Reviews are Coming in on Space Empires IV

Space Empires IV, the ultimate 4X space game, is out and getting very good reviews.

GamesDomain.Com’s reviewer notes that there is a pretty steep learning curve — this is definitely not a game for Civlization and Masters of Orion veterans, not 4X newbies.

For fans of the genre, however,

otherwise, there simply isn’t a deeper and more challenging space 4x game in existence. The grand epic feeling of the game is hard to miss and you really feel like you are running an empire.

FEED Daily on the XFL

In a few months the XFL — the WWF/NBC football league — will kick off what Vince McMahon calls a return to “smashmouth football.” If you believe McMahon, the National Football League is populated by whimps who are scared to death to get hit.

I don’t know which channel McMahon is watching, but I see NFL plays every weekend that I’m surprised somebody isn’t outright killed. Take a bunch of men that big and that fast and put them on opposite sides of a football field and it as Rich Gannon once put it, it’s like watching a car crash.

FeedMag.Com’s Ben Godar really hits the nail on the head on this point,

There’s a reason that pro football plays don’t look as aggressively confrontational as they used to, and it’s not because the game is going soft, but just the opposite: Players today are stronger, larger, and faster than ever before.

…Fifteen years ago there were only around twenty players over three hundred pounds. Today that number is well over a hundred.

Anybody else remember when the Chicago Bear’s Refrigerator Perry was considered a freak and somewhat of a sideshow because of his size?

On the other hand, I enjoy football for precisely the same reason that Godar does, which also happens to be why McMahon despises the modern game — there is as much thinking and creativity in today’s game as there is brute force.

Complex traps, counters, and screen passes have become the mainstay of an effective running game. Winning football has become as much cerebral as physical.

Anybody with the physical size can play “smashmouth” football, but to run the sort of stunts that a defense such as Tampa Bay runs requires a great deal of skill and intelligence that many players lack.

There are a lot of good athletes in the Arena Football League, and that league emphasizes high scoring, basic football. And for the most part it’s extremely boring — almost like a caricature of real football. I suspect that the XFL will find the same problem.

Personally, since they are going to spend a lot of money on it anyway, I’d prefer McMahon and NBC to take the XFL in the direction that sports writers seem to fear most — make it into a completely fake sports opera. Better yet, abandon the whole football schtick, invent a sport that involves a lot of violence, and build a fake league around that.

An enormous part of the appeal of sports are the goings on outside the lines, and a well-managed sports soap opera might actually succeed. If forced to compete on its merits as a legitimate sporting event, however, I doubt the XFL will have what it takes.

Source:

Feed daily. Ben Godar, FeedMag.Com, November 16, 2000.

Judge Slaps Injunction on Verio

Wired reports that Register.Com won in its efforts to have a judge place a preliminary injunction on web hosting service Verio that forbids Verio from using Register.Com’s database to spam people who register new domains.

The order specifically forbids Verio to use Register.Com’s database “to enable the transmission of unsolicited commercial electronic mail, telephone calls or direct mail.”

On the one hand, the endless junk e-mails and junk mails I get simply because some company’s robot software pulled my name out of a registrar’s database is annoying (and sometimes hilarious — the “international business directory scams” are amazing). On the other hand, I’m not sure that litigation is the best response, in general, to the problem, although in this case it does seem warranted if only because Verio apparently used Register.Com’s name inappropriately in its e-mail pitch.

PETA Sues Rosie O'Donnell

Last week People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued talk show host and actress Rosie O’Donnell for defamation after O’Donnell claimed PETA endorses the use of some leather products.

PETA and O’Donnell became entangled after O’Donnell decided to proclaim a “wear leather day” on her show. Many animal rights activists and groups, including PETA, decided to go after O’Donnell, declaring “wear leather day” as promoting cruelty to animals.

On a recent episode O’Donnell told her talks how audience that The Gap used leather approved by PETA. According to PETA spokeswoman Lisa Lange, “There’s no such thing as PETA-approved leather,” and PETA announced a lawsuit seeking an on-air retraction of O’Donnell’s statement as well as $350,000 in damages.

The only problem is that O’Donnell is absolutely right — The Gap does use PETA-approved leather and the lawsuit is completely frivolous.

Earlier in the year PETA launched a campaign to convince The Gap to stop using leather obtained from China and India. PETA argued quite vociferously that animals killed for leather in China and India are treated cruelly, and that it would be better for The Gap to buy leather from countries with higher animal welfare standards.

When The Gap caved in to PETA’s demands, the organization trumpeted its great victory. Now, however, PETA wants to run away from this victory when O’Donnell correct points out that The Gap uses PETA-approved leather.

The bottom line is that this lawsuit is simply just another publicity stunt from a group that excels at such stunts.

Source:

Animal rights group sues O’Donnell. The Associated Press, December 6, 2000.

Scientists Busy Decoding the Fugu Genome

Animal rights activists like to claim that non-humans are simply too different to serve as models for human beings, but scientists at the Energy Department’s Joint Genome Institute hope that decoding the genome of the fugu, a poisonous fish considered a delicacy in Japan, will yield important clues about how human genes work.

The JGI hopes to have the a preliminary version of the fugu genome finished by spring of 2001. Why the fugu?

“The fugu has a small and compact genome, on the order of a tenth the size of the human genome, and yet whenever researchers have gone into the fugu and looked for human genes, by and large they’ve found them,” Trever Hawkins, director of JGI, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

While the human genome consists of about 3.4 billion different chemical building blocks, the fugu’s genome only has about 400 million different chemical building blocks. Since both fugu and human beings must have had a common ancestor, the working hypothesis is that any genes that the fugu and human beings share in common are likely to be extremely important ones. JGI scientist Paul Predki told the Chronicle, “The intent is to use the fugu sequence as a comparison. We believe it contains essentially the same complement of genes as human DNA.”

Over the next couple decades, medical research is likely to be revolutionized by a knowledge gained by comparing human and non-human genomes combined with the increasingly sophisticated ability to manipulate and modify genes.

Source:

Fishing for clues: the genetic map of the lowly fugu could help scientists decipher the human blueprint. Tom Abate, The San Francisco Chronicle, December 11, 2000.

NOW and the Voting Gender Gap

The National Organization for Women keeps making a claim in its press releases about the recently concluded election that while technicaly true completely glosses over the reality of the election. Here’s a random sample by Tanya Melich,

Unlike Florida, the proof of our power is not sullied with statistical probabilities. Nationally, women gave Gore their vote by an 11-percent margin while Bush won men by 11 percent. In Florida, the margins mirror this national vote with women backing Gore and men Bush. Whether by age, education or economic status, the pattern holds.

This paragraph is disingenous. Yes the pattern holds by age, education or economic status — unfortunately it does not hold by race and by marital status.

The so-called gender gap is in fact largely a racial gap. Black and Hispanic women broke overwhelmingly toward Gore, while depending on which polling data you rely on, Bush barely won or barely lost the white female vote. If, in fact, NOW had been able to deliver its core constituency of white women to “fight the right,” Gore would have won in a landslide.

Bush also beat Gore among married women (as well as men). NOW activists may indeed “have begun outreach in their communities to tell the cold, hard truth about the threat that George W. Bush, if elected, poses to the nation” early in the campaign, as one of their press releases claimed, but if they did a lot of women simply weren’t buying what they were selling.

Source:

Anti-Women Backlash Strategy Dwindling. Tanya Melich, WomensENews, No date given.