It’s a journey that would make Jules Verne jealous.
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I’m going to take the plunge. With any luck—and lots and lots of caffeine—I’ll have a novel come December.
NaNoWriMo started as a lark back in 2000 when a bunch of pals in San Francisco decided to spend a month cranking out novels. “My only explanation for our cheeky ambition is this,” writes NaNo founder Chris Baty in his book No Plot? No Problem! “The old millennium was dying; a better one was on its way. We were in our mid-twenties, and we had no idea what we were doing. But we knew we loved books. And so we set out to write them.”
In the eleven years since, NaNoWriMo—which bills itself as “thirty days and nights of literary abandon”—has become a worldwide phenomenon. In 2009, some 160,000 people around the world set out to replicate Baty’s feat.
“We’re in the middle of a sort of transition right now,” Ian Astbury told the crowd that had packed Buffalo’s Town Ballroom Friday night.
Two thousand-plus fans had come to see The Cult blast through a seventeen-song set that included old favorites like “Fire Woman” and “She Sells Sanctuary” and new tunes like “Every Man and Woman Is a Star” and “Embers.”
And while you might expect one of rock’s most enduring band’s to of course know how to rock, damn it all if these guys aren’t still playing for keeps. Continue reading →
So was this a sane idea? I posed that question over pasta after the rally.
I attended the rally with my husband, John, and his daughter, Ann, who lives right outside DC. We started planning this trip over a month before the rally was announced, to support Ann who is running in her first marathon on Sunday. Talk about a question of sanity–running 26.2 miles. Uh, no, not sane. But I digress. Once the rally was announced, we knew we had to be there. It was so considerate of John Stewart and Stephen Colbert to provide us with free entertainment on Saturday.
So, back to the sanity issue. Ann chimed in, “No, it was not sane for that many people (a quarter-million maybe, who knows–we can safely say “a lot of people”) to gather in one place. Especially for that many people to gather to see a couple of entertainers.” If that’s all it was, she’s probably right. Continue reading →
If you haven’t seen this video, which is built around a talk from Sir Ken Robinson, it’s 11:40 well spent. I tend to be skeptical about many approaches to “reforming” education because all too often they’re either about enriching somebody at the expense of student and social well-being or they’re pandering to leveling impulses that are guaranteed to make us less intelligent, not more. Robinson raises some very valid points about the obsolescence of our methods, though.
Just about every major publication in America and England (and no doubt Israel as well) has contributed to the debate. All possible viewpoints and positions have been expressed. . . . Yet [as] someone who has reached the conclusion that military action against Iran would be a bad idea . . . I worry that the way the argument has been framed makes military action all but inevitable.
So far, it sounds like the article the New Republic had hoped for. After quoting writers and statesmen, Gewen writes, “Taken together, all these statements add up to a consensus that if sanctions don’t work, the U.S. or Israel will move to the next step and bomb Iran.” Continue reading →
Am i the only one who’s been wondering (for like nine years now) why Osama bin Laden seems to share foreign policy goals with a broad group of people i like to call Dick Cheney? He wanted the US to invade Afghanistan, and so did Dick Cheney. Remember when he made a campaign spot for John Kerry right before the election? Dick Cheney couldn’t have gotten better than that from Karl Rove. The tape before this last one had Osama bin Laden going on about global warming, confirming Dick Cheney’s message that environmentalism is the same as terrorism.
I’ve been listening to news about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) ever since a federal judge in California overturned it and subsequently had her ruling stayed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. I’ve heard about generals who are arguing against it, claiming that allowing openly homosexual servicemen and women will damage the military’s readiness to fight by interfering with unit cohesion. I’ve heard about men and women who were discharged under DADT who filed to rejoin the military one day only to find that their ability to do so was stopped cold the next. And I’ve heard activists complain bitterly that the Department of Justice under President Obama is defending DADT instead of letting it die as Obama would personally prefer.
I don’t care what he says, Steve’s sectional sofa bit me. Despite the injury to my hand, I was able to help him get the sectional sofa into my abode. It wasn’t easy, since my apartment was on the second level of a refurbished antebellum home, and the only access was a winding, open air, metal staircase that was half covered by the drooping limbs of a willow tree. When we finally got it through the door and pushed it into place, I thought I liked the sofa just where it landed. And there it sat, heavy and brooding, a massive lump of fabric and concrete wood. Continue reading →
In 1994 I was in my final year in university in Cape Town. The transition to majority rule was messy, violent and filled with atrocities by all parties to the conflict.
A bomb by the military wing of the Pan Africanist Congress destroyed a pub that I, and other students, frequented. Members of the Afrikaaner Weerstands Beweeging, a Nazi-like white-supremacist movement, had attempted a bombing campaign of their own.
The press was filled with stories of “black on black” violence as the Inkhata Freedom Party fought the African National Congress. Hidden somewhere within this, illusory, bogey-like, was the brutal state security apparatus still attempting to hold back the tide. Continue reading →
I’ll admit it, until this afternoon i had paid exactly zero attention to the Juan Williams “scandal.” I figured that if Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Gingrich, ad nauseum were making a big deal out of it then it had to be stupid. Then i found myself sitting next to an abandoned copy of USA Today at the Secretary of State’s office. That’s how i found out that my little rule of thumb concerning the Political Reactionary Brigade was, yet again, correct. It doesn’t matter that Williams wasn’t fired for the sanctity of political correctness, but rather because his NPR contract as an analyst forbade him from uttering his personal opinions publicly. I’m sure that those so perturbed by his firing are all strong believers in the sanctity of a contract, just as they’re all firm believers in the First Amendment…except that part about separating church and state or when they disagree with what the speakers say. Continue reading →
What’s it like to be one of the principal keepers of “The Worst-Kept Secret” (as Israel bomb historian Avner Cohen calls it in his new book)? David Danieli, the deputy director general and head of the policy division of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, was recently interviewed by Yossi Melman for Haaretz. Some background: at this year’s General Conference of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), the Arab states, along with Iran, sought to pass a resolution calling for Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In the process, Israel would place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards and, oh yeah, finally admit to possession of nuclear weapons. The resolution failed to pass as narrowly as it succeeded in passing last year (though obviously to little effect that time). First, Washington’s response. Continue reading →
“Never stop dreaming,” said the king. “Follow the omens.”
Caught as I’ve been in the throes of personal transformation—a life relaunch drastic enough that I call it “Chris v2.0”—it was hard not to look at Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist as an omen.
That’s not surprising, I guess, since the book is about the power of omens and how following them can help a person achieve his or her destiny. “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation,” the book says.
The novel follows the adventures of a young shepherd who has an encounter with a mysterious stranger. The stranger, who turns out to be a king, encourages the shepherd to seek out his own Personal Legend. In the language of Joseph Campbell, it would be akin to following your bliss. Continue reading →
You’ll recall how, when George W Bush stood for re-election as US president back in 2004, outraged Europeans organised petitions and marches to demand that Americans vote for someone else.
And then, in 2009, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was trying to steal the Iranian presidential elections, millions of people around the world turned their web pages green and fired off thousands of Twitter posts to call for free elections.
Or how about when, in 2007, George Clooney went to Sudan to demand that the international community do something to stop the genocide taking place in Darfur.
As you’ll also remember, Bush lost to John Kerry, Ahmadinejad went into exile and Darfur is now peaceful and prosperous.
I’ve been struck repeatedly over the last few years by how fundamentally non-skeptical many self-proclaimed “climate change skeptics” actually are. Skepticism has a definition after all, and while I’ll have more to say on this later, today I want to introduce an analogy that I use to differentiate between a climate disruption skeptic and a climate disruption denier.
Let’s say that the state of modern climate science is like a piece of lacy swiss cheese – filled with small holes, but still pretty solid. There are no major voids in knowledge, although like any other scientific discipline, there are lots of places where we could know more. Continue reading →