Random Blatherings, 10/09/04

Some thoughts that in themselves don’t merit a full entry:

* So, here’s the basic line coming out of the debate, so far as I can tell: George Bush neither drooled on himself nor shook like a palsied chimpanzee, and was actually reasonably composed, so he wins (and by “wins” we mean to say it’s a draw, since Kerry apparently did just fine, too). Talk about the soft bigotry of lowered expectations. Also, and feel free to call me a snob here, but I want more from a president than that he didn’t soil himself live on television. If a victory can be derived simply from not embarrassing one’s self, it’s time to explore new metrics of victory.

In response to yesterday’s venting about Kerry, a couple of people noted in the comment thread that it’s in the media’s self-interest to make it appear the contests are close right down to the wire; therefore unless Dubya really did absolutely lose it, last night’s pundit spin would be charitable no matter what. On reflection this has probably got truth to it, although I’m not entirely sure just how much the punditry out there realized it’s trained itself to do this sort of thing; they do it as automatically as a short order cook flips a burger.


* I went out and bought The System of the World Thursday, thus completing my purchase of Neal Stephenson’s entire Baroque Cycle, but I have to admit that I haven’t the slightest idea when I’m going to get around to reading the whole damn thing. I started Quicksilver not long after it came out, and was about 200 pages in when I realized that I’d basically read an entire novel’s worth of nothing but set-up; I put it down and haven’t picked it up since. Someone informed me that it does pick up somewhere around page 400, and I know I like Stephenson’s writing in a general sense, so I planned to get back to it, and bought The Confusion and The System of the World on the basic faith that I would eventually settle down with them. But, jeez. 3,000 pages, and 400 pages to get things going. I just don’t know. Especially since I’ve picked up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which is not small book in itself (730-odd pages), but at least is its own thing. We’ll have to see if I get to the Baroque Cycle sometime before I hit 40.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been using the Baroque Cycle books for: Doorstops. Yes, really. Look, if you’re going to write a book big enough to stop a door, don’t be surprised if that’s what someone uses them for.

* On the tech geek front — where the hell is my DSL? All my modem fixin’s were supposed to be here on Thursday, and now here it is, not Thursday, and I am still DSLess. This crap is beginning to piss me off.

Also on the tech geek tip: I ordered Half-Life 2 today through gamemaker Valve’s “Steam” online download function, not only to get that game but because one of the packages also offers the games in Valve’s archive, including the original Half-Life. I have half life on disc, of course, but it’s so old now that my current computer just laughs at me when I ask it to run the game; it’s like it won’t lower itself to play a game designed to be played on Windows 98. The only problem I can see with the Steam delivery is that it appears to download the game a map at a time, and that’s not necessarily a good thing when you have a balky satellite connection. All the more reason for me to have my DSL now, damn it.