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Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Wednesday July 30 2003. Idea: An online futures market devoted to predicting what drugs will be fashionable and profitable one to one hundred years in the future.

If the forecasts were accurate enough, the authorities would want to shut it down.

The most exciting thing I did today was buying hearing aid batteries.

Another online futures market: http://www.hsx.com/ Hollywood Stock Exchange. Uses "Hollywood Dollars". "It's not who you know, it's who you own."

From http://www.davidicke.com:

I would emphasise also before I end here that I am exposing certain reptilian GROUPS behind the Illuminati, not the reptilian genetic stream in general. There are many of reptilian origin who are here to help humanity to free themselves from this mental and emotional bondage. Indeed, every one of us has a body with much reptilian genetics, including part of the brain called the R-complex, the reptilian brain. It is merely a matter of degree.

I trust this brief summary will help you to see the relevance of all the articles and information you will find on this site. In the end all these apparently unconnected "conspiracies" are part of ONE conspiracy designed to introduce ONE agenda. The reptilian control of Planet Earth and its entire population.




Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Tuesday 29 July 2003. Congress was told about this in May. A press release was issued on May 20th (http://www.darpa.mil/body/tia/tia_report_page.htm). Now, two Senators are shocked to learn of this. Then they told the news media, who previously didn't have a squicking clue.

"Report to Congress: Subsection 111(b) of division M of the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003 (Public Law 108-7) required the submission of a report concerning the Terrorism (formerly “Total”) Information Awareness program. The report was jointly submitted to Congress by the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General and the Director of Central Intelligence, 5/20/03."

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Pentagon plan to get information on the Middle East by setting up an online futures market where investors would bet on the probability of war, terrorism and other events is going to be scrapped, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said on Tuesday.

"'My understanding is it's going to be terminated,' Wolfowitz told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He added that while the Defense Department was supposed to be imaginative, 'it sounds like maybe they got too imaginative' with the online futures market plan.

"The Policy Analysis Market, launched online at http://www.policyanalysismarket.org by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, aimed to let anonymous traders log on and wager money on when and whether such events as the overthrow of the Jordanian monarchy might take place."

From the Washington Post: 'Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz told a Senate hearing that he learned about the program from a newspaper story he read en route to the hearing, which dealt with postwar reconstruction in Iraq.

'"I share your shock at this kind of program," he said. "We'll find out about it, but it is being terminated."'

To repeat: "The report was jointly submitted to Congress by the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General and the Director of Central Intelligence." The first of these is Wolfowitz's boss.

http://www.darpa.mil/ DARPA

Websites where you can bet on future events:

http://www.ideosphere.com/fx/ Foresight Exchange (Trades aren't in real money, but I gather some participants make side bets.)

http://www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem/ The Iowa Electronic Markets (Real money political bets; currently on winner of the Democratic Presidential nomination and Winner of the Presidential election.)

http://tradesports.com/ TradeSports (the trades aren't only on sports)

In another threat to American society, news.google.com now has a France-centered site in French. This joins the US-centric main site; other English-language sites centered on the UK, India, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and a German-language site centered on Germany.
Monday 28 July 2003. It might've been a mistake to subscribe to Fantasy & Science Fiction, I think. The September issue has six stories, five of which bore me. The sixth -- Richard Paul Russo, "Tropical Nights at the Natatorium," has two characters who interest me. The background and theme bore me. (If your tastes differ from mine by being more "literary," you might want to look at two of the stories: Bret Bertholf's "Alfred Bester is Alive and Well and Living in Winterset, Iowa" and Elaine Stirling's "White Cloud.")

Mail also included De Profundis, the LASFS newsletter. It includes a plug for the Los Angeles bid for the 2006 Worldcon, and a site selection ballot.

Marty Helgesen forwarded this from the Christian Fandom mailing list. It's about the tradition/genre the Left Behind books belong to, starting considerably earlier than the beginning of that series.

"http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2003/004/14.9.html

It's not easy to say something new about the end of the world.

by Crawford Gribben"

A footnote led me to the Left Behind web page http://www.leftbehind.com/. It bears a resemblance to the two Twin Cities New Age "Believe what anyone except the medical profession tells you" monthly papers.

Besides the main series, there's now the children's series (up to #30) and the military series (just beginning). No comic books yet. No mention of translations; there probably are some.

"Take Our Poll
Are you ready for Jesus to return?

I'm anxiously expecting his return
I hope he comes during my lifetime, but not yet
I need to get ready
I'm afraid I'll be Left Behind
I know I'll be left behind, but I don't know what to do"

Monday, July 28, 2003

Sunday 27 July 2003. As I woke up, I realized I needed the poetry shears I'd seen at Steeple People Thrift Store.

Email subject line: Girls On Webcarns! (AduIts Only)

I'm not sure if this is deliberate misspelling to get past spam blocks, or genuine mistakes.

"Webcarn" is an interesting word. Presumably short for "web carnivore".

AduIts are intelligent aliens of some kind.

From http://www.eurekalert.org, which has a link to the full press release:

Public Release: 27-Jul-2003
Neuropsychology
Music instruction aids verbal memory
Those dreaded piano lessons pay off in unexpected ways: According to a new study, children with music training had significantly better verbal memory than their counterparts without such training. Plus, the longer the training, the better the verbal memory. These findings underscore how, when experience changes a specific brain region, other skills that region supports may also benefit –- a kind of cognitive side effect that could help people recovering from brain injury as well as healthy children.

Contact: Pam Willenz
public.affairs@apa.org
202-336-5700
American Psychological Association

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Saturday 26 July 2003.

To Southwest Senior Center, my local FARE for All host site, for this month's food pack. (FARE for All is a program which provides food for a small amount of money and a few hours of volunteer work.)

The food isn't always what I'd buy for myself. Sometimes that's good -- for example, fresh vegetables which are relatively expensive at supermarkets. Sometimes it's okay; chicken breasts rather than the dark meat I prefer. Sometimes it's food I don't want to eat; I give that away.

I got the Light Pack, with only one meat item. The Regular Pack has more meat items than I got around to eating. And seafood, which I don't usually eat.

The Light Pack takes up two shopping bags.

I also got the Family Pack, which is larger and has a higher percentage of canned and packaged food. The Family Pack comes in a large cardboard box.

I signed up for next month's Lite Pack. No Family Pack, because I don't use it up in a month.

Into the Net: news.google.com's content is chosen and chunked together by a computer program. It's the best English-language news source on the web, but the computer can make odd decisions about which stories belong together:

Local news all the time
San Francisco Chronicle - 1 hour ago
A suspected Berkeley bank robber died Friday after being shot by three East Bay police officers. According to Officer Mary Kusmiss, police received a call around 10 am reporting an armed robbery at a Wells Fargo bank branch at 2959 College Ave., near ...
Owner of stolen 'sex.com' can sue VeriSign-court Forbes
Sex.com Prevails in Domain Suit Wired News
BusinessWeek - Kansas City Star - Hindustan Times - San Jose Mercury News - and 51 related

http://news.google.com. At the bottom of the page are links to English-language versions centered on the UK, India, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand; and a German-language version centered on Germany.

To Steeple People Thrift Store. Their space has been reduced, and they've been giving discounts of up to 75 percent on various merchandise. Not on what I'd come to buy; but I found some useful things in the free box. And I bought a magazine rack for two dollars; I suspect it would've been at least $5 if they'd had more space left.

Across the street to the Wedge Co-op Grocery. I put nonperishables I didn't want in the collection barrel for the Joyce Food Shelf.

Into the Net: the flap about the Odyssey writing writing workshop had spread.


Rough summary: Gene Wolfe, who was an instructor, left early. A student had given Wolfe a letter of complaint about his teaching style, in which he apparently spoke on behalf of the other students without their having authorized him to do so. (The letter's text hasn't surfaced yet.) Wolfe got the impression that the entire class was in agreement with that letter, and left.

Gene Wolfe sent a letter of explanation to Locus; it's available at http://locusmag.com. Several people have sent letters supporting Wolfe.

For the latest news, see http://www.write-hemisphere.com (currently the fastest source of news on the sf/fantasy/supernatural horror/etc. field[s]). There are links to the letters in Locus; to the weblogs of two of the students; to discussions in several newsgroups at http://sff.net; and a few others.

So far, the comments I've seen are mostly sympathetic to Wolfe and unsympathetic to the offended students. A few say that some of Wolfe's comments could/should have been expressed more politely -- but they aren't sympathetic to the students.

I suspect writers of the most condemning posts would react badly if someone said their stories were less than perfect. (For one of them, I know that to be true.)

And then there's the "six-week writing workshops are a terminally stupid idea" posts. (Mostly seen in a forum which hasn't been outed yet, by people who I'm not going to name unless they say they want to be.)

I expect at least one good result will come from this: Some people who think workshops are nicey-nice will read Harlan Ellison's first letter to Locus on this, and will be disillusioned.

My opinions? For me, a six-week writing workshop on the Clarion model wouldn't be worth the time and money. Some people benefit from that kind of stress; I don't. If someone paid all my expenses for Clarion West (Seattle) or Clarion South (Queensland, Australia) I might go -- but only because those are places I'd like to visit.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Wednesday 23 July 2003. I'd gotten a belt pouch at Midwest Mountaineering; I thought it would be more comfortable to have stuff in it than in my pants pocket. It was, and things were easier to find.

So, I returned for a matching belt pouch. They only had a smaller size. Thought it over, and bought it.

One bonus: Different weight distribution, which means different use of muscles for walking. And less strain on my back, neck, and shoulders.

From the Christian Science Monitor's free email newsletter:
Bad summer movies wither on Web grapevine
Studios are feeling the brunt of the bad buzz created by moviegoers who send advance reviews to large web audiences. By Daniel B. Wood
http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0724/p01s03-ussc.html

The movie industry might be forced to do something drastic -- make better movies.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press had stories on the first flash mob in the Twin Cities. Roughly: word gets out on the Net that people who want to be part of the flash mob are to meet at a certain place. (In this case, a store at the Mall of America.) There will be someone handing out written instructions on where to go and what to do.

Thursday 24 July. Pillsbury House, to do data entry for the Community Barter Network. And again -- computer problem, one which was supposed to have been fixed. Either it wasn't, or it re-occurred.

I went grocery shopping and did some other errands.

Write-Hemisphere (http://www.write-hemisphere.com) is currently the best online source of fresh sf/fantasy news. This time, they had a juicy bit about the Odyssey writing workshop -- Gene Wolfe, who was among the instructors this year, left early. Roughly: A group of students got together and complained about his critiquing style -- saying which stories he considered good and which not, and being unduly harsh about the not-good ones. For more information, see Wolfe's letter to Locus http://www.locusmag.com . There's discussion in the Tangent Online newsgroup on sff.net, including links to the weblogs of two of the students. The students get less sympathy than Minnesotans give the District of Columbia when it 's shut down by an inch of snow.

Writing: Looked over "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" and did more work on it than I'd expected. Mostly adding information I was certain I'd already included.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Sunday 20 July 2003. The Rainbow Foods in Uptown now has paintings of the neighborhood high up on the walls. I don't know how long they've been there.

Businesses headed for bankruptcy have a certain feel to them. Rainbow had that feeling toward the end of Fleming's ownership. The takeover by Roundy's has improved the stores greatly. Mostly little things, like the bathrooms smelling better. But I'm finding food quality a bit more dependable.

Monday 21 July. Nate Bucklin had emailed the Natter list, asking for help moving his stepson either that evening or Tuesday evening. It was fairly late when I saw the message. I called to volunteer for Tuesday evening.

Tuesday 22. Warning: The next bit will interest people intensely interested in predicting the future, and/or in how and what others predict.

From http://www.ideosphere.com

Claim MEBord - Middle East borders change
Category: News:World News bid 0, ask 100, last 0
Owner: 861, David Cary
Judge: 2568, JPO

created: 2003/04/18
due date: 2005/12/15
The Claim

Between 2003-06-01 and 2005-10-15, either:

* (a) At least one of the countries currently in the Middle East (as of the day this claim becomes active) will split into (at least) 2 countries, or
* (b) at least one of the countries currently in the Middle East will merge with some other nation (perhaps one of the other Middle East countries).

For the purposes of this claim, a "country" is an area labeled as a country on the majority of reasonably unbiased maps.

For the purposes of this claim, the "Middle East" is the area covered by

* Bahrain
* Egypt
* Iraq
* Iran
* Israel
* Jordan
* Kuwait
* Lebanon
* Oman
* Qatar
* Saudi Arabia
* Syrian Arab Republic
* United Arab Emirates
* West Bank
* Yemen

The judge is responsible for finding up-to-date and "reasonably unbiased" sources, and for posting their URLs in the judge's statement.

Look at what the cartographers "say" in their maps. Ignore what non-cartographers say or do.

---- related information, not officially part of this claim ----

Claim?claim=USAGeo

The area labeled "Palestine (U.K.)" in 1945 maps has split into Israel and West Bank in 2003 maps. So "West Bank" counts as a country in 2003 for the purposes of this claim. If the West Bank becomes a completely independent nation labeled "Palestine", that is not enough for this claim to become true.

There are many slightly different definitions of "Middle East". Forgive me for introducing yet another one. This definition of the "Middle East" is similar to, but not exactly the same as "Western Asia" at http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/english/ or "Southwest Asia" at http://geography.about.com/library/maps/blrmideast.htm .

Charter of the United Nations : Charter of the United Nations (1945) Article 2 paragraph 4. "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

Why 2005-10-15 ? Chris Hibbert persuaded me it needs to be at least 2 years in the future, and I picked a random day of that year. I prefer claims spread throughout the year, rather than have them all expire on Jan 01.

I hope this will be extremely easy to judge.

Judge's Statement
None

The Market
Price Plot for life of MEBord


Call from Nate Bucklin -- moving help not needed.

Writing: I thought I'd figured out how to make an outline which I could actually stick to. No. I got farther ahead with "The Caterpillar on The Leaf" -- and discarded much of what I'd outlined. (Some of it got combined.)

Monday, July 21, 2003

Saturday, 19 July 2003. Morning: to the Time Dollar Store at Pillsbury House, to get some household stuff with Time Dollars.

To Uptown: Walker Library and Rainbow Foods. (There's no such direction as Uptown in Minneapolis. Uptown and Downtown are places).

Mnstf meeting at Dean Gahlon and Laura Krentz's. The listing of special conditions and such in Einblatt! said "Cats, piano rolls, no smoking indoors, Hawaiian Shaved Ice, BYOM to grill, Hawaiian shirts requested, no guns please."[1]

The meeting was smaller and quieter than most, I think. Good food; some provided by the hosts, some brought by others. Good conversations.

Read on the bus: _Control Your Destiny, or Someone Else Will_. Tells how Jack Welch changed GE into a profitable company in which employees were empowered -- whether they wanted to be, or not. There's a lot about the difficulties of changing a large, old company. After a while, I found myself thinking: Why bother? Do it the easy way; set up a new organization.

The book was first published in 1994. It reads a bit differently, now that the latest financial boom is over. And Jack Welch is no longer running GE. And there've been such news stories as:

"The divorce papers filed by Jane Welch detail her husband's use of an $80,000 per month Manhattan apartment owned by the company, court-side seats to the New York Knicks and U.S. Open, seating at Wimbledon, box seats at Red Sox and Yankees baseball games, country club fees, security services and restaurant bills, according to the Times."
http://money.cnn.com/2002/09/06/news/companies/welch_ge/

Read at the meeting: Bits of a couple of fantasy novels by Sean Russell. Decided I didn't care for his work. Nothing much wrong with it; it just doesn't interest me.

I suspect that if Russell had been forced to cut each book's wordage by about half, I would find them more interesting. In today's fantasy market, that's not likely to happen soon.

[1]Some Mnstfers are allergic to cats. Dean and Laura have a player piano, and an extensive collection of rolls. Some Mnstfers smoke, and appreciate knowing what the host's smoking rules are.

No guns -- In Minnesota, handgun permits used to be granted at the discretion of local law authorities. In some rural counties, anyone who hadn't tried to shoot the sheriff lately and didn't have an extensive police record could get a permit. In Minneapolis, permits were very difficult to get.

The laws were changed, and the process and criteria are now uniform across the state. I consider this a good thing. The ability of local governments, colleges, and private landowners to bar guns from their property was sharply reduced. I consider this a bad thing, and wonder why some conservatives who usually defend property rights don't seem to be bothered by it.



Saturday, July 19, 2003

Friday, 18 July 2003. I don't think in words. Or, less simplified: a lot of the thinking some people do in words, I don't. (This took me several decades to figure out.)

One consequence -- beginning a story by setting down a written outline doesn't work well for me. And working without an outline, I tend to concentrate on dialog and other things easiest to put into words.

Setting down the kind of outline which does work for me -- let's just say I'm not good at five/six-dimensional sculpture. Which means I need to keep it in my head.

I think I've now reached a point at which I can properly use such an outline. Today, I wrote down an abstract of what happens in "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" after the part I'd written.

Now to see how well I can work from that written abstract of a nonverbal outline.

Advertised on the Fox News website: http://usmilitarysingles.com/
Gives a new meaning to "Support our troops." Two new meanings, for the bawdy-minded.

Cluster of headlines in http://news.google.com:

Marijuana smoking public health hazard
Canada.com - 8 hours ago
In the Health Canada news release announcing the provision of marijuana for medical purposes, Health Minister Anne McLellan admits that the effectiveness of marijuana therapy is unknown, but fails to mention that adverse health effects of marijuana smoke ...
Feds change rules for slaughtering cows in Canada CFCN
Frustrated Toronto MD quits medical marijuana committee Toronto Star
Edmonton Sun - CBC News -

Friday, July 18, 2003

Thursday 17 July 2003. From the American Dialect Society mailing list:

Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 19:22:41 -0500
From: Dave Hause
Subject: Re: brake drums

Searching Google against 'brake drum music' gives a claim of about 29,000
hits, including an Italian group calling itself "Brake Drum Percussion"
(http://www.brakedrumpercussion.com/page/storia_gb.html ) claiming to have
started in 1983.
Dave Hause,
Ft. Leonard Wood, MO
----- Original Message -----
From: "James A. Landau"
To:
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2003 12:44 PM
Subject: brake drums

My daughter was asked by a friend of hers in her high school marching band
if she would like to join the band. It seems they need someone to play the
"brake drums".

I've heard of bass drums, kettle drums, and steel drums, but this is a new
one on me.

No, it has no relation to break dancing. It seems that they take the brake
drums out of an automobile and create a musical instrument out of them.

Of course this may be a snare drum and a delusion, which is to say, we were
having our legs pulled. I might note that the band member in question also
claims to play the piano in the marching band. But on the other hand, this
band is capable of almost anything except proper spelling, so it may be for real.

So, if in the future any lexicographer on the list finds a need for a
citation for this sense of "brake drums", remember, you saw it here first.

- Jim Landau

Aside to Mark Mandel: the same bandmember cited above also plays the hammer
dulcimer. I am waiting to hear her say she plays it four-handed. Yes, her
name is Nicol(e).

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Wednesday 16 July. I've been thinking about a future in which really good forecasting techniques are widely available for individual use. And in which about twenty percent of the US population uses those techniques. Among other uses, they would buy and sell futures in the future.

In a small way, this has already begun.

From http://www.ideosphere.com:

Claim Dean04 - Howard Dean elected 2004
Category: Politics:US Politics bid 5, ask 30, last 0
Owner: 4199, fuzzyfuture
Judge: 4962, mbrubeck
created: 2003/07/04
due date: 2005/01/20
The Claim

This claim is marked yes if former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean is elected president of the United States of America in 2004. This claim will be TRUE even if Howard Dean stages a coup. If there are events which make it confusing who the US president is, as of 2005-02-01, this claim is true if Dean is leading a sovereign government in at least part of the territory of the United States of America(as of 2001-01-01) that has recognition of at least one of the UN Security Council permanent members(Britain, France,China and Russia) other than the United States.

Note that under said definition, the claim is not marked NO if Dean does not win the Democratic nomination. He can still run as an independent, have a write-in election, or stage a coup.

The claim will be concluded on inauguration day, January 20, 2005.
***

Ideosphere's market doesn't use real money (though I believe some people make side bets.)

Offhand, I think it's likely there will be a rerun of the Goldwater and McGovern script:
Presidential aspirant who attracts enthusiastic followers; considered too extreme by his party's ruling group. Dean is following the script, so far. What's next in the script is: Gets Presidential nomination. Bombs in the general election.

For a political futures market which does use real money, see: http://www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem/markets/Pres04_VS.html
***
Current Markets 2004 US Presidential Vote Share Market

2004 Presidential Election Vote-Share Market
2004 Democratic National Convention Market
Federal Reserve Monetary Policy Market B
Computer Industry Returns Market
MSFT (Microsoft) Price Level Market

2004 US PRESIDENTIAL VOTE SHARE MARKET

The IEM 2004 US Presidential Vote Share Market is a real-money futures market where contract payoffs will be determined by the popular vote cast in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election. Please see the market prospectus for specific details of this market.

The market is open to all traders world-wide. Consult our on-line trader's manual for additional information.

Overview: Brief overview of trading information for the 2004 US Presidential Vote Share Market.

Prospectus: Description of the 2004 US Presidential Vote Share Market.

IEM Data: IEM Data concerning the 2004 US Presidential Vote Share Market.

IEM Daily Prices Graph: Graph of midnight "closing" prices for the 2004 US Presidential Vote Share Market.

IEM WebExchange Users Guide: For information on how to trade.

Political Sites

The Democratic National Committee.
Republican National Committee.
CNN/Time AllPolitics.com .

Related IEM Markets

2004 Democratic National Convention Market
***

Nobody's betting on Dean yet. Odd, considering his ability to find volunteers and donors.


There was an ice cream social in Bryant Square Park, run by the CARAG neighborhood organization. CARAG's territory begins across the street from where I live; the park is five blocks away.

Last year, their food stand sign said "soda" -- and the Twin Cities used to be solid "pop" territory. This year, it said "drinks".
Tuesday 15 July 2003. "Want to feel 100 years younger?" the subject line asked. Not really. Several decades before my birth, I wasn't feeling much of anything.

In the body of the message, I was told that the product enhances organisms.

LiveJournal: I hadn't expected Samuel Pepys to have his diary there: www.livejournal.com/users/pepysdiary/. He's currently 343 years behind the times; I don't think he's likely to catch up soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Monday 14 July 2003. A new-to-me art form, at Chicago and Lake. The artist has placed a webcam in the alley behind Robert's Shoes, with a monitor in a store window. According to the posted notice, this work of art will also serve mundane purposes. It focuses on the part of the alley used for drug deals and as a bathroom.

My annual allergy checkup. Everything was fine, except.... My blood pressure is on the borderline of being too high. And the allergy pills I take raise blood pressure.

More exercise and less food, for a while.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Sunday 13 July 2003. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, prominent members of the Minnesota Republican leadership have/had business ties to an unsavory long distance company. New Access has run afoul of the law for signing customers up without their being aware they'd been signed up ("slamming"), lying about their rates, and a few other things. http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/business/6291921.htm

Governor Tim Pawlenty explains that as one of three directors of New Access's parent company (NewTel Holdings), he had no responsibility for running or overseeing New Access.
Other Republican politicos involved say similar things.

New Access officials say they didn't do anything wrong, and they're no worse than their competitors. Other companies linked to New Access say similar things.

I thought it would take till 2010 (two state official elections away) for the Republican Party to give the Democrats control of state government. But with this head start, they could manage it in the 2006 election.

If so -- in 2007, the Democrats will start changing a) state laws which the voters want changed and b) state laws which they're SURE the voters want changed, no matter what the polls say.

Notes: In Minnesota, the Democratic Party is legally Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL), resulting from the 1944/1945 merger of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties. There seems to be nothing left of the Farmer-Labor Party in the combination these days.

From rec.arts.mystery: Humorous explanation of mystery subgenres:

http://www.booksnbytes.com/donna_moore/2003_07_13.html

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Subject: Re: I'm sure you all agree with me...
From: "Carol Kennedy"
Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2003 09:46:34 -0500
To:"Dan Goodman"

"Just took a quick look. Interesting to me is that Jonathan [Adams]has also had the
same idea about gun owners being required to do service in a well-organized
militia."

I'm pleased to hear that. Jonathan knows rather more than I do about law.

"A problem I see is that there's nothing in the Second Amendment to
require the militia to be government-sponsored or government-supportive.
Some people, I'm sure, consider that a feature, not a bug. However,
considering what some of the current groups that call themselves 'militia'
are like, I see a potential problem here ..."

Only government-certified militias would count. Offhand, I'd say that state governments would have the power to decide which militias to accept. It might be delegated to local governments. And in certain circumstances (example: the militia of one major political party being accepted, but not the militia of the other), the Federal Government might intervene.

There's already been a similar problem, with the group called Posse Comitatus. It hasn't been recognized as a legal posse anywhere, so far as I know. Nor have the Jamaican gangs called posses when operating in the US.
[To see what this replies to, go to Friday July 11.]

Warning:, supermarket discussion!

Rainbow Foods used to be owned by Fleming, headquartered in Oklahoma. They had a card which entitled customers to certain discounts. Some people hate such cards; and their main rival in the low-priced market, Cub, regularly mentioned in their ads that their special prices didn't require a card.

Fleming got into money troubles, and sold off the Twin Cities Rainbow stores to a Wisconsin chain called Roundy's. The stores are still called Rainbow, but they're quite different in some ways. They no longer try to sell electronics; the stores are less cluttered, and cleaner. And they did away with the card. (It took me a while to throw my card away. I kept having thoughts like "It might be a valuable collectable someday!)

Cub continued mentioning that they didn't require a card. Companies do need time to change over; novels about the Soviet Union invading the US continued to appear for several months after the Soviet Union completely fell apart. I wondered how long Cub would need to retool.

The early edition of the Sunday Star Tribune had the usual Cub flyer. And they've done something I didn't expect. "No membership fee required! No club card needed!" They're now aiming at Sam's Club and similar warehouse stores, rather than at Rainbow.

Fictional futures: Assumption -- accurate techniques for predicting the future are easily available, and widely known. One obvious problem is that some organizations would tweak till they got the results they wanted. For example, that the voters in San Francisco would overwhelmingly support the death penalty of possession of marijuana, or that the way to win an election in Florida is to promise that roads and streets will be plowed immediately after any snowfall.

Another problem: Attempts to prevent certain kinds of predictions. What illicit drugs will sell best a few years from now; which parts of a city are safest for bank robbers or for rapists. Or predictions considered detrimental to national security.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Thursday 10 July 2003. To Pillsbury House, to do data entry for CBN (the Computer Barter Network). All went well till I tried to print out the report on members' balances. The computer system didn't acknowledge the printer's existence. The person who's considered the computer expert looked at the problem -- and decided to call the full-fledged expert. She warned me that it might take a while. I decided to come in Friday morning and print out the report.

The printout is used by whoever's running the Time Dollar Store on Saturday to check whether members have enough credit to buy anything.

Seen: The last gun shop in Minneapolis has relocated to the space formerly occupied by a typewriter store. The term "Chicago typewriter" (for the Thompson submachine gun) came to mind. A sign on the door says that people with concealed weapons are welcome -- if they KEEP them concealed. (Note: I gather that they no longer actually sell guns, thanks to problems getting paperwork done to the satisfaction of bureaucrats who don't seem to go out of their way to be helpful.)

Google News ( http://news.google.com ) is currently my best source of news. News items are selected from 4,5000 English-language websites -- run by newspapers, magazines, tv stations, radio station -- according to a computer algorithm. It's US-centric; but recently, versions for the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and India have been set up.

And there's now a German edition, in German. Its sources are more restricted; looks like they don't have any from Austria, or elsewhere outside Germany. (Caution: I don't read German, so I might have missed clues in the names of news sources.)

What languages are next? My guess: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic. I've sent a message asking this question.

Friday 11 July. I went back to Pillsbury House. No word yet from the person who could solve the printer problem.

From http://eurekalert.org:
Public Release: 11-Jul-2003
Physicists in Japan and US find new form of matter
A physics research collaboration based in Japan recently published scientific results demonstrating evidence for the existence of a five-quark state that many physicists felt could not exist. Confirmation of the discovery comes quickly with work from the Dept. of Energy's Jefferson Lab, located in Newport News, Virginia.
Contact: Linda Ware
ware@jlab.org
757-269-7689
DOE/Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

From http://politics1.com: 'DEMS WITH GUNS. The Hartford Courant reported Wednesday that almost the entire field of Democratic Presidential hopefuls are more gun-friendly than any field in recent memory. Joe Lieberman now says he "never supported" Al Gore's 2000 proposal to license new handguns. When asked about guns, John Kerry notes that he's been hunting since the age of 8. Howard Dean -- the most pro-gun of the Democratic field -- wants to "keep the background checks and the ban on assault weapons ... but [otherwise] let states do what they want." Even peace candidate Dennis Kucinich describes himself as "sensitive to guns" and supports "gun laws that in no way interfere with hunters." In a recent debate, only Al Sharpton said he supports the licensing and registration of handguns. Pro-gun control groups are obviously disappointed with these candidates.'

Whether you're pleased or appalled by the current pro-gun-use trend, keep in mind that there's a longterm trend going the other way.

Around 1960, John Steinbeck travelled around the US in a motorhome. One way he tried to alleviate suspicions about travellers with New York State license plates was to bring along hunting and fishing equipment. (See Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie.)

Can you imagine any American community today deciding a visitor is harmless because he has two rifles and a shotgun?

If you've tried to deduce my position(s) from what I've said and quoted above, you're probably wrong. My posibion is that ownership and use of any gun should be open to any adult with a clean record -- but regular attendance at militia practice should be required, with almost no exceptions. From what I've read, a major purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that the United States wouldn't need a permanent regular military force. (Yes, I know the argument that all legal gun owners are part of the unorganized militia. However, there's the phrase "a well organized militia". )

Politics1.com had a link to a website for finding out which Presidential candidates have positions closest to yours -- http//www.selectsmart.com/president. My closest match is with Dennis Kucinich. I was rather relieved that I had zero positions in common with Lyndon LaRouche.

Footnote time: Pillsbury House was set up around the end of the 19th Century, mostly to serve immigrants. It still serves immigrants, among others.

CBN enables people to barter Time Dollars. One hour of work -- for other members, or for Pillsbury House or another participating organization -- can be bartered for an hour of another member's time. Or for items from the Time Dollar Store.

The term "Time Dollar" probably comes from the individualist anarchist Josiah Warren; see his book _Equitable Commerce_. The modern version isn't quite what he intended.

I suspect the current version was a lot less practical before computers made the bookkeeping comparatively easy.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Wednesday 9 July 2003. Mail: First Draft #64; 235 pages from 9 contributors. First Draft is a postal writing workshop, organized as a bimonthly apa. (If you don't know what an apa is, don't worry.)

From BW: A memoir of an abusive marriage; quite good. Critiques of other people's work and comments.

JD: Reprint of a scientific article on parallel universes. Reprint of a piece on the death of poetry. A couple pages of fictional letters. Comments on other people's comments. Other people's stories, reprinted with his notes. A "reprint" of a story from a future mailing, under the name of and in the style of another member. Critiques of other people's work. Part of a space opera. More critiques. JD can usually be counted on for thoughtful critiques, mixed with libertarian philosophy and bitchiness.

DTB: Informal stuff about what's happened in her life lately. Critiques and comments. A couple of segments of her mystery novel.

Dan Goodman: Critique and comments. Part of an sf story.

DE: Chapters from two related fantasy novels.

WZ: Critiques and comments. Humorous writings which I can't judge, because they're not my kind(s) of humor.

CK: Critiques and comments. Humorous writing which isn't quite to my taste. (Note: She's married to WZ.)

AC: Critiques and comments. A nonfiction piece based on her experiences.

MW: Fiction -- the narrator is the third snarkiest person in North America. Unfortunately for him, the two snarkier people are his granddaughter and his ex-wife. And he has to deal with both of them. More fiction -- a chunk of a technothriller. What's been happening on the comic he's involved with, and several which might be in the works. Critiques and comments.

There's also a fair amount of artwork among all this.

Sample copies available from Michael Wolff, 9 Box 62351, North Charleston, SC 29419 for the cost of postage. To find out what that will be, email curlew@charleston.quik.com (or you can send a signed blank check, if you're comfortable with doing that).

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Monday 7 July 2003. Mail: LOCUS special Graphic Novels issue. I didn't expect to get much from the added material; comics aren't a major interest, and I'm more interested in strips than in magazines or books.

Then why did I feel disappointed? The articles and reviews were well-written.

That was the problem, I think. I feel that reviews of comics should be in comic form. (I'm not saying this is rational, or even consistent; I read prose reviews of poetry and songs without a similar problem.)

There was one article in comic form. However, to me it looked as if the words could mostly stand by themselves without the artwork.

[LOCUS calls itself "The magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field" -- and that's accurate. For anyone who wants to keep up with the field, it's essential reading. For large amounts of free info, useful links, and subscription information, go to http://www.locusmag.com.]

Tuesday 8 July. Ever read a story which stopped just as it got to what you considered the really interesting stuff? That's part of my reaction to Michael F. Flynn's _The Country of the Blind_ (see Saturday 6 July, posted Sunday 7). Near the end, the heroine proposes that the knowledge of predicting and shaping the future be made public. Let a billion flowers bloom! (And I've just realized there's a parallel with the ending of Alfred Bester's _The Stars My Destination_).

I'd like to read a story in which that knowledge has been made available. In which people running for political office can tell what they need to do to win, and what new problems are likely to confront them in office. In which organized crime can forecast which drugs will be in fashion during the next few years, at least.

Looks like I'll have to try writing it. All I need is a viewpoint character, a McGuffin, a plot, and a background.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Sunday 6 July 2003. I went to the University of Minnesota Aboretum with Pat Craft.

The Arboretum always makes me feel I want to start a garden, though the feeling has never lasted long.

I wondered how flower breeders choose the names of their varieties. In some cases, it seemed to relate to musical preferences: Minnie Pearl, Beverly Sills, Pretty Polly. Others were named after people obscure to me, and even for other flowers.

Flower gardens, vegetable gardens, medicinal herbs, plants used by dyers, plants used for fiber, a Japanese-style garden....

And, as the name "Arboretum" should mean, there were a lot of trees.

The University of Minnesota has developed a number of plant varieties suitable for Minnesota's climate(s), and those were well-represented.

The snack bar actually has good food.

The gift shop is a trap for anyone with the mildest interest in plants, insects, larger creatures.....
Catching up -- June 5 through June 25

Thursday 5 June 2003. Kairos is a dance group which includes people "too old for dance". (Other members range down to about age 8.) They play mostly to senior audiences, and invite audience participation. For some audience members, the participation is "chair dances".

They had a concert at Walker Methodist Senior Center. The Senior Center is only a few blocks from me; and it has a nice aviary. (The birds seem to be below retirement age.)

It was a reasonably good dance concert; not as athletic as most.

Friday 6 Robin Hansen's new exchange.
Subject:fx-discuss: MidEast Futures Markets Coming Soon
From: Robin Hanson
Date: Fri, 06 Jun 2003 17:32:52 -0400
To: fx-discuss@ideosphere.com

Idea Futures "Markets in the Future of the MidEast" will be open to the public for real money trading October 1, 2003: www.PolicyAnalysisMarket.org I've been working for several years to make this possible, and these markets will showcase an exciting new market technology I've developed, a combinatorial information market maker that can maintain millions of independent prices even when there are only a handful of traders.


Robin Hanson rhanson@gmu.edu http://hanson.gmu.edu
Assistant Professor of Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

Robin Hanson's previous project -- the Foresight Exchange -- is also worth a look (http://www.ideosphere.com). People buy and sell forecasts, using unreal money. (Usually; I think some make side bets.) Before the idea gets into the market, there needs to be a judge and criteria for judging. The criteria include time limits and clear explanations of what counts as the foresight being successful by that date.

Among recent forecasts: Someone is convinced that Arnold Schwarzenegger will be elected President of the US. Since Schwarzenegger isn't a citizen by birth, this would require a Constitutional amendment. The proponent is certain that such an amendment will be proposed and will pass.

Saturday 7 June. Mnstf at Marian Turner's, with Michael Kauper and Erica Stark co-hosting. The first floor (where the meeting was) is a day care center in which Marian Turner and Michael Kauper are partners. Which, among other things, means it's more reliably childproof than most Mnstf meeting locations.

Every Mnstf host does things differently, of course. There's usually some food, for example. But here, there was 1) more food than usual and 2) an hourly schedule of what would be set out when.

Saturday 21 Mnstf Garage Sale at Jonathan Adams and Carol Kennedy's. I donated more than I bought, so for me it was successful. But there was enough stuff left over that the decision was made to stage a rerun on the 28th.

Wednesday 25 Audiology appointment -- checkup to make sure my hearing aid and I were getting along okay. No problems; next appointment will be in about a year.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Saturday 5 July 2003. Overheard: "I'm not going back in that store! They're a bunch of Republicans and nuts!"

Futurology Opera: Michael F. Flynn, _The Country of the Blind_. I consider this book well worth reading. However, it has interesting flaws.

Premise: A small group built computers from Babbage's plans, and used 19th-century statistics to accurately forecast future events and trends. They went on to influence the future. By our time, they've split into two groups -- one good, one evil. An innocent bystander sets off a small war between them -- complicated by the discovery of several other groups with the same skills. Originally published in Analog 1987; book publication in 1990; revised version published 2001..

In 1988, Analog had a two-part article by Flynn on predicting the future. He seemed quite certain that using historical and economic cycles and other regularities, the future could reliably be predicted. A revised version of this article is packaged with the current edition of the novel.

I compared the current versions with the magazine versions, to see what had been changed.

Novel: The latest book version is quite a bit longer than the magazine version. I'd say the added material improves the story. I'm not sure how much of it was in the earlier book version.

One obvious change -- a scene in which the Soviet Union is discussed as still being around has been altered.

One thing which didn't change -- this is a world in which cell phones apparently haven't caught on. People who aren't near home or business phones use pay phones. In some cases, they're trying to make calls harder to trace. I would expect them to use throwaway cell phone accounts, rather than be seen doing something so odd these days as using a pay phone.

Given the novel's flaws, why do I expect to reread it for pleasure? Because Flynn deals with the psychological effects of knowing what the future is likely to be, and how it could be changed. And there are interesting characters, backgrounds, and action.

Article: The name of the predictive science has been changed. It was psychohistory (taken from Asimov's Foundation trilogy). It's now cliology.. Historians have something else they call psychohistory; that's given as the reason for the change.

A warning against overestimating the effects of glasnost has vanished.

What hasn't changed: The bibliography doesn't seem to have been updated. And it's still all printed matter.

Given the article's flaws, why do I consider it worth reading? Because it gives a good overview of one approach to forecasting the future.







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