January 6th, 2007


Conservative group seeks to limit divorce

"After its victory in last year's fight over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Virginia, the Family Foundation of Virginia announced Thursday that it will push to change the state's divorce laws to make it more difficult for parents to end their marriage."


If gay marriage seems like a distant concern to you, or something only liberals and hippies care about, consider the above: the same conservative groups who are working hard to restrict the rights and behaviors of our gay and lesbian friends want to restrict the rights and behaviors of everyone.

Much the same with the anti-choice movement. Most of the major "right to life" groups have stated agendas to reduce or eliminate access to birth control as a long-term goal.

If you're a Republican, this is the America you vote for every time you go to the polls, no matter how moderate you might consider yourself.

Politics does matter, and it does matter to you, no matter who you are and what you believe.

ETA: To explicitly add something that has only been implied by my remarks, this is the conservatism that I fear and despise. The conservative movement in my lifetime has stood ever more strongly for increasing limits on my rights and freedoms as a citizen, and for increasing degrees of direct government intervention in my private life.

That's almost diametrically opposed to the nominal rhetoric and self-perception of the conservative movement, but very clear in the actions (and legislation) produced by that same movement. And yes, of course there are plenty of loony ideas on the American left as well, but those don't wind up on ballot measures and enacted in law, and treated with respect in the media as if they were a credible part of mainstream thought.

The right's lunacy has become so embedded in our culture that is has become normal -- the National Parks Service forbidding rangers at the Grand Canyon from discussing geology in ways which contradict Young Earth Creationism, for example, or the president determining unilaterally that it is appropriate for the government to open anyone's mail, or launching wars of choice based on knowing, bald-faced lies, and a thousand other examples.

Books and writing (and cheese)

Had a very nice dinner with tillyjane and AH. the_child and her mother came, as did lillypond, her husband and the Niece, along with E. Cheese was fine, details on that later.

AH showed me a book she's reading, Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science, and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe by Thomas Cahill. Amazon ] As she pointed out, it's one of the most beautiful books either of us has ever seen, as book qua object. The interior design is astonishing, with color plates, insets -- it in effect echoes the tradition of the illuminated manuscript. She wasn't so crazy about his style, as it apparently veers between scholarly and colloquial. As AH (who has a master's in history and works as a librarian) points out, that approach will rapidly become dated and reduce the book's long-term staying power. Still, it's gorgeous and well worth checking out.

Because all the cool kids are doing it, I'll point out novel_in_90, a community dedicated to 750 words a day of novel production. I'm afraid I'll sit this one out. I've got two big revisions in front of me, and am not cued up to launch into a new manuscript probably until March. (If I was, I'd be shooting for 2,500 words a day.) While I'm strongly in favor of anything that gets people writing, I'm a bit dubious about the stated motivation-through-mockery model. I perceive that as rather tongue-in-cheek, but I could be wrong, and suspect too many folks will take the mocking literally regardless of original intent. Still, best of luck to all there. I watch with great interest.

I also have a question. How do you count word count in the revision process? I'm not sure it's a measurable quantity, but since that's my baseline productivity metric everywhere else, I'd like to see it here. The problem is I've never been able to suss out how to evaluate it. ie, if I have 100 words, I cut 20 and add 20, I still have 100 words. How much did I write, in terms of counting? How do I even tell I cut 20? I know my beginning and ending wordcounts, ie, net change, but that could just easily be net negative.

How do you handle this? Or do you? Thoughts on assessing productivity of the revision process?

"A Tower to the Sun"

"A Tower to the Sun" is complete in first draft at 1,800 words.

That's the last of the three stories I wanted to write this weekend. Still have that small press book proposal and some collab stuff to do, tomorrow or on the plane to Omaha Monday if time runs out. But I wanted to knock these down before getting back to Stemwinder.

Some days I feel like a real writer...