Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Friday, September 24, 2004

As of 9/24/04, this blog has gone inactive. The LiveJournal version continues active, at http://www.livejournal.com/users/dsgood/

I'll be leaving this up for about a month. After that, I'll decide whether I want to convert the blog for some other purpose, or shut it down.
Thursday September 23, 2004. Cartoon: Building with a sign saying "Welcome Arsonists Convention," people in an approaching car. Driver: "You know, it seems like every year we meet in a different place." (Strange Brew, by John Deering)

***I apparently needed to catch up on my dream sleep; I had a four-hour nap.
Writing: daily exercise -- Done.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- A bit done.

Old Religion --

Decluttering: A few things thrown away.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Researchers at Dynamic Internet Technology, a US company that provides technology for circumventing internet restrictions in China, have discovered that the recently-launched Chinese version of Google News omits blocked news sources from its results. DIT accuses Google of reinforcing Chinese Internet restrictions by leaving some sites off its list.

From Google News:
Peter Rost, a VP of marketing with Pfizer, has acknowledged that drug importation from Canada is safe. Rost noted that "the safety issue is a made-up story."
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 23-Sep-2004
Flexible pain relief with morphine-free poppy
A handful of genes in a morphine free poppy could hold the key to producing improved pain management pharmaceuticals.
Horticulture Australia Limited

Public Release: 23-Sep-2004
British scientists zero in on the birth of the universe
British scientists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Exeter discovered that the evolution of the Universe was much slower than previously thought. Dr. Andrew Bunker, who studied images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, will present the results at a NASA workshop today at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md.
'Code' breakers search Paris for fictional facts
Modern pilgrims prowl the streets of the city, using Dan Brown's novel as a map to the 'truth.' By Peter Ford
Wednesday September 22, 2004. To Pillsbury House, where I did data entry for the Community Barter Network and Pillsbury House's volunteer program.

***Afterwards, to Uncle Hugo's, where I ran into Nate Bucklin. We talked about first names, among other things.
Writing: daily exercise -- Done. Posted here, and on a couple of forums.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- A bit of zero draft added. And I saw that I'd introduced one element twice -- the second time as if it was entirely new.

Old Religion -- Started working it out. Besides the Marxist element, there's also stuff from Objectivism, libertarianism, and transhumanism.
Decluttering: Rearranged how some things are stored. Threw away a few things.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

How to Influence Me Politically

A few months ago, a Canadian on soc.politics explained (for the benefit of European posters) that I was a typical American -- that is, I got my news entirely from television, and believed everything the White House said.

Item: I don't own a tv set.

Item: Three of my grandparents were Marxists; the fourth was an anarchist.

Item: I'm opposed to a whole lot of what the current Administration has done. And I live in an area (South Minneapolis) in which the number of people who support Bush might be lower than the number of Ontario residents who voted for him in 2000. (Probably higher than the number who sent in absentee ballots from Nunavit, though.)

However, I do believe that much of what Europeans think they know about the US is inaccurate. And I
don't take kindly to Europeans who lecture on American imperialism -- as contrasted with the saintly histories of their own countries.

(Note: I'm not saying that all European countries have engaged in imperialism. To the best of my knowledge, San Marino and Andorra have never done so. If you belong to another European country, and you're certain yours is in this category, you're welcome to tell me so. But I suggest first checking with citizens of countries which border yours, to begin with.)

I don't appreciate such ignorance and prejudice from Americans, either. I grew up in a rural area of New York State; I don't think kindly of people who "know" that NYState is entirely urban, and inhabited only by liberals. I also don't think kindly of people who "know" that Minneapolis is just like the rest of the Midwest, and therefore irredeemably conservative.

If you want to change my mind about American politics, you'd better do some thinking and investigation about such things.

It would also be useful to avoid insulting any of my friends, relatives, or friendly acquaintances. Which should be simple enough: don't disparage Marxists, liberals, conservatives, anarcho-communists, anarcho-capitalists; Catholics, Fundamentalist Protestants, Jews, "mainstream" Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Unitarians, agnostics, atheists, pagans....

If you belong to a particular political creed, I recommend keeping yourself humble by reminding yourself of the inglorious parts of that creed's history. For example, if you're a liberal, remember that the most racist 20th century President was a liberal Democrat: Woodrow Wilson. If you're a conservative, remember that there's a long history of conservative disloyalty; see, for example, Under Cover, by John Roy Carlson, published in 1943. (And what do you think the Confederate flags Southern conservatives display are a symbol of?)

And do try not to make it too obvious you think you're more intelligent and more knowledgeable than I am.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Tuesday September 21, 2004. I blame Naomi Kritzer and Arnold Toynbee.

Kritzer's fantasy novel Fires of the Faithful has what seems at first to be the standard "New Religion persecutes Old Religion" stuff. However, this turns out to be very much nonstandard.

The New Religion is paganism; the Old Religion is Christianity. Which I figured out from what the reviews weren't saying, before I read the book. It was almost as easy as figuring out the Great Secret of the movie The Crying Game.

Arnold Toynbee said that Marxism was a Christian heresy.

Obviously, the world needs at least one future-setting story in which Marxism is the Old Religion. It would be no stranger than Neo-Tech, a magical cult based on the writings of Ayn Rand. And one version seems to have started already:

Mao Worshippers Threatened in China

By MARTIN FACKLER, Associated Press Writer, September 26, 2001, 12:50 PM EDT

SHANGHAI, China -- Authorities in Mao Tse-tung's hometown are cracking down on the worship of China's communist founder as a religious figure, a local official said. Several temples where villagers were praying to Mao have been closed in Shaoshan, in the central province of Hunan, said the official, who asked not to be identified further.

Altars in the temples held photos of Mao or statues, one more than three feet high, the official said by telephone from Shaoshan. Thousands of items have been seized from stores and roadside souvenir stands that depict Mao as a halo-crowned Buddhist saint or a Chinese folk god bestowing wealth, he said. The official said Communist Party leaders in the town decided to act from growing alarm at the appearance of "superstitious activities" involving Mao, who died in 1976.

They have also banned the burning of incense and specially printed paper money before images of Mao, he said. Both are traditional Chinese ways of appeasing spirits of the dead. The crackdown comes just before hundreds of thousands of Chinese are expected to visit Shaoshan during week-long celebrations of China's Oct. 1 National Day. The holiday marks the date in 1949 when Mao declared the official founding of the People's Republic of China.

The problem, I'd thought, was that to write this, I would need to learn more than I wanted to about Marxism. But now I realize that all I really need are catchphrases and other rags. Given a few centuries, hidden religions lose most of their original content.

I've started looking up the Hidden Christians in Japan; the ones who didn't rejoin the Roman Catholic Church when it became safe to be openly Christian. There are major differences from any European version of Christianity. See http://www.uwosh.edu/home_pages/faculty_staff/earns/miyazaki.html and http://www2.gol.com/users/coynerhm/faith.html
Laurel Winter had a reading at Dreamhaven Books. She writes good fantasy, poetry, and Young Adult fiction.

I recommend her YA novel Growing Wings, with one reservation: I'm not mature enough to get very far into it. (Or, to put it another way, it brings up family matters I'm not yet prepared to deal with.)

Writing: daily exercise -- Done.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Added a few words which made large changes in the story.

Other: Marxism as the old religion -- I seem to have committed to this. I need to sketch out the rest of the background. After which I'll need to find a story for the background.
Decluttering: Some trash picked up.

From http://bna.com:
Linux Australia President Pia Smith says that the MPAA had issued the organization a notice of claimed infringement, demanding that the group cease providing access to two copyrighted movies--one called "Grind" and the other "Twisted"--and ordering it to "take appropriate action against the account holder." However, Linux Australia says the files in question have nothing to do with those movies. Linux Australia's legal counsel plans to contact the MPAA to inform them of the mistake and the legal implications of their actions.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 21-Sep-2004
Journal of Forest Products
Study endorses wood as 'green' building material
A new report concludes that wood is one of the most environmentally-sensitive building materials for home construction – it uses less overall energy than other products, causes fewer air and water impacts and does a better job of the carbon "sequestration" that can help address global warming.
US Department of Energy

Public Release: 21-Sep-2004
Geophysical Research Letters
Researchers discover 'hole' in global warming predictions
In the central United States, temperatures may not rise as high in the future, scientists from Saint Louis University and Iowa State University say.

Public Release: 21-Sep-2004
Nuclear power helps protect Japan from high oil prices
Nuclear power contributes to Japan's energy security by reducing the economic impact of an oil price shock. A Rice University study estimates that in the absence of nuclear power, the cumulative impact of a single oil price shock could result in a loss of up to 2 trillion yen in GDP.

Public Release: 21-Sep-2004
Termites could hold the key to self-sufficient buildings
Mounds built by highly-evolved African termites could inspire new types of building that are self-sufficient, environmentally friendly and cheap to run.

Public Release: 20-Sep-2004
Journal of Energy Engineering
Wastewater could treat itself, power city
The energy stored in Toronto's municipal wastewater could be harnessed to run water treatment facilities and contribute power to the city grid, says new U of T research.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology

Public Release: 20-Sep-2004
British Journal of Haematology
Vanilla may have a future in sickle cell treatment
In addition to its popular role in flavoring ice cream, fudge and cake frosting, vanilla may have a future use as a medicine. Recent laboratory research in mice has strengthened the possibility that a form of vanilla may become a drug to treat sickle cell disease.
National Institutes of Health

Fear of Pharming
Controversy swirls at the crossroads of agriculture and medicine
By Alla Katsnelson

Farming, one of the world's oldest practices has suddenly found itself entangled with modern medicine. Imagine this: at your child's appointment for a routine vaccination, the doctor proffers a banana genetically engineered to contain the vaccine and says, “Have her eat this and call me in the morning.” Though still farfetched, the scenario is getting closer to reality, with the first batch of plant-made medicines--created by genetically modifying crops such as corn, soy, canola and even fruits such as tomatoes and bananas to produce disease-fighting drugs and vaccines--now in early clinical testing

Ox's Natural Mosquito Repellant Synthesized in Lab

Monday, September 20, 2004

Monday September 20, 2004. A thought as I woke up: Suppose there was a practical method of training the poor to be really, really good at predicting the future. What would be the social effects?

***There's at least one course in coolhunting (spotting what's going to be in fashion in the near future): http://www.3fcc.com/3fcc/eng/formcont/cool04.shtml

It occurred to me that the longer-range equivalent (spotting what will be in fashion five, ten, or fifty years from now) would be coldhunting.

Methods of coldhunting? 1) Find out what elementary school children think is cool, and figure out how that correlates with what they'll consider cool when they reach college. 2) Find the people who adopt styles/gadgets too early.

Later, I thought of stalehunting -- finding out what gadgets, styles, etc. will be very much out in the near future, before any of the coolhunters (or their customers) notice.
Writing: daily exercise -- Done: Pregnancy Does Not Exist

Recently, someone on misc.writing.moderated demolished the "writer's block" myth. I think it's time to take on another, more widespread myth: pregnancy.

I have had symptoms which allegedly are signs of pregnancy: weight gain, morning sickness, etc. All have proved to be curable in much less time than nine months, by methods which did not contravene Roman Catholic doctrine.

***"They Might Be Windmills" -- "He who goes forth to fight monsters becomes a monster himself; and if you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you." Friedrich Nietzsche.

Which, I realized today, has happened to my protagonist. So I've zero-drafted a scene in which he's made aware of this.
Decluttering: Got some trash out.

Mindwork: Some short meditation.

For many Americans, autumn is a time for trying new churches
Factors from warmth of welcome to substance of doctrine influence those shopping for a new spiritual home. By G. Jeffrey MacDonald

States pull prisoners back home
Prison 'outsourcing' is linked to concerns about riots, recidivism, and family hardship. By Christa Lee Rock
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 20-Sep-2004
Journal of Energy Engineering
Wastewater could treat itself, power city
The energy stored in Toronto's municipal wastewater could be harnessed to run water treatment facilities and contribute power to the city grid, says new U of T research.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology

Public Release: 20-Sep-2004
British Journal of Haematology
Vanilla may have a future in sickle cell treatment
In addition to its popular role in flavoring ice cream, fudge and cake frosting, vanilla may have a future use as a medicine. Recent laboratory research in mice has strengthened the possibility that a form of vanilla may become a drug to treat sickle cell disease.
National Institutes of Health

Public Release: 20-Sep-2004
Nano Letters
Green, leafy spinach may soon power cellphones and laptops
MIT researchers have incorporated a plant's ability to convert sunlight to energy into a solid-state electronic "spinach sandwich" device that may one day power laptops and cell phones. At the heart of the sandwich is a protein complex derived from spinach chloroplasts. An electrode layer made of glass that has been coated with a thin layer of gold sits atop it, and beneath is a layer of organic semiconductor and another layer of metal.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, National Science Foundation

Public Release: 20-Sep-2004
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
'Fossil genes' reveal how life sheds form and function
Reading the fossil record, a paleontologist can peer into evolutionary history and see the surface features that plants and animals and, occasionally, microbes have left behind. Now, scouring the genome of a Japanese yeast, scientists have found a trackway of fossil genes in the making, providing a rare look at how an organism, in response to the demands of its environment, has changed its inner chemistry and lost the ability to metabolize a key sugar.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Sunday September 19, 2004. A drive down the Mississippi River with Pat Craft, which turned out not to show us as much of the river as we'd hoped. In some places, trees blocked the view. In others, industrial structures blocked the view. And sometimes there weren't any public roads near enough to the river.

But the sign near Hasting, MN which said "Visit our burning showroom" would almost have been worth the trip by itself.

In some ways, the parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin along the river are very much like the area in which I grew up (zipcode 12404 and thereabouts). Including touristy/artsy towns, which I would say Hastings and Red Wing, MN definitely are.

We had a bit to eat at the Spiral co-op grovery in Hastings. I noticed several other Spiral-named businesses in Hastings. Turns out they're named after the Hastings Spiral Bridge (demolished 1951).

We ended the trip at Red Wing. It's apparently a good place to buy pottery, though Red Wing pottery is no longer made. Red Wing shoes are still made, and sold, there.
From a discussion in rec.arts.sf.composition:

Some possibilities:

1) Much of what people do that they think isn't magic actually _is_ magic. Each person has only so much magical power available. If you use yours up on, for example, arranging for political candidates to be struck by lightning, then it could be a while till you build up enough new magical power to use telephones or to write a check.

2) Once, everyone had such abilities. Then came the Skeegle Plague, which killed most of the people who lacked a gene which conferred immunity. That gene has drawbacks; for one thing, it's correlated with a very low level of magical ability. (Another is lack of ability to use flint axes as musical instruments; much of humanity's finest music was thus lost.)

The Skeegle Plague was exterminated for all time in the 19th century, as a side-effect of Jack the Ripper's illfated attempt to invoke the ghost of H. P. Lovecraft. (The history of attempts at summoning ghosts from the future is too long to go into here.) Since then, the number and percentage of people with magical abilities has been rising. They're still a minority; but in a millennium or two, they will be the majority.
Writing: daily exercise -- I'm counting the above.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Combined a walk-on character with a major character.
Decluttering: Got some trash out.

Mindwork: A bit of short meditation.

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 19-Sep-2004
Nature Genetics
Genes expose secrets of sex on the side
The guys most successful in sowing wild oats passed on the proof in their genes. By using those genetic smoking guns, researchers have new insights into ancient mating and migration patterns in humans.
National Institutes of Health

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Saturday September 18, 2004. "The West Wing of Darkness." I was thinking of Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, and some part of my mind got it mixed with the TV show "West Wing."

***Feeling much better today, but not well enough for several events I was interested in.
zarabee 2004-09-16

'Something I figured out late last night: when writing fiction, I do better thinking in terms of process rather than plot.

'I don't know why, and dictionary definitions of "process" and "plot" don't help.'

Is there any possibility of you unpacking this a little, and furnishing it with examples, perchance?



First try at unpacking

I'm still working this out; and I need better terminology. What I called "process" is, in some ways, close to what E.M. Foster called "the shape of the novel" in Aspects of the Novel.

It's closer to historical processes as seen by those historians who believe in historical cycles; more particularly, as seen by Arnold Toynbee. Given such-and-such initial conditions, this is the expectable sequence of events. The Empire's upper class and intellectuals see it as being eternal at this point; but it's falling apart.

Or, in fiction: The romance heroine and the man who drives her up the wall are fated to fall in love. The lazy detective will frame someone for the murder so he can get the job over with, and by sheer accident the real murderer will confess. The man with a magic gun which shoots the moment an antagonist puts his right hand on his gun will run into a left-handed shooter. Oedipus will kill the man he doesn't know is his father, and marry the woman he doesn't know is his mother.
Writing: daily exercise -- I'm going to count the above.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Took a speech away from the viewpoint character, and gave it to a walk-on character.

Decluttering: Did laundry. Picked stuff up.

Mindwork: A bit of meditation.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release17-Sep-2004
Students build submarine to track Octopuses
Marine biologists want to find out more about the Giant Pacific Octopus, but this elusive creature doesn't willingly reveal its secrets. Divers can follow the octopus for short periods, but what's really needed is an undersea robot that will wait patiently outside the creature's den, ready to shadow its every move. University of Arizona engineering undergraduate students along with students from two other universities are building a mini-sub to answer this need.

Public Release17-Sep-2004
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry
Therapy for Alzheimer's in sight?
Immunoglobulins which are already being used to treat multiple sclerosis may also be able to help patients with Alzheimer's. This, at least, is the finding of a pilot study on five patients at the University of Bonn. The results are set out in the forthcoming edition of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (vol. 75, pp. 1472-1474), which also devotes its editorial to this discovery.

Public Release17-Sep-2004
Chemistry & Biology
22nd amino acid synthesized and added to genetic code of e. coli bacteria
Two years ago, researchers surprised the scientific community by announcing their discovery of a 22nd genetically encoded amino acid. Now they've successfully synthesized the amino acid - L-pyrrolysine - and shown that bacteria can incorporate it into new proteins - the biological components which do most of the work in cells. This explains exactly how the 22nd amino acid is incorporated into. The genetic instructions to put pyrrolysine into proteins follows a traditional path many scientists hadn't predicted.
National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Energy, Sloan Foundation

Public Release16-Sep-2004
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Humans not irrational, just wary
Psychologists often conclude from research subjects' behavior in psychological experiments that humans are irrational. New research indicates that humans are in fact quite rational; they just do not trust what people in lab coats tell them.
National Science Foundation

Friday, September 17, 2004

Friday September 18, 2004. Still recovering from whatever I had.

The American Dialect Society mailing list is discussing "The Worms Crawl In" -- not the folk song I would expect to be discussed there.
[September 17] in 1923, gospel singer Hiram Williams was born in Mount Olive West, Alabama. While his youth was somewhat misspent, he turned to the Lord in 1943 when he was nearly killed in Italy during World War II. He wrote and sang such beautiful songs as I Saw The Light and Are You Building A Temple In Heaven.
[In our timeline, he was known as "Hank".]
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 16-Sep-2004
Applied Physics Letters
A traveling-wave engine to power deep space travel
A University of California scientist working at Los Alamos National Laboratory and researchers from Northrop Grumman Space Technology have developed a novel method for generating electrical power for deep-space travel using sound waves. The traveling-wave thermoacoustic electric generator has the potential to power space probes to the furthest reaches of the Universe.

Public Release: 16-Sep-2004
Tips from the Journals of the American Society for Microbiology
This issue includes: Combination of cranberry and oregano extracts may inhibit bacteria in meat and fish; bacteria in dental plaque of children may predict gum disease as adult; refrigerating milk harms cheese-making bacteria.

Public Release: 16-Sep-2004
Health Affairs
US child health worse than other industrialized countries
According to new research from a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researcher, the health of U.S. children is worse in virtually all categories when compared to children in other industrialized countries. However, the United States can improve the health of American children by changing some of our health care policies and adopting new Institute of Medicine recommendation.
Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources and Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services, JHU Primary Care Policy Center for Underserved Populations

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Thursday September 16, 2004. Something I figured out late last night: when writing fiction, I do better thinking in terms of process rather than plot.

I don't know why, and dictionary definitions of "process" and "plot" don't help.

***I woke up earlier than usual, feeling much better. I've still been a bit shaky today, but I was able to get out and go places.
Writing: daily exercise --done
"They Might Be Windmills" --
Decluttering: Took out some trash

Mindwork: Short meditation
There's been a multi-LiveJournal discussion of Fiction of Manners (including Fantasy of Manners). So far, there's agreement that some people like it, some people don't like it, and some people like some of it. And participants have been saying why they personally feel the way they do about it.

I have no idea whether this will be of any use to those in the discussion:

I think of human society and culture as being continually recreated by the way people act and speak -- and the way others interpret their acts and speech. (For "human" you can substitute "dragon" or whatever.) This can be seen as a marketplace of behavior, or as a dance of behavior. There are rules, which people often see as being immutable -- but the process of determining what the rules are, and how they're to be interpreted, is part of the negotiations/dance.

One book on American children's games discusses a difference between the way British and American children play. In Britain, the local rules have generations of tradition behind them; most of the children have grown up in that small area, and they accept the rules as being immutable -- or at least "How we've always done it here." (The rules do change, of course.)

In the US, many of the children in a neighborhood are likely to be from other places. Negotiation over the rules is an important part of the game.

(Knapp, Mary and Herbert. One Potato, Two Potato: The Secret Education of American Children. Norton, 274 pp., 1978.)

American adults often go through similar negotiations on the rules of the game. A current example is discussion of how debates between Presidential candidates should be run.

Fiction of Manners requires a social background closer to the British model of children's games. Most fictional backgrounds of this kind have pronounced class or even caste differences, but I don't think this is essential. Lois McMaster Bujold's sf universe includes Betan society -- egalitarian, but with firm notions of proper behavior. At least one attempt was made to overturn the rules: the introduction of hermaphrodites. It didn't work; the rules changed to allow for them, with minimal disturbance.

The dance of manners is formal, but the stakes are usually the same as in the least formal social dance. Some people will get rich, some will have enough to live on, some will end up with nothing.

I can't remember who said that American actors drink whiskey on stage, but you know it's really tea; British actors drink tea on stage, but you know it's really whiskey.

In Fiction of Manners, the characters are shown drinking tea. Some readers know (and enjoy knowing) that the characters are really drinking whiskey -- or blood, or the ichor of the Sons of the Bird. Some readers know this, but like their fiction to cut closer to the bone. Some don't see it at all.
From Google News:
Rembrandt was cross-eyed
ABC Science Online - 1 hour ago
Renowned 17th century Dutch artist Rembrandt may have been cross-eyed, according to US researchers. They say this form of stereoblindness, which occurs when someone's eyes are not aligned when looking at an ...
Wall-Eye May Have Helped Rembrandt's Vision Reuters
Did Walleye Make Rembrandt a Master? Forbes
Health Talk - Miami Herald (subscription) - WebMD - all 65 related »
Via the India edition of Google News, two American words I hadn't encountered before. "Celebumom" is probably a newspaper-clever coinage, but "skeezy" seems to be a word used by real people.

Mom: Brit's not trashy (at least from feet up)
Arizona Republic - 31 minutes ago
Celebumom Lynne Spears says the media have been way too harsh in their criticism of daughter Britney's habit of walking barefoot into public bathrooms and looking generally skeezy.
Does your arm ache from using a mouse to control your PC? Soon, you may be able to use your nose instead. The new system lets users shift the cursor on screen by waving their nose in the air. What's more, blinking the left or right eye twice takes the place of mouse clicks. The "nouse" could provide more intuitive ways for people to explore computer-generated environments or play 3D games, as well as making using a PC easier for some people with disabilities...MORE http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996400

'Ghost bugs' could help cut pesticide use
The empty shells of bacterial cells can be filled with chemicals and will stick to leaves and stems even after heavy rain

China's changing farms damaging soil and water
Rapid urbanisation is destroying China's agriculture and its ability to feed one-fifth of the world's people

China's GM trees get lost in bureaucracy
China has planted a million genetically modified trees to tackle desertification and flooding - but no one knows for sure where they all are

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Wednesday September 15, 2004. Still sick, but getting better. By late evening, I was up to cooking with complicated ingredients like teabags.

***New toy department: Win32pad, a freeware text editor. I type faster in it than in others I've tried so far.

In my experience, freeware programs are usually superior to commercial programs. I suspect this is largely because with commercial software, the decision-making process is screwed up.

Business people don't do what works; they do what they think works. For commercial software, this seems to include designing software on the assumption that it will be used by people who think national governments are insufficiently bureaucratic.
Writing: Daily Exercise -- Done.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Some things I thought were firmly-set morphed on me.
Decluttering: Got some trash out.
Mindwork: Short meditation.

Head to head: Bush vs Kerry
Now the party conventions are over, it's a straight race to the tape between President Bush and his challenger John Kerry. In this free news@nature.com interactive special, the two candidates talk exclusively to Nature on where they stand on the big issues in science. Plus, in depth analysis, the election science blog and e-voting.
Brief Communications
Nature 431, 262 (16 September 2004); doi:10.1038/431262a

Ecology: Ultraviolet reflectance by the skin of nestlings


Birds can perceive the reflectance of ultraviolet light by biological structures. Here we show that the skin of the mouth and body of starling nestlings substantially reflects light in the ultraviolet range and that young in which this reflectance is reduced will gain less mass than controls, despite low background levels of ultraviolet and visible light in the nest. We suggest that this ultraviolet reflectance from starling nestlings and its contrast with surrounding surfaces are important for parental decisions about food allocation.
In the flea market's rise, an economic saga
Part hobby mecca, part Five and Dime, the flea market takes its place as an 'informal economy' thrives. By Patrik Jonsson

We were unintended integrationists
A small but potent act of rebellion against the racial status quo. By James Patterson
The St. Paul Pioneer Press had an explanation of all the changes they've made To Better Serve Your Community. I emailed a comment:

Subject: My community is not being served

I live in Minneapolis. Evidently, the Pioneer Press does not consider Minneapolis to be within its area.

Please let me know if you ever decide to have a Minneapolis edition. Meanwhile, I'll be reading the Star Tribune -- even though in many ways I prefer the Pioneer Press.

Answer: "Dan -- I appreciate the note. I would love to put out a Minneapolis edition; I don't think it's in the cards very soon. The Pioneer Press has always had as its mission serving readers in the East Metro. That requires us to cover Minneapolis for people who live in East Metro, and I think our arts, business, sports and other coverage shows that. But we do try to stick to our knitting and give the bulk of our resources to covering news about communities on this side of the river. Glad to hear that in some ways you prefer us."

You think your state leads in political flakiness? New York State is a strong competitor:

Meanwhile, a Republican effort to hold onto a crucial State Senate seat suffered a major blow last night in a fiercely contested primary for the seat formerly held by Guy J. Velella, the once-powerful G.O.P. lawmaker who was convicted of felony bribery charges. Stephen B. Kaufman, a Democrat who planned to sit with Republicans in the Senate if elected, was defeated in yesterday's Democratic and Republican primaries, a loss that could whittle the Republican dominance of the Senate.

Mr. Kaufman was defeated by Jeffrey Klein, a fellow Assemblyman who said he was running as the true Democrat. Mr. Kaufman also lost the Republican primary to John Fleming, but he will be on the Conservative Party line in November.
Tuesday September 14, 2004. Primary voting was more trouble than usual.

I went to Walker Methodist old age home, on Lyndale between 37th and 38th. The greeter couldn't find my name on the list. Looked up my street address, and said I should be voting at the Church of New Life, on Nicollect between 35th and 36th. This was annoying; Walker Methodist is closer to my home, and it has an aviary and a reasonably good eatery.

At the Church of New Life, I was told I should be voting at Painter Park. Painter Park sent me to Walker Methodist.

I did not scream or curse when I returned to Walker Methodist.

This time, my name was findable on the list.

The partisan portion of the ballot didn't much matter. There were two offices listed. For Congress, the DFL had a choice between the longterm incumbent and someone whose hobby is running for office. For lower house of the state legislature, there was one candidate for the nomination. I think the Republicans had no contests; the Greens had only a state House of Representatives candidate with no opposition; the Independence Party had no candidates.

The nonpartisan portion -- one person for District Judge, three for Minneapolis school board -- had a lot more competition.

[Later: Everyone I voted for in the primary won.]

***Then I went home, and slept off the cold or whatever I've been having.

From a Usenet post: "It is a fine tradition in Germany that the literature list of any dissertation (PhD/M.A.) should contain a fictional reference."

Writing: daily exercise -- Done, posted here.

"They Might Be Windmills" --
Tam Lin's Descendants

The last seven of Tam Lin's children were legitimate. He also left many illegitimate children in our world and in Elfland. The number of those children in two worlds (three, if one believes certain stories) is uncertain, to put it mildly. (See the newsgroup soc.genealogy.elfland for discussion of this.)

But now genetic testing is underway. It won't resolve all questions; not all those who claim descent from Tam Lin have consented to being tested, and those who would rather not acknowledge him as an ancestor are very unlikely to consent. (Or, in many cases, to be asked.) But it's a good beginning.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Monday September 13, 2004. "Rapunzel has shaved her head" is a line I've had in the back for my mind for several months. Early this morning, I realized it could fit nicely into the current story.
Writing: daily exercise -- Done. Posted here.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- One scene advanced from zero draft to first draft. "Rapunzel has shaved her head" added.
Decluttering: Got rid of some more stuff. Took out trash. Bagged trash. Bought trash bags.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Liberalism and Conservatism in 2034 America

Around the time of the English Civil War, there were radicals who believed in universal suffrage. That is, the right of all Englishmen above the rank of servant to vote. (Note: the definition of "servant" was different back then; applied today, that definition might include everyone who gets a steady paycheck.) Nobody in England (or anywhere, so far as I know) was radical enough to suggest giving women the vote.

This is no longer a radical position.

In the early part of the 20th Century, it was respectable in the northern United States for a liberal to be a segregationist; Woodrow Wilson, for example. Today, it's not respectable for any American liberal to be a segregationist. For that matter, it's not respectable for a conservative to be openly segregationist.

Who will hold what political views thirty years from now? I don't know. But I do know that conservatives and liberals will believe in ideas which no one would associate with those labels today.

Straightline extrapolation -- assuming that ideas will pass from radicals to liberals to conservatives -- can provide answers. Whether it can provide accurate answers is another question. Under this assumption, American conservatives should now be Marxists.

Extrapolation from the eternal principles of conservatism or liberalism? I'd say that history shows there are no such eternal principles.
Tiny transmitters may change farming practices
Gerry Gilmour, The Forum
September 12, 2004 HARVEST0912

FARGO, N.D. -- Tiny sensors planted in a sugar-beet field south of Fargo gather data vital to helping the crop reach its harvest potential.

"It can influence everything -- from the timing of fungicide or deciding whether to use it at all," said Alex Warner, president of the fledgling Pedigree Technologies.

Warner recently demonstrated the potential of "smart dust" to representatives of American Crystal Sugar Co.

Smart dust is the industry tag given to radio frequency identification technology taken to a new level. The same technology that will reshape the retail world -- replacing UPC codes with tiny transmitters -- is expected to invade all aspects of commerce through the use of wireless sensor networks.
Welcome to the new homepage of the fabled Olympia Press. We've got an updated URL, and new titles coming out every week. Unlike the original Olympia (where single copies went for 600 franks or more), Ebook reproductions from that golden age of Parisian decadence cost just $1 each, for nine downloads, free of any DRM nonsense, offering easy scrolling, and, unlike most erotica written today, have an actual plot. If you've got a palm....

From http://althistory.blogspot.com:
[This day]in 875 AUC, Emperor Hadrian visited Britannia, and considered building a defensive wall along the northern boundary to protect his northernmost border against the Picts. A general among his staff argued against it, though, promising victory against the Picts within the decade if the emperor would grant him all the resources he required. This general, Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, defeated the Picts in 881 AUC, only 1 year behind schedule, and consolidated the entire British island for the empire.

[September 13] in 1321, Dante Alighieri begins his final journey through Hell, Purgatory and into the Divine Choir. The story of this journey was told in The Divine Comedy – II, which he dictated to fellow Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio in 1358.

[September 13] in 1916, alternative history writer Roald Dahl is born in South Wales. Dahl’s award-winning story Kiss, Kiss, in which a young mother worrying that her child will die of illness is revealed at the end to be Adolf Hitler’s mother, led him into science fiction and the rich field of alternate history, much like Winston Churchill and so many others.

[September 12] in 1844, after corresponding for almost 3 years, Edgar Allan Poe and Elizabeth Barrett met in London at Miss Barrett’s home. Poe swept the reclusive Miss Barrett off her feet, and together they eloped to Italy, where they were wed in a chapel in Naples. The Poes collaborated on many works of poetry afterwards, and their love speaks through their words even today.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Sunday September 12, 2004. I did archeological fieldwork in my home. Slept more than usual.

***Went out for a while, and found the worst-run garage sale I can remember. To begin with, they weren't entirely sure what they wanted to keep and what they wanted to sell.

But I found something very useful among the stuff they'd thrown out.

On my way home, I encountered another garage sale. This one was mostly collectables; for example, a whole lot of salt shakers, pepper shakers, and sets of salt and pepper shakers.

A sign said there would be another sale next weekend -- for charity, proceeds going to the
Imperial Court of Minnesota. This one would have household items, clothing, and other more practical stuff.

A bit farther on, stuff left over from another garage sale had been left at the curb for garbage pick-up. It included several lamps which had been priced at $10.00. I remembered that someone in my building had mentioned wanting a lamp; I told him about it.
Writing: daily exercise -- Done, posted to this journal.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- One small change.
Decluttering: Got rid of some stuff. Filled a couple of trashbags while doing archeology fieldwork.

Mindwork: Resisted the temptation to just peek at http://dem.conventionbloggers.com and http://rnc.conventionbloggers.com. There are saner blogs than most of the ones digested there.

Thanks to http://www.livejournal.com/users/goddes/:
What If Bush Wins
Predictions on the likely consequences of a second term for President Bush.
By a panel of 16 writers
On Crooked Timber, Henry Farrell reviews Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: A Novel.. Crooked Timber concentrates on social/political/economic matters, and this review takes a different approach than other reviews are likely to.
What's wrong with this?:
Bush takes his of-the-people style to rural voters
Bush is working hard to woo voters in small towns to overcome Kerry's
advantage in bigger cities. By Liz Marlantes

Answer: In most of the US, "rural" and "small town" are not the same, any more than "urban" and "suburban." In some areas, long-standing antagonism between "farm people" and "town people" is reflected in voting patterns. This is probably less common than it used to be.
If You Think You're Part of the Solution, You're likely Part of the Problem.

They really are crazy. Perhaps they aren't clinically insane; but at least in their political writing, they put on an excellent imitation of it.

"They" are the most partisan political bloggers. The ones convinced that newspapers and the major networks are part of the conspiracy. The ones who know for certain -- without having to check -- that any evidence their party and their Presidential candidate have done wrong is forged. (Sometimes it is. "A stopped clock's right two times a day." But these people are twenty-four-hour clocks.)

Unfortunately, there are people working for each of the major parties who share this paranoia. Even more unfortunately, some of these party faithful are fighting (delusional) fire with (real, if usually incompetent) fire.
Saturday September 11, 2004. Clutterers Anonymous meeting at Pillsbury House.

***To the Mnstf meeting at Linda Lounsbury and Phil Martin's. The house is old, for Minnesota; built in 1913. The original bathroom fixtures are still in place, as is what I think is the original laundry chute.

A good meeting, with good discussions.
Media types are Democratic, of course, but one is dismayed to learn that two-thirds of employee donations at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation went to Democrats. Whatever happened to company loyalty?
Writing: daily exercise --
"They Might Be Windmills" --

Decluttering: Some trash taken out. Attended the CLA meeting.


Friday, September 10, 2004

Friday September 10, 2004. I've mislaid some important stuff. This is not a good way to start the day.

Still not found. This is not a good way to end the day.

Whether or not it turns up, I need to make some changes in the way I live my life.
Writing: daily exercise --

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Ending tweaked, which probably qualifies as cat-vacuuming rather than useful writing.

Decluttering: A good deal of stuff sorted through.

Friday 10 September 2004
Special Feature: Global to Local: The Social Future as seen by six SF Writers
Organized and with commentary by John Shirley

Cory Doctorow, Pat Murphy, Kim Stanley Robinson, Norman Spinrad, Bruce Sterling, and Ken Wharton address the environment, copyright, social trends, terrorism, war, world government, and the upcoming Presidential election

From the UK edition of Google News:
Ion power takes spaceship to Moon
Telegraph.co.uk - 7 Sep 2004
A spacecraft engine with echoes of Star Trek has been taken on its first test drive across the solar system, scientists said yesterday.
Ron Ferguson The Herald
Noah's Ark plan from top Moon man BBC News
CNN International - Betterhumans - Novinite - China Daily - all 9 related »

From the Canadian edition of Google News:
Cafe continues to sell pot after raid
Vancouver Sun - 1 hour ago
VANCOUVER (CP) -- A cafe that had been selling marijuana off its menu for about four months was doing a booming business before media attention and then a police raid shut it down briefly, police said Friday.
Vancouver pot shop busy again CBC British Columbia
Police raid Vancouver pot café The Globe and Mail (subscription)
CBC News - Vancouver Province - Winnipeg Sun - Canoe.ca - all 21 related »

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 9-Sep-2004
American Journal of Psychiatry
Recreational gambling appears to be associated with good health in older adults
There appears to be an association between recreational gambling and good health among elderly persons, unlike younger recreational gamblers, according to a Yale study.
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse, American Psychiatric Association, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, National Center for Responsible Gaming, Women's Health Research at Yale

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Thursday September 9, 2004. Google News now has three Chinese-language editions: China-centric, Taiwan-centric, and Hong Kong-centric.

***"Free Range Chicken Broth" -- that startled me at first, till I came awake enough to realize it was the chicken that had been free range. Free range broth would be an interesting sight.

***Reread: Jorge Luis Borges, Seven Nights. Among other tidbits: Writers with alternate-world memories of older writers' work. That is, they remember clearly things which aren't to be found in any version of the actual fiction or poetry.

Reading it opens my mind.
Writing: daily exercise -- Done; free-writing.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- About half a scene converted from zero draft to first draft.
Decluttering: Picked up, sorted, threw some things away.


Bodywork: Exercises.
From http://althistory.blogspot.com:
[September 8]in 1974, President Richard Nixon is convicted at his impeachment trial, and removed from office for tampering with the election of 1972. Vice-President Gerald Ford is sworn in as the 38th President of the United States. Ford refuses to pardon Nixon for his crimes, and fires almost all of Nixon’s staff. “Cleaning house is the only way the nation’ll trust our party again,” he told Republican activists.

[September 7]in 1935, physicist Richard C. Tolman published his paper, Parallel Universes & Their Consequences On Our Own, detailing his proof that alternate universes had to exist. While this part of his paper is generally accepted among the scientific community, the second part, which predicted random crossovers from other universes into ours, was largely ignored. It is possible that the reason behind that was the cult that Tolman began in the 40’s, which claimed to be able to control these crossovers.
Thursday September 9, 2004. Julian Day (JD) = 2453258
Panj-shanbeh, Sonboleh 19, 1383 in the Afghan calendar.
Hingshabathi, Hori 16, 1454 in the Armenian calendar.
Istijlal, 'Izzat 2 (Jalal), year 9 (Baha'), Vahid 9, Kull-i-Shay 1 BE, until sunset, in the Baha'i calendar.
Menga, Pasah, Sri, Wage, Tungleh, Wraspati, Ludra, Dangu, Suka in the Balinese Pawukon calendar.
BryhoshpotiBar, Bhadro 25, 1411 BS in the Bangla calendar.
Day 25, month 7, year 21 (Jia-shen), cycle 78 in the Chinese calendar.
Ptiou, al-Nasi 4, 1720 AM in the Coptic calendar.
Tybi 21, 2753 in the Egyptian calendar.
Hamus, Paguemen 4, 1996 EE in the Ethiopic calendar.
Yom hamishi, Elul 23, 5764 AM, until sunset, in the Hebrew calendar.
Brihaspatvara, leap month Bhadrapada 25, 5105 KY, from sunrise, in the old Hindu lunisolar calendar.
Brihaspatvara, Simha 25, 5105 KY, from sunrise, in the old Hindu solar calendar.
Brihaspatvara, Sravana 25, 2061 VE, from sunrise, in the Hindu lunisolar calendar.
Brihaspatvara, Bhadrapada 24, 1926 SE, from sunrise, in the Hindu solar calendar.
Brihaspatvara, Bhadrapada 18, 1926 SE in the Indian national calendar.
Yaum al-hamis, Rajab 24, 1425 AH (approx), until sunset, in the Islamic calendar.
Thursday, week 37, 2004 in the ISO calendar.
Thursday, August 27, 2004 CE in the Julian calendar. in the Mayan long count.
18 Mol in the Mayan civil haab calendar.
8 Men in the Mayan religious tzolkin calendar.
Mayan Lord of the Night G8.
Shehrevar 23 (Daepdin), 1374 in the Parsi Fasli calendar.
Ardibehest 21 (Ram), 1374 in the Parsi Kadmi calendar.
Fravardin 21 (Ram), 1374 in the Parsi Shenshai calendar.
Panj-shanbeh, Shahrivar 19, 1383 AP in the Persian calendar.
Veervaar, Bhadon 25, 536 in the Sikh Nanakshahi calendar.
Wan paruhat, Gan-ya-yon 9, 2547 BE in the Thai solar calendar.
Day 25, month 7, year 21 (Jia-shen), cycle 78 in the Vietnamese calendar.
Modified Julian Day (MJD) = 53257
Lilian Day = 154098
Rata Die (RD) = 731833
CEP - 244904
Thanks for this one to http://www.livejournal.com/users/epi_lj/:
Smelly robot eats flies to generate its own power
Designed for working in high temperature, toxic environments
Updated: 1:17 p.m. ET Sept. 8, 2004

LONDON - British scientists are developing a robot that will generate its own power by eating flies.

The idea is to produce electricity by catching flies and digesting them in special fuel cells that will break down sugar in the insects' skeletons and release electrons that will drive an electric current.

"Called EcoBot II, the robot is part of a drive to make "release and forget" robots that can be sent into dangerous or inhospitable areas to carry our remote industrial or military monitoring of, say, temperature or toxic gas concentrations," New Scientist magazine said on Wednesday.
From the UK edition of Google News:
Opik warns of violence triggered by hunting ban
ic Wales - 1 hour ago
VIOLENCE and civil unrest will take hold in the countryside if the Government forces through a ban on hunting with hounds, a Welsh MP has warned.
Blair gambles on ban delay Guardian
Hain to Give Commons Date for Hunting Ban Vote The Scotsman
Telegraph.co.uk - Scotland on Sunday - ic Berkshire.co.uk - ITV.com - all 106 related »

....Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Lembit Opik, co-chairman of the Middle Way Group, warned Labour would have more to worry about than lost votes if the Hunting Bill became law.

He warned that young men would resort to violence if "the only way of life they know" is criminalised while others would risk imprisonment or heavy fines to defy the ban.

If those young men can't think of anything else to do with their time, that might help explain the falling British birthrate.

Note: Lembit Opik isn't a typical Welsh name. Turns out his parents were Estonians. (And the last name is actually Öpik.)

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Wednesday September 8, 2004. To Pillsbury House, where I did data entry for the Community Barter Network and Pillsbury House's volunteer program.

***I volunteered as Organizer for the Minneapolis scifi Meetup, and meetup.com accepted me. I started putting various sf-related events on the web page.

I'd already volunteered for the local Declutter Meetup. I added a couple of local Clutterers Anonymous meetings to that event listing.
Writing: daily exercise -- Done.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Some things added, some deleted.
Decluttering: Some stuff given away, some thrown away.

Mindwork: Short meditations.

Bodywork: Freeform exercises.
*New Technology Estimates Fast-Food Demand*
Sep 8, 12:19 PM (ET)

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Do you want fries with that? Never mind, we already know. A Pittsburgh startup, HyperActive Technologies Inc., is testing technology at area fast-food restaurants designed to give kitchen workers a good indication of what customers want before the hungry souls even get close enough to place an order.

The system, known as "HyperActive Bob," is in place in several restaurants around Pittsburgh in a primitive form: It tells employees when they are about to get busy, even how much food to put on the grill.

The system uses rooftop cameras that monitor traffic entering a restaurant's parking lot and drive-thru. Currently, the system is all about volume: If a minivan pulls in, there's apt to be more than one mouth to feed.

By this time next year, HyperActive Technologies expects to have in place software that keys on the type of vehicle entering the parking lot to determine whether the customers they bear are inclined to order, say, a burger over a chicken sandwich.
From http://bna.com:
Walt Disney has lost its bid lost to set aside a lawsuit filed by a local Zulu family in South Africa for royalties from the hit song The Lion Sleeps Tonight. The family of the late Solomon Linda, who composed the original Zulu tune for the song, is claiming 10 million rand (about $2.17 million)in damages from Disney.

The ring of life provides evidence for a genome fusion origin of eukaryotes
Tuesday September 7, 2004. Most important today: something which didn't happen. I had three opportunities to panic, and passed them up.
There was supposed to be a scifi fan Meetup at Betsy's Back Porch. (Coffeehouses didn't use to have names like that.) Since only one other person had RSVPd on Meetup.com for the Minneapolis Meetup, I figured there would be no meeting.

There was, but not the Meetup. The North Country Gaylaxians were there, discussing David Gerrold's novel The Man Who Folded Himself.

North Country Gaylaxians is a good sf-discussion group, and Betsy's Back Porch is a coffeehouse I find comfortable.

***Train of thought: from the song "Yellow Submarine" to "Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines" to the possibility of combining them to the phrase "corpse marines."
Writing: daily exercise --
"They Might Be Windmills" --
Decluttering: Some stuff thrown out.

Mindwork: Short meditations.

Tuesday September 7, 2004. "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I am your teacher."

"Thank God! I thought you were Death."

"I am."
Posted to rec.arts.mystery: There are vampire mysteries and culinary mysteries -- why not a vampire mystery with recipes for blood sausage?

A werewolf mystery with recipes for steak tartare.

And, of course, historical mysteries with historical recipes.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 6-Sep-2004
Current Biology
Recent evolution at a single gene may have brought down heart disease risk in some human groups
Heart disease is Europe's leading cause of death, but new research shows that the disease's toll would be much greater had natural selection not shifted the frequency of susceptibility genes over the past few tens of thousands of years. The work underscores the role of ancient natural selection in shaping contemporary public health.
National Science Foundation, NASA, Leverhulme Trust
Wednesday, 8 September, 2004, 00:20 GMT 01:20 UK
Noah's Ark plan from top Moon man
By Pallab Ghosh
BBC Science Correspondent

The European Space Agency's chief scientist has said that there should be a Noah's Ark on the Moon, in case the Earth was destroyed by an asteroid or nuclear holocaust.

Europe's first lunar probe is due to land in November Speaking exclusively to BBC News at the British Association Science Festival, Dr Bernard Foing said that the ark should be a repository for the DNA of every single species of plant and animal.

Dr Foing is head of Europe's Moon missions, so his thoughts on matters lunar should be taken seriously.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Monday September 6, 2004. Personal challenge: Stop letting political news sap my strength. I'm not going to cut myself off from it; but I'm going to stop reading the more partisan political bloggers.

Till after the election, that is. Then I'm going to enjoy reading the ones who were on the losing side.

Decades ago, there was a mainframe computer program which could be set to give either kneejerk conservative or kneejerk liberal answers to any political question. (I don't believe it was dignified with the term "artificial intelligence.") Sometimes I think descendants of that program are hard at work in the blogosphere.

Yes, I have a preference. I'm voting for Kerry.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 5-Sep-2004
How pride and prejudice blur men's view of the glass cliff
Accepting a fact as scientific is not a simple matter of whether the methodology is sound - what matters is whether the science that underpins it is compatible with our stereotypes and prejudices.
Economic and Social Research Council
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.written
Subject: The Kapp Awards
From: ___ (James Nicoll)
Date: 6 Sep 2004 17:25:57 -0400

The Kapps are the annual award given to the best work of science fiction, fantasy or related work not published in the previous year. They are named after Donald Kapp, whose astounding hat trick of Hugos (1965, 1966 and 1967) was only prevented by the fact that he died on the Rueben James in 1941, six years before his writing career started. The Kapps are intended to honour those works that might have reshaped SF, had they only existed.
From http://althistory.blogspot.com
[September 6] in 1847, David Thoreau left his meditative sanctuary at Walden Pond, New Hampshire after hearing of the German immigrant, Karl Marx. After a meeting which found the two quite compatible, they collaborated on a series of political pamphlets, including their Communist Manifesto of 1851.
Writing: daily exercise -- Done, posted here.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Worked on it using a different text editor (Copywriter rather than Metapad). Sometimes that makes writing easier for me; this is one of those times.
Decluttering: Got some trash out.

Mindwork: Some meditations.

Bodywork: Worked on small stretches.
Monday September 6, 2004. This is my view of social reality:

American society is not what it was an hour ago. It changes (or stays the same) as individuals act or speak -- and as other individuals react to their own interpretations of what these individuals do and say.

There are also changes when objective reality changes -- or when new information comes along. But these aren't direct changes; they have to be interpreted.

American culture also changes, though probably more slowly.

Over an hour's time, these changes are usually slight enough that nobody's planning has to change. But over a two-year House term, a four-year Presidential term, or a six-year Senatorial term, the changes can be very large. Large enough that what worked well enough to get someone elected last time might not work at all this time.

Artistic taste, comparative popularity of recreational drugs, economic demand for certain foods -- these are also constantly changing.

And so is what suppliers think the customers want. Writing how-to-write in the 1980s, Lawrence Block had to explain what tie-in novels had been; they'd stopped being published. Now they're being published again; sometimes the majority of sf/fantasy novels on the shelves are tie-ins. Did the saleability of tie-ins actually change? I suspect not.

In the newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written, the question "Where are the boundaries between science fiction and fantasy?" comes up now and then. For some people, there are sharp boundaries -- ones which are part of natural law. Others see large gray areas: some fiction is definitely sf, some is definitely fantasy, but a lot is a bit of both.

I'm likely to say "This week, if there are spaceships in it, it's science fiction. Regardless of how much magic and how many elves are in it." I then explain that at one time, a novel with both sf and fantasy elements would probably be classed as "science fantasy." And that the classification might change again.

Does it matter that I see things this way? I think so. It means I don't react the same way as people who see Eternal Social Truths; or those who see conflict between classes as the major force in history.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Sunday September 5, 2004. "He who goes forth to fight monsters becomes a monster himself; and if you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

That's been one of my unexamined assumptions for a while. It's probably time to examine it.

From Cheryl Morgan, editor of Emerald City:
Sunday, September 05, 2004
The Backlash Begins
Well it didn't take fanzine fandom long to note that I'd won a Hugo. I've just received multi-page email full of vitriol from someone called rich brown....
# posted by Cheryl @ 11:42 AM

rich brown (not to be confused with Rich Brown) is (or was when I knew him) a nice person with many good qualities. Unfortunately, he has given his loyalty to a group which believes it owns sf fandom in general and fanzines in particular. That kind of loyalty corrodes the mind and corrupts the soul.

For the part about corroding the mind, see: Political history. History of art. Culinary history. Discussion about the effect on speculative fiction writers can be found by going to http://groups.google.com, and searching rec.arts.sf.written for "The Braineater."
Writing: daily exercise -- Done: The Undecided

Undecided voters are likely to decide who wins the US Presidential election. Unfortunately, both major parties are dominated by people with decided views. So are the minor parties.

Perhaps we need a political party for this important bloc of voters. A party whose political platform will say, for example, "We haven't decided whether we want same-sex marriage to be legal or illegal; and we're also not sure yet whether we want heterosexual marriage to be legal or illegal."

***"They Might Be Windmills" -- One background detail altered. The Nietzsche quote added as a note; it will probably turn up in dialog, but I'm not at all sure where.

Decluttering: Got some trash out.
Mindwork: A bit of reminding myself that things which went wrong decades ago don't matter. One part of my mind keeps saying "1. Sweat the big stuff. 2. It's all big stuff." I'm getting better at quieting it.

Bodywork: Tried the trick of moving much more slowly than usual. Which is supposed to be part of what tai chi is about.
From http://althistory.blogspot.com
[September 5] in 1997, Albanian actress Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu died in Hollywood, California. The Oscar-winner was best known for her performance as Mother Maria Elena in the holocaust drama None Shall Return, in which she played a Catholic nun who sheltered Jews against the Nazis.

[September 5] in 1847, Jesse Woodson James, Missouri’s first Communist governor, was born in the state. James was captivated with President Whitman’s oratory and scouted for the union as a teenager during the Southern Rebellion. This led him into work with the state Communists, and election to the state legislature, U.S. Congress, and finally, the governorship in 1892.

[September 3] in 1752, the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar disrupts the space-time continuum and 10 days vanish for England. People riot in protest at the government’s reckless disregard for the sanctity of time.
From the UK edition of Google News:
Scientists Show Babies Have Innate Sense of Beauty
Reuters - 37 minutes ago
Beauty may not be just in the eye of the beholder after all because a sense of visual attraction is hardwired in the brain at birth, a British scientist said on Monday.
How beauty fascinates from birth Guardian
Everyone loves a pretty face The Scotsman
Independent - all 7 related »
Saturday September 4, 2004. Three yard sales, bought two things for a total of 35¢. Both of them actually useful.

And then I bought a bunch of stuff at Steeple People. The shelves are useful and needed; the rest is useful, but I could get along without it.
I didn't want to know this department: Hostess Twinkies sushi http://www.twinkies.com/recipebox/?cmd=view&id=84 Thanks to http://www.livejournal.com/users/supergee/

Actually, I think it would taste pretty good if you left out the Twinkies.
Writing: daily exercise -- Done: Things I've Learned From Shakespeare

Vienna is Italian-speaking, or at least it was in Shakespeare's time. (Measure for Measure)

Bohemia used to have a seacoast. Since it now doesn't, obviously the land-sea boundaries in Europe have drastically changed. (The Winter's Tale)

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Inserted one piece of information. Otherwise, just a bit of rewording.
Decluttering: Filled trash bag. Took out trash.


Saturday, September 04, 2004

Friday September 3, 2004. "Try using the fact that sin is periodic." Dan Goodman -- the one who teaches mathematics at Warwick University in England.

A bit startling till I realized he was talking about mathematics rather than theology.

In The Tides of God, Ted Reynolds postulated that religious belief is periodic. Someone could probably get a story out of the idea that sinfulness is periodic. Of course, this requires explaining the lack of historical support for sin-free periods.
I woke up this morning with the realization that I'd become as good at seeing people's strengths as at seeing their weaknesses.

This may not yet be entirely true, but it's a lot closer to being true than it used to be.

Writing: From a post to rec.arts.sf.composition: The current story begins with people. Any idea which doesn't fit those people, I'm weeding out. Any Cool Background Detail which doesn't fit those people, I'm weeding out. Any plot twist which doesn't fit those people, I'm weeding out.

daily exercise --

"They Might Be Windmills" -- More zero draft added; including the idea of people gene-engineered as forecasters.
Decluttering: Did laundry. Took out trash. Figured out a place for some things which were usually in the way.

Worldcon panels -- not just for attendees anymore! From Kate Nepveau:

TNH [Teresa Neilson Hayden] reported that Steve Brust says that explanations are always an opportunity to get in an argument with the reader. Never explain, describe: not how it works, how you use it. DD [Debra Doyle] added, what happens when it breaks down.
September 03, 2004
Panel Report: "As You Know, Bob: The Positives and Negatives of Infodumps in Writing"
China faces future as land of boys
In the past two decades in China, female births have declined markedly compared with male births. By Robert Marquand
From the UK edition of Google News:
Make games not nukes: DTI outsources to Russia
ZDNet.co.uk - 14 hours ago
The UK government is hoping an ambitious scheme to outsource UK software development to former Russian nuclear scientists will encourage the weapons experts to remain in-situ rather than seek work with foreign governments or terrorist networks.
Nuclear scientists turn game makers DMeurope.com
Russian Nuclear Scientists Take Aim at Internet Reuters
Scotland on Sunday - PublicTechnology.net - all 12 related »

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Thursday September 2, 2004 (continued).

Writing: daily exercise -- Done, posted to rec.arts.sf.written: If I am Ever The Dragon:

1. Whenever I feel a compulsion to amass gold and jewels, and do nothing with my wealth except count it to make sure it's still there, I will seek psychiatric help. Preferably from a psychiatrist with expertise in dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, subcategory Checkers and Hoarders.

2. I will pay for all domestic animals I eat, and will pretend to be inept at haggling over the price.

3. I will look into the possibility of using my wealth to start a bank.

4. I will insist on paying taxes; this will greatly reduce the King's enthusiasm for having me killed. I will also discuss the possibility of military service.

5. Instead of kidnapping princesses to serve me, I will advertise my willingness to employ low-born female orphans.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Sketched in the changes some characters undergo. Changed the final scene from notes to zero draft.
Decluttering: Trash taken out.

Mindwork: I've been using the new toy (see previous installment).

Thursday September 2, 2004. Google News now has Japanese and Korean editions.

***Ooh, shiny: Steeple People thrift store's clothing bag sale was down to a dollar. Most of the men's clothes had been cleaned out; but I found enough to mostly fill a bag.

And then I looked at cheap jewelry. I sometimes use such things to focus my mind, and there was a box of 50¢ stuff.

Looked at one thing, got a bit lost in looking at it. Yes, this would be useful as a meditation focus!

From the free box, I got a cup. One side has a picture of a cute elephant labelled GOP and the words "5th District IRs ON THE GO!" (For a while, the Minnesota Republican Party was officially Independent Republican.) On the other side: "You can not build /Character and courage /By taking away people's /Initiative and independence," attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

I agree with this; I merely happen to think Republicans and conservatives are more likely to do this more than Democrats and liberals.

But alas! Lincoln did not say these things. They were written in 1916 by the Rev. William J. H. Boetcker, a Presbyterian clergyman and pamphlet writer. In 1942, a group called the Committee for Constitutional Government gave out a great many leaflets entitled "Lincoln on Limitations" that contained on one side a real Lincoln quote and on the other side the 10 Boetcker statements. Boetcker was credited with his statements on the leaflet, but their proximity in print to one real quote by Lincoln, plus the title of the leaflet, led people to think that Lincoln had said the ten listed statements. They were repeated in many printed sources, and are still regarded by many as authentic Lincoln quotes. Carl Sandburg, Lincoln's most famous biographer, dismissed them as spurious.

***Across Lyndale Avenue to the Wedge. Their ATM (which doesn't charge a fee for Twin City Co-op withdrawals) was out of order. I decided to go to TCC's Minneapolis office, and use one of the ATMs there.

Note for those who like Emma Bull's War for the Oaks: the "witch's tower" is across University Avenue from the credit union.

On the way, I noticed that one bar had a sign saying "Cash Recycling". I looked again, and it said "Cash Machine."
These hexes, together with the kit’s ceremonial candle, black magic 'GW' doll, witch's finger, chili powder, spider and more are guaranteed to drive the Bush Administration from public office this November. Send Bush back to Crawford TX with the BushBashBanishment, the Rumsfeld Scream, the Cheney Howl, the Kyoto Revenge and other black magic spells.

100 million Americans and the entire rest of the world can’t be wrong – Bush has got to go!

Light your candle, grab your black magic doll and cast these spells on Oct 28, 2004 (full moon!), November 1 (election eve) and after you vote on November 2. Do your part for America: Vote. Hex. Send the Bush Administration packing.

I'd say this is dumber than George W. Bush Ketchup (for Republicans who don't want their money going to John Kerry's wife). On the other hand, there are people selling the ketchup on eBay -- fully confident that potential buyers won't realize they can get it cheaper from the original sauce source.
From the UK edition of Google News:
Mozart behaving badly
Guardian - 18 hours ago
I'm not the first person to suggest Mozart suffered from Tourette's syndrome. The idea was mooted by a Scandinavian scientist who based his theory on the scatological tone of Mozart's letters.
UK Documentary Suggests Mozart Had Tourette's HealthCentral.com
Composer studies what made Mozart tic Norfolk Eastern Daily Press
News-Medical.net- Webindia123.com - Big News Network.com - The Scotsman - all 14 related »
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 2-Sep-2004
US plans take-away nuclear power plants
A small, sealed, transportable nuclear reactor could meet the energy needs of developing countries without the risk of by-products getting in the wrong hands for weapons programmes. The sealed units, being developed by the US Department of Energy, would be delivered to a site, and collected when the fuel runs out after about 30 years. Its tamper-proof cask would be monitored and heavily alarmed.

Public Release: 2-Sep-2004
Chimp-sized hominid walked upright on two legs six million years ago
Recent fossil evidence suggests that a hominid, the size of a chimp, walked upright on two legs in Kenya's Tugen Hills, over 6 million years ago --- about 3 million years earlier than "Lucy," the most famous early biped in our lineage.
American Philosophical Society , Sigma Xi


COLUMBUS, Ohio – The bands of ancient Neanderthals that struggled throughout Europe during the last Ice Age faced challenges no tougher than those confronted by the modern Inuit, or Eskimos.

That’s the conclusion of a new study intended to test a long-standing belief among anthropologists that the life of the Neanderthals was too tough for their line to coexist with Homo sapiens.
“Looking at these fossilized teeth, you can easily see these defects that showed Neanderthals periodically struggled nutritionally,” Guatelli-Steinberg said. “But I wanted to know if that struggle was any harder than that of more modern humans.”

And the evidence discounting that theory lies with tiny grooves that mar the teeth of these ancient people.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Wednesday September 1, 2004. The Thrift Shop Donation Fairy from ARC picked up the stuff
I'd placed on the curb, and left a receipt on the porch.

***Mail: Einblatt -- newsletter for Mnstf, the oldest Twin Cities sf club.

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

***"Before attempting to penetrate the Evil Overlord's Invincible Fortress, the practical hero will seriously examine the option of maintaining a safe distance and picking him off the ramparts with a long-range weapon.
"by Robert Taylor"

These are the opening words of Heroics for Beginners by John Moore. Recommended, with two reservations: 1) It's best read in small doses; 2) There really ought to be some acknowledgement of the many people who've contributed to the "If I am ever the Hero" List.

***Tangent from the above -- I see the need for an "If I am ever the suicidal Hero" list.
From National Journal's RNC email newsletter:
Gotta Be Nice To Those Volunteers
Democrats did brisk business outside the Garden Tuesday, offering pedestrians the chance to donate to the Kerry campaign via credit card, check or cash. One young man listened earnestly and then clasped hands with the staffer. "I really appreciate all the work you're doing out here," he said -- an odd comment, given that he was clad in the green polo shirt of an RNC volunteer.
Lashing out
Don't blink! Visit the world's first eyelash bar. By Carly Baldwin
Writing: daily exercise -- Done.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Converted more zero draft to first draft. Decided on the ending. I need to develop two more major characters.
Decluttering: Donations to ARC got picked up. Took out some trash.

From http://bna.com:
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld a lower court decision involving garage door openers and the DMCA. The court ruled that a dismissal of the case was appropriate, concluding that "contrary to Chamberlain's assertion, the DMCA emphatically did not "fundamentally alter" the legal landscape governing the reasonable expectations of consumers or competitors; did not "fundamentally alter" the ways that courts analyze industry practices; and did not render the pre-DMCA history of the GDO industry irrelevant." Case name is Chamberlain Group v. Skylink Technologies. Decision at

Election officials in Florida say a new rule barring hand recounts in 15 counties with touchscreen voting systems will remain in place until after today's primary, despite a judge's invalidation of the rule. The officials plan on keeping the rule until a 30-day appeal period expires.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 31-Aug-2004
Conservation Biology
Modest climate change could lead to substantially more and larger fires
The area burned by wildfires in 11 Western states could double by the end of the century if summer climate warms by slightly more than a degree and a half, say researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington.

Public Release: 1-Sep-2004
Social Science History
Men from early middle ages were nearly as tall as modern people
Northern European men living during the early Middle Ages were nearly as tall as their modern-day American descendants, a finding that defies conventional wisdom about progress in living standards during the last millennium. Men living during the early Middle Ages (the ninth to 11th centuries) were several centimeters taller than men who lived hundreds of years later, on the eve of the Industrial Revolution.
National Science Foundation
Nature 431, 47 - 49 (02 September 2004); doi:10.1038/nature02884

Inscribed matter as an energy-efficient means of communication with an extraterrestrial civilization


It is well known that electromagnetic radiation—radio waves—can in principle be used to communicate over interstellar distances. By contrast, sending physical artefacts has seemed extravagantly wasteful of energy, and imagining human travel between the stars even more so. The key consideration in earlier work, however, was the perceived need for haste. If extraterrestrial civilizations existed within a few tens of light years, radio could be used for two-way communication on timescales comparable to human lifetimes (or at least the longevities of human institutions). Here we show that if haste is unimportant, sending messages inscribed on some material can be strikingly more energy efficient than communicating by electromagnetic waves. Because messages require protection from cosmic radiation and small messages could be difficult to find among the material clutter near a recipient, 'inscribed matter' is most effective for long archival messages (as opposed to potentially short "we exist" announcements). The results suggest that our initial contact with extraterrestrial civilizations may be more likely to occur through physical artefacts—essentially messages in a bottle—than via electromagnetic communication.

Animal behaviour: Use of dung as a tool by burrowing owls
Tuesday August 31, 2004. One condition of Utah becoming a state was that the LDS political party had to be dissolved. Mormons became Democrats and Republicans. (The opposition party presumably died a bit later.)

I think American politics would be more interesting if that party had lived. Presumably its members in Congress would caucus with one of the major national parties -- but which one? Possibly it would depend on whether the Republicans or the Democrats offered a better deal that year. And there's the possibility that Senators of that party might caucus with one party, and Representatives with the other.

It probably wouldn't have been practical in the real world. But something similar could be made plausible in fiction.
To Midtown Market, where I bought tomatoes at one stand and stringbeans at another.

Back home via the Hiawatha light rail line -- which now has wastebaskets in the stations.
I have no idea how wastebaskets got left out of the original planning, but apparently they were.

***A truck from ARC was due in my neighborhood in the morning. (ARC used to be the acronym for Association for Retarded Citizens. Now it doesn't mean anything, and they call the people they serve "developmentally disabled." They have thrift shops.)

I looked in a couple of storage things to see if anything in there could go. Decided the storage things could go; they were taking up more space than they saved.
Writing: daily exercise -- Done. But since it's on politics in the world of "They Might Be Windmills," I'm not counting it here.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- See above.

Decluttering: Putting stuff out for ARC.

Mindwork: Various small things, mostly reminders to myself. Sanskrit probably has a word for this.

Bodywork: Reminding muscles to loosen up.

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