Thursday, March 31, 2011

Worst April Fool's Day Joke Evar

House Republicans so desperately want HR 1 (a budget bill with $61 billion in spending cuts, which went to the Senate and was voted down 56 to 44) that they are going to try and suspend the Constitution on Friday to make it law.

That's right.  They're going to try and suspend the Constitution

Did your head just explode?  Thought so.

Oh, and the funny thing?  The Senate would have to willingly cede its constitutional authority for such a maneuver to work.  Yeah, that'll happen.

I guess, in the end, the joke's on them.  Or us.  Yeah, probably us.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Libyan Intervention

So, I've been doing a fair bit of reading about the No Fly Zone and the limited projection of American military power in support of the uprising in Libya.  Unsurprisingly for the blogosphere, people have pretty strong opinions.  To say there's been some Monday morning quarterbacking would be an understatement.

For what it's worth, the most worthwhile exploration of it I've read is here.

As for my own part, first off, I think that it doesn't matter that much what anyone's opinion is as to whether or not we should have, because, well, we did, and until someone invents a time machine, we live in the world we do, and things can be done, but rarely undone.  That said, you can support or not support our intervention, on many different grounds, most of which seem to fall into the rubric of moral or practical.

Both sides have some compelling arguments.  And I do not wish to discount them.  One of the things about modern discourse I find just absolutely maddening is that when many people take a side, they are unable or unwilling to grant any legitimacy whatsoever to the other side's position or arguments, and denigrate and discount them (or, often as not, the people who make them), which trivializes and nastifies the debate without doing anything to serve the truth.  To my mind, it's not a question of who's right and who's wrong, since both sides are often both:  it's a question of who's more right and less wrong, and what will the outcome likely be if a particular policy or course of action is undertaken.  It's about weighing the arguments against each other, and finding where the balance of truth lies.

In my own explorations of the issue of the Libyan Intervention, I've done my level best to do so, and where I've come down is this:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

One Year Ago Today

I got the email telling me I had been accepted into the Clarion Writers' Workshop, a life-changing event (or, more accurately, a series thereof) whose repercussions are still playing out.  And now here I am, still unpublished, but much more serious about writing and being a writer than I ever was before, about to get on a train so I can finish a novel draft on my way to see three of my fellow students and two of my instructors at my first ever Con, and happier with the direction of my life than I have been for a long, long time.

I know there are probably a hundred or more people out there right now, waiting to hear back about their own applications, or keeping a lid on the fact that they've already been accepted until everyone has been notified.  To those who'll be chosen, you're fortunate to be so, but more than that, you are deserving, so keep rocking with your bad selves and get to girding those loins for the struggles ahead, because it won't be easy.  And to those who don't make it this year, don't despair and don't give up.  Keep writing, keep trying, and keep becoming more awesome.

Monday, March 07, 2011

It's on Everyone Else's Blog

So here it is on mine, too.

It's not that we don't need to do a little belt-tightening as a nation.  Though it's not the sky falling, the federal deficit is an issue that will need to be addressed.  But it's rare that we ever get a look at the trade-offs that are negotiated behind closed doors.

Here, in handy chart form, is a series of, on the one side, programs we're being asked to sacrifice, and, on the other, tax breaks that have been granted to those members of our society who have the most money and power.

Put like that, it doesn't seem right, does it?

Look, I'm all for fiscal responsibility.  But more than that, I'm for fairness, and those at the top of the economic chain derive far and away the most benefit from the American economic system.  More than seems fair at all, it seems to me, but that's a whole other blog post.

Nonetheless, it seems to me not only fair but reasonable that in times of economic hardship and revenue shortfalls that everybody ought to do their part.  Some would say that that means everybody ought to contribute equally, but that isn't really fair, because far too many Americans ain't got shit and can't afford a share.

No, what seems fair to me would be for everyone to contribute proportionally to the benefit they derive from the system we all support.

But maybe that's just me.  Either way, if you can look at that chart, at the line by line comparisons between tax breaks for those who need the least help and vital programs for those who need the most, and say to yourself, "Yeah, that seems right," well, I would contend that there's something wrong with your sense of fairness, and, maybe, with your heart, too.

But then, I subscribe to some pretty radical notions, like that we're all in this together, and that the society that doesn't provide for all of its citizens is not much better than the jungle we so pride ourselves on having gotten out of as a species.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

What the Protagonist Carried with Her into Battle with Her Nemesis

1 Uzi-Pro, with two clips
2 Jericho 941 pistols, with two clips each, one clip being short 2 rounds
1 Beretta 21A Bobcat, with 1 full clip
2 Flashbang grenades
2 Concussion grenades
1 Trench Knife
1 Pair Mirrored Cop Glasses

Now to decide how she will use it all.  I suspect there will be mayhem.

Being a writer is fun.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Writing Dreams

It's taken me a while to notice, but I've started having a new kind of dream somewhere in these last few months, in which my sleeping brain is trying to figure out how to put together various stories.  I never remember them when I wake up, which I do quite frequently on the nights that I have these dreams (I had several last night, and am grumpy and groggy this morning as a result), but I remember snippets, and they all have to do with fitting the moving parts of a story together into a shapely, coherent whole.

Oddly enough, none of them seem to have anything to do with any of my current projects, though I wish that they did a little.  Or maybe not.  Being that I don't remember anything of them after it probably wouldn't do me any good, anyway.

As a writer, storytelling is my kryptonite, which fact I freely admit (see previous sentence clause).  Due to my cussedness as a person, I spent the first decade of my self-taught writing apprenticeship obsessing over my prose style (with largely pleasing results), but it wasn't until Clarion that I started to think in any systematic way about what to do with said prose style.  Partly it had to do with the fact that I primarily, read, write, and think in novel-sized chunks; there's just a lot more room to play and experiment there.

But you can't do that shit in a short story for the most part.  There just isn't time, or room. 

I remember my first one-on-one at Clarion.  It was a hot, sunny Friday afternoon, a week into the workshop.  I had just had my first story critiqued, and it smarted (oh, how it smarted), and I was meeting with the estimable Delia Sherman to discuss another story of mine (which I had been quite proud of, before I knew any better).  Long story short, she basically told me to read it again, scrap it completely, and start over, which took all of two minutes, and then we talked about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, which was, as you might expect, rather bracing.  The gist of what she had to say was that I did the grad-level stuff very well, but that I failed the basic, elementary school stuff almost completely.  On the plus side, she reassured me that once I got to figuring it out, it would come to me easily enough.

And I assume that's what's happening now, with these dreams.  They are my brain rearranging itself in such a way that I will become better at arranging the depolyment of narrative, backstory, character, and plot in a more pleasing shape.  That's what I hope, at least. 

If nothing else, they're way better than the bartending dreams I used to have.  Those were just annoying.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Thought for the Day

The problem with class warfare (at least as waged in contemporary America) is that only one class knows there is one (hint:  it's not the middle class).


The Wise Man's Fear Book Signing in Seattle

Yesterday was a good and writery day for your faithful correspondent.  After an afternoon in the office plugging away at the ever-expanding manuscript (made my quota plus 700 words-w00t!), I made my way over to the University District, where my dear friend Suj'n had saved me a spot on the floor near the back of the actual seating for Pat Rothfuss' first stop on The Wise Man's Fear signing/reading/hilarious extemporizing tour.

I will pause here a moment and offer further mad props to my homegirl Suey, who not only saved me the aforementioned spot, she also told me about the event in the first place, which I was ignorant of, having been eye-deep in the day-to-day grind of writing my own novel on a looming if self-imposed deadline.

Those of you that follow this blog may recollect my recent extended squee over the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles, The Name of the Wind, some two weeks ago.  I had been saving the book for most of a year before I read it, for various reasons, and I enjoyed it most thoroughly.  I seem to have done something right, albeit unconsciously, because unlike most of the rest of Mr. Rothfuss' fans, I did not have to wait long for the next book, and indeed I purchased a copy yesterday for him to sign.

But enough about me.