Saturday, June 28, 2014

Julius Randle: Buff Bringer-of-Death

Ah, Julius Randle. Just picked two days ago with the 7th pick of the NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. What makes Mr. Randle an intriguing prospect? His ability to dominate the post? The barrel-like muscles that encase his herculean chest and arms? The slightly bulging eyes and intense attitude that would scare most children (and adults)? All of the above?

If you watched his post-selection interview, you would see why a guy like Kobe, and your average Lakers fan, likes him. He's angry. Angry that he was skipped over by so many teams, and chomping at the bit to show everyone what he's made of.

Don't be surprised if he wins rookie of the year. He's buff, he's tough, he'll blow your house in. He's the relentless wrecker of all that is holy on God's green Earth. He'll take the NBA by the horns, rip them off, crack them in two, dip them in some boiling water, and gulp down the resulting steaming bone marrow stew faster than you can say "Mitch Kupchak wants his cups back."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Haircuts are Awkward and Annoying

"I said only cut the sides....THE SIDES...NO...STOP....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Besides going to the Dentist's for a nauseating cleaning where I have to listen to the smarmy hygienist rave about her son's accomplishments, or the Doctor's where I have to go through the overly embarrassing experience that is a "physical," getting my haircut it probably the most traumatic thing I do on a regular basis.

You know what it's like. You walk in, immediately noticing all of the bright and beautiful faces plastering the walls, all affixed with perfect hairstyles. You think to yourself, "that's going to be me!" Of course, it never is.

Then, the sullen and usually unkempt barber slithers up to you, a deep sense of disdain hidden behind the glassy orbs they have for eyes. If they're young, they're probably wishing they were out bar hopping with friends, and generally treat you like dirt, or worse (seriously, cheer up, at least you're making money, moron). If they're old, they look at you like you're intruding on their territory, waiting for you to slip up in your speech so they can make some jackass-y comment that only somebody with years of wisdom and life experience can make.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Gordon Ramsay and the Food Network

Note: This article is not to be taken too seriously...

Ah, Gordon Ramsay. Why do we love him? Is it the way he styles his platinum blonde hair? The Grand Canyon-esque creases in his forehead? The way he says "bollocks"? I could go on, probably for a couple paragraphs. In the end, the fact of the matter is that Mr. Ramsay is one of the coolest food-related dudes on TV; so awesome, in fact, that he makes watching the Food Network a dull and practically painful affair.

I mean, I do give the Food Network points for hiring their own Ramsay-lite in the form of Robert Irvine. Still, you can't just throw another hot-tempered British dude in my face and think he'll have the same wondrous affect as the steely blonde maven pictured above.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Think *You're* Insane? Well, Meet Doubleagent...

World of Warcraft. Some people play it as a game, others use it to demonstrate their inherent soullessness.

What do insane people do? Lots of things. They talk to their dogs, fumble their words in a hopeless attempt to appear socially normal, and run websites that are viewed by so few people that they might as well not bother. Wait...that describes me. Yes I am insane. However, there are a few who go beyond me, and reach a level so ridiculous that I question if they are actually homo-sapiens, or some ghoulish demon spawn from Mars, sent to deliver us all to our doom!

One person I came across definitely deserves the "ghoulish demon spawn from Mars" title. I do not know their real name, but, I do know the name of their World of Warcraft character: Doubleagent. Whoever this guy is, he is veritably, absolutely, existentially, and unbelievably downright kooky and off-kilter.

Improving Your iPhone's Battery Life

Every year, iPhone owners viciously throw their devices at walls, shattering souls and killing dreams, all thanks to poor battery life. Let's fix that!

As great of an update as iOS7 was, there's no question that it uses more battery than previous versions of Apple's mobile operating system.

So instead of banging your head against your ketchup encrusted, crumb-composed desk, wishing that you made better life choices, read this article instead!

The key to better battery life is simple: tell your stupid iPhone to quit worrying so much about things it shouldn't have to worry about! Or, in geeky tech lingo, turn off the background processes that are consuming your phone's precious computing power.

iPhone 4S vs. iPhone 5C vs. iPhone 5S

I'm writing this mainly because comparisons I've read on other websites are boring, tech-based, and filled with meaningless charts more than actual paragraphs. Though as I've found earlier, people writing for tech websites aren't necessarily all that great in terms of their command of the English language, so it's probably for the best that they steer clear of stringing together multiple sentences.

My comparison is based not on benchmarks and numbers but on real-world observations, since those mean way more when dealing with technology. (I mean really, you'd be hard pressed to find a normal human who can tell the difference in performance between the A6 processor in the 5C and the A7 in the 5S).

Friday, June 20, 2014

NBA 2K: Crushing the 7'6" Monster

I'm a huge fan of 2K sports' NBA series. It's probably the game I play the most. Despite my better judgement, I've owned every version since 2K7 (except 2K14).

What's so fun about it? Well, for me it's the association mode. If you have an imagination it can be quite the enjoyable experience.

You think that the Heat are a super team? Their big three is nothing compared to some of the trios assembled in 2K's association mode. It's fun seeing squads composed of the likes of Chris Paul, John Wall, and Serge Ibaka, and trying to go against them with your crippled ragtag group of terrible players...led by a 77 overall rated shooting guard no less!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Are Millennials the Next "Great" Generation?

This is in part a response to Rob Flaherty's piece on Millennials, written earlier today.

When you think of the greatest generation in recent memory, your mind probably conjures up images of those who served in World War II, and built America into the superpower that it is today. You'd be correct of course. Generations after them have had a lot to live up to, and by and large they've failed to meet the same high standards as their forebears.

WoW Addictions and Your Stupid Brain

Let's face it everyone, life can be a drag sometimes. Traffic, the sun, smog, other humans, and cat dander are all things that can lead to a miserable existence. So, why go through all of that when you can escape to a game like World of Warcraft?

In that magical land of procrastination and false glory, you commandeer an avatar far cooler than yourself, a hero who fights for the freedom of all the denizens of Azeroth. You can run epic dungeons, explore a vast world, mine computerized ore, chat to other deprived individuals, and even just run around, jumping on random objects (the last one was a favorite of mine)!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Clear Channel and the Decline of Radio

Clear Channel. A name you are probably familiar with, at least in passing. What if I told you, however, that this corporation was responsible for shaping radio into what it is today? When you tune into AM or FM, chances are you will hear either the voice of some crotchety conservative talking head or one of those migraine inducing songs played over mall speakers ad infinitum. While it can be easy to assume that it has always been like this, the truth of the matter is that radio as we know it today was molded by corporations, like the aforementioned Clear Channel, who dominated the industry for decades. In this essay, I will lay out why I believe Clear Channel had a deleterious effect on the radio industry as a whole, not only because it contributed to the rise of conservative talk radio, but because its management techniques and vertically integrated nature led to corrupt business practices like payola and poor treatment of workers, which lowered the overall standard and quality of radio across the United States.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Horror in the Woods of Santa Cruz

In 1909 a man disappeared within the forests of Santa Cruz, California. In 2014, a group of hikers found his journal and submitted it to the police. Its contents were well-preserved, with its owner's name, "James Booth," written in neat script on the inner cover. Unable to connect it to any existing missing persons cases, they released its contents to the public in the hopes that somebody somewhere might know more. A typewritten reproduction of the journal's fading script is provided below:   

Entry 1, December 9th, 1909

President Roosevelt wants Roland and I to explore the woods surrounding Santa Cruz. This mission is ranked difficulty level "S," meaning there's a higher chance for failure than usual. I'll be updating this journal as part of the standard contingency procedure.  

Entry 2, December 10th, 1909

We made camp near the edge of the forest. Nothing extraordinary so far, just a few deer. Roland said he saw a bobcat, but I didn't see anything. It's been raining for several days.   

Entry 3, December 11th, 1909

Roland shot and killed a bobcat. He never misses with his Winchester repeater. I prefer my Colt revolver, but to each his own. We are getting deeper into the forest now and have begun searching for our target. Roland's eyes look icier than usual. He says he isn't afraid, but I don't believe him.

Entry 4, December 12th, 1909

Still no activity. Our orders were to explore and report on what we found. They don't expect us to neutralize the target, but we will make an attempt if given the opportunity. Our superiors were intentionally vague about what our target is, other than emphasizing the danger it poses to the surrounding community. Roland and I are always given the difficult missions...

Entry 5, December 13th, 1909

The days grow shorter. It feels like we are going in circles.

Entry 6, December 14th, 1909

It is unseasonably cold, at least for what we expected of this region. Luckily Roland had the foresight to pack heavier clothes, else we would have had to retreat into town. We built a small encampment nestled against a hillside, and take turns scanning our surroundings for movement. Nothing yet. 

Entry 7, December 15th, 1909

Roland woke up with a rash on his right arm. He scratches at it every few minutes. I made a poultice out of some local herbs, but it isn't helping. Later we found a small hut nestled between two trees. It's abandoned; webs lace it top to bottom. We thought it would make for suitable shelter, but the inside was too cold to bear (for no readily explainable reason).

Entry 8, December 16th, 1909

Found another hut. This one doesn't look abandoned. Nonetheless, Roland took it apart for firewood. 

 Entry 9, December 17th, 1909

Roland's rash is getting worse. May have to send him back into town to get it looked at, but I'd prefer not to work this case alone. So far still no sign of the target. 

 Entry 10, December 18th, 1909

Roland collapsed today while scouting the edges of our camp. His rash is getting worse, and I think he has a fever. Made him some soup using water from a nearby stream, herbs, and some squirrel meat. He ate slowly, but some life returned to his eyes.

Entry 11, December 19th, 1909

Roland is gone. I found a note saying "gone back to town to get medicine, will return by the 25th." However, it doesn't look like Roland's handwriting.

Entry 12, December 20th, 1909 

I forged deeper into the forest, making sure to make my trail conspicuous for Roland. Thought I saw some figures in the shadows, but found no evidence of Roland or anything else. The nights are getting darker. 

Entry 13, December 21st, 1909

A beautiful day. The sun shined through the pine trees, and I managed to bring down a deer with my revolver. Around dusk I thought I saw Roland off in the distance, moving through the brush. I shouted after him, but he didn't reply. I decided to stay up deep into the night to see if Roland would find my camp, but he never arrived. 

Entry 14, December 22nd, 1909

I woke up drenched in sweat. In my dream, a shadowy figure with glowing eyes stared down at me, a grin on its face. It felt real. Was this my target? I decided to fortify my camp, setting traps along the perimeter. Beyond those I constructed a barrier of dry leaves and twigs carefully placed along obvious approach routes. I'll know if something is coming. 

Entry 15, December 23rd, 1909

I barely slept. Usually I am not one to be afraid of anything, but fear of seeing what I saw the previous night kept me up. There is no movement along the perimeter of the camp; the forest is silent. 

Entry 16, December 24th, 1909

I remain in my fortified camp, only leaving to gather firewood. I plan to wait here until tomorrow to see if Roland returns. 

Entry 17, December 25th, 1909

Christmas. Roland doesn't show.  

Entry 18, December 26th, 1909

I left camp to search for Roland. After several hours of combing the forest, I found his body. He's pinned to a tree, a branch protruding from his chest, his lifeless eyes peering out into the expanse of redwoods. He gripped his rifle tightly, finger on the trigger. I burned his body per standard procedures and took his rifle. As I was about to leave, I noticed a red "X" drawn on the tree where Roland was once pinned. This must have been the work of my target. 

Entry 19, December 27th, 1909

I followed a trail leading from the scene of Roland's demise. It led me to a dark, inky sector of the woods. Black streams flow through the hills, and several still, reflective ponds dot the landscape. I found more of the webbed huts we came across when we began our journey. I made camp in an easily defensible position, against a rocky outcrop atop a shallow cliff's edge, looking out onto a grassy meadow. If anyone comes for me, I'll be ready. 

Entry 20, December 28th, 1909

Nobody came in the night. With Roland dead and my situation growing worse by the day, I decided to call in backup. We were provided with rudimentary flares in the case of severe emergency. They are meant to alert our men stationed in Santa Cruz that our mission has gone terribly wrong. I used a flare. I am unsure if I made the right decision, if this target is beyond the capabilities of Roland and I, then these rescuers might be going to their deaths.

Entry 21, December 29th, 1909

I managed to sleep for a couple of hours. My thoughts are muddled. No sign of rescuers yet. I remain in my camp against the cliffside.

Entry 22, December 30th, 1909

I dreamt of the horrific figure once more. It grinned at me in a...loving manner. I tried to draw my pistol but my hands were paralyzed. I woke up just as it reached out to touch me, blood dripping from ashen claw like appendages. 

Entry 23, December 31st, 1909

New Year's Eve. On the edge of the meadow my camp overlooks, I saw several figures. They stood there, motionless. I fired my pistol in the air as a warning, but they remained still. I fired at them, and they remained still. 

Entry 24, January 1st, 1910

The figures are gone. Hours later I heard rustling in the trees, but to my joy the three figures who emerged wore military uniforms. Their leader, a Sergeant in rank by the looks of it, briefed me. He warned Washington D.C. that the flares were used, and said that more help is on the way. When I asked him why we couldn't leave now, he stared at me blankly. "It's a miracle we were able to get to you, the forests are infested, all we can do now is hold out as long as we can."

Entry 25, January 2nd, 1910

The Sergeant's men established a perimeter to our camp, setting up trenches, barriers, and makeshift pillboxes. I told the Sergeant my story, to which he replied with a grimace and several sympathetic nods. When I asked him what his men are preparing for, he shook his head and said, "those who call this forest home." He refused to answer more questions, clearly shaken by the ordeal of getting to me. To pass the time, I cleaned my revolver and Roland's repeater. 

Entry 26, January 3rd, 1910

I woke up to gunshots. The Sergeant's men had fired several rounds into the forest. I joined them, but I couldn't see what they were shooting at. One of them even threw a grenade. Desperation colored their faces. When I asked what they saw, they shook their heads and refused to reply. Later, the Sergeant asked me about a red X that suddenly appeared on one of the boulders near camp. I had no explanation, and neither did he. 

Entry 27, January 4th, 1910

Several pale figures emerged from the forest. They were people, but they looked rabid, their clothes tattered. They walked, arm's entwined and in a parallel line towards our camp. They moved at a deliberate pace, never speeding up, even when we opened fire. I took down at least six. My comrades killed the rest. Their ashen, sinewy bodies quickly moldered within the meadow, infecting it.

Entry 28, January 5th, 1910

The bodies disappeared overnight. Our food supplies were running low, so I decided to form a small hunting party composed of myself and one of the Sergeant's men. We didn't go far, always keeping camp within sight. We collected several squirrels and a raccoon, which helped to sustain us in the cold.  

Entry 29, January 6th, 1910

Had nightmares again. It was the same shadowy figure, overlooking our camp. When I awoke, there was nothing there. The other three men had the same dream. We decided to break camp. On the move as I write this, have to concentrate.

Entry 30, January 7th, 1910

We made camp after several hours of traveling towards the direction of town. We should have found an exit by now. 

Entry 31, January 8th, 1910

We left camp, moving swiftly. We found the site of Roland's death. The red X is still there. I noticed tracks in the dirt, circling the tree. There were people here within the past few days.

Entry 32, January 9th, 1910

One of the Sergeant's men developed the same rash that afflicted Roland. I told the Sergeant, and he lowered his head in dismay. He then pulled his pistol out and shot the man in the back of the head. We burned the body and continued on. 

Entry 33, January 10th, 1910

The shadowy figure is real. It appeared on the edge of our camp, its face contorted and ghastly. The eyes glowed red and its mouth curved inward, its face looking much like a crimson X foregrounding a portrait of nothingness. Its teeth were jagged, and blood seeped from its claw-like hands. If it had legs, we couldn't tell, it was too dark. We ran into the night, and kept running until we found a small abandoned shack. It has two shattered windows, each facing the inky expanse of redwoods. We stationed ourselves at the windows and waited.

Entry 34, January 11th, 1910

Today the shadowy figure emerged from the forest and stood about twenty feet from the shack. It continued to grin. We tried shooting at it, but it only caused it to recoil slightly. Otherwise it looked unharmed. It took one step forward. Then it waited, and took another step, making deliberate and drawn out movements. Its eyes were locked on mine. It continued making deliberate steps, stopping about five feet from the shack. It outstretched its arms, like a priest would do in church, and looked up to the sky. Then, it waited.

Entry 35, January 12th, 1910

We watched the figure for hours, but it didn't move. Our eyes grew tired. Decided to take turns watching, I slept a few hours, then watched, then slept. The figure never moved, but there's activity in the woods. It appeared to be summoning the ashen forest dwellers we encountered earlier. They encircled the house. 

Entry 36, January 13th, 1910

Last night I passed out. When I awoke, I saw the Sergeant and his man lying on the rotted, moss covered floor. A disgusting mixture of blood, gore, and mucus decorated their bodies. I prodded them. No response. I looked out the windows. The figure, and its minions, were gone. That's when I noticed the blood on my hands. Had I killed these men? The thought, strangely enough, did not disturb me in the least. I grinned, slightly, as I pondered what could have led to this absurd turn of events. Then I remembered my dream. The figure, it spoke to me. I still remember the words. We are one. And we are. I feel complete. Satisfied.

Here the entries stop for several decades. On the final page of the timeworn journal, the date "August 1965" is illegibly scrawled several times in red. There is one other line below that, itself nearly illegible. According to our best graphologists, it reads "They are building a school here. Good." 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How is iOS7 on the iPhone 4S?

Image source:

The simple answer is this: it's very good.

Therefore, as a 4S owner, I am appalled by articles like this one, which makes the following claim:

"At this point, I still think the iPhone 4S is a perfect device for anyone looking to get into the Apple ecosystem for minimal cost as, they do indeed make a great 'iOS starter device' and many folks in the iMore Forums tend to agree with that as well. That being said, it is getting to be a little dated and if you're comparing devices, the age will show."

Maybe it's the fact that I don't like their choice of words. "Starter device" implies that the 4S can't do everything that the 5, 5C, and 5S can do. In other words, that it's limited to the extent that you won't get the full "Apple experience."

Well, that's a load of baloney. I personally chose to buy the 4S over the 5 for the simple reason that when I compared both in an Apple Store, they performed equally well. The 5S, from what I have seen, is a great phone. It does indeed provide a smoother experience than the 4S. However, we're talking seconds, maybe even milliseconds of difference here. So sure, your 5 and 5S are faster than my 4S, but is it really to the extent that the 4S should get downgraded to "starter device" status?

About The Author

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Nicholas Garcia (M.A.) is a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Davis. He is also a Co-Founder of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies. Previously, he contributed to and the Davis Humanities Institute.