Archive for September, 2004

Lightning DNS

Friday, September 10th, 2004

I heard about the new, faster DNS propagation at Slashdot, and I’m trying it out right now with another domain. (It applies to .com and .net, but not .org, apparently.) Just in the time I’ve been typing this entry, the new DNS info propagated far enough for me to see it at dnsreport, but it hasn’t reached my mac yet. I suspect my ISP is caching the DNS somewhere.

It’s not me caching, since I found this handy blog entry about flushing your DNS cache on OSX (lookupd -flushcache). Yet for the moment, I’m still using the DNS trick I blogged about a few weeks ago.

The Argument from Ignorance

Wednesday, September 8th, 2004

A while back someone was telling me how she just couldn’t understand how people believe in God. Ok, you may be thinking, she was an atheist. The proper statement of atheism, though, is, “I don’t believe in God,” not, “I don’t get why you believe in God.” The former is a belief; the latter is a failure of imagination.

When people speak as if their failures of imagination have independent significance, we call that the argument from ignorance, argumentum ad ignorantium. The argumentum ad ignorantium is the assertion that a statement is false because it has not been proven true. A related fallacy is the argument from lack of imagination—I’d call it the argument from dullness—the assertion that a statement is false because the speaker cannot imagine it being true.

Often the argument is implied, and only the ignorance is professed. Willful ignorance is a common rhetorical tool. For example, abjorn professes ignorance when it comes to Republican popularity:

I just don’t get it. I don’t. … I don’t get how Newt Gingrich can think that little “Purple Heart bandages” are funny. I don’t understand how Ted Poe can continue the disgusting Republican tradition of slandering the French without anyone considering this to be a completely dishonorable act that is unbefitting a public figure.

It’s not restricted to politics by any means; Naomi Chana doesn’t understand why other people aren’t as interested as she is in the history of the Hebrew liturgy:

There is also a lamentable lack of historical curiosity on the part of the average Jewish liturgical participant… I find very few synagogue-goers (and remember, this is already an interested subset of the Jewish population) who want to know which parts of the service are rabbinic and which medieval, or which parts of the Aleinu got edited out when… I have trouble understanding this level of apathy; I can only put it down to really, really lousy Jewish education.

These aren’t the best examples, just the most recent ones I spotted in my RSS reading. I find it fascinating that people will profess ignorance (or misunderstanding) of something as common as Republican beliefs or layman disinterest in deconstructing the liturgy. People are interested in what interests them; there’s no accounting for taste. Other people’s beliefs are never a mystery to me; I may not agree, but if I’m confused people will explain. There’s not much opportunity for misunderstanding politics when people are ranting about it 24/7 on both sides.

I assume the professors of ignorance are just misusing the word “understand” to mean something deeper—say, “empathize.”

The Religion of Peace

Tuesday, September 7th, 2004

Jeff Percifield has a couple of good entries on the religion of peace: the religion of evil and the religion of child-killing. I commented in Lori’s blog on how the existence of religions (or sects thereof) that encourage the slaughter of innocent schoolchildren disproves the belief that all religions teach the same moral or spiritual values. If you’ll pardon a Chesterton quote:

Is one religion as good as another? Is one horse in the Derby as good as another?

The Return of the King III.a

Monday, September 6th, 2004

I’ve reviewed the movie The Return of the King two and a half times already—once for the first time I saw it and noted all the plot problems, once for my second viewing where I appreciated the scenery, and half a time when I discussed M. Garcia’s opinion that heroic fantasy is becoming unfilmable.

I saw the movie again tonight; I think it was the final Noreascon event, though the con officially ended at 3pm. Some of the major plot changes still bothered me, especially Theoden’s “what has Gondor done for me lately?” line, the absence of Sam’s moment of decision over Frodo’s jaundiced body, and Denethor’s overdone insanity. I also had problems with Jackson’s horror style in the flaming palantir scene, the rotting, glowing green Dead scenes, and the unexplained pillar of light over Minas Morgul.

On the other hand, I thought Shelob was great. The “As you know, Smeagol” scene between Slinker and Stinker (Gollum’s two personalities) amused me as infodump, and I thought Gollum came off very well. I’ve heard that Elijah Wood can act, so I’m transferring blame for the failure of Frodo as a character from the pretty face to the script and the director.

But the little glimpses of the unfilmable heroic fantasy that wormed their way into the movie outweighed all the problems. Theoden’s “Death!” speech and Aragorn’s “not this day” speech are lovely. Even Gandalf’s speech to Pippin about heaven (which, in the LotR universe, he’s actually seen) is nice, mainly because those lines were stolen from an actual description of the way to Aman. Mainly, though, what appeals to me is the fighting and dying for a hopeless cause; the world is coming to an end and honorable men (not to mention the occasional honorable shieldmaiden and shield-hobbit) go out there and fight the overwhelming hordes of orcs and trolls and oliphaunts despite the futility of the endeavor. In fact, the Rohirrim seem to be enjoying it because it’s hopeless.

Hope is for wimps.


Sunday, September 5th, 2004

There was one Stargate (SG-1 and Atlantis) panel at Noreascon, and it was one of the most entertaining events I attended. Because most of the attendees I know are Real Writers, the comments on media fan writing have been snide at best, so it was great to see panelists get up in front of a huge room of people and admit to writing fanfic and lusting after Michael Shanks.

The most interesting comments were about the future of Atlantis—that the characters are blander than the SG-1 cast and the situation inadequately dramatic. More than one comparison to Voyager was made, and outside of VOY fandom such comparisons are not positive.

Unfortunately I had to leave right after the panel, so I didn’t get to meet my fellow SG fans. I suppose there’s always the Internet.


Sunday, September 5th, 2004

Now that was a crowd. The Hugo Awards were given out at Noreascon tonight, with only a few glaring technical difficulties. Though I’m not particularly thrilled by Neil Gaiman as a writer, he made a terrific Master of Ceremonies. He’s quite cute, and the accent doesn’t hurt, either.

I wouldn’t say that the best stories won, but at least the worst stories didn’t win.

News of the Fen

Thursday, September 2nd, 2004

WorldCon is big. Very, very big. And yet it’s like Boskone ate the little cake that said “Eat me” and grew to fill the Hynes. (The AC at Hynes was nasty; I think I caught something.) The schedule is similar to Boskone’s, but with more of everything.

Everything doesn’t seem to include TV fandom, unfortunately. If only I could find a panel of Stargate fans, I’d be in fan heaven. Instead I’ve been going to writer-oriented events—writing tips and general info (e.g., elves in mythology, cool science, etc.). I even ran into a fellow non-fen.

I went to a couple of readings: Connie Willis, who filled a small room, and Walter Jon Williams, who had just a handful of people in the same room. In a perfect world, WJW would be as popular as Connie Willis. I’d love to write like he can, and yet, it would be depressing to write like he does yet have so few people show up to my WorldCon reading.

Protected: The Fan who Cried Wolf

Wednesday, September 1st, 2004

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