Your Tax Dollars At Work

Just stumbled across this piece. “Feds Wonder Why Fat Girls Can’t Get Dates“.

To my amazement, more than half a million dollars was allocated in grants to explore why overweight obese fat girls lose out in the dating arena.

To those of us up here in the cheap seats, the answer is obvious: The vast majority of men do not find overweight obese fat women attractive. There. I said it. Let the games begin… If you don’t believe me, just look at the contortions and poses that overweight obese fat girls go to in order to hide their true size in their online profile photos.

For those who need to know — or care — here is a brief guide to what men find attractive in women.

  • Slim
  • Hourglass figure (waist-to-hip ratio is more important than size)
  • Long Hair
  • Good teeth/nice smile
  • Smooth skin/symmetrical features.
  • Few piercings/fewer or no tattoos
  • Friendly/good-natured

After reading the above, I am sure several heads of women wearing comfortable shoes exploded. But that’s the way it is. You can howl and yowl and argue and complain all you like, but you can’t argue with biology anymore than men can argue with the Hallmark Channel, selfies and attention-seeking on Facebook (which is why we don’t bother). So let me acquaint you with the underlying biological reality.

At the back of every man’s brain dwells a caveman, whom we shall call Mister Ug. Now Mister Ug is biologically wired to reproduce as efficiently as possible by coupling with as many fertile women as he can. To this end, he is able to visually identify a female from about a mile away by her walk.

Naturally Mister Ug wants the best mothers for his offspring, so he will seek out the healthiest women he can find. Long hair is a good indicator of good health. Short, lank, damaged or no hair shows poor health. Same goes for smooth, unblemished skin. An hourglass figure signifies the win-win of (relatively) easy delivery of babies, and free food, and a slim waist is in indication for a healthy metabolism.

Yes, modern society, culture and, dare I say it, Feminism has made numerous attempts to kill off Mister Ug, but it is an effort that is bound for failure, as Mister Ug, the ancestor of all action heroes, refuses to die; it will be a long, long time before they can entirely wash away half a million years of biological best practices.

In the meantime, ladies, put down the donuts, lay off the chocolate, leave the cake alone (the cake is, after all, a lie). cut out the sugars and starches, avoid junk food, and learn to cook real food from scratch.

Looking Good

And if your butt is wider than you want it to be, stay out of restaurants unless you work there.

Can I have my half-million dollars now?

Where it all went wrong

The Healthcare Disaster in a nutshell

Her Ladyship recently had some routine blood-work done. Here is a rather disturbing excerpt from the bill.

BillWhat does this tell us?

  1. Insurance has made healthcare stupidly expensive – nearly two grand for a simple blood test? #YaGottaBeKiddinMe
  2. Insurance is mandatory – With insurance, the cost is about $125…
  3. The uninsured are up the creek without a paddle. …but without insurance, I would be on the hook for the full – ridiculously overpriced – amount.

This is mute testimony to the game that Health Insurance has become: the providers send massively overinflated bills to the Insurance companies, who then cut them down to size using specially-negotiated “sweetheart” deals – while those who have no insurance pay full price.

This is simply not right.

Arrrr!

Assassin’s Creed: Pirates reviewed

I never intended to buy this game. At $4.99, it was more than I am normally prepared to pay for a phone/tablet game. Funny how that works: we spend huge sums of money on hardware and phone data plans, then balk at spending a few bucks on a game. This seems particularly odd given that PC and Xbox games generally cost $20 to $60, while the vast majority of Android/iPhone games cost less than $5.

I remember when in bygone years game publishers used to bleat about how piracy was the reason that games were so expensive. That was before they abandoned the PC as a gaming platform, switched to Consoles, and piracy pretty much disappeared — and the prices stayed high. But I digress; that is another story for another time.

Fast-forward to the present, and at the other end of the playing field, the bottom has dropped out of the phone/tablet gaming market. My guess is that with the staggering number of free and freemium titles on offer, the idea of paying up front for a phone/tablet game seemed ridiculous.

This point was apparently not lost on UbiSoft, publishers of Assassin’s Creed: Pirates (ASP). Recently, they decided to lower the cost of entry from $4.99 to just ten cents. Naturally, I decided to give it a try. The experiment must have been a success, as they eventually made it now free-to-play; it is available in the Android Play Store or the Apple App Store.

The initial download is 7MB, but then it downloads a gigabyte or so of data before the game begins, so make sure that you are connected to wi-fi if you have to pay for bandwidth. This may seem like a lot, but it is worth it if you have the space, as you will find out later.

You play the part of one Alonzo Batilla, who starts the game as a prisoner tied up in the hold of a trading ship. He is unexpectedly liberated by a pirate named La Buse (“The Buzzard”) and promptly starts down the well-worn path towards piracy, plunder etc.

Now the first thing that any wannabe pirate needs is… a ship. La Buse gives him one — a pathetic little gunship with a few miserable peashooters for guns. Before long, however, he gets to upgrade to a bigger ship: a schooner named “The Wanderer”. There are bigger, more powerful ships available, from the aforementioned gunships and schooners to brigs, frigates, to the mighty Man O’ War. But those are expensive and at the start you don’t have the money.

Some ships — such as the schooner HMS Drake — are unlocked by completing a mission. Others like a brig with red sails called “The Dragon” can be acquired as part of an in-app-purchase. But most of them require the expenditure of good old-fashioned gold coins.

Big-ass Ship Ahoy!

Ah, Gold… beloved of dwarves, dragons and pirates. Gold can be earned by completing missions, sifting through the flotsam and jetsam of vanquished enemies, or just sailing around and picking up objects bobbing around in the water.

Even the best ship in a pirate fleet is nothing without a crew of scalawags, ruffians, ne’er-do-wells and other dregs of the sea. They can be found in the Tavern end pressed into service in return for then requisite number of gold coins, and range in skills — and price levels — from the humble ship’s boy (what’s his job, I wonder? Don’t ask…) to the First Mate. Each bring with them special abilities called “Perks”, which may be normal, rare, epic or legendary. The perks may then be equipped to various parts of your ship, and provide useful features like extra speed, repair, instant reload of all weapons, and advantageous changes in various game parameters, such as number/power/width of shots, area of influence, cooldowns and timers. Most perks can be upgraded in return for more of your hard-earned cash

A minor irritation: before you can play the game you have to navigate (geddit?) no less than three separate loading screens. When you start the program, you are presented with a video that can be skipped (but cannot be disabled), then on to the “Home” screen.

You then click on a “Play” button, which takes you to a map screen. Then you select the location, and finally board your ship to shiver your timbers and swash your buckle. The entire process takes a minimum of X seconds on my Nexus 7.

The first thing that I have to say about this game is that it is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The screenshots do not begin to capture the fluid elegance of your ship gliding across the water; the lush tropical scenery; the reflection of the land in the water; the water-running-down-the-screen-when-it’s-raining effect; your scurvy crew walking about on the ship… it really does feel like you are in a movie. Different types of weather are faithfully and lovingly recreated; from the mirror-like seas on a calm day to rough seas, storms and lightning in the middle of the night. Kudos to the programmers for doing such a beautiful job. How they managed to fit it all into about a gigabyte of data storage is beyond me.

The sound is also beautifully done. The creaking of the ship, the roar of the cannons. The symphonic soundtrack is nicely done, and reminds me of the music in a certain pirate movie franchise I would mention, but *ahem* won’t. Even when just sailing along, the crew are prone to break into song. This is quite pleasing at first, but after a few weeks of playing, it can get quite irritating.

The gameplay itself involves sailing around — either interactively or by dragging your ship in map view, completing various types of missions. Each region on the map has a “primary” mission, that forms part of the back-story. Completing the primary mission at one location unlocks one at the next. However, in addition, each map has a bunch of secondary missions, which include Assassination, Races, Fetch-the-Treasure, Survival, Supership and Search-and-Rescue.

In addition to those missions, you can go fishing, whale hunting, attacking slavers (they always escape, but they throw the slaves overboard, and you can pick them up to complete the mission) picking fights with Merchants or Naval Vessels, hunting for treasure, or just sailing around picking up flotsam and jetsam.

Stuff Ahoy!

Stuff Ahoy!

The combat model is turn-based, but very nicely done; enemy ships either fire cannons (which you must dodge) or lob explosives at you (which you must dispatch with a tap or a swipe).

Here Comes Trouble

Here Comes Trouble

Once it is your turn, you start with Round Shot, Swivel shot, and canister shot, and later upgrades and ships unlock the Mortar and Heavy Shot. The ships dance around in front of you, and when using the slower weapons such as Round Shot and Mortar it is important to remember to aim where the enemy ship is heading, not where it currently is.

This leads me to biggest criticism of the game — the lack of a cloud save feature. Given that the game encourages you to log in to FakesBook and Google Play, this is an egregious omission. Let me be clear: If your game supports In-App Purchases (IAPs), the ability to save your progress in the cloud is an absolute necessity.

For those of us who are geeks, this is not a problem: if you have a rooted device (all of mine are), Titanium backup can save the game and the data, thus safeguarding your investment of time, effort, and, possibly, cash.

A cloud-save feature also makes it possible to port your progress from one device to another; a highly desirable feature, as this game is something of a battery-killer, and can kill a typical smartphone or tablet battery in less than three hours.

A close second to the lack of a cloud-save feature is the support… or more specifically, the lack of it. UbiSoft has a dedicated support board for this game, but the extent of their participation seems to be limited to setting the board up; there is very little in the way of moderators answering technical or gameplay questions. Bloody useless in my opinion, and the sort of thing that large software houses are (in)famous for.

Another feature that I would like to see is the ability to get in the first shot is you engage an enemy first. The way things currently are, you get to open fire first when engaging a merchant ship, but Navy ships always attack first, regardless of who initiates the engagement.

Here are some other suggestions:

  • I would like to see a “Quickstart” option that will pick up the game at the last location instead of having to navigate all those loading screens.
  • Either add some extra sea shanties to relieve the monotony, or add an option to turn them off — as they soon become maddening — Independently of the musical soundtrack.
  • The first mate has a tendency to sing out “Stay out of their range Captain!” when there is nobody around. Will somebody please keel-haul him or make him walk the plank or something?
  • If you should get a pop-up (like when you enter a fishing area for which you do not have a hook, or pass into engagement range of a naval ship), you are interrupted and your ship stops dead. This is annoying enough, but on a drowning-sailor mission, If this happens, the delay means that the sailor almost invariably drowns before you can get to him, making the Drowning Sailor missions among the most frustrating and difficult to complete, even thought they are not that difficult.

Drowning Man

To conclude, a lovely game with a few irritating lack-of-features. But that said, I recently spent $7.99 on a pack (100,000 gold pieces, a Double-XP perk and a cute-but-almost-useless ship with cool-looking red sails). Even though I do not need any of those goodies, I like to support good coding, and therefore consider it money well spent. Seeing the same pack on sale for $1.99 a few weeks later was a little annoying though…

But this game is in dire need of a cloud-save feature. And some decent support (I am thinking of writing a hints and tips guide). And some additional configuration options.

Sailing into the Sunset

Sailing into the Sunset

Beard

From time to time I try to grow a beard.

This is what I am aiming for.

The Most Interesting Beard In The World

The Most Interesting Beard In The World

This is what I end up with:

The Ugliest Beard In The World

The Ugliest Beard In The World

I guess I’m going to go clean-shaven…

Aston Martin

I finally upgraded to Real Racing 3 version 2.1.0 – the “Aston Martin” update.

As the title suggests, this update represents the debut of a brand-new marque – the prestigious British American name of Bond, James Bond Aston Martin. This version introduces double-oh-three new cars, namely the DB9, the Vanquish and the V12 Vantage S in ascending order of sexiness.

Screenshot_2014-07-21-22-52-40

The new Astons feature in a new series, “Aston Martin Expedition”, which fits in half way up the tree between “Prestige Powermatch” and “Euro Supercar Duel”.

Screenshot_2014-08-10-07-28-48

There is also another new series: “All Star Vendetta Series”, which is optional and may found tucked underneath the “Zenith Series”.

Screenshot_2014-08-10-07-29-48

Other new changes in this version include Customization, Photo Mode, Gold Achievements.

Banner

The new cars feel unique. The acceleration is powerful enough to reach some serious speeds, but it is the brakes that really impress – they are absolutely legendary. Unlike the Porsche 911s, however, the Astons handled beautifully and predictably with complete control and plenty of warning that the car is about to lose grip, which makes for cars that are great fun to drive.

Stay tuned for the next upgrade — Open Wheelers.

What a Socialist Paradise looks like

I recently came across this story: Brazil’s valley of beauties appeals for single men. It tells of a rural town in Brazil that appears to have a chronic man shortage.

Here, the only men we single girls meet are either married or related to us; everyone is a cousin…I haven’t kissed a man for a long time. We all dream of falling in love and getting married. But we like living here and don’t want to have to leave the town to find a husband. We’d like to get to know men who would leave their own lives and come to be a part of ours. But first they need to agree to do what we say and live according to our rules.” [Emphasis mine]

I see what you did there: “If you want to live with us, you must submit to our demands.” If you are a young man looking to start his tribe, do you really want to start from a position of supplication? No. Just… no.

The town… “has a reputation for its strong female community after its founder, Maria Senhorinha de Lima, settled in the town when she was branded an adulteress and exiled from her own church and home in 1891.”

Aaaaaaand that’s where the trouble started: with the sin of Eve — female rebellion. And the town’s women are lonely as a result. What a surprise. Action, meet consequence.

We have God in our hearts. But we don’t think we need to go to church, get married in front of a priest or baptise our children. These are rules made up by men.”

Whenever I hear the phrase “…in our hearts“, I mentally grimace and think “Cop-out”. Here’s my translation: We want spirituality — the cheap and easy part — but don’t want religion — you know, the part where you actually have to do stuff.

“There are lots of things that women do better than men. Our town is prettier, more organised, and far more harmonious than if men were in charge. When problems or disputes arise, we resolve them in a woman’s way, trying to find consensus rather than conflict.”

True enough, and I am sure that it’s all fun and games… right up till five hundred hairy, smelly barbarians — or worse, a crowd of Muslim men — show up at the gates. Then they will look for strong men to hide behind, as females of all species are wont to do in times of crisis.

“We share everything, even the land we work on. Nobody competes with anyone here. It’s all for one, and one for all.”

Sounds like the perfect utopia… for women. Men, however, are a little more competitive… and we like it that way. I have found it to be true that  women are wired for community and fear abandonment, while men are wired for significance and fear failure.

“The whole town came together recently to help buy a huge widescreen TV for our community centre so we can all watch soap operas together. And there’s always time to stop and gossip, try on each other’s clothes and do each other’s hair and nails”

This is the socialist/feminist paradise in action. A herd of women watching soaps/gossiping/clothes/hair/nails. Not like that happens here. Not. At. All.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the world there is a bunch of people working on a cure for cancer. And they are probably men.

(In)equality

“Men are more likely than women to be arrested, die violently, commit crimes, be victims of crimes, go to jail, and be addicted. They also die more often on the  job, have more heart attacks, commit suicide in greater numbers, and live shorter lives than women” (David Murrow)

Equality between the sexes is easy! We’ll have it when…

  • Women serve the same jail sentences as men for the same crime.
  • Infidelity in females (“She wasn’t satisfied”) is treated the same way as it is in males (“He’s a jerk”).
  • A woman has no right to a man’s financial support unless she is married to him.
  • The state quits paying women to have babies.
  • Violence against men is taken as seriously as is violence against women (statistics show that the former is actually more common, though less severe).
  • Women are required to register with the Selective Service (aka “the draft”) or lose the right to vote — the same way as men are.
  • “I was drunk and had sex” no longer equals to “I was raped”.
  • Men live as long as women.
  • Paternity Fraud (where a woman attempts to force a man support a child that is not his) is treated the same way as tax fraud – with jail time.
  • Women start tipping like men.
  • Men and women have equal standing in child custody disputes (as opposed to the current system, in which “The bad, bad man is bad, bad, bad” ).
  • Women are required by law to leave toilet seats up.
  • Financial support for breast/cervical cancer is matched by testicular/prostate cancer (the latter actually kills more people, but gets far less money).
  • Either Paternity leave is mandated (unlikely) or Maternity leave is abolished (impossible).
  • All governmental organizations dedicated to women either have a complimentary men’s equivalent or are abolished.
  • Men can have babies.

The elephant in the room is that we don’t have equality, and probably never will. And I for one say “Vive La Difference”

I have found that when many women talk about “equality” what they mean is “to have all of the same rights and rewards as men, but without the responsibilities and/or the work required“. That’s childish behavior, and the last time I looked, children were not allowed to vote and had to be told what to do.

Today is “Women’s Equality Day“, whatever that means. Enjoy!

Hyperexotics

Another day, another version of Real Racing 3. This version takes a break from previous versions (1.12, 1.2, 1.3, 1.3.5, 1.4, and 1.5) and kicks it up a whole major version it to 2.0.0. However, the big leap in version numbering is perhaps a little disingenuous, as there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between this and the last version (1.5).

Two new Cars

Screenshot_2014-04-10-03-50-04This version features the debut of two new cars — the McLaren P1 and the Lamborghini Veneno. Both incredibly sexy, incredibly fast — and incredibly expensive — so much so, that if you have to ask “how much?” you can’t afford one:

The McLaren P1 costs $1.15 Million, and there are fewer than six hundred in existence

Screenshot_2014-07-01-21-01-53

The Lamborghini Veneno costs a jaw-dropping $4 million and there are only three in existence.

Screenshot_2014-07-03-20-22-01

Both production runs of both cars are completely sold out, but thanks to the magic of the Firemonkeys, you get to drive both in a brand-new Series — the Vertex — along with the Porsche 911 RSR (2013) (known irreverently as the “Porsche SuperGrip”, due to it’s hamsters-with-gluepots ability to stick to the road) that was introduced way back in the 1.3.5 “Seven Bloody Porsches” update.

Screenshot_2014-04-10-03-50-10

The Death of the Delorean

Since the release of the game early last year, the game has offered a different “deal” every week, including some free or half-price cars. However, those in the know were aware that it was possible to put your device in airplane mode, set your device’s date to back when the discount was available… and purchase.

The not-so-awesome race.

Screenshot_2014-07-13-08-24-55The “Awesome Race” is gone. The ’69 Charger Endurance race that used to go on forever has now been well and truly fixed.

Onward and Upward to V2.1 – Aston Martin

All this and Ferrari II

It’s been a while since I have blogged on my favorite game, Real Racing 3. Time to put that right. Last time round I was less than impressed with the first three Ferraris (yes, that is apparently the correct plural) introduced in version 1.4, but what I didn’t know at the time was that the Men from Modena had another three cars ready to go — the 458 Spider, the 599 GTO, and the legendary Enzo Ferrari.

Screenshot_2014-06-10-02-42-48

Unlike the previous three, these new offerings were a little more what I expected of the Marque; Better performance, better handling.

There was also an unexpected addition to the Real Racing stable, a debut from a new manufacturer, ladies and gentlemen, presenting the mighty name of… Hyundai?

Screenshot_2013-11-27-03-29-35

In the last version of the game, I noted that “Ferrari Faceoff” had been put at the end, after “Zenith”. In this version, it has been moved from it’s ill-deserved ultimate position at the top of the tree to further down.

This is the last version of the game that featured “the Awesome Race”, my name for the everlasting endurance race with the ’69 Dodge Charger that was introduced in Version 1.3. I took advantage of this to run a blistering 1500-mile race over the course of a week.

1500 Miles

The likes of which the world has never seen…

New feature: Weekly Time Trial Tournaments

Screenshot_2014-06-10-02-42-53While this is a new feature, I cannot comment on it, since weekly time trial tournaments require that you have the latest version of the game installed, which this isn’t.

Race Replay

Screenshot_2014-06-10-02-42-58This is a wonderful feature. After completing a race you have the option of watching it again from a series of trackside cameras, or from any of the driving views. Very nice. The only thing that is missing is the ability to save that replay for watching later, or showing to your grandchildren. Assuming that you can take enough time away from the game to actually have any children, that is…

Screenshot_2014-06-10-02-43-04

AWD Attack

AWD AttackThis is one of those events with only one car — the brand-spanking-new Hyundai. I20 WRC Don’t be fooled – the I20 WRC is a little beast of a car, with a beastly price tag to match. It’s a four-wheel-drive rocket-powered roller-skate, although when fully upgraded, it is almost feels too fast, and feels skittish in the corners. It also gets my vote for the coolest product placement I have ever seen in a a computer game.

Screenshot_2014-06-22-20-49-04

Oh, the irony…

Grand Tourer Supremacy Series

Grand Tourer Supremancy SeriesNo new cars to be found here, but a chance to make some extra R$ and Gold from the cars you already have. This series showcases the two Bentleys (Continental Supersports and Continental GT Speed) and two of the three Mercedes-Benzes (SLS AMG and SL 65 AMG Black Series). Sadly they left out the third Benz — the sexy SLS AMG GT3, but it would not have fitted in here.

Spirit of Ferrari

Spirit of FerrariMamma Mia! The Italians are at it again! Race the three new Ferraris. You start off with the 458 Spider working your way up to the 599 GTO before unlocking the legendary Enzo Ferrari.

Enzo Ferrari Triumph

Enzo Ferrari TriumphThe mob at Ferrari must have been mightily impressed with the Enzo Ferrari; they named it after their founder. “Enzo Ferrari Triumph” joins “AWD Attack” and “The Legend Continues” to become the third single-car series — and like the other two, this series is optional.

The name's Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari.

The name’s Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari.

 

When Permanent Employment Isn’t

In Grandpa’s day, you finished your education, started your job, and worked in the same place until you retired. That was it.

These days, things aren’t so easy. Downsizing, Rightsizing and “Returning to our core business” have conspired to make employees largely expendable and interchangeable – except for the ones who aren’t. The ones who actually design and produce stuff and get things done. For every one of those there are ten, twenty, fifty or a hundred replaceable HR Drones, Mid-level Managers and paper-shufflers.

The recession of 2008 made things even worse. The large-scale loss of factory jobs — mostly held by men — meant that for the first time there are more women in the workplace than men. While I have nothing against women in the workplace, the presence of more people seeking employment means that employers can afford to be picky. They’ve also gotten stingy, offering lower salaries and fewer benefits in what seems to be a race to the bottom.

I became a freelancer in 1989 after losing a job. It was an accident, but a fortunate one – the best deal on the table at the time was a freelance gig. Thirty-five years later, I still work in consultancy; my current “temporary” assignment is now in its fifteenth year. As a result, I still have the freelance mentality — even though my employment is technically “permanent”, I am under no illusion that my employers will fire my proverbial as soon as I am no longer profitable for them. It amazes me that so many people actually believe that their employer somehow “owes” them a job, benefits or perks. Life isn’t fair, to be sure, but I have found that people generally get what they deserve or settle for, though manyof us have deluded ourselves into believing that we somehow deserve better.

In Grandpa’s day, everyone wanted a cushy office job that didn’t involve “getting your hands dirty”, and this is what parents still steer their children towards. But the stable jobs in the future are those that provide services; plumbers, welders, mechanics, looking after children/pets/old folks – these are the jobs that can’t be outsourced. That may not sound glamorous, but it’s more sensible than running up huge student loan debt to get a Master’s Degree before ending up working as a Barrista.

My message to young people today is a simple one: Follow your dream, as long as your dream involves producing something of lasting value. If that happens to intersects with your passions, fine. I know of a chap who loves being outdoors and found a job working as a Park Ranger. But if your passion is street-art (aka Graffiti) or Video Games, do not delude yourself into thinking that there is a lucrative career to be had. Above all, don’t go to college unless you can afford it or have a clear career path mapped out.

There is nothing wrong with getting a boring/uninteresting job, as long as you are aiming for something better. A highly-paid job that you hate is the closest thing there is to hell on Earth.

Figure out what you love to do, and find a way to make it pay.

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