Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mind Screw

Ever wondered what it would be like to cross Evangelion with Pokemon?

Nintendo did.

Keep in mind that I've actually watched the mindfuck that is Evangelion and I still found myself feeling lobotomized after watching this.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Made of crap.

Silver is a Computer Science major. Silver is also a Space Studies minor. Silver wants to become a computer programmer specializing in robotics for NASA and eventually become an astronaut.

So why the HELL to I have to take all of these stupid Essential Studies classes?

This is bullshit. English for writing, and Intro to Public Speaking? Ok, I can see actual usage for that. But "Diversity in American Society"? What the hell can you possibly learn in that class that takes up an entire semester? I AM A FREAKING COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJOR. The only "diversity" I need to know about is how different C++ is compared to Java.

And the ENTIRE Essential Studies program at my school is like this - full of classes that scream "can never possibly be used in any kind of science-based career". Even worse is the fact that I can come up with a few classes off of the top of my head that could fulfill Essential Studies requirements and yet...don't. The class about WORLD WAR II can't fulfill your "Global Diversity" requirement; the same goes for the required class on International Space Programs for my minor. I'm pretty much required to take a foreign language...except that they don't have Japanese, the language I took in high school. And inexplicably, if I wanted to study Latin, I'd have to take TWO semesters of it to fulfill the Global Diversity requirement instead of one semester like everything else (except Spanish, in which you have to take THREE semesters).

In case you're wondering why I'm going off about this, it's because I got an e-mail saying that they just changed the Essential Studies requirements. Yes, that's right, they added MORE bullshit I have to take to graduate that has absolutely no bearing on my future career path whatsoever. Lemme break it down:

I have to take a minimum of twelve classes for my Special Emphasis Areas requirements. This is broken down into (now) four areas:

- United States Diversity. Classes that fulfill this requirement include every last class in the Indian Studies program, as well as classes such as "Geography of North America", "African-American History", and, yes, "Diversity in America". I'm totally cool with taking a history class, but in the name of "diversity"? What the hell? Let's sum up a little of my college experience over this past year:

1.) Made friends with Japanese foreign exchange students attending this college, partly by speaking Japanese with them.
2.) Became involved in the Space Studies program, which includes people from Russia and India.
3.) Moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Yep, I obviously don't know shit about diversity.

Another thing that gets me about this requirement and the one I'm going to be mentioning next is that it's so naive to assume that someone would become more tolerant of different cultures if they took classes about it. Um...no. Sure, I became more interested in Japanese culture when I took my Japanese classes in high school, but I took those classes all four years because I wanted to. Because I was already interested to begin with (years of playing Sonic and Pokemon and watching copious amounts of Sailor Moon as a kid will do that). Trying to like a class that I'm being forced to take and can hardly connect to my major (or my aforementioned interest in Japanese culture), however, is far more difficult and will most likely result in me being apathetic about it at best. And I'm sure there are tons of people out that will handle it worse than I do and will simply hate it because it's yet another class they have to take alongside their major requirements. And I don't blame them.

- Global Diversity. Classes that fulfill this include classes such as nearly every language class, a bunch of Anthropology classes, and classes about eastern religions. In other words, actual classes, which is good for those who are Anthropology majors but bad for people like me who are far, far away from that department. At least they have a class on Buddhism, which I'm *gasp* actually interested in taking because of how prevalent it is in Japanese culture (and because there's a giant penis monster in one of its stories). It still doesn't change the fact, however, that it's yet another requirement that makes me take classes outside of my area of study and thus prolongs my time trying to get my degree.

- Advanced Communication. One of the freaking NEW ones they just HAD to add, and possibly a requirement I will have a serious problem trying to fulfill, because ALL of the classes are 300 or 400-level classes in departments I normally wouldn't need to touch; this would of course mean that I'd have to take an entire LINE of classes unrelated to my major to get to take ONE class that fulfills this requirement. The classes in their departments are that freaking specific. One of the classes is CHEMICAL ENGINEERING PLANT DESIGN I. Others include the Aviation Senior Capstone class (because they can't hinder their prized recruits too much!), the Senior Design I class for the Electrical Engineering department, the Mechanical Engineering Seminar, the senior capstone class for the Math department, and Professional Development II for the medical school. And of course, take a guess as to what two departments are entirely unrepresented in this list? Of course, none other than the Computer Science and Space Studies departments! This means that I'd probably have to take the Senior Thesis class for Honors, despite the fact that I have to be working on my Computer Science capstone at around that time; in other words, it would be like I was double-majoring ON TOP OF the fact that I also have to finish my Space Studies minor requirements. This is bullshit, and they better add classes pertaining to at least one of my departments before my final year of college.

- Quantitative Reasoning. The second new requirement they added. Far less rage about this because the classes aren't half-bad. Meteorology I happens to be included (a class I've been thinking about taking for the lulz because of my obsession with the weather), as is the Introductory Astronomy class that I aced this past semester, which means that I really won't have to worry about this requirement too much.

And then, of course, I have the rest of the requirements for my Essential Studies classes.

- Oral and Written Communication, which I won't worry too much about because I only need to take one more class for it (preferably Business and Technical Writing).

- Social Sciences is far more iffy, IMO. As I've previously stated, this is far away from my chosen area of study. And, of course, none of my Space Studies classes fulfill this requirement, despite space travel and research being an international effort in modern times; likewise, another required class, "Social Implications of Computer Technology", also doesn't count. Seriously, though, looking at this list, I can't find a single class that I think won't feel like pulling teeth to take, because nothing involves my area of study. Making this worse is the fact that I have to take at least NINE CREDITS in this, and they have to be in a minimum of two departments.

- Fine Arts and Humanities is a mixed bag. My band classes count as Fine Arts classes, so I should be fine, and I already took three credits of Humanities via my Inquiry in the Humanities honors class (existentialism is fun!), so that's about six credits-ish of the nine credits I need, and I'm taking Advanced Colloquium in the Humanities next semester (aka "Web 2.0"), so this should be knocked out of the way.

- Mathematics, Science, and Technology is an absolute breeze because this is where my major is. I've already knocked eight of the nine credits I need out simply taking classes required for my major and minor (Computer Science I and Introductory Astronomy) that happen to fulfill this requirement.

- Finally, the Capstone course. Since I'm a CompSci major, my class will be Formal Languages and Automata.

tl;dr, this is a bunch of crap that I shouldn't mostly have to take and only tacks on tons of classes to the other tons of classes I have to take for my degree. For Computer Science alone, I have to take two Electrical Engineering classes, my core CompSci classes, two CompSci electives (will hopefully be taking more than just two; looking into robotics and, for the lulz, 2D and 3D animation and physics engines), two Calculus classes...it totals around 15 classes minimum from my foggy memory of the course catalog. My Space Studies minor has a ton of them, too.

This kind of "jack of all trades, master of none" approach to college education is why more and more people are spending more than four years in college, not to mention why college is considered so prohibitively expensive. This kind of approach is also why I couldn't stand high school and was very eager to go to college.

What is the benefit of doing this? The knowledge needed for classes unrelated to my major is going to enter my head and then instantly leave it when I pass them, I waste more time and money, and I've already demonstrated that, on a mental health level, I don't do very well emotionally when I take a ton of classes at once, which means I have to spread them out more. If more and more requirements keep being added, I might have to go six years in college instead of the five that I've already projected.

This. Is. Crap.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Can we kick California out of the US? Please?

San Francisco Approves Cell Phone Radiation Disclosure Law
Retailers will be required to post the amount of radiation emitted by a cell phone or face fines under regulation given preliminary approval by the City Board of Supervisors.

San Francisco is close to becoming the first city in the nation to require retailers to post next to cell phones the amount of radiation emitted by the devices.

The city's Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 Tuesday to give preliminary approval to the proposal. The board is expected to give final approval next week, and Mayor Gavin Newsom, an early proponent, is expected to sign the proposal into law.

Potential health risks from cell phone radiation has been debated for years. Despite numerous studies, there's no clear scientific evidence that mobile phones increase risks for cancer or any other illness. Last month, for example, a 10-year study released by the World Health Organization failed to turn up any conclusive evidence.

The San Francisco proposal would require retailers to post the "specific absorption rate" next to mobile phones. The Federal Communications Commission require cell phone makers to register the SAR, which is a measurement of the amount of radiation absorbed by the human body.

In addition, retailers would be required to post information on where consumers can get educational materials on cell phone radiation. If signed the proposal is signed by Newsom, it would take effect beginning in February 2011. Violators would face fines up to $300.

Proponents say the proposal would little more than provide consumers with additional information in making a decision on which mobile phone to buy. "While research continues, this is a simple, inexpensive, common-sense idea that will ensure that San Franciscans have the information they need to choose the right phone for themselves and their families," Renee Sharp, director of the California office of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. The EWG is a national nonprofit research and advocacy group.

However, opponents of the proposal, including many San Francisco businesses, argue that the notices would be misleading, because consumers would assume that less radiation means lower health risk. In fact, all cell phones sold in the U.S. meet federal requirements, and there's no clear evidence that radiation under those levels presents a health risk.

A similar proposal died in the California Legislature this year, following intense lobbying by the mobile phone industry. Lawmakers in Maine killed a similar bill this year, even after the proposal had been watered down in an attempt to attract industry support.

This. Is. Freaking. RIDICULOUS.

It's not even proven to cause problems, and you receive FAR more harmful radiation going to the beach than you do talking on your cell phone! It's all part of the same damn spectrum!

And why just cell phones? Nearly every device these days has a wireless signal - what, you think those aren't transmitted via the electromagnetic spectrum? Your car's antenna receives radio waves beamed all over the place by radio towers; and yes, that is electromagnetic radiation: radios merely "translate" it into sound waves that we hear (think this is insane? Radio waves are used to view certain objects in astronomy with gigantic radio telescopes). Your computer is using waves in the electromagnetic spectrum to connect wirelessly to the internet (and internet services are even provided by cell phone companies using your cell service!!!). Your iPod Touch that has wireless internet is also beaming and receiving such signals. TVs with satellite dishes or radio antennas are receiving radiation. And don't even get me started on the other far more important and omnipresent forms of electromagnetic radiation, such as "visible" light (yes, THAT IS FREAKING RADIATION), ultraviolet light (not only beamed by the Sun, but also by the fluorescent lights that are always present in classrooms), and the background microwave radiation in the universe (aka "the leftover heat/energy from the Big Bang") that is EVERYWHERE, including Earth. AND radiation from space (X-rays and gamma rays are blocked by the atmosphere, but all of the ones with bigger wavelengths totally get through and stop at certain points).

Unless our cell phones happen to be running on portable nuclear reactors (or we switched to using X-rays for communication), there's no way they can put out "harmful" radiation, otherwise we would've had mass cancer outbreaks many years ago from the invention and spread of the freaking radio, not to mention the sheer amount of electronics that we're constantly living around. And did I mention constant radiation from space?

The people in San Fransisco are so ungodly stupid if they think this is making them healthier or somehow stopping them from dropping like flies (not that they are to begin with). This is only going to add more meaningless numbers to the packaging and raise costs for manufacturers and those who sell cell phones in the area.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nintendo's E3 Press Conference

Holy crap! Nintendo's E3 conference was absolutely mindblowing. For those who didn't watch it:

1.) Gameplay and LIVE STAGE DEMONSTRATION of the new Zelda game on the Wii: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Visuals are brighter and more colorful than Twilight Princess but still keep the basic art style. All motion control will utilize Wii Motion Plus, all items in the game will utilize motion control.

2.) Gameplay footage of Epic Mickey. Visuals look improved, the game will apparently have three distinct kinds of segments: Overworld, 2D sidescrolling platforming, and, apparently, RPG.

3.) Trailer with gameplay footage for a new Mario Sports title.

4.) Trailer with gameplay footage for Wii Party, as expected.

5.) KIRBY WII UNVEILED: Kirby Epic Yarn is a new 2D sidescroller with a very unique art style. Of course, it's ridiculously cute.

6.) RETRO STUDIOS (of Metroid Prime fame) has been working on Donkey Kong Country Returns; trailer shows nothing but gameplay footage!


8.) Physical design and specs of 3DS revealed, as well as the return of KID ICARUS on the 3DS, developed by Project Sora of Super Smash Bros. Brawl fame.

9.) DEVELOPERS WORKING ON 3DS REVEALED, INCLUDING ATLUS. Considering that Shin Megami Tensei (IV): Strange Journey came out for the DS, it looks like it might be Shin Megami Tensei V. Or could be a new Etrian Odyssey. Game series announced for development on the 3DS include RESIDENT EVIL, METAL GEAR SOLID, ASSASSIN'S CREED, KINGDOM HEARTS.

10.) Live press demonstrations of the 3DS's 3D capabilities, as well as demo booths for Zelda Wii on the spot. Articles written by the press should come out shortly.

All in all, extremely memorable and well-balanced performance. Sony will have to work extremely hard to beat this.