Some cool/interesting stuff

A blind young man has mastered videogames after years of perseverence, trial and error, and broken controllers.

Mellen hangs out any chance he gets at the DogTags Gaming Center in Lincoln, which opened last month. Every now and then someone will come in and think he can easily beat the blind kid.

That attitude doesn’t faze Mellen.

“I’ll challenge them, maybe. If I feel like a challenge,” he said, displaying an infectious confidence. “I freak people out by playing facing backwards.”

There’s nothing he likes better than playing video games, Mellen said.

He will be a senior in high school next year. After graduation, he plans to take a year off because he wants a break from school.

When he does go to college, Mellen wants to study video game design.

Product placement is set to escalate dramatically, according to CNN. I personally don’t have a problem with product placement, as long as it isn’t gratuitous. The scene in Friends where Phoebe is assured that she is giving “the best gift in the world” (by being a surrogate for her brother and his wife) wouldn’t have been nearly as funny if Chandler had used a made-up product rather than blurting, “You’re giving them a Sony PlayStation?!” I think it’s naive to assume that money didn’t change hands there. Even if it didn’t, treating a sitcom line as a ringing endorsement is just silly.

That’s why I think Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert, is a little nuts.

“We think that broadcasters are thumbing their nose at the law,” says Ruskin, whose nonprofit advocacy group petitioned the FCC nearly two years ago to require more prominent advisories, including labeling on-screen each instance of product placement as it occurs.

The FCC has yet to rule on the petition.

But Adelstein agrees that “we may need to change our rules to address the fact that, even when there is some disclosure, people still don’t know that they’ve been advertised to. At a minimum, it seems that advertisers should disclose up front (in the program) there’s going to be a product placement, so that when somebody sees it, they know what they’re seeing.”

Ruskin does bring up some decent points, such as the following:

Adelstein is outspoken about cracking down on violations of federal payola laws, which (along with undisclosed product placements) can include video news releases misrepresented as legitimate news reports, and appearances by consumer product experts who evaluate products with which they have an unacknowledged financial tie.

But seriously, imagine trying to watch your favorite show, only to have little notes popping up everywhere a la Pop Up Video. How obnoxious.

Japan, Russia and Korea aren’t the only ones fighting over dinky islands. Apparently Denmark and Canada both claim Hans Island in the Arctic, and the conflict has spread to…Google ads.

Toronto author Rick Broadhead said he bought an advertisement on Internet search engine Google after spotting a Danish ad that said “Does Hans sound Canadian? Danish name, Danish island.”

That ad linked to the Danish Foreign Ministry’s Web site and a copy of a protest letter Copenhagen sent Ottawa after Canada’s defense minister visited the island.

Broadhead’s ad showed a large Canadian Maple Leaf flag, and it now carries the message: “Hans Island is Canadian.”

“To my knowledge this is the first time that a squabble has ever broken out between two nations on Google,” he told Reuters on Thursday.

Canada is avoiding a Freedom Fries fiasco:

“Notwithstanding the disputed area, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry is allowing its cafeteria to sell Danish pastries as a goodwill gesture towards the Danish government and people,” ministry spokesman Reynald Doiron said.

Okay, so, the world can end now. There’s going to be a Voltron movie. (Via Slashdot.)

I used to be really into that show. I even wrote some fanfiction. When I was 18.


I only hope the movie retains some of the original brilliant dialogue. “We’re space explorers, and we need space!”

(But seriously, are they going to include Sven? Is he going to die? Are they going to bring him back later and have him fall in love with Allura’s identical cousin? …are they still going to call her Allura?)