Worlds & Time

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stross and Scalzi Are Wrong

Right now there are five blogs by authors that I heavily follow right now: Scalzi, Stross, Wheaton, Gaiman and Duncan. While there are a lot of other authors that I like that have blogs, those are the blogs that I find interesting in and of themselves and post updates regularly enough for me to keep track of them on a regular basis.

The other thing is that I usually agree with them on stuff.

Not on everything, true, but often. And when I do disagree with them, it's usually an issue of personal taste.

The last couple of weeks though, the science fiction annex to the blogosphere has been a place where I can't seem to find a position that I agree with (excepting the dust up about the Kindle2 text to voice thing).

That GRRM thing though? I didn't even have to go read what GRRM said before I knew I vehemently disagreed with Scazli and Stross about it.

Yeah, people were rude. And they were bugging him (and, personal confession here, I bugged him about it one time in person under the mistaken impression that he'd find it funny. I apologized at the time, but I don't think he believed me).

But there are a lot of circumstances around what GRRM did that make Scalzi and Stross just plain wrong about what they said. Dealing with upset fans who you've misled (inadvertantly or not) is one of those things that you will have to do if you are a popular writer with lots of fans who has decided to provide easy access to himself online.

Further, there's been a huge kerfluffle about other stuff. Which I am not going to talk about. And do you know why? Because it scares me to talk about it here.

That's saying a lot. I've talked about being gay here without reservation. I've talked about being an atheist. I've talked about my problems with jobs. I've talked about being depressed and all sorts of other stuff without much regard for boundary. But there are very few subjects which I will not discuss out of fear.

Sides are being taken. People are angry. And while I have an opinion on the subject it's obvious at this point that it would be detrimental to my future plans to express it.

It's not my opinion that would get me in trouble. In fact, I've talked about this subject in previous posts. It's being involved that is a bad thing right now. Your associations are being held against you in a way that is making me uneasy.

I know how paranoid that sounds, but I've seen how far some of the people arguing are willing to take themselves and it's too far. These are people that I thought would be serious and reasonable but they're seriously unreasonable instead.

As such, I'm not going there, nor am I going to link to it or cite any of the participants by name because I don't want to associate myself and I know how easy it is to follow a link back to it's source.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Latest Book Meme

I know, I know. I have a thing for book lists. But I haven't done a post in a while. I'm working on a couple, including a response to Hal Duncan, but they're just not ready yet. I may do the 25 things about me meme as well, but not until the meme is near enough to dying to drown in a bathtub. Why? Because I'm enough of a sheep to follow the crowd but not until the crowd has moved on.

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.
2) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien X
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling X+
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (New Testament)*
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman X
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller*
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald X
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams X+
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck X
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carrol X+
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame X
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis X
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis X+
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne X
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez X
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood X
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel X+
52 Dune - Frank Herbert*
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley X
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie X
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville X
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett X
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce*
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery X
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl X
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

That's 27 that I've read, loosely. I've read a lot of the New Testament, including many chapters all the way through, but not all of it. There are only four that I'm currently anticipating reading. Finally, there are only five that I liked.


Thursday, February 12, 2009


Today would have been Darwin's 200th birthday. You know, if he'd lived for two centuries. For the occasion RG made an appeal to popularity (nizkor) and asks "Or is [Creationism] just so pervasive?"

Considering the millions of dollars that believers in Creationism have to build museums, I would have to respond "Yes it is."

They still don't have anything to back it up, but they're on a mission from their god. Religion rarely lets facts get in the way.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Disturbing Dreams

I had some seriously disturbing dreams last night:

First, I dreamed about getting into Harvard. Not through long study and skill but through a bizarre ping pong competition. I know, I know, but at the time my subconscious overrode my common sense and convinced me that it was all happening. Emotionally I was so happy because then I'd get to live near Ben. It simplified so many things (housing, job, to some extent money) and I just felt so glowingly happy.

My mom was there (in the dream) and we were talking, and she was being her usual practical self, and she was asking me what I wanted to study. I was having a lot of trouble deciding because it seemed obvious to me from the last few years that English was not the way to go.

All the way through this, I was asking myself, could this really be happening? And the answer was "It doesn't seem real, does it? But look around, it's happening!"

I've thought the same thing recently while awake and in a situation that seems unbelievable: with Ben.

What eventually forced me out of my dream was that there was a "scene break" and like an episode of House I asked myself: "How did I get from that room to this hallway? I don't remember covering the intervening space." And then I woke up.

And my happiness about finding solutions to some of my problems disolved.

That was the first disturbing dream.

The second involved me flying. I can sometimes fly in dreams. I don't know what that symbolizes, but to me it isn't a big deal. I like to fly. I'm usually fairly decent at it in my dreams and my mind is good at convincing me that it's real.

In this dream, I was flying by swimming through the air. I realized that I could swim a lot faster and without so much thrashing around if I dolphin kicked through the air. So I was dolphin kicking and slicing through the water and suddenly I am rocked out of the dream by Ben. Ben said something like "You can't do that, you're waking me up." I mumbled something like "I'm dolphin kicking to fly" and he replied "you still can't do it though. I can't sleep." I reluctantly went back to sleep.

In the morning, I asked Ben about it and he gave me a blank look. "I didn't wake you up. You never kicked me."

So this means that in my dream of dolphin kick flying I also dreamed that I was awakened by a dream Ben who scolded me for kicking him.

So I guess I'm having multi-level dreams now.

The third dream somehow involved being upset about the bailout and pointing out that it was mostly a group of farmers that were against the bailout even though economists like Paul Krugman were for it. This was kind of a slur against farmers and I'm not saying that they can't be intelligent, but I thought it was interesting that people trained in economics kept having to fight against the people who did not have active experience or training in the field. I suppose this could have been some sort of Creationist representation: the frustration certainly felt the same.

I was so upset that I wandered over to the bar and had a Sam Adams, which was okay. In the dream it was sort of like drinking a German wheat beer. Yes, I know that they don't actually taste like that, and I've never had one in real life. It was definitely that brand though, in a pint glass. The Sam Adams didn't last long though. I asked the bartender for something else and he gave me three beers off the shelf/out of the cooler and a coke. I tried to push the coke away, and he looked at the Sam Adams and pushed it back saying something like "If you liked that, you're going to need this to dilute the taste. They're awful." One was a Heineken and there were others in green bottles. All of them had specific brand names and no, I haven't had any of them either.

<disturbing image warning. If you're squeamish, don't read the rest.>

Finally the bartender cut me off and because it was his break and I looked like he was in bad shape, he took me for a walk. We walked out to a park in Cambridge (I remember thinking, "Ben's place is just over there.") There were other people in the park and we sat down. After a bit, a dog wandered over. It was a Pug, but it had a huge cancerous growth on the left side of its face. The tumors were tubules and some of them went through the skin and revealed little clear structures that looked like malformed eyes. In a sense, they looked like grubs growing through the skin and bone.

Someone, one of the other people in the park, mentioned that they thought this was "Landis' disease" and passed over a magically present medical textbook with illustrations of a pug. But the pug in the textbook had only a few lumps on his face. The poor dog in front of my had several inches of growths. The text book didn't even imply that the actual aberration could be as serious as it was. In the dream though, I just sat and petted the dog and patted it on the head until I woke up. I still feel sorry for it.

Yes, I patted it on the growth. Yes, normally I'd freak out. No, I don't know why or how I managed to retain my sanity and stay calm.

First, disappointment. Second, weird meta dreams. Third, horror.

All in the same night.

I've had nightmares before but all that on the same night is still unusual. The first one upsets me the most though. All and all, it was a very disturbing night of dreaming.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Save Realms of Fantasy

I don't read a lot of short fiction. I never subscribed to Asimov's or Analog or any of those magazines, but years ago I was in a Borders and found this magazine called "Realms of Fantasy." It was glossy, had amazing art and short stories that I liked.

I still have a few copies of it in my room. I know right where they are: in my main desk drawer in what, as a kid, I'd decided was a place of honor.

Realms of Fantasy is folding, and I hope it doesn't. So I'm blogging to save it, as the group "Save Realms of Fantasy" requests. If you've ever read it and liked it, I hope you'll join me.

The Facebook page for the group is here: Save Realms of Fantasy Magazine.

The LiveJournal group is here: Save Realms of Fantasy.

Good luck guys. And I haven't been doing my part: if you guys succeed, I promise to get a subscription to Realms of Fantasy.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Shout Out

Kudos to Bank of America and especially associates Heather and Quinn. I hate calling in about customer service stuff, but both were polite and personable. Heather figured out what my problem was and transferred me to Quinn who was able to assist me.

Now, Quinn had a strong accent that he was covering up but I'm not going to hold the fact that he's a Texan against him.

Update: Well, kudos to Zulekha and Sarah, who also tried to help me who were also very polite. I have to wonder, though, why the fact that I'm from New Mexico means that Bank of America in New York seems powerless to assist me. I have no cash at the moment and no ability to use ATMs. Good thing for cash back when shopping, which I'll have to do tomorrow.

I do feel like Bank of America is treating NM . . . or NY like a foriegn country. Really guys, is it really so impossible to help me out?