Saturday, September 29, 2007

Times like these

I get e-mailings from Glimmer Train Press. I keep meaning to send them a short memoir type thing I have that is arguably "literary". Anyhow... The e-mail announcing the latest contest deadlines begins...
In these times, we have to keep our eyes on the things that matter most: the life and health of our families, our communities, the planet.
These times? What is that? Mondays?

Oh, I'm fairly certain I know what "these times" is referring to, but I still get a chuckle out of the assumption that those receiving the e-mail will find some connection with that opening statement.

I've talked about assumptions before. And at least Glimmer Train was euphemistic enough that it was amusing rather than annoying.

I'm annoyed enough to stop clicking on Making Light just to check to see if maybe there is something useful about publishing or writing science fiction posted. I've been directed to good threads there about publishing with links from other people but waiting for those links might be my best option because I'm only finding politics when I look, and mostly the "aren't conservatives imbeciles" sort. Knowing that the authors are a couple of the major science fiction editors in the business makes me wonder... does the blog exposure effectively thin their workload of manuscripts containing unwanted ideology?

Well, it can't annoy me if I don't look.

Fairy Dust

Why does "international community diplomacy" = Fairy Dust?

I believe it is because we've lost sight of the fact that Diplomacy *is* War.

We think it's not war, that it's something different and civilized. When we don't understand that diplomacy isn't making *nice* but that it's a projection of force rather than persuasion... it's no surprise that it is so ineffective.

What does "do something in Burma" mean?

Instapundit linked to this article by Vaclav Havel lamenting that the international community isn't doing something about Burma.

What does he think ought to be done?

Reading the comments has depressed me. There are a couple of people who see the problem but most, even those not overtly anti-American or anti-UK, miss it entirely. What does "do something" mean?

Even those who agree that "something" must be done are more concerned with "who" does it than "what". The fellow who really torqued me, ellis, also made the best point, even if he/she doesn't realize what that point was:
One very simple thing to do is to set a good example.
Right now it is no contest which governments are "butchering" the most innocent people.
And the suspicion is that Havel's prescription would lead to the deaths of many more, just as it did in Iraq, just as it could in Iran.
If we're going by *fewest deaths* the fact is that doing absolutely nothing but stand by while a government kills its people... until they get tired of it... will result in the fewest total deaths. The bad guys will kill the good guys until the good guys are too weak to cause problems and the result? The result will be PEACE.

The *only* way that intervening makes sense is if we want the bad guys to die and the good guys to live.


The best point on the other side of it is from a fellow going by Tourbillon:

To leave you with an adult thought (meaning a distastefully realistic one): international community diplomacy + US military power = US military power. Get over it. Move on. Instead of wondering why fairy dust is not working in Burma, [...],
Tourbillon has the answer to the question... what is "something?" Oh, it's not that other military power can't do what US military power can do. It's that they *won't*. And when people are wringing their hands and talking about the international community "doing something" they aren't talking about military power, they're talking about "international community diplomacy"... ie. Fairy Dust.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Arrogance

Someone once said (no idea who) that a writer had to have a bit of arrogance to succeed, and it seemed so obviously true to me. When I mention this to other writers they get a bit upset, and that always surprises me, but I suppose arrogant isn't considered very nice.

Yet without a touch of arrogance how am I supposed to think that what I'm writing is either important enough or interesting enough that other people should read it instead of something else better?

And when I look at those writers, published or (often enough) unpublished who actually churn stuff out... quite often the ones *producing* are, in my opinion, rather arrogant.

Where is the self-doubt that I struggle with? It sometimes makes me a little angry. How dare they be so full of themselves that they think they can succeed at this?

I think of one of the men in a script-writing group I went to a couple of times. He was a nice, helpful, guy. But he was arrogant when it came to his writing. He really was. It didn't seem to ever occur to him that his terribly important social-issue stories and utterly fabulous ideas (he actually asked us to not tell anyone and absolutely not take a certain idea ourselves... which was essentially an "in someone else's shoes" concept applied to a prominent international political issue) seemed... trite. Well, they seemed trite to me because I disagreed with him on social issues and politics. The others didn't seem to think they were trite. They were also *arrogant* ideas in that he presumed to preach on social issues that he had no experience with whatsoever. Normally I reject the idea that a person can only write about their own situation but when the whole *point* of the story is a racial statement?

Anyhow, that's not the point I meant to make. My point was that this guy very well may sell something, may become a selling scriptwriter and make lots of money, and the reason that he will isn't because his ideas are so great. The reason he will most likely be successful is because he *believes* his ideas are so great. And he *writes* them.

It's just a touch of arrogance. Just a touch.

But I'm convinced that it's essential. And I'm trying to talk myself into a similar state. Just enough full of myself to believe, to really believe, that the world *needs* my stories, that the world will be a poorer place if I don't do the work, that I'm talented enough and perceptive enough that it's simply a matter of *doing* it.

Darn it

The female preying mantis laid her eggs, quit eating, and died.

I half-way expected that, too.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Invincible Stupidity

I don't know who said it first but the description is just so *apt*.

Tim Blair reports , via LGF, that Mary Mapes is still in denial.

Short version?

The "far right blogosphere bully boys" were mean!

It was *scary*.

I'm sure it was. I'm sure it was piss-your-pants scary to have the very foundation of her ordered world shaken to destruction. Because we're just supposed to say "Yes, Ma'am" and "You're the expert, Ma'am," and "May I have another?"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Warping reality

So...

I'm making notes, analog style, in a notebook with a pen and I realize that I've spelled a word wrong and for the barest moment I wonder... where's the squiggly red line?

(I'm trying to decide if the fact that the pen had red ink contributed in any way.)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I knew it was going to happen but...

My scorpions died a while ago so I cleaned out the terrarium and put a preying mantis in it. My husband said that if we kept it and fed it all winter that it would be huge by spring. Cool beans.

I told the kids I thought it was a girl mantis.

The other night we got home late and there were a couple skinny mantises with straight wings on the screen door. Boy mantises!

So... we put a boy mantis in with the girl mantis.

They mated!

And then she bit off his head.

And ate him.

Now, I knew this was going to happen. At least I figured it was highly likely. I still feel guilty. Like a mantis killer. What did that poor guy do to deserve that? I felt horrible. And it was gruesome. He walked around headless while she ate his head. Not that he got very far. And then she ate the rest.

And I tell myself... if he found a girl friend in the wild, she'd have eaten his head, too. Or maybe he wouldn't have found a mate and when it got cold he'd just die with nothing to show for it.

I feel guilty every time I squish a spider, too. (Which isn't often... trust me.)

Something about certain creatures just makes them seem to have... personality or something.

I can butcher a chicken and I kill mice for my snakes every time I feed them. I am *not* squeamish.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's GOOD that we're at the mall

Monday, September 10, 2007

America isn't at War - America is at the Mall

I've seen discussion of the draft a couple of places lately and I have to admit that I haven't read them carefully. Though I've no doubt that the commentary is fabulous, my opinions on the draft are fairly well set. While I find the issue interesting in a whole lot of ways I didn't feel I had a whole lot to add at this point.

But for this thought: While it's true that part of the disconnect between citizens and our military is due to the fact that so few people have military experience or even know anyone who is actively serving today, a larger military isn't going to help much. Even if we *doubled* the size of our military the totals would still be only a couple of percents of the entire population of this country. The (admittedly astute) observation I've put as the title of this post would *still* be true.

Even with a military doubled in size most Americans would have no experience with military service or military life.

We're probably better off looking at "America isn't at War - America is at the Mall" as a feature, rather than a bug.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bragging on my kids

My daughter got voted Best in Show - Student entry at the Bubonicon art show.

I must say that she was the only student entry, but her two pictures were every bit as good as the adult amateur entries.

Best yet, she got $20!

I'm trying to get her to put a coloring book together of some "cute and appropriate for little kids" anime style pictures. A 20 page note-pad style coloring book at Kinko's will cost $3 to have made (if we put a color print on the cover and the coloring pages are one-sided) and $5 seems a bit pricey to sell them. But there's no lower limit to the number I'd have to order, which is a major plus. It wouldn't cost any more, each item, to make a variety of covers or a whole different coloring book with more of a "goth" quality to it, which is also a plus.

G. I. Joe

Some talk about the possible new G.I. Joe movie.

Seems someone thinks that there is a market for a big screen G.I. Joe but that all the G.I. Joe-ness needs to be removed because there is *not* a big screen market for G.I. Joe.

(Predictable result, those who would like this movie will hate it for what was taken out and those for whom the Joe-ness was removed will *still* dislike it. Lose-lose for everyone.)

Best quote...
It’s like the entire US entertainment industry has been taken over by George Clooney’s puppies.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What isn't funny about Vietnam

Read this.

Mark Steyn is always astute. Consider...


Then as now, the anti-war debate is conducted as if it's only about the place you're fighting in: Vietnam is a quagmire, Iraq is a quagmire, so get out of the quagmire. Wrong. The " Vietnam war" was about Vietnam if you had the misfortune to live in Saigon. But if you lived in Damascus and Moscow and Havana, the Vietnam war was about America: American credibility, American purpose, American will. For our enemies today, it still is.


h/t Neo-Neocon.

Vietnam War Comedy

I happened to mention Hogan's Heroes to my husband and he made the observation that the purpose was to heal after WW2. He also pointed out that we'd had comedies for every war so far but Vietnam.

Then he said, "Well, MASH was actually about Vietnam."

That may be so, but it couldn't be explicitly about Vietnam. That's why it had to be moved back in time to Korea.

Will we ever be ready for a Vietnam sit-com?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mark Cuban - Redacted

Pat Dollard is not impressed...

So far neither he or DePalma have explained how they can be “bringing the truth of the Iraq war to the American people”, as Louie DePalma has said, when neither of them have ever been to Iraq, filmed any of “Redacted” in Iraq, or spent one minute with any soldier in Iraq.

h/t to Ace.

Here's an article about DePalma and the movie in Venice.

"The movie is an attempt to bring the reality of what is happening in Iraq to the American people," he told reporters after a press screening.

Mark Cuban, in the comments to Pat Dollard's post says,

If and when you see Redacted, you will know it is definitely Anti War. But it is also Pro Troops. The hero is the soldier who recognizes that those involved in the crime (which takes up just a small part of the movie), are the aberration and someone needs to make sure the truth is told so not all troops are condemned.

Read what the article says about DePalma and what he said about the goal for fliming this movie and try to reconcile that with what Cuban had to say.

Since DePalma has stated that his goal is to "nauseate" the American public, I doubt very much that his "reality of what is happening in Iraq" is going to be a portrait of scores of heroic soldiers standing up for truth and justice against the aberration of a very few.

Pro-Troops. One is tempted to say, "this word... I do not think it means what you think it means."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sci-Fi movies

Bruce on QandO posted about Sir Ridley Scott who said that science fiction movies are " going the way the Western."

QandO asked these question's...

So A) do you agree with Scott that the genre is "dead"? Or is this like the guy who wanted to close the patent office because he thought everything that could be invented had been invented?

B) do you agree 2001 is the standard for "best of the best" in Sci-Fi movies?

C) do you have any other Sci-Fi movies you'd add to Alien, 2001 and Forbidden Planet as among the best?

My answers...

A. No.
B. I haven’t been able to watch 2001 to the end.
C. The Fifth Element. That one with Vin Deisel doesn’t get near the credit it deserves. There are so many that are good and so many that are good but not remarkable.

And so many that are bad.

I’d suggest that one problem is that the science fiction movies that appeal to a non-science fiction audience simply aren’t very good and the really good movies that do science fiction very well aren’t considered particularly good because they self-limit the audience by being weird.

Ah, I just remembered the name... Chronicles of Riddick. Pitch Black was a really *good* science fiction movie that, underneath the "people die one by one" was squarely based on redemption with the twist that the wrong person survived. The sequel, Riddick was created for the big screen and the story, really, is very good... the forces of evil aren’t defeated and the hero isn’t a good guy and there’s enough strangeness to juxtapose unreality against stark human truth.

But it doesn’t seem intellectual on the surface of it. Someone who likes to go to the high-brow shows isn’t going to get past, "Well, there’s a death cult, see, except that what they are preaching is actually real, so it’s sort of like they’re turning everyone into zombies except that they don’t rot."

Blade Runner is a very good movie but it’s almost equally as Riddick, on the surface, about the strangeness. Of course it’s really about who has the right to even desire to live, which is a basic human question.