So, I was browsing the interwebs today, and I came across this video:
Yep. Real-life superheroes.
I know, I did the whole "What the [CENSORED]?" thing when I saw it too.
Yeah, not sure what I can really add to this post, aside from the fact that the World Superhero Registry really exists.
Okay, I admire what they're trying to do, but still... it's kinda... I dunno? Geeky?
Not much I can really add to this.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
So, I was browsing the interwebs today, and I came across this video:
Posted by Raptor at 2:14 PM
Monday, December 29, 2008
Ever since the auto bailout started garnering serious attention from Washington, I've been thinking. The automakers' problems aren't a result of the current financial crisis, but rather as a result of the manufacturers' own stupidity. (Auto Bailout a Go. Oh No.) So I got to thinking, if I ran an auto manufacturer, say General Motors, what would I do?
1. Gut the bureaucracy. Everything is done by committee nowadays, to the point where deciding what color a car's engine cover will be is endlessly and needlessly debated. Cutting this out will reduce development time and allow designers to focus on the more important aspects of the cars. Also, cutting out unneccesary bean-counters will save millions in salaries and benefits costs.
2. Cut the Top Brass' pay. CEOs and other execs make hundreds of millions while they drive the company into the ground. Not on my watch. Top brass would make $250,000 a year, $300,000 tops. Which is more than most Americans make.
3. Play hardball with the unions. Pardon my language, but the UAW has castrated the auto industry. I talk about this more in my previous blog post on the subject, but that was before I learned that the UAW owns a $6 million golf course and a $33 million retreat to go with it. I'd bring the unions to the table and force them to negotiate contracts that provide fair wages to the workers without causing the company to go bankrupt. If they refuse, I'd pack up and move manufacturing out of union country (part of something is better than all of nothing). Hey, it's worked for the Japanese manufacturers.
4. Focus on quality and aesthetics. Nobody wants to pay $40,000 for a car that looks, feels, and drives like a piece of junk. I'd build cars that people want to buy.
5. Massively reorganize the brands. Right now, with any of the Big Three, it doesn't really matter which of one company's brand you choose, you're still essentially buying the same car with a different badge. (Example: the Dodge Charger and the Chrysler 300.) That would change with me at the helm. I'd reorganize each brand to focus on a specific area of the market. Also, while they'd still share platforms, each model would be more distinct in appearance, color offerings, perfomance, and options.
- Chevrolet: Flagship Brand, featuring a little of everything. (in other words, it would stay basically the same)
- Caddilac: Premium luxury brand, focused mainly on larger sedans.
- Buick: Budget luxury. For those who can't afford Caddilacs. Might throw a crossover into the mix.
- Dewoo. Axed. This brand is crap. Last time I heard an add for them, they were offering "Buy one, get one free!" That says something. This brand would either be sold back to the Koreans or just bite the dust all together.
- GMC. Focus on SUVs (real ones) and utility trucks.
- Hummer. Civilian production would die, plants would be converted to produce up-armored Humvees for the Military.
- Pontiac. Re-focused on performance, like in the old days. The GTO and Firebird would be ressurected.
- Saab. I don't know what I'd do with Saab, honestly. Probably focus on premium perfomance like in the old days, though this would be more rally-oriented than Pontiac.
- Saturn. The entry-level economy brand. That's what it was, that's what it's reputation is, that's what it should be.
Posted by Raptor at 3:27 PM
Sunday, December 28, 2008
For a long time, nerdjedi has been trying to get me to check out this web comic called The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. Now, when I say a long time, I'm talking about several months, maybe even a year. Possibly longer. Well, I took a quick look at it back when he first started telling me about it, and I thought it was dumb and didn't make a lick of sense. What I didn't realize is that I was reading the beginning of the second of a three-comic story arc. Silly Raptor. So, anyway, the other night, he got on my case about it big time, eventually sending me the link to the archives and the very first comic. So, having nothing better to do, I read it.
I really should listen to nerdjedi more often.
I like it. Not die-hard-fan-love-it like nerdjedi does, but I like it. It's entertaining, it makes me laugh, it's pretty cool. I think I'll start following it. I'm really not into comics that much, but what the heck. It's goofy enough that I like it.
If you've never seen it before, it's worth checking out. Heck, it's good for a laugh. Sometimes more than one.
Oh, (this has nothing to do with what I just wrote) by the way, I finished Without Remorse last night. Finally! I liked it, not as much as I did the first time I'd picked it up, but only because I've read the first 600 pages or so at least a half-dozen times.
Next up: The Bourne Identity. I've actually allready started it. As awesome as the movie was, the book is even better (naturally).
Posted by Raptor at 7:13 PM
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Hey, everyone. The last couple days have been kinda crazy, what with Christmas and all, so I didn't have time really to post.
Christmas was great. The rest of the Raptor clan came over to our place for Christmas dinner. All of the cousins were home from college, so literally everybody was there. It was really great to be able to see everyone. Grandpa Raptor really liked our Wii. He'd never seen one before, and he couldn't get over how amazing it is. I think he might want one of his own.
As far as gifts go, it was pretty low-key this year. I got a ton of books, and a B&N gift card that I used to buy even more. Stephen Hunter, Vince Flynn, and Robert Ludlum. I've got enough new novels to keep me reading until at least February.
Speaking of which, I'm nearly finished Without Remorse. Don't have my copy handy, but I'm on something like page 708 out of 750. I'll probably finish it off tonight, if not than definitely by tomorrow night. Can't believe I've owned it for something like 5-6 years and never once finished it.
On the downside, I didn't get to write as much of Justice Delayed as I wanted to. It's about 7700 words long, but I'm just now getting into the meat of the plot. If you're interested, I've got enough written to post a sample.
Oh, almost forgot to mention, I got the entire first season of 24 on DVD too. Believe it or not, I'm a 24 virgin. I really want to see the show, but I've always had something to do every time the season premieres, so I'll catch it midway into the season and have no clue what is going on. No more. Guess what I'll be doing New Year's Eve? And Day?
Posted by Raptor at 5:31 PM
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
18 degrees. That's how cold it is outside. It was 10 degrees when I woke up at 9:30 this morning. I haven't seen 10-degree weather since my stint in Pennsylvania's Siberia, AKA Grove City.
The driveway is still a sheet of ice, even though Papa Raptor salted it twice yesterday. The streets don't look much better. Our deck is an ice-skating rink. Both lawns are frozen blocks of soil. The minivan got left outside during the storm Saturday night (no room in the garage), and the door was still frozen shut this afternoon.
It hasn't been this cold around here in years. Global warming my @$$.
Posted by Raptor at 1:41 PM
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Yeah, didn't get much work done on Justice Delayed today; just three lousy sentences, not even 50 words (in my defense, I seem to be most creative between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00 AM. Don't ask why.).
Haven't read any more of Without Remorse either (no defense here, just lazy).
Got by butt kicked in Scrabble. Lost by one lousy point on the last play of the game! Talk about frustrating.
Put the ornaments on the tree. How annoying. Not the putting up of the ornaments itself, but the fact Momma Raptor has to make sure everyone only puts on their own ornaments and that the tree looks "balanced" and turns it into a production.
That's not what's driving me crazy, though.
My left eyebrow has a twitch in it. For the last two days.
I've tried everything. I ate a whole banana, took an extra calcium with lunch, hydrated so much that I've turned into a living, breathing Greek fountain. No dice. It won't go away!
And it's driving me out of my cotton-pickin' mind!!!!!!!!!!!!
Please, I'm begging you, how do I make it stop?
Now that I wrote this post, my eyebrow stopped twitching.
I'm willing to bet that as soon as I click "Publish," it'll start again.
Posted by Raptor at 4:44 PM
It iced last night. A lot. The Turnpike is closed, the Expressway is closed, the back roads are... I don't even want to find out how bad the back roads are. It's tough to even walk. We usually go to church in the city, but it looks like we won't be going anywhere today. Even the 4-wheel-drive Subaru would have a tough time in this crap.
Gonna be slow around here today. I think I'll work at getting a big chunk of Justice Delayed done. This book is going to be epic (Okay, just a lot longer than I thought) I'm not quite at 6,000 words yet, barely even started on the plot, and it's already more than 1/4 the length of the first draft of More Than a Job.
Posted by Raptor at 8:57 AM
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Found this as I was cruising around the interwebs.
It's an outfit called The Spaghetti Western Orchestra. The song they are, uh, performing is the legendary theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Definitely my favorite western and one of my all-time favorite films. Clint Eastwood is da man. Can't wait for his newest film, Gran Torino, to hit theaters.
"Get off my lawn!" Man, that sounds more intimidating than "Make my day."
Posted by Raptor at 7:31 PM
The economy's in shambles, unemployment is at record highs, the auto industry just got a major bailout, and what's Congress done?
Given itself a raise.
Yep, $4,700 more per member per year, which is roughly another $2.5 million that us taxpayers have to cover.
Needless to say, I'm pissed. These boneheads can't do anything right when it comes to running a country, can't even find a bathroom without an aide, and they think they should be further rewarded for their efforts? Yeah, right. [/sarcasm]
My advice: find out who voted for the pay raise, then we vote them out of office.
Without Remorse: pg. 208 of 750
Justice Denied: 5,566 words (spent most of the day running errands)
Posted by Raptor at 6:41 PM
Friday, December 19, 2008
It's finally happened. The Government's going to bail out GM and Chrysler. 17.4 billion dollars in "low-interest loans" to help get the automakers back on their feet.
In my opinion, this is a very bad move. The automakers' problems are not, as the CEOs have repeatedly claimed, as a result of the current financial crisis. Nope, their problems go way, way back to the early 1970s.
Back when gas prices started skyrocketing (the first time), the market suddenly turned from the big, powerful cars Detroit was pumping out and started looking at smaller, fuel-efficent cars like the ones Japan had just begun importing. Detroit put out fuel-efficient cars too, but unlike the Japanese, theirs were cheap, underpowered econoboxes. That trend lasted into the 90's when the gas glut caused the market for puckups and SUVs to take off. Then, when Hurricane Katrina hit and gas prices started to skyrocket again, buyers started to turn away from their big trucks towards hybrids. But Detroit kept on pushing the big, gas-guzzling trucks and then wondered why they wouldn't sell.
Another problem is the UAW. I think unions have their place, but they're not trying to secure safe work environments or revieve fair pay: OSHA and federal laws take care of that now. What the UAW has done is, quite literally, castrate the auto industry. The lowest-paid UAW workers, the ones who sweep the factory floors, make the equivalent of $70 an hour once you factor in retirement and benefits. (Auto workers at places like Nissan and Toyota, for comparison, make the equivalent of around $45.) And during negotiations during the crisis, the UAW leaders refused to accept a pay cut or reduction in benefits, even though the Big Three looked like they were about to go under. Never mind the fact that if the companies folded, the UAW's members would be out of work. What's that old saying, "Part of something is better than all of nothing?"
Honestly, IMHO, all the bailout is going to do is just prolong the inevitable collapse of the American auto industry because the automakers, in all likelyhood, will not change their ways despite the governments requirement to do so. Bankruptcy, on the other hand, would make such neccesary changes inevitable.
There was a editorial on the subject a few weeks ago in my college's newspaper. You can read that here.
Without Remorse: pg 84 out of 750.
Justice Delayed: 9 pages, 5,403 words.
Posted by Raptor at 4:38 PM
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I was just staring at one of my bookshelves, looking over my massive collection, when one particular title suddenly jumped out at me: Without Remorse by Tom Clancy. It suddenly occurred to me that, although I have owned the book for at least three years now, I have never finished reading it. I've started it at least four times, twice making it through 3/4 to 7/8 of the book, but I have never actually finished reading it. I really liked the book too, it's definitely one of my top Clancy pics, but every time I read it, something comes up and I never get a chance to finish it.
Well, now I've got 24 days of Winter Break left, nothing big going on, and nothing major looming in my future. So I'm making my goals for the remainder of vacation:
- Put a very big chunk in Justice Delayed, if not finish it entirely.
- Read Without Remorse from cover to cover.
Posted by Raptor at 11:27 PM
A long, long, time ago, I came across a website. Okay, fine, I come across websites all of the time, but this one is different.
It's called FreeRice. What it is is a Flash-based (I think) game that gives you a vocabulary word - Puzzlement, for example - then list four possible answers - assistance, foe, perplexity, and exactness - and you pick the correct answer. (By the way, the answer is perplexity).
Okay, it's a simple vocab game, what's so special about that? Here's the deal. The site works with the UN World Food Program, and every time you answer a question correctly, the site donates (via its sponsors) 20 grains of rice to third-world nations in an effort to end starvation. It's not much, I know, but the site is really challenging and can be quite addictive, so you can wind up donating thousands of grains to the starving.
English Vocab isn't the only subject available either. There's also Math, Chemistry, Grammer, Art, and multiple foreign languages, too.
I'm under no illusions about this site. I know it's not one of those be-all-end-all will-end-world-hunger things, but it's something.
You can check out the site here, or else click the link in the sidebar.
Posted by Raptor at 1:31 PM
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Vladimir Putin, Russia's ex-President/current Prime Minister recently introduced a new anti-treason bill that most expect will become law. You can read about it here, but the short version is that anyone who cooperates with a foreign company or "Non-Governmental Organization" in a way that the Russian Government (Putin) feels harms Russia's interests will be guilty of treason.
Why is this bad? Because the bill applies any non-governmental organization from anywhere in the world that has offices in Russia, including international aid groups. So in other words, if Vladimir goes to Amnesty International to report abuse by Moscow Police, he's just committed treason. The same thing applies to those seeking aid from the European Court on Human Rights or the World Court, if what they want conflicts with government interests. And last time I checked, they still shoot traitors in Russia.
The article says that activists call this new legislation "a throwback to the days of Hitler and Stalin." I'm inclined to agree with them. In the Bad Old Days, if you disagreed with the State at all, then the State made you disappear. You'd be lucky to end up in a gulag in northern Siberia. Somehow, I get the feeling that when this bill passes (and since Putin's backing it, odds are that it will), the vanishing acts will start up again. Ever since he was elected President, Putin's been slowly but surely turning democratic Russia back into the totalitarian USSR. There's a constitutional change in the works that could allow Putin to run for office again, possibly indefinitely. If that happens, then I can see the Cold War starting up again. And given the way our next president has said he's going to deal with foreign threats, that's a really bad thing.
Posted by Raptor at 11:51 PM
Recently, I've been seeing commercials on TV for Barack Obama commerative plates and commemorative coins. I've heard that several schools are renaming themselves after him. I've seen a report (but been unable to confirm) that St. Lois, MO wants to rename the historic Delmar Boulevard after him. I've even heard a rumor that a county in Alabama wants to create Barack Obama Day as a county holiday. Now, he's been named "Person of the Year" by TIME Magazine.
That's all well and good, but aren't we celebrating a bit to early?
Brack Obama hasn't done anything yet. Okay, he won the election and has appointed most of his cabinet, but he hasn't even been inaugurated yet. We have no idea how good or bad of a leader he will be, and yet we seem to be celebrating him as the greatest President since, well, Washington.
I won't deny that an African-American being elected President is nothing short of historic, and the occasion of his election should be celebrated, but really, this is going a bit too far. We don't know what he's going to do once he takes office. All I've heard from him are the same vague speeches about Hope, Change, and Equality, along with his Redistribute-The-Wealth rhetoric (Which is socialist. No, really, it is. Look the word up in the dictionary) and promises of so-called "Common Sense" gun laws . I don't know what exactly he's going to do once he takes office (though I can probably guess), and maybe he will turn out to be a good president. I don't know. But I think we should hold off on the celebrating until we know just what kind of a leader our 44th President turns out to be.
Posted by Raptor at 11:24 AM
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
A 21 year-old girl calls 911 to report she is being attacked by a stranger. The police arrive. 48 minutes later, after her attacker had brutally murdered her. You can read the full story here.
The police are supposed to protect us. That's their job. But, as this article clearly shows, they are not always around when we need them. You're being attacked, you call 911, then what? You need the police now, but they're minutes away if you're lucky. Ultimately, your own personal safety is your responsibility.
That's one reason why I plan on owning and carrying a gun (my age and present housing situation currently prohibit both). No one has a right to harm me or take my life from me, and I have a right to defend myself if someone tries. And I know for a fact that the police probably won't show up until it's too late.
A few months ago, somebody broke into the house around the corner from mine. The woman who lives there called 911, but by the time the police responded the guy was long gone. I wasn't home when the break-in happened; I actually wound up sort-of following one of the responding officers there. It was no more than five or six minutes from the second he turned on the lights and siren and blew passed me to when I drove past the woman's house as I turned onto my street, but that fast the guy (I think I remember learning that it was the homeowner's ex-husband; they'd just gone though a very bitter divorce) was in and out. Thankfully, the homeowner wasn't harmed. But she was lucky. Brittany Zimmerman wasn't.
Posted by Raptor at 10:49 PM
As you've no doubt noticed, I've altered the blog's template again. I was tired of the old template and thought this one looked a lot nicer. I'll probably be fooling around with the color scheme and trying out new gadgets over the next couple of days. Let me know what you think about my experimentations.
I've also made some major changes to my profile as well. I'm just Raptor now, not jedi_raptor07. Image profile has also been changed. It's a peregrine falcon to fit with the Raptor name. The URL has also been changed. It didn't fit with the theme I had going with the rest of my URLs, so I decided to change it. That, and since my profile name has changed, I wanted the URL to be relevant to the new name.
Finally, I've deleted my Raptor's Reaction's blog. Honestly, I thought it was silly to have a dedicated blog for meaningful, intelligent posts while devoting my main blog to just pointless junk. I did integrate all of the posts from Reaction's into the main blog, so nothing was lost. Any new "reactions" will just be posted on the main blog. This change doesn't affect my movie review at all. That will remain separate.
That takes care of most of the major stuff (for now, anyway). I've made some changes to the sidebar and added a "Quote of the Day" gizmo above the posts as well.
What's the point of all these changes? Quite frankly, I was disappointed with the way the blog was, and I'm going to try and take it in a different directions. Hopefully now the posts will be more meaningful instead of the random junk I was posting earlier. This is most likely going to result in two major changes. First, I'll probably be posting more of the short microfictions that I put up occasionally. Second, the blog will probably be getting a bit more political in nature, so consider yourself warned.
Right now, I've taken the renovations about as far as I've planned to. However, this whole thing started out with me planning to do nothing more than simply changing the template, so we'll see what happens.
Posted by Raptor at 7:08 PM
Over the last year, I've made exactly three purchases from Amazon.com. First, for five books on the New Testament for my bible class. Second, for a textbook about movies and an a scene-by scene analysis of Psycho. Third and most recently, for an old Doctor Who series (for nerdjedi) and a three-disc Queen collection (for myself) Now, to make purchases from Amazon, like most online retailers (in my experience anyway) you have to create an account. After you purchase stuff, Amazon sends you these "Amazon Reccomends" emails that suggests items they think you'd like based on what you've previously bought from them. I can only wonder what those little gremlins who put together those emails think of me. "He likes books on religion, old horror movies, old British science fiction TV shows, and 80s rock bands. O-kaaaaaay....."
Posted by Raptor at 1:17 PM
Monday, December 15, 2008
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
" So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq
Posted by Raptor at 10:16 PM
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Yeah, I have no idea why I wrote my last post. I wasn't even cheesed off about anything when I wrote it. Not even remotely agitated. Yeah. That was wierd.
Finals are over, so that means I'm off for the next month! Sweet!!! Plans? Not much, really. I'm probably going to spend most of my time rewriting More Than a Job, which I've re-titled as Justice Delayed. I re-read it a few weeks ago, and while I love the characters, the basic premise (Pierce as a hitman) was just too cheesy, especially since I'm going to try and have it published once I finish writing it. Aside from that, I really don't have all that much on my plate.
So, yeah, not much going on in my world.
Still no idea why I wrote that last post.
Posted by Raptor at 8:00 PM
Saturday, December 13, 2008
In no particular order...
- Che Guevera T-Shirts. This man helped to incite violent revolutions in Guatemala, Cuba, Gongo, and Bolivia, ordered the deaths of thousands simply because they disagreed with his political views... and you want to put him on a T-Shirt?
- Verizon. We upgraded to FiOS this week, which is cool, but now Verizon is calling us and telling us we ordered a whole lot of extra packages that we didn't order and that we owe them more money that we really don't. We'll get it sorted out, but it's still a royal pain in the @$$.
- Liberal Fanatics. I like a lot of Democrats. I have several good friends who are outspoken proponents of the Democratic Party. It's the rabidly politically correct, bailout-everyone, ban-all-guns, Christian-muzzling, George-Bush-is-evil types that drive me up a wall. Especially the ones who refuse to even let the other side speak (This means you, Ms. O'Donnell)
- Christmas Carols in November. Don't get me wrong, these seasonal songs have their place: the two weeks before Christmas. Not the day after Halloween. You want to start playing them after Thanksgiving, that's fine. But 24/7 for two months straight? I swear, if I hear It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year or Have a Holly Jolly Christmas one more time, I'm going to completely lose it.
- The Big Three. They spend the last 30 years digging themselves into a hole, and now they expect Washington to bail them out at the taxpayers' expense? No way, Jose. Maybe it they'd built cars that people actually wanted to own, they wouldn't be in this mess.
- Nintendo Power. I used to really like this magazine. Heck, I've been a subscriber since the 5th grade. Since they switched publishers last summer, though, the magazine has really started to suck. Now it's like almost every other generic game magazine; ads, a few previews, ads, a major review of a game or two, more ads, maybe an interview with a developer, even more ads, a lot of 2-paragraph micro reviews, still more ads, general bragging about how great they are, and, oh, did I mention ads?
- The Mainstream Media. Our economy is in the crapper, Somali pirates are hijacking at least one ship a week, Russia changed its constitution in a way that will allow Putin to remain in power, Venezuela recently purchased several billion in new weapons from Russia, yet these barely seem to rate a 30-second blurb while reporters camp out in front of a hospital for days waiting for Brangelina's babies to be born. Plus, most of them don't even bother to check the facts on their stories any more. Dan Rather ring a bell?
- Frivolous Lawsuits. Actually, people who won't take responsibility for their actions in general make me mad, but it's when they turn around and sue that my blood really starts to boil. If you spill hot coffee on yourself, you should clean yourself up, not clean out the company who sold you the coffee. My personal favorite: the couple who sued New York City's Metro Transit authority after they were hit by a subway train while making out on the tracks.
- Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. Two more magazines that I really used to like. I've been "borrowing" my dad's issues of PopMech since I was 8, and I subscribed to PopSci since I was in middle school. However, that was before they went politically correct, i.e., green. Now, most of their articles are about some new technology that is going to replace fossil fuels or save the planet. I've got no problem with that, but there's more to science than green technology, especially when most of it is either decades away or will never work to begin with. Even nerdjedi is sick of PopSci now.
- Writers who publish online but don't finish their stories. Now this really cheeses me off. I cannot tell you how many times I've come across a really great story on FanFiction.Net or FictionPress.Com or some similar site and follow the story for months, only to have the author suddenly abandon it for another story because they're bored with it or suddenly got a new idea. ARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!! Finish the story, **** it!!! I want to know how it ends!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by Raptor at 3:37 PM
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Starts off like a standard Top Gear review, but trust me, it gets interesting towards the middle.
Go Marines! Even if you are from Formerly-Great Britain!
I promise, this is the only Top Gear video I'll post for a while.
Also, I am now officially cheezed off at YouTube. Now that they've gone widescreen, the videos no longer fit perfectly in blog posts! Boo! *throws rotten tomatoes at YouTube*
Posted by Raptor at 8:40 PM
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
First of all, let me say a belated Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers. I'm a few days late, I know. Things have been absolutely crazy around here for the last few weeks.
My grandmother was in a car accident about two weeks ago, wound up in ICU with bleeding on the brain, and has been living with us since she was discharged. She's doing much better now, thank the Lord. If you would please keep her and the rest of the family in your prayers, I'd really appreciate it.
As if that wasn't enough, finals are next week. Ugh. I've got lots of long-term stuff coming due in the next two weeks, so I'm gonna be busy as heck (worked pretty much 11 hours straight nonstop today). Didn't get as much done as I wanted to over break either, with cousins from both sides of the family up. Fortunately, I'm keeping a decent (if hectec) pace, so everything should get finished in time.
Pics of the new 2010 Mustang are out. I didn't like it at first, but I think it's starting to grow on me. What do you think?
Posted by Raptor at 8:16 PM
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
World War I ended 90 years ago today. 40 million people were killed in the four years of nonstop warfare.
Untold millions, both soldiers and civilians alike, have given their lives in the pursuit of liberty. Do not let their sacrifice be forgotten, and never forget that freedom is not free.
If you can read this, thank your teacher.If you can read this in English, thank a Veteran.
Posted by Raptor at 11:25 AM
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Olny srma t poelpe can raed tih s.
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs psas it on !!
Posted by Raptor at 10:44 PM
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Posted by Raptor at 6:10 PM
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Get a load of this. I was in the Sporting Goods section of my local Wal-Mart tonight, and you're not going to believe what I saw.
I came across a half-row of ammunition. I know, real shocking. Yeah, well, they had big boxes of 12-Gauge shotgun ammo just sitting on the shelves in cardboard boxes. It wasn't 00-Buckshot, but you still would not want to stand in front of it. Now, conversely, they had boxes of dinky .22 rimfire ammo, the kind that's only powerful enough for squirrel or frog hunting, locked inside an armored cabinet.
Are you kidding me? Lock up the dinky little bullets that have a hard time downing prairie dogs behind a half-inch of armored glass, but leave cases of manstoppers on the shelf for anyone to grab? And before you yell at me, it's easy to hide a sawed-off shotgun under a jacket.
Posted by Raptor at 10:27 PM
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I haven't posted in a while, this is true. It's just that... *sigh* I haven't really been motivated. School's been keeping me kinda busy (though not half as busy as nerdjedi. I swear, I'm in college and I don't have half the work he has), but still, I have had free moments every now and again. I just... haven't been inspired, I guess.
Okay, so now that I'm posting anyway, what do I have to talk about... ?
Well, I went paintballing over the weekend. That was a lot of fun (even if I did get shot a lot). Only downside was that I had to rent a marker, since I don't play enough to justify buying one. The one I rented was kinda lousy, kept jamming and misfeeding. It's a good marker if you take care of it (It was a Tippmann 98 Custom, if that means anything to you), but it had obviously been heavily used and the field probably hadn't done regular maintenance on it. How do I know? I've played twice before at two different places, rented the same type of marker each time, and the first two times they functioned flawlessly. Yeah, if I start playing more, I'm definitely going to buy my own gear. That is, of course, assuming airsoft doesn't become more popular around here, but I'm not banking in it.
The new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, comes out next month. Can't wait for that. I've seen a few trailers, and it looks awesome. Even better than Casino Royale. And it looks like there's even a halfway-decent car scene in this one, too. Sweet.
Anyone remember Codename: White Knight? Well, I finally finished it. I'm serious. I worked on it all summer, and I finished a few weeks ago. Its on hiatus for a while (still needs revisions), but having worked on it for nearly three months straight, I'm gonna leave it alone for a while. In the meantime, I'm going to be undertaking a major revision (actually more like a minor rewrite) of my other novel (and prequel to White Knight), More Than a Job. I'm also working on a brand new novel totally unrelated to the other two. Actually, I could use your help with that.
Okay, so in my new (as-yet-untitled) novel, the hero drives an old Pontiac GTO Judge muscle car. The only problem is, I can't decide what model year he's going to own. Specifically, I'm torn between the 1969 and the 1970 models. Which to you think looks coolest? Here they are:
I've put a poll in the sidebar, please vote on which car you like best. Thanks.
Oh, and I've also added a lot more to my review blog. Head on over and check it out.
Posted by Raptor at 5:29 PM
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Just thought I'd share some lols I made courtesy of the icanhascheezburger lol builder.
You won't see these on any of the lol sites because I don't have an account.
Oh, and just a quick bit of news: Raptor's Reviews is going to be updated at least twice a week now. Last week was The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, check back by Wednesday for Apocalypse Now.
Posted by Raptor at 12:27 PM
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Just a quick heads-up. My film-review blog is back up. I actually have to maintain it for my Art of Film class, so expect regular updates. To start off, there's a brand-new (if somewhat short) review of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960)
Also, I gave the blog a new URL. You can check it out here. Enjoy.
Posted by Raptor at 6:00 PM
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I'm going to be taking a break from blogging for the next week or so. Two reasons: First, school is starting up and I'm going to be busy getting readjusted to things. Second (this is actually the main reason), the DNC is happening right now, and the RNC is next week, so I'm going to spare you from my political ranting.
On a similar note, I'm taking a Film Analysis class this semester, so expect to see my now-defunct review blog get a sudden revival.
Also, I'm seriously considering opening an account on FictionPress.com to post some of my original works. What do you think? Should I go for it?
Posted by Raptor at 9:36 PM
Friday, August 22, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Watch this video. This guy says it better than I ever could.
I admit, the presentation is over the top, but this man has a very strong, very real point. We are sitting on our asses doing nothing while our government is running our country into the ground.
Think about it. Congress has an approval rating right now is at an all-time low (~15%) yet we still keep voting the same nonrepresentatives into office each year. Why? We all wine about how the President is a moron and how Congress is out of touch with the people, but that's it. We just talk. Nothing else. This has to end, or else America as we know it will cease to exist.
Posted by Raptor at 11:33 PM
Sorry, but yes. Yet another post involving the new Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe.
Now, we all know that the car's styling is somewhat controversial (not that it matters once you see it in person). However, I recently stumbled across a picture of a Drophead that will cause even the most hardened critic to start drooling.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, The Hyperion:
It's a custom one-off Drophead designed by Pininfarina, the Italian design studio famous for applying its bodywork to Ferraris.
Unfortunately, the Hyperion, named for one of the mythological Greek Titans, will never see production. It was simply an excercise in design meant to recapture the elegance and sophistication that cars displayed in the 1920s and early 1930s. I don't know about you, but I think the boys at Pininarina succeded in a big way. Still, it's a shame that they won't build more.
P.S. I promise to leave this car alone now.
Posted by Raptor at 10:39 AM
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Okay, you all remember my Ugly Car post, ja? One of the cars mentioned in said post was the new Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, which I criticized for its headlights and funky windshield.
I take back everything I said about it.
I have to: I saw one today. No, I'm dead serious. Spring Lake, NJ, about 11:30 PM, driving south along Ocean Ave.
Man, pictures can't do that thing justice. Yes, the headlights and windshield look odd. But it doesn't matter. It is drop-dead gorgeous! Anyone who says otherwise needs their head examined (myself included). I only hope Sir Henry Royce and Charles Rolls, wherever they are, can forgive me for my warped views....
Yet another entry onto my list of dream cars.
Posted by Raptor at 6:45 PM
Saturday, August 9, 2008
5. Jackie Chan
Chan has never once used a stuntman, leading him to be considered uninsurable by movie studios. He started out really awesome (and can still kick some serious @$), but he soon descended into the realm of "Kung-Fu Komedy," the low point of which being the "Westerns" he did with Owen Wilson and the two Rush Hour sequels.
4. Jason Statham
Not so much a martial artist as an all-around action star, Statham nevertheless has a few solid martial arts hits under his belt (pun not intended), the most famous of which being he cult classic The Transporter. He ranks in as number 4 only because of his limited exposure as a martial artist.
3. Jet Li
A lethal weapon if there ever was one, Jet Li is without a doubt one of China's most famous movie stars, with his films grossing millions at Hong Kong cinemas. Unfortunately his American releases (with a few notable exceptions) have been rather mediocre, limiting him to the Number 3 slot.
2. Chuck Norris
Dude, it's Chuck Norris, the guy who they couldn't put on Mount Rushmore because the granite wasn't tough enough for his beard. 5-time world karate champion and legendary film and TV star, Norris has been in the business for over 30 years and has hundreds of knockouts under his belt. Unfortunately, that's not enough to secure the top spot.
1. Bruce Lee
How can it be? How can Chuck Norris be beaten to number 1 by a guy with only one American blockbuster? Watch and learn:
That's right, he just took out an entire martial arts school singlehandedly. Bruce Lee was a human weapon who opened the door in America for kung-fu movies. His untimely death shortly before the release of Enter the Dragon only adds to his mystique. And in case anyone doubts Bruce Lee's superiority:
Yes, that was Chuck Norris you just saw die.
Posted by Raptor at 1:19 PM
Thursday, July 31, 2008
If you know me at all, you know I'm a car guy. It's not something I can really explain; it's a love of beauty and elegance that only other gearheads can fully appreciate. However, there are a few cars out there that I think the world would be better off without. In no particular order, here's my list of some of the world's ugliest cars.
1973 Pontiac GTO
From it's inception in 1964, and particularly from 1967 to 1970, the GTO always exuded a tough, brawny attitude, helped in no small part by it's aggressive design. But this "fresh" re-design left it looking (rightly so) like an econobox masquerading as a muscle car. Plus, it had a case of overbite so bad that it would have given any dentist a coronary.
2010 Kia Soul
Kia calls it a blending of the Scion xB and the Honda Element. Looks more to me like one of those freaky concept cars you see at auto shows, only with normal door handles. The headlights in particular irk me; they look like they're from a Transformers movie.
1956 Ford Edsel
Nicknamed "The Toilet-Seat Grill" for obvious reasons, the car was named after the late Henry Ford's son (and former President of the Ford Motor Company), the late Edsel Ford. Predictably, the car was a flop; it sold rather dismally for three years until Ford finally pulled the plug. It's probably a good thing Edsel, who was also a very talented automobile designer, died thirteen years before the car went into production: seeing his name on this monstrosity would have likely killed him.
2007 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe
I love this car. I absolutely love it. It broke my heart when I found out that someone stole the real headlights and replaced them with the ones from the Fiat 500. Wait, what? Those are the real headlights? *Insert Horrified Scream Here* And would it have killed them to use a wrap-around windshield?
2001 Pontiac Aztek
Probably the most famous ugly car in recent history, there really isn't a whole lot I can say about it (pretty self-explanitory, don't you think) except to wonder what the designers at Pontiac and GM were smoking when they designed it, or what they were thinking when they let one of their kids design it.
2010 Toyota Prius
Despite what you might think, I really don't have a problem with hybrids; I just have problems with people who by them to pretend they care about the environment (park it in your driveway while you get chauferred around in an Escalade or private jet). This thing, however, looks like an over-inflated party balloon getting ready to pop. Or, if you paint it the right shade of green, it could pass for a giant booger or a radioactively-mutated garden slug. Oh, and guys at Toyota, the larger grill is supposed to be above the bumper.
1965 Fiat 500
Desinged to compete with such famous marquees as the Volkswagen Beetle and the Mini, the 500 comes off looking like the product of an unholy union between the two, only without the sickening cuteness that made its parents worldwide successes. Plus, it gave its headlights to the aforementioned Rolls-Royce.
1970 AMC Gremlin
In the early 70s, if it was an econobox, it was probably ugly. But the Gremlin here takes the cake. It was a perfectly proportioned station wagon... from the B-pillar forward. That's where they chopped off the back seats and the cargo area and welded on some random sheetmetal. Take the wheels off, fill in the wells, and you've got a spaceship from the old Battlestar Galactica TV series. No, wait, forget it: they'd still have made the back end longer.
Before anyone says anything, yes, this little rant of mine as inspired by Sam's Annoyance with Crayola.
Posted by Raptor at 8:13 PM
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
In response to a request that I post something original (something I admit I should have been doing anyway), I present you with a piece originally written as an exercise form my Advanced Writing course last semester. Enjoy.
I’m sorry boss, I know I’m four hours late today; my building lost power sometime last night and my alarm clock reset itself, so needless to say my alarm didn’t go off this morning and I overslept; then some moron parked his delivery ban in my building’s driveway while he was dropping off flowers to the old lady who lives upstairs from me, and when I asked him to move his truck, the little old lady hit me with her purse – yes, sir, that’s why I have a black eye – yes, I know the client is coming in to close the deal today; so after the delivery guy finally moved his truck, I pulled out of the garage; I knew I would be late by that point – I did try to call you sir, but my cell phone has a dead battery because I was charging it when the power went out last night; so I finally get on the highway and am doing my best to make up lost time when I see a police car behind me flip on its lights and siren, so I pull over and turn the car off; next thing I know the cop rips my door open and throws me on the pavement –yes, sir, that’s why my suit is damaged – yes, I know that the meeting with the client is a formal one – yes I know that formal means wearing a suit that hasn’t been destroyed; turns out that my license plate partially matched one from a getaway car that some bank robbers had used that morning, but they didn’t tell me that until they had hauled me down to the precinct and began interrogating me; I had to convince them to call the little old lady who lives upstairs before they’d believe me – yes, I realize that it sound like a bunch of, uh, bull-stuff, sir, but I swear it’s – wait, what do you mean, ‘I’m fired’?
Posted by Raptor at 5:18 PM
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Gearheads rejoice! After six long years, the era of the Pony Car is reborn!
Meet the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.
With a 6.2-liter V-8 engine putting out 425hp and 408 lb-ft of torque; this bad boy is aimed straight at the Mustang and the Dodge Challenger. The Muscle Car Wars have a new force on the battlefield. And to make certain individuals (*cough* *cough* *Al Gore* *cough*) happy, the engine features Active Fuel Management, which means it shuts down up to four of its cylinders to increase fuel economy while cruising, for a maximum of 23mpg highway. (Bear in mind, this figure is for the aforementioned 6.2L V-8 from the SS model, not the sissy 3.6L V-6 of the lesser models)
What's really exciting is that this could mean the return of a whole string of classic muscle cars. In the good ol' days, the Camaro and Pontiac Firebird were built on the same platform. If the Camaro is a roaring success (which all accounts say it should be), this might mean the rebirth if the Firebird, then maybe the Pontiac GTO, and from there, who knows?
Now, the only question remaining is thus: should I stick with getting my Mustang, or pick up one of these instead?
Posted by Raptor at 4:46 PM
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
This time, the guys decide to see what the big draw is to camping, or caravaning as they say in Britain. If you've been paying attention, you've probably figured that this probably isn't going to end well.
I've done a bit of exploring, and it turns out that this whole thing, or at least parts of it, was staged. Whatever, it's still hilarious.
Oh, and if you're wondering what the deal with Clarkson's Kalashnikov was, and why Richard Hammond was freaking out when they were sleeping, it turns out that James May is homosexual. Not like I have a problem with that or anything.
Also, and this has nothing to do with Top Gear, but I've decided to clarify my position in my last reaction.
There has been some harsh reaction to this post. I feel I am to blame for this only because I do not feel I made my position clear enough. My opinion still stands.
Okay, Obama says that we need this "Civilian National Security Force" because "We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set." Thing is, we're not relying completely on the military. We haven't been doing that for over 100 years. In addition to our Armed Forces, we have the FBI, CIA, NSA, BATF, DEA DIA (Diplomatic Intelligence Agency), TSA, Secret Service, and many other Law Enforcement Agencies also protecting our national security. Not to mention the countless state and local police forces across the country.
I've heard one objection to my position made on the basis that Obama wants to establish a National Guard. Thing is, we already have one. It's been around since 1903, and it's designed to be a force of civilian reservists who are to be called upon in times of war to supplement the standing army and to keep the peace in times of extreme crisis at home (riots, natural disasters, etc.) Making the National Guard "just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as the Army a) defeats the purpose of having a reserve force (They're not meant to be front-line troops, and therefore don't need to be as well-equiped as the standing army), and b) in times of war, National Guard units come under the command of regular Army leaders.
I mentioned that the idea of having this "Civilian National Security Force" scares me, but I failed to explain why. It scares me because Obama says that said force needs to be "just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as the regular Army. How, exactly, does he plan to make it that strong? By giving it Abrams battle tanks, artillery, and jet fighters? Yes, the National Guard does have those things, but those are only used in times of war, and as I mentioned, National Guard comes under the command of the Army (or Air Force) at those times. Plus, those are all old equipment that has been phased out by the standing military (Ex: most national guard units are equipped with the M60 Patton tank. That was phased out in in the late '80s, with the last being retired just after the Gulf War [and those were used by the Air Force])
So, Obama is disregarding the roles that dozens of Federal and civilian Law Enforcement Agencies take in defending our National Security, and he can't beef up the National Guard without making it a part of the standing Armed Forces. So, what exactly is this "Civilian National Security Force?" The only thing that makes sense (without making something completely redundant and, ergo, completely useless) is a seperate, government-controlled, civilian-operated paramilitary force. What scares me is, why would Obama want such a force? The only thing I can think of is that he wants to use it for something he can't legally use the Army for and that the various LEA's around the country are not put together to do. Exactly what that might be terrifies me.
Posted by Raptor at 12:21 AM
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Actually, it's more like Plane vs. The Car. The Bugatti Veyron is the fastest (255 mph), most powerful (1,001 horsepower), most expensive (over 1.5 million dollars) car ever made. And it's going up against a lousy Cessna turboprop! Not much of a race. Or is it? Either way, Jeremy is obsessed with that car.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Check out this article from The Chicago Tribune. Pay particular attention to the part where Obama says that we can't rely on the military and need to create a "Civilian National Security Force" that is "just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."
Am I the only one who is very, very scared by this? Barack Obama, the man who wants to become Commander in Chief of our armed forces does not trust that they are capable of defending our nation, so he wants to create his own private paramilitary force to keep us safe.
What exactly is this force going to be tasked with doing? Who is going to lead it? How is it going to be equipped and/or trained? How are we going to pay for it? Most importantly, what, if any, oversight is the government and the military (the real military) going to have over it?
Civilian National Security Force. A government-controlled paramilitary force. Does this remind anyone else of the Brownshirts?
Posted by Raptor at 4:43 PM
Obama looks like he wants to bring back the brownshirts. No, I'm not making this up.
Posted by Raptor at 4:41 PM
Friday, July 4, 2008
It's not about getting the day off from work.
It's not about a killer sale at some store.
It's not about an all-day movie marathon.
It's not about grilling burgers and hot dogs and drinking beer in the back yard.
It's not about concerts or fireworks.
It's about this:
It's about the great nation that this flag stands for. It's about the ideas and ideals that this flag represents. Most of all, it's about the men and women who have been willing to give their lives in defense of those ideas, those ideals, this flag, this country. Never forget that.
Happy Birthday, America. May God continue to shed His Grace on Thee.
Posted by Raptor at 12:13 PM
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I don't believe it, but I actually agree with Barack Obama on something.
Should we head for the bunker now, or wait until the mushroom clouds start appearing on the horizon? Meh, I'll just watch the pretty explosions. Like a fallout shelter would do that much good anyway.
Posted by Raptor at 8:19 PM
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I don't know why, but I've suddenly developed a craving for Queen. No, not royalty; the English rock band. We Will Rock You, Another One Bites the Dust, Princes of the Universe, now do you know who I'm talking about?
I recently found the single Queen album I have (bought it years ago just for We Will Rock You) and ripped a few tracks to my laptop. Unfortunately, the only two tracks on there that I actually know are We Will Rock You and I Want it All (listening to that one right now as a matter of fact). I never realized how good these guys are. I've got to pick up a few more albums.
Songs on my want list (As of now):
- Princes of the Universe
- Another One Bites the Dust
- Somebody to Love
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- We Are the Champions
- Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Posted by Raptor at 8:50 PM