February 18th, 2010

#1949: 27 Pages.

The rewrite of the xenoarchaeology story is at 27 pages.

Every time I review what I've got, I keep thinking of things that I really need to cover. It's gotten to the point that I'm realizing that I'm not keeping everything straight in the story.

It's the details that trip you up, always-always. I'm not talking about little mistakes (such as saying "September" on page one and "July" on page five) but big ones: if they knew what a space elevator was, why the hell did they use a cave painting and not words?

In this case, the answer to that one is very important to the plot of the story. But the characters should notice it, and that's what's missing. Someone has to ask the question, "Why pictures? Why no words?"

Trust me: it'll all make sense when the story's done. I think this is going to be as much about how knowledge is lost as how things are rediscovered....

* * *

I dumped Haruhi eps 6-10 to DVD this evening. Good stuff.

* * *

In WoW, I discovered that you can buy a fishing pole which does more damage than a huge 2-handed sword. Your reputation with the Kalu'ak has to be at "exalted" for you to be able to buy it; but it does a ton of damage, and faster than a 2-h sword does. Additionally, it allows you to breathe underwater!

...so I've made getting to "exalted" with the Kalu'ak my next rep goal. I want that fishing pole. (Besides, then you don't have to switch from weapon to fishing pole to go fishing.)

Since any quest done for any Kalu'ak in Northrend gets you rep with the Kalu'ak, it won't be too difficult to accomplish. I'm already "honored" with them, and really close to "revered" at that, but of course it takes 21,000 points past "revered" to get to "exalted". (It takes 12,000 points to get to "revered" from "honored".)

I also leveled Scythandra's tailoring. It's at 325 now; and at 300 I got the ability to make a flying carpet, so of course I made one. Then I used it to finish exploring Outland, because I've wanted a flying carpet ever since I learned tailors could make them.

Flying around the broken edges of Netherstorm on a flying carpet is incredible. I don't know quite what it is, but there was something so fantastic about it (in the "magical" sense) that it reminded me that this is why I like FRPGs so much. You get to do things that are impossible in the real world.

I mean really: flying a magic carpet through an asteroid swarm--damn but that's cool.

It reminds me of the scene from Mahou Tsukai Tai! ("Magic Users' Club") where Sae is at her family's ranch in Hokkaido, and she goes out with a push broom and tries flying without her magic wand--and does it. I am always really, really jealous of Sae when I see that scene: she can use magic and do these wonderful things like go flying around on a broom in the falling snow.

* * *

All of this comes back to the rewrite, too; I write these stories wanting to convey the wonder I feel at the images in my own imagination. Some of the images are awe-inspiring; and in fact what made me come back to my SF universe (in 1999) after I essentially abandoned it was one striking mental image from the very story I'm working on now: a giant door in the side of an artificial planet, opening for the first time in an eon, as seen from the surface of that planet not far from the door itself.

I'm frustrated because I feel like I can't get that stuff across. I don't know if the sense of wonder at some of this stuff is transmitted to others.

The sense of wonder is hard to transmit, and you can't do it at the expense of story and consistency and plausibility. It's SF, not a fairy tale; there's no magic to smooth over the rough bits. You've got to show the reader what is wonderful about the scene you describe, and you have to do it with words.

I have scenes where I want to convey the weight of years, but I don't know if I'm managing it.

...I've written fiction for thirty years and I'm no damn good at it at all.

* * *

--I'm actually really good at writing fiction. "Really good" from others' viewpoint, that is.

There was a Japanese artist, whose name escapes me, who is essentially the guy who pioneered manga art in Japan. Before this guy there was no manga in Japan. I'm not talking about "big-eyes-small-mouth" style art; I am talking about comic art in general. When he was on his deathbed, he lamented that he was dying: "If only I had more time! I might have actually learned how to draw!"

The guy was an incredible artist; but I know exactly what he meant and how he felt. You look at your best work and you see all the flaws and it completely ruins it for you. The average person won't see more than one of them, if that; a decent critic will point out the four or five worst of them if you're lucky. No one will see them all except for you.

(Critics will find other things wrong with it, things that aren't necessarily flaws.)

...and if you go back and eliminate the flaws, you'll ruin the work. You can easily over-polish a work of art; you have to know when to stop working on it. The flaws don't make the work interesting; but the process of eliminating them will wreck the good qualities the work has.

If you're really good, those flaws won't make it into the finished product in the first place. But there are very, very, very few people in history who were ever that good, and you're not one of them.

* * *

My own work is good enough for publication; this I know. I have one novel right now which needs tweaking to be "finished" enough to submit to someone. The "tweaking" involves adding some description and detail. As this particular novel is still only in rough draft I won't be over-polishing; in fact the work needs polishing. (Not a lot; it's gotten rave reviews from those who've read it. But it needs it nonetheless.)

I know it, but I don't "know" it. I don't know how to fix this problem.

* * *

I actually sold a piece once. It's printed in Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) issue #48, the "Parting Shots" page. It's the only thing I ever submitted and I was surprised when Jolly Blackburn sent me an e-mail telling me he loved it and wanted to buy it.

I need to do more of that. Problem is, I suck at short stories.

#1950: Why NASA doesn't get to build rockets any longer

Because Barack Hussein Obama wants NASA to reach out to muslim countries.

"[NASA administrator Charlie Bolden] talked about connecting with countries that do not have an established space program and helping them conduct science missions." The only "science mission" the muslim nations are interested in are practical demonstrations of the effects of explosives on human flesh, preferably the flesh of Americans.

SpaceX, however, is there with its heavy-lift booster. I guess that's something.

* * *

Synthetic marajuana. Now that is a headline out of an SF novel: "Cops: Imitation pot as bad as the real thing".

It's called "K2", it's 100% legal, and anyone can buy it as there are no regulations covering its sale. To borrow an example from the article, a 10-year-old could buy it.

The guy who did the science which led to the creation of K2 said, "People who use it are idiots." I'm going to go a step further and say that I think anyone who smokes any variety of pot is an idiot, but then I've never had any respect for the users of recreational drugs anyway.

* * *

The lying lair in the White House lies some more: "It is largely thanks to the Recovery Act that a second depression is no longer a possibility."

I know Gaffe-o-Tron would like to believe that, and I know that he would like us to believe that the economy is now in a recovery, but unfortunately I do not. I have several reasons for not believing this nonsense any farther than I could comfortably piss a Greyhound Americruiser, which I have laid out in previous Fungus posts.

"A second depression is no longer a possibility"? I hate to say this, but nothing has changed since last year. Nothing has been done--nothing--to alleviate the problems which led us into this recession in the first place, and in fact the Democrat plan is more--much more!--of the same!

The runaway federal spending is going to cause serious trouble for our economy. It's inescapable; and the only question is "how long before the ceiling caves in?" Particularly deft politicians could stave it off for years, but none of the politicians in charge right now are "deft", particularly or otherwise.

China just sold $34 billion worth of US debt instruments. $34 billion isn't much of anything, but "...a pullout by China and other foreign investors would force the United States to pay higher interest rates on its debt, jeopardizing the fragile economic recovery."

Point of order: there is no economic recovery, but let's table that one for a moment. The point is, if the US has to raise interest rates on its debt it's going to totally bollux the whole works. The world economy is like an egg balanced precariously atop a steep hill; if anything upsets its equlibrium, the egg's going to start rolling. (And there's a sudden stop at the bottom.)

*sigh*

* * *

Here is an interesting point from the Wall Street Journal, via Neal Boortz: "The deficit in 2007 was $160 billion."

The 2007 budget was passed in 2006 by a Congress which had Republican majorities in both houses.

The 2008 budget was passed in 2007 by "the Pelosi-Reid Congress". Budget deficit for 2008? $458 billion.

I don't think it's a coincidence.

* * *

Toyota's plants are not unionized except for special cases (such as the now-closed NUMMI plant). "Toyota, which employs over 35,000 workers in the United States with factories in eight states, is the target of a government-led and union-supported attack due to recent recalls," begins this article.

This is happening for much the same reason the left demonizes Wal-Mart: Wal-Mart is the biggest retailor in the US, and it's non-union. Unions and lefties don't like it when a successful company isn't hampered by union contracts. Liberals and Big Labor want in on the gravy train.

Toyota's the world's largest automaker. It's non-union. In order to change this, the left will make Toyota's life a living hell until and unless they unionize.

And afterwards, of course, Toyota can hemorrhage money the same way GM and Chrysler did, and the unions won't give a rat's ass.

* * *

Dennis, "Selling [BS] by the pound."
Pause to consider this: President Obama and Congressional Democrats had a veto-proof majority for a full year. Health care reform did not fail to pass because of the Republicans, because the Republicans were completely helpless. They had no veto power. Health care reform failed to pass because the American people hated it. And because the American people hated it, some Congressional Democrats - and especially some Senate Democrats - decided discretion was the better part of valor. Ergo, no health care reform. That had nothing to do with Massachusetts; Democrats could have had this legislation passed months earlier had they wanted it so.

Then pause to consider this: President Obama and Congressional Democrats had a veto-proof majority for a full year. Cap-and-Trade did not fail to pass because of the Republicans, because the Republicans were completely helpless. They had no veto power. Cap-and-Trade failed to pass because the American people (and every U.S.-based union linked to manufacturing) hated it. And because the American people and the unions hated it, some Congressional Democrats - and especially some Senate Democrats - decided discretion was the better part of valor. Ergo, no Cap-and-Trade. That had nothing to do with Massachusetts; Democrats could have had this legislation passed months earlier had they wanted it so.

Now pause to consider this: In Harry Reid you have a Democratic Senate majority leader who is so inept that, after brushing aside an $85 billion bi-partisan jobs bill because he didn't think it would pass, cannot get his crappy little $15 billion jobs bill through the Senate. This has nothing to do with either Republican obstructionism or flaws in the Constitution. It does, however, have everything to do with Democratic legislative incompetence.
Emphasis his. Bonus points for excellent use of parallel construction.

Liberals want the general public to blame Republicans for the failure of ObamaCare and such, but it's up to us to remind everyone the Republicans could not have stopped them if the Democrats had gotten their shit together.

If these bills had not been complete and utter bullshit the American people would not have opposed them. The American people--not the Republicans--made their voices heard.

* * *

Ann Coulter:
Our intelligence agencies concluded Iran had suspended its nuclear program in 2003, so Bush owed Ahmadinejad an apology.

Feb. 11, 2010: Ahmadinejad announces that Iran is now a nuclear power.

Thanks, liberals!
Like I said: back up your critical data to optical media.

* * *

Using Shrödinger's cat to measure the gravitational constant.
To get the necessary separation of "clocks," they launched the atoms into a vacuum, using laser pulses to put it in a superposition of two quantum states, each of which traveled a slightly different path. This provided a single test subject that would experience two gravitational potentials at the exact same time, allowing the experimenters to isolate the effects of redshift.
Quantum superposition of something as large as an atom already freaks me out; the fact that you can use it for this kind of thing is really fascinating.

* * *

THE 'STACHE!

...this has the same feel as something drawn by Kliban. The guy was famous for his book Cats, but his other books were...bizarre. I'm thinking, specificaly, of Whack Your Porcupine and Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head.

The artwork isn't Kliban's style, but the story presented is just like stuff from the two books I just mentioned. Geeze.

* * *

I'm going to go try something.

In WoW, theoretically, you can permanently kill a character by drowning him in the deep ocean: you go out past where the water gets too deep and "fatigue" starts in; when your fatigue drops to zero you start drowning.

Apparently your ghost is also subject to fatigue; and if your ghost dies out there, the character is lost. So just to be a total and utter dork I'm making a character to try it; and I am naming the character "Darkmaster" for reasons I won't go into here.