The Whole World Has Aliens on the Brain

There’s been an overwhelming amount of alien-related news lately, and the latest bits of it have covered the leaders of Earth actually preparing for conact.  It all started when European astronomers discovered a new solar system last month, 127 light years away from us, and believed to contain at least 5 planets. Pretty awesome, right?

Any wannabe astronomer worth his salt knows that the universe is 1. estimated to be 14 billion years old, 2. HUGE and 3. expanding.  Where the REAL wannabes go from there is to understand that means there is undoubtedly a non-zero probability that the necessary components have come together in the necessary proportions to sustain life somewhere else in the universe.  And if that probability hasn’t come to fruition yet, it is still a certainty when extended over an infinite timeline.  In other words, it’s only a matter of time before we find some other planet that can sustain life and raid them for their Spacecash.

Wait, what?  It already happened?!

If confirmed, the exoplanet, named Gliese 581g,  would be the first Earth-like world found residing in a star’s habitable zone — a region where a planet’s temperature could sustain liquid water on its surface. [Illustration of planet Gliese 581g.]

Earth once supported harsh conditions, the researchers point out. And since red dwarfs are relatively “immortal” living hundreds of billions of years (many times the current age of the universe), combined with the fact that conditions stay so stable on a tidally locked planet, there’s a good chance that if life were to get a toe-hold it would be able to adapt to those conditions and possibly take off, Butler said.

“Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent,” said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, during a press briefing today. “I have almost no doubt about it.”

Space.com

There you have it folks.  So what is Earth to do when we see a mind-blowing jump in the probability that there are indeed some sexy blue cat people out there theatrically recreating the plot of Fern Gully?  News outlets have reported this week that the first order of business for the UN was to appoint a pointman as Alien Ambassador.  Since the kid from E.T. was unavailable they went with an astrophysicist (yawn) from Malaysia, Mazlan Othman.  Apparently this story has since been debunked as mass confusion fueled by the Interwebz’ hyperactive news-cycle, but it seems like Othman is already the go-to lady anyway, as head of the U.N.’s Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).  Personally I’d like to see that awesome Japanese scientist with the sweet hair representing Earth, or maybe John Stamos.  Gotta make sure we put our best foot forward.

Interestingly enough, the Vatican has also chimed in.  The Pope‘s astronomer (the Pope has an astronomer?!) said that he would “be delighted” if intelligent life were found, and that he would baptize them Catholic if they so wished.  He had no answer when asked, “But why the hell would they want that?”

Speaking ahead of a talk at the British Science Festival in Birmingham, he said that the traditional definition of a soul was to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions. “Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.” Would he baptise an alien? “Only if they asked.”

The Guardian

Unfortunately, those soulless gays are still out of luck.

Saturday Night Live Still Sucks, but This Happened

So last week, Katy Perry shot a music video with Elmo for Sesame Street, but the scene was eventually cut due to excessive bewbage.  NBC apparently decided they want to be in the Katy-Perry’s-business bussiness (who could blame them), and lampooned her brief stint on the Street the most clever way they know how.  Genius? Naah, too easy.

The Elmo video’s below if you care to watch it, but the above .gif is both bouncier and silence-ier so, naturally, it gets my vote.

Airball: EA Sports Decides to Spin-off NBA Jam After NBA Elite Demo Makes Gamers Physically Ill

So Peter Moore must read WG (not surprising).  It seems EA Sports has miraculously realized the idiocy of their plan to release NBA Jam, the game you are currently imagining being HELLA FUN as a one-time download with a fresh purchase of NBA Elite ’11, the “new” iteration of the basketball-simulation  schlock that’s been the cause of countless controller smashings over the last decade.  In case you missed it, you can read all about me bashing that “strategy” last month right here.  Anyway, It seems the Elite demo was so buggy and universally criticized [YOUTUBE] that EA head Peter Moore announced that the game would be indefinitely delayed.  Since NBA Jam is basically good-to-go (it has been around for 20 years), it will be released separately.

“Unfortunately, NBA Elite 11 is not yet ready and we have made a decision to delay next month’s launch,” Moore said, without specifying a new release date. “The decision to delay NBA ELITE was hard because the game has great promise. But ultimately we feel this is the right thing to do. We’ve been making steady progress on basketball for the past few years and it’s going to take extra time to make the game.”

NBA Jam, the arcade-style two-on-two game also due on Oct. 5, will still ship on that date for the Wii. The PS3 and Xbox 360 version was to have been included with a free download code in NBA Elite 11. Moore said that game will now be a standalone product that will arrive “in time for the holidays.” He did not indicate a price point or if this will be a physical retail release or digital download.

Kotaku

Let me humbly point out that the important thing in all of this isn’t that I said that bundling the two games together was a crappy ploy, doomed to fail because it hinges on the assumption that people will actually willfully spend $60 on the crap that NBA Elite ’11 would surely be.  And it’s not that I predicted that NBA Jam would be spun off and available as an XBLA/PSN download within 3 months of launch.  No, it’s not all about being right here at WG, folks.  Sometimes, it’s about being SO RIGHT that the head of EA Sports had to publicly acknowledge the shittiness of his product, and announce on his official blog that he’s going to switch on over to the WG strategy, a week before the damn thing was set to launch.  MUAAHAHAHA! Dude ought to be thankful that he’s got the luxury of living in the world of demos, Internet message boards, and wannabe savvy bloggers like yours truly, or he might have released this thing and forced virtual-LeBron James to take his talents down to a landfill in New Mexico.

Well, it’s a glorious day in for wannabe geniuses everywhere.  Just goes to show you: if you go around blowharding a couple of times a day and you cover enough topics, eventually you’ll be right about something.  It’s all a numbers game.

Can’t wait to be the first person to fork over $10 for NBA Jam this holiday season.  I deserve it.

Peter Moore’s Blog via Kotaku

RIM Announces Playbook Tablet, Still Playing Defense

RIM has finally announced that its new tablet will go on sale in early 2011.  More importantly, the 7″ ‘PlayBook’ (formerly known as the ‘Blackpad’) will support Adobe Flash, finally giving me the hope that we’ll find out if Apple really keeps flash off of its devices for battery issues, or if Joaoaerbs just wants to keep web applets out of his iTunes/GameCenter ecosystem.

The initial version will have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections but will only be able to connect to cellular networks through a BlackBerry smartphone. RIM said it intends to offer 3G and 4G ready tablets “in the future.”

The PlayBook will run on an all-new operating system built by QNX Software Systems, which makes software used to run everything from cars to nuclear reactors. RIM bought QNX earlier this year, and has been working to adapt the software for mobile phones.

The move means RIM will have to juggle two distinct operating systems. The company announced its BlackBerry 6 operating system for smartphones in April, and rolled out the first handset running on it, the BlackBerry Torch, last month.

WSJ

Connectivity through your existing Blackberry phone sounds like a great idea from a data-consumer’s point of view, but they’re certainly not going to gain market share on Apple with a strategy that only appeals to current Blackberry users.  It should also be noted that, like most Blackberry products, the PlayBook seems to be geared specifically to enterprise.  They’re likely not trying pry loose Apple’s stranglehold over the consumer market just yet.  So despite demonstrations of video, photo, and e-reader uses, as well as its ‘play’ful name, I wouldn’t expect users to be loading it with games any time soon.

Although, if they so wish, and if the browser is strong enough, Blackberry fans could get their fill of gaming through the web since, again, the PlayBook will support flash.  The only difference is they’ll be getting that content for free, whereas Apple’s stonewalling of Adobe’s popular technology has afforded them the unique ability to charge up to $9.99 for games that we would have otherwise played free on the web.

The WSJ article also made no mention of the price point.  It’s certainly a tough question, and it’s entirely possible that RIM hasn’t decided where to position the device in terms of pricing.  To make an Apple comparison again, the iPad can easily be sold at a loss because of the implied revenue they expect to make by selling apps, much like Microsoft has done with their Xbox.  The money is in the software (games or otherwise).  But without a robust developer base, you can’t count on app sales as a revenue stream to keep the device afloat.  In that sense, and with an entirely new OS, the Blackberry faces the same uphill battle that Sony did when they launched the PS3.  The console is certainly a very capable device (as I’m sure the PlayBook will be), but it struggled to gain traction for quite a while because developers shied away from its largely unknown architecture.

Ray Sharma, founder of XMG Studios, a closely held Toronto firm that develops games for the iPhone and Android platforms, was encouraged by RIM’s announcements Monday, but said it’s too soon to say whether his firm will begin developing games for the BlackBerry platform or for the PlayBook.

Mr. Sharma said the QNX operating system, while highly touted, is an unknown. By contrast, the Android system is on version 2.2, while the Apple OS is in its fourth iteration, he said. Mr. Sharma is also monitoring the progress of Microsoft Corp.’s new Windows mobile operating system, which will integrate with the company’s X-Box videogame system, making it particularly attractive for game developers, he said.

WSJ

RIM will try to compete for developers’ attention by waiving developer fees and attempting to streamline the app-creation process with a new development platform, but they are taking a significant risk with PlayBook, because of the enormous first-mover advantage enjoyed in this kind of product.  The quantity and quality of software is what will sell the hardware, and hardware sales attract developers in-turn.  It’s a chicken-egg situation that either results in a snowball-cum-avalanche or complete gridlock.  RIM is attempting to move the PlayBook by adding more features than Apple’s iPad, but they are features that do not offer the company additional revenue streams.  Connectivity through your Blackberry phone’s existing data connection means no revenue through sales of additional data plans.  And as I’ve already said, Flash support means that apps can run on the web instead of being sold in RIM’s version of the App Store.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the PlayBook was actually more expensive than the iPad, offering more features and more free content once you pay the upfront cost, and I don’t see that strategy dethroning El Jobso.  So where’s their edge (and you can’t feed me the BBM mantra anymore!)?

The stock market doesn’t appear to see one, as RIMM shares are trading down about 3% today while the broader market hovers around neutral to slightly positive.

[Wall Street Journal]

Be Well: The Last Murder in LA Took Place Last Saturday

That is, according to 1993 masterpiece Demolition Man.  In the movie, society is drastically reconstructed for complete interpersonal peace and commercial benevolence within a period of 1 generation.   Anything that’s not good for you is illegal, although somehow Otho from Beetlejuice still manages to fill out that kimono with his impressive  figure.  In a stunning reversal, black people suddenly want to be white, as evidenced by Wesley Snipes dressing like McCauley Caulkin. The tax code is probably all the more objectionable in 2032, though, which explains why he’s still in jail.  Did I mention this movie is a masterpiece?

So we’re a little behind schedule, but there are some aspects of the 2032-San-Angeles model that we definitely seem to be following through with in real life.  Like the legislative crusade on all things unhealthy, for example, along with video chat, commercial jingles taking up as much real estate in the public lexicon as pop tunes, and Rob Schneider becoming increasingly exasperating.  I swear I think about this movie whenever I hear people sing along to the freecreditreport.com song.  That is to say I think about knocking them out with a glow-rod to the dome piece.  HEY, police relying heavily on the use of TASERs is another one, so there you go.

Now if I can just figure out the damn 3-seashells.

If you happen to like movies about the future, but are broke and living in the goddamn past, I’ve got good news for you – you can actually order Demolition Man and Jean-Claude Van Damme classic TimeCop, together on LaserDisc from Amazon.

How Many Jersey Shore Costumes Will You See This Halloween?

I have to say these Jersey monkeys are sure doing a good job of pushing that feeling of wannabe-relevance as far as they can.  Pauly D is making good money as a wannabe DJ.  Good for him.  JWoww’s negotiating a deal to appear in Playboy.  Good for us.  Banging Snickers was the best move Vinny could have ever made, as her favorable commentary has led to Playgirl offering $30,000 to make a mold of his manhood for mass production.  The Situation is actually the brightest star on Dancing with the Vaguely Recognizable (when did that show become The Surreal Life and precisely when did being a single teen mom make you a “star”?).  But here’s the kicker for my money: he and Snookie both have packaged halloween costumes available for purchase.  I’m impressed by that…because, sadly, I can imagine a lot of people actually buying them.

If there’s one thing I take great pride in doing myself it’s Halloween costumes.  I’m of the DIY mind whenever possible, and it’s very satisfying to show up to a party with a couple buddies in a group costume that you glue-gunned and bedazzled at home by yourself and then get a ton of laughs.  And this just the kind of costume that’s amazing if you threw it together yourself, but downright lame to buy in a store.  Think all the Jokers you saw last year.  Yea there were too many, but the fact that they were all homemade made it awesome.  Nobody went out to purchase a Bat-suit, they went clothes shopping at a thrift store, bought some green hairspray and boom. Three or four Jokers for you to choose from.  In fact, once the Situation’s ab pads and Snookie’s trashy-Elaine Benes hair even exists in a store, that should be the signal that the joke’s over.

When you’re at the costume store last minute, I know it can be tempting.  I’ve been there before, but you MUSTN’T DO IT.  There’s just way too big a chance you arrive someplace only to find a dozen other last-minute assholes fist pumping their way through the night in what you all thought would be a clever getup.  Ladies in particular should harbor great fear for finding out that someone’s wearing the same outfit as you.  So, while I have to respect the merchandising efforts from their side, I beg you: if you can’t think of something great, take the high road and go with something more generic/less topical please.  The last thing we need is a bunch of chicks dressed like hot garbage instead of the standard fare.  Go with what you know.  The rest of us will thank you.

Park Spark Project: More Designs for the Brown Revolution

So after you’ve tooted your way around town for a while in your VW Dung-Beetle, how to kick back and relax? With a day at the park of course, where you can continue your new brown-energy lifestyle, and even get your best friend in on the action.  The Park Spark Project is a system that digests your little buddy’s little buddies and uses the methane to power gas a lamppost or other applications.

Anaerobic digestion (without oxygen) is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen.

Step 1 – Throw dog waste and biodegradable bag in Digester

Step 2 – Stir mixture to help Methane rise to the top

Step 3 – Burn Methane

Basically, any organic material (in this case dog waste) put in an “air-tight” container will start to produce methane. A methane digester is any system that is filled with biodegradable material and closed off from an oxygen supply. To make it a usable system, you must have some sort of control value (hose or pipe with cut-off value) to let out the methane produced to burn.

Park Spark Project

Well played, sir.  Dogshit is probably the last thing on the planet that we haven’t come up with some kind of use for, outside of pranking your neighbors.  This kind of thing is also nice because it gives people a minor incentive to actually bend down and pick up after their goddamn dogs.  No surprise that the project’s pilot light will not be burning in New York City – everyone here seems much more content to let me step in their dogs’ shit on the sidewalk.  I guess they get more utility from the lulz than from being a responsible human.  Anyway, seems like a solid idea – I mean we ought to use this shit for something, and electrical power for those streetlamps obviously costs tax dollars.  And I definitely like savings de money. Anytime you want to let me pay you for your services in dogshit, you let me know.

Also, holler at me when they come out with the home version and I can power my Xbox with farts; I’m pledging right now to be first in line.

Park Spark Project via obviouswinner