Oh, Good Lord

I have three topics to write as essays, including:

  • How to Date a Ferrett
  • Why The Fact That I’m Right On Gay Marriage Doesn’t Necessarily Mean I’m Right On Gay Marriage
  • A WorldCon Report, Or: How I Attend Conventions

But I have no time or energy for this today, thanks to a busy workload, a visiting daughter, and a fantabulous coffee-date with Clarion 2011 grad Gillian Daniels later today.  All of which I am excited about.
But I want interaction, and so I shall do what authors do when they are bored:
Ask me a question in the comments and I will answer.  You can ask anything, and I’ll answer as truly as possible.  No questions barred.

The Toughest Game I Ever Played

So I picked up the new Deus Ex last night, which is a surprisingly punishing game. Get shot at for about three-quarters of a second, you’re dead.  Then, a long load screen. A better deal than most people getting shot at for three-quarters of a second, but still.
Then I encountered The Impossible Mission.On the third goddamned level.
See, you walk past two cops to infiltrate a base full of mean guys who have taken hostages.  Your goal: to gain control of the base.  And Deus Ex is famed for the flexibility of its missions, where you can go in guns blazing, sneak, or hacking. They even gave me a choice: do you want a real gun, or a tranquilizer dart?
Of course I chose the dart. I never like killing people if I can avoid it.
Except this mission offered me no choice.  I walked past the two cops, into a small hallway that made a right-hand turn – and there were three bad guys just standing there.  I tranqued the first one, who sagged like a sack of potatoes – but the second guy had full combat armor.  My darts bounced off his skull, and he shot me.  To death.
I tried tranq-darting him a couple of times, but no; his armor was invulnerable to my piddly darts. What kind of stupid fucking level design is this?  Give me a weapon that doesn’t work?
Maybe I’m supposed to sneak past. I investigated every corner of the run-up hallway for ducts to sneak through, hidden weapons to use.  Nothing.  My only option was to run into these three guys, all standing to face me, and get shot to fucking death.
Maybe if I ran past real fast… Nope.  Dead.  This reload screen sure is long.
After an hour, I pulled up a walkthrough. The walkthrough, stupidly, started after this trifecta death squad!  What the fuck?  I mean, the game’s only been out for two days, but you’d think someone would have provided hints as to how to get past these three beefcakes here. Who designed this fucking level?
Ninety minutes in, and a lot of screaming, I decided that maybe the invulnerable armored guys had a weak spot in back I was supposed to shoot – which seemed unfair on an early level, since they had their backs to the walls and were facing me, but still.  So I crouched to hide – well, as much as I could in full light – and crept, slowly, around the far wall to look at the guy’s backside.  Maybe there was a quick-kill option if you got within range.  But the AI on these guys was monstrously stupid – here I was, creeping past an unconscious dude seven feet away, and they don’t even look at me.
I get within arm’s reach, and…. a dialogue option appears. And light dawns over Marblehead:
These aren’t the bad guys.
They’re the second row of cops, there to escort me into the building.
Well, maybe they shouldn’t fucking shoot to kill the first time I tranquilize one of their guys. Or, you know, say “WHAT THE FUCK, CYBERPUNK” as they fire. Regardless, I realize the toughest mission in this game, the true unbeatable level, is the one where I decided to betray my covert organization on my first mission.
Well done, Steinmetz.  Well.  Done.

There Is No One True Pairing Eventually

As all good fans know, Archie and Veronica got married earlier this year.  Or Archie and Betty did.
I find this deeply unsatisfying.
The marriages took place in an Archie Comics Elseworlds – two parallel storylines that posit “What if?” and show what happens after Archie graduates high school and gets hooked up.  (The concept that Archie might, like most of us, disposed of most of his high school friends to find newer ones in college remains unexplored.  Once a cartoon friend, so always must it be; ask the Muppet Babies, who’ve been trapped in an incestuous circle since birth.)  Since the marriages – one for each set of fans – we’ve gotten to see what happens afterwards.
It’s not pretty.
It’s not terrible, mind you – they couldn’t place them in the Archie-vacuum of recycled storylines, with its terrible terrible secret.  (Since at least three new Archie stories have been published monthly since 1941, I calculate that Archie and friends have stopped by the Chok’lit shop at least two thousand times.  Assuming that they stop by once a day without fail, they have been going to the Chok’lit Shop for six years.  That’s right; Archie has been running for so long that the space-time continuum must be warped to contain the number of malteds drunk at the Chok’lit Shop – and given Riverdale’s continually sunny weather, most of those visits come in the spring and summer, at that.  If I had the time, I’d try to create a Unifying Timeline of Archiness.)
Anyway, this mean that after being married, they have to do something new – and that that something is soap opera.  So in the Veronica-world, Archie is miserable because he’s working for Lodge industries and has no sense of self – and in the Betty-world, Archie is a novice teacher and cannot control his class of students.  In neither marriage does he appear to be particularly happy.
It’s said that a happy ending only comes from where you choose to stop filming… And this is true.  What’s happening in Riverdale is doubtlessly a little overwrought (really? There’s a huge mining conspiracy against Lodge Industries, that roving reporter Reggie must ferret out?), but it’s not unreasonable.  But that’s not what I want.  I want Archie to marry Betty (for as we all know, Betty is the only OTP for Archie), and settle down, and have boring kids, and live together in a gloriously uneventful yet happy life.
But no.  If the camera is rolling, we must have conflict, so Archie has to deal with the specter of cheating on Betty thanks to a ridiculously overzealous lunch lady.  (Mercifully, not Mrs. Beazley.)  And so it is discovered, as we always must, that life is not happily ever after.
Fuck that.  Stop at the wedding, or maybe the reception.  After that, to misquote a famous quote, it’s happiness all the way down.  They don’t have adventures.  They don’t have conflict, or at least any significant ones.  Archie and Betty live a beautiful life untouched by psychodrama, perhaps not wealthy, but rich in love.
It’s all I want, man.

So You've Acquired A Ferrett Crush

You’re vivacious.  You’re clever.  You’re probably willing to discuss Planet of the Apes.  And when all of this combines in one person, the inevitability of acquiring a Ferrett-crush approaches nigh-inevitable.
…now what? What does one do when a Ferrett crushes on you?  Fortunately, there’s a FAQ for just such this endeavor!

How Do I Know I Have A Ferrett-Crush?

It’s generally pretty obvious; The Ferrett is heavily sapiosexual, so if he’s enthusiastic about you, chances are good that a crush is floating around somewhere.  He generally tries not to mention it, since such things often create an embarrassment to those who don’t understand what Ferrett-crushes mean – but occasionally he’ll let the crushee know if he thinks there’s a chance it might slip out at an even more awkward time.
(This is why The Ferrett generally does not drink heavily in public places any more; his willingness to reveal his crushes after a few drinks has led to embarrassing people he really likes, often in front of other people he’s hoping to impress.  Hence, he only really lets loose at parties compromised entirely of people who know just where they stand with him.)
If you’re not sure, and want to know, you can always ask him.

What Do I Do With A Ferrett-Crush?

Nothing.  Ferrett-crushes are expected to be non-reciprocal (as are Ferrett-friendships, but that’s probably another essay). The fact that The Ferrett thinks you are cute and swoon-worthy does not mean he plans to sweep you into bed, nor that he intends to do anything than ever just enjoy the hell out of your company. It simply means that if the opportunity ever arose, he would not mind getting all smoochy.
However, the chances of this happening ever even if that feeling’s reciprocated are slim to zero, since a) most of the people he crushes on are unavailable and he respects that, b) he has three partners and would have to get approval from any of them even if the other person was willing, and c) in many cases acting upon the crush might change the dynamic he enjoys so much.  He’d rather retain a friendship, so 99.4% of all crushes remain simply a fondness.
In fact, the reason that The Ferrett does not tell most people about his crushes is because of an unfortunate societal expectation that “a crush” means “you should act upon it” and “the other person should do something to acknowledge this crush.” Rather than trying to redefine society to suit his needs, he merely stays silent about the whole thing.
Do what you’ve been doing all along. Change nothing.  Your life will, in most circumstances, remain utterly unaltered by this wellspring of affection.

Why Does The Ferrett Crush So Frequently?  Is There Something Wrong With Him?

Probably. The Ferrett has a lot of enthusiasm for people, who he thinks are neat in general and awesome in specific, and that enthusiasm spills into his sapiosexuality.  Plus, The Ferrett has the minority viewpoint that sex does not equal love – it’s better if you have love involved (what isn’t?), but two people who are just friends and no more can have some quite satisfying entwinings.  The Ferrett’s view on sex has been compared to “a moister kind of handshake,” which is harsh but not entirely inaccurate.
As such, it’s rare that he walks away from a convention without at least one new crush.  Every one is special and unique.  But he does spend a lot of time swooning sometimes.  This is occasionally inconvenient.

Does The Ferrett Always Refer To Himself In Third Person Like This?

Only in FAQs.

Two Essays You All Should Read

TIME magazine has this really fascinating essay on the rise of autism, which posits that the increasing rate of autism/asperger’s is due to societal factors and simple evolution.  To wit:

  • In the 1970s, women began getting math and science degrees in record numbers;
  • Marriage patterns changed so that people started meeting potential mates at work or school;
  • People began choosing marriage partners for themselves based on similar temperaments and interests, as opposed to arranged marriages or societal matches;
  • In the 1990s, the dot-com rise enabled tons of people with high IQs and low social skills to become well-off;
  • Bam!  A higher rate of self-selected autistics.

I’m not sure about the association between “smart nerds” and “Asperger’s/autism,” but in a way it’s something I’ve considered for a time; people with Asperger’s aren’t necessarily dysfunctional, merely dysfunctional in a society made of non-Asperger’s people who have different needs.  And if it is true, then what we have is a society that’s self-selecting itself towards a subculture. Food for thought, anyway.
The full essay is here, but it’s behind a register-wall.  I’d suggest BugMeNot.
Tim O’Reilly then pointed me at this rather magnificent essay: Why Amazon Can’t Make A Kindle In The USA.  It’s all about how money-saving outsourcing to foreign countries has left us with without the expertise to build the next generation of technology.  Money quote: “Decades of outsourcing manufacturing have left U.S. industry without the means to invent the next generation of high-tech products that are key to rebuilding its economy.”