November 1st, 2011

#3032: 11/1/11

...just liked typing that. It's even a palindrome. And in 10 days it'll be 11/11/11, which is also a palindrome. (Both dates also have rotational symmetry: rotate them 180° and it's the same date!)

* * *

Good advice for writers. I've got a fundamentally useless story I wrote--a big one, six hundred pages--which had all the inspiration squeezed right out of it by doing the things this article says not to do. The final story is complete and thorough and completely uninteresting to anyone but me.

Fortunately it's not set in my SF universe, and can be safely locked in a cabinet or something until years after my death...at which point someone will dust it off and say, "OMG it's an unpublished Ed Hering novel!!!" (hopefully) and race to publish it. You know, like Heinlein's For Us, the Living. Something you wouldn't want to publish, but which will keep your estate in the black for decades after you're gone because people are that desperate to read something you've written.

I'm not exactly Heinlein, though. *sigh*

People who have read a certain rough draft of mine (call it "Novel #1") apparently don't hear it when I say, "It's a rough draft and it's missing about 1/3 of the story I wanted to tell." What I want to do is to add that 1/3 into the story and then run it by an editor, someone who can tell me what to cut and what to tighten up, someone who won't mind arguing with me about it. But I'm going to copy about 90% of the story verbatim from one version to the next. Once I get back into working on it, that is.

The current rewrite project (which ends up being Novel #4) is actually the third or fourth version of the story; but it'll be the last. Version 1.0 was high school trash, started when I was 15 and finished about a year or so later. Version 2.0 was much better, written in the mid-90s, but still suffering from a lot of serious problems. There have been attempts at rewrites since then, versions 2.1 and 2.2, both of which stalled; this one, at least, has actually made it to the big turning point in the novel and should now progress all the way to a proper conclusion...at which point it will be taken off the "to-do" list, permanently. All it will need then is editing.

So once these two are dealt with, the next project is to do something about Novel #2. It's set about 200 years after Novel #1, and it has so much wrong with it I'm not sure where to start. Well--start with fixing the "whodunit" portion of the novel, because it's too haphazard, but there are other problems I want to fix.

#4 is set between #2 and #3; Novel #3 is the end of the big story that ties #1, #2, and #3 together. My aim is to set it up so that you don't need to read all the books, as each one contains a complete story; nor in any particular order...but if you do read them all you leave the last novel with no unanswered questions.

Then there's #5, 6, 7, and 8. #5 is set in the period immediately before #1 and will probably be an anthology of short stories with a central theme.

#6 is a few grains of the first novel I ever wrote--meaning that some of the characters are the same, and a few of the situations come from the original work. But since the original work was total shit (first novel, started when I was twelve) #6 is obviously not going to resemble the original story at all. It's taking me some time to figure out how to tell the story, though, because it's complex and big, but it'll be a good read, I think.

#7 is not actually necessary. I make references to things that happen in #7 throughout the entire ouerve so this will be a paean to the fans, if any: "Hey, I remember reading about that in XYZ! Cool!"

#8, finally, is probably a trio of novellas under one title, and contains the stories that are set in the earliest years of the setting. More stuff I refer to in #1, 2, and 3, not necessary but fun. People who wonder, "What was it like on XX when YY happened? How did ZZ go down?" will read this one.

Oh: I've also got some "scribbling, bibbling, bibbling, scribbling" which could eventually lead to #9 and #10, set in the far future (like 5000 AD) and looking at the interstellar society from two different angles.

So it's kind of scary to consider how much of this stuff is rattling around in my brain. This is the first time I've really laid it all out like this, and when I come to realize that I've basically got ten novels worth of material to write I start to feel a little daunted.

I suppose I ought to get cracking.

#3033: That last post got long, so here's today's linkaround

I'm not kidding; I didn't expect to write a huge essay on my SF stories. Well, maybe I needed to.

* * *

Let's go first (okay, second) with the economic doom-and-gloom stuff today:

DOOM!

From there, five days later, the big plan to save the Euro has begun to falter.

Remember how, on Thursday morning of last week, the Dow spiked 250 points at open? Well, it opened at about 11,869 that morning. Right now it's 11,740-ish. On Thursday of last week I said:
The Dow spiked 250 points at opening on the news from Europe that Greece is "handled". Whee!

...I doubt it'll last long, as I said. A few days or maybe a couple weeks.
I should have gone with my original construction and said merely "A few days, perhaps." Then I'd look like a prescient and wise man!

I mean, right now we're 214 below open on Thursday. All the gains in the markets have been more than erased.

*

Home prices are still falling. A "triple dip" is probably not going to be the end of it, either.

*

Former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine proves that if you're a powerful Democrat, the law does not apply to you. One reason I cannot totally dismiss the Occupati (the "Occupy LOCATION$" people) stems from the fact that Wall Street is not being regulated. Our financial system is committing fraud on a breathtaking scale, and no one is facing the prospect of jail time or even indictment for it.

It's not just the stuff Denninger talks about there; it's the "robosigning" of mortgages and foreclosures, the rampant corruption at all levels of the banking industry, the sweetheart deals from government to Wall Street, the wholesale non-enforcement of regulations--our financial system is a complete mess, and it's been allowed to get that way for two reasons: first, because if these abuses were not allowed, the economy would tank so hard it would make the Great Depression look like a birthday party; and second, because Washington, D.C. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street.

The bankers and the politicians need each other. If the law is enforced, the bankers will go to jail and the politicians will be thrown out of office. It helps that they all went to the same schools, of course (Ivy League, naturally) and that they share political views, but it's not just a matter of belonging to the same club; these people face losing their cozy lives and fat paychecks if the law is enforced.

So they all politely agree to sweep under the rug the violations, the corruption, and the dire consequences of both, and pretend everything is fine. (The press is run by people in the same club, and also stand to lose big if their friends do.) The problem is it is not fine, and the hoi polloi are not as stupid as these Ivy League people think they are.

A lot of the Occupati are socialists; but I think the strength of the movement is stemming from the fact that only their solutions are incorrect, not their accusations.

"Stop the looting and start prosecuting" is right. The people who are now in charge will not survive it, though, which is why it won't happen absent some major change.

* * *

Joe Biden is a moron. It must be nice never to have to worry about whether or not you'll have a job.

Let's face it: if Biden is fired from his present job (ie his boss loses the election next year) what is going to happen to his career? Well, if he does nothing else but simply goes into retirement--that is, ceases to ply his life-long trade as a sitting politician--he can make more money by giving a single speech than most Americans earn in a year; and that will end up being pocket cash for the man, as he's already set for life just because his career as a politician has enriched him beyond the dreams of about 90% of the country.

He can do what Bob Dole did: join a law firm. How much work do you think Bob Dole does? How rich is Bob Dole?

I'm not saying Biden is stupid for not foreseeing that Solyndra would go under (though anyone who thinks that "government subsidy" is a sustainable business model--in this economy--is pretty f-ing stupid) but that he's utterly ignorant of what real life is for people who aren't government employees.

Or maybe he just doesn't f-ing care. I don't know what goes on in Biden's mind--or even if he has one.

* * *

This is one of many reasons I oppose "high speed rail".
Faster than a speeding bullet train, the cost of the state’s massive high-speed rail project has zoomed to nearly $100 billion — triple the estimate given to voters and more than enough to run the entire state government for a year.

What’s more, bullet trains won’t be up and running until at least 2033, much later than the original estimate of 2020, although that depends on the state finding the remaining 90 percent of the funds needed to complete the plan.

The new figures come from a final business plan to be unveiled by the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Tuesday,...
2033 is 22 years from now.

Take a look at the timetable for the Intercontinental Transcontinental Railroad.

"The world's First Transcontinental Railroad was built between 1863 and 1869 to join the eastern and western halves of the United States."

Six years. From the time the land grants were authorized by The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 it's seven. Seven years.

...seven years without heavy construction equipment, having to forge a path through wilderness, where the rail line was the only road for miles--tens of miles--in any direction. They couldn't truck in a dozen bulldozers and earthmovers and start building stuff; they had to build as they went, across more than a thousand miles, and they did it in seven years.

Now? Politicians talk about running an economically unnecessary rail line between two cities that are already linked by air and highway--a few dozen miles apart--and can't manage to accomplish it in three times the time for a sum that's stupendously larger even when adjusted for inflation.

* * *

"Time For Citizens To Arm Themselves". You bet your ass, buddy. And not just to protect ourselves from street thugs; we need to think about protecting ourselves from the criminals in Washington, D.C.

* * *

Though Sailor V seemed a bit dismayed at the quality of the dub, last night I insisted on watching my crappy dub copy of 3x3 Eyes.

He came over here around 7:30 and we watched a passel of horror anime:
Laughing Target
Mermaid Forest
Mermaid's Scar
3x3 Eyes
The first three are all Rumiko Takahashi titles. The latter is based on a series by Yuzo Takada, who also gave us Cat Girl Nuku Nuku and Blue Seed.

3x3 is pretty old--the US release is copyrighted 1991--but they did an honest job on the dubbing, as good as they could manage on the budget they had. Pai's a little too cheerful all the time but it's not bad.

Not, for example, like the dub of Mermaid's Scar. Okay, when an actual eight-year-old kid is turning in the best performance in the dub, and he sounds something like the old Peanuts specials, something is wrong.

It reminds me, again, of the time I was at an anime con, at a room party where they were showing a parody fandub called Ranma 1/3. In this version, Ranma actually was a transvestite (not a guy who actually turns into a girl when splashed with cold water) and they did a whole bunch of other things with the story and characterization. (I'd love to have a copy of it; it's f-ing hilarious.)

...in the middle of this, then, one of the pros comes in, sees what's on, and asks, "Is this a Viz dub?" Everyone in the room laughed. Then he asked seriously, "No--is it a Viz dub?"

Some people working in someone's basement managed to turn in a product equal in quality to a professional studio. It's kind of like that scene in Iron Man where what's-his-face says, "Tony Stark built one of these in a cave out of scraps!" The people who did the parody fandub cared about the quality of their work; while I don't doubt that the people at Viz did too, something was seriously wrong with that place. The release of Mermaid's Scar predates most of Ranma and many of the same people worked on it, yet it sounds like shit where the Ranma actually sounded pretty good.

Anyway, the people who worked on 3x3 probably had about as much money for the whole series as the folks at Viz had for the single Mermaid's Scar OVA, yet the performances are much, much better, and there's no bad pronunciation or acting in it.

* * *

All of which got me to thinking about Viz's dub of Maison Ikkoku. There, again, we have massive pronunciation errors. Viz is (or was, anyway) a subsidiary of Shogakkokan, the Japanese publishing house that owned all the rights to the various titles it released here, yet most of the time the voice actors mispronounced names consistently.

Example: there's a character in MI named Kozue Nanao. If you listen to the Japanese version, when she introduces herself she says "Na-na-ow Ko-zey". The U in her name is almost entirely silent.

Pronunciation in English dub: "Na-now Ko-zoo-ey". Neither her family nor her given name is pronounced correctly.

Mermaid's Scar features a similar issue: "Yukie" ("yoo-key" with a very slight terminal "eh") becomes yoo-key-ayy, with both vowels held long enough that in Japanese it'd be spelled "Yuukiiee". Just saying "Yuki" would have been much closer than that.

Minor point, but it matters to me. It drives me to distraction each time I hear something like that.

...somehow Ranma avoided all this, for the most part. I don't know how.

* * *

As always, Mermaid Forest was damn cool. The OVA version (under the "Rumik World" series of tapes) kicks the ass of the version of that story from the TV series of the same name. The MF TV series covers most (if not all) of the manga, but the manga series took its name from that particular story that was made into this OVA sometime in the early '90s.

...they did it right, and they got Kenji Kawaii to do the music for it. The TV version pales in comparison.

* * *

Anyway, it's the first time I've watched the horror anime for a while. I think 2008 was the last time I did, but I can't remember for sure and I don't care enough about it to go check my blog posts. I'll leave that for later; I want to get a nap before I get up to go shooting with my lawyer friend this afternoon.

#3034: What a gorgeous day for shootin'!

So I went to a range way down south of Bunkers-ville, south of Beecher, southeast of Grant Park. Still in Illinois, but not by much, and down in Kankakee County if I'm not mistaken. I was taken there by my lawyer friend and a buddy of his, and we shot a whole bunch of .22 LR bullets at various cellulose targets.

I did not shoot badly, considering it was my first time shooting a revolver. (A Hi-Point .22 revolver.) And I am considerably lower in stress than I was before I went, though the "stress tank" was lower than it has been for a while just because Sailor V came by last night and we watched a bunch of horror anime.

Sunny, mid-60s, a bit of breeze--man.

...I could have ridden the motorcycle today if I hadn't been doing this, but oh well. It's supposed to be about the same tomorrow, so hopefully I can get it out and take a nice ride. Each time I take it out now it's with the mindset of "This'll probably be the last time before winter sets in," so I try to enjoy it as much as possible. But I don't get to go shooting very often--particularly since I lost my FOID card after the big fiasco in May--so it took precedence over riding the motorcycle.

* * *

This is absolutely unconscionable. A woman in her 20s having to go back into the hospital because of peritonitis, caused by a burst appendix. She had been in the ER for hours when the appendix burst; she was waiting for her turn in a CAT scanner apparently to "verify" that she had appendicitis.

Now, when I had appendicitis, they did three tests to diagnose it: a CBC (a complete blood count), a Chem-7 (a check of my electrolyte balance) and an ultrasound of the affected area. I walked into the hospital at about noonish; I gave blood and got the ultrasound and was diagnosed by one PM. On the table at three.

There is simply no excuse for someone presenting with obvious nonruptured appendicitis to end up like this in the United States.

The woman had been in the ER for six hours after presenting with appendicitis.

If I were involved with this, I would be speaking to a lawyer now and preparing a huge f-ing malpractice suit against the ER doctors and the hospital, because there is no excuse for this whatsoever.

* * *

Like a stopped calendar, a Marxist can be right every 11 years. See, this puts into words exactly my issue with the Occupati; it's a case of reading something and realizing that what you were thinking before in an inchoate fashion has now been crystallized by what you just read.
...[T]his isn't about the downtrodden, or the true underclass at all. It's about people who thought that a college degree in nonsense was a guaranteed ticket to the upper class (or just below it -- the upper middle class, "merely" $200,000 per year in salary but a great job with plenty of nonpecuniary benefits to make up for that paltry salary), and now find out, no, not so much.
That's why so much of the OWS stuff revolves around student loans; that's why so many of the self-identified "99%" point at their educational debt as one of their primary woes.

"I went to school and didn't end up living well!" Going to college is not a guarantee of success; it's merely an indicator for it.

When I was still under 30, I will admit that I felt the same way as these people do: "I got the degree, now I'm guaranteed to be successful!" Well, it ain't so, as I have repeatedly discovered to my chagrin. My successes prior to 1996 were due entirely to the Dot Com Bubble: people needed computers and they needed people who understood them regardless of warts or certifications. I could fix computers better than just about anyone around me--there were a few exceptions--and no one cared that I was self-taught or only able to work part time, because I was good and there were so few others who were that good.

But after I got out of that mode, I discovered that even turning in good work isn't always enough to ensure you remain employed. My time as a hardware tech at Rockwell-Collins--I was on contract there for a year, and there was one guy at the place who closed more tickets than I did...yet when it came time to select a new full-timer from the ranks of contract employees I was passed over; and when the number of contractors was pared back I was passed over again, for a guy who only worked critical cases and sat around the rest of the time surfing the Internet. I did more work; he worked only on critical cases like hard drive failures. His metrics were somehow better.

No, I don't understand it. What I do understand is that the guy who made those decisions was fired not long after my contract ended because he was taking machines from the donation pile to give to his church. It's stealing for Jesus!

So I really don't have any sympathy for the Occupati, not when most of them are whining that they actually have to work for a living. Welcome to the real world, buttplug.

* * *

The stock markets around the world are tanking because Greece might not accept the deal that their self-styled betters in Brussels have brokered.

Also because a major financial firm run by a "Goldmanite" turned out to be doing bad things and has gone bust.

Around all of Vox Day's snark, of course #3 is the reason Goldman-Sachs can turn in such good numbers year after year.

* * *

My pastor's sermon on this past Sunday also included these passages from Revelations.

* * *

So now it's 5:30. I have about an hour and fifteen minutes to get cleaned up and fed and my Bible study stuff read before class begins. I guess I'd better check on the status of my laundry and get my other chores attended to.

Speaking of laundry--every time I do a load of laundry now, and put in that tablespoon of home-made detergent, I get a kick out of it. There's this little (much as I dislike this word) frisson of "sticking it to the Man".

* * *

Dinner last night was Hamburger Helper. I didn't want to go out for anything, not when I had to answer the door, and there really wasn't anything else I wanted. It was easy and cheap, so I went with it.

Because I had to go answer the door, though, when the stuff got to the "boil" phase it was almost boiling over when I was able to get back to the stove.

That is the thickest HH I ever made.

...I guess I just don't get it hot enough the way I normally do it, which is to turn the heat down as soon as the sauce begins to boil. Maybe letting it get to a full rolling boil is the right way to do it.

Anyway, I've got to go eat some leftovers now.