Overkill... is the best way to describe it. I mean, even besides the shoot-em-up that I was expecting. The characters are flat and their motivations are nonexistant and the plot is pretty much non-existant. If you've ever played an arcade shooter, you know the deal. There are zombies/mutants, you shoot at them, eventually there's a boss, repeat for 6-8 stages. There's some obligatory overarching plotline but no one really cares too much about it, it's just there to connect The Hospital Stage to The Carnival Stage to The End Boss Stage.

I totally expected violence. But since this is a home console game, the gratuitous NSFW WTF factor is very high. The atmosphere recalls Grindhouse meets Pulp Fiction with a twist of Rob Zombie, blended and garnished with a little Six-String Samurai. The two main characters are Buddy Cop-ish stereotypes, and the black one is a blatant homage to Samuel L's Jules.

And..... oh, the misogyny.

It was so bad, I kind of wanted to quit the game after the second or third stage. It was like having cocks in my face, that's how bad it was.

But I put up with it, because the gameplay was pretty much awesome. The Wiimote was meant for point-n-shoot. And at the end, I found myself nearly comatose with laughter when, as the main chars are riding off into the sunset, one of them mentions to the other that the whole game was an "indictment of feminism"... "Us two dick cop stereotypes just shot up a puking mother... there's very limited interpretations of that."

The self-commentary was too much. Hilarious.

If you are an adult who can deal with horrifically offensive content in the pursuit of gratuitous video game violence (or a 14-18 year old date-rapist in the making), you'll probably enjoy this game. I can only imagine Jack Thompson's seizures, and so it makes me giggle a little bit. Your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

So what happens in 4-8 years when life continues as normal and a new Prez is elected?

Apparently Obama is the antichrist... according to the Phelps crew.
An idolatrous Muslim (once a Muslim always a Muslim, so their law says) raised by a tramp atheist mother, there is nothing redeeming about the man. He has called Jesus a liar, and commits the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost every time he talks about the Bible. Behold the three legs of the Unholy Trinity: The Dragon (Satan), The Beast (Antichrist Obama) and the False Prophet (the Pedophile-enabler Pope). They have come to seal your doom while they vainly think they can overcome the Host of heaven.
Ow. I think he broke my think-bone.

P.S.: For the record, I officially renounce, blaspheme and deny the Holy Spirit. Fuck the Holy Spirit in its fucking fuckhole. I've done it on video, but I'm too lazy to link to it right now. Wee blasphemy!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Epigenetics != Lamarckism

So my dude noticed on /. this article entitled Acquired Characteristics May Be Inheritable. He pointed this And since I think slashdot articles are worth just about nothing, I looked at its source article. Which is entitled A Comeback for Lamarckian Evolution?.

These articles makes me head hurt. Because... Lamarck was pretty soundly spanked. And even with my limited wiki-education, I can tell the difference between epigenetics and Lamarckism.

(Edit: Evolving Thoughts has this excellent post about Lamarckism if, like me, you could use a refresher that's not wikimedia.)

So I went to look at the original paper, care of my University's subscription to the Journal of Neuroscience. It looked at a strain of mice which had been genetically engineered to have messed up long-term potentiation mechanisms (which are important for learning). It exposed some of these mice to an enriched environment for two weeks, one with toys and cardboard and tubes and such, and as expected these mice got better at long-term potentiation for about three months after exposure. What I like to call "happy mice" are better at learning, which we've known for a while.

So what's the huge Lamarckian finding in the study?

When these "happy mice" became mothers, their babies were also marginally better at long-term potentiation than they otherwise would have been, despite being raised in typical impoverished mice conditions. This finding seems fairly well-controlled, so we can be pretty sure that it's an effect that's specifically caused by the moms' exposure to an enriched environment.

Why is this finding not Lamarckian?

By the second generation, this "happy mom" effect was almost completely diminished. The improvement in long-term potentiation wasn't a truly heritable effect, but instead a very temporary one. It's not Lamarckian to say that the embryonic environment affects development. Environment.... affects.... development. It is true. However, it is still the rule that strictly phenotypic changes to an individual organism due to interaction with the environment are not the means by which diversity arises. This finding does NOTHING to change that.

This is where I'd normally start bitching about science journalism, but it turns out that the researchers themselves included the "Lamarckian" bit. A little bit of sensationalist -ahem- framing that seems to have gotten out of hand.

Dudes... no. No, no no... no. Just no. There's nothing wrong with Darwinian evolution, plus a heapin' helpin' of epigenetics. You don't have to keep beating Lamarck's dead horse.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Perpetual Self-Indulgence

La Blaga has been rather fluffy of late, which means I'm going to have to think about something good and science-y to post about.

But until I do, I shall fill my blog with frivolous materialism.

OMG WANT. Too bad it's sold out.

Also, it would probably horrify my mom, which I enjoy greatly.

(Add this to the list of Things I Will Purchase Someday When I Have A Disposable Income, alongside the Scarlet A Tee [which also seems perpetually sold-out] and Principles of Neural Science. Maybe I should put a wishlist somewhere, like a camgirl...)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Darwin Day!

I am celebrating Darwin Day just by looking around at the "intelligent" primates all around me and marveling at both how far we've come, while simultaneously chuckling at how... ape-like we are. Look at all those people, eating and pooping and grooming and gesturing and grasping, orienting themselves towards interesting stimuli, making little social maneuvers as they constantly mill about. And at the same time, writing and learning and thinking and planning and communicating and storing information and creating new and marvelous technology and internally simulating life situations on a grand, grand scale.

Truth be told, I am more interested in cat evolution than human evolution. I totally want a thumb cat!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Look, I like Christians, okay?

I truly do like Christians. I was one for the first half of my life (or 'until I reached the age of reason' as I've heard it put). I would really, really like to learn about Christians, their individual reasons for believing the things they do, etc. So I read Christian blogs when I can.

But I can never take it for long. Because of things like this: Greg Koukl on Theistic Evolution. In sum: God didn't use evolution because evolution would be highly inefficient, as compared to just poofing things the way God wanted them. Actually his card-playing metaphor makes a lot of sense, assuming that there is some sort of omnipotent, infinitely intelligent force that can work magic ("miracles", "creation").*

Herein lies the problem. The theory of evolution is very, very likely to be a very, very close approximation to the truth. There is a lot of evidence, actually.

I absoutely agree with Greg Koukl that a god with all of the characteristics of the modern Christian idea of God would probably not have used evolution to create life. (I also don't think He would have created such a damn inhospitable universe for His Chosen Life-forms - so far as we can see, God only created life as a very thin scum on a rather small rock around an unremarkable star in a boring arm of an average galaxy in an otherwise completely indistinguishable area of the universe, and almost all of it completely uninhabitable. But that's tangential.)

The thing is, that we do see lots and lots of evidence for evolution. And as the very first commenter points out:
"When we dig up 3.5 billion years worth of ice cores in Greenland or observe 12 billion year old stars and galaxies on the other side of the universe, why are we supposed to then say 'ah, but of course God created these things with age.' Do we believe our science and logic or not?"
So unless you have some reason to rule out the metric buttload of evidence for evolution... and you also argue that your God would not have used evolution... the logical conclusion would be that, since evolution was in fact the process by which complex life arose on Earth, your God probably didn't create everything.

Okay, okay, or maybe also that God did use evolution. There's no way to absolutely rule out that possibility.

But the way you're doing things, Greg, is just... well... wrong. And I can't put up with it. It's not even internally consistant. I can deal with fractal wrongness, but this is something else entirely.

* The words "infinitely intelligent" hurt me to type. I'm training in the cognitive sciences and... arrgh... rrgh... ooh... intelligence is not a thing that can be quantified. But I'm putting on my Christian glasses, so I will speak as if "infinite intelligence" is a meaningful concept.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Boo on Pitt

The University of Pittsburgh, my own damn alma mater, rejected me for graduate studies without an interview. I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the GPA requirement.

I entered school thinking I was pre-med and that I'll just "get through" these science classes to get to the $$$. At around my sophomore year of college, I was thinking of switching my major to - get this - creative writing. Because I was good at it, and not "good" at "science". Intro to Neuroscience got my head on straight, thank goodness. At some point, it just clicked. I wish that point had been much earlier in my career, but... you live, you learn, right? And I eventually brought my GPA up to a 3.1, which is impressive considering my starting point (no I will NOT tell!), but still 0.3 lower than Pitt's requirements for Ph.D admissions. Pitt's neuro program is bomb, so I'm really not too surprised they have such high standards, but still. Damn.

So I will be moving... somewhere else! In six to eight months!

Since I'm bitching about my alma mater (which I actually love, no lies) I'd also like to point out that Pitt has no secular student groups.

I'm sure Eugene, or Tampa, or Philly will have those. So, one bonus of me moving Somewhere Else, right?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Oh fuck, I missed BAD?!

Blogroll Amnesty Day is close to my heart, because that is how I got on PZ's blagroll a year or so ago, and I've even been the recipient of some nice hat/tips from the ScienceBorg Community. Squee!

And, yes, because I'm a shameless fangirl, I get all aflutter whenever it happens. So very jealous of Abby. LIVE THE DREAM.

So, um, feel free to shamelessly self-promote, and if anyone adds a link I'll totally add you to my blagroll. Share your favorite blogging memories. What's your favorite blog? What's your least favorite? (I mean, besides Comfort Food. Guh, that's a gimmie.)

Also, thanks for the reminder Stephanie!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If the AFA doesn't like it, it must be good...

I received an email from the AFA:
Dear Kee,

Your phone calls are urgently needed now! President Obama has nominated David Ogden to be the second person in command in the U.S. office of the Attorney General! Ogden must be confirmed by the Senate.

Call your two senators and tell them to vote against the Ogden nomination. Ogden is no friend of the family.

• As an attorney in private practice, David W. Ogden has filed briefs pushing for gays in the military.
• He has litigated numerous obscenity and pornography cases on behalf of clients like Playboy, Penthouse, the ACLU and the largest distributor of hardcore pornographic movies.

In various cases, he has filed briefs opposing:
• parental notification before a minor’s abortion
• spousal notification before an abortion
• the military’s policy against public homosexuals serving in uniform
• the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act.

Take Action!

Make your phone call today! Get others to call. Tell your senators to vote against the nomination of David Ogden to the second position at the attorney general’s office.
So, of course, I immediately emailed my senators:
I would just like to let you know that I (and several other Pittsburgh voters who I know personally, but who are unable to contact you) support the nomination of David Ogden to the second position at the Attorney General's office.

I appreciate that you will take our opinions into consideration and hopefully vote to confirm this nomination.

Thank you.
Sometimes I find it useful to be on conservative mailing lists.

You don't appreciate my lip-service?! Isn't 28 days enough for You People?!

Black History Month. Sigh.

Renee at Womanist Musings and Nudemuse both pointed out the massive fail that is the very idea of Black History Month. Just to throw my hat into the circle of muses who want REAL equality, and not some BS token, I'd like to point out that if we REALLY cared about the whitewashing of history, we'd... I don't know... fucking change how we teach history, not just set aside a couple weeks to talk about Dr. King and fucking peanut butter.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Poll-Crashers Anonymous

OneNewsNow is always good for poll-crashing.
Should the U.S. government offer the full gamut of same-sex 'spousal' benefits to its employees?
Yes - 3.78%
No - 94.93%
Unsure - 1.29%