November 20, 2007 archive

Who’s doing Nanowrimo?

I haven’t seen kredwyn, but I know she’s novelling this month.

Who here is writing a novel for this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge?

There are nifty widgets for you, lots of online sympathy and support and another ten days to join and write a 50,000 word or more opus. (Has to be in by November 30th at the stroke before midnight!)

Misery Creativity loves company.  Hope to see you there.

(Because I’m still staring at a blank screen and doing everything in my power not to go back to speed marathon writing.

And one last thought – there’s nothing in the rules that say a novel can’t be group written (at least I think there nothing in the rules that says that.  I guess I should actually read the rules….hmmmm, another plot point).

But I digress:  How about a group written novel on an open thread?  Everybody contribute via the comments and someone who registers at Nano could submit them for the word counts.  

What a blast to have a freely associated, mind-blowing creative, snarkalicious Docudharma group novel!

And just to inspire you, Nanowrimo’s motto is:  

No plot?  No problem!

Four at Four

Some news and the afternoon open thread.

  1. The Los Angeles Times reports U.N. steeply lowers its AIDS estimates. “The United Nations on Monday radically lowered years of estimates of the number of people worldwide infected by the AIDS virus, revealing that the growth of the AIDS pandemic is waning for the first time since HIV was discovered 26 years ago. The revised figures, which were the result of much more sophisticated sampling techniques, indicate that the number of new infections peaked in 1998 and the number of deaths peaked in 2005. The new analysis shows that the total number of people living with HIV has been gradually increasing, but at a slower rate than in the past.”

  2. According to the The New York Times, scientists Through genetics are tapping a tree’s potential as a source of energy. “Aiming to turn trees into new energy sources, scientists are using a controversial genetic engineering process to change the composition of the wood. A major goal is to reduce the amount of lignin, a chemical compound that interferes with efforts to turn the tree’s cellulose into biofuels like ethanol… Environmentalists say such work can be risky, because lignin provides trees with structural stiffness and resistance to pests. Even some scientists working on altering wood composition acknowledge that reducing lignin too much could lead to wobbly, vulnerable trees.”

  3. The Guardian reports Hispanic names make top 10 list in America. “Forget about keeping up with the Joneses. It’s the Garcia, Rodriguez and Martinez families that are the ones to watch. Data from the US census bureau suggests that some surnames of Hispanic origin have supplanted Anglo ones – such as Wilson – traditionally thought of as quintessential American names. In the 2000 census, Garcia was the eighth most common surname in the US, and Rodriguez came in at number nine, both ahead of Wilson, which at 10th was only just ahead of Martinez. It was probably the first time in US history that a non-Anglo name ranked among the top 10 most common surnames.”

Four at Four continues below the fold with a look at how dangerous America in the world and a bonus story about the founding of Rome.

Help! My plot is killing me

Many of you know that I’m trying to meet the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing a 50,000+ word novel by the end of November (in other words, by the end of next week).  While I started out fingers on fire, I am finding that it’s rough going now.

Inspiration, please (and I don’t mean to breathe in deeply.)

blogosphere games

Some of you may have heard of the latest rankings of the blogs done by persons at Carnegie Mellon.  Mostly it’s based on numbers of links to and from, and it seems their notion of ‘news’ and ‘information’ is somewhat different from the common meaning, or maybe not.

Carnegie Mellon algorithm identifies top 100 blogs for news

“The goal of our system when looking at blogs is to detect the big stories as early on and as close to the source as possible,” Guestrin said.


der flippen

Progressive Voices/Manifesto Project Raw Data

Wherein I am forced to admit failure.


I tried to stretch my meager talents, but I am just not cut out to be a data guy, I guess. I have failed to come up with a decent way to present this, so I will just publish the list and hopefully someone more skilled than I will step up and do something with it.


Allow me to say in closing….

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Rollo May – The Courage To Create

In college I was asked to read The Courage To Create by Rollo May, I was a bit skeptical at first that something could be gleaned from looking at the lives of past artists and creative geniuses.  I assumed that inspiration was as fleeting as a dust devil so how could one possibly present inroads into the creative process?  

Mark-making was the mindset I was in at the time, focusing on every individual stroke of the charcoal or brush.  It was myopic but necessary in order to progress.  A popular term for this is “Art Marks”, you’ll often see them around focal points to represent distant objects or atmosphere.

The book does not promise that you will become a genius if you follow the steps but it does show you that a lot of the more creative types have similar patterns amongst them.  Starting with long sessions of work, round the clock, with short catnaps, followed by a period of relaxation, like a day off and a hot bath.  Sounds funny huh?  Well follow me beyond the fold to find out why this makes sense.

Make The Call

justicecheneynosferatu2 t

Please all 1-202-225-3121 to say you support Congresman Kucinich’s Impeachment of vice president Dick Cheney.

Why Edwards Is In Trouble In Iowa

Yesterday, I wrote about John Edwards' slippage in Iowa. Normally, I do not take great stock in polls this far out (yes, it is still too far out to take polls too seriously), especially the famously difficult to poll Iowa Caucus. My reasons for thinking the latest Iowa poll was not so much the numbers, as the fact that Edwards has dropped while Obama has risen since the end of July. Edwards now lacks a POSITIVE narrative for his candidacy for the critical last phases of the campaign. He has become the “attack Hillary” candidate (as opposed to being the Not Hillary candidate, the position he has now ceded without a shot to Barack Obama.)

At MYDD, Jerome Armstrong sees it differently:

Chiming in, it's great that the pollsters are now adding whether the voters attended the 2004 caucuses or not . . . I would tend to bank more on those that caucused in '04 . . .

With due respect to Jerome, I think he misses a very important point here, on the night of the caucus, the differences between previous caucus goers and first timers is simply not that great – both in choices and participation. For example, in 2004, the entrance polling showed:

Kerry won the initial preference of first-time caucus-goers, while Edwards and Dean roughly tied for second in this group. (First-timers made up 55 percent of participants, up from 46 percent in 2000.) . . .

Here's my point, the John Edwards campaign is looking more and more like the Gephardt campaign of 2004. He is supposed to have union support,  experienced caucus goers, etc. He has gone strongly negative against the perceived frontrunner. He is not a new face for Iowa, thus the change argument is difficult for him in terms of actually being a new candidate.

Most importantly, in my opinion, his dominant narrative now is one of a candidate whose campaign is dominated by personal attacks against the perceived frontrunner. Like Gephardt.

Unlike Kerry in 2004, or Edwards 2004 for that matter, there is no positive narrative for the Edwards campaign now. There is no doubt he can hurt Hillary (or Obama if he chooses to shoot in that direction), but he now has reached the point where he can not help his own campaign.

And this campaign choice by Edwards is utterly perplexing. He was very viable in Iowa. He had a positive agenda. He was NOT in a two person race, the only ones where negative attacks can work (driving up your own negatives is a necessary part of a campaign of attacks, the hope is you drive up your opponents' negatives even further.)

I think it is clear now that the Presidential race is a two person race in that only two people can win now. I think Edwards can not. And he did it to himself. The most baffling campaign decision I can remember.

Grand Jury Investigation: It’s not just Blackwater

The grand jury investigating the September massacre of civilians by Blackwater guards is also investigating several other “private security firms.” According to the Washington Post:

FBI investigators have reportedly concluded that the killing of 14 of the 17 civilians was unjustified under State Department rules on the use of force. But the case is muddied by the question of what laws, if any, apply to security contractors operating under military, State Department and civilian contracts.

Because massacring civilians is one of those areas of legal mud. The question is whether laws applying to private contractors working for the Defense Department also apply to contractors working for the State Department. And although the military has brought charges against numerous official service personnel, they have brought none against private security contractors. Because whether or not mass murder is legal depends on who is doing the mass murdering, and for whom they work. The current grand jury investigation indicates that might soon change.

The Iraqi government has said it knows of at least 20 shooting incidents involving security contractors, with more than half a dozen linked to Blackwater.

The problem, of course, is that legal mud.

For instance, contractors were immunized from Iraqi laws under a June 2004 order signed by the U.S. occupation authority. That ruling remains in effect.

Because the U.S. occupation authority believed what everyone working for the Bush Administration believes: some people are above the law. And that belief apparently remains. That ruling remains in effect?!

In addition, investigations are complicated by questions about evidence, jurisdiction and the availability of witnesses.

And we can all stop and ponder the meaning of the words “availability of witnesses.” Any guesses?

“If they’re going to try to indict, they’ve got a lot to overcome,” said Patricia A. Smith, an Alexandria lawyer who represents two former employees of Triple Canopy, a private security firm based in Herndon, in a civil lawsuit. The former employees say they were wrongfully terminated after reporting that their Triple Canopy team leader fired shots into the windshield of a taxi for amusement last year on Baghdad’s airport road.

For amusement.

The two former guards lost their case, but are appealing. The company was ruled to have acted “inappropriately,” and three guards were fired, including, of course, the two who reported the shooting. But no investigation was conducted. By any legal authority. Neither U.S. nor Iraqi. Smith says that as far as she knows, no subpoenas have even been issued. Undoubtedly, more legal mud.

ACTION: get KUCINICH on the rec list at ORANGE: link to rjones2818

let’s get some action and surprise people

get rjones2818’s diary on the rec list at ORANGE. GET DENNIS ON THE REC LIST.

Kucinich for President?  Ignore the Ugh? You Bet! w/poll

ACTION: get kucinich on the rec list at ORANGE: link to rjones2818

let’s get some action and surprise people

get rjones2818’s diary on the rec list at ORANGE. GET DENNIS ON THE REC LIST.

Kucinich for President?  Ignore the Ugh? You Bet! w/poll

ACTION: get kucinich on the rec list at ORANGE: link to rjones2818

let’s get some action and surprise people

get rjones2818’s diary on the rec list at ORANGE. GET DENNIS ON THE REC LIST.

Kucinich for President?  Ignore the Ugh? You Bet! w/poll

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