Capcom aren’t bad people, they’re just idiots

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The perennial question of racism and sexism in computer games can easily be answered:  yes, computer and video games are racist and sexist. But then so is everything else. Video games are way too easy a target, there’s no game I can think of that even comes close to not being stupidly sexist and/or racist, unless it has no human characters at all. But how many current network TV shows have a central character that is non-white where their non-whiteness is purely incidental, i.e. they just liked that actor, or whatever?

My favorite TV show right now (and since I started watching it) is House, which has a not-quite-central character (Foreman) who is black, and another (Kuttner) who is a classic urb (“uncertain racial background” — a term I coined in 1990 which doesn’t seem to have taken off) — perhaps because urbs have almost become subsumed into “white” in the US. In House, House frequently makes ridiculously racist remarks. In the unlikely event you haven’t watched the show, House is an equal opportunity offender, sexually harassing a coworker one minute then using racial slurs and stereotypes the next.

A randomish sampling of shows: The Office — white (some minor/guest characters are non-white); Bones — white with a black woman boss and an urb woman artist, both improbably attractive; Battlestar Galactica — white with minor non-white characters; CSI — white with a black guy who has gambling problems and grew up in gangland; Castle — white; Saving Grace — white with black woman boss and native American detective (not bad!); The Closer — latino, three black, and a Chinese major character; Damages — white; Dollhouse — white with black handler and Eurasian roommate.

The Closer and Saving Grace (both TNT cable shows) are the only examples that don’t seem contrived or just plain white. Along with House and Dollhouse this is about as good as it gets.

Oh and what is it about Asian (or part-Asian) actresses with Australian accents? They seem to be The Hotness in Hollywood right now (there’s one in Dollhouse and another in Terminator right now).

Sometimes you see the reverse, e.g. in a lot of police shows there is a heavy skewing towards white perpetrators, even when (based on where a crime takes place, say) the chance that the perpetrator(s) would be white is pretty small. It’s pretty rare to find a show like The Wire where the mix of race and sex seems pretty much realistic, rather than thoughtlessly white (Friends had two “Jewish” characters) or otherwise monoracial (like the all-black sitcoms of the 70s).

So, basically, we may have a non-white president, but we’ve a long, long ways to go.

Just how stupid do you think potential iPhone customers are?

A couple of days ago AT&T’s CEO “spilled the beans” about Apple’s plans to launch a 3G iPhone in 2008. Apparently, this is terrible for Apple because it will cause potential customers to hold off blowing $400 on an iPhone now and wait for the 3G model.

It seems to me that most potential iPhone customers fall into one of two categories:

First, when I mention to typical Mac or PC users that I recently installed Leopard, the most common response from either group is either: (a) “What’s Leopard?” or (b) “Oh, is it out already?” Most people do not keep up with this shit — they have lives, or at least other interests.

Second, if you’re someone who does keep up with this shit, you already knew that Apple was planning to release a 3G iPhone in 2008. How did you know this? Because either (a) Apple is freaking retarded, and yet somehow has managed to release a succession of world-beating products over the last six years or (b) they’re developing a 3G iPhone.

So exactly which category of potential iPhone customer will this information give pause to? Well, there are folks in between the two categories of “clued in” and “has better stuff to do with their lives”, and that is “idiot fan boys”. The question is, just what proportion of iPhone customers fall into that gap?

So going back to the original question — just how stupid do you (or I) think potential iPhone customers are — there’s one more piece of the puzzle to consider. Who buys someone a cell phone for Christmas?

Oh, and one more thing

Apple does have one trick up its sleeve that its competitors don’t. The price it charges for iPhones is not subsidized, so when a new iPhone comes out, folks can just buy it and swap it onto their existing account. This is not the case for the vast majority of cell phones on the (US) market which have totally bogus prices ($99 with a 2 year plan, $299 without it). It follows that Apple can transition users onto new generations of iPhone without waiting for plans to expire, which is, along with a lack of discernable improvements over time, what has killed Motorola’s RAZR.

Comprehension Skills & Blogging

When I was in 4th and 5th grade in country town Australia there were these boxes of cards (from some company in the USA, I think it was called “SRA”) we had to go through. There were cards to study and corresponding answer cards. The study cards had about a half page of text on them, and on the flip side were multiple choice questions on the text. You were supposed to read the card and then answer the questions. Flipping back to the text was not considered cheating.

We had to do one card per day. Sometimes we were handed the card, sometimes we could pick. I couldn’t understand why this was considered work; the texts were usually at least mildly interesting, took almost no time to read, and the questions were ridiculously easy. E.g. the text might read “And we’ve provided an API for Time Machine so you can support it in your applications” and the question would be “The new Time Machine product has: (a) a big red knob; (b) an API to help you support it in your application; (c) a big blue knob; (d) none of the above”.

What amazes me is that the blogosphere is ripe with opinions, complaints, suggestions, and speculation about Leopard, thanks to the announcements on Monday, and yet almost none of the participants — despite having graduated from the 5th grade, being of far greater than average intelligence, and more-or-less able to read, write, and spell — appear to have mastered the art of answering this kind of multiple choice question.

So here are the spoilers — note that this isn’t post modernism 201, so we’ll be basing our answers on what was said during the WWDC ’06 keynote, or in press releases on the same day, or on Apple’s Leopard preview page the same day, even though it may not be true:

Does Time Machine have an API? Yes. Listen harder. Or read the website.

Will iCal support third party servers? Yes. Listen harder. Or read the website.

Is the new iChat basically a bit like NetMeeting? No, because NetMeeting doesn’t do screen sharing. Read the website.

Is Leopard just a bunch of fancy sizzle with no steak? I assume if you’re still asking this you consider OS-level integrated seamless backup to be sizzle, so how about: Objective-C 2.0, modern garbage collection, full 64-bit support, XCode project snapshots, and visual performance monitoring tools?

Actually, the Leopard Server page is also worth visiting. Summary: comes out of the box with iCal Server, Wiki Server, PodCast Server, and something called PodCast Producer. And of course pretty much every component technology has been revved.