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If you’re looking to jump into the Kinect world of gaming, then this Kinect-enabled Xbox 360 Amazon Deal of the Day is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. A full Xbox 360 Slim rig with Kinect and a game for $299 AND a $100 Amazon credit for future purchases! Such a hell of a deal that I could not resist it myself. I’m not as into the console gaming thing as I used to be, but have you seen this Star Wars game coming up at the end of the year? OMFG! Anyone who’s ever wanted to be a REAL Jedi Knight (as I have since about, oh, 1977!) will HAVE TO get this game! I’ve been jonesing for such an immersive gaming experience since I first heard of the Wii, but this seems like it’ll FINALLY be the real deal. New Year’s Eve is more than a half-year away, but as I said, this is such a good deal on the hardware (you’re virtually getting a Kinect-enabled Xbox 360 rig for $200!) that you can’t pass it up. Or at least I couldn’t. SOOOOO looking forward to the end of the year now!

Sorry if this seems like the kind of hard selling that I earlier disavowed, but the deal is just THAT good and as you (should) well know, it’ll disappear like that if you hesitate.  Just a fast and hard word to the wise (shouldn’t that actually be to the unwise, though?)!

The bulk of this post is my reply to Josh Lowensohn’s post on CNet regarding this week’s Apple WorldWide Developers Conference.  Seemed pretty weak to me, so I essentially wrote my own version.  Go read Josh’s and then read on below and tell me who’s you think is better!

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Really, Josh?  This is all you could come up with for FIVE big questions going into the WWDC?  Aren’t questions #1 and #2 really just parts 1 and 2 of the SAME question: What is the iCloud and how will it work?  Question #3 is valid enough, but again, question #4 should be covered in the detail for the previous questions.  And you’re wondering how low the price will be for Lion?  How about what will be in it that will make it a worthwhile upgrade?  Snow Leopard didn’t cost much, but it didn’t do much either and some incompatibilities made it a problematic upgrade.  Try my five on for size:

1: What is the iCloud and how will it work?  We’ve got lotsa rumors, but no actual details about what will stream, how well it will work, will it work for all platforms currently supported by iTunes, and most importantly, what will it cost.

2: Will there be new hardware?  As I said, a perfectly valid question, but here’s where you should ask about what’s coming AND when will it arrive.  And perhaps, can Apple really get away with releasing what the rumor mill would have us believe will be an incremental upgrade of the iPhone 4 three months out of the by-now usual cycle?  Also, is potentially moving the iPhone introduction to the time of the usual iPod presser a tacit admission that the iPod is pretty much over?

3: Will iOS 5 be good enough to keep iPhone users at home?  THIS is a big question for me, ’cause if they don’t deliver the next-gen iPhone in the June/July timeframe and instead delay it till September, I and many other 3GS owners have a big set of decisions to make.  Do we re-up with the phone we have and hope AT&T will be merciful and let us upgrade in 3 months with only a nominal charge?  Do we blow 2 or 3 bills on the iPhone 4, betting the next version will be underwhelming?  Do we get a burner and swap the SIM to keep our phone service while we wait?  And if so, does that kill our “unlimited” data service that would otherwise be grandfathered in?  [Probably.]  Or do we just bite the bullet, flip Chairman Jobs the bird and get an Android phone, where we don’t have to put up with all this malarky?  If no 5th gen iPhone is in the immediate future, then a deciding factor on what I and others do will be what iOS 5 will do. Will it be a slight upgrade or the kick in the pants that it needs?

4: Will Lion be a substantial, compelling upgrade, or will it be a streamlining/feature fix like Snow Leopard?  Not a big question to me, personally, as a happy Win 7 user, but given that Snow Leopard seemed more like a release for the sake of a release, will Lion (as with iOS 5) be a big ol’ kick up or will it be more of the same but at such a low price no one will make much of a fuss about buying it?

5: Will there be “one last thing?”  Something missing from recent keynotes is a blow-the-doors-off item that Jobs casually throws in just when you think he’s done.  Save for particular details about a given featured product, we’ve pretty much known in advance what Jobs will be talking about at his keynotes for the last three years or so.  Will this change this time?  Could it be a “surprise” introduction of the 5th gen iPhone that blows the rumors out of the water?  It would be wonderful to have all the traditional hyped-up anticipation that precedes these keynotes not get knocked flat by the actual presentation.

I was perusing Ain’t It Cool News the other day, as I’m wont to do (BTW, I’m StarHawke over there, so say hi if you see me post), and saw this post containing previews for the 5 new fall shows over on CBS.  I wasn’t that thrilled about 4 of them, but one of the three new dramas featured caught my eye: Person Of Interest.  Very interesting pedigree on this one: J.J. Abrams, who can virtually do no wrong in my book since he gave Star Trek back to me two years ago, and one of the co-writers of the stunningly brilliant The Dark Knight, Jonathan Nolan.  It feels like a mix of The Equalizer and Minority Report (or Early Edition), in that the central character is engaged in vigilante justice to protect an innocent but he has foreknowledge of the trouble that will ensue.  Seems like a thin premise, but at the same time one well suited to the demands of episodic TV, with room to create the show’s mythology.  Given that, I can’t think of two creative minds better suited for the project, ’cause Nolan knows from bad-ass vigilantes and J.J. can do some AWESOME mythology!

Still, this show and the four others mentioned in the AICN article are about 4 months from their premieres, and pretty much any show that has any appeal to me even this far off is pretty much already on the chopping block.  I have what I think is an innovative idea to support SF/fantasy genre shows like this one, but again, it’s a little early to go there just yet.

Speaking of the four other shows, the dramas seem awfully one-note and the comedies pretty lame.  A Gifted Man looks like someone decided to take ONE episode of Medium and draw it out into a series.  If P.O.I.’s premise seems thin, this one’s positively anorexic.  Unforgettable kinda reminds me of another bizarre police procedural of a few years ago, New Amsterdam, where instead of the central character having eidetic memory he was immortal and would be so until he met his one true love.  It’s as if you took all the cool sword & sorcery stuff out of Highlander and made it a cop show.  Yes, it was that boring, though a partial saving grace was the very appealing Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who went on to do a very interesting pilot for a show called Virtuality (which went nowhere, unfortunately) and now seems to be in Game of Thrones.  Wow, see what you miss when you jettison premium cable?

Anyhow, despite the obvious charms of Poppy Montgomery (who looks absolutely smokin’ as a redhead), I say Unforgettable is forgotten shortly after November sweeps.  Simular babe-itude exists in the comedy 2 Broke Girls in the person of Kat Dennings, who I loved in Thor and looks stunningly bodacious in the footage of this show.  Sadly, she’s the only thing not flat and insipid in what they’re showing us.  I have only so much time in my life for multi-camera live audience comedies and currently only Mike & Molly is funny enough to warrant watching.  I don’t think the other new CBS comedy, How To Be A Gentleman, will rate that high either.  Loved me some Kevin Dillon in Entourage, but as with Kat Dennings above, you’ve got one eagle held down by a turkey of a show. I hope both of these talented actors are released to better projects pronto.

And that’s it for at least the fall CBS schedule.  Only one interesting show and the rest is just drek, so no major DVR programming there.  The Good Wife, still the class of their lineup, got moved to Sundays, which is weird but no worries there.  I guess I’ll still pick up the middling Hawaii Five-O and Blue Bloods, which are good to watch once but not much repeat viewing value in either case, and the aforementioned Mike & Molly is actually funny and worth my precious time.  Oh, well.  Shouldn’t watch too much TV anyway, right?

So two months into my second blog and I’ve got all of two post to show for it. Gee, way to go, huh? Hey, it’s a work in progress, as are most things in life. Part of what’s holding down the posting volume (aside of sleep deprivation and just plain laziness) is getting all my ducks in a row for how I want this blog to work AND work for me.

It’s taken a VERY long time, but I’m beginning to sort out some fundamental priorities in my life and how I want it to be. One of them is clear: I want to leave my house as seldom as possible, and certainly never for something so common and distasteful as…work! I may go into this process more later, but for the moment one step along that particular path is to monetize this blog as much as possible. I’m under no illusions that I can make doing this my day job…at least not yet. But under the philosophy that every little bit helps, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Amazon.com for accepting me and my lil’ blog here into their Associates Program.

Understand, though, I don’t intend to be in your face with selling this or that. I cannot STAND most advertising and have taken many steps to avoid exposure to as much of it as I can. This is one reason I moved to and am staying with the Firefox web browser. I love Firefox’s near infinite flexibility and customization, but more than that, I can’t happily web-browse anymore without the Adblock Plus add-on. Coupled with the NoScript add-on, my browsing experience is more effective, faster, secure and FAR easier on both the eyes and the psyche. I highly commend this combo to you all if you already haven’t availed yourselves of them.

My intention with the Amazon Associates Program is merely to link from relevant items that come up to where you can pick them up on Amazon. It doesn’t cost you any more than you’d otherwise pay, but it drops a little coin in my cup without being intrusive. And of course it’s totally voluntary on your part. You can go to Amazon directly and get, say, a copy of The Ultimate Matrix Collection on Blu-ray, and entirely leave me out of the transaction. I hope and ask, though, that if you like what I put up and want to help defray my costs in running this blog, you’ll follow the links I provide and buy through them, if you’re so inclined.

This will not be the only affiliate program I intend to participate in, so links may soon also go to other merchants, and I will be as up front about the additional programs I enter as I have been here. Otherwise, I’m not going to make a big thing about them one way or the other, except for the linking I’ve already detailed. Well, I may also toss in a link to my Wish List on Amazon, should, y’know, anyone suddenly feel REALLY generous and want to give me something extraspecialkeen! ;)

Anyhow, that said, we move onward and upward…

…and say, did I mention that I have a Wish List on Amazon?

As a National Rifle Association member, I get e-mails from the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, which to be perfectly honest I tend to glance over and then delete. This one caught me, though. Why, I can’t tell you, but it did and in fact I did a little digging that made this alert more alarming that I’d originally thought. It’s one thing to pass a law that removes reimbursement of legal costs for those found not guilty by reason of self-defense. A questionable idea, but perhaps not onerous given the tight fiscal times and since you’re guaranteed at least a public defender by federal law, not THAT big a deal. But to sneak in a provision that there’s not even a right to self-defense? Oh, no, brother. THAT noise is wrong! Or to put it as I did to my state representatives:

I’ve recently been informed of a small but extremely disturbing bill that will soon be put before a committee you sit on, the House Ways & Means Committee.  HB 2067 is a short bill, but manages to accomplish a very large change in how citizens of this state may or may not be prosecuted.  The entirety of the bill is no more than three sentences, but in that brief span it proposes to not merely eliminate the reimbursement of defense costs to defendants found not guilty by reason of self-defense, but to also remove a law (RCW 9A.16.110) that actually prevents prosecution of citizens if they take action to protect either themselves or others.

This is a classic legislative bait-and-switch.  No doubt this bill will be advocated as a small yet fiscally responsible change in these trying economic times.  Please do not be fooled by this.  The elimination of RCW 9A.16.110 will, at best, have a chilling effect on citizens who might otherwise be both capable and motivated to defend themselves or others from violent attacks.  This law is directly comparable to “good Samaritan” laws that hold those who try to medically aid others not liable for any injury caused by such aid.  No matter how numerous, well-trained or vigilant the officers of this state’s various police agencies are, they can’t be everywhere a violent crime is committed.  We need direct and active citizen involvement in maintaining our public safety, and anything that dissuades one citizen from either defending him- or herself or someone else renders the streets of our communities that much less safe.

I strenuously oppose even the passage of HB 2067 out of the House Ways & Means Committee, let alone passage by the full House.  I hope that as my representative you will join me in this position and vote this bill down.  Thank you for your help on this issue.

If you are a Washington State resident, do hit the NRA-ILA alert, look up your representative (especially if they sit on the House Ways & Means Committee, as both of mine do) and either call or e-mail them pronto. If you’re fortunate or sensible enough to NOT live in this cockamamie state, do keep a close eye on what your state might be doing to your self-defense/gun rights and sign up for the NRA-ILA alerts. Though I don’t currently own any firearms, I’m an NRA member because I want to preserve ALL my civil rights, not just the politically correct ones. I hope you do as well.

Breaking The Ice

So have you ever had writer’s block? I can’t really remember an occasion myself until the first time I tried to do just this thing, write the first post on my shiny new blog. If you check here, you’ll see I’m hardly shy with my opinions, so that may help you to understand how freaked out I was by the sudden inability to face the dreaded blank page and then fill it.

I think part of it is my staunch desire to neither bore y’all or waste your time on trivialities. There’s enough random BS in life and the Good Lord knows there’s more than enough that’s boring. I think it should be the Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shall Not Bore. That said, one idea I have to support daily posts may just do that anyway, so I hope to live up to that commandment regardless.

So what exactly am I going to write about here? Well, that’s for me to come up with and you to see, if you will so indulge me. I think the blog’s tag line is the best overall summary, because like any personal blog, it will be a compendium of my experiences, opinions and hopefully some enlightenment along the way. I need an outlet for the thoughts and opinions that well up in me on a daily basis, but instead of filling up the comment section of someone else’s blog (something I’ll probably still do), I wanted someplace of my own for it as well, where it’s my show and everyone else has to deal with it!

Since running a blog is terra incognita to me, things will change and adjust as time goes on (’cause that’s new for a blog!), but I hope the learning experience will be at least interesting. I do have an ultimate goal in mind for this and other blogs I intend to start in the future, but let’s see how this goes first. Thanks for looking in.

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