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Trope Tuesday Psycho Killers Edition

Welcome, welcome to a Trope Tuesday of fear and horror. It’s very CUTTING edge. You might even say its… positively SLICING! Ok not really, but we are going to deal with those evil genius’ employ slashers. Or as I like to call them – idiots. It’s just a trope we have a bit of a problem with – that of well perhaps it’s not good to hire psycho killers? I mean sure there’s times the labor market for minions must be terrible, I mean how else do the little yellow things get jobs? But, really, whether you’re a bond villain in training or just like making plans within plans within plans, here’s three other reasons villainous employers should stray away from hiring psycho-killers!

 

Reason 1: Not “Waking Up” Dead?

 

Anyone else recall that scene in Batman where Heath Ledger’s Joker decides to off a fellow criminal with a pencil? Yeah, just might be a tad advisable to not have such a psycho in the office when layoffs are announced. I mean sure, some HR handbooks may not have a no stabbing at work rule but it tends to be assumed. So it just might pay to not hire said psycho killers for your run of the mill security for example – but giving away where you live to them is just plain a bad idea. If it suits them – THEY WILL TURN ON YOU

 

Not recommended for office parties

Sure your office parties will be unforgettable with pin the knife on the… WHAT THE HECK I’M ALL BLOODY!

 

Trust us the liability is a nightmare!

 

Reason 2: Try Ordering Them Around

 

Yeah, so turns out if you run a criminal enterprise, or even a nice front office you kinda need a certain sense of discipline and hierarchy. All of which, at least from fiction, tends not to work out so well with psycho killers. Can you imagine trying to order Jason to go make a fax to your only customer off in the woods so technophobic they use a fax machine? Look, let’s just say repeat business is uhh unlikely at best. This even works with the more run of the mill psycho mercenaries – sure they are cheap but the gist of any operation is followed orders. I mean presumably smuggled alien weapons are valuable so it does pay to make sure your smuggling them to the right address? As we said in Reson 1 – THEY WILL TURN ON YOU. If it suits them, psycho killers will have no qualms using the alien weapons to comically blow up your base and then sell them to the highest bidder.

Not the best Customer Service Agent

Again, counterpoint we’re sure murder artist Jack is awesome as a drinking buddy when, y’know, he’s not ripping you apart with knives while preaching about the depravity of mankind. But, again, he needs to take direction.

 

Reason 3: Turnover is Atrocious!

 

So let’s say you’ve found a use for your pet psychopath as an independent contractor who somehow needs you, can follow directions, and won’t turn on you. Great, but assuming you’re an aspiring villain you still have a problem. Its called turnover and finding another one if when they get murdered or an inconvenient hero takes them out. Which runs you by the first two all over again.

 

In short well, we think, maybe, just perhaps, it’s not such a good idea for fictional villains to keep hiring psycho killers? Maybe instead of these faceless yet terrifying psycho killers a much more nuanced character is better. Not just for the above reasons but to make things somewhat more interesting?

 

Just a thought!

Sci-fi Chosen Ones

This week for Trope Tuesday is part two of our special on the Chosen One trope. This time were giving a particular focus on its Sci-Fi flavor. Strap in and prepare to gulp the hate-er-aide as this blogger showcases his anger at the trope. As you might recall from part 1 [LINK] we dislike this trope in fantasy. When it comes to Sci-Fi however, the trope can acquire an very special stupidity. Screen Doors on Submarines just do not compare. Here’s three reasons why the Chosen One Trope is downright silly in Sci-Fi!

Sci-Fi and Prophecy Don’t Always Mix Well

A lot of the Chosen One tropes from Wheel of Time to Sword of Truth rely on a prophecy to justify themselves. You could say that it’s the mainstay of the trope. But in SCIENCE fiction, given the focus on science, it does not seem to mesh that well, perhaps due to differing world outlooks. Fantasy accepts the mystical while sci-fi tends to take the nuts and bolts approach. The idea that reality, and everything that occurs, is something that we can understand eventually even if we do not currently. For example, even when prophecy occurred in Dune, one of the most iconic sci-fi in literature, the reason was a currently unknown science involving an extensive breeding program of the Bene Gesserit. Thus, making its Chosen One a product of science.

Likewise other aspects such as magical swords, birthrights just do not mesh as well with Sci-Fi. Sure there’s the present psychic power type things, but magic powers as magic just don’t mesh as well. Its fairly tone jarring to be reading about the g’s of acceleration a space fighter can pull followed by chanting some words to make your missiles glow?

We’re not saying that science fantasy or “slipstream” (the blending of sci-fi and fantasy elements) can’t work. We’re just saying that it’s not always going to work. You’re taking two fundamentally different types of mechanics and plopping them into the same world. This blending is something that takes the utmost skill – not something everyone can accomplish.

2) Interstellar Empires Are Infinitely More Complicated

A curious bit of trivia is that the math of statistics to a degree came out of the idea of ‘numbers governments are interested in. Owing to the millions living under their increasingly centralized regimes, governments hired mathematicians such as John Graunt to serve as demographers. The need to raise taxes lead to a renewal of census counts in the West, and as conflicts grew larger via mass conscription generals needed war planners and General Staffs. This lead to statistics regarding resource management (food, oil, steel, etc.), and then was applied to the populace via crime statistics, opinion polling, environmental impact statements on and on and on and… are you bored yet? Well me too! Let’s figure out what the heck this has to do with the “Chosen One” trope!

Basically, there’s no reason to suspect the future won’t be any different. Space empires are still going to need data. The thing is,well, that makes the whole space royalty ruling an empire a touch on the harder side. It’s difficult today, on a global scale, to make well informed decisions or policies. With the possible exception of the very broad strokes, there’s no way a single throne could adequately rule and intergalactic empire. Without a an insane number of local governments, nothing could get done. And the sheer amount of data coming in would overwhelm even the most die hard policy wonk. More likely you’d have a council that knew various policy aspects and regions very well and then coordinated with others who did the same. Think of the senate only, you know, functional. So the heroic, autocratic, leadership we expect from the romanticized Chosen One narrative becomes that much more dubious. Beyond that, the sheer scale makes it even more difficult to bring to reality. Not only is it likely that not all regions would follow one absolute monarch, but the chances of reformers being able to conceive of how beneficial reforms on such a grand scale is a little bit trickier. The needs of a peaceful agrarian state pale in comparison to that of a might interstellar empire!

3) A Number Of Heroic Efforts By Necessity Become Team Efforts.

As tasks get more and more complicated in general the larger a team is required. Technology advances making a number of the underlying tasks more complex and harder to understand. So they get broken down into bits. Bits requiring a team to manage. Take a gander at modern day programming for a good example. It used to be you just needed two or three coders to make an interesting product. I mean, freaking google was made in a garage! Now, however, if you wanted to create an app for mobile, you need a mobile dev, a front end dev or two, a back end dev or two, a leader and so on. The roles are more diverse and specialized.

So if your heroically leading a space war and your not having this factor accounted for, say by being superhuman, it can be kinda jarring. For example, Warhammar 40K does this by having the Emperor be superhuman. Yet his successor wasn’t a man but a council that devolved into horrendous bureaucracy with most of humanity living in squalor because, simply, it’s too big to handle.

In short, for the reasons above, and the reasons given in our fantasy variant, we feel the Chosen One Trope just isnt very well suited to Sci-Fi or story telling. In addition to spiking the blood pressure of our blogger when he sees it. With all sorts of new and more advanced technology it would seem to promote a team environment that saves the world or galaxy or what not and not just a single individual. Perhaps a crew. Headed by a Captain. Of some sort of starship on a Trek… through the stars. 😉

Technical Thursday Mobile Phones

That’s right boys and girls and my Aunt George, time for Technically Thursday where we technically get technical about technical things because technically we’re supposed to talk about things that are technical. Technically speaking.

What could be more technical than bum ba da dum, MOBILE PHONES!

What about mobile phones? Oh, I don’t know, perhaps the tiny little tricks they do to you to force you to spend WAY more than you should and buy phones a LOT more rapidly than we need. So in this special three part blog, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty about tricks you need to be wise to when buying a smartphone.

If It Doesn’t Have Removable Storage IT’S A SCAM!

SOURCE: HOW TO GEEK

LINK

That’s right kiddos, that iPhone you bought last season? In fact, every iPhone EVER PRODUCED, is a total scam. Why? Because there’s no removable storage. “But Mr. Blog Man,” you ask, “I love my iPhone and it works just fine! How can it be a scam?” Well, let me ask what level of storage did you buy with it? If you even thought about the different options YOU WERE SCAMMED!

Not to get all Mr. Economic Theory on you but… I’m going to get all Mr. Economic Theory on you. There’s a little known thing called PRICE DISCRIMINATION. And no, I don’t mean people charging you different prices as a means to discriminate against you, though that does happen and this is almost as bad. What the economic term Price Discrimination really means is that different people get charged different prices based on what they can afford and what the object their buying is worth to them. Because, let’s face it, my collection of overpriced Star Trek memorabilia is going to be a LOT more valuable to me than to some sub-human Star Wars fan. JK GUYS! I LOVE WARS TOO! Please don’t kill me, light sabers are scary…

Point is, different people are willing to pay different prices for different things. So when a company sets a price, everyone who’s willing to pay more for that price effectively gets a deal. So if I’m willing to pay $400 for an iPhone but the price is $300, I might as well have gotten a $100 coupon. Phone companies, know this and want to sell me a phone for the $400 I’m willing pay. But if they up the price, THEY LOSE MONEY!

This is because everyone for whom the phone is worth only $300 and no more won’t buy the phone. So no matter what the smartphone companies are going to lose money either by raising the price and losing customers or lowering the price and not charging more to those who’d be willing to pay more… or are they?

Rather than do the fair and moral thing by just charging a flat fee to everyone, the smart phone companies get, well, smart. They find ways to Price Discriminate and charge different people different prices.

How do they do this you may ask? Well there’s many different ways to do this but the way smart phone companies (and most corporations BTW) do this is by finding ways to make the same product SEEM different when they’re really selling you the same damn thing. How does Apple and some other smartphone companies do this? By making the phone incompatible with removable storage devices like microSD cards they’re able to sell “different” phones that have slightly different storage options.

“Well sure Mr. Blog Man,” you may say, “they’ve got to charge more for the higher storage capacity.” Do they do? DO THEY?! What they don’t tell you is that it costs them almost nothing to increase the storage. Using the storage options of the current iPhone you see that the difference between the 128 GB version of the iPhone and 256 GB version is $100! But if you compare the price of a 128 GB USB stick and a 256 GB USB stick is only $17.01! Thats nearly SIX TIMES the price for the same storage in your phone. And that’s from the retail value of the USB sticks, not what it actually costs them to make the larger storage.

So, aside from what amounts to a very slight change, they’re basically charging you $100 more for the same phone. Why? Because then they can price discriminate and charge those who are willing to pay more more and those who aren’t, less.

Welcome to the abuses of uncompetitive industries.

Moral of the story? Don’t buy a phone that doesn’t have expandable storage! Not only does it limit your options and flexibility but it’s an outright scheme to SCREW YOU.

Alright kiddos, we’re not done yet! Stay tuned for our next Technical Thursday where we go from tricks “the man” uses to screw you out of your hard earned cash to how you can change your smartphone buying habits to ACTUALLY SAVE LIVES!