Daily Archives: April 14, 2005

Your Weird Moment of Synchronicity for the Day

I’m listening to “Every Day I Write the Book,” by Elvis Costello, and came to the part in the final verse where Costello opines:

Even in a perfect word, where everyone was equal
I’d still own the film rights, and be working on the sequel

To which I thought: Hey! I do own the film rights! I am working on the sequel! Every day I do indeed write the book!

I’m living an Elvis Costello song. Better this one than, say, “Let ‘Em Dangle.”

Just thought I’d share.

A Special Edition of OMW

Earlier today, Instapundit posted this entry. This inspired me to do something, which in turn inspired me to send Glenn an e-mail, which inspired him to make another posting here. For those of you too lazy to click through, here’s the e-mail I sent to Glenn:

Maj. Tammes’ note about being “hyped up” to read Old Man’s War inspired me to call up Tor Books to see if we could do something special for the service people in Afghanistan and Iraq. I asked, and Tor agreed, to make available a free electronic version of “Old Man’s War” for our folks serving in those countries. I call it the “Over There Special Edition” — it’s an .rtf file, about 570kb, with the entire text of the novel.

To get it, service people in Iraq and Afghanistan should drop me an e-mail at “omw@scalzi.com” and I’ll send them the edition as an attached file. They should be able to tell me their unit/general location so I know they really are in Iraq/Afghanistan (sending the request from their “.mil” account will go a long way to help). People should know that if I get a whole bunch of people who aren’t in those countries trying to get the text I won’t be able to continue. So please, leave this version to the folks serving our country a half a world away.

I want to take a moment to thank Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor at Tor, and Tom Doherty, the Tor publisher, for letting me do this special edition. It’s really something to go to your publishing house and ask permission to do something that might potentially cut into sales and have them come back and say, simply, “That’s a great idea. Do it.” From my perspective I may give up a few dollars in sales, but these folks are giving up a lot more doing their thing in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is just a small way to say “thanks.”

So there you have it.

Reader Request 2005: Pot!

David Graham asks:

What I’d be interested in is your feelings on marijuana and how that has changed since you’ve had a child and grown older? I’m 24 at the moment and personally I don’t use it but my fiancĂ© and friends do use it.

Well, without going into Lifetime TV Movie detail about it, it was made pretty clear to me early on that neither side of my family could handle addictive subtances at all, and this had the effect of both making me a lifelong teetotaler in terms of drugs — I dislike even taking aspirin, which is not exactly logical — and of making me somewhat unnecessarily paranoid about casual drug use when I was younger. So when I was (much) younger and you were to toke up in front of me, I’d’ve been worried that a week later you’d be blowing total strangers for your smack cash, and casing me out to see how much you could get for my internal organs on the black market. Naturally, one has to get beyond that sort of thinking if one wants to have any sort of friends at all in high school and college. I got over it in no small part because friends of mine who toked up in fact did not suddenly become drug-addled experts in fencing stolen microwaves.

These days my opinion about marijuana and other recreational drug use is somewhat more relaxed. I still think it’s stupid, and you won’t catch me doing it. But then lots of people do lots of stupid things, and they still manage to get through the day with their brain intact. Overdoing pot is no damn good — pot’s big thrill is that it lops 25% off your processing power and makes you enjoy it, so being chronically loaded means that you’re also chronically stupider and more apathetic than you should be, and that’s not an optimal way to experience life, shall we say — but as for the occasional toke here and there, eh, who cares.

As for whether we should legalize pot: I’m not going to go out of my way personally to spearhead the effort, but sure, why not. A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece for the Willamette Weekly arguing that we should legalize pot because doing so would kill off the entirely asinine pothead culture, and that could only be seen as a good thing. The potheads were of course outraged, and thus I became perhaps the only person ever protested by the pro-legalization folks for arguing for making pot legal. As you might expect, I found this almost unbearably amusing.

I will say this: I do tend to see recreational drug use as a young person’s activity, something you experiment with, usually in college, while you’re trying to figure out what’s going on your life. In this respect it’s not unlike joing the College Socialist Society for a quarter in your freshman year or engaging in occasional dormitory bisexuality. Eventually it all gets lumped under the catchall “experimentation” excuse, and then you don’t have to worry about whether it’ll come back to haunt you when you’re running for that city council seat.

Now, in the course of your experimentation, you find that you really are a socialist or bisexual, well, that’s fine, obviously. For some people, the experiment is going to take. But if in the course of your experimentation you find that you really like your recreational drugs, you might want to think about that. It’s one thing to be 23 and baked to the gills. When you’re 35 and spending a significant amount of time skorfing primo British Canadian cannabis out of an improvised honey bear bong (just like Brad Pitt in True Romance), you look an ass. And if you’re any older than that, you damn well better have glaucoma. The older you get, the less getting bombed should be a cornerstone of your life, no matter what your drug of choice would be for that.

(The exception to this: Tobacco/nicotine, which I give older people a pass on because they started using in an era which more or less promoted its use. Young people today, on the other hand, have absoutely no excuse. I look at younger people who smoke and think: There goes one stupid person.)

I also make a qualitative difference between pot and other more hardcore drugs, like coke and speed. If you’re occasionally toking up, that’s value-neutral to me. But you know, no one just takes a little coke now and then, do they. Likewise, no one pinging around filled with crystal meth is a casual user. Spend a lot of time with the hard stuff and you shouldn’t expect to see too much of me around. I’m judgemental that way.

Full-On Geekery

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I was having a philosophical discussion about geekery the other night with Kate Nepveu, about whether to qualify for geekdom one needs to have a certain level of technical/mechanical/mathematical aptitude, or if just having the outward trappings of geekdom were enough to seal the deal. I argued for the former, while she tended toward the latter. Moreover I expressed the opinion that despite some rather compelling circumstantial evidence to the contrary, I wasn’t a true geek, to which Ms. Nepveu (politely) seemed skeptical.

Well, she wins. Here’s me caught in the act of configuring my home network, connecting the Mac and PC through a network router I just happened to have around the house, and connecting the laptop you see here through wireless (I’m running iTunes on all of them off my PC to make sure local file sharing is working). Even considering how much easier it is to make a home network these days than, say, even a couple of years ago, I am indeed feeling well and truly geekified.

The new Mac has settled in well, and I’ve been enjoying playing with it. It’s been more than a decade since I owned a Mac, so I was genuinely not prepared for how damn pretty everything is on Mac; it’s like someone gave my computer experience a tasty candy coating. And everything is indeed absurdly easy to use. Having said that, I’m not entirely ready to throw aside the PC, however. For one thing, all my stuff is there. For another thing, not every Mac application is as good as a PC application.

Garageband, for example, seems like a chintzy knockoff of Acid Pro; if I’m going to make music, I know which application I’ll choose to use. On the other hand Garageband costs about $400 less, so I guess one shouldn’t complain too much (it’s actually almost exactly like the basic version of Acid, which sells for something like $40). Since I’m keeping both computers running, however, and right next to each other and on the same network, the point is moot. It doesn’t matter which computer runs what; it can all be accessed anyway.

Now all I need to do is add a Linux box to the party and I can finally get my geek merit badge. However, don’t be waiting up nights.