Monthly Archive for June, 2007

Dick Cheney, President of the Pave The Earth Society

The Washington Post has an interesting article about Dick Cheney’s work to systematically destroy the environment in favor of giving handouts to businesses affected by environmental regulations.

His track record is abysmal, though. The article has two examples where his meddling into environmental policy came at pretty high costs, and ultimately was not successful, quite the opposite actually.

Klamath River is one of the habitats of endangered fish. It’s also a source of irrigation water for local farmers, who have been suffering from lack of water ever since the rain levels dropped and the Endangered Species Act prohibited taking adequate amounts of water from the Klamath River. Dick Cheney maneuvered around the Endangered Species Act and made sure the farmers got their water. The fish died, and a federal court ruled against Dick Cheney’s new “environmental policy” a few years later and prohibited the Federal Government from diverting water from the Klamath River. Meanwhile the fishermen in the area had their livelihood completely decimated and US Congress authorized $60M in disaster aid to keep the fishing industry from completely disappearing. What an astounding victory for Dick Cheney!

The other example the article states is the relaxing of air pollution regulations by the Environment Protection Agency. It turns out Dick Cheney ram the new “pro-business” regulations down the throat of EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman. She refused to sign the new air pollution regulations because she knew they weren’t scientifically sound. She resigned. The new regulations went into affect only to be overturned by federal appeals court. The federal appeals court judges stated in their decision to struck down the new regulations that:

…administration had redefined the law in a way that could be valid “only in a Humpty-Dumpty world.”

Humpty-Dumpty sounds about right.


Me, a game designer

Microsoft is running a game design contest sponsored by Doritos (huh?).

I couldn’t help but enter my most awesomenest game idea in the contest. It puts a player in charge of fixing a video game console with chronic overheating problems. Gee, that sounds awfully familiar.

Somehow I think my chances of winning are quite remote.


Microsoft continues to deny quality problems with the XBox 360

The XBox 360 video game console is built by Microsoft. It was launched November 2005 in the United States and it cost $400.

The early manufacturing run(s) have widely been reported as having pretty serious quality issues. Those early units are failing at alarming frequency, in fact at such alarming frequency Microsoft offered to repair any 2005 manufactured XBox 360s for free, but only until the end of 2006. If you didn’t get a free repair, it’ll cost you $140 plus shipping to get it repaired by Microsoft.

I belong to a large online gaming community called Seasoned Gamers. We’ve got close to 1,000 active members. A lot of us own XBox 360s. The failure rates among the members are nowhere near the 2 – 3 percent range Microsoft wants us to believe, that is when they actually do talk about numbers. Four months ago the SG members had reported over 50 dead XBox 360s. There were several who had had more than one die on them.

If you round the SG members’ numbers up generously (for Microsoft) assuming there are 1,000 active members (there are less), and that everyone owns an XBox 360 (they don’t), you end up with a 5% failure rate within our community. During the past four months more XBox 360 units have died, so the failure rate among the members of SG is much closer to 10% than 5%, and it is probably higher than 10% by now. What Microsoft is saying and what SG members are seeing is statistically significantly different. Microsoft is basically full of shit when they claim the failure rates are not significant and are within “normal boundaries” or failure rates in electronic devices.

Yet Microsoft continues to publicly deny a problem, as is evident in an interview by Dean Takahashi, a well known journalist who has written books about the video gaming industry and the XBox in particular. In his interview of Todd Homdahl, Vice President of Gaming and Xbox Products Group at Microsoft directly responsible for the quality of the XBox 360 product, Dean tries to get a straight answer from Mr. Homdahl regarding the XBox 360 failure rates. The interview is a bizarre game of hide and seek with Dean trying his best to get an answer. Mr. Homdahl isn’t budging though and keeps evading the question with platitudes, half-truths and marketing bullshit.

Mr. Homdahl sums up Microsoft’s position with this wonderful statement:

We continue to say the vast majority of the people are really happy with it.

Way to go Todd! That’s exactly the message people with 100% failure rates need to hear. We know you really care, you’re just one of those shy silent types that aren’t really comfortable in saying you care. We know.


Adam Vitale pleads guilty to CAN-SPAM violations

Adam Vitale pleads guilty to CAN-SPAM violations and is facing a sentence of up to 11 years in prison at his sentencing hearing on September 13th.

Up yours, spammer scum. September 13th can’t come quick enough.


Republicans playing politics with people’s lives

The Washington Post has uncovered a blatant effort by Bushies to stack the immigration courts with Republican (and presumably anti-immigration) judges, who often have no other qualifications than being loyal to Emperor Bush. These judges reside over deportation proceedings and other serious immigration matters. They literally can decide the faith of immigrants’ lives…with little or no experience in immigration law. It’s kinda like putting a an international horse show judge in charge of FEMA.

One third of all immigration judges appointed by the Attorney General since 2004 have close ties to the Republican Party. It’s illegal, btw, to appoint civil service employees such as immigration judges based on political factors. But what’s illegally appointing party loyalists compared to illegally wiretapping the entire country.

You know, if the Republicans really want that bad to keep the brown people out of the country, why don’t they just make a law that says that, rather than try all these behind closed doors tricks to do the same.


New York State anti-video game bills getting more opposition is reporting two separate news about the New York State anti-video game bills are getting some heat from people concerned about them.

The CEO of Vicarious Visions, a video game developer from Albany, NY, writes a rather excellent editorial in Times Union, a newspaper in Albany. The editorial mentions the failed attempts of legislating video games in other states, and how the court battles there have cost tax payers almost $2M USD. He’s warning the New York State legislators from going the same path given the sorry state of New York State finances. He’s recommending the legislators concentrate their legislative efforts in encouraging the use of the ESRB ratings and educating parents of the ratings and parental controls already used by the video gaming industry and retailers.

More importantly, it seems the legislators themselves are waking up to the realities of the two bills. Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson recently challenged Andrew “Virginia Tech in every sentence” Lanza in the New York State Senate about the constitutional concerns of his bill. Lanza remained clueless, as always. I’m very encouraged by the fact that he’s, in fact, finally getting challenged by someone over this issue. If the bills don’t get struck down before Eliot Spitzer signs them, the legal fees will come down on us New York State tax payers.