Friday, March 18, 2011

The Hall of Viking Manliness is now

Sorry men... The Hall of Viking Manliness is down, it's gone, closed, almost certainly forever. Our former leader decided to step away from his role of "Head Viking", and we are now Vikingless. We are grateful for the community he helped build over the last six years, but it is time now to move on. His articles from "The Hall" are gone, but the community still exists, and so does the database from the old Viking Forum. We've gathered core members from the Hall of Viking Manliness, and for now we are going to set aside the creation of web content, and focus on building and maintaining this manly community.

There are going to be a few things that are going to change. Many had complained about the tone of the site over the past year. The site is no longer a dictatorship, it's an Oligarchy, and we are going to make a serious effort to brighten the tone of the site. We want to see a community where men can talk about many shit like Guns, Liberty, Economics, History, Manly Movies, Tobacco, Beer etc. We want this to be the most independant, entertaining, intelligent, and optimistic place for men (and two awesome ladies) on the internet.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why Climate Change Doesn't Matter

The hacking and release of hundreds of emails from Britain's Climate Research Unit has recently given climate change skeptics a serious shot in the arm. There is now the apperance of, if not hard evidence pointing to some very important climate scientists hiding and falsifying research in order to sell the theory of man-made climate change. I suppose I do consider myself a bit of a climate change skeptic, but I'm not going to pretend to know enough about climate science to settle the issue here. The argument I want to make is that no matter where you fall on the climate change issue, the proposed solutions are almost certainly worse than the disease. Thus climate change, real or false, just plain doesn't matter in regards to policy.

We are living in an age where technology has made traditional pollution a much more minor issue than it was in the past. Our big cities actually have much cleaner air than they did in the 1970's and early 80's. The one thing that has remained constant, no matter how efficiently we burn our fuels is the fact that our automobiles and power plants are still pumping out tons of C02 gas. No matter where you stand, you have to admit that some very reputable scientists have built credible climate models that point to this C02 gas adding to a global greenhouse effect. This is certainly less than desirable. Some may be fudging some facts here an there, but there are too many good scientists supporting this theory for us to completely disregard their work.

Sadly, the problem isn't as simple as us deciding to either agree or disagree with these scientists. The very nature of a problem is that we should find a way to solve it, and this is a fine example of the cure being worse than the disease. We have a rapidly developing world at the moment. Millions of people in China and India are clawing their way out of abject poverty and building better lives for themselves and their families. Any solution to restrict C02 emissions enough to have an overall impact on the climate would have to be so draconian, it would by definition make the sorts of lifestyles being pursued by billions of individuals all over the world a virtual impossibility.

Ultimately, it will be nearly impossible for any government or world body to produce any regulations that will cut these emissions by 30-40%. But that isn't the main problem. The huge issue here that isn't often discussed is related to politics and human nature. The same sorts of people who have always attached themselves to collectivist laws and central planning have been drawn to the cause of global warming like hippies to a drum circle. These sorts do not care about the plight of the poor, or those who aspire to a better life. They want power to manipulate and plan our society. They are either naive utopian thinkers (borderline communists), or worse, just plain old power hungry autocrats and influence peddlers.

Even if global warming is real, I'd rather the world learn to deal with the outcome than give a few chosen bureaucrats the power to reorder our society enough to control that warming. We know for a fact that the earth has been warmer than it is now, and as far as I can tell that wasn't catastrophic for life on our planet. But the old saying "absolute power corrupts absolutely" really does apply here. There isn't a governing body on the planet that we should trust to solve this problem without huge impacts that would violate the basic human rights of people all over the world. So the next time you are arguing global warming with your liberal friends, please do not take the stance that global warming is false or a hoax. Neither you or the godless hippie know enough to answer that question.

The dialog we need to be having is not how it can be solved, but if we are willing to grant certain people enough power to solve it? If you want to win that argument, you need to attack it from a humanitarian or human rights perspective. If global warming is false, the issue will vanish over time... we can just hope we haven't given up all of our freedoms or damaged the engine of our economy too greatly in the meantime. If global warming is real, we should still let market forces determine fuel prices and the viability of new energy sources... anything else would be foolish utopian thinking. When push comes to shove, even most liberals aren't complete totalitarians, and we need to be making an honest argument about the things in this world that really matter. Those things are our basic freedoms, human rights, and the avoidance of tyranny.

We can probably learn to deal with the outcome of global warming, and healthy markets will make sure that the proper messages are sent and received when it comes to cleaner, greener energy. What we can't do in the time being is leave our children with a world where they do not enjoy the same basic freedoms that we take for granted. We can't trust anyone to plan our economic and personal destinies. This is exactly what global warming alarmists aim to do.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Three Things Displaying Juche 06-14-10

Well shit! I just haven't been updating my blog much lately. It is my intention to update it more frequently, so I thought I might start a recurring column. I'm going to start collecting three things every week that are undeniably awesome... that is they will be awesome if you happen to share my politics and sense of humor. So here we go, these are the three things this week from that I've found on the internet this week that I think you shouldn't miss.

#3 A New Sly Cooper Game?!
Okay... yes... I'm a huge dork. But right now there are rumors that Sucker Punch Studios is making a Sly Cooper collection. If you don't like your video games quite as dark and angst ridden as Gears of War... this is a great thing! Sly Cooper 2 and 3 were some of the best games of the last generation. This is me hoping that Sucker Punch Stops making games about douchebag messenger boys with super powers and gets back to some serious cartoon action. Read Kotaku story here.

#2 Dodge Challenger Commercial

All I can say to this is... USA... USA... USA! Chrysler should just remake this same commercial for every single model. Fuck the Redcoats! FREEEEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOM!

#1 Chimp Face-Fucking a Frog
This clip doesn't need much of an introduction. Did you see what the frog was wearing!? That frog had it coming... and no... I'm not condoning the rape of French women. Shit... they just give it up... rape is just plain unnecessary.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Argument

Gay Conservatives, Pink PistolsThere is an argument that I have long wanted to make to conservatives in America. It is a tricky, narrow argument, but one I think I can win if presented correctly. My main point is that the demonization of gays in the conservative movement, real or perceived, is not only very ugly but that it is also extremely counter productive to the basic goals of conservatism. I don't think there are many who call themselves conservatives who would disagree that the main goals of the movement should be: a limited federal government that lives within its constitutional framework, expansive individual liberty (both political and economic), and a strong national defense. I'm going to explain why it is essential that we change our rhetoric, and policy proposals concerning gays if we want any chance of success over the next few decades.

First off, I want everyone to consider who gays actually are. Being gay is a sexual preference. It is not, and should not be linked to any political ideology. Sure, liberals like to throw people into groups, pander to them, and play them against each other for political gain and to form new dependable voting blocks. Liberals don't succeed at this because because of merit, they succeed because we let them, because we aren't making a better more principled argument. As conservatives, and as individualists we are better than that. Or at least we should be. Gay people need not be liberal ideologues. They are more often than not these days upwardly mobile professionals who pay their taxes and own property. They are people who should have no love of big government, except for the fact that the same people who continuously embrace them, and offer them equality are themselves proponents of big government.

So there is no rational reason why gays should be a monolithic vote for liberals. Do we really think gays are that irrational as a group? I sure don't. The fact is, I can't blame them. When conservatives end up looking bad, it is usually when they step outside of their own ideology and use government power to try to reshape the world as they wish it were. We all want good schools, strong families, and economic success, but why would we as conservatives use unconstitutional government power to achieve these goals? We know that liberal micromanagement of the economy and schools always ends in disaster... so why would we ever support any federal legislation that micromanages peoples personal lives? Why would we ever support a federal "protection" of marriage act, or a anti same sex marriage constitutional amendment? Why would we even stand in the way of same sex marriage or civil unions on the state level? When you are going down to the court house to get your marriage certificate, don't fool yourself, that is just a social contract. The real marriage happened at your church among your friends, family, and your god.

Conservatives get bashed a lot in the public space for being harsh and cold-hearted. This is purely perception most of the time. We believe what we believe because we know our values will lead to more opportunity, freedom, and success for anyone willing to work or pursue their dreams. Liberals offer a lot of arguments based on emotions, and policy proposals that rarely achieve their goals... but all this "well meaning" talk can lead to a huge gap when it comes to public perception. I'm not saying we can solve this by ceasing to speak against gays, but we might be able to close the gap a bit. Basically, taking gays out of the equation won't only get conservatives a few more gay votes, but more importantly changing our perception might open the door for others to consider themselves conservative.

Another point I want to make is a little distasteful to me, but I think it is still valid. I'm not a homophobic guy, but I do recognize that others have stronger feelings than myself towards gays in our country. I also realize that I need not talk others out of their views to win my narrow argument. To the conservatives who have issues with gays for one reason or another, and cannot be swayed from that position, I want to point out that the gays are not a cultural movement that can grow and damage our nation in any way. This argument is distasteful for me because it grants (for the sake of argument) that anti-gay rhetoric and opinions are fine and dandy. I personally don't think they are fine and dandy... but there are more important issues at stake.

Gays always have been, and always will be a small percentage of the population... probably 5% or so. It has been this way for basically all of human history, and it won't be changing any time soon. I would never argue that we should be tolerant of inner city urban (ghetto) culture. Urban culture in America seems to promote a hatred of learning, very little focus on building healthy families, and is often materialistic in the most disgusting ways. That is a cultural movement that could end up hurting our nation. People having a different sexual preference is not a movement. Gays will always be a small minority... a minority deserving of equal protection under the law and individual liberty. The question is, would you rather look down your nose at a small group of citizens that you dislike for personal reasons... or do you want to follow The Constitution, protect vulnerable minority groups,and maybe pick up a few votes in the process? I would hope any conservative... even those who disagree with me on a few finer points would choose the later.

I will say this. I think "social conservatives" can do great things when they are working on a local level... working in their churches, working with families, working with charities. But the second any conservative presents their social values on a national level, as rhetoric that can offend, or as policy, they cease to be conservative at all. Truthfully, I wish Mick Huckabee would shut the fuck up and go join the Peoples Workers Party... because that's where he belongs. If conservatives believe in freedom, The Constitution, and equal protection under the law... we can't try to engineer society as liberals do. When we do that, we become liberals. Not only that, but we fail like liberals always do, both in public perception and in any reasonable measure of achieving our goals. I would argue that the proper way to treat gays in America, and the way to shift the balance of power away from big government is to openly recognize gays as what they are... individuals. I'm not speaking from the outside here. I consider myself a social conservative. I just don't see legislating my social conservatism as conservatism at all... because it isn't

Liberals always promise gays rights and privileges that they almost never deliver on for political reasons. There are too many blue collar homophobes, and unions will always pull more weight in the Democratic party because they offer more votes, and more importantly, more money. Trust me... there are many gays in America who instinctively understand this, and who are ripe for the picking. We don't need to offer them a carrot on a stick or government handouts like liberals offer every interest group. Most people, gays included, are too damn smart for that. We need to promise them one simple thing that we can actually deliver on. We need to stop making them the enemy, and offer them equality, freedom, and opportunity. This is a win/win situation for gays in America, and for real conservatives who want to succeed as a movement.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Discovering Mr. Gimmick

A recent episode of's Retronauts Podcast focused on the history of the Sunsoft corporation. In this episode they discussed a very late NES game I'd never heard of called Mr Gimmick. The guest, Frank Cifaldi, was a huge fan of the game, and claimed it is one of the most technically impressive NES games ever made. Thankfully, Frank had made a complete annotated play-through of the game and uploaded it all to Youtube.

After watching all four parts of the video, I have to agree with Cifaldi. Mr Gimmick is really impressive considering the hardware. It is also quite strange. That's all I got... watch the fucking videos!

Mr. Gimmick - Annotated NES Longplay (Pt. 1/4)

Mr. Gimmick - Annotated NES Longplay (Pt. 2/4)

Mr. Gimmick - Annotated NES Longplay (Pt. 3/4)

Mr. Gimmick - Annotated NES Longplay (Pt. 4/4)

For more, visit Frank's Lost Level's Blog

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

I've heard a lot of moaning about the recent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision from the Supreme Court. Most people are grumbling about corporations having the same rights as citizens when it comes to speech, and other such party line complaints.

I want to make this very short and sweet. If you think this is about corporations taking over the public dialog, you probably just have not read enough. This decision is about everyone's free speech, and the role of government in regulating this speech.

1) This decision stemmed from a group of people who were barred from releasing a movie that was very critical of Hillary Clinton prior to an election. When questioned if the current campaign finance laws would allow the government to ban any movie, book, or editorial content being published by a corporate entity, the FEC lawyers replied "yes". This happened... and most of the justices probably vomited.

2) I tend to see the individual as being much more important than corporations when it comes to legal matters, but there is a point that I think most of you are missing. Virtually all ideas, books, movies are published by corporate entities! This campaign finance law may not have been used much, but it would technically allow the government to stop the release of any movie or book near an election that could be interpreted as campaign material. Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 911 was released right before the Bush V Kerry election, and was very critical of Bush. If this law had been used in that case, the government could have blocked the release of Fahrenheit 911. Completely unthinkable!

3) Any number of political books, movies, and advertisements would qualify for government censorship if this law had stayed in place. Do you trust the Federal Election Commission to decide what content is too political, or too positive or negative leading up to an election? I don't. Most individuals disseminate ideas through organizations, not all by themselves. I don't care if it is a union, a corporation, or a non-profit... it isn't the role of the feds to regulate any of this speech.

You should agree with me. This decision needed to happen if the 1st Amendment was to mean anything.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why Did Pop Music Start to Suck?

I inadvertantly got into a discussion with Art today about pop music. I know, it's not our usual topic, but I do think it came out of a discussion of 80's metal... so please give us a pass this once. The thing that we both agreed on was that pop music just plain stopped being any good after the 1980's. You can disagree with this statement if you want, but you would be wrong. The fact is, I'm as much a child of the 90's as I was of the 80's, so I don't think my opinion is a result of simple nostalgia. The question is... why did this happen? I have a theory of course.

Think about it... in the 1980's we had a significant number of exceptionally talented mainstream pop artists with their own identities. People like Madonna and Michael Jackson turned out hit album after hit album of consistantly high quality pop music. Artists like Prince, Peter Gabriel, and George Michael not only made great albums but could write songs as well or better than anyone on the record company's payroll. Hell, Prince produced and played all the instruments on most of his albums! Many of these 80's pop acts released great material into the 90's, and in the case of Prince and Madonna... into the 2000's.

But something terrible happened in the 90's. There were solid rock bands that came into prominence in the 90's and enjoyed the great success they deserved... no argument there. But there were little to no new solo pop acts with any longevity and legitimate artistic merit. To put it simply there were no new Princes, Michael Jacksons, Madonnas, or George Michaels in the 90's. My personal reasoning on why this happened has everything to do with image. This might seem strange, because people like Michael Jackson and Madonna were masters of image. Why couldn't similarly shrewd and creative pop artists have found the same success in the 90's? That's the thing... it doesn't have anything to do with these artists talent for creating an image... it has everything to do with the importance of image itself in the visual cable television and MTV era.

This is the way I see it. When music became a visual medium in the early to mid 1980's, the music companies didn't have the time or the forethought to start fresh and manufacture new artists and new images. They just had to pull from the available talent pool. People like George Michael and Prince managed to succeed because they had the ability to create great images... but they were already hard working motivated artists with a shitload of vision. Once the record companies realized the importance of image, they probably became less likely to let younger artists present their music and themselves in new creative ways. They had to stick to what was already working. Who was in charge of deciding what images "worked"? The record companies of course.

My guess would be that a lot of the people who wrote songs on the level of Prince and George Michael found jobs as staff songwriters for the major labels, but were not allowed to step into the spotlight. I'm also willing to bet that a lot of pretty people who could sing and dance got record contracts even when they had no real artistic vision of their own. Creating an image was the job of the producers and all knowing assholes at the major labels. As a result, all we got as far as new artists in the 90's and 2000's were a bunch of pretty people with pre-fabricated studio defined gimmicks.

Now we get soulless shit like The Spice Girls, Mariah Carey, Celene Dion, The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and Beyonce. I hope I'm wrong, and this is my point as well as my biggest fear, but I suspect that we are very unlikely to see a mainstream solo pop act write and perform a song nearly as good as "Doves Cry" "Like a Prayer", or "Father Figure" in this decade or the next.

Like I said, I hope I'm wrong on this. Would somebody please poke holes in my argument. That would make my day. I want to see the second coming of Prince!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Man Names, Not Baby Names!

Winston ChurchillAs most of my readers probably know Arthur recently posted an article on the main page of Arthur's Hall ( entitled "You People are Stupid: The Ills of our Society Begin at Birth" in which he brilliantly brought to light the modern plague of ridiculous and trendy baby names. In this article Arthur delved into many of the weak-ass social trends that we've collectively been complaining about for years. Naming your child is a very serious thing. They will be living with that name for the rest of their lives, so one should not fuck around in this matter or be swayed by modern trends when making this sort of decision. What I want to do here is add a bit of a supplement to Arthur's article by going more in-depth into the strategies one should employ in actually picking a proper name for your boy.

The first thing you need to get through your head is that you are not selecting a "baby name". You are selecting a man's name. If you get too caught up in the idea that you are naming a baby, you might well lose sight of the fact that this baby will one day grow into a man. With that mindset I suspect anyone is more likely to give their son some sort of trendy cute abomination for a name. You are not naming a baby, you are naming a future man. The name you pick should be serious, traditional, and above anything else the name should make a statement. Naming your child after a respectable deceased family member or great historical figure will give your child the message that something is expected of him in life. It will give them something to live up to.

I've created a list of general rules for picking a name for your son. Follow these rules, and your child won't have to deal with sharing the name Brayden with 6 other godless pussies in his 3rd grade class. Follow these rules, and you will be giving your son a leg up on life. I would even venture to say that if a name you are considering doesn't fall into one of these categories, it should be discarded immediately.

1) Traditional Names and Family Names
Naming your boy after a respected patriarch in the family is a no-brainer. As I said before, this will set up some expectations for the boy... and that's always a good thing. For instance, my grandfather was a calm, kind, manly, strong, hardworking oil man named Doyle. Now there is a great manly name! It isn't trendy, it isn't common, and it can't double as a girls name. Thankfully, my cousin named his son after my grandfather. Great work! I'm actually sorry he beat me to it.

You also can't go wrong with names that come from cultural traditions. If you are a devout Christian, names like Paul, Moses, Noah, Solomon, Joseph, and David are fine names... even if some are far too common. If you have northern European ancestry, try going with a name like Magnus or Axel. German? Albrecht, Frederick, and Ludvig are fantastic. As a general rule, any name that you've ever heard followed by a "Ver" or a "Von" is manly gold. If you are English, you simply cannot beat Winston.

2) The Presidents Rule
Here is a simple rule... you cannot go wrong naming your child after a US President who served previous to 1932. Why 1932? You don't want to name your child after god-damned communists like FDR or LBJ, do you? Lord knows naming your son Barack isn't an option. The one exception to this rule is of course naming your child after Ronald Reagan. Ronald is one of the manliest and proudest names there is.

A lot of presidential names are fairly common, but they are all good. Naming your kids George, Thomas, James, Benjamin, or William may not set them apart in life, but they are solid respectable names. I personally like the idea of naming my son after Jefferson for the message it sends. Washington and Jefferson will always be our two greatest Presidents, and one should never shy away from using their names... even if they are somewhat common. Among these presidential names there are some real manly classics however. Uncommon names like Millard, Chester, Rutherford, Ulysses, Woodrow, Calvin, and Abraham are among the most serious and manly names you could possibly name your future man.

3) Greek and Roman Names
Another simple rule: virtually every traditional Roman or Greek name is a classic of masculinity. There is the added bonus that many of these names were shared by the men who did more to shape western culture than any modern man. Some come off a bit odd now, and I suppose that is something to consider. I fully support people naming their boys Pericles, but I can see how many would balk at such a name.

If you want to go Greek, try names like Themistocles, Lysander, Brasidius, Pericles, Homer, Cimon, Thucydides, Epaminondas, and Aeschylus. All of these were great men, who had great manly names. Do try to stay away from Leonidas however. I figure the film "300" ruined that name for at least a decade. Roman names are also brilliant. Julius, Titus, Gaius, Virgil, Augustus, Maximus, Octavius, and Rufus are manly as all hell.

4) Famous Kings, Generals, and Conquerors
Another good rule to follow is naming your boy after someone who actually accomplished something. Nobody did more to form the world we know today than ancient kings, generals, and conquerors. Alexander of Macedon is probably the most accomplished man in human history, and he died at the age of 32! Say what you will about his tactics, but Alexander is a fantastic name, and Alexander of Macedon excelled at every human endeavor. Alexander changed the world.

Other great names also fit nicely into this category. Here are a few: Napoleon, Phillip, Hannibal, Lysander, Ulysses, George, Edward, Charles, and Pyrrhus. Just try to stay away from Adolf. That name isn't popular for a reason.

As I said before, you can't fail in you task of naming your future man if you are following one or more of these simple rules. Following these four rules will assure that there are fewer Jaydens, Aidens, Masons, Landons, Braydens, Austins, Hunters, and Brodys in this world. That would be a great thing indeed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Ten Best Virtual Console Games*

Sin and Punishment N64You might notice there is an asterisk next to the title of this article. That is because I wanted to write an article about my favorite Virtual Console games for the Wii, *but I didn't want it to be a list that includes the following games: Mario World, A Link to the Past, Mario 3, Punch Out, Ocarina of Time, Super Metroid etc. If you haven't played those games, get a better job, move out of the third world ghetto slums in which you are currently living and fucking play them. Simply put, if you haven't played Super Metroid or A Link to the Past, I don't even want you reading my blog.

Regardless of how great so many of those first-party Nintendo games are, I want to expose people to new (old) classic games. So I'm going to list some of my favorite games of all time that are not on everyone's list of " the greatest games ever made". This is a list of classic games that you may not have played, and it is also a list that will be updated the very second Tecmo Superbowl or The Lost Vikings gets released for Wii Virtual Console.

Adventures of Lolo 2#10 Adventures of Lolo 2 (NES)
Adventures of Lolo 2 is a extremely charming puzzle game that gets real hard real quick. Don't say I didn't warn you. This isn't a falling blocks puzzle game like Tetris or Puzzle League. The puzzle designs in all three Lolo games are more akin to the sorts of block pushing puzzles you might find in a Zelda Dungeon.

I did warn you, Adventures of Lolo 2 is a hard game, but this early HAL production is a real classic. Pick this game up if you enjoy a good brain teaser with some emphasis on action.

Super Dodgeball NES#9 Super Dodgeball (NES)
I am a huge fan of 8-Bit Technos games. I love the big blocky character art style, and I love the over-the-top presentation of nearly all of their games. I particularly love the violence in Super Dodgeball. In Super Dodgeball players don't get knocked out of the game... they fucking die... ascending to heaven as angels! Classic!

There are a lot of strategies and special moves to be found in this game of dodgeball. You will soon figure out which of the many international teams are best, and you'll even find yourself rearranging your roster of players, so you will have access to your favorite special attacks. No matter how charming and violent Super Dodgeball may be, I still wouldn't get this game if I was looking for a single player experience. Super Dodgeball is all about murdering your friends!

Wrecking Crew 98#8 Wrecking Crew (NES)
Wrecking Crew is a very early, and somewhat simplistic puzzle game starring Mario. It was also one of Nintendo's early programmable games that let you design levels (like Excitebike). Of course, the main problem with those programmable games was that you couldn't actually save your levels after you turned the power off. With the Virtual Console, you can... sort of. You can save one level at least, thanks to the save state feature in all Virtual Console games.

Wrecking Crew isn't an epic by any means, but it does have tons of challenging levels, and you can go to any level in the game from the title screen, so there is no need for a save feature or password system, you just need to remember which level you completed last. I've spent hours smashing buildings, climbing ladders, and avoiding those eggplant looking creatures in Wrecking Crew on my Virtual Console... this game is $5 well spent.

Gunstar Heroes Megadrive#7 Gunstar Heroes (Genesis/Megadrive)
The first of two Treasure developed games on this list, Gunstar Heroes is my favorite shooter for the Genesis. Heck, its probably my favorite 16-bit run and gun shooter ever, since I can't stand those damn "Mode 7" levels in Contra III.

Gunstar Heroes has everything you'd want in a shooter from the early 1990's. It has a genius weapons system that the player can adjust on the fly, and the programmers pulled off all sorts of crazy graphical effects you won't see in any other Genesis game. Frankly, I'm a little surprised this game was emulated so efficiently on the Virtual Console. You won't find any 16-bit game with more action and flair than Gunstar Heroes.

Ristar is better than Sonic#6 Ristar (Sega Genesis/Megadrive)
Ristar was a very late Genesis release, but it's roots lie in the very infancy of the development of Sonic the Hedgehog. You see, in early development Sonic was a rabbit who could grab things with his long ears. At some point Sonic Team decided they wanted to go with an emphasis on speed, and the rabbit became an annoying fucking hedgehog with an annoying fucking attitude, and annoying fucking idle animations. Ristar was Sonic Team going back to their original idea, this time with a different character who grabbed things with his long elastic arms instead of ears, and it's one of my favorite 16-bit platformers ever.

I know I'm going to get some complaints from the furries out there, but I think Ristar is better than any of the Sonic games. The graphics are sharp, the control is super tight, and the difficulty balance is somewhere between just right and damn hard. If you are a fan of 16-bit Sonic Team, why haven't you played this great game?

Wave Race 64#5 Wave Race 64 (N64)
When I first put this game in my N64 back in 1996, I couldn't believe what I was seeing and playing. I never thought a jet ski game would be one of my favorite games of all time. The waves were beautiful, transparent, and had a huge impact on gameplay. The physics and control in this game were so spot-on and perfectly tuned. With a little practice you could duck under or catch air off of almost any wave in the game.

Wave Race is a game for real racing fans. The courses are brilliantly designed, and the balance between the racers is perfect, offering a racer for every skill level and every racing tactic. Perhaps it is a sad comment on water based racing games, but even now, Wave Race 64 is still the best game ever released in the genre. Splashdown was a fine game... but Wave Race is better in all the ways that really matter.

Lifeforce is better than Gradius#4 Lifeforce (NES)
A sequel of sorts to Gradius, Lifeforce adds a two player option and the "Contra code" for an easy 30 lives. The gameplay, level design, and graphics are all sharper than Gradius, and you'll curse your friends as they steal your lives just as you did in Contra. I'm continually shocked by the number of people who haven't played this classic game. Lifeforce is the best shooter ever released for the NES... nothing even comes close. I don't think I have any more to add... except for this...

Up, Up, Down, Down, L, R, L, R, Start!

Super Tee Shot#3 Kirby's Dream Course (SNES)
If you are as geeky as myself, you just might remember that game advertised on the back of early SNES consoles called Super Tee Shot. Well that game was never released, but it eventually became Kirby's Dream course. Kirby's Dream Course is a hybrid of golf, pinball, and your average 16-bit platformer. The physics are fairly easy to grasp and the control is tight as you bash Kirby through the many courses in this game. There is so much challenge and so many techniques to discover, it is very easy to sink a lot of time into the single player portion of the game.

So the single player is great in Dream Course, but if you can find a friend willing slog through what is a pretty steep learning curve, only then will you really understand Dream Course's real potential. 2-player games are extremely tactical and competitive. You can do cold, evil, devious things to your opponents. Expect physical violence to result. Kirby's Dream Course is one of the great overlooked classics of the entire 16-bit era.

Bomberman 93#2 Bomberman 93 (TurboGrafx 16)
With the way Hudson has whored themselves out by releasing every single god-damned TG-16 game they ever made on Virtual Console, I'm shocked that they haven't released any of their SNES Bomberman games. No matter, Bomberman 93 is almost exactly the same game as Super Bomberman for the SNES when it comes to its ground-greaking 4-player vs mode. This is one of the best 4-player (5 player if you have a Gamecube controller to add) games ever made.

I would also add that everything that made this game great back in 1993 has held up perfectly. This game is not only one of the best multiplayer games on Virtual Console, but its one of my favorites in the entire Wii library... right up there with games like Smash Bros, New Super Mario Bros Wii, and Boom Blox. Get it!

Note: Bomberman 94 has also been released for the Virtual Console as an import title. I haven't had a chance to play this update yet, but from what I've read, it is another quality Bomberman release.

Sin and Punishment#1 Sin and Punishment (N64)
Sin and Punishment is the best N64 game never released in the United States. Thanks to the Virtual Console, you can play this game before you dig into the sequel due out on Wii in 2010.

Sin and Punishment is a rail shooter like Starfox or Panzer Dragoon with one little twist... most of the levels are played on foot and you can wield a sword against nearby enemies. I guess you could call Sin and Punishment a cross between the arcade classic Cabal and Starfox 64. The really great thing is that Sin and Punishment is every bit as good as Starfox 64! Thanks to some brilliant art design and technology from the developer (Treasure), this game holds up very well visually. This is one of the very few N64 games that I can go back and play these days... its a masterpiece.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Its Time to Kill the Postal Service!

From Wikipedia:
Article I, section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution grants U.S. Congress the power to establish post offices and post roads. The Federal Government has interpreted this clause as granting a de facto Congressional monopoly over the delivery of mail. According to the government, no other system for delivering mail - public or private - can be established absent Congress's consent. Congress has delegated to the Postal Service the power to decide whether others may compete with it, and the Postal Service has carved out an exception to its monopoly for extremely urgent letters.
I'm not going to claim that the Postal Service never had it's place here in the US. You could argue that the Postal Service did a lot to keep Americans connected during our nations formative years when no other model existed to provide that service. I may or may not completely agree with you... but you could still make that argument while sounding informed and intelligent.

But look at the state of things now. Postal unions are standing in the way of modernization. The USPS had a 2.8 billion dollar loss in 2008, its third straight. But now its getting even worse. The USPS ran up a 1.9 billion dollar loss in just the 2nd quarter of 2009! FedEx and UPS offer rock solid reliable service without any taxpayer dollars. The USPS is projecting a decline of about 10 billion pieces of mail each year for the next two years. There are also new technologies such as email and online bill paying being used by millions of Americans that make the Post Office's services much less essential to most citizens. No matter how one feels about the Post Office's place in history, I think anyone who is willing to look at the facts would have to admit that something needs to change. The change I want to see is this... it is time to kill the United States Postal Service as a government organization.

The main problem in my view is the Postal Service's lack of profit motive. No private company could be run like the Post Office is operated today and stay in business. The Postal Service doesn't exist to give unionized mailmen high wages and expensive pensions. The Post Office should not be a welfare state, and if it is, they could at least own up to that fact. The Postal Service does, or at least should exist as a service provider. If they can't provide that service efficiently, or without taxpayer dollars, they do not deserve their monopoly protection or their state ownership. As it stands now, it is hard to see the Post Office as anything more than a welfare state.

Thankfully, this is a problem that is easily solved. There are models around the world as to how we should handle this government monolith that will lose money each and every year from here to eternity. Germany and The Netherlands have already privatized their mail delivery, and are now models of efficiency compared to our Postal Service. The Germans being efficient? I know it's a shock, coming from the country that industrialized homicide.

After a net loss in the the 3rd quarter, Deutsche Post adopted a new cost cutting plan, and is now projecting profits through the rest of their 2009 fiscal year. I'd love to see any state run organization turn things around that quickly! Heck, a German State bank still owns over 64% of Deutsche Post, but the rest of those outstanding shares are held by private and institutional investors, and that alone provides enough profit incentive to make Deutsche Post much more efficient and responsive to changing conditions than our mail delivery in The States.

The Post Office is a slow moving government monolith that cannot possibly adjust quickly enough to meet modern economic conditions. But the Post Office does have an infrastructure worth billions (if not trillions) of dollars that could be sold to private companies wanting in on the business. There are two ways to handle this. The government should at the very least lift the Post Office's protected monopoly status and let it die a long debt ridden death like any other inefficient company would in a competitive marketplace. Or we could sell it off and get the taxpayers some of their money back. Obviously, I'm for the second option.

I don't want the Post Office to die a long and painful death, and I really don't want to pay that bill. I want to see the Post Office put out of it's misery as quickly and humanely as possible. Death with dignity... right? I want to see it divided up and sold to the highest bidder(s)... whatever would bring in the most cash. I then want to see those private interests change that business model and make a shit-ton of money while offering better services. Political interests may make this a hard-sell, but the time is here now... we need to kill the Post Office.