Quotulatiousness

March 24, 2015

Writing science fiction for the modern audience

Filed under: Humour,Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Frank J. Fleming thinks he’s found the magic formula for writing science fiction books that will appeal to today’s more sensitive, enlightened readers:

What makes good science fiction? Is it a fast-paced story? Interesting characters? Unpredictable twists and turns?

Unfortunately, I had those outdated ideas in mind when I wrote my first novel, Superego. But as we all know, the true purpose of science fiction now is inclusiveness. Entertainment is okay, I guess, but what we really need to focus on is making sure everyone feels cared for and included and that no one feels weird, no matter how weird they are.

This is difficult for me as a white, heterosexual, cisgender male. I’m basically committing a hate crime just by existing. I’m not even sure that in this day and age I should be allowed to write science fiction. Still, I decided to examine my novel to determine how inclusive it is.

I first used the Bechdel Test, as that’s a nice objective measure. I ran into a problem right away, though, because Superego is written in the first-person perspective of a male character. It’s like I didn’t even try. Still, there are a number of named female characters in the story, and a few times they do speak to each other. Most of the time, they’re talking about the main (male) character, but I did locate a short conversation between two women about one getting the other a chair.

Boom! Passed the Bechdel Test. It’s a very feminist novel.

March 7, 2015

22 Minutes: Halifax Tourism Ad

Filed under: Cancon,Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 3 Mar 2015

The capital of Nova Scotia attempts to attract tourism by embracing winter’s reality.

February 16, 2015

How Neal Dewing copes with those irritating “dry spells”

Filed under: Humour,Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

In The Federalist, Neal Dewing explains how he uses woodworking as a helpful method of getting through certain marital disputes:

There comes a time in every marriage when a man finds himself banished from his lady’s bedchamber for some perceived offense. A trifle, nonsense in most cases, but God help you if you argue with her until she realizes you’re right (which, of course, you usually are). If you successfully dispute her irrational arguments, the trap is sprung and she’ll proceed to catalogue every single one of your past lapses. At this point, my friend, you’ve entered what we in the marriage game like to refer to as the normal state of things a dry spell.

The most important thing to remember about dry spells is that they happen to everyone. This is the case even if you have married an infinitely patient woman who doesn’t find fault in every piddling thing you do and certainly never expects you to tidy up the bathroom counter every day, because she knows fully well you’re just going to use all that stuff again so it just doesn’t make sense.

[…]

Any man who sticks to his guns will experience a dry spell sooner or later, but there are ways to cope. In fact, it can be a tremendous opportunity for self-improvement.

What better activity for a man with some unanticipated free time than carpentry? There are few better ways to relieve stress than taking a length of wood into your hands and manipulating it until you’ve achieved the desired result. It can really clear your head. With a few practical guidelines you’ll be up to speed and navigating dry spells with practiced ease.

The first order of business is to identify a project. For this exercise, we’ll go with something fairly easy that will take up some time. You like to sit around, as your wife never fails to tell people loudly enough for you to overhear. So how about a bench? I’ll run you through the steps of this basic woodworking project, which should be enough to carry you through until she works up the nerve to apologize.

Step 1: Materials

It’s important to have all your materials in place before beginning. You can obtain these from a lumberyard or one of the big home improvement stores.

  • (1) 2×10
  • (2) 8’ of 2×2
  • (2) 8’ of 1×4
  • (2) 2×4
  • Wooden dowels
  • Wood screws (1.5” & 3” length)
  • Paint or oil-based stain

You’ll also need some tools. If you are missing a few of these, go borrow one from an older neighbor. He’ll have them. He’s been there. Plus, at this point you should take advantage of any excuse to get out of the house.

  • Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Circular saw or compound miter saw
  • Swanson® Speed® square
  • Pencil
  • 2 sawhorses
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask

Depending on how much time you spent hiding planning, visiting the lumberyard, and jawing with the neighbor, you may well have eaten up most of a day. Don’t feel like you need to finish this up in an afternoon. She probably hasn’t let it go yet, knowing her, even though this is obviously a ridiculous thing for her to be mad about.

You can pick this up tomorrow. Have a beer. Stay strong.

February 15, 2015

They call it “Great” Britain, after all

Filed under: Britain,Europe,Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Great-Britain

H/T to Think Defence for the image.

Let’s make no mistake, Great Britain is great, the clue is in the name after all.

Anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously uneducated, or French.

And not only that …

Without Great Britain the world would be a poorer place in every regard.

Lets just remind ourselves why…

We gave the world democracy, common law, the Bailey Bridge, tanks, gravity, the worlds most common second language, Led Zeppelin, fair play, queuing, the backhoe loader, metal bridges, modern economics, the industrial revolution and Hollywood villains.

The Beatles, Morris Dancing, penicillin, HP sauce, Top Gear, the World Wide Web (your welcome), One Direction, Carry On and Simon Cowell.

Tea drinking, chicken tikka masala, Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, battered Mars Bars, the BBC, the mini (car, roundabout and skirt), the Spice Girls, Darwin, football, Marmite, rugby, cricket, golf, tennis, ping pong, pubs, tea, sharp suits, Spitfires and the fact there are homosexuals, lesbians and transsexuals in the armed forces and no one gives two shits.

With our friends and allies stood against the Nazis, invented the railway, sarcasm, MRI scanners, the screw propellor and a proper breakfast, been on the right side of the Napoleonic, First, Second and Cold War and gave the world steam power, the Mexeflote, Wallace and Gromit, roast beef dinners, the Dyson, Doctor Who, television, telephones, text messaging, GMT, electric motors, lawn movers, spotted dick, sewage systems, the thermos flask, the jet engine, carbon fibre, the flushing toilet and polyester (just for the RAF), pencils, radar and the Bank of France (ha ha ha).

January 27, 2015

“Well, I certainly didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition…”

Filed under: Britain,Humour,Media,Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

January 18, 2015

The Origins of Spinal Tap

Filed under: Humour,Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

From Open Culture, the original clip that got the Spinal Tap movie greenlighted:

When This is Spinal Tap came out over 30 years ago, it went over a lot of people’s heads. “Everybody thought it was a real band,” recalled director Rob Reiner. “Everyone said, ‘Why would you make a movie about a band that no one has heard of?’”

It’s hard to believe that lines like “You can’t dust for vomit” failed to come off as anything but a joke. But, to be fair, Hollywood comedies were generally straight-forward affairs in the ‘80s. Think Blues Brothers or Fletch. Fake documentaries weren’t a thing. And This is Spinal Tap looks and feels exactly like a rock documentary – the hagiographic voiceover, the shaky camera, the awkward interviews. The movie was just as unscripted as rock docs like Don’t Look Back, The Song Remains the Same and The Kids Are All Right. The film is not only a parody of the generally overblown silliness of rock and roll, it is also, as Newsweek’s David Ansen notes, “a satire of the documentary form itself, complete with perfectly faded clips from old TV shows of the band in its mod and flower-child incarnations.”

January 12, 2015

If you’ve used the term “Streisand Effect”, you need to pay royalties now…

Filed under: Humour,Law,Liberty — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Techdirt‘s Mike Masnick isn’t asking for a lot, he just wants to ensure that his intellectual property is respected … in a way that ensures that his kids won’t starve in the street:

I have to admit that I had no idea that it had been 10 years since I coined the term “The Streisand Effect” until the SkepticHistory Twitter feed called my attention to it earlier this week. I had thought about saving this for the weekend “this week in history” post, but it seems worth delving into today — especially with folks like the thieves at Gawker Media putting up a whole story about it and stealing all the attention and whatnot.

So, yeah, ten years ago this week, I coined “the Streisand Effect,” which was actually on a story about how the Marco Beach Ocean Resort was all offended by the fact that Urinal.net (a site that, yes, still exists and is still being updated) had posted a photo of a urinal from the resort, and the resort insisted that it was illegal to use its name. As we pointed out, this stupid takedown request would only draw more attention, and then we wrote:

    How long is it going to take before lawyers realize that the simple act of trying to repress something they don’t like online is likely to make it so that something that most people would never, ever see (like a photo of a urinal in some random beach resort) is now seen by many more people? Let’s call it the Streisand Effect.

That last link then went back to a 2003 story about how Barbra Streisand had sued photographer Kenneth Adelman for photographing her house from a helicopter. Adelman had been photographing the entire California coastline, hoping to use it to document coastal erosion, and posted all the photographs online. Streisand got upset that her coastal home was shown, and sued. But, of course, before this, no one knew (or cared) that it was Streisand’s home. The image had been viewed six times (including twice by Streisand’s lawyers), but following the news of the lawsuit, hundreds of thousands of people went to see the photo. It was a story that stuck with me, and seemed to be repeated every few months in some form or another. So when I saw that Urinal.net threat, I just jokingly said we should call such things “The Streisand Effect.”

January 1, 2015

Oh, yeah … Happy New Year (with apologies to Edward Hopper)

Filed under: Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:25

New Year - Hopper style

H/T to Ego is a rat on the sinking ship of being.

December 23, 2014

Repost – ‘Tis the season to hate the senders of boastful holiday letters

Filed under: Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:02

Gregg Easterbrook receives the perfect, perfect holiday letter:

Don’t you hate boastful holidays letters about other people’s fascinating lives and perfect children? Below is one Nan and I received last week.

Dear Friends,

What a lucky break the CEO sent his personal jet to pick me up from Istanbul; there’s plenty of room, since I have the entire aircraft to myself, to take out the laptop and write our annual holiday letter. Just let me ask the attendant for a better vintage of champagne, and I’ll begin.

It’s been another utterly hectic year for Chad and I and our remarkable children, yet nurturing and horizon-expanding. It’s hard to know where the time goes. Well, a lot of it is spent in the car.

Rachel is in her senior year at Pinnacle-Upon-Hilltop Academy, and it seems just yesterday she was being pushed around in the stroller by our British nanny. Rachel placed first this fall in the state operatic arias competition. Chad was skeptical when I proposed hiring a live-in voice tutor on leave from the Lyric Opera, but it sure paid off! Rachel’s girls’ volleyball team lost in the semifinals owing to totally unfair officiating, but as I have told her, she must learn to overcome incredible hardship in life.

Now the Big Decision looms — whether to take the early admission offer from Harvard or spend a year at Julliard. Plus the whole back of her Mercedes is full of dance-company brochures as she tries to decide about the summer.

Nicholas is his same old self, juggling the karate lessons plus basketball, soccer, French horn, debate club, archeology field trips, poetry-writing classes and his volunteer work. He just got the Yondan belt, which usually requires nine years of training after the Shodan belt, but prodigies can do it faster, especially if (not that I really believe this!) they are reincarnated deities.

Modeling for Gap cuts into Nick’s schoolwork, but how could I deprive others of the chance to see him? His summer with Outward Bound in the Andes was a big thrill, especially when all the expert guides became disoriented and he had to lead the party out. But you probably read about that in the newspapers.

What can I say regarding our Emily? She’s just been reclassified as EVVSUG&T — “Extremely Very Very Super Ultra Gifted and Talented.” The preschool retained a full-time teacher solely for her, to keep her challenged. Educational institutions are not allowed to discriminate against the gifted anymore, not like when I was young.

Yesterday Rachel sold her first still-life. It was shown at one of the leading galleries without the age of the artist disclosed. The buyers were thrilled when they learned!

Then there was the arrival of our purebred owczarek nizinny puppy. He’s the little furry guy in the enclosed family holiday portrait by Annie Leibovitz. Because our family mission statement lists cultural diversity as a core value, we named him Mandela.

Chad continues to prosper and blossom. He works a few hours a day and spends the rest of the time supervising restoration of the house — National Trust for Historic Preservation rules are quite strict. Corporate denial consulting is a perfect career niche for Chad. Fortune 500 companies call him all the time. There’s a lot to deny, and Chad is good at it.

Me? Oh, I do this and that. I feel myself growing and flowering as a change agent. I yearn to empower the stakeholders. This year I was promoted to COO and invited to the White House twice, but honestly, beading in the evening means just as much to me. I was sorry I had to let Carmen go on the same day I brought home my $14.6 million bonus, but she had broken a Flora Danica platter and I caught her making a personal call.

Chad and I got away for a week for a celebration of my promotion. We rented this quaint five-star villa on the Corsican coast. Just to ourselves — we bought out all 40 rooms so it would be quiet and contemplative and we could ponder rising above materialism.

Our family looks to the New Year for rejuvenation and enrichment. Chad and I will be taking the children to Steamboat Springs over spring break, then in June I take the girls to Paris, Rome and Seville while Chad and Nicholas accompany Richard Gere to Tibet.

Then the kids are off to camps in Maine, and before we know it, we will be packing two cars to drive Rachel’s things to college. And of course I don’t count Davos or Sundance or all the routine excursions.

I hope your year has been as interesting as ours.

Love,
Jennifer, Chad, Rachel, Nicholas & Emily

(The above is inspired by a satirical Christmas letter I did for The New Republic a decade ago. I figure it’s OK to recycle a joke once every 10 years.)

December 10, 2014

Matthew Inman finds religion, sorta

Filed under: Humour,Religion — Tags: — Nicholas @ 00:02

Published on 5 Dec 2014

Keynote speaker Matt Inman introduces us to a new deity, enlightening the the San Francisco audience in the process, in the first ever BAHFest West keynote at the historic Castro Theatre

BAHFest is the Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses, a celebration of well-researched, logically explained, and clearly wrong evolutionary theory. Additional information is available at http://bahfest.com/

December 6, 2014

I still say Galaxy Quest was the best Star Trek movie

Filed under: Humour,Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:04

… and now here’s Kathy Shaidle saying the same thing:

“By Grabthar’s Hammer…” but also “It’s real.”

And when they torture the little alien.

Oh, man. I’m tearing up just typing that.

If Star Wars had been this good, I’d have been a fan.

One day people will realize that Galaxy Quest is the better movie, like they’ll realize that Goodfellas is better than The Godfather and Psycho is better than Vertigo.

Anyway:

    “By Grabthar’s Hammer” was a temp line. It was basically the Hammer of Thor, but Grabthar just sounded so silly. I kept meaning to change it, but around the production offices, they started to make t-shirts, it started to sink in a little bit.

Harold Ramis was initially supposed to direct.

He wanted either Alec Baldwin or Kevin Kline for the Tim Allen role. But Allen being a recovering alcoholic f-up in real life really adds to his performance.

Uploaded on 20 Oct 2006

This is the mockumentary on Galaxy Quest that aired on E! before the movie came out. It’s about the fake show’s 20th anniversary and everybody’s in character. The quality is kind of sketch but this is crazy rare. Credit goes to britbitsandclips.com.

December 2, 2014

Mr. Plinkett Reacts to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

Filed under: Humour,Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:03

Published on 30 Nov 2014

http://www.redlettermedia.com – Harry S. Plinkett has awoken from his booze induced slumber to comment on the new J.J. Abrams Star Wars film. Now that he’s awake he just might start work on his next review…

November 27, 2014

For our American friends, before the gorging begins…

Filed under: Humour,Politics,USA — Tags: — Nicholas @ 07:46

Charles C. W. Cooke has your go-to guide to political conversations with your family this Thanksgiving:

Your crazy uncle complains in passing that the construction on Redlands Avenue is limiting the flow of traffic to his hardware store, and wonders if the job could be completed more quickly.

This must not be allowed to stand. Ask your uncle if he’s an anarchist and if he has heard of Somalia. If you missed Politics 101 at Oberlin, refer to the Fact Cards that you have printed out from Vox.com and explain patiently that the government is the one thing that we all belong to and that the worry that it is “too big” or “too centralized” or “too slow to achieve basic tasks” has a long association with neo-Confederate causes.

Remind him also that:

  • the state has a monopoly on legitimate violence.
  • Europe is doing really well.
  • The Koch Brothers.
  • “Obstruction.”

Should all that fail, insist sadly that if he doesn’t fully apologize for his opinions you will have to conclude that he hates gay people. Ask why your family has to talk about politics all the time.

Update: A related tweet that just has to be shared.

November 22, 2014

A seasonal business model with growth potential

Filed under: Business,Humour,USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:49

An ad in the Nashville Craigslist:

Thanksgiving fake date

It may not be a huge market, but there’s definitely a demand for these kind of services, especially at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and family birthday parties.

H/T to Marina Stover for the link.

November 17, 2014

A proposal to permanently fix the gender wage gap

Filed under: Humour,Politics,USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:03

Ashe Schow thinks we need to get serious about addressing this issue, and here is her proposal on how to accomplish this worthy end:

For example, if men want to go into gender studies, let them — that way, they’ll make less money and it will help close the gender gap. But women need to be kept away from such majors. Colleges and universities should in fact create separate lists of majors to give to men and women. If possible, women should not be told about any course of study that will yield lower-paying career choices in the future.

Among others, social science majors feed the gender gap. When women ask about those subjects or departments, colleges should tell them they don’t exist, or that all classes are full, except maybe the ones in economics. Even better, colleges should tell women that engineering, mathematics and finance are actually social sciences. Class rosters must then be watched carefully. If a woman somehow manages to sign up for a sociology class, she should instead be given the classroom number for a course in mechanical engineering.

When women express a desire to pursue teaching or social work jobs, they should be discouraged. In fact, college counselors should be instructed to tell them there are no such jobs available, along with some sort of plausible explanation, like: “There are no teaching jobs available anymore, because Republicans cut the budget and the government is closing all of the schools. How about a nice career in accounting?”

Women who ask too many questions should be promptly steered into a nearby organic chemistry class, because no one can remain mentally alert for too long.

Feminists who might disapprove of this proposal should first ask themselves if they would be making more money had someone forced them to become an engineer rather than an activist. Would they have avoided the misfortunes and oppression they now suffer and condemn had they pursued a more useful course of studies and ended up with a higher-paying job?

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