Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everybody! If you find yourself close to a computer tonight or tomorrow, do yourself a favor and play The Night Before Christmas as read by Louis Armstrong. I garuntee you you've never heard it read like this before.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

For a few months now I've been slowing picking my way through a book that my wife got for me over the summer called 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay'. The premise caught my attention right away, given that I've always been a big fan of comic books and she, having read it before she gave it to me, was raving about how much she loved it. Of course, the fact that it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 was certainly intriguing as well. I started out only reading a few pages each night before going to sleep, but lately it has grabbed a hold of my attention and I can't put it down.

I'm about two thirds of the way through the book now and while I normally would wait until I was done to do any sort of review or recommendation, this one is just too good to hold back. If you're reading this, and you haven't already read the book, please do yourself a favor and pick yourself up a copy. It is one of the most fun books I've ever felt good about reading!

The core premise (from Wikipedia):
The novel follows the lives of the title characters, a Czech artist named Joe Kavalier and a Brooklyn-born writer named Sam Clay—both Jewish—before, during, and after World War II. Kavalier and Clay become major figures in the nascent comics industry during its "Golden Age."

On top of being an excellent yarn with truly fascinating characters who are richly developed - strong and talented, yet fallible and human - one really exciting element of the book is picture it paints of the world of comic books in the 1940s. Originally pulp fare marketed only to children, the story of their evolution into a more popular and artful medium is intricately woven into the pages of this book. There is a chapter about half way through that directly tackles the subject of crass entertainment evolving into art forms and when I finished reading I had to put the book down to write down the names of everyone in the gaming industry who I wanted to read this book.

I've never read anything quite like it so have a hard time drawing comparisons, but there are elements of 'Understanding Comics', some of the whimsical Hero fantasy of 'Soon I Will Be Invincible' and some really interestingly integrated real-world history.

David, Kim, Patrick, Clint - if any of you are reading this, make sure to put Kavalier & Clay on your Christmas wish lists.

Labels: , ,

Fun With Physics

Not much to say about this other then it really makes me wish I had a machine powerful enough to run Crysis at home. I think I could lose hours in a playground like this... :)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Study finds that the Human Brain changes when viewing violent media.

How long before Jack Thompson latches on to this one?

A quote from Slashdot:

"Scientists at Columbia University have used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to show that a brain network responsible for suppressing inappropriate or unwarranted aggressive behaviors became less active after study subjects watched several short clips from popular movies depicting acts of violence. These changes could render people less able to control their own aggressive behavior. Although research has shown some correlation between exposure to media violence and real-life violent behavior, there has been little direct neuroscientific support for this theory until now

I would guess that if/when people debate whether or not this study applies to video games, we'll find several camps: in one group will be the people who latch on to the fact that the study showed "[that]...these changes in the brain’s behavioral control circuits were specific to the repeated exposure to the violent clips" -- that the repeated and concentrated exposure to the violence is to blame, not the actual depiction of violence itself.

In the other camp, though, those who will claim that because violence in video games is interactive, the player is in fact encouraged to (and rewarded for) creating sequences where they are repeatedly exposed to violence and that therefore the neurological impact would be even greater.

Any thoughts on the matter?