May 12th, 2003


America vs Europe

Those of you that are interested in economics (there must be one of you, at least) will be interested in this discussion of the differences in GDP for Europe and America.

At first glance, Europe's GDP is only 77% of the US, but once you notice that Europeans work much shorter hours, that the cost of keeping vast numbers of Americans in prison is included and that the US spends vastly more on heating/cooling themselves to cope with their extreme temperatures, the differences come out as far less.

(no subject)

Joe sent me a link to a fantastic "crap jobs" page that included this:

A friend of mine, the technical writer for our department, once complained that his job had ruined his ability to write creatively. Spending several years writing manuals had removed his ability to construct a decent narrative. Instead, he said he kept writing garbage like:

Detective MacAllister entered the room. Immediately, he observed:
* the victim's body strewn across the floor
* blood soaking the area around the body
* several pieces of overturned furniture
* the victim had failed to properly halt his computer, possibly damaging file system integrity

More here.

The internet

Fantastically funny history of the internet.

Blogging invented. Promises to change the way people bore strangers with banal anecdotes about their pets.
Napster collapses. Music industry suddenly profitable again, and able to meet insatiable public demand for more boy bands.
Internet bubble bursts. Investors take back money and hide it under a mattress. Geeks go back to Burger King.
Cats becomes sole proprietor of all your base. Every Zig moved.

Suckiness, thy name is Andrew

I just went downstairs to take the bins out. I was careful pulling the bin into the corridoor as I know that this is the time of year when spiders start appearing and bins sit still for long enough to be a comfortable web-building spot.

I was still fairly horrified that when I lifted my hands up one of them went straight up the side of its web and into the lip that surrounds the top of the bin, right next to the handles.

There's no way I'm touching that bin tonight. Fortunately Erin's ok with taking them out.

It's funny, some days I can cope with them a fair amount, but the thought of putting my hands where it could crawl straight onto me makes me feel shaky.

How not to write

Lewish Shiner and Bruce Sterling put together a primer for SF workshops which has some fantastic examples of what not to write.

The problem with these things is that they make it very hard to enjoy bad SF afterwards. I can no longer watch most Star Trek at all, for instance, nor can I read David Eddings.

Plot Coupons
The basic building blocks of the quest-type fantasy plot. The "hero" collects sufficient plot coupons (magic sword, magic book, magic cat) to send off to the author for the ending. Note that "the author" can be substituted for "the Gods" in such a work: "The Gods decreed he would pursue this quest." Right, mate. The author decreed he would pursue this quest until sufficient pages were filled to procure an advance. (Dave Langford)

Funny-hat characterization
A character distinguished by a single identifying tag, such as odd headgear, a limp, a lisp, a parrot on his shoulder, etc