Do digiblips dream of electric trees?

I'm in ignomode, because I've got special visitors and special things to do this week, so I'm ignoring the digiworld. Just quickly checked the feeddemon, and the feeddemon has simply too much feed after five days. 100+ posts? There's no chance in hell I'm ever going to read all that (if it were real feed I'd be supersized in no time!).
It's also on moments like this I realize that only a very small amount I read actually makes some sense--to say it disrespectfully, most of it is just a waste of digital paper, which is okay until you think about the poor people out there that have to grow all the digital trees from which to make this paper.
You laugh, madam? Do I hear you chuckle, sir?
Well, think about it. The intarweb doesn't exist out of thin air, not really. Whatever we do, our whole online digiblippery needs real world silicon chippery to exist. And while intarwaste might be infinitely more easier to recycle, you still have to wonder about that whoopee let's fill all this free space with crap because it's okay mentality (and yes, I'm just as guilty). I wonder how many more servers are put online each year because we write too much online crap and the intarweb just grows and grows and grows?
Even if they start making servers from wood and other natural resources, a little historical sense and perspective should caution us for this mentality. After all, burning oil and rubber didn't hurt anybody either in the early days (or so they thought time and again), and progress never starts out as industrial and financial malicious intent. But by the time we realize we've put ourselves on the same list as other (over)specialized animals, we can't easily go back and extract the progress from the industry that feeds us and the finances that take care of us in our old age.
And, you know, who's to say that within a century we won't find out that filling digiworld with crap has a disastrous effect on nature or our own chances of survival? It's never the thing you expect that gets you in the end.

Jungle fever

Too little sleep because the damned birds are too noisy at 5 a.m.
Now, birds are always noisy in the morning. First light, they all do their interpretation of "Good Morning Vietnam"  in their racial twitterese.
Loud, happy, chirpy twitterese.
Then they decide they're hungry and go hunt for worms and stuff and quieten down.
That's how things should be. But nowadays they are so damned chirping noisy, for so long, that I'm wide-awake come 5:30.
And I think it's my own fault too. You see, last autumn should have been Serious Pruning time. Not just a little snip here and there, but the real tree-killing work that's needed once every two or three year. But silly me, I managed to sprain my thumb real bad with fencing (a sports injury bearing the frivolous name of "ski thumb"), and so no snipping and sawing and hacking that season. This means my garden, a long overgrown tunnel of 4,5m wide and about 65m long, becomes the safe haven for all sorts of noisy birds, who feel safe from the three clawed hunters and thus make some noise.
I was going to tackle the overgrowth in spring, but I don't really know what happened to spring. Came and went, and now I'm here with jungle fever.
So today, since it was dry enough, and much much cooler than the last couple of weeks, I got out the axe and the saw and got to work. One third of the trees and bushes I needed to tackle are done. I'll continue Saturday if the weather keeps up, so my poor blistered fingers and still sensitive thumb can rest some. Also, tomorrow we've got visitors, which means I'll have another kind of cleaning to do.
I only hope that I managed to keep free of phototoxic juice, but I'll guess I know for sure tomorrow...

Nothing says summer like

food poisoning! Soup left outside the fridge for a day might turn bad. I've never ever ever had a problem with this, but statistics/Murphy (strike-through what doesn't fit your world view) caught up with me. Alas this was also after convincing bad-eating-habit-hubby that he too needs his vitamins and home-made soup.
Murphy's double whammy. It's gonna take some time to live that down.

Anyways, now the stomach has been tamed, I've been doing the good job of straightening out the Barynn calender so I can finally and definitely know which moon is up when. Shouldn't be too hard you think, but then of course there's this idiot part of my brain that thought up a Barynn day of 20 hours which means you either have to make a conversion to stupid 24h Earth days, or figure out the algorithm for each body's rising and setting, to come to a set of tables from which you can read what bodies (sun and 3 moons) are up in the sky at a given time. I went with the latter, but I'm thinking I might recheck the results with a conversion table.

Nothing says summer like


These are thorn-free blackberries, which are supposedly less tasty, but not mine. Maybe the trick is that they grow against a wall that gets a lot of sun and heat on the other/neighbor's side (so they don't suffer the sun's onslaught), and they also get a whole lot of cat pee for vitamin (and if that makes you go Ewww: must I remind you of the egg and its origin?). They're über-delicious, and gigantic (for size comparison: that's a 20 eurocent piece and my current rpg alter ego of 25mm).
This is the first week of the harvest, so with over three kilos in a week it's promising to be a very good year again. Which is good because my yellow plum tree's on sabbatical (exacerbated by the drought and heat wave into three yellow leaves and two shriveled plums).
It's obviously too much to eat (yes, the weeks after this harvest will still see a harvest of about a kilo a week), so plenty goes into the freezer.

My biggest turnoff this millenium

has certainly become the persistent idiocy of people going "This is the new Joy Division!" with every band that stands a bit stiff and standoffish on stage, whose harmonics consists mainly of bass, and has a singer who sings low and with disinterest. It's not because you look and sound like JD you are anything more than early New Order. What you need to be the new JD is the brilliance of Curtis' lyrics, and I haven't seen those in any of the cases. What's wrong with the eurotrash scene? I didn't hear anybody try and explain how 50 Cents is the new Public Enemy when he was debuting, so *exasperated* why? How? Do these people even listen to music/the songs? Or has the constant barrage of information affected people even worse than simply their ability to focus on a book; can't they even focus on one song--music and lyrics included--anymore?

A bit of procrastination a day keeps boredom away

Through Anne Allen's blog found some new procrastination, in this website you can enter your text and it tells you whom you write like.

The opening pages of
  • Barynn are written like David Foster Wallace
  • Tiger of Opal are written like James Joyce and the second chapter as David Foster Wallace
  • Dreams of Cold Stone are written like Dan Brown, the second introductory chapter like Ursula LeGuin and the first chapter of the main story as Lovecraft. But if I enter those chapters all together, it reads like Douglas Adams. Go figure.
  • the continuous part I have for a lame cyberpunk novel results to Joyce, as does a chapter of Lumen, and a long scene from Jayce Wolfram comes up with J.D.Salinger. I'm one diverse writer oh yeah behbeh. Or something. And Shtuff.
In his You Tell Me, Nathan Bransford asks: 
What is it about writing that makes people put on the blinders and fail to recognize their limitations and makes the talented unable to recognize their own goodness?

After 195 comments we had in the answers:

1)    lots and lots of: writing is subjective and personal, tastes differ. It's really no different than any other art (painting, music,...). Then add: but what's good enough to get published might not be so subjective, but then as hanna@14th-10:38AM pointed out and Dave@A Writer's Look@14th-10:43am expanded, you also have to take into account that bad writing gets published and sometimes sells way better than good writing, and that Nathan gets cranky when you push that stream of thought to its limits (only $$$ matters to the market). Anonymous Bill@14th-12:29pm sidesteps this nicely, and concludes that what's important to the discussion is not that bad writing gets published, but *why*: "These are the surface characteristics, not the true nuances that make for lasting success. And recognizing the less recognizeable, IMHO, is the key to differentiating the amateur of transient brilliance from the lasting professional talent."
2)    Mentions of the Dunning-Kruger effect abound, which IMO sort of comes down to "we're basically unknowable about the things we don't know so we don't know but naming it Dunning-Kruger makes it sound posh".
3)    Jaime@14th-10:52am encapsulates what others said before: it's language, everybody uses language, so it can not be difficult. Add trent@14th-10:37am's that writing doesn't need a great deal of capital before you can start. Add to this it's a learning process (you can always learn more and better language), everybody "thinks" s/he's a good writer until they try. Also, not everybody is taught what good writing/literature is, which sort of ignores the whole point of the subjectivity of "good writing" in #1 (. Though I agree that benchmarking is an important part of the learning process.
4)    Some of the fingers pointing at subjectivity do not limit it to "good" or "bad" writing, but how basically you can compare titles. An apple is not a pear, though both fruits, right? And yet our so low-cost writerly tools (trent, above) only help to create deception; as Kerry Gans@14th-1:43pm puts it: "Maybe because my typed Word document looks the same as everyone else's typed Word document [...]you can see that you can't jump as high as the NBA guys [...] But my words typed on a page look pretty much the same as JK Rowlings'".
5)    Also, abundant variation of the theme "there's always idiots". Our egos get in the way of clear thinking. Or more softly put: everybody likes their baby, even if it's a misshapen heap of flesh without a brain. Writing creates a high, and you need your distance to be a good judge. Nancy@14th-7:02pm phrases it nicely with "Most writers don't realize they have substituted quality for euphoria in the act of creation. It takes years of practice and learning to discern the difference. What we see as a talented writer is one who constantly goes through this process of discernment, and probably has a worn out delete key." We delude ourselves links nicely with:
6)    Imagination (Travis Erwin@14th-1:36pm). To write we tap into our imagination, and it's a land where we're kings and live in huge sprawling palaces with 100 bathrooms with golden taps and not once in that bit of fantasy we stop and think about who the hell is going to keep all those bathrooms clean. As C.J.Atsvinh@14th-1:46am puts it: "when we dream, man do we dream big." From this naturally follows what Ghost Girl@14th-10:46am says: "it's kind of like hearing our own voice; it sounds completely different outside of our own head." And James@14th-12:12pm links it closer to language: "People imagine writing is especially easy because it is the only art form that is expressed in our minds - or seems that way. This creates the illusion that we have created what we are reading", and Brant@14th-1:52pm continues in that line: "That process translates into me having a qualitatively different experience when reading my own work than someone else will. For everyone else, the text has to stand on its own merits." Ink@14th-3:20pm elaborates the idea that words are at the heart of a work's subjectivity: "part of every text comes from the reader, from how they translate these symbols into a vision they see and hear and feel [...] for the writer, we already have the vision in our head. We have it there as we write, or even before we write. "

IMO, it's not simply that words can and will be interpreted by the reader even when the author has great skill or craft or talent or luck in guiding the reader's eye and mind (go too far on that post-modern path and you'll soon be proclaiming the author dead, and trust me: not where you want to end up as writer). That everyone carries their own experiences in words with them is only part of the problem.
But words are the tools of our mind, not simply of our imagination or memory. We think in words to define our reality, it gives form to the formless reflections of light that fall into our eyes. And while through imagination we create a new reality with words (as writers and readers we experience how that works), we often fail to see that even the real reality in which we sit behind the computer writing is in a way a construct of our brain (but let's not go off into the deep-end of solipsism). We easily get fooled by our own high because what we write at that moment simply *is* sublime. By feeling/thinking it, we make it so, to us at least. And without drifting off into solipsism: who is to say it isn't?
And that's why it's always such a good advice to put something in a box or drawer for a while when you think you've finished. Not simply because somewhat later the high will have worn off, or we'll have learned new tricks, can sift out errors we've newly learned to identify, but also because our words themselves, the meanings and associations and experiences behind them, have changed. When you look at your creation again after a long time of doing something else completely, it will be with almost literally new eyes.
And then, of course, the trick is to keep that distance, not get sucked in by your own imagination or high again, so that you may actually see things for what they are...

Damned never-shrinking reading lists

So the hubby come home with another addition for the to read-pile, though I highly doubt it will get there. Between you and me, however enjoyable Debatable Space is, nothing beats MPD Psycho.

The Void strikes back

Mark C. Newton had a comment inspiring post today, where he thinks about writers thinking about gender- or racefail issues.

There are those pro-female-emancipation warriors that feel all women must stand up for themselves, walk all over men in doing so (how else show that you're strong and independent), and in doing so also walking all over other women. But hey, you can't win them all, besides they are intelligent and strong, so they know best. Shut up. Also, they preferably look pretty while doing all this. Or not, but then they need another great character trait like be super generous, unbelievable handy, or of course be supernaturally smart. Which is a far more balanced view on women than the stereotypical serving wench and whores.

See, sometimes things are what they are. Me, I like to cook but got nearly expulsed from French discussion class in high school for saying so aloud. This first encounter with Emancipated Caucasian Chicks Inc. certainly left a mark, seeing as how it has spurred my bullshit detector to grow a specialized antenna for female emancipation crap. And I learned that some women can certainly do with some less emancipation, especially when their emancipation infringes on my rights and freedom to be the kind of woman I am or want to be. (Or, as was suggested in the comments of Newton's post: the kind of fiction I want to read).

In the minds of those emancipated chicks, the world would be a better place when women are like them: free, big mouthed, usually short sighted, with little empathy for anything outside the One Thing that matters. In my mind, the world would be a better place if they weren't all so sensitive to one single issue. I'm not for female emancipation, I'm for emancipation, the end. To me the issue is not limited to gender, but goes into the same box as homosexuals, immigrants and other people from other races, sweatshop kiddies, and even battery chickens. That sounds disrespectful, doesn't it? Well, just suck it up, wimp, because in my world those things are the same: issues that need special attention and special action, but with care not to disrupt the world surrounding the subjects. You can't change reality overnight, not because reality will fight back, but because there will be plenty of other issues crawling out of the woodwork as soon as you magically fix the problem. And most of those new issues you'd never thought had any link with the first issue. 

In the end, if you go through life swinging a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail. The discussions always dreg up Conan, but nobody mentions Tolkien. But seriously, what do female hobbitses do all day except cook, clean and produce more hobbitses? Damned misogynist of him, if you ask me!

And now I have this terrible urge to reread Cerebus again. All of it, especially the "terribly misogynist" parts. Ah good times.

But first finish cleaning (and especially putting order into the mess) my study, reading Palmer's Debatable Space (my God is that a fun story) and Newton's City of Ruin (which will have arrived by then).

Edited to add: aaah, digital blips *le sigh*

In the dead of the season

So we're well into a fat heat wave, here in Brabant. They promised cooler temperatures today, but the heavens don't oblige. Had a dash of refreshing thunder and rain and a drop of 2 degrees Celsius so far. Now it's clear skies *and* tropical humidity. Let's just hope this breeze keeps up and dries the air a bit.