Friday, February 24, 2012

Science gone wrong.

We see endless movies that show scientists who believe they're "helping humanity" accidentally creating the very threats which they try to save the world from. It seems that we might be doing that right now with out livestock.

A recent article in PopSci explores the findings and beliefs of scientists who believe that the drugs we give our livestock might just be promoting "super bugs". The hormones, antibiotics and other drugs that most farmers feed their animals may just be helping the various bacteria and diseases these animals can carry become more resistant to the drugs we use to fight them.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), is a form of strep that seems to have originated on pig farms, where the animals are fed a battery of drugs to promote their growth and health. The bacteria might just be growing more and more resistant to treatment because of the high antibiotic amount in the pigs it is found in.

Are we causing our own downfall? Are we making the same mistakes those movie scientists do when they think they've found a great way to improve the world? Attempts are being made to find different ways to fight these diseases, including more "natural" cures. Progress is being made, but things take time, and hopefully we have a cure before we have an unstoppable super bug.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Journey to the West: Games from Japan that don't quite make the trip.

Japan. Home of the gods (of gaming). The source of countless video games that are enjoyed in North America, at least after they've translated and given a new voice-over cast. China and Korea also both share in the glory of being the source of many popular games.

But not everything makes it to the west. And it's not just the odd games, like Boong-Ga Boong-Ga (a game about poking your finger up someone's rear end) that don't get approval for release over here. Even some of the bigger titles, which have already had earlier releases her have been denied access.

The Warriors Orochi series, a spin-off that combines characters from the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors games, was quite a success in North America. While not as huge a hit as the various games are in Japan, they still got respectable sales, as well as a demand for more from the fans.

Warriors Orochi 2 was eventually released in North America, again getting a decent reception for a niche game. However, Warriors Orochi Z, which was essentially a PS3 upgrade of the previous PS2 games incorporating both original games into a compilation with enhanced graphics and extra features, never made it to the west. The North American and European releases were cancelled, making it the first Omega Force Warriors title to not get an overseas release.

Some speculate that it was a lack of sales which caused the decision. However the demand for the games, and the outcry at not getting a localized version, were still quite loud. Fortunately, the PS3 is not region locked, so importing games is easy enough. The problem being that if you don't actually speak and read Japanese, understanding the games can be difficult.

Now Warriors Orochi 3 is on its way. Sort of.
The game now has 132 characters. KOEI has decided against hiring voice actors to cover the translation for all characters, leaving the game with Japanese voice overs while the writing is translated to English. The game will be released in the UK in disc format. Which is great for them. Unfortunately for those of us in North America, we won't be seeing the game on shelves. According to Sony's licensing regulations for PS3 titles, a game which contains no English voice acting options is not allowed to be released as an on-disc version. Instead, the game will be available through the North American PlayStation Network. So digital is the only option available.

While the simple fact that we're getting the game over here is great news, it's disappointing to know that we won't be able to buy a physical copy unless we import it from Europe. For those who have limited space on their system, requiring a full download of a large game like this will cause problems. Many simply won't have the hard drive space to handle it.

And then there's the issues of downloadable content. While games on PS3 are not region locked, DLC is. So if you do decide to import a UK copy of the game, you'll have to set up a European account on your system to be able to access the European PSN for any DLC that is released. Again, for some this can be problematic.

This isn't the only game facing such issues. Way of the Samurai 4, the latest installment of another popular series, seems to be heading down the same path. While fans have been happy to hear that the game which was released in March of 2011 is finally getting a European release (being made possible by Rising Star Games), the American fans are still left waiting.

Rising Star Games has announced that they will be opening a new office in the United States. This has brought hope to American fans of WotS series, who hope that this will lead to a U.S. release of the latest game. Only time will tell.

There have been many other titles which have gone through this ordeal. Titles that fans have had to import from other countries simply because they weren't released the world over. The reasons for these decisions are usually never announced, though most suspect it being a simple matter of sales figures. While the games will make some profit with western releases, the companies see it as not being enough to invest in localization. Sometimes the pleas (or threats) of the fanbase has swayed the decision of the game companies, but sadly the majority of these cries fall on deaf ears.

If your favourite games don't seem to be getting a release in your region, be sure to speak up and make yourself heard. Contact the game companies and let them know that the demand is there, and that their efforts in delivering great games is appreciated, even if the sales might not reach what they do overseas. Sometimes one voice is all it takes to tip the balance.

Good luck, and happy gaming.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

U.S. Cattle prices are at an all time high.

An article in Reuters yesterday has shown that U.S. cattle prices have reached an all time high due to a recent drought.

Cattle supplies have hit a low point because of a drought that has hit the south-western United States. As a result, many younger cattle have been forced into feedlots rather than being left in their pastures. This lack of cattle has driven prices up, even despite the United States' current economic problems.

Beef prices have naturally increased greatly due to this turn of events. These increased prices will no doubt have an impact on Canadian meat prices as well, as Canada and the U.S. share a lot in the cattle trade.

We can only wait to see if the coming months bring the needed rains again to the region. Until then, you might want to skip your burgers for a while.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Namibian farm owner happy to get some of his cattle back.

Six men were arrested in Windhoek, Namibia on Monday after they stole several cattle from a commercial farm between Okakarara and Hamakari.

The New Era covered their arrest today.

Five cattle were returned and one carcass was discovered after the thieves chased the cattle away on horseback then on foot. The police were tipped off to the crime by the community, said Nampol Otjozondjupa Commissioner, Anghuwo Joseph Anghuwo.

The relieved farm owner couldn't determine how many cattle had been stolen in all, but he was happy to have the five returned to him. Local cattle prices can rise to as high as five thousand Namibian dollars.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ontario farmers deny that ethanol is hurting their livestock's food supply.

Ontario farmers have spoken up against the findings of George Morris Centre (GMC), an independent agency which is claiming that the ethanol industry is hurting the livestock industry. This was covered by

The article explains how the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) have been contesting the findings of the GMC. They have explained that a third of the corn used for ethanol is actually reused as livestock feed. Added to this is the fact that corn yields in Ontario have actually been increasing rapidly. The GFO claims that without the ethanol industry to take some of this excess corn, that it would actually be negatively impacting Ontario farmers.

The GFO have made it clear that the GMC's findings are false. And that there is no cause for livestock producers to blame the ethanol industry for any issues they may face when seeking feed for their animals. The GFO point out that livestock prices have been at or near a record high of late.