Monday, February 21, 2011

A Syllogism

  1. So we were playing a lot of Plants vs Zombies for a while there. Not just playing: I mean, a surprising percentage of my conversations with Noah, for a couple of months, hinged on Plants and Zombies. While he brushed his teeth, I would have to recite dozens of zombies, and/or plants, in the order in which they appear. Backwards. Or by toughness, or cost. With, naturally, many hints and corrections from him.

    At one point we went away to a cabin in the Black Forest with no internet access for a week. Noah played Plants vs Zombies anyway, with two decks of cards -- Uno for plants, I believe, and poker cards for zombies. The Uno card "3" was the cherry bomb, you see, because, of course, the cherry bomb is the third plant. And so on.

    Anyway, so when you beat Plants vs Zombies, as Aviva and Noah and I finally did, you get to see a music video, "Zombies on Your Lawn". The music, and sound in general, is one of the really amazingly well done things about that game.

    There is this excellent LARPish lipsynched version of the song.

  2. Zombies are of course all the rage (ha) nowadays. I finally broke down and wrote a zombie story recently (it's making the rounds). And Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black mocked/claimed/elaborated/pwned this trend beautifully in their recent anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns (which I don't have yet, but I did stumble upon Alaya Dawn Johnson's "Love Will Tear Us Apart", and it was really good!)

  3. We have now pretty much stopped playing PvZ. For his birthday, Noah got a guitar. Aviva decreed that we need to have a family band -- you know, like the Partridge Family? And so we are all assigned instruments. I was assigned the drums. So far my drums are two chopsticks and a cardboard box.

    But: while we got Noah a guitar, and some guitar books, we didn't get him any lessons yet, because there's a spot in the great local music school only in summer.

    So Noah insisted that I work through the guitar book with him. And because, unlike me, Noah is patient and diligent and dogged, a side effect of this was that I accidentally started to learn, sort of, how to play the guitar.

  4. So let's see if we can do the math here:

    1. Zombies on Your Lawn +
    2. Zombies vs. Unicorns =

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Thursday, February 17, 2011


So, right, like everybody, I've been thrilled and moved and excited and enthralled, and if we stop the movie right here, right now (watching the world wake up from history!) and the credits roll, then man, that is one feel-good Hollywood-ready adventure.

But I fear the hard part is just starting.

Up until now there has been a solid alliance between, if you'll forgive the bleak analogy, the Girondists and the Jacobins. My take is that the literate urban Facebookers can actually win democracy and civil liberties, at this point, if they can deliver to the military a functioning economy pretty soon. The military will go for a "Turkish solution" in return for stability. But to do that, the remarkable Wael Ghonim (from web 2.0 marketing dork to national hero in a month! -- his twitter feed from Jan 9 to Feb 9 is the most inspiring and eyeball-kicking SF narrative I've read this year, not to mention the Dream TV interview) and his buddies have to prove that they can get the workers -- whose pressing issues are economic, not political -- to stop striking. That won't be easy. Liberty, once awakened, is hungry.

I want them to win -- all of them, the geeks with villas in Dubai and the workers at the Suez canal. May their solidarity with one another not be a passing thing. Go Egypt go!

(Which doesn't, by the way, mean I think the workers should stop striking just to placate the military. That's for them to decide. I just think the democratic forces, Jacobinite and Girondist, should hang togther -- or else they will hang separately.)

Update: this is a fascinating, distinctive, and seemingly plausible take. And this is in some ways a good counterpoint to it.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Graveyards of the Internet

I was chatting online, as one does, and I wanted to make an argument, not by recitation but by reference to somewhere I'd argued it before, as one does, and so I Googled, as one does, my own blog, where said fascinating and fun and learning-rich argument -- as far as I could recall -- had taken place, once upon a time, in the comments of an entry.

In this particular case, the argument was about the aphorism: The Answer to Fermi's Paradox is Wittgenstein's Lion. It took place in 2002, with Jed Hartman and Dan Percival and Lori Ann White and Tempest and so on, and I believe Ted Chiang may have shown up at some point, and anyway I recalled it as a really great discussion and so I went to the blog entry where it happened, which is here.

And here is the sad thing.

My blog was not a blog yet then -- you can tell by the rambly, multi-topical style of that entry: it was still an online journal. And it wasn't on Movable Type, or any blogging system; it was hand-rolled, hand-FTP'd HTML. And for a comments section, I used the Speculations Rumor Mill.

But the Rumor Mill is no more.

This is a kind of existential shock. The internet is not forever. Half the links in that online-journal entry no longer work. We are not building for the ages, here; we are running along one of those summer-blockbuster-fantasy-movie stone bridges which disintegrates just behind us as we go.

Anyway I have salvaged, with the help of the Internet Wayback Machine, some dribs and drabs of what was once my author topic on the Rumor Mill, when the Rumor Mill was the crucible of my cohort of spec fic writers. Most of it is lost to history. I stitched it all into one big file, with major lacunae indicated, taking some liberties with the Speculations format.

Part of the discussion I was looking for is interspersed there in #9740-9769, but that was just the opening salvo, really.

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