Now We Just Need a New Vitamin

“A previously unknown mineral has been discovered in a remote location in Western Australia. The mineral, named putnisite, appears purple and translucent, and contains strontium, calcium, chromium, sulphur, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, a very unusual combination.” {From: Unique Mineral Discovered In Australia | Popular Science | Via: BoingBoing}

You know, I collected rocks for years, and never found anything as cool as a whole new mineral. I think I might have found some pyrite once, maybe. I’m not really sure — I just liked interesting rocks, okay?

Still, this is quite a cool discovery. It could potentially tell us a few novel things about geology, crust formation, and so on. Most important of all, it is also kinda pretty.

Line Located?

George R.R. Martin, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and director Alex Graves respond to that scene from Game Of Thrones · Newswire · The A.V. Club.

I don’t judge Game of Thrones fans — like what you like, I hope you have a good time — but I won’t claim that I understand them. Nor am I in the business of telling people what they should and shouldn’t be offended by — my thinking is limited by my own experiences, and so I have no right to make that sort of judgement on other people’s behalf. If you’re genuinely offended by something, you’re not wrong. So I say the following in the spirit of intellectual inquiry and curiosity, with malice towards none:

Basically, I’m confused by this whole deal. I’m sure the offending scene is horrifying beyond all justification. But I can’t figure out why a self-selected group of people who loved all the previous unjustifiable horrors are now drawing some sort of line. I’m a little surprised to learn that these folks even have a line.

I may not understand GoT fans, but watching the reactions play out has been somewhat educational. I think I might be learning a thing or two about the relationship between the fans and the creators. My prior theory behind how that worked was this:

This is a fandom that is well aware that Martin (and by extension, the producers of the show based on his work) are deliberately aiming to tear the fans’ guts out at every turn. After all, this is a deliberately constructed world where there are no heroes in the traditional sense, where innocence only exists to be savaged, where virtue only exists to be punished, and where the bulk of the cast are utter villains, and the key to success and survival is to out-wicked your rivals. Surely the fans can’t really be surprised when the worst thing that could happen in any given situation invariably, actually happens? Especially when their prior response to these events is to beg for more and more of them? Obviously, no matter how odious the subject matter, they get some sort of kick out of this stuff, and they are willing to endure anything to get that fix.

On the other side of the equation, Martin, et al, seem only too happy to push the fans’ buttons for them. They seem to enjoy watching them squirm and squirm without actually balking or walking away. Martin especially seems delighted over the fact that he has found an audience with an insatiable appetite for the wickedest, most debased fantasies that he is able to conjure. It’s a mutually sustaining relationship, and is actually quite lovely if you think about it.

Of course one grows inured to transgressive thrills eventually, so Martin, et al, and their audience must continue to push their boundaries to maintain that zing they’ve grown addicted to. Hand in hand, they climb the hill of outre sex and violence, world without end.

But this view is blown apart by the wholly unexpected occurrence of a subset of GoT fans actually getting upset over matters of content. This wasn’t supposed to be possible. What’s going on here?

This is a situation where Game of Thrones fans — a group that ordinarily revels in all the guts, gore, sadism and depravity that George R. R. Martin & company can dish out — are upset over what (to me, as a non-fan) appears to be pretty much the same stuff they’ve been enjoying for years and years now. (It’s rather like watching Jimmy Carr lambaste another comedian for making jokes in poor taste.)

Perhaps, up to now, nothing that GoT has done has actually disturbed them. Maybe, prior to this point, they did not experience a transgressive shiver of pleasure at any of the goings-on playing out before them (perhaps merely nodding their heads, saying “we like this”); only now, due to the unique details of this particular event, do they find themselves disturbed — and they don’t like it.

On the other hand, perhaps not. Perhaps this is a group which does indeed require an escalation of atrocities lest boredom set in. Yet, when that escalation occurred this time (this one time), they were bothered by it because it was just too much. If that’s the case, then it’s possible that this one scene was merely a bit ahead of its time. Maybe they should have saved it for a later date, after the audience’s endurance had been allowed to build up even further.

In the end, I have to admit that I don’t know what’s going on here. I expect I never will, though I’d be interested in any thoughtful response as to why This was not okay, while all the rest of That definitely was.

Oh Mylanta

Tennis player Donald Young gets penalized for yelling “son of a biscuit!” {From SBNation.com.} {Via The Morning News}

Tennis is the most dignified of pastimes, what with the tiny shorts and the grunting and whatnot. Heaven forfend that the spectators should be forced to endure the word “b_____t” during a match.

Then again, maybe such outbursts should be punished: According to one authority, nothing is worse than clean filth.

On the other hand, no — of course it shouldn’t.

Getting Better at Something

As soon as I saw a link that said, “The Man With the Yellow Hat Goes to Therapy,” I thought to myself, “I’ll bet that’s a piece on McSweeney’s.” And I was right! I’m not sure what this says about either me or McSweeney’s, or how I just knew that link went to their page, though. It’d take a Malcolm Gladwell to figure it out, I think. [Via]

UPDATE: If you’re interested in more things from McSweeney’s that really sound like things from McSweeney’s, you might want to know about the Best of McSweeney’s.

UNRELATED ADDENDUM: Did I ever tell you about the time when I asked a bookstore clerk if her store carried McSweeney’s, and she thought I said “Mixed Weenies?” That was kind of a weird conversation, because it took about half an hour before she realized that she misheard me. This doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but I don’t have any better place to tell that story.

3DS: Streetpass Mii Plaza error code 009-2913 (system-update data not found)

No, I haven’t gone bananas, nor has this blog been taken over by a bot — the crazy title is there so that other people might find this post if they happen to run into the same issue that I did on my 3ds. Because after I got that error in the title, I looked all over the Internet and couldn’t find any advice for it that would work for me.

Do you want to know why I couldn’t find any help? Why there wasn’t a single article or forum post that could fix my problem?

Well, it’s because (as far as I can tell) I am the only person who did a system transfer and then forgot to take the SD card out of the old system and stick it into the new one, and then tried to launch the Mii Plaza.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am an idiot. But at least I am on the cutting-edge frontier when it comes to finding new ways to be that idiot!

Oh wait no, that’s not a thing to be proud of. That’s a bad thing.

(In my defense though, according to Nintendo’s support site that numerical error code up there indicates an Internet connectivity issue, which this wasn’t. In my offense though, I’m still the one who screwed up.)

Footholds

You know what? Writing’s not so hard!

Sorry, I’ve just always wanted to say that. I get the urge to say inappropriate things sometimes.

Seriously though, I find writing immensely difficult. Sometimes. Other times it’s really, really easy. A lot of it depends on whether or not I’ve got a foothold. I’m not sure what terms professional writers use for this phenomenon — the closest thing I can think of is what TV writers often describe as “breaking” a story.

It’s basically the moment when the route becomes clear. “I want to talk about this thing, but I don’t know how to do it — where do I start? Where am I going? Oh wait, I just had an idea, I know how to handle this now.”

The problem is that I don’t know how to reliably find a foothold every time. Some writers seem to do it almost at-will, but that’s never been me. I have to wait for an epiphany. Footholds attack me when I least expect them, but they don’t really show up that often.

This is why I could never work professionally, and why I so rarely post anything to my blog. Even the short posts, often just links to other people’s stuff, don’t get written unless I can think up a joke or “wacky” angle from which to approach them.

I guess that’s why so many writing exercises insist that you write a set amount of words whether you have an idea or whether you feel like writing (hey, guess where this piece that you’re reading right now came from). Maybe, given the challenge of looking for an endless series of random footholds day after day, your brain starts to get better at finding them.  I hope that’s the case anyway.