Category: Questions

Anyway I’m getting the book when I get a chance

It has on occasion scandalized my Democrat friends, but I’ve been a Condoleezza Rice fan since I learned who she was in early 2001. (Actually, I was a fan of both Bush’s Secretaries of State, at least for a time.) So it was interesting to see her interviewed on the Daily Show a month ago, and to read the Racialicious take on her book. Both did the difficult, valuable work of exploring what it took for a black woman to rise to her position, and why race and gender politics can’t always be neatly divided between red and blue.

The review is what convinced me that I need to read the book, but the interview revived a lot of what I felt about politics in college: that neither nobility nor corruption is bounded by party lines, that tribalism can blind you to either, and that if someone says “it’s more complicated than that” they might be right. (They might also be wrong.) I was politically naive in a number of ways, sure, and I ended up as a registered Democrat a few years later, but I’m glad my naivete pointed toward ambivalence rather than polarization. For one thing, it helped cement my friendship with centrists like IGR and Dr. Weston, who are noticeably smarter than me and who help me remember to check my impulses at the gate of intellect.

It’s not like I’m going to suddenly start voting for the party of the Southern strategy. Still, Condoleezza Rice learned her political loyalties in a milieu dominated by Dixiecrats, and I can’t blame her for staying put when the racist masses started drifting to the right. I hope I never get entrenched too deeply to notice if something similar happens to the leaders I follow now.


Hey, remember how the Washington Post took down a president thirty-five years ago? They’re still riding on that little laurelmobile, and yet their current policy, Ta-Nehisi Coates points out, is to censor themselves based on the likelihood of an argument from the administration. The merit of that argument is never even considered. Cameron W. Barr:

“After the use of the term ‘torture’ became contentious, we decided that we wouldn’t use it in our voice to describe waterboarding.”

Coates says these are the compromises one makes for a marriage. He’s right, and there was a shotgun-equivalent at the wedding, namely the threat of access withheld. Even Coates’s own house is a bit glassy in this regard, with Atlantic Political Editor Marc Ambinder bouncing around in castles with the Bidens. (Yes, castles. I’m not sure these people know what symbolism is.)

Among the biggest exposés of the past year was Matt Hastings’ infamous McChrystal article, published in Rolling Stone, of all places. Hastings is a freelance reporter whose highest-profile work was in covering the Iraq war for Newsweek, yet his piece ended up in Rolling Stone, which has spent the past decade sucking heartily on anything you have available.

The loudest media reaction to that article was not “oh hey, there’s dissension in the highest ranks of our government about the running of the longest war in American history,” it was “how could he risk losing his access?” When our military actually murders journalists, the people who tell us about it get arrested; meanwhile, news outlets are astonished at the use of journalistic currency to actually do it for a change.

This is the junkie’s mindset–I can’t do anything they wouldn’t like with it, or they might take it away! Access generates pageviews, and pageviews sell ads, and ad sales are an addiction as hard to kick as heroin or oil. This is what I was trying to say in my post about comments last month: a race for the bottom is a race we lose.

Project Management Software Survey

Hi. Do you work in an information-based company? Do you use some form of project management software? I would like your input.

At my job, we use a motley collection of software–a hosted timesheet solution with integrated project tracking, Outlook, and most recently Bugzilla. Because I work remotely, my exposure to these is actually pretty minimal, which can cause problems.

I’m curious about what features of project management software you or your colleagues actually use. Do you just create projects and subprojects and assign them to people? Do you track hours or just tasks completed? Do you use Gantt charts or critical paths? Automated risk highlighting? What features do you personally depend on, and which parts just seem like annoying busywork?

Comments are turned on for this post (for real this time), or you can email me.

Where Grognardery Fails

Why do the same people who complain about sound in space, the proper rigging for catapults, or the relative strength of a katana versus a broadsword never mention the way women in medieval or even Victorian settings are always depicted with shaved legs?

Somebody Comes to Google

When I first heard that Cory Doctorow had published a book called Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, I thought, aha! I get that reference! It points to a list of archetypal story plots that I have seen on the Internet. How clever.

Now I actually need to find that list again and it appears to have been Googlebombed out of existence, thanks to the aforementioned Mr. Doctorow. Even with his surname eliminated from the search results, my google kwon do is failing me. Does anybody remember what I’m talking about?

In 2006 I wrote 255 stories, making it two years in a row without missing an update. Even if a couple of those updates were on Pacific time. Ahem.

This year, barring catastrophic brain injury, we’ll hit 1000 stories (and, even less meaningfully, 1001). We’ll also see the debut of the Anacrusis book, Ommatidia, although our impending move isn’t going to make that any easier to finish than the hecticity of the past six months. Tomorrow morning I’ll post the last completed six-word story from the initial round of submissions. More about that in the next paragraph.

The six-word stories were fun! Since Anacrusis has apparently outlasted and now I need a new paragraph for the FAQ, I’m going to make the offer permanent. Send me a six-word story, and I’ll probably write the other ninety-five, for as long as I’m doing Anacrusis. No guarantees on when and I probably won’t mess with the pennies, but you will get credit in the popup text. I really can’t think of a smaller thank-you for doing my work for me. Wait, no! Let’s talk about pennies again.

People have talked about an Anacrusis wiki. I’ve talked about a blink-fiction community. I’ve also talked about my general distaste for authoritative canon, then put the lie to that by refusing to finish six-word stories about my canon characters. Finally, I’ve got just sitting around right now.

What if I started a new wiki, as a host for both information on recurring characters and new 101-word stories by people like you? It’s pretty arrogant for me to launch a new site and say “humans! Discuss the amazing things I have created!” It’s also silly of me to try to host stories, since I think all the Anacrusis readers interested in constrained writing of their own already have perfectly serviceable blogs or story journals.

That said, things like the stories I repost from the comment feed, timeline conjecture and the Millicent Resurrection Army suggest there’s a demand. The basic concept here is to throw open my canon and offer you tools to create new canon of your own. Given the opportunity, would you contribute?

Live the good life on the offworld colonies

Think of somebody you knew briefly, for a week or two, maybe one night, maybe a month: a camp counselor or a host sister, a bad date or that guy who dropped out before midterms. Think of somebody you owe.

You’ve got one afternoon and one present, no larger than a garment box, to give this person. You have a table at a restaurant anywhere (except Paris) in the world.

Where do you eat lunch? What’s in the box?