Friday, December 21, 2007

The Nerd Handbook

Lots of posts for me today... It's slow at work since nobody is here (I have one of those jobs where I'm either daydreaming about product enhancements with my headphones on, or I'm calling programmers and people that can actually code things, and with Xmas approaching nobodty's around). Erm... where was I? Oh, yeah.

Saw this article called The Geek Handbook over on The Rabbit Cave, and liked it so much that I thought it needed... NEEDED... to be reposted. I see more than a little bit of myself in his descriptions of the archetypal nerd, even though I'm certainly not a programmer, coder or web designer. I found this particularly true, and the moment I stopped laughing I started looking for the tiny cameras the author had obviously planted in my house to observe me:

How does a nerd watch TV? Probably one of two ways. First, there’s watching TV with you where the two of you sit and watch one show. Then there’s how he watches by himself when he watches three shows at once. It looks insane. You walk into the room and you’re watching your nerd jump between channels every five minutes.

“How can you keep track of anything?”

He keeps track of everything. See, he’s already seen all three of these movies… multiple times. He knows the compelling parts of the arcs and is mentally editing his own versions while watching all three. The basic mental move here is the context switch, and your nerd is the king of the context switch.

The ability to instantly context switch also comes from a life on the computer. Your nerd’s mental information model for the world is one contained within well-bounded tidy windows where the most important tool is one that allows your nerd to move swiftly from one window to the next. It’s irrelevant that there may be no relationship between these windows. Your nerd is used to making huge contextual leaps where he’s talking to a friend in one window, worrying about his 401k in another, and reading about World War II in yet another.

Seeing as how I'm typing this post in Firefox, where I currently have 44 separate web sites open, each on its own tab, I think he hit the nail square on the head here. Not bragging... just sayin'.

Anyway...enjoy, and, once again, Happy Holidays!

Jackson will produce "Hobbit" films!

From Reuters, via Wil Wheton's awesome blog - Peter Jackon will produce not one, but TWO films based on Tolkein's The Hobbit. Read the whole story HERE.
One word. Effing YEAH baby! Wait... that's more then one. Whatever. Go jump up and down, screaming like a little girl already. Or is that just, you know, me?

Anyway... this is great news. I'm not sure about the idea of a sequel film that they're proposing will cover the period between the Hobbit and the beginning of the Lord of the Rings (has a bit of a weird Rogue Squadron feel to me, for you Star Wars geeks out there), but if anyone can spin up new content set in Tolkein's world and make it palatable, it's Jackson.

The power of games

I don't know why, but I found this entire article deeply fulfilling. Easily the best gaming-related article I've read all year.

GREAT quote:

At the main entrance, a much larger setup is dedicated to Rock Band. Tellingly, the guitars are both Guitar Hero 2 era wired Explorers, the workhorse standard in the guitar game universe. The drum kit features duct tape in several places. As I walk by, 4 teenage boys are playing "Maps" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a choice not only unlikely due to the song's laconic and decidedly non-hardcore tone, but also due to the fact that one of the boys is actually singing, amplified, and doing it quite well. That Rock Band has brought baggy-trousered boys out of their basements to actually sing in public is a testament to the game's power. That my four year old son Jake is also singing every word with perfect diction and not-half-bad tone is a testament to how many hours I've played it, not any expression of talent on his part.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Update

I'll likely be distracted by family and holiday activities to post next week, but I wanted to let anyone reading what's going on with the book.

First, I managed to show up in Heidi Ruby Miller's "Pick Six" interview section (thanks so much, Heidi!) - you can read my fascinating answers to her questions HERE. It's probably not anything new to anyone that's been reading my old posts, but it was a fun exercise anyway. Maybe I should have focused on questions like "Celebrity Crush" (definitely Kate Bush when I was a young man... evolving to the much more kick-ass-tic Sarah Michelle Geller ne: Buffy later on), or perhaps "Food You Could Eat Every Day" (sushi, sushi and more sushi, please).


I also wanted everyone to know that I'm practically finished with the finale for Nights of Sin - I've been working hard nearly every morning at Panera Bread before work and the odd evening, trying to meet Juno's deadline. The finale is much grander this time around, with many more moving parts, and keeping track of everything in discreet, hour-long chunks of time is... challenging... to say the least. I'm feeling pretty good about it though and I look forward to getting the end result into the hands of my crack beta-reading team by New Year's.

Here's hoping that everyone's holidays are happy and joyous, filled with the warmth of friendship and family.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Torture as The One Ring

I ran across this interesting blog post over on Andrew Sullivan's site earlier this week, comparing the recent US policies regarding the torture of terrorism suspects to the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings. Sullivan had this to say about it:
The point is not that between America and al Qaeda, there is any equivalence. It is that no country is good enough to trust itself with the evil of torture. And semantic denial is not renuniciation. That's why we have the rule of law. That is why those who treat it as an expedient will lose themselves before too long, whatever their initial motives. And they have, I fear. They have.
It really hit a nerve, so I sent out the link to my best friend, Dave, who had this to say (I think he summed it up even better for whatever that's worth):

Sherrian and I heard/read some blowhard talking about how the success of Lord of the Rings was proof that people had developed an appetite for Good vs. Evil, and tried to cast the "War on Terror" in the light of the War of the Ring. Sherrian and both looked at each other open-mouthed, and Sherrian said what we were both thinking: "Don't they get it? HE'S SAURON!"

The truth is, though, as that article points out, is that it's much worse than that, which is why so many of us watching get soul-sick, and finally just weary. We're not Sauron -- we're Isildur, we're Aragorn corrupted, we're Nazgul, we're Gollum. Bush, in the most sympathetic light imaginable, is Boromir or Denethor if they'd gotten the ring.

It's ridiculous that we frame so much of what we do as a battle of good and evil, when, given the opportunity to make the choice ourselves, we blow it.

Sometimes I think about the cheap seat I'm in. It's pretty easy for me to sit here and spout about how people ought to behave when they're doing the hard and dangerous work involved in actually identifying threats and removing them. But it's this argument, ultimately, that heads off most appeals to more moral behavior. Those who ask for patience rather than paranoia or vengeance are presented as being soft and used to safety, and so are rarely to be able to claim enough credibility to make the argument. And if they can, undermining that credibility becomes the A-1 priority of the opposition (see: swift boats). I'm surprised that we didn't hear something about McCain being a pushover for not liking torture just because he experienced some.

Heinlein saw the only way out of that as making every citizen a soldier. Tolkien had some faith that the comfortable could still be strong and moral when the time came. Not sure of the answer myself.
I'm not sure either, but I know that asking the question is better than just blindly trusting that what we're being told is the truth.