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The mysteries of shootings, volcanoes and flying spaghetti monsters

Paging Mr. Hubbard...

Letters Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the game that some seem to think is imbued with mythical powers of monster creation (maybe this is a mod we haven't come across) is still hitting the headlines, and probably checkout registers of stores across the land.

Most recently this has been courtesy of lawyer Jack Thompson, who says there is "blood ... on the hands of men in certain corporate board rooms from Japan to New York".

We like a bit of dramatic posturing here at Vulture Central. It so brightens up our days. You are not quite convinced of Thompson's arguments, however:

I have just read your article and believe the Lawyer has no case. As far as I am aware you cannot steal a cops gun in the game - when you get arrested, you are then dropped of (re-spawned) to another part in the game, minus some cash and weapons!!.

So, if the kid was 'playing the game as if it were real life' he made an 'out of the game' decision to steal the cops gun. Whereas he should have actually tried to bribe them.

Blame his parents. Not Rockstar. Stupid Kid.


To me, what makes this seem like a money grab is that they're suing both GameStop and Walmart. Unless the guy owned two copies of GTA:VC, what's the point in suing two retailers, when he only bought the game at one of them?


I have grown up watching films such as Aliens, Terminator and those dodgy 80's horrors where every girl who is about to die must show her chest just before it happens. I might also add I am an avid gamer and have had the pleasure of enjoying many many blood and gore titles over the years.

Today at 24, I am yet to kill anybody, take drugs or rape anyone... so why haven't i been affected by these movies/games over the years if they are so damaging?

Probably because I was taught it's not nice to go about hacking people up into little bits with a samurai sword. Although this is just common sense that the majority of the human race abide by.

Yes I can believe an abusive childhood can lead to all sorts of psychological problems in the years to come. It's all down to the parents or environment he was raised in. But to be blunt, a bit of blood in a clearly fiction game or a pair of tits do not make murderers.


Taito had better watch their backs, next we will have people firing guns into space saying that the 1978 video game Space Invaders drove them to it.


That business concluded, we have a letter from the founders of Resource Broker. Seems that they've fixed their early teething problem, and are now fully Mozzilla'd up:


The Resource Broker is fully compatible with Mozilla Firefox, and has been since two weeks of our test launch earlier this year.

I would like to personally invite any readers of The Register to visit (using Firefox if they wish!) to see the site for themselves. Our aim is to provide buyers and suppliers in the IT industry with a genuine opportunity to reduce costs, save time and win new business. We welcome feedback from all readers.

Many thanks

Steve Christian Managing Director The Resource Broker

In utterly, utterly unrelated news, the number of students applying to take their A-Level physics exam dropped to the lowest ever level this year, according to the Institute of Physics:

This on the same day that another survey claimed 50% of graduates are unemployed after a year and the release of the A level results showing that more A grades have been achieved than ever before, for the 23rd year running. And we are to believe that exams are not getting easier. The flaw in this old chestnut is that there are no track records in subjects such as surfboard design or sheep shearing whilst standing on one leg and whistling Dixie.

The subjects available should reflect the needs of the future which should mean a move towards the sciences and away from the new namby pamby can't fail twaddle that is being nurtured. But that's not fashionable and some poor soul with aspirations above their intellect might not make the grade and require a lifetime of therapy.

It's a real world out here, stop the mollycoddling, get the gloves off and make the lazy gits do physics. Then we'll see if they are studying as hard as they claim. However, this won't happen as governments of whatever flavour wouldn't want to be responsible for a perceived decline in the standard of education.


It isn't just down to the government, although they are definitely evil little toads - but that's what you get for voting in a bunch of media studies students with an attention span of ...oh look, there's Jamie Oliver.

Society is generally disparaging about scientists. You've got your chemists, they invent make-up and shampoo which is really amazing, but on the other hand they stick needles into the eyes of dogs and sell off dalmatian puppies to Glenn Close don't they? Nasty nasty people (but make me look years younger).

Then you've got your physicists. They er, well they are kind of like Star Trek but a lot less cool in real life with far too many beards and west country accents to be convincing heroes of space.

Then there's your biologists - they do those nice programmes on TV about birds and crocodile rescues, oh and that lovely Trudi the vet, so we like them.

Now I can see Trudi taking Jamie's place in the Sainsbury's ads, although I'm not sure how interested we are in dog food recipes, but can anybody really see Stephen Hawking doing Walkers crisps? How about Colin Pillinger doing va va voom? Anybody?

It is a tragedy that the UK is turning its back on science after being pioneers for so long. We shouldn't have to resort to celebrity scientists to increase demand but it seems the govt and society (not us reg geeks) are only interested in things that sparkle in the Sun and Star rather than the sun and stars themselves.


When this subject comes up there are always complaints from employers, but I think that at least one of the reasons for this problem is that the students know that industry doesn't value scientific knowledge at the graduate level. They may want technicians at high school level, but they want salesmen and project managers at graduate level. In the software industry I have known senior managers who prided themselves on not understanding software.

As everyone is now being encouraged to aspire to a university education, they are not interested in education that only suits them for careers as technicians.


Sticking with an educational theme, Harvard university said it wants to probe the mysteries of the origins of life. You can guess what happened next:

I believe that the general area is called abiogenesis. It is distinct from evolution, so West is incorrect as fact, rather than opinion in saying that this proves that there are holes in evolution. All it proves is that evolution doesn't say how life started, just how it can evolve. The paper was called "The Origins of the Species" rather than "The Origins of Life" for a good reason.

Species are the different *kinds* if life. Evolution is how you can get from a very simple organism to the multitudinous forms of life we see today. The simple organism is the only "gap", but then ID (Intelligent Design) has precisely the same gap and a whole lot besides: where did the designer come from? If he was complex, then it must have been designed, so he had a designer (who is complex too...). The both have the problem: what was the start?

Abiogenesis says "inorganic structures can be the start". Comes up with some ideas and then, boom, evolution can take over to make the simple forms more complex. Religion says "God is the start" then, boom, evolution can take over. ID says "aliens are the start". Um, aliens are alive, yes? God isn't a problem, because God is supernatural and the idea can be taken (in fact must be) on faith alone.

Abiogenesis can be modelled and/or hypotheses made and tested. ID requires that aliens are not supernatural (otherwise it is faith based and not scientific), but doesn't explain why the D-er doesn't need D-ing. Additionally the alien becomes the alien of the gaps, which is even less satisfactory than the God of the gaps.


>> "This is a stunning admission that the current theories do not >> explain [the origin of life]," <<

OK, step by step, explain to me how intelligent design _explains_ the origin of life. Don't miss anything out. Start from nothing, now, what comes next ? Then what ?

Anyone heard of (the theologian) William of Occam ?

Regards, Mike

PS. Also prove to me that the Universe was NOT created in its current entirety 1 second ago ...

I'm afraid that your story has not fully captured the real culprit for life on earth (or other bodies). Please review the startling revelations here.

I should have tried for the FOTW, but I just don't have it in me to persecute stupid people for acting stupidly.



But to qualify for FoTW, you need to flame us, not other people. Even intelligent design-ers. Still, thanks for the link. Long live the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Machine learning and biology appeared in the same article, and even the same sentence this week, prompting the inevitable cries of "It's the Rise of the Machines". The article had a serious point, but you didn't let that stop you. Good going:

Wake up guys! You're reporting on Penelope - a robot that hands scalpels to surgeons - and you neglect to point out the inherent dangers in The Rise Of The Machines[tm]! 'Well, Coroner, it was like this: he asked the robot for a scalpel, and it just wouldn't stop giving it to him..." Yours in quaking nervousness, Neil

>> Known events are largely ignored, whilst unexpected things grab our attention.

If so, why did those subjects counting goals in the basketball game miss seeing the gorilla ?

Regards, Mike

Good point, and a cool experiment.

Why did the dinosaurs all die off? Because they were stapled to the chicken. No, wait...wrong joke. Something about either asteroids or volcanos:

One take I've heard on this (which sounds very plausible) is that the Deccan Traps are just too big to be normal volcanic activity.

This would then turn this particular theory on its head ... it was the asteroid that did the primary damage, INCLUDING triggering the Deccan Traps. So the theory goes, the impact shock from the asteroid caused major tectonic damage (quite likely, when you think of how earthquakes often cause shock waves that focus on the other side of the world - an earthquake in New Zealand could cause a bigger secondary shock in the UK than in Australia.

Given that Chicxlub and the Deccan Traps were (at the time of the impact) roughly opposite each other (if I remember this story correctly), it seems quite possible that the asteroid could have a plate to "break" and triggered the volcanoes.

Cheers, Wol

So, you have a massive 65 million year old impact crater in the Yucatan, and on the almost exact opposite side of the world give or take some continental drift, you have a massive volcano event that is also 65 million years old, possibly related to a crater like feature found in the Indian Ocean that also dates to 65 million years ago. Coincidence? Naw, what are the odds? Isn't it obvious that the Yucatan asteroid impact caused the volcanos on the opposite side of the planet? One hell of a shock wave must have gone straight through from the Yucatan to India..... Cheers,

Gord Wait

Volcanoes, asteroids, whatever, just more crazy nonsense from those asteroid/volcano conspiracy theorists - we've heard it all before.

All of these events are mere coincidences, and ignore the more plausible theory that space aliens kidnapped the dinosaurs (presumably to augment their Earth exhibit in the local intergalactic space zoo) - having arrived on a giant, asteroid-shaped spaceship about 65m years ago. It's the same place that they take all those American abductees.

So let's put this natural disaster crazy-talk to bed, and in future just concentrate on the facts.


No, clearly it was all the doing of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. See above.

"Volcanic activity did for the dinosaurs"

Is this English? I'm an American. Is "did for" slang for killed?


Yes. Your translation was correct. One gold star awarded.

Porn makes you blind. Well, we couldn't not run the story:

What a crock of sh*t! Where do these idiots get their funding from???


Really impressive research....I think they've discovered electricity. Better yet, the cure to all diseases. So , just to put everyone on the same page here, They say that if you look at naked men/women you disengage from other activities for a period of time ?

Good lord ! that's it wonder dumb blondes get better jobs than their smarter, less attractive pairs..... it's because no matter just HOW dumb the broad is, a great pair of knockers will mentally-disable a job interviewer and grant a "secure working position" (pun intended).

This is reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally smart stuff they've come up with...I'm scheduling a breast implant a ASAP ! Really...did they even have to do research ? Reallly funny stuff.

Yours truly,


I thought it confusing that you wrote that the experiments were done with guinea pigs when Dr Zald is quoted as saying the experiments were done on people.



More porn. This time El Presidente's administration objected to porn being loaded onto the new .xxx top level domain, resulting in a delay to the whole process. One wonders what else should be kept there. A whole TLD devoted to a bad Vin Diesel movie seems like overkill to us:


I found your article on .xxx very, er, stimulating! This bit was especially delicious:

"[we have] received nearly 6,000 letters and e-mails from individuals expressing concern about the impact of pornography on families and children"

Hmm, because the porn isn't there already is it? These people need to understand that in placing porn on .xxx sites, it means that people will know where to go (or not to, depending how 'god-fearing' you really are), although I admit that not all sites will appear on .xxx sites. Still, it's just a new domain name, for crying out loud (OK, it's for porn, but you know what I mean!)


Seems like a reasonable place to leave off for the week. Enjoy your days of rest. ®

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