"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
August 3, 2007
August 4, 2007

In John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" series, the method of faster-than-light travel used by starships doesn't move the vessel through space or time, but instead between dimensions. So every jump you make, you are a dimension further from the dimension you started out in. Everyone you meet who didn't make the same jump as you (which is to say, the vast majority of the universe) is subtly, imperceptibly, but absolutely altered. The delta between universes is so minute it is basically impossible you'd ever be able to tell the difference. There's math for you.

In one of Niven's old stories (it involved the Puppeteers, but I don't remember which book it was in), the whole of the Earth has been seeded with transporter pads on every street corner. Instead of elevators or stairs, or cars, they simply teleport to the closest pad to their destination.

There's a psychological disorder which causes the afflicted to be unable to recognize people as being people. They think everyone is a stranger, or an alien, or a robot. Their brain simply won't allow them to perceive people as being such.

I had an idea which combined all three of those, focusing on someone (or a group of people) who do not make jumps. Much like McCoy and transporters, they don't trust the damn things to put their molecules back together the right way after spewing them across the cosmos.

Who begin to notice the subtle, but perceptible, changes in the people who do use the jump technology. Who see how their universe is changing around them, and are unable to stop it. How people involved in the jump culture are blind to the changes in both the world and the people (jumpers and anchored alike) around them as they shift a couple dimensions out of their way to pick up coffee on the way to the office.

How someone they ask out on a date won't be the same person they actually go out with.

How every day, their co-workers are scientifically proven strangers.

I bet it'd make a pretty good short story.

Oh well.

3:21 AM | Writing
August 5, 2007

The only good thing going right now is I have found a little bit of time, among the retarded amount of work I have been doing, to start reading Pattern Recognition again. Partially in preparation for the release of Spook Country, but mostly because it is so very full of the good.

Gibson's prose is one of the few things that almost makes me glad I have such an awful memory. It means when I read a passage and think "That is beautiful. I want to remember that", I can't. When someone asks me to quote my favorite lines, I typically can't. "I can't remember anything specifically, but trust me, it's amazing" is sometimes not very convincing.

It also mean, however, that whenever I re-read one of his novels I have no choice but to approach the work almost completely fresh, in terms of the writing itself. I remember plot points and characters, I remember what happens but individual lines, paragraphs, that make me close the book for a moment, just to reflect on them, are always new.

And that's something worth having.

...as if reflected off wings of receding dream.

11:17 PM | Books
August 9, 2007

<@javaman> okay
<@javaman> got book signed.
<@nrmlgrl> oooh
<@nrmlgrl> i was wondereing where you were
<@bikepunx> signed?
<@javaman> gibson's new book
<@bikepunx> nerd
<@javaman> highlight: he remembered me, wanted to ask me some questions for the current book
<@waltman> yow!
<@javaman> but thought his questions were stupid
<@bikepunx> ha
<@bikepunx> thats pretty awesome
<@waltman> who thought his questions were stupid -- you or him?
<@bda> javaman: Dude.
<@bda> NICE.
<@javaman> he thought his questions were stupid.
<@waltman> were they?
<@javaman> he never asked.
<@bda> javaman: Presumably you ensured that for the next book he would call you? :)
<@javaman> yes.
<@javaman> gave him my card again.
<@bda> That is super awesome.
<@bda> javaman++
<@javaman> haha
<@javaman> but yeah i told him that i would never consider a question stupid.


8:57 AM | irk

< bda> The box itself is niiiiiice.
< rjbs> sweet
< rjbs> picspics
< rjbs> I want a picture of you
< rjbs> in blue jeans
< bda> Serial mgmt port, ethernet mgmt port, 4 gigE.
< rjbs> with a black jacket
< rjbs> holding the 4100 over your head outside someone's window
< bda> hahaha.
< rjbs> "boot anything"
< bda> I was wondering where you were going with that.
< rjbs> I think it was worth the wait

8:57 AM | irk
August 12, 2007

< bda> Nick Hornby's other books are basically forgettable, sadly.
< PilZ-E> I just asked my wife,
< PilZ-E> "Have you read any Nick Hornby?"
< PilZ-E> She said,
< PilZ-E> "Yes, a couple of his books. I don't remember them. I guess they were 'OK'."
< bda> :)
< PilZ-E> Memory is the first thing to go.
< bda> My memory has always been awful.
< PilZ-E> I'm 39, and if you are younger, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't get any better.
< ket> i'm upgrading to ECC registered
< bda> I'm banking on the fact that as my memory capacity decreases, my happiness index will increase, because I will simply be unable to remember anything bad.
< PilZ-E> Heh.
< bda> Like mayflies or goldfish. They never have bad days.
< PilZ-E> This is true.
* e1f just writes things down, now
< e1f> the only problem is that i don't remember where i wrote things
< bda> It's the one-offs that get me. I'll remember things *about* the event, like my opinion, but not details of the event itself.
< bda> It has made for some really lame fights with girlfriends.
< CuriosX11> heh
< bda> "I know you said something that pissed me off, and now we're arguing I want to bring it up, but I can't remember what it was."
< e1f> was it a sticky note on my desk, was it on stickies.app, was it a text file at home or a text file at work
< e1f> or was it my hipster pda
< PilZ-E> bda: You are on the verge of ultimate harmony: The "you're right, honey" level of enlightenment.
< bda> PilZ-E: Which is only *mostly* comforting, really.

10:49 PM | irk

Pete Moffe
William Gibson Agony Podcast Interview

Bryan Allen

Pete Moffe
it's funny, when gibson talks, and i remember this from his talk at the library a few years ago...
he really understands what the interviewer is trying to ask even when they're being vague
and answers the question above and beyond what anyone could have even imagined
his insight is uber

Bryan Allen
I hadn't thought of it that way though, in regards to interviews.
Good call.

Pete Moffe
he just answers questions above and beyond and gives insight into his comments more than probably anyone i've ever heard
he's just very far from snooty
where he is in the position of being allowed to be snooty

10:52 PM | Books
August 14, 2007
August 16, 2007
August 17, 2007

I am really tired, and must sleep, but here is a brief, brief overview:

Cronin, Walt and I showed up to the Library around 1700. They closed it down until 1815, so we sat outside and watched the pretty girls go by (I hate summer, but I like pretty girls; cursed am I). Cronin also attempted to lure the disgusting city pigeons into attacking me via strategically placed pieces of Wawa hoagie, but failed miserably.

Then it was time for the awesome.

<@bda> Gibson Is A Prophet
<@bda> Adam Is Froody
<@bda> So because we think it's hilarious that Adam gives his biz cards to William Gibson, I gave him another of Adam's cards tonight.
<@_Lasar> hahah
<@bda> "A buddy of mine keeps giving these to you whenever he sees you, so we figured we'd continue the tradition in whatever city you happen to be in."
<@_Lasar> :)
<@bda> The first link makes it far less funny, and much more awesome.
<@bda> But Gibson remembered, and laughed, and said:
<@bda> "That's fine, but it makes me wonder if he's a distributed entity."

Though I am positive I said something far, far less coherent than that. He also looked incredibly tired (considering his signing schedule, and the ridiculous things that it incurs, who can blame him). Questions this trip were surprisingly sparse, not that I ever have anything to ask one of my favorite authors when I have the ability to do so. I remember last time he was here, lots of people were up for it, though. Kinda odd. Maybe everyone was just keying off his obvious exhaustion?

Also, my brain went into total Fanboy Glee Mode after his response, so I just sort of stumbled off, giggling.

After the signing, Cronin, Hunter, Faith and I went to Vietnam Palace for some tasty food and to catch up on the last few years. It was good seeing them again. :-)

On my way home, I was waiting to catch a cab and some suburbanite hipster kids were failing to hail one as well. Failing like they kept running back and forth across Market St., whenever they saw one. I mostly ignored them and talked on my cell. Finally I managed to get a cab, not noticing the kids running across the street to... cabjack me?

I figured, whatever, there's four of them, and they are obviously unused to how this works. I will be a nice guy. As I am holding the door for one of the girls, one of the guys gets all puffed up and starts to call me a douche, or a dick.

I let out a mighty "Ay, yo!" with the full intention of smacking him around (for whatever it would be worth, he was younger than me and it is impossible for me to be in worse shape, physically, without actually being made of donuts), but his buddy... held him back? Or something?

The whole situation was resolved amicably once the (drunk?) kids realized, oh, you are being nice and letting us have your cab, while we are too incompentant to get one.

It just makes me feel like a real Philadelphian though: "Ay, yo!" to shut someone up, perhaps precipitating a bout of violence, and then a random act of charity.

"Hey sorry about--" "Yo, no worries. You and me. We're cool. You have a good night now."

Then two seconds later I caught another cab.

People, eh?

Pete came home after I got back, and we sat around talking about uh, lots of weird random things (books, politics, I failed to explain even the most basic aspects of quantum physics, more books), which was pretty entertaining.

Now I must sleep. Before the doom.

4:09 AM | Gibson

Video and audio in various downloadable or streaming formats of Gibson's talk in Berkely are available at fora.tv.

A guy in front of me (the only other person I talked to who had actually finished the damn book) was in the front row and filmed the Philly talk. I gave him my biz card, so hopefully he will remember to email me when he uploads it to YouTube.

[via wbg]

7:11 PM | Gibson
August 24, 2007

< bda> Legacy.
< bda> This is an inherited mess.
< bda> (Which is not much of an excuse, but it's what I've got.)
< dwc-> bda: it's understandable
< dwc-> I've had plenty of uh, legacy ... cruft. to deal with for awhile before it can finally get tossed
< bda> dwc-: The vast majority of the other cruft has been replaced with shiny, maintainable things.
< bda> This site is hours away, I have no easy mode of transit, blah blah blah.
< bda> Soon I will build a pod of Sun boxes and hitchhike up there with a scary old man who insists I hold his dentures for him.
< Tempt> a pod of Sun boxes
< Tempt> Does the pod open and give birth to an army of drones?
< bda> No, an army of zones.
< Tempt> boom-tish

2:07 AM | irk

< umdstu> it's nothing huge, i just need to get a bare simple 20 mail server going so nothing crazy
* mbalmer thinks sendmail will be umdstu's friend
< bda> Sendmail is not anyones friend.
< bda> Sometimes it just does not push you in a puddle in front of all the cool kids.
< mbalmer> however, sendmail works for me ;)
< bda> You're probably one of the grumpy gothemo kids it deigns to associate itself with.
< bda> helo mbalmer
< bda> 250 Hey did you hear the new My Chemical Romance track? It was good... you know, as good as stuff can ever get in this horrible, dark world of darkness.
< mbalmer> ??
< mbalmer> what dope did you smoke? ;P
< bda> I was continuing on with my Sendmail High School thing.
< bda> None.
< bda> Sleep toxins are my anti-drug!

1:11 PM | irk