Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Presenting...The R.H. Bill (Updated)
The Anti's have threatened the Pro's with the fires of hell, the everlasting torment and suffering of their souls, calling them evil, depraved, the children of the devil, and ironically wishing that their mothers had just aborted them and prevented them from ever living. The Pro's have called the Anti's narrow-minded zealots who have lost all critical thought as a brain-function and who have become illogical idiots blinded to reality because of their fanaticism, essentially calling them out as the equivalent of medieval inquisitors from a less-informed time in history.
And these have been the nicer exchanges, the ones I can write without having to use an "*" to block out more offensive terms. I'm surprised nobody's ended up hurt or dead from some form of violence yet (or maybe someone has, and I just haven't heard about it; if this is indeed true, don't tell me about it).
With so many people saying so many things in such loud voices about the RH bill, I wondered to myself, "How many of these people have actually read the bill and are not parroting what those around them are saying? How many of these people have actually read the bill, parsed through its intentions, its meanings, its implementation, in a reasoned and controlled manner without having their emotions whipped up in hysteria? How many of these people then, after reading it, can debate on the bill based on what is actually written in it, without having to call each other all these names and make all these threats?"
And then I realized, "Wait a minute. I don't have an opinion on this matter because I haven't read the bill myself!"
So I did some searching on the web, and I found a copy of the bill online. If someone like me with only a modicum of interest in this bill found it fairly easily, I'm sure all these others who find it more important have found it, too.
You know what? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe all these people have, indeed, read the bill already.
After all, all these people fighting and arguing and threatening and shouting and raising their fists about this, are fairly intelligent people, right? Who know how to make informed opinions, eh?
These are the kinds of folk who wouldn't, you know, open their mouths and criticize a book without reading it first, right?
Or say something about a movie, or a song, without first watching or listening to it?
Or write a review about a new car model without first giving it a test drive?
Or discuss a new gadget--a computer, a camera, a tablet, a cellphone--without first trying it out?
So, there's the bill, online. I'm going to read it. And then, I will follow all these other people and come up with my own informed opinion. And then, to avoid any complications, I'll keep that opinion to myself, because I neither want to be threatened with the fires of hell, nor called a fanatical zealot with no brain.
But I will remember how my Congressman voted. More importantly, I will remember that, after having all the arguments presented to me by all sides, after having all the options open to me presented clearly, then with my free will I will be ready to make my own decisions; because I, like everyone else, have the power to live my life following my morals, my conscience, and my own informed opinions, without having anyone else--Pro or Anti--do my thinking and reflection for me, thank you very much.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Another Local Plagiarism Incident
Now it seems that noted Pinoy writer Krip Yuson was called out for doing the same for a sports article. He replied apologetically about the matter, and the blogger who first noticed this, Jaemark Tordecilla of Fire Quinito, was ready to let things go (after linking up to some others who wrote about the matter). But then, the blogger changed his mind about it after reading that writer's latest column, in which Krip Yuson brought up the plagiarism issue once more. The blogger, to use his words, said that the column "unmasked the apology as disingenuous".
Others have weighed in, and if you click on those links, they're going to lead to more links.
Plagiarism sure has reared its ugly head several times in recent Philippine history. I hope this will be the last incident for some time. I'm afraid it might not be the last, though. If you're a writer, please take care not to plagiarize by always properly attributing what you lift. If you're a reader, well, it's easy to say "be aware of what you're reading", but really, there's only so much a reader can do since the cards are all with the writer and the editor. A sharp eye and a well-read mind might be the best tool against it.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Welcome To PGS Online! (Updated)
Update: My thanks to Rocket Kapre and Destroy Thee for blogging about PGS online on their respective sites. My thanks too to all friends who retweeted and reposted on their Facebook sites. Thanks, and please do spread the word about the site, and read it whenever there's a new story! Thanks!
Thursday, April 14, 2011
"Spider Hunt" As A Podcast On Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine!
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
And Even More On Typewriters
My relatives sent me the following links, which had me smiling as I was reading them.
First, check out this gadget that mechanically turns the iPad into a typewriter (though it could all be a prank).
Second, here's an article from The New York Times which shows members of the digital generation, young ones who might never have needed to even set hands on a typewriter, actually discover these writing machines for themselves. An excerpt:
“Can I touch it?” a young woman asked. Permission granted, she poked two buttons at once. The machine jammed. She recoiled as if it had bitten her.
“I’m in love with all of them,” said Louis Smith, 28, a lanky drummer from Williamsburg. Five minutes later, he had bought a dark blue 1968 Smith Corona Galaxie II for $150. “It’s about permanence, not being able to hit delete,” he explained. “You have to have some conviction in your thoughts. And that’s my whole philosophy of typewriters.”
Whether he knew it or not, Mr. Smith had joined a growing movement. Manual typewriters aren’t going gently into the good night of the digital era. The machines have been attracting fresh converts, many too young to be nostalgic for spooled ribbons, ink-smudged fingers and corrective fluid. And unlike the typists of yore, these folks aren’t clacking away in solitude.
They’re fetishizing old Underwoods, Smith Coronas and Remingtons, recognizing them as well designed, functional and beautiful machines, swapping them and showing them off to friends. At a series of events called “type-ins,” they’ve been gathering in bars and bookstores to flaunt a sort of post-digital style and gravitas, tapping out letters to send via snail mail and competing to see who can bang away the fastest.
And now, here's a third link, a funny reaction (funny at least to me) that that New York Times article. An excerpt:
When was in high school (and for a time at college), I had to write the majority of my papers on a Smith-Corona electric typewriter. It was this big, heavy, blue piece of shit. It had a delete key that didn’t really work. If I typed on it and fucked up, I had to go use Wite Out and manually redact what I wrote. And I never revised or rewrote anything, because that would just mean typing the shit out all over again. It had disks so I could digitally store text documents, but they didn’t always work. And when I printed a digital file, the thing printed at the rate of a secretary who types 3 words a minute and takes breaks every quarter hour to have a smoke or get plowed by the boss.
I fucking hated this thing. When I had transferred colleges and finally had access to a computer lab at school (I didn’t have a computer of my own), I gleefully took that piece of shit and threw it away. Which is why I am both puzzled and filled with acidic ragefoam when I read about this bunch of pretentious, uppity, cuntfaced, dipshit hipster cockpullers who insist on using a manual typewriter for all their precious Writing with a capital W. If you figured a ludicrous “it’s a trend because I know a guy who does it” article like this was the byproduct of the New York Times, you would be correct:
“It’s about permanence, not being able to hit delete,” he explained. “You have to have some conviction in your thoughts. And that’s my whole philosophy of typewriters.”
There is so much there that pisses me off, I just want to drive to Williamsburg and spray random people with lighter fluid. As if not being able to delete the outlandish drivel you write somehow makes you Ernest fucking Hemingway. These people with computers. They don’t really stop to THINK before they write now, do they? That’s why I prefer the dulcet clattering of my vintage 1908 Weezleburg, which does NOT have a carriage return.
At a series of events called “type-ins,” they’ve been gathering in bars and bookstores to flaunt a sort of post-digital style and gravitas, tapping out letters to send via snail mail and competing to see who can bang away the fastest.
Are you throwing up yet? Do you want to find one of these type-ins and close the door on it and Hoover out all the oxygen until every last person inside lay dying in a puddle of the own vanilla-scented human waste? Because I do!
“You type so much quicker than you can think on a computer,” Ms. Kowalski said. “On a typewriter, you have to think.”
Don’t you just love that quote? As if everything ever written on a computer were somehow invalid because a computer is EASIER to use and, in fact, invites you to constantly revise and fine-tune what you’ve written so that it’s better than when you first typed it out.
Yvette Tan's Poetics
Without further ado, here are PGS horror issue guest-editor Yvette Tan's poetics, which she shared during the 50th UP National Writers Workshop (happening right now). An excerpt:
I was not always a writer. Growing up, I thought I would become an artist, or perhaps a fashion designer. I loved reading but wasn’t fond of fiction, preferring to peruse the Disney Encyclopedias that my parents bought for me. Of course, I was drawn to the volume on myths and legends, that told of Greek, Roman and Norse mythology. But that’s history, not fiction, right? I also liked reading non-fiction books about espionage and detective work, as well about dogs and, for some reason, mushrooms.
My first books were what today would be called graphic novels. Me and my best friend would, after watching the latest Maricel Soriano comedy, draw scenes from the movie and imagine ourselves as Maria. My first “written” book would be a manual on self defense, written when I was in grade four and bound with wrapping paper. I was terribly shy, and still am, and so didn’t show it to anybody. Unfortunately, one of my classmates found it and leafed through it and instead of making fun of it like I feared she would, looked rather impressed as she handed it back to me.
I remember the first time I decided I wanted to be a freelance writer. It was in grade five, after realizing that “freelance” meant “no boss.” That being a freelance writer meant actually writing did not enter my mind at all.
The reason I started writing fiction was, in one word, boys. In high school, my friends and I were big fans of the New Kids on the Block, something that we will swear up and down never happened and if it did, it was during a moment of insanity. My friends would make me write stories that had them and their favorite New Kid as protagonists. Later, a friend introduced me to fantasy books and I would write high fantasy stories, the Western kind that had wizards and whatnot.
None of this has anything to do with what I write now.
Friday, April 08, 2011
The Forbes Fictional 15
The members of our 2011 list of wealthiest fictional characters have an average net worth of $9.7 billion, up 20% from last year. In aggregate, the Fictional 15 are worth $131.6 billion --more than the gross domestic product of New Zealand. To qualify for the Fictional 15, characters must be known, both within their fictional universe and by their audience, for being rich. Net worth estimates are based on an analysis of the fictional character's source material, and where possible, valued against known real-world commodity and share price movements. All figures are as of market close, April 1, 2011.
I look forward to this list for the novelty of it, and I really enjoy the way Forbes comes up with their calculations. Here's a bit of how they computed Smaug's wealth:
We know from the novel that Smaug’s wealth comes down to three primary components, the mound of silver and gold that he sleeps on, the diamonds and other precious gemstones encrusted in his underbelly, and the “Arkenstone of Thrain,” which is depicted as something like the Hope Diamond on steroids. (There are certainly other valuable items in Smaug’s hoard – rare suits of armor and so on – but the point of the exercise is to establish a minimum, conservative, net worth and the total value of a pile of ancient weaponry is probably no more than a rounding error in a fortune measured in the billions of dollars.)
Let’s start with the metals.
The book describes Smaug as “vast,” “centuries-old” and of a “red-golden color.” According to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons’ site The Hypertext d20 SRD a true-dragon of that age and color measures around 64 feet from snout to tail. However, a great deal of that length is likely tail. By way of reference, Komodo Dragons are 70% tail by length, so we can estimate Smaug’s body to be approximately 19.2 feet long.
Dragons are long and narrow, so we can safely assume that Smaug can curl comfortably up on a treasure mound with same diameter as his body length – 19.2 feet.
How high is the mound? Well, at one point in The Hobbit, Bilbo climbs up and over the mound, and we know that Hobbits are approximately three feet tall. Assuming the mound is twice the height of Bilbo, we can say that the mound has a height of approximately 6 feet – like a six foot tall man climbing over a 12 foot mound of coins; substantial but not insurmountable.
To keep the math relatively simple and to avoid complications like integrating the partial volume of a sphere, we can approximate Smaug’s bed of gold and silver to be a cone, with a radius of 9.6 feet (1/2 the diameter) and a height of 7 feet (assuming the weight of the dragon will smush down the point of the cone by about a foot).
Now we can calculate the volume of Smaug’s treasure mound:
V= 1/3 π r2 h = 1/3 * π * 9.62 * 7 = 675.6 cubic feet
But, obviously, the mound isn’t solid gold and silver. We know it has a “great two-handled cups” in it – one of which Bilbo steals – and probably human remains, not to mention the air space between the coins. Let’s assume that the mound is 30% air and bones. That makes the volume of the hoard that is pure gold and silver coins 472.9 cubic feet.
We know that Bilbo eventually takes his cut of the treasure in two small-chests, one filled with gold and the other filled with silver, so it seems safe to assume that the hoard is approximately ½ gold and ½ silver, or 236.4 cubic feet of each metal.
A Kuggerrand, the South African Coin containing 1 troy ounce of pure gold, measures 32.6 mm in diameter and is 2.84 mm thick. Solving for the volume of a cylinder( V= π r2 h), then converting cubic millimeters to cubic inches, then cubic inches to cubic feet gives a volume of 8.371354e-05 (or 0.00008371354) square feet for a single coin, containing one ounce of gold.
Using similar logic, an American Silver Eagle coin (40.6 mm in diameter, 2.98 mm thick), which contains one troy ounce of silver, has a volume of 0.000136 square feet.
It’s then a trivial matter to determine the number of 1-ounce gold coins (2.8 million) and silver coins (1.7 million) in the heap. At the moment gold is trading at $1423.8/ounce and silver at $37.5/ounce making the gold coins worth a little more than $4 billion and the silver ones worth $65 million, or $4.1 billion for them combined.
Now for the diamonds:
After all those decades of sleeping on the top of his hoard, Smaug’s soft underbelly has become encrusted with diamonds (“what magnificence to possess a waistcoat of such fine diamonds!”), making him largely invulnerable to arrows and lances, except of course for the “large patch in the hollow of his left breast” which is “as bare as a snail out of its shell.”
How much are all these diamonds worth?
Well, we know that Smaug’s body (with tail) is 64 feet long, and we know that dragons are long and narrow, so it seems safe to assume that the ratio of length to width for a full-grown true dragon is about 6 to 1, leaving us with 10.7 feet for the beast’s body width. Six-inches by six-inches seems a reasonable guess for the size of individual dragon scale, meaning that there are 822 individual scales on Smaug’s underbelly. Subtracting 5% for the bare patch, leaves us with 781 diamond-encrusted dragon scales.
According to Diamond Helpers, diamonds above 5.99 carats are priced individually, so let’s simplify and assume that all of Smaug’s diamonds are 5.99 carats, priced at approximately $16,700 per carat or just over $100,000 each. Fifty diamonds per six-inch square dragon scale seems adequate to ward off most arrows, so Smaug is encrusted with 38,900 diamonds, with a total value of $3.9 billion.
Adding the diamonds to the $4.1 billion in precious metals gives us a value of $8.0 billion.
Finally the Arkenstone of Thrain:
In the narrative the Arkenstone is explicitly valued at exactly 1/14th of the entire treasure, since Bilbo takes it as his full-share then altruistically trades it away to prevent all-out war between the dwarves and a coalition of men and elves. If 13/14ths of the treasure is worth $8.0 billion, then the whole treasure must be worth approximately $8.6 billion, comfortably placing Smaug in 7th place on the 2011 Forbes Fictional 15.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
SPINDLE is an ever-expanding online journal with one new, featured work every Monday. It is maintained by a group of individuals based in the Philippines — readers, writers, and students of literature — who simply want more homegrown venues for the literary and visual arts.
From their "Contribute" page:
SPINDLE is interested in publishing poetry, fiction, essays, and artwork of different forms, genres, and media.
We accept collaborations, essays on craft, interviews, hypertext, sequential art, works from a series, and whatever you think counts as literature, art, an intersection thereof, or simply a piece that deserves an audience.
Local writers and artists may be our focus, but we welcome submissions from everyone.
Writers, Never Do This
Tales From The 7,000 Isles
Here's the book cover of Tales From the 7,000 Isles (Libraries Unlimited), the book I co-wrote with Fil-Am storyteller and writer, Dianne De Las Casas. The book will be out by Fall 2011. Cover art done by Bernadette Wolf. Friends and family in the US, please patronize your kababayans! LOL
Congrats, Zarah! Let us know when it's available for purchase!