The Second Great Monkey Island Race of 2010

December is always host to a number of traditions. Since last year, however, a new one has been added to December's traditions: The Second Great Monkey Island Race (The First one is in the summer). It all started last year when some cool people on TellTale Games' forums decided to celebrate the release of Tales of Monkey Island chapter 5: Rise of the Pirate God by playing a marathon of all 5 Monkey Island games, streaming it on livestream, and see who would be faster. Loads of people (Myself included) watched it on livestream and had lots of fun in the chatbox, but neither of the participants managed to finish the race, as the ~20 hours of straight gameplay meant gamers fell asleep on their keyboards and internet connections exploded.

However, a second and third race where done over the past year, spread out over multiple days these times, which I participated in too (Finishing exactly in the middle in both races). And now, a fourth race has started. The thread for it is here, and my own livestream, where I will stream each game as I play them (times can be found at the bottom of this post), is found here.

If you like Monkey Island, you should definitely try participating or watching a few streams. The chatbox really makes it a fun experience, and sometimes times can be thrillingly close.

The times on which I will stream are:
The Secret of Monkey Island, Special Edition: 27 December, 19:00 GMT
Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge, Special Edition: 27 December, 23:00 GMT
The Curse of Monkey Island: 28 December, 19:00 GMT
Escape from Monkey Island: 29 December, 19:00 GMT
Tales of Monkey Island: 30 December, 19:00 GMT


A very special day

Today it's 25 December. Of course, this is a very special day, that everyone should celebrate, including Platypus Pancakes: It's "Let's annoy colourblind people day"! Of course, especially for this reason, the entire site has been redesigned so that many colourblind people will not be able to read it. And for all you people who are living in the future, I'll keep that design for this one post. And for all you people who are living in the past... How did you manage to read this post?


I've been missing out on retirement money

Here is an interesting website called URLAI, which analyses the text on a given URL and provides statistics of who the writer most likely is. Of course, I couldn't resist it, so I tested this blog:

"platypuspancakes.blogspot.com is probably written by a male somewhere between 66-100 years old. The writing style is personal and happy most of the time."

I'm actually 19 years old, so that's way off the mark. The actual statistics show that my scores for each age group were pretty close together, though, so they didn't mess it up as bad as it seems from the statement.

Winter solstice

Winter solstice just passed (At 23:38 UTC, to be precise). That means the Earth has just passed the point in its orbit where the North Pole is pointing farthest away from the Sun, and as such it's the longest night on the northern hemisphere (And of course 21 and 22 December are logically this year's shortest days, with the Sun lowest on the sky thanks to that). From now on, the Sun will be getting higher and higher in the sky and the days will get longer and the nights shorter.

Yet, strangely, winter has officially only just started. I think it's kind of weird that the season we generally identify will cold and snow and the sort is actually the season where the Sun is climbing higher. This kind of weird placement of the seasons also means most of March is in the winter, even though the weather frequently can get very warm in March. If I had designed the seasons, I wouldn't have had them go from solstice to equinox or equinox to solstice, but I would have had the solstices and equinoces in the middle of each season: Winter would be from 6 November to 6 February, Spring would be from 6 February to 6 May, Summer from 6 May to 6 August, and Autumn from 6 August to 6 November. Like that, the seasons would follow the weather and the position of the Sun much better than the system we use now.

Anyway, spare a thought for the poor people living on the tropic of capricorn who now have the Sun shine from straight above them. Must be awfully warm, and frankly I greatly prefer the cold and snow we are experiencing over here.


A historic occasion

Welcome, everybody, to a historic occasion, as you will today read several phrases that, according to Google, have never been spoken on the internet before!

"there are actually intelligent people on the internet"
"their curtains were eaten"
"no mr potato heads were harmed in the making"
"set a platypus on fire"
"is there a faith healer in the room"
"jar jar binks rocks your socks off"
"i would die for my twitter account"
"twilight is not awful at all"
"strangled with an old sock"
"lived on a diet of giraffe meat"
"had his eyes poked out with commas"
"noses fighting crime"
"gandhi wielding a chainsaw"
"got eaten by a garden gnome"
"luxembourgers and witches"

It's a bit of a surprise to me that none of these were used before. Several of them would be quite amusing incidents. "gandhi wielding a chansaw" and "luxembourgers and witches" could make for great villains for some story. (The Luxembourgers hate the fact that their country is so small, so they team up with witches to turn every foreigner into the world into a frog) Others, like the ones about Jar Jar Binks and Twilight are of course not surprising at all.

Noble gases

And the results of the first weekly poll are in!

Poll 1: What is your favourite noble gas?
Helium: 1 (33,3%)
Argon: 1 (33,3%)
Ununoctium: 1 (33,3%)
Neon: 0 (0%)
Krypton: 0 (0%)
Xenon: 0 (0%)
Radon: 0 (0%)

Total votes: 3

Well, the clear conclusion from these results is that not enough people read this blog and/or voted in the poll. Hopefully, the new poll, asking what type of undead you'd prefer to become will draw more votes, so that we can finally get a statistically significant answer to these questions that mankind has so long pondered upon.

People at the cinema

Today I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1. The movie itself was pretty good, though it got a bit too slow at the middle. Certainly a lot better then the previous three movies, which rushed through things way too quickly and skipped too much. I got a bit annoyed by two people there, though:

First, there was a lady who decided to call someone in the middle of the movie. She wasn't just rude enough to leave her phone on, but she actually called someone to tell that person she was at the movie: "Hey, I'm at the movie." "The movie." "No, I can't speak louder, because I'm at the movie!". Of course, people "shh"'d her, and asked her to turn off the phone, so she told them to be quiet, as they were interrupting her call. She was removed by the cinema's personnel about a minute later (She still hadn't manage to tell the person she was calling that she was at the movie), but who starts calling people during a movie? And it wasn't even at the somewhat sluggish part where Harry, Ron, and Hermione camp, but during the part where they infiltrate the ministry.

The second person who annoyed me did so at the end of the movie, when everyone was starting to leave. I heard him saying to someone "Well, that was way too complicated, I couldn't understand a thing, even though I watched that one with the Goblet of Fire a couple years back!" Seriously, what did this guy expect? He went to see the seventh part of a movie franchise without having seen five of the six movies that precede it (and probably having read none of the books), and he's surprised he didn't understand the plot?

A third person made my day by saying something similarly stupid, though: "Wow, what a depressing ending. I though Harry would beat Voldemort or something, but they just give up because Dobby died?" I overheard while walking to the exit. Heh, don't mind the "Part 1" that was printed pretty much everywhere, dude.


One million things that would really ruin my day, part one

nr. 9: Being force-fed a live frog.
nr. 32: A guy in a clown costume following me around.
nr. 2761: The Moon blowing up.
nr. 7765: Someone talking to me about football (either actual football or american football).
nr. 744: Someone switcheroo'ing my pair of shoes for three left shoes.
nr. 7239: Luxembourg building a doomsday weapon.
nr. 5: Christmas ornaments.
nr. 51421: A man with five nostrils.
nr. 50729: Being showered in rabbit droppings.
nr. 667569: EA games buying any other gaming company.
nr. 7050: A dog spitting in my face.
nr. 743687: The Blue Men Group throwing a stone through my window.
nr. 24165: Someone mailing me his vomit.
nr. 39: Getting cremated while still alive.
nr. 20: Having no eyelids.
nr. 723759: Seeing nude pictures of John McCain.
nr. 723760: Actually, even hearing those exist would ruin my day.
nr. 29: Vikings buying the city.
nr. 4102: Morons gluing wigs to random people's heads. (Though if I were not included in the random people, that would be kind of funny)


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

(Spoilers ahead)
I am rereading the Harry Potter books one by one at the moment, and have finished The Order of the Phoenix yesterday. Overall, it was pretty great, but there were two things that annoyed me:

First of all, the book is huge. It contains almost 800 pages, and at page 250 (at that page, The Philosophers' Stone was already over) the story was at the Friday of Harry's first week at Hogwarts. Now, I don't mind the length of the story (Hey, more of it to enjoy), but the physical size of it. You have to read the book on a table or some other form of support, as your hands quickly tire from holding it. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if you could beat someone to death with the hardcover edition (You can take it on an aeroplane, though).

Second, and more importantly, why was Harry being such a complete idiot at the end? When he and the DA rushed off to the Ministry of Magic to save Sirius Black, I mean. I counted no less than seven things Harry could have done, six of which would have prevented the battle in the Department of Mysteries and thus Sirius' death, while the seventh would have just prepared them better:

1: Harry could have just looked in the mirror Sirius had given him for Christmas to check if Sirius was at Grimmauld Place. Yeah, he had forgotten about Sirius' present and not unwrapped it, but how likely is that? He wanted to talk to Sirius all the time, and Sirius had specifically told him to use it when he wanted to talk to him. And wouldn't Sirius at some point start wondering why Harry wasn't using the mirror and sending him a letter "Dear Harry, are you enjoying your christmas present? -Snuffles" to remind him of it? Or remind him when Harry talked to him after seeing Snape's memory?
2: Harry could have just gone to Snape, who's in the Order. Since this one is acknowledged in the book, I guess I can give Rowling a pass on it.
3: He could have asked a friendly seventh year student (say, Lee Jordan) to Apparate to Fred and George Weasley's joke shop and tell them to check on Sirius. They're in the Order too, after all.
4: Or he could have cut out the middle man and used the DA coins (Which they still had, as noted in The Deathly Hallows) to alert them.
5: When he broke into Umbridge's office to check on Sirius, why did he only stick his head in the fire, instead of just walking through it to look for Sirius himself instead of asking Kreacher? Walking through it would have three advantages: He wouldn't have to trust Kreacher's word, he wouldn't have to sit in an uncomfortable position, and if Umbridge unexpectedly returned to her office (Which she did), he wouldn't be caught.
6: When Snape pretended not to understand Harry's "He's got Padfoot in the place where it's kept!", Harry could have just realised Snape would say that whether he understood or not which Umbridge in the room. Harry should've just checked on Snape before rushing off to the Ministry after Umbridge got kidnapped by the centaurs. Even if Snape hadn't understood, Harry would've had a chance to tell him then, and since Snape can Apparate, he could've gotten to London much faster even if he had found Sirius had actually been taken there.
7: When they arrived at the Ministry, they could've realized Arthur Weasley and Kingsley Shlacklebolt work there, and asked them for help.

I guess that just goes to show why the series doesn't focus on a group of Ravenclaw students, despite Ravenclaw clearly being a much cooler house than Gryffindor.


Movie Idea

I had an idea for a really weird movie just now. It may have already be done, in which case I'd like to watch that movie. Anyway, so here's the idea:

The movie starts as a slapstick comedy about two neighbours, let's call them Bob and Joe, who are having an argument because Bob's tree blocks the Sun from Joe's garden. They start throwing weird stuff at each other and make goofy plans to make each other's lives miserable and general hilarity ensues.
That night, both go to sleep, but they hear something and weird things happen while the film's style has rather abruptly shifted to a creepy film noir-ish style while they try to find out what's going on.
It turns out to be aliens sneaking around their houses. As the style shifts to Sci-fi, Bob and Joe each make contact with a different alien species, and when the aliens find out the other aliens have made contact with the other neighbour, they decide to each ally themselves with Bob/Joe, and a galactic war erupts over the matter, with Bob and Joe each commanding one side.
A while later, Bob and Joe each land on the same planet, and fighting erupts between them and their troops in a tragic war movie style.
It turns out, however, that this planet has some rather gruesome monsters turning it into horror, and one of them trails Bob, but just before it can kill him, his wife gives her life to save him.
Next comes some sad tragic angsty stuff where Bob grieves over his wife's death and blames himself and that sort of stuff.
However, Bob meets a girl, let's call her Bertolli, who helps him get over it and enters in a relationship with him while the movie takes a turn for the romantic.
Bob discovers that the only way to defeat Joe and his army of aliens is with a certain lost artifact. Joe and Bertolli go look for this artifact, which is buried somewhere in an ancient temple, in adventurous Indiana Jones style.
They find this artifact, and next they fight loads of aliens in brainless action movie style.
Finally, they confront Joe, who suddenly starts singing, and the movie ends with a sudden musical ending.

If this movie was really made, it would probably get very poor reviews and be a complete financial flop, but it might end up becoming a cult film. I think it would be a funny experiment to make a movie like this.


The Vatican feels offended

Apparently the Vatican felt offended by the investigations into the child abuse that came to light last year. Are they fucking kidding? They swore the victims to secrecy and transferred the rapists to protect them from the law, and they have the nerve to be offended by a investigation?
Personally, I feel offended too, but by the fact that every civilised country on the planet didn't immediately break up and outlaw the catholic church, as that is exactly what would have happened if it had been a secular organisation (say an orphanage or a school) that covered up for their members who had raped children placed in their care.
Now, someone might say "Well, closing down the catholic church would be going against freedom of religion." No, it wouldn't, as no one would be forced to renounce their catholicism (that would be a very nasty thing, indeed), it's just the organisation I'm talking about.
Let us also not forget that this was hardly the first misdeed the church committed. There's their denial of condoms protecting against AIDS (To anyone who thinks that, there is a real easy way to test this: the HIV virus is about 500 times the size of an oxygen molecule. If you're right, that means oxygen could easily move through a condom. Please pull a condom over your head and see what happens.), which contributes to the immense spread of AIDS in Africa. There's their continuing discrimination against women and homosexuals, their condemning of contraceptives, contributing to overpopulation and poverty, their remaining silent during the Holocaust, and of course there's older crimes like the Crusades, Inquisition, and suppression of early science.

Evidence of God

Before beginning, I should point out that I'm an atheist. I don't consider the existence of god(s) impossible, but I do consider the existence of a god about as improbable as the existence of gnomes or unicorns. Second, I am going to be using the word 'God' a lot in this post. I will not just be referring to the Judeochristian God, though, but to any and all gods.

A while back I got into an interesting debate with a Christian acquaintance of mine, during which I asked him what kind of evidence could convince him that God doesn't exist (or at least that his existence is very unlikely), to which he, like most other theists when asked a similar question, replied that nothing could convince him of that, as he had faith. Realizing that his belief was dogmatic and entirely unfalsifiable and that debating him probably wouldn't be of any use, I quickly ended the debate. I have wondered, though, if these are not hypocritical thoughts. Yes, if solid evidence for God's existence would turn up, I'd start believing in him, but I have never really thought about what I would consider solid enough evidence for God's existence. So I have been thinking about it now, and come up with several possibilities for evidence that could convince me I'm wrong:

First, a message from God himself would make me consider his existence very likely. I'm not talking about 3000 year old books or a bread in Wherethehelleveristan having spots that vaguely look like Jesus' face, though: I'm talking about the stars moving to form the phrase "I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me." (or a similar message. The actual content, I suppose, wouldn't really be important). If the stars actually did that, I'd be almost completely convinced of God's existence. Of course, it could be the work of aliens, but to move all those stars or create a highly complicated gravity-lensing effect, they would have to be a Type III civilisation on Kardashev's scale (I'm afraid I don't have time to talk about Kardashev's scale now, but it's an interesting topic and I will probably post about it in the future), and I think we would have detected such a civilisation anywhere near us, as they would leave incredibly large traces of their existence on at least a whole galaxy. Besides, what could possibly be their motivation for such an act? Maybe they think we might become a problem in the future, so they're trying to slow down science by sending us into a religious dark age, but if they are, why not just wipe us out? They would have the power to move stars, after all.
A smaller version of the moving stars idea, like gigantic letters made of clouds in the sky or a gigantic voice out of nowhere saying a message, would work too, for me, though less convincingly so. It would be less convincing, as the technology needed to do such a thing would be much lower, and thus aliens doing it would be a lot more likely. Still, it does seem highly unlikely that aliens would bother doing something as weird as that, so I'd say God would still be a likelier source of such a message.
I would not be convinced, though, by any message that only I could percieve. If I start hearing a voice in my head that tells me it's God, Occam's Razor says that the most likely explanation is that I've gone delusional, and I'd visit a psychiatrist, not a church.

A second thing that would make me consider God's existence a lot more likely would be a miracle. The miracle would have to be well-documented, repeatable, and completely unexplainable by science, though. And of course, if a natural explanation for the miracle was ever found afterwards, I'd reverse my judgement on the matter.

An accurate prophecy would also make me consider God's existence very likely. It would have to clearly refer to an event that was in the future when the text was written, though, preferably containing exact names and years. If the Bible contained a phrase like "In the year 2667 ad Urbe condita, the Archduke of a land called Austria-Hungary, which will be situated in Dacia, will be assassinated by a Gavrilo Prinzip, and this will lead to war between Germania, Britannica, Gallia, and Scythia.", I would consider this a very compelling piece of evidence. I would not be convinced, though, by vagaries that could refer to World War II, 9/11, the Chernobyl catastrophe, or your mother's awful cooking depending on your interpretation.

This one kind of fits in with the prophecies: if holy books contained accurate scientific knowledge that hadn't been discovered yet at the time, I would consider this strong evidence for God's existence. If in a holy book it would clearly and unambiguously say that the Earth orbits around the Sun, which moves around the centre of the Milky Way, or if it accuratly predicted the properties of Uranium and identified it as having 95 protons and 144 neutrons long before it was even discovered, this would be very strong evidence indeed. Or if it contained advanced medical knowledge about penicillin and vaccins (Why indeed didn't Jesus give his followers knowledge about those and lighten the burden of 18 centuries of diseased people?), or something like that.

Another thing that would convince me of God's existence would be if one particular religious groups significantly lived longer, healthier, and happier lives than everyone else and won all their holy wars, as long as this is not explainable by any other factors. Prayer from this group actually being clinically proven to improve a diseased person's health would also help convince me.

Now, if God actually existed, most of these evidences would be pretty easy for him. I admit the stars thing may be a bit too big (after all, he'd have to disturb a whole lot of aliens by moving their homeworlds several lightyears), but letters in the clouds wouldn't be much trouble for a guy who created the universe, and it would get him loads of believers. If the Bible is to be believed, miracles used to happen all the time, so why can't we ever get one confirmed, especially considering that doing miracles is pretty much what God's job is all about? If he is omniscient, why are all his prophecies so incredibly vague, and why didn't he give humanity some accurate science and medicine? And if he actually existed and answered prayers, wouldn't my last possibility for evidence arise automatically?
Yet none of these pieces of evidence for god(s) are ever found. The reason why is simple, and it's the same reason that no biologist studying mushrooms has ever found a gnome living inside one: because gnomes don't exist, and neither does God.


Seventh time's a charm?

Welcome to Platypus Pancakes, nonexistant and/or future reader person. This blog may become a really awesome place. Or it may become a stagnant pool of suck that I stop updating after about a month like the six sites/blogs that came before it. Statistics suggest the second is more likely, as that scenario has happened six times to me and billions of times to the internet as a whole already.
Anyway, on this blog I will probably post some stuff that interests me. It may interest you too, in which case you should probably follow this blog using the button in the "Followers" box to the right.