Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This is cool:
The White House is going to host an annual science fair.
“If you win the N.C.A.A. championships, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you’ve produced the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too,” Mr. Obama said. “Scientists and engineers ought to stand side by side with athletes and entertainers as role models, and here at the White House, we’re going to lead by example.”I'm so glad we've finally got a president who appreciates the value of science and knowledge.
He added, “We’re going to show young people how cool science can be.”
(Also, he gave a shout-out to Adam and Jamie of Mythbusters, who were in attendance. Again, just plain cool.)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The best way to eliminate marriage discrimination is to make same-sex marriages legal. Period. In a generation, people will be looking back at this era and wondering why anyone every would have stood against this. But there's no sense in another generation of Americans being denied their rights, and certainly no justice in that.
But if you're looking for delicious irony, McClatchy reports that Texans might have found the second-best way to end marriage discrimination. Here's the headline:
I know irony is bad for me, but it's so, so delicious that I can't keep away.
Looking for the next great time-suck? Looking to put a double-tap to the back of the head of your productivity? Let me introduce you to my newest Internet obsession: Flickchart.
The concept is simple. The website shows you posters for two movies. You click on the one you like better. And then it uses those results to rank the movies you've chosen (and the ones you've passed over. (It weeds out movies you haven't seen.)
And you choose. Star Wars over The Hunt for Red October. Chinatown over Porky's. Fargo over Batman. Choices that, at least to my mind, are pretty clear-cut.
And then it gets cruel. How do you choose between Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Princess Bride? Which is better, Chinatown or Young Frankenstein? A Christmas Story versus Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Who comes up with these pairs? When I logged on to do this, I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition.
Come to think of it, when I logged on to do this, my tea was still hot in the mug. Now it's cold, and only half-drank.
But I choose. And I click. And I click some more. Eventually, I find the filters that lets me compare movies of a certain decade, certain director, certain actor, or just movies I haven't been asked about yet. I find the way to specifically get questions about a certain movie, which takes some of the randomized weirdness out of my list (True Lies was my number one movie for a disconcertingly long time).
But the choices don't get any easier. Which is better: This is Spinal Tap or Aliens? King Kong or The Wizard of Oz? And how can I choose between Star Wars Episode I and Transformers? Can either of them be better than anything?
For movie lovers, this is like playing a video game of Sophie's Choice.
Join me, won't you?
(P.S. I left the computer on when I went to bed, and when I woke up and logged on it was asking me to choose between Road to Perdition and Spaceballs. I had to close the window before I was sucked in again.)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The Internet plays hell with my attention span. I always have half a dozen windows open, hopping from one to the next when I get halfway through a news article or blog post or message board thread. I look, I link, I wander.
Not this time.
This short story, written by Christopher Bird, grabbed me from word one, and I didn't stop until I reached the finish. It starts out as an exercise in imaginary nostalgia... Oh, I don't want to ruin it. Just enjoy:
Scenes From An Alternate Universe Where The Beatles Accepted Lorne Michaels’ Generous Offer
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Saturday, November 07, 2009
In the past few days, I wrote 660, then 913, then 1197 words... bringing my total words so far to 6871. It's a few thousand below where I'd like to be, but there's no denying that the book is moving forward much faster than it had been. Only 43,129 words to go by November 30th!
I should probably mention that, unlike Nano, I might not end the book when I reach that magic number. But by that point, I'll probably be careening headlong into an ending, whether I intend to or not.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Another good day for Nano yesterday: another 2056 words. That puts me at 4101 overall, and even better, I figured out how to make an affect possible in prose that I could only think of in comic-book form. It was a nut I wasn't sure I could crack, and now that I have I'm happier than a pig in Pig Disneyland.
Now to do some work today before my brother arrives and we start watching the game. Go Phils!
Well, the NJ governor's race is over, and look who we got. Needless to say, I'm disappointed. It wasn't so much that I wanted Corzine to win; what I wanted was for Christie to lose. But a lack of enthusiasm for Corzine pretty much inevitable translated into a Christie win.
So we'll likely have four more years of Republicans trying their solutions to the budget and economic crisis, most likely causing an even bigger mess for the next Dem in office. Good luck to him, but I don't expect much good to come of this.
Anyway, I'm trying to look at the upside, and the main one I see is this: Political blogging could suddenly become a lot more fun for me again.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
So I've been writing a novel for a little while. I've told some people, and not mentioned it to others. But I'm about 25,000 words in, and it had been going pretty well. I was doing about a thousand words a day.
Then two things happened. One: I went to Las Vegas and broke my stride. For about a week, the book was lonely and untouched.
Second: on the journey from point A to point Z, I found myself at point F or G with no idea where to go. I know what has to happen at J or K, and I know where I need to be at point N or O, but I'm in the creamy center of the twinkie with no real idea how to get back to the spongy outer layer, or even a decent analogy.
So I've decided to be an unofficial* participant in NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. The deal is (and I've done Nano before, and prevailed), you set down 50,000 words of new fiction in a month. It's a tough goal, but it's not impossible. It's an exercise in Quantity over Quality, and intentionally so. Writers -- especially first-time ones, who haven't been through the whole process yet -- can be too precious about their words, and more concerned with the trees than the forest. And right now, my job is to get that forest planted, and I can come back and sculpt the topiary in another draft. And if I can get 50,000 words written in November, that means I'll have 75K of fiction ready to edit and work with in December and beyond. I'll have a solid, solid start, even if much of the text is clumsy and obvious. No one gets to be Ross MacDonald right out of the gate.
Naturally, yesterday I didn't write a word.
Today, however, I continued Chapter 13, allowing the scant words I'd already written of it into my Nano count. And so, my Nano tally stands at:
2045 words; 47,955 to go.
*Unofficial because Nano rules say you have to start from scratch.
Querría desearle, todos, cerca y lejos, un Día de las Cabezas feliz y seguro. Puede la cabeza crece tres tamaño este día.
Le saluda atentamente,