This Weeks Reader May 25, 2008  

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Microsoft deems "gayer" gamertag to be unacceptable
According to a letter Grant sent to The Consumerist: "...when i tried to sign into my xbox live account 'thegayergamer' I was told that it had to be changed. I figured that it was just from people reporting it as an offensive name being that the greater Xbox live community isn't exactly welcome to gay people, i spend a lot of time muting people on Halo3. I assumed that once i called Microsoft they would straighten things out. I talked to a supervisor there, Roxy, who told me that she didn't personally find the fact that my gamer tag had gay in the name offensive, but that the greater Xbox community did, so I would have to change it."

Gamers are different: a look at how gaming makes the mind
Koroush Dini, a child, adolescent,and adult psychiatrist, has written an amazing book called Video Game Play and Addiction. It's a much more even-handed look at the subject of children and games than we normally get, and it has been a fascinating read. One section that jumped out at me, and one that Dini has graciously allowed us to excerpt, is how gamers are different in terms of problem solving and how they approach problems and even social situations. "Gamers train for hours each day. They gradually incorporate certain mentalities through diligent practice. As a result, they do begin to adopt different views of the world," he wrote in the book. Here are some of his other findings..

Pyro achievements may come with the next TF2 update
A snooper over at the Control Point forums has found that the latest update to the game features a potential hint of things to coming. Tearing through the GCF content package for the game, the snooper found a section documenting the included achievements in the game which featured a new entry: "Achievement_Group_1600: Pyro Pack (%s1 of %s2)."

Previous updates were discovered by this very method, so a new set of upcoming Pyro achievements seems likely. I suppose that's one flame war that Valve will avoid. The company has not yet announced anything, of course, but we know that it has stated time and time again that it's going to continue to improve the game over time.

Why Wii Fit is Better than the Gym
8. It’s more fun than the gym can hope to be. Firstly, the range of activities are more diverse, from yoga to hula-hooping, and secondly, there are activities that aren’t actually possible in the real world. For example, when you were a kid, did you have one of those plastic games that had ballbearings in? You had to tilt the game to get the balls into the little holes. Imagine that, human-sized. You stand on the Wii board, and your every tiny shift of weight moves the TV version to roll the virtual balls into the hole. Or straight off the edge if you’re crap. Also, at no point in real gym life do you get to dress as a penguin, or float a giant bubble down a river. Take that, reality! You can’t compete with this rainbow universe.

International News
Teenager faces prosecution for calling Scientology 'cult'
Writing on an anti-Scientology website, the teenager facing court said: "I brought a sign to the May 10th protest that said: 'Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.'

"'Within five minutes of arriving I was told by a member of the police that I was not allowed to use that word, and that the final decision would be made by the inspector."

A policewoman later read him section five of the Public Order Act and "strongly advised" him to remove the sign. The section prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.

The teenager refused to back down, quoting a 1984 high court ruling from Mr Justice Latey, in which he described the Church of Scientology as a "cult" which was "corrupt, sinister and dangerous".

After the exchange, a policewoman handed him a court summons and removed his sign.

Schoolboy avoids prosecution for branding Scientology a 'cult'
A CPS spokesman said: "In consultation with the City of London police, we were asked whether the sign, which read 'Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult', was abusive or insulting.

"Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual."

National News
Oil prices
As gratifying as it is to point fingers elsewhere, the mirror is the main place to look for the reasons that oil prices are hovering around $125 a barrel. The nation decided to let the laws of supply and demand work. It was rewarded with two decades of low prices that led to larger cars, bigger homes and longer commutes. Meanwhile, with the Cold War's end, Third World countries suddenly saw the benefits of capitalism, fueling robust growth in places such as China and India. As in the West, oil fuels that growth, first for industry, then for consumers who, naturally enough, use rising incomes to buy cars. That trend more than anything else is behind rising prices. And it has just begun.

A keep-energy-cheap approach would have worked if supplies were unlimited and prices didn't tend to lurch forward, as in the 1970s and now, rather than to rise gradually.

An alternative would have been energy policies that discouraged consumption with gas taxes and subsidized alternative sources. But doing this would have required voters to be willing to accept short-term pain for long-term gain. It would have required leadership, vision and political courage — the very same qualities needed now to stave off menacing crises in health care and Social Security.

Hagee and Hitler and dangerous biblical scripture
And what if Hagee got the rest of his prophecy the way he wants it? What do his precious Jewish people gain from his Armageddon? Well, it’s not very pretty. You see, unless they happen to be Jews for Jesus, they and their children and grandchildren are all going to die in that much anticipated apocalypse. Aren’t they lucky to have a good American friend like Pastor John Hagee? And isn’t John McCain lucky to have his endorsement? He must think he is. On several occasions he has said that he is proud to have it. And wouldn’t it be great to have a President handling our Middle East policies who gets regular input from John Hagee, on what our next move should be? Want to know what his advice would be? He believes that a war with Iran is a necessary precondition for the kick-off of Armageddon – which is “imminent”.

I went into detail about the contents of the envelope. She chuckled a few times.

“Doesn’t that sound like a con to you?” I asked.

She laughed again. “I can’t really say,” she replied. “Lots of people have faith in different things. I go to church every Sunday and tithe, so I can understand when someone sends money to a church. But let me look this one up for you to see if there are any other complaints.”

I didn’t know where she was searching, but my astute Sherlock Holmes mind interpreted the tapping and I assumed it was somewhere on the Internet. I waited patiently for a few seconds. “Well,” she said, “you’re not the first person to make a charge against them.”

Then I heard the tapping again. She said, “I went to their Web site. It looks like they actually do have a church building. So it’s not just a post office box.”

“But, tell the truth. It looks kind of fishy, doesn’t it?”

She repeated: “Lots of people have faith in different things. I’ve heard of churches that sell water that’s supposed to be from the Sea of Galilee.”

“Yeah, other crooks. I mean, have you ever heard of a Christian prayer rug? Does that sound kosher to you?”

She tittered ever so slightly. “Well, I can’t say. But you might want to report this to the IRS and have them look into it.”

The Orgasmic Mind: The Neurological Roots of Sexual Pleasure
Achieving orgasm, brain-imaging studies show, involves more than heightened arousal. It requires a release of inhibitions and control in which the brain’s center of vigilance shuts down in males; in females, various areas of the brain involved in controlling thoughts and emotions become silent. The brain’s pleasure centers tend to light up brightly in the brain scans of both sexes, especially in those of males. The reward system creates an incentive to seek more sexual encounters, with clear benefits for the survival of the species. When the drive for sex dissipates, as it did with Marianne, people can reignite the spark with tactics that target the mind.


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