November 27th, 2007


[links] Link salad, breakfast serving

Huge Hole Found in the Universe — "There's a hole in spacetime, dear Liza, dear Liza, there's a hole in spacetime, dear Liza, a hole."

Has first evidence of another universe been seen? — Related to the above story.

Neurolinguistic Programming — Interesting comments about "ritual magic" in the middle of this Straight Dope piece.

Cars Detroit Forgot to Build

And don't forget the most recent caption contest, now in its last full day of accepting entries.

[process] The power of submission

No, not that kind of submission. Send-outs. saycestsay and I were talking in chat yesterday about how stories get bought. This was in the context of a discussion about writing is a necessary but insufficient condition for auctorial success. I said:
Editorial ninjas don't come to your house and steal your manuscripts, leaving behind a big pile of money in their wake.

More's the pity.

[movies] Storytelling on the screen

It will come as a surprise to no one reading this blog that I am a sucker for storytelling movies. I'm talking about films such as Secondhand Lions (2003) imdb ], Big Fish (2003) imdb ] and Bliss (1985) imdb ]. I love that journey through the creative process. (Though the casual experience of the film is very different, I'd also place The Aristocrats (2005) imdb ] in this category. But I digress.)

There are other things I really like. Thematic challenge for example. This past Sunday, after finally landing home from weeks of nearly continuous travel, lasirenadolce and I had something of a Terry Gilliam film festival. We rented Time Bandits (1981) imdb ], Brazil (1985) imdb ], The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) imdb ] and The Fisher King (1991) imdb ]. We got to watch all but the last.

Gilliam has said in interviews that these films are linked, and I understand what he means. They are all four about the tension between the Apollonian and Dionysian cultures, that dyad of mind and heart which twines all through our civilization and its discontents. Time Bandits comes to naught, in that framework. Brazil celebrates the triumph of Apollonian thought with a deliberately sour taste. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen celebrates Dionysian thought in a manner which clearly delineates Gilliam's sympathies (and mine). The Fisher King, which we ran out of time and did not watch, concerns an uneasy balance between the two — the bargain that our society has made which places us somewhere between the spiritual withering of Calvinism and the violent abandon of the Maneads.

I love those movies for their commentary on the nature of society as well as the state of my own soul. What I was struck by on watching them now, in 2007, is how incredibly contemporary they feel. Not in a filmic sense — the bluescreen effects in the earlier films border on the embarrassing, for example — but in the thematic sense. The moronic banality of evil in Time Bandits, the Bush-era mirrorlogic of politics and policy in Brazil, the "Turk is at the gates" paranoia about the amorphous pervasive enemy that is terrorism in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: all of these feel like issues of our time and place.

In the end, I suppose I am most like the baron. I always want to push open the gates and see for myself what lies beyond. I mistrust the proclamations of authority, from the pulpit or the hustings either one, especially when their self-serving nature is beyond painfully evident. Most of all, I believe in the power of storytelling to change hearts and minds.

[process] Doing the difficult thing

Today I did something very difficult, which in fact I have never done before. I withdrew a story which had been accepted. (I have withdrawn stories from consideration under a few, limited circumstances.)

This is a story I like very much, at a market I like very much, with an editor I like and respect very much. But their vision of the story and mine have become increasingly incompatible, and I feel strongly about this.

Withdrawing a story is troublesome on several levels. First, one of my primary rules in life is not to be a pain in the ass. This is a very pain in the ass thing to do. Second, I really don't want to get up this editor's nose. (This is a specific case of the previous issue, I suppose.) Third, it just feels unprofessional.

Thing is, it feels more unprofessional to fight about the story, and it feels most unprofessional of all to compromise on story issues about which I hold great passion.

Sometimes you don't get to be the good guy.

[links] Link salad, lunch break edition

Top secret repair job was no wind-up — Real life clockpunk. Thanks to kadath for the tip!

Retrofuture: To the Stars! — Classic SFnal art from Western and Soviet sources.

Gore and Bush Chat About Global Warming — Money shot:
Mr. Bush’s press secretary, Dana Perino, told reporters the president is willing to let bygones be bygones.

“This president does not harbor any resentments,” she said. “He never has.”
Wow, that is mighty white of the president. Nice to know he's so big about how it all went down in 2000: Bush's popular victory but looming defeat in the electoral college, Gore's cousin making a bad call on national news while working closely with Clinton's former political strategist, the "white collar riot" the Democrats staged to stop the Florida recount, Gore's fixed Supreme Court vote that snatched the decision out of the Florida court's hands in contravention of every conservative principle of state's rights.

Or am I misremembering something here?

(Thanks to shsilver and others.)

The Sudan teddy bear incident — This is precisely why I argue so forcefully against a mixing of religion and politics. How can a nonbeliever be guilty of blasphemy? Just because you believe something doesn't make it true. Your religious convictions have no binding on my behavior in a civil context. Every Christian who argues for prayer in school, Intelligent Design, the Ten Commandments in a court of law, or heteronormative oppression in the name of Biblical precepts, is imposing their subjective personal mythology on the objective world in this same way, with the same patently illogical and shameful results. I unquestioningly support your right to your religious beliefs without respect to my personal opinion of them, but equally so I unquestioningly oppose your right to impose the consequences of your religious beliefs on anyone else.

Google’s New Search — for Cheap, Clean Electricity — I am starting to view Google as a social change agent, pure and simple.

Rich and poor gird for climate change - UN report — Al Gore's lackies have spread their liberal lies everywhere! Will the conservative movement ever own up to how dead wrong it has been on climate change? Eventually even the most die hard trailer park crank may have to realize that Rush Limbaugh does not in fact know more about climate than, say, the vast majority of the world's climatologists. Perhaps as his single-wide floats down the Mississippi...

[conventions] Preliminary 2008 schedule

Here's my preliminary 2008 schedule. I've already got some dates (and goh gigs) firmed for 2009 as well. If you'd like me to be a goh, toastmaster or writer in residence somewhere in the next two years, let me know.

Rustycon (2009 writer goh)1/11 - 1/13

Radcon 5B (toastmaster)2/15 - 2/17

South Carolina Book Festival2/22 - 2/24

Potlatch 172/29 - 3/2

Rainforest Writers Retreat (writer in residence)3/6 - 3/9

Norwescon 313/20 - 3/23

Wiscon 325/23 - 5/26

JayCon VIII (goh)June (dates tbd)

Iron Springs Writers Retreat (writer in residence)6/27 - 6/29

Worldcon 66 / Denvention 38/3 - 8/6

Foolscap X9/26 - 9/28

FenCon V (workshop goh)10/3 - 10/5

World Fantasy Convention 200810/30 - 11/2

Orycon 3011/21 - 11/23

[help] How hot is poop?

Can anybody tell me how much heat is put off by a given volume of composted manure over a given time period? This is darned difficult to Google up. Can be horse or cattle, I just need an idea of scale. And I suppose I'm talking about fresh manure, which is hotter than old manure.
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