Friday Night Fights [Round 13]

Welcome back fight fans, to Sin City Nevada for another flying-guillotine edition of Friday Night Fights!  This week’s bout will be fought in the cold reaches of space using advanced technology that might be within reach in say…the next 200 years.  Without further preamble, let’s go to the tale of the tape.

Fighting out of the red corner, from the well-appointed boardroom of the Sentec Aerospace Bureau, it’s Nick “Nasty” and his “SAB S-44 Kestrel“.

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And fighting out of the blue corner, from the red sands of Mars Colony, it’s “The Human X-acto Knife” xiei22 and his “BLUE Phobos“.

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As usual, constant reader, you are tasked with deciding the outcome of this pugilistic endeavor and determine who will receive a week’s worth of bragging rights.  Simply leave a comment below and vote for the MOC that best suits your individual taste. I will tally up the votes next Friday and declare a winner before announcing the next bout.

On the last Friday Night Fights….

It was the skirmish of the sky-boats, in all their foppish glory with international fishing rights on the line.    In the end, Felipe “O Touro” Avelar and his “Mestiço“ scored a harrowing 6-5 victory over “Jackhammer” JPascal and his “Ramona“.  Felipe records his first win and improves his record to (1-0) while JPascal falls to (0-1).

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Color Commentary:

For those of you not in the know, this week’s combatants are also competitors in the popular Real World +200 building contest which just concluded on Flickr.  The event brought out some truly impressive starfighters, and what it may have lacked in sheer numbers (33 entries), rarely have I seen a contest with a higher overall level of quality.  There are only a couple of sloppy models, the vast majority are good and several are great.  These happen to be my two favorites, but the match-making was easy this week because I could have selected half a dozen models from the contest.

A few weeks ago when the contest turnout wasn’t looking so good, one of the hosts (and frequent contributor to the Manifesto comments section) went on the Flickr group AFOL 16+ and wondered aloud why that might be.  Of course I had to chime in with my two cents and I came of more harshly than I intended.  The three guys and one gal who ran the contest did a fine job, and I think I let my dislike of the main design inspiration from  TV’s “The Expanse”, and my general attitude towards the 16+ group to cloud my appreciation of the topic. Since the TV show was the primary point of reference mentioned in a pretty vague contest description, the whole thing turned me off and I assumed the same must be true of other builders.  Although I enjoy The Expanse as a show, I think the ship designs are horribly uninspired. However, I also stand by the criticism I mentioned on 16+, concerning one of the first entrants who was allowed to break the rules. As I wrote before, I know the point of the endeavor is inclusion but that kind of shit bothers me. For so many contests, rules are rules…but only until somebody complains.  It should not come as a shock to any constant reader that I’m a grumpy old dick sometimes.

I’ve known the hosts from years of interactions online and in person, and they are all good people who put up some great prizes and clearly inspired some fantastic work.  If you have a chance, check out the other entries, it’s definitely worth your time if you’re at all into sci-fi.  Kudos to Simon, Carter, Kate and Christopher for running a good show.

Fire for Effect:”Give me the prize!”

This is the fourth salvo in Michael Rutherford’s regular column, Fire for Effect. Take it away Mike…

I’m trying to narrow my focus today.  I offer a very narrow thesis and I will endeavor to get straight to it.  But still… go get a beer… or two.  Oh, and before we start, I am curious: How many of you read this blog in the can?  A co-worker (and AFOL) told me that he habitually waits until he is in the can before he reads this blog.  Like he might have time when he isn’t in the can… but he waits until he is (is in the can)… and then he reads it.  I was sort of taken aback… but then I thought about it (yeah… I know.  Of all the things to think about, right?).  Is it a strange thing that only he does?  Or is it actually a new norm that I’m just not clutched into?  So, ummm… are “WE” in the can right now?  You, constant reader… and I?  Together, in the can?  For the record, I don’t read, or write for that matter… in the can.  Ever.  Just so you we’re clear.

Well, I guess that pretty much shot the notion of getting right to the point.  How about catching up by jumping straight to my point!

Thesis: Awards at Lego fests are good for the state of the hobby.

Supporting points:

Competition.  It is a culturally universal concept which, when controlled, can motivate innovation, improvement and excellence.

Limited competition focuses this potential but requires rules.  Rules equate to cooperation.  Obscure rules undermine cooperation.

Transparency prevents obscurity.

Transparency is lacking in Lego conventions.

Let’s get all Aristotelian!

  1. Competition fosters improvement.
  2. Awards are competitive.

ERGO

  1. Awards foster improvement.

Thesis clarification:

Competition.  An environment and an event wherein participants try to get or win something that someone else is also trying to win: to try to be better or more successful than someone or something else (Merriam Webster).   Competition is broader.  It exists in a natural state.  Trash the normal rhetoric about gazelles competing with cheetahs on the savanna.  They don’t compete… they mutually support one another by perusing separate but interrelated agendas.  Remember that it is not the cheetah with whom the gazelle competes, but rather the other gazelles.  The cheetah is relevant to the gazelle… but the cheetah wants neither the limited supply of grass, nor to mate with the limited supply of hot gazelles.  Yes, cheetahs and gazelles run together, at the same place and at the same time…but they are running for DIFFERENT REASONS… running DIFFERENT RACES… often right after dinner for the gazelle, and right before dinner for the cheetah.  But the gazelles all know their race is not against the cheetah.  It is against the next slowest gazelle (the one who the cheetah is going to actually catch).  For the gazelle, it’s all about the grass and the mating (So what you’re saying is… Keith is a Gazelle?).  Getting what the other gazelles want.  That is the competition.  Be a better gazelle, get more grass and more ass.  Competition incentivizes gazelle to be BETTER gazelles.  This is what I mean when I say: Competition fosters improvement.  Take a look at gazelles.  Most of them are pretty good at gazelling.  The not so good gazelles?  They are harder to spot…  Usually busy feeding the cheetahs.

So its clear then.  AFOLs should run across the savanna until we catch one another, and then kill and eat one another (frequently wedging our dead AFOL victim up in a tree to protect the body from other conniving AFOL rivals).  NO!  Don’t be silly!  Most of us would stroke out from the shock to our cardiovascular systems!   Duh!

Here I say only that competition is part of natural life (and yes, I have a bias towards artificial systems that “borrow” from natural systems because nature pretty consistently kicks ass!) and that it fosters improvement.

But there is more to the VALUE of COMPETITION.  It is CULTURALLY UNIVERSAL.  War is competition.  Religion is competition (lots of overlap with war).  Commerce is competition (again, with the overlap).  Exploration, science, agriculture… almost every field of human culture (non-natural) has a competitive aspect.  Yea rowntRee… Art as well.  Further, all these fields overlap and interconnect.  It’s quite a weave actually.  All humans from all cultures do this stuff.  You might even say it’s universal.  Makes for some tough problems.  COMPETITION CAN ALL BE HIGHLY DESTRUCTIVE!   I mean… I started the list with WAR for god’s sake!   Let’s review the concept of LIMITS… Yea?

Limited competition is all the competition that happens within agreed upon parameters.  Sometimes vague, as with underlying cultural assumptions, and sometimes specific, as with… wait for it… rules.  If ANY participant in a limited completion abandons these parameters, these rules… then the competition becomes unlimited again.

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