January, 2016

Jan 16


I was feeling dangerous. I was ready for some brinksmanship. Risk? Why not. I’ve always been a risk taker. But what should it be? Jumping a motorcycle between two high buildings? Juggling scorpions? Taking a weird new designer drug? No–I went a little crazier…I decided *to install Windows 10.*

People had warned about it, shook their heads grimly over the new OS. But I laugh at fear. And also I was bored with my computer set up. I surrendered to Microsoft’s plaintive entreaties that I download it…especially as it was offered free, if I downloaded now, for the life of the machine (they’re working their way into a fee system their new software, it’s a new model for such things).

I…did it. At the outset, they give you a set of apps to say yes to, and they advise you that it’s what’s best about Windows 10 etc. But most of the apps are based on your sharing heaps of preferences, browsing history, likes and dislikes etc, with them. Purchases, whatever. “You share with us and we’ll share the world.” Only to me–that’s intrusive and is likely to actually deny much of the world to me. They’ll notify, offer, show…and it’ll be based on my interests and biases and histories…and it’ll be a media echo chamber. Instead of offering the world they’ll filter it, really, in the long run. The the real risk here is that echo chamber…I want to explore the world without their prompting. And I don’t want to give them info on me needlessly, and I don’t want them looking over my shoulder, always breathing down my neck. So I bravely said NO to all that.. If you haven’t turned their intrusive stuff off, including their keystroke logger, go to Settings, then find Security and Advanced Security and turn all that stuff off. I also found a place to turn off their targeted Microsoft ads..Their “Siri” variant, Cortana (name from an imaginary female-seeming AI in Microsoft’s Halo game), also requires you to give her all your info before she can help you. You want her–you got to pay up, bruh. In data. . .So I said no to her pimp, too.

Alarmingly, after the OS was installed they warned me that a couple of my programs wouldn’t be working properly with their system–and one of them was a vital one for me: Final Draft, which is required by many production companies as a script formatter. I just used it for an animation script for Nick, and I used it for a spec horror script based on my story The Rubber Smile. I need it. But it turned out my Final Draft 8 still works FINE! It’s just that because of my preferences it’s not hooked up with “Windows Insider”; the app doesn’t get data from Final Draft so “Final Draft is not working properly”. This seems dishonest to me…All that matters is Final Draft IS actually working–and so is Windows 10. I’m all for its improved virus protection; my computer actually seems to be running a bit more rapidly now. Even facebook runs a bit better for me. So–I won. I jumped the motorcycle between softwares. I sneer…at fear.

Jan 16

The Character Under the Characterless Character

It’s intriguing–how the inner life of a person can be so rich, while their outer life might seem wizened and shabby…I was quite struck by something last night.

First I should tell you, I don’t often go to open mike poetry readings. They tend to make me wince (though there are good poets among those who are essentially vanity poets) and the hard chairs hurt my rump. I took my wife to a reading in San Francisco’s Haight last night because our friend Harry Scifres Robins was reading, and I had some of my new Weird Poetry along (written for ST Joshi’s SPECTRAL REALMS); Hal Robins always gives a fine performance. He recited classics including a favorite of mine by Thomas Hardy.

Most others read their own material, including a chunky older gentleman wearing a tall knit winter hat shaped like the cap of an ink pen. He mumbled–as so many do at these things; his intonation was especially feeble, and despite a microphone he was nearly inaudible. He had little outer affect of any kind. I pictured him talking to people out in the world, imagined their eyes glazing over as his general external blurriness smudged him out of their attention. Struggling to hear him, I made out a line here, a couplet there–several about love, and others evoking various sides of the human condition…and the words were strongly wrought, incisive, fairly original; his lines were the product of sharp observation, of compassion, and a genuinely poetic sensibility. But everything about his outer person and his manner was a blur, without distinction. His self expression seemed numbed. There was an incapacity for projecting to other people…

Thinking about it, I’m sorry I didn’t tell him that I liked his poetry; and I’m interested in the fact that *externally* he was a kind of caricature of the characterless; that he was the personification of blandness and poor speaking skills…I heard him say a few words offstage to others; it was the same–and their eyes glazed. . .and yet his poetry (when audible) reveals that his *inner life* is rich, energetic, vigorous…

And it reminds me that everyone we see has an outer life, and an inner life. And the inner life is another world entirely.