Showing posts with label short remark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label short remark. Show all posts

Monday, September 08, 2014

The right attitude

Moving from one urgent matter to the next, it's easy to develop an inflated notion of self-importance.

Consider that the Earth was here long before you arrived and will be here long after you're gone.

Consider, too, that the Earth is only one of the Sun's planets, and that the Sun is only one star among the 200 billion in our galaxy. Our galaxy is only one among 200 billion galaxies.

I sat down on a rock to rest after a steep climb in Rocky Mountain National Park. A camera dangled from my neck. A ground squirrel stood near my feet and ignored me.

Perhaps it was too busy to be afraid of me. I'll never know. I took its picture. It neither knew, nor cared. Within moments it was called away on urgent business.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

For whom the bell (ringtone) tolls

Political pollsters phoned me five times in the last two days. So far, I‘ve refused to answer their questions. But they‘re starting to wear me down. I hope I can hold out long enough to deliver a warning.

One must not answer questions asked by political pollsters. Should you do so, they will hunt you down, brainwash you, and force you to vote for idiots. They may even get you to contribute to the campaign coffers of those same idiots.

If you feel you must answer their questions, then by all means, lie. The nature of their questions provides hints regarding what they want you to believe. Tell them what they want to hear. If they think you’ll be voting for their idiots, they may leave you alone. If you receive follow-up calls asking for money, tell them that you’ve already contributed the maximum amount allowed by law. They may believe you. If they don’t, ask, “Are you calling me a liar?” That always makes them defensive. No one likes to be called a liar, least of all liars. If you follow this advice, you may survive the next election. Good luck.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Amazon – It’s a jungle out there

The Martian Chronicles

Ray Bradbury
Fiction 256 pages
Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition. 2012

Out of curiosity, I looked up Ray Bradbury’s, “The Martian Chronicles” on Amazon. I read it as a child and enjoyed it immensely. However, even then, I could spot Bradbury’s inconsistencies and deviations from his basic milieu. Still, there are those who consider it a classic, so I looked.

This book, published in 1950, includes stories published during the later portion of the 1940s. That explains the inconsistencies—Bradbury didn’t set out to write a book. It emerged from his stories. Actually, that’s part of its charm. The Mars in one story isn’t quite the same as the Mars in another. And, there’s no great effort to be scientific. That’s not what Bradbury is about.

The book has 391 reviews and well over half of those display five stars. However, I was more interested in the nine one star reviews and perhaps a few of the twos. Two of the one star reviews, and at least five of the two star reviews, were written by A Customer—amazingly all on the same day. It makes one wonder how many Amazon accounts A Customer has, or perhaps multiple people use that handle and write reviews at the same time.

Two of the reviewers found Bradbury’s language graphic and/or offensive. At least three reviewers found the book dull. One called it far-fetched and another said it was the “worst non-fiction book i ever read.” Did he mean to write science fiction?

After reading some of the reviews, I’ve come to several conclusions: 1) some people don’t proofread, 2) some people are offended by 1950s era profanity, 3) some people found the book dull. Regarding the second two conclusions, I further conclude: 1) some people don’t see many movies, at least not those without G ratings, and 2) if you prefer science fiction with more special effects, you should probably stick to movies.

Before Amazon, books didn’t get 391reviews. That’s because there were only a handful of people with literary credentials available to write them. Now you don’t need literary credentials to write a review. There’s been a revolution and the people have taken the power from the critics. There are good aspects to the democratization of opinion. However, without experts to tell us what to like, we may sink to the depths of bad taste. Therefore, we still need literary critics, unless something high-minded emerges to take their place. Luckily, civilization generally survives temporary lapses of good taste.

Among its advantages, Amazon, provides a path to publishing that some authors would not otherwise have. It also provides a platform for hacks and lack wits. Still, there are some self-published gems out there. There are also thousands of me-too opinions, uneducated opinions, and trolls lurking about. In fact, it’s a jungle—so one must tread carefully. In time, the jungle will become more manageable. Let’s just hope it isn’t destroyed in the process.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Is science fiction a dead genre, or is it merely un-dead?


As a science fiction fan, I follow several sites that post about eBooks. Of late, I see many new titles about werewolves, vampires and zombies. Such creatures are fine when they keep to their proper genre, but when they masquerade as science fiction I get irritated.

I like the end of the world as well as anyone, but does it always have to be the same zombie stuffed, vampire ridden post-apocalyptic world? Why can’t you authors write stories like those in Jack Vance’s “Dying Earth”? Vance mixes crumbling technology and magic without resorting to un-dead or dog-eared characters. Why can’t you guys?

Occasionally one of you gets a vampire right, but werewolves? Come on. And, zombies—plah-eze—they are so implausible. I mean, can a walking sack of rotting flesh get readers to suspend disbelief? Let’s try something new, something with at least a trace of science in it, not another werewolf story. Is the world going to the dogs, or what? 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Search Engine Optimization — It can work

I got a call from Google today. I made the first page of search results for my keyword phrase. What happened? I was creating tags for my graphics handbook for small organizations and I hit upon a three word phrase that worked. Which one? You’ll have to find out for yourself by looking at my Amazon listing. The downside? Google doesn’t have any statistics on my phrase. Oh, well.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wikileaks. Truth versus trust

I tried to access Wikileaks but wasn’t able to. So, I Googled it. I soon learned that according to Peter Svensson’s AP article, Wikileaks claims to be inaccessible due to massive denial of service attacks. I also learned that the website was a dot.org instead of a dot.com. Armed with this knowledge, I had no trouble accessing its website. However, I can’t access all of it, or its more recent pages.

Perhaps Wikileaks is under cyberattack, or perhaps there’s another reason why it can’t be accessed. You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, hence the name of this blog.

Espionage writer, Eric Ambler, discusses what might happen if an obscure, right-wing, weekly newsletter were to begin publishing classified information. In his novel, “The Intercom Conspiracy,” Ambler treats the topic humorously. He could not have envisioned that something like this could happen in real-life, or the extent to which classified information would be leaked.

Some the diplomatic cables that Wikileaks shared with the world contain a good bit of humor, but not for those world leaders who are butts of the jokes. As Ronald Neumann said on NPR this morning, if a man tells his wife something unflattering about her mother, and she passes it on, than he will be very uncomfortable the next time he faces his mother-in-law.

Truth is a good thing, but trust is even better. How will America fare in a world that perceives its diplomats can’t be trusted?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What’s wrong with this picture

As a child, when I left a theatre, I often thought about the movie and mentally gave it an alternate ending. The habit hasn’t completely left me, but it’s taken a new direction. I think about the characters and why they did the things they did. Doing so keeps the movie alive for me.

It’s said that fiction depends on suspending disbelief. I’m not sure that’s entirely true. Movies seem to depend on meeting expectations. When you see a movie like, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” you expect special effects. When you see a movie like, “Salt,” you expect stunts.

Both movies deliver what’s expected. But they don’t give you anything to think about afterward. The action works, just as it’s supposed to, but both movies fail to justify the behavior of one of its main characters. People don’t just do things for no reason … except in the movies. Action movies in particular.

Action movies squeeze a basketful of thrills into ninety minutes, often at the expense of character development. The result is that the characters may be heroic, but the audience doesn’t know what motivates them. However, motivation matters, and makes a movie memorable. The movies that really stick are the ones that develop their characters. Characters without motivations are gone as soon as you step out of a dark theatre into the light of day. Hollywood may want it that way, but I don’t.

Friday, August 27, 2010

No foundation

An opinion article titled, “Good intentions, bad location” appeared recently in the Lakewood Sentinel. It begins by implying that associating certain words together triggers people’s hot buttons.

The article then states the intentions of a group involved with one of those words. It concludes that if this group acts on its intentions, other people will be offended. Therefore, the group should maintain goodwill by changing its plans.

The words are “mosque” and “Ground Zero.” The article implies that when some people hear the word, “mosque,” they think “terrorist.” Building the mosque would offend those people. That’s like saying people who don’t like steak sauce, won’t eat meat. It doesn’t make sense.

Most Muslims are neither terrorists nor extremists. Apparently, in some people’s minds, all Muslims are terrorists. Instead of telling Muslims not to build mosques, these people should try changing their minds by substituting facts for emotional reactions.

I have no opinion regarding whether a mosque should be built two blocks from “Ground Zero.” But, I can’t accept an emotional reaction as a substitute for a reasoned argument. You can’t build a mosque, or a strong argument, without a foundation – something this article lacks.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Second best

The world’s second tallest building is called Taipei 101. The second heaviest gold bar in the world is stored in Jinguashi. The tunnel through Hsuehshan is the second longest in Asia. Each of these second bests was a first in its time.

What is noteworthy is not that these once were the tallest, heaviest, and longest of their kind. No, what is noteworthy is that they are all located in Taiwan. This little island, and its even littler outlying islands, occupies an area of only 13,900 square miles. My own state, Colorado, occupies 104,091 square miles, roughly seven times Taiwan’s size. Colorado isn’t threatened by surrounding states, yet Taiwan faces frequent intimidation from mainland China. Perhaps the threat of invasion explains why Taiwan has achieved so much. Perhaps the explanation lies elsewhere. Regardless, Taiwan’s example is something to strive for.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Online spelling and grammar

Yo, Illiterate! Yes, I mean you. I suppose you figure that you don’t need to proofread your writing before you post it online. You think I won’t notice. Well I do. In fact, I notice it everywhere—on blogs, newsgroups, why hell, even on television station websites.

If you’re not using grammar and spell checkers, you should be. And, if you are, then you need to acknowledge their limitations. Proofread, damn it.

English is a language full of quirky rules and still quirkier exceptions to those rules. This queer old aunt of a language must be preserved in all her peculiar glory. Your wholesale online abuse of English must stop at once. If you don’t mend your ways, then no one will respect the rules of English and God help us, writing will look like this:

“Then saw I all the half y-grave with famous folke's names fele, that hadde been in muche weal, and their fames wide y-blow. But well unnethes might I know any letters for to read their names by; for out of dread they were almost off thawed so, that of the letters one or two were molt away of ev'ry name, so unfamous was wox their fame.”

Friday, January 30, 2009

There ought to be a law

Some time back, only one phone company operated in the United States. Law makers decided it had grown too big, broke it apart and made room for competition. This was bad for the environment.

With only one phone company, there was only one phone book publisher. Over recent weeks, I’ve received phone books from at least three publishers. Most of these have gone straight from my doorstep into recycle bins. I didn’t even crack the covers.

Thanks to the internet, I rarely look at a phone book anymore. I’ll bet I’m not alone. Think of all the trees that have died in order to supply paper pulp to manufacture books people don’t use.

Wouldn’t it be better if phone book publishers were required to ask consumers if they want their books instead of assuming that they do. This would save countless trees and prevent much of the pollution of streams that results from paper manufacturing.

There ought to be a law. There really should.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It looked kinda like this...

Shrieking, slithering, torrential shadows of red viscous madness chasing one another through endless, ensanguined corridors of purple fulgurous sky...

H. P. Lovecraft - The Lurking Fear