Archive for January, 2012

Hunter x Hunter Coincidences With GOP Primaries 2012

January 20, 12

So the latest in the 2012 Republican nominee race is that candidate Rick Perry is dropping out and endorsing Newt Gingrich. This follows shortly after Sarah Palin endorsed Newt.

With the backing of these two big names – Perry the Texas governor and jobs creator, and Sarah Palin the former Alaska governor, Vice Presidential candidate and always Tea Party darling – Newt suddenly has the boost he needs to reliably take on front-runner Mitt Romney.

By coincidence or freaky paranormal prediction by mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi, the current arc of Hunter x Hunter has some eerie similarities:

The smooth-talking, smart-suited, confident front-runner

Mitt Romney / Pariston Hill

The blunt-speaking hot-headed Unlikely getting a sudden wave of support upon his late entry

Newt Gingrich / Leorio Paladiknight

The reliable but otherwise unremarkable cowboy dude, (ultimately) passing on his votes to the Unlikely

Rick Perry / Mizaistom Nana

The classy-looking lady with the glasses, passing votes to the Unlikely

Sarah Palin / Cheadle Yorkshire

Front-runner will probably keep the country/organization along almost the same course, while Unlikely will most likely shake up the status quo.

And you know what’s the kicker? That chapter of Hunter x Hunter was published a few days before Rick Perry endorsed Newt Gingrich, and must have been planned, penciled, inked and submitted long before even Sarah Palin’s endorsement!

Like I said, Yoshihiro Togashi’s eerie powers! Not surprising coming from the author of creepy and often outright disturbing manga. ‘illness‘ nothing, he’s at home busy breaching the barriers between dimensions!

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See also Silly Coincidences Between One Piece and Hunter x Hunter.

Peter Boettke on Austrian Economics: Ludqig von Mises’ 3 Great Contributions

January 18, 12

Via AoSHQ, a long interview with this excerpt:

ONE: MONEY IS KEY TO ECONOMICS, DUH

Mises made at least three significant contributions to economics. The first contribution is in money and business cycle theory. What Mises tried to show is how money is central to all exchanges, because in a monetary economy, goods trade for money and money trades for goods. Goods don’t trade directly with other goods. Since money is one-half of all exchanges, if you screw around with money, you’re going to screw around with all the exchanges in the economy. He postulated that when the government distorts the monetary unit, through the manipulation of money and credit, it can generate boom-and-bust cycles. So rather than the business cycle being inherent to capitalism, it’s a consequence of distortions caused by the manipulation of money and credit.

TWO: PERFECT ECONOMIC PLANNING IS IMPOSSIBLE, WHAT MORE WITHOUT MARKET PRICES AS KEY INFORMATION

His second contribution was on the controversy over socialism, and whether it could engage in economic calculation. To put it simply, economic calculation helps you sort out – from the array of technologically feasible projects – those which are economic and those that aren’t. For example, you don’t want to build railroad tracks out of platinum, you want to build them out of steel. Platinum might well be technologically superior – smoother, longer-lasting – but it costs too much. The idea of socialism was to completely transcend the market economy, but if I don’t have prices and I don’t have exchange ratios established on the market because I have abolished commodity production, how am I going to know that I have to use steel?

Mises came in and said: Let’s assume that ends of socialism are highly desired – I’m not going to engage in a battle over ends. What is it socialists want to achieve? A burst of productivity, leading to an overcoming of the conflict between classes. What is their means to attain that goal? Collective ownership over the means of production. Rationalisation of production for direct use and not for exchange will produce this burst of productivity that will overcome scarcity and therefore the conflict between the classes. What Mises said was: Your means are in conflict with your ends, because you can’t engage in economic calculation. You’re not going to get rationalisation of production, you’re going to have endemic waste. He was the first person to demonstrate that. As the history of the Soviet system played out, including its early history from 1917-21, it seemed to play out Mises’s argument. Socialists were always making compromises with respect to their original plan, trying to jerry-rig it, and you get on this treadmill of economic reforms that characterise the entire Soviet period. Then, eventually, it unwinds in the late 1980s, and you even have people like [left-wing economist] Robert Heilbroner admitting that Mises was right.

THREE: ECONOMCIS IS A WONKY SCIENCE BASED ON WONKY HUMAN BEHAVIOUR

Mises’s third contribution is an argument about methodology in the social sciences. He argues that human sciences are different from the natural sciences. His methodological argument cut against the trend of the times, which was to move towards a unity of science approach – what’s right for physics is right across the board. Mises talks about methodological dualism. To communicate this simply, he used to say: “If you throw a rock into water it sinks; if you throw a stick into water it floats; if you throw a man into water he must decide whether to sink or swim.” What does that mean then for the way we approach the social sciences? If you think about economists, in the 18th and19th centuries – John Stuart Mill, David Hume, Adam Smith – they were philosophers. The way they reasoned was like a philosopher. When you get to the mid-20th century and you look at Paul Samuelson, he’s not a philosopher any more, he’s more like an engineer. His books look like engineering or chemistry books. There was a transformation of economics – it became a tool of social control.

To the Austrians, economics is not a tool of social control, it’s a framework for helping us understand humanity, its history, and our plight in the world. Hayek had a great phrase about this. He said that the curious task of economics is “to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design”. Hayek’s Nobel Prize address was called “The Pretence of Knowledge”. He was going after the idea not only of socialism, but of large-scale macro models. Because in the mid-20th century, and going up through the 1970s, the economy was envisaged like a bathtub. One spigot was monetary policy and the other was fiscal policy, and an economist’s task was to turn those spigots on to make sure the water rose to the level in the bathtub that was consistent with full employment.

Mises and Hayek stood in complete opposition to that view. Even more so than Milton Friedman, because he’s arguing over which is more effective – fiscal or the monetary policy, but he’s still telling us we’re in control of the levers. What Mises and Hayek are saying is that that whole way of thinking about the economy reflects a pretence of knowledge – that we know what the full employment output level would be, that we know exactly how much water to let in, and how much to let out – whereas in reality, if we make a mistake with any of that, the water comes gushing out all over our bathroom floor, or it drains completely out and we have nothing.

The belief that social sciences should be like social physics is built on an assumption which Mises says you can’t make. Therefore you mischaracterise what the task of economics is – you send economics in a direction which is totally different from our heritage, of what we got from David Hume, Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say and John Stuart Mill, and then Carl Menger, and then Mises, Hayek, and other people in the 20th century, like Jim Buchanan.

Share Your Skyrim Best Moments

January 17, 12

LAST UPDATE: 17 Jan 2012

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is rightly praised for its wonderful unscripted moments.

In the vein of my earlier Funny, Cool and Other Left 4 Dead 2 Stories, I’d like to invite you to share your favourite personal experiences that made you go “Wow!” or “Cool!” or even “OH CRAP!!!”

I’ll share mine below and add more as they occur.

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Oops-Ro-Dah

Pressing Z to use the Whirlwind Sprint Dragon Shout to zip around faster as usual, I forgot that it was still set to Unrelenting Force. In the middle of Whiterun town.

FUSSSS-RO!!!

Instant 40-something bounty and several guards about to beat me down, doh.

(This was before I had it fully upgraded to Fus-Ro-Dah)

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Hagraven vs Hired Thugs

I’d cleared Orphan Rock of the Hagraven’s follower Witches, mostly sniping them from the Stromcloak camp cliff above – two sneak shots at 3x damage each was enough. Up on the cliff, the Sneak eye stays half open as they come looking, but just can’t find me.

When I wanted to start whittling Hagraven down. However as I lured her out of her lair, I bumped into three Hired Thugs as they walked up the path (as it later turns out, send by Nazeem to teach me a lesson). They proceeded to gang rush me, so I had to reload.

This time I sneaked out of the way. I found that the Thugs would inevitably bump into Hagraven and start beating her down. After crushing Hagraven, they would unerringly home in on me no matter how well Hidden and out of the path I was. One or two hits and I was dead.

I decided to take potshots at them while they were preoccupied, but even continuous 3x damage sneak attack arrows barely nicked their health bars! Once finished dealing with Hagraven, all three would walk casually up to me, echange empty words, and crush my skull.

My idea to put Weak Frenzy Potion on an arrow and make it a 2v2 fight among themselves failed too – they were too high level to be affected.

I considered letting them pound Hagraven then waiting for them to follow me to the Stormcloak camp, maybe they’d have a tougher fight, but it took too long waiting for them to show up – if ever.

Then I tried sniping all my arrows at them until Hagraven was nearly dead, before running around behind them to the Frost Rune trap on the ground that one-shot kills me – unfortunately it doesn’t quite kill them.

I almost got it down pat when I helped Hagraven take down the Thugs first, but one on one she ended up killing me too! Without the Thugs constantly hurting her, her Healing negated all my damage quickly.

AND my orc had earlier already used Berserker Rage for the day!

In the end, after many reloads to get the below tactic just right, I finally nailed it.

While they started their duel, I sneaked around the fallen log with a skeleton wearing a Dwarven Helmet in it. I used dual daggers for a 6x backstab on the nearest Thug (just one Sneak level short of Assassin 15x backstab, darn!).

After one sneak attack, the max I can get on any of the Thugs, I swapped to the Axe of Whiterun which in this playthru was a fire enchanted two-handed weapon – test with dual weapons got much less damage. Then I just Power Attacked the Thugs to death one at a time while Hagraven kept them busy. Once in a while I Fused to keep the target off balance (not much of a help though).

I had to reload back to the opening of the fight often – accidentally getting between the sparring teams meant I got ripped to shreds, or provoking the Thugs too much made them decide to kill me first, and Hagraven’s claw swipes are pathetic but occassionally her stray Fireball would wipe me out.

When the Thugs were down to one (the girl), I dashed off back to my starting point next to the log and went back to Sneak sniping. This time I decided Hagraven was more dangerous, and the Thug more predictable, so I sniped Hagraven. With my assisting, the Thug prevailed.

And as expected, her AI script made her walk towards me – semi-Hidden in the log opening with the Sneak eye slightly open, waiting with dual daggers unsheathed. She walked past the opening and lost my trail, and stood with her back to me pondering to herself.

I Sneaked up to her and Backstabbed for 6x damage, and she went down.

YES!!!

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Teamwork Town

Climbing up to High Hrothgar, a too-strong Ice Wraith was in the way and refused to let me stay Hidden. After some attempts at sniping and getting close enough for a 15x backstab, I decided what the heck, and lured it down to the town below while occassionally arrowing it and Fus-ing to stun when it got too near.

Poor archer hunter dude on the way got wiped (leaving lots of free iron arrows for me to use), and across the bridge into town the townsfolk charged in to smack it. (Note to self: Fus-ing the enemy together with townsfolk makes me a wanted man; landing an arrow in the front of a woman’s forehead doesn’t, she will walk off after the battle with the arrow still there.)

Meanwhile, I saw the town guards hoof it away from the fight! Guess that arrow to the knee got suddenly cured.

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See also other game related posts:

Funny, Cool and Other Left 4 Dead 2 Stories

Plants vs Zombies Survival: Endless – Scott’s Setup

The Most Embarassing Ways to Die in Alien Swarm

Gratuitous Space Battles Quick Tips

John Carpenter’s The Thing – Pingu the Penguin Edition

January 7, 12

Great tribute with all the iconic scenes, and even some of the sound effects I remember!

Via Ace of Spades HQ, which also posted this Braodway musical number:

Police Smash JB Robbery Gang

January 3, 12

Took long enough, but good work police.

From The Star 2 Jan 2012:

Police smash robbery gang, arrest four

JOHOR BARU: Police have smashed a gang believed to have been involved in 29 robberies here with the arrest of four suspects, including two women.

Johor police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said the suspects, aged between 20 and 47,were arrested in a raid at a house in Jalan Harmonium 18, Taman Desa Tebrau, about 10pm Friday.

Police found 165 watches, RM10,000, 30 mobile phones, nine DVD players, eight bottles of liquor, eight ATM cards, six laptop computers and a Mercedez Benz, believed to have been stolen, from the suspects.

“We also found 37 Eramine Five pills, six packets of syabu and weapons such as a parang and crowbar,” he said Monday.


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