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Thursday, November 8, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Last night I dreamed that I woke up and the clock was broken so I couldn't tell what time it was, and I wandered around the house being really really sleepy. Eventually I lay down on the floor of the bedroom and M covered me up with something. For some reason I wanted her to think I was asleep, so I made my breathing slow and deep, and eventually (in the dream) I fell asleep.

So there I was, lying asleep, dreaming that I was lying asleep.

Then the alarm went off.

Two bits of good news from GigaLaw.

Judge: Yahoo not bound by French Nazi ban:

"Judge Fogel's ruling holds that if you have a U.S.-based Web site, you are subject to U.S. law and you are protected by the First Amendment. Foreign court orders will not be enforced."

Cyber-security czar snubs id plan:

As technology companies promote the idea of a national identification card, the president's special adviser on cyber-security said Wednesday the idea has little support within the Bush administration.

What's this about technology companies promoting the idea? Here:

Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp. was the first to push ID cards, suggesting his company's database software should be used. Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Scott McNealy was next, and earlier Wednesday Siebel Systems Inc. announced "Homeland Security" software.

Of course this must be inaccurate reporting; I can't believe these paragons of industry are really amoral profiteering scum, willing to sell their fellow citizens down the river for a buck. Eh, what?

While I'm being cranky, here's this week's Thing I Didn't Say:

Excuse me, ma'am, but could you speak up a little? I think there are still two or three people, 'way over on the other side of the restaurant, who don't yet know that all of your children married Catholics.

This bipartisanship and cooperation is all well and good, Mr. President...

More on theocracy and socialism; a reader writes:

A public official having voluntary prayers in his office is as severe as government taking 1/2 of people's money???? What have personal liberties done in the past 100 years? Economic liberites? How would you describe the role of Christianity in setting American policy then and now? Which way is that trend? How about gov't taxation and spending?

Well, note that it's not just "a public official"; it's the Attorney General, the Head Cop, the guy who decides which Federal laws get enforced against whom. And it's not exactly "taking 1/2 of people's money"; it's a possible 50% marginal tax rate on certain very rich people who haven't taken advantage of any of the numerous loopholes that allow various rich people and corporations to pay little or no tax at all. Given those two considerations, yes I do think it's as severe. More severe, even!

I'm not sure that the trends of the last hundred years are especially relevant to today's voting decisions. Freedom of thought and belief have been doing pretty well in the long run (maybe because people like me vote for whacko lefties!). Government meddling in the market where it has no business has been pretty much an upward trend also, unfortunately.

Regardless of trends, though, the important thing for me is the absolute level: at the moment I consider the threats to freedom of thought and belief and communication to be nastier and more important to guard against than the threats to my discretionary spending. Call me crazy, but...

Dan would later learn that there was a time when anyone could have debugging tools. There were even free debugging tools available on CD or downloadable over the net. But ordinary users started using them to bypass copyright monitors, and eventually a judge ruled that this had become their principal use in actual practice. This meant they were illegal; the debuggers' developers were sent to prison.

I'm 60 out of 100:

You are a dedicated weblogger. You post frequently because you enjoy weblogging a lot, yet you still manage to have a social life. You're the best kind of weblogger. Way to go!

On to the referer logs. Our dilettantism is demonstrated again: here's an article about weblogs that links to us, and says that we are "concerned with the nuts and bolts of legal theory". Remember when we were doing that? Now it's all digital pictures and novel writing.

Here's a scary one! Some time after weblogs.com went from a "poll the blogs" model to a "wait for the blogs to ping me" model, Dave Winer apparently wrote a little 'bot that would automate the ping for fifty-two "favorite" blogs that weren't doing it yet themselves. Here's the page about the 'bot, and the list of blogs it is/was polling. Look who's on it! Cool...

Day Eight

Novel Writing! So my goal for yesterday was a bit ambitious, as it turns out. I didn't make 18,000, but it was still a Good Day by the standards set forth on Day One. Haven't written a word yet today, because I wanted to linger in the house among the family rather than sitting at the corner deli this morning. And lingering in the house among the family didn't turn out to be conducive to writing.

This week's top procrastination method: fiddling around in PhotoShop, making silly day-number images for the lefthand image bar.

Another favorite passage: I was reading over the Novel last night while singing songs to the little boy (I can read while singing, but I definitely can't write while singing!). I picked out this bit, from early on:

The soil by the river is dark and rich, full of seeds and the roots of grasses. Their sticks stir up insects and worms, small white rocks and larger brown stones. They shift around on the rocks, now one of them and now another on the wet flat stone that rests on the bank itself. No one will fall into the river today.

So there you are.

(Meanwhile, Caterina reveals that yesterday she wrote more than three thousand words of some other story! Some people, I tell ya.)

End of day seven: 17,558
Today's goal: 19,600

Wednesday, November 7, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

So we passed the amendment to make the state Constitution gender-neutral; that's good! (Can't find a link.)

On my thoughts about democracy and theocracy yesterday, a reader writes:

People making 6 figures pay 50%+ in marginal rates, but I have yet to see a theocracy emerge.

which is quite true. On the other hand, it would be equally true to write:

The Attorney General holds prayer meetings in his office and we've had a President declare that no atheist can be a patriot, but I have yet to see the computer industry nationalized.

We're clearly in a highly intermediate state, between pure capitalism and pure socialism, between a purely religion-neutral government and a theocracy. For me, on the occasions when no candidate is available who supports both kinds of freedom, I will grit my teeth and vote for freedom of thought, even if it means restrictions on freedom of wallet.

Necco wafers! (Necco wafers!) The Web is rather sparse in references to these odd little pharmaceuticals. Is no one's collection of Necco Wafer Memoribilia online? Is there no discussion of why they make your tongue numb? (Do they make anyone else's tongue numb?)

Necco wafers are mentioned in Chip Kidd's "The Cheese Monkeys", and we gave them out to children at our house this Hallowe'en. Bizarre coincidence, or Sazidarian plot?

The latest DVD featuring cartoon sensation "The Powerpuff Girls" may boast fun games for young PC users, but three computer programs on the disc have also been infected by the "FunLove" virus, CNET News.com has learned.

Beth cites an article on very cool (and non-fatal) meme warfare against the Taliban: build soap operas, not bomb! (Oh, all right, maybe as well as bombs.)

They can't shake the foundations of OUR secular humanism! Tom Tomorrow goes all the way through PoMo irony and comes out the other side. (The unnerving thing about this particular cartoon, for me, is that he uses the same deadpan ironic style that he usually uses to ridicule opinions he opposes, but he's using them to express an opinion that, I think, he believes. Yow!)

Am I the last one to notice that the release build of Windows XP is Build 2600? Bizarre coincidence, or h4x0r pl0t?

Day Seven

Novel Writing! Caterina has been posting favorite sentences from each of her days' writing. She is working on a very different model than mine, actually editing her text after writing it, taking out bits that she doesn't like, revising, becoming familiar with her words enough to have favorites. I normally do that when I write, but I'm not being normal this month! *8)

Still, let's comb through the recent novel and see what we can hold up to the light of public scrutiny. Hmm...

I'm not sure I've been writing a lot of gemlike sentences lately. Here's a passage I like:

Halfway across the city, the corner is still there, the stolid building, the arch and alcove in the wall. Now the sky is nearly clear, the dawn haze burnt or blown away by the day. The quality of the light is fine. Hunter sits on the pavement, propped against the inner wall of the cell, and takes out a sheaf of paper.

A lot of it is like that: descriptions of things, people sitting down, bits of paper. Not much in the way of revealed inner thoughts or explicit philosophical insights. The other day the little daughter was talking about the kinds of points of view that they'd been learning about in English class (sorry, "Humanities"). My writing often seems to come out Third Person Limited; the narrator can see and hear everything everywhere, but (usually) not read minds.

Made my goal yesterday, by a bit. Haven't written a word so far today...

End of day six: 15,511
Today's goal: 18,000 (!!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

It's ELECTION DAY in the U.S., so all you USians get out there and elect things! Of course it's a wildly off-year election. I voted for making the state constitution gender-neutral (duh!), voted for the popular Town Supervisor who's running unopposed, voted for both of the candidates for some "vote for any two" judge position.

As usual when some candidate I favored was listed in multiple parties I voted in the most off-beat and leftist row (Liberal, Green). I had a rather odd feeling doing this; I mean, the rather rational folks down at Reason Magazine probably wouldn't approve. Am I being Part of the Problem here, I asked myself? Am I shoring up the Nanny State, and Big Government? But then I remembered: I'm not voting for centralized control of the economy, I'm voting against theocracy, against mind control, against the notion that what's good for the DVDCCA is good for the country.

DVDCCA's statutory right to protect its economically valuable trade secret is not an interest that is "more fundamental" than the First Amendment right to freedom of speech or even on equal footing with the national security interests and other vital governmental interests that have previously been found insufficient to justify a prior restraint. Our respect for the Legislature and its enactment of the UTSA cannot displace our duty to safeguard the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Accordingly, we are compelled to reverse the preliminary injunction.

Huzzah! I imagine everyone else has already blogged this, but I haven't been reading the tech blogs much lately. I highly recommend reading the entire judgement; it's quite lucid and memorable (the poor trial judge must be wishing he'd spell-checked his original decision; all those "[sic]"s in quotations from his decision don't look very good).

Here's a ZDNet story on the verdict, and a Bay Insider story, in which the lawyer from the DVDCCA makes an idiot of himself by using the phrase "economic terrorists".

From NTK, great moments in propaganda: "Dewhurst campaign ad: The flag is ours, but what's with the German officer?"

Things the government no longer tells us.

Microsoft fixes another gaping Windows / Passport security hole. But it's really secure this time, honest. Microsoft is your friend; trust Microsoft with all your data. And your checking account.

From Urfe, the Sorting Hat. I'm a Hufflepuff, which is probably pretty accurate.

Also from Urfe, some very nice reviews of sex(y) webjournals, by our own Heather Corinna. (Whaddya mean, "our own"; who's "us"? Fans of Scarlet Letters, probably. Or just people who like to drop Heather's name into conversations.)

Speaking of which, a reader writes (link mine):

Actually, that clown photo is a photo done by an artist who's shown at Scarlet Letters before, Kevin Hundsnurscher, and no, 'tisn't Jane. :) - HC

Ah, right, that's where I saw it! Here are two others from that same series in their true home, on a page you might want to think twice before viewing at work. Or not, depending.

Day Six

Novel Writing! It's going just fine, thanks. We got up above 13,000 by staying up only a little late last night, and we wrote much of today's allotment this morning over the usual breakfast sandwich at the corner deli. As usual, you shouldn't read it.

End of day five: 13,289
Current count: 14,537
Today's goal: 15,500 (!)

Beth Roberts is thinking about writing a novel (I'd love to see a fictionalization of the Pinata Manifesto!). Katy at fallible.com is writing a novel and she's posted a very nice story from it on her blog. Marrije is writing a novel, and she's devoting a month of her booklog to it (she's also over 10,000 words; keep it up!).

You can see a picture of Marrije in a mirror on the memorable Mirror Project website. I like the "random" button there; what could be better than pictures of random people in mirrors? (Rhetorical question!)

A couple of readers sent suggestions for inexpensive lap-typewriters for the little daughter. People mentioned the QuickPad, a Palm thing with the optional (un)folding keyboard, the AlphaSmart, and the CalcuScribe. Has anyone ever used any of these?

Monday, November 5, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

So Kidd's "The Cheese Monkeys" is about eighty or ninety percent of a good solid book. Note to self, to be read on (say) November 20th or thereabouts: endings are tough. Most of Cheese Monkeys is a funny hip wry educational novel about youth and school and love, but mostly about art and design, a novel of ideas, as well as a laff-riot. Just before the Frat Party scene, though, Kidd seems to have recognized that he'd better be wrapping it up soon, and reached for the explosives.

Someone really ought to do a study of Needlessly Apocalyptic Endings in the Modern Novel. It could have a chapter on The Cheese Monkeys, and a whole section on Umberto Eco (with an emphasis on Foucault's Pendulum). The last couple chapters of The Cheese Monkeys in particular seem to be an extended hallucination of chaos, brought on by the protagonist's lack of sleep due to studying for finals. It's decent as stream of consciousness writing goes, but I'd kinda like to know what actually happened. Unless I'm just overly dense, Kidd seems to be ignoring his own very convincingly presented design rule: when designing an object of whatever kind, it's more important that it accomplish the purpose than that it look clever.

Ah, well.

So last night while M put the little boy to bed I sat on the little daughter's couch writing, while she started her own novel in a looseleaf notebook (does anyone make a cheap laptop-sized thing that can be used to write novels, and not necessarily anything else?). The word count got over ten thousand without much trouble; the story of the powerplant in the war wrapped up nicely, and the main protagonist is now sheltering from the rain in the shadow of a building, about to make a Significant Discovery. (Unless I change my mind.)

Day Five

After everyone else was asleep, I stayed up too late finishing The Cheese Monkeys; this was probably a mistake, both because the annoying replicators from last week seem to be staging a comeback at the rear of my throat (sniffle, sniffle), and because I dunno how I'm gonna find the time to write two thousand (or even eighteen hundred) words today on Day Five; I did Aerobic Things at the gym this morning, I have to spend the day today working on a different kind of fiction (just kidding, Steve, ha ha ha!), and tonight M is going to the PTA meeting so I'm putting the kids to bed by myself. I guess I could stay up late again (sniffle, sniffle)...

Geegaw mentions the eclectic book collection of Jim at Everything Burns, who it turns out links to me about the Codex Seraphinianus, and mentions in the same breath the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, which frankly gets my vote for Most Likely to be a Hoax Perpetrated by Whimsical Art and Literary Historians, but if it really exists could someone fax me a copy? Thanks!

On the speakers: "Brian Eno-esque? You Bet!", an mp3.com station with a silly name but some good music for writing weblogs by.

Current word count: 10,914.
Target for today: 13,000. (gulp!)

(Oh, and note that we had an entry yesterday; I think I forgot to tell weblogs.com about it. Gotta write that SOAP call sometime...)

Sunday, November 4, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Whatever you have left behind along the way, let it be forgotten in this place. If you have lost your innocence, tell us the story of your new maturity. If you have lost illusions, tell us your truths.

That's me, waxing pretentious in the current draft of The Novel, in a little inter-chapter section that would be in an italic font if there was some medium as comfortable as flat ASCII that knew about italics.

Day Four

So here we are in Day Four. The word count at the end of Day Three was 8269. By the standards promulgated back on Day One, Thursday and Saturday were Really Good Days, and Friday a merely Good day. But wordcount-wise, we're in no trouble at all.

This is fascinating stuff, this complicated new structure differentiating its memery through the scaffolding of my mind. I'm not entirely happy with the vague faux-European setting of The Story So Far (what the heck kind of name is "Shatyl", anyway; probably Yiddish for "earlobe" or something), nor with the unspecified early XXth century chronostead. But thanks to the lovely time pressure, I'm probably stuck with them, and that's a Good Thing. It's tempting to introduce a character from (say) XXIst century Chicago, or Berlin, to spirit Hunter off to draw graphics for a dotcom or something. But I suspect I'll resist.

All sorts of temptations occur, in fact (of course). Various sharp-eyed sexually aggressive female characters keep sending in their resumés, but we're keeping them in the in-basket for now. The little kiddie-porn ménage à trois in Chapter Three is all the concession I want to make to the Priapus Party at the moment. Even poor Ona has been exiled to a half-sentence future involving unspecified men, and some sort of marriage.

It's not that I'm afraid of sharp-eyed sexually aggressive females ('course not). It's just that if too much of what you write is about bookish young men with whom beautiful intelligent women want to have casual but deeply fulfilling sex, well, it looks sort of suspicious. I'm not eager to be evidence for my own theory.

One of the nastiest temptations occurs just because the word count is in fact going so well. I'd assumed I'd be hardpressed for the entire month, forced to write flat-out by the demands of required volume, never far from a desparate reaching for quick images that might accidentally bring up something brilliant. But since I haven't yet been in any danger of slipping under that eighteen hundred word a day barrier, it's tempting to think that there's slack time, and some process in my brain wants me to stop, to reread, to try to stay within various constraints that I would feel justified in ignoring, that might not even occur to me, if I were more pressed for time and letters.

I feel, for instance, that I should try to develop some plot around this Hunter guy, who seems to have become the protagonist. If he were to vanish entirely, it'd be kind of odd. And on the other hand if he were to be taken up in a big bold fast-moving plot (Find the Crown Jewels, Discover the Spy, Stop the Assassins), the first three chapters of slow wandering discourse about the origin of his boxer shorts would seem vestigal in retrospect. If I were more rushed, I'd have an excuse not to worry about this.

But anyway! Klara is pregnant (and likes to make soup), Hunter is going to class, and we are visiting Uncle Shaytl in that dismal city, with the threat of bombers overhead and the guards at the power-plant door. My current plan is to return to Hunter in the next chapter, and take him down into an interesting abyss (physical, if not psychical), where he might find something vaguely resembling a plot. Or at least some interesting stuff to draw...

(The flip and ironic tone, if any, of today's entry is thanks to Chip Kidd, whose very funny and hip "Cheese Monkeys" M picked up over the weekend in our favorite Cold Spring bookstore, and which I've now started reading on her recommendation. The tone and subject matter of that are so infinitely removed from anything in the Work In Progress that I have no fear of contamination. I also owe someone a reassuring email about "Your Name Written on Water"; it's not a bad book, not something I regret having started. It's just not something I'm finishing very quickly just now.)

Current word count: 8822.
Target for today: 10,000.

(Not that I'm doing absolutely nothing else. We went and saw "Monsters, Inc" yesterday; it was good. We've played many games of "Apples to Apples" since the little daughter bought it at Barnes and Noble last night; it's great fun. Life goes on; I'm just writing this novel...)

Friday, November 2, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Hello and welcome to Dorchester where a very good crowd has turned out to watch local boy Thomas Hardy write his new novel 'The Return of the Native' on this very pleasant July morning.

Funny I haven't seen anyone else mention that in all this NaNoWriMo stuff...

So anyway at the end of Day One the word count was 3605. Woo-woo! We could have crossed out five words today and still been on target.

(We didn't do that, though.)

The word count is currently (let's see) 4947. Most of the day was spent helping out at the Book Fair at the little boy's school, which M has been Chairing all week (since the original Chair was called away by a family emergency). I definitely want to get to at least like 5700 today; that shouldn't be hard.

The draft, as before, is here, all two and a half chapters, although as before I don't highly recommend reading it. The first bit of Being Silly has already crept in; I'm not sure if I'll keep the "Questions" sections at the ends of the chapters, but I like them at the moment, and if I do change my mind it'll be easy to slice them out.

Caterina is also writing a November novel, and she even blogged the fact that I am! Looks like a big chunk of the gang down at MetaFilter, and a burb full of journalers, are also. Isn't community fun?

I've been offline all day, so I have little of note to blog. Here's something from the backlist: various Discordian calendars, for your amusement.


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