Start a home business, get rich quick, win financial freedom! If you watch late-night TV, you've heard it all before. But what's the story behind these slick pitchmen and their dubious schemes? Enter The Salty Droid, your ornery metal guide to the corrupt underworld of scam-marketing scum. This charmingly acerbic bot (owned and operated by mild-mannered Chicago dog-lover Jason Michael Jones [inter-view, long talk + transcript]) is a valiant crusader against the vile con-men who bankrupt the elderly and the desperate with beautiful lies. Exposed so far: A shadowy "Syndicate" of frauduct-pushing personality cults polluting the media with blogspam and woo-woo talking points. Boiler rooms in the Utah desert where telemarketers farm credit from easy targets with cunning, probing scripts [PDF]. Powerful politicians bought wholesale. Believers left to die in fraudulent new-age vision quests. It's a soul-crushing beat, enough to make one feel like a regular catcher-bot in the digital rye. But somebody's got to do it -- preferably someone with plasma nunchucks and titanium skin.
"I can tell you right now there is no I in A.I., and nor should there be." Veteran game programmer Mike Diskett (Syndicate, Magic Carpet, GTA IV) offers his thoughts on response mechanics, and how fuzzy logic can fail to account for the fog of war.
Matt Barton's Matt Chat started as a series of discussions on classic video games from Elite to System Shock 2. It now features interviews with the likes of Chris Avellone (Planescape Torment), Tim Cain (Fallout pt.1, pt.2); Arcanum, Brian Fargo (The Fall of Interplay, Waste land and Fallout, Bard's Tale and Wizardry), John Romero (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake and the infamous Daikatana) and Al Lowe (Leasure Suite Larry pt.1 and pt.2). [more inside]
Current TV previously & previously, the media company founded by Al Gore after the 2000 election, has picked up the kinds of in depth long form journalism being rapidly dropped by major networks, but has been tantalizingly unavailable for those without cable; until now. They have been putting their Vanguard episodes up on their website and on YouTube. [more inside]
The Maltesos. Well, there's no Webistics, and Big Pussy hasn't turned up floating down the Fox River, but here's your modern American mob family, suburban style. Betty Loren-Maltese, longtime mayor of the Town of Cicero, which abuts Chicago's West Side, has been indicted for looting the town's health insurance system to the tune of at least $10 million. The US Attorney says it is the largest dollar amount in any single organized crime investigation. [more inside]