Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Speaking of Arcades: Here's Pitfall!

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

The Joys of Being a Writer: So it's one thirty in the morning and I can't sleep because I'm trying to finish a story for the Anthology From Hell, and I have Santa being held captive and one of his elves is trying to break him free and I'm stuck for ideas for how to do it.

I could have the reindeer rip the bars off the cell, but that's been done to death.

Could the elf pass for a demon? Beat up a guard? Abandon Santa and flee back to the North Pole, disappointed? Enlist the help of Merlin or Rasputin, who are in the same prison?

Ah, the things that keep writers up late.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Top Ten: The illustrious Jarrod S. has managed to crack the David Letterman top ten list for this week at the show's website.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Card in the Journal:They've reprinted one of Card's Ornrey essays in the Wall Street Journal.

And he has the fortunate position, like myself, of not having to equivicate his position one tiny bit following this bit of news or this bit of news, both of which should really help the naysayers understand.

We were in Iraq to send a message. And the world is saying, "Message received."

Original LOTR Reviews: The New York Times has made the original reviews they published when The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King came out back in the 1950's. Interesting stuff.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Online Arcade Museum: Man wouldn't it rock if this place were real, rather than virtual?

This used to be my favorite game. I wish they had an image of the killer smiley face.

I also remember, as a teenager, driving all the way to Magic Mountain just to hang out for hours in the arcade pumping quarters into this thing.

Because you care so much about my writing carrer: Well, my short story "Beautiful Hands" was a semi-finalist in this year's Writers of the Future contest, and came back with a very encouraging critique from K D Wentworth. Pretty encouraging.

Ethical Philosophy Test: Took this test, which I heard about from Tim. My results?

1. John Stuart Mill (100%)
2. Aquinas (97%)
3. Epicureans (85%)
4. St. Augustine (85%)
5. Jeremy Bentham (85%)
6. Kant (81%)
7. Ayn Rand (76%)
8. Aristotle (74%)
9. Prescriptivism (69%)
10. Spinoza (68%)

Monday, December 15, 2003

Another example of Corporate Greed: And at Christmas time, no less.

Friday, December 12, 2003

This never happens to David Blaine, because he's got REAL powers:David Copperfield's truck overturned the other night, forcing him to cancel another show. I can think of a couple snoozers of tricks that I hoped were ruined beyond repair.

But please, please, please tell me the singin' tie's okay.

Apartheid in CA?: Yeah, you knew it was going to happen.

A UCLA study has come out that says that California's not giving illegal aliens the right to vote, despite them being up to 40% of the population in some cities, is political apartheid, and, to quote one commentator, "We all saw how well apartheid worked." As if it meant we were trying to cut all Latinos off from the political process.

I'm sorry, but apartheid is a big trigger word for me. Horrible things happened in South Africa under apartheid, and for people who have already come to the US and gotten free medical care and other benefits to claim equal oppression--that would be like me crashing your party and complaining you didn't ask me what refreshments you should serve or what music to play, and then claiming that you intentionally left them out because you hated me.

What's up with that?

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Conscious of a Democrat: Lots of people are talking about Zell Miller's new book, and I heard the man himself talking about it on some radio talk show or other yesterday. Lots of right wingers, both in and out of the Democratic party are clinging to this book as a wonderful, timely message on how to save the party. Lots of others think he's just being controversial to increase sales of what really is, largely, just his memoir.

Me? Can't say. Haven't read the book. But danged if he didn't sound reasonable yesterday on the radio, and reasonable isn't something I'm used to hearing from a politician anymore.

Friday, December 05, 2003

But This Would Never Happen Here: So in the Italian parliment, they've got this bill, right? And to keep it from passing, the opposition party submits like 3,000 amendments of random stuff to it to slow the bill down, and a couple get a adopted, including a bit that forbids children from acting in TV commericals.

Personally, I think it was a conspiracy by the Little People chapter of the Italian SAG.

A Cheeseburger With A Side of Jail Time The sentance for running over a McDonalds Employee for not getting your order right? 10 years.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Neither is this one: Fortunately Disney had this bit of news in the hopper to pass out on the heels of Roy's departure.

I'm guessing they held a big news conference, and had all the reporters thinking they would issue a statement on the recent resignations, and announced this instead.

Problems at Disney? No, this isn't the story you've been hearing about Roy.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

How to Listen to Politicians: Phil Hendrie was doing a great bit yesterday on how to read the news. I won't repeat all that he said here, but here's a hint: If you're coming to the same conclusion that the person who wrote the article did, you're not reading it right.

In that same spirit, I'd like to present how to listen to politicians. It's basically an extention of an idea first put out by Dave Barry on how to listen to advertisers. Confused yet? Don't be. Here we go.

If Coke and Pepsi are spending tons of money trying to convince you that one will make you infinitely hipper than the other, or that the difference in taste is so enormous that people will look at you like someone who drinks toxic waste if you drink the wrong one, than they're probably both just fizzy sugar water.

If KFC is launching a new advertising campaign that insists that fried chicken is good healthy eating because it won't give you a heart attack nearly as fast as a Whopper, it's probably a whopper they're telling you.

The exact same thing works with politicians. You can take pretty much anything they're trying really, really hard to convince you of, and assume the opposite is true.

This doesn't mean you have to disbelieve everything they say. Not everything that comes out of every politician's mouth is a lie. What should set off the five alarm bells is when they're trying really, really hard to convince you of something.

Of course, not even this strategy works all the time, because something they're telling the truth, but having to work real hard at explaining something to you, because somebody else already "convinced" you of something else.

So you just have to watch whether they're explaining something to you, or trying to convince you of something.

Let me give you an example.

Think about a time where somebody was saying something bad or spreading some gossip about you. Remember how it felt like everybody believed it, right off the bat, even though it wasn't true? Because even though they had no evidence, it just felt right that you should have done that. They were able to "convince" everybody it was true. "That's so like him, isn't it?" or "I can totally see her doing that."

And you were left having to explain what really happened, but since your explanation was dull and boring, it didn't have the power to ever really fully overcome the "convincing" that took place in everybody's mind.

It's the same way with politics. Politicians (or even filmmakers, Michael Moore has mastered this, and I respect him for his talents) are able to convince you of something in such a way that even when the reality is explained to you, the justifications for the accusation or position are still wedged in your mind strongly enough to nearly overpower the facts.

Explanations can usually be taken at face value.

However, if the other politician responds by trying to "convince you" about why the first person is wrong, then he's probably wrong as well, and the reality probably sits somewhere in between the two arguments.

You can see why I have to chuckle whenever someone makes a derisive comment like, "He just tried to explain it away," as if "having some explaining to do," were tantamount to being guilty.

In reality, we should probably associate the phrase, "he made a passioned, emotional plea," with the idea that somebody doesn't have a leg to stand on. At least the first guy has an explanation. The second guy is just trying to make us want to believe him.

This is a fairly simplistic system, but I think it will work pretty well in your Lie Detector arsenal.