A "dog act" is jail term terminology .. the ultimate insult you can give somebody while you're inside. It's when you do and say something really low and cowardly against another person.
A dog act is addressing your six-page suicide note to your sister, dictating the next steps for her to take care of "all the particulars needed to be done" after you die from your own hand. Kind of makes her out to be complicit and feel like a murderer for the rest of her days on the planet.
A dog act is telling a person their feelings are not true or valid and heaping all of the family blame and shame on that person to make yourself feel better about your own darkness and your own shit.
A dog act is cooking and bringing food to another woman's husband and children while that woman is in a psychiatric facility for numerous mental health issues .. then wondering innocently while she gets so crazy down the track after uncovering deceit. Continually and repeatedly weaselling a way into that woman's family and bed. A dog act is befriending a person and sitting next to them offering support before she gives her first ever poetry performance, clapping and hugging but all the while with ulterior and shady motives, inappropriately talking about sex to gain information.
A dog act is punching your wife in the face while she's holding your young child and when they both fall to the floor, walking away and turning on the television in the next room. A dog act is saying nothing about it when your wife returns two weeks later after she runs out of money from staying in a hotel, wondering what the hell to do.
A dog act is telling a person their entire existence and role in a family unit for fifteen long years means nothing, that she deserves nothing, that she has done nothing and is not entitled to a goddamn thing.
A dog act is leaving a woman financially stranded, unable to obtain government assistance because her name is on six properties she is legally unable to visit. Purposely putting huge debt in her name while her name is nowhere to be seen on any houses. A dog act is waiting for a woman to crumble and fall down. To prevent her from seeing her children.
One of the biggest dog acts is using children as pawns in the biggest greediest dirtiest fight for control; to prevent a mother who is desperately trying to reconnect and make huge amends to her children after she admitted she was not a good mother for four months last year. Four months, out of fifteen years.
A dog act is sneaking into a mans bed in the middle of the night and having sex so loud while the mans children are in the next room .. the children can hear your moaning while your own husband is overseas playing music to the very best of his ability after undergoing the cruellest blow a talented musician could possibly face.
A dog act is flying to Melbourne and taking a woman to the very same hotel your wife picked out for you both previously as your own romantic getaway. Getting tattoos together without a care in the world. Going overseas .. continually lying about the relationship, using smear tactics, baiting and waiting for the crazy woman to react. Which she does. It's so easy to manipulate a person to the point of complete breakdown.
A dog act is using a person on top of their blogging game for your own personal gain and then shunning that same person later on when she falls and doesn't play the game anymore.
A dog act is blackmailing a woman who tried to help when you were homeless while she is at her very lowest, demanding money week after week after drawing her in by telling her that you could communicate with her brother on the other side. Sending her screenshots of her family business threatening she would never see her children again if she does not comply. Degrading her until she is so trapped she cannot break free until your very own kind father tells her to run. Run away.
A dog act is lining up with your sisters husband and giving him information to write his legal affidavit.
A dog act is forcing a person to question their own sanity and reality during a time she is fighting SO HARD .. and already questioning her sanity and reality.
A dog act is watching fireworks with your own children, standing next to a man who runs away when he sees his own wife and child watching the same fireworks.
A dog act is picking up your child from school in the middle of the day to preventing the childs mother from picking up the child herself.
A dog act is talking your way out of hot water after being arrested for assault, then turning the entire situation around to benefit yourself and your lover.
A dog act is spraypainting your husbands lovers car that is parked in his driveway in the middle of the night. Every single panel.
A dog act is having sex with your wife in September, pretending there is hope for the marriage while you're already with somebody else and have been for quite some time.
A dog act is getting the police to serve somebody with an AVO while they're staying in a facility to get better and then accidentally sexting her a filthy message meant for the other woman. Letting her live in a hotel for three weeks afterwards wondering where the hell she's going to live even though houses abound, in town.
A dog act is breaking a child down emotionally, treating them like a worthless piece of shit, bombarding them with hate and anger, violence and harsh words. It crushes a persons soul.
A dog act is being a fine updating citizen in the community conveniently leaving out the part where you were a raging drug addict and spent time in jail for serious armed robbery and drug offences.
Comments are off.
A dog act is writing about other peoples dog acts, possibly making you the biggest dog of all but you cannot wear the entire shitfight by yourself anymore.
There's intense freedom when you have nothing left to lose after you've lost everything.
As with the previous featured worship song, here’s an embedded YouTube video for music to accompany the lyrics. Also, you know, in case you have a pressing need to see
Bill Murray circa What About Bob Rich Mullins perform a song he wrote that was incredibly important to me when I was 12. The song is more memorably performed with the hammered dulcimer, but I felt like leading with the live performance.
Rich Mullins died in a car accident on September 19, 1997, which was just nine days into my first webcomic, Roomies!. Sometimes I wonder if this was the catalyst of my descent into depravity and squalor.
This is a guest post by filmmaker, author, entrepreneur, and now Virtual Reality developer Hugh Hancock.
Virtual Reality's here. Woo. Yay. More tech toys.
The UK just voted to leave the EU. Trump's in line for the White House. Climate change is making its effects felt. Automation's really starting to bite. A lot of very smart people are starting to get very worried about AI.
So why exactly should you care about a bunch of nerds strapping really expensive phone housings to their face?
Well, I recently dropped a 20-year film career to go full-time into VR - specifically room-scale VR, the kind where you walk around and flail about. I've spent the last 2-3 months completely immersed in it, for full-on 80-hour-week crunch values of "fully immersed", developing Left-Hand Path, a Dark Souls-inspired room-scale VR RPG.
There's a reason for that. I've been doing the "futuristic tech" thing for a while and I've been involved in massive, super-exciting technology shifts before. I founded a rather successful dotcom during the first dotcom era, for example.
This feels as exciting. I'm pretty sure that ignoring VR right now looks a lot like ignoring that "Interweb" thing circa 1996. It's going to change the world.
And here's the important bit: it gives us a whole load of reasons to hope that it'll change it for the better.
VR Sets Physical Design Back 2 Centuries
In a good way, that is.
I was talking to a landscape architect the other day, and he explained that the single biggest problem in his job is visualisation.
Sure, you can draw plans. You can create CAD models. You can render nice renders. But at the end of the day, none of them are even close to actually being there.
VR is close to being there. VERY close to being there. I've seen people playing Left-Hand Path leap backward from monsters, get on their hands and knees to look under furniture, and giggle with glee as they realised they could pick up a burning branch and light a candle with it.
That's darn neat for games, but if your entire livelihood relies on being able to accurately visualise 3D things, it's life-changing.
VR enables architects to just build the damn building, then walk round it. It lets artists paint on a 25 foot canvas rather than a 24" monitor. It enables engineers to step around their creation, spin it, manipulate it with their hands like they're Tony Stark.
In short, it transforms what were 3D tasks awkwardly done through a 2D interface back into fully-3D work in a 3D space. That's what I mean by "sets design back 2 centuries" - it takes us back to a time when physical design was done physically, but adds all the advantages of computer modeling too.
The productivity gains here can't be underestimated. We could easily be looking at a 2-fold improvement if not more for all the industries affected. That's a big deal for industries that are massively affected by the uncertainty right now, which are pretty much all of the design-based ones: construction, engineering, and of course the arts. If there's one thing that a bunch of expensive, difficult industries going into tough economic times could do with, it's a new technology that makes them a lot more efficient.
And if you're not a designer? It'll still be incredible when you're considering remodeling your bathroom, buying a new car, or replacing the hallway floor. That's why the early adopters for VR include a number of big car manufacturers, and why one of the first apps to be released for the Vive was from IKEA.
VR Might Be The Biggest Shakeup For Public Health In The Last 50 Years
I've talked about this in the past, so I won't go on about it again, but let me just say: cardiovascualar exercise is massively important for health. It's particularly important in combating metabolic symdrome, which the NIH referred to last year as an "epidemic".
Most people don't get enough cardio.
About 20% of the world plays computer games regularly.
Computer games are about to become a form of exercise. VR games are serious workouts. And they're serious workouts that are already getting a lot of people who never normally exercise into strenuous physical activity.
I've heard people say that gamers will never accept physical exercise as a requirement. A lot of people have said a lot of things about gaming - that it would never appeal to women, that it would never require an internet connection, that MMORPGs would never take off...
VR Is The Most Successful Travel Substitute Ever Devised
I'm not talking about virtual tourism here. Sure, VR tourism is pretty cool, and sure, being able to feel like you're going up Everest without the oxygen deprivation and death is neat, but that's not the issue here.
I'm talking about the other reason for travel. The not fun one. Business.
Business travel costs 1.2 trillion dollars worldwide per year. Mostly, it's a fairly terrible experience. It eats hours or days sitting unproductive in hotels or on planes. But it's necessary, because a teleconference just doesn't deliver the same experience of presence and working together.
It's early days yet, but it looks like full-body VR just might.
Here's what a reviewer for Engadget said about AltSpace, the pioneering "put people together in VR" app right now, which is still in beta:
" It felt comfortable. Natural. Easy. Before long, I started to forget about the odd combination of robots and taverns and started to just enjoy hanging out with other people in VR."
Other reviewers report similar things.
Add to that the "physical design" advantages I mentioned above, and the fact that VR meetings also can, for example, feature an infinite wall of whiteboards to work on, and VR starts to look like a serious competitor to business travel for many purposes.
If I wanted to make money out of VR right now as my primary goal, as opposed to telling stories, this is the field I'd be hitting hard. A VR headset and PC to run it costs about the same as a single economy-class intercontinental business trip, if not a bit less.
And let's be honest, who wouldn't want to get rid of the dozen-hours-in-economy-then-another-doze
Again, this is particularly important right now. Across the world the barriers to travel are increasing - visas required where they weren't before, US officials planning to ask for social media details, Brexit. VR tears down barriers to meeting and communication, just at a time when they're being raised.
It's also very interesting in light of the ongoing housing crisis. The more a virtual office can replace a physical office, the less requirement there is to be in an overpriced city like London. If you can get a decent internet connection - and you can - in the Isle of Skye, you can perfectly happily commute to the virtual office just as easily as you could from the Isle of Dogs.
VR totally changes physical togetherness
There's a corollary to the "business travel" thing. "Travel" with VR is effectively free.
That means that you more or less eliminate distance as a factor in many relationships.
The Internet has already done that to a significant extent, but whilst I can write on Facebook walls or even have Skype chats with my friends in the Bay Area, I can't play pool with them, or watch a movie with them, or go to the gym with them.
In VR, I can do all those things. In fact, one of the fastest-selling VR apps by a country mile is Pool Nation VR, which is essentially a pub games simulator. I bought it after seeing a couple of friends on Facebook talking about their game of pool last night - they're a thousand miles apart. I don't get to hang out with either of them very often.
Now I can casually challenge them to a game of pool in a virtual pub any time I like.
Just looking at my personal life, this could be a huge change. I can watch the superhero movies with my friends in LA (once Netflix works properly with the joint-presence movie players). I can play pool with my mates in Austin, New York, and Bangkok. Once they all have a headset, I can sit down for a game of Mansions of Madness with my boardgame-mad friends in Wales I never see.
And this will extend into the entertainment sphere too. Twitch has already shown there's a huge demand for live events, even if it's just a webcam view of one person. VR enables the physical gig again, only this time you don't have to find an audience in a single town - you can draw them from all over the world.
I'm not a musician, a comedian, or a theatre director, but I'm guessing changing the potential catchment area for any live event from "size of local town" to "world" is going to have an effect.
And again, the world can really use a technology that lets people from around the world get together and enjoy common experiences right now. On which subject...
VR Promotes Empathy
It's rather obvious at the moment that the world's polarising, badly. I'm not going to go into my personal theories of why that is (cough, social media, cough, filter bubble), but it's happening.
So it's a good thing that the up and coming tech has a rather well-noted side effect of promoting empathy extremely effectively.
VR gets closer to literally putting you in someone else's head than anything ever has. (I play with this in Left-Hand Path - many of my players have been somewhat surprised half-way through to realise that the body they're in doesn't have the gender they were expecting, and there are some plot twists beyond that which I won't reveal.)
Stanford is studying the empathic effects of VR very closely. Creators are using it to put people into the experience of Syrian refugees, or disabled people, or simply people of different physical characteristics - like gender.
If there's one thing the world could do with right now it's an empathy machine. And VR looks like it's just that.
VR Lets Us Create Worlds
And then there's that.
Virtual Reality literally - or at least, for all intents and purposes - lets us create worlds.
We've been able to describe worlds before. We've been able to create pictures and even videos of them.
But now we can create a place, a town, a planet, a universe, and step inside it. Or invite others to step inside it.
I'm finding that to be one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Watching a streamer walk through my world and my story experiencing it, physically interacting with it, wondering over it and even getting frustrated by it, is just astonishing.
It's nothing like writing an article and reading the comments, or even making a movie and going to the premiere. It's something entirely new.
And that's why I'm so excited about VR.
There's a lot of horrible stuff going on in the world right now. And a lot of even more scary stuff that might be about to happen.
But that doesn't mean there's not also amazing stuff happening. World-changing, ground-breaking, potentially even humanity-altering stuff.
I'm pretty sure working, mass-scale VR is that sort of Stuff.
What did I miss? Are there other reasons to be thrilled about VR? Am I being too optimistic? Or is there something else even bigger on the horizon?
"The Nightmare Stacks" (book 7 of the Laundry Files) comes out tomorrow in the United States. And in a classic example of the universe trying to obsolete my stories before publication, the UK went into total political, diplomatic, and financial meltdown last Friday. (There's a meltdown of similar proportions in the novel, but it's triggered by a much more fixable cause than a referendum-gone-wrong, namely an alien invasion.) So I guess that means "The Nightmare Stacks" is now lightweight escapism rather than a horrible threat!
Anyway, I'll be reading from and signing copies of "The Nightmare Stacks" in Powell's City of Books in Portland this Thursday evening. If you're not local, you can order copies here. (And if you don't need them signed, Amazon have the hardcover here or the Kindle ebook here.
So, I have some preliminary winners to announce!
If you're the author of one of the entries listed below the fold, please drop me an email with your real-world name and a postal address where you can receive a package?
No Laundry operatives will turn up on your doorstep with an arrest warrant, honest.
(Update: I am still waiting to hear from: Martin, Phil, and ecotax. And would appreciate it if Thomas Jorgensen would also get in touch.)
Our first winner is Death Star by "Susan"; a very credible stab at an ultimate weapon, and a pleasing example of why messing up the laws of physics is a bad idea.
TURTLE SHELL by Martin, because it exhibits brilliantly the failure mode of most Bond gadgets, Laundry-style.
An honourable mention goes to Thomas Jorgensen for Meta-Versal Internet Router Project (which would have been a runner-up if not withdrawn — please drop me an email anyway).
ETLA2 by Ian Mackenzie carries the authentic stench of bureaucratic procedures: are you sure you don't work for the government?
Rapid Response Motorcycle by Phil gets to be a runner-up by virtue of Case LITTLE BLUE BASTARD alone, and nearly scooped the top prize.
MALCOINS by ecotax (please confirm that you're eligible for the competition?) —Okay, here's an idea I actually wish I'd come up with for the series!
And finally LETHE by Megpie71, Because it should have been obvious!
As previously: would all winners please drop me an email at charlie.stross via gmail.com, confirming that you live in the UK, Australia, NZ, or EU, that you're over 16, and that you're not an employee of Little, Brown Book Group ... and remember to let me know your postal address.