Oct 202013

A while back, I wrote a post about aesthetics vs. practicality in designing science fiction spaceships, which also extends to any sort of speculative design.

Recently, a discussion exploded on the same board over an initially small misunderstanding that went rampant really fast. You can read about it here, if you care to (it spans three pages). The short version is that I pointed out some conceptual flaws in this particular artist’s explanation for how the FTL1 drive works. After some back and forth, wherein the artist got increasingly hostile to having their idea poked at, they fired off a massive post/rant. I almost gave into the temptation to respond to it, but that little voice in the back of my head said, “Dude, get real. They’re not listening. They’re not going to listen. They’ve got too much baggage going into this for your points to get through. Just leave it.” So I did. I apologized for upsetting them, restated that my only goal was to share information/correct misconceptions, complimented them on their model, and wished them well on their worldbuilding. Then I bowed out.

This all played out from 10/17 to 10/18. Yet I’m still thinking about it. I don’t feel any better now than I did when it all played out; if anything, I might be feeling even worse. Enumerating all of the reasons why would take too long, but there’s one point that I wanted to home in on because I see it everywhere and it needs to die.

in case nobody told you…the FI in sci fi means Fiction!!! The concept of this system is based on an assumed understanding of physics that guess what? We don’t and may never have

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. The fiction in science fiction serves the exact same role as it does in fantasy fictioncrime fiction, literary fiction, romance fiction, and every other stripe of fiction out there: it serves to indicate that the story, characters, and setting are made-up. Period. Done.

The science in science fiction clarifies the broader genre: these are made-up stories, characters, and settings where science is the driver behind what is different. New technologies, alien species, and so on; just as magic–the truly fantastic–drives fantasy fiction. There can absolutely be overlap: technological magic, magical technology, whatever you like. But these are the distinguishing features of the genres that give them a unique place.

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  1. That’s “faster than light”…but if you’re not familiar with that term, then most of this post is going to seem even more ridiculous to you. []
Aug 202012

I’m almost certainly going to upset someone with this, which isn’t my intention. I feel that it needs to be said anyway.

There are many quirks of language use that I find irritating. One among them, I find irritating for the implications it carries. That’s the phrase “that doesn’t work for me” or the variant “that might work for you, but…” Sometimes, these are valid things to say. When they are said in response to facts, they engender a great deal of rage.

I’ve encountered a pretty wide array of responses since embracing the information set forward in Taubes’s book. Most of the responses are appreciative of the obvious progress I’ve been making (now down eight pounds, even after two parties). Some folks have said variations on “I couldn’t do that,” which is fine. It takes a certain measure of willpower to just slice carbs out of your diet, cold-turkey and some just don’t have that, or don’t want to exercise it. There are also financial or dietary elements to it that can prove problematic–meat’s expensive, and not on the menu for vegetarians. Others have responded with skepticism, which is also fine. I point them at my blog post on the topic first, which in turn points them at the book if the blog post doesn’t convince them or if they want all of the supporting data. Skepticism is good and healthy and I encourage it.

But “that doesn’t work for me” is a turn of phrase that really bothers me. In general, what the person is saying–but doesn’t want to say–is that they don’t think they can do it. As I said above, that’s a perfectly fair position to take. What I don’t like is the implication that comes with this particular turn of phrase that the method is somehow flawed. It would absolutely work for you; you’re a human being and your biological functions are not wildly different from any other human’s. If you tried it, and couldn’t stick to it, that wasn’t a case of it “not working” for you, it was a failure on your part to adhere to the requirements. But “that doesn’t work for me” is a complete lie.

Let’s be clear: exercise is good for you, and has lots of benefits. It’s also going to do next to nothing to get you to lose weight/burn fat. It will help improve muscle tone and thereby contribute to making you look better overall when combined with weight loss, but a single meal is worth more in raw calories than a good two hours of strenuous exercise. I’m not encouraging people to avoid exercise; I’m discouraging people from thinking it’s going to do more than make a meager dent in any weight issues.

Counting calories–and remember, this was an approach I championed until just recently–only works indirectly. When you’re counting calories, you’re generally taking in less of everything, carbs included. But you’re still consuming carbs, which are still prioritized over the foodmass that you actually want to burn off. You’re still stowing the rest of what you eat on your body, because the carbs must be the priority or your own blood sugar level will poison you. There is no concrete evidence anywhere that calorie restriction alone has any impact on weight loss.

If you want to count calories and exercise, be my guest. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking that’s how you’re going to lose weight, and don’t tell me that adhering to a biochemical explanation and method for losing weight “doesn’t work for you.”

Radically changing gears, this weekend was awesome. Cody and I spent Friday afternoon through late Sunday with friends, engaged in various forms of entertainment. The apex of this weekend was a party for a rarely-seen-in-person friend of ours who was in town. However, at the urging of another friend, we decided to keep the guest list very short. In total, we had about ten people involved.

I had forgotten how much fun our small shindigs could be.

A large party takes on a life of its own, which is a great deal of fun. But it also comes with a certain dilution of focus. There are so many people present that it’s difficult to spend any meaningful time with anyone, and depending on the composition it’s difficult to make everyone feel comfortable. Not so with a smaller party. When everyone knows and is comfortable with everyone else, there’s a sort of social magic that happens that I had all but forgotten.

I think most of our parties going forward will be of the smaller variety, with apologies to those this excludes. That’s not to say we won’t have big shindigs in the future; we almost certainly will. They’ll just be rarer than the smaller gatherings wherein everyone can let their hair down.

Aug 182011

I was going to write a long post ranting about traffic disruptions caused by collisions. However, I can’t find a good way to say what I want to say without it making me sound like a complete jerk. Thus, I am forced to conclude that said feelings do make me a complete jerk and have instead decided to quash those feelings in an effort to engage in some self-improvement.

Now, if only the people who post YouTube and major news outlet comments could only learn to do the same, the Internet would be a better place. Alas.

Stormtrooper Accuracy

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Oct 152010

It’s time for a good, old-fashioned nerd rant!

Stormtroopers get a lot of shit. It’s become a fairly widespread public perception that they’re a laughably incompetent bunch for a supposedly indomitable galaxy-spanning military. They can’t shoot straight, which makes the line “Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise” comical. A legion of the Emperor’s best troops get taken out by teddy bears. Obviously, the Rebels were destined to win.

Except all of those things are wrong.
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Jul 092010

This post is a rant.  I’m only moderately pulling my punches.  Yes, it’s probably about you.  You have been warned.

Many people have the Google search engine web page set as their default page.  That’s fine, and not a terrible idea.  When you want to find something, and don’t know where to go for it, Google’s a fantastic gateway.

What Google is not is a place to put in a URL (a web page “address”).  If someone provides you a URL, and you put it into the Google search bar, you are asking Google to search for that URL.  This is, in the technical sense, not going to get you want you want.  Unfortunately, because Google is so expansive, it often does get people what they want.  This builds a bad habit that reared it’s hideous, deformed head lately.

If you punch the wedding website URL into Google…you get links to this blog.  That’s because I’ve mentioned the wedding here, and Google is also picking up on the “McC3D.com” part of the URL.  You won’t get the wedding website itself, because it doesn’t index (i.e. Google doesn’t pick it up in its catalog of the internet).   The blog does index.

This was presented to me as a “problem with the wedding website” that “people couldn’t get to.”  When I hear those words, I become alarmed.  My webserver’s pretty important to me, and if something’s not working correctly, I want to fix it as quickly as possible.  But when I find out that the only thing wrong is people not understanding how to properly use their web browser, I get upset.  Very upset.  I don’t particularly care to have technical issues pinned on me that are A) not technical and B) not my fault.

The anatomy of a web browser:

You should really know this stuff before setting foot into the internet.  This is basic and fundamental.

This is the proper way to use your web browser.

In closing: