Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bathroom List: Seven Reasons Why Chess is Not Like Politics

1. The pleasant fantasy that you have only one opponent.

2. That the opposing forces in front of you at the start are all that will show up.

3. That the sides will have equal membership.

4. That all of your members will do what you say.

5. That the sides will take orderly turns.

6. That you will get to see everything your opponent does.

7. That anyone can only do one thing at a time.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Infestation of Nightmares

Every home in the burg had its share of nightmares. They'd settled out on the slope of an ominous forest, and the looming mountains lengthened night by a half an hour every summer, so it was their own fault. They understood. They accepted responsibility, and considered the number of nightmares that crept into their basements and attics and air conditioning systems to be the price for country living. The rest of the world wasn't exactly a peach.

Mr. Rabbani had lived on the haunted slope for two decades. He kept an array of lamps on starting an hour before dusk and never slept with his feet jutting from the covers. These were reasonable precautions for his mortgage rate. That his only neighbor was an empty house seemed downright funny around Halloween.

Yet one November, Mr. Finkelstein moved into that empty house. It was three days of a veritable haunting, with all the clatter of moving furniture and groaning middle-aged men. Mr. Finkelstein had only a fuzzy notion of how many nightmares lived in the burg, and so he lost a few toenails to one on his first night. The neighbors saw him through his bathroom window around dawn, clutching a flashlight and barricading himself in.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: I'm Weak

“That thing you’re saying isn’t a weakness? It’s a weakness. There is nothing abnormal or immoral about weakness. I have yet to meet a person who didn’t fail, possess shortcomings and vulnerabilities, and additionally was simply weak in an arena or three. Some of the most beautiful times in love and friendship are helping others with theirs. I have them. You have them. You can have a weakness for alcohol, or gambling, or low-cut tops. Some weaknesses can be corrected with habit or surgery or mere mindfulness. Others will always be with us, and they shouldn’t be paved over, or draped with willful ignorance. The people worth having in my life compensate for my weaknesses, or outright enjoy them.”

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Five Reasons I’m Glad I Joined Reddit

1. Better Conversation
In my social circles, Reddit has a terrible reputation for being full of trolls and backbiters. This isn’t my experience at all, though more nasties probably lurk in other sub-reddits. I've only registered on forums of interest – r/Fantasy, r/Books, r/Science, r/Anime, r/WorldNews – all of which offer bouquets of content that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen, as well as meeting authors and getting valuable publishing advice. And then there are the conversations.

Some of the best literary chats I had from March-May were among the comments on r/Fantasy, about how Horror and Fantasy can overlap, why Fantasy tends to stall in the first hundred pages, and even reflecting on the works of Gene Wolfe. Jerks tend to get isolated, called out, and most refreshingly, reasoned with until they’re disarmed. It’s actually deeper and nicer than most of conversations I've seen on Facebook walls, though I haven’t visited r/Politics yet.

2. Mary Robinette Kowal is my Editing Pop Idol
People say Seanan McGuire is amazing with her fans on Twitter, and she is, but I’ve never seen anyone interact with their readers like Mary Robinette Kowal did on r/Fantasy.

A reader linked to her article about revising old works to weed out idle prejudices and colonial attitudes, from both wording and plotting. It takes amazing guts to admit your mistakes in public. More amazing: when users questioned her motives or practices, she responded in considerate fashion and was open enough to change her mind on at least one edit. Twitter is too brief, and too easy to read as glib or hostile, for these sorts of exchanges. Here we had an author inviting people into her process and producing work she preferred thanks to the interaction.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: LIVE from the Shoe

There was an old lady who lived in a shoe. She conceived what can only be considered an implausible number of children for a woman who lived in a cramped one-bedroom, but there they all were, living in abject poverty, thirteen people living where only five toes belonged. Yet this poverty did not last for long. Not in the age of Youtube.

One video was all it took for her soleful family to viral, and for CNN and Wired to herald her as an economic genius, making shoe-life work in a bad economy. Warren Buffett invited her to lunch, and she hosted the first-ever TED Talk from a Footlocker, on the wisdom of laces and how to expand your personal spaces. Before the end of the fiscal quarter, she was a real estate tycoon, able to flip any property into a spacious dream house.

She only started as an old lady who lived in a shoe. She was a visionary, and I believe she invented the Tardis.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: The Congressman Sleeps in a Coffin

Takes limeade and half a bagel in there every morning, and doesn't rise from the grave until 8:00. Until then he e-mailing, blackberrying and other verbs you don't associate with coffins. I've even seen him doing sit-ups.

It's the only coffin in the capitol with a chamber pot. He sleeps there every night, and it's probably killed his sex life. Now I always assumed it was a penance thing, wanting to rest in the same accommodations as his son, yet when the honorable Horace Tetley of Nebraska asked him about that, well, you'll have to excuse the expressions, but our man turned downright grim.

It seems it's not as simple as losing a son overseas. It's that he wants to know exactly what he's advocating against. The publicity stunt leaves most of his staff uncomfortable, but his colleagues find it very difficult to argue in favor of another foreign war to a man who can ask if they know what's like to spend a night in a coffin.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

John wins the "Sunshine Award"!

It must be meme season, because I've received at least four blog hop invitations this week alone! The one I've been most tardy about is Laura Besley's "Sunshine Award." This has to be for what a nice guy I am, since it's been overcast, raining or tornadoing every day for weeks.
The second-only hand-drawn award I've ever gotten. They're some of my favorites.
They're fairly standard blogger rules:

  1. Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.
  2. Link to the person who nominated you.
  3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
  4. Pass it on to a few cheery souls.

I've edited them a little to make Sunday easier. Laura's questions are much more normal than the ones I typically get! Here we go:
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