Lion+Sonny ear

I just won NaNoWriMo 2013

So, for those who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, it is a challenge to write a novel in one month. The National Novel Writing Month is held each year in November with the goal to write 50000 words. With 450 to 700 words per page (depending on style and white lines), that means writing 71 to 110 in a single month. For me, the required 1667 words per day take about two hours to write.

I have been participating in this competition since 2009, getting as close to 10000 words at most. This year, I made it.



It has been one trying month, but it has also been easier than previous years. I wrote a fanfic of Naruto. This gave me a large cast of characters and settings, as well as a plot to loosely follow. Not to mention that I am a huge Naruto fan so it was very easy to get me enthusiastic about writing my story and thinking about it.

Still, the last month I’ve barely had any free time to do anything other than write. In the train and bus I wrote on my iPod. On trainstations where it was too cold to write, I was thinking about my plot. When I got home I turned on my laptop and started writing. When I watched television or played a game, it made me feel guilty that I had not written as much as I had.

On Friday evening I got home just before midnight. Boyfrien01 was amazing and provided me everything I needed. He made sure there was a red bull in my hand whenever I needed, snacks within reach, and no distractions to keep me from writing. We went on until 5 am. He had dosed off on the couch and I woke him up so he could see me push the 50 thousand words. It was exhausting and there were times when I thought I would not make it.

But yeah, it has been worth it.

I have almost a novel now. It actually is not finished and I am not at all satisfied with the quality most of the time. But the groundwork is there. Finishing it does not seem like the impossible task that it seemed a month ago. Especially now that I know that when I really want to, I can force myself to write in bulk.

My fanfic is classified as a Peggy Sue fanfic. It means that I have one of the main characters go back in time to the start of the story, having the skills and strength they have at the end of it. I had read a few of them recently and wanted to try my hand at it.

Naruto is the story of a boy called Naruto who gets a demon trapped inside of him, lives in a village of ninja, and wants nothing more than to become the leader of the village so that everyone will acknowledge him. He becomes a ninja in the first episode and gets placed in a team with a boy called Sasuke and a girl called Sakura. Sasuke’s family got killed while he was little and all he cares about is getting revenge. Sakura is a girl, whom we get told is kind of good at some things, possibly.

In my story, thirty years after the bad guy gets defeated, all has gone to hell. In an apocalypse-like world, both Naruto and Sakura have died and Sasuke is the only one who remains. Sasuke uses this forbidden jutsu (read: magic) to go back in time. He makes sure to become friends with his team mates much more quickly and makes them train a whole lot harder.

For those interested. I have a small excerpt under the fold.

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Lion+Sonny ear

What I’m currently doing

So, you have probably noticed that I am not blogging that much. On the one hand this is because I have been busy and all kinds of activities are taking up my time, on the other it is because most of those activities are fairly routine and there’s nothing really interesting to blog about. With that said, I just want to talk a little about the kind of things I am currently doing. Like I said, I am a busy man, so there's quite a wall of text coming. You can find it all below the fold.
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Lion+Sonny ear

The Xbox One has been revealed

So, recently Microsoft announced their new console. Which is awesome, since it's the last announcement we were waiting for. First the Wii came out with the Wii-U, which has even been released... I think? I'm not really sure since I do not know anyone who bought a console, nor know of any games worth playing on it. Then Sony came with their announcement of the Playstation 4, which will be replacing the Playstation 3. Except, we will have to wait until E3, the big gaming conference, to hear any more about that. Now, it was Microsoft's turn to announce what will be replacing the Xbox 360.

I am very sorry, but it is complaining time.

The name
There are two issues I am greatly annoyed with. The first, is the name. The third Xbox will be called the Xbox One. This might sound a little harmless, but it is part of a larger annoying trend. Games in general are being rebooted multiple times without numbers behind them. Which means the name of the game is not unique, which means talking about the game becomes very annoying. And it is much easier to think about games and systems numerically, than remembering individual names. As a small protest, I will henceforth refer to it as the Xbox Three.

Backwards compatibility
Secondly, there will be no backwards compatibility. Consoles have been slowly getting rid of the ability to run older games. This is slightly unavoidable. The PC games I bought in 1995 will not work on Windows 7 or 8, because the operating system is more efficient. Old games relied on old operating software to run it. Basically, compare an old computer game with a home-made cookbook. Sometimes, it will refer to pages on other cookbooks. But now, you've gotten rid of all your cookbooks and only have an iPad with all the recipes. Much handier, but you're stuck with a reference to a page of a book you don't own any more.

But, consoles are not PCs. And their functions are different. We buy a PC to do many, many things. Therefore, there are many, many PCs that specialise in doing different things better. Ease of use and great creative software? Get a Mac. Great graphics and ease of networking? Get a PC. Want full customizability? Get Linux. Consoles only have one function: they need to be able to run their games.

I have a bookcase full of games. I need machines to run those games. Consoles are a tool I use. Can you imagine a Hammer Next Generation being released in stores, which, stated in small print, can not actually hammer in nails, but that's okay because it works super well on Nails Next Generation. That 500 dollar stash of nails you have in your garage? Just throw them out. They're inferior anyway to the Nails Next Generation. Those old nails can only hold two boards together for 50 years, before they rust. But, Nails Next Generation can hold boards together for 55 years! Totally worth getting your whole inventory replaced.

Now, I compare games with nails, but that is not fair. Games are more like movies, or books. They are each individual creations that cannot be replaced. In that sense, I often think about how we have gone from VCR to DVD. The old movies have been upgraded and are stored on a disk that shows it to you with the same quality the first time you watch it and the twentieth time you watch it. We did not need a VCR player any more because we were very glad to buy all our favourite movies on DVD. And, just like you can enjoy the movie Snow White 60 years after it was created, I can still easily like the games that were created 10 years ago. Some of my favourite games are on the Playstation 2.

In short, like Yahtzee recently discussed, if I get an Xbox Three of a Playstation 4 I am not upgrading. It is an extra machine that I have to put next to my television, because I cannot get rid of the old one. And for the next generation of consoles, that means it is not only competing with other new generation consoles, but also with the previous generation. So, until Xbox Three has a library of 952 games, I'll just stick with the console that I already have.
Lion+Sonny ear

Awesome Math algebra!

Some things you hate the first time you see them and you know about it. Other things you hate without really knowing why. The ABC formula was the latter for me. Because it is an ugly specific solution to a general problem. The ABC formula determines the answer when your quadratic problem equals 0. It looks like this:



Well, isn’t that just completely logical, Mr. WriterBen01? You have a problem, and there’s a Mathemetical solution. The problem is, that when students are first introduced with these problems, they are given a much easier way to solve the problem… which is then abandoned in favour of the mentioned formula.
Can I just tell you that formula is completely unnecessary? You can solve these problems with the same algebra you already know.  Do you remember factorizing? Do you remember the special case of factorization, where you can square the answer? What if I tell you that you can solve every single quadratic formula using the above method? But Mr WriterBen01, I hear you complain, square factorization has a very limited use. You cannot use it on some formula.

Here is where the Math teachers lied to you. Here is when they wanted you to start using the ABC formula instead of actually teaching you what to do with the algebra skills they had been teaching you.  They call it completing the square.

And it is amazing.

However, livejournal does not support Word's Mathemetical notation. Please read the rest of this article here.

For the less Math-inclined readers, I should warn you that I am also working on a post about ball throwing that includes at least as much, if not more, algebra than this post. But I will try to be gentle.
Lion+Sonny ear

Representation of queer people in media

I've been working on a small post talking about gay people in media, which will probably be posted in a couple of days. Meanwhile, I want to link to an open letter to Jensen Ackles, written by a queer teenage girl. Jean Ackles plays Dean Winchester in Supernatural, a show where it is often implied that the character is bisexual. But fans who want to ask questions about it are shut down by the actor. He has stated, at the very least, that he would be uncomfortable being in a romance with another guy. So this fan explains why she feels so strongly about representation. What it was like for her to grow up as a queer girl. It is really amazing and I recommend you read the whole article.

Mr. Ackles, let me tell you a story.

Pretend that you are a queer teenage girl. (I know this is difficult for you. I know you find this ridiculous. Do it anyways, please.) You have spent your entire life looking for media that has you in it.

You look through every movie list, every book review, you watch and you read and you try to find a character like you.

And you don’t. For a very, very long time you don’t.

And when you do, you wish you hadn’t. Because what you find is a hatred for what you are- a limiting of what you can be.

You find tv shows where you die for being the way you are.

You find movies where you’re evil for being the way you are.

You find books where you’re evil, and dead for being the way you are.

You can’t turn on the tv and see yourself. Sometimes, when you’re lucky, you find a tv show where you don’t die; but your character revolves around that one trait, and you suffer for it. It’s a stereotype of you, nearly dead but not, and that’s the best you’ve got. I repeat: the closest thing to you you get to see, is ashamed of being like you. They are a stereotype. They are afterschool specials. This is what you are given. This is what you get to aspire to be: not a hero, not even a person. A poorly written stereotype that lives in fear. 

That’s it.

And then, one day, you turn on the tv and you find a character like you.

Read more

Lion+Sonny ear

Claims of homeopathic remedies

Recently, since July 1st 2012, laws were enforced in the Netherlands that made it illegal for homeopathic substances to make health claims on their packaging. This means that something like Echinaforce can no longer be packaged claiming it helps against the common cold. It means that from now on all the packaging of all homeopathic substances will just contain a weird name and nothing more. Actually, the laws already existed. It is just that claims on homeopathic substances were tolerated. Well, no longer.

At first, this might seem like a limitation of customer choice. After all, how can they make an informed decision if homeopaths are no longer allowed to describe what their products do? Does the government expect customers to just buy all the products and figure it out by trial and error?

This sentiment is understandable. Homeopathy follows slightly different rules than normal medicine, and its value was determined in a different way. A homeopath knows all about the human body and about energy flows and about how natural remedies can cure you. The only reason science has not caught up is because pharmaceutical companies are holding scientists back. Now you want to silence these brave homeopaths as well?

Well, the problem is, most of what I have written in my previous paragraph is complete crap.

There have been studies on alternative medicine. Pharmaceutical companies are not holding anyone back, and can even encourage research. They would love to find out that cranberries heal urinal infections; cranberries are a lot cheaper to fabricate than antibiotics. The problem is not that these studies are not being done. The problem is that the studies show that homeopathy is no more effective than a placebo.

When you give somebody a pill and tell them it will make them feel better, their minds will believe it and they will feel better. This is called the placebo effect. When you take a homeopathic drug and you are told it will make you feel better, it will make you feel better. If you are given a sugar pill (which is a lot cheaper), it will make you feel just as good as if you had been given a homeopathic cure.

When skeptics say that homeopathy does not work, that is what we mean. You can tell us how you felt better after some crème, or felt much more energetic after taking Aloe Vera, or how your muscles have not been as sore since you started taking a local homeopathic substance, but it is all irrelevant. Because the placebo effect is strong. And when you tell us these anecdotes, there is no way to know if you would have felt just as good if you had been given a simple placebo.

That is why we do scientific tests in the first place. We take a whole lot of randomly chosen people, and either give them the real drug or the placebo. We measure how much better the people feel who get the drug, compared to people who got the placebo. That is how we know that substances work. That is why I will ignore a hundred people telling me some homeopathic substance changed their lives, if there have been studies that show no effect. And I will tell every single one “Isn’t the placebo effect amazing?”

Homeopaths have no special insights into the workings of human bodies. Like most alternative medicines, they make a guess and then use philosophy to support their assertions. Homeopaths guessed that 'like cures like' and diluting a substance makes it more powerful. They will cure Arsenic poisoning with arsenic, will cure dehydration with salt and will cure water intoxication with water. They will take something that causes your symptoms, put it in water, dilute it until nothing remains but water, and then sell it to you for a lot more than water costs. Does this sound ridiculous yet? Cause it should.

In the Netherlands there are other substances that call themselves homeopathic. Homeopathy has become the catch-all name for both real homeopathy and also phytotherapy; using herbs to cure diseases, which is why it also referred to as herbology. That does not sound so ridiculous. We know that a plant, like aspirin, can affect our health. So what is the problem? Traditional phytotherapy made assumptions about which plants would cure which diseases. Modern medicine examined all the assumptions and started fabricating drugs when the plants worked, and dismissed the assumptions when they didn’t. Since all working herbology has been taken over by modern medicine, phytotherapy is left with all the disproven bits. All the guesses they made that turned out to be wrong, but which their doctrines say should still be right.

Alternative medicines guess. That is why every box of homeopathic substances has a little disclaimer saying the substance has not been scientifically proven to work. Science is the method we use to determine which theories are true in the real world. That means that if something has not been scientifically proven to work, that it probably does not work in the real work. It was merely a guess.

This might sound a bit high and mighty, but there are no other ways than science to find out if something is true. It is, however, a truth out of definition. That is, we define science to include all methods that are useable to get to the truth. Science does not play favorites. As long as you are earnestly searching for truth, you are welcomed with open arms.

We do not exclude the homeopath’s way of doing things because they do not adhere to some formal requirement that is required to be called a science. We exclude them because they are not interested in the truth. We exclude them because they want to keep their tests vague enough so they can keep claiming homeopathy works. When we tell them why their results are unreliable, they agree to more tests, only to claim later that failure results of the restrictions put on them. Like a magician blaming the particular make of a hat when he is unable to conjure a rabbit out of it as he had done out of his own hat.

If you walked into a pharmacy about a year ago, you would be able to see all the homeopathic substances and they would all be claiming health benefits of some kind. Take this one for stress, this one if you’re having trouble sleeping, this one if you’re feeling sad. There was the implication that the homeopath knew what he was doing. That there was some ancient wisdom that claimed this substance did what they were telling you it did. But no, they were just guesses. And your guess is as good as theirs. Feel free to still buy all of the substances and try them out one by one, guessing which, if any, helps you with your problems. It would be a guess, but your guess is as good as theirs.

That is why I am so happy with this decision. Because I do not like untrained people making guesses about my health. Because I value the truth in medicine and in life. Because to me it matters whether the drugs I am spending a lot of money on actually work. Because I do not like being conned.

I am happy, because the Netherlands became a little bit more rational last year. Let’s keep it that way and not sign crazy petitions.
Lion+Sonny ear

Choir performance - 2nd edition

So, been a while since I last talked about the choir I've joined with Boyfriend01 and Mother01. Not because we haven't been that busy, but more because we have been enjoying ourselves in quiet.

Well the quiet stops here and is replaced with bragging :3 cause we sing awesomely.

Last Saterday we were at a festival for choirs and Father01 was kind enough to video it all. For your pleasure, the songs are added below the fold.

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Lion+Sonny ear

How #50shadesofgrey would not suck - About #TheBoss

So, I have talked before about why I do not like 50 shades. The book is a form of creative plagiarism, taking the characters and plot of Twilight and using it to make money that does not ethnically belong to the author. The book features BDSM as if it is an illness[1], it has a female protagonist that never seriously sticks up for herself[2], and a male abusive ‘love’ interest that is anything but desirable[3]. If you are tempted to read 50 shades of grey, I highly recommend you go read something better.

And I know just the thing.

Jenny Trout was in the progress of recapping 50 shades of grey, when she had a startling epiphany. She had always thought that writing a feminist romance novel would be impossible. Fifty shades made her realize it was possible. All she had to do was the exact opposite that these books were doing!

And so The Boss was born. It is a book in the same genre of Fifty Shades of Grey with one crucial difference. It will be awesome. I am very serious when I say you do not want to miss out on this book. It comes out in 5 days and will be available here. Did I mention that it is going to be 100% free?

Sophie Scaife almost ran away once, trading her ticket to college for a ticket to Tokyo. But a delayed flight and one incredibly hot night with a stranger changed her mind, putting her firmly on track to a degree and a career at a New York fashion magazine.

Six years later, she’s shocked to find that irresistible stranger is now her boss, billionaire Neil Elwood. And Sophie can’t stop thinking about their one amazing night.

But Neil has eccentric tastes, and he wants to be sure Sophie can handle them. Sophie will have to prove she’s his match both at work and at play, and surrender to her Master’s every erotic whim.

Torn between their professional duties and their sensual desires, Sophie and Neil embark on a journey into their darkest sexual fantasies. But when Sophie gets the chance of a lifetime, will she follow her dreams, or her heart?

As a person on Jenny’s personal street team, I got to read the first chapter a little early. It is fast-paced, well written and has its adult moments right from the bat. I could write about the awesomeness all day, but instead just urge you to read it for yourself when it comes out for free in just five days.

thebossbloggraphic

[1] Christian’s obsession with BDSM is ‘cured’ by Ana’s love. Also, it is frequently implied that it is impossible for a master to love a sub.

[2] She feels guilty when Christian gets mad for no good reason, she lets him get away when he says how much he loves her, whenever she wants something to happen he makes sure to manipulate events so they still suit his needs.

[3] Ana is often afraid of what Christian will do, he never accepts her limits or wishes and treats his staff horribly.

Lion+Sonny ear

The one hour rule

I grew up in a household of four children. My older brother and sister were big gamers like me, and my little sister gamed a little less, depending on the games and her age; like me, the older she got the more she got into gaming.

We each contributed to the family gaming pool. When my brother got the Sega and the Nintendo 64, we would buy our own games and play it on the console. I think it was also my brother who got the playstation 2, but I brought in the Gamecube and later the Wii. I was also the one who eventually bought the playstation 3 and a flat screen television to fully enjoy the HD quality. Not that the original purchaser was that important; we’d often buy games together or our parents would pitch in as well.

As you can imagine, we often had disagreements about who got to do what. We had the same taste in games most of the time, and we only got a new game into the family pool every few weeks or so. We would all want to play the new game, but there would only be one copy of it. And if one person got too far ahead of the others, it would spoil the experience for the others.

Now, I am not quite sure how normal households would fix this. Perhaps have the person who bought the game play it until he’s finished, and then pass it on or something. Yeah, that is not how we did it.

We had a ‘one hour rule’ in our household. If you wanted to play on a console, you’d ask the person who was currently playing if you could play after him. We would grab a small alarm clock, put it for an hour, and then we would be able to play once the time was over. If you were playing any game, you were secure in the knowledge that you would always be able to play for another hour before having to stop.

When we got new games, we would watch the others play. The first person would spend an hour learning the story and solving puzzles. The second person could skip all the story and solve puzzles instantly, usually taking only 20 minutes before getting to content he or she would be unfamiliar with. Which meant 40 minutes of new stuff, which the third player could use to more quickly go through his own game.

It also forced me to really enjoy my games, cause I would usually only get an hour of play time with it, before having to switch to another console. When there were no new games, we would usually cycle the three consoles with each other. After an hour of playtime, I would stop playing on the PC and go to the playstation, my sister would go to the xbox, and my brother would go to the PC. Pretty straightforward.

The huge advantage was that we almost never fought over who got to play on a certain console. But yeah, my first instinct to others wanting to play on my things is always to tell them to come back in an hour. Which sounds a bit rude without all this context.

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