Friday, December 19, 2014

Goodbye, Colbert Report


 Last night, I watched the final episode of "The Colbert Report". It was a great end to one of my all-time favorite shows:


I've been watching The Colbert Report since the very first episode. Having already been a fan of the Daily Show, I was was eager to see what kind of humor Stephen Colbert would bring on a nightly basis.

In many ways, Colbert surpassed Jon Stewart & his former gig at the Daily Show. The brilliance of his performance cannot be understated. Night after night, he has exposed the absurdities in our culture, politics, entertainment, & all aspects of our lives.

Even though I didn't get to see actually see him there, one of the most interesting events of my life was "The Rally to Restore Sanity" that he and Stewart organized in Washington DC. The crowd was, by far, the biggest mass of human beings that I've ever encountered. My brother and I went with our friends and had a truly memorable time.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

http://monkeybuddha.blogspot.com/search?q=rally+sanity

Our Lord & Savior, St. Stephen
This is one of the "protest" signs I made for the rally

Stephen Colbert is simply the greatest satirical mind of our generation. His spot-on parody of a self-absorbed, corporate boot-licking, blindly patriotic ignoramus was pure genius. His persona allowed him to openly mock the viewpoints of idiotic, right-wing blowhards who are so wrong about everything in the world- like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly & America's stupidest pundit, Sean Hannity.

What I give both Stewart & Colbert the most credit for is providing sanity through humor, amidst the madness and chaos of the world we live in.

This was especially true during the Dark Ages of the Bush/Cheney presidency. All these conservatives who now think life under Obama is so terrible... they completely forget the constant horror the world faced while Dubya & his Dungeon Master caused havoc in America and around the globe.

In this light, I believe Stephen Colbert's most historic contribution to comedy was his speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner. It was the ultimate example of speaking truth to power, and took giant balls of red, white, & blue steel.  It was especially satisfying for those of us who deeply disagreed with Bush's policies at the time, yet risked being called 'anti-American' or 'terrorist sympathizers' for daring to speak out against the War Monkey and the morons who unquestioningly supported his regressive agenda.

Thank you Stephen Colbert, for providing nightly laughs and comic relief to your Nation for almost a decade.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Solar System In Motion

One of my favorite subjects to post about is outer space.

These are a couple of hypnotic animated GIFs I saw on FFFFOUND! showing the solar system in motion.

This one shows the motions of the planets & moons in relation to each other, as they orbit the Sun.


I'm not sure how accurate the relative motion of this animation is, but it's a more hyperdimensional view of the paths of the planets around the sun.



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Retro Console Video Games

I'm continuing my theme of video game posts, going back into the history of gaming.

The Internet Archive has made available games from retro video game consoles, such as Atari 2600, Sega Master System, and Magnavox Odyssey- the first home console system.

You can click on one of the consoles to see the games that have been emulated for playing in most browsers:


I actually hate playing retro games, I find them to be tedious and not fun at all. However, I think it's great that the software is being emulated & preserved for historical purposes.

My first video game system was the Atari 2600. Even when I was a child, I knew that this was primitive technology and was slightly frustrated by its limitations.


 Atari 2600 Console & Pac-Man

Friday, December 12, 2014

History of Video Game Graphics


Since I've been posting about video games lately,  I wanted to share a cool series of videos that I saw on BoingBoing.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

These informative & nostalgic videos trace the history of one of my favorite aspects of video games- the graphics.

Here is a link to a video playlist of the whole series:

YouTube Playlist

Although the game play & story are extremely important in making a quality video game, being a graphic artist makes me especially interested in the visual aspects of games.

I was born in 1978, and my first game console was Atari 2600. Through the years my brothers & I had the Atari, Commodore 64, Nintendo NES, Sega Genesis, and the Sony Playstations.

I've personally watched the evolution of gaming progress from using monochrome, blocky pixels to the photorealistic, immersive 3D graphics we see today. In fact, I feel like my life has progressed in parallel to the development of video game technology.

 Pitfall, 1982

Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception, 2007


As new systems (including virtual reality interfaces like Oculus Rift) are developed, we will be opening new possibilities of what the human mind can experience.

The distinction between the "real" world and digital worlds will continue to be merged. People will keep exploring new ways for our nervous system to interface with the infinite possibilities that arise from the realms of our imagination.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ralph H. Baer, Father of Video Games RIP



Since my last post was about a video game that I played, it seems appropriate to pay respects to one of the people who made it possible for myself & the entire world.

Tech Times:

Ralph H. Baer was the inventor of the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game system.



Before Baer's conception of an electronic "game box", video games were confined to public arcades.

Thanks to his inventions & efforts, we have the sophisticated game systems today that are high definition virtual realities. These detailed, immersive digital creations evolved from the simple 2D pixel representations used in these first game consoles.

Here's a short video from PBS about Ralph Baer:

 




Thursday, December 04, 2014

Game Review: Mass Effect 3


I just finished Mass Effect 3, the final installment in what has become my one of my favorite video game series.

Here is my review for the first Mass Effect-

The Monkey Buddha Archives

I've also played Mass Effect 2, but didn't write a review for it. Most of the good things I had to say about the first game apply to the whole series. However, I've been so blown away by the Mass Effect games that I wanted to write my thoughts after finishing the trilogy.

This is a work of fiction that is on par with Star Wars, Star Trek, or any other great work of sci-fi. The virtual galaxy you can explore is full of unique planets, alien creatures, and ponderous questions which our entire species must face. I'll repeat them again, because I think they are so vital to consider:

• Is there other Life in the universe, sentient or otherwise?

• What happens when interplanetary species begin to contact each other?

• What is humanity's place in the cosmic order? What role does the individual play in this order?

Is it possible for ANY form of intelligence, or even information, to survive the incomprehensibly vast cycles of cosmological time, on the scale of billions of years?

Mass Effect takes place in the future, after 2147 CE, when humanity has found alien devices & "Element Zero" in our solar system. These artifacts allow us to develop FTL (Faster Than Light) Travel. The subsequent discovery that Pluto's moon, Charon, is actually a "Mass Effect" Relay allows humanity to instantaneously travel to other Relays throughout the galaxy. A vibrant galactic civilization already exists, with a 45km-long space station, called The Citadel, acting as its capital. All advanced alien races are represented here, and after the events of the first two games, humanity has become a major force in galactic affairs.

Your character is Commander Shepard, and you can carry over your character's traits from previous games' save information. Humanity's high standing in the galaxy is, in part, due to the earlier actions of Shepard- most notably fending off an attack on The Citadel by a Reaper.

The Reapers are central to the Mass Effect series. Tens of thousands of these gigantic, conscious machine creatures come out of deep space every 50,000 years to "harvest" sentient organic life, for their genetic information. It is a mysterious cycle that has gone on for at least a billion years and was initiated by an "Intelligence" that's even older than the Reapers.

It turns out this seemingly destructive cycle is actually meant to preserve life, since any advanced biological species will eventually create synthetic Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) that inevitably wipes out all organic beings. The "Intelligence" sees this cyclical harvesting as a way to maintain order and allow new species to evolve. It is revealed that the Mass Effect Relays and the Citadel itself are actually part of an elaborate trap, developed by the Reapers to accelerate the harvesting process of sentient beings and make it more efficient.

In this game, the merciless Reapers have arrived, landing on the home planets of the advance species throughout the galaxy, including Earth. The game starts with an awesome sequence in Vancouver, Canada, where imposing Reapers, taller than skyscrapers, are completely annihilating the city. This is the threat you face from the very beginning, and gives a sense of enormity that such an existential threat would pose to us. In addition to the numerous & varied enemies throughout the game, you actually get to face down a few Reapers in different situations.


It is a rich story, that touches on many deep issues that the human race may one day have to consider. As literally out-of-this-world as this game is, I feel that it is a visionary & realistic depiction of what humanity may one day experience when we are able to travel among the stars...

The planets and alien races are fantastic, yet convincing. The number and uniqueness of the locations throughout the galaxy made it endlessly visually interesting. Although you can no longer land on & explore planets as side missions, I'm glad that the act of scanning planets for resources was made much less tedious than in ME2.

As far as the actual gameplay, there's a perfect balance of customization, role-playing elements, and intense combat. The RPG aspects of the game include dialog options, morality choices, and engaging characters. The combat is excellent, with the ability to use five weapons and a half-dozen powers. The weapon variety and the ability to freeze the action to switch weapons on the fly don't interfere with the intensity of the battles. 


I chose to be in an Adept class, so my character had biotic powers that were effective and fun to use, such as- • the ability to project a destructive warp field • launching a shockwave that throws enemies in the air • creating a mini black hole, a singularity, that holds enemies. The ability to also coordinate your teammates' powers with your own attacks makes the combat much more strategic.

Overall, I was engaged the whole time and couldn't wait to see what the next mission or story sequence would bring. Games like this are such monumental creations, and why I still play critically acclaimed titles such as this one. Even though I've played video games my whole life, I am still awestruck by the technical achievement as much as the game play. It's pretty common for me to just wander around an area, observing visual details and marveling at the artistry behind the level design.

One of the very few reasons I can't give it a 10 is because the game's ending left me unimpressed. I picked the ending where Shepard can take control of The Reapers, using technology developed by an ancient race. I thought there should have been a more cinematic finale, with more impact for the end of such an action-packed story.

Despite my slight disappointment with the ending, the rest of the game was so superb & awe-inspiring that it didn't diminish my overall view of a great game and a undeniably epic series.

• The Monkey Buddha's official rating: 9.75

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Wanderers


 Recently, I have been dwelling on the topics of the cosmos and space travel. Perhaps it's because I'm currently playing Mass Effect 3, a video game that explores mankind's place in the galaxy. Even so, I've always been interested in the Universe and the future of humanity among the stars.

I saw this short film by Erik Wernquist (narrated by the late Carl Sagan), that is a inspiring depiction of human beings as we venture out into the solar system & beyond. From low gravity base jumping, to asteroid mining, to space station colonies, there is a lot of visionary material in this video that illustrates the possibilities for our migration through outer space.

I'd recommend clicking the link & watching it full screen.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Networks and Connectivity

I've seen this diagram by Paul Baran on FFFFOUND! & it always catches my eye.

by Paul Baran


I think that connectivity is a key element of the Universe. The spiritual idea that "everything is connected" is literally true.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Digital technology, especially the Internet, have greatly increased our ability to connect on a global scale.

Television, both broadcast & cable, can be seen as a centralized medium. There is a central television station or cable provider that controls all the content.

The Internet, on the other hand, is decentralized. Each computer is a node that can connect to other nodes through ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

The future of digital media & the Internet is in distributed networks. Each device or node in the network will be independent, and capable of directly connecting to any & all of the nodes in the network.

We have see distributed networking emerging already, in situations where the government or some other authority tries to shut down Internet connections. One recent example of decentralized, but vulnerable, Internet connectivity being replaced by distributive networking is the protests that have take place in Hong Kong.

I don't think anyone can predict the full implications of an Internet that consists of distributive networking. It will greatly diminish the power of centralized power structures, such as media conglomerates and nation-state governments. Perhaps it will lead to truly democratic societies, in which everyone is an independent, but crucial, element in a fully interconnected network.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Star Wars: Episode VII- Teaser Trailer


 Recently, I've been posting a lot about the cosmos & space travel. The Star Wars movies have been a major creative inspiration throughout my entire life, and one of the reasons why I'm so interested in space.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Today, the teaser trailer was released for "Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens". 


The short trailer has alot of iconic elements- the Millenium Falcon, X-wings flying in formation over water, the unforgettable sound of TIE fighters, personable droids, & mysterious Sith with a unique red lightsaber. It re-ignited the feeling of excitement & nostalgia I've had for the Star Wars saga since I was a child. 

I'm sure I'll be able to pick apart the upcoming movies & find plenty of flaws in them. However, the idea of new movies, that includes the original cast as older versions of their characters, is undeniably awesome for any Star Wars fan. 

The millions of hits that the trailer is getting in a single day proves that the Star Wars saga is as relevant as ever. Hopefully, the first movie of the new trilogy can live up to the hype & anticipation.

I'll be anxiously awaiting Episode VII when it's released in 2015.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Space Art by Ron Miller



by Ron Miller

I recently came across the fantastic 3D artwork of Ron Miller. His work was featured by LIFE magazine.

LIFE

His creations are computer rendered depictions of other worlds & scenes throughout the Universe. He has included all the major bodies of the solar system, but also hypothetical space environments on extra-solar planets.

I have made many 3D space scenes myself, that I'll have to post soon.

Here are a couple more images, but definitely go to the website to see more of this amazing work:





Monday, November 24, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Life in Thermal Vision

This is a cool video I saw on Neatorama, showing various everyday activities, as seen through "thermal vision" similar to the alien in The Predator movies.

The camera picks up energy in the infrared wavelength. This energy isn't in our range of visible light (which is a tiny slice of the overall electromagnetic spectrum), but we perceive it as heat.


There is some NSFW material in the video, but it's an interesting look at the energetic information all around us, that we cannot perceive. Using technology, we will be able to experience more of these aspects of reality that are currently hidden from us.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

RIP, Creator of "Choose Your Own Adventure"


I recently found out that the R.A. Montgomery, creator of the interactive book series, "Choose Your Own Adventure" passed away.


Hearing this news brought back memories of my years in elementary school, when I used to love reading any of these books I could get in our school library.

The "Choose Your Own Adventure" series was a novel approach to the medium of printed books. At frequent points throughout the story, you could choose different paths by turning to different pages for various decisions regarding the plot.

I would often 'cheat' while reading a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book, by skimming ahead through the thread of pages for a certain choice, to see what the eventual outcome would be. However, I still enjoyed reading through the story to see where my decisions would lead me.

These books were innovative & inspired a generation of young readers. It was a truly memorable series with imaginative themes. "Choose Your Own Adventure" helped shaped my young mind with a sense of creativity & awareness of the importance of choice.

Hopefully this isn't in bad taste, but the news of the creator's death also reminded me of this humorous, but accurate, parody cover-  








Monday, November 17, 2014

Translating Client-Speak

I saw this funny graphic on Lifehacker that attempts to clarify the vague instructions that graphic artists (like myself) sometimes get from clients.

One of the little-known requirements of any graphic arts career is that of being a mind-reader! You have to intuitively be able to understand what your clients are trying to convey to you. Sometimes this is actually the most difficult part of the job, since you cannot progress on a project without figuring out what the client really wants...



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rosetta Probe Lands on Comet

click to enlarge

For the first time, the human race has landed a space probe... on a comet!

The Monkey Buddha Archives:





The mission was actually launched 10 years ago & the lander finally touched down today.
Thanks to brilliant scientists & engineers, we have made contact with a 3-mile wide comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, that orbits our sun. 


This event will open the door to deep-space mining & other technologies that will eventually allow us to travel to other planets & stars.
 
The animation below shows the circuitous route the Rosetta probe had to take to get to the comet. It used planetary gravity to save energy & went into hibernation for a couple years as it approached it's target. The planning & understanding of orbital mechanics that went into this is mind-blowing.





Dangerous Toys

This is an interesting list of toys that were not very safe for the kids playing with them:


Many of the toys on this list were mostly dangerous only if the child or parent were irresponsible. Some, however, had serious defects that could cause injury.

Out of these toys, the only ones I had as a kid was a science lab (without the uranium), cap guns, & a Pogo Bal (Yes, I checked, it's spelled "Bal"). The Pogo Bal was basically just something for kids to jump around on. It wasn't really that dangerous... unless you were very uncoordinated.



Sunday, November 09, 2014

First Glimpse of the Seas of Titan

Space is one of those subjects that I loved as a child, but have even more appreciation for as an adult.

The thought of infinite stars, and worlds of endless variety, puts our own lives sharply in perspective.

I think science fiction, whether it be books, TV, or video games, has greatly contributed to the imagination of what lies beyond our own planet. I'm playing Mass Effect 3 right now, to finish one of the most amazing fictional series that I've experienced, in any medium. These works of art help us envision humanity's place in the galaxy, and to imagine the many worlds and forms of life that may exist throughout the Universe.

When I saw this picture on Neatorama of Saturn's moon, Titan, it immediately instilled that sense of wonder from seeing a new world & imagining the human experience of being there, in person.



The image, taken in the infrared wavelength, shows the sunlight reflecting off Titan's polar seas, which are mostly liquid methane & ethane.

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

I can imagine myself floating in a capsule over this alien ocean & taking in the sight of the environment of another world. Who knows what amazing environments exist on other planets & moons? I wonder how many of these will one day be seen by humans eyes...

Here is a 3D visualization of the surface of Titan, by artist Steven Hobbs:



Thursday, November 06, 2014

Hindus Propose Monkey God Statue in State Capitol

Despite the power shift in the elections on Tuesday, it's good to know that politics in the USA is as crazy as ever.

On BoingBoing, I saw this humorous example of the right-wing's sense of religious entitlement backfiring on them.


The "monkey god" statue is that of Hanuman, the ape-faced Hindu deity who I used as an avatar for this blog for awhile.

Christian lawmakers, in Republican-controlled Oklahoma, wanted the 10 Commandments to be placed on the grounds of the state capitol. Therefore, they passed a law allowing religious displays on public property. Since the state constitution declares that all religions should be treated with the same respect, religious groups such as Satanists & now the Hindus are petitioning to add their memorials to the capitol grounds.

This is a perfect example of the perils of choosing ideologically-driven fundamentalists to govern, using their personal beliefs (instead of common sense & logic) as a guide. They tend to think of personal & religious freedom as the "freedom to do things that we agree with." They want these freedoms for themselves, but will resist others expressing their own beliefs.

The idea of religious freedom, that this country was founded upon, means everyone being able to believe & worship as they choose, uninhibited by the government. However, this principle of religious freedom also means not having any one religion favored by the government. Unfortunately, hard-right conservatives prove time & time again that they can't deal with the idea of people thinking & living differently than them.

For some reason, when I subject myself to FoxNation or other insane right-wing message boards, I always see people frothing at the mouth at how "liberals" are so intolerant. This is the ultimate form of projection, as it is the rigidity of conservatism that is antithetical to the tolerance of other viewpoints & perspectives. True liberals/progressives may think your beliefs are ridiculous, but would not usually try to ban you from expressing it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Election Day 2014

Yesterday was Election Day, and it looks like the Republican party has gained seats in the Senate, to take control of Congress.

CBS News:

I am registered as an Independent & have no love for either political party, but I tend to see the GOP as a more regressive force in modern national politics. This is because their ideology is openly anti-government, so their agenda usually involves making government worse instead of better, while pushing to privatize public services.

Despite the fact that Republicans in the House & Senate have caused much of the political gridlock in DC over the past cycle, the voters mostly place the blame on President Obama & the Democrats for the nation's problems.

I can understand people wanting to change the dynamics of the government if things aren't working. What I cannot understand is how voters can keep re-electing people that are as repulsive as human/turtle/asshole hybrid Mitch McConnell, who has stood for nothing except opposing the President on all matters & enriching his wealthy donors. There are sleazy Democrats, too, but the fact that voters re-elect people like McConnell just boggles my mind.

Because it has the highest ratings out of the entire cable news cesspool, there is no doubt that Fox News (aka. 'The Mainstream Media') has affected the perceptions & opinions of America's voters. I hear people's arguments against the President & for the GOP, and it's clear they are just regurgitating talking points from the right-wing Fox spin machine.

It's funny seeing conservatives think there's going to be some kind of "American revival" now. If anything, the next 2 years are just going to be a bigger shitshow than ever. It's going to be gridlock on steroids.

Republicans love to bitch & complain about how 'progressives' and 'socialists' are ruining the country, but they are completely incapable of creating meaningful legislation that helps the general population. The public is about to see the conservative agenda in action, and it won't be pretty.

I'm sure we'll be seeing Republican bills being sent to the President that:

• further deregulate corporate & financial entities
• roll back environmental laws
• give tax cuts to the wealthiest businesses & individuals
• restrict women's reproductive health choices
• inhibit access to voting
• eliminate social programs
• any other stupid, regressive ideas that form the GOP wish list

We'll have to see just how bad things get over the next couple years, until the next election.

Until then, I'll just be continuing to live my life and trying to do my part to make the world better.

I still stand by my progressive outlook on politics & the perspective of this graphic I made awhile back, showing the "Political Spectrum":

http://monkeybuddha.blogspot.com/2010/07/political-spectrum.html

Friday, October 31, 2014

Rosetta Comet in Scale with an Airplane

I've posted before about the Rosetta space probe, that is in the process of making a rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

The fact that we can send spacecraft to land on a comet that's approaching our Sun is nothing short of amazing.

I am very aware of the vast cosmic distances in the Universe, but I still find the size of the comet to be mind-boggling. 

When you think of a comet, you probably imagine a big boulder floating through space. However, at 2.5 miles across, this is a pretty big object. Of course, I'm speaking in terms of scale to us tiny humans. In a cosmic scale, it's a piece of dust.

To give a better perspective on the size of the comet, Reddit user grouchymcsurly placed a 747 jet into some of the pictures, at the correct scale.




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Game Review: Dead Space 3


 I played the first 2 installments of this series & reviewed the original Dead Space. These games are 3rd person shooters with a sci-fi horror survival theme.

The first Dead Space blew me away with the sense of fear and dread it instilled, as you tried to survive onslaughts of Necromorphs in creepy abandoned space stations & ships. The second one wasn't as good, but Dead Space 3 brought back alot of the impact I felt in the original.


Although there were excellent sequences in space & zero gravity, much of the story takes place on the ice planet Tau Volantis. This is the planet of origin for the alien "markers" that featured in the series. These markers are covered in strange glyphs and have been found scattered throughout the galaxy. They drive people mad, turning them into marker-worshiping zealots, & also revive dead bodies into the zombie-like Necromorphs. 


Although the frozen setting, with abandoned human settlements & research areas, makes for an effectively claustrophobic environment for Necromorphs to jump out at you, I preferred the settings that took place in outer space. However, there was a sufficient variety in the environments that I never felt that the scenery was visually boring.


The game's strongest point is it's core feature- the survival horror aspect of the gameplay that continuously keeps you on the edge of your seat & ready to scream out expletives. Even when I knew the hideous, relentless creatures were coming, I still freaked out with anticipation at the inevitable vicious attacks. Most of the time, the Necromorphs would unexpectedly come from all angles as I would frantically try to use whatever weapons I had on hand to simply survive the encounter.



While I'm talking about the weapons, I'll mention the creative weapon crafting system in the game. Throughout the campaign, you collect various components such as frames, the actual weapons components, and attachments to customize your weapons in an endless variety of combinations. For example, you can have a gun that fires electrified bolas, with a secondary buzzsaw attached ...or you can have a shotgun, with a secondary rocket launcher. There are many possibilities, which gives you alot of freedom in coming up with weapons that you think will be most effective against the creatures. The only downside is that I found myself spending too much time tinkering with the weapons & having trouble deciding which ones to use.

There were a few select weapons that I used frequently, since the waves of Necromorphs could be so furious & overwhelming that I needed firepower that I knew could take them out quickly. There were only brief moments where I felt that I could relax & there were not going to be any monsters popping out at me.

Besides the unpredictable appearance of the enemies, the mood was mostly set by the visual effect of the environments & the unnerving sounds coming from dark corners or unseen places. Dark areas with flickering lights and strange screeches coming from nearby areas where enough to keep me on edge throughout the game. My only complaint about the sound was that there was too much background music. In the original game, the anxiety was enhanced by the silence of your surroundings, except for your breathing and unsettling ambient noises. I feel like having dramatic soundtracks in certain areas was unnecessary & didn't have the same effect as an uneasy quiet.


 The actual story, following the protagonist Isaac Clarke & the alien markers, was pretty interesting. It raises many questions, for example- Do we really want to have contact with otherworldly intelligences? What if they are hostile, or simply want to use human beings as food or pawns to manipulate for its own ends? What is so special about the individual consciousness versus a hive-mind, devoid of beings with a sense of self? Even if we discovered it, would humans know how to use & interpret alien knowledge or technology? What is love, and does it mean anything outside the people who experience it? Yes, there is a love story & human emotions involved...

Overall, I enjoyed Dead Space 3 & definitely recommend it, if you'd like a games that provides continual adrenaline rushes, due to the fear of being destroyed by undead space creatures.

• The Monkey Buddha's official rating: 7.5

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Closer Look at the Brain


Anatomy is a subject that becomes more amazing as you learn more about it. The brain is especially interesting, since it is the seat of our conscious mind and our sense of being.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

I've come across some information online that provides some deeper understanding about this vital organ & its cells.

This video from New Scientist shows the firing patterns of the individual brain cells, the neurons:


 
 On BoingBoing, I saw this diagram of various neural cell types:



Finally, this video might not be for the squeamish, but it shows the gross anatomy of an actual brain from a medical donor. The fact that our experience is processed through this soft, wrinkled mass that fits inside our skull is, well... mind-boggling.




 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Small World" Photomicrography

I am endlessly fascinated by the complex world of which I am a part.

There are infinite continuous levels of reality- from the spectrum of the cosmic phenomena of the very large, to the tiny features below our threshold of perception.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

With advances in technology & photographic techniques, it is now possible to visually experience things that have never been able to be seen before.

On this isn't happiness, I saw some awe-inspiring photos from Nikon's photography competition that focuses on microscopic phenomena.

Nikon:

 The website has galleries of entries going back a few decades.

Here are a few of my favorite images from this year's competition:

Conochilus unicornis (rotifer), actively feeding. (Charles Krebs, Washington, USA) 
 
 
Ceriodaphnia sp. (water flea). (Rogelio Moreno, Panama)
 
 
 Paramecium division. (Arturo Agostino, Italy)
 
 Ant eye. (Noah Fram-Schwartz, Connecticut, USA)
 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Stars Warsiors" Bootleg Toys

A couple of my favorite topics, that I've posted about many times here, are bad design & Star Wars.

In my travels through the Internet, I came across a ridiculous pairing of these two favorite things, in the form of a set of bootleg toys called "Stars Warsiors".

I tracked the source down, to the website of illustrator Brad McGinty, who claims he found them in a dollar store... but I'm not sure I believe it.

I want to think these are a subversive art project, & that no manufacturer could actually produce something this absurd.

On his blog, he had pictures of these insanely bad toy knock-offs & created a Star Warsiors T-shirt.

Paper Pusher

Here are the hilariously-named figures, in their equally crappy packaging:


Door Ladder

Karate Farmer

And my favorite...
Wise Puppet

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Simpsons Universe Zoom

This is an awesome looping animated GIF, made from one of the opening sequences from The Simpsons.
It playfully suggest the infinite, fractal nature of our own Universe.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"The Monkey Buddha" on Facebook


 I've started a Facebook page for The Monkey Buddha blog.

If you are on Facebook, please 'Like' the page, to get the latest posts in your Newsfeed.

I'll also put a link on my profile info, on the side of this page.

Thanks!
Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Monkey-Buddha/807060682679149

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Civilization: Beyond Earth" Trailer


 I used to play the original "Civilization" game when I was a kid. You used strategy & resource allocation to build up cities and control areas of a map. It was very addicting & was a fun way to simulate the evolution of nation states.

A few years ago I bought my brother Civ IV for his birthday, since he also used to love the game when we were younger. Even though the core gameplay was similar, the graphics were light years better & the game was much more sophisticated, overall. He says he's spent many hours building nations & empires, so apparently it's just as engrossing as the original.

I recently saw a trailer for the latest installment of the series created by Sid Meier. This game moves off our home planet, among the stars.


The trailer for the new Civilization is cinematic & doesn't show any of the gameplay. However, it is a thought-provoking look at man's destiny to leave the planetary womb of Earth, to find other inhabitable worlds throughout the infinite expanse of interstellar space.



I've posted here many times about the importance on space travel for the survival of the human species.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Besides the technological hurdles that must be overcome, we tend to forget the emotional dimension that will inevitably accompany humanity's migration off-planet. The trailer very effectively conveyed the deep emotional experience that will be felt by our descendants when this journey begins. It also shows the influence of ancient institutions, such as religion & politics, will have on the endeavor.

Ultimately, human beings must break out of this tiny speck in the Universe if we are to continue our genetic & memetic evolution. If we have a destiny, it is among the stars. The time to start reaching for them is now...

The Monkey Buddha: