Politics, warfare, business, ecology, biology, and entertainment – this litany only scratches the surface of developments in geekdom over what’s proved to be a very eventful week. We’ve got the best morsels from the throng of news stories, so let’s get right down to business in this, our seventh installment of Wins and Fails This Week in Geek.
WIN: Safe Shopping
Following a New York Times article about an unsavory businessman who’s in essence gaming Google’s search rankings by garnering negative reviews about his retail operation through all manner of creative and repulsive means, Google have altered their ultra-secret algorithm to not reward back-linking points for bad reviews. So, this is really a big win for people who don’t want to have their eyeglasses frames urinated on and mailed back to them stinking of human waste. Which is, by the way, one of the threats the aforementioned businessman levied against a customer. By not rewarding merchants for bad reviews, Google’s attempting to take a step towards consumer protection – or at the very least, making it easier for us to shop smarter.
WIN: South Korean Policy
Let me preface this by saying there is nothing win, and nothing remotely funny, about increased tensions and military action between North and South Korea. But when it comes to defending their response to North Korea’s shelling, South Korean defense minister Kim Tae-young’s response was the very definition of win. When pressed about why their retaliation to the shelling was delayed and, some say, soft-peddled, Kim said simply, “This isn’t StarCraft.” Thus, an army of terran cosplayers shuffled home with heads hung low in disappointment.
FAIL: Job Security
You are a writer on one of the most successful shows on television. Ratings are through the roof and climbing. A second series has been swiftly and decisively awarded. You’ve pretty much had champagne on tap for weekly celebrations of blockbuster viewership. You’re set. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the director could fire you and all your colleagues wholesale. That’s precisely what’s happened behind the scenes at AMC’s smash comic-to-TV hit The Walking Dead. Frank Darabont’s massacre of the show’s creative team has plenty of people scratching their heads, but sources say that the majority of the writing that’s done so well for the show thus far was penned by Darabont, Robert Kirkman, and freelancers. Perhaps the news won’t bode poorly for the future of the show, but it sure sucks to be a Walking Dead writer this week.
FAIL: Beorn No More
Beorn the bear-man in The Hobbit movie was reportedly written for Ron Perlman. Guillermo del Toro, whom Perlman called “the coolest guy I know” in an interview with Spinoff Online, had apparently penned Beorn’s part in the film with the understanding that Perlman would participate. But that participation was conditional. Now that del Toro’s off the job, Perlman’s no longer in the running for Hobbit fame. Batman…Fanfastic Four…Iron Man…Highlander…Mortal Kombat…The Outer Limits…The Tick…Star Trek…Hellboy…his filmography reads like a geek’s check list of things to bring with you to a deserted island. His involvement in The Lord of the Rings franchise could have quite possibly elevated him to geek godhood. Oh well.
An aquarium in Japan is lighting a Christmas tree with electricity generated from an eel in an aquarium, which is making a strong statement about environmentally-aware power sources and eco-friendly…hang on, let’s be real. The only statement this display is making is WTF, this Christmas tree is lit by an eel! How freaking cool is that?? Can I please get an eel to power my Xbox 360???
FAIL: Time Management
Ray Muzyka, founder of BioWare, had a nice whinge this week about his biggest pet peeve with the video game industry: too many games. According to his interview with Develop, he finds there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to play the plethora of worthwhile and enjoyable games that hit the market all the time. And he would have to – not only for his own entertainment, but to stay current with what competitors are producing. “I try and play two-or three hours a night, but that’s hard and it’s not enough,” he complained. I, for one, am guessing his solution to this particular problem will be to release even more games that suck every spare moment out of our lives. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Dragon Age II.
WIN: Close Encounters of the Microbial Kind
It was one of the most highly-anticipated and highly-speculated press conferences in recent memory. When NASA dropped the bomb that it had something big to tell the world about the search for extraterrestrial life, the Internet promptly exploded with everything from “Wow! signal” SETI to life on Jupiter theories. It turns out the big scoop, leaked prior to the conference, was that a new microbial life form has been discovered in California. This life form lives on arsenic, making it quite a unique little critter, indeed. NASA says it will expand how we think about life outside of Earth, opening up new possibilities for life forms in environments we previously thought uninhabitable. Score one for the believers. Biology has just been revolutionized.