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Garwulf's Corner: The LiveJournal
The musings of Robert B. Marks - author, editor, publisher, and researcher

Robert B. Marks
Date: 2016-08-31 10:29
Subject: Fixing America’s Elections: An Outsider’s Perspective
Security: Public
Location:In my chair
Tags:american politics, democracy, elections
Back when I was in my first year of university, I took a political science course as one of my electives.  The content was split between two terms: the United States, and Africa.  I came out of the course amazed that the United States could govern itself at all – it was a system designed around preventing abuses of government power at all costs.  Any of the three branches of government – the Executive (the President), the Legislative (Congress and the Senate), and the Judicial (the higher courts) – could strike down the work of any of the others.  So if, for example, somebody manages to strong-man their way into the Presidency and corrupt one of the other branches, the third could serve as effective damage control.

This provides a lot of checks and balances, but it also (quite deliberately) makes the U.S. Government difficult to manage.  The idea was that the difficulty in getting anything done would force people to compromise, which in theory leads to a more just system built upon consensus.  As an unintended consequence, however, this also means that should any single branch of government become obstructionist, it could hold back the other two, and bring the business of governance to a screeching halt.

Flash forward to today, and the United States seems to be something of a mess right now when it comes to their most recent election.  Depending on where you stand, you could be looking at it as anything from a general breakdown in sanity to the impending doom of the Republican party to a desperate battle against socialist liberals.  Either way, as the election is being reported right now, the American system is looking badly broken.

In a lot of ways, this has come about because of over two centuries of people trying to find workarounds to get things done and otherwise game the system for their own ends.  Suggestions on how to fix it are not in small supply – even my little brother has thrown his own into the ring.  But all too many of them are dealing with the symptoms of the problem, while leaving the underlying issues untreated.  The American political system as it stands is fixable.  What follows are my suggestions, as a Canadian and an outsider, as to what might work.

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Robert B. Marks
Date: 2016-08-25 00:50
Subject: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the remake...an idea that was NOT well thought out
Security: Public
Location:In my chair
Tags:dirty rotten scoundrels, gender-flipped remakes, movies, stupidity
So, right after my wife and I watched Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (she hadn’t seen it), I came across this.

Wow.  It’s official: one of the next gender-flipped remakes is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which has got to be one of the stupidest things I’ve heard in entertainment in a while.

So, here’s the thing – this is one case where the producers in question REALLY didn’t think this one through.  There is next to no way that this story can be gender flipped without coming across as misogynist.

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Robert B. Marks
Date: 2016-08-20 19:33
Subject: Some thoughts before the Hugo Awards
Security: Public
Location:In my chair
Tags:factual errors, hugo awards, puppy wars, the guardian
So, first off, I’m not planning to watch the Hugo Awards tonight.  I’ve got a few reasons for it – for one thing, I don’t have to cover it for anybody, so there’s no professional need or desire to watch it as it happens.  And, after last time, let’s just say that when the “will they or won’t they?” is “burn down the Hugo Awards again,” pain avoidance becomes a worthwhile thing.

(But, do you know what IS on tonight?  LoadingReadyLive!  Seriously, it’s great comedy, and it’s happy, fun stuff, and they do it live on Twitch!  I’m going to watch that...we should all go and watch LoadingReadyLive...why are you looking at me like that?)

But...I haven’t sealed myself off in a bubble.  Every now and then I check in on it.  And today, just to check in and see what is happening, I did a Google search on “Hugo Awards,” and came across this article in The Guardian.

And I saw RED.
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Update: Just took a deep breath, decided "what the hell," and read the list of winners, and...

Oh, thank God, they didn't blow it up this year.

There's a long way to go to undo the damage, but not throwing authors under the bus left, right, and centre is a good place to start.
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Robert B. Marks
Date: 2016-07-17 11:55
Subject: An open letter to Microsoft about Windows 10
Security: Public
Location:In my chair
Tags:business, microsoft, open letter, windows 10

“Money isn’t as important to our organization as knowing who to trust.”

– Mr. White, Casino Royale

Dear Microsoft,

I’ve been using your operating systems for a long time. My first was MS DOS 3.2, back when I was a teenager. I remember Windows 3.1, and even Windows 3.0. While the rest of the world was using Windows 95 and 98, I was running my critical applications on Windows NT 3.51 and 4.0 (my father owning a computer company at the time had its benefits).

And, we really need to talk about Windows 10.

Over the last year, both my desktop – on which I run my business and do my professional work – and my laptop have needed to be replaced. They were showing their age, and they were both due. But whereas a couple of years ago, replacing them would be easy, today it is considerably less so.

You see, today I have to find a way to avoid Windows 10.

I managed it – the new desktop runs Windows 8.1, while the new laptop runs Windows 7 Professional Edition – but it wasn’t easy. Staples, one of my usual office electronics sources, even lost a sale from it – they had a Windows 10 machine that met my needs, but the more I learned about Windows 10, the less I liked it, and they had no Windows 7 or 8.1 machines.

So let’s talk about why I’m avoiding Windows 10 like the Black Death.

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Robert B. Marks
Date: 2015-10-02 00:54
Subject: Fisking Peeple...
Security: Public
Location:In my chair
Tags:fisking, peeple
I don’t usually do this – in fact, this may be my first time – but in this case, I can’t resist.  For those who are unaware, Peeple is an app supposedly launching in November that allows users to rate other people they know...and before they supposedly changed it, without the consent of the person being reviewed.  In the wake of the massive (and well-deserved) backlash, the CEO posted an update at the top of the company’s webpage.

Well, I generally won’t join laying on the hate, but this message was too damn much.  I’m fisking it.  In fact, this is the first time I have EVER felt the need to fisk anything!

So here we go...

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Robert B. Marks
Date: 2015-09-29 15:14
Subject: Fooling Garwulf #13 is now up at The Escapist!
Security: Public
Location:In my chair
Tags:fooling garwulf, magic, penn and teller fool us
The penultimate installment of Fooling Garwulf is now up at the Escapist!  This week, we review last night's episode, and take a look at the long and fascinating history between magicians and card sharps...
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Robert B. Marks
Date: 2015-09-25 10:17
Subject: An open letter to the makers of South Park regarding the misrepresentation of Canada
Security: Public
Location:In my chair
Tags:south park
Dear Matt and Trey,

I have been a Canadian fan of your show since its first season, but I cannot remain silent after this most recent episode’s blatant misrepresentation of our great country and culture.

First, Canada does not have a President.  It has a Prime Minister, who is not elected but appointed by the Prince of Canada, and anointed with the sacred maple syrup upon his inauguration.

Second, Canadians do not play music at a designated time every day.  Instead, we engage in an interpretive dance recalling the founding of our great country and the awesomeness of our glorious Inuit, and the wonders of their laser eyes.

Third, no Canadian could ever bring him or herself to live in a simple house.  Our culture forbids the use of dwellings that do not at least bear a resemblance to an igloo.  Any Canadian family in the United States would be required by our cultural heritage to have their house rebuilt into the shape of an igloo.

Fourth, Canadians would never build a concrete wall preventing Americans from entering our great country.  We would make it out of ice, with igloo decorations.

Fifth, for all your talk of the really cool things in Canada, you have shown none of them throughout the entire run of your series.  How can you not show our annual Running of the Polar Bears?  Yes, it has been condemned by the United Nations as being inhumane to every living thing involved, but Canada could not truly be Canada without it.  How can you present our glorious Inuit without their laser eyes?  And how can you, in good conscience, continue to depict our cities as boring and dull – like your American cities – and without their many igloo skyscrapers, igloo shopping malls, and igloo cathedrals?

Shame on you, Matt and Trey.  Shame.  If you must continue to present Canada on screen to your viewers, please make at least some effort to be accurate.
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Robert B. Marks
Date: 2015-09-22 15:12
Subject: Fooling Garwulf #12 is now up at The Escapist
Security: Public
Location:In my chair
Tags:fooling garwulf, magic, penn & teller fool us, the escapist
And the new Fooling Garwulf is now up at The Escapist.  This week, we review last night's episode and take a look at the holy grail of magic...
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Robert B. Marks
Date: 2015-09-18 11:21
Subject: Garwulf's Corner #14: Emails from the Edge - Forum Post HARDER!
Security: Public
Location:In my chair
Tags:garwulf's corner, the escapist
And, before I forget (again), the new Garwulf's Corner is up at The Escapist...and this week, we take a look at the last few months of reader posts...
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Robert B. Marks
Date: 2015-09-18 11:15
Subject: An open letter to Bob “Moviebob” Chipman (along with everybody else who has received similar news)
Security: Public
Location:In my chair
Tags:life, moviebob
Dear Bob,

I’ve been a fan of your work for some time, and I read your recent news with great sympathy.  I know all too well what it’s like to receive life-changing news from your doctor – it has happened to me too.

I’m not going to provide unsolicited advice – frankly, I’m not qualified, and even if I was, from the sounds of it you’ve already got really good people advising and guiding you through it.  But, I will tell you a bit about my own experiences.

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