Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

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BailoutBS

March 22, 2020

So wait.  In the last 5 years, airlines spent $44B on stock buybacks.  That’s 96% of their free cash flow.  Plus billions more on dividends.  They did not improve their services, nor improve their structure, nor, and this is the biggie, did they save anything for the inevitable downturns or other acts of woe.*

They act fiscally irresponsible, line their pockets, impoverish us, and now they want a bailout?  They have the audacity to ask for a bailout?  A bailout that is essentially in size of what they spent on buybacks?

This is why good governance is important.  This is why oversight is important.  This is why societal involvement and accountability is important.

THIS is why your/our vote matters!

 

* Nor, of course, did they boost their employee pay, or working conditions, or aid the consumer in any way… but that’s a whole other story.

** As a whole, the top 500 companies spent $5T on buybacks + dividends vs $4.5T in earnings — they are willingly and wantonly enriching themselves while foisting their liabilities into debt and the public trust & our pocketbooks (by both charging more and paying employees less, plus foisting costs into the environment into which we all live).  All aided by the recent tax code “revision” (read: giveaway).

 

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Storytelling Sunday

March 8, 2020

“It’s just a kid’s movie.”

I do not like this phrase.  As a way of excusing or justifying poor storytelling (or, worse, a poor story), it feels weird to me.  As in, is the person uttering it really trying to say that because it’s for a child, it’s OK if it is not well made?  That quality doesn’t matter?  That throw any ol’ thing onto the screen and that’s enough?

Because to say that in other contexts can be quite bizarre, no?  “It’s only a child seat.  Quality isn’t important here.”  “It’s only kid’s food… it doesn’t matter if its good or healthy, they won’t know the difference.”

To me, the thing is, they’re our children.  We should want to provide them with the best.  To give them the biggest and best leg up in life.  To let them grow.

No, that doesn’t mean a movie has to dissect the epistemological underpinnings of post-dynamism economies, but kids are way more capable than we often give them credit for.  And no, that also doesn’t mean that every movie has to teach something either (though they can), just the same as it is for adults.  There are plenty of rich, amazing, and profound stories we can tell, and tell them with excellent storytelling craft that engages, whether it be to inspire, to enlighten, or to simply amuse.  Or to do all three at once, and more.

And that’s the biggest thing for me about that phrase… because it’s not like there aren’t already excellent examples of movies ostensibly made for kids that are, well, excellent.  Movies that are excellent on many levels.  Take many of the works of Pixar, Disney movies (including my most favourite, of course), and, most certainly, the amazing (even stunning) works of Hayao Miyazaki.  Movies that are moving, Illuminating, full of heart, and that deal with the inner drama of both children (in a most profound Mr Rogers way) and of people in general.  While also being appealing, funny, delightful, charming, and captivatingly well told, a pure delight to watch.

So much so that not only do kids like them, but they are movies that are beloved in a general sense, from young to old alike, and whether we have children ourselves or do not.  They are simply good stories.  Good movies.  And good stories attract everyone.

We can make these amazing stories.  We do.  And kids deserve them.  There should be nothing “just” about a kid’s movie (or any other work of fiction).

And I invite us all to ask for it.

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Wasa that doing there?

October 13, 2019

Wasa Bread is great.  Totally delicious.  So I was excited to find this in the store:

Hooray!  Must try.  And I did, and they are exquisitely good.  Happy dance time!

But… then there’s this:

Four.  Wrapped.  Bags.  Inside.  An excess.  Of plastic.  For crackers.

Still delicious.  But not keen at all on the packaging…

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Storytelling Sunday

September 29, 2019

“It’s what the story required.”  “It’s what the character had to do.”  “It’s the only way it could have gone.”  “It needed to happen.”

If you’re experiences are like mine then you are likely familiar with these types of answers from authors/creators when you ask them about elements in their stories, be it about events, outcomes, or, most often, what the story is about or is trying to say.  I’ve asked numerous authors on numerous occasions these types of questions, and responses in this vein, have always puzzled me.

Because… aren’t you the author?  How is it that it must go his way?  That this is the only way?

As the author, you’re the creator of everything!  From the most basic premise to the context in which things unfurl to the impetus that starts the action to the characters that inhabit the story, and so forth.  It’s all invented.  Tweak one little thing and everything beyond cascades and unfurls in a whole other way (or ways).

Corey Doctorow recently wrote an article about this, and regardless of whether one fully likes where he takes it or the examples he gives the main useful takeaway for me remains shining the spotlight on those seemingly inviolable constraints that force a story down a particular path to a particular ending to see that they are inherently part of the creation.  There is no “must” there.  It’s all (a) setup.

Now, every story contains a series of constraints and contrivances.  I’m not arguing against that.  (Though, and this is in a completely different vein than our main conversation here, but if your story uses a whole flock of vast contrivances and coincidences to move things along then I humbly suggest your story still needs a lot of work.)  What irks me about this type of response is not the mundane or pure logic about things, but rather that the author most likely has made these choices to set up the “inevitable” for a reason, and even if those reasons are hidden from their view by not answering the question they are not taking, or willing to take, ownership of the reasons.

Out of that I begin to wonder if they are trying to hide behind the supposed “objectivity” of things.  That is, they know what their story is conveying or is trying to say, but they are not willing to proudly stand behind it to hold aloft the concepts and explain why they set things up that way (and, by extension, declare what they’re trying to say).

Natch, it is also possible that they don’t know or didn’t think about it, in which case, fine, but still I’d invite that the better answer is “Huh, I don’t know!  That’s interesting, let’s talk about it and see what comes up…”

This is starting to sound a bit rant-y, so let me wrangle things back to say what I myself am trying to create here:  an invitation to look at and engage with your work more fully and recognize there is no inevitable, and to not hide behind feigned neutrality and pure calculus.  If your story conjures something up and you are asked about it, see if it was your intention.  If so, stand behind it and say what your story is saying.  If not, how fascinating!  And use that to further develop your craft.

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Alert is Alerting

July 16, 2019

It is warmer in Alert, Nunavut,

817km (508mi) from the North Pole,

Than it is in Victoria on Vancouver Island,

Some 3750km (2350mi) south of there.

This is not good folks.

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PSA

April 5, 2019

I regret that this must be done, but here we are.

“Wind turbines do NOT cause cancer.”

That is all.  Thank you.

 

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Quote of the Day

February 16, 2019

“I saw Activision’s statement about why they “broke up” with Bungie over at GameSpot, but it’s like…  more than seven billion wasn’t “enough” according to the onyx spire they worship.  I don’t think they can be trusted to determine what constitutes enough.

I own a company, I understand that they have to make money, but the top of that organization is completely divorced from every other part of it.  It’s sick in the particular, unaccountable way that is an accelerant to revolution.  The people who generate the wealth they bathe in are so abstract as to be inconceivable.  I have some experience with this; there are people who will pulp you to get a “good year.”  One hesitates to suggest that they serve Evil Gods, you know, far be it from me to make a moral pronouncement, but their purposes are inimical to human flourishing.  The human being, essentially considered fungible and endlessly replaceable in its capacity to generate value, exists nowhere in their calculus.

The parable of the golden goose has endured for a reason, and that is because none of these motherf’rs ever seems to learn it.”

Tycho (from Penny Arcade)