Monday, January 31, 2005

Oh geez...

If you haven't seen this, you should. It's a blog purportedly coming out of Baghdad.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Nuremberg and the environment

I grew up with my mother's stories about JFK. In her fond reminiscence, he attains the mythic powers and stature of an epic hero. She was in Dallas the day he was killed. I've heard the stories over and over again. She calls him "Jack Kennedy" and goes misty-eyed and shining-faced when she talks about that era. (Never mind that she was a single mother working two jobs and living with her parents--hardly having a good time of it.)

So when I went to listen to Robert Kennedy Jr. speak, Saturday evening, I think I was hoping for something akin to the Kennedys of my mother's fond remembrance.

I also want to make note of the rather disappointing turn-out for his speech. Seattle is a pretty liberal city, but the appearance was poorly publicized--no doubt at least partly to blame for the small crowd.

I noticed that the folks who did show up and sit through the speech--rightfully denouncing illegal coal-burning power-plants--all expressed a longing for a 60's-style Kennedy to follow. They said this either directly or obliquely--but the longing was apparent. During the question and answer period, over and over, people asked: What can we do? Who can we follow? We remember your father, we remember your uncle.

The mostly unspoken question--are you like them?--went unanswered. One woman gamely hung on to the microphone and said, "We had leaders in the '60s, your uncle, your father. We need a leader like that today--maybe you...?" And she trailed off. There was a heartbeat or two of embarrassed silence. Then the microphone was passed on to the next questioner.

You know what? I was disappointed.

It took me a day or two to realized how very unfair that reaction really was. For one thing, I wasn't alive when JFK was assassinated. I don't have any first-hand knowledge of that era, and the mood and the people and the culture. It seems terribly unfair to hold a living human being up to a fallen hero that I never followed, I've only heard stories about.

I'm don't really know that much about RFK Jr., but I will plug his book, Crimes Against Nature : How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy. (The title pretty much reveals everything you can expect from the book itself.)

Among other things, Kennedy says point blank (in this interview) that GW is "the most corrupt and immoral President that we have had in American history."

RFK Jr. also refers to something Herman Goerring said:

Naturally, the common people don't want war... (but)
it is always a simple matter to drag people along ... All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the
pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.

--Herman Goerring, the Nuremberg trials,1946.

I just thought it bore repeating. I'll give you a second to digest it, in case you hadn't seen it before.

Artificially linking the Nuremberg Trials with current environmental issues might seem a bit forced; however, RFK Jr. made it seem perfectly logical. This article is worth reading. So is this one.

By way of parting, since we're speaking of that era, I'll also direct you to Eisenhower's farewell speech:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Disappointingly, my mother voted for Bush. I have no fucking idea why. I keep thinking that if I can only understand that, I'll have a beginning of an idea what we're up against, and how to combat it.

Atlanta Nights

I mentioned a sting on Publish America, a few posts back. The book, Atlanta Nights, will shortly be getting an ISBN of its very own. It has a blogosphere radar profile rapidly becoming incandescent.

If you need to catch up, the official press release explains the chain of events beautifully. The story of the pseudonym "Travis Tea" is nearly as entertaining as the book. The acceptance letter from PublishAmerica is here, and the contract is here.

Meanwhile, you can watch the ongoing discussion at Absolute Write, Making Light, Critters,or Metafilter. You can also see what one of the involved authors had to say about the whole idea on Robin Hobb's newsgroup. Look fast, because I don't think those archives hang around very long.

It all serves as a cautionary tale for those searching for a book publisher: scams abound, and there is no shortage of unscrupulous companies and individuals willing to exploit new writers.

Proceeds from the sales of Atlanta Nights will benefit the Science Fiction Writers of America's Emergency Medical fund.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Today, January 27th

Today is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. I wish I could think of something new and profound to write, on this day. But these events happened a couple of decades before I was even born--and anything I might try to add would sound hollow. And redundant. At least to me.

But I can offer a prayer--

And a picture is worth a thousand words.

Especially when there just aren't words, enough.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I've done something hopelessly stupid to my template.

Bear with me, while I try to figure out why the sidebar has dropped to the bottom of the posts....

*sigh* Now, if only I weren't such a complete techno-moron, I could fix it, and add some snazzy new features while I was at it.

Edited to say: All better now.

Strange new world...

I've recently bumped into the strange and skewed world of fanfic.

I'm not going to post any links, since a quick google search will certainly land anyone who cares to look in the middle of more fanfic than they can shovel themselves back out of.

Now, please understand that the adjectives "strange" and "skewed" aren't meant in a derogatory way; rather, I find myself at a loss for any other way to describe this stuff. Some of it is frankly awful.

But some of it is disconcertingly...well-written. I almost said good, but then I had an attack of goody-two-shoes ethical heebie-jeebies at the idea of appropriating someone else's characters and universe, and then moving stuff around without permission.

A couple of the interesting things, writerly ethics aside:

1.) My write a story that takes such strong hold of readers that they can't let go of it once it's over...

2.) Interesting compulsion to "finish" someone else's story: the writer let me down by not pushing this as far as I think s/he could/should have...

3.) Slash: What the hell is this about? In some cases, about the fan's own unresolved sex-stuff, of course. In other cases, perhaps about tension the author/creator set up, that went nowhere, leaving fans feeling like the tension was unresolved, and the promised pay-off didn't happen.

I'm just sayin'.

It bears thinking about.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Publish and Perish

Heh. Seems that a group of writers from SFWA recently executed a rather telling sting against Publish America. You can read all about it here on the Absolute Write website.

The involved parties are understandably gleeful about showing PA up VERY publicly for exactly the scummy, scammy, exploitative operation they really are. And they deserve to feel glee. If you look at the manuscript, it is funny. Hold-your-sides, blood-pressure-popping funny.

Many of the writers involved with the project have taken no end of crappy and abusive repercussions for the work they do to expose this company. PA preys on the dreams of would-be writers with all the avarice and slick patter of a telephone con-artist working a scheme to part senior citizens from their savings.

At the same time, I feel so profoundly sad for the people who labored long hours--giving up time with family, staying up too late, and rising before any one else was awake--to finish a book they dreamed of selling. A book they loved and believed in. And in the face of all this, I think the PA authors that continue to defend their company aren't really defending Publish America at all, deep down.

They are trying very hard to continue to defend that book they love and believe in.


Friday, January 21, 2005


...I just don't think the colon/semicolon thing is going to work out, after all.

I just...I really miss my em-dash. I can't move forward, until I get some closure, there.

Oh, I know what you'll tell me. It's irresponsible and improper. I know. Trust me I know. You'll probably mention that nothing so flighty as an em-dash is going to make me happy in the long run, especially considering how badly I abuse it.

I've had all those same arguments with myself.

*Sigh* Everything has to be so damn difficult.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


As a hedonist by nature, I try not to make New Year's resolutions. They typically get in the way of my continuing pursuit of dissipation.

However, I've recently been examining an alarming trend: the issue of the rapidly disappearing and dreadfully misunderstood colon and semicolon. The shocking neglect I've recently observed has led me to a change of heart regarding resolutions. I resolve to make at least a token attempt to do my part and use these oft-overlooked bits of punctuation. I think this terribly necessary; otherwise, these useful markers could become so endangered that no one with a public-school education can readily identify them.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Fiction-writing note to myself for the week:

No matter HOW bloody smart you think you are, it really DOES help to plot the damn thing first.