Friday, December 18, 2009

Don't Fence Me In!

I come before you this fine morning to bemoan the genre! Yeah, it's reprehensible. What fits where, what justifies the creation of a new genre, and why does it matter at all?

More specifically: this time I want to bitch about the genre of books entitled "non-fiction". Amazon, Wikipedia, Metacritic, all tend to lump everything not totally made up as non-fiction. I'm aware that libraries, bookstores and other institutions have split this up out of practical necessity, but doesn't that just point further to the ineffectiveness of the convention?

No more discrimination against non-fiction books! Until I see mystery, sci-fi, romance, and horror lumped together as "subjects" under the banner genre "fiction", I'll... well, I'll just quietly resent the industry, thanks.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More fun in New Zealand

The BBC says New Zealand is all aflutter about a religion-themed billboard. Believe it or not, though, it's not this atheist one, though apparently they're still also experiencing controversy about that, well behind the rest of the world which has largely embraced them.

No! This one happens to be one group of Catholics producing a billboard that OTHER Catholics think makes the whole lot of them look a little too silly. See for yourself: its caption "Poor Joseph: God was a hard act to follow" accompanied by a painting of the dejected J-man himself in bed with the famous virgin leaves no doubt that the billboard is some kind of play on the idea that God fathered a child with that human woman.

The reason I like this so much has got to boil down to the objector's position: "Our Christian tradition of 2,000 years is that Mary remains a virgin and that Jesus is the son of God, not Joseph,". That's what Lyndsay Freer for the Auckland Diocese gave the press, when asked why they so vehemently opposed this billboard, paid for by their own organization. Does not the work on the billboard make it evident that its makers were well aware of this "tradition"?

It calls to mind the fine line that religious apologists and salespeople of eternity are forced to walk in these advanced times. Try as they might to hamper the spread of knowledge, many people are much more educated than in these organizations' hey days. Many of the talking snakes, virgin births, party-trick miracles, and geological impossibilities that used to amaze people and send them flocking into church are pretty solidly refutable by science. These days, direct references to these parts of religion are largely frowned upon, especially within the organizations at higher levels, because it makes them look really, really stupid. Tough beans, guys, you picked the wrong field to impress people with your smarts.

Way to go, Redmond.

Why doesn't anyone ever write about how clever the folks at Microsoft are, and how well designed their product support systems are, tailored from the hardware through the resident software, third-party applications, and networks to the warranty department?

My Xbox 360 console died last week. At 2:30AM, in the middle of some work (work for the console, play for me), the graphics processing areas of the system fought their demise proudly in a spectacular display of nonsense before ceasing to function entirely. Says xbox Live, the box was running, and announcing my being "online" to the world, to everyone but me. Google it, lots of people describing the problem perfectly along with their lengthy conversations with service techs say it's toast. It's 6 years old, bought used, no warranty -at all-, so I'm replacing. Knee Jerk: "FUK U, MIKRSFT!", but really, whatever; thing's pretty old and has had some long days.

What am I in for? I figure $200 replacement, and a bunch of time transferring licenses, setting up the new box: you know, a little digital moving day. I knew most of my stuff lived on the detachable HDD, but I figured like any other device there'd be a little work to do in a maneuvre like this. No dice. Popped the HDD out, put it in the blank slot that came with the new one (an "arcade" bundle which comes with nothing), and powered that shit on. It was my old xbox! Absolutely, to a "t", as if I had simply repaired the old one by way of some magic or other. Thanks dudes, for going to the otherwise not-profitable cost in time and money necessary to make that future process seamless.

In other news: I'm still sane, and angry about buying HDD storage at fairy tale giant sized margins, and paying a $10 tax on xbox games for living in Canada. Furthermore, my original Xbox is running fine after living two full lives as a retail console (50+ games to completion), emulator (played, a lot, man), and some years in its current iteration as a media workhorse. Don't get complacent.