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gnat (29)

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Journal of gnat (29)

Thursday May 30, 2002
12:30 PM

What am I doing?

[ #5314 ]
We went to Chicago on the weekend. It was hell--long marches with heavy bags and two kids, hectic schedule of family visits, little sleep .... Oh, and diarrhea! Yay!

Since then I've worked on the Essential Blogging feedback. The Radio Userland chapters have been hard to get right--everyone seems to want them to cover different material, and nobody's been shy about voicing their criticism in public. Joy!

Sent out the appendix to "Perl Graphics Programming" to the reviewers. What comments have come in so far have been mostly positive, which is good. I see Manning has released "Programming Graphics with Perl" in PDF if not hardcopy.

Just read two proposals for "Shell Scripting in a Nutshell", and in the process worked out what makes a Nutshell book tick.

I've taken over the editorial helm of Advanced Perl Programming, 2nd edition. No news to pass on yet, but hopefully there'll be progress Real Soon Now.

All this punctuated with various OSCON work. New speakers (Bruce Perens on DRM and Open Source, plus the creators of Gallery and Movable Type) and keynoters (as soon as we can get a description for the fucking MONSTER keynote that will rock your world, it'll go online and you can worship at the altar of me :-). Sorting out what goes into the program. Tweaking my programs that mine the crap O'Reilly conference schedule web pages and produce a clearer view of the schedule.

Biocon 2003 planning is starting up. Oy!

Trying to catch up on a huge backlog of email.

My boss, Paula, decided she didn't want to be a boss any longer, so has become a Super Editor. She's doing nothing but editing, and the company's allocating various production and support people to smooth the paths of all her books. Why? Because she's fucking awesome and can outproduce the rest of us if we only give her a chance. Nice job if you can get it :-)

The "Perl and LWP" QC1 notes went in today. I hope to have some copies at YAPC, fresh from the bindery.

Some days I feel like I could fuck around reading the web all day. Other days I can whip through my daily web reads in an hour and can be extraordinarily productive. I have no idea what determines the mode of the day.

Discovered Orson Scott Card's website, which has too much shite happening but also has some excellent advice for writers. I'm taking part in a wedding on the July 4th weekend otherwise I'd go to EnderCon because it's close and we could have fun there. Card seems so cool in his writings. I sure hope he isn't one of those egomaniac assholes in real life.

Larry's new Apocalypse should come out next week, with the Exegesis to follow. Lots of amazing regexp work. Holy cow! (Sacred cow!) Once again, though, it's timed so that poor Damian has an Exegesis to write while he's on the road. Hopefully this won't cause another blowout like last time!

Supersnail photos from 2002 OSCON are almost live. They are outstanding. The guy's a bloody genius. It's harder for him to attend this year than last, but I'm working on greasing the rails.


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  • This person [] wasn't too impressed with Card in real life. Much of it is pendulum-swinging, but it's still good reading.
    • Ugh, that is disappointing. Yes, the reviewer did seem to be the worst possible matchup for Card. Dammit, why do heroes have to be zeroes? Can't someone be a good writer AND a decent human being, without secretly wanting to ban gays or whatever?


      • That old faithful: Douglas Adams? Or, as an editor, would he have been a bad writer, always pushing way past the deadline? =)

        He seemed perfectly lovely when I met him a couple of years ago.
          ---ict / Spoon
      • Eno's advice is "Try to make things that can become better in other people's minds than they were in yours". A corollary of this as the artistic process (advertently or not) is that sometimes a complete twat can make things that read quite well. Orson Card is a case in point.

        To write a book, one needs to act confident in writing. And one particularly facile way to act confident in that specific cale is to be a narrowminded jackass in the general case. When you have no problem painting things in broad strokes, this removes the writerly question of how one can paint a good picture of part of the real world -- a problem that would nearly paralyze a less jackasinine person.

        Anyhoo, in reading Card's books, I got a strong Mormon vibe from it all, notably a manifestation of a persistent meme I ran into in Mormon culture, a meme I call the "World's Fair" model of cultures. Over there, there's the Japanese pavilion, where everyone's got on kimonos and those klopklop shoes, and they're sitting on the floor... and look, they're eating "soo-shee" with chopsticks! So darling, so quaint. Over there, there's the Swedish pavilion, where everyone is a blond Lutheran who likes lutefisk and Swedish meatballs, and when they talk, it sounds like "bork bork bork".

        All muy folklórico, muy auténtico. Monotonous. Predictable. Traditional. "Multiculturalism" only via whole planets of duly quaint monocultures. Ein Volk, Ein Welt! (...Ayn Rand?) It's all very 19th century, complete with its own space-Napoleons.

        His picture of a future involves no real novelty (i.e., weirdness) even over the course of millennia where humanity has thought of nothing better to do than skittering off to different worlds where they are free to become stereotypes. We the readers are treated to a tour of planet Chingchong Prime, or whatever he calls it.

        At least we were spared a visit to Italia Gamma, where everyone is presumably a hairy space-mafioso who eats a lot of pasta, says things like "Mamma mia!" and "Eh, wassamatta you?", and of course believes in the infallibility of space-Pope John DXLXIII. Altho that would have esthetically surpassed the Quaint Irishman Town from Voyager's holodeck.

        And I'd have loved to see precisely how overdetermined and queasy-making the portrayal of Planet Ashkenaz would be.

        Card's books reminded me a whole lot of Frank Herbert, even down to the biological determinist vibe, the Grand Themes of History, and the weak characterizations.

        Thanks, but when I want mindless soap operas, I know where to get them []. At least they are post-modern now.

        • makes sense from a mormon POV... After all, if each man and his wives are to populate their own planet after they die, you'd expect each planet to have it's own culture dictated primarily by the man and women who founded it's population.

          I've always thought that the mormon church should be providing serious funds to SETI and NASA. After all, if they truely believe in an afterlife and that particular picture of an afterlife, then the search for extraterestrial inteligence stands to do something very novel an