shadowkat: (Default)
[personal profile] shadowkat
1. There's an horror/sci-fi novel out there entitled Amish Vampires in Space and according to smartbitches its not that bad and not a parody.

The plot seems to be about a transport crew that picks up a cryogenically frozen scientist and her wrecked lab along with a bunch of Amish colonists, out in the reaches of space. One of the crew members fiddles about in the scientist's lab and gets bitten by something -- which turns him into a vampire. He feeds on the livestock and most of the passengers and crew, until before you know it -- you have Amish Vampires in Space.


2. I couldn't think any more or focus on anything or listen to anyone by the end of the work day. Felt a bit like I'd been hit by a Mac Truck. So nixed going to the Psychology Lecture - entitled Mad World. (I honestly didn't care, I wanted to go home and be a vegetable.)

Tried to write some during downtime, but brain fog made it difficult. Haven't been sleeping well, which may be part of it. Don't know.

3. Current state of politics is confusing and headache inducing, so I've been ignoring it for the most part.

I honestly can't tell if last night's snap election in Great Britain turned out well, or if its up in the air. One thing tells me that Labor Won, another that no one won, another that the Conservative party is still in charge and now a nasty alt-right party got seats at the table. (Apparently they are the party from Northern Ireland -- sigh, why hasn't Britain just let Northern Ireland leave already...they appear to be more trouble than they are worth. I never understood why the Brits couldn't let go of Northern Ireland. I honestly think if Great Britain (and other European countries) had been a little less into imperialism and colonizing, they'd have had a lot less problems later. All that colonizing seems to have come back and bitten them on the royal rear-end. Then again, I probably wouldn't exist if they hadn't done it. Oh by the way, we have a schedule in our Federal and State construction contracts where a contractor legally confirms that they aren't doing business with and/or investing in Northern Ireland, it's required the MacBride Act. Somewhat dated, but still there. Also have an Iran divestment schedule.)

And I've no clue if the Comey hearings will get Trump impeached or just continue the status quo such as it is at the moment. The problem with Comey is...he was a bit of an idiot in how he handled things regarding Trump and Clinton. So, it's hard for anyone including the media to take him that seriously. Although it's not like he hasn't said anything we don't know already. The whole thing reminds me of the Watergate hearings, which I have a vague memory of, considering I was maybe five or six at the time.

My mother keeps saying he won't get impeached. But she didn't think Nixon would be impeached either and look how that turned out. (Technically he didn't, he resigned before they could impeach him and Gerald Ford pardoned him. I'm sort of hoping they impeach Trump and horse he rode in on. Best case scenario, he dies in prison for treasonous acts against the US. But I realize this is wishful thinking.)

All of this just makes me want to go hide in a cabin up in the mountains or do a Thoreau. Hell is other people.

3. Riverdale

Well, the season finale surprised me. The resolution of the Jason Blossom mystery didn't, I sort of figured out who killed him some time ago. Although they did plant a few clever red-herrings.

The show is sort of a hybrid of various genres, noir, mystery, teen soap, and a bit of the Surreal Twin Peaks/Graphic novel. The parents or adults are the villains in the piece.
With their kids navigating the stormy waters of their secrets.

I'm sticking with it. Rather enjoyed it. Doesn't require that much attention, I like the characters, and find their subversion of the bad trope interesting. Jughead is the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, but he's wickedly bright, not strong or tough at all, and a bit of a nerd, who loves to sit in a corner and write. A sensitive soul. And slight of build. Betty Cooper is the quintessential good girl next door, except she has a dark side, and her own secrets.

None of the kids look like kids of course. They all look like they are in their 20s. I think Stranger Things might be the only television series I've seen that employs actual teens.

4.) I have written 279 pages and 147,700 words on my novel to date. Which could prove problematic when I decide to publish it. If I publish it. At this rate, it may well clock in at a little over 350 or 400 pages and 199,000 words or thereabouts. I tend to write books about that length.

I am not a short story writer. And, while I dabbled with fanfic, I find it difficult to write.

I discussed it with my father once, who is also a writer. (I think it's the Irish blood, half of his side of the family are frustrated self-published writers). Anyhow, he said that he couldn't do it either -- he found it difficult to write about someone else's characters, world, or plot. It felt like you were playing their house with their toys, and there was just something almost...weird or discomforting about it. (It's probably worth mentioning at this point that neither my father nor I like to stay with people. We feel like we are imposing on their space. If he visits people, he will often insist on staying in a hotel and not with them. And we're both just a little uncomfortable in another person's space.)
So if you consider or think of fanfic as invading another writer's house or space without their say-so, it's like that. I have written it, and I've read a lot of it of course, but I always feel a little uneasy about it. The uneasiness is not helped by my background in copyright and intellectual property law -- which for the most part permits fanfic, just not for commercial purposes unless the work in question is in the public domain.

There is by the way a lot of commercially published fanfic out there, from works currently in the public domain (of course). Recently saw a novel entitled "Mr. Rochester" -- basically his life story, before Jane Eyre. There was also a book about his first marriage - The Wide Sagrasso Sea. And there have been novel's written about Moby Dick's wife, Mr. Darcy, PD James wrote a mystery novel starring Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. And don't get me started on the wide number of Sherlock Holmes fanfic novels that have been published, the latest that I saw, was by Sherry Thomas, entitled Lady Sherlock. About a female Sherlock Holmes. Or rather a female sleuth named Holmes, who is called Sherlock, with her own Watson.

I think they've saturated the field with Jane Austen fanfics, Sherlock Holmes fanfics, and Everybody's Human Erotica Twilight fanfics (seriously you would not believe the number of Twilight inspired everybody's human AU erotica books that have been published.) I think the trend lost some steam. I no longer see shelves devoted to them in Barnes and Noble.

Anyhow, I think this why I'd have troubles writing for comics, television or being a hired fiction gun - script doctoring, ghost writing, or game writing for someone else's verse. I couldn't write a novelized version of a film or television series. Because I don't like being hemmed in by someone else's rules, boundaries, and world guidelines, it makes me twitchy. My Dad said the same thing. (So maybe this is genetic too somehow? I wonder sometimes how much of our personality is dictated by DNA.) I want to make my own when I write. I want to create my own characters, with their own voices, and shapes and sizes, I want my own crazy assed world. And I an extent, it's about my characters speaking to me. They don't always or do it in spits and stretches of time. Someone else's characters don't speak to me as well.

The fanfic I've written, always felt off somehow. Discordant. Like some rhyme or beat was out of sync.

A friend told me once that he envied my discipline to sit down and write, and I responded, it's not discipline, it's a drive. A need. A craving. An itch. I get edgy if I don't. My Dad wrote on airplanes, hotel rooms, and trains when he was working 120 hour weeks. Traveling to and from meetings and consultations. He had a family, wife, a full-time job, but he had to write. And he's written until he can't any longer. He can't now. My heart breaks for him. But my Dad isn't a whiner, he seems to accept things, and just plow on. For me? I've written on trains, on planes, at my desk at work, in the bathroom, and at home. Sometimes I'll plot it out in my head and then jot it down later.

Writing for me is a bit like breathing or eating or sleeping. It's not..something I decide to do so much as must. I don't even know sometimes if it is any good or that any one will read or care about it. Just that I must write it. And when the muse gets blocked, the story stops, I feel this sense of...being stuck or constipated or at odds. Creatively backed up somehow.

It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't feel the same way. I think the drive to write sometimes is a curse. I was actually a better drawer/artist/painter than writer when I started out. But somewhere along the way, I fell in love with painting with words...far more so than colors or crazy drawn lines sketched haphazardly across a page.

I am a professional writer. I do a lot of writing for my workplace and everyone at my workplace views me as an excellent writer. Which makes me happy. It's not fictional writing per se, but it is writing.

Date: 2017-06-15 08:41 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Well nothing is ever certain, but I personally am in a safer place than if Labour had actually won. And I guess we've got some time to try to turn public opinion around. Politics does feel more existential these days than it did a few years ago. I can't work out if that is a result of the internet or just the way the wheel has turned.

Date: 2017-06-15 12:53 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
See, I would have thought you'd have been safer the other way around?
No. Without getting into details, a government implementing the manifesto that Labour published would have utterly ruined me and my family, also most of the people I know including the clients I rely on for work. Actually I don't think I'm being hyperbolic to say the whole economy would have crashed within hours of a Corbyn-led government taking over, simply because so many people would have been trying to get every penny they could out of the country as fast as possible. This doesn't relate to Brexit but his domestic policy. If it ever happens, I will have to hope I am wrong.

Brexit is really complex and there is so much misinformation out there. I keep myself very well informed (or I did until two weeks ago, I've cut myself off because I was starting to get panic attacks) but one thing I've realised is nobody on the planet understands all of it, or can completely pick out the real facts from all the misunderstandings, biases and propaganda.

One thing you can spread to any worried friends who might listen is that any EU national who has been in the country more than 3 years on March 29th 2017 is 100% guaranteed to be okay, because their rights are already guaranteed under international treaties that are completely separate to the EU. This fact has not been spread as widely as it should be and it really should be made as widely known as possible because it would give a lot of comfort and reassurance to some people who have been needlessly scared by alarmists.

My own instinct is that the other 15% who have been here for less than three years will also be alright because I really can't imagine any scenario by which they would be penalised. But of course we can't outright say that until the deal is done. The signs are good that the EU also understand that people must come first and be negotiated before any talk about trade deals, I am confident they will stick to that since it seems to be one of their chief concerns.

But of course it must be very scary for the people involved. It will be alright, but the waiting must be horrible :(
Edited Date: 2017-06-15 12:54 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-06-15 05:04 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
The big name Brexiteers wanted to guarantee EU immigrants' rights unilaterally, but May felt that would be putting British emigrants in the EU at risk so she held back and asked for a quick deal last summer. But Merkle said no, it all had to wait until the main Brexit talks. The best we have been able to achieve to date is getting the people talks at the start of the main negotiation, but the EU insistence that 'nothing is decided until everything is decided' means everyone effected has two more years of uncertainty.

The problem is not anyone being deported - that really is not going to happen on either side. It mostly is about stuff like health care and social security entitlement, who can appeal to the ECJ - boring but important stuff like that.

Date: 2017-06-15 05:29 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I don't personally blame Germany for the current state of the EU - they are in a very difficult position and are carrying a lot of very heavy cultural baggage. I blame the Eurocrats and others who put their own ideology ahead of real people. I think the whole EU is based on fundamentally unsustainable principles. The people who believe in it want a single federal state, but that is culturally incompatible with what the majority of the European people want. The tension was always going to be worst for Britain because we come from a very different economic, historical and legal framework to most of the other countries. We went into what we were told was a purely economic club just at the time when the economic advantages were starting to diminish and the drive for political unification was beginning. Then we were carried along for years by a sort of conspiracy of the elite who refused to countenance any change because they personally were benefiting from it. Meanwhile the eurofanatics were willing to inflict terrible economic suffering and appalling corruptions of democracy to achieve their own ends. Something had to give eventually. It was not inevitable that Brexit happen, but a big change was long overdue.

Date: 2017-06-15 12:56 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
So was I. Hence panic attacks and recent snappiness :(

Date: 2017-06-15 05:37 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I absolutely agree. It is always better to patch the holes in the roof than rip the whole thing off and leave everyone exposed while you build a new one. Especially since so far every attempt to build a brand new economic system by sudden revolution has ended up with something worse than what went before. I would never claim the western model of free-market capitalism was perfect, but that means it needs tweaking, not bulldozing.

Talking to you has given me heart though. In my anger and despair I was thinking that the roots of all left thinking lay in Marxism, and that thus all left thinking was at risk of falling back by a slippery slope into that evil ideology. But of course it does not - there is a much, much older and kinder tradition that comes directly from the Christian values of charity. If the moderate left who draw on that tradition can somehow rebuild the wall between themselves and the hard left, there is hope.

Date: 2017-06-16 03:30 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I think we will eventually find how to tweak the system so recessions no longer happen, or no longer happen with such severe consequences, but we are not there yet. Also, we need to find ways to stop the adverse effects of the recessions without losing the vital stimulus of creative destruction. To some extent we have to think of recessions like wolves in an ecosystem - nasty but keystone.

Socialism won't work because it never has all the other times it has been tried. If it was going to work some country would have found a way by now that didn't result in poverty, slavery and horrific levels of oppression and want. And those aren't unfortunate mistakes because people have been doing socialism 'wrong', they are inevitable structural results of the system. Marxism/communism/socialism has been responsible for over 200 million deaths already, I'm not willing to give it another field test in the naive belief things would turn out differently next time. I put it in the box marked 'evil' and hope we can persuade enough other people it never gets taken out again.

Although this partly depends on how you define socialism of course - the Scandinavian countries are often called socialist but they rely on very free markets to support the high levels of social support. So that can work but it doesn't count as a replacement for capitalism since they rest on very firm capitalist foundations.

If there is a system that is better than capitalism, it certainly isn't far-left socialism and it probably hasn't been invented yet. My own feeling is that when you look at the amazing achievements of capitalism - the truly astonishing reduction in global poverty, improvements in health, education, access to clean water, and all the rest of it - then one has to be mad to say there is anything wrong with capitalism beyond a few problems at the edges.

I assume you are familiar with the elephant curve? (Although the most recent work has disputed some of it.) We need to look more closely at what is going on at the bottom of the trunk - that is the lower paid people in advanced countries. We need to work out why their growth has stagnated when everyone else is doing so well. Probably the answer will involve reducing immigration of the low skilled (not PC to say it, but there it is) and measures to help the training and flexible skilling of that sector of the workforce. Welfare transfers will also have a part to play but they need to be better targeted and avoid creating poverty traps. I am an optimist, I am positive it can be done. But the danger is that the people will grow impatient and be attracted to the seductive easy answers being dangled by the hard left. Without a proper knowledge of history and economics (and sometimes even with those things) they are dangerously alluring.

But a lot of people can be hurt, if you don't have governmental regulations and controls on housing, bio-tech, and environment.
For managing common resources like the environment and safety, I find some of the latest ideas about commoning systems quite exciting. The idea is to find a half way house between private and public ownership, so you can get the best of both worlds. In traditional common systems, ownership was not public because it was restricted to a fixed group of commoners, but that group of commoners was large enough to manage the resource as a whole. This maintains a sense of property rights and thus avoids the tragedy of the commons for resources that cannot actually be held privately.

You could almost say you can see that happening at the moment with the individual U.S. states responding to the Paris climate change agreement. Each state is essentially becoming a commoner management group for its own energy generation, and can proceed to conserve regardless of what its neighbours are doing.

There is hope. Humans are infinitely adaptable and very clever so there is always hope. But we really do need to learn from history or what is the point of keeping records.

Date: 2017-06-17 06:41 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Having slept on it, I think we agree here on the majority of points and are in danger of quibbling over fairly fringe issues of terminology and exactly where lines should be drawn. I certainly am not a right-wing anarchist favouring some Ayn Rand style stateless system. I believe we need nation states and we need those nation states to act as regulatory referees and to provide a cushion to help even out the rises and falls in the market and those who fall through the system.

But my personal experience and knowledge of history and economics also tells me that governments are no better at running industries and services than private industry, and when the government creates a monopoly for itself that is just as bad for the consumer as a private monopoly. So I am certainly not convinced that nationalisation will solve any problems and I foresee it will create a lot of new ones.

So as I say, it is a matter of where one draws the lines. Most politics in most advanced countries is a back and forth about exactly how much can be taken from the system in tax before it damages the economy too far, and how much regulation is too little or too much before it damages society and the environment. That is really all the battles between normal left and normal right amount to. What is scary is that for the first time in my life there is an extremist hard left party within reach of power. They do not just want to adjust where the normal lines are drawn, they want to completely overthrow the system and change it to something non-capitalist. They call that socialism, not communism, but that is a PR trick since their version of socialism amounts to the same thing. So when I see ordinary mainstream left people denouncing 'capitalism' it scares me. It makes them seem like they are preparing the way for the hard left to introduce the alternatives to capitalism, which are far, far worse.

Now if you see your soft left version of capitalism as an 'alternative to capitalism', that is not so scary. But the problem is to anyone listening it sounds like you are denouncing all capitalism, all free markets, all of the basis of the western economic system. The nuance that you don't like the extremist forms of capitalism but support the moderate ones is getting lost. When Doctor Who says things celebrating the overthrow of capitalism in some future society, there is nuance, no sense that this was an extreme form of capitalism or capitalism gone wrong, because they just used the word capitalism. And if people go around demonizing the system that keeps us all fed, housed, educated, healthy and in luxury our non-capitalist ancestors could not imagine - then is it any surprise when the young who don't know any better turn out to vote for extremists who have promised to overthrow the system? The West needs to start standing up for capitalism, all of us, or we will find the young want to replace it with communism.

Date: 2017-06-17 02:53 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Yes, this is what I have realised in the course of our conversation - we are viewing things through different ends of the lens but are actually pretty close in terms of what we want out of it all :)

Date: 2017-06-17 02:43 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Yes, I realised that was where you must be coming from shortly after I posted.

It is easier for me to see the flaws in soft socialism because I have endured them all my life, and I can see it is certainly not the land of milk and honey you are painting it as. It means a loss of freedom and choice and a feeling of great helplessness because the forces that control your life are beyond your influence. It means poor services like health care so only the very rich can have good health care. I know bad health care is better than no health care but there are plenty of countries that do better than either of ours and most of the ones that do well seem to have a lot of private and charitable provision, not state provision. I fear the hard left because it will magnify those bad things a hundred fold.

I also am genuinely baffled that you do not seem to acknowledge and celebrate the enormous achievements of capitalism. You seem to take the achievements for granted as if they would somehow have occurred without capitalism, and only focus on what happens on those occasions capitalism goes wrong. That is very at odds with how I view the world. I see the natural humans state as one of poverty, ill health and the constant spectre of famine, and it is capitalism that has rescued us from all those things. I admire the simple complexity of capitalism, and the beautiful things that result from it, just as I admire an ecosystem.

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Date: 2017-06-17 02:49 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Oh, by the way, the Tory Party is the nickname for the Conservative Party, they are the same thing. I tend to say 'Tory' when speaking to Americans because the word Conservative has a lot of baggage and gives the wrong impression.

As far as I can tell, the Tory party is in about the same place on the economic spectrum as your Democratic Party, or only fractionally to the right of it. There isn't really any British party as far right as the GOP. We do have some people who describe themselves as Libertarians who are about that far right, but they don't have an organised party.


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