Finished part one (first four chapters) of Ron today. Hurrah. That clocks in at somewhere around 30,000 to 35,000 words. In the first draft of Ron, part one was about 5,000 words. I knew I was doing a second draft before finishing the first one for a reason – the whole piece was being thrown out of whack by the too-short opening.
Anyway, there are four parts, plus ‘bonus’ chapters between the parts. If this wordcount is any guide, I’m gonna hit (4x30k + 3x7k=141k) about 140,000 words for the first completed manuscript.
Just like In Move.
And just like Fell Legacy.
Hmmm. There seems to be a pattern forming here.
In other news, I seem to be entering the category of published RPG writery guy.
Appearing in next month’s Signs & Portents is ‘Breakdown Control’, a crazy game setting thing written for Gar Hanrahan‘s OGL Horror. It’s a good piece. I’m proud of it. I tried to make it something that Warren Ellis (careful – Warren’s site isn’t worksafe) would look at and say: “This is good.” I think I managed a “this doesn’t suck,” which is good enough for me.
Here’s the blurb for those to lazy to click:
“Breakdown Control – A violent world of brutal terror opens up in this new campaign toolkit for OGL Horror. One minute you are nobody special, then you receive a briefcase and inside a cellphone is ringing. Well, are you going to answer it? Of course you are.”

If that doesn’t seem like my writing, you’re right. But it does the job well enough. No-one’s gonna buy it for the OGL Horror stuff – it has a Paranoia XP adventure within and that’s gonna be the big drawcard, methinks.

But my article’s gonna be the best thing in it.

(I have to say that.)

MMR and autism

In the papers today, the Lancet’s report on the MMR-Autism link. Or absence of link, actually.
The huge public suspicion of these innoculations is driven by the human tendency for magic thinking. This can cause real problems, undermining the health of whole populations. And the only way out is not to provide more evidence, but to properly educate people as to what the evidence demonstrates and how science actually works.
Here’s the problem in action, the reaction of Bill Welsh of Scotland’s Action Against Autism pressure parents group, to the news that the Lancet study found no convincing evidence of a link between MMR and autism:
“They may have found evidence that did show a link, but they did not find it convincing . It is just clever language and we have had enough of it. What parents want to know is what causes autism, not what does not cause it.”
Someone needs to take this guy aside and explain that:
(1) unconvincing evidence is not evidence
(2) that sort of clever language is needed to talk about the process of science, which operates with precision
(3) it is impossible to demonstrate what causes something – science works by ruling out things that are not causes, and saying what’s left is the most likely explanation.
I suspect someone’s already tried to do this, of course. Probably their clever language was dismissed in short order. Clever language can’t stand in the way of magic, after all.


American election politics is a cesspit.
We know this.
What frustrates me is that the cesspit is dominating the election. Which is the point, of course.
In some sense, the election could be decided by whether swing voters believe Kerry won his purple hearts in Vietnam fraudulently, or Bush concealed his failure to meet his national guard obligations. In frikkin’ Vietnam.
Yep, this sure is the most important issue on the US plate today.
Shot around on an outside hoop in glorious sunshine yesterday. Damn, that felt good.


Lord Butler, yesterday:
“Although none of us on the committee doubted or doubt today the prime minister’s and the government’s good faith in concluding that Saddam Hussein had concealed stocks of chemical and biological weapons – that was a view shared by most other countries and indeed by [chief weapons inspector] Dr Hans Blix – the government’s dossier in September 2002 did not make clear that the intelligence underlying those conclusions was very thin.”
Also: “The link between the Iraq regime and the spread of international terrorism was really not one supported by the intelligence.”
Translation: yes, Tony believed it, but the evidence wasn’t really there. And the Iraq – Al Qaeda thing wasn’t there either.
Just like the anti-war left’s been bloody saying all along.
And yet the Butler report, like the Hutton report before it, have somehow become weapons for the pro-war faction. Aaaargh. War with Eastasia, etc.
From Guardian print edition, my favourite:
“We did not of course say that no one was to blame for the shortcomings. At the press conference, I said that no individual was to blame.”
Oh! Silly us for being confused and not challenging all the pro-war pundits who misrepresented your meaning! Such a pity you didn’t feel the need to step up and clarify your position until now, huh?
Pretty much everything the anti-war left said about Iraq has come to pass. The fact that this isn’t recognised just shows how much traction the pro-war caricature of the anti-war position has gained. And it makes me mad. (Cue Twisted Sister riff.*)
*I admit it, when I first saw the video to ‘we’re not gonna take it’, I was scared by it. But won over. Strangely, a career in glam metal didn’t follow, but such are life’s mysteries.

That Point Where

they just get you your latte when you come in the door – that’s where I’m at with a couple of the cafes around the place. Pretty cool. Neither one holds a candle to my beloved Eva Dixons (RIP), of course, but they’re not bad places to hang out and write.
I’m doing that thing of ‘one hour every day’ and its sort of working. Its a bit slower than I’d like but I’m writing Ron longhand and there are no worktables at home, so I can only work on it out of the house. There are plenty of other things to occupy me in the counter-hours, anyway.
I’ve retooled my website. I’ll launch it soon when I have a bit more content in hand. It has a key position in The Plan.
I’m hearing enthusiastic noises about a couple of game magazine articles, but I’ll reserve my happiness until I receive a cheque or I see my name in print. Preferably both.
I’m shying away from the world at large a little at the moment. The horror of what happened in Russia is something I’ve only slowly walked up to, days afterward. More storms and freaky weather all over the world indicate climate change isn’t slowing down. And I don’t want to think about what it means that Bush is currently holding an electoral lead in the US. It is all a bit much right now.
Some stuff I want to draw attention to:
kids from the Rocinho favela in Brazil photograph their world – linked to by my host David.
Jenni‘s entry on body image – and the comments that follow. “It gets me down that some of my friends can’t also be happy with their bodies. I don’t see them as bodies, I see them as beautiful girls.” When we look at body image we can see how, in a mediated society driven by consumerism, feedback loops can fundamentally distort our notions of what is proper for humanity. This is going to be a bigger and bigger battleground in the coming years. No Logo and Supersize Me are the groundwork of a massive argument to come.
(I might note that Supersize Me is having an effect on people far larger than I expected – I mean, surely everyone knows already that eating only McDonalds supercombo meals is going to be bad? I’ve realised that the genius of Spurlock’s doco is simply that it demonstrates the relationship between what we eat and how healthy we are. It is a relationship that we know intellectually – but the fact is that human behaviour just doesn’t think that’s enough sometimes. Through this doco we can understand the relationship viscerally, and the two together are much more powerful than one alone. It doesn’t matter that none of us eat McD’s and only McD’s – its real influence is helping us realise that what we eat really does matter, just like our pesky book-learnin’ keeps telling us.)
Talking about big documentaries, the inimitable dreadbeard points out the elephant in the living room re: Fahrenheit 9/11:
“In my opinion, Fahrenheit 9-11 is directed explicitly to the American non-voting poor, aimed at explaining what is going on to them and why they should not allow Bush to be re-elected. The entire manner of the film is structured as a conversation to these people from one of tehir own, saying the President is an incompetent liar serving the interests of his friends the wealthy elite who is willing to lie and manipulate you and send you off to fight and die in service of his agenda. The opinion of any other demographic is irrelevant.”
I’m kinda wondering how we all managed to miss that.

Ron excerpt

[Cass talks about her grandmother]
Judith, though, was worth it. Story: she was out for a walk one night and came across this kid spraypainting some anti-Thatcher graffiti on a council wall. “I told him, you, I said, sharpish. Give that here, I said.” And she would have too in that nails-hard voice you just wouldn’t ever want to cross. And she took the spraycan from the kid and slapped his arm and then she fucking rattled it – “They make a little rattle” – and she sprayed in an apostrophe. Christ knows what the kid thought. I checked it out the next day and sure enough, ‘Thatcher’s Britain is HELL’. Fuck I laughed.