Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Saturday August 30, 2003. It's not strange from the inside.

"Do you see music when you're high?" someone asked in the late 1960s.

"No," I said. "Only when I'm not high."

He drew back a little. Drug-induced synesthesia fit into his world view, and was a good thing. Without drugs was another matter.

"'Synaesthesia may be divided into two general, somewhat overlapping types. The first, which I sometimes call 'synaesthesia proper',....in which stimuli to a sensory input will also trigger sensations in one or more other sensory modes. The second form of synaesthesia, which I call 'cognitive' or 'category synaesthesia', involves synaesthetic additions to culture-bound cognitive categorizational systems. In simpler words, with this kind of synaesthesia, certain sets of things which our individual cultures teach us to put together and categorize in some specific way -- like letters, numbers, or people's names -- also get some kind of sensory addition, such as a smell, color or flavor. The most common forms of cognitive synaesthesia involve such things as colored written letter characters (graphemes), numbers, time units, and musical notes or keys. For example, the synaesthete might see, about a foot or two before her (the majority of synaesthetes are female), different colors for different spoken vowel and consonant sounds, or perceive numbers and letters, whether conceptualized or before her in print, as colored. A friend of mine, Deborah, always perceives the letter 'a' as pink, 'b' as blue, and 'c' as green, no matter what color of ink they are printed with.'" Sean A. Day, http://www.users.muohio.edu/daysa/synesthesia.html (will change soon).

My particular forms: Sound to vision -- more texture than color. Echolocation to touch or pressure. Body sensations to touch and vision.

And seeing conversation written out, though usually I don't much notice it. When I do notice it, the typeface never seems to be the same twice running. It's quite possible that I've invented new typefaces this way.

The rule "write what you know" gets broken and run through a shredder when it comes to writing about synesthesia. Maybe some of the sf writers with synesthetic characters were synesthetes; but there's no evidence of that, and the descriptions don't ring true. Conversely, Vladimir Nabakov was a synesthete but his characters weren't.

I wonder -- what else is there which people who know it from the inside don't write about? And which people who've never or rarely experienced it do write about?

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Friday August 29, 2003. My mother was quoted on the American Dialect Society list
(ads-l@listserv.uga.edu). Barry Popik posted about various food names/terms, including squid ink pasta. He quoted extensively from the Usenet group rec.food.cooking.

A while back, squid ink pasta was discussed on that newsgroup. I emailed my mother for information, and forwarded her answer to rec.food.cooking.

Since she's no longer alive, I can't tell her about this.

From http://www.crookedtimber.org, 8/28: Give children the right to vote?
Posted by Micah

I’m taking a course on election law, and the professor mentioned a proposal today that I hadn’t heard about before. He said there’s a movement in Germany to propose a constitutional amendment that would give children the right to vote from birth. I thought he was pulling our leg at first, but listen to this segment on NPR. The idea is that parents (or principal care givers) would act as proxies for children by voting on their behalf. According to proponents, this would have two benefits. First, it would give politicians greater reason to care about family and children’s issues. Second, in an effort to correct for Germany’s declining birth rate and rapidly aging population, it would give people greater incentive to have more children. (A quick search turns up some other proposals of this kind floating around, from the sophomoric* to the more considered* (by Gillian Thomas at Demos) to the academic manifesto* (by Duncan Lindsey at UCLA.)

*Link given on Crooked Timber.

There seem to be two ideas here. One is giving parents an additional vote for each child. The other is lowering the voting age.

I tried out the translation program at Fagan Finder on the subject header of a spam message I'd gotten: Sufre usted de colesterol y problemas de la piel? Result: Undergo you of cholesterol and problems of the skin?

Meetup.com (http://www.meetup.com) arranges meetings on various topics. The meetings are local, but take place on the same day at the same local time.

Top Topics in USA Presidential: 1. Dean in 2004 (>94,500 members) 2. Kucinich in 2004 (>10,500) 3. Clark in 2004 (>10,300) 4. Kerry in 2004 (>10,000) 5. Edwards in 2004 (>1,200) 6. Gore in 2004 (>1,100) 7. Bush in 2004 (>1,000) 8. Graham in 2004 (>600) 9. Gephardt in 2004 (>400) 10. Lieberman in 2004 (>200) 11. Moseley-Braun in 2004 (>100) 12. Nader in 2004 (>100) 13. Sharpton in 2004 (89) 14. Smith in 2004 (27)

Nine times as many people interested in Howard Dean as in any other Democratic candidate.
This isn't a representative sample of likely voters. But information on polling-business site http:\\www.zogby.com shows that Dean leads in polls.

Someone considered an extremist by many in his own party, from an unlikely state, becomes a Presidential candidate. I've seen this before -- Goldwater in 1964, McGovern in 1972.

Goldwater's supporters reshaped the Republican Party, made it possible for Ronald Reagan to serve two Presidential terms. McGovern's supporters didn't reshape the Democratic Party. Maybe Dean's supporters will.

And maybe George Bush will get Dean elected.

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Thursday, August 28, 2003

Thursday August 28, 2003. 'A sure sign that chai tea is on its way out: Chai Latte mix is the newest of the 15 or more kinds of General Foods International Coffee mixes.... You'll know we're really in for it if you see General Foods International bubble tea mix.' Al Sicherman, Minneapolis Star Tribune taste section, p. 3.

Email: SILICON SOAPWARE #106, from Tom Digby. If you like idea-rich sf, there's a good chance you'll also like this zine.

Contents include:

Dream-inspired thoughts on whether intelligence is required for emotions; and if so, what degree of intelligence. 'A related question that drifted past with no real answer was whether there can be such a thing as pure happiness without awareness of what one
is happy about.'

Artificial emotion.

Dream about preparing to drive on Mars -- where rules were apparently set by California's Department of Motor Vehicles.

Will You Write Me?

I can't see them or hear them or smell them,
But I know they're there:
Unwritten poems, waiting for some poet to come and write them.

There's one at the end of that row of trees,
Leading my gaze off into vague infinities
Of memories and daydreams.

And there's another lying in the gutter with that old tennis ball,
Perhaps reminiscing about better days and laughing children
While mourning the glory that was not to be
At Wimbledon.

And there are always several up in the sky,
Floating around with the birds
Or the clouds
Or the stars.

They wait, unseen, unheard,
Until the right poet approaches.
Then one will leap into the writer's brain,
Or maybe sneak in on foggy cat feet
And slowly make its presence known over time.

I'm usually not the poet they want.
But now and then I am honored
When one does choose me.

-- Tom Digby
First draft 22:11 08/07/2003
Revised 14:30 08/09/2003
Revised 17:52 08/14/2003

To subscribe, web to http://bubbles.best.vwh.net/cgi-bin/mojo/mojo.cgi if you want to be on a list which serves as a letter column. If you just want the zine, email bubbles@well.com.

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Wednesday August 27, 2003. Reado: "Washington Post Conspiracy" for "Washington Post Company".

On my way to Rainbow coin laundry (near 26th and Hennepin), I passed Treehouse Records. Sign on the door: "Impeach the smirking chimp." Next time someone on soc.politics says Americans are too brainwashed to speak out against their government, I'm going to quote that.

Rainbow has tv. Since I don't have a tv set, much of my viewing time is while I'm doing laundry.

I came in on the middle of Law and Order. There was something odd about the way the characters talked.

Next, the West Wing. The same oddity about the way characters spoke.

And then I had it: the dialog sounded more like soap opera dialog than had been common on such programs when I last regularly watched tv.

Southwest Journal: the Park and Recreation Board is considering plans to provide wi-fi coverage for Minneapolis.

September 3 through September 7, the Twin Cities will be a gameboard for the Big Urban Game. http://www.swjournal.com/display/inn_news/news11.txt

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Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Tuesday August 26, 2003. Sick. Did just about nothing till evening.

Pamela Dean (who livejournals as pameladean) gave a pointer to an interview:
http://members.tripod.com/~geek_world/fantasy_interview_dyer_bennet.htm It includes lists of books which influenced her at various stages of her life.

There's a comment on her journal from someone whose early influential reading list matched Pamela's 100%. Some dialog on explanations for the similarity.

An explanation flashed into my mind, which I decided not to post there: a Boys From Brazil scenario. Except that the female dictator is in our future, rather than our past. [Insert technobabble on why it's easier to go into the past to our present, and then into the future, than to go directly into their future.] And, thanks to sufficiently advanced genetic technology, the knockoffs of the world dictator don't need to look anything like her or like each other. It's only necessary to duplicate the genes which make for the essential mental characteristics.

As a technothriller premise, it's no sillier than most.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: A new type of theme bar, called a Radio Bar. They're licensing the name of KFAN, a local sports, sports talk, and talk station. The intention is to open radio bars elsewhere, taking their names from similar local stations owned by Clear Channel. http://www.startribune.com/stories/456/4061355.html

USA Today's state news items included one from Naked Island in Alaska.

Mail: De Profundis 368, September 2003. LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society) newsletter. Minutes of July club meetings. Minutes of a Board of Directors meeting. Announcements of events, LASFS-related and otherwise. De Profundis, c/o The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, 11513 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Monday August 25, 2003. To Pillsbury House, where I did data entry for the Community Barter Network. I had the feeling that everything was flowing well.

Objectively, this wasn't entirely true. The Time Dollar software requires more steps than necessary. People filling out forms use versions of their names which differ from what's in the data base; they also leave out information. But it felt true.


For the full press release on the following, go to http://eurekalert.org.
Public Release: 25-Aug-2003
International Journal of Astrobiology
Planetary tilt not a spoiler for habitation
In B science fiction movies, a terrible force often pushes the Earth off its axis and spells disaster for all life on Earth. In reality, life would still be possible on Earth and any Earth-like planets if the axis tilt were greater than it is now, according to Penn State researchers.
National Science Foundation


Mail: Mix "A Twin Cities Natural Food Co-ops Publication" September/October. Includes: Labels certifying that food has been raised with an eye to ecological sustainability, "pasture-grazing opportunities of animals," fair labor practices, water quality, etc. Warning on irradiated meat in school lunches. Homeopathic remedies for children's ear infections. Restaurant review: Blue Nile Ethiopian restaurant. Articles on an organic farm and a cheesemaking operation.

I'm a member of the Wedge Co-op because some of their food tastes better than what I can buy elsewhere. And some is cheaper. For the most part, I don't accept the ideology.

Tapestry Folkdance newsletter for September/October. What used to be called "Family Folkdance" is now "Community Folkdance".

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Sunday, August 24, 2003

Sunday August 24, 2003. Not much personal, today.

The news that phytochemicals in red wine can extend one's life span is getting a lot of play. The news media do also mention that these phytochemicals are available in other sources. You can get the same results with a very restrictive diet, but drinking red wine sounds like more fun to most people.

With scientific news, I find it best to go to http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php for the original press release. Scientific press releases are simplified for the benefit of reporters. The stories based on those press releases are dumbed down. (And sometimes, editors are "helpful" enough to explain that frogs are reptiles or that kohanim is another term for rabbis.)

The full press release is at www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2003-08/hms-mdt081903.php
Keep in mind that a lot of scientific discoveries turn out to be wrong. For example, kudzu as a cure for alcoholism didn't work out.

Back in the 1990's, something extracted from kudzu turned out to reduce alcohol consumption in one kind of laboratory animal by half -- in one set of experiments in one laboratory. At least in the Twin Cities, a number of people read that as "Kudzu cures alcoholism!" I was in the Wedge Coop the day the story came out; and their phones were busy with people who wanted to know if the Wedge had kudzu. (They only had kudzu flour, imported from Japan.)

The governors of states where kudzu grows wild (and grows, and grows) missed an opportunity. They could have issued warnings that harvesting kudzu on public property was illegal, and that ingestion of kudzu might induce hallucinations. Too late now.

Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.science
Subject: new Mars Reference Web Site
From: mottebks@aol.com (MotteBks)
Date: 24 Aug 2003 22:08:06 GMT

My name is Gene Alloway and I wanted to let you know I am bringing up a new
version of my website "Mars in the Mind of Earth: A Bibliography
of Terran Works Concerning the Planet Mars" at http://www.marsearth.com, which
has hundreds of citations to non-fiction books and scientific articles, science
fiction novels and short stories, movies, websites, images, music, and more.

A quick look shows that it could be useful. It does need more work, but will be getting it.

A drop in violent crime that's hard to explain
Observers worry that hidden in the good news are harbingers of problems
ahead. By Alexandra Marks

There are bad times just around the corner,
There are dark clouds hurtling through the sky
And it's no good whining
About a silver lining
For we know from experience that they won't roll by,
With a scowl and a frown
We'll keep our peckers down
And prepare for depression and doom and dread,
We're going to unpack our troubles from our old kit bag
And wait until we drop down dead.

There are bad times just around the corner,
The horizon's gloomy as can be,
There are black birds over
The grayish cliffs of Dover
And the rats are preparing to leave the B.B.C.
We're an unhappy breed
And very bored indeed
When reminded of something that Nelson said.
While the press and the politicians nag nag nag

Noel Coward, "Ode to Depression," refrains 1 and 2.

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Saturday August 23, 2003. I went around the corner to the Southwest Senior Center. (By their standards, I won't be a senior for another five years. The AARP says I've been a senior for ten years.) I picked up my FARE For All food, and ordered next month's.

FARE For All is a program which provides food for an hour of volunteer service and a small amount of money.

I slept a good part of the day, which at first seemed rather useless. However: for a couple of months, I'd had the feeling that I'd lost my ring. Which, since I hadn't been wearing a ring, disconcerted me. When I woke up, I no longer had that feeling.

I also felt more comfortable in my body. I don't yet know if there's a real (and lasting) difference.

Email: On ss talk, Fred Capp reports that Taco Bell is doing a California Recall Election promotion. Buy a crunchy beer burrito, and you vote for Arnold Scharzenegger as governor. Buy a soft chicken burrito, and you're voting against recalling Gray Davis. No menu items for any of the Hispanic candidates.

I'd sent Sharon Kahn a list of futures markets in predictions. Here's an expanded version, which I've now sent to Sharon.

http://www.ideosphere.com/fx/ Foresight Exchange
Uses play money, though some people make side bets. Almost anything goes; if it's possible to say when the prediction has come true or turned out wrong, and if someone volunteers as judge, the claim goes into the market. One person maintains that Arnold Schwarzenegger will be elected President of the United States; the Constitutional amendment needed to make him eligible will be passed.

http://www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem/ The Iowa Electronic Markets
Uses real money for political markets. The people running the market decide what goes up. One market is for the Democratic Presidential nomination; another is for winner of the Presidential race. Both have Hillary Clinton as claims, but not Howard Dean (except for inclusion in the Other Democrats category). There are also two Dutch political markets, with prospectuses in Dutch; they don't seem to be active.

http://www.darpa.mil/ DARPA Home
The market in Mideast events has been closed down. However, you can still see the report DARPA made to Congress on May 20th, 2003 -- some time before a couple of Democratic Senators uncovered this deep, dark secret. (And Administration officials then expressed their shock.) And the press release, which was presumably sent to the press -- well before the news media expressed their surprise. Doesn't anyone in Washington read their mail?

http://www.hsx.com/ Hollywood Stock Exchange
Real money, bet on people in the US movie industry.

http://artificialmarkets.com/ Artificial Game Markets [David Pennock, Steve Lawrence, Lee Giles, Finn Nielsen; NEC Research Institute]
A study of the predictive ability of the Iowa Markets.

http://www.longbets.org/ Long Bets
Real money, but your winnings are given to charity. All predictions must be for at least two years in the future. Not all predictions are converted into bets. Has ties to the Whole Earth Foundation.

http://www.simonmarket.org/ The Simon Market in Science Claims
Not yet set up. Named in honor of Julian Simon. The page has links to other markets, including some I haven't looked at yet.

http://www.americanactionmarket.org/home.htm American Action Market:

Analysts often use prices from various markets as indicators of potential events. The use of orange futures contract prices by analysts of the Florida weather is a classic example. The Pentagon briefly attempted to apply this technique to terrorism, assassination, and war

The American Action Market (AAM) refines this approach by trading futures contracts that deal with the two most important questions facing the world today: (1) What will the U.S. government do next? (2) What is informing the U.S. government's current behavior?

Some of the contracts traded on AAM will be based on objective data and observable events, as on a horse track, e.g.

* the next White House lie to break into the news
* the next country to which the White House will issue an ultimatum, and when
* the next foreign leader to move from the CIA payroll to White House "most wanted" list
* the lifespan of various DARPA projects, such as Total Information Awareness and Babylon * the first White House staffer to resign in disgrace, and when
* the President's approval rating on the day before Saddam is captured or killed

Other AAM contracts will more closely resemble stocks on the market; they will be based on possibilities and scenarios that may or may not be verifiable, but that may be progressively revealed over time (e.g. via journalistic sleuth-work, public statements by concerned politicians, or Congressional hearings):

* how and at what stage the White House officially decided to use the attacks of September 11, 2001 as a reason for invading Iraq
* whether Rumsfeld was the first, the morning of September 12, 2001, to decree that the attacks were the "Pearl Harbor" needed for attacking Iraq, or whether the idea came first from others
* whether the invasion of Afghanistan had been planned from the start as a stepping-stone to an attack on Iraq, or whether the decision to attack Iraq was made only once the troops were massed nearby
* whether or not the President was conscious of overt lying in his various pre- war speeches, or whether the decisions to lie were taken by others, with the President thinking himself to be truthful
* whether or not the expulsion of U.S. and British oil companies from Iraq between 1972 and 1975 was an important long-term factor in the 2003 war on Iraq, and in what way
* to what degree neo-conservatives Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Abrams and other students of Leo Strauss (who may have taught that it was necessary for elites to lie to the public) relie [sic] on Strauss's teachings in their daily decisions
* whether or not Iraq's 2001 switch to the euro as its trading currency, and Iran's and Venezuela's contemplation of similar steps, was a factor in U.S. decisions leading to the 2003 war on Iraq

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Saturday, August 23, 2003

Friday 22 August 2003. I got out of bed around noon, and was almost fully awake by 4 pm. The heat wave had taken more out of me than I'd realized.

Geri Sullivan's yard sale was a few blocks away. As I walked, I encountered other yard sales. Was everyone trying to get in a yard sale before fall?

Mail: "Maney, Mabel The Girl with the Golden Bouffant (Jane Bond, lesbian twin sister of 007, masquerades as her brother at a spy convention where her mission is to steal a secret spy invention)"

"Childress, David Hatcher Pirates and the Lost Templar Fleet ("The Secret Naval War Between the Templars & the Vatican"; 111 b&w photos and illustrations)"

Uncle Hugo's/Uncle Edgar's Newsletter, September-November 2003. 2864 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407. Email: unclehugo@aol.com. Website: http://www.unclehugo.com

Mostly listings of sf (Uncle Hugo's) and mystery (Uncle Edgar's) recently received and forthcoming books/audiotapes/cd's, with brief descriptions. Each store has books which could just as well go in the other; for example, survivalist novels have their own small section in Uncle Edgar's.

Also: Award winners, Neighborhood Update by owner Don Blyly, sf recommendations by Blyly, mystery reviews by Jeff Hatfield and by Gerri Balter, notices of upcoming signings, notice of a sale.

Chicago Avenue between Lake Street and the Uncles has gotten more interesting recently. In a window of Roberts Shoe Store, there's a monitor which usually shows the alley behind the store -- specifically, the nearest dumpster. The artistic purpose is to show certain changes which are/will be taking place in the alley. The practical purpose is to intrude on the privacy of those who use the alley as a drug market or a bathroom.

Farther on, a typewriter store has been replaced by Koscielski's Guns and Ammo, Minneapolis's only gun store. (The Chicago Typewriter, aka Thompson machine machine gun, is almost certainly not sold there.)

This is not a crime-free area, though I don't think anyone's been shot on that stretch of Chicago Avenue for a few years. I suspect the gun store will make some difference; not because it will attract people with carry permits, but because it will attract police attention. (No, the store's not doing anything illegal. The Minneapolis city government considers guns evil.)

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Friday, August 22, 2003

Thursday August 21, 2003. A delightfully cool day. That is, in the low 80's rather than the middle 90's.

To Pillsbury House, to do data entry for the Community Barter Network. Computer problems. The computer technician would be there Friday morning.




"I am writing this mail to you from my residence because of how confidential it is,this letter contains some confidential materials and should be delected from your mail box if you are unable to help out concerning the proposal."

I hoped for some new combination of porn and the Nigerian Letter. Unfortunately, it was simply the Nigerian Letter in slightly worse than usual English.

Mail: Locus, August. (Special issue on The New Space Opera, which from here will be called NSO.) Contents include: Interview with Alastair Reynolds, NSO writer.

Books Sold; a useful guide if you're trying to figure out what's being bought now and what will be published in a year or two. Most listings include names of authors' agents, which might be useful for new writers looking for agents. Also other news items.

Fiction reviews. Lists of magazines, books, and British books received.

An introduction to New Space Opera. The intro doesn't hold my attention. That's partly because the text is on top of an illustration which anyone who wants to annoy me should probably emulate. More interesting pieces by NSO writers: Ken MacLeod, Paul McAuley, Gwyneth Jones, M. John Harrison, Stephen Baxter.

Interview with NSO writer Charlie Stross -- white letters on a black background.

How useful is this issue for understanding the New Space Opera? I learned of one writer I hadn't heard of -- Justina Robson -- who seems worth checking out. (She's only been published in the UK, so far.) But I didn't understand NSO -- or its differences from Old Space Opera -- any more than I had before.

How useful is Locus in general? For sf/fantasy news, it's the best print publication. If you're intensely interested in sf/fantasy -- as a reader or writer -- you'll probably want to read Locus. (Chronicle, formerly SF Chronicle, is a distant second.) But for fast access to news, the best source right now is Write Hemisphere (http://wwww.write-hemisphere.com). Updated at least once a day, links to articles and discussions. Second best, I think, is Locus Online (http://www.locusmag.com). And the best source of market information is ralan.com.

From http://www.write-hemisphere.com: "The Alien Online features the latest Adam Roberts' Reading in Classic SF column, Time for Teletubbies. Roberts examines the show's premise from the adult SF perspective, with interesting observations."

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Thursday, August 21, 2003

Wednesday, August 20 2003. The building inspection was scheduled for noon. The focus would be on structural changes the owner had been told to make, but my place had been cleared out and tidied just in case.

The landlord prefers that tenants not be around when he's dealing with inspectors. I did the last bits of decluttering, and headed out. When I came back, I dealt with email and Usenet posts before heading out again.

There's a website called Meetup (http://meetup.com) which promotes meetings on various topics. The meetings are local, but they're all on the same day and at the same time (local time). If five people in an area sign up for the meeting date, there's a meeting.

This one was for people with weblogs. There were five others, all male. One had started his blog earlier that day. A couple of others were veteran bloggers who'd made their own blogging software. (For another view of the meeting, see http://noahblog.com.)

Mail: Fred Lerner, Lofgeornost #72. Account of a trip to Barcelona, which makes me want to visit that city. Letter column; topics include memory palaces (and other reminder systems), travel, fiction, the settling of the South Pacific, and the deservedly obscure movie serial Zombies of the Stratosphere.

Memory palaces, and more recent memorizing strategies, assume that everyone is visually oriented. They don't work well for people who remember best with other senses -- or for abstract thinkers.

I remember best what I've written down. Not because there's a physical record; I can "write" with my forefinger and remember it. If I need to remember how a word is spelled, I do best writing it out.

On the Synesthesia list, there are people whose memory techniques work well -- and others who can't remember much of anything. And they can have the same kind of synesthesia.

Read: David Weber (ed), Worlds of Honor #4, The Service of the Sword. Stories by various authors, set in Weber's Honor Harrington universe (aka the Honorverse). I found them much more readable than the Honor Harrington novels; I liked the story by Weber least.

Weber is doing something which I approve of as a reader. His Honorverse fiction is about human relationships, much more than about war. But he isn't writing in a way which strongly holds my interest.

One facet of the Honorverse does strain my ability to suspend disbelief. Current time is at least a thousand years in the future -- and there's much less cultural change than I would expect. For example, too many names have survived unchanged.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Monday 18 August 2003. Hottest day of the year, in the Twin Cities.

Why do companies change good names to fair ones? Palm hardware is becoming PalmOne. Stated purpose: to distinguish it from Palm software. Unless they're now entirely separate companies, I don't think the problem is worth worrying about.

Project of the day: Preparing for Wednesday's building inspection. After which I spent several hours sleeping.

The inspection will be focused on changes the landlord was told to make. But the inspector _might_ look in on my place.

Changes to "Catepillar on the Leaf": Took out the sequence which had the protagonist calling an important meeting. Now he finds out about it when he shows up at the building it's held in.

Added: A place called Junkyard will be officially renamed The Historic Artifact Village.

I got a LiveJournal code from Peter Hentges. Current plan is to use both LiveJournal and Blogspot, at least for a while. I write journal entries offline, so it's not difficult.

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Monday, August 18, 2003

Sunday 17 August 2003. rehydration, sleep, and decluttering took up most of the day.

At Diversicon, Melissa Scott had said that New Hampshire's constitution guarantees the right of armed rebellion. I found a use for this knowledge.

I was certain I couldn't do much with "The Caterpillar on the Leaf," but I decided to see if I could tweak it a bit. I made a couple of minor copy-edit corrections, and then I added something.

The story background includes a civil war -- followed by groups not part of either side taking over the government. The addition: the right of armed rebellion is part of the constitution. So are restrictions on the government's actions against rebels. If either side in that civil war is proven to have been the legitimate government, its members can be indicted. The rebels will, of course, go free.

Bookwyrm had posted this in alt.callahans http://www.shoesofthefisherman.com/ and I'd passed it on to Marty Helgesen.

From Marty Helgesen:

Thank you. I sent it to a Catholic friend who used to be an Evangelical and
has considerable affection for them, and he put it on his blog "Catholic and
Enjoying It."


Marty Helgesen
Bitnet: mnhcc@cunyvm Internet: mnhcc@cunyvm.cuny.edu

"Hopefully I use English correctly. Disgustedly I watch others
massacre it." Steven Brust

Help outlaw spam. For further information see http://www.cauce.org/

I asked Marty for the URL of that blog, and got this reply:

The item itself appeared on August 14 with the headline:
Failed Evangelical Witnessing Scheme #09834503

Incidentally, in the comments box -- which has comments, ignore the 0 --
someone said he thinks the site is a hoax, which is possible. There are
hoax sites. I suppose someone could call the 800 number and see what
answer, if any, he gets.

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Sunday, August 17, 2003

Saturday August 16, 2003. I ran the Time Dollar Store at Pillsbury House from 10 am to 1 pm.

The Time Dollar Store is part of the Community Barter Network. What's bartered in CBN is time. One hour of work for another person or an organization earns one Time Dollar. It can be used to buy an hour of work from another CBN member, or to buy goods at the Time Dollar Store.

Some people hate the idea of one hour's work being the same no matter what the service is. Others consider it wildly impractical. I don't quite understand the first objection. As for the second -- I see it working. It wouldn't be feasible without a computer to help keep track, and it might not work as the main currency. But it does work.

"I was sitting at my desk one day in 1997 when the phone rang. It was a retired [Arthur Andersen] partner, who had been asked to give a speech about some of the ethical problems in business today.... 'Let me tell you what I think is a very, very difficult problem,' I said. "It's the problem of a young person who believes that he or she has seen something wrong and is trying to raise the problem to a superior.' I then gave an example or two, but the partner interrupted me. 'So what you're saying is that a big ethical problem today,' he said, 'is the problem of insubordination. That these young people think they know better than their bosses.' The comment took my breath away. Maybe I wasn't being clear, I thought. 'No,' I said, 'the problem is that young people see things that are wrong. It may be their bosses that are doing wrong, it may be other people in the company, it may be something going on in a client relationship that they are concerned about -- and it's very difficult for them to find a way to raise that problem without putting their career at risk.' The line went absolutely silent for several seconds. Finally the retired partner said, 'Thank you very much,' and hung up the phone." pp 66-67, Final Accounting: ambition, greed, and the fall of Arthur Anderson. Barbara Ley Toffler with Jennifer Reingold. 2003. Broadway Books.

From Pillsbury House to the Office Max at Lake and Nicollet. The back-to-school sale included a Sharp computer for $10, minus an in-store $5 rebate and a $5 mail rebate. Not quite free, since sales tax and postage weren't included; but it did seem worth that price.

Rainbow Foods had a two-day sale on chicken legs for 25 cents a pound in about-five-pounds packages. However, the cut-up chicken which have been advertised at 79 cents a pound was now 49 cents a pound. I bought that instead.

I also bought a half-gallon of grapefruit juice. I finished it off within a few hours. It's been hot.

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Saturday, August 16, 2003

Friday August 15, 2003. I've been reading a very funny legal document -- Fox News's request for an injunction against Penguin Books and Al Franken. It's funnier than anything by Franken I've read.

Recap: Franken has written, and Penguin is publishing, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right". Fox is suing on the grounds that 1) they've trademarked "Fair and Balanced" and 2) Franken's use of that phrase, and the cover design, will mislead the public into thinking the book is associated with and endorsed by Fox News.

There's a passage which seems to be saying that the only possible bias in news media is liberal bias. And defamatory statements about Franken which do not seem legally relevant.

The lawyers for Fox News presumably know what they're doing -- getting paid for helping their client do something stupid.

Graffito seen: I know what you did.

Read: Steven Brust, _The Lord of Castle Black_. I enjoyed it, but I'd rather see that world's history advanced rather than backfilled.

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Thursday, August 14, 2003

Wednesday, 13 August 2003

http://www.resourceshelf.com Useful links, more each day.

http://www.virtualchase.com Legal research site.

From Nature's emailed newsletter:

Chinese fusion method promises fresh route to human stem cells

Biologists in China have reprogrammed human cells by fusing them with rabbit eggs emptied of their genetic material. And they have extracted stem cells, which have the potential to form a wide array of different cell types, from the resulting embryos. Click here for the rest of this free exclusive news story

(Not found when I checked; may be there by the time you read this.)

From http://www.eurekalert.org:

Public Release: 13-Aug-2003
And here's the local crime forecast...
A computer model that can forecast crime rates could be a powerful tool to help identify areas which need increased police resources. The American team who developed the system used neural networks to link changes in the pattern of minor offences such as vandalism with changes in levels of more serious crime.

Contact: Claire Bowles
New Scientist

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Tuesday August 12, 2003. "Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on 'I am not too sure.'" H. L. Mencken. http://refdesk.com

Notice Mencken's certainty about this.

I got farther ahead on "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" by taking out a chunk of it. That chunk will be another story, tentatively titled "Some Their Gold, and Some Their Gear, and Some Their Maidenhead".

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Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Monday 11 August 2003. When I woke up, my hands were much more relaxed than they used to be. I knew that over the weekend, I'd learned a more effective method of relaxing my muscles. But I hadn't known that the learning had gone deeper than my conscious mind.

What did I learn? Sorry, but I can't (yet) put it into words.
How did I learn it? By experimenting with small changes in the methods I already knew.

Charlie Stross's journal http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blosxom.cgi has:

Piece on the MIT Media lab. "In one corner, a bunch of students are trying to reinvent the wheel -- specifically, the car steering wheel, which they're trying to add intelligence to."

"Eigenradio makes its optimal music by analyzing in real time dozens of radio stations at once. When our bank of computers has heard enough music, it will go to work on making more just like it. Since we listen to so much music all the time, Eigenradio is always on and always live. What you hear on Eigenradio is the best of the New Music, distilled and decorrelated. One song on Eigenradio is worth at least twenty songs on old radio."

"And when you've had enough of Eigenradio there's always Spam Radio"

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Monday, August 11, 2003

Friday August 8, 2003. In March, a bus crashed into one of the two corner stores where I live. Sam's Market was closed for repairs, and for a while I saw things being done. Then came a long period in which nothing happened.

This morning, I saw workmen putting on new stucco.

To Diversicon -- the local sf/fantasy con with the greatest emphasis on written sf.

Last year, Diversicon was at the Holiday Inn at Bandana Square in St. Paul. Bandana Square was intended to revitalize the neighborhood; like several other such business centers in the Twin Cities, it's mostly been a failure. Also, I understand that the Holiday Inn didn't really want us any longer. This year, Diversicon was at the Days Inn near Mall of America. Easier to reach by bus, and definitely a better place.

The dealer's room had someone selling what the program book said were "science fiction items from Russia." What I saw was Soviet military memorabilia (including vodka flasks), figurines, and some model cars. Nothing particularly science-fictional.

Neither of the two Twin Cities sf bookstores had tables. Diversicon is small, and they probably didn't think the sales would be worthwhile.

Panel: Be Creative. What I remember best is "the rule of three" -- which includes, among other things, having three major characters. (It occurs to me that this rule may not work for standard romance novels.)

There were other program items, but I didn't attend them. I hung around the consuite, mostly. And I left fairly early. Which was my pattern for the rest of the con.

Saturday August 9. I knew Minneapolis had a dog bakery. Today, I saw it out of the window of a bus.

Interview with Guest of Honor Melissa Scott. She comes from Little Rock, Arkansas and lives in New Hampshire. I gathered that New Hampshire often arouses her Sense of Wonder.

She mentioned that New Hampshire's constitution explicitly includes the right of armed rebellion.

She did not sound Southern. I know there are parts of the South where people don't -- for example, Starkville Mississippi. (Conversely, people in Carbondale Illinois definitely sound Southern.) But Little Rock is not one of those places.

After the interview, I asked her. She explained that she'd trained herself out of sounding Southern during her first year at Harvard. -"They don't take you seriously if you sound like Bill Clinton."-

Going home, the way to the Mall of America's bus station, I passed the Walking Store

On my way home, inside the Mall I passed the Walking Store. I decided to go in and look around. I ended up buying a new belt pouch. It had features I needed, and gave me a feeling of greater control over my life.

Sunday August 10. Back to Diversicon.

Panel on aging in the sf community. "As SF writers age how does this affect their writing?As the SF audience ages how does this affect what authors write?"

I was at the official end-of-con party for perhaps half an hour.

Browsed in the Walking Store. I noticed they had lefthanded walking sticks, which I'd never heard of before. (The handle is shaped differently.)

I had a good convention. That might sound odd -- I attended very few program items, and did only a bit of partying. But I spent three days out of my usual routine; I learned some things worth learning; and I got much more walking exercise than I'd been getting. (If you want to walk more, I recommend getting lost in the Mall of America.)

And somewhere in there, my ability to relax my musles improved markedly.

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Friday, August 08, 2003

Thursday August 7, 2003. To Pillsbury House, where I did data entry for the Community Barter Network.

Uncle Hugo's sf bookstore is near where I needed to change bus lines. I went in, didn't see anything particularly interesting. I did when I came out.

Four or five police cars. A police dog sniffing in and around parked cars. More cops inside the store which sells "I'm a bad boy from the black ghetto" merchandise, and non-cops with their hands behind their backs.

There was nothing about it in the papers next day.

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Thursday, August 07, 2003

Wednesday, August 6 2003. Okay, why did I get this one?

Date: Wed, 6 Aug 2003 13:17:59 +0800
From: "ScoreHints"
To: dsgood@visi.com
Subject: Hi~. come to the singapore local soccer site

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Bag day at Temple Israel's rummage sale. I bought three bags, plus a set of small bins.

Accent recognition day. One man with a Scandinavian-influenced accent which was probably once common in the Twin Cities. Synagogue lady with a definite New York Metropolitan accent. Another I overheard asking for a rubber binder -- which I've been told is what rubber bands are called in St. Paul and Pittsburgh.

Plus two people talking in Russian or Ukrainian.

On the bus home, I saw something I'd never expected to see: a woman who could look intelligent while chewing bubblegum.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Tuesday, August 5 2003. "The technology is not yet foolproof. The online edition of The New York Post, which is owned by the News Corporation, ran an article last month about a murder in which the victim's body parts were packed in a suitcase, and Google served up an ad for a luggage dealer." (New York Times, quoted in Howard Kurtz's Washington Post column.)

A good writing day. I put "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" on a slightly different track, and got a fair amount added.

National Night Out. I went to Pillsbury House's barbecue, said hello to people I knew.

Subject: Militias
From: Giles Rider
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2003 17:39:25 -0700 (PDT)

Dan - thanks for your journal - the bits on online futures markets were a
big help.

But on the topic of militias, as I recall, the militia was intended as
a 4th branch of government - one of the checks and balances. To
subordinate it to the executive branch deprives it of its balancing role,
and encourages tyranny.

Your comments?

Giles Rider

Article II. Section 2. Clause 1. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the
Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Office, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Says right there that the militia is subordinated to the executive branch.

Amendment II A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Nothing there about the militia being a fourth branch of government.

Public Release: 5-Aug-2003
Angewandte Chemie
Purdue scientists discover why we're all lefties deep down
In findings that may shed light on the earliest days of evolutionary history, R. Graham Cooks and a team of Purdue chemists have reported experiments that suggest why all 20 of the amino acids that comprise living things exhibit "left-handed chirality," which refers to the direction these basic biological molecules twist-and how a single amino acid might be the reason.
National Science Foundation, US Department of Energy

Another futures market in futures: http://www.americanactionmarket.org/home.htm

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Monday, August 04, 2003

Monday 4 August 2003. Sleep problem solved! As I'd thought, I needed to cover myself with a sheet and blanket.

I went to Temple Israel's rummage sale. Bought some things I needed -- bed linen and a tea kettle. Some things I wanted, which were cheap enough. And other stuff in the "nice to have more" category.

Afterwards, it struck me that the Minnesota synagogue ladies weren't much different from the Minnesota church ladies who run other rummage sales.

From Blogger.com's (http://www.blogger.com) listing of past Blogs of the Week: "The latest episode of 0SIL8 is called Press Nothing to Continue. It's an innovative marriage between Blogger and Tellme, a telephone information service. Using Blogger to output a certain format of XML called VXML (here's the file he's using Blogger to generate), a blog can be heard over the phone. There is no weblog to see in this case, you have to call a phone number to hear it. Blogger: it's not just for web-based weblogs anymore."

Weblogs which aren't web-based? No stranger than "fraternal insurance for women," I suppose. And not as open to misinterpretation as "vegetarian meatballs".

Another place to bet on the future: http://www.longbets.org "The Long Bets Foundation was started in 02001 as a 501(c)(3) public education nonprofit foundation, based in California. It is a partial spin-off from The Long Now Foundation, which is building a 10,000-year Clock and tools for a 10,000-year Library. Long Bets is one of the Library tools."

The Long Now Foundation is connected with the Whole Earth Quarterly.

Long Bets predictions must be for two years into the future, and cost $50 to make. Bets require a minimum of $200 from each side (yes or no).

Advice: If you've finished a story about futures markets in futures, get it in the mail _now_.

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Sunday, August 3, 2003. Figured out why I've had problems sleeping. It's been warm enough that I don't need a sheet (let alone a blanket) over me. So, I hadn't been using any covering.

But I need it, to get to sleep properly.

Email: SFCrowsnest magazine http://computercrowsnest.com. European (probably English) sf newsmagazine. Reasonably good, with one glitch and one annoyance.

Glitch: In Greg Benford's interview with Kevin J. Anderson, he's quoted as beginning one sentence with "I shan't". Not something an American would be likely to say. More likely something a Brit would say. For example, an editor revising an interview.

Scottish SF author Ken MacLeod comes across an intriguing article on the influence of right-wing think tanks, and via that, the even more revelatory Cursor's Media Transparency, which tells you who's paying which pipers (and why they all play the same tune).

Which ends with: "And that's one reason why I'll carry the SSP's or even the CP's red flag, even though I don't agree with everything they stand for. It's to keep the clammy suckers off my skin."

"CP" is "Communist Party". The Hitler-Stalin pact is part of my family history. No matter how much I agreed with the CPUSA's current platform, I wouldn't carry their flag.

"SSP" is "Scottish Socialist Party". It broke off from the Socialist Worker Party, which I believe is still the largest Trotskyist party. I don't know if SSP has also broken away from the "Hey, Castro's not a Stalinist" notion and other ideological compromises which caused some people to leave the SWP. (See Defending Principles: The Political Legacy of Bill Brust, Edited by Jean Brust. Bill and Jean Brust were Steve Brust's parents.) I suspect not.

Subject: Chicken Soup (blog)
From: FitchDonS@aol.com
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2003 23:13:30 EDT

Hi, Dan:

You wrote in your Blog (Friday, August 01, 2003):

>>Thursday July 31 2003. Rainbow had whole
>>chickens for 49 cents a pound, so I made chicken
>>soup. I fried the chicken's two livers
>>separately. (It also had two gizzards, but no
>>Two cents worth of organic celery from the Wedge
>>Coop; carrots; onion; the chicken, still whole;
>>water. Not what a really good cook would do, but
>>it works well enough for me.

What _would_ "a really good cook" do? Some things are pretty basic, and all I can think of would be to possibly add small amounts of a few herbs; this isn't something that can or should be tarted-up.

[I didn't add any spices or herbs, not even salt or pepper. I didn't cut up the chicken.]

I make chicken soup/broth fairly often -- often from 99-cents-a-pound chicken because cheaper than that is rarely found out here.

[The Wedge -- my organically correct food coop -- has organic chicken backs and necks for 49 cents a pound most of the time. They sometimes have turkey necks and backs, which are more flavorful.]

About the only difference is that I generally use two chickens -- about the same amount of fuss and cost for gas/heat, and (just barely covering the chicken with water) not resulting in more than I can use in a couple of days -- maybe two cups drunk from a mug, the rest as bases for noodles or Chinese take-out leftover (plus, currently, some added zucchini because I planted four seeds atop an old compost-pile in the back yard) soup. And actually, more often than not, I'll remove the breast meat first and zap it in the microwave, part to be eaten immediately and part to chill & slice for sandwiches. The meat of chicken used to make soup is hardly worth eating, IMHO, except maybe with dumplings, and that's cold weather comfort food much too hearty to think about right now ... with a result that delights the neighborhood cat.

But you didn't mention _how_ you cook it. I tend to violate the "soup boiled is soup spoiled" axiom, and initially bring it to a brisk boil for about five minutes, thinking about salmonella &cet, then turn the fire _very_ low and just barely simmer for about 8 hours (usually overnight). Being on a low-fat/cholesterol diet, I'm careful to remove all the fat after cooking -- but usually am in a wothell archie mood and add a tablespoonful of this schmaltz to the fried, chopped, and mashed livers (best served cold, spread on rye bread).

[I bring it to a boil first. Simmer it till the meat is tender enough; in this case, about two hours. Probably not as low as you simmer it.]

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Sunday, August 03, 2003

Saturday 2 August 2003. I decided to skip the Mnstf picnic. I still wasn't feeling well; and next weekend I'd be getting sf-fandom socializing at Diversicon.

Time: the 1970s. Place: the LASFS clubhouse, in the Los Angeles area. The club had voted to ban ___ at the clubhouse during meetings.

Lee Gold asked me how J___ (one of those affected by the ban) was taking it.

"He's being reasonable," I said.

"Oh, good."

I realized Lee hadn't caught my meaning. "At great length."

"Oh, dear."

Minnesota's gun laws changed recently; in my opinion, one bad law was replaced by another. Under the old law, carry permits were issued at the discretion of local law enforcement authorities. In some rural areas, almost anyone could get a permit. In Minneapolis, someone with a real need for the permit might have to sue before getting it.

The new law changed that, for what I think is the better. But it also made changes which I consider to be violations of property rights. Local governments can't keep guns out of places where they want to keep them out. Businesses which want to be gun-free have to put up a poster which conforms to a bunch of mickey mouse persnickety rules. Then, if they detect someone carrying a gun into their building, they need to also give a verbal warning. (This is apparently copied from Minnesota's trespassing law. If so, that law needs to be changed.) And they can't keep parking lots gun-free.

So -- here we have conservatives chopping away at property rights, and liberals defending property rights.

Some Mnstf hosts are now adding "no guns" to their lists of rules. Others are unlikely to do so.

And some Mnstfers are being reasonable about this. At great length.

Now: Several local governments in the Twin Cities area have decided that nullification is the best way to handle their situation. Evidently, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has regulations which bar guns from the parks. Including Minnehaha Park, where the picnic was to be held.

In a reminder on Natter, the Mnstf president mentioned this ban. One gun-owner pointed out that under the new law, the Parks board doesn't have the right to do this.

The matter has now been discussed reasonably and at great length. In the end, whoever served as host for the picnic made it non-gun.

The laws will be changed again -- probably with new stupidities -- the next time the DFL elects a governor and controls both houses of the state legislature. (Note: The Democratic-Farmer-Labor party was formed by a merger of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties. For all practical purposes, it's really the Democratic Party.) I expect that to be in 2010, but it might happen earlier if the Republicans do something stupid enough. Or if they get blamed for bad economic conditions. (Everyone knows that the Depression was over five minutes after FDR took the oath of office, right?)

Early edition of the Sunday Star Tribune has an article on the Independence Party's future or lack of one. They've had one gubernatorial winner: Jesse Ventura. Their candidate last election (former Congressman Tim Penny) didn't do well.

I didn't vote for Ventura because I thought Minnesota politics was already too much like professional wrestling. (I can't recall which other minor-party candidate I did vote for.) I didn't vote for Penny because I decided he wasn't intellectually honest enough to be a politician.

It's been amusing to have a party devoted to fanatical moderation around. And I think having a strong third party would be useful. But I wouldn't mourn if the Independence Party became merely a fringe group. Of course, I wouldn't mourn if that happened to either or both of the two major parties.

Later: I'm feeling better. Ate some comfort food, ingested caffeine. Made bitchy political comments.

And started writing scaffolding for an sf short story. I decided I had to do that, before getting back to work on the current project.

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Saturday, August 02, 2003

Friday 1 August 2003. I don't have television. My favorite coin laundry does. (There's one a few blocks away which has multiple screens, and now also an Internet connection.)

I saw "The Simpsons" -- which some people apparently consider the best cartoon show ever -- for the first time. It bored me. Not a great surprise; when I saw Seinfeld, it looked and sounded like a standard sitcom rather than a Great Innovation.

Speaking of boredom -- I returned home by way of Uptown. The Art Fair has taken it over for the weekend.

The only thing of interest at the Art Fair was deep fried Oreos and deep fried Twinkies. And I wasn't interested enough to try either one.

In one way, I'm feeling better than I have for a while. I've gotten a lot of stiffness out of my body.

But I'm tired. I haven't had enough sleep recently, and it's been irregular.

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Friday, August 01, 2003

Thursday July 31 2003. Rainbow had whole chickens for 49 cents a pound, so I made chicken soup. I fried the chicken's two livers separately. (It also had two gizzards, but no heart.)

Two cents worth of organic celery from the Wedge Coop; carrots; onion; the chicken, still whole; water. Not what a really good cook would do, but it works well enough for me.

From http://www.write-hemisphere.com:

"Friday, 01 August 2003
Discussion: To blog or not to blog?
The Tangent Online newsgroup discussion at sff.net has digressed from Wolfe/Odyssey/Harlan to why people blog and if it's in their best interest to do so if they do."

Turns out that some people use LiveJournal for journals no one else gets to read. This is so they'll have a record for their own use. No explanation of why they don't do this on their own computers.

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