Friday, January 29, 2010

New Look

Yeah, I know, I've only had this blog for a few days now and I'm already changing the look. But it's ok, I'm cool with that. You just have to click the speech bubble to comment. Also, in my Distributed Objects class, Dr. YurttaƟ talked a bit about HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and mentioned how he doesn't capitalize words. Ever. It's not because he doesn't know how, but rather because he likes it better stylistically. And I think I might too... If you don't believe me, check out his website. Luckily, there's an easy CSS tag you can apply to try it out.

And in the weird news of the day, apparently in Portland Oregon, a man set himself on fire. If that weren't enough, a nice police officer grabbed a nice big can of fire extinguisher and sprayed it on the man. Wait, did I say fire extinguisher? I meant pepper spray. But that's ok - the spray didn't fan the flames. In fact, "it didn't contribute to his death" either. I feel bad for laughing... But really, how ridiculous is this?

Moral of the story: Don't set yourself on fire. And don't die. (Doctor's orders.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tower Offense - Week 1

Because our first game design progress presentation will be held on Friday, I thought it would be helpful to make a list here of the things we have already completed or will (hopefully) by then.

(Mostly) Completed
  • A resizable window displaying a canned test simulation
  • The classes and interfaces composing our program organization
  • The data structures and methods to fill them
  • Textures including an empty field, paths in all directions, and one creep 
  • The ability to draw a static background consisting of a field, a path, and towers
  • The ability to draw dynamic elements such as moving creeps
  • The AI to test path validity and generate new tower position
  • The logic to move the creeps and to instruct the towers where to attack
Probable Upcoming
  • Updated textures that will be of higher resolution and contain transparency
  • Additional textures such as a tower and tertiary eye candy
  • Prototypes for splash or game over screens
  • Sound effects for menu interaction, game action, and possibly music for before/during/after game
  • A prototype for the interactive menu
If I'm missing anything, let me know. Otherwise, I think we've done a solid amount of work for one week and I'm very optimistic about our vision for the final project. We'll try to make a release build every time we update our code, so you can access it directly from the SVN in the Release folder (download everything in the files in the left hierarchy menu) or by accessing our files at the Tower Offense Website. If you do download the game, let us know what you think!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A New Breed of Crazy

Sometimes, certain brands of crazy are so bizarre that they don't even merit responses. They make you ask yourself, "Are these people really trying to be legitimate, or have I lost the ability to see through trolls?" And I'm really hoping it's the latter.

I was on YouTube tonight when I came across a reaction to this video, "Raise The Dead." I'm not going to expect you to watch the whole thing, but I'd like to give you a piece of the transcript.

I want to talk to you today about raising the dead. It's a reality that's happening all over the world today, in increasing momentum and numbers. Many people are being raised from the dead all over the United States and the third world countries all around the world. It's a very exciting day to be living in. Did you know that Jesus actually commanded us to raise the dead? Isn't that something?

Yes, it is quite something. I'm not very inclined to believe that it's a "reality" since, I don't know, I'd think more people would have heard about it - especially if it happened in the US. Unfortunately, in case his baseless claims weren't enough, he goes on.

He said we could. He commanded us in the context of sending out the disciples, of whom we are, to raise the dead. [He then quotes Matthew 10:7-8.] You know, the evidence of the presence of the operation of the Kingdgom of God is this - it's these very things. The sick are healed, the leopards [sic] are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the demons are cast out.

Wow, so now all Christians are commanded to heal lepers and resurrect dead people? Man, Jesus has been really behind on his death reversal quota. That's no surprise though, and I doubt anyone would really disagree with me. The reason we know people don't come back to life is because it doesn't actually happen. But that's no problem for this guy, as he continues:

Westernized Christians, I believe, have made raising the dead much too difficult. It's like this unapproachable place where you have to have this ultimate super level of hyper-faith, and if you don't have it, don't even try it. Can I just tell you that's really not true?

Oh, dear God. (Literally.) You know, what? Maybe he's right. Maybe we are making it too difficult. After all, it shouldn't be that hard. Just, you know, uh... pray and stuff and everything will be OK! Their lifeless corpses will suddenly spring back to life, looking for a hot meal and a warm bed! Sounds like this guy's legit with no chance of insincerity.

It takes faith, that is true. But don't talk yourself out of it. Let me give you a story about how God used me to raise two people from the dead. Maybe that will help you have some courage to do the very same thing.

NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! And here I was having so much fun, pounding this guy, when all the while he has two stories up his sleeve. Let's listen to his irrefutable story.

I was in Uganda, Africa, doing some crusades, preaching and teaching there which I love to do. One afternoon I was in a large meeting ... and was about 2/3 the way through my message when they came through and interrupted me. And they asked me to come and pray for this woman. ... And so I consented and went with them and I'm walking with them about ten minutes away from the place where we were meeting. ... Here I am with two guys (I don't know them) and I'm walking out in this tall grass in Africa ... All of a sudden, we come upon this African woman laying face down in the dirt in the grass, dead. And I mean, very dead. Where rigor mortis had set in. I don't know how many hours that takes but she was stiff...

Yes, that's what the world needs now - more crusades! In all seriousness though, what the heck does it mean to be "very dead?" Is it more dead than regular dead? Had she already moved past the first circle of hell? You're not a doctor and you don't even pretend to be, nor am I sure what (if anything) in this story is true. Of course you wouldn't know how long it takes for rigor mortis to set in (about twelve hours). But you don't care and neither do I.

If you moved one part of her body, her whole body moved, so I knew she had been dead for a while. Now I looked at her and I looked at the guys, and this is what I'm thinking: "Couldn't this have waited? This woman's dead. I mean, where is she going? Are you with me?"

Oh yeah, I'm with you. You and two guys found this dead chick in a field and some crazy stuff's 'bout to happen. I'm all ears.

I mean I was not in a hyper-faith super, you know, faith mode here. I was preaching a meeting, I was disrupted, I was brought to find a woman who was dead. So I looked at this woman and was mad at the devil that he made her dead to interrupt my meeting and a little upset with these guys and I just looked at that woman and said, "I command you in the name of Jesus to come to life, now!" And you know what?

Yeah, that's usually my first thought when I stumble upon a dead corpse. "Damn you, Satan! If only you had used your invisible wiles to kill someone else that wouldn't have interrupted my preaching!" But of course, it didn't stop there. He had to take it one notch above eleven on the crazy scale and just command that dead woman as though she could hear him. I'd like to hear what happens next...
And she did. She sat straight up.


Out of being totally dead - her eyes were very wide. I don't know if she'd ever seen a white man. I could not imagine what was going through her mind. She jumped up and began to run as fast as she could away from us.

Unbelievable. You supposedly raised her from the dead and you think her face is full of surprise because you're a WHITE MAN?! Words can't express. How about this explanation: You didn't actually check the body but rather screamed into the ears of a woman napping in the shade, scaring the hell out of her? How does that sound for a plausible explanation?

This guy goes on talking about how the guys tackled her and brought her back to the pastor's house where she stole some money, leaped out a window, got tackled again, and eventually accepted Jesus Christ and is now a living Christian. I won't give you the details, but rest assured it's a funny story that you really just have to hear to get the full impact.

He then starts talking about how later, he came upon a baby that had died, which caused him to have compassion saying, "Baby, you're too young to die," so he literally loved it back to life. I'm not kidding. I was rolling in my seat, laughing at the hilarity of the story. It's not so funny in itself, but rather in the sincere way the man is telling it. That story starts at 6:05 in the clip and I highly recommend you watch it. It's really just too good to pass up.

Now I'm really not saying that all Christians are like this or that this guy represents anything the readers of this blog do. But I wonder, if he really thinks that he has this power, why doesn't he just go on nationwide hospital tours healing every sick and dead man, woman, and baby? I'm sure he could make a decent living from his resurrection ministry donations. Hell, even if he didn't, anybody who had that power and didn't use it in a similar way wouldn't be worth spitting on. He could at least use his "hyper-faith" (whatever that is) and pray everyone on the globe back to perfect health. That certainly isn't out of the question for an omnipotent God.

But he won't, He won't, and He doesn't. You don't have to be a computer scientist to figure out that this guy is full of crap. I'm only responding to this because I do think that there are some people who would take this man at his word and think it somehow proves something. They would then go on to use it as a witnessing tool and end up frustrated in a corner when their life-restoring powers aren't quite up to par.

If Jesus tells us to raise the dead, that's actually significant. You can add this to the list of things the Bible promises but doesn't deliver on (with powers to heal the sick by praying, speaking in tongues, and drinking poison). I'm not trying to rag on the Bible or Christianity or Christians in general, but I just couldn't resist commenting on something as hilarious as this. If you thought this was funny or if you disagree, leave me a comment and let me know.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Creationist Inanity

I've long switched from accepting the delusion of wishful thinking to the reality of science, but I'm still subscribed to the creationist propaganda machine Answers In Genesis's weekly newsletter. It provides me with at least a good chuckle now and then, but as time goes on it just gets more absurd. So, for my own enjoyment, I'd like to go through it piece by piece and show just how shallow their arguments are.

"Evolution requires death. At its core, Darwin’s postulate appeals to the power of death to remove those less able to survive so that the “more fit” can take their place. Natural selection, in this Darwinian sense, toils mindlessly on, removing individuals, populations, and even entire species. Whether something—or someone—lives or suffers, Darwinism offers only the cold machinations of time and death. Anything more would require existential purpose, after all, and that cannot be allowed."

It's interesting how creationists always use the term "Darwinism" as a pejorative, as though everything we know now relies on what Charles Darwin thought 150 years ago. Nonetheless, assuming for the moment that the term is synonymous with "evolutionary theory," we'll move on. Life requires death. Even in the so-called perfect Garden of Eden, you still have animals that require meat to survive (aka carnivores). Thus, no matter how you slice it, death is just a part of the world. The laws of nature and the laws of physics don't see anything special about death - it's just how the world operates. You may personally see death in a negative light due to your metaphysical perceptions or beliefs, but that doesn't change what is or should be. Everything that happens in this world is the result of "cold machinations of time" - it's just a fact. And who ever said that purpose is or isn't a part of evolutionary theory? Is there a purpose to stars forming and exploding in space, especially ones outside our short range of view? If not, then why should we assume anything more about the natural laws that operate on our small planet?

"Evolution, in an atheistic worldview, is morally neutral. When tragedies strike, evolution cannot tell us something is detrimental. Death, after all, can neither be untimely or tragic, since death is the means by which “progress” is made."

Another creationist assumption - that evolution is solely a part of an atheistic worldview. There are millions of Christians that do believe in the fact of evolution (and it isn't required for atheism either, just for future reference). Is it a tragedy when an ape, fox, or mosquito dies due to natural (or unnatural) causes? Progress happens when animals are born with more advantageous traits, not when living animals die.

"If we take the idea of “survival of the fittest” to its logical conclusion, it seems almost absurd for anyone who accepts the story of evolution to think of death as being the enemy. Whether through human actions, animal attacks, or natural disasters, what value can we attach to those lives if they are nothing more than “stardust” after billions of years?"

It depends who's putting value on the lives. Value is, after all, a human conception and not a physical variable. But again, it's not the death that is useful to evolution but the appearance of more useful traits that are passed along to new members of the population. To answer the rhetorical question, it depends what lives we're talking about. I don't, for example, place any value to the lives of bedbugs, mosquitoes, tomatoes, potatoes, or fish. I place a value on human lives and the lives of animals that I deem worthy for personal or societal reasons.

"In fact, the consistent atheist could even rejoice that nature has eliminated competitors for resources with the death of those unable to survive such events. Of course, few, if any, rational humans would hold this viewpoint, and atheism certainly doesn’t remove compassion. However, this is the ultimate fruit of Darwin’s anti-God philosophy: no death can be bad according to evolution."

They could rejoice. Or they might not. Whether people do or not has nothing to do with their views on a god. There is some beauty to be had in nature, but there is also some ugliness. I wish that viruses could be wiped out, that poisonous plants that could kill me would wither away, and that any animal that tries to attack me would drop dead as I punch it in the face, but nature doesn't care what I want. Atheism doesn't remove compassion because atheism is simply the lack of a belief in God - nothing more, nothing less. Darwin didn't have an anti-God philosophy any more than Galileo did when he discovered that the sun didn't revolve around the earth. It may contradict a literal interpretation of the Genesis story/ies in chapters 1 and 2, but that would at most make it an anti-God philosophy, not an anti-god one. Death can be good or bad, and it's especially bad in the case of my death.

This four-paragraph blurb is nothing more than an equivocating appeal to consequence and it even fails at that. Creationists are desperate to push their agendas on anyone willing to listen, but there's a reason nobody takes them seriously. That obvious reason is because the pseudo-science crap being shoveled out by the bagful at their website and museum is demonstrably wrong and is understood to be by anyone with a basic understanding of what evolutionary theory actually says. It's hard to believe that an organization like AiG continues to exist in an era where scientific information is so readily available to anyone willing to spend a few minutes reading. It's either ignorance or selective trust, but there's one thing I've always noticed about the informed - you can either be a Creationist or honest, pick one.

If you disagree, by all means leave me a comment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Game Design

Team Members:
  • Justin Kern - Viz/Art
  • Drew Reagan - Programmer
  • John Laky - Programmer
  • Brett Hlavinka - Scope Creep
For our first project in the class, we are thinking of doing a reverse modification of Tower Defense. The idea is to have the computer control the placement and type of defenses and the user will draw the path and summon the creeps to hopefully make it to the goal state. The challenging task will be to make it so that there's never one perfect path through the state, but that some will be better than others. Think this or this, only with more defenses and more path options.

I think that once we have a concrete idea as to how this will work, it's going to turn out great. The biggest problem could end up being a lack of interactivity, so we may want to make it so that you can change the current path on-the-fly.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Post

Hey everybody! I want to keep track of my thoughts here and there and I figure a blog is a good way to do it.

So I'll start off by saying that I'm pretty excited for the Game Design class. I've never made a legit game, as most of the people in the class haven't, but that should make it all the more fun right?

I'm currently reading The Case For Christ because some nice people at my church gave me the book after they found out that I don't believe anymore. I've looked into the issue of the historicity of the New Testament quite a bit and I find Lee Strobel to be one of the more irritating apologists out there (especially after having read "The Case for Creation" - terrible). Nevertheless, there's always more knowledge to be had so I'll read it all the way through and see if I learned something.

New Number One Gun CD coming out soon! I can't wait for To the Secrets & Knowledge, especially having been addicted to their last CD for so long.