I am a Global Citizen

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I got mail today. It’s been awhile in coming but that’s mainly due to a really goofy sting being perpetrated against Nigerian citizens (no, really). Anyway, for our wedding anniversary this year, I got my dear wife one of those thousand horsepower kitchen mixers and she, knowing me equally as well, got me a citizenship to NSKState. Doing the paperwork was a bit of a trick, but I got a letter from Slovenia today.

[from the enclosed letter:] “You have become a holder of an NSK passport and a participant in the formation of the first global state, the NSK State. In its fundamental articles, this state denies the principles of limited territory as well as the principle of national borders, and it advocates the Transnational Law.”

[from the passport itself:]
THE FIVE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF FRIENDSHIP
1. I shall lavish brotherly respect on you if I know you are worthy of it.
2. I shall risk danger and hardship to help you in your time of need, providing this does not harm me or my organization.
3. In my daily activities and when taking on special duties, I shall first mention your name and then mine.
4. I shall support you in your work and self-denial, and shall you reach your goals if I were in your place.
5. I shall never do unto you what I do not want you to do unto me, unless there is a valid reason for that.

In some ways, it is a fan club membership card but, when dealing with Laibach, everything is flush with meta-commentary and rife with manifestos of artistic freedom. Much like their shows, which are more underground political performance art rallies than rock concerts.

Their new record, VOLK, is out now, by the way. Fourteen pop songs masquerading as national anthems. It is one of those records which moves me in so many ways that I can’t talk about it objectively but you should know that it comes with my highest recommendation. You should watch the video for Anglia, and consider this irony: Laibach was banned from even existing (much less performing) in their homeland when they first formed; this video would (most likely) be banned from being shown here in the States for its political and religious imagery, yet they can perform freely in Slovenia now.

Anyway, I’m not much for talking politics because I find it more frustrating than cathartic (those of us we lean left do so pretty hard, and the right is just…ah…insane), but I think, in some ways, that it’s all just noise. And really? Politics, religions and cultural differences aside, we’re all brothers.

[from the Book of the Law:]
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

[And note Crowley’s original commentary upon this entry:]
“‘Do what thou wilt’ need not only be interpreted as license or even as liberty. It may, for example, be taken to mean, Do what thou (Ateh) wilt; and Ateh=406 [plus some Hebrew which I’m not going to try to find web-friendly equivalents], the sign of the cross. The passage might then be read as a charge to self-sacrifice or equilibrium. I only put forward this suggestion to exhibit the profundity of thought required to even deal with so plain a passage. All the meanings are true, if only the interpreter be illuminated; but if not, they are all false, even as he is false.”

[from the Gospel of Thomas:]
Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.”

I’m not one to start movements. We’ve got enough of them and, anyway, this one’s personal. They should all be. I’m calling mine Transcendental Socialism. It’s got two rules, and the second one is this: I have to trust that you’ll find your own way.

This little book from NSKState thrills me in so many ways. Inside, it is blank, ready to be stamped with a record of my adventures. Perfect.

It’s International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day!

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Lots of kids are doing it.

[It being that not everyone believes that free fiction is a Sign Of The End Times. Jo Walton decided there needed to a protest, so to speak. Thus, free fiction for everyone today.]

My offering: Chapter III from Souls of the Living, a post-industrial fantasy novel. The reason you get Chapter III and not I or II is because this is where we slow down enough for introductions. Since this is a tease, I figure we all might as well be on a first name basis.

Well, That’s Disappointing

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It turns out the Mac Mini doesn’t support dual monitors. That bites. So much for that clever (and relatively inexpensive). Back to the drawing board [boy hies off to fetch credit card and re-up virus definitions for PC, since it looks like he’s stuck with it for awhile yet].

I do know about the Belkin USB Flip, and that’s high on the list of solutions to my on-going fascination with two monitors, but that still leaves me with a PC. Hmmm, must investigate if some flavor of LINUX works under the Flip-mode.

It’s Not A Transactional Error, It’s An Audit Log Issue

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[Because I am still eyeball deep in Oracle-speak]

So, as it turns out, Scrivener is all that (sorry, Barth). When I got to the train, I opened the laptop, went to the search box in Scrivener, typed “yellow pages” and was taken right to my note–buried somewhere in the ancillary materials of Chapter 7 of HARRY.

While I don’t entirely like the way Scrivener does its output files (can you settle on a freakin’ right margin already?), I am in love with the way it allows me to stash notes about the project without them intruding on the actual content.

Bad Wetware Design

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Some time in the last two weeks my brain connected dots and came up with a savagely cool use for the Yellow Pages as a story conceit. Some time earlier today, my brain discovered the memory of that synaptic transaction and noted that the contents of said transaction have been lost.

Fuck.

I’ve got multiple backups on my writing data, and have lost very little (if nothing) in the last few decades. Once I’ve written it down. I think I’ve noticed a slight flaw in my working design. Write it down seems to be a critical point that I’m a little soft on.

Fuck. The Yellow Pages. Man, it was… [head shake]

Enter the Metaphyiscal Detective (at SH)

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“How the Mermaid Lost Her Song” is this week’s fiction at Strange Horizons.

The editors of said magazine asked that I give the Metaphysical Detective a name, so he has one now, thereby obscuring the fact (slightly) that this is one of his stories. Though, since “Upon Drinking a Half Glass of the Olde Saturnine Toad” was released in a limited market, we should probably consider HtMLHS his first appearance.

So, I give you DI Charles Beamish Phreniwit, a character whose popularity has surprised me. But, that is what they’re supposed to do, isn’t it?

Where I go off about software

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After a day of fucking with software documentation, I’ve got my knickers in a bit of a twist and have a modest proposal for corporate-scale software manufacturers. You need to put all of your product documentation online (in either PDF or HTML format, it doesn’t really matter to me), and you need to be taxed 1/10 of a percent of your retail price (payable back to the poor system administrator who is trying to implement the multi-thousand dollar package his company just bought) for every error this individual finds in your documentation.

It’s the only way they’re ever going to care to get this shit right. I spent eight hours today vetting a pre-installation checklist and, in that time, found four errors in the documentation that cost me about an hour each time. Now I’m just trying to install the basic foundation of the package, I’m not even to the configuration stage. I’m barely off the shelf here.

The best one? “You need to install the Stroke-Counting Interface before you install the Ass-Paddling Module. The SCI is part of the basic Home Pleasure Dome installation. Please launch the Universal Interface Selection to install the HPD. For more information, refer to the section of this document about installing the SCI.” [see page 14]

[page 14] “The Stroke-Counting Interface is installed as part of the basic Home Pleasure Dome installation.”

Other than the names being changed, I shit you not. This was their documentation. The UIS made no mention of the SCI in either its custom installation options or in its inventory of installed components. We had to log on to the company’s support area (available only to those who pay more than my salary a year as “maintenance”) to find out where and how the SCI was installed because, you know what? Yeah, it wasn’t installed during our “basic” installation that we did a week ago.

I don’t get this. You ship a product. You put your “documentation” for that product online, and yet, to actually accomplish tasks, a user has to log to Tech Support and get clarification. How hard can it be to UPDATE YOUR FUCKING ONLINE DOCUMENTATATION INSTEAD? I mean, you’re already not printing manuals so you can’t say, “Oh, well that documentation was written for rev 1.0 and we’re on 1.3 now.” Back in the day, when I was doing QA, we had a UI Lock a month or more before ship for the very reason that documentation was being written. What happened to that step (and, yeah, Oracle, I am talking about you*)?

See, the basic problem is that you spend way too much fucking money for a piece of software (and let’s not start with the “maintenance” contracts) and you’re not going to ditch it immediately because it’s poorly annotated, you’re going to make it work. Which means you hire a consultant (read someone’s who has forced their way through this maze once or twice already). Does the software company care? No, they’ve already been paid. Are they ever going to care? No, because you’ve spend the additional funds to ensure that the thing works for you, and it’s probably a big enough part of your infrastructure that you’re never going to change it again, which means you’ll keep sending them that maintenance fee every year just in case the thing breaks so badly that you really need a specialist’s help.

This is why no one wants to walk away from Microsoft, because of the investment in infrastructure. We’ve spend God knows how many hours and years getting it to work for us because it sure as hell didn’t out of the box, and we’re certainly not going to ditch all of that now for something else. Regardless of how easy and simple and functional it is.

Me? I’m drawing the line. Vista is never coming in my house. When this machine that I’m writing this on gets so grotty that it becomes unfunctional, I’m reformatting it and putting Ubuntu on it. And I’m moving to OpenOffice. Actually, I’ve been going through my software list these last few weeks, trying to figure out if I have a killer app that is keeping me on Windows. Turns out I don’t. OS X or Ubuntu will do everything I need. The only reason I’m not bailing today is that I’ve got writing things to do, and reformatting drives and reloading apps is really just writer procrastination.

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*And to be fair here, I did have a pretty big say in picking Oracle and I knew, at that time, that it would be a monster but I also knew that once the monster was caged, it would be my bitch for a long time. It’s just turning out to have more unruly tentacles than I had anticipated.

Farrago in April

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I’m actually reading spam this morning. It’s a nice thing that Gmail caches it all automatically for me to peruse later. Who knew that random phrase arrangements would actually be handy? As research even. However, my needs aren’t entirely random, as you know. I’m that sort of obsessive.

It’s research for HARRY. The April chapter has been posted at Farrago’s Wainscot, along with their second issue of experimental and word-lickery goodness. There are stories from Hannah Wolf Bowen, Samantha Henderson, our favorite recent ex-pat Jason Lundberg, and Paul Jessup (he of the Post-Industrial Fantasty manifesto); poetry from Ryan Cornelius and Bryan D. Dietrich, along with an interview Dr. Bradley did a while back with Al Brilliant, one of those quiet revolutionaries of the literary small press community; and, rounding out the word-goodness are some syntactical hi-jinks from Don L. F. Nilsen, Michael Constantine McConnell, Richard Lederer, and Will Shortz.

Yeah, I’m a TOC-mate of Richard Lederer and Will Shortz, which is something I never expected to happen. I blame Farrago. For a lot of things, actually, but this time I’m speaking of that laudanum addicted, urine swilling, horse lover in a nice way.

I know that, around here at least, talk of the Wainscot has been indelibly linked with talking about HARRY, but that’s only because I’m wrapped up in the serial. You shouldn’t forget that Farrago has other plans, and this year-long exhibit delivers the strange and wonderous quarterly as well.

Off to scroll through the spam some more now. The kids will be up soon, and I need to get a little more done before the waffle makin’ starts.