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The problem with the news

The news has many problems, I’ll discuss some of them here.

My biggest gripe is that the news must have balance even when the facts are unequivocal. For example, if climate change is being discused, they’ll get some crackpot who doesn’t “believe” in it to debate some poor scientist. The masses of course without a critical thought in their heads, will assume that the science is not settled and continue believing falsehood. Another example, why do religious groups comment on scientific matters like stem cell research? Why should we give a shit about what some invisible sky magician is purported to have said thousanmds of years ago? Why should we live by the ethics of a thousand or so years ago, today? The beauty of science is that it’s constantly evolving and bettering itself. Religion just assumes it’s right and inserts its fingers in its ears pretending it can’t hear the contrary. This is a double-edged sword however, we don’t want a situation like in America where the broadcast media is biased as is Faux Fox News. The present stance is fine, but where the facts are clear, only have the correct side should speak about it.

Often the BBC will transcribe radio shows as news stories, e.g. From our own correspondent. These often have a very long preamble and the headline only fleetingly refers to the substance of the article. In these cases, I don’t bother reading the article at all or skim it. Often I will not bother reading the end of articles because of the right of reply. The BBC has a habit of putting this at the bottom which is quite good, because it’s easier not to read it. One example is, there’ll be a story about the Tories not adequatley funding the health service. However, the right of reply is a carefully funded PR statement saying words to the effect of “The NHS has never before received this amount of money. The government is committed to ensuring world class care is provided to patients”. Unfortunately, in this time of information warfare, you’d be forgiven for believing the government. Nominally the NHS may be receiving more funding but increasing the budget by for arguments sake 0.1 % amounts to a real terms cut. Couple this with when it has in the past, received budget increases of 5% it is a cut. Imagine if the Nazi’s had PR, I can see the statement now:

The chancellor Herr Hitler utterly refutes allegations of genocide. Herr Hitler is committed to the security of the German people by providing employment, hygiene and the best possible care for the indigenous people of Germany. He is working hard to shape the future of Europe, for a better more equal society.

It is unfortunate that, the newspapers are owned by right wing facist bastards. Rupert Murdoch supposedly only cares about selling newspapers, right wing slants seem to sell so that’s what he gives the public. Paul Dacre on the other hand is a sanctimonius, cantankerous cunt. The cunt of cunts, if you will. He genuininely believes the bile he prints daily, spreading and profiting from fear and hatred. It’s good that print media is in its death throes, however the Daily Heil has amassed the largest newspaper website in the world, by printing so called yellow diarrhea “news”. It’s bad enough, that such newspapers exist but why do television news channels insist on featuring them in their programs? By definition newspapers are yesterday’s news. Broadcast media can surely find their own sources and report on them if they’re newsworthy.

Some sites like The Daily Beast, have an infinite scroll feature where as you finish one story, they’ll put another one up behind it. It is highly effective and keeps you reading. I just want to read the story I opened. Sites are becoming more sensationalized. It’s hardly surprisng, with the amount of competition out there. But even the BBC is doing click bait headlines now.

There is a campaign group called “Stop funding hate”, which encourages proprieters to stop advertising with The Daily Heil and to choke them of advertising revenue. Whilst an admirable aim, it sets a dangerous president as Ian Hislop notes. What’s to stop others from doing the same to left wing newspapers? Advertisers shouldn’t have the power to decide what gets printed. While you’re at it, go for the jugular and just convince people to not buy the paper in the first palce.

Custom term YouTube RSS feed trick

This post will show you how to subscribe to Youtube (YT) channels without having a YT account. You will also be able to subscribe only to videos that match a keyword. For example, say you like “AVGN” videos but don’t care too much for the rest of the stuff on Cinemassacre.

You’ll need an account at IFTTT (If this then that).

Background: YT/Google in their infinite wisdom, decided in 2014 to shut down their RSS feeds. Who needs functionality right? Instead, each channel is its own RSS feed but it isn’t valid.

Step 1 – Get the URL for the channel you want to subscribe to

For cinemassacre aka JamesNintendoNerd this would be https://www.youtube.com/user/JamesNintendoNerd

Step 2 – Get RSS feed URL

We need to make this into a valid feed URL. So head over to a feed validator, in this example we’ll use W3 Schools. So put the URL through the validator and it’ll say the feed isn’t valid, but it’ll spit out an xml URL (an actual RSS feed). Save this for later. In our example, it is https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UC0M0rxSz3IF0CsSour1iWmw

The XML feed URL
The XML feed URL

 

Another method is to place the external channel ID at the end of this URL:  http://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=REPLACE_WITH_CHANNEL_ID

Step 3 – Create applet on IFTTT

The UI for this site is not user friendly.

  • Click on ‘My Applets’ then ‘New applet’.
  • Next, click on the blue “+this”.
  • Select RSS feed
  • If you merely want a notification for each new upload regardless
    of video content, select “New Feed Item”.
  • If you want to match a keyword, select “New feed item matches
  • Put in the feed URL from the validator, optional insert keyword.
  • Create Trigger.
  • Now click on the blue “+that”
  • You can choose anything you want for this option. It’s your preference how you want to be notified. We’ll choose email.
  • Select “Send me an Email”.
  • Optional “Complete action fields”. Don’t mess with it too much or it won’t work, the standard boiler plate is often sufficient.
  • Create action.
  • Finish.

Step 4 – Revel in mastery
Congratulations. You are now an RSS expert.

Masters of Doom – Reviewed

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop CultureMasters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had low expectations for this book, boy was I wrong. This had been recommended to me so I picked it up. I didn’t think that the story about the guys behind id software would be so enthralling and interesting. Kushner writes in a very entertaining way and has researched his work very well. To the point of me wondering, if he was even present for the stuff that didn’t take place in front of him. He even mentions Carmack’s “Mmm” tic, which I found hilarious when I saw it in an interview, excellent attention to detail.

I can see why Kushner wrote this book. Id software was truly revolutionary in game design, making Mario clones for the PC, 3D persistent worlds, online/LAN games all the while raking in millions powered up by diet coke and pizzas. I liked how the guys from id were ordinary guys (with the exception of Carmack maybe!) and how they loved playing games. Id were doing so well, that Bill Gates considered buying the company.

This book has really made me want to play Doom to completion. I think of the early nineties with nostalgia, that I won’t be playing Doom against Romero over DWANGO. Tom Hall and Romero jumping around like idiots making alien noises, Adrian drawing something disgusting in the corner, Carmack hunched over his computer for the umpteenth hour – optimizing his engine, it feels magical. Kushner has done well to paint such memorable, vivid scenes. Romero appears to be the father of online game related flaming though, I’m not sure how I feel about that. In his defence, if he didn’t do it first someone else would have.

The book seems to fizzle out a little towards the end, reflecting the fate of id. Overall it doesn’t matter. I’ve been lucky to read 3 books in a row which I’ve rated 5/5. I hope it lasts.

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Fargo Season 2 was terrible

I was looking forward to this, since the end of season 1. Though it wasn’t as good as the movie, it was still quite entertaining, despite the gore. Boy was I wrong. Season 2 opens with some ditzy bimbo who runs over a mob member who is distracted by Aliens in a flying saucer. I kid you not. Aliens. That’s the best distraction piece they could come up with. Some strange lights, I could live with but a flying saucer is so incredibly unlikely it suspends your disbelief. I don’t doubt that Aliens do exist somewhere in the universe, probably as single celled organisms or something similar, but the authors are suggesting intelligent extraterrestrial life that has visited earth. They make a reappearance at the season finale, how convenient.

Back to the bimbo, rather than call the police or shove the man off the bonnet she drives home with him still on there. Who on earth would do that? I know she panics but that’s just ridiculous. She then has the resolve to stuff him into her home freezer and act like nothings happened. Anyway they end up killing Rye. Arguably at this stage, if they call the police they could claim self defense though that is quite tenuous, whether a jury would believe them.

On balance, I did like the cooky accents and often imitate them in my leisure time.

On Fargo in general, they like to use a plot device in which they claim that the show/movie is based on real events but the names have changed to protect the survivors and respect the dead. Too bad anyone with half a brain cell can search the internet and debunk this bollocks in an instant. Do the authors hold the audiences intelligence in such contempt? I mean season 1 and the movie they could get away with but Aliens? Pull the other one.

Duolingo is mostly useless

I thought I’d tone down the hyperbole and not say “totally useless” but that’s not far off. I have numerous gripes with this site. But before we go down that rabbit hole, let me regale you with a story. So I was briefly part of this German speaking club, my friend always dreaded taking part in it which I found strange, considering he was fluent. Anyway, one day many moons later I decided to join in, I did have an ulterior motive, mind. This cute southern bell was there.

I did feel quite out of my depth here. I used to speak pretty good German 10 years ago – not quite fluent, but getting there. I was top of the class and the teachers were really disappointed I didn’t study German at University. I was really rusty but I could still keep a conversation going. A girl was sat next to me who was very quiet. I tried to make conversation with her but she told me she couldn’t speak and was only here to listen. Delving deeper, she explained that she had got 100% on Duolingo! She had excellent vocabulary but couldn’t construct sentences on her own. How tragic, to complete that turd to fruition only to find out how emasculated she was.

To summarize, these are the problems with Duolingo:

  • From the above, it is not a substitute for traditional classroom learning. Not surprising given how robotic the exercises are. I’d compare it to learn python the hard way. Zed Shaw’s masochistic way to not learn programming.
  • If you make a minor mistake (I’m not talking typos), you lose progress during an exercise. You have to do the same question again. I’m talking exactly the same one. It gets so tedious.
  • It’s so boring, honestly reading a book is more entertaining.
  • There’s lots of mistakes in the answers, marking you down even when you’re right. It’s a free service, so I guess you get what you pay for.
  • They spam the fuck out of your email address, using a cartoon owl to coax you back to the eternal cesspit of boredom. Even if you opt out of one specific type of ham, they’ll spam you with other categories. E.g. Daily progress update vs. Weekly &c.

I tried Duolingo for Romanian and not much of it sank in. Then I just looked at a phrase book and learnt a lot more. Duolingo is poor for retaining information. If you’re serious about language learning, try a language exchnage, rosetta stone, pimsleur or a language class. Avoid relying solely on Duolingo if at all.

Officials expect Trump to resign

Thomas Toch, director of independent education think tank FutureEd, told Politico that Trump was ignorant of the job’s constraints when he accepted it and insiders are already preparing for him to vacate the position.

“He can’t fill his senior staff slots,” he said. “Morale is terrible at the Whitehouse.”

Trump was roundly criticized for his lack of basic knowledge about foreign policy, after another late night tirade against Kim Jong-Un, this time labelling him as fatso McPeePants. The irony of the president’s own carriage was lost on him. He blames Hillary Clinton for this indescretion, claiming “she had a private email server or something.”

One doubts most presidents need to be coached not to insult war widows as a way to show empathy.

“I’ll tell you, in Washington, the conversation is already about the post-Trump landscape, because the assumption is he won’t stay long,” Toch told Politico. “I think he’s been probably one of the most ineffective people to ever hold the job.”

Politico notes that Toch’s assessment was “somewhat harsher” than comments from the west wing, since they perceive Trump as ineffective and deterred from seeking major changes after discovering the limits of his power.

“If there’s one thing Trump has learned so far, it’s that getting your way in Washington requires time, patience and government savvy — three things he does not have,” the profile bluntly states.

After The Salon.

Vurt – reviewed

Vurt (Vurt #1)Vurt by Jeff Noon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A modern classic. I’m surprised Hollywood hasn’t bastardised this work by adapting it for the silver screen. Probably the rampant debauchery, drug taking and sex is holding them back. It is highly thrilling and tantalising. Revealing the minimum amount of information page by page to keep you reading on, to find out what’s going on. I’m tempted to read Pollen but a friend told me it’s no way near as good. I really liked imagining this universe, Noon has an incredible imagination. I was going to mark this down to 4 out of 5 due to the incest but I’m reliably informed that it’s an ode to Greek mythology, so it gets 5.

Are you robo, shadow, dog or vurt?

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UK Snap election June 2017

Well, well, well. Who saw that result coming? YouGov did apparently. It’ll be remembered as the election which few people wanted, fewer people liked the result and cost ~£130m. Don’t hold your breath, because there might be another one soon, when the walking corpse Theresa May is finally ousted as leader past her sell by date. The Tories felt like they lost and Corbyn felt like he won, even though the opposite was true.

It’s quite funny to see May fail so spectacularly. The right wing Tory propaganda machine, that is the newspapers, foreseeing a 100+ majority only for it to be reduced was ironic, take that Alanis Morissette. May said she called election to give her a mandate and a stronger position for Brexit negotiations. The EU didn’t give a shit about the election and in fact the result showed just how weak she was. The real reason she called the election was because the papers were telling her she had a 15 point lead and she thought she could crush the opposition, paving way for her vision of a hard Brexit. Also to use arcane, out-dated laws like the royal assent to repeal rights without oversight.

I just wanted to remind everyone of the three Tory soundbites, that were reiterated during this election, that turned out to be false (lest ye forget):

Strong and Stable – May thought that if she said this enough times, that it’d come true. Like an exercise from a self help book for weak, duplicitous, leathery-faced gargoyles. Strong and Stable? More like Weak and Wobbly. Especially as you send Amber Rudd to fill in for you on a debate. I saw a statistic that said for each key marginal May visited, the Tories lost. And she cited visiting constituents as the reason to not attend debates. The more the population saw of May the less they wanted her.

There’s no magic money tree – There clearly is and it’s called borrowing. The government used the tree to buy 10 DUP MPs at £100m a pop to form a coalition. Since then they have borrowed more for other projects as well. If they disagree with something they’ll just come out with this shitty line. If they do agree with it, they’ll borrow – or use the tree, in their words.

Coalition of Chaos – No, this is not your cousin’s shitty metal band that he wants you to be in. This is the threat of a Labour/SNP coalition (or the so-called rainbow alliance – with other parties &c). Which party made the coalition post election again? Oh that’s right, the Conservatives. Coalition government isn’t necessarily a bad thing – take the best ideas from multiple parties. Do you want a government with a whopping great majority to pass through laws without them being adequately challenged? Legislation might take a little longer to pass but overall I think it’s a good thing. Funnily enough, the DUP has blocked some Tory legislation over the NHS. How’d you like those sky potatoes?

So what have we learned through this treatise? That the Tories are lying bastards and can’t be trusted.

2017 in films part 2

  • Creed – Nice to see a different take on the Rocky Series. Rocky reluctantly coaches Apollo’s bastard son. Finally, a film in which Rocky doesn’t box himself (don’t give him half a chance, even at this age he’s up for it. See Grudge Match) and finishes the franchise off nicely, leaving a legacy. 8/10
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes – The franchise was recommended by James Rolfe. I was not particularly impressed by the opening act, found it quite boring during the middle though. Felt a lot like Project X but not as good. I have high hopes for the sequels. Also I’ll probably end up watching the originals. 6.5/10
  • Prometheus – When this came out several years ago I heard it was shit, so I didn’t bother watching it. But as an Alien series fan, I felt like I had to. It was indeed shit. I jest, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I tried to look past the blatant scientific inaccuracies but ultimately, you’re watching a film about extra terrestrials so you can’t complain too much. However, there are degrees of plausibility, and this film effectively debunks evolution. Notwithstanding this BS, it didn’t really feel like an Alien film. At times it was quite captivating but overall left more to be desired. There was lack of motivation from the antagonist and a poor script. Visually it looked great. What really pissed me off is, this is NOT supposed to be a prequel, it’s just meant to be another film set in the Alien universe. Then why is it set in the past and has a ship crashes in a very similar way to the one from Alien? This all gets very confusing. And for this it loses appoint. The title is quite clever too. 5/10
  • Ted – I don’t know why I even bothered watching this turd, I don’t know what I was expecting. It’s essentially Peter Griffin the Movie. Basic, predictable Hollywood hogwash, the kind of thing they churn out routinely from the sausage factory. The film’s worst crime of all is, that it’s not that funny for a comedy film. I didn’t care for any of the characters. Why on earth was there a sequel? 4.5/10
  • Conan the Barbarian – I was aware of this for a long time but never watched it. Finding out it is an Schwarzenegger classic, I felt compelled to view it. At times disgusting, fantastical, overtly raunchy (surprisingly) but great action scenes and a thrilling plot. It’s got Darth Vader and Arnie. What more do you want? It’s a shame the sequels were shit. Loses a point for losing suspension of disbelief when he fucks cat woman. 8/10
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Disgusting.  Nice to see where all the vampire clichés come from. I particularly liked the opening half an hour, where the legend is set up and Keanu has to escape the castle. Reeves was an unexpected bonus, reprising his role as wooden actor, in this playing an Englishman – the boot fit.  Again unexpectedly raunchy. After the initial castle scene I did get bored and lost the plotline a little. Though it finished strongly. 7/10
  • Eddie the Eagle – Who doesn’t like an underdog. The man is a legend and I didn’t know the full story. I was entertained start to finish. Loses a point for historical inaccuracies, seriously why would you lie about the distance jumped? 9/10
  • I Am Legend – I’m not sure how they did it, but they managed to butcher a really good book.  Will Smith was not the best actor to choose as lead for this film.  The ending and the introduction of other characters was what really ruined it. He’s supposed to be the last man on earth. 5.5/10
  • My Scientology Movie – Much anticipated and lauded only to be disappointed. This doesn’t feel like a typical Louis Theroux documentary and I was wondering why. Then it struck me, he wasn’t interviewing active Scientologists (not including fleeting aggressiveness in the street). At first I thought auditioning for actors to play the head of Scientology was filler. Why not just play the tape of his original interview, instead of getting an actor to dress up like him and read the words? It transpires later,that we sat through this charade because he wanted them to act out a piece of violence that there’s no footage of, which is fair enough. It still strikes as a little superfluous. I imagined this film to be groundbreaking but Theroux failed to give some basic facts about the origins of Scientology. Like how they believe Xenu saved some idiots from a volcano. I felt more informed from a South Park episode from a decade ago. In the end, Scientology’s aggressiveness has been covered before by Panorama, albeit in less detail. So this film felt like we’ve seen it all before. 6.5/10
  • Dredd – Reboot of the franchise, a cross between the raid redemption and a dystopian future. Suspenseful entertainment but I honestly preferred the original with Sylvester Stallone even though it appears to have been rubbished by critics. Probably due to nostalgia alone and being able to quote lines from it. Last saw it over a decade ago. The reboot loses a point for excessive gore. 7/10
  • Fahrenheit 9/11- Bush stole the 2001 election and a critique of the Iraq War. It shows what it takes for the supporters of the war to go against it, probably influenced a lot of people at the time. The US has behaved despicably. 9/10
  • Mr Plinkett’s Ghostbusters 2016 review – Not a film in of itself but thought I’d include this anyway. I’m reviewing his review… INCEPTION! I was never going to watch the film, luckily with this review I don’t have to. Much of the blame of the failure of this film is leveled at the actresses through wanton mysoginy, which is wrong. The full blame should be put on the script writer/director Paul Feig. I mean this idiot can’t even say his own surname correctly, according to pronunciation norms, so what were we expecting? The script was terrible and the director made them ad lib most of it. Think of the film as 90 minutes of improv. Unfortunately the film was a commercial success, so we can look forward to seeing more of these turds in the future. Hollywood has very few original ideas left. I’m particularly annoyed at Bill Murray’s cameo in this film. He supposedly held out on doing Ghostbusters 3, for reasons unknown, script issues maybe? But when he saw this shit sandwich on his plate he greedily gobbled it down and asked for more. Mr Plinkett’s Ghostbusters 2016 review gets 9.5/10
  • Revenge of the Nerds – Pure 80s. Goofy humor throughout. 7/10
  • Death Note (2017) – Hatchet job, in the same way that Big Bang Theory is blackface for nerds, this is blackface for manga readers. Though an improvement on previous live action films, setting it in America was a mistake. This adaptation deviates from the original manga too much. The ending was especially poor and I didn’t like the ‘L’ character either.  6/10

The last two are rewatches. Both are a lot more disturbing than I remember but you know they’re excellent, when they spawn numerous clichés. The following prove you don’t need a complicated plot to make a great film.

  • Taxi Driver – You get the feeling that Bickle could have been a productive member of society if circumstances were different. Or maybe he’s just an absolute nutcase. 9.5/10
  • The Warriors – Just some guys trying to get home after a crazy night out. What could possibly go wrong?  Manlets are the worst. 10/10

Frankenstein – Reviewed

FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A true classic. I picked this up on a whim from the library, as they didn’t have the book I actually wanted. I had seen the film about a decade ago and I was a little weary, whether they’d be similar. It was nothing like the films. Now I finally know the origins of “Bride of Frankenstein”.

It opens with a brilliant hook but then starts off a little slowly. However by the middle of the first volume, once all the background is out of the way, it becomes a real page turner. Curiously much of the tropes of the monster’s animation are notably absent from the text e.g. lightning. Though it may be argued that they are mentioned in earlier editions. If you really read between the lines you may find justification for them.

Victor somewhat sidesteps the issue about the secret of life creation, which feels like a bit of a cop out. But it’s probably a wise move as it leaves an air of mystery but also is justified later on. The classical Halloween monster look of the fiend is an awful caricature. Extensive description of the beast is notably absent, the reader only has a gigantic deformed mummy to play with. So I’m not sure where this stereotype came from. Probably one of the early movies exercising poetic license.

I liked how there were stories within stories. The book was easy enough to read. I did feel a lot of empathy for the beast and drew parallels with radicalised islamists. The beast is a lot more eloquent than the movies lead you to believe. I do feel Victor could have made a few different choices and am tempted to write some fanfiction about it. The rough notes of which are outlined below, best not to read on if you haven’t read the book.

So I’m assuming Victor has blinded by rage and couldn’t think correctly. Otherwise he could have set various traps to kill him. It’d be a lot more effective than simply pursuing him.

Make a fake bride for the monster. Set up a camouflaged pit filled with a flammable liquid. Lure him to the pit to claim his mate. Once he falls in, ignite the liquid, using his weakness of heat to defeat him.

If Victor wanted to carry on pursuing him, try flaming arrows to reach him. Though not really possible with respect to the range.

Victor should have faked his own death. At least then the beast would be within striking distance.

The fiend threatened to be with Victor on his wedding night. He should have never let Elizabeth out of his sight. He should have made a fake Elizabeth and stood her up in the bedroom. With the real one taking shelter. As he waited for the monster to appear, hiding in a cupboard, he would jump out dual wielding pistols and making the monster into Swiss-cheese by sheer volume of bullets. Then whip out the shotgun to defenestrate him. At ground level, shoot it in the brain for good measure.

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