Monthly Archives: September 2015

Scrivener for iOS in 2015? The Answer

Nope, apparently not. I bought my iPad back in July of 2014 anticipating the immanent release of Scrivener for iOS. According the owner of Scrivener, the whole project is a pretty much a sprawling mess because of the uniqueness of Scriv’s file format and synching with DropBox.

For those that care:

Short of a miracle – which I still hope for – the iOS version is unlikely to out this year now, let alone in time for NaNoWriMo. All we can do at this point is bury our heads in shame and apologise for how long it has taken and is still taken. It’s not for want of trying or of resources – we’ve ploughed a small fortune into it. Ask any developer who has worked on it, and they will tell you just how complex it is, but even so, it is waaaaay late now. So: sorry. But we are still working on it, and we are very thankful to our users for their continued enthusiasm for the project in spite of the many delays.

I thought I’d be pissed at this by now, but since I am in school, I don’t have time for it anyway. And I’ve been thinking larger instead of smaller recently. Who wants to write on such a small thing? The iPad is not much smaller to carry around than the MacBook Air.

Advertisements

A Deepness in the Sky and Pope Francis Addresses Congress

Those two items have absolutely no relation. I just don’t have time to make two posts.

220px-A-Deepness-in-the-Sky-book-cover

Just finished, again, Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky. It is the only book I’ve read more than once save for Atlas Shrugged. If you are a science fiction fan and you haven’t read Vinge’s book, you are missing out on one of the stellar moments in all of the genre. It contains my favorite science fiction character, probably, of all time. I can’t say the name because you are not supposed to know it until much into the book.

Relatedly, I recommend the first book in this series A Fire Upon the Deep to be read prior to Deepness. Although to call it a series is sort of a misnomer. The two books take part in the same universe but have no correlation as far as plot is concerned. But I think that unnamed character (the character has a name, I am just not giving it out – I hate spoilers and will not deliver one) has more of an impact if Fire is read before A Deepness. Although that unnamed character is not even present in A Fire Upon the Deep.

Just a great, great book. And the plot is so tight, he has numerous threads working all through the story and it is never confusing. If you are more of a prose reader, the tightness of the plot may not thrill you as much. If you are, it is tighter than a snare drum. I myself like it sort of in the middle. But Vinge doesn’t fail to connect you to the characters – in fact he is a subtle genius at it. I was socked when I first read A Fire Upon the Deep when he got me choked up over the death of what was in actuality a sort of intelligent sort of seaweed on wheels.

Yeah, try to relate to that – but Vinge does it. And here, you’d think you couldn’t empathize with spiders that come up to your chest with giant mauls. Well, you think, anyone can anthropomorphize anything if you just make it talk like a people. And that is what your usual science fiction writer will do. It is what Star Trek usually did.

Vernor is no average science fiction writer (yes, his last book Children of the Sky, was a little weak, but not bad if were a stand alone and not meant to follow the “over the top” A Fire Upon the Deep). The spiders are anthropomorphized, but the way Vinge does it is perfect, they are subjectively anthropomorphized, but objectively are not.

I wish my next three books were not already planned out else I’d be reading A Fire Upon the Deep again as soon as I’m done studying.

AP_pope_congress_10_mm_150924_31x13_1600

You can’t pass up the first Pope ever to address a joint session of Congress. I watched it on YouTube and then made the mistake of looking at the comments. Found an interesting one.

Too bad the POPE is wasting His time speaking to the GOP , they are contrary to everything He stands for!! Equality, compassion for fellow man, income equality, climate change, environmental issues, the poor,  the elderly, veterans, women’s rights,  no war, and religious freedom. It is hard to believe some of the GOP are “SO CALLED CAHOLICS”!!! They are a disgrace to humanity!!!

Sorry, dude. See that guy behind Pope Francis’ right shoulder? He’s a self-described devout Catholic and the Vice President, Joe Biden. Joe Biden believes in a woman’s right to abort a baby, and carries that out as a politician. And he also believes life starts at conception. I leave that to the individual person to make of that what conclusion they will…

But there is one thing you can be clear on (if you ever look at Catholic doctrine, notably the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)) abortion is absolutely incompatible with being a Catholic. Nothing is more clear. I have heard some try to steer around the issue by moving around the life/conception timeline and sometimes the ensoulment argument. But when you say life begins at conception, and you claim to be a Catholic, well, you have some gymnastics to perform. Well, here is Biden trying some here:

“Even – I don’t want to start a theological discussion, I’ll get in trouble, it’s above my pay grade, although it’s my avocation, but there’s, you know, there’s even been disagreement in our church, not that – abortion is always wrong, but there’s been debate, and so, there’s, for me, at a point where the church makes a judgment, as we Catholics call fide doctrine, said, this is what our doctrine is,” Biden said in an interview with America published on Monday.

Usually The Daily Show or one other comedy news shows would take a Republican to town for making such a non-commital evasive, load of verbal baloney. This, you will never see done against a Democrat. What did he actually say? Ah, that be a politician talking there, son. There’s disagreement within the Church, but not about whether abortion is always wrong – then, about what?

The nice thing about the Catholic Church is it is pretty clear about a great many issues, and you can look them all up.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm  Articles, 2270 – 2275.

I picked on the abortion thing because if you support abortion, you are, in fact, against everything that Pope Francis stands for. And there is no getting around that. The Pope is the head of the Catholic Church, the Church’s doctrine is his doctrine.

That said, I found the Pope’s speech incredibly hard to watch. I realize English is not his first language and he’s 78 and traveling around the world is probably tiring, and he is a man in no hurry. But I am a modern American used to being around women as teenagers who speak 50 words in 4.2 seconds. This man talked so slow (and with a very thick accent) that I couldn’t tell where sentences stopped and another started.

He lacks the precision of the previous Pope who was a lifelong scholar (still is actually). But I liked a lot of what he had to say. I do wish he would have addressed the relativistic, throw away (and I’m not talking about garbage necessarily) society. And I was hoping he’d be more controversial.

It was also interesting to watch which group of people stood up to applause to what and when.

It was also simply surreal to see a Pope addressing Congress.


They Do What?

This from MedicinePlus website (I am on Diagnostics and Treatment of the nervous system at the moment)

Doctors diagnose brain tumors by doing a neurologic exam and tests including an MRI, CT scan, and biopsy. Treatment options include watchful waiting, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Watchful waiting? Does my health insurance cover that? And what do they charge for watchful waiting? I’m sure there is more to it than the visual I got of bored nurses looking at you and standing around. There was Waiting for Godot… Waiting for Carcinoma?

The Chinese President has been in the Seattle area this week fucking up our traffic – as if we needed help with that. Every couple of years he has to visit Microsoft in Redmond so the software giant can assist the Chinese government in jailing more of its citizens for badthink against the Party.

The Seattle mayor advised people to telecommute for work this week. Yeah, buddy, I’ll do that. Phone rings, “Yeah, Bob, I’d like a scotch and soda.” “Sure, it’ll be two days.” “Rockin’! I can’t wait!”

What an idiot. Are there even enough people who telecommute to make a difference in traffic?


Crunching Away

After spending four months flailing away at medical terminology, I have only 144 days left before my course on medical coding runs out and I’m out of time. I was going to be done in three months, but way underestimated the work involved. For one, I did not know they were assigning additional internet related research projects (for instance yesterday was four hours reading about everything arthritis (which, btw, I’m convinced I have now)). Second, I didn’t realize just how bad I am at memorization. I can read a definition and not be able to recall it minutes later. It takes a lot of hammering for a definition to stick in my head. Especially when one reading assignment requires me to go to the dictionary 30 plus times. I am not an idiot but it is medicine and I am not a physician.

Another reason I find myself in the ultimate crunch is I am simply not used to not working under pressure. My entire work life has been all about pressure. Forty seven burgers, four salads, 16 pizzas – bam! – need that shit in ten minutes – oops here comes six more tickets, those have to come out moments after that prior mess – oops – something goes wrong.

Don’t even get me started on bartending. I don’t work at a slow hotel bar, let me tell ya.

So when I signed up for this course in medical billing I had 365 days to finish the course (you can buy an extension, betcha that ain’t cheap) and a year out is no pressure for me. Now I look ahead at what I have to finish and I’m thinking “ah, shit.”

I wonder if this is why I’ve been so lackadaisical about writing. There is no pressure. There is no one breathing down my neck. I feel no tension. Hell, I haven’t smoked outside of work in years. Would I actually be one of those people that gets the “you’ve got six months to live, Robert, make your peace with God,” and then realize I never did get to any of those stories finished? And then spend six months shitting the bed with a word processor on my lap and laid out on morphine?

Speculation aside, there will not be a lot of activity here for a time (I think I’m addressing maybe four people anyway) as it will be all crunch, crunch, crunch.

I’ve always performed well under pressure. Maybe I won’t need that extension. But I better stop blabbering here first.

See ya!


Fantasy Football and Dungeons and Dragons

Barry-Sanders-262x300

[Above, btw, is Barry Sanders, the best running back ever. Back when I gave a crap about football he was something to watch.]

I was thinking the other day as I was watching a bunch of people prepare their fantasy teams for the upcoming season,

packers-fan

that Fantasy Football is pretty much Dungeons and Dragons for jocks… or ex-jocks… or people that wish they were jocks.

But really what they are is…

Dungeons_and_Dragons_Group_Fosters_Role_Playing_Fun

Which is not a bad thing. But let’s not imagine that you, merely because you play fantasy football are anything like,

Barry-Sanders-262x300

but you are really

big-bang-theory-playing-dungeons-and-dragons

Although not even quite. Because after fantasy football people choose their teams it is really a passive game of watching a real game that you are not participating in, while Dungeons and Dragons players are just getting started after creating their characters.

So let’s not fool ourselves into thinking it is anything cool, it is merely Dungeons and Dragons with football players.

Just not as cool.


Where George RR Martin Gets Tangled Up in His Own Words – Or George RR Martin Has Contempt for His Own Fans

As the past three posts have illustrated I do have a little problem with the top tiers of modern science fiction. It is an elitist clique, and like every elitist clique, it wants to maintain its existence by denying its existence.

I quote George RR Martin from his own blog:

A fan is not just someone who reads SF and fantasy. A fan is a member of a community called “fandom” whose roots go back to the 1930s.

Fans are tolerant, friendly, good humored, warm, welcoming. They love worldcon, they respect and value the Hugos, they honor fannish tradition.

Now, someone takes him to task on this, but she underestimates the lowness of the elite’s esteem for her.

First, Mr. Martin’s interloper,

Ah – I get it. Because I cannot afford to go to Worldcon (either financially or time-wise), because I do not have enough time to volunteer at Worldcon without eliminating either my job, my family, or my sleep schedule, i am not a True Fan. The fact that i have been reading SciFi and Fantasy since I pulled “Smith of Wooten Major and Farmer Giles of Ham” of my father’s bookshelf at the age of seven, the fact that almost every book on my Kindle is SciFi or Fantasy, those make me a “casual reader”. I MUST attend WorldCon to be a true fan.

Do you even HEAR how elitist that makes you sound? Every time you make a statement like that, you disparage the millions of fans (yes, real, true, actual FANS) who read your works, watch your TV show, and eagerly await the next book or episode. You disparage the very people who make you ” rich enough” to ignore those posts you deem hateful on here.

Mr. Martin’s response:
Except nobody said that.

But the Hugos belong to worldcon. Worldcon created them. Worldcon owns them. There were plenty of years when I could not afford to go to worldcon either. I could still join as a supporting member (very cheap, then as now) and vote. And I could still go to local cons. I was a member of fandom, regardless of how many cons I attended.

Maybe you’re the same. I don’t know you. Do you attend your local con, belong to a club, publish a fanzine/ blog? If so, you’re a fan.

Yeah, you said that. I just quoted you with the link to your own site stating just that. Local con? Mr. Martin, lets not change definitions midstream just because a woman had the balls to confront you on your own words. Press him more, shall we? You have to belong to a club? Bullshit. Publish to a fanzine – more bullshit!
Who, Mr. Martin, are you signing autographs for if it is not for FANS??? Do you not sign a book if they don’t have credentials of attending a local Con? Not having published in a fanzine? Belong to a Throne club? Or do you cynically just sign the book and sneer at them as they walk away as not “Trufan”?
Do you demand these credentials before you sign copies of your books? What are you signing? You definition of a “fan” is an evolving insult to fans.

 


The Hugo – Part the III (and his butler)

Or, alternately, really paying attention when George RR Martin plays peacemaker.

I agree with a lot of what he says here. But it always seems like there is a certain line or creed he has to fall back on every time.

To start with I can only agree with what he says about Beale, aka, Vox Day. The man has an appetite for destruction. And some dubious theories that make me want to go hang out with some 9/11 conspiracists.

He has a list of names that are not acceptable and some that are acceptable:

I have seen some hopeful signs on that front in some of the Hugo round-ups I’ve read. Puppies and Puppy sympathizers using terms like Fan (with a capital), or trufan, or anti-Puppy, all of which I am fine with.

Martin is fine with Fan and trufan (although his spelling earlier is the much more explicit Truefan). But he accepts no name that either 1) does not depend on the existence of the Puppies 2) is not derogatory to anyone that doesn’t fit his definition of “fan”.

He is fine with Fan (with a capital F he states) trufan (or Truefan) or anti-puppy. The third term requires the existence of the puppies, but designates nothing of said group except whoever they are, they are not them. That leaves two terms that end up stinking of some elitism. Remember his definition of fan from my post first post:

A fan is not just someone who reads SF and fantasy. A fan is a member of a community called “fandom” whose roots go back to the 1930s.

Fans are tolerant, friendly, good humored, warm, welcoming. They love worldcon, they respect and value the Hugos, they honor fannish tradition

One can only imagine what sort of steps you have to climb to achieve “fan” with a capital F, or trufan (Truefan). Because a fan (small f) is not even someone as lowly enough to have merely lined his pockets all these years.

Now, I attempt to pride myself on being as fair as possible. It is possible that Mr. Martin is a very busy man and these things are all unconnected. But, if I am being too generous, what does this mean? What is someone who just reads [and if we are talking about his material – watches][and purchases – i.e., pays your bills] SF and Fantasy? Trough boy? Nothing? For that person is not even a fan by his definition.

And what picture does this paint as peacemaker when you insist on the few names that are intrinsically divisive? Anti-puppy while still divisive at least designates something objective as in being against a certain group that goes by the name Puppies.

But Fan? trufan (Truefan)?

Absolutely agree with him on slates. If there was slating by the non-puppy side before, at least they were very subtle about it. I haven’t been able to scrape up anything about slates prior to the puppies. And in relation to my Hugo Part Deux post, I think reading lists are a fine idea for Puppies 4.

But, but, but, with a caveat. I am for competing lists. Mr. Martin mentions the Locus Recommended Reading list (which I notice has Gardner Dozois as one of the choosers – I’ve seen him a couple times at Norwescon, very entertaining guy and probably one of the most trusted names in the genre) and the NESFA (check out their press, they have some damned fine collections).

But why not a competing list? That should have been the original idea! Sure, it may have taken a couple more years of persuading and selling to get the word out. The slating spoke of an impatience on the part of some people.

Here is why I am in favor of multiple reading lists (although it is nice to see that the Locus and NESFA lists did not overlap a lot). It is simply impossible to discover, on one’s own, quality material, especially award worthy quality material. Although the book covers will frequently let you know, a ton of shit flies off the presses each year – and that’s not just another crack at James Patterson!

It would have to be a cultivated list. Simply reading a list of what one individual has read in a year’s time is of no interest. I care as much about what Mr. Martin or Baxter or Scalzi has read in the last year as I do about what Hurbert Stinkenhemenburgermaister the 4th has read this year. Because those are the results of personal subjective tastes, proclivities, and circumstance.

Although one fears that such a fine idea may be a tad too late. With 3000 additional people ready to vote next year any Puppy reading list is probably going to be ignored or shot down if any of its list makes it on the ballot.

Take a consideration of what a fine idea this is. I do tend to enjoy science fiction and fantasy that has a hero in it, or, at the least, someone I want to come out victorious in the end. I don’t enjoy message fiction (it is very hard to do) which, I have heard, is in a lot of modern science fiction, and I am of a conservative bent. I admit, I would not enjoy a book with man on man sex in it. And I am one of those rare men that also would not enjoy woman on woman sex either. I do not enjoy the viciousness of a Joe Abercrombie story.

Such a list would, assuming it not too restrictive, be something I may appreciate. One does not grow wise by plugging into only MSNBC or only FOX News (no, really, you need more than one news source nowadays) same goes here.

The parameters for such alternate lists would have to be wide. For instance, I would probably not read off of a Christian Science Fiction list because most of Christian fiction (and I assume other religions follow the same pattern) sucks a big one. I also probably wouldn’t read from a feminist or LGBT list either. These are too exclusive. A Catholic list I may look at, I like me more than one Catholic writer: R.A. Lafferty and Gene Wolfe spring to mind.

Paulk has said that her list will focus on the works that receive the most suggestions from those participating, that it could include “even David Gerrold” if a lot of people suggest him. I think that’s VERY good. Could it also include “even” N.K. Jemisin and Rachel Swirsky and Ken Liu and Mary Robinette Kowal? Even better. Not that I think it will… the Puppies may not be all conservative, but certainly more of them tend right than left, and their literary tastes undoubtedly run to more traditional forms and styles too.

Actually I found out about David Gerrold, specifically his, The Man Who Folded Himself, from a Sad Puppy that praised it, namely Mr. John C. Wright. Rachel Swirsky will never find herself on that list with a dinosaur story. One thing I think will be true of the list, if it turns out aright, is if it isn’t actually science fiction (or even fantasy) it isn’t going to be on the list.

Frankly I don’t give a shit (I’m repeating myself for the third post now) who is on the list (or any list) because I care about the story. I don’t know what Martin means about it being even better if the three ladies and the supposed Asian guy were on the list as opposed to just David Gerrold. Is he saying that it would be even better because they are woman, one black and an Asian man? Then I can’t understand what he says later:

Let’s make it about the work. Let’s argue about the BOOKS.

Are we saying that people are being kept off Hugo lists and recommendation lists because they are either not white, female, or asian? Nah, we’re not saying that are we? Certainly we are not saying that about women in general. Women have been kicking ass in science fiction and fantasy for decades now. I really don’t know about ethnicities in science fiction, its not something I “check up on” when I am enjoying a book.

[Although I have to say I just looked up Mary Robinette Kowel – red head! I have an authoress crush, never read her.]

Are we saying they should be put on the lists because they are not straight white males? If they produce work worthy of being on a recommendation list, and/or winning a Hugo or Nebula, then why the hell not? Is anyone claiming they should not be because they are not straight white males?

No one is claiming that. But it would be just as bad to put them on there merely because they are not straight white males.

Is that happening? I don’t know. Why does John Scalzi think POC’s (God I hate terms like that) need charitable help getting into Cons? Does he really think POC’s need charitable help getting into Cons? There are poor white people too. No, really, I’ve seen them. I gave money to one on a street corner the other week. He might have later driven away in his BMW, but still… Why isn’t there a more general fund for the poor to get into Cons? Or do we not want poor white people at Cons? I get that poor white dudes are assholes and all, I used to be one. I don’t get it. There may even be poor white LGBT people out there who cannot afford to attend exactly like a POC cannot.

Why you discriminating, huh?

Sorry, son, you may be gay and all, and we’re all for that, we’re on the winning side of history and all, but you white, so you just run along and get yourself a nice boyfriend and all.

See ya!