Cheeseburger Gothic

The Secret Life of Passwords

Posted 16 hours ago into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

Really lovely and thoughtful piece in the NYT about the way our passwords "take on secret lives". It's a great Sunday read.

Many of our passwords are suffused with pathos, mischief, sometimes even poetry. Often they have rich back stories. A motivational mantra, a swipe at the boss, a hidden shrine to a lost love, an inside joke with ourselves, a defining emotional scar — these keepsake passwords, as I came to call them, are like tchotchkes of our inner lives. They derive from anything: Scripture, horoscopes, nicknames, lyrics, book passages. Like a tattoo on a private part of the body, they tend to be intimate, compact and expressive.

Perhaps my biggest surprise has been how willing, eager actually, people are to openly discuss their keepsakes. The friends I queried forwarded my request, and before long I started receiving passwords from complete strangers. There was the former prisoner whose password includes what used to be his inmate identification number (“a reminder not to go back”); the fallen-away Catholic whose passwords incorporate the Virgin Mary (“it’s secretly calming”); the childless 45-year-old whose password is the name of the baby boy she lost in utero (“my way of trying to keep him alive, I guess”).

3 Responses to ‘The Secret Life of Passwords’

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w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted 11 hours ago
Yep, so true.
For a 4 digit pin, I mainly use my mate's pin he told me 20 years ago because it is a mildly amusing pun.

And, the secrecy! Write them down. Perhaps put them on post-it stickers on your computer (semi-joke). Because password crackers don't generally find out your password by breaking into your house.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted 4 hours ago
I use two methods for choosing computer passwords. I choose randomly chosen automobile license plate numbers (e.g. 367ULK - taken from the license plate of a Toyota I was stuck behind on California Hwy 395 somewhere near Susanville). Or I do it the way the International Dada Committee chooses the date for their conferences (by randomly drawing pieces of paper showing numbers and (letters and sometimes symbols, depending on the host's requirements) from a box or bag.

Any password with any kind of meaning designed to allow fast recollection can potentially be sussed out.

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Ursula K Le Guin serving up some smackdown

Posted Friday into Books by John Birmingham

I saw Le G had been gonged this week for contributuions to American Letters, and that she'd given some sort of kick arse acceptance speech. But I didn't realise how kick arse until I read it.

She gives Amazon a kicking, champions SF and Fantasy writing, and makes you think you really wouldn't want to go up against her in a dark alley without a lot of fire support:

Thank you Neil, and to the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks from the heart. My family, my agent, editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as mine, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice at accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction—writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship. (Thank you, brave applauders.)

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write. (Well, I love you too, darling.)

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. It’s name is freedom.

Thank you.

15 Responses to ‘Ursula K Le Guin serving up some smackdown’

Buck has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
Fantastic stuff. The world and publishing both need more voices like Le Guin's.

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Naut would have you know...

Posted Friday

Nice sentiment and all, but publishers aren't in just for the fun of it. They can be generous about art once they have a squillion dollars.

Surely in this digital age it is much cheaper and easier to self-publish an e-book and reach a wider market for your niche product than ever before?

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted Friday

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"Books, you know, they’re not just commodities" and there I think you can in a single question divide all those who come to this discussion and what sort of world they would shape if their view comes ascendant.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p></font></font>

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Barnesm would have you know...

Posted Friday

"Books, you know, they’re not just commodities" and there I think you can in a single question divide all those who come to this discussion and what sort of world they would shape if their view comes ascendant.

Comment now with less formating cues

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Surtac is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday


Thanks for giving us the whole thing John. I watched this explode on my twitter feed yesterday arvo and it was obvious she'd touched a nerve. Every single response I saw was in full support.

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Naut mutters...

Posted Friday

I disagree Barnesm, I don't see books as JUST commodities. But I also don't think corporations can be forced to invest into something just because someone has defined it as "Art".

If Ursula is so concerned, why doesn't she set up an alternative? How is she going to determine what is art?

If the retailers are behaving unreasonably then set-up a writer's union and take your product elsewhere. Find a business partner that is willing to take a risk and leverage the art angle.

The speech strikes me as taking the high moral ground without offering solutions or offering to be part of the solution.

Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
"I don't see books as JUST commodities. But I also don't think corporations can be forced to invest into something just because someone has defined it as "Art" never thought they should.

Naut has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
Ok, so what do you think?

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Saturday
What do you mean, I think a lot of things.


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ShaneAlpha has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
Look just submit already.

You know that you are desperate to read that new series by that well known author "Dave Hooper fights monsters" sponsored by Amazon and Pepsi. See if you can pick the subtle product placement. Marvel at the brilliant wordplay as Amazon and Pepsi are both mentioned in every paragraph. (as legally required).

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JBtoo ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
She is awesome

Bunyip would have you know...

Posted Friday
Agreed.

Respect.

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Abe Frellman reckons...

Posted Saturday
I've read 'The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas' as part of a course in ethical leadership and the 'good society'. Indeed it bookended the course, and how your perspective on the story changes after doing the course is used as a tool to see how far you have moved away from any 'utilitarian priors'.

Worth the read.

Bunyip would have you know...

Posted Saturday
I can still remember the joy and shock of reading "The Dispossessed"

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Mordwa would have you know...

Posted Saturday
Consider me a dunderhead (many do!), but where is the smack down? Art and commerce nearly alway clash; I naively believe that clash is irrelevant as long as the art is good. Or to put it another way; is it more important to be good or popular? And *how much* more important? If "art" is the goal, how much does the money... matter?

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My mother's bookclub.

Posted Friday into Books by John Birmingham

Little help here? My mother's Bookclub is doing a modern classic for their next pick, and Mum needs to choose the book. She asked me, but I only read books that go BOOM, or nonfiction titles for work. So I'm of no use.

I did think Evelyn Waugh's Scoop would be a good choice. But Mum would like a few more.

So, something published in the last, say, 100 years, that's a recognised classic, and a bit humorous.

Anyone got anything?

47 Responses to ‘My mother's bookclub. ’

Surtac mumbles...

Posted Friday


I immediately thought of Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome, but that's older than your 100 year limit so maybe not.

P G Wodehouse perhaps? Some of those Bertie Wooster stories are funny.

Or for something more recent, maybe Tom Sharpe? Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure are the ones that got him deported from Sarth Effrica, but there are a bunch of others - Wilt, Blott On the Landscape, Vintage Stuff, Porterhouse Blue and so forth.

sheps would have you know...

Posted 20 hours ago
Tom Sharpe was my first thought. The throwback is my fave.

robW mutters...

Posted 7 hours ago
Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure were both works of genius. Wilt was amazing.

I see that Mr. Sharpe died last year at 85.

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Surtac ducks in to say...

Posted Friday


And I completely forgot to include Orwell's Animal Farm.

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Peter Bradley puts forth...

Posted Friday

A couple I keep coming back to are

A catcher in the rye, JD Salinger or A confederacy of dunces John K O'Toole

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted 3 hours ago
A Confederacy of Dunces is one of my all time favorites. Every now and then the memory image of Ignatius J. Reilly dancing on a table in a New Orleans garment factory in an impromptu attempt to favorably impress his "Moorish" coworkers makes me laugh out loud.

There is actually a statue dedicated to him in New Orleans. If you are ever there, go see it outside of:

The Old DH Holmes
819 Canal St
New Orleans, LA 70112


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zoot ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
It's a bit long, but Catch 22 meets the criteria.

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Simon mumbles...

Posted Friday
i'm reading Dandeline Wine by Ray Bradbury at the moment. Not really a belly tickler though. Has some wry moments? Might be a trip down memory lane for the older set.

The title probably should have been "Nostalgia Wine"

Simon would have you know...

Posted Friday
oh and that should have been "Dandelion Wine"

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted 2 hours ago
not "Dandelion Whine"?

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Bunyip puts forth...

Posted Friday
Not sure how heavy or thinky ya mum and her mates want to take it, but...
  • Steinbeck: "

Bunyip ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
FFS.
..."Grapes of Wrath",
Harper Lee: "To Kill A Mockingbird"
Ecco: "The Name of The Rose"

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Charles King mutters...

Posted Friday
Our book group recently read The Great Gatsby but included the two movies (with Redford and DiCaprio each playing Gatsby) as part of the deal. It was more enjoyable than I expected. The book holds up pretty well, and it was interesting/entertaining to see how different Hollywood generations interpreted Fitzgerald's work. Might be fun for your Mum & her group.

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insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
I second A Confederacy of Dunces (the back story is worth noting too)

and add A Room With a View

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Bunyip asserts...

Posted Friday
Formatting F'up will be in my first post. FFS with bells on, apparently.

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Lulu is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
Not absolutely classics, but High Fidelity or About A Boy (both Nick Hornby).

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
Anything by Dean Koontz. That bloke is a genius.

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
and that TV adaptation of his novel 'The Langoliers' should ahve got an oscar.

robW swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted 23 hours ago
Yes, and the acting in The Langoliers was awesome. This scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYa54e91hfY

is right up there with Marlon Brando's "Hey, Stella!" in A Streetcar Named Desire:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1A0p0F_iH8

;-)

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Misfish puts forth...

Posted Friday
Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons. A parody of the kind of book no one reads any more, but hysterically funny none the less.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted Friday
Yes! That's the one.

JBtoo mutters...

Posted Friday
I saw something nasty in the woodshed

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
Come in Spinner - by Dymphna Cusack & Florence James.

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Murphy mumbles...

Posted Friday
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee.

No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy.

The Things they Carried, Tim O'Brien.

Just a few.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Stuart mutters...

Posted Friday
The World According to Garp.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted Friday

I will recommend David Foster Wallace's 'Ininite Jest' becuase its brilliant and the only time anyone actually reads it is if is required.

but my go to book for these things 'My year of Meat' by Ruth Ozeki .

NBlob reckons...

Posted Friday
You are a very bad man.
Infinite Jest is is samizdat.

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted Saturday
"gesundheit"

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nick is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
a fraction of the whole by Steve Toltz ,

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted Friday

Not many "classics" in Oz lit that try and make you laugh, they're all so fkn serious and needy.

"How To Hypnotise Chooks" - Max Walker

"You wouldn't Be Dead For Quids" - Robert G Barrett

"They're A Weird Mob" - Nino Culotta

"Johnno" - David Malouf

"In The Worst Possible Taste" - Dr Yobbo (unpublished rock'n'roll friendship shits 'n giggles)

"Merry Go Round In The Sea" - Randolph Stow (fkn mandala symbols, man)

"The Glass Canoe" - David Ireland (written in The Beauchamp Hotel, Darlinghurst in the 70's)

"

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ShaneAlpha reckons...

Posted Friday
Watership Down.

The Princess Bride

The Last Continent

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Quokka reckons...

Posted Friday
The mere mention of that merry go round book still makes me want to stick my head in the oven & turn up the gas.
Senior year at school & again for Australian lit at uni.
*shudders & heads for kitchen.

Therbs is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
I did it at uni. Loved it. The book as well.

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Steph mutters...

Posted Friday
I am in the midst of racking my brains for my own book club selections for next year!
To kill a mockingbird- Harper Lee
In cold blood- Truman Capote
The harp in the south- Ruth Park
All quiet on the Western Front- Eric Remarque

And I really enjoyed The Rosie Project by Graeme Simision :)

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Peanut is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series - lots of references to classic books.

Thoreau's Walden could be thinky+

Naked Lunch starts weird, stays there.

On The Road, Kerouac. Or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

If they can find copies; Elvissey, or even Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack.

The Three Musketeers and sequels.

Carpentaria by Alexis Wright (won the 2006 Miles Franklin award)

Tiddas by Anita Heiss - it's "about five women who have been friends since childhood who come together for book club meetings". In Brisbane.

Non-fiction - Zombie Economics - John Quiggin. Fer Shere.

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JBtoo has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
Three Dollars by Elliot Perlman
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

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GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday

JB - you've probably already settled on recommending a tome for your mum but has she and her kind read any of the following excellent choices:

Weapons of Choice by JBirmingham
Designated Targets by JBirmingham
Final Impact by Birmingham
Without Warning by JBirmingham
After America by JBirmingham
Angels of Vengeance by JBirmingham

or even the classics

He Died with a Felafel In his Hand by JBirmingham
How to Be a Man by JBirmingham & Dirk Flinthart





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Halwes puts forth...

Posted Friday

Seven Emus by Xavier Herbert. Funny as hell with a terrific plot that twists and turns to the end.

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Rob asserts...

Posted Friday
Bluebeard, the Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian (1916–1988) by Kurt Vonnegut

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Anthony would have you know...

Posted Friday
I asked SWMBOB who is a book clubby sort of person. Her recommendation is either "The Rosie Project" or "Mateship with Birds".

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted Saturday
I know you are looking for fiction, but if nonfiction is ever on the menu:

Zealot by Resa Aslan
Cooked: a Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

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Durand mumbles...

Posted Saturday
Classic 20th century fiction, with a bit of humour?

The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Roald Dahl's adult books, e.g. Kiss Kiss, Tales of the Unexpected.
Perhaps Terry Pratchett

But if you can stretch to non-fiction:

Anything by Bill Bryson.
Anything by Dave Barry (the 20th century's funniest writer.)

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Sinnysider mutters...

Posted Saturday
I would also like to nominate 'Cold Comfort Farm' by Stella Gibbons, perhaps including a viewing of the exellent movie that sticks faithfully to the original plot.
Josephine Tey's, 'The Daughter of Time', in which an injured bedridden detective tries to unravel fact from fiction regarding the reign and death of Richard III ; would make for lively discussion.

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w from brisbane reckons...

Posted Saturday
The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey
By David Haskell and Colin Spoelman

This book is full of whiskey love. It includes the history of whiskey making, a detailed guide to home distilling, plus cocktail recipes. It is a fascinating read and perhaps a gateway to a new and enjoyable hobby for anybody's mum. Recommended.



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BigWillieStyle swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Saturday
"Lucky Jim" by Kingsley Amis


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robW ducks in to say...

Posted Yesterday
As your mother would be a woman of a certain age, she certainly would remember Herman Wouk and his incomparable The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, The Caine Mutiny and Marjorie Morningstar.

It turns out Herman Wouk is still alive and kicking, and will be 100 years old in a few months. Two years ago he published his last novel at the age of 97:

The Lawgiver

which is a book about Hollywood, scriptwriters, and Moses of Old Testament fame. No doubt the book is not his best, and it's probably like watching a recent BB King concert (he's 89 and still romancing his famous guitar, Lucille), but nonetheless, it's a helluva sendoff for a novelist who has been publishing novels consistently for the past 72 years and has been keeping a daily journal for 76 years...and, of course, the book could always be a springboard for going back and revisiting The Winds of War.

robW mutters...

Posted Yesterday
P.S. Apparently there is a strong Australian component to the book.

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Burger Lite

Posted Thursday by John Birmingham

Murph reminds me it has been a while seen we've done one of these, and he's right. I'm carrying about 3-4 extra kgs of gut flab after the 'exertions' of triple deadline. So there's no bakery treats for JB at the moment, and I've had to cut the grog back of an evening. (Oh sweet, sweet liquor how you numbed the pain!)

I've got some weight lifting to do later this morning and the rest of my routine is pretty much as always; alternating jujitsu, treadmill and boxing workouts.

I had to bury a good friend a few weeks ago. Heart attack at 47, and not a fit man. The number of times I stopped myself from saying anything to him about his weight...

Brings home the reality.

Go do your workouts and stay away from the bakery until you can see all your toes again.

48 Responses to ‘Burger Lite’

DarrenBloomfield is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
is 47. Abandon's immediate plan for toastie with my coffee...

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insomniac mutters...

Posted Thursday
is 48, and has high levels of some enzyme indicating a fatty liver, which still doesn't appear to be enough motivation to get off my backside. I are doomed.

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Miss Maudy is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
49 and ten kilos that won't go away unless I stop eating my body weight in chocolate (yes, personally responsible for the world chocolate shortage)

Miss Maudy has opinions thus...

Posted Thursday
It appears I have accidentally volunteered myself to play social netball. I am NOT a team player. I dislike 'games' where balls are flung at ones head. I also don't run. Both of which are key components of netball. But if it lets me eat chocolate...

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Simon reckons...

Posted Thursday
i've got a couple of friends that are in the really overweight category - we are all at 40 and i've always thought of saying something, but figure "they already know". I certainly knew when I was carrying extra and over the 100kg mark (still carrying a little bit more than doctors recommend, but then i'd be a waif if i listened to them).

Are my words going to help or cause tension? Always a tricky subject to bring up. Do i say "mate, you know i love you and we've been friends for 30 years. I'd like to be sharing beers after another 30"?


Lulu reckons...

Posted Thursday
Simon, as someone who is in that category (okay, not one of your mates and not over 100kg, but you know what I mean), my response would probably be something along the lines of "Dude, I'm just fat, not blind."

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
I very much regret not saying anything. He was a good mate and we will never see him again. He popped in here once or twice, but he was more active at Blunty where he sometimes posted as 'Westius'.

The last six searches on his iPhone were "Am I having a heart attack?"

Ask me how I feel about the Fat Acceptance jihadists at the moment.

Murphy puts forth...

Posted Thursday
Having been heavy myself, in a relationship with someone else that struggles, and you having been on the same boat, would saying anything have done any good?

The power of denial is pretty strong, hence the six searches concerning heart attack as opposed to one followed by a call to EMS.

Cut yourself some slack, JB.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Patricia Escalon mutters...

Posted Thursday
I know what you mean JB. I've had to reassess my own routine. My old 1.5 hour yoga routine every day has turned into 30 minutes. And my cycling has become commute only. So I've upped the ante. Four yoga classes a week, and two of them at Teneriffe, which is further to go on the bicycle, plus possible PT sessions coming up.
Got 10 Kg to lose and dodgy liver. Can't afford to loosen up on this one...

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Bunyip mumbles...

Posted Thursday
Been seriously shedding weight for the last couple of months. At 1.85m, am now 85kg.

No grog, no going to the fish 'n chip shop, virtually no bread, and no baked custard tarts. Been eating lots of bananas, which seems to not be causing too much grief.

Exercise is still a work in progress; walk at least 2km a day, but I'm leery of pushing my back more than that. Once I'm up to a jog type speed, I'll have a crack at one the karate dojos we seem to have in town.

Had to drop a size in the trouser dept, dug out some jeans I haven't fitted into for about 10 years. Put an extra hole in the belt, looking at putting a second one in.

WIP. Need more cardio 7/10


John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted Thursday
Nice work, Bunyip.

Bunyip would have you know...

Posted Thursday
The last couple of Burger Lites have forced me to look at my lack of change in the lifestyle dept. I'm not twenty anymore, nor thirty or forty...

Old chassis and transmissions require more maintenance. Except for Greybeard. Because, pact with Those Who's Names We Cannot Mention.

Darth Greybeard reckons...

Posted Thursday
The best part is the lack of communication between the various Ancient and Diabolical Entities. I've sold the same soul to five different Ones now in return for various ... benefits. Maybe #6 will manage some weight loss?

Rob reckons...

Posted Friday
would love to be that weight Bunyip. Hopefully I can join that club in a few months.

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Bangar ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
Back to just under a ton, and off the grog three days a week. Expect to see the beer companies share price drop ;)

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Stevo of 6069 has opinions thus...

Posted Thursday
Took your advice JB. Remember the Halls Head Tavern convo well. Along with a boss of mine's chiding it stuck in my craw enough to make me do something from years of well meaning folk and family. Now, 30 kilos lighter since September 2013, now in a workplace challenge to beat one of managment down to Sub 100kg.

I'm gonna enjoy that...

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
Whoa, Stevo. Respect!

damian asserts...

Posted Thursday
Holy moly!

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SpittinChips mutters...

Posted Thursday
Apologies for doing the "this is how you suck eggs" routine, but for anyone trying to get healthier/slimmer using the low fat, calorie deficit method - and finding that it doesn't work (maybe it is, and that's great) - there's a chance you might like LCHF.

No links, no gurus, no unbelievable anecdotes - just sharing some love. Hope that is OK.

Cheers.

insomniac mumbles...

Posted Thursday
I'm trying it, but I think I need more exercise too

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Murphy asserts...

Posted Thursday
I am 43.

The main fitness effort this semester has been a college level Fitness Swimming class at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Taught by John Aust, Aquatics Director, Instructor, Coach, and my boss on Planet Lifeguard, I can say that I have learned more about swimming in the last few weeks than I had learned over the previous four years of lifeguarding.

The Woman I Love has taken him for three semesters, the current being her third. She has lost fifty pounds by swimming in his class on Tuesday Thursday mornings plus other swims as she works them in. I myself have not lost any weight but my waistline is slimmer, my upper body strength is greater, and my overall endurance is far higher. We both plan to keep at it next semester and on until I get a full time job teaching or simply can't afford to pay for the course.

My regret is that I have not matched the swimming with time in the gym lifting weights.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Rob ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
got an app on my non apple(HTC) smarty phone called 'my personal fitness'. Its a kilojoule and exercise tracker. So far I've lost 3 kilos. But managed to get lose 5 in total this year from a high of 118kg. So I'm on track to get all this weight off over the next few months. Been running 3.5 ks a day on my treadmill with a weights routine. So its all go from here to stop being an office schlub.

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Squid mutters...

Posted Thursday
Sorry to hear about your friend JB.

I'm about 20kg off my all time high of 102kg at the moment. The catalyst for dropping the last 10 was doing febfast this year. It's amazing how much laying off the booze helps, along with some calorie controlled food intake. Anyone that knows me knows my penchant for S&W Pacific Ale so laying off the booze was/is no easy feat.

I also got my backside down to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class and was going swimmingly until I found out that I'm not quite as agile as I used to be. 5 months later the bulging neck disc/pinched nerve has settled and will hopefully stay that way. Great exercise though.

Cliffs: 70% is the food/booze, 30% is the exercise.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted Thursday
Thx squid, and yeah you got the math just about right I reckon.

And those Brazilians, they're all about the spinal injuries.

damian asserts...

Posted Thursday
Yeah that rings true to me. Doing a 40km round trip cycle commute twice a week seems not to do much for me if I don't lay off the wine and the pulled-pork burgers. I can sense that getting portion sizes right is going to be hard, but really the calories in alcohol are the easy ones to drop. He says quietly sipping Pinot Grigio...

Oh yeah, 44 and 105kg, a lot of it belly fat.

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pablo has opinions thus...

Posted Thursday
My mates made jokes about us all packing on the pounds etc, "building a verandah over the playground" sort of thing.

The same mates asked me along to exercise, and kept asking me to. When I started to lose weight, make progress and notice, I then worked out what they had done. I was fatorexic, I was honestly looking in the mirror and seeing Wolverine, and I was 30kgs or more over weight.

Would I have minded if they called me fat in a rude, or nice way? I'm not sure I would have, but working it out for myself was the best way I could imagine.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted Thursday
Goddammit JB I was just about to make snickerdoodles.
I suppose I can go vacuum up a few acres of cat fluff instead.

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GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted Thursday
Sorry also to hear about your friend JB, all of us I'm sure have stories to tell about personal struggles to loose weight and/or simply get fit.

I'm a non-smoker but like a drink - carrying about 20kgs over my better belt size and fast approaching the same age when my mum had a stroke, she didn't drink or smoke, but her body manaufactured a surplus of the wrong kind of cholesterol, sometimes the writing's in the genes - but that shouldn't stop us from being our best.

Reading your latest posts JB on 'burger lite' and 'ebook thoughts' and the myriad responses by the core of the 10,000 have got me thinking about writing, creativity and health and not in an obtuse way - thanks Mr Boylan.

My beloved has been on my case, as has my family - four sisters, but reading these posts of late makes it strangely more real - some great pieces of advice everyone, keep it coming and JB just keep bashing dem keys, cos I really love to read your stuff.

GhostSwirv

Over and out


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beeso reckons...

Posted Thursday
750kms into 1000kms for the year, which isn't bad for a man with my time constraints. The only weights i do are baby related though.

Rob reckons...

Posted Thursday

mate, I still haven't lost the weight from the first kid.

And now they are both second year at university. I reckon half my eating issues are based around my kids intake. They have to eat a lot, so we eat even though when they aren't home I really don't eat at all. The other issue is eating at work to stave off the boredom. So the office life has taken its toll. But hey of the skinny chicks in HR and PR can stay lean I can get there too.

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
I assume you are saying its OK to "admire" skinny chicks if you are also skinny, otherwise you are a pervert/dirty old man.

Rob mutters...

Posted Friday
I think there is a saying about using the word assume...

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Anthony mutters...

Posted Thursday

Back down to a good weight but I can't claim any real credit. Chemo & radiotherapy made me lose my taste for the three major food groups (beer, wine and dead pig). Still, the taste buds have slowly come back and the nasties have gone for now.

Hopefully the weight will stay off since it's not come back on despite the resurgent taste buds. I suspect that a year of deprivation has reduced the inclination to over indulge.


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AuntyLou asserts...

Posted Thursday
Sorry to hear about your friend. We have two friends in the middle/late 50's range who have had massive strokes in the past year...you would think that would be enough to kick our podgy arses into gear. But honest! I have an excuse! I struggle with an ongoing health thingy which means lots of pain & lots of other stuff (nausea, IBS, dizziness etc) which makes extreme (ie most) exercise very tricky. I try to swim some every day...but that is about it. My current meds mean I can't drink & have depressed my appetite for the last 6 weeks or so - but still no weight loss. My doctor looks at me like I'm mad for wanting to bother about weight when I have pain shit to play with but I can't help but think these things are linked. Anyone got any ideas I can play with? I will listen to anything except homeopathy. Oh and well done Anthony..hope those nasties have buggered off for good. That said, not a method I would like to try!!

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JBtoo mumbles...

Posted Thursday
49 and have lost 12 kilos in the last year through 5:2, with cholesterol back in the ok range and blood pressure getting there. It's very slow and painful progress (Arthritis limits the exercise) but at least it's heading in right direction.
I doubt speaking up to your friend would have helped JB, the impetus for change has to come from within. But I'm very sorry you lost him.


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Lulu mutters...

Posted Thursday
44 (damn near 45), overweight, not sure of current weight (but know it's far north of unacceptable). Despite that, my cholesterol was okay last time I checked (2 years ago) and my BP has always been on the low end of normal (usually about 110:70) but last week it was 120:82, which bothered me more than it did my GP (she was unconcerned).

I *know* I should lose weight: it's the gap between knowing and knowing how, and between knowledge & action which is the problem.

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Bunyip swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Thursday
The best bit about losing weight; the feedback from people I know. A mate of mine asked me recently "Have you lost weight?" and then, with a twinkle in his eye, followed up with "Was it deliberate?"

Given he was being a wee bit flirty, (he bats for another team), I told him it was a question of feeling sexy, and as my belly wasn't it had to go. Got a laugh.

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Babes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
I agree with Murph, be kind to yourself. You weren't almost going to tell him anything he didn't know already. But I am right there with you, I've had to give up booze completely (tears!) until at least the holidays to get healthy again (stomach ulcers--WTF!), and then I plan to finally get back in the shape I like to be in, which is currently about 40 lbs away. And hopefully feel healthier than I have this past year for many, many years to come.

By the way, there's a character in my novel named Murphy! At least that's what he tries to get people to call him, because his first name is Atticus.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted Friday
Ha. Suck it, Atticus!

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Naut is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday

Turn 40 tomorrow, 185cm and about 87kgs of awesome. Smashing the Personal Records on Strava and preparing for my second Ironman in March. Building up to 12-14 hour training weeks, work permitting.

Have ordered a Garmin Vivio band thingy so that paired with an HR monitor I can better track my daily calorie burn. Match that against consumption in MyFitnessPal and see if I can get the body fat% right down.

Being fit is awesome. So many upsides, including the occasional guilt free donut.

insomniac mumbles...

Posted Friday
I'm not sure if your type is welcome here.

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Naut reckons...

Posted Friday
There is no "type" that can adequately encapsulate my awesome.

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GhostSwirv puts forth...

Posted Friday

Forever more I shall think of you as Naut-some.

Naut mumbles...

Posted Friday
Where is the "Like" button???

Bangar reckons...

Posted Saturday
Under the special button ;)

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tqft reckons...

Posted Friday
Stable to down a little.
Unemployment and stress makes for plenty of empty calories combined with chained to a desk looking at stupid job ads.
But I have cutback on the doughnuts

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andy f asserts...

Posted Saturday

lost maybe 3 1/2 stone in 2 years, mostly by giving up,,,, fizzy pop.

fizzy pop is poison, ditch the mixers


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Angus D mutters...

Posted 1 hour ago
Dropped around 30kg between 2011 to 2013, most of it since I moved to Canberra (for those playing at home, this has meant I've gone from a 36-38 pants size to a 30-32, and from XL/XXL shirts to Small). No magical formula, just knocked off the ciggies, started eating less and exercising more (incl. walking to work). Have put about 5-6kg back on this year, but that's mostly due to lifting heavy weights again.

Overall, for a guy in my early 30s, I'm pretty happy with my health. The goal these days is to keep the workout routine interesting/varied so I stay engaged. Seeing the number of out of shape guys in the office (particularly in their early-mid 20s), motivation is no problem. Kinda wish there was a way to politely suggest they do some exercise without running foul of HR. :-/

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Ebook thoughts

Posted Wednesday into Writing by John Birmingham

Just sent my agent two outlines for Hooper ebooks. I can’t really talk about them without giving away spoilers for the main novels, since they follow a couple of the major non Point of View characters Dave deals with.

I would have written these books anyway, but they were a done deal a while ago. Hooper is the narrator (in third person) of the long form novels. We do get inside the ugly heads of a couple of monsters, but we never see anything from the points of view of Dave’s sidekicks.

It was a real problem when I was first writing the books. I had no idea what the supporting characters were thinking. It forced me to rewrite a few chapters in their voices, just to get inside their heads. Those passages don’t appear in the ebooks, but they inform them and they definitely inspired them.

Having finished major operations on most of the main series, with just some page proofing and one copy edit check to go, I have until January 5 to play around with the short form stories. I’ve plotted out two Hooper ebooks, written about half of another one, The Demons of Buttecracke County, and of course I still have Stalin’s Hammer to deal with.

A lot of my thinking time at the moment is given over to trying to nut out how to make it all work; not narratively, but practically.

I’ve scheduled Jan-Sept next year as the initial writing phase of the second Hooper series, but each individual title only needs ten weeks of first drafting. That means I’ll be rewriting and eventually copy editing and proofing three manuscripts in different stages of development by mid year. I’ve just done that, so I know it’s possible, but also a real time management challenge.

Adding to the complexity, I have also finally allotted real time to researching and writing that book on the history of fear I promised Picador so many years ago. It will only get two hours a day, but it will get those two hours every day from Jan 5. It adds up.

So, doing the math. I can devote four hours a day (eight ‘pomodori’ sessions with breaks) to Hooper, and another four pomo sessions (25 mins per sesh, with five min break between) to Fear. My afternoons are given over to wrangling kids and I’ve stopped pretending I can do any really heavy writing of an evening any more. The days of cranking thousands of words a night are over. Orin wins.

Blunty gets written on Monday afternoon. My Saturday column for the Herald takes up most of Thursday morning. So I'm not sure where I have time to commit to regular ebook work. Certainly not during the day. And yet, I really want to do these ebooks. If I keep them to 20K words, they’re not an unreasonable time suck. Perhaps just an hour of an evening, which would deliver 600-800 words, but only two nights a week, with another session on the weekend? With both kids in high school next year, it’s not unusual to find the whole family at their keyboards for long hours on a Sunday. Sad, but true. This is how we live now.

Once Fear is done, a lot of this crashing and grinding of gears will end and the ten hours a week I gave to the nonfiction project can be allotted to the ebooks. But even when I sort out the workflow issues, I still have a gnarly little problem with regional rights.

Ebooks work best when released regularly (ha!) to a global audience. The regularity is a matter of my scheduling. The global audience is a matter of multiple publishers coming to an agreement and working with each other. (Again, ha!) What I would like to do is simply give the rights to one ebook, to one publisher, globally. Say, Del Rey/Random first. Then the world rights to next one would turn over to Momentum. That way everyone gets a feed of the whole pie, not just little slices of it.

Is that kind of deal likely?

Who knows? Luckily, it’s not my problem to sort out. That’s why I have an agent.

Before anyone suggest I go all Hugh Howey and do it myself, nah. That’s not gonna happen. Publishers are good. I like them a lot. Howey’s model works for him. That doesn’t mean it would work for anyone else. I know the value the publishers add during editing and production. It's immense. Sure, I could buy in that expertise, but why the hell would I take on that expense and risk? No, I'll leave that to Hugh.

28 Responses to ‘Ebook thoughts’

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Wednesday
I've got a project I'm polishing up to send out to market and with some similar time challenges, I set one simple objective for getting scenes hammered out.

I limited each scene to about the size of a typical (for me) FB post or no longer than 500 words. They weren't going to stay that way, I'd flesh them out later and I have been.

Following that strategy I had a first draft for a story of about 4,000 words done within a week while wrangling other commitments.

Might I suggest something similar for the ebooks? A hundred words pumped onto the page here, a hundred there, angling for 500 a day. I managed to do this while lifeguarding, prepping for Fall Semester, dealing with three dogs, and the research effort on my end.

It might be something to try. If nothing else, you can get closer to a point where, when you get a break, you could finish an ebook.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted Wednesday
In a sense that's what I'm doing, murph. I tend to think of any writing sesh less than two hours as nook and cranny work. An hour a night? That's chump change in my writing schedule. I just don't know whether its sustainable

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted Wednesday
I struggle with writing at night as well when it comes to fiction. Still, you easily tweet a hundred words a night. Take some of those words and throw them at the ebooks. Every little pebble you throw at that project will be one less bit of work you have to do later.

I find it works best in spurts of three to four days followed by a bit of fallow time.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches


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insomniac asserts...

Posted Wednesday
I guess your only option is to give up the family. They appear to be wasting your valuable writing time.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted Wednesday
I am fascinated by your ideas and would very much like to subscribe to your pamphlet.

Bunyip mumbles...

Posted Wednesday
Solyent Green LITE. As advertised by Greybeard.

Chaz asserts...

Posted Wednesday
nothing Lite about Greybeard

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GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted Wednesday

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GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted Wednesday
Apologies if a blank space just appeared - a premature click - or an existential realisation of the true nature of what's inside my head - Insomniac's opine, while likely also true may be a little too harsh.

Perhaps JB you could consider the CLIVE CUSSLER model and simply rope in other authors to do the grunt work. On the first page/front cover you bump your name up a few font sizes and invite the likes of Greybeard, Murph, Shifty, Boylan and other creatures of the 'Cheese' to bang out the text a line at a time.

Either that or you need to clone yourself - and/or asking a favour of Campbell Newman to increase 'daylight saving' - you need all the extra hours you can get.

GhostSwirv

Over and out

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted Wednesday
I thought the blank comment was an ultra pithy ironic non comment. Now that I realize it was a mistake, I feel intellectually obtuse.

Sudragon is gonna tell you...

Posted Wednesday
Cloning...eeeehhh, always the problem of feeding and they tend to get uppity and want to be treated like real people.

Go with a Turing Image...better yet, go with three so they can argue about plot points with a 2-1 tie breaking decision process.

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Therbs asserts...

Posted Wednesday
Swap that for a game of soldiers. Sounds like work.

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Maddoug mutters...

Posted Wednesday
Very pleased to hear you'll be revisiting Buttecrake County.
"SKULL, SKULL, SKULL!!!"

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Therbs asserts...

Posted Wednesday
Did anyone keep the audio of Bedes' Butte radio play? It was fun.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted Wednesday
I've got the audio AND the illustrations.

I am fucking pissed off that, had I known about it earlier, I could have been there. I hate when that happens.

Therbs reckons...

Posted Wednesday

You were always Bedes' favourite. It's okay, I can handle that.No, don't say anything, its ok, really.

Look, maybe just a little miffed, but seriously, there's no need to apologise.

I said forget it, ok?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted Wednesday
No. I will revel in the winter of my discontent.

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Bangar reckons...

Posted Wednesday
Is now a good time to ask about the Leviathan update?

Chaz mumbles...

Posted Wednesday

Yes I also can remember a promise made about a new edition of Leviathan...

Another election promise broken..

Sorry wrong thread

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted Wednesday
Today I worked for about four hours, primarily sending nasty emails.
Then I took a nap. Then I played with my dog. Then my wife came home.

John, you make me feel like slacker.

Bunyip reckons...

Posted Wednesday
  • Sat in a cafe, eating rabbit pie whilst working on draft table top game mechanics
  • Went for a 2km walk whilst taking *more* photos of tree bark textures
  • Redrafted an procedural protocol
  • Exchanged trollish meme pics with some folk online, whilst discussing with them hypothetical game mechanics changes for an aspect of World of Tanks.

I *could* feel like I'm having too much fun, but hey, self medicating...

PNB, you obviously need more ouzo.


Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Wednesday
I know it may sound out of character, but I don't really like ouzo. I much prefer Slivovitz. Preferably Serbian Slivo.

insomniac reckons...

Posted Wednesday
I just sat at my desk with my thumb up my arse until I went home at 3.30. I had to cut short my goofing off time.

damian mumbles...

Posted Wednesday
Only Croatian slivovica seems to be in plentiful supply here at the moment. It's pretty nice actually, but my Serb friend would rather pour it on his own testicles and set it on fire than drink it.

Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Thursday
Croatian. A work colleague once brough me back a litre of the stuff from one of their plum brandy festivals where they all get munted on the stuff and have fights. Wonderful stuff, five of us downed half a bottle before lunch time.

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Anthony asserts...

Posted Wednesday

I did an online trivia quiz, some gardening, took my motorcycle for a ride and successfully avoided writing the submission for a paper I've been asked to do for a conference next year and also the report I was going to finish by Saturday. Still, I don't get paid for that report so it can wait.

I think I'm developing procrastination to a fine art.

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Abe Frellman ducks in to say...

Posted Wednesday
I find if I deliberately put off writing something but keep thinking about the topic in the 'back burner' part of my brain it kind of writes itself... It's a little like forced constipation. If I keep holding it back, eventually the note/paper/article needs to come out and then: stand back, while it comes out with a rush. Think my record is a 3000 words in about two and a half hours. And it was about the best stuff I've written.

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robW reckons...

Posted Wednesday
Is the Solar Project dead, then? I know it lives on in the spam I get from when the site was cracked, but otherwise....

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Gentrification in one simple paragraph

Posted Tuesday by John Birmingham

Those of you who don't subscribe to Dave Pell's daily news round up, Next Draft, should. It always collects the most interesting stuff on the net.

But Pell himself is a bit of a word cowboy too. I loved this opening par, linking to a longer WaPo story on hyper expensive activated walnut merchant, Wholefoods, moving into a slum. It's an almost perfect example of compressing a complex process into a short, pithy block of text:

There's an order to things when a neighborhood gentrifies. A scrappy company moves into some cheap office space. A dive bar gets hip. Exposed brick becomes a feature, not a bug. Facades improve. Rents go up. Graffiti becomes street art. People get dogs they can carry. Milk is replaced by soy which is replaced by almond. Parking gets tough. Facial hair turns ironic. Long-johns evolve into yoga pants. GMO-free wet cat food becomes a thing. A new Whole Foods breaks ground. The family next door gets chickens. And someone in a Tesla who's drinking artisanal kombucha gives you a dirty look for inadequate composting. But what if things went out of order? What if the Whole Foods opened first?

14 Responses to ‘Gentrification in one simple paragraph’

Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Tuesday
That would be crazy. Reverso world. Like hipsters moving into Vaucluse.

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ShaneAlpha has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
Next you'll be telling me that they're going to convert from Pastafarianism to some god-awful mainstream religion, where you actually believe non-ironically.

Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted Wednesday
I've already converted from Pastafarianism but I wouldn't call it main stream. http://thebloggess.com/2014/11/the-church-of-bloggessianism-choose-your-title-strangelings/
The commandments regarding bacon, extra gravy, extra holidays and optional pants were too good to pass up.

insomniac asserts...

Posted Wednesday
If one is still an atheist but has cut out as many carbs, including pasta, as possible from one's diet, does that imply one has converted?

Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted Wednesday
Heretic! Apostate!

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Nocturnalist puts forth...

Posted Tuesday
Fuck that, almond milk is awesome.

Eh, I skipped the soy and went straight to the almond.

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S.M. Stirling mumbles...

Posted Wednesday
The article makes one long for screaming mobs non-ironically chasing these people down the street with baseball bats and cans of gasoline and matches and ropes.

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
Burn the beards

Darth Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted Wednesday
#NOTALLBEARDS

Bangar mutters...

Posted Wednesday
#doesn'tincludegoatees

Lulu asserts...

Posted Wednesday
#goateesarejustpreburntbeards

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dweeze would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
#keepyourflamingtorchsawayfrommyfuknbeard
#shavingisforsheeple
#gentrificationsucksironicarse

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Shifty Tourist reckons...

Posted Wednesday
#actuallyitsaboutethicsinbeards

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
#beardgate

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