Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Thursday 29 May 2003. Volunteer work at Pillsbury House. Community Barter Network data entry, filing, and getting statistics for a report. (The program currently used can't generate the statistics.)

To Uncle Hugo's, where I bought:

Simon R. Green, _Something From the Nightside_. An interesting, skillful mix of genres. The narrator/protagonist is a private eye, and the style is a better pastiche of the Black Mask hardboiled subgenre than most who've tried it in the last few decades have managed. His case leads him to a section of London (Nightside) where magic and evil are common.

There are hints that later in the series, he'll be the only one who can save the world. And what he'll need to save the world from may be his mother.

Michael R. Flynn, _In the Country of the Blind_; revised version. (The original was serialized in Analog in 1987, published as a book 1990.) Futurology opera; entertaining, but implausible.

Since the 19th century, a secret society of futurologists has been directing American history along the lines they think best. It has split into an evil faction which wants to make Americans easier to rule, and one which retains the ideal of doing things to the ignorant masses For Their Own Good. Also included is an article on prediction which originally ran in Analog in 1987.

The Soviet Union isn't as healthy in the 21st century as Flynn expected. That blunder has been revised out of both novel and article. So, probably have lesser ones; a page-by--page comparison might be interesting.

I don't believe forecasting human history is anywhere near as practical as Flynn says in the article. As for the novel -- accurate predictions using Babbage's computers and 19th-century statistics? I consider that less practical than, say, powering a supersonic plane with Newcomen engines.

Bees in the news -- a swarm of them in downtown Minneapolis. No one has figured out why they would choose a Walk/Don't Walk sign even as a temporary stop. Luckily for both bees and humans, a professional beekeeper has his business nearby. (In a mystery story, it would be revealed that the beekeeper had placed the swarm there.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Monday 26 May 2003. Quoted on the Synesthesia list: "Another piece of circumstantial evidence for the notion of sensorimotor synesthesia ... is the occurrence of a rare form of synesthesia in which sounds evoke the automatic and uncontrollable adoption of certain, highly specific postures." V.S. Ramachandran and E.M. Hubbard. Synesthesia -- A Window Into Perception, Thought and Language. Journal of Consciousness Studies 8, No. 12, 2001, pp. 3-34. Article webbed at http:pyw.ucsd.edu/`edhubbard/JCS.pdf.

Quoter's reaction -- I thought that was how everybody learned to dance! You mean everyone isn't like me in this way?

That keeps happening. There are people who reached middle age before they realized not everyone routinely saw sounds (or whatever kind/kinds of synesthesia they have.) There's the ones who are startled to learn that not everyone has the same associations they do And the ones who took it for granted that everyone has exactly the same kind of synesthesia they do.

Then there are people who knew their synesthesia was unusual, but took it for granted that everyone else had an eidetic memory. I'm not sure how it's possible to reach adulthood without finding out there are people who forget things. And who remember, but without exact pictures of what they remember.

(The are also syns who grow up thinking they're the only ones in the world, of course.)

It's not just synesthesia. It can be a shock to learn that your sexual preferences aren't universal -- and particularly that only a minority have the preferences you thought everyone had. (Some decide "Everyone else really IS like me, but they're in denial.")

Most people who are good at spelling written English take it for granted that everyone else who's good at it uses the same method. I haven't yet encountered anyone who uses the same method I do.

And what do you take for granted about the workings of your mind which other people would find exotic?

(The article's authors have a less technical one in the May 2003 Scientific American.

News -- Australia's Governor-General has resigned. He'd been an official in the Anglican church, and there was a question of whether he'd taken sexual allegations against clergy seriously enough.

This matter has increased the number of Australians who want a republic.

Thanks to Google News, I knew about this mess before it hit American newspapers. The original Google News page (http://news.google.com) is US-centric; but there are now pages for Australia, India, the UK, Canada, and New Zealand.

Google News has 4,500 English-language news sources from around the world -- the websites of newspapers, TV networks, magazines, etc. Stories are chosen by a computer algorithm; presumably, it's been tweaked for the non-US pages. It's currently where I get most of my news -- the main exception being local news.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Tuesday 20 May 2003. A Twin Cities pawnshop chain now offers debit cards and stored-value credit cards. The fees are high; but not outrageous. Which means that people with zero or negative credit have a better choice than the secured-card companies which send junk mail saying "Get the credit you deserve!"

Thursday 22 May 2003. I woke up feeling a lot better than I had in a while. Some of what I'd been doing had worked. Now to figure out what, exactly.

Volunteer work at Pillsbury House. I began by sorting donated clothes.

Then I sorted Community Barter Network account printouts. Ones with negative balances were set aside. The rest were sorted in rough alphabetical order (first letter of last name only.) They were to be put in the Time Dollar Store, so the volunteers could check whether customers had enough Time Dollars for what they wanted to buy. (It's currently not practical for them to look up accounts on the computer network.)

I had a web journal at my-diary.org which I hadn't updated for a couple of months. I went to update it, and found it more difficult than before. For whatever reason, I now had trouble when using Mozilla Firebird (formerly Phoenix). Certain things didn't show up on the screen.

I switched to Internet Explorer, and did the updating. And then I webbed to Blogspot.com.

It's now much easier to use Blogger than I remembered it being. Perhaps the new version is easier than when I initially checked out web-journal sites. Maybe I now know more about handling such software. Or it could be a bit of both.

I signed up with Blogger, and put up the same entry I'd just added at my-diary.org.

Why not LiveJournal? I don't like it as much as Blogger, for one thing. It's a bit harder to get onto, for another; involves getting a code from someone already there, before signing on. And Blogger has been acquired by Google. I like Google's search engine, and their newer news site; I think any changes they make in Blogger (the software and the websites) are likely to be for the better.

LiveJournal does have one big advantage; it's easier to join or set up a community.

Mail: LOFGEONORNOST 71, May 2003. Fred Lerner. FAPAzine, with some outside distribution. Topics include memory, Native American Code Talkers in both World Wars, reminiscences of sf fandom from the editor and from letter-writers, the settling of Polynesia (with a bit on the settling of Australia).

Friday 22 May. Mail: A "You've been pre-approved for credit" letter -- to someone who hasn't lived at this address in years.

mail: dsgood@visi.com

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Wednesday 14 May 2003. I got my hearing aid.

My left ear is on the borderline for needing a hearing aid. However, my right ear has never had usable hearing. Which meant I couldn't depend on my good ear to compensate.

What happened to my hearing? Age-related hearing loss; plus being around tractors and other noisy machinery as a child, probably.

It was disconcerting to hear various background noises I hadn't been aware of.

The HealthPartners audiology lab was in an office complex with a lot of lawns. As I left, I saw pairs of geese patrolling the lawns. They looked more like foot patrolmen than most cops on foot do.

Thursday 15 May. Pillsbury House, doing data entry for the Community Barter Network.

Pillsbury House was established as a settlement house before WW I, for the benefit of immigrants from Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe. The people it now serves tend to have darker skins.

The Community Barter Network operates on Time Dollars. Give an hour of work for Pillsbury House, other members of CBN, or certain other organizations, and you get one Time Dollar. This credit can be used for services from other members, or for purchases in the Time Dollar Store. (There are other such networks around the US, and in other countries.)

CBN wouldn't be practical without computers to help with the bookkeeping.

The terms "Time Dollar" and "Time Dollar Store" were first used by the 19th-century individualist anarchist Josiah Warren. I recommend Warren's book Equitable Commerce; available through your library.

Saturday 17 May. FARE for All is a program in which one pays a relatively small amount of money, does some volunteer work, and gets groceries once a month.

I got the Lite pack, which is mostly vegetables (fresh and canned) plus one meat item, and the Family pack -- which is nonperishables. (The Regular Pack, for three dollars more than the Lite Pack, has several meat items. It would be a better bargain, but often most of the meat items are stuff I don't want.)

There was a book sale at Lyndale Farmstead Park, two and a fraction blocks south of where I live. The CARAG neighborhood -- north of me, right across the street -- was having its annual neighborhood-wide sale. (CARAG was named for a local organization which no longer exists. The Neighborhood Association is considering a long list of alternative names. For a while, a leading contender was "Wellstone".)

Book sale first. I bought less than I'd thought I would.

Part of the CARAG sale was a rummage sale at Lyndale Avenue United Church of Christ. I decided to begin there. (The church is "open and affirming," which means it fully accepts homosexuals. It's also several other things which more conservative churches are emphatically not. My part of south Minneapolis is not a haven for conservatives.)

Across the street from the church, in Bryant Square Park, where a couple of seller had set up tables, I saw John Stanley and Jeanne Mealy. No great surprise; I think they hit a lot of yard/rummage/yard sales.

I may have cost them a bit of money, by telling them about the book sale.

I got some things at the church, and restrained myself from getting others.

There seemed to be more immigrants -- both sellers and buyers -- around the neighborhood than I remembered having seen in previous years.

Elsewhere in CARAG, I bought a small set of shelves on wheels. And a few miscellaneous things.

Sunday 18 May. Halfprice day at the booksale -- hardcovers fifty cents, paperbacks two for a quarter. I bought a dollar's worth.

One of the CARAG yard sales had a bag sale. I got some useful things, and some I didn't really need.

Monday 19 May. In the alley, someone had thrown away a good set of shelves. There was one screw missing, which I had to spend five cents replacing. Now I had shelves for the books and other things I'd bought.

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