Dredd

Day 5. 10 pages, 3,593 words.

Had an action-packed weekend this weekend, with a triple-header of Arnold goodness on Saturday – Predator[3], Commando[2] and Total Recall[1] – but there’s not much one can say about such classics. Well, there is, but I’m not going to bother today. Needless to say, it was as awesome as it was educational. Actually, it was only slightly educational so to be fair, it was way more awesome than it was educational – but it was by no means un-educational.

[1] Unohda tai Kuole, in Finnish.

[2] Vie Tyttö Takaisin tai Kuole, in Finnish (not really, but we all agreed that it should be because Arnie needs his own special translation idiom).

[3] Kuole, Peura, Kuole, in Finnish. Again, not really, but only because there is something profoundly wrong with the world.

It was Sunday evening, however, that a failed attempt to watch Dorian Gray (next time, Netflix, you buffering vapour-locked pain in my balls, wham-boom-straight-to-the-moon) turned into a succeeded attempt to watch Dredd, the reboot.

Anyway, what a cool movie Dredd was!

Stallone's "surprise buttsex" face leaves a lot to be desired.

It wasn’t, I admit, up against very strong opposition.

Urban was the perfect Judge Dredd, and his sidekick was considerably less annoying than one might have expected. Her psychic ability was well-written and nicely-balanced, and their dynamic[4] was amusing and oddly endearing. The plot was tightly contained – indeed, literally so – and the premise darkly plausible. The baddies, while over-the-top, were perfectly over-the-top. And Lena Heady was creepy and incredible.

[4] If you can call it that when you have a human being and Judge Dredd together. I think it has to be something else, like a monolithic.

The violence was amazing, shocking, quite confronting, and didn’t have the artsiness that other mega-violent comic adaptations have had. It was somewhere in between Sin City and Kill Bill, and it worked very nicely indeed. By far my favourite scene – and one of my favourite scenes in any movie I’ve watched this year, at least in my top ten – was Dredd walking out of the smoke, tossing that scumbag motherfucker off the balcony, and walking off back into the smoke again. When you see the movie you’ll know the one I mean. Just perfectly timed and perfectly set out. I’m no director but the guy who did this movie certainly is.

If they can make the Deadpool movie to the same specifications and rating, that would be just fine with me.

In the meantime, I find myself really, really hoping they do a sequel to this one. I don’t know how well it did (hopefully a resident expert will tell me, I think it was in the region of $50 million), but I hope it did well enough to warrant some sort of attention. I haven’t heard any news about a revisiting to the Dredd well, but here’s to hoping.

Wikipedia seems to think there’s a chance at a trilogy of some sort, featuring Judge Death, the Dark Judges, Judge Cal and Chopper. I noticed quite randomly that there was already “Chopper” graffiti around Peach Trees in the first movie – I noticed it because of the late great Australian criminal by that name, but apparently it’s a Clue anyway.

So I’m looking forward to future developments.

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Pay Me, Bug!: A Review

Day 4. 8 pages, 2,643 words.

Edpool reviews Pay Me, Bug!

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The Witty Retort #7

Day 3. 5 pages, 1,513 words. Told you. Weekend.

the witty retort #19

the witty retort #20

the witty retort #21

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36 or so More Reasons NOT to Become a Technical Writer

Day 2. 5 pages, 1,513 words.

An amusing thread occurred on Facebook the other day, as a fun little article about technical writing went the rounds of my professional friends.

The thread looked like this:

Discourse was free and high-quality.

I have lazily binglated the Finnish parts, in most cases they are hilariously off but close enough that English-speakers will get the gist and Finnish-speakers will be amused on yet another level.

The article, for reference (and out of fairness, I like to plug and assist my colleagues in gaining visibility even if they are competitors or traitors or differently-competent or whatever), is here. You may want to refer to it because the copy I have posted below is all marked up and mostly-unreadable.

Anyway, it was amusing for the sad, spell-checkery, nit-picky, Grammar-Nazi-ey life it seemed to relegate us to, and also for the apparently glorious pay we received.

The layers of amusement value didn’t stop there, though, because it turned out the author was actually a former co-worker of ours from an Indian office of the company. So the thread devolved, as you can see, into a moderate-to-heavy bitchfest about the poor guy and his skill and habits.

But hey, he’s gone off and started his own company. So good for him. He’s done what so many others have – he’s benefited from our wit and wisdom, and moved on to use it to his advantage. And I have seen far worse material passed off as grammatically sound (right here on this blog, even).

But perhaps the crowning glory of this thread was the sheer number of errors in the article itself.

Oh yeah, I went there.

I’ve marked down a few of them here. I left out plenty, since this wasn’t a technical manual so he does deserve some slack. But if you want to join in the fun, let me know what else you find!

King Oranges shouldn’t take it to heart, though. We are all tense and looking to let off steam, and he said it himself in his article – this is what we do.

So he shouldn’t really be surprised, right?

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[diesel engine ignition noise]

Day 1. 2 pages, 741 words.

Well, I sent off for proof copies of my book yesterday, so should be receiving them within a few weeks. Then it’s on to the marketing ideas and other stuff, and then actually releasing the damn thing.

There are rumours that Amazon is going to be holding a submission drive of sorts, allowing authors of unpublished books to send in e-copies and covers, which will then be judged by a panel and the winners awarded with advances, royalty-percentage boosts, and added benefits – all purely for the e-book. Couldn’t hurt to wait for them to announce this officially, and see about entering. If I make the cut, it will add cash and visibility. If I fail, I’m still going ahead and publishing anyway, so what the heck?

Of course, the same is true of pursuing actual publishers and agents, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the best-case scenario – being picked up by a publisher – might mean the risk of being blackballed by Amazon and having your book become inaccessible. So what the fuck are you supposed to do? I’m going to go with the “I wrote this book and I don’t need a pencil-pusher in an out-of-touch publishing house to render judgement on it, thanks” option.

Which I suppose is the option crappy self-published authors have taken since time immemorial … but I want to say I’m not crappy. Which, again, is what the crappy authors say. But oh well.

In the meantime, on with book two. Start the clock.

Start the clock.

No, start the … oh never mind.

Of course, this being Friday and this weekend being a busy one, the clock is probably going to jam up a tad here … but the important thing is, no fucking around. It’s on. And if I ever manage to attract larger numbers of readers than I am currently already in personal communication with as friends and family, this count is going to keep me honest and them in touch with my progress.

No stalled megastories given up and dragged-out mid-series for me. It’s all going to be different. Oh yes. Why would I fall into that trap, when I’ve been so relentlessly critical of authors for falling into it themselves?

No sir. The clock stays.

 

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Longrass X (from the cutting room floor)

Though the way they took was somewhat longer, the two [Gatesmen] were much faster on their feet, and followed the high ground that was far easier to negotiate. And, of course, the very atmosphere lent the creatures strength. In time, they reached the terraces that surrounded the Cauldron, and vaulted up them with sinuous ease. And there they stopped. Both of them recognised the sight before them, and the sound that made their tiny ears ache with longing.

“Hnog-field,” Invasion snarled, fang-studded muzzle wrinkling with distaste.

Stretched out before them, as limitless as the grass-plain that came before, the ground was obscured by a wild and tangled jungle, a garden gone crazy. Every shade of brown, grey and green was visible, in the vines and leaves, the fruits and the weird and somehow terrifying flowers. The [Gatesmen] had, of course, heard of Hnog-fields – they were one of the very few life-forms in the [Elsewhere] that would rather kill and eat a [Gatesmen] than any other prey.

The landscape before them was covered in the pulsing brown orbs of the fruits themselves, the stomachs in which the Hnog digested its many meals – for indeed, the entire system was one enormous creature of awesome complexity, consisting of eyes, legs, mouths, brains, and stomachs. Stomachs, most of all. It was not sentient as such, but it did have a sort of intelligence, albeit a mad and ravenous one. Most life in the [Elsewhere] would try to avoid a [Gatesman] if it was at all possible. A Hnog-field, if it had the intellect and mobility, would go out hunting them. The only member of [Gatesman] ‘society’ that had ever faced a Hnog-field and come away alive and victorious was [Krakura] ‘Itself’. [Krakura] had, in fact, rescued a number of [Gatesmen] from the clutches of the Hnog’s fruit – one more reason, if any was necessary, for the [Gatesmen] to love and revere [Krakura].

Not many things in the [Elsewhere] could kill [Gatesmen], it was true – not even [Krakura] could, apparently, though it was not certain ’He’ had ever tried. Genies could, in the right situations – but only the Hnogs could actually be said to profit from doing it. It is a well-known fact that a [Gatesman], once killed, will split and become two new [Gatesmen], one of which retains the personality and memories of the original. It is not certain why this happens, but is doubtless something to do with the origins of the [Gatesmen]as a species – the fact that they came from Games, and similar places, and as such have no ’natural’ place in the [Elsewhere].

The Hnog-field knows this basic fact, and has evolved to benefit from it.

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That’s just, like, your opinion, man

Here are some questions. I’ll start us off with an easy one.

1) Is everyone entitled to an opinion?

Yes.

See? That was easy. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion on basically anything. I personally try to be a little circumspect about my opinion on certain things, for example abortion or homosexual marriage, since I am neither pregnant nor gay (for the record, I’m basically in favour of both if the people who are pregnant or gay [or both at once, which would seem to be a perfect time to have a very strong opinion on both issues] want them). I will at least allow those people affected by the issue to help me to inform my opinion of it. That brings me to the second question.

2) Are some people’s opinions worth more than others’?

Yes.

Sorry, this is probably sad news for the We’re All Unique Snowflakes With Invincible Eternal Rights lobby, but it’s true. Ignorance is never equal to knowledge. If you are educated in a certain issue, your opinion is worth more than that of a person who is completely ignorant of said issue. You both have an equal right to an opinion, but an informed opinion is better than a dumbarse one. It’s better.

Just better.

Better trained, better equipped, better … better. Just, just better.

In the same way, a renowned biologist could probably land a couple of juicy government and university grants to research and develop a cheap and effective anti-fungal cream. I might manage a couple of hundred bucks from a kickstarter or other crowd-funded effort, mainly due to the humour value of seeing me flail around in a white coat with athlete’s foot growing in my eyes. We can both talk about fungal infections, but the biologist’s going to get the credence. And rightly so. The amount of cash each of us could get behind our idea, respectively, is a crude illustration of the value of our opinions on this particular issue[1]. This is perhaps exemplified by the anti-vaccination lobby, and my third question.

[1] No, it doesn’t become automatically true of a person’s opinions about everything across the board, no matter how educated he or she is. I’m not going to pay much attention to a physicist’s opinion of a video game if he or she has never played it or indeed any video game of any kind. Now, if he or she had an opinion about how “something like that would go in real life”, I would of course give him or her the benefit of the doubt over some swamp-arse gamer with two-thirds of a philology degree … but only insofar as that one mildly-interesting facet of the game was concerned. And it is easily countered by “well, game physics. Go get a job with the Playstation crowd and fix it if you have a problem, poindexter.”

3) Should some people just shut up about their opinions?

Mmm … eeeeehh … yes?

This is a tough one. Of course the short answer is “no”. No, nobody should shut up and keep their opinions to themselves, because of question #1. Everyone has a right, and it is our responsibility as opinionees (or “those who are having an opinion inflicted on them uninvited”) to distinguish the valuable opinion from the ignorant-arse one, as per question #2. Everyone has the right to be heard, it’s entirely up to us to decide whether someone deserves attention.

The other short answer is “yes”. Yes, everybody could stand to shut up about their opinions a bit more these days. Especially all the dumbarses who disagree with me.

The problem is, an awful lot of us – smart and stupid – pay attention to some people way more than we should. Human nature. We’re a social ape and that means we instinctively admire and – well – ape the behaviour and tastes of the alpha apes. Sometimes it’s down to their charisma, glamour, popularity or other hypnotic effect. Sometimes it’s just because of the way their words and deeds get publicised and shoved in our faces to the exclusion of all else, every day, incessantly.

We might agree with them, in which case we’re going to pay attention and share the word, perpetuating and reinforcing the myth – or we might disagree with them, in which case we’re going to groan, and ridicule, and perpetuate and reinforce the myth. In those cases where we agree with someone in the public eye, we become more inclined to agree with or even just listen to them on other issues, and before you know it they’ve become a latter-day prophet of Utter Truth. In the cases where we disagree, it soon gets to a point where they could say anything – anything – and we would hate and disagree with it just because this pointless douchebag came down on the other side.

So. Celebrities with absolutely no training in medicine weighing in on what immunisation does to children and humanity in general? Sure. Under question #1 they have their right to an opinion. Under question #2 their opinion is essentially worthless. Under question #3 they should be aware that their worthless opinion is going to be spread to a huge number of people and have huge consequences, to such an extent that it tends to overwhelm the “everyone is personally responsible for screening the opinions of others for bullshit” rule. Because the celebrity opinion on an issue is going to be fed through news media, public opinion, spin doctors, PR gurus, and the lobbies actually involved in said issue. It might end up being nothing like what the celebrity said originally – or nothing like their intent. Or exactly their words and intent, but definitely blown out of all proportion. And celebrities should be used to this.

No, it’s not their fault, and I would much rather live in a world where everyone takes responsibility for what they believe when they see, hear or read it rather than a single person (regardless of fame level) having to smother his or her opinions. I don’t think this utopia is ever going to happen, but it would be wonderful. This is just my lowly opinion (there, I said it … indeed this is most likely an ignorant-arse opinion too, although not one coming from a famous person) of something that might help. Please note, above, that I said people in the public eye should be aware of this effect, and act accordingly – I didn’t really mean that they should shut up before even starting. Just … once they’ve voiced their opinion, they could a) acknowledge that it’s an ignorant-arse one[2], and b) stop going on about it continually thereafter? It’s basically the same standard we should hold everyone to, but with the added intensity that comes from these people being alpha apes. Being a role model means setting an example.

[2] And I know, this is unreasonable to expect, especially when it comes to the really grey areas where an earnest belief that you are saying, doing and thinking the right thing and helping people will oblige you to defend your opinion. And an objective knowledge of right from wrong is a complete fantasy.

I guess what it boils down to is pre-screening your own opinions for bullshit before expecting others to do it for you (and then rejecting their judgement, naturally).

So. Homosexual married celebrities weighing in on gay marriage? Perfect. George Takei is the Velociraptor Batman of the Internet, and should be an ambassador for Earth if we make contact with aliens in the next, ooh, let’s be optimistic and say twenty-five years. And he seems to know when his opinion is essentially worthless – or, if he offers it anyway and it gives offence or otherwise proves him to be ignorant, he is admirably ready to step up and educate himself, eat his words, explain his position and amend his statements. Because he knows that millions of people are propagating them across the globe.

These are two very opposing cases, of course. You have what seems to be an utterly ignorant flake spouting off about something and being demonstrably wrong on one side, and an urbane and high-integrity member of society voicing an opinion about something he has irrefutable life experience with on the other. And this summary says as much about my opinions as it does about theirs.

What about murkier waters, like immigration debates, cultural clashes, religion?

I wish Ricky Gervais would shut up about religion, but that’s just because I think he’s not funny. I agree in principle with almost everything I’ve seen him allegedly-say about the subject, in MS Paint screenshots and image macro viral share-fests, but he’s so grating it makes me want to disagree.

Ricky Gervais in silent film

Although he had a real “silent movie” thing going on when he was a young lad.

These questions act something like Asimov’s laws of robotics. If you are in a position where question #3 comes into play, you have an obligation to fulfil question #2 to the best of your ability. Only then can you freely exercise your right under question #1.

But this is just one man’s opinion.

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