If cats could program

… they’d do it in LOLCODE. For example, counting from 1 to 10:


SIFF review: King of Kong

Jay and I went to see King of Kong at the Seattle International Film Festival last night.  I’d heard about the film — a story about a Seattle-area man vying for the world record score on the 80’s arcade classic Donkey Kong — on tech-blog Digg, and immediately wanted to see it.  I have fond memories of playing games like Donkey Kong as a kid at the local deli, and I was briefly involved in the competitive gaming arena in my early 20’s (though for pinball, not arcade games).

As we were waiting in line at the Egyptian for the sold-out show, there was a guy walking the line looking to buy 4 tickets, first for $40 per ticket and later, apparently getting no takers, for $80 a ticket.  It was a tempting offer, but I’m so glad we didn’t sell out, because the film was wonderful.   Of course, I loved the geeky game aspect of the film, but at it’s heart it’s really more of a charming human story.  The film follows good-natured Seattle family man Steve Weibe as he seeks justice from the geek-lords of classic gaming when his record-breaking high-score video submission is unfairly rejected. We follow Steve through his attempts to claim his rightful title from bad-guy title-holder and hot-sauce baron Billy.

Seeing this film in Seattle was a real treat: the crowd was cheering and hollering throughout the film at every one of Steve’s triumphs, and you could feel the room sharing in his disappointments.  Best of all, Steve joined director Seth Green on the stage after the film to answer questions, and he seemed as nice a guy in person as he appeared on-screen.

I’m sure this film is going to do well when it goes into wide release in August, probably eclipsing the success of similarly-themed documentaries like Spellbound or Wordplay. Make sure you go and see it then if you can’t get tickets to today’s showing.  And if Nintendo doesn’t release the arcade version of Donkey Kong for Wii and/or DS in conjunction with the film’s release, they’re missing a great opportunity to support a revival in classic arcade gaming.

How to steal an election with negative votes

The principle of democratic elections is “one person, one vote”. But in the US in 2004, you could also add: “one particular person — Karl Rove — millions of negative votes”.

BBC reporter Greg Palast has 500 emails from Karl Rove (mistakenly sent to email addresses at spoof site georgewbush.org instead of RNC site georgewbush.com) that detail the process of “caging”. The basic idea is that the RNC would take addresses of typical Democratic voters (blacks, hispanics, etc.) and send them letters first-class marked “do not forward”. Each letter returned undeliverable was used as evidence that the registered voter was not entitled to vote. Of course, many of them were returned because they were sent to soldiers away in Iraq or Afghanistan. Overall, more than THREE MILLION votes were challenged. Soldiers sent home absentee ballots only to have them invalidated, and they never suspected a thing. How can democrats compete in elections decided by thousands of votes in the face of dirty tricks like this?

This video of Palast answering questions about his book is required viewing. It details the whole program, and how it’s connected to the US Attorney purge, the Iraq war, and even the high price of oil.

I’m really, truly depressed by the state of this country right now. The government is corrupt. The election system is broken, and Palast doesn’t hold high hopes for the 2008 election either. And the democrats, as judged by their recent capitulation to Bush with the no-strings-attached war funding bill don’t seem to be able to do a thing about it.

Flying is dangerous

… to your health, at least on American Airlines. I was flying from Seattle to Atlanta the other day, and I didn’t have time to get any food during the brief stopover in Dallas. So naturally, I was starving by the time I got on the plane for the second leg. Just a little snack was all I needed to tide me over until I got to the hotel, but American has stopped serving ANY food on the flight, not even peanuts with your drink.

You can buy a “snack” though, for $3. The only options are: cookie, chips, and M&M’s. (My flight back also offered trail mix, but I don’t think they had any at this time.) Hoping for something with oatmeal I can at least pretend is a little bit healthy, I choose the cookie. It’s a sugar-covered snickerdoodle monstrosity the size of a salad plate. I hate snickerdoodle. I send it back, and resort to asking for chips. At least I know I like chips.

Instead of the standard bag’o’chips, it’s a blue plastic canister the size of a can of tennis balls. Think Pringles crossed with a Big Gulp. It’s a huge can of Lays Stax or Flax or something. They’re vile. But I’m starving, so I eat a few of them, barely making a dent in the stack.

There’s nowhere to put this huge container as I’m cramped here in the middle seat, so I try and get the attention of the stewardess to give them back. (I probably ate 10 chips, making that snack 30 cents a chip. Yay.) While I’m waiting, I read the nutrition label. This “snack” they’ve handed out contains NINE HUNDRED calories. That’s HALF the daily calorie intake of most people. But at least, as the huge label on the front tells me, it has NO TRANS FATS and 20% LESS FAT THAN OTHER CHIPS. Somehow, that doesn’t make me feel better.

Next time I’m flying Alaskan.