Reasons Why You’re an Idiot: Gettin’ Mad on the Internet

Anger is an addiction. Righteous indignation is a disease. This is how I came to see my own online behavior as I got into comment slapfights and fell for endless streams of rage-inciting clickbait. Rage is a poison in the brain, an infectious one that poisons the air around you, like smoking. Isn’t it about time we all quit?

Imagine a dude bashing himself in the head with a laptop. You ask him why he’s doing that, and he says, “Because people on the other end are idiots!”

You point out, “But you’re the one smacking yourself in the head. If you keep doing that, you’re going to turn yourself into a jibbering idiot.”

He replies, “But I need to smack myself in the head. I keep trying to get information, and other people keep being wrong, so I need to smack myself to get their wrongness out of my head. There’s no other way, so I’m going to keep beating myself until other people stop being wrong.” And he turns his brain to jelly.

Do you see how ridiculous this is? Maybe you do, but you still don’t stop. Fine, we all get like that sometimes. Every one of us has to make a concerted effort to not keep poking at our sores. It’s there. It’s being sore. It’s maddening. And you don’t like it, so you keep poking it, but the only thing you’re accomplishing is making yourself more sore. You rub yourself so raw that even the tiniest grain of sand feels like a hot knife in the wound.

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Higher Poly Does Not Equal Betterer

I’ve been quiet the past few weeks due to a manic cycle in which I could not stop working on my latest obsession, 3D modeling. At some point I’m going to have a rant about how terrible Blender is to work with, but for the moment I have to rant about something else: the modding community’s confusion about what actually improves the look of models. I’ve seen people simply save original game textures at a larger size, call them higher resolution, and slap them up on a modding site for download. I’m not even going to be nice about this. Anyone who believes that improves anything is a moron. Resizing does not equal resampling. All that does is make the same level of pixelation take longer to load.

I’ve also run across tons of people who assume a higher poly model is going to look better, which is easier to understand because in most cases higher poly models do look better, when those extra polys are actually doing something to define the shape of the object. It’s not easy for people to spot models with a ton of superfluous vertices, because they’re not as obvious as pixels when viewing them outside a 3D modeling program. So, I’m going to show you:

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Your Writing Prompt Sucks

My experience with prompts comes from the Flash Fiction Thunderdome on Something Awful. A few years ago, myself and the other two Thunderdome founders looked at the story writing contests and flash fiction threads, all of which petered out due to lack of interest, and figured out to make a contest that didn’t suck. Part of it had to do with the prompts. Other contests had weakass prompts like, “the story must have a character named so-and-so and include a mattress.” How the hell is that supposed to inspire anyone? At best, someone comes up with a story, 100% on their own, and awkwardly tries to wedge in the stupid requirements to fit the contest. That shit is idiotic, and yet it pervades writing contests all over the web.

If you want to prompt someone to write a story rather than a weak scenario, then get to the heart of storytelling: motivation and conflict. Behind motivation and conflict are two questions: how and why. What, who, and where don’t matter as much. Even how isn’t as important as why. I’ve found the best prompts set a scenario and ask the writer to fill in the blanks about how and why it came to be.

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Wagner Spitzer Karikatur (Public Domain)

Great Literary Takedowns: Tolstoy vs. Wagner

I’m currently reading Tolstoy’s scathing indictment of aestheticism in What is Art, his views of which are unpopular to this day because he pretty much hates everything. I’ve been taking notes, so I’ll have more to say on the whole book later. However, I have to share his crotchety-old-man rant about Wagner, because it is hilarious. Tolstoy describes attending a performance of The Ring of Niebelung in 1898 like it was a terrible fever-dream. Here’s his reaction to Act I in all its TL;DR glory:

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How Clean Design Enhances Attention

I’ve agonized over building my own websites, only to come up with horrible designs. When it came to picking a WordPress theme for this blog, I understood something I didn’t quite get as an inexperienced designer: the more shit you cram onto a page, the more distracted your readers will be. I didn’t fully appreciate this until I bought a tablet, because the tablet provides a better environment for immersive reading than a PC ever has. For this reason, I chose a responsive design that has one column, focused on content, when reading from a mobile device. It’s a completely different reading experience compared to a desktop. Today I’m going to focus on how cleanly designed mobile apps have rescued deep reading.

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