18 November 2013

Why I Quit Watching The Walking Dead

I was a big fan until this season. And then, after the second episode, I just gave up. I think the inherit conflict in the show's structure finally got to me. It's not that the show doesn't give fans what they want; everyone wants something different that can't be met.

But what is central to the show are two things that I think are in direct conflict with maintaining long-term engagement:

  • The show is, at it's heart, largely about character development and interpersonal relationships. The characters have more or less found ways to survive (although more on that later). What they haven't figured out, and what the show constantly explores, is how or if you rebuild society in the face of certain doom.

  • The show is also brutal about the realities of life after the apocalypse. Hope is a dangerous thing, often repaid in crushing disappointment or death. In fact it relishes the moments when destruction visits the group, spending considerable time on the setup and execution of graphic deaths, repelling of the zombie hordes, and the general acceptance of killing walkers as a matter-of-fact part of life.


These two things set up a conflict the show can't resolve, however. When you have a show driven by the characters within it's universe, viewers have to connect. It's the only way you can put yourself in the world and feel threatened or satisfied. The drama of the show hinges on viewers being able to feel the heavy, ever-present threat walkers embody.

Except you can't anymore. Allowing yourself to identify with anyone other than Rick opens the real possibility that your avatar in the world gets killed or removed somehow. Rick is the sole exception as he's not in any real risk. The economics of the television show effectively dictate that Rick must survive. He's the cover art for the show.

Anyway, all of this has led to the show becoming very boring once you remove yourself from becoming attached to a character or engaging in the deeper explorations. All of the questions the show raises are embodied in characters; altruism, bravery, morality all found voices in people. To grep the arguments of the show, you have to viscerally understand the character making the statement. The reward for doing so is no longer worth the investment for me.

I'll probably binge watch this season on Netflix at some point, but I no longer make time to watch it when it airs. All the people I talked with about the previous-night's show have all independently stopped watching. The overwhelming comment is that the show is "boring".

I don't think that bodes well for what, until now, has been must-watch television.

11 November 2013

Windows 8 Sound Randomly Drops Out (Solution)

You, like me, have a Windows 8 machine which has the sounds randomly drop out. Your drivers look fine, everything is up to date, but this annoying thing keeps happening. Fear not, there is a solution, courtesy of Tech Support Forum. For Windows 8, search for and open Sound, click the Communications tab, select "Do nothing", and click Apply.



Why this is not the default setting is beyond me.

07 November 2013

A Breakdown of Guns and Ammo's Response to a Reasonable Editorial

Recently, a [former] editor at Guns and Ammo published what most rational citizens would consider a measured and logical approach to gun control. For that, he was fired, disowned, and earned an official response from the remaining editorial staff. Below is that response, editorialized by me, a current non-crazy gun person (which apparently is now something we have to designate ourselves as). Since Guns and Ammo is such a Constitutionally-minded organization, they clearly understand my First Amendment rights (one better than Second!) in editorializing  their rebuttal.




From Jim Bequette, editor, “Guns & Ammo” Magazine:

As editor of “Guns & Ammo,” I owe each and every reader a personal apology.
If it's for the following message, yes. Yes you do.

No excuses, no backtracking.
What follows is a metric shit-ton of everything elses. Mostly ignoring the original editorial and begging for you to return to your previous mental patterns.

Dick Metcalf’s “Backstop” column in the December issue has aroused unprecedented controversy.
Mostly in the cognitive dissonance he created in our readers' minds. Sorry for the overload required to process his pretty basic gun regulation discussion.

Readers are hopping mad about it, and some are questioning “Guns & Ammo”’s commitment to the Second Amendment. I understand why.
Actually, he doesn't. And, like him, no one emailing Jim has anything remotely resembling a passing knowledge of current Second Amendment Law.

Let me be clear: Our commitment to the Second Amendment is unwavering. It has been so since the beginning.
We think Fred Bear is a documentary. Also, we may not understand what documentaries are.

Historically, our tradition in supporting the Second Amendment has been unflinching. No strings attached.
You should totally be able to own a fully automatic, tripod-mounted, .50 caliber machine gun to compensate for... whatever. Commies! Terrorists! 'Murica!

It is no accident that when others in the gun culture counseled compromise in the past, hard-core thinkers such as Harlon Carter, Don Kates and Neal Knox found a place and a voice in these pages.
We support the craziest, batshit-insane arguments for the most completely unregulated gun laws you could imagine. Seriously, Google these guys.

When large firearms advocacy groups were going soft in the 1970s, they were prodded in the right direction, away from the pages of “Guns & Ammo.”
I ran out of scare quotes. Please insert as necessary so you take my euphemisms for fact.

In publishing Metcalf’s column, I was untrue to that tradition, and for that I apologize. His views do not represent mine — nor, most important, “Guns & Ammo”’s. It is very clear to me that they don’t reflect the views of our readership either.
Guns and Ammo is a bastion of out-dated and fringe viewpoints, based in a world that hasn't existed in 20 years, if ever. We promise to not make you think about any stupid-ass position you have internalized. Please continue ignoring all the kids dying in this country and believing that more guns somehow counters the excessive amount of guns already in circulation.

Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gunwriter, but his association with “Guns & Ammo” has officially ended.
The world, embodied in Dick Metcalf, has moved on but we resolutely refuse to acknowledge that so we fire anyone who represents a viewpoint that doesn't conform to our narrow viewpoint.

I once again offer my personal apology. I understand what our valued readers want.
Armed revolt against a boogieman.

I understand what you believe in when it comes to gun rights, and I believe the same thing.
I don't actually. We think it's unfettered access to military-grade weapons, but so few of you can parse scientific studies that say you're wrong, we default to marketing weapons from the manufactures in the most political way we can. Mostly due to your subscription dollars.

I made a mistake by publishing the column.
This statement was mostly based on your removal of subscription dollars.

I thought it would generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights.
Or pageviews. Either way.

I miscalculated, pure and simple. I was wrong, and I ask your forgiveness.
I really thought we could bring you Neanderthals along into a discussion most of the country finished in the 20th century (for those of you keeping time, that was almost 15 years past). I was wrong and you threatened my livelihood and, let's be frank, I need this job way more than my integrity or honor.

Plans were already in place for a new editor to take the reins of “Guns & Ammo” on January 1.
No they weren't.

However, these recent events have convinced me that I should advance that schedule immediately.
Please stop cancelling your subscriptions.

Your new “Guns & Ammo” editor will be Eric R. Poole, who has so effectively been running our special interest publications, such as “Book of the AR-15” and “TRIGGER.” You will be hearing much more about this talented editor soon.
We promise to continue feeding your conspiracy-minded worldview. Please buy the stupid shit we referenced above as we've already arranged to get a cut of those sales.

“Guns & Ammo” will never fail to vigorously lead the struggle for our Second Amendment rights, and with vigorous young editorial leadership such as Eric’s, it will be done even better in the future.
Seriously, your ridiculous worldview will be completely justified in these pages. We'll also promote the various weapons and ammo you can use to threaten the strawmen we set up in our editorial pages.

Respectfully,
Please don't shoot me

Jim Bequette
Coward