Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Saturday November 29, 2003. A few months ago, I misheard "Olive Garden" as "Owl Garden". I now have a fictional bar-restaurant called the Owl Garden.

It occurred to me that the Biblical phrase "I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls" would go well with that name. And that I really ought to look the quote up before using it.

I googled on the phrase "companion to owls". A high percentage of the results was references to Jane Lindskold's novel _Brother to Dragons, and Companion to Owls_. (Not to be confused with books titled Brother to Dragons by Charles Sheffield, Robert Penn Warren, and at least three others.) I tried again with "Lindskold" excluded, and got some useful results.

I also got this:
The Bible UFO Connection - Bible Anomalies - The Biblical ...
... gates thereof were consumed with fire. Job 30:29 I am a brother to
dragons, and a companion to owls. Psalms 44:19 Though thou hast ...
www.bibleufo.com/crypto2.htm - 14k - Cached - Similar pages

I started rereading _The Whim of the Unicorn_, and realized why I'd found Pamela Dean's two later books unsatisfactory. In both _The Dubious Hills_ and _Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary_, there are important characters who aren't complete people.

On LiveJournal,matociquala recommends this essay on omniscient viewpoint:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/katallen/29405.html#cutid1 .

She also adds her own thoughts; those and comments can be found here: http://www.livejournal.com/users/matociquala/202432.html

From the UK edition of Google news:
Label could put stop to fruit squeezing
New Scientist - 8 hours ago
A label that changes colour as fruit ripens is allowing shoppers to see whether pears are ready to eat without have to squeeze them.
Pears Saved from the Squeeze Test by Sticker Reuters
Sticker to show fruit's ripeness The Star
ABC Science Online - just-food.com - and 9 related

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Saturday, November 29, 2003

Friday November 28, 2003. To HealthPartners Uptown Clinic, for glucose tests. I'd had to fast for eight hours before the tests. Blood sample, urine sample; next week I find out if the results indicate diabetes.

I broke my fast with food I shouldn't have been eating: a sorta-Italian sub sandwich at Jimmy Johns, downstairs in Calhoun Square from HealthPartners. I was gratified to find that it was a bit too salty for my taste.

From there to Penzys Spices, where I bought several non-salt spice mixes.

Thought: "The key individual is a cat."

In M. A. Foster's _The Morphodite_, at any one time there's one person who's the keystone of the society. Remove that person, and things collapse. I'd been thinking about that, and some part of my mind decided that there was no reason the person had to be either human or of human-level intelligence.

Mail: Locus, November issue. Yes, that's late. Yes, it would arrive sooner if I'd gotten a first class mail subscription. But I've worked out that buying Locus at Uncle Hugo's or DreamHaven with a discount card is only slightly more expensive than getting a first class mail subscription.

And I may not bother to buy it. Most of the information is available sooner on the web, and sometimes on Usenet. So are book reviews and short story reviews.

Astrology chart for bacteria. Thanks to Jette Goldie of alt.callahans.

From the Indian edition of Google News:
Bengal bans Taslima's book
The Statesman - 5 hours ago
KOLKATA, Nov. 28. After a night of raids and seizure of copies of Taslima Nasreen's Dwikhandita (Split in Two), the state government today banned the book. Police said anybody found possessing a copy of the book would be arrested. But it was not ...
Sleuth swoop on Taslima publisher Calcutta Telegraph
Taslima's controversial book seized Sify
Indian Express - and 5 related

What fellow writers have to say... and the politicians

Dibyendu Palit: I think the ban is justified. Two points need to considered. The first is that Taslima has delved into the sexual lives of eminent literary figures, both Indian and Bangladeshi. The second point is, a group of Muslim intellectuals, who are not fundamentalists, have appealed to the state government to ban the book since certain portions of it slander Prophet Mohammed and Islam, and therefore would hurt religious sentiments.
The book could lead to communal tension, which is not desirable at all. You cannot hurt the feelings of others... Previously, the government had put legal restrictions on Buddhadeb Bose’s Raat Bhore Bristi. But I think this is possibly the first instance of the state government banning a book.

Amlan Dutta: I don’t think the book will spread communal tension. Taslima Nasreen is a responsible and sensitive writer.

Shankha Ghosh: I am generally against bans of any kind, but in this particular case, I think the ban is justified... I do not think Dwikhandita is the first book to be banned in West Bengal. A book titled Itihasher Sri Chaitanya was banned in the late 1950s.

Congress: The book would have caused communal unrest

CPI-M: The ban won’t curb an author’s freedom to write

BJP: The ban betrays Left Front government’s bias

Trinamul: The ban is an undemocratic act

Samajwadi Party: Trash literature that insults the minorities

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Friday, November 28, 2003

Thursday November 27, 2003. A day of waiting. It will probably be some time next week when I find out how careful I'll need to be in running my life. Tomorrow is when I'll probably take the test which will show whether I have diabetes. If I do: "If you can't be careful, be organized. If you can't be organized, be careful."

I made a list of the Hugo and Nebula winners which really interest me. I wanted to see what they have in common. I think I've found it, though I haven't defined it yet.

I'm curious about whether other people would see the same pattern. Here's the lists. There are fewer Nebula winners than Hugo winners; and not just because the Nebulas started more than a decade after the Hugos did.

Hugo winners
Novel: The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
Novel: Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
Novelette: "Exploration Team" by Murray Leinster
Novel or Novelette: The Big Time by Fritz Leiber
Novel: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Short Fiction: "The Dragon Masters" by Jack Vance
Novel: Way Station by Clifford Simak
Novel: Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
Novel: Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
Novelette: "The Sharing of Flesh" by Poul Anderson
Novel: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Short Story: "Slow Sculpture" by Theodore Sturgeon
Novella: "The Queen of Air and Darkness" by Poul Anderson
Short Story: "Inconstant Moon" by Larry Niven
Short Story: "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin
Novel: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Novelette: "Eyes of Amber" by Joan D. Vinge
Novelette: "Sandkings" by George R.R. Martin
Novel: The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Novelette: "The Cloak and the Staff" by Gordon R. Dickson
Novel: Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh
Short Story: "The Pusher" by John Varley
Novella: "Twenty-four Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai" by Roger Zelazny
Short Story: "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Hamburgers" by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Novel: Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh
Novel: The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold
Novel: A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
Short Story: "Even the Queen" by Connie Willis
Novella: "Down in the Bottomlands" by Harry Turtledove
Novel: Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
Novelette: "We Will Drink A Fish Together..." by Bill Johnson
Novel: A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge (Tor)
Short Story: "Different Kinds of Darkness" by David Langford
Novel: American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Morrow)
Novelette: "Slow Life" by Michael Swanwick

Nebula winners
Novel: Dune by Frank Herbert
Novel: Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany and Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes (tie)
Novel: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Novella: "The Missing Man" by Katherine MacLean
Novelette: "The Queen of Air and Darkness" by Poul Anderson
Novel: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Novelette: "Sandkings" by George R. R. Martin
Short Story: "Out of All Them Bright Stars" by Nancy Kress
Novel: Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
Novel: Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick
Short Story: "Even the Queen" by Connie Willis
Novelette: "Solitude" by Ursula K. Le Guin
Novella: "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang (Starlight 2)
Novel: American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Morrow)

From Patrick Belton at http://oxblog.blogspot.com:


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Thursday, November 27, 2003

Wednesday November 26, 2003. I spent part of the afternoon turning foggy data into clear information.

More prosaically: I went to Pillsbury House and did data entry for the Community Barter Network. There were the usual problems: Unclear script where a form says "Please print clearly." People who use forms of their names different from what's in the database. People who don't add up their hours.

I enjoy this process. It's the same kind of enjoyment I get from doing crossword puzzles, or figuring out a newspaper story in a language I don't know.

I brought low-sodium snack food: matzo and a bottle of strawberry-flavored designer water.
The matzo worked fine. The designer water didn't; I couldn't detect any strawberry flavor.

As I was in the lobby, about to leave, someone began to bring in donations of ... clutter.
A handcart, a vacuum cleaner, children's books, ceramics of various kinds, from ones which seemed handmade to one which had come from Starbucks, a waffle iron, baskets.... He asked me to give him a hand, and I did.

I only took two things.

On Monday, I had bought what I thought the complete three books of Pamela Dean's Secret Country trilogy. However, I'd gotten two copies of _The Hidden Land_ and none of _The Whim of the Dragon_. Today, I went back to DreamHaven to exchange one Hidden Land for a Whim.

Elizabeth LaVelle took care of it -- after handing me a magazine I'd bought Monday but hadn't taken with me. My brain wasn't working as well as usual on Monday.

On to Rainbow Foods. They had turkey liver, which I like and wish I could find more often.
I also bought corn tortillas, which seem to have less sodium than anything made out of wheat flour; no-salt-added peanut butter; and a bunch of other stuff.

Joel Rosenberg posted this in the Mnstf Natter mailing list, with the subject heading "No comment": http://img.tapuz.co.il/forums/20208414.htm

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 26-Nov-2003
Wanted: people to test orgasmatron
In February 2001, New Scientist broke the news of an electronic spinal implant that can trigger the same effect for women who have an inability to achieve an orgasm naturally. We can now report that clinical trials of the "orgasmatron" have begun in the US. The surgeon who invented the device says one woman has successfully completed the first stage of the trial, in which wires were connected through the skin and into the woman's spinal cord.

Public Release: 26-Nov-2003
Annals of Emergency Medicine
New emergency department program 'fights' firearm-carrying youths
A new screening tool administered to adolescents seeking emergency care is effective and highly specific in predicting whether they carry firearms or not, according to a new study in the December 2003 issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Thanks to The Volokh Conspiracy (http://volokh.com) for this nonstandard error report:

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Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Tuesday November 25, 2003. Health and food: The blood tests last week showed that I have high blood sugar. So, I need to have a fasting blood test to see if I have diabetes. I don't need to schedule; I do need to fast for eight hours beforehand.

I'll probably go in on Friday morning, bringing a snack for after the test is done.

If I do turn out to have diabetes, I'll have to run my life much more systematically and carefully than I want to. That is, unless I take the choice Terry Carr and Mike Wood did.

I called for better guidelines on salt/sodium. I don't need to choose food at the "avoid most bread" level. But I do need to read labels. (And, in many cases, multiply the amount of sodium in a portion by two.)

I think it's Gahan Wilson who did a cartoon in which a couple of cockroaches read food labels, and decide the food is too disgusting for them to eat.

I'd asked on rec.food.cooking if there was such a thing as saltfree hot sauce. I got this answer:

"Down south pepper vinegar is very popular...you can make it yourself by filling a mason jar with sliced hot peppers, pouring vinegar over them, and letting it steep, the longer the better. It's great on turnip greens, pinto beans, catfish, and anything else that you normally top with hot sauce."

Thanks to Google, I found a recipe for saltfree chili powder! It's at http://www.recipesource.com, which has what looks like a good collection of saltfree recipes.

It also has a section of Extraterrestrial & Bizzare [sic] recipes. The ones listed include: Ammonite Chowder, Apple Roast Hadrosaur, Baked Camel, Berena (Klingon Gingerbread), Curried Gallimimus, Elephant Stew, French Fried Skunk, Ground Pork Peanut Butter Cookies, Ha Rageel (Vulcan Carrot Loaf), Kiros Kai Faki (Klingon Pigs Feet & Pea Soup), Romulan Lucernae, Spam Carbonera, Trilobite Creole, Turkey Stuffing.

I broiled chicken leg quarters. On half, I used Penzy's Singapore Seasoning. On the other half, bottled lemon juice. The Singapore Seasoning worked much better. (The lemon juice needs something else to go with it; I'm not sure what.)

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Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Tuesday November 25, 2003.

From politics1.com http://politics1.com:
eBAY PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY. Dean still leads in polls ... Dems debate yet again ... yawn ... more of the same old "Francisco Franco is still dead" kind of political news today ... so we decided to come up with something a little different. Welcome to our "eBay Primary." Not a scientific measure of support, but it seems to be a good measure of the passion supporters demonstrate for their candidates (to wit: the amount of money will they pay to buy a cool campaign button touting their candidate). We went onto eBay this morning and checked out the items offered for each of the Dem candidates -- and we excluded the asking prices for items without any bids. Today's leader -- as in real life -- is Howard Dean. The top selling item was an official "Happy Birthday Howard" button (pictured at left), with a high bid currently at $6.05. Second was a Dick Gephardt union endorsement pin, with a bid of $4.25. Third was John Kerry at $3.33 (actually, it was $9.99 for three pins ... so this is the per-pin price). A lot of ten Wes Clark pins were selling for $5.01 (yup, that's 50 cents apiece) ... but an anti-Clark/pro-Bush pin was selling for $4. There were also pins on eBay for Kucinich, Braun, Lieberman, Sharpton and Edwards ... but there were no bids yet placed on any of them. For the truly passionate Dean supporters, one artist is selling his Warhol-esque pop art portraits of Dean (but has yet to receive the opening required minimum bid of $65).

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 25-Nov-2003
PLoS Biology
Scientists discover how brain draws and re-draws picture of world
Children usually spill if trying to drink from a full cup, but adults rarely do. How we learn to almost automatically complete complex movements -- like how to lift a cup and tip it so the liquid is right at the edge when we're ready to drink -- is one of our brain's mysterious abilities.

Note where this was published: A webzine. The Public Library of Science is trying to make printed scientific journals obsolete. As some of you know too well, the print journals are getting very pricey.

From Google news:

Bush pardons Thanksgiving turkey, expresses thanks to members of military for sacrifices
USA Today - 14 hours ago

I have a mental image of the White House serving roast GI.

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Monday, November 24, 2003

Monday November 24, 2003. To DreamHaven Books, where I bought Pamela Dean's three-volume novel (_The Secret Country_, _The Hidden Land_, and _The Whim of the Unicorn_).

To Rainbow Foods, to buy foods suitable for a low-salt diet. Unsalted matzos; thanks to Lee Gold for the suggestion. Limes and extruded lime juice product, for flavoring what I cook. Another spice mixture to try. A small bottle of olive oil.

Some things not entirely sodium-free. Chicken leg quarters presumably have some sodium. The grapefruit juice allegedly has one percent of the daily sodium requirement per serving.

Phone message from HealthPartners. I got back home too late to return the call.

Mail: Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 2004. Of the stories, I only liked George Tucker's "Welcome to Justice 2.0."

The nonfiction interested me more. Greg Benford's column is about a spaceship propulsion system he's helping plan at his day job. And Bud Webster discusses the earliest sf anthology: J. Berg Esenwein, _Adventures to Come_, McLaughlin Brothers, 1937

Dividend check from the Wedge co-op grocery. This year, it included a bit of money from the sale of Blooming Prairie -- a co-op wholesaler whose members were co-op groceries.

Food for Holiday Thought: Eat Less, Live to 140?

I gather that the quality of life goes down, even if you don't care about eating.

New Fiction Series: UnCommonwealth
Christopher Rowe -- author, and editor (of Say... -- posted the first short-short story of the UnCommonwealth series at his newly-launched blog. The ambitious series will be comprised of stories inspired by each of his beloved Commonwealth of Kentucky's 120 counties. Stories will be intermingled with blog entries charting Christopher's progress writing his first novel, also set in Kentucky.

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 24-Nov-2003
Journal of Zoology
Urban black bears becoming couch potatoes, study says
Black bears living in and around urban areas are up to a third less active and weigh up to thirty percent more than bears living in wild areas, according to a recent study by scientists from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Wildlife Conservation Society

From the UK edition of Google News:
Historians hope to use DNA to settle Britain's King Harold II death
Canoe.ca - 50 minutes ago
LONDON (AP) - Was he really killed by an arrow and where was he buried? The death of King Harold II, felled by William the Conqueror's army during the Battle of Hastings in 1066, has always been a mystery.
King's grave mystery may be unearthed BBC News
Medieval Tomb May Contain Remains of King Harold The Scotsman
and 4 related

British Library to sell online
Reuters - 10 hours ago
LONDON (Reuters) - The British Library has caught the e-commerce bug, announcing an alliance with Web retailer Amazon.co.uk to sell to the public over 2.5 million literary works from its collection.
British Library sells off rare books online ZDNet.co.uk
and 3 related

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Sunday, November 23, 2003

Sunday November 23, 2003. Too much snow to get out and do the things I'd intended to do yesterday.

Saltfree eating: I cooked something on which I've been accustomed to using soy sauce. (Ground turkey, eggs, green pepper, and onion, over rice.) I still need to find the right combination of spices -- either in cooking, or at the table.

Writing: I now know not only what happens in the rest of "The Caterpillar on the Leaf," and what information will be given to readers, but what scenes will be in the story. They don't include certain scenes which I was certain were absolutely essential.

Spammer unclear on the concept: INCREASE YOUR D,I_C*K WEIGHT ...

From http://refdesk.org, links to newspaper editorials, op-ed pages, and letter columns throughout the world:

DAVE KILLINGSWORTH, 33 and a former disc jockey, is so immersed in pop culture that he has images of Spider-Man and Batman tattooed on his back. In his free time, he puts that passion to work betting in an online game, guessing which films will make it big. He is so good at forecasting the public's taste that he has reaped a windfall, at least in play dollars, turning $2 million into $460 million.

Mr. Killingsworth is one of a million people who have traded on the Hollywood Stock Exchange (www.hsx.com), where players can register at no cost to predict box office receipts for films. For him, it's a game, and it's fun.

But for Hollywood studios and entertainment executives, along with real traders and others, the game has become something to take quite seriously. Studios, along with academics, are interested in it as a way to predict which movies will succeed. Traders are working to turn the concept into an actual financial market, like those for futures in corn, oil and other commodities. It has also served as the model for a television show merging trading and music.

alternate history politics:
WASHINGTON - Senate Republican leader Bill Frist is demanding that Democrats stop showing their first television ad of the 2004 presidential race, which he called "repulsive and outrageous."

The 30-second ad, which aired in Iowa over the weekend, features clips of Gore during his State of the Union address last January. It portrays Gore as a fighter of terrorism and says his opponents "are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists."

"It's wrong. It's erroneous, and I think that they ought to pull the ad," Frist told NBC's "Meet the Press" program on Sunday.

"We all want to defeat terrorism," the Tennessee senator said. But "to chastise and to question the patriotism of those who are in opposition to some of the president's plans I think is wrong."

The Democratic National Committee (news - web sites) has no plans to honor Frist's wishes.

"We have no doubt that Sen. Frist and others in his party who oppose the president's policy of pre-emptive self-defense believe that their national security approach is in the best interests of the country," DNC spokesman Chris Lehane said. "But we also have no doubt that they are wrong about that, and we will continue to highlight this critical policy difference as well as others."

From the UK Google News -- both now also on the US edition:
Mussolini's heir on Israel trip
Guardian - 30 minutes ago
Gianfranco Fini, leader of the Alleanza Nazionale and Italy's deputy prime minister, began an official visit to Israel yesterday in an attempt to remake his party's neo-fascist image and fashion himself as a respectable conservative leader.
Italian ex-Fascist apologises to Israel Telegraph.co.uk
Italian Politician to Ask Jews' Forgiveness for Fascist Past The Scotsman
MSNBC - Jerusalem Post

Spam rage vigilante
The Scotsman - 2 hours ago
IT'S a growing problem. A Californian computer programmer has been arrested for threatening to torture and kill employees of a company he blames for bombarding his computer with web ads promising to enhance his manhood.
Spam rage leads to Oakland Tribune
Man arrested in spam rage 'case MSNBC
San Francisco Chronicle - Washington Times - San Jose Mercury News - Tri-Valley Herald - and 10 related

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Saturday, November 22, 2003

Saturday November 22, 2003. To the Southwest Senior Center, to pick up FARE for All food. A reasonably good selection. I did return some seafood, so someone likely to eat it could have an extra.

Yesterday, I'd asked in rec.food.cooking about salt-free eating. I got a fair amount of good advice. (Some of it I already knew.)

One person kindly explained that some salt is necessary. Which I knew already, and which didn't answer my question. I managed to keep my reply polite.

The unsalted potato chips I bought yesterday taste a bit too oily. The raw, unsalted trail mix was okay. (If there's roasted but unsalted trail mix, the Wedge doesn't have it.)

Writing: I now know what happens in the next scene of "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" -- and what information it contains.

And very late last night, I made a start on "Some Their Gold and Some Their Gear." The title's a quote from "Tam Lin":

There's none that go by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a wad.
Some their gold, and some their gear,
And some their maidenhead.

From a post I made in rec.arts.sf.composition:
The only bestseller list I pay much attention to currently is USA Today's -- top fifty in their Thursday paper, top three hundred on their website. They have all books competing against each other -- fiction or nonfiction, paperback or hardcover. So I can see not only how Harry Potter books sell compared to Anne Rice's _Foundation and Vampire_ or the latest culinary mystery, but how they compare to _The Light Socket Cookbook_ and Ann Coulter's _Nine Billion Years of Liberal Treason_.

Gene-Altering Revolution Nears the Pet Store: Glow-in-the-Dark Fish

From Google News India:
Poorer nations to reap rewards of trend to outsourcing
Financial Times - Nov 21, 2003
The outsourcing of business operations via the internet could earn some of the world's poorest countries billions of dollars over the next few years, according to a United Nations study.
UN report: Economic pressures push outsourcing ZDNet.com
Internet worldwide growth slower but solid, says UN InfoWorld
Independent Online - Australian IT - Times of India -
Internet Magazine - and 25 related

Note: This has not yet showed up on the US version of Google News.

Pantless driver charged over kiddie porn


TORONTO -- A man caught driving naked from the waist down while watching kiddie porn on his laptop has become the first man in Toronto charged for allegedly stealing an Internet connection.

The Volokh Conspiracy http://www.volokh.com
Friday November 21
[Jacob Levy, 3:18 PM]
Some responses to my hypothetical: Yesterday I asked whether, according to the jurisprudential theories of those opposed to the Massachusetts marriage decision, it would be constitutional for a state to ban nonprocreative heterosexual marriages.

Ramesh Ponnuru bites the bullet....

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Friday November 21, 2003. Today's focus: preparing to live without salt. (Or, more realistically, with a minimum of salt.)

At Steeple People thrift store, I found _Cooking Without a Grain of Salt_. I also bought a citrus-fruit squeezer.

Across the street to the Wedge co-op grocery, where I looked around for salt-free or low-salt foods. I bought dried figs, raw and unsalted trail mix, and unsalted potato chips.

And I filled out a suggestion slip. I said that ideally, I'd like salt-free deli stuff. More practically, I'd like a list of salt-free foods they have.

Writing: More information added to parts of "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" which I'd already gotten full-drafted. Nothing more on the rest of the story.

I intend to get the first draft finished by the end of November.

And the next one, I'll get drafted within a month or less.

Mail: Lofgeornost #73 (November 2003). Fred Lerner. FAPAzine, with limited outside circulation: In February, NESFA Press will issue _Silverlock, Including the Silverlock Companion_. "It contains the text of the original Dutton 1949 edition of _Silverlock_, the introductory essays from the 1979 Ace reprint, and several new pieces on John Myers Myers, including an intimate family memoir. It also contains an updated "Reader's Guide to the Commonwealth" and other material from _A Silverlock Companion_, which I edited for Niekas Publications in 1988."//Comments on Neal Stephenson's _Quicksilver_, with references to John Crowley's "Aegypt" tetralogy and Mary Gentle's _Rats and Gargoyles_.//Letters of comment and comments back on comfort books, travel to Barcelona and elsewhere, Polynesian prehistory.//A trip to Gothenburg, Sweden, where Fred's daughter is spending her junior year at college.

Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore/Uncle Edgar's Mystery Bookstore Newsletter #64 December, 2003 -- February, 2004. (Also available by email; signup at http://www.UncleHugo.com) Lists of recent and forthcoming books through February. Recommended holiday gifts. Short sf/fantasy recommendations by owner Don Blyly. Mystery reviews by Gerri Balter.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 21-Nov-2003
The Science of the Total Environment
Edible urban plants found to contain lead
Chicago has one of the highest rates of lead poisoning in the country, an extremely persistent health problem that particularly plagues urban areas. Now a new study by Northwestern University researchers shows that edible plants grown in urban gardens could contain potentially hazardous amounts of lead. The research team tested a variety of plants cultivated in Chicago residential gardens rich with lead-contaminated soil and found that leafy vegetables and herbs were highly likely to be contaminated with lead.
US Department of Housing and Urban Development
Thanks to http://www.livejournal.com/users/sclerotic_rings/ for this. Not worksafe, unless you work in an adult bookstore. The porn movies reviewed are real, though deservedly obscure. The comics covers probably aren't.

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Thursday, November 20, 2003

Thursday November 20, 2003. To HealthPartners in Calhoun Square, to see Dr. Michael Kelly. Results: I got an ointment for the scaly, sometimes-itchy skin.

And I need to get salt out of my diet. I don't put salt on my food -- but I do use soy sauce, and sometimes ketchup. Soft drinks are out.

I went downstairs to Jimmy Johns, where I ordered my favorite sandwich for what's probably the last time in a while. Tony Brust was on duty, and I talked with her for a few minutes.

The Minneapolis Penzys spice store is across Hennepin Avenue from Calhoun Square. I explained my problem, and got advice on no-salt spice blends. I ended up with Singapore Blend.
Caste factor in TN top cop's transfer
By P C Vinoj Kumar in Chennai
Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 09:49

Caste has played a major role in the transfer of K Vijay Kumar from his office of Chennai Commissioner of Police and the posting of R Natraj in his place. Vijay Kumar, it is felt, paid the price for rubbing the wrong side of the powerful Nadar and Brahmin lobbies in the State....

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 20-Nov-2003
NIST/University of Colorado researchers create Bose-Einstein 'super molecule'
A super-cold collection of molecules behaving in perfect unison has been created for the first time from a sea of "fermion" atoms by researchers at JILA, a joint institute of the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Fermions are a class of particles that are inherently difficult to coax into a uniform quantum state. The ability to meld fermions into this giant, super molecule may lead to better understanding of superconductivity.
National Institute of Standards and Technolgy, National Science Foundation, Hertz Foundation

Public Release: 20-Nov-2003
Researchers design and build first artificial protein
Using sophisticated computer algorithms running on standard desktop computers, Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have designed and constructed a novel functional protein that is not found in nature. The achievement should enable researchers to explore larger questions about how proteins evolved and why nature "chose" certain protein folds over others. The ability to specify and design artificial proteins also opens the way for researchers to engineer artificial protein enzymes for use as medicines or industrial catalysts.

Public Release: 20-Nov-2003
DNA used to create self-assembling nano transistor
Scientists at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology have harnessed the power of DNA to create a self-assembling nanoscale transistor, the building block of electronics. The research, published in the Nov. 21, 2003 issue of Science, is a crucial step in the development of nanoscale devices.

Public Release: 20-Nov-2003
A new hypothesis on the origin of 'junk' DNA
The explosion of "junk" DNA in animals, plants and fungi may be the simple result of their ancestors' reduced population sizes, according to a new hypothesis proposed by Indiana University Bloomington and University of Oregon scientists in the Nov. 21 issue of Science.
National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health

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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Wednesday November 19, 2003. To Pillsbury House, where I did data entry for the Community Barter Network. Most of it went smoothly. The exception was someone who'd moved to another state without changing his address. He'd been thoughtful enough to provide his new phone number, and I tried a reverse lookup for the new address. It didn't work.

Called HealthPartners for an appointment tomorrow. Got one at 9 in the morning, which is earlier than I've been waking up.

Weblog MeetUp at Urban Bean. Only two of us showed up. The December one will probably also be small; but it's only a few blocks from my home, so I'll probably attend. The January one should be larger

Government Mapping Out a Strategy to Fight Autism
Propelled by the skyrocketing number of diagnoses of the brain disorder in children, officials have mapped out a long-term plan to deal with the problem.

Ozgene’s "Australian Spring Special":
15% discount on KO/KI projects (conditions apply).

Ozgene offers strictly fee for service. You keep all your
intellectual property. Ozgene enjoys a global customer base,
including North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia/NZ.

Knockout Mice * Knockin Mice * Vector Design * Vector Construction
* Lentiviral tg Mice * Lentiviral tg Rats

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From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 18-Nov-2003
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Smallpox in Europe selected for genetic mutation that confers resistance to HIV infection
In the 2,000 years before its eradication in 1978, smallpox killed as many as 30 percent of all children under 10. According to two UC Berkeley population geneticists, this high mortality rate selected for a genetic mutation that now appears in 10 percent of all Europeans, and coincidentally protects these people from HIV infection.
National Institutes of Health, Miller Institute

Public Release: 18-Nov-2003
UCF clinic diagnoses rare Foreign Accent Syndrome
The Communicative Disorders Clinic at the University of Central Florida has diagnosed a case of Foreign Accent Syndrome, an extremely rare disorder linked to stroke-related or other internal brain injuries that leaves affected people with a foreign-sounding accent.

From Google News:
Many Taiwanese find China's booming economy holds powerful allure
Kansas City Star (subscription) - 4 hours ago
KUNSHAN, China - (KRT) - So many Taiwanese are flocking to mainland China to do business that Simon Chien said he often stumbled across long-lost friends from childhood or college.
Taiwan overstepping the line, China warns eTaiwan News
Beijing bangs war drum over Taiwan moves Financial Times
San Francisco Chronicle - Chicago Tribune (subscription) - Xinhua - The Straits Times - and 228 related

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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Tuesday November 18, 2003. Katya Reimann had a reading at DreamHaven Books. She read from _The Wanderer_, which Tor will published next May bylined as by Cherry Wilder and Katya Reimann.

It's a posthumous collaboration; the manuscript was unfinished at Cherry Wilder's death. I would say it's definitely worth reading. It really does contain a lot of Ms. Wilder's own writing. (Unlike novels based on -"an anecdote L. Ron Hubbard used to tell"- or some such.) And Ms. Reimann was genuinely respectful of the material.

liveavatar 2003-11-17 00:15

So, does re-heating the soup count as simple or difficult? After all, if you forget about that soup for an hour or five, your "recipe" is completely ruined.

Movie spoilers, humph. I bet you turn to the last chapter in mysteries too. At this household we read a lot about movies in general, and see a bunch as well, so a lot of the time we don't want to know the ending because someday we'll be seeing the movie, if only on cable. But thanks for the links. ...Agh, I just clicked on something from Moviepooper and discovered I'd completely misunderstood one movie's ending! And there's lots of interesting stuff that isn't even spoilers. Thanks again!

Not surprised about the Nature Neuroscience finding. I remember the first time (many years ago but nowhere near as many as I'd like) that someone's skin color became transparent to me -- that is, I saw the face shape before the skin color. And I'm still not entirely up to speed. Last year I participated in a face recognition study at Stanford where they showed us faces of men with European and African ancestry, then tested us on facial recognition. I definitely lagged behind in African-ancestry face recognition. *sigh* Time for me to give this active attention, I guess. I've gotten considerably better at gathering clues about Asian facial types, Chinese vs Japanese vs Vietnamese vs Filipino, and so forth than when I was a kid. If I start thinking of face shapes as Nigerian, Eritrean, Kenyan, etc. that'll sharpen my recognition skills.

dsgood 2003-11-18 20:18
Soup: I do need to remember to turn down the heat at the proper moment. But if I then let it simmer for an hour or five longer than I intended, usually no great harm is done.

If I intend to read a mystery, I usually don't turn to the last chapter. And if I intend to watch a movie, I don't usually want spoilers. But I'm likely to only watch a couple of movies each year.

Facial recognition -- did the study use faces which showed only features likely to be found in one race? People of Eastern European ancestry often have some Asian features; and most Black Americans have some European ancestry (fairly likely also some American Indian ancestry).

'The Democrats' dilemma
'As Dean's lead grows, his party worries. By Linda Feldmann'

I think it's more accurate to say that the party's current national leadership worries. If their notions of practical Presidential politics were accurate, Al Gore would have won by a landslide.

'Mr. Rothenberg adds that this sense of unease probably mirrors some concern in the Democratic establishment that Dean is too much of an outsider, that he's too angry and can be painted as too far left.'

'Still, one discouraged outpost of the Democratic Party is the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the breeding ground for many of the centrist ideas that President Clinton and Vice President Gore espoused and which appear, in this cycle, to be out of sync with what Democratic base voters are looking for - a clear contrast with a president they cannot abide.'
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 18-Nov-2003
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Cocoa froths with cancer-preventing compounds
Better than red wine or green tea, cocoa froths with cancer-preventing compounds, Cornell food scientists say. (Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Dec. 3, 2003)
BioGreen 21 Program, Rural Development Administration, Republic of South Korea.

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Monday, November 17, 2003

Monday November 17, 2003. Mail: First Draft #66. First Draft is a writing workshop in apa format. (An apa is roughly equivalent to a mailing list or a BBS, but on paper.) 217 pages of fiction, artwork, critique, and comment from eight contributors. Not quite as impressive as it sounds; five pages are official business, and one contributor did 92 pages. The other seven of us averaged slightly over 17 pages each. And First Draft is bimonthly.

There are ten current memberships, and at least ten different kinds of people. (Two joint memberships for couples.) Twelve different kinds of writers. Whatever First Draft selects for, it's not sameness. [Information: curlew@charleston.quik.com]
To the HealthPartners pharmacy in Calhoun Square, to pick up some pills. After which I ate at the Jimmy Johns in Calhoun Square. (Calhoun Square is a building, not what's usually meant by a square. And I don't think it's a square building.)

Tony Brust was behind the counter, and we talked for a bit. She's one of three Mnstf people who work in that area. Nate Bucklin is at HealthPartners; Sybil Smith is at the drugstore about half a block away.
In the newsgroup alt.recovery, a discussion drifted into birds which get drunk on overripe berries. Which led one person to speculate on a 12-step group for waxwings. "We admitted we were powerless over overripe berries...."

A nice change from the usual; discussions there tend to turn into debates over whether AA is evil and useless.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 17-Nov-2003
Physical Review Letters
MIT team mines for new materials with a computer
A computational technique used to predict everything from books that a given customer might like to the function of an unknown protein is now being applied by MIT engineers and colleagues to the search for new materials. The team's ultimate goal: a public online database that could aid the design of materials for almost any application, from nanostructure computer components to ultralight, high-strength alloys for airplanes.
US Department of Energy, National Science Foundation

From the full report: 'The team is excited that the materials database will allow the "recycling" of data from past ab initio computer calculations and laboratory experiments. "Until now, researchers have made no formal use of their older calculations, simply starting again with each new material, thereby throwing away a huge amount of information," Curtarolo said.

'"Just as recycling old cans allows one to avoid waste, the ability to recycle old calculated data will avoid wasted and useless calculations in the future. In addition, old calculations for already investigated systems might be used to predict properties of new systems.'

There are people doing stuff which isn't as simple as rocket science. And they've just figured this out?

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Sunday November 16, 2003. The Mnstf meeting had relaxed me more than I thought. I slept much of the day.

Cookery: I've encountered people who say "It's complicated -- it takes a long time to cook." Or "It's simple -- it's very fast." I don't understand that. To me, something which you start cooking and can forget about for an hour or five is simple. And something which gets done quickly, but requires split-second timing at several stages, is difficult.

Today, I reheated a soup pot and ate some of its contents.

Writing: I'm now sure I know where "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" is going.

I've decided to do something new with the LiveJournal comments I get. Reasons: 1) This journal has two editions; it's on both LiveJournal and Blogspot. 2) This way is closer to what I've long been used to in sf-fandom apas. The comments are also still attached to the original material, for the benefit of those who prefer the new-traditional way.

2003-11-16 05:12
mystery novel about a stripper turned detective
Not an entirely new concept: there was The G-string Murders, 1947 (aka Lady of Burlesque) purportedly by Gypsy Rose Lee but actually ghosted by (I think) Elmer Rice. There is also a more recent series by Noreen Ayres about Smokey Brandon, a former stripper turned crime scene technician; and more recently still, a series by Nancy Bartholomew where the detective, Sierra Lavotini, is a practising 'exotic dancer'.

2003-11-16 21:21
I didn't think the concept was new, though I'd forgotten about The G-string Murders. But I think the paper doll kit might be new.
At last! Thanks to John Fast on rec.arts.sf.composition, I now have two reliable sources of movie spoilers!

The Internet Movie Data Base (http://imdb.com) takes great care not to give away endings and Big Secrets. But often, the only thing I want to know about a movie is the ending and/or Big Secret. And I don't want to see the movie to find out.

Sometimes it's easy; the Big Secret of "The Crying Game" was easy to deduce from what reviews didn't say. Sometimes it isn't; the ending of "Indecent Proposal" turns out to be dumber than I thought.

Neither site had spoilers for "When Harry Met Sally;" I had to use Google to get that. It's no great surprise, of course. What this and "Indecent Proposal" have in common is that the most fitting ending wasn't used, and almost certainly was never considered.

Along the way, I found http://www.nitpickers.com/, devoted to nitpicking movies and tv shows.
Map showing political fundraising by state, county, or zip code. It leaves out Alaska and Hawaii, and the zip code version leaves out my zip code; but it's still worth a look. There's more information at http://www.fundrace.org/index.html
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 16-Nov-2003
Nature Neuroscience
Interracial interactions are cognitively demanding
A new Dartmouth study reveals that interracial contact has a profound impact on a person's attention and performance. The researchers found new evidence using brain imaging that white individuals attempt to control racial bias when exposed to black individuals, and that this act of suppressing bias exhausts mental resources.
National Science Foundation

Contact: Sue Knapp
Dartmouth College

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Sunday, November 16, 2003

Saturday November 15, 2003. The Mnstf meeting at Dean Gahlon and Laura Krentz's had a semi-potluck Thanksgiving dinner. People signed up to bring food, but it wasn't mandatory.

Mnstf meeting at Dean Gahlon and Laura Krentz's. There was turkey and other Thanksgiving food. Semi-potluck; people signed up to bring food, but it wasn't required. I brought whole berry cranberry sauce.

Joel Halpern was in town, and showed up.

Good food, good conversation.

I also brought books and magazines for sale, money to go to Mnstf. And the money from the previous meeting. Handed the money over to Larry Sanderson, Mnstf treasurer.

Sales at the three meetings so far: $1.25, $9.00, 0.

A new small press had mailed copies of its catalog and 25% off coupons. Timberwolf Books and Audio is reprinting Bill Baldwin's Helmsman series in hardcover and three audio formats: tapes, CDs, and MP3 CD. "Director's Cut Edition."

You hadn't heard of Bill Baldwin? I've seen his books on sf-bookstore shelves over the years.

One book seems to have disappeared. The first six books are to be republished, and then comes a newly-written novel. But various sources -- including Baldwin's website (http://www.billbaldwin.us/index.html#novels) -- mention a seventh published book.

Five novels by Ron Miller, who did the cover of another. He's described as a Hugo winner. I'm not sure the 2002 Best Related Work Hugo for _The Art of Chesley Bonestell, Ron Miller & Frederick C. Durant III, with Melvin H. Schuetz (Paper Tiger)_ is relevant.

There are also pure audiobooks, which appear to be more professional than the print books.

Their website (http://www.timberwolfpress.com) has other kinds of books, including a mystery novel about a stripper turned detective. A paper doll kit is available as a free download.

That got me thinking about paper doll kits of other fictional detectives. I got as far as Nero Wolfe, and started giggling.
From the UK edition of Google News:
Motorola nixes 'walled garden' phone patch
The Register - 8 hours ago
Motorola has clamped down on a phone patch which unlocked the full capabilities of one of its smartphones. But there are no hard feelings from the recipient of the copyright notice, Marius Vincent, who blames British 3G operator 3 for crippling the A920.
A920 patch forced to be taken down 3G Newsroom
Motorola stomps on A920 patch The Inquirer
From the American Name Society list (ans-l):
November 15, 2003, Saturday, BC cycle
1:31 AM Eastern Time
SECTION: State and Regional
LENGTH: 169 words
HEADLINE: City's most popular baby names are once again Ashley and Michael

Ashley and Michael have topped the list of the most popular baby names in the city yet again.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Friday that Ashley was the most common name for girls born in New York City in 2002 for the 11th consecutive year. For boys, Michael was the most popular name, as it has been for 15 years.

No. 2 for girls was Emily, followed by Kayla, Brianna, Samantha and Sarah. For boys, Justin, Daniel, Matthew and Christopher rounded out the top five positions.

Ashley was the most popular girl's name among the city's Hispanic population, while the No. 1 spot went to Kayla among blacks, Sarah among whites and Michelle among Asians.

The No. 1 name for baby boys among Hispanics and blacks was Justin. The top position among whites went to Michael, and among the city's Asian and Pacific Islander population, the most popular name for boys was Jason.

There were 122,937 babies born in the city in 2002.
On the Net: http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/doh/home.html

From Slate's summary of the leading newspapers:
Speaking of ways to get your message across, it seems that the governor of Louisiana has hit upon the ideal way to bring his wetlands-preservation awareness campaign to his Cajun-food-lovin' constituents: attach leaflets to bottles of Tabasco sauce.

From my email:
I am a mother of two and the wife of late General YOUSSEF EL HADIDI of the defuct [sic]Republican Guard of ousted President Saddam Hussein

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Saturday, November 15, 2003

Friday November 14, 2003. Jones Effect: In Philip K. Dick's novel _The World Jones Made_, Jones can see a year into the future. It's just as vivid as what's happening now; and he feels that he's living in a rerun. Most victims of Jones Effect don't have nearly as clear a picture of the future. Nor are they anywhere near as accurate.

Response to Candidate for Least Effective Usenet Troll

>The world is onto the Anglo-Zionist conspiracy,

Isn't that the name of the new NFL football team? I hope they get a good QB in
the draft.

The original message had been crossposted to alt.conspiracy, alt.fan.noam-chomsky, rec.arts.sf.written, soc.culture.jewish, soc.culture.russian, soc.culture.yugoslavia, alt.atheism. Also posted to rec.aviation.military and talk.politics.libertarian, and possibly others.
From EurekaAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 14-Nov-2003
Mantis shrimp fluoresce to enhance signaling in the dim ocean depths
Some undersea creatures fluoresce in the dim blue light several hundred feet down, but most biologists thought this was just a byproduct of their pigmentation. UC Berkeley marine biologist Roy Caldwell and colleagues now show that mantis shrimp fluoresce in the murky depths both for recognition and to threaten other mantis shrimp.

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Friday, November 14, 2003

Thursday November 13, 2003. Cookery: Last night, I tried broiling chicken leg quarters with grapefruit juice. They came out fairly well. I think it would've been better with more grapefruit juice and some soy sauce.

Writing: I've written the ending to "Caterpillar on the Leaf." Now I need to fill in between that and the last scene I'd first-drafted earlier.

Today's activities on the National Review cruise
Posted by Ted [Barlow]

This is probably a lot funnier if you're a liberal who reads National Review regularly.

Public Release: 13-Nov-2003
Regeneration of insulin-producing islets may lead to diabetes cure
Cells from an unexpected source, the spleen, appear to develop into insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells in adult animals. This surprising finding from Massachusetts General Hospital researchers is a followup to the same team's 2001 report of a treatment that cures advanced type 1 diabetes in mice. In discovering the biological mechanism behind that accomplishment, the researchers also have opened a potential new approach to replacing diseased organs and tissues using adult precursor cells.
Iacocca Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Cure Diabetes Now Foundation, American Autoimmune-Related Diseases Association Foundation
Massachusetts General Hospital

Sprint Offers TV by Cell Phone
WAFF - 10 minutes ago
(New York-AP) -- The new Mobi-TV service now provides real-time cable television programming that users can access with their Internet-ready mobile phones.
Sprint PCS offers streaming TV RCR Wireless News
Cellphones Launch live TV The Mediadrome
San Francisco Chronicle - New York Times - Business Wire (press release) - Seattle Post Intelligencer - and 58 related

From www.chesterton.org
"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected." - ILN, 4/19/24 G.K. Chesterton

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Thursday, November 13, 2003

Wednesday November 12, 2003. Looks like some bodywork I've been doing has paid off. I found movement pleasurable more of the time than I did a few days ago.

To Pillsbury House. I did data entry for the Community Barter Network. Fewer forms waiting than I'd expected. Explanation: Someone who'd been in the hospital was back doing data entry on another day of the week.

As usual, there were a few problems. For example, a surname I couldn't read, with a common first name. Luckily, the phone number was readable. I selected participants with that first name, checked the one whose surname began with what I thought was the likeliest first letter.

Writing: There was an element in "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" which I had to either do something with (more than just a one-paragraph mention) or excise.

The definitive ending I had yesterday has been replaced.

Cooking: Chicken leg quarters broiled with grapefruit juice. They're about half done; I'll report on the results tomorrow. At 69 cents a pound, I figured I could afford a bit of experimentation.

Forget factories: Mountain towns turn to arts and crafts
After the tobacco leaf, the cotton, the furniture factories, come the potters. By Patrik Jonsson

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/living/7228084.htm
In the dark, as on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

At least, that might be one way to describe the Dinner in the Dark matchmaking concept, which hit the Twin Cities recently.

The scheme is basically a twist on the speed-dating idea, except that it takes place in an unlit dining room.

"It's pitch black; so dark you can't even see the hand in front of you. Meanwhile, your remaining senses — taste, touch, smell and hearing — are working overtime to pick up sight's slack. It may be dark, but the energy in the room has reached a feverish pitch!" promised a news release by City Date Connection, a new Twin Cities-based events-planning company. "All around you, single men and women are meeting one another without the benefit of sight. And they're having an absolute BLAST!"

From EurekaAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 12-Nov-2003
Pop!Tech conference
Hello, will you be my friend?
Whether you want to meet a business partner or soul-mate, intelligent tags could provide those ice-breaker questions often required at networking conferences or parties. Called an nTag, each delegate's device is pre-programmed with their personal information supplied earlier to the organisers. The tags communicate with each other and then alert the wearer if they find the owners have anything in common.

I first encountered this idea in the 1970s, in a story by Tom Digby. (The story had an additional twist.) I vaguely recall, during the past year, a story about such an enhancement for Japanese cell phones or PDAs.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Tuesday November 11, 2003. Veterans Day; also Martinmas.

I've got an ending that feels right for "The Caterpillar on the Leaf."

On the American Dialect Society list, someone passed on a query about the phrase "narrows to catch metal toes."

My guess: like "Larroes Catch Meddlers" (which Manly Wade Wellman used as the title of a story that had larroes in it), it's probably a variant of "layovers catch meddlers."

A quick google on "catch meddlers" came up with other variants. I also got several conflicting explanations of what "layover" means.

It's the same process which gets Horse and Pepper (name of a card game) from Hassenpfeffer.

The [Washington Post] and [Los Angeles Times] both note that the list of products the EU is threatening to tax up—everything from Harley's [sic] to citrus—just happen to be from GOP states.

....In mapping the brain, some researchers say that areas dedicated to aspects of language, arm movements or face recognition are hard-wired modules.

Other researchers say that such areas are surprisingly flexible. For example, the human face recognition area is where expert bird watchers distinguish features of closely related species or car experts decide if a 1958 or 1959 Plymouth had bigger fins.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Monday November 10, 2003. Trying to remember the name of a TV cop program, I came up with Dracula. More accurate memory soon followed: Dragnet.

Vampires as police detectives have become common in print. But I don't think it's been done yet on TV.

I went to Pillsbury House's Harvest Dinner. Attendees were a mixture of people who come to Pillsbury House for one reason or another. The food was standard Thanksgiving fare, done well.

"In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free, for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country secures him against all personal dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimizes civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses." Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "The Social Contract" (translated, consistent with other translations into English.)

This is not my idea of individual freedom, to put it mildly.

But suppose someone was forced into my idea of individual freedom? Had his mind adjusted so that he couldn't help thinking for himself?

This gives new meaning to "All's fair in love and war."
From EurekaAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 10-Nov-2003
Society for Neuroscience 33rd Annual Meeting
Male flesh flies high-speed pursuit of females
Cornell University entomologists have discovered that male flesh flies traveling at very high speed, in sexual pursuit and swiveling their heads like gun turrets can lose sight of a target female, yet they compensate for the loss of vision and still catch up to mate. The study could lead to better military hardware.
NIH/National Institutes of Mental Health, US Air Force Office of Scientific Research

From EurekaAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 10-Nov-2003
Society for Neuroscience 33rd Annual Meeting
New studies show factors responsible for enhanced response to music
In new studies, scientists are uncovering the factors responsible for an enhanced brain electrical response to music; the effects on the brain of growing up in a musical or non-musical environment; and which areas of the brain process different aspects of music including speaking and singing. One study finds that positive emotions induced by pleasant music can have an analgesic effect on people, pointing to a possible role for music in pain management therapy.

Public Release: 10-Nov-2003
146th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America
Musicians take note: Tufts engineers say there's 'no value' in freezing trumpets for better sound
Despite the growing trend of trumpet players freezing their trumpets in hopes they can improve the instruments' tone, engineers at Tufts University have shown that cryogenic treatment has minimal effect on the sound. Professor Chris Rogers conducted the research for two years with his former graduate student Jesse Jones IV, who will present the team's findings on Nov. 11 at the 146th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) in Austin, Texas.

Public Release: 10-Nov-2003
Society for Neuroscience 33rd Annual Meeting
Scientists find brain areas activated in true versus false memories
New studies of false memories show that what happens in the brain when memories are established can be as important to the development of false memories as what happens during memory retrieval. Other research shows that specific parts of the brain are more active when a true memory is being retrieved than when a false memory is being retrieved, potentially providing a neural label by which to understand the differences between true and false memories.

Public Release: 10-Nov-2003
Society for Neuroscience 33rd Annual Meeting
Scientists uncover neurobiological basis for romantic love, trust, and self
In new studies, scientists are discovering the neurobiological underpinnings of romantic love, trust, and even of self. New research also shows that a specific brain area - the amygdala - is involved in the process of understanding the intentions of others, in particular when lying is involved.

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Monday, November 10, 2003

Sunday October 9, 2003.

Public Release: 9-Nov-2003
Society for Neuroscience
Sound helps augment poor vision for some tasks
If you're helpless without your glasses, try using your ears. For some tasks, hearing can augment poor eyesight, according to research reported by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center today at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans.
National Institutes of Health

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Sunday, November 09, 2003

viacimo (viacimo) wrote in blog_sociology,
@ 2003-11-08 03:39:00

Regarding Use of this technology:
1. when did you start using LJ?

A few months ago.

2. why did you chose LJ over other blogging sites?

I didn't. My journal has a blogspot version and a LiveJournal version, at least for now.

3. why you chose to stay on the site when the software is open source & you could build your own site (particularly relevant when people have technical knowledge that rises above the typical user's capabilities)?

I don't have that knowledge. That aside -- I'm on LiveJournal largely for the community. On my own site, I wouldn't have that.

4. Are you a paid user? If so, why and since when? (consider what benefits this option offers you, etc.)


Regarding Social Systems (i.e. friends’ lists):
1. how did you make decisions about who to add to your friends list? (related question: why do you read the particular journals that you do?)

I add people who write stuff that interests me more often than not.

2. Is there anyone out there in your friends network who I could also talk to? (please let them know about this project/let me know how to reach them)
3. how did they end up linked to your journal?
4. why do they read your journal?

Regarding Access:
1. Have you used the option of protecting entries?

No. Anything confidential enough for that, I wouldn't put on the web.

2. Do you have customized groups within your friends? (give an idea of how many)

3. What are the motivating factors behind using these filters? What criteria do you use in determining who belongs (or does not belong in a group)?
4. Do you limit comments on your journal (i.e. no anonymous, friends only...)?


1. What kind of customized features do you have affiliated with your journal?
a) Layout? (including titles, comments field)
b) Icons? (where do you get these, why/how do you choose them)
c) Links?
2. Have you ever taken advantage of search features for locating other LJ users (by interest, geographic location, etc.)?


Let me know if you have any questions - if I can clarify anything about the assignment &/or the topic.

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Saturday November 8, 2003. I own a wok again. Will I get into the habit of using it?
Read lately:

On the web: http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/ "November 04, 2003

"On sober, morning-after reflection, there is a link between last night's two posts. Their mutual subterranean rhizomaticity is as follows. Zizek's critical writings are the academic equivalent of Nigerian scam spam. (Think about it: the urgency; the dangled carrot of impossible utopian returns; the diddling stick of bold, risky, radical ALL CAPS action to be taken NOW; the exceeding verbal awkwardness due to greedily flailing, failing grasp of English; notable vagueness concerning just those salient points one would think most in need of clear explanation and exposition.)"

I wondered whether this qualified as euphuistic prose. For comparison, here's a bit from John Lyly's _Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit_:

"The freshest colors soonest fade, the keenest razor soonest turneth his edge, the finest cloth is soonest eaten with moths, and the cambric sooner stained than the coarse canvas: which appeared well in this Euphues, whose wit being like wax apt to receive any impression, and having the bridle in his own hands, either to use the rein or the spur, disdaining counsel, leaving his country, loathing his old acquaintance, thought either by wit to obtain some conquest, or by shame to abide some conflict, and leaving the rule of reason, rashly ran unto destruction. Who preferring fancy before friends, and his present humor, before honor to come, laid reason in water being too salt for his taste, and followed unbridled affection, most pleasant for his tooth."

My verdict: It's two other kinds of prose excess, neither of which I know the technical term for. Compared to "mutual subterranean rhizomaticity," Lyly's language is plain. Googling for "rhizomaticity" gives only eight hits. Two are the original passage. One is a quotation of that passage. Four are this, from the inactive blog http://rhizomorph.blogspot.com: "My space for a little rhizomaticity! Really, for working out the strange new connections between technology and society, and between the sciences and the humanities." One is from a mailing list which seems to be devoted to either violins or literary theory. By comparison, "ultradispensationalism" gives "about 224" hits and "shoggoth" yields "about 14,600."

On paper: two military sf novels set in interstellar empires past their pull dates -- Walter Jon Williams's _The Praxis_ and Allan Cole and Chris Bunch's _Empire's End_. The Williams book is better-written.

The Cole-Bunch book is the one worth reading. The writers were trying to subvert an sf cliche, and it worked. The Williams book is a potboiler.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 8-Nov-2003
Society for Neuroscience 33rd Annual Meeting
Diet may improve cognition, slow aging, and help protect against cosmic radiation
Eating certain foods can help protect you from heart disease, some types of cancers and other illnesses. But can your diet also help protect your brain if you should suffer a stroke or accidental head injury? Or keep your thinking and memory skills strong as you age? Some scientists believe it might. They even think eating the "right" foods --specifically, those high in antioxidants -- may help defend astronauts from brain-damaging cosmic rays on future manned missions to Mars.

Public Release: 8-Nov-2003
Society for Neuroscience 33rd Annual Meeting
OHSU researchers study physical and mental impacts of exercise on the brain
OHSU researchers and other collaborators have found that exercise results in brain development (specifically blood vessel development in the brain.) The researchers have also found that exercise causes a subject to be more mentally engaged. The study was conducted using non-human primates.
NIH/National Institute on Aging

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Saturday, November 08, 2003

Saturday November 7, 2003. In the morning, I went to pick up pills from the HealthPartners pharmacy in Calhoun Square. They weren't there. The data in the system said they'd been picked up already from another HealthPartners pharmacy. (Which one? That information wasn't available.)

In the end, I was given as much of the medication as they had in stock. I'll come back later for the rest.

Went to the Bakken Museum (of electricity) with Pat Craft. The exhibits included electrical devices invented at various times over the centuries, many of which visitors were allowed to play with.

One exhibit concentrated on mad and/or eccentric scientists who contributed to the study of electricity. I learned that Nikola Tesla was stranger than I'd realized.

One room was devoted to Victor Frankenstein and his biographer, Mary Shelley. By pushing a button, visitors could experience an effective mostly-audio condensed play based on _Frankenstein_.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 7-Nov-2003
Physical Review D
'Dark matter' forms ghost universe that mirrors our own, new theory shows
"Dark matter" in the cosmos forms a ghost universe invisible to astronomers, but that doesn't mean its evolution can't be studied. Theoretical astronomer Chung-Pei Ma of UC Berkeley has found that dark matter forms dense clumps that move much like dust motes dancing in a shaft of light.

From the full press release at
"The cosmic account now pegs dark energy at about 69 percent of the universe, exotic dark matter at 27 percent, mundane dark matter - dim, unseen stars - at 3 percent, and what we actually see at a mere 1 percent."

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Friday, November 07, 2003

Thursday November 6, 2003. Mail: The American Automobile Association offers me a free membership and $500 worth of groceries. I don't own a car; but they offer me emergency services no matter whose car I'm riding in.

The free membership is actually a twofer, with the joining fee waived. The free groceries turn out to be coupons with a processing fee.

Why do companies do this? After I read the fine print, I always feel that something's being taken away from me. Maybe that's a rare reaction.

Writing: I've got the beginning, middle, and ending of a mystery short story. Now all I need is the story.

Political Dictionary: The Man on a White Horse.

Originally, a general who takes over the government and sets everything right. Now used much more broadly.

The last book of the New Testament predicts a man on a white horse. He will be followed by the man on a red horse, the man on a black horse, and the man on a pale horse.

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Thursday, November 06, 2003

Thursday November 6, 2003.
From Google News:

Malaysia bans tales of the supernatural
Independent Online - 1 hour ago
Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia, which strictly censors foreign movies and books, has decided to ban tomes with "ghostly" tales and those touching on the supernatural, reports said on Thursday.
Malaysia bans importation of 'unhealthy' horror books Times of India
No more 'ghostly tales' in book ban NEWS.com.au
and 6 related

Yukos: Berlusconi, Almost 100% Of Russians Approve
Agenzia Giornalistica Italia (English Version) - 10 minutes ago
(AGI) - Rome, Italy, Nov. 6 - "Almost 100 pct of the Russian citizens are in agreement with the magistracy's handling of Yukos, said Premier Silvio Berlusconi during the press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin. "This is - said the premier ...
EU, Russia Discuss Chechnya at Summit Guardian
Berlusconi accuses European press of telling tales over Chechnya EU Business
Pravda - Channel News Asia - Gateway 2 Russia - Newsday - and 149 related

[Berlusconi, president of Italy, 1) controls 95 percent of Italian television and 2) complains about media bias against him. There are other reasons why many Italians find him an embarrassment. If there was a button with the Italian equivalent of "Don't blame me, I voted for Bozo the Clown," it would probably sell quite well.]
From BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/technology/3246433.stm
Let your fingers do the talking
Throw away your earpiece, soon your finger could be helping you make and take calls via your mobile phone.

Japanese phone firm NTT DoCoMo has created a wristwatch phone that uses its owner's finger as an earpiece.

The gadget, dubbed Finger Whisper, uses a wristband to convert the sounds of conversation to vibrations that can be heard when the finger is placed in the ear.

So far NTT has given no date for when a commercial version will go on sale.

Very handy

The wristband for the watchphone is key to the device's many features.

According to reports the Finger Whisper phone is answered by touching forefinger to thumb and then by putting the forefinger in the ear to hear who is ringing.

The call is ended by again touching forefinger to thumb.

Some of the latest earpieces for mobile phones also use sound induction via the bones of the skull to let people hear who is talking to them.

The sound converting wristband on the watch phone is also fitted with a microphone that the phone owner can talk into.

The phone has no keypad but users can make a call by saying out loud the number they want to reach.

Voice recognition electronics built in to the wristband decipher what has been said and dial the number.

None of the early reports about the phone mention if it is possible to use the wristphone to send text messages.

The gadget has been developed by NTT DoCoMo's Media Computing Laboratory.

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Wednesday November 5, 2003. I woke up with a sore throat. I'm _tired_ of being sick!

I slept much of the day.
I did get a bit more done on "The Caterpillar on the Leaf". That included taking almost everyone out of what was actually a two-person scene. Original purpose for having more people in scene: reduce conflict.

Someone on Forward Motion (http://fmwriters.com) recommended a piece on Scene Choreography in S.L. Viehl's blog. I read the piece and decided this could be very useful: "Work the Surroundings -- you've set up a beautiful castle with cool rooms and guards and tapestries and then everyone does nothing but stand in it looking at each other and talking. Use the setting -- have your characters move around [in] it and interact with it."
http://starlines.blogspot.com/ November 4, 2003.

That gets added to my "to learn" writing to-do list. The rest of the list so far:

Sensory description. Appeal to at least three senses in each passage. Include synesthetic description.
Function description.
Pattern description.
From EurekAlert (http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php):

Public Release: 5-Nov-2003
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Hot cocoa tops red wine and tea in antioxidants; may be healthier choice
There's sweet news about hot cocoa: Researchers at Cornell University have shown that the popular winter beverage contains more antioxidants per cup than a similar serving of red wine or tea and may be a healthier choice.

Public Release: 5-Nov-2003
Oldest human custom
Early humans knew a thing or two about dental hygiene. An American palaeontologist says that our ancestors could have used grass stalks as tooth picks – which would explain curved grooves seen on many ancient hominid teeth.
New Scientist

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Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Tuesday November 4, 2003. LiveJournal has two synesthesia communities. I've now signed on to both of them. And material from both will show up on my Friends page.
Writing -- "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" advanced by several connected scenes. Or one scene, depending on where you place the boundaries. As of now, I think there are two more scenes before the climactic scene. Enough stuff for at least one novel will be summarized.

I've done some more thinking about kinds of description. Here's the present form of what I have:

Sensory description -- what's usually meant by description. Preferably, each passage should appeal to at least three senses. (Ideally, each paragraph; but it's not always practical in short paragraphs.)

Function description -- 'Since his continuing interest is in process -- how things both physical and social work -- Heinlein doesn't tell what things look like, he tells what they do. For an example, in Beyond This Horizon, Heinlein has one of his characters introduce a Colt .45 automatic. Physically, it is "novel," "odd," "uncouth," and has a stud on its side which when pressed lets a long, flat container slide out. That's it. That's all you get. If you had never seen a .45 automatic, you would be no better off for Heinlein's description of it. You might mistake it for a gum machine (novel, odd, uncouth; has a stud on its side which when pressed lets a long, flat container -- your gum -- slide out). On the other hand, in dialogue Heinlein lets us know more about it and he demonstrates how it works very nicely. You still don't know what the damned thing looks like, but you know very well what it does.' Alexei Panshin, _Heinlein in Dimension_ Chapter VI, http://www.enter.net/~torve/critics/Dimension/hd06-1.htm

Heinlein also described people the same way -- what they do, and how they do it.

Abstract description -- In some "true experience" sex stories, first-person narrator will give his wife's breast size rather than saying what her breasts look like. The rest of his description, and his self-description, will be almost entirely in abstract terms.

I think many of these writers would be bewildered by the above passage. Isn't giving the breast size exactly the same as saying what the breasts look like?

Pattern description -- Some people, looking at a plant, will see Fibonacci numbers before they notice such things as color. This is not _interpretation_ of what they see; it's what they see. Buckminster Fuller mostly saw the world in terms of patterns.
Medical news in the Health section of Google News's UK edition:

Jane's Addiction
Guardian - Nov 3, 2003
That the opening night of the Jane's Addiction tour fell on Halloween was the narco-punk equivalent of a red rag waved at a bull. Leader Perry Farrell took it as licence to fill the foyer with near-naked hostesses from the Torture Garden S&M club, and the ...
Jane's Addiction treat clued-up fans to 'flashmob' gig NME.com
Sam Leith reviews Jane's Addiction at Brixton Academy Telegraph.co.uk

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Monday November 3, 2003. A glum day for me, till I read someone's account of having to explain that dead people should not be counted as active employees. That restored my sense of humor.

I still didn't accomplish most of what I'd intended to get done today. But I got two scenes ahead on "The Caterpillar on the Leaf".
3) Name-dropping and self-promotion pay off
M. Rosvall and K. Sneppen
Physical Review Letters (print issue: 24 October 2003)

Correctness is not as important as communication. That's a key finding from a new model of the Internet and other social and biological networks. The authors model society as a network of individuals, all trying to adjust their connections to get as close as possible to the center of the network. The authors find that where local communication is strong, the society tends to organize around a stable central hub, but when local communication is weak, chaos ensues. For an individual trying to be the center of attention, success comes from sharing the information one has about the position and connections of others, even if that information is incorrect. Surprisingly, having correct information barely improved an individual's status at all.
Journal article: http://link.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v91/e178701

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Monday, November 03, 2003

Sunday November 2, 3003. I slept much of the day.

I'm not sure why, but suspect it's partly writing-related. The protagonist of "The Caterpillar on the Leaf" started out being certain he knew more than almost everyone else. He had an eight-month gap in his memory, but was certain he knew almost all of what had happened during that time. The story has now reached the point at which he learns a bit about what he was doing during that time. And about who he was doing.
Refdesk's (http://www.refdesk.dom) site of the day was The Columbia Gazetteer http://www.bartleby.com/69/ I looked up places near where I grew up, and decided it was useful enough to bookmark. Population figures are from the 1990 census, but I can find newer figures easily enough.

I grew up between Kerhonkson and Accord in Ulster County, New York. Kerhonkson's population is about five times what I remember it being in the 1950's. Accord's population seems to have tripled. Ellenville's is twice or 1.5 times what I remember it being. Kingston's population has shrunk. (Kingston was one of New York State's first three cities. The other two are Albany -- now the state capital -- and New York City.)

While I was there, I decided to see whether there were any Arkhams in the US. There aren't, but this ad showed up:

Arkham Curiosity Shoppe
Lovecraftian Mythos and Curiosities Close Out Sale, Huge Savings!
From Google News http://news.google.com -- The show under discussion is about _The Da Vinci Code_, a "fiction, but all the facts here are factual" thriller about What The Roman Catholic Church Does Not Want You to Know. This particular conspiracy theory starts with Mary Magdalene's marriage to Jesus. (Personally, I prefer the theory that vampire lizards from outer space founded all human religions. See Sheri S. Tepper, _Gibbon's Decline and Fall_. Particularly if you think _Atlas Shrugged_ would've been better if Ayn Rand had been less reticent about expressing her views.)

The Volatile Notion of a Married Jesus
New York Times - 50 minutes ago
Half a dozen religious leaders joined David Westin, the president of ABC News, and others from the network and the press for lunch on the 22nd floor of ABC building on 66th Street in Manhattan late last week. Mr. Westin wore a sharp suit, as did some ...
Experts dismiss theories in popular book Gannett Suburban New York Newspapers
ABC to air special on Jesus Christ USA Today
The Advertiser - Islam Online - WorldNetDaily - Business Wire (press release) - and 21 related

"...Joseph De Feo, policy analyst for the Catholic League, then asked the show's producers why they hadn't solicited opinions from Roman Catholics other than the Rev. Richard McBrien, a priest and theology professor at the University of Notre Dame who, Mr. De Feo said, is known chiefly for his far-out views and his 'shtick' about Mary Magdalene's primacy among Jesus's apostles.

"Rudy Bednar, an executive producer at ABC, responded that the Catholic view had been expressed in the documentary by various evangelicals the producers had consulted. Mr. De Feo, perhaps bridling at the idea that arch-Protestants should represent the opinions of Catholics, shot Mr. Bednar a look of incredulity."

Looking for more on this brought me to Journey to Vatican III http://www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/journey/

"Journey to Vatican III by Rebecca Nappi gives you breaking news and trend alerts in the Roman Catholic Church that signal major reforms to come in the next few years. These reforms would likely happen if, and when, the pope who succeeds John Paul II calls a Vatican III."

My prediction: Vatican III will be convened around 2060. It will not be convened by the current Pope's immediate successor. It will upset a number of Roman Catholics, some of whom will split off from Roman Catholicism.

From the UK edition of Google News:

Suitors blast 'Miriam'
Daily Variety (subscription) - 3 hours ago
LONDON -- Six male Brit contestants are trying to ban entertainment web Sky One from broadcasting a reality show in which they are seen competing for the affections of a woman who is revealed to be a male-to-female transsexual.
Sky faces sexual assault claim Guardian
Sky scraps TV show with transsexual twist Telegraph.co.uk
Ananova - Daily Times - Stuff.co.nz - The Sun - and 32 related

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Sunday, November 02, 2003

Saturday November 1, 2003. Mnstf Halloween party at Sharon Kahn and Richard Tatge's (Dreampark). Meetings there tend to have more gaming than meetings elsewhere, and to attract some gamers who don't usually attend.

I brought books and magazines to sell for Mnstf -- priced at whatever people felt was fair. It brought in nine dollars.

Food included a very good home-made soup. I need to get the recipe (or guidelines) from Richard.

All in all, a good meeting.

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Saturday, November 01, 2003

Thursday October 30, 2003. Forgot to set this down: At Steeple People thrift store, I looked at _The Wordsworth Companion to English Literature_. The first thing I saw was an entry on Lodowicke Muggleton and John Reeve, founders of the Muggletonians. I immediately decided to buy the book.

Among the free stuff was a -- well, two pieces of wood held together with pieces of rope.
I had no idea what purpose it was intended to serve, but I took it to use as exercise equipment.

Friday October 31, 2003. Synesthesia list: One member was discussing synesthesia, and found out for the first time that not everybody "sees" words as they hear them. "But I thought everybody was like me" strikes again.

In replies, one syn said that once she's "seen" a word in a particular font, it's always in that font. I found that amusing; I never "see" speech in the same typeface twice in a row.

On #21 bus, Indian: "Actually, I'm Swedish." There were a few people really in costume.

#7 bus to the Mall of America. A few more costumes on this bus.

At the Mall, there were many costumes.

I found the Rockport Store, and they had what I needed: shoes wide enough to fit me, and good for walking. These shoes don't need laces, which is a definite plus.
The Southwest Journal had a story on the movements of the Wedge's gun-ban sign. The story there is that the sign was taken down because it made some customers nervous. This drew negative response from other customers. At least one of those other customers is (to put it politely) a conspiracy whacko.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 31-Oct-2003
Geological Society of America Annual Meeting
Ultra-low oxygen could have triggered die-offs, spurred bird breathing system
A University of Washington scientist is theorizing that low oxygen and repeated short but substantial temperature increases because of greenhouse warming sparked two major mass-extinction events, one of which eradicated 90 percent of all species on Earth.
From Crooked Timber http://www.crookedtimber.org/
League tables
Posted by Chris [Bertram]

There’s much to amuse in David Cohen’s survey of education journalism in today’s Guardian. Those of us who are fed up with league tables evaluating and ranking university department can take heart from one published by Canada’s Globe and Mail which awarded high marks to some nonexistent institutions: York’s medical school and the medical and law schools at Waterloo. The methodology does seem somewhat suspect:

According to the market research firm responsible for the rankings, the results had been based entirely on student responses to an online survey on issues such as the quality of teaching assistants, class size, availability of courses and the library services at their colleges.

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