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adalger: Earthrise as seen from the moon, captured on camera by the crew of Apollo 16 (Default)
Monday, August 20th, 2012 10:43 pm
Petey ran the fingers of his right hand along the decorative binding on the edge of the curtain. It was made of the same sheer cotton as the curtain itself, sky blue and almost transparent, but with a lacy embroidered pattern that gave it a fascinating texture. For as long as he could remember, he had done this. According to his mother, it was even longer.

When he was two, or maybe three, he had started walking away from play-dates with other toddlers when they got loud, or pushy, or when they started moving too fast, or when there were too many people around. He would walk over to the window, feel the fabric, look outside at the narrow sidewalk, and seem to forget about whatever was going on in the living room. After a minute or so, he would turn around and enthusiastically join back in with whatever was going on, until the next time.

When he was five, he had started twirling himself up in the curtains, and claiming he was a ghost or a mummy or invisible. That’s when “Petey’s Magic Curtain” had entered the family lexicon. Mom didn’t seem to mind having to wash them every week. She didn’t even get mad about the occasional jelly stains, or the residue of a runny nose when he had a cold.

She did mind when he was nine, and managed to figure out how the curtain came off the rod. She had walked into the living room in the morning to discover that a nightmare had woken him up in the night. He had fallen back asleep on the couch, wrapped in the soft blue fabric. They had had a discussion about the appropriate uses of furniture and decorations, and what to wear in the areas of the house that weren’t his bedroom. This cleared up a minor point of confusion for him, because he had been sure she had told him he could sleep in whatever he wanted. Now he knew that was based on the assumption he would be sleeping in his bed.

He pressed the fabric against his face, seeing the traffic on the road through its hazy blue filter. It did funny things to the colors of the cars passing by. He loved how his magic curtain had the power to change the world.

He became aware of the voices in the kitchen again. They were talking about him, even after he had left. That had been the hardest thing to convince his step-father to go along with, in the end. He had been eleven when his mother remarried. Daddy Steve could relate to the need to walk away from a conversation sometimes, but he didn’t really understand how Petey worked. He’d had to be shown, by Petey repeatedly coming back after a minute or two and hardly needing to catch up at all. It was worse when they waited for him, because then he felt a little guilty about making things take longer. Also, Daddy Steve got grumpy when he had to stop in the middle of a sentence, so just letting him continue on helped things go more smoothly.

Petey turned around and went back to the kitchen. He walked up behind his mother, leaned over, and kissed her cheek. He stepped over behind Daddy Steve and did the same. Then he sat back down. “Mom,” he asked, “this summer camp sounds like a great place. I don’t think I’d be scared at all, if I can take my magic curtain with me.”

Daddy Steve looked like he was about to say something, but Mom laid a hand on his arm, smiled, and said, “Of course, dear.” Daddy Steve quickly covered her hand with his other hand, smiled too, and nodded.
adalger: Earthrise as seen from the moon, captured on camera by the crew of Apollo 16 (Default)
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 06:39 pm
I'm working on a character. The society is a somewhat bleak take on the future, kind of cyberpunk, but politically not much different from present-day U.S. This character is a dissident troublemaker -- think Enjolras from Les Mis. I'm fleshing out his thinking by writing him a speech.


We are a technologically advanced people. We have become so precisely because we have evolved a class of wealthy masters who exploit us like cattle.
Economic development, which is normally measured and described in terms of production and consumption of goods and services, is ascribed to that social construct known as property rights. This includes the ludicrous notion of land ownership.
Most property rights are based on the libertarian notion that each of us should be permitted to enjoy the fruits of our own labor. To deny someone such a right is theft. But of whose labor is Earth the fruit? Who can honestly claim the right to exclude all others from a certain chunk of the planet?
And yet, without a system of property rights that confirms land ownership, we can have no such things as factories and airports and farms. And houses. To allow a standard of living substantially different from tent-dwelling nomads, we must have landowners. From then on, we become stratified.
The lower strata always both resent and covet the wealth of the upper. There is rarely any acknowledgement that, yes, those fat pigs are what have made human progress possible. Our gargantuan efforts to satisfy their gluttony are what have made us so keenly adept at fulfilling the widest variety of wants as quickly and efficiently as possible. The problem is that the masses have no taste.
We are the Goths and Vandals, angry at the Romans. They have used us and manipulated us and exploited us, and we want nothing more than to sack and plunder and destroy their empire. They play us against each other, and use us to fight their wars, so they may have better wines and more olives. We don't care about better wines. We don't care about olives. We want bread and milk and maybe some beef now and then. We want our children not to starve while we watch them throw cake to the swine.
But it is not the Romans we hate. It is the Senate. They use us to frighten each other, and they use us to frighten the poor Romans too. "You must pay your taxes, you must serve in the Legions," they say, "or we will be unable to defend you from them," and they point to us. They point to the Vandals and the Goths. They show you the Huns, and tell you to fear. And you obey the Senate, because you fear us.
They teach you to fear each other, too. They stress how you are different from each other. They constantly remind you to see yourselves in tribes, to be perpetually grouping in tight knots and small clusters and othering everyone else. If you can't see yourselves as one people, you can't act as one people, and you can't gain as one people.
But who would go back to following the herds? Who would give up bus routes, and hospitals, and baseball games? All of these things exist because we let the Senate harness us to their yoke, and whip us to death pulling, and keep us snarling at each other the whole time. So keep your gluttonous overlord pigs. But remember that bacon will do when you can't get beef.
adalger: Earthrise as seen from the moon, captured on camera by the crew of Apollo 16 (Default)
Friday, June 5th, 2009 10:01 am
Alan pushed the door to Will's Farmhouse open and glanced around, sizing up the cross-section of the town's population on display. Satisfied, he stepped across the threshold.

At the table closest to the door, he handed his rifle over to Harry Stern. Harry was the first to fall silent, but only by a nose. A rifle in Stern hands was foreign enough to shock the room into quiet, wary attention.

Alan proceeded to the center of the room. "I just shot the Carson boy. Somebody needs to see justice is served."

Harry jumped, nearly dropping the rifle.


So ... who wants me to finish this story?