Archive for February, 2007

links for 2007-02-23

February 23, 2007 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

links for 2007-02-22

February 22, 2007 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

Banana Record Gifu Japan

Just outside of the Gifu Kintestu train station is a little hole in the wall shop showing that while Gifu might be a small town, it`s got some decent stuff to offer. Music selection is eclectic, but above all tastefull. Picked up an old re-issue of some African band, and the staff was helpfull. Nice guys. Recommended if you happen to be in the area. the used selection has some seriously decent gems.

February 22, 2007 at 7:16 am Leave a comment

Osaka Redux

Unbelievably its been almost two years since I was last in Osaka and my initial impressions of Japan this time around were mostly negative. Osaka can seem like a morgue at times, and Japan a concrete tomb. Shinsaibashi has changed, more upscale shops have moved in, I cant find all the record shops that were here last time, but after a few days things begin to look better. Time Bomb records has expanded into a full out shop, Loser has reopened as a hole in the wall clothing shop, king kong records consists of 3 branches, and all the reggae and dub shops have only expanded.  Most of the eccentric dress of previous summers has been replaced with minimal hipster affair, Osaka seems like a much less exciting place, but unlike most of south east asia, it at least has stuff going on.  Alchemy Records was a new find, but as other commentators on Japan have noted it seems like Japans time in the creative sun has long past. The goth girls in their victorian dresses and maid outfits are essentially wearing uniforms, new bands come and go, but little of the excitement of say ground zero, boredoms, the shibuya electronic set, have lasted. Japan appears to be sleeping, with little signs of anything to change it coming soon. Vampillia is a new hyped band here that sounds interesting, Im sure there are some decent bands around but its more that nothing has changed thats disturbing. Slowly U.S. groups are building up a new vocabulary for musical forms, but Japan doesnt seem to have matched that yet. The Osaka Contemporary Arts Space is awfull BTW and not worth bothering with.

February 18, 2007 at 11:50 am Leave a comment

Free Trash or self organizing city services

In Taipei you have to pay for trash bags. Bags are also expensive. It’s potentially possible that someone could make a profit from collecting 32 NT trash bags (the big ones), burning the trash and then reselling the bag. Hence, it could be possible to do away with city wide trash disposal simply by placing the cost of the service on the bag. If each bag was worth such and such an amount, slightly durable, and could be resold, this could create a market where folks would simply go around collecting trash, disposing of it, and reselling the bags for their profit. Of course some people would probably choose to burn or dispose of their trash themselves and also this might be a good incentive for cutting down on waste to begin with. You wouldn’t need to worry about people throwing out garbage in bags that are worthless, no one would want to pick up a shoddy disposable plastic bag because of it’s low resale value. Is it possible that this might be a better method for dealing with trash than the current system where the person throwing away their trash pays a remarkably small amount for a large amount of waste? While many cities employ similar methods as Taipei does (recylcing is free, normal trash costs money), this method has the advantage of being low cost (in theory it provides a city with trash disposal with no cost to the government) and hence perhaps something for the developing world.

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February 12, 2007 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

links for 2007-02-10

  • everything Dave Pollard writes is cool. In this one he estimates the elimanating the pox viruses from mankind allowed for unnatural population growth.

February 10, 2007 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

Getting it

For about a year I’ve been talking to Anthony Wang on and off again, but never really about music. And now 3 days to go before Osaka I walk into Oishi and he wants to buy my box of cds. As he goes through them he throws a john zorn record on and goes you’re into so much experimental shit before throwing on objecto amarello, otomo yoshihide’s new jazz quintent, and then for a second it kinda happens. We realize we’re actually just music fans. It’s kinda sad to see them take an entire box of medocire cds shining as they realize that I’m not some random western guy, but a guy in the same field as they are. His partner is suddenly nervous around me as he realizes I’m cool. For a second a weird glance is exchanged, but the relationships have changed. We’re now equals somehow, both music fans exchanging tips and tricks and Anthony Wang who dressed in that mongolian long hair hipster style of japan is as cool as anyone in any club I’ve ever met. While cultural differences have a tendency to elevate dislocation or comfort, I find myself strangely more respectfull of my hosts. We are after all somehow cool in each others eyes.

February 10, 2007 at 12:35 am 2 comments

links for 2007-02-07

February 7, 2007 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

Final Thoughts on Lost Planet multiplayer.

Counter Strike (and other tactical FPSes) might work by predicting the behavoir of your fellows, but Lost Planet takes these predictions out simply by making dodging quite simple (you can role and miss almost anything with a down on the left stick and a jump) and allowing a radar. This means you’re usually somewhat aware of the location of all people around and with the exception of snipers it’s pretty easy to tell when someone is going to sneak up on you. This means the game becomes tactical only in holding positions, the people on top in Private Fortess usually have the advantage of having two to three PDAs around them and also the vantage point from which to take some early shots at their adversaries the game is a little lopsided, being that the team that has easy access to weapons or good spots can make a big difference. But what makes it tick isn’t sneaking up people, or figuring out where to go, or weapons, it’s really the ballet of jumping around dodging bullets, bombs, and mechs. Lost Planet encourages you to explore it’s levels (and believe me they are fun), but it’s major driving force is more timing. Deciding when to shot, when to converse your ammo, and perhaps most importantly when to throw bombs is probably the most important thing. Good players can sneak up on your and take you out with a machine gun even if you’re packing an energy gun in your mech with a rocket launcher. The later situation doesn’t always end in success, I’d say 3 out of 5 times you lose, but the major advantage to the game is, Lost Planet allows you to have the maneuverability and freedom so as to make one person vs a mech seem like to a decent proposition or to make taking down a dude with an energy gun by rolling through the snow and tagging him with a sticky mine seem possible. Does the underdog always win? No, but it happens enough and the game rewards this type of play enough to make it seem possible, and hence while you might in reality lose 3 lives and a lot of your battle gauge, the experience of actually mowing down a better equipped dude with just a machine gun and a couple grenades seems all the more satisfying (and aside form that you can usually make up for it once you take the dude’s energy gun etc.). It’s those seconds between the grappling hook’s pull, the PDAs boot up, the mech’s gattling gun, the reload of rifles, the pauses for grenades, that make the game seem more equal. Your character is a superhero, more so than in other games, becuase he or she can destroy things simply by choosing the right break in time. Sneaking up (using the radar no less) can be a good strategy, but even if you’re waiting for the PDA to start you can always break, roll, and shoot. It’s the pauses between things that make the game potentialy equal, but also fun.

But if levels aren’t important in Lost Planet (and for the most part they aren’t) why are they so compelling? What is it about grappling to the top of a building, activating a PDA, grabbing a mech, dropping down into the gulf below you, and then proceeding to rampage through a level that makes it so satifying? First, the level do present puzzles of a sort, you can after all scale almost any building in a variety of ways and the training grounds provides a nice little clostrophobic escape from mech on mech gameplay. The levels work becuase they do provide some strategy when it comes to getting to items and scoring points (especially in the peg matches where you have to activate every PDA to win). While the levels won’t make much a difference in if you get killed or not, they do make a difference in what weapons you have and if you can activate a certian PDA or not and they’re also breathtaking at times and huge. There is nothing like sniping folks from the top of one of dilipadations buildings or rolling away from a missle off a bride only to hang from your hook jumping back up and throwing bombs. Both the levels main draw is that you have to solve their edges and verticies with jumps and grappling hooks. Their essence is less finding the perfect position from which to kill your friends as it finding the best way to get to a weapon with out being killed by your friends. That said, Capcom has done a good job creating an open and interesting world in which to play.

p.s. gametag alj1

pps my TV is broken =) Awwwww… I play this game to much.

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February 5, 2007 at 7:01 am Leave a comment

links for 2007-02-04

February 4, 2007 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

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