Peeve of the Day

I can’t decide whether this article in the New York Times is more insulting to Mormons (which I am not one of) or to writers of genre fiction (which I am):

Mormons Offer Cautionary Lesson on Sunny Outlook vs. Literary Greatness

But I do know that after a while, the unquestioned assumption that science fiction, fantasy, and young adult/children’s fiction are inherently lesser literary forms gets really, really old.

It has gotten better over the years, at least a little bit.  With science fiction and fantasy having taken over so much of popular culture, at least it’s no longer the case that reading and writing the stuff is grounds for labeling someone a dangerous weirdo, or a pathetic basement-dweller, or a member of the tinfoil-hat brigade.

No, these days it merely labels us as not serious.

(It’s worse if you’re female.  Being a girl means you start out with negative seriousness points.)

Granted, it’s good to be no longer reflexively sneered at by the likes of the New York Times.  But being reflexively patronized isn’t all that much better.

The Transience of Things

Today’s pop-up target was my LCD monitor’s sudden affliction with creeping screen rot.  It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose; I got this monitor back in 2008 or so, and nothing lasts forever.  Especially nothing involving computers — though they do get cheaper; our very first computer, the Atari 800 of blessed memory (48 screamin’ K of RAM!  Upper and lower case letters!), cost nearly ten times as much as my most recent computer purchase.

Of course, that was back when personal computers were still mostly the domain of electronics enthusiasts, and Gates and Jobs and Wozniak and their fellows were still regarded as (admittedly, fairly well-off) nerds, rather than as giants in the earth.  These days, computers are appliances, like televisions or toaster ovens; they’ve gone from being a luxury good to something we assume most people have — at any rate, we tend to regard lack of computer access as a sign of economic misfortune, if not outright poverty.

What these changes mean for me is that I was able to order a new monitor of somewhat higher quality than the old one for less money than the old one cost, even figuring in the extra expense of speedy delivery.  And I console myself with the thought that at least the monitor died this month, when the tidal nature of freelance income meant that I could replace it, rather than last month, when I would have been left with nothing to work on but my little netbook.

Shakespeare was a Glovemaker’s Son

This post here says it all, really.

You don’t need an M.F.A. to write.  You don’t need a B.A. in English to write.  In fact, you don’t need any sort of specialized education whatsoever to write.  (Jane Austen was tutored at home by her father and brothers; Charlotte Bronte had maybe half a dozen years of formal schooling, at least a couple of them at a boarding school so hellish she turned it into that ghastly boarding school in Jane Eyre.) You don’t even need to be a native speaker of the language you decide you’re going to write in.  (Joseph Conrad’s first language was Polish; Vladimir Nabokov wrote his first novels in Russian.)

You just need to write.

So go do it.

Fun and Games with Software

Or, today I upgraded from Windows 8.0 to Windows 8.1, which was just as much fun as it ever is.  In the process, I’ve learned that everything is an app now, and not just the small handy things that come from the app store . . . when they say “you’ll have to reinstall your apps,” they’re talking about everything.

Fortunately, I had backups.  I did have one moment of near-panic when I couldn’t find my installation files for Quicken 4.  The newer versions of the program use a different file format than the older ones, probably because the nice people (and I use the term loosely) at Intuit want their users to keep buying new versions of their software, instead of sticking with the one that’s been doing just fine for a decade or so now, and I wouldn’t even mind it so much if there were a conversion utility or something like that available — but there isn’t.  You need, so far as I can figure out, to convert your Quicken 4 files into Quicken 6 files in order to convert the Quicken 6 files into the latest format.

Fortunately, I found the files.  And my backup Quicken data files are on a separate drive.  So that’s all right.

And I’d like to take this opportunity to plug MozBackup, a freeware utility for backing up Firefox and Thunderbird. It has saved me a great deal of sorrow and tears.