Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lead On, Macduff

If I have to write ONE MORE stinking essay about why I shouldn’t have to pay thousands of dollars to go to college…
It would be easier if I could just reuse the same essay. But each college and scholarship wants something subtly different, just enough so that I have an entire folder on my computer with about 20 essays in it. And yet they all want the same thing: leadership. Readers who know me know that I am not a leader. And that just seemed to be fine and dandy until we started looking at scholarship opportunities that all wanted the overachievers who have done everything. Literally up until you start looking at college, EVERYONE emphasizes teamwork more than anything. But these guys seem to want everyone to be leaders. Every form has a space for times you’ve been a leader or held some sort of office like student president. If everyone was a leader, there would be no one left for them to lead, and where would that leave us? A bunch of obstinate, independent, overachieving people with high aspirations trying to get others to follow them.  When a group has too many leaders, and those leaders collide, heads will roll. It’s not pretty, and stuff definitely does not get done.
Maybe there could be a scholarship that rewards followership. When have you trusted someone to get you to the right place? What groups do you work or have you worked well in? It would show them how well students would get along at their college, since once you get there they probably value teamwork as much as they ever have.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cat vs. Man

       [All spoilers will be struck through like this so people who haven't read that far in the series can easily skip over them] I'm a big fan of a series called Warriors.  For those of you who don't know it, it's a book series written by Erin Hunter about cats who live in the wild, in fairly organized groups called Clans.  There are four, and the main one written about is Thunderclan, in the forest.  Anyway, I was recently rereading this series.  Rereading is great.  You notice things you never notice before.  You think, "Oh, man, some of these cats are being really stupid about (insert plot point here)." Then you realize - this is what human societies (*cough* 'Murica *cough*) do too.  All the time.  At one point the leader of Thunderclan is betrayed by her deputy, and after a series of misfortunes declares war on Starclan (the equivalent of Christian heaven).  Anyone remember the war on Christmas?  She, and the leader of another clan, both find remains of prey in their territories while it is already low, with clear evidence of a dog loose in the woods. Thunderclan's leader, in her fairly addled state at the time, completely ignores all contrary evidence and blames the other clan, nearly starting a battle.  That seems somehow familiar... and human government people aren't even confused and despondent after a recent betrayal when we get into an unnecessary war after blames based on incomplete and circumstantial evidence. And when one cat falls in love with a cat from another clan, eventually joining that clan?  He almost immediately is shunned by both. It may not be as evident now, but that would have probably happened in the human world between certain countries a few decades ago.
       And I'm only 5 books into the series.  There are 24 books total, and clans are kicked out, there's migration, tons and tons of territory disputes, cats who stop believing (or never started) in Starclan, and more outside threats that get blamed on other clans.  Every challenge, tribulation, and even some traditions can be compared to American society.
       I'm definitely not complaining about the stupidity of the characters, though.  This is an amazing series and I would definitely recommend it to fantasy fans of any age.

Friday, March 22, 2013

This Picture is Redundant.

I made this in Minecraft in about an hour.  I know for a fact that it works.  It's made from quartz and obsidian.  I have a superflat world that I use for non-redstone builds.  If anyone reading this has a suggestion for what to build, let me know in comments, or on Facebook if you know me there.  I won't do much pixel art; I don't like it.  What I will do, I'll do with as little wool as possible.  If it's a redstone contraption, I'll use my other superflat world.  I may post stuff that was suggested on here at some point, if I like how I've done it.  Lifelight pyramid may get a picture here at some point!
Anyway, this QR code is a real code, and will take you to a website.  I'm going to let viewers figure out the site.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Revenge of the Son of Sequels (Which Turns Into a Rant About Ben 10 and Tron)

Sequels suck.
Well, there are a few exceptions, like Catching Fire and at least half of any given really long series like Animorphs or something.  But for the most part, they suck, or at least aren’t as good as the first book/episode/movie.
The worst are the 4-part trilogies.  A 4-part trilogy is a series originally meant to be a trilogy, until the author decides he/she wants to make more money or is badgered into making another book by fans.  The 4th book may have different main characters, and often takes place a few years or even a generation or two later.  The plot refers back to the rest of the series, but is often completely different anyway.  The best example of this is the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfield.  Some copies of Extras even have “The 4th book in the trilogy” on the cover.
Books aren’t the only things with bad sequels.  TV often goes bad as well.  I know, you’re thinking, “But aren’t all TV series just a lot of sequels?”  Well, TV series can drag on way too long.  And I’m talking more about sequels to entire series, especially when they randomly change the entire animation style drastically.  Like Ben 10.  The first series was funny.  If you don’t like the fact that the Omnitrix rarely works right, then I’m sorry, but you are a perfectionist with no sense of humor.  The malfunctions made it interesting.  When he would get Ripjaws in the desert when he was trying for Diamondhead or something, and had to make it work, that was the good part.  When Alien Force came out, a whole new alien set appeared, completely replacing all the ones that fans knew and loved.  The Omnitrix failed much less often, even after Kevin messed with it.  In Ultimate Alien, even more aliens showed up or came back, but none of the old ones looked the same (except, oddly enough, Cannonbolt).  Now there’s Omniverse.  The animation has changed again, Ben looks weird, and he has even more new aliens (although Cannonbolt is still there and still looks exactly the same), including one that looks like it’s made out of Legos.  Ben 10 has just totally degraded.
And movies!  Yuck.  Most of the movie sequels I’ve seen have come from books, but some haven’t.  Some have gotten better.  Most haven’t.  The main movie sequel I hate is Tron: Legacy.  My friends all love it, and most say they get annoyed with the original Tron because of the animation.  I’ve seen worse animation on popular TV shows.  It’s not terrible; at the time it was really good animation.  Anyway, Legacy may have cool animation, but it’s not a good plot.  The whole thing with the isos or whatever – I dunno, it just seems cliché or something.  He’s not in the program for any good reason; he’s just looking for his dad, who (SPOILER ALERT) later dies anyway and then goes back to a sappy ending.  The rings look totally different, as does the entire world.  No helpful programs are met/befriended.  In the original, a skilled hacker has this adventure with a computer who is actually actively trying to do something evil, but he’s just trying to get a patent that belongs to him, back to him.  It’s more humorous, and my favorite minor character – a bit that starts following him around – turns into a tiny decoration on the mantel of a random fireplace in Legacy.  You have to be really observant to even see it.  Legacy is just repetitive and pointless.  I think it was only produced so they could have fun with the animation.
Don’t get me wrong, continuing a series is awesome.  There are many series that I wish didn’t end so soon.  Even one that’s 54 books long. But sometimes,
Sequels suck.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Elemental Underrepresentation

Every time you see a character with an Element (as in fire, water, earth, air, lightning, not Mendeleev’s elements) associated with them in a TV show or book/series, their Element is always either Fire or Lightning/Electricity.  Every single time.  Well, I can think of a couple exceptions, the most notable being the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, but most books have one or the other.  Even in the Percy Jackson sequel series, Heroes of Olympus, 2 of the 3 main characters have an Element.  One is Fire, the other – you guessed it – Lightning.  You look at most of the item-creature series (the ones, mostly Japanese, where a card/small object summons/releases/turns into/turns user into some interesting Elemental being) and they’re the same way.  The only ones I know, Pokémon, Bakugan, and Digimon, fit that profile exactly – in the first, Pikachu, an Electric-type; in the second, Drago, a Pyrus, the equivalent of a Fire-type.  The main character in Digimon has an Agumon, which I’m pretty sure is Fire-type too.  (Yes, I’m a total nerd.)  There's also Chaotic, where there are 2; one is fire, the other I have no idea.  The book series I read do that too, except, as I said earlier, the Percy Jackson series.  Witch and Wizard – focuses on Wisty’s fire abilities.  Any fan of the Hunger Games can guess what I’m gonna say there.  Even this slightly obscure series I’m reading now, the books of Pellinor, involve fire more than anything.  Any book with a dragon in it, for obvious reasons.  Actually, it’s mainly Fire, now that I look at my list.  I can’t think of a single thing where Earth/Ground/Stone/Plants/etc. is the main character’s Element.  Anyway, the next paragraph is going to be sort of a rant about Water, so the Ground line was sort of non sequitur, because I really don’t care about the Earth element much.

                Fire and Lightning can be incredibly destructive, but so can Water.  When a Fire or Lightning has to use the element to help in some way other than destroying stuff, they usually can’t.  I’m slightly obsessed with the Water element, as you may have noticed, and will advocate for it under any situation given.  Water is much underused as an Element, with flashy Fire and Lightning showing off next door.  Earth/Ground is way less flashy and dramatic than any of those.  I will admit, striking someone down with lightning is a bit more dramatic than trying to drown them, but there are other ways Water can triumph.  Ever seen a tsunami?  Pure Water power, baby.  Who needs the sky on their side?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

KENL News From Around the World

Man, I haven't posted in like a month and a half.  My new "schedule" isn't working very well...
I know this is a bit long, but posting it one story at a time also wasn't working.

We will start our program tonight with a flood of poodles in Seattle, Washington.  The poodles came from far and wide, some even rumored to have come from Texas.  One in particular had a distinct Redneckistanian accent, but tried not to show it.  The poodles that came from the ocean decided to grow fish tails and live in the Everglades.  But the rest of the poodles seemed dazed, just hanging around until someone came to take them to a poodle shelter in Kansas.  The Kansans liked the poodles, and they soon had all found good homes.
Meanwhile, those in Southern Florida found polar bear fur on the teeth and scales of alligators in the Everglades.  The polar bears were thought to have escaped from the zoo, since there wasn’t anywhere else for polar bears to come from and survive the exposure to the heat.  However, it is unclear how the polar bears fell prey to the alligators, since it seems more likely the alligators would be eaten by the bears.  There is a suspect in the case, who is thought to have shot the bears down.  The man, Howard McGoo, will be arrested for bringing a gun into a national park and shooting animals that were obvious zoo property.  In a suspect lineup, the remaining polar bear recognized McGoo immediately as the man who shot the bear’s friends.  McGoo will be facing 10 years in jail: 5 for the gun, and 5 for the bears.
In Mongolia, all the cats ganged up and attacked a fire hydrant factory, so that the dogs would slowly die out.  However, the cats failed to remember the hundreds of hydrants around the city, and so failed in their quest to take over the world.  But really, who knows what their true quest is?  Maybe they also want the universe.  Or just want peace.  Either way, to them, dogs have apparently got to go.
Recently, all the jackals in South Africa were forced to the tip of the continent by angry farmers who were tired of the jackals stealing their livestock. The jackals have been caged on one side, with knowledge that the only escape would be to jump into the ocean.  And everyone knows that jackals can’t swim.  But it seems these jackals are trying to learn.  Yesterday, a boatman reported seeing one jackal pulling another out of the water.  The one in the water was waterlogged and unconscious.  Gates will now have to be put around the water side of the tip of Africa, but the funds will prevent this until someone sees a wet jackal crawling out of the ocean.
And now, it’s time for the weather.  Today was sunny and raining.  Yesterday was raining, but the rain was made out of tree sap.  This is thought to be the result of many trees exploding after being struck by lightning.  Tomorrow, it is expected to snow profusely, and the high will be around 70°.  The day after that, the high will be 16° and the low 45°.  The snow from the previous day will have frozen into ice, resulting in a slippery fun zone for the kids.  Time to break out the ice skates!
A pair of bears recently tried to raid a nudist colony.  No one was hurt, except this one girl who had her eyes closed and ran into a wall.  Everyone said they got a huge scare until they realized it was just a bear and not the weird neighbor across the street.  They were still scared, but not as much.  The reasons for the bear attacking were unclear, but it is thought that the bear simply couldn’t spell, and thought that there was another “bare” in the building.
In sports, the platypuses played basketball against the dolphins in the ocean around Indonesia.  The dolphins won, but maybe the platypuses would have won on their home court.  Also, hounds played ferals at wrestling in the forest around the Sahara.  Hounds won in 9 of the 10 matches.  In the 5th match, the hound competing had to drop out of the competition for excessive pre-game injuries.  The hounds could not find a replacement on such short notice, so had to forfeit to the ferals.
Our last story is about a snake that terrorized townspeople in Prague.  This snake escaped from its holding pen that was rather stupidly placed next door to a nuclear reactor.  The reactor has been slowly feeding the snake for 11 years, and now the snake is the size of a 200-story building, and breathes fire.  I think it’s mad.  We are now attempting to find some way to tame this snake, without destroying the reactor.  So far, no conclusion has been reached, but we’ll think of something eventually!  We are working to keep the snake in Prague right now, so that it won’t terrorize the rest of the world.
That’s it for KENL news, so watch out for snakes and good night!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

KENL News of Animals Around the World Pt. 1

(This is one story from a whole thing I wrote in 8th grade.  I will be posting further installments every so often for some time.)

        We will start our program tonight with a flood of poodles in Seattle, Washington.  The poodles came from far and wide, some even rumored to have come from Texas.  One in particular had a distinct Redneckistanian accent, but tried not to show it.  The poodles that came from the ocean decided to grow fish tails and live in the Everglades.  But the rest of the poodles seemed dazed, just hanging around until someone came to take them to a poodle shelter in Kansas.  The Kansans liked the poodles, and they soon had all found good homes.

More coming!

P.S. I won't be posting for about 3 weeks because I will be on vacation so don't bother checking back until the end of August.