The New Speaker

I was asked how I feel about my Congressional representative John Boehner now being Speaker of the House. The answer is, well, I wouldn’t have voted for him (and didn’t, actually), but enough other people did that he got the job anyway, and, well. That’s democracy for you.

On the positive end of things, I think in a general sense Boehner’s stated desire for transparency on House dealings is a positive, although everyone always says they’re open to transparency, don’t they, and then things go opaque real fast. So if he can do it, great. I’m not holding my breath. That’s less about Boehner than the nature of Congress, however.

Other parts of his agenda, I’m less in love with. The nonsense about overturning the health legislation is just a waste of time, since it will get stuffed in the Senate (still controlled by the Democrats) and even if it didn’t it would get vetoed by the President. I’m aware of the symbolism of the vote, but I still think it’s silly. Once the pointless gestures are out of the way we’ll see what actually gets done, and that’s what I’m mostly interested in.

I don’t suspect it will come as a surprise to most that I’m not hugely impressed with the current iteration of the GOP, which I think is a more than a little light in the brains department, and more concerned with rhetorical scare tactics than an actual political philosophy, or the boring but useful aspects of governance. But regardless of what I think, the GOP convinced enough Americans that it should run the House (or at the very least, that the Democrats shouldn’t).

So it’s theirs for the next two years at least. While I’m skeptical, I’m also willing to be surprised — not necessarily with the rhetoric, which I don’t suspect will change much, but by whether they’re actually serious about governance. If they are, they might end up pissing off some of their fringe, but they might also actually do some good. I could live with that.

So, good luck, Mr. Boehner. Enjoy being Speaker. Serve with honor and conviction and a sense of fairness; that earns my respect even if I don’t share all of your political positions. Let’s see what you do next.


The Workspace

People are wondering how The Great Stay Away From the Internet Plan of 2011 is working, and I say, well, jeez, I’ve only been doing it for three days now, give me a break — but that said, it’s doing fine. Good progress is being made on the current work, and I’m being reminded generally that I do tend to write pretty quickly, so I’m making my intended quota in a reasonable amount of time each day. Early days yet, as noted. But so far, so good.

For the current batch of writing I’m also choosing to use the Cr-48 for creative writing, for two reasons. One, when I applied for one, I said that I would write a novel on it, by way of seeing how a “Web OS” experience had an impact on the writing experience. So in that respect I’m doing what I said I would do. Two, although technically the Cr-48 is constantly connected to the Internet, in a practical sense when I have Google Docs up on full screen there’s nothing else going on but what I’m writing. So all the distractions I have pretty much melt away and I focus on getting my work done. And then when I’ve hit my quota for the day I close up the Cr-48, turn on the big monitor, put the desktop keyboard back in position and check up on how the Internet could have possibly survived without me.

I’ve also found that so far writing the novel via Google Docs hasn’t been a problem. The major change I’ve made is to make each chapter its own document rather than to have one very large document, both to save me from having to do a lot of scrolling and because that way it’s easy to pop up an earlier chapter if I want to refer to something in it. Google Docs automatically saves what I’m doing every couple of minutes or so, so it’s nice not to have to worry about that (I have my Word program set to save every five minutes or so, but sometimes you can write a lot in five minutes that you don’t want to lose). Google Docs is still a fairly limited word processor, but generally speaking for writing novels I don’t use a whole lot of complex functionality. When Doc finally put in a ruler that allowed indenting it became full featured enough for my novel-writing purposes. I still back up what I’ve written every day offline — Google could explode, you know — but from a practical point of view, writing this way is pretty functional.

The one other reason for me to be writing on the Cr-48 is simply to shake myself out of the idea that my longer-length writing needs to be done on the desktop computer, with the big fancy-schmancy screen, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love the big fancy-schmancy screen; it’s my lovely 24-inch baby, and I really do have use for it. But its more to the point that I spend a substantial amount of my time traveling and being on the move — I’m going to be averaging a week of travel out of each month of this year — and that travel time is lost productivity time if I’m only doing my creative writing at my desk at home.

I understand this point I’m making is well-nigh incomprehensible to those writers used to writing on their laptops wherever they may be (including the dreaded coffee shops), but, you know. Everyone has a routine that works for them. The problem is when you start working for the routine. This is me working to make sure I’m focused on the writing, not the where I’m writing (and in front of what screen, and in which chair I’m sitting).

In short, I’m doing all sorts of things to shake myself up and keep myself writing. It’s working right at the moment. Let’s see if it keeps working moving forward.


Science Fiction Films I’m Looking Forward To

A new year, a new slate of science fiction films to consider — and over at my column this year I point out the ten upcoming science fiction films I’m most looking forward to in 2011. Maybe they won’t all be awesome, but at this point we can still live in hope. Check out the list, and if you have thoughts on it or want to share which films you’re looking forward to, add those to the comment thread over there.

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