Looking for an honest game review

Tycho over at Penny Arcade has some telling remarks about a classic case of corruption in the PC game world: Gamespot’s 6.0 review of Kane & Lynch, which apparently angered Eidos enough to get the veteran reviewer – who seems to have been pretty generous with his 6.0 – fired.

As I feel comfortable with trusting Tycho with my life, I think I’ll find another games review site to peruse. Gamespot has gotten increasingly bloated visually in the last few years, anyway, and the reviews seem to get posted slower and slower as time goes on. A game review really needs to appear before a game is released, preferably a few days beforehand, not weeks after. Changes in the industry, perhaps.


H and I purchased a Wii recently. They’re very scarce at the moment. I went to Wolfchase last Sunday morning, and spotted a young couple coming out of Toys R Us with a suspecious-looking shopping bag – something white inside, boxy, approximately the right size… and they had a shipment of 50 or so inside.

Those less fortunate may have to go to Ebay, where they run about $400 a pop, not including games, a second controller, etc, etc.

H’s parents have one, so I knew it wasn’t a dud. I haven’t bought a console since the first Playstation – and I was very slow about it then – but I think this one is a good buy for the social value alone. Only the hardcore gamers play the PC games that I do, but the Wii is very friendly and accessible to non-gamers, as well as both children and adults. It’s also cheaper.

I particularly enjoy the bowling and golf games on the Sports disk that comes with the console. They may be simple, but they are FUN, which is the crowning achievement for any game. The controller is extremely interesting – revolutionary, perhaps – and I eagerly await the inevitable lightsaber game. They may have to upgrade the controller for it, though, somehow – I’m not sure vibration would be enough to simulate the resistance of another blade, which I think would be the major stumbling block for minimum realism.

Once a lawyer

A reasonable analysis of Clinton’s campaign in the WSJ.

Despite her long exposure to the national limelight, she came late in life to a political career of her own, and has worked to develop her own voice. For example, she has never found it easy to give simple answers to questions. As First Lady, she once listened as White House press secretary Joe Lockhart briefly distilled for President Clinton what he, the aide, would tell reporters about some complex foreign-policy news.

She took him aside afterward, he says. “How do you do that?” she asked. “I need to learn how to do that. I was trained as a lawyer — I’ve always made an argument in paragraphs. I need to learn to speak in sound bites.” That was his clue, he recalls, that she was contemplating a Senate run.

Interesting take on how her approach to political rhetoric has changed over the years; she’s learned how to simplify from lawyer-jargon. That didn’t help her in the last debate, though, as she is still somewhat unwilling to give quick, decisive answers on charged topics. It doesn’t help, of course, that on the campaign trail, a single misplaced qualifier can erase weeks of careful stumping.

As the article details later on, she has made up her mind never to apologize for the Iraq vote. At this point she’s probably right to do so, speaking purely in a cynical manner – she needed to clean that slate long before her opponents took up the anti-war rhetoric.

The old model of persuasion

“I hoped that the time would come when the leaders of the church would receive the inspiration to change the policy,” Mr. Romney said. When he heard over a car radio in 1978 that the church would offer blacks full membership, he said, he pulled over and cried. But until then, he deferred to church leaders, he said. “The way things are achieved in my church, as I believe in other great faiths, is through inspiration from God and not through protests and letters to the editor.”

From the NYT’s cover story on Mitt Romney.

In other words, persuasion and action do not come from humans, but from God. This is essentially the same position as Origen (3rd century) and his predecessors. And I still get asked why early Christian rhetoric is relevant today. This man wants to be President so he can be God’s instrument.

Now, if one is going to choose a presidental candidate based on faith, I’d think a candidate that hears a God telling him to do great and noble things, or even one who is doing great and noble things without getting specific marching orders, would be more appealing than one who is hearing a God who tells him to sit on his hands and be quiet for 14 years in his church after the Civil Rights Act.

Clearly, MLK and countless other Americans of those decades were not recieving any such message. You might even say they were listening to another God entirely; or, rather, they believed that they could not wait for a politically convenient time to carry out what they believed was God’s will all along.

Watching Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton duke it out, it is easy to lose perspective. Either one of them is vastly preferable to Romney on secularism alone, as neither is waiting for God to tell them to do good works. We already have an administation based on passive obediance and blind loyalty to authority – an arguably theological style of governing – and we don’t need another one.

I have no words

This NYT article on Antony Flew is one of the saddest things I’ve read in a long time. The poor guy has had his intellectual positions and authorship taken away from him, to be replaced by intelligent design supporters using him as a figurehead. I cannot think of many things that are more disgusting to do to someone.

Richard Carrier’s role in the affair was interesting; I’m familiar with him through his revisionist take on Metzger’s account of the canonization process, and his strident behavior here seems true to form. The article does not mention why Flew stopped writing Carrier, but the heavy implication is that someone – his new ghostwriters – stopped him.

Moving right along – prose rhythm

Not a single trick-or-treater (is that the technical term?) came by last night. On the whole, I don’t mind, as that means more candy for us.

I turned in my dissertation prospectus a few days ago, which means I can finally get this prose rhythm paper finished. I wonder how many times – in this blog alone – that I have claimed I was near finishing it. Lies, every one, pretty much. It’s amazingly difficult to find properly focused time to work on articles. But I’m so close!

The paper is superficially similiar to the paragraph article in CE, in that it’s an examination of a largely abandoned topic in composition/rhetoric – prose rhythm, which was a huge deal for the ancients and quite a few scholars around 1900-1940. There was, and occasionally still is, a desire to quantify it, and every such attempt has failed in some significant way. The reason for this seems to be that prose is expected to have rhythm, but not so much that it becomes poetry; thus good prose has just enough rhythm for us to tell that it flows better than some other piece of prose, but not enough to be systematized; it falls into an artistic gray area. If it was detectable, it would be poetry. As rhetoric should be hidden, obviously pleasing lines paradoxically become less persuasive; today we might say someone sounds too slick, too polished. Too much rhythm has an ethical price. Sometimes you have someone like MLK, though, where genre expectations allow him to escape that gray area – he has the rhetoric of speeches and preaching surrounding his words, and thus he has extra leeway to create obviously rhythmical structures.

Longinus’s method of adding and subtracting words to a line (more properly Cicero’s method) to see the effects on the rhythm would seem to be a way of getting around this problem, as it can show how subtle the structure of prose rhythm is, through looking at the whole of a sentence, paragraph, essay, or work under slightly altered circumstances. However, I’ve noticed that in English, prose rhythm is almost always tied to the teaching of literature, as it was in the classical period. I’d like to bring it into composition proper, though, and look at the rhythm in student essays. There have been some attempts in the past to do this, but they’re either regrettably obscure or overly pessimistic. Fred Newton Scott’s interest in the topic is particularly fascinating to me.

But anyway, I should be writing the damn paper, not babbling about it here.