Ms .45's mp3/bureaucratic/gaming blog.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Favourite webgames

When I'm trying to procrastinate on my honours thesis - which is pretty much all the time, given that it's due in on June 1 - I write reviews for Jayisgames under the name Ms .45. It gives me that feeling of having written something as well as justifying my dicking-off. Since I haven't written anything all weekend I figured I'd compile a list of my favourite little webgames.

Gorgeous little hand drawn game where you have to get past obstacles to get to bed! Unlike a lot of point-and-click games, this one makes complete sense - things actually work the way you'd more or less expect them to in the real world. Looks pretty, takes maybe five minutes to solve. Check out A!bat, by the same game designers.

This is not a game that you really need to replay - once you've solved it, you can feel all warm and fluffy. Until you do solve it, though, you can enjoy the hand-drawn graphics and funny results of making the wrong move.

The Impossible Quiz
This is hilarious. Answers are either severely literal or just bent. My favourite is the "question" where you don't have to do anything except get the characters to beat the crap out of each other.

Grow nano v.1
To be honest, everything at Eyezmaze is incredible, but I'm highlighting this one because I play it with my niece sometimes. It's fun and cute, but not amazingly difficult - for a (comparatively) more grown-up challenge try Tontie.

More to come...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

City of b3ta bedroom infringement

How dirty are you?

I owe somebody, preferably not Rob Manuel, £370.50 (that's a whopping $901.98 AUD, or a marginally less whopping $726.99 USD - gotta love those .99c) for my, er, crimes. What I want to know is, why is anyone getting a fine for recieving oral? You should get a little trophy for that!

No more End-Times ads!

Bloggers must be delighted to hear that they'll soon get a choice over what Google ads appear on their blog. I'm sure we're all aware of our favourite alternative blogs running ads that are diametrically opposed to their actual position (my favourite being Palestine-related or pro-Arab blogs which end up with "Israel/Palestine: The End Times Are Nigh! Download Free E-Book"), and have to post plaintive messages saying "We don't have any choice, Google generates these ads by keyword, just ignore them!".


For web-based publishers, the option offers a way to leverage the trust of their audience, Knietz said. For example, bloggers could recommend a particular realtor or law firm that advertises on their site.

"If they are a trusted source, they will eventually drive business to their advertisers," Knietz said.

This could end up creating ethical dilemmas, however, especially if publishers are tempted to recommend high-priced law firms who offer to pay a lot for customer leads.

Dan Gillmor, director of the Centre for Citizen Media, said "These arrangements will raise some interesting questions, such as whether site publishers run the ads likely to make them the most money, whether they believe in what the advertiser is selling or not. So there'll be important issues of transparency and disclosure, too."

There's another issue, though: Bloggers will now have to take some responsibility for the ads that appear on their site. You would have a much harder time saying "The ads aren't my fault, but click on them anyway just to generate us some money", especially when the model is now pay-per-action rather than per-click.

This raises interesting administrative issues. Would you prefer to put the extra work into carefully selecting your ads, making sure they meet your ideological standards (which don't have to be amazingly high, provided the advertiser isn't a fierce opponent of your cause), choosing advertisers where your audience are likely to actually DO SOMETHING on the clicked-through site, putting the ads in aesthetically desirable positions... or would you prefer to throw your hands up and just go "fuck it, you're getting end times ads and if some loonbars want to send off for the free 750-page book, that advertiser's cash is as good as any"?

It also raises the issue of audience reach. What will happen to blogs who have a tiny audience? (A big hello to everyone who comes here from jayisgames, Kingdom of Loathing, Abu Aardvark and The Arabist - you're pretty much alone here. Issandr, this is Jay, Jay, Issandr. Grab a beer.) Will advertisers have the choice of rejecting ads to go on blogs that they don't approve of, either ideologically or commercially?

If you're hardcore, you can reject the idea of ads entirely. Just keep in mind that, as in Soviet Russia, ads may also reject you!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Shock! Comment is Free item concerning Islam actually half-decent!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the responses to this Comment is Free post by Abdul Monem el-Futouh, spokesman for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, was not so much the steaming pile of bilge that CiF posts concerning Islam tend to be. The responses give a good range of perspectives on the Muslim Brotherhood's activities and the concerns that regular Egyptians have about them. I think it's a bit rough to judge the MB on activities that took place 50 years ago - I don't know if you've noticed, but practically no-one outside the hard left raises Israeli Irgun activities except in a historical context - but there are still areas of current concern that are worth monitoring, such as their lack of support for freedom of artistic speech and, yeah, their funneling of support to Hamas (although I don't know how much actual support has been forthcoming - I assume they were responsible for the contents of some of the briefcases Hamas officials were trying to bring into Gaza by car). Oh yeah, I wrote an essay about them recently that covers some of these issues.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The solution to the Middle East's problems

If this is the worst that Israel inflicted upon the world, many geopolitical problems would be solved.

Really, that whole article annoys me. Aside from Mr. Raphael's extracurricular activities (and, more to the point, his incompetence at being discreet), he is described as "a polished media performer" who has served as Ambassador for Israel in several countries. Yet "his adventure in San Salvador revived last year's criticism from a public service watchdog that the ministry lacked transparency in recruitment and promotion procedures".

It's quite possible that Israel's Foreign Ministry does lack transparency, but I fail to see what that has to do with Mr. Raphael's hobbies.

From 'Aqoul:

Even worse and most significant, however, is punishing that all too rare thing these days --- an Israeli diplomat associated with a compromising position.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Give me back my headless lion woman!

Fighting for Iraq's culture

Great little article by one of the Marines in charge of preserving any Mesopotamian antiquities that may still exist in Iraq (there's a great opportunity for some enterprising screenwriter to do "Grandson of Indiana Jones" right there), in which he acknowledges the pushing-shit-uphill aspects of his job - "diverting resources to save cultural artifacts during a war may seem like cutting funds for the police and firefighters in order to expand the public library."

He raises practical issues to drum up support for his activities, such as the strong possibility that if you buy antiquities of dubious provenance you may well be supporting the insurgency (this may not be a problem for you, of course) and that in not looking after the antiquities, the West is demonstrating to the Arab world that we don't give a fuck about their culture, losing the battle for hearts and minds.

I have another issue, which is that Mesopotamian antiquities aren't just Arab culture, they're everyone's culture. Mesopotamia was the site of the earliest literate and Bronze Age societies: that is your and my heritage, whether you are Arab, African or Anglo. It is called the Cradle of Civilization for a reason.

Here's some examples of what we're missing when antiquities in Iraq are looted:

Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
holds some gorgeous little statues, including the Pazuzu demon, whose enmity towards the demon of childbed illness makes him handy to have around when you're giving birth. This institute also has more information about the quest to recapture artifacts stolen from the Iraq Museum.

Treasures of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad Extremely rich site of artworks, like these two new wavers and this gnarly old bat. Also check out the Iraq Cultural Heritage Worldwide site, which brings together artworks and articles from the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of New York (there's a Swedish museum mentioned, but its site doesn't seem to be online). You can use the drop down menu to navigate, then break out of the frame by opening links in a new window.

What I love about the Mesopotamian sculpture in particular is that it seems to be vastly more naturalistic than other antiquities, the gnarly old bat above being a prime example. The fact that statuary seems to have retained its eyes (like so) more often than others seems to help. Even this lioness has a kind of pathetic facial expression. Whereas, for instance, Egyptian artworks have a distancing effect - I can appreciate how beautiful and important they are, but the Iraqi antiquities make me feel like I'm looking at photographs of ancient people.

That said, I don't know anyone who looks like this.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My my, hey hey, it's Dolorean

When I first visited Dolorean's page and downloaded The Search, I thought "whahey, these guys really like Neil Young huh." Big, BIG surprise when I visited their wordpress page and the first post is about... oh go on, you'll never guess...

They also have an artist page at YepRoc Records, which is itself a rich repository of streaming media and downloads that I must mine further.

In the meantime, could someone please tell me which Neil Young song The Search reminds me of?

Free Kareem

If you're reading this blog, you're probably already familiar with the recent arrest of the Egyptian blogger calling himself Kareem Amer. Failing that, here's a brief recap:

Egypt is an authoritarian republic with tokenistic elections and restrictions on the press and freedom of association stop Egyptian authorities have arrested or threatened a number of bloggers in Egypt from various sides of politics stop Kareem Amer was arrested and sentenced for four years in prison for ‘contempt of religion’ and ‘defaming the President of Egypt’ stop Bloggers from all sorts of backgrounds have stepped forward to support Kareem stop contact the Free Kareem website to see if you can help in any way.

Check out Marc Lynch's "Brotherhood of the Blog" in the Guardian's almost-useless Comment is Free section (which really ought to be retitled Opinions Are Like Assholes) - he makes the excellent point that, whether you like the Bro's or not, they are entitled to the same transparency, justice and freedom of expression as the rest of us.

In this context you may also like to consider signing up for Amnesty International's campaign, where you agree to post blocked text on your site. This may not be too useful for people using Blogspot, which is a seriously blocked domain, but if you have a university or private website it could be valuable.

Monday, March 05, 2007

That MB essay I promised

About three posts ago, I mentioned an essay that was currently being procrastinated via the magic of online comics. Here it is. If you actually know anything about the topic, I'd be interested to hear what you think of it.