Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Friday April 30, 2004. The following may not be true for anyone except me:

Realization -- before I begin writing a third-person story, I ought to know a fair amount about two important characters: the protagonist and the implied narrator[1]. The implied narrator may only "appear" in the implied frame story[2]; but the core story as he tells it is different from what it would be if another implied narrator were telling it.

Telling the story in first person means not having to characterize the implied narrator. But it also means having to characterize the implied audience[1] -- who is this character telling the story to, and why?

Second person (where the reader is the protagonist) is probably the biggest can of worms. The only two second person novels which have worked for me as a reader both had female protagonists: _Molly Zero_ by Keith Roberts and _Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas_ by Tom Robbins. I've read and enjoyed a few second-person short stories; I haven't reread any, to the best of my memory.

[1]implied narrator, a persona invented by the author to deliver the tale we are reading, operating like a character through whose eyes and ears we receive episodes and whose opinions may shade or even wildly distort the narrative. "Chaucer-the-Pilgrim" can be read as an implied narrator, an understanding first articulated in an important 1954 PMLA article by E. Talbot Donaldson http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/canttales/gp/pilgrim.html. Such distorted narratorial points of view also can be called "unreliable narrators" (famously, the possibly hallucinating governess in Henry James' Turn of the Screw). The term was invented by Wayne Booth in The Rhetoric of Fiction (1961), where you also can find other terms helpful for studying fiction, like implied author (Chaucer's "fat, dumpy and stupid" authorial persona), implied audience (i.e., the "you" our narrator addresses), and inscribed audience (the other pilgrims listening to and reacting to the tales).

While "implied narrator" is a standard literary term, I've used it in a non-standard way. I assume that the third person narrator is never completely objective. He may be omniescent; but he chooses what to tell the reader about and how to tell it.

[2]frame narrative, a narrative which contains other narratives within its "frame," most famously the 1001 Arabian Nights' tales of dervishes and genies, told by a princess bride on her extended wedding night to distract her murderous groom from his ambition to kill her (anon.), and the Decameron, 100 tales about love and sex told on ten days by ten noblemen and noblewomen who have fled the Florentine plague.

"Implied frame story" is my own coinage.

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From the American Name Society mailing list:
Not the most rigorous academic article (and reported on a secondary source, to boot), but an interesting read for those who can cope with Spanish. The comments below are worth reading, too.


Examples offered include:

Land Rover García, Houston Texas Ronquillo Loor, Semen de los Dioses Bazurto Quesada, Eveready Pilar Valencia Changa and, of course, don Burguer King Herrera Suárez.
Haydn Rawlinson
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 30-Apr-2004
Cultural and Social History
Historian reveals identity badges, not cards, were compulsory in the 1600s
Research from the University of Warwick reveals that far from being a new idea ID 'cards', in the form of badges, were commonplace in the 1600s. Just as today's cards will enable people of [sic] access public services such as benefits, the 17th century forms of identification were to show an individual's entitlement to supplement their income and to identify the deserving. The study examines the practice compulsory identification of all parish paupers in the 1600s.
[Note: In England, that is; I can't tell from the full press release whether this was the case in such distant places as Scotland and Wales.]
Google Times, UK edition:
Home to A Cup of Tea and Sleep
The Scotsman - 45 minutes ago
An American who is really British, a Russian and a Dutchman came hurtling back to Earth today strapped tightly into a space capsule, touching down for a spot-on landing that capped a ride they described as beautiful but tiring.
Smooth Landing for Expedition 8 Crew Yahoo News
Soyuz Spacecraft Makes Flawless Landing Fredericksburg.com
Capital News 9 - Voice of America - Pravda - Channel News Asia - and 555 related
["Really British" means British by birth; Michael Foale is now an American citizen, but apparently The Scotsman doesn't think that counts.]

From http://www.resourceshelf.com/archives/2004_04_01_resourceshelf_archive.html#108329295070516058:
First Publicly Funded Text Mining Center in the World Will Be Established in the UK
From the announcement, The JISC, BBSRC AND EPSRC announced today funding of some £1m to establish a National Centre for Text Mining. The remit of the Centre, the first publicly funded centre in the world, is to contribute to the associated national and international research agenda, to establish a service for the wider academic community, and to make connections with industry. Text mining attempts to discover new, previously unknown information by applying techniques from natural language processing, data mining, and information retrieval:
+ To identify and gather relevant textual sources
+ To analyse these to extract facts involving key entities and their properties
+ To combine the extracted facts to form new facts or to gain valuable insights

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Thursday April 29, 2004. Writing: I now feel I know where I'm going with "Well Met...."
That I understand the two main characters and the implied narrator well enough.
Molecular rings could shelter Venus bugs
The idea that microbes live in the planet's clouds is controversial, but scientists can now explain how they might avoid the Sun's damaging UV light
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 29-Apr-2004
Mexican farmers effectively cultivate phenotypic diversity in maize
A joint IRD-CIMMYT research team (1) studying the maize varieties, or landraces, grown in Mexico have provided the first genetic proof that cultivation practices and farmers' behaviour play a crucial role in maintaining a large diversity by favouring the frequent introduction of varieties from outside. In-situ conservation could therefore be considered as a dynamic model favourable to genetic exchange, rather than a model founded on the isolation of the varieties to be preserved.
Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement

Public Release: 30-Apr-2004
Journal of the American Dietetic Association
Children's eating patterns show 'striking' changes in two decades
Meal patterns among children in the United States have undergone "striking alterations" over the past two decades, but changes in kid's meal patterns during that time may not be related to trends toward increased weight among children, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Thursday April 29, 2004. Among the free magazines at Steeple People thrift shop was Scientific American for July 1997. Cover blurb for one story: "Stupid computer tricks. How virtual reality, speech recognition and other good ideas can hurt business." The article turned out to include several Just Around the Corner innovations -- most of which are still Just Around the Corner.

Just Around the Corner is a crowded place. The flying cars which were to be in every garage right after WW II ended; the videophones which in the middle 1960s were confidently predicted to soon completely replace voice-only phones. Various plans to simplify the US tax code. The permanent liberal victory, the permanent conservative victory, several varieties each of Marxist and libertarian victories....

On LiveJournal, Pamela Dean had expressed disapproval of a law recently passed in Virginia.

I commented that I thought the liberal/conservative cycle had passed one of its conservative peaks.

Also on LiveJournal: Arthur Hlavity

pointed to Charlie Stross's article on the future and writing sf (written for the plotka.con program book).

Some time ago, I read a collection of Shakespearean criticism from various periods. I soon decided that these pieces told me more about the times in which they were written than about Shakespeare's work.

(When I mentioned this to Pamela Dean, she did not seem totally surprised. I suspect she had encountered this idea in graduate school, if not earlier.)

Similarly, what people predict says more about their own time than about the future. Rather, about what they _think_ is true about their own time. During the 1950s, English sf writers usually assumed that England would continue to be a great power on Earth, and would of course also be one in space. (Note: Yes, I'm using "England" correctly; some of these writers might have mentioned other parts of the United Kingdom, but I don't recall them doing so.) And in the late 1990s, both Russian and American writers usually took it for granted that the Soviet Union would be a superpower for decades to come.

The US Forest Service issues predictions of forest resources decades into the future. They come with a disclaimer: It's assumed there will be no demographic, technological, or economic surprises. And, of course, they give high, low, and middle predictions.

I've developed some rules of thumb for anticipating the future: 1) Don't count on any trend to continue. 2) The lower a country's male life expectancy is, the less stable it's likely to be. Don't count on any country where male life expectancy is under 120 to last.
3) The leading countries, companies, technologies of today won't be leaders 50 years from now, and might not be 10 years from now. 4) Social habits considered normal/harmless today might not have that status a few decades from now.

And one large rule for writing future-setting fiction: Be very, very vague about the next few decades.

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I don't believe in astrology. I do believe that when there's a sizable human population beyond Earth, some will 1) believe in astrology and 2) want something more rigorous than newspaper astrology columns. And when they start having children, they'll want accurate horoscopes for those children.

Presumably, having Earth in one's horoscope would make some difference. Within the Solar System, constellations probably wouldn't change too much. Beyond the Solar System, major adjustments would be needed.

I'd like recommendations of sources. What I've found on the web has mostly been brief and inconclusive discussion. There was also a site which explained how the Egyptians learned astrology from the Martians, but it lacked specific details on the necessary conversions.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Wednesday April 28, 2004. To Pillsbury House, where I did data entry for the Community Barter Network and PH's volunteer program.

It went reasonably well. But either someone else needs to correct the mistakes I know I've made, or I need authorization to make the changes. And there are mistakes other than mine which I've noticed.

And there's no Volunteer Coordinator, nor will one be hired for a while.

***Spam subject heading: Notice of Default calypso. Now, that's a song I want to hear.
Europe 2015 map.Accuracy and seriousness not guaranteed.
From the UK edition of Google News:
Trolley helps you get fit
Daily Times - 1 hour ago
The Trim Trolley features equipment normally found in gym equipment with a resistance wheel letting customers increase or decrease the effort needed to push the trolley around.
Shopping trolley joins push for fitness The Times, UK (subscription)
Need to keep fit? Go shop for groceries Straits Times
Independent - BBC News - just-drinks.com - The Scotsman - and 26 related
Mr. Jorgensen's boss at the time, Ed Keith, had never heard of Asperger's. But he assigned a team member to form strategies with Mr. Jorgensen. In public meetings, they agreed, someone would throw a pen at him when he was going too far. Privately, they would tell him directly, rather than hint at it in ways he might not understand.
Extended family makes comeback
Reuters - 3 hours ago
LONDON (Reuters) - The extended family of three generations living under one roof -- once believed to be a thing of the past with rising wealth -- is back and here to stay, according to a survey.
'More extended families' in homes BBC News
Soaring costs mean relatives living together Telegraph.co.uk

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uranium-hot-rock is a forum [f]or the discussion of the design and engineering of a "hot-rock" that is heated by, you guessed it, uranium. This would be a device about the size of a wood-burning stove, that was adequately shielded so as to prevent radiation leaks, while allowing the entire thing to heat up to several hundred degrees. The idea being that you could then use it to heat your home, cook food, keep your family warm, and never have to worry about a utility bill again. It would also provide something to do with all that so-called "spent" fuel from the nuclear industry.
Glance Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Green-tinged farm points the way
By Sue Broom

Pigs and chickens that glow in the dark may signal a new era for the farm yard.

UK scientists at the Roslin Institute say they have dramatically improved the technique for introducing modifications to an animal's genetic make-up.

So far, the researchers have used the new method to introduce a jellyfish gene that makes their pigs and chickens fluoresce - to prove changes will work.

Both chickens and pigs carrying the gene can be detected in normal light by their slight greenish tinge, but when viewed in blue light, all areas not covered with hair or feathers are seen to glow torch-light bright.

In the case of chickens, this is the feet and head; and in pigs, it is the ears, snout, trotters and testicles.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 28-Apr-2004
Controlling pain with your brain
A small US study suggests that you can teach people to suppress their own pain by showing them the activity of the pain control region of their brain. Whilst enduring painful heat on their hand, volunteers were able to vary their brain activity level, developing control over their pain sensations. This biofeedback technique could also turn out to be useful in treating illnesses where brain activity is altered, such as depression.
Nature 428, 936 - 939 (29 April 2004); doi:10.1038/nature02428

Surprisingly rapid growth in Neanderthals


1 UPR 2147, Dyamique de l'Evolution Humaine, CNRS, 44, Rue de l'Amiral Mouchez, 75014 Paris, France
2 Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), C/ José Gutierrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to F.V.R.R. (ramrozzi@ivry.cnrs.fr).

Life-history traits correlate closely with dental growth, so differences in dental growth within Homo can enable us to determine how somatic development has evolved and to identify developmental shifts that warrant species-level distinctions. Dental growth can be determined from the speed of enamel formation (or extension rate). We analysed the enamel extension rate in Homo antecessor (8 teeth analysed), Homo heidelbergensis (106), Homo neanderthalensis ('Neanderthals'; 146) and Upper Palaeolithic-Mesolithic Homo sapiens (100). Here we report that Upper Palaeolithic-Mesolithic H. sapiens shared an identical dental development pattern with modern humans, but that H. antecessor and H. heidelbergensis had shorter periods of dental growth. Surprisingly, Neanderthals were characterized by having the shortest period of dental growth. Because dental growth is an excellent indicator of somatic development, our results suggest that Neanderthals developed faster even than their immediate ancestor, H. heidelbergensis. Dental growth became longer and brain size increased from the Plio-Pleistocene in hominid evolution. Neanderthals, despite having a large brain, were characterized by a short period of development. This autapomorphy in growth is an evolutionary reversal, and points strongly to a specific distinction between H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Tuesday April 27, 2004. [Caution: non-rigorous futurology.] Googling on "new dark ages" brings up, among other warnings, laments on the decline of "Judeo-Christianity."

If you consider Marxism a Christian heresy (as Arnold Toynbee did),this becomes more convincing. The fall of the Soviet Union becomes an episode in Judeo-Christianity's decline.

That aside, I think these prophets are casting Judeo-Christianity in the role of the Roman Empire's pre-Christian state religion. And in the role of the new religion which replaced it? Islam and secular humanism are the leading contenders.

And then? Civilization falls, of course. Learning is preserved in Secular Humanist monasteries.

Civilization rises once more.

And then? There are ominous signs of religious decline. And -- horror of horrors -- it becomes socially acceptable to be a Neo-Christian.

And then the mammals take over -- oh, sorry. That was in a previous cycle.

Dinosaur Civilization link:

I'd been taking things too seriously for a while. I think I'm over that.
Boy Moves Ahead in Legal Bid to Cut Ties With Killer Father
US seniors go south - way south
Cost of living in US drives retirees to such former cold war hot spots as Nicaragua and Honduras. By Sara B. Miller

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News from the area where I grew up, via topix.com (which will get local news from any zipcode in the US):

Town of New Paltz may appoint 'marriage officers'
[Note: In New York State, "town" means what "township" does in many other states.]
By Andrew Austin, Correspondent 04/24/2004

NEW PALTZ - The Town Board is considering appointing "marriage officers" to help preside over the surging number of weddings in the community, but some worry it might land the town in the legal hot water that the village of New Paltz finds itself in over recent same-sex marriages.

The town has proposed appointing unpaid volunteers who would have the power to conduct weddings within the town. Such officers would be in addition to elected officials, judges and local clergy who already have that power.

The dozens of same-sex marriages that have been conducted in mass ceremonies in the village in recent weeks have forced town police to work overtime to patrol the events. (The village doesn't have its own police department.) Town leaders say marriage officers would provide couples more options regarding who can marry them, and that, in turn, could lead to smaller, private ceremonies.

***It's always more complicated dept: http://www.villageofnewpaltz.org/:
'New Paltz was founded in 1677 by French Huguenots[1] who had taken refuge in Mannheim, Germany, for a few years before coming to America. Mannheim was, at that time, capital of the area called the Rhenish Palatinate or, in German, the Rhein Pfalz.

'The people of Mannheim leave out the "f" in the name Pfalz, pronouncing it "Paltz."[2] Records of the New Paltz Reformed Church, which was formed in 1683, show the name of the settlement was first expressed not in German, nor in English, but in French: Nouveau Palatinat.'

1: They were Belgian rather than French.
2: More accurately; Low German didn't undergo the change of "p" sounds to "f" sounds which High German did.
From Confessions of An Idiosyncratic Mind http://sarahweinman.blogspot.com/
Whenever I read a book in translation, I always wonder how much of what I read is the author's voice and how much is due to the translator. Toshiki Taguchi, a Japanese translator who's worked on crime fiction, offers his take on the business http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/20040427wob9.htm
I did not want to know this: From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 27-Apr-2004
American Journal of Preventive Medicine
New UNC study shows Hurricane Floyd boosted abuse and non-abuse brain injuries in children
Hurricane Floyd, which drowned much of 16 eastern North Carolina counties under a layer of water in 1999, also significantly boosted the number of cases of both inflicted and non-inflicted brain injury among small children, a new study shows
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

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Monday, April 26, 2004

Monday April 26, 2004. There are titles I wish had stories attached to them. I have no idea what "Teabag of the Gods" would be like. "God's Other Cat" is probably about a rock band. I may not want to know what "The Future of Captain Death" is about.

I do have a vague notion of what "Flash Empire" is about.

***This has been going around LiveJournal: Invent a memory of me and post it in the comments. It can be anything you want, so long as it's something that's never happened. Then, of course, post this to your journal and see what people would like to remember of you, only the universe failed to cooperate in making it happen so they had to make it up instead.

***Ya Hoon Lee said "mrissa's Take back the night is a wonderfully amusing (even feminist?) Halloween/Tam Lin take."

It's a good enough story that I wonder why it didn't sell to a pro or a higher-pay semipro market. Take a look.
We risk losing our cognitive liberty to drugs that block traumatic experiences and marketing messages delivered inside our heads, warns lawyer Richard Glen Boire
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 26-Apr-2004
Food Control
Only half of recalled meat and poultry is recovered, study finds
Only about half the meat and poultry recalled in the United States because of suspected health hazards between 1998 and 2002 was actually recovered by the manufacturers, according to a new study. This and other results suggest new federal food safety regulations that took effect in the late 1990s have not done enough to ensure the safety of our food supply.

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Buon appetito: Russian cosmonauts on a Mediterranean diet

26 April 2004
In parallel with the DELTA Mission, two Russian cosmonauts on the International Space Station (ISS) - Alexander Kaleri and Gennadi Padalka - will perform the Mediet (Mediterranean Diet) experiment, demonstrating the use of the Mediet food system on board the ISS.

The Mediet food, made from top quality Mediterranean products, will serve to demonstrate that the 'fast food' of the 21st century can be delicious and nutritious at the same time. The tray serves as a prototype of the system, which may be used in extreme environments on Earth, as well as during travelling, or simply when time for cooking, or a table to sit behind, are not available.

The food is important not only from the nutritional point of view. It is also a matter of psychological comfort – it's probably not so long ago that you last sat in front your TV with a tasty snack! Mediet sets an example of how various international food menus can be delivered to the ISS in order to increase the variety of food available for the Station's crew. During a long-term flight cosmonauts will benefit from having an additional variety of food, which adds a little extra in making them feel that the Station is their home during their six-month stay.

The experiment demonstrates the use of the Mediet food system on board ISS. The system consists of an ergonomic tray, made of aluminium, with five items of Mediterranean food from Italy: dried tomatoes, mature cheese, piadina bread (special Italian white bread), peaches and chocolate. [piadina = piada = pié Pronunciation: pyah-DEE-nah Notes: This pliable Italian flatbread is usually stuffed with filling, much as tortillas are in Latin America. The plural is piadine. Substitutes: flour tortilla http://www.foodsubs.com/Flatbread.html#piadina]

The food has not only successfully passed all mandatory tests for use on Earth, but has also been subjected to a number of special microbiological analyses, which are required for all the nutrients and food items delivered to the International Space Station.

The food is individually packaged for convenient consumption in special space flight qualified transparent plastic bags, and in meal-size portions. It is processed using the High Pressure Processing (4000-6000 atu) technology, which is able to eliminate enzymes and bacteria without altering the properties of fresh food. This new method of preservation provides reliable long-term storage at room temperature, and at the same time allows the food to retain nutritional values, taste, texture and colour.

The food inside the bags is either pre-cut into a bite-size pieces (cheese, bread and chocolate), or has such a viscosity that it remains intact in weightlessness: while the cosmonaut picks up a piece with a fork, the rest of the bag content remains in place (tomatoes in oil and peaches in jelly). The cosmonaut cuts open the bag with scissors, and uses a fork to take pieces out of the bag.

During the experiment, one cosmonaut will evaluate the quality of the food, considering such parameters as odour, flavour, texture, colour, and overall appearance. The second cosmonaut will make a video recording of the test. This video material may later be used to illustrate the benefits of the new technology to the expert community and to the general public.

The Mediet experiment is done within the framework of the European Space Agency commercialisation programme of the International Space Station under a contract between ESA and Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation. The International Space Centre for Space Applications (IACSA), a R&D consortium of the University of Florence, which is dedicated to space design and architecture, has developed the system. COOP, one of the largest retail chains in Italy, has provided food for the experiment.

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Sunday April 25, 2004. I need to remind myself that I got anything at all done today.

I took out a bit from "Well Met..." which moved the story in a wrong direction,and added another bit.

I made a couple of cookery experiments which worked out.

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Sunday, April 25, 2004

Sunday April 25,2004. Would dinosaurs be edible? Would they be kosher? Asked on rec.arts.sf.science. (Subject: edible dinosaurs.) The first question is easy enough to answer: most, if not all, would be.

The second question might be harder. Some Orthodox Jews believe that anything not mentioned as being kosher can't possibly be kosher; so anything from the New World (turkey, for example) is trefe. Some are creationists who flat-out refuse to believe that dinosaurs ever existed.

There's a prohibition on reptiles, which would seem to rule out dinosaurs. However, there are scientists who consider them more closely related to birds.

Of course, they could be eaten if there was no alternative.

Googling on the words "kosher" and "dinosaur" brings up a number of links. For some reason, many of these relate to origami. Others are about chocolate dinosaurs, or about evolution vs. creation.

Digression: I've thought off and on about a cookbook for time travellers. It might have four main sections: the pre-human past (beginning with recipes for very early multicellular life), the human past, the human future, and the post-human future.

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Saturday, April 24, 2004

Saturday April 24, 2004. I picked up Fare For All food at the Southwest Senior Center, and ordered for next month.

***My text editor stopped working. Metapad had worked well till some time the day before.

I tried deleting it, downloading another copy, and installing the new copy. That didn't work.

I downloaded Editpad Lite, which I once used. It works better than I remembered it working. And with a bit of tweaking, I find it easier to use than Metapad.

But I wish I knew what went wrong with Metapad.

From the UK edition of Google News:
It's not on, say darlings of the stage
Stuff.co.nz - 3 hours ago
WELLINGTON'S theatre community will continue to call each other "darling", and on rare occasions "luvvie", even though their British counterparts have been warned use of the words may get them accused of sexual harassment.
'Darling' endearment banned Washington Times
'Darling' is out at the English National Opera; harassment charges feared National Post (subscription)
ABC Online - Reuters - BBC News - The Scotsman - and 22 related

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On writing synesthetic characters.
Basics to remember:
1) Synesthetic sensations don't replace the original ones; they co-exist. For example, someone who sees music also hears it. Keep this in mind, and you'll avoid one of the most common mistakes sf/fantasy writers make when writing about synesthesia.

2) To a synesthete, synesthesia is ordinary. It's the usual state of consciousness, not a continual "Oh wow, I'm as high as Tim Leary ever got!" big deal. (What happens when synesthetes take pschycedelic drugs? Some temporarily lose their synesthesias.) She may know, intellectually, that most people aren't synesthetic. (There are more female than male synesthetes.) Or may not have found that out yet; I've read of a man who reached 60 before finding out most people, including his fellow mathematicians, were appallingly abnormal.

3) Synesthetes vary. People who associate colors with letters of the alphabet don't usually make the same associations. Some synesthetes have eidetic memories; others have terrible memories. Perfect pitch is more common among synesthetes than among the general population; but there are tone-deaf synesthetes, and others everywhere in between.

One good place to begin research is Sean Day's website: http://home.comcast.net/~sean.day/Synesthesia.htm

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Part of what I posted in a discussion on Forward Motion (http://fmwriters.com):

1) Note that in older legends, elves and other supernatural beings were _not_ from another world/land; they were longtime neighbors.

2) I think you're both mixing up two things here: being different from humans in the magical powers they have (note: don't rule out the possibility that humans do have magical powers) and being culturally different.

The original immigrants will never completely adapt. My great-grandmother came to the US when she was about 40; she knew several languages, but never really learned English. For most of her life, she didn't have to; she lived in a neighborhood where everyone spoke Yiddish. Only one of my grandparents spoke English without an accent.

I've met someone who came to the US from Germany when he was twelve. Doesn't have an accent in English -- but he can't pronounce th sounds, and avoids using words which contain them.

The first generation born in this country: It depends. There are Minnesotans of Scandinavian ancestry who speak English with an accent, because that's what people spoke when and where they grew up. And not all of them speak the old language. I know of a family which tried to avoid this happening to their children by moving to a German neighborhood; the kids grew up with German accents.

(Note: There are people who say that their ancestors learned English right away after coming to America. This is about as likely to be true as "No member of my religion has ever sinned.")

My mother grew up with a native accent -- pre-WW-II New York Metropolitan Area; that's what the kids around her spoke and that's what she learned. She could understand spoken Yiddish, but not speak it very well.

I grew up in the Catskills area; my accent is Hudson Valley. I know a few more words of Yiddish than most Americans do.

You're going to have at least that range. If your elves are really long-lived, some of the older ones may have learned languages now extinct, and not picked up any living Earthly language.

And then there are the descendants of immigrants returning to the Old Country. Elves returning to Elfhame, using the language they learned from old textbooks, not used to the customs (which may have changed a good deal since their ancestors arrived in our world.) Humans returning to our world, and finding it very different from what they expected.

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Friday, April 23, 2004

Friday April 23, 2004. Fictional computers work flawlessly, except when they misbehave flawlessly. Real computers are another matter.

To Pillsbury House, where I did data entry for the Community Barter Network and Pillsbury House's volunteer system.

I grew up with farm machinery that had originally been horse-drawn, and was adapted to be tractor-drawn. It might have been older than my father. The tractor was newer, but for sure older than me. None of this had aged gracefully.

The computer and the software worked more like that farm equipment than like the obedient computers of science fiction and thrillers.

I got the data entered. I printed a report which turned out to contain only a fraction of the information needed. It contained only that fraction because it had been set up that way.

***"He doesn't know which of us I am these days, but they know one truth. You must own nothing but yourself. You must make your own life, live your own life and die your own death...or else you will die another's." (Ellipsis in original.) Alfred Bester, opening of "Fondly Fahrenheit."

Point of view has been discussed recently on rec.arts.sf.composition and on Forward Motion(http://fmwriters.com). By all the rules, that paragraph shouldn't work.
Ya Hoon Lee (yhlee on LiveJournal) asked me for readings on synesthesia. Part of my reply:

Try starting with: Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their Worlds by Patricia Lynne Duffy. And check the books here:
There's also a more technical reading list on that site.
Writing: Worked out the conversation explaining how a sexual-services cooperative works.

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Least convincing one I've gotten yet:

The eBay Team from The Department of Payments and Fees Cost inform you that the
data provided by you can not be processed to charge the monthly fees. Click on
the link below to update your credit/debit card on your eBay account so the
monthly fees can be charged directly from your credit/debit card.

If your eBay Account will not be updated in 5 days with a credit/debit card your
account will be suspended in conformity with eBay Terms of Agreement paragraph 9
in which is stated that we can temporary or permanently stop providing our
services to you.
From the UK edition of Google News:
Texaco pumps in the Wi-Fi
VNUNet.com - 5 hours ago
Fuel giant Texaco has rolled out wireless hotspots to more than 100 of its garage forecourts around the UK.
Texaco pumps Wi-Fi into 100 fuel stations The Register
T-Mobile Fuels Texaco Stations with Wi-Fi eWeek
Telecom Paper (subscription) - Unstrung - and 6 related
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 23-Apr-2004
Biological Psychiatry
Imaging test could be used to diagnose schizophrenia
An abnormal pattern in an area of the brain that governs hearing may be an accurate method of diagnosing schizophrenia.

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Thursday April 22, 2004. Writing: I'm done with the fun part; now comes the hard part. I know what happens; now I have to explain it so readers will understand it. And make the
story interesting enough so they'll want to follow it.
From the India edition of Google News:
Great scramble for Muslim vote begins
Times of India - 5 hours ago
NEW DELHI: When Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday unabashedly wooed Muslims in Bihar's Kishanganj, the only Muslim-majority constituency outside Kashmir, he buried fathoms deep a 'unique' feature of the BJP its belief that it could...
Statesman News Service & PTI The Statesman
Vajpayee deplores Gujarat violence Sify
The Hindu - Indian Express - NDTV.com - Outlookindia.com - and 38 related

Context: BJP is a Hindu Nationalist party, dedicated to disproving the myth that only monotheists can be religious bigots.
Among the national television news organizations, only the Fox News Channel had no plans to use any of the photos or explore the issue of why they had been barred from use in the news media, a channel spokesman said.
Pentagon Ban on Pictures of Dead Troops Is Broken

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 22-Apr-2004
Preventive Medicine
Smoking linked to more than 60 percent of overall cancer death burden in black men

The overall cancer death rate for African-American males would drop by nearly two-thirds -- without any other intervention -- if their exposure to tobacco smoke was eliminated, a new study suggests.

Public Release: 22-Apr-2004
Discovery offers clues to origin of life

A new discovery of microbial activity in 3.5 billion-year-old volcanic rock and one of history's earliest signs of existence sheds new light on the origins of life, says University of Alberta researchers who are part of a team that made the groundbreaking finding.

Public Release: 22-Apr-2004
American Journal of Health Behavior
UF study: Sibling violence leads to battering in college dating Brothers and sisters who fight while growing up lay the groundwork for battering their dates by the time they get to college, a new University of Florida study finds.

Public Release: 22-Apr-2004
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Satellites act as thermometers in space, show Earth has a fever Like thermometers in space, satellites are taking the temperature of the Earth's surface or skin. According to scientists, the satellite data confirm the Earth has had an increasing "fever" for decades.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Wednesday April 21, 2004. To Pillsbury House, to do data entry for the Community Barter Network. I reached a point where I needed to do something I couldn't manage without information not immediately available, and was running out of steam anyway. So, I'll be going back there on Friday.

The new software works better than the old, but I don't know it as well. And there's no Volunteer Coordinator at the moment.

***Writing: My characters get involved in a long planning session; and it occurred to me that they really should eat something. The 24th century, Twin Cities area -- what might they order?

I decided on General Dow's Chicken and Nicaraguan curry. The curry merely requires that there be one more migration from the Caribbean to Nicaragua, some time in the next couple of centuries. The chicken dish: there's an American-Chinese dish called General Tso's Chicken. In Canada, this has morphed into General Tao's Chicken. (And it just occurred to me that I ought to ask the American Name Society about this. The Canadian Society for the Study of Names seems to be more focused on geographical names.) The word usually spelled "Tao" in English is correctly pronounced more like "Dow."

***I'm now among the elite few thousand invited to sign up for Google's Gmail. And I've signed up. More later, after I've played around with the account a bit and perhaps actually begun using it.
In Rosemary Edghill's _Warslayer_, the star of a Xena-oid TV show is zapped into another world and expected to do that stuff for real. For me, the interesting part is Greg Cox's
notes on the show. Besides an episode-by-episode guide, they include this bit of possibly-inadvertent alternate history:

'How much longer can the Vixen phenomenon thrive and flourish? From where I'm sitting, the sky's the limit. As of this writing, the first official Vixen novel, The Warslayer by Rosemary Edghill, is sitting atop the New York Times Bestseller List, while First Lady Tipper Gore just cited Vixen as "an outstanding role model for America's youth."'

_Warslayer_ was published in 2002, which means it was probably turned in to the publisher in 2001.

Downloadable from the Baen Free Library (see http://baen.com).

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From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 21-Apr-2004
May/June GSA BULLETIN media highlights

Topics include: analysis of thrust faulting on Mars and implications for
near-surface volatiles such as water and ice; a new look at the great
Cascadia earthquake of 1700; and earthquakes and gigantic landslides in
the Summer Lake basin (south-central Oregon). Two articles focus on the
Dead Sea, describing its 4000-year lake level history and the impact of
storms on its western escarpment.

Public Release: 21-Apr-2004
May GEOLOGY media highlights

The May issue of Geology covers a wide variety of potentially newsworthy
subjects. Topics include: discovery in the U.K. of Earth's earliest
recorded wildfire; new perspectives on high levels of atmospheric oxygen
in the late Paleozoic; new paleoclimatological and fossil record
evidence documenting migration of snakehead ("killer") fish; insights
from a study of 300 million-year-old rocks in Newfoundland regarding the
emergence of upland forests; and dating of Neoproterozoic glaciations in
south China.

Meteorite from Mars moon

A meteorite that fell in Yemen in 1980 could have fallen from Phobos,
the larger of the two Martian moons. After two decades of puzzling over
the mystery rock, a Russian researcher believes it to be the only piece
of rock to have been found on Earth from a Martian moon.
New Scientist

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Is organic the future of farming? In its pure form, maybe not. But elements of the organic philosophy are starting to be deployed in mainstream agriculture. In this web focus, Nature's reporters analyse this trend, assess the extent of organic farming worldwide, and frame the questions on which its wider adoption will depend. Contents, including interactive graphics, are free until the end of May.

Organic FAQs
In the developed world, sales of organic produce are growing rapidly. But how far can this trend extend? That depends on how strictly you define organic farming… and the answers to three other pivotal questions.
Nature 428, 796 (22 Apr 2004)

Organic world view
Where is organic produce being grown, and where is it being consumed?
Nature 428, 794 (22 Apr 2004)
The limits to tree height
1 Department of Biological Sciences and the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011, USA
2 Department of Biological Sciences, Humboldt State University, Arcata, California 95521, USA
3 Natural Science Division, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California 90263-4321, USA
Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to G.W.K. (george.koch@nau.edu).

Trees grow tall where resources are abundant, stresses are minor, and competition for light places a premium on height growth. The height to which trees can grow and the biophysical determinants of maximum height are poorly understood. Some models predict heights of up to 120 m in the absence of mechanical damage, but there are historical accounts of taller trees. Current hypotheses of height limitation focus on increasing water transport constraints in taller trees and the resulting reductions in leaf photosynthesis. We studied redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), including the tallest known tree on Earth (112.7 m), in wet temperate forests of northern California. Our regression analyses of height gradients in leaf functional characteristics estimate a maximum tree height of 122–130 m barring mechanical damage, similar to the tallest recorded trees of the past. As trees grow taller, increasing leaf water stress due to gravity and path length resistance may ultimately limit leaf expansion and photosynthesis for further height growth, even with ample soil moisture.

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Tuesday April 20, 2004. The second day after the bus strike; first day I rode the bus.

The four buses I was on weren't any cleaner than before the strike. Maybe Metro Transit management didn't consider that important, in their campaign to lure back riders who'd been lost during the strike. Maybe they concentrated cleaning on those buses they figured reporters were likely to see; and/or buses which serve the more prosperous suburbs. Or maybe they're more interested in making statements about policies than in actually carrying them out.

Two of the drivers were grumpier than the pre-strike average; one was more cheerful and more helpful.

I traded in my expired 31-day pass for three seven-day passes, at Metro Transit's store in downtown Minneapolis. Picked up schedules for the buses I'm likely to ride at least occasionally.

***Writing: I inserted the sexual services cooperative back into "Well Met...."
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 21-Apr-2004
New evidence supports three major glaciation events in the distant past
Glaciers reached Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in the most recent ice age about 20,000 years ago. But much harsher ice ages hit the Earth in an ancient geological interval known as "the Cryogenian Period" between 750 and 600 million years ago. A team of geologists from China and the United States now report evidence of at least three ice ages during that ancient time.
National Science Foundation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China Ministry of Science and Technology

'Chuanming Zhou, a Virginia Tech geosciences post-doctoral associate, along with Xiao, Robert Tucker and Zhanxiong Peng of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University of St. Louis, and Xunlai Yuan and Zhe Chen of Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, are co-authors of "New constraints on the ages of Neoproterozoic glaciations in South China," the cover story in the May 2004 issue Geology, the journal of the Geological Society of America.

'Geologists have studied glacial deposits from the Cryogenian Period for many years. In recent years, it has been hypothesized that the earth was covered with ice and the oceans frozen to a depth of one or two kilometers during Cryogenian glaciations--a scenario known as snowball Earth.

'"The implications are profound," says Xiao. "There would be no communication between the atmosphere and the ocean. The deep ocean would quickly become free of oxygen because light would not be able to penetrate the ice to fuel algae. Above the ice, there would be little rain or snow because there would be little evaporation. Many organisms that lived in milder conditions would become extinct."'

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 19-Apr-2004
Nature Reviews Neuroscience
Ethics of boosting brainpower debated by researchers
Questions being raised by modern neuroscience were the topic of a meeting of neuroscientists, ethicists and psychologists funded by the National Science Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences. The group, led by Judy Illes, senior research scholar in biomedical ethics and in radiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, will publish their thoughts in the April 20 online issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience.
National Science Foundation, New York Academy of Sciences
From the UK edition of Google News:
Sinn Féin faces salary cuts for IRA violence
Guardian - 5 hours ago
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin's two most prominent leaders, face cuts in their £31,000 salaries from the Northern Ireland assembly as punishment for continuing violence by the Provisional IRA.
British to make decision on ceasefire 'breaches' Ireland Online
Sinn Fein faces fines over IRA links Independent
BBC News - Reuters - ePolitix - Belfast Telegraph (subscription) - and 37 related

Pitcairners to be tried by UK law
Guardian - 50 minutes ago
The Pitcairn Island supreme court ruled yesterday that the trial of 13 local men accused of the sexual abuse of women and girls as young as three will go ahead under British law in New Zealand, a ruling which could threaten the existence of Britain's ...
'Bounty' descendants face trial in sex case Independent
Pitcairn sex cases to be tried under British law The Herald
BBC News - The Scotsman - New Zealand Herald - ABC Online - and 23 related

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Monday April 19, 2004. For me, writing fiction is in some ways like doing a jigsaw puzzle. And I think I've found the missing piece of "Well Met, Well Met, My Old True Love."

Now all I have to do is write the story well enough that people will want to pay money for it.

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Monday, April 19, 2004

Serious scientific facts have been collected in this book which prove that as early as the 12th century A.D, all of Eurasia was pagan, and human sacrifice and slavery prospered in Europe.

We shall cite a multitude of evidence which testifies that all “ancient” manuscripts are literary works of the 15th and 16th centuries and that there never was in reality an “ancient” Rome and Greece as modern historical science teaches us.

We have collected the conclusions of dozens of scholars from various countries, who say irrefutably that the most ancient monument of mankind, the pyramids of Egypt, were constructed in the period between the 10th and 13th centuries A.D., that is as recently as 800 – 900 years ago.

Processing of written sources on a computer, with a comparative analysis of their authenticity, and the multitude of other newer methods for the study of history allow the assertion: in the 13th – 14th centuries A.D., the first world war in history broke out, which ended with the formation of a colossal empire with the capital in Istanbul, which at that time was called Jerusalem. The citizens of this empire called their country Israel and practiced the religion which is set forth in the Old Testament, and its territory included a large part of Europe, Asia, all the civilized regions of Africa and Japan. There is basis to say that the Aztec civilization also was included in the Empire’s composition
The joke is Nelson Goodman’s proof that p:

Zabludowski has insinuated that my thesis that p is false, on the basis of alleged counterexamples. But these so-called “counterexamples” depend on construing my thesis that p in a way that it was obviously not intended — for I intended my thesis to have no counterexamples. Therefore p.

[The full list of proofs, satirically attributed to various contemporary philosophers, is here: http://jamaica.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/misc/proofs.html]

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From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public release date: 19-Apr-2004
American Physiological Society
Study is another step in determining if curry can protect against Alzheimer's
Curcumin, which provides the yellow color in curry, may activate a key enzyme
Washington, DC -- A new study has found that curry, a common and popular cooking additive, could be an effective enhancer of an enzyme that protects the brain against oxidative conditions. This research is an important first step in determining whether curry could be preventive agent against acute neurodegenerative conditions, or reducing the progression of chronic and age associated neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.

Public Release: 19-Apr-2004
Experimental Biology 2004
Study finds certain compounds in beer, wine effective in slowing breast cancer cell growth
Numerous studies have been published showing that consuming alcohol increases the risk for breast cancer. That's what makes a new research finding from Portugal so intriguing. The study has determined that certain compounds found in wine, beer (and tea) have contributed to a significant decrease in breast cancer cell proliferation.

Public Release: 19-Apr-2004
Yet another benefit of green tea
Derived in part from green tea, a new biodegradable machining compound for computer hard drive manufacturing is three to four times more effective than toxic counterparts. In an industry where more than 161 million hard drives leave assembly lines each year, the new compound could significantly improve manufacturing efficiency and minimize environmental risks.
National Science Foundation
April 19, 2004
Microsoft Opens Up Its Own Sandbox of Search Technology

All of a sudden there are all kinds of fun search experiments out there. Microsoft is opening its own with the MSN Sandbox, available at http://sandbox.msn.com .

[As I've come to expect from Microsoft, stuff there is clunky; might be useful, but you can do better elsewhere: http://labs.google.com.]
WIPE AWAY BAD MEMORIES IT MIGHT be possible to develop drugs that allow doctors to tamper with our memories. The method could be used to treat drug addiction, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Long-term memories were once thought unalterable. But recent studies suggest that a memory trace is "reconsolidated" each time it is recalled. These controversial results suggest the trace is rewritten afresh in our memory each time we recall it, and so is open to manipulation.

Now a team of psychologists at the University of Cambridge have confirmed that reconsolidation happens. They also showed that - in rats, at least reconsolidation of a recalled memory is a different biochemical process to consolidation of a new memory (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1095760).

The findings add weight to the idea that false memories can form. But the real excitement, says researcher Jonathan Lee, is the potential to wipe "bad" memories without affecting others. He thinks that by giving patients drugs that block the reconsolidation pathway it may be possible to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and the cravings that often lead drug addicts to relapse.

James Randerson James has been a news reporter at New Scientist for three years. After his zoology degree at Cambridge University he could be found brandishing a butterfly net in the Ugandan bush. His efforts earned him a PhD from Bath University. He also plays trombone in a funk and disco covers band.

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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Sunday April 18, 2004. I called my brother, who lives in Brooklyn.

I'd seen a news story which said that Ulster County NY -- where we grew up, and where the mayor of New Paltz got into international news by performing same-sex marriages -- had become a place for NYC-area gays and lesbians to move to. And that part of the attraction was low real estate costs; it's possible to buy a house for only $300,000.

He confirmed the first; said that one attraction was that it's now considered within commuting distance of NYC.

Ulster County is about a hundred miles from NYC; parts of it make San Francisco look flat; it can get a lot of snow in winter. It's not the easiest place to commute to NYC from.

He thought it was possible to buy a house for much less than $300,000.

Note: Depending on your interests, you may have heard of Ulster County because:

Woodstock is there.

It's in Represenative Maurice Hinchey's district.

Gore Vidal once ran for Congress from there.

The Gunks are there.

The area around Ellenville is good for gliding.

Some of your ancestors lived there.

Sholam -- the site of a Jewish utopian colony -- is there.

Sojourner Truth was born there.

There's a folk festival commemorating towns which were on land that is now under the waters of the Ashokan Reservoir.

***Writing: I've figured out what's important in "Well Met....".
April 16, 2004
The state of Idaho has launched a Web site showing available commercial, industrial, and retail lands and buildings for sale in Idaho. Its use is free and it's available at http://jobservice.us/applications/comlab/lands/.

From the front page you'll be able to search for either buildings or land. The buildings and land search both allow you to search by region, county, or city. The buildings search allows to further refine your search by building type, square footage, transaction (sale, lease, or both), and rail availability. The land search allows you to specify zoning type, available acreage, and rail availability.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 18-Apr-2004
Experimental Biology 2004
Green and black tea polyphenols consumption results in slower prostate cancer cell growth
In the first known study of the absorption and anti-tumor effects of green and black tea polyphenols in human tissue, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles were able to detect tea polyphenols in prostate tissue after a very limited consumption of tea.

Traumas can be knitted out!
Times of India - 1 hour ago
LONDON: New research says that knitting can prevent people from suffering traumatic flashbacks after witnessing horrific events.
Knitting is such a relief from life's great terrors The Times, UK (subscription)
Post-traumatic knitting recommended Washington Times
The Mirror - New Kerala - and 6 related

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Saturday April 17, 2004. The bus strike is over; buses will run again on Monday.

I suspect I'll continue walking to some places I used to ride the bus to. (At least, in good weather.)

***Mnstf meeting at Carol Kennedy and Jonathan Adams's -- within easy walking distance.

I bought along Poul Anderson's _Homens Sem Mundo_; the title isn't a literal translation into Portuguese of _No World of Their Own_ (aka _The Long Way Home_). It included a list of other sf from the same publisher. For twelve out of fifteen, I could figure out what the English-language original had been.

The people who I thought might do better looked at the list, didn't get more than I had.

There was good food (much of which I probably shouldn't have been eating.) Good conversations.

And one overheard conversation which led me to put into words this rule of fan politics:

If you're sure you're part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
This may surprise some people:

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 16-Apr-2004
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
High-fat fast-food breakfast produces rush of inflammatory factors into blood stream, UB study finds
A breakfast of Egg McMuffin and hash browns may taste good, but its high-fat, high-carbohydrate content wreaks havoc in the body's blood vessels, University at Buffalo endocrinologists have found.
William G. McGowan Charitable Fund
This prediction, made about any President and any issue, is doomed to fail:

Despite all this — and maybe it's pure defensiveness — I still believe that in 20 years, no one will doubt that Bush did the right thing.
From the UK edition of Google News:
Scientists discover autism link to male brain
Independent - 7 hours ago
Scientists claim that dramatic new evidence shows that autism may be just an extreme version of the male brain - suggesting the condition may be entirely genetic rather than environmental.
Study suggests link between high testosterone and autism Sunday Herald
Dramatic New Evidence Supports Autism Theory The Scotsman
The Australian

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Friday, April 16, 2004

Friday April 16, 2004. There were about thirty science fiction magazines during the great sf boom which peaked and crashed in 1953. Most would be considered semi-prozines by today's standards.

Today, http://ralan.com lists 62 pro and semi-pro short fiction markets. I think that if you eliminate the non-markets (ones with warnings against submitting, ones like Century which are officially resting, ones which are overstocked), that leaves more places to submit than in 1953. Take out ones which don't accept unsolicited fiction, or buy only from Australian writers; I think that still leaves more than in 1953.

The early 1950's sf boom's collapse is usually attributed to the bankruptcy of what was then the only national magazine distributor in the US. Today, a high percentage of sf magazines are published on the web or emailed -- including sci.fiction, which pays 20 cents a word. (Fantasy & Science Fiction -- one of the top-tier printzines -- has an electronic edition.)

Standard wisdom is that books are where the markets are. So far as I can tell, most major
sf publishers don't accept unsolicited manuscripts; in some cases, they don't accept query letters. This is not encouraging for beginning writers, to put it mildly.

Other things being equal, it looks to me as if an sf writer who wants to break in has a better chance with short fiction.
The second most interesting part of my day was frying carrot chips with onion. The most interesting was a cooking disaster.

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Something to read in your flying car, on the way to your paperless office:
Robin Hanson's Home Page
Hollywood Stock Exchange
Artificial Game Markets [David Pennock, Steve Lawrence, Lee Giles, Finn Nielsen; NEC Research Institute]
Long Bets
American Action Market - AAM
TerrorBet Terror Futures | Terrordaq Index | Virtual Exchange of Predictive Terror Analysis
American Research Group
Physical Review Focus
First Monday
Real Estate Center
rec.arts.sf.science qdFAQ
Social Network Analysis Textbook Index
Foundations of Political Theory
SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
AF: Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines
EmptyWorld - End of the World, Apocalyptic and Nuclear War fiction and film
Drucker Archives : Homepage
Space Future
Space settlement
Prof. Edward L. (Ned) Wright
Moonwise: Earth as Ruler of Taurus
The Internet Stellar Database


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From the UK edition of Google News:
Paypackets grow as unemployment falls
Reuters - 4 hours ago
LONDON (Reuters) - Pay grew at its fastest annual rate in nearly three years in the three months to February as the number of people out of work keeps falling, official data shows.
Wage growth up as unemployment hits low Guardian
Dole queues shortest since 1975 The Times, UK (subscription)
Telegraph.co.uk - MLive.com - Ananova - BBC News - and 63 related
Lawmaker Tells Colleagues of Past Abuse
Associated Press Writer

April 16, 2004, 12:37 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A hush fell in the state Senate chambers as a Florida lawmaker revealed to colleagues during a debate over abortion that she was sexually abused by her father.

Sen. Larcenia Bullard cried Thursday during a lengthy Senate address as she announced for the first time in public that she was a victim of incest.

Va. Governor Amends Teen Nude Camp Bill
Associated Press Writer

April 16, 2004, 12:11 PM EDT

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Mark R. Warner liked a bill that cracks down on summer camps for nude juveniles so much that he offered only a clarifying amendment to it Thursday, then announced what he'd done without sparing a pun.

...Del. John S. "Jack" Reid, introduced the bill after a weeklong summer camp was held last June for nude children ages 11 to 18 at Southampton County's White Tail Park nudist community. It was the first such camp in Virginia and only the third in the nation.

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Thursday, April 15, 2004

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
15 April 2004
A satellite-based Health Monitoring Kit developed by the Canadian company March Networks and co-funded by ESA, is being used to aid a group of climbers in their attempt to climb the world's tallest mountain.

The climb to the almost 9000 metre summit has claimed the lives of about one hundred people. The March Networks technology will transmit blood oxygen levels (SpO2), heart rates, blood pressure and body temperatures of the climbers. The recorded data will be stored on Bluetooth-enabled PDA's and ultimately transmitted via satellite to a Canadian-hosted website.

The light-weight, portable March Networks Health Monitoring Kit is fully equipped with the necessary medical devices, and can operate independently of its companion Video Services Gateway and videoconferencing cameras, which are typically used in home-based telehealth applications for remote nursing visits.

Public Release: 15-Apr-2004
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Brain areas identified that 'decode' emotions of others
Queen's psychologists have discovered that our ability to assess how other people are feeling relies on two specific areas of the brain. The findings, published in the April issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, are expected to have implications for the treatment of developmental disorders such as autism.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Public Release: 15-Apr-2004
SuperWASP begins the search for thousands of new planets
A consortium of astronomers is tomorrow (April 16th) celebrating the commissioning of the SuperWASP facility at the astronomical observatory on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, designed to detect thousands of planets outside of our own solar system.
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council
From Google News http://news.google.com
Is this the oldest known piece of jewelry?
Newsday - 1 hour ago
Humans living in coastal South Africa about 75,000 years ago may have fashioned snail shells into the world's oldest jewelry, according to a new study. Critics, however, say the dramatic claim lacks the evidence to fully back it.
Cave yields 'earliest jewellery' BBC News
Oldest Jewelry? "Beads" Discovered in African Cave National Geographic
Reuters - MLive.com - EurekAlert - Omaha World Herald - and 46 related

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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Wednesday April 14, 2004. This LiveJournal entry by matociquala on writing -- specifically, on getting inside a character's skin and on inpositioning -- was just what I needed. (For definition of inpositioning, see the entry.)

I'd meant to write "Well Met..." from inside the point-of-view character's skin; but I'd gotten distracted by background and plot. So, I started reworking what I'd thought was full first draft. As of now, I have about 700 words of (knock wood) genuine first draft.
There will be more description in that part, but that will come later.

Background detail I hated to give up mentioning: sexual services cooperatives.
spam subject: "First Arabic karaoke in the world" I think this claim is unlikely to be true.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 14-Apr-2004
By looking back, scientists see a bright future for climate change
Dake Chen at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and colleagues report in the April 15 issue of the journal Nature that an improved climate model, known as LDEO5, for the first time predicted every major change in the temperature of the tropical Pacific Ocean over the past 150 years with up to two years of advance notice.

Public Release: 14-Apr-2004
Seat by seat subtitles in cinema
A US company is developing a technology for cinemas which could provide subtitles to individuals in different languages or to deaf people on a seat by seat basis. The system can provide text to mini-screens at specific seats. The top part of each personal screen is clear allowing the viewer to watch the film, while the bottom acts as a mirror reflecting subtitled text from a video projector at the back of the theatre.
New Scientist

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Letters of Comment

2004-03-21 00:35
I'm a big Frazer fan; I have all or almost all of that Sister Frevisse series. Didn't know that "Margaret Frazer" was originally a collaboration. Any other recollections of things she soft-pedals in her books for fear readers will scoff?

2004-03-21 19:15 (from, via
Sorry for a bit of unclarity. At least currently, she doesn't soft-pedal any of the reality of Medieval Britain.

Dan Goodman (dsgood) wrote,
@ 2004-04-12 00:44:00

"Living in Space Walter Jon Williams, Jordin Kare, Bill Higgins, Lois Bujold [M]any of Williams' stories take place in truly space-based societies featuring people who are born, live their lives and die without ever setting foot on a planet. This panel will discuss the ramifications of living in space and how such a future might affect the basic precepts of society and self."

I think this could profitably have been divided into at least two panels: One on the physiological effects, the other on social effects.

Among other interesting information: a study showed that a submarine crew should include at least one sociopath.

2004-04-12 00:06
I'll bite -- what needs of a submarine does a sociopath serve? (All straight lines declined for the moment.)

2004-04-14 16:22
Keep in mind that this is my memory of what was said. And that the panelist saying it was probably also working from memory, and the study might have been superseded. (And the term "psychopath" is no longer used professionally; I think it's now called "antisocial personality.")

Roughly: For proper functioning, the submarine crew needs to include someone who will set up the illegal still, run the gambling, etc.

I'm skeptical about that needing to be done by a sociopath. There are millions of sane, well-adjusted people who've grown up in communities where such things were the norm.

But I could suspend my disbelief long enough to read and enjoy a story about the spaceship's official sociopath. The "every spaceship needs a clown" notion has been done enough. And "every spaceship needs a prostitute" didn't convince me when I read a deservedly obscure story titled "The Lady is a Tramp". (My memory says it was by Harlan Ellison, back when he was writing standard sf.)

2004-04-12 13:14
Marty said that the rider on the black horse was obviously the Lone Ranger.

But--but--the Lone Ranger rode a white horse, named Silver!

2004-04-14 16:01
I've corrected that! That was my mistake.


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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Tuesday April 13, 2004. News reports that the Twin Cities bus strike may end soon.

To Pillsbury House, where I did data entry for the Community Barter Network. Got interrupted when a news team from local TV station KARE 11 came to interview Shonda Allen, the Volunteer Coordinator.

Shonda has a new job with the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association. Till a replacement is hired, several volunteers will be handling most of the office work.

On the way back home, I stopped at Hosmer Library. The March Popular Science had an article on new cosmological theories; they all seem to involve more dimensions of space than we're aware of.

I looked at Robert A. Heinlein's first novel, _For Us, the Living_. Read enough to decide that it's no tragedy this one wasn't published till recently.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 13-Apr-2004
Cinnamon may help to alleviate diabetes says UCSB researcher
Cinnamon may be more than a spice -- it may have a medical application in helping to prevent diabetes. The healthful effects of cinnamon on mice with diabetes are being studied jointly at UCSB and the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara.
Cottage Hospital

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From the UK edition of Google News:
James Bond School Days Book
TheCelebrityCafe.com - 55 minutes ago
Well, this summer you're going to get the scoop because they're coming out with a new series of books all based upon Bond while he was back in school.
Teenage 007 Gets Between the Sheets People Magazine (subscription)
Schoolboy Bond picks up penguin IrishExaminer.com (subscription)
CBBC - Times of India - BBC News - Scotland on Sunday - and 9 related
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 13-Apr-2004
Public Library of Science Biology
Aha! Cognitive neuroscientists reveal creative brain processes
While creative or "Aha!" moments often are associated with scientific discoveries and inventions, most people occasionally feel the thrill of insight when a solution that had eluded them suddenly becomes obvious. But what is really going on in the brain when the light bulb goes off? For one thing, a striking increase in neural activity in a specific area of the right hemisphere, according to a recent study led by cognitive neuroscientists at Northwestern University.
NIH/National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Public Release: 13-Apr-2004
Biologist's find alters the bacteria family tree
The bacteria family tree may be facing some changes due to the recent work of an evolutionary biologist at Washington University in St. Louis. And that may change our understanding of when bacteria and oxygen first appeared . Carrine Blank, Ph.D. , assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, has found that the currently accepted dates for the appearance of oxygen-producing bacteria and sulfur-producing bacteria on the early earth are not correct.

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Monday, April 12, 2004

Monday April 12, 2004. I don't believe in astrology. I do believe that when people begin being born away from Earth, astrologers will try to draw up appropriate horoscopes.

Today, I looked on the web for speculations by believers about Mars-based horoscopes. I found one link which had some useful information. (In Martian astrology, Earth would be associated with Taurus.) One which led me to an explanation of how Egyptian astrology was derived from Martian astrology -- no useful technical details included. And a number of references to Heinlein's _Stranger in a Strange Land_.
From USA Today's state snippets:
California: Los Angeles -- State Indian tribes are funneling some of their casino profits to universities for the study of Native American issues. Tribal representatives say their donations are an extension of philanthropy that totals an estimated $70 million annually. But some critics say academic integrity is at risk when special interests influence higher education.// Elderwood -- Law enforcement authorities say the increase in the popularity of low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets has fueled an upsurge in cattle stealing from California farms and ranches. Beef prices have increased in recent months as Americans try diets that promote protein consumption. That's led to a new generation of cattle rustlers.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 12-Apr-2004
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Police judge criminal profiles based on who writes them, study finds
A study of Australian police found that officers rated the criminal profile of a murderer as more accurate when they thought it was written by a professional profiler than when they thought it was written by someone else – even though the profiles were exactly the same. This suggests even professionals like police can be swayed by the wrong things. The results suggest that even professionals like police officers can be swayed by the wrong things.

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Saturday April 10, 2004 (continued): On my way home from Minicon, I was approached by someone who asked if I knew where he could sell some oil. I truthfully told him that I didn't.

Sunday April 11, 2004. Thoughts: Tam Lin would have had children in Elfland, as well as in our world.

An idea I've seen used once (in an otherwise unmemorable story): There are times when Elfland is close to our world, and times (like now) when it's distant. When the worlds are far apart, we don't believe in elves or in their world. (Presumably, they also don't believe in us during such times.)

If the worlds were to become close again, genealogists would be among those crossing from one world to the other. For example, some of Tam Lin's elven descendants would want to get their Midgard relatives properly entered on their family-tree charts.

***I got almost enough sleep. I got back to Minicon after almost all programming was over. Hung out in the consuite for a while. Hung out in Krushenko's for a while.

This Minicon worked well for me in a way which happens only every few years. Next year, my finances will probably be tighter and I'd be unlikely to get as much from the con.

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From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 11-Apr-2004
Nature Biotechnology
Scientists 'beef up' plant-dwelling bacteria to boost phytoremediation
Scientists transfer genes from pollutant-degrading bacteria into bacteria residing in plants to improve the plants' use in phytoremediation. They describe their proof-of-principle experiment, in which test plants inoculated with the "beefed-up" bacteria increased the degradation of toluene, in the May 2004 issue of Nature Biotechnology.
European Commission, Quality of Life, Ford Motor Company, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Public Release: 11-Apr-2004
Brain's left and right sides work together better in mathematically gifted youth
There really may be something different about the brains of math-heads. Mathematically gifted teens did better than average-ability teens and college students on tests that required the two halves of the brain to cooperate, as reported in the April issue of Neuropsychology, published by the American Psychological Association.
April 09, 2004
Passing it along . . . .

This e-mail exchange, reported by Wonkette, is simply priceless. Just keep reading 'till you get to the punchline. http://www.wonkette.com/archives/stick_your_liberal_bias_where_the_sun_dont_shine_014930.php

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Friday April 9, 2004 (continued) Conversation with Marty Helgesen about the last book of the New Testament -- specifically, the Four Horsemen. While Marty knows much more about such things than I do, one thing has stuck in my memory but not in his: the colors of the horses they ride. (White, red, black, pale.)

Marty said that the rider on the black horse was obviously the Lone Ranger. (Note: this may not be mentioned in reference works.) I then asked why that horseman was prepared to do battle against werewolves.

Saturday April 10, 2004. I'd gone to sleep around 4 am, and I woke up around 9:30 am.

On the way to the Minicon hotel, I saw: A woman wearing bunny ears, part of a family group in Porter's. Garibaldi -- a Mexican restaurant.

Once at the hotel, I headed for the consuite to make myself a cup of tea. I almost used a condom instead of a teabag. I had definitely not gotten enough sleep.

***"Living in Space Walter Jon Williams, Jordin Kare, Bill Higgins, Lois Bujold [M]any of Williams' stories take place in truly space-based societies featuring people who are born, live their lives and die without ever setting foot on a planet. This panel will discuss the ramifications of living in space and how such a future might affect the basic precepts of society and self."

I think this could profitably have been divided into at least two panels: One on the physiological effects, the other on social effects.

Among other interesting information: a study showed that a submarine crew should include at least one sociopath.

"Taking Your Writing to the Next Level Naomi [Kritzer] (m), KellyMc[Collough], Peg Kerr, David Levine, Lyda Morehouse Writers discuss the process of writing, especially those moments where insights gained through working or teaching lead to continuing improvement in your craft."

Some things the panelists seemed to agree on: 1) Work whatever way does best for you, which may not be what works for anyone else. 2) Write your kind of story, rather than trying to write to the market. 3) Work at writing.

A few things said clicked for me.

Walter Jon Williams on kenpo karate, and how it has affected his writing; interviewed by Dave Romm. Among other tidbits: Elvis Presley studied this martial art. [A quick google brings up this, among other info:
usgang.ch - Shopping - Toys - Action Figures - ELVIS PRESLEY ... -
... Toys ELVIS PRESLEY KARATE Actionfigur ca. 16 cm mit beleuchtbarer Displaybox
und Accessoires. Bestellnummer: 706050 Preis: 49.- CHF. ...
shopping.usgang.ch/shopping/toys/ actionfigures/detail.asp?ID=5294]

Williams also gave demonstrations, including having members of the audience try certain techniques.

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Saturday, April 10, 2004

Friday April 9, 2004. "Hardcode Teens" -- spam subject line. "Hardcode" looks as if it should mean something.

Nice walk to the Minicon hotel. I hadn't been on the part of Nicollet Avenue designated as "Eat Street" for a while. It should really be called "Eat Vietnamese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, or Latin American Street."

Blue Eyes Cafe: An interesting name for a Vietnamese place.

I'm fairly sure Caravelle's sign used to say it served Vietnamese and French food. It now says Vietnamese and Chinese food.

Registered. Signed up to cover the Green Room from 9 to 10. (I hadn't volunteered earlier because my allergies are usually worst at this time of year; and I wasn't sure I'd be well enough.)

Attended a reading by Sara Monette, aka Truepenny. She read from a fantasy novel which is due to be published by Tor in summer 2005. The setting and the magic are different enough from anything I've read to interest me, and in general it sounded worth reading.

The background includes a calendar used briefly in our world -- one of the less successful experiments which followed the French Revolution. Weeks were replaced by ten-day periods, among other oddities.

Attended a panel on DARPA's aborted scheme of setting up a market in terrorism futures. Discussion was largely on whether something like this could work. (We may find out; there are at least two plans to set up nongovernmental terrorism futures markets.)

The things which interest me most about the history of this projects were outside the panel's area of discussion.

1) Robin Hansen, who came up with the plan, apparently had no idea that it might get the adverse reactions it did.

2) DARPA's website contained a press release which said that reports had been sent to Congress and to the White House. (That press release is no longer there.) The Democratic politicians who announced their discovery of this Secret Plot neglected to mention that it had been reported to Congress. The White House was shocked and surprised; which seems odd, considering that a report had been sent to the White House.

3) The news media didn't do such esoteric research as looking at the DARPA website.

Covered the Green Room, not expecting much to happen.

There was a short invasion by chronologically challenged participants in the scavenger hunt. While I was trying to decide what to say, they finished looking for whatever they thought might be in the Green Room; one of them apologized to me as they left.

One person who I wasn't sure should be there; I didn't recognize her name as a program participant. She was married to the Guest of Honor. (I'd seen mention of her in the program book -- by first name only.)

One person who didn't realize I was supposed to be there. If I do this again another year, I may make myself a badge which says something like "Supreme Ruler of the Green Room."

There was a fair amount of Chinese takeout food (and a bit of Thai) left at the end of my shift. Vicki Rosenzweig was going to close down the Green Room, and there wasn't much room in the refrigerator. The Chinese food got taken up to the Consuite.
From Google News:
County nearing state's 1990 population
Arizona Republic - 3 hours ago
At current growth rates, Maricopa County's population in two years will equal the 1990 count for the entire state, census estimates indicated Thursday.
Rapid growth continues in valley Modesto Bee
County population still shrinking while much of the state grows Santa Cruz Sentinel
San Jose Mercury News - San Luis Obispo Tribune - San Diego Union Tribune - Times-Herald - and 43 related

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