July 20th, 2007


[child|movies] Blazing Saddles

Last night at her request the_child and I watched Blazing Saddles [ imdb ]. (She'd been finding it in my video library for a long time.) That was an interesting experience.

In about 1980, I thought this was the funniest movie ever made. I watched it again in about 2000 and thought it was drop dead stupid. I thought it was moderately funny again this time, but the really odd thing was seeing it through her eyes.

the_child was getting only the surface story, not the endless roundels of Hollywood jokes, Jewish jokes, self-referential humor, serious (and even bitter) racial politics, parodying of classic Westerns, et cetera et cetera et cetera. She had a great deal of trouble understanding the race angle, for one. We had an extensive discussion of the N-word.

I am either very progressive or the World's Worst Dad. Not sure which. When the questions come bubbling up over the next few days, we'll find out.

[personal] Tell me no more lies, I'll ask you no more questions

The question thread is perking along nicely. Feel free to go play, or just read through.

I just answered sboydtaylor with this:

Where did you get the idea for Mainspring?

I was at a workshop run by Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. They were having us write novel synopses, while working with a New York editor to critique the proposals. Training, basically. I wrote four synopses that weekend, one of which became Mainspring. I'm not sure where it came from -- nothing in particular kicked me off. But I've always had a fascination with gimmickery, both intellectual and physical, and there's not much more gimmickery than a clockwork universe. I have addressed the topic before less directly in my short fiction -- mechanical men, orreries, etc.

And what resources did you use to develop the clockwork verisimilitude?

I did a fair amount of math on it, actually, and enlisted an aerospace engineer's help. There's more explanation of that here:


Including a diagram!

[politics] Yes, Virginia, executive privilege really has been extended

Several people were arguing with me recently that the Bush administration's invocation of executive privilege is no different from that of prior administrations. While I think that claim is wishful conservative apologia on the face of it, here's some substantiation for my position:

Broader Privilege Claimed In Firings
White House Says Hill Can't Pursue Contempt Cases

By Dan Eggen and Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, July 20, 2007; Page A01

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

[ ... ]

  — http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/19/AR2007071902625.html

[personal] On politeness (a metapost of sorts)

I just did something I almost never, ever do on LJ, which is make a post, but lock it Private for my eyes only.

I do make f-locked posts from time to time, but I don't use LJ as a private journalling tool. In this case, I wrote up a post which pointed at several specific people in a way which would not reasonably remain anonymous. Not to deride or insult, but simply by reference. I decided that it's not fair of me to "out" people, and if I'm going to name names, to just do that. Politeness, and a desire to respect other people's social privacy and personal boundaries, are both pretty important to me.

My basic rule here is that if you make public statements in the blogosphere or in print, I can cite you or respond to you. If you make statements in the comments section of my LJ, unless you've specifically requested privacy/anonymity I'll quote you at whatever length might please me. Not that it comes up very often, and I always strive to be respectful.

snippy was talking recently on her LJ about this issue of boundaries and social responsibility in online discourse. It's interesting to me. I'm not sure where the limits are. Right now I'm going with the Potter Stewart test — I'll know them when I see them.