30 January, 2009
28 January, 2009
27 January, 2009
26 January, 2009
25 January, 2009
23 January, 2009
Dan Simmons, one of my favourite authors, has closed down his forum until further notice...perhaps (probably?) permanently.
As I expressed with sadness (and some inappropriate anger) on a specific forum thread last night, I feel that the general tone of the Dan Simmons Forum in recent days and weeks (perhaps months) has become somewhat extreme and rancid. A certain balance, and not just in civility, has been lost. There has been a sea change, and not for the better.
A writer's web site and forum should be a welcoming, informative, and tension-free place for readers and new guests to visit and express themselves on literary and other topics without rancor, browbeating, or an unpleasant tone in the air. I've failed at providing such a balanced and welcoming forum.
I blame this completely on myself. Years ago when I created this web site, I loved the idea of a writer's forum being an open house of ideas for readers and other guests invited in to a wide round table for discussion and refreshment. And then, unlike any sane or civilized host, I not only allowed discussions of politics, religion, abortion, Israel, war, peace, gay marriage, terrorism -- and anything else under the sun (just as I said on the welcome to the General Topics Forum) -- but I encouraged such hot-button discussions.
I then compounded the mistake by entering into the debates myself, sometimes vehemently.
This would be foolish beyond words when the guests at one's table are all old friends, but it's criminally foolish when the guests are a revolving round table of strangers, most of whom identify themselves only by screen names. One can't throw a masked ball for anyone who wishes to enter and then announce to the masked strangers that politics and religion will now be discussed.
For those whom I allowed, perhaps even encouraged, to speak and argue in extreme tones and whom I then slapped down, I apologize. For the vast majority of you who've browsed or participated in the forum discussions within the high standards of civility I asked for (but didn't always meet myself), I apologize again for allowing the general tone to deteriorate.
I'm going to suspend the forums while I think of how to improve this atmosphere. Perhaps it won't be possible without inhibiting free speech too much, but other writers have forums or question-and-answer pages which do not partake of extreme political arguments or dominance by a minority of posters with unbending opinions. Nor do they suffer from the inevitable personal attacks that ensue from such a mix. Perhaps the new Dan Simmons Forums, if there are any, might restrict participation to those willing to give their real names and also restrict discussion to literary topics, books and movies, and our very real shared quest for excellence in the On Writing Well forum. Or perhaps a writer's web site should avoid having forums altogether. I'll think about it.
19 January, 2009
14 January, 2009
Some Wall Streeters, the ones who aren't killing themselves, have discovered their inner survivalist and are stocking up on freeze-dried foodstuffs, guns, and the like. How they plan to escape Gotham and shed a century or so of technological dependence, of course, remains to be seen. Are their actions paranoia or prudence? That remains to be seen, as well, but...
One think tank forecasts a tipping point in March, 2009, as people around the world realize that the crisis is indeed global, systemic, and uncontrollable. It is entirely possible, even likely at this point, that pensions will be nationalized; some may outright collapse. It's hard to see how the United States won't renege on its colossal debt. Social instability is a given as the economic crisis worsens, both locally and globally.
Obama knows all this, of course. He'll be very careful how he says it out loud, because as of right now there is still a maddeningly pervasive belief that if America just prays hard enough, or something, this economic catastrophe will melt away like a bad dream. (Pray in one hand and piss in the other and observe which gets wet.)
12 January, 2009
11 January, 2009
...when it comes to changing the language, I think they make some good points, because we do think in language and so the quality of our thoughts and ideas could only be as good as the quality of our language. So maybe some of this patriarcho shit ought to go away. I think spokesman ought to be spokesperson. I think chairman ought to be chairperson. I think mankind ought to be human kind, but they take it too far, they take themselves too seriously, they exaggerate. They want me to call that thing in the street a cover. I think that's taking it a little bit too far. What would you call a lady's man, a person's person? That would make a He-man an It-person. Little kids would be afraid of the boogieperson. They'd look up in the sky and see the person in the moon. Guys would say come back here and fight like a person. And we'd all sing "for it's a jolly good person." That's the kind of thing you would hear on Late Night with David Letterperson.
can you hire?
This is Human Resources.
Inspired, I came up with the following ramble:
Somebody called me a
I was offended, and considered civil action
on behalf of all those who make it a point
to fuck their mothers
on a regular
or not so regular basis.
Come on! Jump on the bandwagon! Support MOTHERFUCKERS everywhere!
It's the latest trend.
I have even heard of a wimmin's herstory class
at this insbreastution of higher learning
that wishes to organize a "consensual order of father-fuckers".
Consensual, of course, because the merest whisper
is grounds for murder, or castration, whichever the womyn chooses.
Our courts are kind to wimmin.
If you are born white
you are killed, or perhaps sold into slavery.
For it does say somewhere that the sins of the fathers
shall be multiplied on the sons, or something like that.
(Not mothers. Not daughters. Only sons sin.
Didn't you know that?)
Pardon me. I must attempt
to break my neck
by falling down this--sorry, ther--flight of stairs.
Last time I broke an arm; before that, I was hardly bruised.
Career advancement, you understand. Right now, I am only
a gay Chinese transvestite.
(I don't want anyone to know I am male; I might
be stoned for ther sin.)
It is hoped that, if I become handicapable
I will receive the promotion I have so lusted after at work.
Where do I work? you ask...
The Government Ministry for the Advancement of Political Correctness.
We have only just begun...there is so much more to do.
Bitter, eh? And more than a little ludicrous? Every "politically correct" phrase in there (including 'ther' for 'this') I'd seen more than once.
Except one: "insbreastution". I made that up...or thought I did. Google the word and you'll find more than a few people who find the syllable "tit" offensive.
*sigh* Plus ca change....
04 January, 2009
She said she'd do my dishes, so I handed her the reins.
And she engineered a collision steered by a hand-eye protegee...
Before my train set started burning I heard my sister say:
Look straight at the coming disaster,
Realize what you've lost.
You keep handing out horseshoes:
Horseshoes have gotta be tossed.
I dreamed I went to heaven 'cause I told my lover lies.
When I woke up I went to her and looked her in the eyes.
I said "help me cry, 'cause I can't deny this union's feeling wrong",
Then a flashback to the dream and angels singing songs
'Cause we're freer than the birds.
She sent me a letter: I didn't read it,
I already knew the words (chorus)
03 January, 2009
01 January, 2009
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