April 1st, 2007

jay-electrode

An important decision

I have made an important decision. Though it's late in the game, I'm declaring myself a write-in candidate for the SFWA presidency, following the example of John Scalzi. I think my career thus far speaks for itself and I can use that leverage from the office to improve the organization. I have plenty of momentum to help me through the challenges of a year of service given that all my contracted books have now been delivered.

My platform is simple:

1) That SFWA open its doors to aspiring writers at all levels to ensure future membership strength
2) That SFWA offer profit sharing to its members, based on their SFnal credentials
3) That time travel stories be banned from membership eligibility
4) That SWFA make a serious effort to subsume HWA, MWA and RWA in order to better serve writers across America
5) SFWA co-sponsorship of Virgin Galactic so SFWA members can get free rides into orbit
6) Free beer at all conventions

Thank you very much for your support.
politics-sideways_flag

Kind of says it all

“If Republicans in this election vote in such a way as to say a candidate’s personal life and personal conduct in office doesn’t matter,” he declared, “then a lot of Christian evangelical leaders owe Bill Clinton a public apology.”

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on Guiliani's widespread support among Evangelical voters
http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2007/03/31/a-very-spartan-operation/
politics-sideways_flag

What it takes to be "an honorable and honest man"

"Attorney General Al Gonzales is an honorable and honest man and he has my full confidence," Bush said.

"I will remind you there is no credible evidence that there has been any wrongdoing," he added.


http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN3117469620070331

I suppose that's true, if you live in My Pet Goatland. That little matter of lying under oath, for which Republicans impeached the last president, apparently doesn't constitute credible evidence of wrongdoing for this president's attorney general.

Are you proud of your Republican party yet?
politics-sideways_flag

The road to a banana republic theocracy

From goulo, per Newsweek, 48 percent of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; while 34 percent of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact.

And some of my readers wonder why I'm so disgusted with the Republican party? Since the fall of Nixon, the GOP has pandered to the Evangelical base, legitimizing these ridiculous viewpoints and granting them increasing political power. This is how the American Century truly ends, not in terrorist attack or trade wars, but sheer electoral opportunism crossed over with cynical anti-science perspectives. Couple that with the overwhelming hypocrisy of the continual claim to the sole mantle of good and ethical government, and it's a wonder I can see straight.

It must be so much easier than thinking. I'd pity those among my fellow Americans who believe this arrant nonsense if they weren't busily destroying my country.
jay-China-avatar

First lines

"It would never have occurred to me to make a ship out of cheese, but then I didn't have milk springs on my plantation. When the bacon whales hove into view, I knew we'd made a tragic tactical error."

The rest is left as an exercise for the reader.
politics-report

Strict Constitutionalism in Action

Two of the three leading Republican candidates for President either embrace or are open to embracing the idea that the President can imprison Americans without any review, based solely on the unchecked decree of the President.

   -- http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/04/01/romney_giuliani/index.html


You cannot claim the authority of strict Constitutionalism and original intent, while simultaneously denying 800 years of Anglo-American jurisprudence. This is the politics of fear, pure and simple, so far removed from any political principal we may as well be voting for Sargon the Great.

Are you still proud of your Republican party?

(Thanks to mckitterick for the nudge.)

ETA: Romney's a pandering idiot for his answer. No one with a passing familiarity with American constitutional law could possibly say anything but "no" to Greenwald's question. "Hell, no," at that. At least Guiliani had the stones to just outright speak to the question, deadly as wrong as he is.
tech-x4449_lamp

Stuff

I have decided that except for technology upgrades and replacement items, I pretty much own all the stuff I need. (This doesn't account for my strange tastes, of course.) The two things I wish I had are a commercial-grade shredder, and a low-end paper jogger.

It's nice to have ambitions.
jay-China-avatar

Morphic Resonance

tillyjane and I were running errands this afternoon, when the topic of morphic resonance Wiki ] came up, as such things tend to do. In a poorly-understood nutshell, this is Rupert Sheldrake's theory that once something has been expressed in the universe, such as the initial evolution of a complex structure like an eye, it is much easier for that thing to be expressed again, even completely independently, because that shape has been introduced into the universe. So to speak.

Rather like Intelligent Design [ No link love for those idiots ] or the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis Wiki ], morphic resonance has a certain amount of common sense appeal, at least until you understand enough of the science around it to realize that the idea left the EZ-Bake a little too quickly.

However, at least in its reduced state morphic resonance has certain obvious sociological and technological applications. Specifically, once people know something can be done, they will find a way to do it again. Consider the hydrogen bomb. The Americans built the first one, with a great deal of German know-how. That showed the Soviets (and others) what was possible, which crystallized their resolve, their funding and their research direction.

There's a cultural assumption embedded in that idea, though, which is that there is nothing inherently unique in any specific person. In other words, with enough training and the right talent, another person can reproduce the effort made by the original hero. (In a different context, consider Roger Bannister and four-minute mile Wiki ].)

So Prometheus brings down fire from the Gods, and anyone thereafter can wield a burning brand.

Except I'm pretty sure this is a Renaissance, or possibly Enlightenment, mindset. The very idea of a causal chain, which is required in order to seriously attempt to reproduce someone else's achievement, is essentially a modern concept. The concept that anyone can do anything seems to stand squarely contrary to such classical ideas as the Divine Right of kings, or the god-touched hero. Certainly the pre-modern perspective is still embedded in our culture -- consider the truism "Only Nixon could go to China." But that's a political perspective that borders on a joke, not a serious expression of a key man theory of history.

What kind of culture do you have when it's not inherently obvious that any achievement is completely repeatable? What kind of culture do you have when some people have special powers by virtue of birth or heavenly favor which are simply not possible for others? Could someone other than Beowulf have slain Grendel?

To me, this line of reasoning has some obvious contemporary political and cultural applications, but in the interests of not ranting, I'll leave those aside for another time.

Thoughts? Pokes?
jay-chef

Writing at flank speed

In the comment thread to my recent post on legacies, jetse takes me to task, at length, over the way I write. I reported here a while back on a similar conversation I had with Gavin Grant last summer.

In both cases, the point they were making (to paraphrase extensively) is that I'm already a pretty good writer, and if I'd just freaking slow down and take my time, I might be a great one.

I've got two answers to that. One is, you're probably right, but I don't really know how to slow down. I have enough trouble viewing myself as being sufficiently productive as it is. (Seriously. I know it sounds weird, but that's really how I see myself.) Moving slower would be very difficult indeed. Not to mention which, when I do write it just pretty much comes shooting out of me.

The obvious counterpoint to that is fine, big boy, draft at lightspeed if it pleases you, but for the love of Ghu, let the stuff steep for a while before you chuck it out the door. Believe it or not, that's what I've been trying to do. Still, rewriting is very difficult for me, even now. I'd always rather be writing something new. By the same token, I can come back to old stories and always find things to improve. It feels like an endless process to me, and I've long lived under the engineering rubric of not letting perfect get in the way of good enough.

My second answer is, well, I'm trying that. Original Destiny, Manifest Sin has been gestating for about four years now, since its inception, and if that book gets finished before 2010, I'll be amazed. It's the one project I've ever taken on which stands outside my rapid-fire process.

Meanwhile, I do keep getting better, at least to my own eyes. Writing fast, with the full voice that comes alongside that wide-open throttle, is what brung me to the dance. As the saying goes, dance with who brung ya'.

So I don't disagree with jetse, or Gavin, in principle. I just don't know any other way to do it. I'm working on it. If I ever stop working on bettering my writing, throw a sheet over me and sell the Edsel -- that'll mean I'm done.