The Deal with Dumbspeech.

As some of you may recall, back on May 10, 2010 I clambered onto the ‘crawl to announce the signing of a contract for the sidequel to Blindsight. As of Nov 2 2011, I announced that I’d handed in the manuscript. In between (and occasionally afterward), I dropped what occasional fiblets I could without giving away significant plottage.

What I didn’t announce was an official release date, because I didn’t have one — and before you get your hopes up, I still don’t (or rather, I do, but it’s more of a guideline than an actual rule). And as weeks have turned into months with no news on that front, it’s only natural that every couple of days I get an e-mail from someone wondering what’s up with State of Grace or Echopraxia or whatever we’re calling it this week. I’ve told these people what I knew, behind the scenes as the scenes evolved, because they asked — but I didn’t want to say anything in public while so many things were up in the air.

Twenty-eight days ago months turned into a year, and at least one of those up-in-the-air things came crashing back to Earth somewhere out on the west coast. This has caused the probability wave to collapse (which is ironic, because the Editor Who Fell To Earth doesn’t actually appear to have been observed by anyone for quite some time now) — enough, at least, to justify bringing you all up to speed.

The first thing you need to know about this editor — other than that he is, by all accounts, a very nice guy — is that he actually quit working at Tor shortly after acquiring my book. He abandoned publishing for video games (a smart move, given the relative health of those two industries). But we weren’t too worried, because he took his outstanding projects with him to work through on evenings and weekends. I myself was in no hurry; my time was already fully occupied with video-game tie-ins, this weird long-term pair-bonding thing that usually only works out for meadow voles, and nearly dying from flesh-eating disease. Having worked all of those things out more-or-less satisfactorily, I handed in my manuscript on Nov 1 and settled back to enjoy the holidays.

Editor dude was good as his word. By the end of January he’d got back to me, and man, was he stoked:

The book is bloody brilliant. I am doing my second read through this week.  I am looking to get my notes and edits to you before this week closes out. No later than the upcoming Saturday. My question for you is how do you prefer to receive them? Inline in the word document via track changes? In the body of letter? Written in the margins and mailed off to you?

In fact, he appeared to be way happier with the book than I was. Unwilling to let this imbalance stand, I replied:

…the truth is, I don’t think it is bloody brilliant.  I gave it a break over the holidays, came back fresh, and stalled about ten pages into the trip to Icarus; the parts I hated before I hate even more now, and I can no longer excuse my reaction by telling myself You’re just too close to it — it’ll look better after you’ve put it away for a while.  Since the start of the year I’ve actually been spending a little time each day trying to work out a complete rewrite of the downhill journey. I’ve been holding off on my misgivings because I didn’t want to contaminate your own reaction, but now I can lift the embargo…

There followed an extensive numbered list of the specific elements that sucked, and a cross-referenced bullet list of the ways they sucked, followed by a flowchart written in Latin detailing my suggestions as to how the sucky parts might be edited to allow them to blow instead. “I’ve given you some new stuff to think about,” I said, “so if you’re not done by Saturday, that’s cool by me.”

Perhaps that was my problem right there: I didn’t specify which Saturday. Because the next time I heard from the man it was July, asking again if I wanted his notes on the novel. I wrote back encouraging him to send them on, although I this point I was starting to wonder (I mean, isn’t providing editorial feedback what editors do?). And he said Great, I’ll send them along in a few days and by the way, could you blurb this other author for me in the meantime?

September.

Me: Uh, hello?  Anyone there?

Him: October 1rst. Promise.

October 11.

Him: I am going to need the weekend to finish up. … I must say, though, with every read it gets better. Besides the few things you already hold as in need of some retooling, it is phenomenal. I haven’t been this excited about like this in a long time.

Me: Uh, sure. Okay. Won’t be able to get started now under November anyway so…

October 25.

Me: Uh, hello…?

The Empty Desolate Reaches of Ultima Thule: Hello hello hello hello hello

That was the last I heard from the man. I did hear indirectly that he’d finally, officially, thrown in the towel — how it broke his heart to leave his authors in the lurch like this, how shattering it was for him to drop the ball — but the new job’s taking all his time and you can’t serve both Tor and Mammon.

A couple weeks back I tossed a final e-mail into the void, commiserating on his plight and asking if he might just shove whatever he had handy — “margin comments, voice memos, thoughts jotted down in purple crayon on the back of a napkin” — into an envelope and send it my way. So far, though, he hasn’t answered.  From what I hear he’s been radio-silent for months, even to his colleagues back at Tor.

The good news, of course, is that now that he’s quit I’ve got a new editor and a new schedule. Before the crash’n’burn Echopraxia had been slotted for release in the cold dead depths of February 2014. Given that I won’t have time to get back to the rewrite until the new year, though, that doesn’t leave much time for my new editor to do her thing. So I’m dedicating the month of January to the rewrite (still without editorial input, but fuck it; I’m not going to inflict a worse ms. on a new editor when I know I can produce a better one), and at this point we’re shooting for an April North American release.

Springtime. Let’s call it an omen.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday November 28 2012at 10:11 am , filed under Dumbspeech, writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

43 Responses to “The Deal with Dumbspeech.”

  1. Book news! yay! (I really really really try to resist asking authors how soon they’ll be done.)

    (also, people writing dissertations)

  2. Some news is good news. Hope the rewrites go well

  3. Man, I am so happy you felt like talking about that book that I’ve come back in here to say that. squee, etc.

    I’ve been wondering what all those people were up to. I started listening to the Blindsight audiobook the other day. I really like the narrator. He makes me totally want to meet Siri’s dad. And Sarasti. I played the book with my spouse-man in the room and when it got to the part where the people were being de-dessicated* he went “eugh”. filled me with warm fuzzies that did.

    please don’t hate your book.

    * is there a word for that? reconstituted? rehydrated? hey, that reminds me of machaca. a dish of dried shredded & reconstituded meat with nice spices.

  4. Yay news! What games are you working on? Do they involve deep sea vents?

  5. Good to see that “we’ve got a movement!” A solitary echo pinged in the cold void and now we know there’s something there.

  6. Oh, hell. Spring 2014. More than a year to wait. So wait we shall, but oh how it hurts.

  7. Sebastian A:
    Oh, hell. Spring 2014. More than a year to wait. So wait we shall, but oh how it hurts.

    WHS.

  8. I’m sure that you could hazard a guess at the number of times I’ve read Blindsight trying to somehow glean an idea of where this awesome trip is taking us. Glad to hear you are well. Hey, can we get pictures of your leg and see how well it has healed?

  9. Well, on the plus side, you’ve probably subconsciously edited and re-written it multiple times over by now.

    Plus you get the chance to stick a cheeky, wise-cracking but good-hearted ADHD ferret and the dour but secretly optimistic and G&S-loving midget elephant (who, together, solve mysteries, fight crime and hack computers) into the book, and I can tell you really want to.

  10. Thank you for the update! (From reader eagerly awaiting what-it-ends-up-being called since I found out it was coming.)

  11. Whoo hoo! Now I must re-read Blindsight.

  12. Good to hear some news about this, shame it’s been as winding a road thus far.

    Now then, when might we hear more (anything, please) about your Capcom involvement?

  13. I would love to say something pithy, or at least offer some kind of legitimate sympathies about Publishing Purgatory a little more coherent than laaame duuude, but I think I’m just going to have to fall back on incoherent demon screeching, because I’m really, really, really excited for this book.

    Really excited.

  14. Yay!

    Somehow that story reminds me of an editor I had hired, and didn’t hear back from… ever, after the first time. Tracked her down. Did some research. It seems that all she ever did in life was take in people’s work and never much get back to them. Last I heard, she was in traction or at least that’s the excuse she gave me for not getting back to me for 18 months. Perhaps it was some obscure osteo-degenerative disorder…or maybe someone less patient than myself had a violent streak.

    Peter, thanks for the update. It sounds to me like you’re about spitting mad and this level of outrage can combine with the past year’s ruminations on revision and refinement. No doubt you soon will be planted at the workstation or laptop, banging on the keys in a frenzy not unlike that of a satyr on viagra, but more to-the-point and less sticky. If you find yourself driven to sitting down to edit yourself and then find yourself getting up the steam to do a massive re-write (or a full re-visioning), that means that your Muse is about to kick in the door and make you do stuff. Maybe even scary mind-wrenching horrible-yet-inspired stuff. We hope.

    April sounds awesome. Mid-to-late winter is always a good time for writing, especially if you’re shooting for “bleak, but with a twinge of hope”.

    If we don’t hear from you for a while, it’s probably good news. Cheers,

  15. This sounds a lot like what happened to Ian Tregellis’s Milkweed books. In his case it was another Tor editor (or perhaps the same one?) who sat on his manuscript for 20 months without doing very much of anything. He describes the whole rather unpleasant process here:

    http://www.iantregillis.com/index.cfm?blog=212

    I hope at least that this works out for you as best it can, and I know many people will be looking forward to the April release.

  16. Yes! Finally some progress. 2014…
    Incidentally.
    Do you have a copy of the manuscript at home?
    Aand if so… Just out of curiosity – But what is the best way of breaking into your house? And the best time?

    Incidentally – I have a very good alibi. About 400 Mauritanian miners can vouch for my whereabouts. As well as a load of goats. (They actually breed faster than we can eat them.)

  17. I’ve never actually eaten a Mauritanian miner, but I hear they are good stewed with carrots and parsnips.

    In re other people sitting on your work, complete sympathy over here. The closest I have ever gotten to a physical altercation with a colleague was a person who was editing for me, but never actually managed to get around to it, even tho’ we had repeated discussions about the downstream problems the delay was causing.

    At one point in a meeting, I actually got to watch my fight-or-flight system activate – BP skyrocketed, heart hammered, what she was saying grayed out, and my visual cortex sent up a short shocking vivid movie of me leaping across the table and strangling her. Like my limbic system finally had enough and decided, “Okay, this reasonable talking crap is not working, time for violent action.” Twas frightening and interesting.

    The book will be better for having had time to age. If you can already see places that don’t work, now you have the opportunity to dig in and fix them. But I feel your pain.

  18. This might be a good time to share another fiblet with your adoring fans. Maybe the chapter that follows the previous fiblet?

  19. I’d like another fiblet. Also, it would be so kick ass if authors (specifically, you) put their writing in version control so that curious people could look at the histories to see how people evolved the story. I wouldn’t want to do that for everything.

    There are neat visualization tools that can be used on version tracking histories and it would be fun to be able to try different things on novels. For that matter, anthologies! Like, when an editor gets a story one by one, they check them in.

    Please help me live in this future, authors of the future.

  20. “… but it’s more of a guideline than an actual rule” (Ghostbusters 1984, Dr. Venkman.)

  21. Well, seems like even if the editor collapsed, we still have quite some ways of interpreting this issue, though superposition AFAIK is more of a wave phenomenon. Which reminds me of the program I promised to tweak for someone. And the sequences I wanted to look at. And… Er.

    Incidentally, going through the fiblets, I have something of a problem with the justification of amnesia for zombie mode, while I have no rememberance of any blackouts[1], though that comes somewhat with the territory, and as Stephen King put it sufficiently in “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet”, in any case “you never have very many”[2], still, I guess not remembering what happened is worse than remembering what happened[3], so some of us might opt for the less amnesiac option.

    Another thing is that the “conscious zombie” option reminds me somewhat of the effects of dissociative drugs[4], and while there are truly horrible experiences, in some cases it’s the fear of dying etc. that dissociates away.

    Looking at the mechanism, this might be easily explained by communication between limbic system and the cortex breaking down and quite a lot of our emotions being not necessarily accurate rationalizations of physical sensor data.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misattribution_of_arousal

    So, maybe our “conscious zombies” would perceive the danger, but lack the emotional “colouring” provided by the limbic system. Or the physical data like heartbeat etc.

    But then, maybe even a dissociated consciousness there was still some unwanted activation of the limbic system that was problematic later, think flashbacks, or during the operation, think catatonia, and the only way to switch that one off was inactivating it whole. Which also did in memory, since most of the structures in question, e.g. amygdala etc. are also involved in long-term memory.

    The latter possibility means that maybe the zombies are conscious all along, they just can’t remember it.

    [1] There are only two instances that somewhat qualify, first one was during a lab course (fucking chemists have more tolerance than us biologists), second one a few month later on December 31st. Both times I have recollection of talking with some poor (or not so poor, since equally talkative) soul, so technically, it’s not a real blackout. And both events date to what I’d retroactively diagnose as atypical depresssion, so I guess the fogginess of my memories is not just the alcohol.
    [2] Fullquote: “It was a blackout,” the editor said. “The first real bona fide blackout of my life — but they’re always a sign of the end, and you never have very many. One way or the other, you never have very many. But any alcoholic will tell you that a blackout isn’t the same as passing out. It would save a lot of trouble if it was. No, when an alky blacks out, he keeps doing things. An alky in a blackout is a busy little devil. Sort of like a malign Fornit. He’ll call up his ex-wife and abuse her over the phone, or drive his car the wrong way on the turnpike and wipe out a carload of kids. He’ll quit his job, rob a market, give away his wedding ring. Busy little devils.”
    [3] There are some vague limits about what can happen in meatspace. Imagination is not necessarily confined by those, even though imagination is confined by plausibility, while the meatspace is not.
    [4] One side-effect of the mirror neuron thread is me reading up on NMDA antagonists like ketamine as a model for schizophrenia, you see…

  22. Sounds pretty brutal on the whole… but good luck! I’m sure it’ll all result in a book you’re happier with, which is all the more reason to wait patiently.

  23. Hey Peter, long time lurker, first time poster. I’ll be keeping an eye on my local booksellsers come Spring.

    I just saw a film by Doug Aitken in a local museum, and it reminded me of your work (Blindsight in particular)–not sure why.

    Anyways, I offer up good vibes on Dumbspeech (or whatever it will be called), and a sincere wish that this year is devoid of exotic pathogens.

  24. Sheila: There are neat visualization tools that can be used on version tracking histories and it would be fun to be able to try different things on novels

    Could you name one or two of these visualization tools?

  25. ken: Could you name one or two of these visualization tools?

    oh you had to ask.

    Dammit. I thought I bookmarked all of them. (not kidding, I used to bookmark all the cool visualization things I came across.)

    I really thought in the past week someone posted a link to a tool with a cute url (in the sense that gittip is a cute url) that you could feed your repo to and it would help with software archaeology. that is something I totally should have bookmarked. I thought I did. grar. this bugs me enough that I might go post a request for it everywhere until I find it again.

    In the past week I also saw an animation of pages in a technical or scientific paper from start to finish. I can’t find it. Now I’m wondering if it was all a dream because sometimes I have vivid dreams of cool websites or UIs. But I’m pretty sure this one exists.

    (visualizing your repo is something I found while trying out different search terms. I’ll include it here because, while the cool graphs you can get with github are cool, the command text thingees are usually more useful and this guy has some screenshots of them.)

    Here are some old bookmarks for consolation prizes.

    code swarm is an old one. It’s not the one I was thinking of, but is neat.

    github graphs are also not what I was thinking of, but is an example.

    For fiction, an example is bible visualizations of cross indexes.

  26. ken,

    I also have some more requests and wishes for technology thingees to apply to text corpora of authors. (these are also on the list of things I have time for if I ever am independently wealthy and don’t have to spend all my braintime on working to survive)

    It would be fun to take all the text and run algorithms to spit out some fun things so that you could do faceted searches, different types of sorting, similarity rankings, etc.

    then you could do things like take all of the texts of comments in your facebook feed and instead of sort-by recent, you could do sort-by peter watts. it would be amusing. it probably wouldn’t work as amusing as I’d want unless we had a sufficiently large amount of text to work with. so instead maybe I’d have to sort-by things in wikipedia.

    I’m thinking I could push the bible verse quotes way down the stack of facebook results.

    oh and if you somehow had all of the text contexts from authors you could also answer the perennial question of what the hell is that sub-genre that has no name of which blindsight is a member. so that you can see what else is in that set.

  27. ken,

    I bet know you might notice how obsessed I am with this. I once asked google for it but they didn’t give it to me. There were, uh, kind-of, like, oh-kay crazy person. we’ll just mark this as a duplicate.

  28. Sheila,

    Hi Sheila,

    Thanks for this. I’ve seen the Bible viz. diagram before – it’s pretty neat.

    Still, these are more about DATA visualization, rather than helping the writer to get a handle on all of the prose they’ve written. Tools that would help to inform upon formatting, scene length, word occurrence and perhaps even a little bit of characterization.

    I’ve known writers who print out their stories and divide up the pages into sections, each section representing a scene or action. These sections are then pinned up on the wall, and read left-to-right. Sometimes, several pages are taped end to end (a long scene) while shorter scenes are maybe just half a page. This way, the writers can visualize the pace of their story at the “ten thousand foot” level.

    The popular script-writing software Final Draft has a number of built-in features that help the screenwriter outline, annotate, and visualize the story. It was my hope that you had stumbled across a few tools that might also do some of this.

    These days, the emphasis seems to be on bare-bones writing tools. I guess everybody’s forgotten that Notepad is included on all Windows PCs. What we need are plugins and macros for MS Word that will do some of the things I’ve described above.

    Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to pinning some pages on the wall.

  29. ken,

    Down at antipope’s place, he swears by Scrivener.
    No idea if that’s for you, though.

  30. Trottelreiner,

    Yes, this is more like it. I’ll have to take a closer look at the feature set and see if it’s what I’ve been looking for.

    Thanks!

  31. ken,

    Oh! I didn’t know you were asking from the point of view of a writer. I thought you were looking for programmer tools.

    There are some similarities in what one might want for both tasks, but I don’t have a good toolset to recommend to you. sorry for the derail. (I’m trying to use Evernote for note keeping lately. I only feel so-so about it but I want to give it a chance).

    (speaking of Notepad, I would recommend Notepad++. It’s friendly for programmers, and I imagine it would be friendly for non-programmers too).

    (tools. just one of the many things I fixate on)

  32. You can’t call yourself a Programmer if you don’t have at least one tool like Notepad++. Its the Swiss army knife of IT. Without it you are either a designer or a consultant….
    I’m still pissed that they took out the ‘View in Hex’ option though. Saved my bacon many a times.

    My own personal choice for notekeeping is OneNote. I know – I know – its a product of the soft ones, but it works for me. No better way to keep track of the multitasking meanderings of a overworked code monkey.

    Sheila:
    ken,

    Oh! I didn’t know you were asking from the point of view of a writer. I thought you were looking for programmer tools.

    There are some similarities in what one might want for both tasks, but I don’t have a good toolset to recommend to you. sorry for the derail. (I’m trying to use Evernote for note keeping lately. I only feel so-so about it but I want to give it a chance).

    (speaking of Notepad, I would recommend Notepad++. It’s friendly for programmers, and I imagine it would be friendly for non-programmers too).

    (tools. just one of the many things I fixate on)

  33. pG:
    You can’t call yourself a Programmer if you don’t have at least one tool like Notepad++. Its the Swiss army knife of IT. Without it you are either a designer or a consultant….
    I’m still pissed that they took out the ‘View in Hex’ option though. Saved my bacon many a times.

    really? I would have gone with vim/gvim for that role ..

  34. Ouch! Low blow, sir. Low blow.
    Next I’ll start remembering how useful the tab key can really be and have to go cry in a beer.

    Michael: really? I would have gone with vim/gvim for that role ..

  35. Michael,

    back in the day SciTE (same engine as notepad++) was a tool i used on a job where i had to wotrk with people who’d make me stabby by editing src in notepad (holy fucking shit!). it didn’t matter what i used. because I’m not going to inflict emacs or vim on people who don’t know not to use notepad. i may curse here, but in a helpful context i shouldn’t.

    oh boy, this soft keyboard doesn’t cap i. i look twee.

    i found the original site of my memory completely by accident yesterday. the tool is called “git by a bus” which is a freaking hilarious name.

    http://dev.hubspot.com/bid/57694/Git-by-a-Bus

    it doesn’t quite live up to my memory but is something i think could be in thevrealm of cool. except for the part about how he counts deletions. knowing enough to delete code is pretty freaking awesome. and i think someone should be able to take a tool like this and also play around with deployment dates and bug reports, etc. so that you can put weights on the user.

    okay back to authors. im not certain a software tool is good enough to replace physical notes and boards but i have a scansnap doc scanner for big paper and a phone camera for small paper. i used to upload to google docs, now I’m trying evernote. i also teied some mindmapping software but i dont like how some of them force you in to rooted graphs. i had tobuse links and play around with physical locations of the nodes to help represent things id like to have used edges for.

    this is one reason why i like real paper and post-it notes.

    yrs,

    neckbeard

    Ps. i hate soft keboards with a burning passion. on the othervhand, if i feel like posting in my commute liesure time I’m stuck with this stupid phone

  36. @Shiela, who wrote in-part: […] because I’m not going to inflict emacs or vim on people who don’t know not to use notepad. […]

    “You go, Girl!” Sorry to call you “girl”, just a figure of enthusiastic speech.

    On the one hand, I loathe `vi` with a passion inexpressible as it is possibly the most non-intuitive text-editor ever inflicted on an unsuspecting world… until you encounter Emacs in which case `vi` is a walk in the park where you get to eat your cake and have it too. Yet whether or not Emacs is installed on a system (and you have to work pretty hard to get it on a system so that it has full bio-perl active in gaming mode heh) you are about guaranteed to have `vi` on any *nix box and you might as well learn it. And make everyone else learn it. Any recent linux I have used has a nice variant that goes to hex mode by default if you try to read compiled code. Saves lots of time and man-page research.

    @Peter: Can we hope for more fiblet-style wacky overview stuff in the new edition? Something like (pardon please and feel free to moderate it out)

    “It wasn’t getting wetted.”

    “Huh?”

    “The bugs. Their exoskeleton. They had been engineered to coat the chitin of their exoskeleton with a secretion which was both non-hydrophilic and which also wouldn’t wet with the standard wetting agents included in all or almost all anti-mite anti-arthropod sprays and creams. It refused to be wet with most pyrethroid emulsions and suspensions and you could drip liquid pyrethrin on it with an eyedropper and there the mite would sit, sealed behind the wall of meniscus, while the surrounding flesh soaked up the neurotoxin. It dies only when the host dies, and only then it dies three days later when it no longer has the obligate host on which to feed. We played around and found the right detergent, mixed it into the deployed products, end of mites, end of the epidemic of psychotogenic Scabies Two.”

    “How did you figure that out?”

    “Well, the only remedy that worked was sulfur in vaseline ™ but because the mite was engineered to carry MRSA and to emit enzymes to trigger skin strep to go into NF mode when it encountered significant amounts of free sulfur, you could use the sulfur petrolatum suspension and think you were getting results, but the next thing you know, all of your muscles are flapping in the wind because your skin is history. But until that happened, it worked. It killed the mites and killed them quickly, though they then died in a way that ensured NF. That suggested that petroleum was delivering and nothing else was. Somehow the concept of oleofinic came up along with wetting agents, we found something that bound to vaseline, and hey-presto… it bound to the wax on the mite chitin, wetted it to the emulsion with permethrin and once the water got in, it pulled insect neurotoxin in along with it. Didn’t help the bees any, though.”

    “Bees?”

    “Yeah, they’d mandated a change in the wetting agents used to create the standard emulsion products. Wasn’t allowed to penetrate waxes, because of the bee shortage; some misguided bonehead thought that the bees were suffering Colony Collapse Disorder because of all of the folks spraying excessively for bed-bugs. That turns out to have not been the case… but when the newly effective anti-mite products were released, people went a little overboard. What, you think you wouldn’t? You’ve got a skin full of cheerfully breeding little bastards — which not incidentally itch like hell — that nothing will kill unless you want to risk being turned into a running screaming bloody as fuck real live anatomical model of exposed surface musculature, and meanwhile it’s pumping you full of adrenochrome and serotonin re-uptake enhancers? People were spraying everything that would sit still for it and flooding the environment as fast as they could resupply. Wave bye-bye to Order Hymenoptera in any of the affected regions. Why do you think we’ve got all of these micro-aerobots delivering pollen, and a fucking payday it is for the nanotech arms division back at Corporate, let me tell you. […]”

  37. For the record, I don’t hate vi, vim, or emacs. It’s just that I wouldn’t recommend them to a newbie. (I have been working on learning to teach newbies.)

    Okay, woohoo! I found the visualization of writing that I lost the other day. time lapse writing of a research paper. I like being able to see a physical narration of the writing. for programming, maybe it would be a timelapse of index cards, white boards, files. maybe even a fake narration, like a stack of papers representing the degree of change even when you aren’t writing on a stack of papers.

    re: Fiblets. yes, more fiblets. I am enjoying even the <=140 fiblet that I see some authors do on twitter.

  38. Mr Non-Entity:
    On the one hand, I loathe `vi` with a passion inexpressible as it is possibly the most non-intuitive text-editor ever inflicted on an unsuspecting world…

    I like to quote Mr. RM Stallman on this one, “using vi is not a sin, it’s a penance.”

    until you encounter Emacs in which case `vi` is a walk in the park where you get to eat your cake and have it too.

    Guess somebody should explain to RMS the difference between purgatory and hell…

    you are about guaranteed to have `vi` on any *nix box and you might as well learn it.

    Err, call me chicken, but first thing I do on any *nix I encounter is install ‘joe':

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe's_Own_Editor

    It’s a side-effect of our university using it as pine’s

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_(email_client)

    default editor. I no longer use pine, the nntp server it connected to is long down, and I haven’t been to usenet in a while, but I still use joe, AFAIR it even runs on embedded systems like OpenWRT.

    and meanwhile it’s pumping you full of adrenochrome and serotonin re-uptake enhancers?

    Err,
    a) in spite of the nice stories[1] it seems adrenochrome is somewhat tame, though it might play a role in the generation of ROS; see neuromelanin for a similar possibility (yeah, old article)

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7710667

    b) funny thing is, it seems serotonin reuptake enhancers are not that bad, in fact, the only drug I’m aware of that’s called that way is quite a nice antidepressant, though the SSRE action might not be its main mode of action:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_serotonin_reuptake_enhancer

    [1] I guess the adrenochrome theory of schizophrenia is one of the things young Western members of both sexes take out of their Huxley lecture, besides fantasies about doing psychedelics with lyrically gifted members of the opposite sex, err. At least it’s better than Hesse. ;)

  39. @Trottelreiner: I do the same thing with installing `joe`. The funny thing about `joe`? It’s got the same keystrokes as a truly ancient but worthy word-processor called “wordstar”, which I first encountered on some rather intimidating Intel 8086 machine that was an alternative offering at a computer shop where I worked and learned. Mostly, they had just got into the business of trying to sell this new-fangled contraption called the “apple ii”. Apple’s sexy app was Visicalc and it had a pretty decent inventory-control and cash-register program. But if you wanted to do some serious writing, WordStar was the thing. It still is, for some people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WordStar

    My old Commodore C=64 had an excellent WP, called “speedscript”. I found that the combination of a 40-column width and a 29-line height tended to force a lot of fairly short paragraphs. If you went past one screen on a paragraph, clearly you needed to go back and edit. WordPerfect 5 totally ruined me for good writing and GUI text-editors are even worse. So when I try to do any serious writing — it has sure been a while, though — I always crank up `joe` on a text terminal.

    `vi` remains my choice for looking at hex files, depending on your curses/ncurses library, `joe` can do really strange things when it opens hex files.

    BTW while I don’t any longer subscribe to the adrenochrome theory, it still seems to be something that you wouldn’t want to be subjected to any more than necessary, especially not from unkillable little itchy thing crawling around under your skin. As for the rest of it, pray that you never get an intractable case of scabies, and as near as I can tell, the tractable kind is quickly going the way of the Dodo. The notion that it might be genetically modified in a purpose-built way, for military means or as some bizarre revenge by batshit-crazy Ventner type (I live not far at all from the Maryland “I-270 bioscience corridor” and a lot of those folks have elevators that don’t stop on all floors, so to speak), simply freaks me out. This is the way the world (or the enemy’s army) ends, not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with the sound of people scratching their own skin right off and actually dying of pruritis in isolation, until they run out of places to hold people in isolation. Well, unless so many mites get busy under their fingernails that their fingernails drop off. *twitch twitch*

    FWIW there’s a really foul movie somewhat on the subject if anyone wants to squick themselves. See also the “see also” section in this wikipedia entry:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bug_%282006_film%29

  40. That’s an interesting film. Don’t think I’ve seen it. Need to check it out.

    Other known causes of mental illness, noticing banking irregularities:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/28/gustl-mollath-hsv-claims-fraud

  41. You know, that’s the first line of defense for any sociopath: accuse the victim of being paranoid.

    And if the sociopath does their victimization right, their victim is paranoid. By design.

    While we’re doing film references, the classic one is — of course — Gaslight:

    Here’s a link to wikipedia’s disambiguation page… note that the film was so influential that the title became a verb: Gaslighting. If you folks are monochrome film buffs, this is extra special if only because it has Angela Lansbury as a very fetching young lady in her first screen role.

    From the “gaslighting” entry:

    Psychologist Martha Stout states that sociopaths frequently use gaslighting tactics.
    Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws, and exploit others,
    but are also typically charming and convincing liars who consistently deny wrongdoing.
    Thus, some who have been victimized by sociopaths may doubt their perceptions.[7]
    Jacobson and Gottman report that some physically abusive spouses may
    gaslight their partners, even flatly denying that they have been violent.[2]

    “No, honey, I didn’t get together with a few friends and falsify the accounts. You’re just being paranoid. Again. You do that all of the time, don’t you remember? Everyone knows how you are.”

    Refs:
    2. Jacobson, Neil S.; Gottman, John Mordechai (10 March 1998). When men batter women: new insights into ending abusive relationships. Simon and Schuster. pp. 129–132. ISBN 978-0-684-81447-6. Retrieved 16 June 2011.

    7. Stout, Martha (14 March 2006). The Sociopath Next Door. Random House Digital. pp. 94–95. ISBN 978-0-7679-1582-3. Retrieved 16 June 2011.

  42. Spring 2014?!?
    FFS!…glaciers move faster than…oh well…sigh…lol

  43. Yeah, saw Gaslight in November of ’09 after DVRing from Halloween. Quite the hoot.