Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Monday September 29, 2003. Late night thoughts: The marketplace of behavior. People react to each other -- and to the material world -- in ways which they think will get them the results they want. Just as businesses which make too many wrong economic decisions go under, individuals who make too many wrong behavioral decisions go under.

In both cases, they can be kept going longer if the market is made less free. Regulations -- governmental or social -- can protect them from "unfair" competition. They can be subsidized, or supported by price floors.

It seemed unlikely that I was the first person to come up with the idea. A quick google showed that Andrew Odlyzko used the phrase about seven years earlier:

[PDF]The Bumpy Road of Electronic Commerce
... economic efficiency and fairness. There are many examples in the marketplace
of behavior that appears even less fair. For example, in ...

My context: Figuring out what interests me about science fiction. Which boils down to certain kinds of social change, and the people most directly involved. (I haven't gotten more specific yet.)

Odlyzko's context: electronic commerce.

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Monday, September 29, 2003

Monday September 29, 2003. I'm not quite well enough to deal with the real world. Therefore, a few words on California politics: however, the recall election comes out, the California Republican Party will lose.

They obviously lose if Gray Davis isn't recalled. They obviously lose if Davis is replaced by Cruz Bustamante.

But I think they also lose if Arnold Scharzenegger becomes governor. Unless, of course, he turns out to be much more competent at the job than I expect him to be.

One confident prediction: if Scharzenegger (or any other Republican) becomes governor, there will be an attempt at a recall. Anyone care to estimate how many hours it will take to get started? How many minutes?

From a discussion on Forward Motion (http://fmwriters.com) on the 27th:

]The beginning is when things start to change. I see two choices: First, give a brief look at "the way things have always been and always will be". The University of Tamlar, for example, where Professor Grimp is explaining to students that dragons have never existed; that they're a metaphor for volcanoes. In the next scene, Professor Grimp is walking home when a dragon swoops down and carries him away.

Second, start when things begin to change _for the person this part of the story is happening to_. Things "the way they've always been" haven't changed noticeably yet, so your description can establish what the status quo is. Salna Blackmountain has just arrived at the University, to study dragon lore. She has just finished putting things away in her dorm room, goes for a walk to familiarize herself with the campus, and then there's this huge shadow, and someone (Professor Grimp, though she doesn't know that yet) above her is screaming "Get a fire extinguisher!"[

It's disconcerting to realize how much this was influenced by Algis Budrys's essays on writing.

From EurekAlert (http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php)

Public Release: 29-Sep-2003
Psychological Science
Infants can use previous observations to interpret new ones
Twelve-month-old infants can use previous observations as a basis to understand new interactions, although five-month-olds cannot, according to a Yale study.

Public Release: 29-Sep-2003
Analytical Chemistry
On the antiquity of pots: New method developed for dating archaeological pottery
Researchers at Britain's University of Bristol have developed the first direct method for dating pottery by examining animal fats preserved inside the ceramic walls. Archaeologists have long dated sites by the visual appearance of pottery fragments found around the site. The new analytical technique will allow archaeologists to more accurately determine the age of pottery and help resolve some longstanding disputes in the world of antiquities.

Public release date: 29-Sep-2003

Popular Canadian writing born in US, says scholar
Canadian fiction and non-fiction were not born in Toronto or some other large Canadian centre but, rather, in New York City, says University of Toronto English professor Nick Mount.

By 1901, only 56 people in Canada identified themselves as writers because a "shocking number had left for New York and, to a lesser degree, London," he says. Mount is studying the relationship between American writers and those writers who left Canada in the 19th century. "Most scholars are aware that many Canadian writers such as Ernest Thompson Seton, Sophie Almon Hensley and Palmer Cox had to leave Canada to make their fortunes. However, no one has examined the historical and social consequences of having all these Canadian writers in one place [New York]," Mount says.

This exodus of talent resulted in expatriate communities that formed in New York's pubs, rooming houses and publishing outlets, he says. These gatherings helped to promote and provide public exposure to those writers still living in Canada. "Many Canadians started to get published in American magazines through the efforts of these expatriates," Mount says in a forthcoming book. "Also, these expatriate writers proved to those still in Canada that it was possible to make a living from books, poetry and magazine articles."

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Sunday, September 28, 2003

Sunday September 28, 2003. Complicated recipes like "boil water, pour into cup, add sweetener and teabag" are once more within my grasp. I'm not yet entirely well, but I'll be able to go out and do things tomorrow.

Anne Rice's work never needs editing, and she's now able to insist that editors keep their hands off. See http://www.annerice.com/sh_MessagesBeach2.htm. This has inspired several discussions on LiveJournal; the one I consider most interesting is at http://www.livejournal.com/users/pameladean/46920.html/.

What else might someone want to track hourly on the web?:

All Consuming is a website that watches weblogs for books that they're talking about, and displays the most popular ones on an hourly basis. You can also use this site to add a list of books to your own weblog (and you don't need to know HTML). Learn more.

On the Final Journey, One Size Doesn't Fit All
The issue of obesity in America is vividly illustrated at Goliath Casket of Lynn, Ind., specialty manufacturers of oversize coffins.

September 28, 2003
Orwell Meets the Group of Seventeen
Posted by Henry

John M. Ford comments in an Electrolite thread on mixed metaphors and cliches.

If you want a vision of the future, it is a wireless broadband network feeding requests for foreign money-laundering assistance into a human temporal lobe, forever. With banner ads.

As Brad DeLong readers may recall, Ford is responsible for introducing Zweeghb into the Scrabble lexicon. A man of many talents.

Public Release: 28-Sep-2003
Nature Genetics
UCSD researchers discover gene able to suppress retrovirus insertion mutations
A naturally occurring variation in an essential gene can suppress genetic mutations caused by retroviruses in mice, according to a new discovery by UCSD School of Medicine researchers.

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Saturday September 27, 2003. To the Southwest Senior Center (around the block) to pick up FARE For All groceries. This time, it was mostly food I wanted.

How FARE For All works: You pay a relatively small amount of money, and put in an hour of volunteer work. The next month, you get food. You don't get choice.

The Light pack is produce plus chicken breast; two grocery bags full. The Regular pack is the Light pack plus some other meat items -- not predictable. The Family pack is packaged food in a large box.

And then I slept most of the day. I'm definitely sick; I don't know what of. But that probably explains why I felt bad yesterday.

I'm now well enough that I was able to cook and enjoy supper: eggs fried with apple slices, red pepper slices, and sesame oil.

From the Ideosphere (http://www.ideosphere.com) discussion list:

"'is it possible to develop programs which trade automatically by some simple rules without human interaction?'

"You mean like Markybot? Though I wouldn't say its rules are simple. http://satirist.org/fx/"

Written in Perl, runs on Unix. Uses Markov chains. Source code not available for the main program.

From Slate's summary of today's major newspapers:
Who They Gonna Call? By Emily Biuso
Posted Saturday, September 27, 2003, at 3:20 AM PT

"The Washington Post and The New York Times both lead with Friday's release of Census figures revealing that the number of Americans living in poverty has risen for the second year in a row (USA Today led with this yesterday)....Unlike in past years, yesterday's Census news was delivered on a Friday (with the potential of getting lost in the weekend's news cycle) and from the bureau's suburban headquarters in Maryland, rather than its more 'centrally located' press club. Census officials denied that they had been pressured by the administration to play down the stats."

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Saturday, September 27, 2003

Friday September 26, 2003. A grim day, thanks partly to something happening in another person's life.

I began to come out of the funk around 7 pm.

Book recommendation: Carolyn See, Making a Literary Life: advice for writers and other dreamers. Ballantine. 2002/2003.

I like See (or at least her persona) better than I do the authors of other writing books I've read. And she's able to explain a couple of things I hadn't quite gotten from those others.

Geneticists Report Finding Central Asian Link to Levites
A team of geneticists...say that 52 percent of Levites of Ashkenazi origin have a particular genetic signature that originated in Central Asia, although it is also found less frequently in the Middle East. The ancestor who introduced it into the Ashkenazi Levites could perhaps have been from the Khazars, a Turkic tribe whose king converted to Judaism in the eighth or ninth century, the researchers suggest.

Their reasoning is that the signature, a set of DNA variations known as R1a1, is common in the region north of Georgia that was once occupied by the Khazar kingdom.

From someone on the American Dialect Society list:
a small sample of English accents

From the India edition of http://news.google.com:
Goddess Durga in jeans raises furore
Sify - 55 minutes ago
A hoarding at Ashok Nagar, a prime business locality in Bhubaneswar has been in the eye of a raging controversy.
Shotgun weddings with a sinister difference Telegraph.co.uk
Bihar clamps down on songs for Durga Puja Hindustan Times

From that last story: 'According to astrologer Viprendra Jha "Madhav", the "panchang", or Hindu religious calendar, indicates goddess Durga will arrive this year on a horse.

'This, he said, signified that the country's ruling parties might face trouble or split, or that there may be bad fortune or the death of some highly placed leaders.

'The goddess will depart on a buffalo, signifying that there might be an outbreak of epidemics or some natural calamity, said Madhav.'

From Barbary_Coast on LiveJournal (http://livejournal.com/users/Barbary_Coast): A conspiracy theory which trumps Heribert Illig's discovery that 297 years of European history were forged:

This book shall change your entire perception of history. Its author, an eminent mathematician, follows in steps of Sir Isaac Newton and proves with astronomical data and statistical analysis of ancient documents that the history of humankind is drastically shorter than consensual chronology suggests.

Jesus Christ was born in 1053 and crucified in 1086; The Gospels were written in XI-XII centuries; The Crusades = Trojan War started after His crucifixion; Rome = Jerusalem = Constantinople = Istanbul; Mongols = Orda-Russia conquered Western Europe; Saint George = Genghis Khan; 'Ancient Rome' was founded in XIV century by Tartars; Old Testament related the events of medieval Europe; consulting the dictionary about books, hotels and health maps;

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Thursday, September 25, 2003

Brought over from the LiveJournal version:
From a discussion on SFWA's workings at Forward Motion http:/fmwriters.com:

In the beginning, SFWA membership required a certain level of sales EVERY YEAR. And three cents a word was worth more in 1965 than five cents a word is now.

For whatever reason or reason, this requirement wasn't enforced. After a while, a majority of members would've lost their memberships if it had started being enforced. It was finally abolished.

So -- I don't think it can accurately be said that SFWA is restricting its membership to established professionals. Someone who has sold one novel, and will never sell anything again, will be a SFWA member for life.

And SFWA has expanded eligibility. It's made official the practice of accepting fantasy writers, for example. It's gone from defining "professional publication" as only including US publication to accepting any English-language short-story market publication.

There've been mutterings about starting an organization limited to _real_ professionals, and about starting one which would include people who can't yet meet SFWA's entrance requirement. Both might make sense, but neither would eliminate what I see as SFWA's most persistent problem.

Written sf and fantasy (and to some extent in other media) attract people who are good at scoring high on IQ tests, and not very good at dealing with people. This is the kind of person a SFWA officer is likely to be. This is the kind of people who'll be casting most of the votes in anything SFWA votes on. And it causes problems.

But why does SFWA operate so badly compared to many fan organizations? Compared to most fan-run local sf conventions?

2003-09-24 01:37 (link) Select
Funny that you bring up the whole SFWA situation. When Robert Sawyer was president, one of the first things he tried to abolish was the grandfather clause on members that hadn't written anything in years, and you saw what happened to him. Few persons have more wrath than someone who French-kissed Kristine Kathryn's ass to get published often enough in Pulphouse to qualify for SFWA membership, and who now look at having their pinnacle of achievement taken away.

(Two years ago, Edgar Harris wrote a joke article intended for Revolution Science Fiction on how SFWA had changed its requirements for membership to being able to impersonate at least one cartoon character. Fiction writers got one, nonfiction writers got two, and those who wrote both got three, and that impersonation belonged to the writer for life, so much was made of Harlan Ellison getting dibs on GIR from Invader Zim, Bender from Futurama, and the Iron Giant. Me, I got Beavis and Zorak, and Gardner Dozois was quoted as saying "Don't give me none of that tree-hugging hippie crap! Respect mah authoritah!" and gaining admission before anyone realized that he wasn't auditioning. The more I think about the current condition of SFWA, the more I think that this idea is SFWA's best hope.)

2003-09-25 17:52
Robert Sawyer had more problems than just that one, I gather. He seems to have greatly overestimated the power of SFWA presidents to get things done.

2003-09-24 05:31 (link) Select
I can share what I hear by culling the newsgroups of many writers involved right now in the SFWa steering committees.

SFWA runs badly because it's volunteer and year round, not just for a few months like a con. It runs badly because people who offer to be officers do it for many reasons, some of which aren't very productive of the steady work required. It runs badly because there are segments who want, passionately, different things. (Older SF writers wanted the Female Fantasy Writers out. Female Fantasy Writers feel that all writers ought to be in...but there needs to be some sort of bar, because "Look what happened to RWA" they say among themselves.)

The current crop of officers actually wants to clear up bylaws problems, get caught up with backlog of membership snafus and get the people in--or nearly in, if they really don't qualify. Like they still get membership applications from writers with three vanity press works who seem to think that belonging to SFWA is going to sell the boxes of bad books in their garage.

The current attitude is, get in those working writers. Build the organization so that there is some clout, and SFWA can get some of the medieval publishing bullshit changed--like twice a year royalties based on sales six months before, when everyone knows publishers have sales data every hour now. Advances that were small in 1963, in sixties dollars. Longer and longer waits to hear anything. Electronic rights grabbing.

2003-09-25 18:10
"SFWA runs badly because it's volunteer and year round, not just for a few months like a con."

For Twin Cities cons, it tends to be at least eleven months. For Worldcons, it's several years leading up to the vote -- and then working during the three years leading up to the con. And fan-run cons are run by volunteers. So -- why do most of them run better (or at least without as much public commotion) than SFWA?

"It runs badly because people who offer to be officers do it for many reasons, some of which aren't very productive of the steady work required."

Same goes for fan organizations. So why do many of them run with fewer problems than SFWA does?

"It runs badly because there are segments who want, passionately, different things. (Older SF writers wanted the Female Fantasy Writers out. Female Fantasy Writers feel that all writers ought to be in...but there needs to be some sort of bar, because 'Look what happened to RWA' they say among themselves.)"

Now, that's a problem which many fan organizations don't have. (The ones with membership requirement do.)

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Wednesday September 24, 2003.

To Pillsbury House, to do data entry for the Community Barter Network. The improved system really is improved. The Time Dollar software used to take forever to switch between different parts of the program. Now it moves reasonably fast.

Yesterday, Joel Rosenberg said on the Natter list that the Wedge Co-op had taken down their "No guns here" sign. They had. I asked about it.

Roughly: the people who'd made the decision to put up the sign had found out it wasn't needed. The store didn't need it to boot out someone who was being obnoxious with a gun.

Subject: The Hill E-News
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2003 22:40:41 -0400
From: enews

"Omens & Portents for September 24, 2003:

"Law of unintended consequences.

"Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow a person who has been a United States citizen for 20 years to run for president. Under present law, no one who is not a native citizen can run for president." [Not quite accurate. The Presidency is also open to anyone who was a citizen when the Constitution was adopted. By 1859, it was rather unlikely that any such person would be considered for the Presidency.] "The resolution (S.J.Res.15) was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee in July and the first hearing will be held shortly, although the date is yet to be determined. Such an amendment could help elect a Democratic president: Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, has been cited by political observers as a potential future candidate for president."

The person on the Foresight Exchange (http://www.ideosphere.com) who's betting that Arnold Scharzenegger will become President may not be as wrong as I thought he was.

Public Release: 24-Sep-2003
Psychomatic Medicine
Study links IQ and affluence level to longevity
By following nearly 1,000 subjects during a 70-year span, Scottish researchers have found that people with high IQs who reside in poor neighborhoods lived longer than people in similar areas with low IQs, while the intelligence score was not important for longevity for people living in wealthy neighborhoods.
Chief Scientist's Office of the Scottish Executive

Contact: Judith Hodgson
Center for the Advancement of Health

E-paper may offer video images
19:00 24 September 03

A dramatically simple idea may finally make "electronic paper" displays a realistic prospect. If so, animated versions of a newspaper could, one day, be unfurled like a roller-blind on a flexible wireless display.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Tuesday September 23, 2003. I woke up feeling better than I have in a while. I decided it was time to work harder and smarter at one task, and resume another.

Theory: Every writer (professional, beginner, or anywhere in between) does too much of at least one thing.

I'd taken a bunch of stuff out of "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" -- background ideas, and some action which was actually another plot. I'd thought I had enough for another short story. So I put it in another file, currently titled "Some Their Gold, and Some Their Gear, and Some Their Maidenhead."

And then I took out of that file stuff which would make another story on its own. Basic premise: groups of humans adapting to a nonhuman culture. (Yes, I know it's been done. But not the way I have in mind.)

I've figured out what the end of "Caterpillar" is, which will make it simpler to direct the story toward that ending. (Philip K. Dick did the same thing in 1956, in _The World Jones Made_; but I'm not going to worry about that.)

I started working on chi kung again, for the first time in months. I got as far as the warm-up exercises for the beginning stance.

Brooklyn's largest Black neighborhood getting mostly-white gentrifiers:
Brownstones by the Tree-Lined Block

Thanks to Sclerotic_rings http://www.livejournal.com/users/sclerotic_rings:

‘Cat parasite can change human behaviour’
The figures emerge from studies into toxoplasma gondii, a parasite carried by almost all the UK’s feline population and maybe elsewhere in the world. They show that half of Britain’s human population carry the parasite in their brains, and that infected people may undergo slow but crucial changes in their behaviour.

More fun in California politics. From news.google.com:
Issa urges no vote on recall if McClintock and Schwarzenegger stay in race
San Jose Mercury News - 1 hour ago
Republican Darrell Issa, the Southern California congressman who largely financed the effort to put the recall of Gov. Gray Davis on the ballot, is urging people to vote against the recall if fellow Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger ...
Top Recall Supporter Says Voters May Have to Keep Davis in Power FOX News
Heckled: Actor Tries to Court Environmentalists Amid Protest Common Dreams
Working for Change - KESQ - Washington Dispatch - Sacramento Bee - and 166 related

From a discussion on SFWA's workings at Forward Motion http:/fmwriters.com:

In the beginning, SFWA membership required a certain level of sales EVERY YEAR. And three cents a word was worth more in 1965 than five cents a word is now.

For whatever reason or reason, this requirement wasn't enforced. After a while, a majority of members would've lost their memberships if it had started being enforced. It was finally abolished.

So -- I don't think it can accurately be said that SFWA is restricting its membership to established professionals. Someone who has sold one novel, and will never sell anything again, will be a SFWA member for life.

And SFWA has expanded eligibility. It's made official the practice of accepting fantasy writers, for example. It's gone from defining "professional publication" as only including US publication to accepting any English-language short-story market publication.

There've been mutterings about starting an organization limited to _real_ professionals, and about starting one which would include people who can't yet meet SFWA's entrance requirement. Both might make sense, but neither would eliminate what I see as SFWA's most persistent problem.

Written sf and fantasy (and to some extent in other media) attract people who are good at scoring high on IQ tests, and not very good at dealing with people. This is the kind of person a SFWA officer is likely to be. This is the kind of people who'll be casting most of the votes in anything SFWA votes on. And it causes problems.

But why does SFWA operate so badly compared to many fan organizations? Compared to most fan-run local sf conventions?

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Monday September 22, 2003. Late night thoughts

1. "The new chimpanzee group has demonstrated human-level learning ability."

"You didn't give them firearms training like the first group, right?"


"You didn't give them unarmed combat training like the second group?"

"No. I taught them something harmless. They're writing computer viruses."

2. The song "The Twa Sisters" -- just how young is the younger sister? What if she hasn't reached puberty? [For those who don't know the song: Knight is courting the older sister, but more interested in younger sister. Older sister drowns younger sister. When younger sister is found, minstrel makes harp from her bones, strung with her hair. Later, gets a gig at royal court. Harp accuses older sister of murder.]

Good to know my mind is working normally again.

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Monday, September 22, 2003

Monday September 22, 2003. Rainbow Foods had cut-up frying chicken at 79 cents a pound. (They also had whole chicken and various parts for the same price.) Sunday, I'd bought one such chicken. Today, I cooked.

It was a mutant, with two livers and no heart or gizzard. I fried the livers with apple slices and an egg. The rest went into the soup pot, along with some vegetables.

The past few days, I'd had a cooking block; for example, making tea seemed horrendously difficult. I've found that when I have a cooking block, I also have trouble writing.

I didn't write any great prose today. What I did do: A while ago, I'd taken plot and background stuff out of the most-current story and put it aside in a file as notes for another story. Today I took stuff out of that second story, and set it aside for a third one.

Question -- what sf stories and novels can you think of which deal with humans whose society is reshaped by contact with a nonhuman culture? Ones I can think of: C.J. Cherryh, _Serpent's Reach_ and _40,000 in Gehenna_. Margaret St. Claire, _The Green Queen_.

Writing: A while ago, I'd taken stuff out of the most-current story, and made it notes for another. Today I took stuff out of that second story, and set it aside for a third story.

Spammer's alleged location: Nothing hill gate/London/UK

Thanks to Sclerotic Rings http://www.livejournal.com/users/sclerotic_rings for this:

http://www.asofterworld.com/oqindex.html Overqualified: A new letter every Tuesday.

"Looking for work is an exercise in selling yourself. You write cover letter after cover letter, listing the parts of you that you respect the least, listing the selling points that make you valuable in a buyer's market. You leave out the little details that you tell yourself in the morning to make things okay. You don't mention the way your heart flutters when you meet your lover's eyes across the table, the way your feet felt like lead at your aunt's funeral. You write cover letter after cover letter, listing the same store bought traits in the same wording, day after day, hoping to find another job.

"And then maybe one day you just snap a little. You sit down to write a cover letter, and something entirely new comes out."

According to http://politics1.com, someone I know (in print) is running for the Libertarian Party's Presidential nomination -- sf fan George Phillies.

"A physics professor, Phillies gained international recognition for his scientific studies of light scattering, soaps, and polymer solutions. Phillies has also written a few science fiction books, numerous sci-fi short stories, lots of academic articles, and a book detailing the financial/ethics problems within the Liberatarian [sic] National Committee."

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Sunday September 21, 2003. I met M__ at the Caribou Coffee at Washington and 5th. We discussed the possibility of starting another Clutterers Anonymous meeting, in a convenient location. Probably monthly, rather than weekly or biweekly. Probably on a weekend day.

We arranged to meet again on October 19th.

Not quite the usual spam heading: "Too busy to enlarge your penis?"

A discussion on rec.arts.sf.written (Lyndon Frootbat LaRouche) led me to this:
Visualizing the Complex Domain
by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

May 30, 2003

I shall show here, that the unstated, but implied aspect of the charge which Carl Gauss delivered in 1799, against D'Alembert, Euler, and Lagrange, lies in the implication, that the latter were virtually Satanists; that, in the sense of the philosophical tradition of both the medieval William of Ockham and those founders of modern empiricism, Venice's Paolo Sarpi and his personal lackey, Thomas Hobbes' teacher Galileo Galilei. I shall show here, without exaggeration of any kind, that that charge of Satanism is not merely relevant, but must be emphasized, to bring into focus the implicit, most essential features, and political importance, of Gauss's argument respecting mathematics itself. I shall also focus some exemplary attention on the leading role of empiricism in producing those widely accepted, incompetent doctrines of economy, such as contemporary monetarism, which have played a leading role in bringing about the 1971-2003 collapse of the economies of the Americas, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere.

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Sunday, September 21, 2003

Saturday September 20, 2003. Contra dance at Tapestry Folkdance, second week in a row.

The teacher advised looking at your partner's face, to keep from being dizzy. This doesn't work well for me; my peripheral vision shows the walls moving.

What works second-best for me is looking at the floor. Best is looking at my partner's chest, which could cause other problems.

Muscle memory from when I'd last gone regularly to Tapestry doesn't help as much as I'd expected. I've figured out why: I'm not using quite the same muscles.

I didn't tire quite as much as I did last week.

Need to do: Synesthetically see/feel the rhythm more accurately.

Continue learning particular movements.

From http://news.google.com:
Russian president sees no reason for Iran not singing IAEA protocol
Xinhua - 55 minutes ago

Tangent Online update: It now seems that if Dave Truesdale finds a new managing editor by New Year's Eve, Tangent Online will continue. Which means the best place to find reviews of short spec-fic will continue.

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Friday, September 19, 2003

Friday September 19, 2003. One thousand ninety-four messages quarantined as virus-laden. A couple hundred more which looked like the virus-carriers, but had been quarantined for other reasons. And that was at the beginning of the day. There would be over a thousand more before the day ended.

September 20, 2003
Catholic Archdiocese Files Suit, Calling Church Network a Fraud

ATLANTA, Sept. 19 — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta has filed a lawsuit accusing a network of Spanish-speaking churches of falsely claiming to be Catholic, with priests celebrating Mass, hearing confessions and offering Communion to immigrants who mistakenly think the churches are tied to the Vatican.

[massive snip]

In downtown Atlanta, Capilla de la Fe holds services at a "Stop Suffering Center," where pamphlets in Spanish tout the cure-all effects of holy water available with a donation.

Some Capilla de la Fe services are unlike anything offered at Roman Catholic parishes, including one focusing on "strong prayer to destroy witchcraft, demon-possession, nightmares, curses, envy, bad luck or spiritual problems."

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Thursday September 18, 2003. -"Is this a good way to begin drafting a story?"- someone asked on rec.arts.sf.composition. Start out with the theme, then choose characters, setting, etc. to fit the theme.

Pat Wrede explained the various ways she and other writers do their planning, what happens to the plans, and why logic and reason didn't have much to do with writing. She then told him to try it that way, and see if it worked. [Someday, the regulars on the newsgroup will
conspire to chain Pat Wrede in front of a computer till she writes a book about writing spec-fic.]

She wasn't the only one to respond, of course -- just the best.

What I said, roughly: How you write best may not have anything to do with what seems logical or reasonable; or with how anyone else works or any method you've ever heard of. And it may not be the way you like best.

This is true about many things other than writing. Including a whole lot about which people are certain there's only One True Method.

Ran into M__ on the bus to downtown. We'd been the hard core of the Clutterers Anonymous meetings in south Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, till those had gone under. We agreed to meet informally in downtown Minneapolis in a few days. [Downtown: In Minneapolis, Downtown and Uptown are places -- never directions.]

I got schedules for bus lines I use which had change. MCTO changes schedules once each quarter; and this time, funding cuts had caused more change than usual. I also got the schedule for the bus to Stillwater.

Tangent Online (http://www.tangentonline.com) has the best short spec-fic reviews I've seen lately. Unfortunately, they may not be around next year. On September 10th, owner Dave Truesdale posted an editorial titled "Idiocy from the SFnal Left." The flak he got from that moved him to announce that he's probably closing down around December 31st.

The editorial was in response to Candas Jane Dorsey's "Farewell to the Literature of Ideas" in the New York Review of Science Fiction, August 2003. http://www.write-hemisphere.com

SFWA's board of directors voted to raise the minimum pay rate for qualifying fiction from 3 cents a word to 5 cents a word, starting next January. That is, if SFWA's lawyer says they have the authority to do this.

Three cents was a lot more in 1965, when SFWA (then Science Fiction Writers of America rather than Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) was founded.

From http://eurekalert.org:
NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Green was the dominant color for plants both on land and in the ocean until about 250 million years ago when changes in the ocean's oxygen content - possibly sparked by a cataclysmic event - helped bring basic ocean plants with a red color to prominence - a status they retain today. That's the view of a group led by marine scientists from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in a paper, "The Evolutionary Inheritance of Elemental Stoichiometry in Marine Phytoplankton" in the journal Nature, published Thursday (Sept. 18).

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Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Wednesday September 17, 2003. I can't easily read John Brunner anymore. Something about the way he writes is too jangly.

There are other fiction writers whose styles now put me off. Some I liked, others bored me. I don't know when I acquired this sensitivity; I think it's within the last few months.

A pox on computer system upgrades! I went to Pillsbury House, to enter data for the Community Barter Network. As a result of an upgrade, I couldn't get into the Time Dollar program without giving the correct password. Nobody around had the current password.

September 17, 2003
GOP may favor Dean as opponent
By Jonathan E. Kaplan

'A Republican pollster who requested anonymity said that a Dean candidacy could play out two ways.

'First, he said it is tougher to run against a governor. Second, Dean’s momentum may dampen over time as calls mount for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) or former Vice President Al Gore to jump into the race — on the theory that Dean appeals to his “hard core base” and thus cannot broaden his support.'

In one part of Nova Scotia, the year of change from driving on the left to driving on the right was known as "The year of free beef." There were these oxen who couldn't be retrained....

Today, we have Democratic politicians who've been trained to run Presidential campaigns Bill Clinton's way. Unlike those oxen, they're staying in their jobs.

'This week, we've received four emails from writers who were "approached" by companies online. The writers wanted to know if these companies were a good deal. One was a book reviewer (who charged a fee). Another was an online bookstore that didn't charge any transaction fees...because they charge authors a huge, up-front annual fee to list their books there (huh?). Another one was a website where writers can have their own "professional webpage." In all cases, the writers weren't "approached." They were spam*ed!'
Read this entire article at: http://www.angelahoy.com/writing/

NSF PR 03-103 - September 17, 2003
Media contact:
David Hart
(703) 292-7737
Program contact:
Ty Znati
(703) 292-4546

Data Privacy, Emergency Response, Weather Prediction to Benefit from Information Technology Advances
NSF Information Technology Research program announces awards for 2003

ARLINGTON, Va.—Protecting individual privacy in a networked world, getting the right information at the right time for emergency response, predicting high-impact local weather such as thunderstorms, and monitoring wetlands with networks of mobile robotic sensors are the challenges being addressed by four of the eight large projects funded this year by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the Information Technology Research (ITR) program.

The other four large ITR awards will design secure and reliable network architectures for bringing high-speed networking to millions of homes; create tools for comparing collections of DNA sequences and construct a "family tree" for life on Earth; harness automated microscopy and data mining of biological image databases to observe and understand cellular and molecular processes; and simplify the way scientists develop applications for grid computing.

Subject: Re: [FD] mention of FD
From: "Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci"
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 10:30:53 -0400

'Thanks for the little plug for [First Draft] in your blog! But hey, my zine was 38
pages, thank you very much -- what, the franked stuff doesn't count?'

Sorry, I misread the page count.

'Vin chuckled at Uncle Mikey's fretting that my zine was the [longest] zine
this time around: "In any other APA except FD and CAPA-ALPHA, 38 pages
would be considered ridiculously huge!"'

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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Tuesday September 16, 2003. I got a fair amount of writing done and printed out -- for inspection, not yet for workshopping. (And definitely not ready for submission.)

The printing problem had been solved by turning off the computer and turning it on again.

Mail: First Draft #65. First Draft is a bimonthly postal writing group in apa format. Thinner than usual -- only 102 pages. The OE is nervous about this, and about the longest contribution being only 36 pages. Work includes mainstream fiction, already-published newspaper pieces, mystery, fantasy, poetry. Sample copy for cost of postage (A bit under $3 for this one; next one likely a bit under $5) to Michael Wolff, PO Box 62351, North Charleston, SC 29419.

Penzys Spices postcard -- besides the stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul, they now have one in Savage, MN.

From EurekAlert (http://eurekalert.org), this synopsis of a scientific news release.
Public Release: 16-Sep-2003
Applied Physics Letters
Ceramics reinforced with nanotubes
A ceramic material reinforced with carbon nanotubes has been made by materials scientists at UC Davis. The new material is far tougher than conventional ceramics, conducts electricity and can both conduct heat and act as a thermal barrier, depending on the orientation of the nanotubes.

Contact: Andy Fell
University of California - Davis

And this full press release:
Public release date: 16-Sep-2003
Contact: Andy Fell
University of California - Davis
The universe may have been created by an explosion within a black hole, according to a new theory by two mathematicians recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.

"It's a mathematically plausible model which refines the standard model of the Big Bang," said Blake Temple, professor of mathematics at UC Davis and co-author of the paper with Joel Smoller, professor of mathematics at the University of Michigan.

[snip standard model description]

In the new model, the Big Bang is an actual explosion within a black hole in an existing space. The shock wave of the explosion is expanding into an infinite space, leaving behind it a finite amount of matter. The universe is emerging from a white hole. The opposite of a black hole, a white hole throws matter out instead of sucking it in.

The shockwave and the universe beyond the black hole lies in our future. Eventually, the universe will emerge from the black hole as something like a supernova, but on an enormously large scale, Temple said.

The equations that describe a black hole were written by Albert Einstein as part of the General Theory of Relativity. Einstein's equations work equally well if time runs forward or backwards. But explosive shockwaves, which include an increase in entropy, are time-irreversible. The new theory satisfies Einstein's equations while allowing the universe to expand.

Whether the matter emerging from the white hole came from matter that previously fell into another black hole is an open question, Temple said.

"It is natural to wonder if there is a connection between the mass that disappears into black hole singularities and the mass that emerges from white hole singularities," Smoller and Temple wrote.

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Monday, September 15, 2003

Monday September 15, 2003. Something odd about Rainbow Foods, under its new management: it has low prices which aren't advertised.

I'd expected chicken leg quarters to be 69 cents a pound. Last week, they were on special at 49 cents a pound. The flier said this was a saving of 20 cents a pound. The previous week they'd been 59 cents a pound.

Today, there were chicken leg quarters at 49 cents a pound. They were under a different label, and in smaller packages.

From http://eurekalert.org:
Public Release: 15-Sep-2003
Journal of Pain
UGA researchers find caffeine reduces muscle pain during exercise
The researchers' latest study, published in the August issue of the Journal of Pain, found that caffeine reduced thigh muscle pain during cycling exercise.

From http://news.google.com:
N. Carolina Tough-on-Crime Sheriff Indicted
FOX News - 1 hour ago
LEXINGTON, NC Davidson County Sheriff Gerald Hege (search), known nationally for such tough-on-crime tactics as pink jail cells and paramilitary uniforms, was indicted Monday on charges of embezzlement and obstruction of justice.
North Carolina sheriff indicted on charges of embezzlement, obstruction KESQ
NC Sheriff Charged With Embezzlement Newsday
Charlotte Observer - and 66 related

There was a Scottish village called Kirriemuir which practiced a strict form of Protestantism. Not strict enough to ban dancing; and there was a rumor in the area that at one dance, young people had Done It. There's a satisfaction in knowing that people who seem pure are actually impure; and the rumor (now an "urban legend" or FOAFtale) inspired a song called "The Ball of Kirriemuir".

There's the same satisfaction in real falls from grace. I suspect that for every person horrified by this sheriff's arrest, there are ten who find their day a bit brighter.

Note: For what Kirriemuir actually used to be like, see James Barrie's _Sentimental Tommy_
and probably other works. Barrie was born there.

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Sunday September 14, 2003. January 14, 3000 -- cookie expiration date. Why does any website need to track me for that length of time? Do they know something about my life expectancy that I don't?

From tomorrow's Christian Science Monitor:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0915/p09s01-coop.html Nader should apologize, not run again
By Andrew Bard Schmookler

"Not all the fault lies with Nader, however. Those who fell for his pitch also reveal a serious defect in the political culture growing out of the idealistic '60s: an unwillingness to recognize and deal with the realities of the arena of power. This naiveté has empowered those who scorn his ideals. His followers have an obligation to grow up politically."

No, we don't. It's the Democratic candidate's obligation to earn votes.

My first Presidential election was in 1964. I knew Johnson wasn't perfect; but unlike Goldwater he wouldn't do such things as wasting a whole lot more military power in Southeast Asia. That was not my most accurate political prediction.

Fast forward to 2000. As Bill Clinton saw it, he'd gotten into the White House by ignoring
people like me and moving to the center. (He wasn't always right about where the political center is, but that's another story.) Al Gore saw it the same way, and planned on getting into the White House with that same strategy. After all, who else could liberal Democrats and Democrats farther to the left possibly vote for?

Along came Ralph Nader. And then came the exhortations to vote for Al Gore. Never mind principle -- hold your nose if you have to, and vote for the candidate who won't do foolish, wicked things such as ___.

I'd intended to vote for Gore. Those exhortations changed my mind; I voted for Nader.

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Sunday, September 14, 2003

Saturday 13 September, 2003. To the Time Dollar Store at Pillsbury House, where I bought some household items.

To Uncle Hugo's. I decided I needed the November Analog for Richard A. Lovett's astrobiology article. Unfortunately, none of the stories interested me.

For the first time in a while, I went to Tapestry Folkdance for contra dancing. (Which isn't quite the same thing as [English] country dance, but close enough for folk music.)

The first kind of social dance I learned was squaredance, and contra uses many of the same movements. The main difference is that most contras use longways sets, while the only squaredance I know of which uses a longways set is the Virginia Reel.

I was rusty, and I wasn't able to last beyond the teaching and the first dance. But I enjoyed it.

At one point, someone I didn't recognize said to me -"You know that Geri is selling her house."-

I was wearing a name badge; he wasn't. He turned out to be named Bob Hunter.

One woman danced while carrying a baby on her back. The added weight didn't bother her, and the baby didn't seem to mind. But I wondered what would happen if the baby needed attention in the middle of a dance.

Spammish as she is spoke. I _think_ this is the result of someone trying word-for-word translation from Chinese to English:
The justice is prevailed invitation book justice and is started construction that Cheng Goujian connections the ground brick of technological research institute production meeing the colored coupler of seam , and fills the market blank space .
Its bright colorful and practical environmental protection and putting in order hygiene is convenient , and eliminates the black dirt that the ground brick met in stitching , and clears away the germs to multiply ground , and delivers you a clean habitation , and protects your body health .
Sincerely levying the various places sole always sells on commission , and halts local vocational work manager , and vocational work representative , specialty and sparetime all can
The tel : 0533-7589876's fax : 0533-7553289's postal chest : Y863@tom.com' address : www.jczb56.com QQ:102646997 addresses : 20#12-2-501's postal in Shandong Zibo Linzi City ox mountain path is compiled : 255400 contact person : Xia Shizhuan

I can figure out that "postal chest" ought to be "postal box".

From http://www.ramble.net:
Neil Browning demonstrates his mastery of the Scwisbocs, or Welsh squeezebox.

2003-09-13 07:39

[me] "So he started grinding pennies down to dime size, and using them as slugs. He
got caught, and lost his Federal job.

"Lately, I've been wondering about that. He saved nine whole cents -- but he probably put
in more than nine cents worth of time. What satisfaction did he get that was worth
spending the time?"

I wish I could remember where it was I read the suggestion that some people spend far more time and trouble in evading the law than complying it with it could possibly take. I.e. it's not ultimately a profit/loss analysis that drives it.

2003-09-13 22:03 (link) Select
Murray Teigh Bloom, in _Money of Their Own_ estimated that counterfeiting paid about as well as digging ditches.

Leaving crime aside, some people spend more money -- let alone time and trouble -- obtaining free things than it would cost to pay the retail prices.

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Saturday, September 13, 2003

Friday September 12, 2003. Ever read about an exotic place which isn't exotic to you? I grew up in the Catskills area. At Rainbow Laundry, there was a copy of the August 4th New York Magazine. In it was an article on people who used to live in upscale NYC suburbs, but are now moving to the Catskills. Houses and land cost a good deal less than in the Hamptons.

One way to cut down on sugar: Non-diet colas no longer taste good to me. They taste barely better than diet colas.

From a discussion on Tom Digby's lettercolumn-equivalent mailing list:
Subject: [ss talk] Re: political denominations
From: "Thomas G. Digby"
Date: 12 Sep 2003 19:51:01 -0000

Something I've now and then thought of is to have one house of a
multi-cameral legislature defined by interest rather than geography. In
other words, each member would represent a region in some sort of virtual
"concept space" rather than a region in physical space. [The technical term
for this is "functional constituencies". Hong Kong's Legislative Council
partly consists of such seats. In sf, C.J. Cherryh has given Cyteen a world
legislature elected from functional constituencies. DSG] For example, one
bunch of members might represent Sunnis, another Shiites, still another
all homeowners, with yet another for lower-income workers, and so on for
each set of citizens that's big enough to be represented. Presumably any
citizen who belonged to more than one of the categories (such as a Sunni
homeowner) could decide which was most important to them as an individual
when they registered to vote.

There are several ways to do the mechanics of this. One might have some
kind of commission that interest groups would apply to and which would
allocate seats accordingly. But there's a simpler way that [would] work once
people got accustomed to it.

You would have some set number of seats (such as 100), all numbered.
When you register to vote you would be asked which seat you wanted to be
represented by. You could pick any of the seats, but whatever seat number
you gave, you would be eligible to vote for (and run for) only that seat.
Thus, for example, the person holding Seat 73 would be representing all
the people who registered for Seat 73, regardless of where they lived

The various interest groups then spread the word to their members that
they want certain seats. For example, the Sunni leaders may decide that
they can fill ten seats, so they tell their members to register for seats
10 through 19, perhaps using some additional criteria such as which
congregation you're in to spread the voters out over the group of seats.
Likewise, some homeowners' association that thinks it can fill three seats
may be asking its members to register for seats 33 through 36.

You don't need to worry about some seats having more voters registered for
them than others. If a seat has too few people registered for it, others
will notice and move in to try to take it over, or at least force the
present occupants to accept them as part of a coalition. Likewise, if a
seat gets too popular the leaders of that interest group could try to
expand into a second seat. So population differences should be sort of

My response to someone else's later post:

One possibility: set aside blocks of seats for "unaffiliated". Anyone running for one of these seats pays a deposit;
those who get 20 percent or more of the vote get their deposits back, plus a percentage of what the lower-ranking candidates paid in.

Also have "none of the above" as an option.

Perhaps also "Abolish this evil government, and hang its leaders and the people behind them" seats. Winners of these seats
wouldn't have a vote, but would be allowed to make speeches and to throw pies at the presiding officer or officers of that legislative house.

From http://www.loompanics.com THE LAST FRONTIERS ON EARTH Strange Places Where You Can Live Free by Jon Fisher
If you think there are no more frontiers on Earth -- if you think governments have got all the territory sewed up -- if you think there i
s nowhere you can go to be free of taxes, regulations and restrictions -- then The Last Frontiers on Earth is the book for you!

Jon Fisher (author of Uninhabited Ocean Islands and editor of Vonu) is one of the world's most original thinkers when it
comes to unusual ways of living, and he takes you to many strange places where the "frontier" is still as wide open as
you want to make it! Contents in this amazing book include: Antarctic The Arctic Icecap Floating Icebergs
SubAntarctic Islands Floating Ocean Platforms Living aboard a boat Living as a nomad Deserted Islands Underwater Habitats Submarines Airships Secret Cellars Ghost Towns And much, much more!

This has been going around LiveJournal: http://www.wewantyoursoul.com/quote.php

Public Release: 11-Sep-2003
'Status' decides whether or not a language survives
Cornell University engineers have come up with a mathematical model that for the first time quantifies "language death" and
may offer strategies for those who want to preserve an endangered language. Languages compete based on "status," they say.

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Friday, September 12, 2003

Thursday September 11, 2003. This story was a warning for new Federal employees:

There was a man who hated spending a whole dime for a ferry ride. (I heard this in the 1970's.) So he started grinding pennies down to dime size, and using them as slugs. He got caught, and lost his Federal job.

Lately, I've been wondering about that. He saved nine whole cents -- but he probably put in more than nine cents worth of time. What satisfaction did he get that was worth spending the time?


An "of course!" moment -- I realized that godmice grow plastic-producing plants.

I did Google searches on "growing plastic" and "growing plastics".


From http://news.google.com:
UK enlists world's help to predict climate
BBC News - 5 minutes ago
A massive worldwide online effort to predict how the global climate will change this century is being launched in the UK.
Predict global climate from your desktop ABC Science Online
Online climate experiment starts up MSNBC
Financial Times - Reuters - Nzoom.com - Planet Ark - and 9 related

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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Wednesday September 10, 2003. To Pillsbury House, where I did data entry for the Community Barter Network. Anything entered on 8/25 had somehow gotten lost, so there was more to do than usual.

Read: _Google Pocket Guide_. Published by O'Reilly. It has plain, detailed explanations of how to do many things with Google -- enough for at least three months of experimentation.
For more, see this book's big brother -- _Google Hacks_ -- which has a number of sample PERL scripts.

100 Simple Secrets of Happy People
by David Niven, Ph.D.
List price: $9.95 Your price: $7.96
Lieutenant Richard Sharpe returns to the battlefields of the Iberian Peninsula to save Portugal from a deadly and complete invasion by one of the world's most infamous dictators: Napoleon Bonaparte.
Buy this e-book: http://us.perfectbound.com/F66020D5-EE15-4518-A523-AD3EF66E15FA/10/1/en/eBookDetails.htm?ID=1C6C51B4-DA7C-419C-9199-14E32F9ECB6F

Comment on LiveJournal to Jon Singer (aka jonsinger):

"I have met at least two people who cannot consciously visualize -- they do not voluntarily make pictures in their head. This makes explaining many kinds of things to them rather difficult for most of us; one of them teaches other people, and it does interesting things to his methods."

There are, that I know of: People who remember visually, and who visualize. People who remember what they've heard and "visualize" sound. People whose memories are abstract.

And then the group I'm in: haptic, a combination of touch, muscle memory, and other "feelings".

If I write something down, I remember it. If someone else says "Here, let me write that down for you!" -- I'd better have that piece of paper at hand, because I'm not going to remember what the other person has written. I remember how it felt to move through places I've lived in much better than I do how they looked.

I learn by doing much better than I do by watching someone else do it.

There's also the slight complication of synesthesia, but that's another story.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Tuesday September 9, 2003. I'm sick enough not to be much interested in my own life or my own thoughts. I expect to be over this by tomorrow.

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php where you'll find links to more information:
Public Release: 9-Sep-2003
Pay-as-you-go motoring just around the corner
Death and taxes may be unavoidable, but road tolls and car insurance could be made fairer if satellite-assisted distance pricing is implemented.

Contact: Dominique Detain
European Space Agency

Public Release: 9-Sep-2003
Women's Health Issues
Lesbians' weight patterns may trigger more heart disease
Lesbians weigh more and carry more excess weight around their waistlines than their heterosexual sisters do, and these differences could place them at higher risk for heart disease, says a new study published in the journal Women's Health Issues.
California Breast Cancer Research Program of the University of California, Lesbian Health Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco

Contact: Stephanie Roberts
Center for the Advancement of Health

Public relations disaster in the making: From http://news.google.com
The RIAA sees the face of evil, and it's a 12-year-old girl
The Register - 2 hours ago
The RIAA has nailed one of the most prolific file-traders in the US, filing a lawsuit against 12-year-old Brianna LaHara.
We won't sue: ARIA Melbourne Herald Sun
12-Year-Old Sued for Music Downloading FOX News
Cincinnati Post - WinInformant.com - InternetNews.com - Slate - and 677 related

Later: They settled for $2,000, paid by the girl's mother.

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Monday, September 08, 2003

Sunday September 7/Monday September 8, 2003. Godmice. The word popped into my head around 1 am.

Godmice are more intelligent for their size than Earth mice -- as are most Second Empire mammal-equivalents. They're hive animals. I haven't found out yet what a mousegod is like; some kind of monkey, probably.

Monday September 8, 2003. Three diet colas tried so far, and found wanting. Pepsi One might be okay, if I mixed in some sugar.

Public Release: 8-Sep-2003
American Chemical Society 226th National Meeting
How tea works against skin cancer
Tea drinkers have a new reason to appreciate their favorite beverage. Substances found in green and black tea have been shown to inhibit proteins necessary for the development of cancer.
National Institutes of Health, Hormel Foundation

Contact: Deane Morrison
University of Minnesota

Time to drink more tea (with aspartame) and less cola.

To the HealthPartners pharmacy in Calhoun Square, to pick up allergy meds. Decided that as long as I was in the building, I'd go to Borders.

I looked at Al Franken's new book. As I'd expected, it wasn't nearly as funny as Fox News's document asking a court to stop publication of the book.

If Franken doesn't have his facts right, at least two people (Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter) can sue him for libel and win. I don't expect them to sue.

Scientific American has a special issue on brain enhancement, which I bought. Well worth reading. Especially if your brain misfunctions much of the time. Or if you're writing fiction set in the future, and you want to avoid having a great neurological breakthrough a century or two from now, when it's already being tested on lab animals.

But I really wish accounts of new science didn't start off by recapping decades,
centuries, or millenia of previous research and theorizing.

Bend, Mews or Draw: The suburban street name game

Pioneer Press

Here's how to get to Cathy Lee's house.

From Wedgewood Drive, go past Wedgewood Circle, past Wedgewood Alcove. Don't turn on Wedgewood Bay. Avoid Wedgewood Court, and turn into Wedgewood Draw.

What is it like to live on a "draw," instead of a plain old street like everyone else?

"It's a bother. Everyone I give my address to writes down 'drive,' " said Lee, standing in her doorway, where she can see three "Wedgewood"-named streets. "I have to say, 'No, draw. D-R-A-W.' "


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Sunday 7 September, 2003. I went to Stillwater with Pat Craft. I'd kept meaning to get to Stillwater, but never managed it.

Stillwater is a tourist town, of the kind artist colonies tend to become. There's more to the local economy -- Stillwater Prison, to begin with. But the main street businesses are almost all touristy.

In some ways, it's like the area where I grew up. Hilly; countryside full of fields turning back into forest. And Ulster County NY has two towns which were similarly touristy the last time I visited -- Woodstock and New Paltz.

Sign in farm supplies store window: Deere Crossing, with a tractor silhouette.

We snacked at Grumpy Steve's coffee house. There was a choice between eating outside or eating in the Cave Room. We chose the Cave Room, which turned out to be nicely cool. (It wasn't a natural cave.)

We stopped at a Christian book-etc. store. Some of the merchandise, like a frog angel, wasn't quite what I'd expected.

There were plaques with various messages on them. I think that's where I saw "Have a nice day, unless you've made other plans."

At a bead store, they had a kind of scissors I liked and hadn't seen since the 1970's. The blade and handle are like a pair of tongs; to cut, you squeeze the handle. These were made in Taiwain; the ones I'd had once were from Japan.

I bought the scissors, and some beads which I thought might be useful focuses for meditation.

On the way back, we stopped for food at Culver's -- a Wisconsin-based fast food chain. Reasonably good, though I wouldn't go that far out of my way to eat there.

Notice in Arts section Star Tribune: Anne Perry speaking at Once Upon a Crime bookstore on Wednesday September 17th.

Anne Perry has unique credentials as a murder mystery writer. She was convicted as a juvenile, under another name, so it probably shouldn't have become general information.

The Weblog meetup was also scheduled for the 17th. I decided I wasn't that interested in Anne Perry or her books.

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Saturday, September 06, 2003

Friday September 5, 2003. Birthday party for Kevin Austin at Jonathan Adams and Carol Kennedy's.

I discussed with Jonathan my Constitutional right to hunt passenger pigeons. The Federal Government, through its inaction, has deprived me of that right.

A large percentage of the attendees had been at Torcon. From what they said, I gathered that it wasn't the best-run Worldcon they had experienced. At least one person called it "Nolacon 2". (Nolacon, held in New Orleans in 1988, is the benchmark for badly-run Worldcons.)

I also gathered that the attendees had had fun.

From:Jay Swartzfeger
Date:Wed, 3 Sep 2003 22:51:29 -0700

"Just wanted to let you know I tried posting a comment to your recent journal entry and received the following error:

"[Failed to open file for writing. The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect.]"

I've replaced the software which was supposed to let people post to the Blogger version with HTML that lets them send me email.

"And what's the real story about the firearms in MN? Did they loosen up carrying/permit laws?"

Before, permits were issued at the discretion of local law enforcement authorities. In some rural areas, almost anyone could get a carry permit. In Minneapolis, getting a non-occupational permit literally required bringing a lawsuit. Now, a permit is issued for anyone who meets certain qualifications. Which means it's much easier to get a permit in Minneapolis and other cities; and harder and more expensive to get one in those rural areas where it had been really easy to get one.

It's more equitable, which I consider a good thing.

However -- the law as written bars local governments from prohibiting firearms on their property. The City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis park board (which is officially a municipality) and various other local governments have banned guns anyway. (So far, there hasn't been a test case.)

I consider this the replacement of one bad law by another bad law.

Oddly enough, the current state government is mostly dominated by Republicans. And also oddly enough, Minneapolis is in a solidly DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor, though there's little left of the Farmer-Labor Party in the merged state party) Congressional District, sends Democrats to the state legislature, and is generally not considered an easy place for Republicans to win elections. The City Council used to be entirely Democrats except for one independent; it now has two Greens. (City Council elections are supposed to be nonpartisan, but parties make endorsements.)

"Has the place turned into the wild west, or is it still status quo?"

Today (September 5), newspapers reported the first permit suspension. "Damian Petersen, 34, of Oak Grove, said he was protecting his recently landscaped home from his brother, who had gotten a car stuck on a retaining wall and was tearing up the lawn trying to free the vehicle."

"Attorneys said Petersen will be able to get his gun and permit back in two years if he meets conditions set when he pleaded guilty to felony reckless discharge of a firearm."

He'd aimed for the car, not for his brother.

2003-09-04 01:23

"I agree that you should let the Locus subscription lapse. Get a subscription to a magazine that carries more dependable news about the SF industry...like the Weekly World News."

Can you give some examples of why you consider it less than fully dependable?

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Thursday September 4, 2003. Pillsbury House, to do data entry for the Community Barter Network. Shonda Allen (in charge of CBN, PH volunteer coordinator) was back from maternity leave.

The task went smoothly, except for the usual problems: handwriting bad enough to get someone expelled from medical school, name on the barter form slightly different from the one in the data base, information missing.

I'm switching from Thursday mornings to Wednesday afternoons.

To Steeple People Thrift Store, whose clothing bag sale had gotten down to $1.00 a bag. Then across the street to the Wedge co-op.

Cookery: I tried roasting some of the chicken leg quarters with potatoes. The chicken came out fine. The potatoes didn't; I should probably have cut them into smaller pieces.

The rest of the chicken went into soup, along with potatoes and carrots.

Thinking about songs appropriate for this long political season. "It's My Party, and I'll Cry if I Want to" is obvious enough that CNN has used it. But what else?

Samuel Pepys is over four hundred years behind in his blogging. The entry for September 4, 1660 includes this: "From thence to Axe Yard to my house, where standing at the door Mrs. Diana comes by, whom I took into my house upstairs, and there did dally with her a great while, and found that in Latin 'Nulla puella negat.'"

The Latin-English dictionary at http://www.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/Latin/ gave me a word by word translation. What I think it means is that Pepys didn't get as far as he wanted. Which was my pre-translation guess.

Note: As I understand it, "Pepys" is pronounced "Peeps." The candy named after him has been phonetically respelled.

Public Release: 4-Sep-2003
New research reveals corporations increasingly make employees face the music
Forget performance related pay and flexi-time, new research by Martin Corbett from Warwick Business School reveals large corporations increasingly use hip pop music to develop loyal, hard-working employees, and encourage workers, literally, to sing from the same hymn sheet. However, despite encouragement, not all employees dance to the same tune.


email: Einblatt! September 2003. Editor: Scott Raun. Mnstf monthly newsletter. The schedule contains Mnstf events, of course -- the two September meetings, Minicon meeting, board meeting. It also includes mystical lectures at the New Alexandria Library, the September Rivendell (Mythopoeic Society) meeting, and readings. Announcement of Mnstf's official gun policy. Publishing news about local writers (and some who used to be local, and still have ties in the Twin Cities). Convention listings.

email Dan Goodman
All comments assumed to be for publication, unless I'm told otherwise.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Wednesday September 3, 2003. "Minnesota is the only place where you can have four seasons a week." We had a hot spell very recently, and this morning there were people wearing jackets to take the chill off. (I was comfortable in a shortsleeved shirt.)

Seeing and feeling patterns more clearly (see yesterday's entry) still happening, though not till I'd been moving around for a few hours. Useful; for one thing I'm finding it easier to untense muscles.

Of course, there's always the danger of seeing patterns which don't really exist.

Rainbow Foods in Uptown had chicken leg quarters for 59 cents a pound -- in packages of about six pounds. Looks like I'll be cooking a lot of chicken next couple of days.

"Bringeth Thy Kids Free." Pepsi-can ad for the Renaissance Festival. Truth in advertising; it indicates the level of historical accuracy to expect.

Mail: Renewal notice for Locus. I had a choice: upgrade to first class postage, or not renew? Work out the cost of buying all issues at Dreamhaven or Uncle Hugo's with a ten percent discount; subtract first class subscription -- $4.26 per year difference. The free issue extension for answering the Locus poll brings it up to $8.88 per year difference. Skip one or two issues per year, and the subscription costs more.

And there's an increasing amount of sf/fantasy field information on the web. Fast news -- http://www.write-hemisphere.com, which links to sources. Market news -- http://ralan.com. Book reviews in various places. Short fiction reviews at Tangent Online; $5 year subscription to read the latest reviews, older than three weeks old for free.

I'm letting the Locus subscription lapse.

Subject: [guns] Re: {Brigadoon, East Virginia} store says open carry deter crime
From: Dan Goodman
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003
To: Minn-stf Natter

> I'll note all the horrible things predicted by anti-firearm groups in Mn haven't
> happened yet and that a city w/over 7 yrs experience w/open carry hasn't either.

Whatever happens with global warning, I foresee something like this:

"Global warming is a hoax," says Gordon T. Gerbil, president of the Northern Alaska Banana Growers' Cooperative.


"Global warming is a very real menace," says Gordon T. Gerbil, president of the Miami-Dade County snowplow drivers' union.

Similarly -- if violent crime were to fall to zero or if playground shootouts became common at nursery schools, there are people who wouldn't see evidence that they were wrong. [I goofed, here -- should've said "after gun permits become easier to get."]

email Dan Goodman
All comments assumed to be for publication, unless I'm told otherwise.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Tuesday September 2, 2003. The day went worse and better than I expected.

Worse: I'd intended to print out my First Draft zine.* But the printer I was using and the computer it's attached to weren't communicating properly.

Better: In the morning, I found myself more focused on what I wanted/needed to do, and less anxious about doing it than I've been lately.

Returning from the failed attempt to print, I found myself seeing and feeling patterns much more clearly. I'd gotten there without any conscious mindwork or any chemical assistance.

Unless you count caffeine as chemical assistance, that is. And I've been doing small bits of informal mindwork for a while now.

Let's see tomorrow if it lasts.

Email: Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop, September. Includes: Mike Brotherton on how he wrote his forthcoming first novel. He produced a synopsis at Clarion West 1994, and finished the novel in 2001. (He explains why he took so long, and presumably hopes others will learn from his mistakes.) Next month, how he sold the novel.//Julie Czerneda on how best to critique stories.//Diana Carolyn Ice, part six of a series on the medieval calendar.

From: purple_bovine@yahoo.com (Larisa)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.mystery
Subject: Re: If you were going to write a mystery ...
Date: 1 Sep 2003

If I were going to write a mystery, I would begin it with a scene of
the main character struggling with a goat in the middle of downtown
San Francisco, in broad daylight. Present-day, of course. Then, I
would spend half the novel explaining just by what intricate chain of
crime the character got to this sad state, and the rest of the novel
extricating him from it. Fortunately for the reading public, I am not
a writer, so this dubious work of literature will never actually get

But seriously, write about a place and time you know well. It feels a
lot more real that way.


In "Shakespeare, Co-Author" (Oxford University Press, 2002), Professor [Brian] Vickers, 65, shows how numerous tests by many generations of scholars demonstrate substantial work by other playwrights in five Shakespeare plays. Examining factors like rhetorical devices, polysyllabic words and metrical habits, scholars have been able to identify reliably an author of a work or part of a work, even when the early editions did not give credit.

The plays are not the top five in the Shakespeare canon. But the overwhelming evidence in the book shows that George Peele, not Shakespeare, wrote almost a third of "Titus Andronicus"; Thomas Middleton, about two-fifths of "Timon of Athens"; George Wilkins, two of the five acts of "Pericles"; and John Fletcher, more than half of "Henry VIII." "The Two Noble Kinsmen," originally published in 1634 as the work of Shakespeare and Fletcher, is shown to be about two-fifths Shakespeare's.

The Synesthesia list is back! New edress: Sean.Day@tridenttech.edu

From USA Today's state news snippets: "FLORIDA: Fort Lauderdale -- a new drink called the nicotini has emerged in the city's nightlife district since restaurants were forced to ban smoking. The tobacco-spiked martinis are being served to smokers who don't want to go outside to light up."

This is not a quote from Dave Barry or Stephen King.

Christian Science Monitor: US's 'private army' grows
In Colombia and around the world, civilians are doing work formerly
done by the military. By Rachel Van Dongen

*First Draft is a writing group by mail, in apa format.

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Monday, September 01, 2003

Monday September 1, 2003. I didn't go to the State Fair today.

For the past few years, I've been going to the Minnesota State Fair twice -- the second time on Labor Day -- because I couldn't see everything I wanted to in one day. This year, I only went once.

Europeans sometimes take it for granted that their countries have had more experience than the US has. But rural Spain is beginning to cope with a situation which Americans (and Canadians) have dealt with for at least a century and a half. From the September 02, 2003 Christian Science Monitor http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0902/p07s02-woeu.html

'As in the rest of Western Europe, most leaders in Spain worry more about how to keep out immigrants than how to make them feel at home. But driven by a dearth of manual labor, a network of 83 one-bus-stop bergs like Aguaviva ("Living Waters") are setting out the welcome mat in the sparsely populated regions of Teruel, Soria, Huesca, and Valencia provinces, most of them in the country's arid, mountainous northeast.

'When the newcomers arrive, the collision of two worlds often ends in alienation. Some, mostly the Argentines, have scoffed at the construction and farming jobs offered; the lack of opportunities for women; poor communications with the nearest cities; and, naturally, the meddlesome townsfolk, who don't hide their disapproval of what they consider "frivolous" purchases, such as television sets, microwave ovens, or PlayStations for the kids.

[But some do adapt.]

'"It's a better quality of life," says Sergio Germain, who was an accounting assistant in his native Montevideo, Uruguay, but now works on a rabbit farm. His wife, Adriana Pereira, serves snacks at the town cafeteria.

'The locals have also adapted to the newcomers, despite the suspicion that many will eventually move on to more cosmopolitan surroundings.

'The local market now stocks the herbal tea yerba maté, polenta, and other favorites that please the Argentine palate.'

There are also Romanian and other Eastern European immigrants, who probably don't expect as high a level of prosperity as the South Americans.

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Sunday August 31, 2003. I don't know how the Minnesota State Fair compares to others. Except that I've been told it's much larger than Alaska's state fair. And it's earlier in the year than some Southern state fairs.

I made my usual first stop at Empire Commons, where I got a strawberry malted.

Empire Commons didn't have any interesting new exhibits. And the midwestern emu breeders didn't have an exhibit this year.

I ate at the Epiphany Diner.

Under the grandstand, I bought 3M products which I can't find most of the year except packaged with things I don't want.

All of which I've been doing regularly every year. In general, I didn't do anything I haven't done every year for a while. I suspect this is why I didn't enjoy it as much as I had the last few years. I should probably have searched out the Personal Rapid Transit exhibit, at least.

I did do enough walking that my legs started aching.

I saw a bit of the parade. (There's one every day of the Fair, with different high school marching bands and other groups taking part.)

Many of the other fairgoers had tshirts and sweatshirts with various slogans. The only message which struck me was "Save the Werewolves."

On my way out, I noticed some exhibits outside of the cattle barn. The elk exhibit had a flier on the [not scientifically proven] benefits of elk velvet. There were references to long medical use in the Orient. However -- they're being not-quite-recommended for arthritis. And I believe the main Asian use is (ahem) enhancing male vigor. That is, stiffening something rather than unstiffening something.

The buffalo exhibit had a buffalo.

The alpaca exhibit had two alpacas. To me, they looked like alternate-world goats.

Next year, I think I'll begin with Heritage Square; a part of the Fair I haven't seen much of recently. And otherwise try to get out of what's become my routine.

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