That Dr. Who Episode Was Poop

December 29th, 2009

It was gratifying to see that others felt the Christmas episode of Dr. Who was . . . lacking. I know that this is a show aimed at children, but it has a large adult following, and I think that everyone, children and adults, appreciates plot pacing and structure on some subconscious level. When you set aside the bad dialog, the thin plot, the “master race” pun(!), and the grating Obama references (I wanted to punch Russel T. Davies at several of these points, not the least of which was when, in the documentary that BBC America showed afterward, he seemed to think that using Obama was particularly savvy of him) the editing left me wondering if scenes were cut severely in the editing room. Scenes just sort of ended, switching in mid stream. If they came back, I could have considered it an editing choice, to increase tension, but they would just drop what was going on and switch to something else. Did Davies develop narrative ADD?

I could forgive all of this if he hadn’t come off as so unbelievably smug in every interview I’ve seen, cackling gleefully about how good he is and how amazing we’ll all say he was. Everyone has a bad episode from time to time and it would have just been an unfortunate way to end a run on a show. Instead, I am now questioning Davies writing as a whole. Perhaps he needs to fall on his face again so that he remembers that people don’t love things just because he wrote them but rather because he wrote something good? He certainly isn’t deserving of being declared Master of geek science fiction. Of course neither, to my mind, does the infantile wish fulfillment of Mark Millar who appears on io9’s list as well. In fact, that list shows that things are looking a bit weak in the realm of science fiction.

Since last paying significant attention to this blog, I had forgotten how much blog spam accumulates in the filters. I just scan them to see if there is anything that looks like it isn’t a blog of crap. However, even shorter comments get tossed if the email address looks odd. On the off chance that I’ve actually thrown out a good comment: “I’m sorry whoever you were.”

Total Attention Meltdown

June 1st, 2009

Preface: I just finished reading this article on attention and found it to be fairly good, despite the usual “but maybe we are all just charting a bold new way of organizing the human brain” ending.

After the completion of my first year of law school, I had two weeks before things really started up again in earnest. I began this two weeks by reading two books in two days. This, rather obviously, made me feel like I had my attention span all neat and tidied up. I had goals that I wanted to accomplish over the summer, and I was going to set them up and knock them down. This was followed by two and a half weeks of seemingly barely being able to pay attention to anything at all. I didn’t post here, despite having subjects that I wanted to write about. I didn’t write out any of the ideas for fiction that I had been carefully putting away in the ideas.txt file on my hard drive, unwilling to tackle them in the full flush of a school semester. I made a to do list, and I did the things that I absolutely had to do because someone was waiting a few hours down the line expecting me to have them done. This was, I was sure, no way to live life.

Over the course of a year of getting back into school, I had carefully weeded the many distractions from my life. I still got distracted while studying. I still surfed the internet more than I wanted, but when I had to, I could focus much more than I had while working at an ISP. When you are on a phone with a person helping them get Outlook going, there is a certain amount of poddling around the internet as a whole that is understandably acceptable. You have configured Outlook so many times in the past that you may divide your attention, even with the loss of attention quality that this entails. When reading a court case, the same does not hold true. You must be thinking about it, or the words will get you nowhere. I had refilled my RSS feed with many of the things that I had carefully removed over the year. I had played a few flash games. It was relaxing, but it needed to end. Then I came across the article above. Of course, I didn’t read it at the time. I was recommended in a friend’s Facebook message, but I bookmarked it. When I got around to reading it, it was as part of a general reorganization in the hopes of increasing my general willpower and attention span back to school levels. Things can be more relaxing, but I’d rather that they were relaxing on my terms, as opposed by being led around by the nose across the greater internet.

Merlin Mann had some relatively sage advice in the article, as he often does. That sounds like a backhanded compliment, and it really is, but Merlin says one of the best things about attention that anyone ever says. If you spend too much time thinking how you can improve it, or be more efficient, or more lifehack oriented, you will wast too much time thinking about getting things done and not getting them done. First to go from the RSS feed was Sorry Lifehacker. But your useful information ratio is about one in fifty, and the value of that stuff is not so good. You are exactly what Merlin was talking about. Hell this whole post is, in some respect, what Merlin was talking about.

So the new goal is of course to do things until they are done, or something else must be done at that time. This resolution will almost certainly not last beyond my first rem cycle tonight, but hopefully by destroying some of the faster links to distraction that I had on the computer, there will be less of it tomorrow. Another big one I hope to get better at: not pretending that doing a bunch of smaller tasks that don’t really amount to anything will “build momentum.” That never really seems to work. The slow cognitive rebuild begins once again for another ‘net denizen.

To all my friends who are thinking that I owe them an email. I know. That is one of tomorrow’s buckle down tasks.

News You Can Use

July 19th, 2008

I know that most of our fellow citizens live inside the chamber of silence when it comes to international news, but fucking eh! When one of your closest allies in your largest war front is releasing studies about how you’re full of shit and can’t be trusted for anything… When other people have to start distancing themselves from you on torture, it’s time to start some serious self appraisal. Too bad this one isn’t getting reported on CNN or anything. Also too bad we don’t have ‘British Fries’ or something we can rename to show our defiance in the face of international law.

Also, as a dual citizen, with family in the US and Canada, the next time someone tells me about how the Canadian health care system sucks, I’m pulling out this little anecdote. That’s a gem, that one. I love how people who argue this with me are always people who have a third cousin who they’ve never talked to who had to wait for an elective surgery like a face lift. I’ve had relatives die in Canada, and they sure didn’t want for medical care. I loved them, I was devastated by the loss of them, but I never wondered if they had been tricked into not being given care by the medical equivalent of DSL tech support.

Middle What?

July 18th, 2007

From time to time I entertain the idea of becoming a freelance writer, though I know I don’t deal with income uncertainty very well. After a few days of thinking about it, I usually turn my mind to grad school.

So, today was one of those days, where I sat in the cube farm and did a little daydreaming. I happened upon a link at LifeHacker that was supposedly about choosing a place to live as a freelancer. It took me here to a Forbes article.

Now, in this article they say that it’s relatively easy to get $100,000 as a skilled and dedicated freelancer. Fair enough, I don’t really know these things. But then they say that earning the second $100,000, so you can be middle class in California or New York. blink blink One quick trip to a Wikipedia article (of course) set me aright on the facts. Now, lets say this guy is right, and you need at least $150,000 to be middle class in one of these areas. If you look at the graph in the wikipedia article, the one about a fifth of the way down, that tracks income distribution, a little over 5% of our nation would qualify as middle class, if they lived in New York City or somewhere in California. At that point, I have to question the metric by which middle class is defined.

Note: The Forbes article is from 2005, so be sure to adjust up about 6% for cost of living inflation.

The Many Reasons

March 3rd, 2007

As long as I’m not finishing the rant I started… I should also point out that over at the Poor Man Institute, they are outlining a few of the many reasons that ‘fascist’ is just a way of saying ‘neoconservative’ that saves you eight keystrokes. It pays to be efficient.

Trinket Watch

February 15th, 2007

This made me exceedingly happy. I stopped reading Gizmodo a while ago. It does my heart good to see it get taken to task for all the shit it peddles like tiny lozenge shaped joygazms. How many cell phones does one man need? If Gizmodo posts were taken as a meter, you would think upwards of ten, all of them draining their batteries syncing todo lists from one to the other over bluetooth.

Then again, I don’t have an HDTV, or a PDA, and I have a cell phone that makes calls, like cell phones should. I’ve been “thinking about” buying an iPod for… shit… two, three years now? The other day I realized I was the only person on a group call who wasn’t using VoIP on their cell. I felt old. I write shit down on paper, a lot.

Stories With Little US Traction

January 30th, 2007

Two stories I’m a bit surprised I’m not seeing more of. The first is something I picked up at TNR’s Open University blog, which is another one of those blogs where multiple academics get together, so as to post enough as a group, because they’re all too busy with lives in the real world to go it alone. Anyhow, over there a few days ago, one David Bromwich posted this little ditty about Bush, habeas corpus, and private armies. This is one of those articles that doesn’t really tell you anything new, but it puts a finner point on it. I really don’t know why more people aren’t making a deal about the facts laid out.

Then, in a slightly more absurd way, the Guardian writes about something that I haven’t seen reported in the US media. This really makes it sound like Bush’s global warming policy is drafted by two guys in a room with a bag of weed.

Breaking News! Breaking News!

November 18th, 2006

Over at Girls Are Pretty, they have officially broken the record for the most convoluted anal sex joke ever made. I am speechless.

This narrowly edged out everything Martin Peretz has ever said about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the title.

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