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Blast

Microsoft has provided all the tools to make the world of PC's easy to administer, but who administers the administrators? Every time we add a facility that makes PC life easier by allowing automated updates or addition of new content, we create a new niche for the survival of parasitic life-forms.

W32/Blaster-A struck my workplace this morning. It caused chaos for about an hour or two. We were warned yesterday but didn't respond. We paid for our lack of immediate response. It seems that some person (unidentified) must have opened an executable attachment inside the firewall. Doh! That's the computer equivalent of thinking, "Wooo, look at this brightly coloured toadstool... I wonder what it tastes like."

Pottery Fabrications

I listened to a different radio station on the way to work today - RRR. It seems one of the DJs sparked some controversy among the younger listeners by suggesting that Harry Potter never washes. When the Potter Pentateuch becomes enough of an infallible reference to allow widespread debate on Harry-hygiene, you know it has gone beyond a fad, beyond a cult - it has become a mainstream religion.
On the next national census when I come to the question of religion I won't be writing Jedi. I shall mark my religion as Potterstant... or should that be Harry Krishna, or perhaps Rowling Catholic? Holy Lily! How can we have a mainstream religion when we haven't even decided on a name for it? The unenlightened have been calling it Pottermania with obvious overtones of derision. Let them scoff. I'm just glad it's them and not me who will face the malice of Vold...oops-hush-my-mouth unprepared.

I must start work on my divine vision. It all became clear as I stared into my own swirling memories. I must create a monastic order dedicated to exegesis of the Rowling Writings. I must provide the world with booklets and tracts to support the faith (all at very reasonable prices). There are so many unanswered questions that need scholarly examination and contemplation e.g.


  • Was Harry's persecution at the hands of the Dursleys a necessary part of his sanctification from a theodicean point of view?
  • Is Harry's well-endowed bank account actually just a metaphor for the magical legacy left him by his parents?
  • What will be the global financial impact when J.K.Rowling finally comes clean and admits that her books are not in fact works of fiction?

Farewell

Today I signed a farewell card for an engineer who's going overseas to get married and start a new life. Past conversations with her have shown me the strength of her family's cultural background. A subservient role for women is still expected, even after years of living here in Australia.

An Egyptian princess named Sherine
Met a guy who would make her his queen,
So she gave up her job
To be with her heart-throb...
Let's hope she can wash, cook and clean.

Rats

I should take a few moments to compliment Terry Pratchett for The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. As I've come to expect, PTerry's children's books are great reading for adults. I guess you'd describe this one as The Pied Piper told from a rat's perspective, with a dash of Dick Whittington thrown in for good measure. The plot is much more than a simple fairy tale, with recognisable plot elements drawn from a wide range of literature. The idea of a rat piper is just one building block that he uses to build a well-crafted story.

The outstanding feature of the book was the transformation of the educated rodents through the events of the story. There were lots of transitions all going on at once: growth of self understanding and self acceptance, religious enlightenment, social empowerment, modification of impossible dreams into realistic futures, and breaking down human-rat prejudices. It was a story that left me feeling satisfied. One of the things that PTerry does well is to caricature human traits and attitudes in fantasy settings. In this book, the rats are very rat-like and the reader is drawn into a rat-centric view of the world, but at the same time, all the interactions and politics are clearly very perceptive comments on human behaviour.

Instant Update

What am I listening to? Nick Cave: Right Out Of Your Hand
What am I reading? Greg Bear: Blood Music
What made me laugh? Growl Karaoke
What's interesting? Elizabeth McGrath Art

Watched

I don't like being watched.

Really. Whether it is writing a poem or a story, designing a page, creating a 3d model, taking a photograph or even writing an entry for a publicly displayed journal (you can keep reading this only because I've finished), I feel uncomfortable being watched. It makes me feel inhibited. It makes me feel I am performing in twice earth's gravity of expectation. I want to brainstorm in zero-g, try weird and whacko thoughts, write something down and rub it out it again, put concepts side by side that almost match in a twisted way, see how something looks back to front, hide one concept in another, search for it in reference material... The process exposes me.

As concept grows to creation there usually comes a point where I can say, "This is going to work." Some concepts never reach that point. They either die or languish as a few lines of text in an idea repository somewhere. They are creative dirty laundry and should never see the light of day. What I present to the outside-Virge is a subset that I judge may appeal to some non-zero proportion of the human race.

There is always an exception to the rule. I don't mind being watched if I'm working as part of a team. I can bear (or bare) it if the rest of the team are taking the same personal risks: exposing their own inadequacies, being bizarre, proposing half-arsed ideas in search of another half an arse.

Once I have a presentable something, to the point where it just needs polishing, I want people to see it. I want feedback. Does my product only have meaning for me? Does anyone else see the humour? Does it fade into the cosmic mediocre background that has hung around since the big internet bang? Was I wasting my time?

Then I face that other problem - my own passivity. I don't want to force anyone to look at what I do. I'd much rather they found my work and kept viewing out of interest than be cajoled into it by an attention-seeking Virge shouting "Hey, look at what I've just done!" Public forums suit my style. If people don't like what they see they'll skip over it.

If I want to take my writing beyond its current limited audience I'll have to change my approach. Self-promotion is a necessary part of the game. Fortunately that won't force me to bare all during the creative process. I don't like being watched.

Post-McCarthyism

Last night's soirée at the back of the library was very pleasant. I sat among an audience of about 30 in a clear area just next to children's science. Serve-yourself coffee and biscuits added an extra touch of informality. It certainly was not a fan-club-adulation-sign-my-book-please session. Most of the attendees would have been thirties-plus and silver hair was easy to find. McCarthy spoke about and read from her book "When you wake and find me gone". She also told us about her current novel and the difficulties it is giving her.

Question time provided the opportunity to hear some more of what I wanted to hear: How did you become a writer? The first answer didn't satisfy the audience. She spoke about how she was encouraged to rewrite her tv series scripts into short novels. The success of these had the publisher begging for more. A few questions later the subject of how she got to write scripts was raised. Had she really thought her first answer would satisfy? Didn't she understand that people wanted to know how to make that first faltering step from obscurity? I think she did, but avoided telling that part of her story until pushed. With a few smiles we heard that she got her chance to write scripts for a tv production when she developed a relationship with a guy who was making tv series. I guess it's not a very satisfying answer for the aspiring writer. The story is the same in most of the entertainment industry. You need talent but that's only a part of the equation. You also need to know the right people.

I shall book myself in for the next author spotlight evening. This time I'll have time to hang around and chat afterwards rather than rush off to a school information night. Maybe I'll get to know some of the right people. ;)

McCarthyism

Tonight I have booked into a "spotlight session" at a local library. The spotlight has been turned onto a local author, Maureen McCarthy. (That's Maureen McCarthy the Australian writer, not Maureen McCarthy the New Hampshire artist, and not Maureen McCarthy the actor.) I want to see local authors who have made good with their writing. I'm going into this session quite unprepared - I haven't read any of her books or seen the mini-series made from one of her books. I've no idea what it will be like. Perhaps a room full of devoted McCarthy fans dying to get their book collections signed? Perhaps a chance to hear about a new book that she is about to release? Perhaps a chance to hear about what it is like being an successful author? I'll regard tonight as a low-key adventure into the unknown land of contemporary McCarthyism.

Another poem from the archives.

Cyborg Now

My insul-car denies the wind and the heat.
It tells me how cool and comfortable I am.
There is no traffic noise.
The cars and trucks around me run silently.
Eva sings about falling leaves.
They drift delicately and pile up in my head.

The soft sound-scape ignores the real vista.
All three lanes northward are blocked while paramedics sweat.
The metal stream is stagnant and fuming.
The sirens are silent.
Emergency service uniforms sweep up failed insulation.
They don't disturb the ambience of the gentle song.
I float southward from the twisted metal and stretchers.

Can I afford to care?
Can I cry for a life I never knew?
My integrated machine fits me for survival in a psychologically hostile niche.
It defies Donne's diminution and calculates the loss as a negligible percentage.
It delegates responsibility for caring.

The cyborg metamorphosis happened years ago.
We found what effective machines could be fashioned from deadened nerves.

I saw the aftermath of an accident, but it felt so distant. I was surprised at how callous I had become. After writing the poem I heard that two of DaughterOfVirge's friends were in the bus crash and had sustained minor injuries. The insulation is a lot less substantial than we realise.

Co'd

Bleaghhh. I hab a co'd. By dose is rudding. I'm coughi'g. There are too many thi'gs to do ad work. I'm thi'k I'm goi'g to go hobe early.

Everything I say sounds grumbly. My voice is about an octave lower - just a little smoother and I could do Barry White songs - oooh baby! Sounds sexy if you can ignore all the other cold symptoms

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