October 18th, 2006


Bravia Balls Advert

Probably the single most amazing television commercial I've ever seen is the Sony Bravia spot from a couple of years ago, featuring the bouncing balls in San Francisco. See here for info -- it's absolutely worth downloading the extended version and playing it on the biggest, brightest, most crisp monitor you have.

Well, Sony has almost outdone themselves. There's a new ad in the series, called "Paint". See here for info.

Those two ads might be the finest several minutes of television or film I've ever seen.

On being a Bush hater and a Hillary doubter

I've been thinking about why I find the GOP so irritating. I'm not partisan in the narrow sense of the term -- though I consider myself a strong liberal, I am not a registered Democrat, and I don't have an especially high regard for much of what the Democrats do and say, speaking in terms of political tactics.

To be specific in one case, the possibility of Hillary Clinton being a front runner in 2008 worries me considerably. She seems to be working from her husband's old playbook, about running to the center. I'm sick and tired of Democrats running to the center. Republicans have been winning for 25 years by pulling hard, hard, harder to the right, and they've dragged the center with them. They're not afraid of offending moderate and liberal Americans, and it's worked for them. Why should I support a Democrat who doesn't strongly espouse my liberal values? Honestly, I don't have a preferred pick for a Democratic candidate in 2008 on their side, but at this point I'd have to say I'd much rather see John Edwards or Howard Dean than Clinton.

The other problem with Hillary, of course, is a candidacy on her part would rally the Republican base better than any possible action the GOP could take on its own behalf. The 1990s demonization of the Clintons runs strong and deep to this day, as witnessed by the conservative talking heads' continuing tendency to blame anything bad on Bill's presidency. If the Democrats want to stand a chance in 2008, they need to play to the left, differentiating themselves from the GOP the same way the GOP has from them, and they need to not run the one candidate guaranteed to bring out every conservative vote in the United States in opposition.

In other words, with Hillary we get the worst of both worlds -- a centrist who isn't strongly committed to liberal values and issues, while at the same time igniting the Right more surely than any hard core liberal could ever manage to do. In Hillary we pay the price of running to left without reaping the benefits.

Despite my intense distaste for President Bush, my antipathy toward the GOP runs deeper than personalities. It boils down in large part to a profound hypocrisy. They've made considerable electoral hay in the last 25 years out of being identified as the party of family values, moral values, and good government. Anyone remember the Clinton years? The smug moralism of the GOP leadership in those days was appalling. The martial records of the House Impeachment Managers who sat in judgment on Clinton's extramarital blow job were dreadful. We went through that circus because Clinton lied about consensual sex with an adult, and the GOP assured us that the rule of law required prosecution to the fullest, even of a sitting president.

Where was the rule of law when Bush lied about WMDs in Iraq, about the ongoing conduct of the war?

In that vein, one of the current hot talking points from GOP circles concerning the upcoming elections is that if the Democrats control one or both houses of Congress, Washington will become bogged down in Congressional investigations. They say this like it's a bad thing. If the GOP had governed as it ran -- I'm looking at pretty much every major GOP figure in the House here, not just the ones already on their way to or in jail right now -- they would have nothing to fear.

Having staked out a position of moral absolutism and ethical superiority, I think the GOP and its standard bearers need to be held accountable to those positions. There are far more officials in both the executive and legislative branches under indictment or conviction now, when the GOP has virtually complete control of all the process of government, than eight years of continuous public and private investigation ever managed during the Clinton presidency. Imagine what would happen if any truly aggressive and authoritative investigation took place outside the shield of radical right wing partisanship?

These people are rotten and exploitative beneath a very long tenure of wearing the mantle of moral rectitude. It sickens me. It sickens me further that so many millions of Americans cling to that message in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

We were told in the runup to the 2000 election that when Bush won, the grown-ups would be in charge. Instead Americans traded a venal but highly competent adult in the Oval Office for a petulant child who is advised by ideologues and fools. Leo Strauss has a hell of a lot to answer for.

Yes, it's very emotional for me. As I said recently in conversation, I've reached point where I presume that anyone willing to assume a senior position in this administration is a moral leper. Am I a "Bush hater"? Hell yeah. Proud to be. Him and his entire movement in the GOP. With a lot more reason than anyone who spent the 1990s railing about the long national nightmare of the Clinton administration ever had.

As a side note, this is a very weird echo of how Ronald Reagan continues to be a heroic icon of small government and fiscal conservatism, when he racked up the largest spending deficits in pre-Bush history. Democrat Bill Clinton presided over the first surpluses in recent memory and a reduction in the size and role of the Federal government, yet he is reviled by the very people who claim to hold those as core values.

The liberal media meme

I've made a couple of throwaway comments about the erroneous perception of liberal bias in the media, and been challenged on that. Here is a microexample of the problem -- it's an extremely consistent pattern across the entire media spectrum, and has been going on this way since at least the runup to the 2000 elections. I think my conservative friends tend not to believe this because they can remember and point to coverage which has caught their eyes and ears as being unfavorable to their opinions, while not remembering the nodding they do otherwise. But when you dig into the numbers -- column-inches, headline space, airtime, guest bookings -- the story is very strongly pro-Republican with astonishing consistency.

Ah, found it

Those of you familiar with my pickle hat will be pleased to know that I have located it after having it go missing for a week or so.

Those of you unfamiliar with my pickle hat should thank all that you find holy for the privilege of not having been exposed to its mighty green splendor.

That is all. You may shop as usual. No need to return to your homes.

Some thoughts on Stemwinder and Mainspring

Well, got 3,100 words in on Stemwinder earlier today. I've since finalized the Mainspring copy edit and packed it up for shipment in the morning. I feel very accomplished at the moment, even though the new book is not yet half done, at 79,100 words. (Ahem...)

The process is so different. I've fallen into a rhythm of writing that is new for me. It's a breathing thing, letting the novel breathe in the same sense that a bottle of wine breathes.

I realized today that this was about writing at a pace which isn't derived from my short story writing, with its forced economies and tight arcs, but rather letting the story unfold in scenes and moments and character interaction. It feels horridly loose to me right now, but I know perfectly well not to let the editor into the room while i'm writing. If it is loose, I'll deal with it on rewrite.

However, I rather think I'm really dealing with simply a different pace and style of work. This shouldn't surprise me -- every novel I've written has progressed differently. I rather suppose every novel I ever do write will do so. I've been pretty consistently hitting 2,500-3,000 words per day, without getting either bogged down or manic. I will get manic as I get deeper into the book, that's my Way, but that's ok too. It helps me write to the crescendo of plot and character arc if I'm crescendoing externally, I think.

Still, I marvel at what happens and how it all works. It's like living inside the world's greatest machine.

Someone asked me recently, in conversation, what would I do if I could have any job in the world. I said, the one I have right now. I'd be a writer. They were quite surprised, and told me no one had ever said they'd keep the job they had. Some days it does feel like breaking my own fingers off, but most days it's at least quite satisfying, with sufficient flashes of brilliance to keep me coming to the well.

Like the Mafia, Only Dumber

A friend sends this link to a rundown of recent and current malfeasance in the GOP leadership, with a hilarious analysis that is summarized very nicely as "like the mafia, only dumber."

Money shot:

At the end of it, you have to think of this crew as being like the Mafia, only a lot dumber. Think about it. The Mafia's criminal enterprises operate under heavy scrutiny from local, state and federal officials, all of whom have subpoena power, not to mention the ability to tap phones and kick down doors.

The Republican criminal enterprise that is currently unraveling in all directions, on the other hand, operated virtually free from restraint or scrutiny. They own the government, from the Oval Office to the FBI to the Capitol Dome, and yet somehow they are managing to get busted left and right.

Bounty on the Mutiny

Well, Trial of FlowersClarkesworld | Amazon ] has shipped from the printer to distribution. That means it will be on store shelves, coming from Amazon, etc., very soon now. In order to celebrate this happy occasion, I am going to offer a bounty.

The first three people who post a photo, or link to a photo, of themselves with a copy of Trial of Flowers, in their hot little hands, will receive another book from me in the mail -- your choice of Rocket Science, Greetings From Lake Wu or American Sorrows. If you have all three, we'll talk. In order to count, your picture or picture link has to be in the comment thread on this post -- I'll use the sequence there to judge.

If we get enough funny/interesting photos, I might have a variation on my caption contests, with prizes of increased fabulousness. So consider that when framing your shot.