log (2001/11/23 to 2001/11/30)

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Prokhor Zakharov
Wednesday, November 28, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

End of day twenty-seven: 52,579
Currently: 52,756 and at least as important done!
Today's goal: Jubilation

Now I will fiddle with the wording for the rest of the month, spend some time formatting it up like a book (a real fiction-type book with nice small pages, not one of these unreadable technical books with text ten inches wide), and print it out for M to read.

Gosh, I'm so pleased! I've never written a novel before. NaNoWriMo be blessed, even if I did fail to actually sign up with them in time, and even if they have copped out on their word-counting duties. It's the thought that counts (counts, counts, get it?).

Anyway, I'm taking the rest of the day off (well, not from work or Alpha Centauri or anything (we cornered the world energy market as Sister Miriam, and now we're playing at the third level of difficulty, as the scientist guy with the cool eyes), but from verbal-creative stuff like novel-writing and weblogging), so I will close with these brief words of wisdom from a reader in Africa:



(RE: TRANSFER OF ($ 152,000.000.00 USD ONE HUNDRED
Dear sir,
We want to transfer to overseas ($ 152,000.000.00 USD)
One hundred and
Fifty two million United States Dollars) from a Prime
Bank in Africa, I want to ask you to  quietly  look
for a reliable and honest person who will be
capable  and fit to provide either an existing bank
account  or  to set up a new  Bank a/c  immediately to
receive this money, even an empty a/c can serve to
receive this money, as long as you will remain honest
to me till the end for this important business
trusting in  you and believing  in God that you  will
never let me down either now or in future.

Words to live by. I do wonder, though: is there really a "Rider Haggard Close" in Johannesburg? That would be cool.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Woo woo woo!

End of day twenty-six: 50,390!!!!!
Today's goal: another chapter

So we had a Really Good Day yesterday, wordcount-wise, and we're over fifty thousand words. Fifty thousand words! Also, by really a pretty amazing coincidence, we're almost done with the story. Finish this chapter, and then I think the last chapter, and the writing is done. How strange!

My current plan is to finish it today or tomorrow, and then spend the rest of the month reading over things, making some little twiddles here and there, declare the First Edition done as of the end of 30 November, and then spend weeks fiddling around with the formatting to make something I can give M in hardcopy to actually read.

Back off, man; I'm a novelist.

The present is inconstant. The past is divided into two parts by an unscalable cliff. Observed phenomena include the motions of your hands, and the formation of sweat under your arms. Another table has appeared in the room while I slept. Sleep divides time into segments.

Here are some other WriMo'ers checking in.

Inspired by yesterday's article about school violence and his own childhood memories, Bill found a related article:

"Not only does it lend an almost picnic tone to the concept of school violence, but at a deeper psychological level, it bonds the idea of mass destruction to Walt Disney's 'Snow White.'"

Morphological freedom implies the need to redefine concepts of health and illness.

Here are some of the reasons that human cloning is bad, and must be outlawed:

  • Cloning produces an identical copy of the person cloned, of the same apparent age, and even the same hairstyle.
  • Rich people could clones themselves, and use the duplicates to increase their already-disproportionate power in the world.
  • Clones will have no minds of their own.
  • Clones will automatically become the property of whoever creates them, without any human rights.
  • Clones are extra-strong, and very hard to kill.
  • By cloning experienced soliers, governments could rapidly produce armies of mindless identical super-killers, able to conquer the world.
  • Cloned humans will be mentally unstable.
  • If cloning is allowed, mobs of mentally unstable extra-strong clones will roam the countryside committing atrocities.
  • Cloning will reduce the culture's respect for life, just like antibiotics and prosthetic limbs did.
  • Cloning is forbidden by the Bible.

Accept no substitutes! The official random numbers (link from Bob Clements, who helped find the typos).

From GigaLaw, Wired News on Why Copyright Laws Hurt Culture:

New technologies such as peer-to-peer-based communication and file-exchange programs could force a new look at copyright laws and profoundly change the methods of distribution, Barlow and Lessig both said.

(Yeah, I know, Barlow and Lessig are worried about IP issues, film at eleven. Still, it's good to reinforce the meme now and then.)

From Medley, A Creeping Theocracy: How The U.s. Government Uses Its Power To Enforce Religious Principles:

The government's continuing willingness to press a religious agenda should worry us greatly at a time like this, when our very lives are threatened by extremists who would impose their will in the name of God.

When the Americans who (thankfully!) were released by the Taliban were prominently featured on the radio saying how "this shows that God answers prayers", I had to think "okay, but whose prayers?". By that line of reasoning, what do the events of September 11th "show"?

The last-cited article points in passing to Employment Division v. Smith, 485 U.S 660 (1988), which is about when and how much a law can interfere with religious practices:

If Oregon does prohibit the religious use of peyote, and if that prohibition is consistent with the Federal Constitution (a question that is not decided here), there is no federal right to engage in that conduct in Oregon, and the State is free to withhold unemployment compensation from respondents.

The question explicitly not decided in that case was decided later on, in Employment Div., Ore. Dept. of Human Res. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which held that "[t]he Free Exercise Clause permits the State to prohibit sacramental peyote use". All the opinions are worth reading, at least for scotus fans. There are interesting questions here about just how important a law has to be before it's okay that it keeps some people from practicing their religion. The majority opinion in this case seems to have been unfortunate, basically holding that any law can do that, as long as it's not doing it on purpose. Blackmun's dissent seems to hold a more reasonable standard:

This Court over the years painstakingly has developed a consistent and exacting standard to test the constitutionality of a state statute that burdens the free exercise of religion. Such a statute may stand only if the law in general, and the State's refusal to allow a religious exemption in particular, are justified by a compelling interest that cannot be served by less restrictive means.

Until today, I thought this was a settled and inviolate principle of this Court's First Amendment jurisprudence.

Quote of the day:

War isn't hell because it's painful; war is hell because it contains no possibility of virtue -- only the possibility of more or less serious misunderstandings, and more or less disastrous mistakes, and more or less sincere avowals of necessity.

It strikes me that it's sort of in bad taste to be enjoying these pretend wars in Alpha Centauri with all these real wars going on. In any case, Miriam Godwinson is currently at peace with the lesser factions, and (there being no "aggressively proselytize rival base" action) is attempting to take over Planet by cornering the world energy market. We'll see...

So how sudden will the Singularity come, anyway? I mean, could you go home early one afternoon because you have a hot date, or you need to take your car to the shop, and when you come in the next day there's no one there, because they've all like become gods?

I like to watch steam. There's so much information in steam, and it's not backed up anywhere at all.

Monday, November 26, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Doctors Clone Human Embryo. And it's about time, too! So we didn't get flying cars, or even self-aware computers, but at least we got human cloning into 2001. Well done, guys.

I don't know, but I've been told,
 I don't know, but I've been told,
Deirdre's got a network node.
 Deirdre's got a network node.
Likes to press the on-off switch,
 Likes to press the on-off switch,
Dig that crazy Gaian witch!
 Dig that crazy Gaian witch!   --

So sometime Thanksgiving evening (after the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner that Couldn't be Beat), the little daughter came wandering into the room with a box that I bought from the Cheap Stuff bin down at Babbages the other month and never got around to opening, and she said "what's this?", and I said "I dunno, let's install it and see", and she and I have been doing very little apart from playing Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri ever since.

Sister Miriam Godwinson

As Lady Deirdre Skye of the Stepdaughters of Gaia, I've been declared Supreme Ruler of Planet. As Brother Pravin Lal of the United Nations Peacekeepers, I've brought humanity successfully to the next stage of evolution. Right now, as the red-headed Miriam Godwinson of the Lord's Believers, I've pretty much split up the planet with the trigger-happy Spartans, and am currently squishing CEO Morgan of Morgan Industries like a bug, because he refuses to call off his petty little war with my former foe and now slavish vassal, the quasi-Maoist Yang of the Hive. (These victories were at the easiest, second-easiest, and second-easiest difficulty levels, respectively. Next time through I'll crank it up one more.)

It's a freaking amazing game. (I know, I said that about Dungeon Keeper II also, and after a week or two I never mentioned it again.) The great thing about not buying games until years after they're released (apart from not paying much for them) is that you get to run them on machines twice as big and fast as they were designed for, and they run real smooth.

Anyway, Alpha Centauri is to blame, at least as much as my taking Thanksgiving Day itself off from writing, for the fact that the novel isn't finished yet.

End of day twenty-one: 45,063
End of day twenty-two: 45,063
End of day twenty-three: 46,090
End of day twenty-four: 47,203
End of day twenty-five: 47,579
Currently: 48,575
Today's goal: 49,000 (yow!)

Treating the entire extended holiday weekend as one day, it was a Really Good Day, just barely. On the other hand, on Saturday night I had a real hard time sleeping, both because I was plotting how to get the Spartans to join me in crushing the power-mad Chairman Yang, and because the ending of the novel was wildly forming itself in my brain. Whole scenes, paragraphs, pieces of dialog, were coming together spontaneously, without any help from me (in fact with active resistance from me). "You can't go to sleep right now," the novel was saying, "I'm using these neurons."

Pretty strange. Fun, though.

So anyway, I have again attached a story lifted from the novel as a Sunday entry. Reactions, imprecations, proofreading, all most welcome. (The novel is not entirely a long string of self-contained stories, but they do help with the wordcount!)

More evidence that I have no taste whatever:

Concord, Michigan; November 26, 2001: Just weeks after five junior high school students were arrested in Kentucky following a janitor's discovery of grisly images of teachers and fellow students with 'X' marks drawn over their eyeballs, nearly a dozen high school freshmen in this sleepy Midwestern town have been detained by police for questioning, in what one school administrator said "could have been another Columbine".

My sincere apologies...

Sunday, November 25, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

"Do you think you will marry him?"

"Marry? Which one?"

"Which one?"

And Ona had laughed at the question, and Maria had stopped on the path and put her hands on Ona's shoulders (small strong hands, one finger bent at an odd angle, and Ona had shivered and thought why she could not marry dark Maria, standing there on the path in the twilight), and Maria had told her a story.

"A woman once died and, finding herself in the mists in the field of the dead with a candle in her hand, she walked forward, and after a time she saw ahead of her a golden light. She walked onward, and came to a high gate, with pillars of ivory and handles and fittings of gold, that glowed in the mist like the sun. Beyond the gate the air was clear, and the fields green, and she saw just at the horizon water of the clearest blue. But the woman paused, for the gate was standing open, and unguarded. She stood for a long time, holding the unflickering candle and looking at the gate, but then she turned away, and walked out again into the mists.

"After a long time of wandering, she saw ahead of her a red and smoky light, and heard the sound of wailing. She walked onward, and came again to a high gate, this one of ebony and ruby, shining with the light of madness, and this gate was locked and barred, and guarded by great iron beasts whose eyes steamed and whose jaws slathered. And she stood at that gate for a long time, in the mists. Turning away, she faced out into the fields of the dead again, and here and there in the mists she saw tiny lights, like the light of her own candle, moving slowly this way and that."

Ona had frowned. "I don't think I know what that story means."

"It's just a story," Maria had said, "but I wish someone had told it to me, when I was your age, and beautiful."

And Maria had pulled Ona to her, Ona's face against Maria's shoulder, their arms around each other in the dark, and Ona had felt joy and fear filling her up together, and she closed her eyes.


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