A9 Blockview maps.
Everyone, if you haven't already, check out a9's online map service. It's not as streamlined and user friendly as google maps, but it does offer a new feature for several cities.
Click on one of the cities listed, and then click on the map – you'll find a series of pictures in the bottom right corner. Keep playing with it, and you'll see that you can view images block to block across the city. It becomes addictive.
Google Talk appears to be offically open for business. As it's in beta-test, it requires a gmail account (yell in the comments if you need one) to register. It's compatible with AOL-IM (and many others), and features voip. I'm curious if the recent stock offering is part of a move to allow google talk to call into phone networks; we'll have to wait and see.
Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, lives up to the hype (reviews here). Picture a sandbox world, like Grand Theft Auto, except you get to smash just about everything available. Run up the side of buildings and do a piledriver off the top, punt cars and use lightposts as javelins – the level of destructive creativity is amazing. The demo I played allowed you to take a car, rip it in half, and make metal gloves out of it. I've heard you can flatten a city bus and use it as a skateboard. Brilliant!
"But Mike," you say, "I'm too old, and too mature to play a video game. Especially one based, on all things, The Hulk. For shame." Lame, but understandable. Here's a quick highbrow beard that you can place around your enjoyment of this game, if you're the type that needs it – Thomas Pynchon's essay on the Luddite movement:
[Luddites] were bands of men, organized, masked, anonymous, whose object was to destroy machinery used mostly in the textile industry…[their] anger was not directed at the machines, not exactly. I like to think of it more as the controlled, martial-arts type anger of the dedicated Badass. There is a long folk history of this figure, the Badass. He is usually male, and while sometimes earning the quizzical tolerance of women, is almost universally admired by men for two basic virtues: he Is Bad, and he is Big. Bad meaning not morally evil, necessarily, more like able to work mischief on a large scale. What is important here is the amplifying of scale, the multiplication of effect….When times are hard, and we feel at the mercy of forces many times more powerful, don't we, in seeking some equalizer, turn, if only in imagination, in wish, to the Badass — the djinn, the golem, the hulk, the superhero — who will resist what otherwise would overwhelm us?
…[the novel Frankenstein] remains today more than well worth reading, for all the reasons we read novels, as well as for the much more limited question of its Luddite value: that is, for its attempt, through literary means which are nocturnal and deal in disguise, to deny the machine…To insist on the miraculous is to deny to the machine at least some of its claims on us, to assert the limited wish that living things, earthly and otherwise, may on occasion become Bad and Big enough to take part in transcendent doings. By this theory, for example, King Kong (?-1933) becomes your classic Luddite saint.
Before you point out that I'm advocating to "deny the machine" by playing a digitial simulacra of denial on a machine, all I can say is you were the one with the problem, and that Frankenstein was also printed on a press, and I can't even hear you as I'm riding a tractor-trailing symbol of capital-technocratic hegemony as if it were a skateboard: