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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Spoiling a story

John Green, an author and member of the Vlog Brothers announced today that one of the publishing companies releasing his new book The Fault in Our Stars has shipped out a portion of the books prematurely. Twitter and Facebook were filled with sympathetic messages and statuses about how upset he was.

I was extremely puzzled by this when I first found out and simply did not understand the problem. Then I saw a link on his Twitter feed explaining the situation further, so naturally I read and then everything made sense.

The problem is not the mistake itself, as John so humbly points out himself. The trouble is that it opens a very wide door for spoilers. John Green is a writer who genuinely loves his audience and is fuelled by the joy he gets in creating a world for his readers. It is this attitude that created the online community of Nerdfighteria (who i should mentioned recently had another year of success with the Project for Awesome,, sorry I didn't post about this before the event guys) who love to read and enjoy sharing their reading experience with others in the community.

John is upset because people will inevitably post spoilers online; ruining that special world he has created for a portion of the Nerdfighter community.

My hope is that those who seriously call themselves Nerdfighters will either choose not to post spoilers or will not read spoilers. Having said that if someone chooses to then as long as they do not ruin the story for those who don't want to know then this is fine.

I personally do not like being kept in suspense, various times when reading I'll flick through the last page or so to see if key characters are really dead or such and such. Everyone reads differently.

Apologies for the lack of posting the last few days, no doubt I will leave large gaps over the festive period. Tomorrow post will be a rant about half of our population, so no doubt that will rattle a few feathers!


Friday, 16 December 2011

Review 1: Gears of War 3 RAAM's Shadow DLC

I am a huge Gears of War fan.

I've followed the whole franchise since I was first shown Gears of War 2 about 3 years ago. Ever since I have read every book, read every article on Gearspedia and followed the comic book storyline.

Recently epic games released the second DLC pack for Gears 3 which was RAAM's Shadow. The synopsis of this DLC is as a prequel. The players take on the characters of Michael Barrick, Lt Kim Minh Young, Tai Kaliso and Alicia Valera. Jace Stratton features as a cameo.

On the exception of Valera these characters all feature in other parts of the Gears universe, and unfortunately it is these previous introductions that cause issues with continuity. The DLC claims to be set a few months after emergence day, an event where a horrible race of beings called the Locust horde attacks the human world.

The first issue then is with the presence of Michael Barrick in the group. A year or so after E-Day the Chairman gives the remains of humanity four days to reach the now capital city before he uses a super weapon called the Hammer of Dawn to destroy every major city as an act of asset denial. When this happened many humans survived the attacks and started to disassociate themselves from the Government. Being referred to as Stranded.

Shortly after this the Chairman created 'Operation Lifeboat' where Stranded families would be brought into the capital city and looked after if the men joined the COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments) army. In the comic books Michael Barrick is introduced to us a Stranded turned Gear, having taken the offer of Operation Lifeboat despite not having family.

RAAM's Shadow is set before the Hammer of Dawn strikes, therefore Barrick can't be in the COG army yet. Plus he mentioned the Stranded in dialogue, punching a big hole in the continuity.

Second problem is with Jace. First of all Jace and Barrick appear to meet for the first time in the comics and defiantly do not suggest that they have met each other before. I think Jace would recognise one of the soldiers who rescued him personally.

Jace is also too old in RAAM's Shadow. He is depicted as a teenager, which if this is based only a few months after e-day is wrong. In the comics it goes through Jace's back-story and shows him as a young child during emergence day.

Finally there is an issue with the Kryll, a bat like creature featuring in gears of War 1 and RAAM's Shadow. Kryll can't come out during the day according to Gears 1, yet they do in RAAM's Shadow.

One thing that was a nice touch was explaining why RAAM and Kim in Gears 1 seem to have a prior knowledge and hatred of each other. There was potential to create issues here but thankfully the writers avoided it.

The existence of Tai is also potentially problematic although thankfully not much storyline is focused on him so no mistakes seem to have been made. Tai features in Gears of War 2 and much of his history is told in the books.

I find it irritating that the writers haven’t done a better job of eliminating these problems, you'd think for such an expanding storyline writers would be more careful.

Having said all this the DLC is defiantly worth it and is fun to play. Especially if you already have the Season pass!


Monday, 12 December 2011

Five minutes of fame

I was just shown this article by a friend which brings up lots of interesting points:

The article is about how certain talent show programmes a large number of failed artists as it does successful ones. For example until I read this article I would never have remembered that Steve Brookstein was the first winner of X-Factor. The name doesn't even ring a bell to me. He clearly had only his five minutes of fame and then the lime light has gone out. I have noticed this many times before with these kinds of programmes.

Obviously not all acts that are successful suffer this fate. Will Young is a prime example mentioned in the article. I personally don't watch these shows any more, I find it to be simply boring now, dull and repetitive. X-factor has been going for years now and after a while they all merge into one. Big Brother was suffering this very fate and at least had the decency to try and have a noble death before it became too milked. I really enjoyed the first three or so series of Big Brother. Now however I could only tell you a couple of the winners and even with that only a few more of the other contestants featured.

What really surprises me is how each year for X-Factor so many people with genuine talent do still appear. I would have thought if you had not been discovered on the first two or three sagas then why are you entering now? I know the age cap is part to do with this but even so.

Britain’s Got Talent had an interesting turn out this year when Susan Boyle had a nervous breakdown and the entire house the contestants were kept in is reported to have descended into chaos. Personally I think this was media hype and things probably were not so bad.

On a slight side note do you remember the media making a big deal out of Jedward looking at porn whilst in the hotel place? They made it out that Jedward were cracking under the pressure and going mental. This is absurd, they are teenage (I think? Slightly older now?) boys. Of course they are going to look at porn; it does not mean that they have gone off the rails.

Anyway, back on track, the public love these programmes and they clearly generate a huge income but is it actually worth sending people into meltdown with pressure? For me it is not so much the fact that contestants are becoming famous and then losing it which is the problem. Artists in music and television suffer this fate all the time. For me the problem is the sudden transition. You get average Joe or average Jane standing in the queue with a number associated with them one moment then the next they are living the celebrity life. That has to mess people up; with most artists in the music profession the change is gradual, or at least more gradual than literal overnight changes in the public opinion towards you.

There is then the problem when it doesn’t stick that you then have the sudden shock of going back to normal again. To go from no-one recognising you to absolutely everyone recognising you, back to no-one recognising you has got to generate income for counsellors. I know I’d be messed up if that happened.

But naturally the psychosocial well being of the contestants doesn't really matter as the amount of money created by these shows more than makes up for it. (Note sarcasm.)


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Liar Liar pants on fire!

Sorry about the lateness of this post I have been unwell over the weekend!

Recently a friend of mine asked me where one of our old lecturers was. I believed this lecturer to be in the canteen so said this. When my friend returned he jokingly said "Lair!" as the lecturer was no longer there. He was obviously joking but it got me thinking about lying.

In my example it would be hard for someone to actually consider it a lie as I was merely passing on information I believed to be true, but what about in other cases?

This is the classic 'David after Dentist' viral video in which a young child is full of painkillers and is clearly having a slight trip. During the exchange the father clearly says things to the child which are not true. Does this make them lies? Two issues can be raised from this.

The first being if the recipient is does not understand what is happening around them, and in this case is likely not to remember, then is this actually a lie? Technically speaking the father is telling a lie to the child, if your view of a lie is something which is not true and you know it to be untrue.

I see a lie more a case of deceit than I do simply saying something which is untrue. For example you can say something so ridiculous and silly that it will not be believed. If the father had told anyone not full of painkillers that he had stitches on his teeth then it would not be taken seriously.

Another case is when engaging with children. Say if your spouse took the last cookie and you caught them. Whilst your partner is still chewing and has crumbs on his/her mouth if you then ask if he/she took it and they reply with "No..." then this is not really lying because it is blatantly obvious that he/she did. There is actually no deceit involved. We have all been in that situation and we all know that we don't really expect the other person to accept we didn't do it.

Another friend of mine told how when she asked her child what he was doing in the bathroom he replied with "Well I'm not drawing on the walls...", which if anything is actually admitting that he was. In a way he was lying since if he was writing on the wall then what he actually said was untrue. This suggests that lying is about more than words and is rooted more in meaning. We pick up other cues than just the words themselves to tell if someone is lying to us or not.

The trouble is then with white lying. The intention is good and you are trying to deceive someone to believe something positive, however this is still deceit. In this case does the end justify the means? Is it okay to lie to someone to make them feel better?

I believe it depends on the exact case. If it is just a lie to make your wife feel good about themselves then fine. The trouble comes in these talentless idiots who keep appearing on X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. So many of the joke entries actually believe they are talented which makes me think their friends and family have had to confirm this for them. There becomes a point where you have to hurt someone's feelings for the sake of saving their feelings in the long run. The lesser of two evils in a way.


Saturday, 3 December 2011


Today I have been reading the BBC News report on the return of Iranian diplomats to their home country after an attack on the British Embassy earlier this week.

Interestingly I also read the lead Irish broadcaster RTE's report on the situation and noticed some differences.

First of all RTE states that Frances, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands all withdrew their diplomats from Iran in protest. BBC also states this but only towards the end of the report, making more of a point that France was withdrawing due to fears that they would be hit next.

BBC also makes a very big point of trying to explain why the attack took place, claiming it to be because of financial sanctions it recently imposed on Iran. The really interesting part is it then makes a very big point about how the USA and Canada did the same sanctions at the same time.

Iran seems to have a particular hate for England with the ambassadors returning to "Death to England" chants. Is Britain trying to shift some of the pressure onto the USA and Canada by doing a typical school yard "They did it too..." kind of response? Having said that it certainly would not fair for Britain to be singled out when other countries have been involved too.

RTE does not even mention America and Canada, and also does not mention that France feels like it is the next target.

Is the BBC being biased and trying to rally support for Britain and RTE just stating the facts? Or alternatively does BBC simply have more facts than RTE and therefore and report more.

I'll admit I did not realise how hated we are in Iran and I find this worrying, certainly if Iran is developing Nuclear weapons as seems to be feared. A lot of people blame America for other countries hating us, saying that because we are so quick to follow them into war we get ourselves a reputation. Well it appears in this case we are looking at the opposite, if America gets involved in our fight then Iran will hate them as well as us.

I think personally that expelling the Iranian diplomats was not really a good idea, the whole point if diplomacy is to solve issues between countries, if you expel diplomats when something like this happens then you are breaking a channel of communication that potentially prevent worse things to come.

I find it interesting that several EU countries withdrew their diplomats out of protest; will this just not serve to isolate Iran more, making them more likely to lash out at us?

Many people will argue that the act of attacking our embassy cannot go unpunished. Well as much as I agree you have to be careful as to what you do otherwise you can make an already unstable situation worse.

I should point out at this point that the Government of Iran denies any involvement in the attack, stating it was radical youths who were in the middle of a student protest and developed a very angry mob mentality. Naturally our Government does not believe this and thinks that the Iranian Government had some involvement.

Either way I personally will be monitoring the news on this, curious to see when diplomats from all countries involve start to return.

Apologises for this not being my scheduled post, I will do my post on Lying and Deceit tomorrow instead.