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pteryxx
12 May 2008 @ 11:17 pm
Heya all,

Below find the link to the novel 'Little Brother', being given away by the author Cory Doctorow on his own website.  The reasons for letting anyone who wants download his latest, just-released book for free, in this case are twofold:  First, because authors need buzz before they can expect to sell anything.  Second, because ordinary people dealing with the constant presence of security and technology in their daily lives, desperately need to learn to think critically about what those things really can and cannot do.  Mostly we just trust the little black boxes that run our lives.

The strongest way for an author to have his stuff read, the way most likely to gain him fans and spread his name, is by the personal recommendation of a trusted friend.  I just finished the book, and I found it good enough to pass along to y'all.  It's fast-paced, keeps raising the stakes, and it's also full of information that amounts almost to tutorials.  It reads a lot like Heinlein's 'Have Spacesuit Will Travel' that way, a story that does as much teaching as storytelling.  But it is NEVER slow.  It's basically a showcase of the hacker mindset and gamesmanship.  I thought character-wise it was pretty flat; Marcus, whose POV we share throughout, does think about and react to what his actions mean.  The teachers, authority figures, and parents act pretty much like you'd expect them to, and hold the views they need to hold.  It's Marcus and his friends who know the reality of the technology they use, and who know that the DHS detained them and forbade them to tell; everyone else, all the people living in the ordinary world, are the ones they have to wake up, to convince.  But that IS the purpose of the novel; it's a meta-story, a call to action by blazing the path and showing what it means, what it's like to decide to fight the system.

http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/

Take care all, enjoy, and pass on.

- Peace, Pteryxx
 
 
Current Location: Poised on the cliff's edge
Current Mood: predatory
Current Music: Bush - Letting the Cables Sleep (Nightmares on Wax remix)
 
 
pteryxx
12 April 2008 @ 07:34 pm
In the last few days, the Net has lit up with alarm about a bill pending before Congress that would effectively remove copyright infringement penalties for any artwork not specifically registered with a paid service. Art communities are justifiably concerned by the prospect. Journals, blogs and emails are flying the banner "Legalized Theft!" passing the message on like a grass fire. All the power of the outraged communities is being brought to bear for the crusade.

Problem is, no such bill exists. Yet.

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Current Location: Holding the sword
Current Mood: awake
Current Music: Magnatune.com ambient stream
 
 
pteryxx
04 April 2008 @ 01:05 pm
Let me start by saying outright that I don't expect or ask you all to read this. The purpose of this post isn't to get attention from the community, but to make a challenge to myself in a way that I can't ignore.

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Current Location: Spread over too many forums
Current Mood: okay
Current Music: Mo-Shic - Primavera
 
 
pteryxx
14 March 2008 @ 12:58 pm
Last week, Oklahoma State rep Sally Kern was recorded claiming that the efforts of gays to secure civil rights will destroy America. "It's the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam."

The responses have been lighting up the Net from every corner of the world, but the definitive answer has to be this letter from an Oklahoma student. As words are double-edged weapons, those that heal should be spread every bit as widely as those that kill; and the lesson learned from suffering can be either to hate or to love.

-------------------

Rep Kern:

On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed my mother and 167 others. 19 children died that day. Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would've likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.

That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn't live up to them pay with their lives.

As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worst than terrorism. I can most certainly tell you through my own experience that is not true. I am sure there are many people in your voting district that laid a loved one to death after the terrorist attack on Oklahoma City. I kind of doubt you'll find one of them that will agree with you.

I was five years old when my mother died. I remember what a beautiful, wise, and remarkable woman she was. I miss her. Your harsh words and misguided beliefs brought me to tears, because you told me that my mother's killer was a better person than a group of people that are seeking safety and tolerance for themselves.

As someone left motherless and victimized by terrorists, I say to you very clearly you are absolutely wrong.

You represent a district in Oklahoma City and you very coldly express a lack of love, sympathy or understanding for what they've been through. Can I ask if you might have chosen wiser words were you a real Oklahoman that was here to share the suffering with Oklahoma City? Might your heart be a bit less cold had you been around to see the small bodies of children being pulled out of rubble and carried away by weeping firemen?

I've spent 12 years in Oklahoma public schools and never once have I had anyone try to force a gay agenda on me. I have seen, however, many gay students beat up and there's never a day in school that has went by when I haven't heard the word **** slung at someone. I've been called gay slurs many times and they hurt and I am not even gay so I can just imagine how a real gay person feels. You were a school teacher and you have seen those things too. How could you care so little about the suffering of some of your students?

Let me tell you the result of your words in my school. Every openly gay and suspected gay in the school were having to walk together Monday for protection. They looked scared. They've already experienced enough hate and now your words gave other students even more motivation to sneer at them and call them names. Afterall, you are a teacher and a lawmaker, many young people have taken your words to heart. That happens when you assume a role of responsibility in your community. I seriously think before this week ends that some kids here will be going home bruised and bloody because of what you said.

I wish you could've met my mom. Maybe she could've guided you in how a real Christian should be acting and speaking.

I have not had a mother for nearly 13 years now and wonder if there were fewer people like you around, people with more love and tolerance in their hearts instead of strife, if my mom would be here to watch me graduate from high school this spring. Now she won't be there. So I'll be packing my things and leaving Oklahoma to go to college elsewhere and one day be a writer and I have no intentions to ever return here. I have no doubt that people like you will incite crazy people to build more bombs and kill more people again. I don't want to be here for that. I just can't go through that again.

You may just see me as a kid, but let me try to teach you something. The old saying is sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Well, your words hurt me. Your words disrespected the memory of my mom. Your words can cause others to pick up sticks and stones and hurt others.

Sincerely

Tucker


--------------

Sources: Originally from Topix.com in comments to Sen. Kern. Formatted here:
Letter to Sally Kern on Hyphoid Logic blog.
 
 
Current Mood: thoughtful
Current Music: Loreena McKennit, 'Dante's Prayer'
 
 
pteryxx
14 January 2008 @ 12:32 am
Today we buried my grandfather, just my parents and I. His ashes are now sharing a headstone with my grandmother in the small cemetery where every name in the row is a relative of mine. My mother walked the row and pointed out people she remembered, and the spaces marked with the names and birthdates of the living. Her aunts and uncles are there, and her baby sister whom she named. My parents' names adorn the back of my grandparents' stone, with the names of their children carved below them. I don't have a plot waiting for me like they do, but my name is here nonetheless.

Yesterday it rained heavily, but today was bright and almost warm. We brought Grandpa's old shovels and the post-hole digger, laid in the back of his van next to the polished wood box that held his ashes. My dad and I carved out a square in the patchy dead grass and broke ground into the red Texas clay, piling the dirt to one side. Two shovels wouldn't fit into the laptop-size hole so we took turns, one digging while the other walked with my mom. The box was heavy so she set it down on the neighboring gravestone, and joked about not waking Grandma up.

Once we had a hole nearly three feet deep, Dad reached the box down and set it upright in the bottom. Next to it we laid the learner's braid that I cut from my hair, bound with a twist of wire from my robotics kit. I last cut my braid three years ago, nearly to the day, when I laid it in the casket with my grandma. Then we all three of us crouched together and scooped handfuls of the soft red dirt into the grave, filling the empty space around the polished box. It's wonderful dirt, scented and malleable, like snow that is perfect for snowballs and castles. With shovels and hands we packed it all back into the hole, and all three of us stamped it down neatly with our feet. We laughed at how we must look, three grown-ups dancing in a little circle on their parents' graves. My family's always been silly though, we figured they'd understand.

Next weekend will be the formal memorial, where we all will wear good clothes and hug people we haven't seen in years, pass out the booklets with photographs of Grandpa and a synopsis of his life, written by my dad. There will be music and hymns and probably a lot of flowers, piled in the front of the community church where Grandpa married my folks. But today was just for us, as it should be.


Things I learned this week:
The old van gets 18 miles per gallon, even when I drive on the side roads to save gas.
Everything I learned in high school and college about physical chemistry, atomic structure, and electromagnetism, was covered in the very first day of AC/DC class.
A tech instructor really can fill an entire hour with the proper methods of using a ruler.
Being able to lie to people involves understanding their feelings, on a level that is neither empathy nor behaviorism but partakes of both.
The pointed shovel is best for cutting into the ground, but the flat-bladed shovel is best for lifting or scraping the dirt back in afterwards. That's why you need both to do the job right.
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pteryxx
11 November 2007 @ 02:07 pm
Well, I don't have much to show as far as word count - just that parody (which took 8 hours! Lyrics are hard, yeesh) and a lot of ideas and background info for essays and stories and projects to make the world a better place. But I've learned a few things along the way so far... Writing is lonelier than editing. The Internet really can suck you into a vortex of time. Television stops independent thought, but music doesn't. Exercising every day is annoying as all get out but it does make you smart. Hornets swarm when the weather gets cold. And a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a popsicle stick does wonders for scraping out old tile cement.

I've written several thousand words of detailed critique in various venues, often writing longer critiques than the actual stories; and last night I spent seven straight hours editing and critiquing three different pieces, during prime gaming time. I love working with folks and helping them set their worlds on fire, more than gaming, more than roleplaying even. If I get over the fear of writing, will I love it most of all? Only one way to find out. But if I should somehow find a job helping other folks love their work, instead of doing it myself, well... there may be worse fates.
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Current Location: Beyond all that
Current Mood: contemplative
Current Music: Vikings at Green Bay
 
 
pteryxx
09 November 2007 @ 04:24 am
Sung to the tune of 'Rockstar', with insincere apologies to Nickelback. - Pteryxx


Author


I'm sick of all these published books that are just wasted wood
Out of seven hundred pages, only fifty are good
And the sequel reads like it was plotted with a Ouija board

I want to make it big, if I got just one chance
I bet my grade-school novel could earn out its advance
And the science-fiction genre would no longer be ignored

I'll have a world that's a thinly veiled Coruscant
And an alien modeled on the ocelot
I got four books planned, and outlines for another three

Every fan forum's leading topic of debate
Will be whether my protagonist is gay or straight
I hear that Ticonderoga's gonna name a pencil for me

I'm gonna write my way to fortune and fame
I want every librarian to know my name

(chorus)
'Cause we all just wanna be big-name authors
With a mailbox full of royalties and contract offers
The words come easy and ideas are free
They can always be expanded to a trilogy
We'll lead all the discussions at the writers' camp
Sign our autographs with a rubber stamp
We'll have our book covers made just the way that we want
With our names in a hundred-twenty-eight point font

Hey, hey, I wanna be an author
Hey, hey, I wanna be an author

I want my own best-seller list in the New York Times
And a publicist so I don't have to write my own lines
I'll do appearances on Oprah, Leno, and Sesame Street

I'll put my Pulitzer next to my Nobel Prize
While Dreamworks is picking up the screenplay rights
And they're working on a first-person shooter for the PS3

I'm gonna write my way to fortune and fame
I want every librarian to know my name

(chorus)
'Cause we all just wanna be big-name authors
With a mailbox full of royalties and contract offers
The words come easy and ideas are free
They can always be expanded to a trilogy
We'll lead all the discussions at the writers' camp
Sign our autographs with a rubber stamp
We'll have our book covers made just the way that we want
With our names in a hundred-twenty-eight point font

And we'll meet up at the biggest cons
Standing-room only, every panel we're on
And we'll all roll our eyes at the wanna-be's
When they ask again 'Where do you get your ideas', well

Hey, hey, I wanna be an author.

So I spent another night
at my desk with QWERTY
Printed backwards on my forehead
at oh-dark-thirty
I've been hoping for that break all my life it seems
But the big bad world can't take away my dreams

(chorus)
Well we all just wanna be big-name authors
With a mailbox overflowing with contract offers
The words come easy and ideas are free
They can always be expanded to a trilogy
We'll lead all the discussions at the writers' camp
Sign our autographs with a rubber stamp
We'll have our book covers made just the way that we want
With our names in a hundred-twenty-eight point font

And we'll meet up at the biggest cons
Standing-room only, every panel we're on
And we'll all roll our eyes at the wanna-be's
When they ask again 'Where do you get your ideas', well

Hey, hey, I wanna be an author
Hey, hey, I wanna be an author.
 
 
Current Location: Ten feet high
Current Music: Nickelback - Rockstar (duh.)
 
 
pteryxx
08 November 2007 @ 11:34 pm
This month's CGW- err, Games for Windows magazine (*rolleyes*) has an interview with Ken Levine, the creator of the "survival-horror-shooter" game Bioshock.

GFW:
It's interesting that you bring up the notion of choice, because obviously a huge theme through the whole game is the idea that you don't really have a choice. Yeah, you can pick what plasmids you have, you might pick which path you're going down, but really, Ken Levine or whoever's designing the game is the one ultimately telling you where you're going and what you're doing.


KL:
When you go see a movie, does it have an emotional impact on you? Clearly, yes. You see a romantic comedy or something, and you look over to your wife, and you see tears running down her cheek... how does that differ from the tear on her cheek when you bring her flowers on her birthday? I don't know. Are the choices you have in games as valid as the choices you have in life? No, because the choices you have in life are infinite, and your choices in games are always a subset. With
Bioshock, I wanted - in a postmodern sense - to comment on that. But I think all entertainment and all media experiences are, in a sense, an illusion of freedom, an illusion of emotion, rather than the actual thing. But does that make it any less valid? I don't know.
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Current Location: Ten feet overhead
Current Mood: energetic
Current Music: Star Spangled Banner (All four stanzas)
 
 
pteryxx
04 November 2007 @ 02:38 am
"Page 272"

On The Hamburger Place, Jefferson TX, and "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" by Michael Chabon.


"Only love could pick a nested pair of steel Bramah locks." -p. 532

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Current Location: Under the cut
Current Mood: thankful
Current Music: Crystal Method - Keep Hope Alive
 
 
pteryxx
04 November 2007 @ 02:31 am
For National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, to the initiate) I'm going to practice pretend-freelancing and try to finish a project every couple of days. Raw material isn't generally my problem; it's carving it into a coherent form that really takes the time, and is also frightening. My stuff tends to come to me as imagery, and my first drafts are largely scattered words and phrases and even sketches.

So far, I've finished this one essay... and had five ideas for new ones, two new fiction projects, and one piece of software. *facepaw* The last thing I need is MORE ideas.

I also discovered that sticking your finger really makes typing annoying.

"Page 272" conceived Oct 27, started Nov 1, finished Nov 4, 1331 words including the quotes.

PterStoFinMo

Image kindly made for me by Gene at typographer


Edited to add: This sort of counts, since we worked on it through midnight of October 31st. For City of Heroes RP, Guen's report of the death of character Charles Smithers, reshaped by me into casefile format. Fortunately Moonedit works beautifully even over my pathetic dial-up.

Report to Overseer

Link to thread for the rest of the story.
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Current Location: Under the cut
Current Mood: peaceful
Current Music: Gary Numan - Bleed