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On the Difference Between Writing and Story-telling

Or a brief review of young author I found at a Comic Con
Edited cover art for the Angelic Divide Trilogy

There are a lot of different skills required to write a novel. Technical facility with the language is perhaps one of the most basic (and most commonly ignored in today's age of instant digital self-publishing). Character development is another and worldbuilding is yet one more. There are myriad more, and plenty of community college writing classes dedicated to teaching them, so there is no need to describe them all here.

How Many Americans Does It Take to Elect a President?

Or how I learned to start worrying and hate the electoral college
Constitution Article 2 - Shamelessly ripped from archives.gov

In 2016, the candidate who won the most votes* lost the election, which has led a number of consternated people to calculate the percentage of American voters who voted for her rival. There are a couple of different ways to do this math:

Dear Satya Nadella - an Open Letter

How you're failing Microsoft - and the world - and why.
What happens when Microsoft tanks and Google buys it

Dear Satya Nadella,

Let me get straight to the point: You're a man with no vision.

Harsh, I know. But let me explain.

Saving Arthur Part 1

I really need to stop reading Reddit Writing Prompts
I think I might hire an illustrator...
The party sat around the table eating their pottage breakfast in silence. The mood was somber and nobody cared to say anything. Nobody was really eating, either, just stirring the mush in their bowls in slow circles of ennui. A cold dread hung over the dining table as everyone wanted to talk but nobody had the courage to say what they were all thinking. It had been four weeks since their author had written something and the tension was palpable.

The Hobbit

or Deus and Bad Again: A Writer's Tale
Not the greatest fantasy epic of any time

You might think for a nerd and avid reader, I might have read J. R. R. Tolkien's "masterpieces" much earlier in life. You'd be wrong, of course, because I had other masterpieces to read and I was always more interested in science fiction (or science textbooks) and found the fantasy genre in general to be somewhat less interesting to me.

How Clifford v. Trump Affects You and Me

Or How I really didn't want to go there but this is where we are as a country
I'm brimming with enthusiasm

In the news this week is the announcement that a federal judge has dismissed Stormy Daniels' defamation suit against Donald Trump.

For posterity's sake, I'll summarize: Daniels accuses Trump of being involved in an illegal threat to silence Daniels regarding an illicit affair between the two. Trump calls Daniels a liar on Twitter. Daniels sues trump for defamation. Trump moves to dismiss the case. Court rules in favor to dismiss.

Informed Opinions

or How I Learned to Quit Opining and Learn From Others
Opinions? I can haz!
There's this tendency among humans to decide that certain opinions are or are not valid. And generally the opinions we call "invalid" are the ones we disagree with. But I think that we could be better than that, that we could find an objective way to measure something even as subjective as an opinion. Or at least we can have a more objective way of labelling an opinion as valid or invalid.

Fire and Brimstone

A Chaotic Introduction
Shamelessly ripped from the internet under fair use.

Arnold Trumain entered the café with a somewhat smug attitude. The back and forth over e-mail had taken months and he had finally agreed to this meeting out of sheer curiosity at who it was on the other end of those communiques who was so persistent. As he stepped in he looked to his left and saw the man sitting at the arranged corner booth, away from other patrons. He was early; Arnold liked that. 

Death Comes for Katie

Reddit writing prompt: Death offers a game for your life. You decide on D&D.
Image source: CanStockPhoto

She looked out the viewport window into the expansive field of glittering stars spread against a sheet of brilliant black. Even after all this time, the view never ceased to take her breath away. 

But it was the only thing that did.

The Timeweaver

Part 1
Is that a loom or are you just happy to see me?

Ralin struggled to see through the darkness. These alleys were never well lit to begin with and most of the lamps were out along this one. But there was one lighted lamp a short distance ahead, and it was that lamp which kept Ralin from getting completely lost. It was a cool night and the air was damp from a gentle sea breeze from the east. It would be morning soon. The first dawn of a new empire.

The Newsroom

And what it means to be truly great
Lost in such deep thought

I want to tell you about The Newsroom. In many ways it might be the greatest American television show ever made. But it may also just be another ordinary television drama.

Surface Pro 4 vs Surface Pro 3 Performance Benchmark

Since nobody else seems to have done it yet
Image Src: Microsoft.com, edited at Pixlr.com

Like any uber nerd watching Microsoft's press release last month, I was really excited to hear the announcement of the Surface Pro 4. But I already own a Surface Pro 3, so it begs the question: Is it really worth upgrading?

The SP4 comes loaded with some cool new tricks, most of which you already know about:

What does intelligence sound like?

Yeah, this is going to sound pretentious
Kudos if you get the Frasier reference.

If Intelligence had a sound… what would it be?
Can you tell how smart a person is just by how they speak?

Ever since I was a child, I've been told I was smart. Even by people who hardly knew me. When I was in middle school and my parents took me to a counselor to talk about my social problems with other kids, almost the first words she said to me were "I can see you're a smart kid." Really? How do you know? What did I say in these 5 minutes we've known each other that convinced you of my intellect? What Bayesian algorithm led you to that conclusion?

Dating myths

Things we tell ourselves to pretend we're in control
Ribbit

This is just a list of things people try to tell you about dating. Reasons you're not having much success or things to look for in a potential partner (or things to look for in yourself). Ingredients that we are convinced will add up to the perfect relationship if mixed in the right proportions.

The devil's economics

Why motivations matter
Image source: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?picture=money-fight&image=2703&large=1

This is a topic that I know is going to cause a few backs to bristle. Maybe that's one reason I've put off writing this article, even though the idea's been swimming in my head for months. I'm about to tell you that everything you know is wrong. Don't worry, you'll get over it soon enough :)

I'm going to talk about capitalism. Let's start by defining it and breaking it down into a few fundamental principles.

Gamersion

A really bad word for being human
Skyrim!

Immersion. It's this sense of seamlessness and continuity in a video game that makes it feel more real. It's the holy grail of hardcore gamers, to enter a game and become fully engrossed in that world to the exclusion of outside influences. But even the best games aren't fully immersive. There's always a sliver of consciousness that remains aware of the fictional nature of the activity. I call this little sliver "Gamersion" and it's that sliver that I want to talk about.

Microsoft Business College

A new way to do business
Because knowledge

In keeping with the education theme from yesterday I want to introduce an idea I've been beating around for about a year or so now.

Universitas

A university with no degrees
Image source: Canstockphoto.com

It's no secret that education in the USA needs an overhaul. Especially higher education, which has gotten more expensive and less meaningful with each passing year. I mean, I have $30,000 in student loan debt, no degree, and a higher income than the rest of my family combined. My sister has $20,000 in student loan debt, a bachelor's degree, and trouble finding a job. I think this speaks volumes about the efficacy of our education system.

Why I fell in love with Liara

And the reason why I stayed.
Liara T'Soni

Ah, Mass Effect. That heart-wrenching emotionally abusive love-hate relationship of a video game. I'd give you a spoiler alert, but let's be honest, the first game is almost 10 years old. So just play it already.

Moral Junk Food

Jelly Beans for the Soul
Courtesy Jelly Belly (Public Domain - not used with permission)

I want to talk about junk food. You know, the candy bar that tastes really good but does absolutely nothing for your body's nutritional needs. The thing that makes the candy bar bad is not what it has - it's not the fat or the salt or the sugar or the calories. What makes junk food bad is what it doesn't have. Junk food lacks essential ingredients that our bodies require in order to be healthy, strong, fit, and eventually even to just survive. A person eating a diet consisting entirely of junk food would eventually starve to death (the technical term is malnutrition).

The Ark of Truth

An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.

For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire. Those few years of intense oppression and devastation from Imperial rule left an indelible mark on all of the races of the galaxy. Part of that mark was a galaxy of peoples united in gratitude towards the almost extinct Jedi, who brought an end to that great catastrophe of government and became a symbol for freedom and salvation.

Ultron Planned to Fail

Because he's just not that dumb.
Ultron

I just watched The Avengers: Age of Ultron last night. There were a couple of plot elements that bothered me, especially since I'm a huge computer nerd. But I finally came to a conclusion that allowed me to reconcile these questions. Oh, by the way,

Changing Babylon

A Short Story
Hubble is cool

John Mathews had never been this cold. He could hear the rustling of the wind outside of the thin nook in which he hid. Only hours before he had been walking in bright sunshine on a warm spring morning; or rather, he had been running. His pursuers had followed him until the storm started. He had heard the sweeping hum of their robot scanners following his trail for almost two hours after his escape. The storm had come swiftly, overrunning the chasers and destroying their robots. John had been grateful at the time, thinking perhaps his luck had changed.

Homeless Hotels

How to end homelessness, the capitalist way
Image Source: The internet

[satire]
Homeless people are a big problem. They look bad. They smell bad. They talk bad. They scare us.
[/satire]

But really, homelessness is a problem and it's on the rise. Unemployment and underemployment contribute to foreclosures and broken leases, forcing people and whole families to live on the street. And when you're living on the street, things as simple as a toilet or a shower are just pipe dreams, nevermind the hope for a warm bed and clean clothes.

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