Wednesday, July 31, 2013

GO ... an ancient and endlessly fascinating Board game

Having actually spoken to one another about this topic, I agree ( good thing, eh? ) that Benjamin and I have come to a better mutual understanding of the issues. In the conversation he convinced me that I had said, as an opinion, one particularly unkind thing about George Martin, and I have removed it from the post. We are moving on. I hope you can move with us.

One of the things that Benjamin and I do when we get together is play the ancient Chinese game of Go. Read about

I played this game on a regular basis many ( over 35 ) years ago, and not at all since. The game rivals ( many say surpasses ) Chess in complexity, but is, by far, simpler to learn and begin playing. On a flyer ( realizing Benjamin was pretty bright and believing he liked competition ) I suggested Go to Benjamin. We have been playing, more or less, ever since.

We seem to be evenly matched. He wins, I win, each of us pouts ( not really, we're just unhappy ) when the other wins. We seem to be close to evenly matched; neither of us usually wins by a wide margin.

An aside:

It is interesting to note that the culture of China is very concerned about saving face, abhors embarrassing the other, so winning by a wide margin is frowned upon. It is also possible to estimate the margin of victory as one is playing the game. Neither Benjamin nor I are good enough to estimate the margin of victory as we play, but we usually have a close match because we're evenly matched, not because we're shaving points for the sake of saving the other's face.

I have found several Android applications that play Go; they will let me play with another human being using my tablet as a Go board and stones, or they will play against me. The applications all work basically the same way, but the play of each of them is different. They are, of course, very good, and, when choosing which application to play, I feel very much like I'm choosing a specific opponent. One is clearly weak, the other quite strong, and the last very difficult to beat.

I have been practicing by playing against these digital opponents for a while. Benjamin has not done that and he and I continue to be approximately evenly matched ... as measured by our won/loss record against each other. What does that say? I'd rather not figure it out, I think.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Moving On

I did write a rebuttal to Walter's last post, but since then we have come to a better understanding of each other's view point, and I don't feel like posting it.  If anyone is interested, please let me know in the comments, and I will. 

In other news, I bought an intuos drawing input.  I want to try my hand at drawing.  Early attempts at drawing on paper have gone well.

The intuos is pretty cool, and I'm having fun playing with it.  There is a learning curve.  I'll probably put it on the back burner until summer ends.  Partially this is because I am about to start building a new computer, and it will be more enjoyable on that.

I do promise to post some early terrible artwork by the end of august... if I can count on Walter to hold me to that. :-)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Responding to Benjamin's thoughts about the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, all of this post-verdict

Apparently I am going to have to "get into it" with my blog partner. Rather than create comments ( like you need to do ) I am going to post my response to Benjamin's "facts."
  1. George Zimmerman was not the only eyewitness to the events. Jonathan Good was also an eyewitness.
    RESPONSE: My comment was about events leading up to the tussle. Johathan Good saw what was going on after the tussle began; to suggest he is a witness to how it started is, frankly, disingenuous. Quoting from the material Benjamin himself linked to, 'When he heard more noise, he opened his sliding glass door, took a step outside, and spotted what "seemed like a tussle."' The confrontation had already begun. He has no credibility about events leading to it.
  2. George Zimmerman is not white.
    RESPONSE: true; he's also not black.
  3. We don't know that George Zimmerman identified Trayvon Marton as a possible thief because he is racist.
    RESPONSE: I didn't say so, either.
  4. We do know that Trayvon Marton was a thief.
    RESPONSE: I don't know how Benjamin knows that; I read the story to which he pointed and don't know that. The article includes these words, "No evidence ever surfaced that the jewelry was stolen."
    RESPONSE II: Even if that one incident did involve stolen items, George Zimmerman didn't know about it. To suggest that had anything to do with Zimmerman's following Martin that night is, at best, ludicrous.
  5. We do know that Trayvon Marton was a racist.
    RESPONSE:I had read the story to which Benjamin pointed before posting my thoughts. I didn't "get" that Trayvon was a racist then. I reread the story now and still fail to find a suggestion, let alone an assertion or proof, of this.
    What I do find is support for my assertion that Zimmerman scared Martin. The article quotes the woman to whom Martin was speaking as saying, ' ... when he became unnerved by someone following him, apparently Zimmerman."He told me the man kept following him," Jeantel said.'

    Finally, were it true, I would ask what the pertinence of it is to any of the questions at hand. Martin was being followed, at night, in the rain, by a big guy, who had an attitude and a loaded weapon.
I stand by my original post.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Another Take on the Not Guilty Verdict of George Zimmerman

I feel the need to respond to Walter's post.  I would recommend reading that first if you have not already.

First let me correct some facts:

1. George Zimmerman was not the only eyewitness to the events.  Jonathan Good was also an eyewitness.
2. George Zimmerman is not white.
3. We don't know that George Zimmerman identified Trayvon Marton as a possible thief because he is racist.
4. We do know that Trayvon Marton was a thief.
5. We do know that Trayvon Marton was racist.

As for my opinion:

1. I honestly don't understand what relevance the 911 operator's opinion has.
2. Carrying a gun is not a threat.  I sleep with a loaded handgun by my pillow.  It's called smart.
3. George Zimmerman seems like the kind of guy who blames the rape victim???
4. I believe the only reason this even went to trial is because some people used the media to trick other people into demanding the trial. The NBC doctored tape is the best example I'm aware of.
5. I believe that assuming George Zimmerman acted out of racism is racist.  I see no evidence of that.
6. I believe confronting someone who appears to be up to no good is a good deed.
7. I believe bringing a gun when confronting someone who appears to be up to no good is smart.
8. I do not believe Trayvon Marton deserved to die.
9. I do believe people deserve to defend themselves.

Monday, July 15, 2013

... the not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman

About Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman ... what have we learned from this? Some suggestions:
  • black boys have to be very careful where they go ( gated white community ), what they do ( walk around at night, in the rain, wearing a hoodie ), and should never get into a situation where they have to stand their ground ( being followed by a stranger with a loaded weapon )
  • white men with loaded guns and bad attitudes need not heed anyone ( the 911 dispatcher )
  • if a black boy dies, it’s just something ( perhaps tragic ) that happens
The white guy was told to stay in his car; he didn't. He followed the unarmed Martin. A clue to his state of mind as he did so is what he had said to the dispatcher, “F***ing punks. These assholes always get away.” It is reasonable to think this attitude showed itself in his demeanor. It is reasonable to suggest he stalked Martin, perhaps threatened him. Which raises another question, “Is not stalking with a loaded weapon a threat all by itself?” Some places have laws against such behavior, even without the weapon! The unarmed boy, attempting to stand his ground, which the law ( presuming it is color blind ) gives him permission to do, accosts the armed man and now the armed man is fearing for his life? George is the only eyewitness to the events, but this strains my credulity. The police, initially, and the jury, eventually, believed it.

A juror said that George was not guilty of anything beyond bad judgment. So, a guy with both a loaded handgun and a loaded perspective ( “These a**holes always get away,” ) gets out of his car, makes decisions, some of which are guided by bad judgment, and another guy dies. That’s just life in these United States?

I have to accept that the jury got it right, that no laws were violated, that Trayvon’s death was the simple result of some bad judgment(s). I am sick; pardon me while I try to settle my stomach.

Further Reading
  1. Much additional material is here.
  2. A particularly thoughtful commentary on how a criminal trial is never going to be about the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Lou Anders System

I did a lot of thinking about what I was going to say about what Lou Anders taught us.  I decided that I really can't go into complete detail in a blog post.

I will say that it really comes down to a list of characters, interactions, and events that are satisfying to a reader.  None of those are necessary, but will make your story better.  He also spent time showing how the stories people love have most, if not all, of these elements.

He did mention that the primary source of his understanding about story and plot came from two books.  They are Anatomy of a Screenplay, by Dan Decker, and My Story Can Beat Up Your Story, by Jeffrey Schechter.

Another Six Words

Now I'm not one for memoir, but I decided to share my six word biography with the class as well.  Are you ready for it?  Well... get ready.

"He lives alone with no cats."

I didn't get a lot of feedback from the class on that, but the lack of feedback could be taken as feedback.  A coworker told me he thought it had entirely few cats to be a good memoir.

And what do I think?  I think Walter did a better job.
What do you think?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Six Words???

Benjamin told you we're talking a memoir writing class. Current assignment: write your autobiography in 200 words, then 50, finally in 6. Do them at different times; don't try to make them all the same.

My life in six words; are you kidding me? She wasn't. I tried; I think I succeeded What do you think?

Marriage. Divorce.
Marriage again.
Deo Gratias!

copyright Walter R. Jost

Perhaps next time one of the longer versions. We'll see. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

CONvergence Friday

Okay, so I failed to make a post yesterday.  There's so much going on here, and I need to sleep sometime too.

I did learn a bunch, most of which was from Lou Anders.  I couldn't break it all down in a blog post.  I'm not sure I could put it all down given infinite space.  Hopefully he will write it down for us at some point.

Basically, he explained what makes movie scripts are exciting and satisfying.  He currently works as a book publisher.  The point of this was so we can work these techniques into novels.

If I can't find a place online where he put the info, I will at least try.

I have other stuff to say.  Those will probably be in my posts in later weeks.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

CONvergence Thursday

I'm blogging to you live from CONvergence 2013.  I'm about to start my last panel of the day.  It starts at 11:30pm, and it is another writing panel.

So what did I learn the first day?  Not too much.  The first day is a half day, and some of it was spent at an opening announcement type event.

I did attend a nice discussion about plot.  It had two professional screenwriters.  There was some good info.

One suggestion was to use index cards or postits on a board for structure.  This wasn't new to me, but it's nice to hear the professionals use it too.  They also recommended two programs for doing that on the computer; scribner, and contour.

The other was about pacing.  One suggested finding the pace of something you like by counting plot points per minute or per page.  Then you would try that, and see how it works for your book.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ah Retirement

Last time I said I thought I'd be recovered from my summer cold and promised to post a poem. At least in part so we wouldn't have to wrestle with the question, "Is poetry delayed poetry denied?" Here it is:

Ah, Retirement

Snow, ice, freezing rain
Slipping feet ... chills ... skidding car
Warm bed calls my name.
copyright Walter R. Jost