Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

We had an interesting conversation Friday night. Two friends contended that they had both become disillusioned with A Song of Ice and Fire. My brother and I defended the books. I don’t think we were particularly successful.

I’ll try again.

Now before I begin I want to state that I think their objections are completely valid. The flaws they see do exist. My contention is that they don’t impact my enjoyment and may even somewhat enhance it.

For arguments sake let us call these friends Paul and Stef. I’ll conceal their real names to protect their privacy. Their original complaint was simple. They felt they cannot trust the author. In examining this objection I think they each had individual spins on it though.

Paul stopped reading because Martin, the author, systematically brutalized and killed all the characters he cared about in the story. Every time Paul would invest in a character they would be ruined.

True. Martin has certainly done this especially to characters with traditional heroic traits. Curiosity and boldness? Crippled. Honour and truth? Killed. Married for love? Killed. Familial devotion? Killed. Natural leader and focus? Probably dead. And those are just the Starks.

The ones still alive are slowly being worn down to lose those heroic ideals.

Now phrasing it as a matter of trust is imprecise. Martin laid out his plan to proceed in this manner early in the first book.

In fact, he goes farther. Those lacking in normal positive attributes have been most successful in the series to date. In most other stories Tyrion would be the villain. He satisfies all the tropes of evil genius.

As a reason to stop reading it is completely valid. But I have the opposite reaction. That evening I said that I liked the series despite this. I indicated that I stopped caring for the characters and focused on plot.

That isn’t true. I care intensely about the characters and I see it as a strength of the series. Martin’s ability to make me care about these characters even though I know they are likely doomed is something I value. His ability to show some humanity in his villains I find captivating.

I’m still shocked and surprised when the Stark’s are beaten every time. It upsets me. There isn’t a lot of lie treatise that engages me enough that I’m get upset.

Why I’d enjoy something that upsets me is a mystery I can’t explain, but it is true.

Which brings us to Stef’s objection. If the author shows the heroes failing and failing in a brutal fashion; if he show the villains succeeding despite their evil doesn’t that show something that can only be appreciated by a nihilist? If our actions and intentions don’t matter does anything?

Questions for Prof. Michael Geist

I mentioned yesterday about the talk I went to Sunday. Professor Michael Geist spoke on the effectiveness of advocacy in changing public policy in his sphere of expertise. (That being trade law, intellectual property and privacy where it overlaps with technology.)

At the end of the talk there was a QA session. Half the questions were good. Half were not so good. But Geist’s answers to all were strong. As soon as the QA was done I started to think of questions I wanted to ask. Some are really basic.

1) if we want to explore more of these issues, as laymen in Canada, who should we follow?

2) since Intellectual property rights, like copyright, are so intertwined with international deals how much does our own national laws have an impact? On us and other countries?

3) if we were to sign the TPP, as it now stands (it is just a draft and not near signing), what would be our obligation to immediately change our laws? Our agreements are done by the gov’t and the laws by parliament so they could fail to align.

4) you spoke about how lawful access is often inserted in bills to combat true hazards like bullying, pornography and terrorism. Would these provisions, knowing they curtail our basic freedoms of search and seizure, provide any true benefit to law enforcement? The knee jerk reaction if to defend our freedoms, but realistically there are always limits.

5) what benefit does copyright provide the consumer in the modern era? Some creators offer copy left and Creative Commons licenses and still profit.

🙂 I’m sure if I searched his writings online, I’d find most of these answers. But I missed the opportunity to ask them face to face.

Weekly Recap

Highlight: Conference
Lowlight: Snow and/or standing

But there is a lot to jabber on about this week.

I went to see Michael Geist speak yesterday. He is an expert on trade stuff in the modern era – digital rights, lawful access, copyright, etc. The downside was that I knew most of his content. I’d read up on it a few years ago when I was interested in Bill C-32. And I caught up on the bullet points of developments since then in preparation for the talk.

But the message of the talk – that grassroots activism in Canada can make a difference – was pretty cool.

The QA after was neat. A lot of the participants were old tech and Geist’s was a new tech speech. The first questions were a bit, “What are the Internets?” But there were good questions too.

As I sat waiting for my bus I though of five’ish questions I wished to ask. Maybe I’ll blog those tomorrow.

Also yesterday I watched Doctor Who. The episode had flaws. For instance the opening stunt was cool as a stunt, but really silly on screen. But, as a whole, it was a tremendous episode. Three different Doctors in the lead and cameos and references. That was just fun. The plot was a giant retcon. But the kind I like. I imagine there will be haters. But the story will change the show for the coming year.

Gaming was cool. Not that we really gamed. P & S came in from the far east. We gabbed most of the evening and wrappers things up with a couple rounds of Cash and Guns. Great fun. And P delivered my game shipment. Very excited.

The snow. It impacted me in five ways. I missed last weeks scotch tasting. My bus rides often lasted more than two hours. Once at work I was stuck in the office. And Tuesday I stayed home to avoid the snow. Finally the comics were delayed a week. Apparently our shipment hit the ditch.

The lengthy bus rides were the worst. After a two hour commute you are just exhausted. I’d spend so much time online my phone was always near dead.

But worse was home. I seem to be in a cycle of having trouble standing from things. Three weeks ago I had trouble in the washroom. Two weeks ago it was my lazy boy. And Friday it was my bed.

I’m spending an inordinate amount of time worried if I’ll get stuck.

I’m intent on doing nothing until my chair comes in. But after that I’ll need to rethink how I’m getting along.

That is the week in short. I’m skipping work and email chains, hanging out with Tim and the Friday night conversations. It was a busy week.

Take care. Stay warm.

Real comic auction

People hear that I collect comics and always ask what it is worth.

It’s replacement cost would be huge, but it’s market value is negligible. Most aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. This is because, in part, I’m not a collector. I’m a reader. I buy what I like. I don’t care for them. I never speculate as to what might be valuable.

The way I gather comics is like buying scratch lottery tickets. Every once in a rare while you can redeem it, but you are almost guaranteed to lose money over the long term.

That is not the case for Maggie Thompson. A true collector and renowned for her passion. Her collection is going to auction.

Nifty.

Uncle Terry

My uncle passed away on the weekend.

Seems like I should just end there. I have nothing profound to say. I’m thinking about how is feel if my brother died. It is horrid to think of Mom and my aunts experiencing that.

Uncle Terry was the one known as cranky in a family proud of their crankiness. We didn’t see much of him growing up. And even after he retired I missed those opportunities as I stopped travelling.

Most of my memories are him at Grandma’s when he had his holiday overlap with ours. But he was an adult and I a kid. Missed opportunities.

I liked him though.

A near lifelong bachelor, late in life, Uncle Terry found love. It is tragic that he and Joan had so little time. But I think the time he did have was among the best in his life. I find that very cool.

Please say a prayer for him. And ask for strength and fond memories for Joan, my Mom and aunts.

Weekly Recap

I think this should be short. As usual it was a mix of good and ill last week.

My wheelchair was approved again. The next step is ordering. We will see what can go wrong with that. 🙂 I’m growing cynical about delays. It will be arriving after Christmas now.

Thor was excellent. Much better than I expected. They resolved the issues I had with the first movie. It had great bits for Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings and Idris Elba. (I’d happily watch a Loki, Darcy and Heimdall movie.) It still had third act issues. But that would be my sole complaint.

I fell down yesterday. Today my back between my shoulders and my left hip are bruised. Not a bother during the day, but they interfered a little with sleep. The fall was scary because I ended up in a very uncomfortable position and could have fallen further. I was in a great rush to be rescued. Fortunately my home care aid arrived and did so.

Re-read Ender’s Game. It is better than the movie. As I remembered. Finished another book last night (Steelheart) and I’m 2/3 done another Connie Willis one (short stories so I break it up with other reading) and started a fourth (The Golem and the Jinni). I’m on a reading spree.

Netflix announced a partnership with Marvel for four new TV shows. I’m pretty excited. Daredevil gets another chance. Yay!

Gaming was OK. Wrapping up the current mini-campaign and thinking of the next thing. So far the adventure had prophetic dreams, dinosaurs and dragons. Next week it will need a plot.

The board game I wanted finally came in. But I botched up organizing a pick up. Ended up sending Dave on an annoying useless errand.

Finally had dinner at Mom’s on Monday. She made an excellent vegetable dish. I never say that about vegetables. It had sweet potato in it though. That might be my favourite vegetable.

Please hold the sick and ailing in your thoughts and prayers.

That is all for this week.
Take care!