Even Stephen Colbert thinks it’s over the top

Is it possible that the most patriotic video game ever created was developed and released exclusively in Japan? I am talking, of course, about Metal Wolf Chaos.

The TV Tropes page for it describes it thusly:

Michael Wilson, veteran of the Arizona Conflict and 47th President of the United States has been deposed in a military coup by his running mate, RICHAAAAAAARD! Hawk. Now, he must take up the guise of Metal Wolf and take back America city by city, armed only with his Humongous Mecha and the power of BURNING AMERICAN FREEDOM.

This game could only have been made in Japan.

Metal Wolf Chaos is an original Xbox game made by From Software, unfortunately never released in America. The game is a Humongous Mecha title focused around the highly American pursuit of blowing stuff up, with a plot and dialog that would be the epitome of American Patriotic Fervor (or the most over-the-top satire of it ever made) were it not coming from a different country altogether. Weaponry includes machine guns, rocket launchers, and a shark gun – Yes, a shark gun – while the plot takes you to shootouts in the southwest, bomb threats in Beverly Hills, battles against giant robots in Manhattan, redecorating the White House with missiles, a showdown with Richard in Vegas, and space, assisted along the way by a resistance force skilled only in blocking tank cannons with their helicopters and the President’s slightly psychotic secretary, Jody Crawford.

Naturally, YouTube has videos of this game in action. Note in particular the sequence where the President (and his giant robot), after battling a heavily armored White House, hitches a ride on the side of the space shuttle, blows up a space station, and then surfs the debris back to the surface. Seriously.

I don’t know what else to say. I don’t know what else can be said, aside from wondering whether this sort of post is going to become a yearly tradition.

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A Tale of Two Doctors

First: did you know that Joss Whedon, of Firefly fame, is working on a musical, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, to be released on the Internet mid-July, for free (initially)? Here is the trailer:

Yes, it’s starring Doogie Howser Neil Patrick Harris. As a pathetic villain. If he’s only half as terrible at villainy as The Monarch, it should still be awesome. Oh, and Mal Reynolds Nathan Fillion is the hero.

Second: You watch Doctor Who, right? Of course you do. Remember last season’s episode The Family of Blood, where The Doctor had recorded a message for Martha before wiping his memories and becoming human? Wonder what he was saying during the parts you didn’t hear?

ur doin it wrong

Pew Foundation on Religion and Public Life: 8% of atheists \"absolutely certain\" God exists.

Source: Study by the Pew Foundation on Religion and Public Life, as pointed out by Improbable Research

Dead Duck Day

Somehow, I think some of you might be interested to know that today, June 5, is Dead Duck Day. No, not to worry, the little guy is fine, perched on my printer with that stupid little grin of his and constant shilling of insurance.

In case you aren’t familiar with the historic scientific event that Dead Duck Day commemorates, here’s the abstract from the Ig Nobel Prize-winning scientific paper it spawned, courtesy of the author:

On 5 June 1995 an adult male mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) collided with the glass façade of the Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam and died. An other drake mallard raped the corpse almost continuously for 75 minutes. Then the author disturbed the scene and secured the dead duck. Dissection showed that the rape-victim indeed was of the male sex. It is concluded that the mallards were engaged in an ‘Attempted Rape Flight’ that resulted in the first described case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard.

Moeliker, C.W., 2001 – The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard Anas platyrhynchos (Aves: Anatidae) – DEINSEA 8: 243-247 [ISSN 0932-9308]. Published 9 November 2001


I Wanna Be The Plumber

If you’ve ever wondered what life would be like in the mirror universe where Shigeru Miyamoto is evil, try playing this fiendish knockoff of Super Mario Bros. (Hint: use Up to jump.)

Or, for the morbidly curious but not masochistic, take a look at this series of videos that show someone trying to play through it:

By popular request

If you like Penn & Teller and zombies, well, this short film has two of those three:

On the other hand, if you need a Penn fix, you can watch Penn talk about stuff instead. (Which, incidentally, is how I learned about the aforementioned video.)

Golf with an elf

I came across this page about making the smallest possible executable binary file using Linux’s ELF executable format. Supposedly with judicious use of absolutely evil hacks, you can get the file down to a scant 45 bytes — which is the size of the ELF header.

Or at least, you could on older kernels. On kryten’s slightly dusty 2.6.18 kernel, the two smallest (and evilest) versions of the program crash, but the antepenultimate one, the 64 byte one, works fine. Which is still quite impressive.

Note that I said 45 (or maybe 64) bytes is the smallest executable binary program you can execute successfully. If you switch over to a shell script, you can get quite a bit shorter. In fact, an empty file will execute successfully:

$ touch empty
$ chmod +x empty
$ ls -l empty
-rwxr-xr-x 1 paul paul 0 2008-03-17 22:32 empty
$ ./empty
$ echo $?

It’s the same basic functionality as /bin/true, which on kryten, weighs in at 22,120 bytes.

Never invite a LARPer to your nativity play

Or else this might happen:

Just in time for Hanukkah! Or Channuah! Or anything else matching /(H|Ch)an{1,2}uk{1,2}ah?/.

The Winter of Their Dissed Content

Or, why The Daily Show has been in reruns for the past two weeks:

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You know, if I knew tesla coils counted as instruments, I might’ve become a musician:

[...] The music that you hear is coming from the sparks that these two identical high power solid state Tesla coils are generating. There are no speakers involved. The Tesla coils stand 7 feet tall and are each capable of putting out over 12 foot of spark. They are spaced about 18 feet apart. The coils are controlled over a fiber optic link by a single laptop computer. Each coil is assigned to a midi channel which it responds to by playing notes that are programed into the computer software. These coils were constructed by Steve Ward and Jeff Larson. Video was captured by Terry Blake. What is not obvious is how loud the coils are. They are well over 110dB. [...]

And in case you’re wondering if it can get any geekier than that:


Apparently I know several literate people who write stuff, and NaNoWriMo has only exascerbated things. Why, I actually had to add a whole new category in my feed reader just to stay on top of it all!

For example, Ryan has started up a secondary blog for his novel, tentatively titled The (Next) Most Dangerous Game. Does the tentatively titular (Next) suggests a game that, if you sorted all game in increasing order of danger, would be positioned penultimately; or that the game will become the most dangerous one, supplanting the current title holder? All will be revealed as the story progresses! Presumably.

Also, memo to Ryan: game time?

Not to be outdone, Andrew, when he’s not busy maintaining the official Ship of Fools website, has not one, not two, but three writing blogs. He started with Words of the Drewcifer for posting short stories and other writing fragments, but recently branched out into More Words of the Drewcifer, where he’s mainly been posting successive chapters of Aldain. Now he’s also started a third blog for his NaNoWriMo entry Solomon.

Clearly, Andrew is the single largest threat to our nation’s strategic word reserve, and he will not rest until his writing blog has more spinoffs than Mega Man and Law & Order combined.

Finally, Renee has broken free of her blog for posting writing fragments amongst miscellaneous and/or sundry other posts and started a second blog for her on-going NonNaNoWriMo story Knowing Andrew. Um, a more different Andrew.

Unless Andrew’s been living some kind of crazy double life, I guess. You know, the kind where you hang with people who fight lions.

As for me… not so much. Yeah, I did the NaNoWriMo thing back in 2002, wisely commiting to it (as much as one can commit to such a thing) on Nov 1, without having the slightest idea what to write about. Yet I still finished before Thanksgiving break, mainly motivated by wanting to finish before Thanksgiving break right around when I hit word 45,000 or so. I planned to do it in 2003 too, but quickly abandoned that upon seeing the utter garbage I was forcing out.

Fun fact: One of the main motivations for starting this blog as a proper blog instead of posting diary entries on K5 was to document that 2003 NaNoWriMo attempt. So much for that.

Now that’s a presentation

OK, there’s been some talk around here about truly great presentations. While those approaches certainly have their merits, I think British physiologist Giles Brindley is the hands-down winner of Greatest Presentation Ever.

Brindley did some significant research on drug treatments for erectile disfunction, and presented his results at the 1983 Urodynamics Society meeting in Las Vegas.

If you’re wondering why that would be a Great Presentation, consider that, in this instance, “presented his results” is a double entendre.

No, not like that. By which I mean, no, not only like that. It’s much worse/better than that.

Read the full story here, along with some information on other attempted erectile disfunction treatments.

Disclaimer: use this approach in your own presentations at your own risk.

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Klaus has competition

You may recall former fellow Fool Scott “Klaus” Parker groundbreaking presentation on “Simplifying Occlusion-culling Ray-tracing Photorealistic Perspective-warping Graphics”, widely regarded as being “definitely a presentation.”

Well, I do believe that Doug Zongker of the University of Washington has thrown down the proverbial gauntlet with his research paper, “Chicken Chicken Chicken: Chicken Chicken“. Or, if you prefer a more approachable version, here’s a video of him presenting his work:

Klaus, dare you try to compete with this, or are you chicken?

Equivalent to Mega Man 18

This video is simultaneously awe-inspiring and terrifying.

It’s a play-through of Mega Mans 3, 4, 5, and 6, simultaneously, using the exact same controller input for all four games. It’s tool-assisted, of course, but the mere fact this is even possible is impressive. I can’t even imagine how someone would go about figuring out how to pull this off.

If you’re not a fan of YouTube’s standard ruin-video-quality filter, there’s a much cleaner version of the video available too.

Thank goodness I have W blue-sky lives

One can, I am told, have fun with hacked versions of Super Mario Bros.

Others might not: (warning: copious, but well-justified, NSFW language)

And if you think that hack is evil, take a gander at this:

Yes, there is an explanation of just WTF is going on there. And yes, there is a faster speedrun out there, but the one above is much more entertaining.