Book Review: Dust

By Joan Frances Turner

Dust wants to be a book about zombies. It even had zombies in it, or things it calls zombies. It's true, these zombies fit most of the zombie stereotypes, formerly dead humans who've come back to life through some sort of process, shamble around, and eat human flesh, but I have issues seeing them as zombies.

Originally published at Book Review: Dust

LotD: 2010 04 19

When Penguins Attack 2–because you’ve always wanted to kill penguins, yes? (Ganked from the Woot! blog

Do you do a webcomic? Tell Warren Ellis, and all his ravening fans.

An idiot vomits at a ball game in Philly, and all hell breaks loose.

The Tales of Cathcart Zen. (Warning: this might break your mind. Tell your therapist that I’m not to blame; Warren Ellis is.)

Willow rants about everything she loves about Dominion (part II). (If you want to start from the beginning, here’s part I.)

More from Warren Ellis, wherein he discusses ‘atemporality’. Quite frankly, I don’t know if I want to spend the next 10 years in that.

Swiss on minarets

So, since I never post here anymore, I thought I'd address some current world news. Switzerland has just banned the building of minarets.

For those of you who don't know what minarets are, they're often depicted as those tall round thingies that the muslims use to issue their 5 times daily call for prayer. Wikipedia has more information on their use and history. Now, there's obviously a religious connection here, but I was rather surprised that the Swiss were that paranoid of the whole "religious buildings" thing. Frankly, I'm rather surprised that someone managed to persuade 57% of the Swiss population that minarets are an obvious and deadly danger to civilised society. Of course, the reactions don't help much:

From the above article:
The Swiss foreign minister warned on Tuesday that a decision by voters in Switzerland to ban new mosque minarets could endanger security, amid stark warnings about a broader threat of extremism.

Because Iran, of course, has the moral high ground over maybe Hitlereveryone else:
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tuesday condemned a Swiss referendum banning the construction of minarets in the country, local English language satellite Press TV reported.

Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast described the Swiss minaret ban as an "Islamophobic act" and a blow to the religious freedom declared in the West, the report said.

"We consider such acts as inappropriate, a move that is against the Western claims of democracy and religious freedom," he told reporters, adding that "surprisingly some of the actions of the West have Islamophobic roots."

Sources indicate that this constitutional amendment (yes, the Swiss decided that the only way to do this was to enshrine it in their constitution) will be challenged at the European Court of Human Rights, since this likely violates the spirit, if not the letter, of at least a couple of treaties Switzerland is subject to. Of course, if the court rules against them, what's going to happen? (I'm not an expert on this, but I doubt there's teeth enough to do much.) Surely it won't put the Swiss people even more up in arms at having their national sovereignty interfered with!

I suppose something like this is the tragic result of actually trusting people to run their own country. Of course, we've been seeing Europe get around that a lot lately, with politicians doing their best to avoid referendums on bolstering the European Union--remember how much of a fiasco the Irish thing was, until they'd had so many votes that people got sick of it?

This action by the Swiss is only bolstering similar attempts by other right-wing parties (which amount to ethnic/nationalist purists even more in Europe than in the US, imo), like in Holland and Denmark. One wonders where this is going to lead, and what the reaction of the Islamic world is going to be. (After all, look at all the hullaboo that ensued when someone dared to *gasp* draw a picture of Muhammad.)

I have trouble figuring out what the benefit in this is, but the potential problems should be clearly visible to anyone with half a brain.


So, the Obama people posted what President Obama is going to give as his "back to school" speech. A lot of people have been panicking and knee-jerk saying that their schools weren't going to show it, or (more sensibly) saying that they're going to allow parents to opt their kids out of seeing it. Of course, an early version of their recommended lesson plan didn't help the fear-mongers, by including questions asking students how they want to help Obama with his agenda.

I found myself asking myself why in the world this "controversy" was news. No one really knew what was going to be in the speech, even though the administration was assuring people that it would be totally innocuous. (Of course, we've had the administration tell us things before and seen it not pan out.) I suppose it's because everyone loves to blow a story out of proportion. I figure, if a school doesn't think the speech works with their educational environment, there's nothing "must-have" about it, and if a parent doesn't want his/her child to be forced to watch Obama make a motivational speech, I'm not going to have a problem with that, either--I'm a firm supporter of parental discretion.

Now the actual text of the speech is out there, so people can read it for themselves. (I highly doubt they're going to deviate from the text. This is likely exactly what the teleprompter will be spitting out.) It seems like not such a big deal. The only times policy come in, really, is the following, early in the speech: "I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve."
And, as policy goes, that's really not all that controversial.

Of course, I also find myself questioning the effectiveness of the speech. I mean, Obama wants a speech broadcast to children (who are in school when the speech is played) encouraging them to stay in school. Wouldn't a better way to present the message be to buy up (or get donated) a bunch of commercial time on children-oriented television programs? That way you'd catch all the kids who habitually skip school. They're the ones who need the motivation, no?

literary project management

Authors, I have a question for you.

When managing different writing projects, do you use any kind of project management software? I'm thinking of keeping multitasking with different discrete projects in progress at the same time, as well as managing one project with additions and revisions, and managing ideas for projects which aren't yet started and keeping track of projects which have already been published.

If you do use project management software, what do you use?

If you don't use project management software, how do you keep track of the aforementioned things?


So, the hot word on the street today in entertainment news is that Disney is buying Marvel.

I'll say this, and many other people have said it: I don't trust Disney with Marvel. Marvel has some good properties that they've done good things with, and an excellent movie studio (which I think is the main reason Disney wants it).

That being said, I really don't know how this will turn out. If Disney keeps a hands-off approach to Marvel, it may work well. If Disney interferes too much, I think the properties that Marvel has won't do well. I highly suspect that Disney will end up interfering, to some extent. The company line right now seems to be, "Look at Pixar! Disney isn't interfering in them!" Yeah, that's right, but Pixar doesn't produce content that's explicitly more adult-oriented than mainstream Disney. This isn't to say that Marvel produces porn, but most of its content is directly aimed at a higher age bracket than much of Disney. A better comparison, terms of content, would be Miramax, but I don't see people in Disney and Marvel making it, and this worries me.

I think that the independent comics scene will see an influx of new talent, and we might see a new major comics company put together to rival the DC behemoth, which I think is going to become dominant in the US comics industry, especially as the Disney corporate culture starts bleeding into Marvel. I've already seen Warren Ellis say outright that he won't be writing Disney comics, but I'm not sure if he'll draw a distinction between Disney and Marvel properties in the future.

In a nutshell, Disney will certainly benefit. Marvel movies will get better distribution, assuming their properties aren't killed. I highly doubt that Marvel fans will benefit, though.