Category: Old Blog Posts

Brandon Marshall’s a Chicago Bear!

Heck yes, finally the Bears have a 1st wide receiver that Cutler can constantly throw to. I’ve only been following the NFL for a short time but I knew Cutler to Marshall was somewhat of a powerhouse back in their Denver Broncos days. I know that his off-field situations are a bit of a worry, but if he produces well in Chicago (which I think he will) then it’s a well-worth upgrade to the Bears’ offence. Cutler already has Vandy classmate Earl Bennett, and they shown how those two can link up well. With Marshall on hand now, this will be an interesting season.

Retro Video Gaming – Sega Saturn

Now here’s something I consider underrated for its time – The Sega Saturn. It had potential, but it was a product of bad marketing. I remember back in the day where PlayStation absolutely dominated the Australian market. I had a certain curiosity about the Saturn even to this day – I never touched a Saturn, seen one in action or played one.  Funnily enough I played a Dreamcast before it was released in Australia during the Brisbane Ekka at one point.  As above, I managed to import one from Japan because at the time I purchased this local used Saturns were hard to come by. Just after I ordered this, the Saturn popped up at the local GameTraders. A bit bummed, however I knew that the Japanese games were more sought after for video game collectors.

The games I got with this system are Phantasy Star Collection and Greatest Nine ’98 Baseball. So far I totally like what I missed out on. Phantasy Star Collection has all 4 Phantasy Star games on one CD, and Greatest Nine ’98 is Japanese professional baseball – quite different to the Major Leagues. Both games I enjoyed throughly.

Compared to the PlayStation, I can noticed a bit more definition with the Saturn’s polygons and smoothness. However the PlayStation on the other hand can render some 3D sequences better. This is because with some Saturn games developers found it hard to program for it. The Saturn had 2 CPU’s compared to the PlayStation’s single CPU.

Regardless of this, I enjoy the Saturn and totally don’t regret paying quite a bit to get this in my hands. I have Virtua Fighter 2 coming in the mail so I’m looking forward to playing that.

Video Game Hunting – Post #1

Well, what did I find when doing my weekly video game hunt? Nothing much. The local pawn shops didn’t have much game wise, however I did find something that’s relatively hard to get these days.

The Datel Freeloader for GameCube.

This will allow my GameCube to play imported games from Japan and the USA. They usually retail for $24 online not including shipping, so $5 for it seems like a bargain!

Now, to find some games…

My Chicago Bears

You know, I gotta admit, coming into this season I didn’t really have high expectations for the Bears this season.  The 2009 season with Cutler’s interception record, I was very cautious about keeping my expectations high. Well, I would like to say I was proven wrong by their performance – being 6-3, first place in the NFC North. The O-Line still needs a bit more work to prevent sacks with Cutler (I believe Cutler leads the league in the number of sacks). I’m still a bit cautiously optimistic – the Bears do have Miami, New England and the Jets all next in the schedule. All 3 teams are really strong in the AFC East, so I just hope the Bears D can hold up and come up with victories!

Telstra Wireless Broadband

Well I made the jump to wireless broadband, and I have decided to go with Telstra. Why do you ask, when Optus and Vodafone have the better wireless broadband deals? To me it comes down to the coverage. Where I live the cell reception for all 3 networks is quite subpar, but Telstra is the one that stands out the most. In addition, I plan to go rural for my first teaching placement, and from what I heard Telstra’s network does alright in those areas. I’m using it right now and I’m very satisfied with it.

The modem I got was $59 from Dick Smith Electronics and I was given 2GB of data for free when I signed up. Good deal I say. I use a Mac and it had Mac OS X drivers on board so installation was a breeze.

A few years ago I wouldn’t even think of Telstra as my carrier for my mobile phone, but since they have progressively been giving very surprising deals. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Telstra to anyone.

E.S. Posthumus Goodness

If you ever watched Top Gear, NFL on CBS or even the Sherlock Holmes trailer, chances are you have heard E.S. Posthumus’ work. They are a group based in Los Angeles and create the most amazing cinematic music you will hear.

The theme I have embedded is the theme to MLB Tonight on MLB Network.

The Terminal: Underrated Movie of the Day

Since I am on university holiday, I might as well kill some time by analysing a movie on my own.

What does one think when I say “Steven Spielberg”? Many people might say Jaws, E.T., Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, and countless other films. The Terminal is one of those movies, and in my opinion, doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. It is a heart-warming film with a touch of comedy and drama.

Tom Hanks stars as Viktor Navorski from the fictional Eastern European republic of Krakozhia. He arrives in New York City, unbeknown to him that his country suffered a revolution which rendered his travel visa and passport useless under United States diplomatic status.  As a result the authorities have no right to detain Navorski, but at the same time cannot deport him back to Krakozhia. This leaves Viktor in a very sticky situation, as described in the movie, he fell through a very small crack in the system. The authorities have no choice but to leave him free in the travel lounge of the airport. As he waits, he encounters many characters and builds new friendships, and from there he crosses paths with flight stewardess Ameila Warren (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones).  It is with her that he reveals why Navorski is really in New York – to fulfil a dream left by his father.

The behind the scenes work of this movie is quite amazing. Instead of using a real airport to film in, Spielberg commissioned a custom-made set that is essentially a clone of a real airport. It has real life stores, and many other facilites that can be found in a real airport. It is so convincing that I often forget that the airport set is actually not any real airport. If you have a chance to watch the behind the scenes documentaries on the DVD, you’ll be surprised on how much work had been put into to make such an elaborate set. John Williams, a stablemate in movie soundtracks, produces a soundtrack that so much fits with the theme of the movie. The motifs given for Viktor reflect his personality and his background, and the same thing can be said about many cues in the film.

Plot wise, at the beginning the story focuses so much on Viktor getting lost and confused about his situation, without knowing any workable English. How Spielberg and his crew set this up was really good. As soon as Viktor realises what has happened, the camera pans out to a wide shot of the terminal. This sets the tone on how Viktor feels, and it did put some emotion into me. The storyline then progresses to how Viktor learns English slowly, meets up with various airport staff and befriends them, bumps into Amelia (who he falls in love with), and other events in the movie that I won’t spoil.  Although to me there some plot jumps and holes that are quite inconsistent, the storyline is very wholesome and deep and effectively tells Viktor’s story.

Overall, I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see something different from Spielberg.

For CNETFan-ers: Americans who like Rugby

This post is too big for a tweet, so I’ll put it here. I remember a discussion in the CNETFans chatroom where some members stated that they liked rugby better than gridiron football. I never got to ask which code of rugby they preferred, since there are two and Americans tend to refer to both codes with ‘rugby’.  So to those CNET fans I was talking to, they could be in my follow list – which rugby code were you referring to?

Enemy Of The State: Someone’s Always Watching

Enemy of the State is an action film starring Will Smith, Gene Hackman and Jon Voight.  The main plot of the movie centres around a bill in Congress which would expand surveillance powers to the law enforcement agencies of the United States, an assassinated Congressman’s attempt to stop it – assassinated by the National Security Agency (NSA). Will Smith’s character, lawyer Robert Clayton Dean, is crossed by an old friend who happened to indirectly witness the assassination. From there he is caught in the middle of the NSA’s attempt to cover up the assassination.  Some events of the movie are eerily similar to a real-life event in the United States, where then-President George W. Bush signs in The Patriot Act, which, like the movie, increased surveillance powers of the law enforcement agencies after the effects of September 11. The film brings up the philosophical issue of surveillance of citizens and the political motivation to produce and maintain a society that is subject to what they want – disregarding the feelings of the individual. Since the movie it set in the United States, a link to the relevant American legislature will be evident in this blog post.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, as part of the Bill of Rights of the United States, protects citizens from unwarranted surveillance, stating:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In the movie, a group within the NSA under the corrupt influence of Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight) uses every means possible to track down Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith) and Brill (Gene Hackman) in order to cover up the assassination of a Congressman. The use of such sophisticated tracking equipment, while within the realm of cinematic licence, is obviously a breach of Dean’s and Brill’s Fourth Amendment Rights. This very disciplinary method is contrary to Foucault’s philosophy of social regulation (Falzon, 2007, p. 170). Foucault states that such disciplinary power should not curb or crush individuals, but rather slowly change them (Falzon, 2007, p. 170). What the rogue NSA agents did was the opposite of how Foucault described “discipline”, they were crushing the very lives of Dean and Brill in order to get a piece of evidence. This was a clear violation of privacy using extremely sophisticated methods of surveillance (Falzon, 2007, p. 174).

The need for surveillance in today’s society is a hotly debated issue. It can be said that surveillance has two sides – one that can enforce social divisions and alike, and one that can help prevent serious crimes (Taylor, 2002, p. 66). Although there can be a third side to surveillance – to protect any covert interests of the government. This is presented evidently in the film. The NSA didn’t use surveillance to enforce social divisions, nor it prevented serious crimes. They did it to ensure a crucial piece of evidence didn’t get leaked to the public. In conclusion, Enemy Of The State brought aware a problem with surveillance in society today. With the passing of the Patriot Act in the United States, it brings the events within the movie a bit closer to home.

References
The Bill of Rights of the United States of America. Retrieved June 7, 2010 from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html

Falzon, C. (2007). Antz – Social and Political Philosophy. In Philosophy Goes To The Movies. New York: Routledge.

Taylor, N. (2002). State Surveillance and the Right to Privacy. In Surveillance & Society. 1(1). Retrieved June 4, 2010 from http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/ojs/index.php/journal/article/view/53/53