Monthly Archives: October 2006

The Most Unintentionally Funny Bit of Political Spittle Flinging You’ll Read All Day

It’s here, via the Fredricksburg Free Lance-Star. It’s pretty much exactly like your angry conservative uncle four-fifths of the way through a bottle of Maker’s Mark. This fellow was apparently director of foreign-policy speechwriting at the White House from October 2003 to July 2005, which means it’s possible he’s the genius behind the “Stay the Course” turn of phrase. If so, well. Heckuva job, there, Burgess. Heck of a job.

This Picture Has Got Everything You Need, or, Hey! My Book is Out!

Look! A copy of The Android’s Dream AND Bacon taped to a cat! It doesn’t get any better than that.

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Christian sent this in. I think Christian had probably better sleep with his head under the covers tonight; that cat does not look altogether pleased.

In other news, it is now Halloween, October 31, 2006, which means that The Android’s Dream is now officially and irrevocably out! Yes, yes, go down to your local purveyor of fine readables and request — nay, demand — your very own copy. I have it on good authority that the first printing of this particular book is my largest so far, so no longer will you have to shove, fight and eyegouge to get your own copy. There is plenty for all. And if there isn’t plenty for all, you’ll have made my publisher very happy while they crank out a second printing. And you’ll have paid for Athena’s college education, provided she goes somewhere in state, and she doesn’t go to Oberlin. We’ll need four printings for that.

Actually, here’s the cool thing about The Android’s Dream for me, other than, you know, the fact I really like this book and I think it’s the most fun book I’ve written so far: The book has already earned out its advance. This happened because the book was part of the two book deal I got when Tor bought Old Man’s War; OMW was the first book, and this was the second. The way the contract was structured, I wouldn’t start collecting royalties on either book until the advances for both books were earned out. But, apparently, I could earn out both advances from what I made off OMW, and that’s what happened. So with Android, I earn royalties from the very first book sold.

In other words, this book is nothing but pure profit for me. That’s a nice place for an author to be with a book. So, naturally, I hope the book is freakin’ huge. Of course, thanks to six-month royalty cycles and reserves against returns and so on and so forth, I’m not actually likely to see royalties from this until sometime next year or so. But it’s the thought that counts, at least until the checks arrive.

More seriously, I hope you guys enjoy this book. It’s different from the “Old Man” books — a bit looser, absurd but not surreal, and with a lot more attitude. It’s closer to the voice I use around here, actually. I’m really excited to share it with you. I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it.

The Occam’s Razor Theory of Literary Rejection

Nick Mamatas, who apparently has some preternatural sense when it comes to finding interesting characters online, points us to an aspiring writer who is apparently having difficulty selling his work to publishers, and has come up with a theory to explain his lack of success: There’s a conspiracy in publishing against men — fomented, of course, by women.

The statistics suggest that women purchase 60% to 70% of the books. They read more than men. But why? Are men less literate? Or is it that they are ill-served by the book market because it is dominated—dare I say, controlled?—by women. One look at any list of literary agents will confirm my assertion. There are certainly men among the ranks of agents, but it seems that too little fiction is written that is appealing to men… I guess women prefer not to read about them. Or am I mistaken and is it the feminization of the book business that prevents everyone from reading about them in greater quantity?

Yes, it certainly is difficult to find fiction written by men, and appealing to men.

This conspiracy against men is apparently aided and abetted by the author’s belief, expressed in his comment section, that the publishing industry doesn’t actually make money, nor apparently is intended to. Leaving aside the fact that this is an assertion which I suspect will come rather as a surprise to most of the editors and publishers I know, I’m not entirely sure I’m following the logic there. Publishing is controlled by women, and therefore it won’t publish work for men, and that’s why it doesn’t make money? Because it’s not supposed to make money, publishing is controlled by women, who won’t publish work for men? The dark feminist conspiracy won’t let men publish their work unless they check their testicles at the door, and enter the room bearing fruity drinks and amusing coupons for foot rubs? Something along those lines. It’s kind of confusing to me.

This fellow’s argument for a female publishing conspiracy against men is founded on an ignorance of the publishing industry and a clutch of logical fallacies, so it’s not terribly surprising that every published author who has come across it seems to get a giggle out of it; it’s almost charming how clueless it is. But the argument does serve to illustrate a point, which we might as well call the Occam’s Razor Theory of Literary Rejection, which is: All things being equal, the simplest reason that your work has been rejected is usually the correct one.

For example, let’s say I am an unpublished male writer whose work is continually rejected by publishers. Which of these two reasons is more likely?

1. There is a vast and grand conspiracy within the publishing industry, engineered by women, to keep men from being published;

2. My work isn’t worth being published.

The vast and grand conspiracy, of course, is the more emotionally satisfying answer; it removes the blame for my lack of publication from me and sets it on someone else, and not just someone else, an entire phalanx of clandestine queen bees, working subtly and stealthily to turn literature into a redoubt of femininity, leaving no room for the rough and ready prose of men such as myself. The problem with positing such a conspiracy is that it quickly runs into reality: Men are published all the time, and some rather successfully, writing books that are designed to appeal generally or even wholly to other men. And they’re even published by women: Someone should introduce this fellow to Toni Weisskopf, who was the executive editor and is now the publisher of Baen Books, perhaps the single largest stockpile of testosterone in all of genre publishing.

And while we’re talking about genre publishing, let’s note that of this last year’s Campbell nominees, half of them were male, including one guy who wrote military science fiction, the most “manly” of the SF genres; he won the award, too. All the nominees for the Hugo Best Novel award were also men. The winner of this year’s Nebula award was also a guy. So was the winner of the other Campbell award, come to think of it. So, all the major awards for novels in science fiction and fantasy this year were won by men, save the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, which hasn’t been awarded yet. However, inasmuch as five of the six nominees for that award are men, I suspect there’s a better-than-even chance it’s going to a guy, too (go, Hal!).

Basically, if there’s a cabal of women in publishing trying to stifle the presence and success of men in the field, they really really suck at it.

Rather more likely, then, that the problem isn’t the publishing industry, but what I am writing. All things being equal, it’s probably likely that what I’m writing isn’t up to snuff, but even if it is, sometimes even that’s not enough; as Teresa Nielsen Hayden notes in her justifiably famous “Slushkiller” essay, sometimes a writer can do everything right and still not get their work taken. It surely does suck when that happens, but even in that case it is not necessary to construct the existence of a conspiracy to hold down an entire class of people; it’s merely necessary to note that the book is, alas, not right for that particular market at that point in time. The simple explanation is usually the correct one.

Now, there’s no point telling this fellow these things; he’s already determined that his own writing can’t be at fault, so the problem must be elsewhere, and it seems unlikely that any application of logic will dissuade him from that opinion. And, well. Whatever. I hope he has fun with that. However, for the rest of you, it’s worth remembering the Occam’s Razor Theory of Literary Rejection. It’ll keep you out of the tin foil hats, and that’s a good thing.

And more than that, it should give you hope. After all, there’s very little chance that you could defeat a grand cabal designed to keep writers of your sex, race, age, religion or sports team preference out of the publishing world. They are many, and you are few; their organization is just too damn big, like the Vatican or Mary Kay. But you can work on your writing. Indeed, compared to battling a shadowy conspiracy, improving your writing is a piece of cake. So, you know. Get to it.

TAD Photo Fun

People sending of their Android’s Dream photos:

Android photographed at everyone’s favorite amusement park: Radium Land!

Android: The choice of discerning cats everywhere. Discerning cats with messy desks, too.

Android has had a hard day. Now it’s time for sleep.

Thanks Roger, Terry and Matthew!

Also, someone sent me another infinite repeating TAD picture, but my e-mail ate it. Sorry. So if you sent me an IRAD pic, send it to me again; I’ll pop it up later.

Computer and Steve Brust Geekery

For those of you who were wondering what I was doing with myself yesterday instead of hanging out with all y’all online: I went shopping. Specifically, I went shopping for computer parts, because I had finally settled on what I wanted to do with my PC computing life and I drove down to CompUSA (which, as it is on the other side of Dayton from me, was not an insignificant distance) to see if they had everything I needed to build myself a bitchin’ PC.

To say I was disappointed upon my arrival is to understate the case rather dramatically: CompUSA’s selection of components pretty much sucked. For example, most of their motherboards are for AMD, which was not what I wanted, and those that fit Intel processors were not SLI-capable (or even Crossfire capable). They didn’t have any CPUs in stock, either. Basically, just a big fat waste of my time. I understand that people wanting to build their own computers are a relatively small segment of the market, but I would also think that those who do want to do so would want components that are at least up to date, so their home-built computers are not six months obsolete from the first moment they are switched on. This is what I get for wanting to give my business to a brick-and-mortar computer store; I don’t know that I’m likely to make the same mistake in the future.

Having thus been disappointed in my quest, I came home and started pricing out what I wanted and realized that for what it would cost me to build my own, I could get a computer maker to do it for me, and then it would come with a three-year warranty, whereas my own experiments would not. So I said screw it and ordered one online. For those of you who want to get your geek on the specs are: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600, 2GB DDR2/800 Dual Channel Memory, 350GB SATA-II 3.0Gb/s 16MB Cache 7200RPM hard drive (remember I have other drives I’ll be putting in as well), two SLI-compliant NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GS 512MB PCI Express x16 Video Cards (I went with less than top-of-the line here because as others have noted, DirectX10-compatible cards will be on their way soon; nevertheless, two of these babies working together will do me just fine), Creative X-Fi soundcard and 5.1 speakers, also from Creative, and then the usual bells and whistles as far as optical drives and media readers and so on. All for rather substantially less than I had budgeted to spend, so I’m pretty happy with that.

While I was out and about I also stopped at book stores to see if I could spot Android’s Dream in the wild. And lo, it was there: One copy at the Barnes & Noble, where I corrected its spine out presentation, three copies at Borders, where the staff had not only placed it face out but also put it on the top shelf in its own little presentation, so it was right at eye level, and none at my local bookstore, which is fine because, you know, it’s not officially out yet. Hopefully it will be there tomorrow. And if it’s not I’ll burn the place down. Actually, no, I won’t. They’re nice people and it’s a nice store and they have other books of mine, so, you know. Arson is not the answer. Now.

Thwarted though I was in building my own computer, I assuaged my need to contribute to the grinding gears of America’s economy by buying every single one of Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos novels save Dzur. The first seven were helpfully compiled into three trade paperback-sized volumes, and Dragon and Issola were stand-alones. This was delightful for me because while I’m a big sloppy fan of Steve’s and particularly of the Vlad books, my own copies of the books have mysteriously vaporized over the years, and also a number of books have come out since I read the series, and I was always confused as to how many there were and in what order I should read them (Steve himself is notably unhelpful in this regard; he basically says to read them in whatever order one wants. Gee, thanks, Steve). But now I have them all, save Dzur, and I feel, you know, complete.

Why didn’t I also get Dzur, you may ask? Well, come on: I just bought nine novels. It’ll take me while to get through them, you know? Also, in buying these nine novels I pretty much depleted the Barnes & Noble’s Brust collection; I figured that taking Dzur as well would just be greedy. No worries, though; I’ll be getting it soon enough, I imagine. And don’t let me stop you from getting your own copy. Please, be my guest.

Now, let me get extra dorky here and say that what’s even cooler than buying a store’s worth of Steve Brust books is buying a store’s worth of books from my pal Steve Brust, because Steve and I have met on a number of occasions now, enjoy each others’ company and have a passel of friends in common. I’m still enough of a fanboy to get a hell of a kick out of the fact that I get to meet and spend a little time with some of the writers who were inspirations to me. Steve was certainly one of them and still is, so every time I see him, some part of my brain is still going coooooooooool. What can I say, I’m a geek. And it’s extra happy making that I’m now well on my way to catching up with his work. You can’t beat that, I say.

Sunsets and Open Threads

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My plans today
involve not being on this computer very much — I know, what the hell is wrong with me — so here’s a picture of yesterday’s sunset, the last during daylights savings time — and also a declaration of an open thread. And to get you started, a topic: How sensitive is your sense of smell?

I ask because yesterday I was reading the LiveJournal of someone whose nose is extraordinarily sensitive and it made me wonder about it. Personally, I figure mine’s about average, but I seem to be very sensitive to personal smells, i.e., I don’t really have a hard time sorting people I know by how they generally smell.

You?

Insta-review

Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds has nice things to say about The Android’s Dream:

I thought it was quite good, though it was nothing like Old Man’s War or Ghost Brigades, it was more lighthearted and focused on interstellar diplomacy. Not quite in the vein of Keith Laumer’s Retief stories, but occasionally I got a bit of that feel.

I think that’s about right. It’s also not the first time that Laumer and Retief have been namechecked vis a vis Android’s Dream. Glenn’s right in that the storytelling is rather different than in the Retief series, but inasmuch as that series is science fiction’s best-known series involving interstellar diplomacy, SF-oriented reviewers are likely to triangulate off of it when talking about TAD, especially since both have a satirical edge to them. Not counting Baen’s 2002 posthumous collection of Retief stories, it’s been more than a dozen years since the last novel featuring the character. This particular SF field has laid fallow for a bit, which makes it fun to play in.

Those of you who have not heard of or read the Retief series, the Baen Free Library has the 2002 Retief! compilation for your perusal. Have fun with it.

Some Encouraging News For Fans of the Separation of Powers

According to this CNN poll, “Sixty-seven percent of 1,013 people surveyed by Opinion Research Corp. on behalf of CNN said federal judges — and the decisions they make — should not be subject to more control.” Yay, Americans! You’re getting your sanity back! It does seem like the phrase “activist judges” and much of the demogogic, unconstitutional rabble-rousing that accompanied it has lost some of its savor recently; likewise, I don’t think the folks who have been planning to use the recent ruling in New Jersey to pump some life into the phrase are finding it particularly useful at this point in time. I am naturally delighted about this.

Leaving aside the on-the-ground red v. blue politics at the moment, I’ll tell you honestly that one of the more heartening things about this political cycle is the felling that I get that people of most political stripes are backing away from the precipice. This is to say they’re taking a good look at Constitutional structures like separation of powers and seeing them as features, rather than as bugs, which is how they’ve been generally labeled over the last few years.

This feeling is entirely anecdotal; I have no proof of it, and what proof we’ll get of it will take time to arrive. But let’s say I’m cautiously optimistic. I feel like someone with a flooded house, who notices that the water level is two inches off the high water mark and sees blue sky out the window. I’ll worry about the flood damage later; just the hopeful thought that the water is coming down is enough for now.

How I’m Voting, or, Abort & Reload

Barring some astounding change of circumstances, here is how I’m voting in the elections on November 7th. As reference for those of you who don’t know, I live in Ohio, in Darke County.

Governor: Ted Strickland. Aside from Ken Blackwell and his cronies spending the last couple of weeks trying to suggest that Strickland is a NAMBLA-loving homo in order to prop up “the base,” there’s also the little matter that given Blackwell’s history with elections, I’m not entirely convinced he puts the democratic process above the marching orders of his party. And all that is even before I get into his policy positions. Also, the level of corruption in Ohio Republican politics makes the national GOP look like choirboys. This is one of those “abort, reload” elections ’round these here parts. Ted Strickland doesn’t set my political heart aflame, but he’s not a bad choice for governor. I feel sorry for him he’ll be spending most of his term cleaning out the crap left behind from Bob Taft and the Ohio GOP, but I don’t think he doesn’t know that’ll be part of his job description.

State Executive Undercard (Lt. Gov, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor): Straight Democratic except for Auditor. See the “abort, reload” comment above. The folks running for these positions have tolerable politics as far as I can see, and this being Ohio, having Democrats in the office doesn’t mean it’ll suddenly become Marin County on Lake Erie. I expect moderate, sensible government, and if I don’t get it, there’s always 2008 and 2010; hopefully Ohio’s GOP will have had a brain transplant by then and will have people in it who aren’t corrupt and stupid. As for the Auditor position, Mary Taylor’s an actual CPA and has been a state rep, so she probably knows her way around the budget and knows where the bodies (so to speak) are buried. I think that’s worth a shot at the job.

Senator: Sherrod Brown. This is actually a close one for me. Mike DeWine is moderate and not a fire-breathing partisan moron, and I strongly suspect that if 2004 had gone the other way and Kerry was in the White House, I’d toss my vote DeWine’s way, if for no other reason than I’m a believer in the idea that the US government works best when the Congress and the president aren’t of the same political party. But Bush got a second term in ’04, and this Congress has done very little to stop his worst abuses of the political system; it’s time to switch the leadership in the Congress to people who will actually stomp on Bush’s pointy little head. I’m sorry for DeWine that’s he’s caught in the middle of this; he’s occasionally shown some spine when it comes to Bush. Just not when push comes to shove, though. We’re well past the “shove” stage now, I think. I’ve got my problems with Brown, among them the fact that he voted for that damn fool legislation that tossed Habeas Corpus over the side. Believe me, he’ll be hearing from me about it. But I do know that if Bush’s worst Constitutional abuses are going to be stopped, it’s not going to be with GOP. Sorry, DeWine. Hope you have another job lined up somewhere.

Congress: No vote. I’ve noted this before: I can’t imagine voting for John Boehner, but his opponent Mort Meier’s got nothing that interests me, and even when I’m in “Abort, Reload” mode, I’d like to have the feeling that the person I’m voting for has something going on other than “I’m not the other guy,” and that’s all Meier’s got. Also, to be blunt about it, Boehner’s not great for the rest of you when he’s in the majority leadership, but he’s not bad for the 8th district, where I live, and maybe in the minority leadership he’ll suck less for the rest of you. This is probably one of the safest contested districts in the country — it’s so locked up for Boehner that I’m not aware of anyone even bothering to do a poll here — but it still would have been nice to have an opposing candidate I felt was worth my vote. I don’t think I’ve got one this time around, so I’m sitting this one out. Ohio Democrats, if you want my vote here, then you should field a candidate I think is worth my time.

State Senate: Tom Roberts. He’s the incumbent and seems to have a low-key effectiveness, so far as I can tell. The Dayton Daily News endorsed him (and its endorsements are not especially partisan — it endorsed Mike DeWine for Senator, for example), which I found useful in this case. As an aside, he’s the fellow who apparently got me recognized by the Ohio Assembly for winning the Campbell. This isn’t nearly enough to secure my vote, but it makes me feel good about the fact I’m able to vote for him.

State Assemblyperson: Dave Fisher. My current assemblyperson is Diana Fessler, who doesn’t seem to be particularly effective or ineffective, save in the latter case for an incident in which she accidentally voted for accepting the closure of a local military base when she meant to vote against it. Whoops. Fisher has an ugly-ass Web site and one of the worst haircuts I’ve ever seen in my life, and I think his plan to boost education by cutting property taxes has something of a Laffer Curve smell to it. But I like that he’s putting a priority on education, and we’ll see if he’s amenable to plans to get to that goal even if they’re not his own.

Bradford School Levy: .75% income tax/5yrs: I’m voting for this, because I know the local school needs it, and I can afford it.

State Issue 1 (Changes to Workers Compensation law): Provisionally I’ll vote for it. It appears to make some sensible implementations of workman’s comp, although I’m going to do a little more reading on the issue before I vote to make sure the issue says what I think it says. It’s fairly complicated.

State Issue 2 (Raises State Minimum Wage to $6.85/hr): I’m for raising the minimum wage, because the current federal minimum wage of $5.15 well and truly sucks, and I don’t buy the argument that raising the minimum wage will slaughter businesses by the thousands. However, this state issue will stick the minimum wage into the Ohio Constitution, and I think that’s excessive; Constitutions in my opinion are for fundamental rights. There’s no reason to put this in Ohio’s Constitution; make it a regular law instead. Also, in my opinion, $6.85 is too low for a minimum wage. So, I’ll be voting “no,” and then badgering my state reps to get on this. It looks like there’s going to be a lot of changes in the state house, so a minimum wage increase could be legislatively feasible. And of course the national Democrats are also making noises about it.

State Issue 3 (“Learn and earn”): Allows slot machines at horse tracks and other locations with 30% of revenues to go to college scholarships and grants. There’s no way in Hell I’m voting for this. Aside from the fact it’s another Constitutional amendment (for the love of God, why?), I find the idea of the slot owners getting to keep their cut of the profits tax-free appalling, and I have a moral issue with funding education through gambling. Call me a crazy fool, but I think the State of Ohio should support higher education without enabling addicts and behavior that disproportionately affects the poor (unless one is under the impression that it’s millionaires who spend all their time playing the slots).

State Issues 4 & 5 (“Smoke Less” and “Smoke Free” initiatives): These initiatives offer blanket bans on smoking in various places both public and private; one of these state issues is more stringent than the other. One of these would be slotted into the state Constitution, which just seems plain stupid. I don’t smoke and I prefer other people don’t, and I’m not opposed to some places being smoke-free by law. But I think both of these are overreaching, and also this seems like one of those things a legislature gets paid for dealing with.

That’s where I am with the voting thing.

Mmmm… Rude-osity

You know, there are many things I don’t like about solicitors, but one of the really big ones is that they’re trained not to listen to you when you deviate from your script. For example, the jackhole who just solicited me on the phone from some veterans’ organization or another. Charitable organizations have finally figured out to ask for Krissy first instead of me, but when this guy got me and I told him to call back when Krissy is home, he ignored me and tried to solicit me anyway.

So, of course, I hung up on the fellow while he was still barfing up his talking points. Clearly this solicitor was counting on the bit of psychology that says it’s rude to hang up on someone while they’re still talking, but you know what? I’m just sociopathic that way. Also, if you’ve already proven that you’re not going to listen to me, I don’t especially feel obliged to listen either. I really have no problem being rude with people who are rude to me first, and not actually listening to what I’m saying to you sure counts as rude. Especially when you’re calling to ask me to give you some of my money.

What makes it worse is that I’m reasonably sure the fellow talking to me is a reasonably socialized human being — like most people, if you caught him out in the wild I suspect he would actually listen to what I was saying and respond accordingly. But telemarketers don’t have that sort of latitude; they’re required to do pretty much anything to keep you from hanging up before they say whatever the hell it is that they’re supposed to say. Basically, these telemarketers have be rude or they get fired. I’m not entirely sure how this developed as a winning strategy, other than to note that it does piggyback on the idea that most people are more civil than the telemarketers and will avoid being rude even if it means waiting another 30 seconds while the telemarketer talks, just to say “no.”

Thing is, in addition to hanging up on the fellow, I’ve made a note of his particular charitable organization. Guess what? They’re not getting any of our money, ever. It’s a shame, too, because we contribute to a number of veterans’ organizations, because it’s a good way to say thanks to the folks who have served our country. But the simple fact of the matter is that I’m not going to contribute money to people who are under the impression that the best way to get that money is not to listen to me when, for example, I say they really need to call back later and talk to my wife, who is the one who handles our charitable contributions. She’s the one who decides who gets our donations in a given year, but I certainly can say who doesn’t, and this fellow’s organization doesn’t. So much for sticking to the telemarketing script.

Infinite Repeating Android’s Dreams

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Whatever reader JT found another copy of The Android’s Dream out there in the wild, and was kind enough to snap a photo of it, which I show you here (I copied the picture and put it on my site in order to avoid running up his bandwidth — hey, it could happen). What I particularly like about the photo is that is has an earlier picture of TAD out in the wild on the computer screen, giving the picture the cool infinite regressing thing you generally only see in mirrors or involving cats. If people who get copies of TAD want to keep this up, it certainly would keep me amused.

While we’re on the subject of The Android’s Dream there’s another positive review of the book, from Paul Goat Allen, of Barnes and Noble’s Explorations newsletter. The review goes up in the November newsletter, which isn’t out yet, but I figure I can show off an excerpt:

An uproarious comedy about an imminent interplanetary war between mankind and a race of manipulative reptilian humanoids that proves once and for all that while Scalzi may have a multitude of bats in his belfry, he is an incomparable storytelling genius… a satirical tour de force.

Nifty.

The official release date is next Tuesday; you can expect I’ll do something then to celebrate.

An Uxorial Portrait

As long as I’m showing off my mad Photoshop skillz, yo, here’s a portrait of my wife I made all arty and such. She really likes it, which is an important thing when one is posting a picture of one’s spouse: She thinks it captures a certain essence of her personality. I agree entirely; also, and in other news, damn, my wife is hot.

Actually, that’s an embarrassingly glib assessment. I think my wife is striking, which is to say she visually arresting in a certain way that transcends mere physical attractiveness. This is why among other things I continually find myself staring at my own wife for long periods of time, especially when she doesn’t know I’m looking. She’s just interesting to look at. I don’t suspect that will be any less the case as we go along in life. Yes, I’m lucky. She’s less lucky in this regard, but at the very least I am good for an amusing chuckle or two. She seems to think this is a fair trade, and I intend to let her keep thinking that for as long as possible.

I should note that for the full effect, you should look at it full size; right click the picture and either view image or download it.

Black and White

Two Halloween-themed pictures of Athena for you, which, if nothing else, confirm the fact that when I’m not interested in writing I go for the Photoshop action, and that Halloween is a fun excuse to make pictures that are creepy and pictures that are cute:

I like them both, although I have to say the top one creeps me out a little. Which is why I put the bottom one in there. Kind of evens things out.

You’ve Been Reaped! Adorably!

I’ve got nothing for you today — really, all day long thinking has been just like trying to sprint through molasses — so here’s a picture of Athena as the Grim Reaper, in front of, oh, I don’t know, Mount Doom:

I had an even better one of her in front of a Hieronymus Bosch tapestry, but she didn’t like it and exercised her veto power. So you get this one. It’s still pretty darn cute.

Oh, yes: Open thread. Enjoy yourselves as only you know how.

New Jersey, Being Subtle

New Jersey’s Supreme Court said today that same-sex couples are entitled to have the same rights as married couples but also punted to the legislature the issue of whether that collection of rights should be called marriage or could be called something else.

That’s interesting to me, and I think a pretty subtle piece of maneuvering by the Supreme Court. It’s recognizing the rights of same-sex couples, but allows New Jersey politicians a certain amount of political cover by allowing them to call the same-sex legal relationships something other than marriage. In doing so it may also defuse the conservative boogeyman issue of same-sex couples from other states getting married in New Jersey and then going back to their home states and demanding recognition for their married status, since, after all, if the legal term for their relationship is not “marriage,” then other states can possibly argue that they are not enjoined to give full faith and credit to them as might otherwise be the case (DOMA notwithstanding) as they don’t have an equivalent relationship status on their own books. In which case the same-sex marriage crowd gets most of what it wants — legal recognition for same-sex couples on a par with married heterosexual couples — while the anti-same-sex crowd can possibly take satisfaction in knowing that what happens in Jersey stays in Jersey, at least from a legal point of view.

Mind you, not that I expect the anti-same-sex people to look at it that way. I certainly expect they’ll vomit up the same old “activist courts/marriage doomed/pedophilia and bestiality are next” and try to use this ruling to rally the troops to beat back the evil Democrats on election day. But I’m not entirely sure this will work very well: The SCOTSONJ didn’t rule for same-sex marriage, it ruled that same-sex couples should have the same rights as married couples. And while most people still are a little twitchy about same-sex marriage, if I remember correctly most Americans think same-sex couples should have some sort of legal recognition for their relationships. And in any event, the SCOTSONJ is leaving it to the legislature to decide what to call this new rights package; if the legislature decides to call it “marriage,” that’s their decision. So I don’t know if this decision will lead to the mainstream America freak-out/Republican voting behavior the anti-same-sex forces are no doubt hoping for.

Personally speaking, I would prefer that marriage be called marriage, regardless of the gender distribution of the two consenting adults within it. But I certainly see the wisdom of how this particular ruling was constructed, particularly so close to an election. This ruling seems to split up the baby pretty adeptly.

To same-sex couples in New Jersey: Congratulations on your new bouncing bundle of legal rights. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy mine.

Here’s a pdf of the ruling, for your reading enjoyment. The relevant paragraph:

HELD: Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed same-sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.

See? Smartly done.

What? No Politics?

From the e-mail:

It’s been a week since you’ve written about politics! Are you not feeling well?

Heh. First: I feel fine, thanks.

Second: I haven’t been writing about politics because for the last week or so I don’t think I have anything particularly constructive to add to the conversation, so anything I’d write here would just end up looking like a smeary mimeograph of DailyKos or Atrios, and I don’t want that for myself.

Third: Honestly, at this point, what can one add? I mean, when President Bush is soft-lobbing himself up into the air to be viciously spiked, as he did over the weekend with his “We’ve never been ‘stay the course'” idiocy, I find myself at a loss for words. It’s like kicking a vomiting dog, you know? Crap like that makes me pity George Bush, which is a wholly unearned emotion on his part.

What I really want is what I generally really want at this point of any election cycle: For the election to be over, so I know where we all stand with our politics for the next couple of years. I just want it to be done, and that brings with it an almost aggressive apathy regarding all the little twists and turns of the campaigns. This is not the same as saying I am apathetic about voting. You better believe I’m going to vote. It’s just that everything else at this point makes me want to crawl into my office and do nothing but play video games between now and November 8th.

This is a known aspect of my personal pathology, so I don’t find it problematic. I do suspect it means I’ll not actually run for public office, however, since if I get this way about other people’s campaigns, just imagine how I’d get about my own; I’d spend the last two weeks on a campaign hiding in my room, and that’s just no damn good.

Now, it’s entirely possible that something in politics will attract my attention between now and election day, and then I’ll write about it. But if it doesn’t and I don’t, it’s not that politics isn’t worth commenting about, it’s just me want to distract myself from thinking about every single moment of the day for the next two weeks. I do hope you’ll understand.

SCI FI Interview re: Android’s Dream

The industrious John Joseph Adams has interviewed me about Android’s Dream, in which I talk about how Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard were touchstones for the book. The interview is here.

Unrelated: The University of Chicago has the best business school in the country, according to Business Week. Go U of C!

Yes, yes. Look, everyone else in the country can get excited if their stupid college football team is doing well. Excuse me for being excited about my university being recognized for actually teaching people.

Thank You Shelley Eshkar

Got my Big Box O’ Author Copies of TAD today, which makes me happy. But as I was admiring the box, I remembered that I forgot to do something, which was to thank cover artist Shelley Eshkar in the acknowledgements. I’ll correct this in time for the paperback release, but in the interim, let me just say that I think Shelley Eshkar’s cover makes the book. When I was chatting about the cover to Tor art director Irene Gallo, I remember saying that I hoped the book would have a cover that communicated the quirkiness of the book itself, and I think Eshkar totally hit that right out of the park. I wouldn’t have imagined this as the cover, but once I saw it I knew it was right.

So thank you, Shelley Eshkar. Every author should have a cover that fits their book so well.