Tron coaster

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Today in Applied Demonology

kyliu99 "The next iPhone will be, I am told, a clear piece of glass." Magic, my friends, is real. We do not need engineers. We need wizards!
max
gladstone
"Oh & also, evil sorcerers crippled our divination network Friday by getting millions of coffee makers & lightswitches to shout real loud"
"The problem, it turns out, is that smart coffee makers and lightswitches are pretty dumb, so it's easy to convince them to do stuff"
"Defense Against the Dark Arts specialist Bruce S asked, 'Why enchant your coffee maker so it can talk, just not to you?'"
cstross From 1990-2015 we were living in an 80s cyberpunk dystopia. 2016-2040: it's morphing into urban fantasy.
We're even close to getting rich, deranged, long-lived vampires.
Man, living in an urban fantasy universe has got to suck EVEN HARDER than living in a cyberpunk dystopia.
I mean, forget the Vampire LeStat or sparkly teen-stalkers, we're getting objectivist billionaire Trump-supporter vampires!
mhoye "Objectivist Billionaire Trump-Supporting Wannabe-Vampire" seems like a pretty snug Venn diagram. Lot of semantic redundancy there.
cstross I Thiel your pain.
jwz "Internet of Things as Applied Demonology" is my favorite part of this dystopia! We've actually implemented Animism. It's glorious.
How can we do a greater favor for our paranoid schizophrenic brothers and sisters than by literally making their dreams come true?

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Vatican tightens standards on corpse disposal

"Following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places," state the guidelines released Tuesday by the Vatican.

The guidelines do not represent a change the church's overall policy on burial and cremation, but rather underline "the doctrinal and pastoral reasons for the preference of the burial of the remains of the faithful and to set out norms pertaining to the conservation of ashes in the case of cremation" [...]

The newly articulated ash norms include not storing human cremains in the home and refraining from scattering ashes "in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way ... in order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided." [...]

"The Church raises no doctrinal objections to this practice, since cremation of the deceased's body does not affect his or her soul," the guidelines continue, "nor does it prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising up the deceased body to new life."

So, that last bit is good to know!

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Plotblocking

"What the fuck is up with this statue's toes?" and other questions that you never get to know the answer to.
"Plotblocking" is a new word for describing what's wrong with a lot of television writing.

Delay of audience gratification has been a staple of episodic storytelling for a long time, but no show advanced the practice more than the grandfather of plotblocking, Lost. No matter how well-written the various flashbacks often were, the writers knew that what kept us hooked was the mystery of the island -- and that storyline was illiberally meted out like capfuls of water to a thirsty man. Just enough to keep us alive. I've actually found that the shows that are the most "binge-worthy" are the most narratively stingy. You start each new episode almost out of frustration, hoping it will deliver a morsel of satisfaction, an inch of forward progress.

That paragraph right there nails it. I find the rest of the article to be kind of rambling, partly because I hated Stranger Things, but, that right there.

(I hated Stranger Things because it is composed almost entirely of things that I despise: 1: Steven Spielberg movies; 2: Stephen King movies; 3: Nostalgia.)

A lot of my friends are freaking out about the season premiere of The Walking Dead, and I feel their emotions are misdirected: rather than feeling sad for the fate of characters they liked, they should feel angry at the crass manipulativeness of the writers.

The "who died?" cliffhanger at the end of the last season was forgivable. It's just a cliffhanger. Those are a staple of season-based television. It's a cheap technique, and time-honored, while not in any way honorable.

But the real manipulation came in the followup episode, where, for almost the entire episode, the only people in the dark about what just happened were the audience.

If you are a writing a story and you hide from the audience facts that are well known to all of the characters in the story, you are a hack.

If you are a writer and your viewpoint character is an omniscient narrator, but you made that narrator be more ignorant than literally every character actually participating in the plot, what the fuck is that? That's hack writing, that's what the fuck that is. It's cheap, it's cheating, you are bad at your job and you should feel bad.

Let me be clear: my anger about how bad that writing was is not based on my love of the show. I don't have any emotional investment in The Walking Dead. I watch it, but I think it's mediocre. It's not bad, but I just don't care that much about any of the characters.

Though like I keep saying, Fear The Walking Dead seems to exist solely to remind us of how much worse The Walking Dead could be: a good metric for when you should stop watching a show is if you can't think of a single character where that character's death would leave you with any emotional impact besides, "Yay, I don't have to hear their whining any more, or be angry at their reflexive secrecy, at their stultifying incuriosity, or at their stupid decisions that seemed to exist solely to create bullshit plot problems for the writers to solve."

Some people have accused Mr. Robot of plotblocking, but I don't think that's really true. Mr. Robot is a show that is explicitly about an unreliable narrator. Most of the reveals we get happen when Elliot learns about them, or when Elliot's various mental compartments allows him to know them. Most of the time, he's our viewpoint character and his confusion and ignorance is ours. Or he's directly and explicitly lying to us in the second person.

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nil

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