February 23rd, 2011

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A Look at America's Problems

These 8 charts illustrate key problems with America's wealth distribution and how it affects the country.  Link courtesy of my partner Doug.

America now functions more as a plutocracy than a democracy.  A tiny number of super-powerful people control a majority of the wealth.  They are over-represented in the government.  Wealthy people thus make decisions to benefit themselves, while harming the vast majority of citizens.  Many people do not have enough money to live on, which is to say, meet the demands placed on them by the wealthy.  The result is a floundering economy because there is simply not enough money left to the bottom 80-90% of people to keep it going.   Too much of the money is being hogged by too few people who are using it in ways that aren't producing a healthy economy, no matter what kind of smokescreen they try to blow over the disaster.
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Authorial Voice vs. Character Voice

I was intrigued by this exploration of authorial voice vs. character voice.  These are two different yet related aspects of writing. 

Authorial voice is what characterizes a particular person's writing overall.  Frex, mine tends to use rich description and wide vocabulary, unless I have a reason not to do that in a certain story.  Other writers excel at different things -- some are known for writing stories heavy in dialog, for instance. 

Character voice is what distinguishes an individual person in a story.  A young character will have simpler speech and knowledge than an older character.  Prejudices and expectations also color word choices.  A character's interests or expertise will affect what they notice, and thus, what they talk about or describe and how they do that.

Between the two are regional clusters of varying sizes.  If you look at all the stuff I write in my main fantasy setting of Hallelaine, or my dark fantasy setting of Penumbra, or ellenmillion's shared world setting of Torn World, then you can see how each of those has an overall flavor.  Penumbra, for instance, has very stark writing almost devoid of description -- a departure from my usual mode.  Then if you look closer, characters from the same area sound somewhat alike.  In Torn World, there's a certain worldview and vocabulary shared by the Northerners contrasted with that shared by the Southerners.  So my Northerners sound more like each other than like the Southerners, and vice versa; but together they are Torn World folks who have things in common with each other, as contrasted with my characters from some other world.

Authorial range varies too.  I have an exceptionally wide range when it comes to writing about different people and places, in different voices and tones.  Some of my characters are almost nothing like each other or myself.  There are writers with wider ranges -- such as Harlan Ellison -- but not a lot.  Most people specialize more.  Some writers also have a unique voice that, while it manifests differently in their diverse settings, can be recognized as theirs even beyond the usual authorial choice issues.  An icon of this phenomenon is Joss Whedon.  Compare what his characters say in Buffy the Vampire Slayer  and Firefly  vs. what Joss says in interviews.  He has an incredibly strong vocal stamp whose underlying patterns manifest in wildly different details across his different settings.

What have you noticed about these things?
watch, hawk

Poem: "Silent Tide"

Recently I started tracking reports about a tremendous increase in dolphin fatalities in the Gulf of Mexico, especially dolphin calves from the current birthing season (the first after the Deepwater Horizon disaster).

Then I found a Facebook post from Boycott BP with this remark: "This video shows you the passion Dolphins have for their young. Imagine what the Dolphin mothers in the Gulf are suffering through this calving season." The link goes to this video from several years ago.  As more recent articles also point out, dolphins are not indifferent to death but become agitated when a pod member dies, and often make vigorous efforts at revival.

That got me thinking about what the situation would be like from a delphine perspective.  The following poem emerged.  I decided that posting it here would be a good contribution to the cause.  Because some of us look at the mess the Gulf is in, and feel like we ate the talking stag.


Silent Tide


The dolphin calf weakens and falls behind,
soft chirps fading as the mother
doubles back.

A last gasp flecks the sea breeze with pink foam
as the calf sinks beneath the waves,
relatives crowding close

with desperate love that bruises unresponsive flesh
as they bump the limp baby toward the surface
again and again

until the pod stops crying long enough
to hear the echoing silence
that fills the small body.

Hours have passed before the grieving pod can accept
that their little one is gone beyond their reach
and they swim inward with the tide

leaving the cool blue corpse upon the sand
in a silent accusation:
why?