log (2004/10/29 to 2004/11/04)

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Thursday, November 4, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

End of Day Three: 6,020
End of Day Four: 8,016
Tomorrow's goal: 10,000 (!)

So a Good Day today, NaNoWriMo-wise. On the other hand, Bush is still President.

At the moment the novel has morphed into your typical post-cyberpunk "approaching Singularity" near-future geek techno-SF story. I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with this (so much cliché potential and all); on the other hand it is the WriMo, and I'm sort of having fun writing it.

Have to get back to that Austin guy and see how he's doing more thoroughly sometime, though. He used to be the title character, so I'd feel bad to leave him entirely in the lurch.

A reader writes:

No novel from me this year. The election took it out of me. :-( I guess this means they've really "won", huh.

Shucks, that's sad! I certainly understand the feeling; on the other hand I do recommend you consider using the novel to vent and/or energize. Write a scathing political satire, or an inspiring story of justice, or something. If you don't write this month I don't think it means they've actually won, but it would be a small victory for them. On the other hand, if you don't feel up to it you don't feel up to it. I know last year when I made the painful decision not to try, I didn't want to be too scolded about it. *8) So know that we support whatever decision you make, and we love you anyway.

In weblogging news, them flickr characters have added self-organization to the photo tags in flickr, which seems just dead brilliant. Now people will spend decades strolling the emergent links (window to glass to blue to clouds to sunset), and they'll presumably improve with time. (I thought to myself "I should start a rumor about Google buying Flickr", but of course...). I really should start uploading my own pitures to flickr and all. Yeah, once I finish this novel! *8)

And okay while we're here the flickr blog points out a really lovely set: Utility Fixtures. I love pictures of mundane technology (especially the kind with like bolts and atoms and stuff).

Speaking of which, from boing boing, we have a visit to an abandoned thermal generating station in Toronto, Ontario during August 2004, wonderfully photographed (one of my favorites).

I designed a text adventure game once, where the setting was a vast abandoned complex like this, all concrete and steel and exposed pipes and mysterious closets and echoing chambers with metal grids for floors. Never wrote the program, but it was fun to think about. (Hm, maybe as a chapter of a novel...)

Got three more hits on the comment-spam trap, all advertising "Texas holdem". Hm, now that I understand Trackback I could build a Trackback-spam trap also. 'Cause you can never have enough Spam!

So here's a funny story: Sharp Blue posted an item about his experiences with Labyrinthitis, and the comment thread for that item somehow spontaneously organized itself into a victim support group for those with the disease and their loved ones. He got so many comments that he felt he had to create a second posting just to hold the continuing flood. How the heck did that happen? (And can I use it somehow in this novel?)

Welcome to the Future Department:

The bathroom is downstairs from the restaurant and the LCDs above the urinals are showing live videofeeds from the lobby

boing boing again runs a very different picture of the whole red-blue thing. Show this to all your friends; really.

Headline o' the Day: Pope endorses wanking, screwing. That's from boing boing yet again, linking to here which links to an actual newspaper article.

From Daze, we find that someone at Nintendo actually has a clue about copyright and stuff. Which is nice. (Sheesh, that's boing boing again, isn't it? I think that's the link that led me in there to find the other ones. Normally I don't read boing boing regularly because it has too much good stuff in it. Hm, a paradox! Can I use that in my novel?)

MeFi points out that this zefrank person to whom I think I've linked before has done a very funny bit of spamatology: request (requires QuickTime or Flash or something).

From Daniel Weinreb, an interesting article by the author of Ant about the pros and cons of using XML as your input language:

Even better, since XML viewed data as a tree structure, it seemed like a perfect fit for the kinds of things that needed to be expressed in a build file. Add in that XML was still a hand-editable text-based format and it seemed like a marriage made in heaven. And, I didn't have to write a parser. The deal was done.
In retrospect, and many years later, XML probably wasn't as good a choice as it seemed at the time. I have now seen build files that are hundreds, and even thousands, of lines long and, at those sizes, it turns out that XML isn't quite as friendly a format to edit as I had hoped for.

And as our last link, a Tech Oddity. Y'all know that the modern way to tell a browser how to display a web page is to mark up the web page's content with (X)HTML, and then use CSS to describe how to render that content, right? Now it'd seem logical, if one wanted to put together a modern XML-based way of doing the same thing for fixed-size pages (like in books and stuff), one could do some minor extensions to HTML and CSS, eh? But No! The actual method is the part of XSL called familiarly XSL FO, and it looks very unlike HTML; they like made up new spellings for all the tags and everything. How bizarre! (Can I somehow use this in my novel?)

So the section of the NaNoWriMo site that's about my part of the state lists various upcoming get-togethers that aren't very far from me, and the people talking about them in the forum all sound very friendly. Will I go to one, I wonder? The few meetings of writers' groups that I've been to have been sort of fun, but it's hard to work stuff into the schedule. It's so much easier to just laze around the house and type on the computer in bed here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Currently: 5,521
Today's goal: 6,000
Tomorrow's goal: 8,000

So four more years of the Smirk. How depressing! Lots of good post-mortem rants out there; I recommend amp's for goodness and sanity. Medley links to this much more alarming one. Even Ian is annoyed enough to (briefly) have a weblog again.

So what's the explanation? Even I voted Democratic, but the Bushies still won. Best would be massive voting-machine fraud, uncovered and conclusively proven by lunchtime tomorrow, resulting in a non-Bushie White House and Senate and major Bushies behind bars. Worse would be massive voting-machine fraud that we don't find out about, but the Bushies just keep winning election after election, as they tighten the screws tighter and tighter and freedom evaporates. I tell myself that neither of those is probably true; massive enough fraud would require involving enough people that something would have leaked.

One alternative is that many, many Americans are mistaken about some pretty important things; see The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters for some data on that (thanks to mootmom for the link).

An irrational reaction to fear is a popular explanation in my mind. Or, not impossibly, a rational reaction; it could be that the people in the world who would do us serious harm (airplanes into buildings and so on) will really be more cowed by Bush than they would have been by Kerry, and that the difference in resulting damage is so great that even with the curtailment of civil liberties, theocratization of government, enrichment of the corrupt and so on, Bush is still a net win. It'd take alot to convince me of that, though.

And now I'm going to try not to write any more than that about the whole Election and Doom Thing tonight.

The new European Constitution is worth poking around at. It includes a Charter of Fundamental Rights which I didn't get very far into because I was distracted by the word subsidiarity, which turns out to be a big important Catholic concept:

One of the key principles of Catholic social thought is known as the principle of subsidiarity. This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be. This principle is a bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy characteristic of the Welfare State.

which sort of surprises me at first glance because I don't normally think of the Catholic Church as a big advocate of decentralization and small simple organizations. (I also note in passing that the rest of the above-linked article expresses political opinions with which I do not entirely agree, and that its author is a something something in the Byzantine Catholic Church, which is something other than the Roman Catholic Church, and so I'm even more confused. Who dealt this mess?)

Susie Bright has a weblog! Which seems like a good thing.

Marginal Revolution points us at Yet Another WikiThing: Wiki Travel. Woo hoo! This seems like another brilliant and obvious-in-retrospect idea.

Caterina points out that the dood who did that famous article on structured procrastination also wrote a buncha other things that look similarly amusingly insightful.

T, A and R points us to this notable page for those innerested in philosophers and stuff: "I'm agonna rate the major philosophers on a 1-10 scale, an expression simultaneously of my arrogance, my stupidity, and my erudition."

A spammer writes:

Subject: Your kind heart needs a slim figure more lascivious

Reading this last night I suddenly felt like I didn't really want to write the thing I'd been writing for the first four thousand or so words of the new novel, and I wanted to write something else instead. This seemed like a problem for a second, but then I reminded myself that this is NaNoWriMo. Want to write something else? Just start a new chapter and write away!

So I did that. The second chapter is currently titled "Your kind heart needs a slim figure more lascivious".

Back to the Kitchen points to Love Your Body, which is good advice.

The Electoral Vote Dot Com guy turns out to be Andrew Tanenbaum, which is pretty amazing. I vaguely recall him asking some pointed questions (not to say "heckling") at a panel about Agent Based Systems or something that I was on back in my vanished youth.

A spammer also writes:

But the night of the 4th of November arrived without the unveiling of this submarine mystery! The Canadian went to take his place again under the bowsprit. To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures; !! I reserved for myself a way of escape.

And that's about all; there's some more stuff in (even the relatively recent part of) the "to be logged" file, but it will have to wait, because I need to go write novel. I will leave you with this one final phrase: "MPEG-21 Rights Expression Language".

Tuesday, November 2, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

End of day two: 3,642
Tomorrow's goal: 6,000

So today was just an "at least we're still on target" day, but I have a good excuse.

I was thinking "why didn't watching the presidential election results mess up my NaNoWriMo writing in the other years?". And then I remembered that I first NaNoWriMo'd in 2001, and we haven't done this Presidential thing since, what, 2000?

Silly me.

The election's not looking really good right now. Maybe I'll just go to bed, and hope that at least there's a result in the morning, and hope also that it's a good one.

Monday, November 1, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So I've written the first twenty-five hundred words! The novel will be, predictably enough, here. I considered moving to something more sophisticated than plain text, hand-justified, in a line editor, but then I thought "nah".

I learned to type on an old Smith Corona manual typewriter with an "Elite" typeface (which means, I think 12 characters per inch rather than the 10 that the typewriters at typing class at school had). It was down in the basement of the house, and I'd sit down there and type odd things on Corrasable Bond paper.

When I changed media later, to other typewriters and then to terminals and then to personal ("personal") computers, I felt that my mind, or at least my writing, had changed also, and I was never quite the same writer as I'd been at that typewriter down in the basement.

Of course the basement may have had as much to do with that feeling as the typewriter did. Come to think of it.

So my first NaNoWriMoing day has been a Really Good Day by the official standards. Let's do the formalities here:

End of day one: 2,570
Tomorrow's goal: 4,500

Although in fact I might decide to stay up tonight and write some more. I could always count that against tomorrow's quota. Or maybe I'll just let it wait until tomorrow; it's always good to go to bed with a few ideas not yet written down. I have even less idea where I'm going with this year's story than I did with the first two. But I'm not letting that worry me.

So how's your novel going?

Sunday, October 31, 2004  permanent URL for this entry



Aside from that, I don't have anything especially profound to say about Hallowe'en, good and evil, the role of darkness in the psychological makeup of children, the co-opting of ancient religious beliefs into modern ones and thence into popular and commercial culture, or anything like that. We bought pumpkins last weekend, and carved them into Jack o'Lanterns yesterday. It's a brilliant Autumn day here now, with blue sky and blindingly yellow and red and orange leaves blown around on the wind, and so on. At 5pm the kids are all gathering down at the Lake to walk around acquiring sugar together.

I finished Baxter's "Manifold: Time", and wrote up some notes on it; carping at length about the science, mostly. In general I'm finding I'm not a big fan of Baxter; he's very into showing off trendy cosmological ideas, but the way he does it is neither terribly accurate to the underlying science, particularly insightful into the human character, or lyrically or movingly written. I admire his project; I'd love to see it carried out better. I tend to feel the same way about Greg Egan and Gregory Benford, for that matter. Cosmological SF is just hard to do, I guess.

Which reminds me! Tomorrow is November 1st already, and that means it'll be time to start writing. I have basically no idea at all what I want to write; it's going to be a challenge (but vital to my sanity) not to get worried about that, and to treat November as a chance to spend lots of quality time in the World of Prose, rather than as a month with One More Obligation.

Let's see, what was my goal structure last time? Hm, see time before last...

So a really good day shall be one where I write 2,500 words or more, a good day shall be one where I write 2,000 words or more, and an at least we're still on target day shall be one where I write enough words that my daily average is at least 1,800 words. (Note that it's possible to have a really good day and still not be on target, if I've slipped badly eariler; but I plan for that not to happen.)

Bold words!

We'll see what we can do...


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