Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trailer for First Hobbit Movie

The first trailer for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the first part of Peter Jackson's expanded adaptation of Tolkien's first published book, is out. It's a good trailer, extremely reminiscent of his Lord of the Rings movies. In fact, it looks like Jackson is going to kill a lot of screen time with echoes of LotR, like the shards of the sword in Rivendell. Nevertheless, this stuff will probably work for me, and I'll end up seeing and loving this movie.

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey trailer:

'via Blog this'

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Worst Technical Communication Ever

While looking into AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) for a project, I came across this section of the official AIML documentation. The section contained the following table (the version at the original site is bigger and more legible on high-resolution displays):

The Most Pointless Table in the World

Notice that the table details exactly two items and gives the same information on both of them. This information could have easily been given in a sentence with a compound subject. Furthermore, the average English speaker could probably read that hypothetical sentence faster than they could figure out the table formatting, much less comprehend the (redundant) information in the table. The technical communicator in my brain can't figure out whether to do a facepalm or a headdesk.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another Attack on the Internet

No, I'm not talking about a DDOS or similar high-tech shenanigans. I'm talking about a rhetorical attack on the very democratization of public expression that the Internet has enabled. The most blatant example of this kind of polemic is something David Brooks wrote last summer. Today's example is a scathing blog post by self-published novelist Sylvia Massara (via Floor to Ceiling Books). In a rant about some negative reviews one of her books received in the blogosphere, Massara writes:
Oftentimes, the people who set up these kinds of blogs have never written a thing in their lives, except maybe a grocery list. Most are avid readers who think they are qualified to review someone else's work. So it's very sad when they go about damaging the image of upcoming small press and indie authors with the rubbish they write.
Yep, exactly the kind of respect-my-establishment-authority prattle that Brooks was pushing. The odd wrinkle here is that Massara is self-published, and not a novelist whose first book is being released by a publishing house. In effect, she is an insurgent swimming against the mass media tide as much as any blogger. Why, then, does she attack those who should be her comrade in arms (not to mention her best and possibly only means of wide publicity)?  The answer lies in her site's Useful Links & Resources section, in which she promotes her LinkedIn page with references to her "writing and publishing industry colleagues." She also lists a business she runs which provides some basic services to writers. So,  Massara apparent part of the establishment and all those scummy, "unprofessional," pajama-wearing bloggers should kiss her behind or fear her wrath. Of course, her wrath, in this case, consists of raising a storm of negative online publicity for herself that has probably cost her fans and the ability to solicit online reviews in the future.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Margaret Atwood Annoys Me

So I stumbled across a review of Margaret Atwood's new book at Fantasy Literature. Atwood is most famous for her novel The Handmaid's Tale, a dystopian story of a future in which women are completely subjugated by a culture dominated by Christian fundamentalism. Her newest novel can likewise be considered science fiction, unless you ask Ms. Atwood:

What could be more “SFF” than Oryx and Crake?
Quite a lot, according to Margaret Atwood, who prefers to describe her novel as “speculative fiction” rather than “science fiction.” In interviews promoting Oryx and Crake, Atwood explained that everything that takes place in Oryx and Crake is based on trends that we can see today, as opposed to distant planets that have an allegorical connection to our lives.
Nothing annoys me more than "mainstream" authors who try to hem and haw about how their work is not science fiction or fantasy in any way, shape, or form. Apparently, Atwood is unaware that a lot of science fiction takes place on a future Earth instead of on "distant planets." But "literary" authors must demonstrate how grown-up they are by completely rejecting the cool books they grew up with even while writing in the same genre