--My stepmother has become quite the little entrepreneur. She's owned a few properties (houses), one of which she just sold to a guy who paid $20,000 in CASH as a down payment. He literally brought in $20,000 in tens, twenties, and hundreds (that's someone with some fiscal discipline, although that money should have been in CDs or an MMDA). She also has a voice studio which she's thinking of formally turning into a business (right now it's under the "private lessons" rules). People really seem to like what she does and how she teaches, and she learned from one of the most well-known operatic singers/teachers in the state of Texas. The problem is she has more customers than she can handle, but how do you raise prices to the equilibrium price to meet demand without alienating current customers or price discriminating?
Anyway, her real business plans lie in doing English-translated versions of the great Italian and French operas. She has translated versions, but we've found that those are fully copyrighted, so now she's looking to have her own translations done. She's looking into the various business types and may go the corporation route. A few weeks ago we went to the Entrepreneur's Expo in Fort Worth with a woman she knows who owns and directs a company which provides home healthcare assistance, which she incorporated. The Expo was alot of fun, and alot of semi-famous people were there, along with hundreds of small business booths. Small business is where the innovation is coming from, from what I've seen.
--Joseph Lieberman, D-Connecticut, the man who probably has the best chance of anyone in the world of being US President in January '05, is promising to go after violent video games in a big way with new legislation to "study" violent video games. Of the ground-breakingly immersive and non-linear PS2 game Grand Theft Auto III, he said "this is sick and indefensible". Soon it will be a Federal crime to sell or rent out a violent game to a minor. Will they extend that to "provision"--in other words, will it be a crime to let a minor PLAY a violent video game?
I just think it boils down to a fundamental misunderstanding about what *playing* a game is. GTA3 is so cool specifically because everything you can do in the game is something you can NEVER do in the real world. Although The Sims is the big exception, most games seem to promise the ability to move beyond the mundanity of the real lives most of us lead in order to explore worlds or activities that just don't fly in reality (this isn't the only attraction, just an aspect of it). I'm not explaining it very well, but it's just that I like killing things, or driving through town like a maniac, or flying a giant mech, or exploring a dungeon specifically because they are things I'll never do in my life.
If I killed people on a regular basis in my life, maybe violent games would no longer hold much attraction. But then again I also have things like morals, a conscience, a sense of right and wrong, and knowledge of all the consequences that could accompany real life violence. And I think it's awfully short-sighted and arrogant to assume our kids don't have at least a modicum of those things as well. Besides, after a short while, especially in a game like Unreal Tournament, it's not about violence any more at all. It's a Chess Match, no more "violent" than the Knight leaping over a Pawn to smite the unsuspecting Queen.
--On a positive note, I read a report about a global study on reading habits and proficiency of schoolchildren. Now, the conventional wisdom I've heard for years is that the US is way down that list. Not true, according to this study. It says US students, by and large, are among the best-taught and most accomplished readers of all the students in the study. It did find that African-Americans and Latinos lag behind "Caucasians" and Asians in this country, and that private school students do better than public school ones (no surprise on that second point).
This reminded me of the misconception that American workers are lazy. It's not true at all--in fact, US workers work substantially more than workers from ANY other country--they face more job competition, lower benefits, and longer hours than anyone else in the industrialized world.
--The Mavs are fading fast. They lost first place and slipped all the way to third! Not only that, but it's looking ever so likely that the Lakers, who the Mavs CAN'T beat, will finish sixth, which sets up a BEST of SEVEN (new for the first round this year) series between the Mavs and Lakers. I feel for Mark Cuban.
--I was looking up Super Punch Out on GameFAQs. I can't believe some guy beat every single fighter in UNDER 20 seconds for each one!! How on earth?? I can't even conceive of how I could ever beat Hoy Quarlow, and they say Nick and Rick are levels of magnitude harder!! And some guys, like Narcis Prince, just take TIME to beat. It's a head scratcher.
--MotoGP for Xbox was an amazing racing game. The sense of speed, the handling, the control (example: separate controls for the front and rear brakes), the fidelity of the tracks, the mind-boggling graphical effects (the best advertisement for progressive scan, and check out the rain!!), the sounds, the fierce challenge in single-player and split-screen modes (we never tried it on Live), and the awesome replay value all put it in a class of its own for me. Superbike 2001 for PC had a couple things up on it though: the replay feature was much better and more flexible (which was a shame, because MotoGP had many more replay-save-worthy moments and crashes), and the adjustability of the bikes was great (and nonexistent in MotoGP). I should mention that the PS2 MotoGP games, besides being on an inferior system, are also made by a different company and don't compare very well with the majesty of the Xbox game. The only quirky thing about the Xbox original was the title--it was "MotoGP", but that name refers to the series that began with the advent of the four-stroke megabikes in 2002, while the game was based on the 2001 season where only two strokes were raced.
Well, I just read a "first ride" report on MotoGP 2 for Xbox (due end of June). They've done an awesome job it seems. It replicates every bike and every rider from the 2002 inaugural MotoGP season. It includes all sixteen real-life tracks (first game omitted six of them). It uses a graphic effect never used in any game before: Fresnel Lighting. It also has more polygons, higher res textures... heck, the first game looked so realistic and gorgeous and smooth, it's hard to think of how they could improve it (it makes Dreamcast Daytona look like you're comparing 8 bit and 16 bit). They've tweaked the replay system, and now you can not only make a ton of different bike adjustments, but you can actually design your OWN bike in 3D like the GP500 game on PC a few years ago (presumably you'll be able to download new ones to the Xbox's hard drive as well). They also have extensive online features I won't go into. Sign me up!! I'd buy an Xbox (at $150) just to get this game!
--It's too bad Dajiroh Kato suffered the worst wreck in motorcycle racing's recent past last week. He's still in a coma. He'll never speak, move, or breathe on his own again, and there's a substantial risk that if he wakes up, it will be without any thinking ability left in his brain. I wonder if they'll take him out of the game.
--Sport Rider tested the new GSX-R1000. The concept of a $10,000 machine weighing only 430 pounds full tank, making 150 rwHP, capable of 175 mph and quarter miles in the 9.8x range (hint: that's THREE SECONDS or a football field and a half better than a stock Dodge Viper) yet returning 40 miles per gallon on the highway, with handling better than $200,000 race bikes had just a few years ago, all street legal and right off the showroom floor should be enough to boggle anyone's mind.
--My Summer is pretty well set. I have one class during the first session (no Maymester though). I'll be working... somewhere. And I'll be doing SIG stuff. That's it in a nutshell. For fun/relaxation, I'll be biking, shootin baskets, throwin frisbee, reading a couple books, playing some selected games, and listening to some music. Normal stuff.
--Okay, if I ever DID buy my "dream car"? It would probably be a Porsche. There's just something about em. I've ridden in a few, including the unbelievable 420 HP Turbo 911 owned by the guy my father shares a building with. Ever since I was a little boy, I've had a thing for Porsches. I had a big color Porsche book when I was nine or ten years old. The shape, the driving dynamics, the immaculate quality, the German engineering. The new Road & Track contains an ad for the 911 Cabriolet: "The demands of the mass market have been noted... and ignored. The 911 Carrera Cabriolet is what results from never once yielding to the pressure to compromise. The pure shape. The way the sounds and sensations of the drive resonate in the open cockpit. It wasn't, isn't, and never will be for everyone." You can keep your Ferraris, Corvettes, Miatas, pony cars, 3 Series, RX-8s, Porsche will always be the ultimate anti-"point A to point B" utility machine.
Brian, a drug rep friend of my father's who's now making six figures, recently was trying to decide what new car to buy to replace his old beater. Dad advised him to go for his dream car at his age (24) while he's unattached and mobile. He was looking at Boxsters and 911s. He finally settled on a giant Range Rover.
My father and I would sure have a lot more to talk about and do together if I weren't perpetually destitute.
--Have you ever thought about how easy we have it? We don't have to worry about hunting for our food, curing it so it'll last more than a day, worrying about it being stolen, finding ways to cook it, working hard to cultivate a garden to grow it, etc. We just hop in our cars, go to the store and after twenty minutes we've got two weeks worth of food which we throw in the fridge. We don't appreciate it when the table is filled with food for once. Because it's always like that. We never suffer. There are no dynamics. There's nothing that would cause us to appreciate what we have. Human beings were never meant to have it so goddamned easy. But we do, even those of us in abject poverty, as long as we have the motivation to do a minimal amount of menial labor.
If 9/11 had any benefits, maybe one was that it caused a few of us to think about the freedom we enjoy in this country and this world in this time, and to realize that that freedom is not a given. Maybe it helped a few of us to appreciate how we got to this spot, to not take it for granted, and to understand that it WILL have to be fought for and defended again at some point in the future. And that it's worth it.