Friday, August 30, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p 15): The Final Stretch

You are Sam McManus, son of Jarred McManus, the miner, son of Caleb McManus, also the miner, son of Cain McManus, who had come all the way from planet Earth on the Argo to come and settle on the Koprullu Sector planet of Moria.  Cain wasn't a miner; he was a criminal responsible for thefts upwards of ten million dollars, but the family never talked about that.  You were a mining family and nothing else, as far as Pop is concerned.

As you might expect, you're a miner too.  in fact, you're on the way to work right now, headed for second shift in the mines of Mt. Tracy.  Your father and your two older brothers won't be joining you yet.  They get to work through the night on third shift.  Their pay is much better, but since you're only barely seventeen, you don't get to spend the night blasting in caves for the gold and the minerals.  You get to shovel rocks and rubble into the sorter so that the gold can be removed from the plain ol' rocks.  Yippee.

I grinned.  This was a great way to start the story.  Granted, it would be nice if I had an actual title for this story, but what are you going to do?  I figure I'll write up the rest of the story and decide what I want to name it later.  After all, writing a "choose your own adventure" story is bound to take a while.  There's plenty of time to name it something.  No need to rush.

"Aldaaarissss!"  I yelled.  "I'm boooooored agaaaaaain!"


"Dang it...."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Protoss of Starcraft: A Leadership Allegory -- Fenix

Hey y'all.  So, continuing on with my leadership allegory, we move on to the Strategist.  Fenix's role in Starcraft was admittedly small.  He appears only in three of the mission sets, and in one of those he barely appears at all.  However, we have several clues into his personality.  One is that he's a relentless optimist, not even succumbing to depression when he is killed the first time and turned into a dragoon.  Another is that he's immensely practical and not excitable.  His transition from loyal Khalai to follower of Tassadar is quiet, sudden, and not explained.  He just shows up and is like, "Hi Tassadar, how are you?" and just goes on with things.  Third, Fenix hangs out a lot with Raynor, a fellow Strategist.  They're probably closer friends than Raynor was with any other Protoss character.  As a result, I'll be talking a lot about Raynor in this entry.

I picked the Strategist next because it's the next most classic, typical leader after the Visionary.  It's someone you think of when you imagine a military leader or someone who gets things done.  The Strategist is an excellent parallel to the Visionary, as they're the opposite in many ways, but so very necessary to what the Visionary wants to do. 

In fact, unlike the Visionary, the Strategist is not vision driven.  He's need driven.  Usually it's the need of the culture rather than himself, as well.  While they may act on their own behalf, the Strategist will usually latch onto the vision of a Visionary and follow that vision until it seems impractical.  The key word to any Strategist is "pragmatic", as they will attempt to do whatever is reasonable, or in Fenix's and Raynor's cases, morally right for the situation.

The reason why Strategists are not vision driven is that they are focused on the present tense, the right here, right now.  They can have trouble imagining a future that is better than their present circumstances, unless they've been in better cirucmstances before.  This is why they are frequently by the side of the Visionary, who can help the Strategist feel like their efforts are not in vain, but are going toward a cause.  However, the present tense view of the Strategist is not a disadvantage.  It enables to see the world around them with clarity and sensibility, and take reasonable action accordingly.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Protoss of Starcraft: a Leadership Allegory -- Tassadar

Hey y'all.  So I was thinking about Protoss characteristics the other day, as a part of the Me and Aldaris series I've been writing.  Yes, it's not dead.  Sorry I haven't updated in a while.  It's just that I'm at a bit of a tedious part right now, and I have to spice it up until we get to the real meat of what I intended the story to be.  I didn't expect that showing Aldaris Starcraft would take so long.

In any case, I was thinking about the themes of Starcraft and Brood War, and one of their themes is the idea of faulty leadership, for one reason or another.  Mengsk was deceptive, the Overmind is evil (shut up, Starcraft II), Aldaris was unyielding, Raszagal was manipulated, and DuGalle was weak-willed.  However, I noticed an alternate theme: each Protoss character represents a different type of leader, with different behaviors and characteristics that make them suitable for some situations, but horrible for others.  Raszagal and Aldaris were in situations they couldn't cope with, yet Tassadar, Zeratul and Fenix were, and thus were able to manipulate their circumstances much better.  Yet they were all leaders, even when they had other above them or seemed submissive.

Let's go through each type of leader, shall we?

=== The Visionary ===

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nitpickery: Captain Sisko

Hey y'all.  I've been watching a lot of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine recently, and I was puzzling over the fact that Captain Benjamin Sisko never interfered in the Picard vs. Kirk conflict over which Star Trek captain was the best.  Granted, he's an easy third, but that's primarily because Janeway was boring and Archer's actor didn't even belong in the Star Trek universe.  Good for Quantum Leap, but not so much Trek.

Anyway, Captain Sisko is in charge of Deep Space Nine, a station that is near the planet Bajor and a wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant.  Thus, he's got the war aftermath between the Bajorans and the Cardassians to deal with, as well as whatever goes through the wormhole.  Isn't that situation at all interesting?

Note that the captains past Picard faced a problem.  The writers apparently felt that a starship captain had to refer back to the previous captains to be a good one, and Picard himself, like much from his series, set a precedent that the others had to follow, for some reason.

In fact, the reason why Kirk and Picard are so entertaining is that they're their own people.  Kirk is a swashbuckling type common in early sci-fi, and Picard's the anti-Kirk who is dignified and diplomatic.  Picard's writers felt no need to make him imitate Kirk, unlike the writers for the subsequent series.  Janeway, Sisko, and Archer all are forced into playing analogues for the two main captains.  One comment I read online even calls Janeway a male Kirk.

Thankfully for Sisko, Deep Space Nine allows him to break free of this.  Note, however, that I have several problems with this series.  It tries to do too much with too many over-arching plotlines, there's really no need to see all those female characters sleeping around, the commentary on capitalism through the Ferengi was uneducated and two dimensional, and most times the show tried to refer to previous series in the franchise, the attempts to do so were flat and uninteresting.

Despite this, DS9 managed to be an entertaining show, probably because it's far more character driven and emotional than the others -- it's not trying to follow Roddenberry's philosophy to a T, and thus it shows humans being human and not some sort of ultra-moral philosophers on spaceships.  It may not fit in so well with the past, but it's an entertaining show, and with television that's all that matters.

But back to Sisko.  So why isn't he up there with Kirk and Picard?  Let me sum him up before we get to the reasons I've guessed.  He's a guy from New Orleans, raised by a man who hates replicator food and taught his children to cook.  Sisko's ultimate goal was to become an Admiral, but through the death of his wife at the hands of Borg Picard, Sisko ends up at Deep Space Nine, a position which appears to be a dead end as far as careers go.  However, though the wormhole and, later on, war with the Gamma Quadrant Dominion, increases Sisko's importance.  Also, he's the Emissary of the Bajoran religion, communicating between them and their gods, the Prophets.  These Prophets, timeless creatures from the wormhole, are ultimately responsible for Sisko's birth, as it turns out, and they also end up responsible for his ultimate fate: to join them in the timeless space.

Okay, so knowing what we know, why isn't Sisko as popular as the two main captains?  Perhaps we can develop a theory.

- Sisko works on a station.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why I Believe in God

Hey y'all.  Of late I've been having a discussion on Youtube, and yes, I know how the saying about arguing on the internet.  I've attempted to end the discussion though, because Youtube's writing limit makes talking pretty awkward.  That and I don't want to fill up the video maker's comments.  It's always really annoying to look for comments to talk about the video, and then all you see is somebody's argument, y'know?

In any case, this person on Youtube was saying that my beliefs in God were delusional.  I think I sort of missed a little of his point, as he said he wasn't calling me delusional directly.  To be honest, if I'm not "delusional" and God is wrong, then what am I?  What are all the believers, and not only the Christian ones?  Yeah, that's one of the odd things about atheists.  They're very argumentative against Christian thought, and yet don't seem to care too much about debunking other spiritual ideas, when in fact if one is atheist, then spirituality in its entirety has to be offensive, not the existence of just one God.  I just read a little news blurb where someone in a "church of atheism" has their own personal goddess (not the belief of the "church", but the individual quoted).  Then you've got the atheists who hate God, and yet claim not to believe in him.  Kinda pointless to hate things that aren't real.

Anyway, that's a little bit off topic.  This particular blog is meant to answer why I personally believe in God.  I am a rational, an INTP.  I'm supposed to be a thinker, someone who dwells on ideas and points out logical inconsistencies for the fun of it.  This is all true.  However, the very idea that a thinker or a scientist cannot believe in God is in and of itself silly and an idea created historically recently.  Sir Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal were Christians, and Einstein himself was at least theist.  Everyone's favorite pop theologian, C.S. Lewis, a former atheist, joked he was dragged unwillingly through the gates of Heaven.

And that brings me to the basis of my argument with the Youtuber.  Logical thought vs. experimentation.  Both of these items are tools used by scientists of all sorts to come to conclusions and prepare their thoughts.  The atheist I was discussing things with spoke of my beliefs as being illogical based on logical thought, and insisted that no one who is rational would ever believe in God.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Purpose of Life

People have always wondered why people exist.  It's not good enough that humans evolved, or that random chance made life the way it is.  People crave a real reason for being, a purpose in their lives that makes them unique and special in the fabric of things.  The flaw, however, in this type of thinking, is that it assumes that what we do in life gives us value.  It does not ask the precursor question, "what makes me valuable as a person?"  Some would say that being alive gives value, other say that being a human gives value.

If you can put up with the perspective of a theologian, then keep reading.

Recently I finished reading Lewis Grizzard's book I Took a Lickin' and Kept on Tickin', And Now I Believe in Miracles.  I do recommend this story, sort of, despite the fact that it describes with a little too much detail Grizzard's medical history.  Considering he spends much of this book dealing with the weaknesses of his innately damaged heart, as well as how undignified life in a hospital gown can be, there are points where this book is not for the faint of heart.  However, there are good parts as well.  For example, he briefly touches on a visit to the Soviet Union (yes, this book is that old), and his perspective here is hilarious.  His humor is everywhere in this book, and if you want to read a southern comedian, Lewis Grizzard is your guy.