Sunday, August 28, 2011

Another False Quote From The Last Captain:

“We found we’d woke from a long age of waste and self-aggrandizing hypocrisy, and started to look around for something useful to apply our effort, our minds, our very identity to. We found a worthy place for all and all found worthy endeavor in the establishment of the Council of Man.” -From The Founding, a biography of Silas Chui-Ling by Eileen Castaneda

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Loud Pipes

Ownership And Good Customer Service

About a month ago, I went in to my credit union to take care of some business and see where I was with a loan. I had paid it in full the previous paycheck. I was quite happy about that. Working with the teller, I then re-allocated the cash that had been going toward that loan to other places.

In the end, I didn’t allocate enough to the account that funds are withdrawn from to cover the motorcycle loan. I only learned this today when I had a call from the loan officer at my credit union. She politely informed me I had not made a timely payment.

I was surprised, to say the least. I had funds in another account sufficient to cover the gap, but I found myself getting angry a mistake had been made.

Then I took a deep breath.

It was me that had signed off and approved the allocation. This was not a complex problem requiring an accountant to figure out, so there was no blaming an expert for failing to explain to me that I would fall short in the one account. It was, therefore, my mistake.

I went to the credit union to correct my error, and ended up with the same teller who had helped me the last time. She apologized sincerely and profusely for the error. I told her that it was me that had signed off on the allocation, and should have realized the mistake. I went on to tell her she had nothing to apologize for.

She repeated her apology.

I smiled, “Wasn’t your fault.”

Then we fixed it.

Fixing it, perhaps, took longer than it would have if I were doing it myself and didn’t have to check to make sure everyone was on the same page. Ultimately, though, I was very happy that her customer service skills were more than a match for my sense of ownership.

Recognizing my own hand in things is one of the hardest things I do as a man, a father, and a citizen. It is not objectively rewarding, but man, does owning my shit make it easier to sleep at night.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Want Versus Need

I think the following is the greatest, most scathing indictment of modern society it is possible to make:

Apple is the most valuable company in the world.

Not because of something negative done by the corporation, but because they simply (and very effectively) build things we want. Very little of Apple's business derives from fulfilling an actual need. Again, I do not hold this against the corporation or their shareholders. Indeed, I own several Apple products myself. Further, I am sure technological developments begun by Apple have made life easier for many.

No, I hold it against our society.

Do we really need all our entertainments with us at all times? Do we need to be connected to everyone, all the time? Do we need to have all our favorite shows available?

No, we want those things.

When people become confused between wanting and needing something, they tend to make terrible mistakes in judgement. I am thinking in terms of the housing market collapse and subsequent financial ruin heaped upon so many. People didn't need their home value to soar, they needed a roof over their heads. Instead, I wanted and with many others sharing from the same smoking bong of self-destruction, refinanced and nearly lost my home.

People don't need a new car every few years, and they certainly don't need a massive SUV to shuttle their lone child between soccer practice and their X's place. They want that big shiny piece of shit so they can show their X how wonderful they are getting on without them.

We don't need arguments about who did what, when. We need solutions to the problems at hand. Unfortunately, people want the easy. They want the answer which requires little thought and, on first glance, most conforms to their views of how the world should be. As a result, our political systems shudder and shake, making no movement toward the sanity we need. Instead they crash drunkenly toward a consensus of the stupid, self-involved, and narcissistic.

We need to perceive the difference between our wants and our needs, or drown in our own shit.

No one wants to be responsible for pulling us out of this. If it goes on long enough, no one will need us any longer.

And we will be there, lying in our shit; weighed, measured, and found wanting.

Monday, August 22, 2011

WorldCon Roundup

The Con was quite interesting, and I attended more than one excellent panel. I did get to have some very interesting conversations with some very wise and discerning folks with rather large names in the industry. I hung out with some friends old and some friends new, generally having a very good time. My T-Shirts drew a few chuckles, as ever.

Some caveats though:

a) some fans are rude.
b) the convention center was too damn far from the hotel(s)
c) some fans are fucking terribly rude.
d) there was no central lounge or bar to hang out in after events
e) Christ Jesus but some fan are thoughtless, terribly rude, and aggressively odiferous.

I believe I will stick to WFC until I have a few books under my belt.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WorldCon Day Uno Part Uno d'Deaux

So, I woke this morning at two forty five. I could not, due to a mixture of excitement and moonlight, get back to sleep. I tried for an hour, then said fuck it and got moving. I left the house before four, hoping to avoid any traffic on the way to Reno. It worked damn well. I rolled into town before traffic got too bad here, even.

Then, I had to wait for registration to open. Then for the hall to open, then for the events to begin.

John Scalzi was kind enough to let me sit and hang with him and a few friends, one of whom happened to be Cory Doctorow. The conversation was fascinating. I wish I had been more awake, that I might have absorbed more. It is not often I can listen while two of the more popular and scintillating minds converse about matters important to them.

I then saw George RR Martin, managed my SQUEEEE reflex, said hello and got a pleasant nod and hello in return.

Now, I am waiting for my wingman.

I am still waiting for the hotel to give me my room, as I can't check in until after three. I think I will nap for a bit when I do. Hopefully I will be sharper after a bit more rest.

Oh, and I had nearly forgotten how fucking annoying the sound of slot machines can be.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another False Quote From The Last Captain

“Find me an enemy, that I might come to grips with him,
and kill him,
and go home from this war,
and forget,
and be forgotten,

-Tomas Bitterwahl, Twenty-Fifth Century poet laureate of Sol’s asteroid belt

A Man; The Very Definition Of

Recent events in England, and more specifically, Birmingham, lead me to make this post:

Three men, trying to secure the livelihood of their community, were run down by someone in a car. The youngest of the men was a young South Asian named Haroon Jahan. That someone so young was doing his best to protect the interests of his family and community indicates a strong character.

"Today we stand here to plead with all the youth to remain calm, for our community to stand united," Tariq Jahan, the young man's father, is quoted as having said, "This is not a race issue. The family has received messages of sympathy and support from all parts of the community — all races, all faiths and backgrounds."

Then he told the angry youths who appeared to desire some street justice, to "grow up" and go home.

I cannot imagine the agony the man must feel at the death of his son and the other two men who were with him, yet Jahan retained the presence of mind to not only urge others to calm, but to stand up to those that would not listen.

But then, it stands to reason: he had already imparted such values and strength to his son. Why else would a young man be defending against, rather than participating in, such lawlessness as is going on in England now.

What his father said to people after is nothing short of the very definition of a strong, honorable man doing right by those that depend on him. A man rises after being knocked down. A man thinks beyond himself and his hurts to those of his family and community. It is abundantly clear to me that not only is Tariq Jahan a man, but that he had already imparted those qualities to his son. This, I believe, is the most important task of a father and the greatest measure of his legacy.

My heart goes out to his family and to him.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Last Captain Re-Write: Full Steam Ahead Part Deux

The following was re-written from the original, the POV changed from that of the Captain to Officer Baptiste. The madman's control is fleeting, and due to a break down in the conditioning the Imperium provides its flight crews.

I think it works. Tell me what you think:

For a wonder, the trio found the Broken quite quickly. Unfortunately, Morgan was still out.

“We have lots of things to do. We had lots of fine things to see. What the fuck, Bap?” Morgan raved as the officer helped him to his feet.

“You couldn’t tell me where you were, Morgan,” Baptiste replied.

“That’s cause Morgan ain’t in, copper!”

“What the fuck does that mean?” Venkman asked.

Like I fucking know. Baptiste shook his head, jaw working.

“Copper. Very old Earther expression. Could be based on a copper badge worn by early law enforcement. Could be an acronym of Civilian Officer, Patrol. Bastardized further to copper. Also; a black and white moving picture expression used by gangsters when talking to police,” the Captain supplied.

Baptiste chuckled, glancing over his shoulder at her, “Um, thanks for the data stream, Captain.”

He saw Venkman’s face twist. With all the scars it was hard to tell if he was about to laugh or spit.

“Jack-boots suit you better than a critic’s chair, honey,” Morgan said, voice sweet.

“Morgan,” Baptiste warned.

Morgan giggled, still looking at Schrader, “I just call it like I see it, IMP.”

“How-“ the Captain's brows rose in surprise.

“Just ‘cause we crazy don’t make us stupid, baby!” Morgan said, voice rising an octave.

Baptiste shook his head again, sighed, “He does that sometimes. Sees shit he shouldn’t be able to. One of his uses.”

“Who is this "he" you keep talkin’ ‘bout? All we see is weeee!” the Broken said, expression clouding with anger and flailing his arms in bizarre fashion.

Not going to get anywhere unless I can bring him down a bit. “Sure, Morgan. Be cool. Focus on me.”

Morgan did as he was told, folding skinny arms around his torso, mimicking Baptiste’s stance. The almost perfect imitation was spoiled by the pieces of refuse jutting from his unruly hair.

“Morgan, when you gonna come back around and help me out?” Baptiste asked after a moment’s calm.

The Broken suddenly looked on the verge of a good cry, “We work and work for you, and all you do is abuse us.” He pointed past Baptiste at Venkman, tears falling from his eyes in fat drops that streaked the film of dirt on his cheeks, “He’s not what he tries to be. He’s not you and me. Not us. We’re not us.”

Venkman shook his head, turned, and walked back to the car, disgust evident in every line of his posture. Morgan slumped back to the pavement with a high laugh as Venkman dropped into the car and closed the door.

Schrader, trying to help, cut off Morgan’s view of Venkman by stepping up beside Baptiste.

Baptiste knelt in front of the informant, keeping his gun side away, he urged Morgan to return, “Not so, Morgan. Come back. Kick those voices back in their corners and come talk to me.”

The effort the Broken expended trying to regain control of his faculties was impressive. He screwed his eyes shut, jaw clenched so tight that sweat popped up on his scalp.

His eyes popped open, the whites showing. Finally, Morgan gave a keening whine, almost too high to hear, and sucked in a breath. The pupils rolled into view a second later, fixed on Baptiste, steadied. “I’m tryin’, Bap, but they are so loud.”

“You’re doing good, Morgan.”

“We- I lost him in Starfall. Outside Smoker’s place…”

“Smoker’s, are you sure?”


“You lost him in Smoker’s?”

“No, he went in, then came out, took a cab. I’m not fast enough,” Morgan’s voice cracked and his expression slid to the verge of maniacal before he continued, “Never been fast enough to catch a car.”

“How long?”

“He was in for less than an hour, I thi-”

“How long ago?” the Captain interrupted.

Fuck! Baptiste thought as he saw Morgan’s control slipping away.

Morgan’s gaze flicked to Schrader. He watched as she looked into his eyes, watched the shadow of madness press in and cover the light of reason.

He was close enough to see the goosebumps spread across her skin as a part of her felt that madness reaching out.

“We see wonders, and unders! We love your look, lady. Want some lovin’?” Morgan muttered, breaking eye contact.

Schrader sucked in a breath.

Yeah, feels like someone kicked the stool out from under you, don’t it? Baptiste thought, standing up.

“Damn. Sorry,” Schrader said, blinking. “That was all my fault.”

Damn straight it was. Shit, now there’ll be no getting Morgan back for a few hours, at least.

“You didn’t know,” he said.

“Still, my mistake.”

Baptiste shrugged, trying to keep his disappointment from showing. “I’m not sure why he can talk to me but can’t keep it together with others. Venkman always sets him off.”

Morgan started tittering to himself, picking up a piece of refuse from the alley floor and snuffling in it, “Ahh… the aroma of the end times!”

“Anything we can do for him?”

“A blowjob would be nice!” Morgan put in, cringing as Baptiste raised a hand in anger.

Schrader touched Baptiste's arm. “No harm done, officer. I’ve heard much worse.”

“Yes, and we’ll pour out our poison on you, making you fit to meet the Almighty, come-burpin’ gutter whore!”

Schrader laughed. “Wow, that’s quite the mouth you have on you.”

Baptiste shook his head again. Sometimes it was better to let the ranting go on than try and stop him.

Morgan tittered. “You get it, don’t you?” he asked, voice pitched low, deep and creepily sexy.

“I suppose I do, Morgan.” She shook her head and asked Baptiste, “So. Do we know where this Smoker lives?”

Baptiste nodded, “Stuart Bouccanier. The Smoker, yes.”

She sighed, looked down at Morgan. The Broken had resumed sniffing something from the alley floor. “Right, good to meet you, Morgan.”

Baptiste glanced at her. Sharp. Most don’t realize madmen actually remember just as much as the sane, they just can’t always get to it in timely or understandable fashion. And as my mother always says, “Being polite costs nothing.” He stood up. “See you soon, Morgan. Thanks for the information.”

Morgan’s mad eyes glared up at him behind a cage of filthy hands, “Fuck you, copper!”

Baptiste shook his head, “Right.”

Word of The Day: Diminution

As in: Each day that passes here, I feel the diminution of my soul.

Word of the (Yester) Day: Pander

Not sure why this didn't post the first time. But a well, there it is.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dr Efficient, the Love Guru

Please check this out. It is not only funny, it also educates those of us who might be a little ignorant about how divergent the wiring in men and women is.

Word of The Day: Trepanning

It also has no synonyms.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Conversation of the Week

"How do you get down?"
"Well, I like to listen to Battleflag, but that's just me."
He snorts. "I mean, downstairs.
I gesture at the elevators, "Those elevators."
"They looked closed."
I answer slowly, "The doors are, until an elevator arrives."
He snorts again, shaking his head,"Fuck, I sounded stupid."
I sail on, my work being done.

Word of The Day: Pudenda

Since yesterday's inauguration of my Word of The Day posts was so resoundingly successful, it continues:


Monday, August 1, 2011

Word of The Day: Crapulous

I am thinking of creating a word of the day to post and then allow my hordes of readers to comment on...

No, I am going to do it, starting now.

So here is one of my favorite words, and one I have felt like several times in my past: