Monday, February 28, 2011

Frank Buckles 1901-2011

Frank Buckles, who lied about his age to get into uniform during World War I and lived to be the last surviving U.S. veteran of that war, has died. He was 110.
Buckles, who also survived being a civilian POW in the Philippines in World War II, died peacefully of natural causes early Sunday at his home in Charles Town, biographer and family spokesman David DeJonge said in a statement. Buckles turned 110 on Feb. 1 and had been advocating for a national memorial honoring veterans of the Great War in Washington, D.C.
When asked in February 2008 how it felt to be the last of his kind, he said simply, "I realized that somebody had to be, and it was me." And he told The Associated Press he would have done it all over again, "without a doubt."
On Nov. 11, 2008, the 90th anniversary of the end of the war, Buckles attended a ceremony at the grave of World War I Gen. John Pershing in Arlington National Cemetery.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Waterloo Medal

As worn by the British troops who were there.

Pardon Me While I Steal a Chapter

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Here's the entirety of Chapter 13 of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Great Shadow."



OF all the things that seem strange in that battle, now that I look back upon it, there is nothing that was queerer than the way in which it acted on my comrades; for some took it as though it had been their daily meat without question or change, and others pattered out prayers from the first gunfire to the last, and others again cursed and swore in a way that was creepy to listen to. There was one, my own left-hand man, Mike Threadingham, who kept telling about his maiden aunt, Sarah, and how she had left the money which had been promised to him to a home for the children of drowned sailors. Again and again he told me this story, and yet when the battle was over he took his oath that he had never opened his lips all day. As to me, I cannot say whether I spoke or not, but I know that my mind and my memory were clearer than I can ever remember them, and I was thinking all the time about the old folk at home, and about Cousin Edie with her saucy, dancing eyes, and de Lissac with his cat's whiskers, and all the doings at West Inch, which had ended by bringing us here on the plains of Belgium as a cockshot for two hundred and fifty cannons.

  During all this time the roaring of those guns had been something dreadful to listen to, but now they suddenly died away, though it was like the lull in a thunderstorm when one feels that a worse crash is coming hard at the fringe of it. There was still a mighty noise on the distant wing, where the Prussians were pushing their way onwards, but that was two miles away. The other batteries, both French and English, were silent, and the smoke cleared so that the armies could see a little of each other. It was a dreary sight along our ridge, for there seemed to be just a few scattered knots of red and the lines of green where the German Legion stood, while masses of the French appeared to be as thick as ever, though of course we knew that they must have lost many thousands in these attacks. We heard a great cheering and shouting from among them, and then suddenly all their batteries opened together with a roar which made the din of the earlier part seem nothing in comparison. It might well be twice as loud, for every battery was twice as near, being moved right up to point blank range with huge masses of horse between and behind them to guard them from attack.
  When that devil's roar burst upon our ears there was not a man, down to the drummer boys, who did not understand what it meant. It was Napoleon's last great effort to crush us. There were but two more hours of light, and if we could hold our own for those all would be well. Starved and weary and spent, we prayed that we might have strength to load and stab and fire while a man of us stood on his feet.
  His cannon could do us no great hurt now, for we were on our faces, and in an instant we could turn into a huddle of bayonets if his horse came down again. But behind the thunder of the guns there rose a sharper, shriller noise, whirring and rattling, the wildest, jauntiest, most stirring kind of sound.
  "It 's the pas-de-charge!" cried an officer. "They mean business this time!"
  And as he spoke we saw a strange thing. A Frenchman, dressed as an officer of hussars, came galloping towards us on a little bay horse. He was screeching "Vive le roi! Vive le roi!" at the pitch of his lungs, which was as much as to say that he was a deserter, since we were for the king and they for the emperor. As he passed us he roared out in English, "The Guard is coming! The Guard is coming!" and so vanished away to the rear like a leaf blown before a storm. At the same instant up there rode an aide-de-camp, with the reddest face that ever I saw upon mortal man.
  "You must stop 'em, or we are done!" he cried to General Adams, so that all our company could hear him.
  "How is it going?" asked the general.
  "Two weak squadrons left out of six regiments of heavies," said he, and began to laugh like a man whose nerves are overstrung.
  "Perhaps you would care to join in our advance? Pray consider yourself quite one of us," said the general, bowing and smiling as if he were asking him to a dish of tea.
  "I shall have much pleasure," said the other, taking off his hat; and a moment afterwards our three regiments closed up, and the brigade advanced in four lines over the hollow where we had lain in square, and out beyond to the point whence we had seen the French army.
  There was little of it to be seen now, only the red belching of the guns flashing quickly out of the cloudbank, and the black figures -- stooping, straining, mopping, sponging -- working like devils, and at devilish work. But through the cloud that rattle and whirr rose ever louder and louder, with a deep-mouthed shouting and the stamping of thousands of feet. Then there came a broad black blurr through the haze, which darkened and hardened until we could see that it was a hundred men abreast, marching swiftly towards us, with high far hats upon their heads and a gleam of brasswork over their brows. And behind that hundred came another hundred, and behind that another, and on and on, coiling and writhing out of the cannon-smoke like a monstrous snake, until there seemed to be no end to the mighty column. In front ran a spray of skirmishers, and behind them the drummers, and up they all came together at a kind of tripping step, with the officers clustering thickly at the sides and waving their swords and cheering. There were a dozen mounted men too at their front, all shouting together, and one with his hat held aloft upon his swordpoint. I say again, that no men upon this earth could have fought more manfully than the French did upon that day.
  It was wonderful to see them; for as they came onwards they got ahead of their own guns, so that they had no longer any help from them, while they got in front of the two batteries which had been on either side of us all day. Every gun had their range to a foot, and we saw long red lines scored right down the dark column as it advanced. So near were they, and so closely did they march, that every shot ploughed through ten files of them, and yet they closed up and came on with a swing and dash that was fine to see. Their head was turned straight for ourselves, while the 95th overlapped them on one side and the 52nd on the other.
  I shall always think that if we had waited so the Guard would have broken us; for how could a four-deep line stand against such a column? But at that moment Colburne, the colonel of the 52nd, swung his right flank round so as to bring it on the side of the column, which brought the Frenchmen to a halt. Their front line was forty paces from us at the moment, and we had a good look at them. It was funny to me to remember that I had always thought of Frenchmen as small men; for there was not one of that first company who could not have picked me up as if I had been a child, and their great hats made them look taller yet. They were hard, wizened, wiry fellows too, with fierce puckered eyes and bristling moustaches, old soldiers who had fought and fought, week in, week out, for many a year. And then, as I stood with my finger upon the trigger waiting for the word to fire, my eye fell full upon the mounted officer with his hat upon his sword, and I saw that it was de Lissac.
  I saw it, and Jim did too. I heard a shout, and saw him rush forward madly at the French column; and, as quick as thought, the whole brigade took their cue from him, officers and all, and flung themselves upon the Guard in front, while our comrades charged them on the flanks. We had been waiting for the order, and they all thought now that it had been given; but you may take my word for it, that Jim Horscroft was the real leader of the brigade when we charged the Old Guard.
  God knows what happened during that mad five minutes. I remember putting my musket against a blue coat and pulling the trigger, and that the man could not fall because he was so wedged in the crowd; but I saw a horrid blotch upon the cloth, and a thin curl of smoke from it as if it had taken fire. Then I found myself thrown up against two big Frenchmen, and so squeezed together, the three of us, that we could not raise a weapon. One of them, a fellow with a very large nose, got his hand up to my throat, and I felt that I was a chicken in his grasp. "Rendez-vous, coquin; rendez-vous!" said he, and then suddenly doubled up with a scream, for someone had stabbed him in the bowels with a bayonet. There was very little firing after the first sputter; but there was the crash of butt against barrel the short cries of stricken men, and the roaring of the officers. And then, suddenly, they began to give ground-slowly, sullenly, step by step, but still to give ground. Ah! it was worth all that we had gone through, the thrill of that moment, when we felt that they were going to break. There was one Frenchman before me, a sharp-faced, dark-eyed man, who was loading and firing as quietly as if he were at practice, dwelling upon his aim, and looking round first to try and pick of an officer. I remember that it struck me that to kill so cool a man as that would be a good service, and I rushed at him and drove my bayonet into him. He turned as I struck him and fired full into my face, and the bullet left a weal across my cheek which will mark me to my dying day. I tripped over him as he fell, and two others tumbling over me I was half smothered in the heap. When at last I struggled out, and cleared my eyes, which were half full of powder, I saw that the column had fairly broken, and was shredding into groups of men, who were either running for their lives or were fighting back to back in a vain attempt to check the brigade, which was still sweeping onwards. My face felt as if a red-hot iron had been laid across it; but I had the use of my limbs, so jumping over the litter of dead and mangled men, I scampered after my regiment, and fell in upon the right flank.
  Old Major Elliott was there, limping along, for his horse had been shot, but none the worse in himself. He saw me come up, and nodded, but it was too busy a time for words. The brigade was still advancing, but the general rode in front of me with his chin upon his shoulder, looking back at the British position.
  "There is no general advance," said he; "but I'm not going back."
  "The Duke of Wellington has won a great victory," cried the aide-de-camp, in a solemn voice; and then, his feelings getting the better of him, he added, "if the damned fool would only push on!" -- which set us all laughing in the flank company.
  But now anyone could see that the French army was breaking up. The columns and squadrons which had stood so squarely all day were now all ragged at the edges; and where there had been thick fringes of skirmishers in front, there were now a spray of stragglers in the rear. The Guard thinned out in front of us as we pushed on, and we found twelve guns looking us in the face, but we were over them in a moment; and I saw our youngest subaltern, next to him who had been killed by the lancer, scribbling great 71's with a lump of chalk upon them, like the schoolboy that he was. It was at that moment that we heard a roar of cheering behind us, and saw the whole British army flood over the crest of the ridge, and come pouring down upon the remains of their enemies. The guns, too, came bounding and rattling forward, and our light cavalry -- as much as was left of it -- kept pace with our brigade upon the right. There was no battle after that. The advance went on without a check, until our army stood lined upon the very ground which the French had held in the morning. Their guns were ours, their foot were a rabble spread over the face of the country, and their gallant cavalry alone was able to preserve some sort of order and to draw off unbroken from the field. Then at last, just as the night began to gather, our weary and starving men were able to let the Prussians take the job over, and to pile their arms upon the ground that they had won. That was as much as I saw or can tell you about the Battle of Waterloo, except that I ate a two-pound rye loaf for my supper that night, with as much salt meat as they would let me have, and a good pitcher of red wine, until I had to bore a new hole at the end of my belt, and then it fitted me as tight as a hoop to a barrel. After that I lay down in the straw where the rest of the company were sprawling, and in less than a minute I was in a dead sleep.

Published in 1892, "The Great Shadow" was intended to be a tale of the Napoleonic War. You can find it here at Project Guttenberg.

Also at Project Guttenberg, I had a chance to sift through "A Visit to Three Fronts" and this piece stood out:
The French soldiers are grand. They are grand. There is no other word to express it. It is not merely their bravery. All races have shown bravery in this war. But it is their solidity, their patience, their nobility. I could not conceive anything finer than the bearing of their officers. It is proud without being arrogant, stern without being fierce, serious without being depressed. Such, too, are the men whom they lead with such skill and devotion. Under the frightful hammer-blows of circumstance, the national characters seem to have been reversed. It is our British soldier who has become debonair, light-hearted and reckless, while the Frenchman has developed a solemn stolidity and dour patience which was once all our own. During a long day in the French trenches, I have never once heard the sound of music or laughter, nor have I once seen a face that was not full of the most grim determination.
Germany set out to bleed France white. Well, she has done so. France is full of widows and orphans from end to end. Perhaps in proportion to her population she has suffered the most of all. But in carrying out her hellish mission Germany has bled herself white also. Her heavy sword has done its work, but the keen French rapier has not lost its skill. France will stand at last, weak and tottering, with her huge enemy dead at her feet. But it is a fearsome business to see—such a business as the world never looked upon before. It is fearful for the French. It is fearful for the Germans. May God's curse rest upon the arrogant men and the unholy ambitions which let loose this horror upon humanity! Seeing what they have done, and knowing that they have done it, one would think that mortal brain would grow crazy under the weight. Perhaps the central brain of all was crazy from the first. But what sort of government is it under which one crazy brain can wreck mankind!
If ever one wanders into the high places of mankind, the places whence the guidance should come, it seems to me that one has to recall the dying words of the Swedish Chancellor who declared that the folly of those who governed was what had amazed him most in his experience of life. Yesterday I met one of these men of power—M. Clemenceau, once Prime Minister, now the destroyer of governments. He is by nature a destroyer, incapable of rebuilding what he has pulled down. With his personal force, his eloquence, his thundering voice, his bitter pen, he could wreck any policy, but would not even trouble to suggest an alternative. As he sat before me with his face of an old prizefighter (he is remarkably like Jim Mace as I can remember him in his later days), his angry grey eyes and his truculent, mischievous smile, he seemed to me a very dangerous man. His conversation, if a squirt on one side and Niagara on the other can be called conversation, was directed for the moment upon the iniquity of the English rate of exchange, which seemed to me very much like railing against the barometer. My companion, who has forgotten more economics than ever Clemenceau knew, was about to ask whether France was prepared to take the rouble at face value, but the roaring voice, like a strong gramophone with a blunt needle, submerged all argument. We have our dangerous men, but we have no one in the same class as Clemenceau. Such men enrage the people who know them, alarm the people who don't, set every one by the ears, act as a healthy irritant in days of peace, and are a public danger in days of war.
Four dogs during World War I? Well, I'll have to think about that.

The Manual is the Product

There are always nuggets of great information out there. Here's one I stumbled across today:
A few random notes from my 23+ years of tech writing:
Words can take a person from point A to point B. If a person isn't at point A, or doesn't want to go to point B, then the text will be a mismatch. The better you define point A, explain it, define point B, explain it, and then accurately keep A and B in mind as you're writing, the more successful you'll be with the readers.
As an expansion of the previous point, I write books and columns to a single reader, whom I usually call "Joe". I define what Joe knows at the beginning of the book, and at the end of each chapter, and then I keep Joe in mind as a real, single reader while I'm writing. Seems to work nicely, and keeps me from handwaving or forgetting prerequisities.
In product documentation, the manual is the product. If a feature isn't defined, it doesn't exist as far as the user can tell. If a feature is described badly, the user will percieve the product to be a bad product. Thus, do not skimp on the documentation.
When you write a piece, read it aloud to a friend, or the wall if you have no friends nearby. If it doesn't make sense when read aloud, start over. That'll keep you from writing stuff that "looks good to your English teacher", but is truly useless in the real world.
-- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker
It's rare to find such specificity in tips. "Do a lot of research" is great, but here, Mr. Schwartz says, "the manual is the product" and features don't exist if the technical writer doesn't take the time to define them. I've created a few basic manuals, but I wish I could have gone back to flesh them out more.

Always have someone read what you've done. Well, always have someone qualified, and someone who can use a critical eye to help you fix what might be broken. It helps when you marry a Literature major.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Behind the Scenes Stills from The Brothers Grimm

What a feast of tremendous visuals. I really wish that I could credit the appropriate artists. There are wonderful bits of inspiration all throughout these images.

Inspired by The Brothers Grimm

Terry Gilliam on the set of "The Brothers Grimm" (2005)

Terry Gilliam is the master of everything visual.

I am looking to The Brothers Grimm (2005) for some help with the period surrounding The Chasseurs. Given that what I'm doing is much simpler and more of an animated piece, I suppose I won't get much. I do think that, in the beginning, when the Brothers Grimm are riding on horseback into the town of Karlstadt, that the wreckage and devastation of the Napoleonic Wars are very much a theme that I will try to adopt.

I thought the overturned cannon in the river was a bit much; unless the cannon was spiked, there would be someone trying to raise it up out of the water. A cannon contains too much metal and too much value to abandon. Splintered, broken wheels and caissons, sure. I can see that. And dead horses everywhere, too. Although, granted, I'm not going to show dead horses all over the place.

This is a very complex, very visually arresting film. It'll probably take a few viewings before I have any kind of a framework of reference.
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Stand When You Work

Sitting down is really not good for you:
In a 2005 article in Science magazine, James A. Levine, an obesity specialist at the Mayo Clinic, pinpointed why, despite similar diets, some people are fat and others aren't. "We found that people with obesity have a natural predisposition to be attracted to the chair, and that's true even after obese people lose weight," he says. "What fascinates me is that humans evolved over 1.5 million years entirely on the ability to walk and move. And literally 150 years ago, 90% of human endeavor was still agricultural. In a tiny speck of time we've become chair-sentenced," Levine says.
Hamilton, like many sitting researchers, doesn't own an office chair. "If you're standing around and puttering, you recruit specialized muscles designed for postural support that never tire," he says. "They're unique in that the nervous system recruits them for low-intensity activity and they're very rich in enzymes." One enzyme, lipoprotein lipase, grabs fat and cholesterol from the blood, burning the fat into energy while shifting the cholesterol from LDL (the bad kind) to HDL (the healthy kind). When you sit, the muscles are relaxed, and enzyme activity drops by 90% to 95%, leaving fat to camp out in the bloodstream. Within a couple hours of sitting, healthy cholesterol plummets by 20%.
The data back him up. Older people who move around have half the mortality rate of their peers. Frequent TV and Web surfers (sitters) have higher rates of hypertension, obesity, high blood triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and high blood sugar, regardless of weight. Lean people, on average, stand for two hours longer than their counterparts.
The chair you're sitting in now is likely contributing to the problem. "Short of sitting on a spike, you can't do much worse than a standard office chair," says Galen Cranz, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. She explains that the spine wasn't meant to stay for long periods in a seated position. Generally speaking, the slight S shape of the spine serves us well. "If you think about a heavy weight on a C or S, which is going to collapse more easily? The C," she says. But when you sit, the lower lumbar curve collapses, turning the spine's natural S-shape into a C, hampering the abdominal and back musculature that support the body. The body is left to slouch, and the lateral and oblique muscles grow weak and unable to support it.
This, in turn, causes problems with other parts of the body. "When you're standing, you're bearing weight through the hips, knees, and ankles," says Dr. Andrew C, Hecht, co-chief of spinal surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center. "When you're sitting, you're bearing all that weight through the pelvis and spine, and it puts the highest pressure on your back discs. Looking at MRIs, even sitting with perfect posture causes serious pressure on your back."
Much of the perception about what makes for healthy and comfortable sitting has come from the chair industry, which in the 1960s and '70s started to address widespread complaints of back pain from workers. A chief cause of the problem, companies publicized, was a lack of lumbar support. But lumbar support doesn't actually help your spine. "You cannot design your way around this problem," says Cranz. "But the idea of lumbar support has become so embedded in people's conception of comfort, not their actual experience on chairs. We are, in a sense, locked into it."
In the past three decades the U.S. swivel chair has tripled into a more than $3 billion market served by more than 100 companies. Unsurprisingly, America's best-selling chair has made a fetish of lumbar support. The basic Aeron, by Herman Miller, costs around $700, and many office workers swear by them. There are also researchers who doubt them. "The Aeron is far too low," says Dr. A.C. Mandal, a Danish doctor who was among the first to raise flags about sitting 50 years ago. "I visited Herman Miller a few years ago, and they did understand. It should have much more height adjustment, and you should be able to move more. But as long as they sell enormous numbers, they don't want to change it." Don Chadwick, the co-designer of the Aeron, says he wasn't hired to design the ideal product for an eight-hour-workday; he was hired to update Herman Miller's previous best-seller. "We were given a brief and basically told to design the next-generation office chair," he says.
The best sitting alternative is perching—a half-standing position at barstool height that keeps weight on the legs and leaves the S-curve intact. Chair alternatives include the Swopper, a hybrid stool seat and the funky, high HAG Capisco chair. Standing desks and chaise longues are good options. Ball chairs, which bounce your spine into a C-shape, are not. The biggest obstacle to healthy sitting may be ourselves. Says Jackie Maze, the vice-president for marketing at Keilhauer: "Most customers still want chairs that look like chairs."
Now, why aren't there more Swoppers out there?
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Friday, February 11, 2011

So Long to a Few More Bookstores

This is sad:
Borders Group may file for bankruptcy reorganization as early as Monday or Tuesday, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The No. 2 traditional bookstore in the U.S. also plans to close about 200 of its 674 stores and cut thousands of jobs, the newspaper reported, citing sources it did not name.
Is it a good thing for bookstores to disappear and go away? Does everything have to be on an electronic media device now?

I like media readers and devices like that. I just wish there was a way to keep everything as it was. That's wishful thinking, perhaps, and change is ever present, but sometimes a book is a book and a flat screen that glows is a poor substitute.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Eliminate That Ambiguity

One of the things I practice is the ambiguity exercise, which is, "can what I've written have a hidden meaning that I do not intend?"

Here's something that expands on that:

Lexical ambiguity
In the "Do you serve prawns?" question above, the ambiguity hinges on the fact that you can use the verb "serve" in more than one way - you can serve prawns to a person, but you can also serve the prawns themselves. This type of ambiguity - where one word can have two or more meanings - is known as lexical ambiguity. It isn't just verbs that can do double duty in this way, as the following examples of lexical ambiguity show:

  • Let us remove your shorts - sign on an electrician's van
  • A troupe of Girl Guides went for a tramp in the woods (actually, this one is a double yolker when it comes to ambiguity - both the phrase "went for" and the noun "tramp" can have at least two meanings…)
  • Mrs Gandhi stoned at rally in India - newspaper headline
Syntactic ambiguity 
It is possible for a sentence or phrase to be ambiguous when none of the words has a double meaning. In this case, the ambiguity arises because the words are in the wrong order or some of them are missing.  This is known as syntactic ambiguity.  Here are some examples:

  • Always wait for the green man to cross - This is an actual road sign near where I live! (A better way to phrase it would have been Always wait for the green man to appear before you cross the road, but perhaps Kent County Council didn't have a big enough sign for that.)
  • For sale: antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers - Better (but less funny) to have written For sale: antique desk with thick legs and large drawers. Suitable for lady. Notice the extra punctuation - see below for more on this subject.
There's more at the link, but I didn't want to copy too much of it. You never want to put yourself in a position where ambiguity ruins something into which you've just put a lot of effort.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How Did the Oscars Get so Lame?

The Oscars will sink to a new low this year:
Oscar producers are taking "thanks, Mom" to another level.
Producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer say they'll incorporate nominees' mothers, who they call "mom-inees," into the Oscar show.
Proucers are looking for nominees' mothers to post updates on Twitter and to appear during the 90-minute pre-show program, they said Monday during the 30th annual Oscar nominees luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Mominees? What the hell kind of crap is that? What do these producers do if "mom" turns out to be too drunk to Twitter and, instead, sends out the social media equivalent of a wet fart in church? What then? There are mothers out there who should be in prison. Then there are mothers out there that are the entertainment industry equivalent of handing free liquor and car keys to teenagers. Not good.

Never leave it to chance. They would be better off trying to stage a skit with little kids, cute animals, and Gary Busey.

The nominees, of course, are as follows:

Best Picture:
Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone
Actor in a Leading Role:
Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth, James Franco
Actress in a Leading Role:
Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams
Black Swan, The Fighter, The King's Speech, The Social Network, True Grit

Lame. Never saw any of them, don't care. Yawn. 

Ten nominees for Best Picture? That's the surest way to institutionalize mediocrity. Now, no one cares if a film gets nominated. It's supposed to make ten films, rather than five, "more marketable." Please. Hollywood can't come up with ten good films in a year.
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Is It Wrong to Try to Make a Living Nowadays?

Kacey Jordan, bikini

What did you expect Miss Kacey Jordan to do? Sell girl scout cookies and give the money to the little sisters of the poor?

Charlie Sheen's $30,000 hooker, Kacey Jordan, is poised to star in an adult film re-creation of her wild 36-hour bender with the Two and a Half Men star, has exclusively learned.
Jordan, 22, will star in the production commissioned by a major porn studio and will be paid tens of thousands of dollars to appear as the co-star and provide editorial direction about what happened during the out-of-control party that lead to Sheen's at-home rehab stint.
"Initially, the studio offered Kacey an incentive of close to $100,000 to lure the five porn actresses who were with Charlie to star in the feature," a source with knowledge of the transaction told
However, the blonde bombshell was unable to persuade her fellow porn co-horts to sign on to the project.
Porn this, porn that. So what?

If a young lady needs to make a living, who cares how she makes her living? I cannot abide the moralizing tone of these celebrity blogs. There isn't a single one of them--and I'm talking about the ground-down mooks who write for them and chase people around with cameras and all that--who wouldn't drop their cheap pants and huff and moan and squirm for the cash if they could. Many of them are diseased and obese, or beyond ugly and strange looking. Don't hate on a pretty young lady who knows how to survive in the adult film industry.

I come from the business world. Don't lecture me about who is, and who is not, a whore.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Word Works

I suppose there are always going to be those who are for or against Microsoft Word. I think it is an indispensable tool. I don't know how you could move from position to position as a technical writer without being exposed, in some way, to Word. If you stayed with the Open Office system, sure. But if you're freelancing for different companies, you are bound to find yourself needing Word skills.

Six years ago, I was using Word for large-scale publications. My answer to this question is below:
Here’s a serious question that deserves some thought: Could you use Microsoft Word in a large-scale corporate technical publications environment, and if so, how would you do it? I know I am on record as saying that it’s not quite the right tool for the job (or words to that effect), but there are many corporate tech pubs departments that do use Microsoft Word.
From what I have heard over the years, a lot of non-tech-writing effort goes into supporting that. On its own, Microsoft Word has a reputation for being unstable and unreliable (see Farbey’s Law), and it is often criticised for being so tightly integrated with the Windows operating system that you never know whether a particular setting needs to be changed in the document, the application, the Windows Registry, or the Active Directory Group Policy. In this post I’m going to suggest what an ideal set-up for corporate tech pubs use of Microsoft Word might look like.
Microsoft Word works well when the people who use it have been trained to use it well. Sounds like a cliche, but when I was involved in using Word to create, edit, and collaborate on documents that were published in-house, the only problems that would surface were user-created, not application created. If best practices are followed, losing a document due to some supposed "instability" of the application should be a rare occurrence.

Not many people understand what best practices really are. They are a guideline that you follow, as best you can, every day. You can't enter the network, start opening documents, and start working on them if you're not organized and have a clear purpose. Always slow down, edit carefully, track changes, and save your work as a matter of habit whenever you are transitioning to something else.

If the phone rings, mentally remind yourself to hit the "save" icon. Know where that icon is, and habitually save.

If you begin with best practices, which is to start with a template that all users would adhere to, the application being used is almost not a factor. For a manual that would incorporate work from six or seven individual researchers and would have fold-out tables, charts, graphs, and images, there really was no issue in assembling the document into one Word document. In the editing process, the person charged with assembling the document would have to make the styles consistent across the board. That might mean eliminating some stray Arial font text or it might mean going through all of the endnotes to make certain they followed the correct format.

Once that editor had control of the document, it made publication easier. It made converting the document to a printed soft-cover book easier as well. Even pdf conversion was a quick and painless process.

So, yes. Word is fine. You can't have rogues out there, deviating from the template of the finished product. And you have to invest in the editing process. But work, it does, and it did in my experience.
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Don't Admit Anything, Lindsay

I hope this goes away, and soon:
It's reported that Lindsay Lohan could be in trouble with the law - again -- and this time, the allegations are more serious than ever. 
Lohan is said to be under investigation in the theft of jewelry - possibly a single piece valued at $5,000, which would make the alleged crime a felony. 
"Law enforcement sources tell Radar Online that Lindsay is suspected to have stolen a high-end piece of jewelry, most likely a necklace," Dylan Howard Sr., executive editor of the celebrity gossip website tells CBS News.

America can't handle another phony Lindsay Lohan scandal.

I never believe anything they say or write about her. I think that the editors and bloggers made up their minds several years ago to destroy this young woman and that's pretty much what they have accomplished. Once they have accomplished this, they'll find some other young person to destroy.
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