January 6th, 2008


[process] Word processing

The New York Times on alternatives to Microsoft Word.

You know, I don't find Word all that offensive. I've been using it regularly since the mid 1980s (Multiplan, anyone?), and using it as my sole word processor since Apple gave up on MacWrite. I'm heavily embedded in Word, quirks and all.

Every now and then I think about switching. I know people use other programs. But Word is standard at the Day Job, which means even if I go to Scrivener or some other tool for fiction, I'll still be using Word dozens of hours per week. And I feel too damned busy to spend a bunch of time relearning the habits of twenty years.

Am I being a dinosaur? Is it worth the trouble?

Poll #1116480 Word Processor Preference

What word processor do you use?

Microsoft Word (Windows)
Microsoft Word (OS X)
Open Office/Star Office
Google Docs
Something else I'll explain in comments


Microsoft is a worldwide standard
Microsoft is (still) an evil empire
My choice is most productive for me
Technical/processor efficiency
Superior feature set
Something else I'll explain in comments

[links] Link salad for a Sunday


[politics] The international passion of Barack Obama

I've been thinking a bit about Barack Obama the last few days, for somewhat obvious reasons1. I haven't been particularly fired up about Obama, but neither does he have significant negatives for me, unlike, say Hillary.

What I find very interesting about him is an aspect that the media narrative, at least as I've seen it, almost completely glosses over. There's so much attention on his race and his youth that little mention is made of the fact that Obama is the most internationally connected candidate of either party in this election cycle, and quite possibly the most internationally connected candidate in recent (or even modern) history.

First of all, he's the son of an immigrant. A non-white immigrant at that, Barack Obama, Sr. from Kenya2. Given how big an issue immigration has become for our society, I find it fascinating this is not played up quite a bit more. Contrast this with the blueblood biography of Bush 41 and Bush 43, or the inherent populism of a po' folks Southern white candidate like Bill Clinton was.

Second of all, he spent time living overseas as a child, specifically in Indonesia. Speaking as a former foreign service brat who spent most of his childhood overseas, I can tell you that one of the most profound antidotes to the kind of blindly entitled smug exceptionalism to which so many Americans fall prey is the simple act of living overseas, especially doing so outside of a "Little America" enclave.

Americans have a tendency to see the rest of the world in our own terms. While this is basic human nature (and not some form of innate evil), given our nation's power in the world, this viewpoint also dangerously irresponsible. History shows that we Americans have a strong streak of both nativism and jingoism, forces which have aggressively (re)asserted themselves in the conservative wing of our body politic in this decade.

Will a President Obama be an internationalist? He could hardly fail to be so, at least as compared to the recent presidents. Far too many Americans view any respect for international concerns as an abrogation of American rights and power. An Obama presidency would impact our nation's views on immigration, both legal and illegal, and it would impact our foreign policy, both in some profound and probably unforeseen ways.

One of my greatest hopes for Obama is that he can lead us toward the rest of the world. I wonder why I'm not hearing more about this, from either his supporters or his detractors.

1. If you don't follow US presidential politics, Google the terms "Obama" and "Iowa" together to read all about why.

2. http://www.barackobama.com/learn/meet_barack.php

[fiction] "Green"

I'm continuing to post reprints of my fiction here on this blog. Watch for the tag "fiction," as in http://jaylake.livejournal.com/tag/fiction.

The current installment in this series is the original short story "Green", basis of the novel I am currently writing. At 6,700 words, this originally appeared at Aeon 5 back in 2005 Tangent Online review ]. If you like the story, watch for news of the book, and please consider supporting Aeon.


by Jay Lake

The first thing I can remember in this life is my father driving his white ox, Endurance, to the sky burial platforms. The ox's wooden bell clicked in an echo of the slow clops of his hooves on the dusty track. The sun was warm on my face. My mother must have carried me, for she was alive then too, but all I remember is the clicking ox bell and the jangling silver bells of my grandmother's shroud. She had died that morning and now took her last ride astride Endurance's back.

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© 2005, 2008, Joseph E. Lake Jr.

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