Archive for the 'Opinions' Category
So, I went and did my Civic Duty, early voting… We had a lot of important local races, but the race for Governor is by far the most important, and the easiest choice. Governor Rick Scott has done so much damage, all that matters is that he DOESN’T win.
“Vote Charlie Crist for Governor… He sucks less!”
So, I took some time off, but I’m going to get back into the swing…
I’m back in Mac OS X Yosemite, I have it running better than last time, at least. I had to go back, it’s the only way to push forward. I have to be in the OS, so that I can accurately report the issues to Apple and ControlBionics, the issues that need fixing. I don’t want NeuroSwitch users stuck using last year’s technology simply because they have no choice. If we want to upgrade to the latest OS on the latest Mac hardware on release day, that should be a right, not a privilege. If I have to be the one in the trenches, being fucked over by bugs so that other people with disabilities aren’t relegated to technology’s back of the bus… Sign me up, I’m down. The back of the bus is unacceptable, especially on the Mac, a platform defined by inclusion. Apple has always supported assistive technology (AT), more now than ever, I don’t worry about their internal support of assistive technology. I worry that third-party AT developers might be getting complacent, could maybe do more to keep up with Apple. I don’t want to see developers playing it safe, pushing users to play it safe, to hold back on OS updates, choosing last year’s stability over the innovation of today, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. That way of thinking is antiquated, developers should be pushing toward giving users the right to release day updates. Maybe half their other apps quit working, a risk EVERYONE willingly faces for the chance to stand on the bleeding edge of computing. However, no matter the update, one’s keyboard doesn’t break, one’s mouse doesn’t break. Assistive technology users should expect no less from our forms of the keyboard/mouse. AT developers need to push the envelope as hard as Apple does, choosing innovation and zealous testing that ensures stable access to the technology of right now, and next year, and forever on. I don’t feel that expecting my switch to work on Day One of a major OS release is too much to ask, especially considering that developers have access to testing the OS months in advance.
Admittedly, I had access, I could have tested. I got complacent. Still, at the end of the day, I’m the end-user, the last link in the testing chain. It shouldn’t be that since my life depends on the technology, and I have some developer access, I Goddamn well better test the shit out of my switch… and Kurt Cobain shouldn’t be dead… and Nirvana should have put out a fourth record that sounded like R.E.M. as if heard through the filter of one’s nightmares. However, none of that is reality. Kurt’s dead, that record never happened, and I don’t get to be complacent, because the situation doesn’t just affect me, it touches every other NeuroSwitch user, and I’m in a position to help. Thinking about it in those terms, I have to help, nothing else really matters.
Wish me luck
Soothe the burn
Wake me up…
So, Governor Rick Scott and former Governor (turned wannabe Governor) Charlie Crist are both skeezy. Though, Scott takes things a step further as a bonafide skeezy criminal. Our race for Governor here in Florida isn’t about voting in the best man for the job, it’s about choosing the fellow who is less awful. Sadly, that man is Charlie Crist. It’s a sad, sad race. At least now, it’s been injected with a good dose of absurdity…2 comments
Okay, maybe I possibly overstated things when I kind of pretty much guaranteed a post of substance for today. Last night, I had some ideas that felt solid, but now that I’m here… They’re just not ready, yet. Still, I can prattle.
I am excited about the week. World of Warcraft gets a pretty big update Tuesday, which I shouldn’t admit to being excited about, and yet… I am, a little.
I do have genuine excitement for Thursday, Apple’s having a press event. I won’t speculate on the bulk of the show, but I’m just about certain we’ll see the release of Mac OS X Yosemite… I HOPE. I’m stupidly jazzed about Yosemite, it’s a huge visual overhaul of OS X. All the icons are going from flashy 3D, to a softer, hand-sketched look. Windows and menus will be softly transparent rather than opaque. It’ll basically match iOS 8, which makes sense. iOS and OS X are moving toward seamless integration. With Yosemite, they’re really damn close to perfect. Continuity of design is a crucial part of the user experience. Unlike Microsoft, Apple isn’t just jamming the same OS onto their mobile and desktop platforms (a TOTALLY STUPID idea), they’re creating elegant ties between operating systems that are unique to their respective platforms. The look of icons and menus is one of the elegant ties. I love the look of iOS 8, I’m so ready for OS X to make the shift. I think it’s a sophisticated style that’s MUCH easier on the eye. I mean, bright and 3D is definitely visually arresting, but after six or seven hours straight (or too often, eighteen), every day, it can sometimes get visually… hurty. I’m looking forward to a UI (user-interface) that’s elegant yet subdued, as opposed to the New Windows, which is subdued yet shabby.
Maybe prattle can have substance. A little? Maybe?1 comment
So, last night I went to see Gone Girl, and I just wasn’t enthused. I couldn’t have been more wrong, it was SPECTACULAR. I should have remembered, there are a very few directors who just don’t do bad movies. It’s a very short list, but nevertheless, the list does exist. David Fincher is absolutely toward the top of that list. I should have just seen Gone Girl… David Fincher, and been totally enthused. It was amazing.1 comment
I think politicians who push strict interpretation of the Constitution are the ones who understand it the least.4 comments
In 1892 Lisbeth “Lizzie” Borden allegedly picked up an axe and hacked up her father and step-mother. Her trial was an event, a media circus, one of America’s first. She spent some time in jail, but was ultimately acquitted of both charges. The motive was supposed to be money, she did inherit a large sum after the dust settled, but even now, nobody really knows what exactly happened.
Lizzie always wanted to be a member of high-society, she bought a giant house on a hill, named it Maplecroft, she tried to host lavish parties, tried to be accepted. Try as she did, the people of Fall River, Massachusetts, never grew to accept Lizzie, and she spent most of the rest of her life in seclusion, caring for her medically frail sister, Emma. Sadly, Lizzie would eventually die alone, abandoned by Emma after an argument of unknown cause. This is the story that is part of America’s grimmer history, taught in class-rooms to this day.
The tale of Lizzie Borden has so many unknowns, leaves so many unanswered questions. Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest is the first novel in a series that aims to fill in these blanks, to tell the whole of the life of Lisbeth Andrew Borden.
Maplecroft might be best described as a spectacular work of historical horror fiction; historical people, places, given a heavy dose of horror. Cherie Priest is one of today’s best historical fantasy/horror fiction writers, she so deftly blends fiction with American history that the fiction tends to feel more real than it otherwise might. Maplecroft could be her best work.
The story of Maplecroft is told through journal entries, letters and news clippings, all popular forms of communication in the 1800s. Much of what we know about that period of American history is through found documents, people put their thoughts to paper, they kept journals, diaries, sat down to write correspondence. Unlike today’s glut of shaky-cam “video diary” films, Maplecroft only feels more authentic through the use of this device. The story never seems forced or cliche.
We learn that strange things are happening in Fall River, that the Borden family spent many weeks wracked with illness before Lizzie took up her axe. We learn that at its worst, aside from nausea, vomiting, a strange glazing of the eyes, a sort of madness occurs, violent madness that touched the Borden parents. When Lizzie took up her axe, it was an act of preservation, not just for herself, but for Emma, her defenseless elder sister. This illness is confirmed in the journal of town physician, Doctor Owen Seabury, who attempted to treat the Borden’s, but to no avail. He knew something was very wrong, something he’d never seen. After the murders, he was Lizzie’s strongest defender, not because he felt she was necessarily innocent, but because of an incident during which he witnessed the feral transformation in Lizzie’s step-mother. He felt something unnatural, even dangerous, especially dangerous. That was in 1892. In 1894, the Borden sisters have taken residence at Maplecroft, with Doctor Seabury as their only regular visitor in the role of Emma’s personal physician. With this ominous beginning, the stage is set for the horror to come.
The Problem, as it is often called, re-surfaces and begins to spread, Doctor Seabury sees symptoms around town. Strange shark-like creatures attack Maplecroft, Lizzie grows quite adept at killing. Lizzie and Emma spend their days trying to understand the creatures, The Problem, hopping desperately to stop it before it consumes them, before Fall River is overrun, before it spreads across the entire country, maybe the entire world. Lzzzie pours over strange arcane books, trying to find facts buried in lore and myth. Emma tackles The Problem through pure science, studying nature, marine biology. Both Lizzie and Emma have reason to believe that the sea is the source of the taint that’s infecting Fall River. Doctor Owen Seabury struggles to maintain his sanity, his years of medical training feeling utterly useless. Each character’s writing feels more desperate with each passing day, the journal and diary entries show their stress, their fear, with such clarity. Reading the book is often an intimate experience, as if reading the private thoughts of actual people, not fictional characters.
I haven’t read everything Cherie Priest has ever written, but I’ve read most of it. In terms of pure craft, Maplecroft is probably her best work so far, her prose often gorgeous. Whenever I read, I love highlighting beautiful passages, writing margin notes. While Priest’s stories are always well-written and absolutely a blast to read, I’ve never highlighted any of her writing until Maplecroft. There’s one really outstanding passage that has stuck with me ever since I read it…
“We crawled primordial from the water, our grand-ancestors times a million generations; we escaped the tides, the sharks, and the leviathans of the deep, only to find ourselves on land—where we became the things we’d sought to escape, and we invented gods to blame. Not gods of the ocean, for we’d been to the ocean, and seen that the water was empty of the divine. Not gods of the earth, for we have walked upon the dirt, and we are alone here.
So we install our gods in the sky, because we haven’t yet eliminated the firmament as a possibility.
Next, I suppose, we’ll send them into space—where I expect they will live a very long time indeed, for it shall take us another million generations of descendants to reach them, and learn that they are projections of light and story, cast into the heavens by us alone. And we will be alone again (unless by then, we discover some more distant place in which to hide our image).
Over and over again, we lift God out of our reach. Over and over, push Him beyond our grasp, yet still we stretch out our fingers and seek to touch Him.
But find nothing.”
That passage has such lush imagery, captures the writing of a Christian woman struggling with her faith. Crisis of faith is a common theme from character to character throughout the novel, an interesting theme for a time in history when people were supposed to be God-fearing church-goers, who could never voice their doubts aloud. One’s private diary or journal was the only safe place to put such thoughts. The passage also captures the writing of a strong-willed woman of intelligence, again, at a time when women were not on equal footing with men in matters of intellect, of opinion.
The Borden women are both shown as strong women living against the grain, fierce protectors of a town full of people who failed to see Lizzie hanged and now are content to just quietly hate her, and Emma by association. Maplecroft is a novel about strong women (one in particular not mentioned in this review) fighting against evil that’s deep and dark as the sea. They fight bravely, vehemently, but not without fear, not without mistakes, not without human failings. It’s not a story of super heroes slaughtering monsters, it’s a story regular people just trying to hang on against malevolence beyond human understanding. They fight and not without losses, grave losses.
If you’re looking for a beautifully written story of horror, genuine stuff of nightmare, Maplecroft is the story for you. Cherie Priest did her homework on Lizzie Borden and the time in which she lived. Combine such research with her vivid imagination, and she delivers a truly unique macabre masterpiece of fully realized characters given weight through historical accuracy.
For fans of the weird, Maplecroft is a must read. I can’t wait for the next of the Borden Dispatches.2 comments
So, today I did something I’ve never done before… I read an entire book in one day. I’ve stayed up a few nights to read a few books, but I’ve never read an entire book from early morning to early evening.
I’ve been a fan of Jonathan Carroll for a long time. Way back in 2006ish he was kind enough to send me a copy of one his books, White Apples, when ebooks were kind of, not really, but maybe, a thing. Of the not a bunch of ebooks available, White Apples wasn’t among them, I’m not one to wait around for an industry to catch up with my desires, so I asked and he sent. A few writers have done the same for me over the years, I’m always a little surprised and a lot grateful.
Anyway, this morning I was looking for something just to start reading after finishing Maplecroft (which was spectacular, review forthcoming) last night, and I decided on Kissing the Beehive by said Jonathan Carroll. I went a few pages and I just didn’t stop, I read until it was done. I think part of it was because for Carroll, it was such a strange book, strange in that it had absolutely no elements of magic realism. His books start out real enough, then all of a sudden the main character’s dog starts talking to a ghost, yet the talking dog and some ghost don’t make the story feel any less “real.” He writes with such confidence, the introduction of the weird is so matter-of-fact that you just accept, oh, of course, dogs talk… to ghosts. In Beehive, there’s a found corpse, a grouchy dog, but the corpse’s ghost doesn’t show up to have a conversation with the dog. Some odd things happen, you think, the dead girl’s coming back, just a few more pages… but no. I’m not saying it was a bad book, I was obviously engaged, I was simply surprised that it was really just a small town mystery. A solidly, sometimes beautifully written story about a thirty year-old small-town mystery.
At any rate, if you’re looking for an entertaining Sunday read, try Kissing the Beehive.2 comments