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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?

I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.

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"The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson

"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin

"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton

"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt

"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley

"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss

"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire, the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind; and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon

"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
-- Socrates

"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook

"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr

"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion

"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson

"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices, intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation; a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition -- to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri

"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke

"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology; it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant

"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville

"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon, but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant

"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.

"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible, and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus

"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814

"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated. This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944

"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News

"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas

"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
-- Cicero

"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." -- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson

"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example." -- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance." --
H. W. Fowler

"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place." -- Kate Wilhelm

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein

"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms

"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).

"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman

“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison

"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France

"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128

"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)

"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)

"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden

"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
-- Batman


Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit. He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.

The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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Contents © 2001-2013 All rights reserved. Gary Farber. (The contents of e-mails to this email address of Gary Farber are subject to the possibility of being posted.)

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world

[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula

...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd,

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber

Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
-- Ogged

I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow

One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged

We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog

Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog


Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott

Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit

My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal

If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.

Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks

I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes

Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this?
-- Natalie Solent

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit

December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
The Mahablog
Brilliant at Breakfast
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People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I just want to go on record with what I've elaborated at length upon in blog comments elsewhere many times in the past year or more, which is that this is what I believe is far and away most likely the case:
[...] Mr. Sick, like some in the intelligence community, said he believed that Iran might intend to stop short of building a weapon while creating “breakout capability” — the ability to make a bomb in a matter of months in the future. That chain of events might allow room for later intervention.

Without actually constructing a bomb, Iran could gain the influence of being an almost nuclear power, without facing the repercussions that would ensue if it finished the job.
Setting aside whatever difficulties might ensue in possibly backing down from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's fatwa forbiding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons as un-Islamic, reportedly saying "[w]e fundamentally reject nuclear weapons," there are huge downsides to Iran actually testing a nuclear weapon, were they to proceed with weaponizing sufficient Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) to High Enriched Uranium (somewhere between 20% and 85% enriched), which there are no actual signs of them doing, and yet almost all of the deterrent benefits of simply achieving break-out capacity, such as Japan maintains, are there by remaining in a state of being able to construct a nuclear weapon in short order, whether a matter of weeks or months, with far less downside than actually assembling a working weapon.

So unless Iran were to feel threatened enough, or otherwise see some major advantage to be gained that would outweigh the obvious downside of proceeding to enrich their LEU to HEU, and then further actually constructing and testing a fission bomb, it seems only logical to conclude that they would be most likely to, if not remain at their current status of simply producing LEU usable only for energy production, go no further than break-out capacity.

And let me also emphasize that while designing a constructing a basic fission device is relatively technically trivial nowadays, constructing one small enough to fit on a missile is not.

If you'd like to know more about how easy it is to construct a nuclear weapon, once you have fissionable material, just ask truck driver John Coster-Mullen, aka "Atomic John," or simply read the fascinating New Yorker piece on him from the December 15th, 2008 issue, which you should anyway, because it's a damn good reading.

Meanwhile, to restate the banal:
[...] Greg Thielmann, an intelligence analyst in the State Department before the Iraq war, said he believed that the Iran intelligence assessments were far more balanced, in part because there was not the urgent pressure from the White House to reach a particular conclusion, as there was in 2002. But he said he was bothered by what he said was an exaggerated sense of crisis over the Iranian nuclear issue.

“Some people are saying time’s running out and we have to act by the end of the year,” said Mr. Thielmann, now a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association. “I’ve been arguing that we have years, not months. The facts argue for a calmer approach.”
Meanwhile, for better or worse, sanctions are unlikely to work:
[...] If the West does impose “draconian sanction” they will shove Iran firmly into China’s orbit unless China is onside with the sanctions. It is unlikely China will be. China has very consistently supported the individual sovereignty of various countries the West tries to use sanctions against (both Burma and Sudan, among others), and they are willing to back it up with large amounts of aid, not out of the goodness of their hearts, but for cold hard pragmatic reasons.

One major arm of China’s foreign policy is to lock up as much access to natural resources as possible and helping Iran is part of that policy.
And in particular:
[...] Citing unnamed traders and bankers, the Financial Times said state-owned Chinese oil companies were selling the petrol through intermediaries and now accounted for a third of Tehran's gasoline imports.


Between 30,000 and 40,000 barrels of gasoline per day of Chinese petrol makes its way from Asian spot markets to Iran through third parties, the report said, quoting Lawrence Eagles, head of commodities research at JP Morgan.

This accounts about 33 percent of Iran's import of 120,000 barrels per day, the report said.


Shum said China this year added new refining capacity and in August exported 140,000 barrels of gasoline per day, the highest level this year, although the data did not give a breakdown of the destination countries.

He said one third of Iran's imports is "well within the capacity of China to supply" given the high volume of its gasoline shipments.
Not to mention that back in 2008:
[...] Iran is constructing seven refineries in an effort to boost its crude and gas refining capacity by more than 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), a senior oil official was quoted as saying on Saturday.

"The construction of seven refineries has started with the investment of 15 billion euros ($23.22 billion)," Mehr news agency quoted Aminollah Eskandari, a director of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) as saying. "About 1.56 million barrels will be added to the country's capacity to refine crude oil and gas derivatives," he added.


Tehran, in 2006 started on a multi-billion dollar, five-year programme to expand and upgrade its domestic refining capacity to 3.3 million bpd from the current 1.65 million bpd.

Eskandari said all seven refineries would be on stream by 2012.
All further sanctions are apt to do is cause more Iranians to undergo some annoying gasoline shortages for a couple of years -- maybe -- and rightfully blame the United States, and cause them to further grudgingly support their government in defending their country's lawful right under Article 4, section 1 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes:
[...] 1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty.
Yes, we can get into the weeds of the various applicable UN Security Council resolutions, but you can read up on those for yourself, elsewhere; my point is as regards the likely effect of sanctions on the polity of Iran, and the considerable unlikeliness of sanctions keeping Iran from proceeding to nuclear weapons break-out capacity, if that's what the Iranian government decides is in its own national interest.

Incidentally, if Israel's government was crazy and stupid enough to attempt an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, they wouldn't have pass through Iraqi airspace, as I discussed in three comments in a row here, and in some comments following those, in Obsidian Wings comments back in early August.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

ADDENDUM: October 1st, 2009, 7:57 a.m.: Iranian Opposition Warns Against Stricter Sanctions:
As the United States and its allies consider further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fear that such punishment could have unintended consequences, strengthening the government's hand against domestic dissent and triggering an even harsher crackdown on political foes.


Opposition leaders have denounced what they view as Ahmadinejad's antagonistic foreign policy, but they are in no position to criticize the previously undisclosed construction near Qom of a second uranium-enrichment plant -- the latest bone of contention between Iran and the West -- for fear of being targeted as traitors to a national cause: the pursuit of nuclear energy and technological advancement.
Like I said.

ADDENDUM, October 1st, 1:05 p.m. I should add that Iran started rationing gasoline in June 2007, and although there were a few riots initially, by November of 2008:
[...] Iran's Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari said on Saturday that gasoline rationing scheme has helped the country to curb the consumption as much as 20 million liters a day, Iran's Energy and Oil Information Network (SHANA) reported.
So it's not as if Iranians aren't used to gasoline rationing.

ADDENDUM, October 1st, 6:34 p.m.: Scott Ritter's view.

ADDENDUM, October 1st, 7:06 p.m. Startlingly:
GENEVA — Iran agreed in principle Thursday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be refined for exclusively peaceful uses, in what Western diplomats called a significant, but interim, measure to ease concerns over its nuclear program.


Under the tentative deal, Iran would ship what a U.S. official said was "most" of its approximately 3,300 pounds of low-enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be further refined. French technicians then would fabricate it into fuel rods and return it to Tehran to power a nuclear research reactor that's used to make isotopes for nuclear medicine


The State Department allowed Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, to visit Washington on Wednesday, waiving regulations that usually confine Iranian diplomats within a 25-mile radius of the United Nations in downtown Manhattan. Mottaki didn't meet U.S. officials, but visited Iran's interests section, which is overseen by Pakistan, because the United States and Iran have no diplomatic relations.
ADDENDUM, October 4th, 4:21 p.m.: Sensible advice worth considering from Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett. Via Juan Cole. Also an interesting report asserting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's family has Jewish roots.

ADDENDUM, October 5th, 2009, 3:24 p.m.: see also Fareed Zakaria on "They May Not Want The Bomb And other unexpected truths."

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9/30/2009 09:32:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009
BAN A BOOK TOMORROW. No, that's not right. Stop people from banning books! That's the ticket. It's the American Library Association's annual Banned Books week.

The ten most banned books of 2008:
And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence

TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age

Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence

Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint,
sexually explicit, and violence

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually
explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group

Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age

Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group
Bring home a banned book this week.

What else You Can Do.

How widespread were events of books being banned in 2008-9? This widespread.

View Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2009 in a larger map
Read more about Books Challenged or Banned in 2007-2008.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

ADDENDUM, September 30th, 9:33 a.m.: as I said to someone on Facebook yesterday, if the ALA had a sense of irony, and it was appropriate, all they need to do when listing the reasons for the banning of all these books is put down "satanic."

9/29/2009 12:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 4 comments

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Sunday, September 27, 2009
SMILIES WERE GOOD ENOUGH FOR NABOKOV, so they're good enough for me.
[...] How do you rank yourself among writers (living) and of the immediate past?

I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile-- some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket, which I would now like to trace in reply to your question.
So said Vladimir Nabokov to the New York Times in 1969.

I've been pointing this out to folks since Usenet days in the mid-Nineties, but somehow never got around to blogging it.

Meanwhile, we still need the irony mark:

The irony mark or irony point ( ) (French: point d’ironie) is a punctuation mark proposed by the French poet Alcanter de Brahm (alias Marcel Bernhardt) at the end of the 19th century used to indicate that a sentence should be understood at a second level (e.g. irony, sarcasm, etc.). It is illustrated by a small, elevated, backward-facing question mark.[2][3]
It was in turn taken by Hervé Bazin in his book Plumons l’Oiseau ("Pluckthe bird", 1966), in which the author proposes several other innovative punctuation marks, such as the doubt point (Point de doute.svg), certitude point (Point de certitude.svg), acclamation point (Point d'acclamation.svg), authority point (Point d'autorité.svg), indignation point (Point d'indignation.svg), and love point (Point d'amour.svg).
Its form is essentially the same as the late medieval Irony mark full.svg, a percontation point (punctus percontativus), which was used to mark rhetorical questions.[2] The character can be represented using the reversed question mark found in Unicode as (⸮) U+2E2E. It can also be created using the Alt code 1567.
The irony mark has never been used widely. It appears occasionally in obscure artistic or literary publications.
There's more ؟!؟

And with ؟, I point out that this may be wrong:
[...] Strikethrough

Admen were the first to employ this method by crossing out the “old” price. A lower price would be written beside the old one, which kept standing there for comparison. Of course, the viewer sees both prices.
On the other hand, it was a common practice ؟humor؟ in sf fanzines since at least 1951, if not earlier. No shit fooling.

Meanwhile, all the kids have been talking this weekend about this strikingly accurate, for the most part, article from Life magazine issue of May 21, 1951 on sf fandom.

Remember to defy the deros with dianetics, kids!

It's nice to see the LASFS insurgents of Francis Towner Laney, Charles Burbee, Elmer Perdue, and others, who laughed at Forry Ackerman and friend's antics, referred to, if not by name. Ah, Sweet Idiocy!

And, yes, postcard fanzines were well-known in the Forties, when the leading newszine, the Ansible of its day, was Bob Tucker's FanewsCard, later carried on by others.

(Why, yes, that once famous sf fan, Joe Kennedy, did become vastly more famous X. J. Kennedy, famous poet, editor, and teacher.)

The article even works in a reference to the "true fan."

One particularly delightful aspect is the description of the then-super-hot controversy in sf fandom, the Shaver Myster, which was egged on by canny sf editor and former fan, Ray Palmer. Why, yes, that is who The Atom was named after by famous comic book editor and former fan contemporary of Palmer's, Julie Schwartz.

As I blogged not all that long ago, I recently had an exchange with Roger Ebert about the Shaver Mystery.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5 for Life, or it isn't worth living.

Irony mark ☞ Vanessa Schnatmeier on Facebook.

Any ?, anyone?

ADDENDUM, September 28th, 2009, 12:10 p.m.: Bonus link: Francis Towner Laney's account of meeting Clark Ashton Smith.

9/27/2009 03:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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CAN YOU Say "Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication" five times fast?
A group of engineers working on a novel manufacturing technique at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., have come up with a new twist on the popular old saying about dreaming and doing: "If you can slice it, we can build it."

That's because layers mean everything to the environmentally-friendly construction process called Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or EBF3150, and its operation sounds like something straight out of science fiction.
Not quite a digital fabricator, apparently, but:
[...] To make EBF3 work there are two key requirements: A detailed three-dimensional drawing of the object to be created must be available, and the material the object is to be made from must be compatible for use with an electron beam.

First, the drawing is needed to break up the object into layers, with each cross-section used to guide the electron beam and source of metal in reproducing the object, building it up layer by layer.

If you take a slice through a typical truss, you can see a couple of dots in each cross-section that move as you go from layer to layer," Taminger said. "When complete, you see those moving dots actually allowed you to build a diagonal brace into the truss."

Second, the material must be compatible with the electron beam so that it can be heated by the stream of energy and briefly turned into liquid form, making aluminum an ideal material to be used, along with other metals.

In fact, the EBF3 can handle two different sources of metal—also called feed stock—at the same time, either by mixing them together into a unique alloy or embedding one material inside another.
[...] Future lunar base crews could use EBF3 to manufacture spare parts as needed, rather than rely on a supply of parts launched from Earth. Astronauts might be able to mine feed stock from the lunar soil, or even recycle used landing craft stages by melting them.

But the immediate and greatest potential for the process is in the aviation industry where major structural segments of an airliner, or casings for a jet engine, could be manufactured for about $1,000 per pound less than conventional means, Taminger said.

Environmental savings also are made possible by deploying EBF3, she added.
Then you can destroy the stuff you make with this rail gun.
To quote Gizmodo:
[...] The US Navy has just completed a 10-megajoule test fire of their huge rail gun. For the first time ever, they fired a projectile with a velocity of 8,270 feet per second. That's an amazing 5,640 mph, and the gun is only firing at a third of its potential power.


Yesterday's test firing at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division used just some of the potential 32-megajoules the laboratory test gun is capable of, and that's only half the 64-megajoules the Navy is aiming at for the final weapon. Expect even more dramatic videos, sometime soon.
Not fictional.

Previous model:

Modern Mechanics, June, 1932
Eventually, this.

If only the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1951) trailer had had a railgun! You'd think they could have, given the 1932 model:
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5, but 3.5 out of 5 to click on the videos, silly.

Bonus link! Return with us to the Modern Mechanix blog's cover archive! (The actual content is better. Especially some of the categories. I'm sure I've linked here before, but forget when.)

9/27/2009 02:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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If anyone knows the original artist and site, please let me know so I can credit them.

And it's never too late to relink the classic Jack Chick Cthulhu tract. [UPDATE, 8/27/10, 12:32 a.m.: Link-rotted again. New link here.]

Read The Rest Scale: if you haven't clicked the latter, do so or be eaten. You'll be eaten anyway, but best get it over with.

ADDENDUM, October 1st, 2008, 6:09 p.m., via Laura Haywood-Cory on Facebook: this shirt; page also has text:

ADDENDUM, October 12ath, 6:55 p.m.: 14 Cthulhu toys: because you just can't have enough cute unspeakable horror.

9/27/2009 01:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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Thursday, September 24, 2009
PUNCTUATE OR DIE. It's National Punctuation Day!

Which reminds us of The Blog of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

And Apostrophe Abuse.

My personal bête noire is misuse of ellipses. It's perfectly simple, people!

An ellipsis is three dots.

No more.

No less.

Three. Dots.

When you use an ellipsis at the end of a sentence, or to indicate the end of a sentence, you, of course, add a period.

That's all there is to it.

How hard is it to get this?

It's not five dots. It's not six. It's not some random number of dots you make up depending on your personal sense of length of time of a pause.

Three dots. No more. And add a period if called for.

And never use ellipses... just... because... you like them... so much.

Here concludes the lesson. Celebrate National Punctuation Day with your loved ones!

Next National Punctuation day: em dashes, en dashes and hyphens! An advanced course!

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.

9/24/2009 08:33:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009
NOT A SIDESHOW. Mitch Wagner interviews Avedon Carol on politics, dancing in Second Life, health care reform, and such like.
I have enough trouble keeping up half of a First Life.

I have to hire on more writers to post under my name, here, and elsewhere.

That Avedon Carol is articulate, and a credit to her race; you'd almost think she'd done tons of tv and radio interviews, or something.

She's also worth listening to. Fans might listen to how she explains the relevance of Jerry Jacks to health care reform. Anyone interested in American politics, human rights, or health care reform, should listen to her.

Avedon, of course, famously blogs at the invaluable Sideshow, which I assume you all read.

Read Avedon's blog; listen to her interview: yes.

While we're mentioning people who are also crucial figures in the development of feminist sf fandom, let me get a head start on something I'll be blogging more about later, which is that Susan Wood's Aspidistra is now available here in PDF form.

Shortly the same will also be up at I'll let you know. [Now available here.]

The Best Of Susan Wood, Jerry Kaufman's long out of print collection from 1982 of Susan's work, will also soon be up at both sites.

Kudos to Taral for doing the scanning from his own copies. Scanning Aspidistra was his own initiative, after I've spent many weeks of various kinds of work to be able to get "The Best of Susan Wood" finally put online; again, thanks to Taral for the last-minute scanning.

Thanks go to Joe Siclari at, and Bill Burns at, for their hosting and responsibility for uploading, and, of course, respective care of both invaluable sites for science fiction fanhistory and classic fanzines. Thanks also to webmaster Jack Weaver!

Again, I'll be doing a more elaborate post about the Susan Wood collection and postings, with more context, and more people to thank, soon. (Thanks, Debbie Notkin! Thanks for encouragement, Steve Davidson and Cheryl Morgan; thanks for help and encouragment, Moshe Feder! Thanks, Jerry Kaufman, for all your original work!)

Back on health care: at last, Hollywood liberals speak up to defend the most powerless Americans.

ADDENDUM, September 23rd, 2009, 4:31 a.m.: links to the Aspidistras and The Best Of Susan Wood, along with a Foreword by Taral can be found here at; thanks to Taral for his work and help.

ADDENDUM, September 23rd, 2009, 1:39 p.m.: I have now created the Facebook Group Page, "Friends of Susan Wood," open to any and all people interested in Susan Wood. It should be globally readable by everybody, not merely members of Facebook. Various links now there. It is not a page just for people who personally knew Susan!

ADDENDUM, September 23rd, 2009, 5:37 p.m.: See also all of Energumen, Hugo-winning fanzine co-edited by Mike Glicksohn and Susan Wood Glicksohn.

ADDENDUM, September 23rd, 2009, 6:01: p.m.: Feminist sf fans might find particularly worthwhile, starting on Page 55 of Best of Susan Wood, her Aussiecon (1975) report, "Propeller Beanie," which also talks a lot about the GOH, Ursula Le Guin, whose book of essays, The Language Of The Night Susan went on to compile, edit, and see published, which has been through a number of editions and publisher. Google books link here.

(See links at Facebook page for more info on that, and how to obtain copies.)

On page 61, "Tidepool" begins, one of Susan's fannish accounts of being one of the early University professors first teaching sf.

The fanzine she refers to that she did, Genre Plat, she co-edited for a couple of years with Allyn Cadogan, then of San Francisco, and with a third fan, a longtime fan, who had gafiated for a number of years and recently become active again in the mid-Seventies; first in Toronto, then in Vancouver.

His name was and is "William Gibson," aka "Bill Gibson," and he later sold some science fiction. You may have heard of him.

What might most interest you is the article beginning on page 68: "People's Programming."

Susan founded feminist sf fandom in that article.

It's that simple. Go read it.

That's the piece that I'd like to first get put into text, HTML, form.

Susan won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer 1974, 1977 (a tie) and 1981, and was nominated in 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, and 1978. She was co-Fan Guest of Honor at the World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne, Australia, in 1975.

More to come in a fresher post.

ADDENDUM, September 23rd, 6:35 p.m.: Thanks, Crotchety!

9/22/2009 03:09:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, September 21, 2009
WHEATON BANGS INTO LIZARD PEOPLE. Why most geeks who have noticed it (and don't utterly disdain television) have learned to like The Big Bang Theory:
[...] Prady said that he and his writers made it an early goal to write these four guys as real people, which meant including idiosyncrasies that sometimes come with being a geek.

“One of the tasks of creating a series is to create interesting characters that are distinct from each other,” Prady said. “We think very carefully about why one character might have a particular reaction that another character doesn’t share. The four of them have very different backgrounds. They have had very different paths through life that affect who they are. There are things they love in common and there are things they don’t share. That also extends to their fandom. I think they are generally game to indulge each other’s passions but I don’t think it’s uniform. By making them distinct, you make them people you are interested in knowing.”


Prady said that the reason Leonard, Sheldon, Wolowitz, and Koothrappali may resonate so well is because they all reflect many of the loves that live within the actual “Big Bang” writers’ room.

“In terms of their non-work passions, they come from the passions in the room,” Prady said. “For example, the deep and abiding love this writing staff has for Ron Moore’s ‘Battlestar Galactica.’ It is deep and rich and profound, and that’s why the characters love it. And there is their love of ‘Star Trek,’ which by the way is not uniform in the room. There are people like me who know every episode of every single series and then there are people where ‘Trek’ is not their thing.
The subject header:
[...] “In episode six, Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’) is going to be here and will play himself,” Prady revealed. “Because Wil lives very close to where our characters live in real life, it’s not inconceivable that they share a comic book store and they would encounter each other. Given that Wil is going to play himself, we are going to discover that Wil Wheaton is the one member of the ‘Star Trek’ family that Sheldon hates,” he said. “We will learn that he loved Wesley Crusher but there was a moment between them in the past and ever since then Wheaton is his third most hated person.”
[...] “One of the things we decided from the beginning was that the science would be accurate and when the characters talked about their work it would be legitimate,” Prady said.
It's a good piece.

Meanwhile, every good geek should be aware of, or learn to, play rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock:
Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5, or more if you're a geek.

I don't know why you'd be reading this blog if you were a geek, though. I mean, what are the odds?

Oh, wait, you must be one of these people.

Elsewhere: Nigeria 'offended' by sci-fi film.
Nigeria's government is asking cinemas to stop showing a science fiction film, District Nine, that it says denigrates the country's image.
I'm tempted to make jokes about being offended by "sci-fi," rather than "sf" films, myself, but that would date me.

And I already have hairy enough palms.

It's good to know that:
[...] But Mr Khumbanyiwa said Nigerians in the cast did not seem worried by the portrayal of their country.

He suggested that the film, which depicts people wanting to eat aliens to gain the superhuman powers, should not be taken too literally.

"It's a story, you know," he said. "It's not like Nigerians do eat aliens. Aliens don't even exist in the first place."
But aliens are so delicious!

Michael Dirda reviewed THE COMPLETE STORIES OF J.G. BALLARD. Digressively, I recently argued that New Worlds under Michael Moorcock holds up pretty damn well, and a lot more so than Analog from the same period.

Mike Glyer pointed to more stories about J. R. R. Tolkien's immensely brief "career" at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

Those Google doodles explained:
Google has admitted that recent UFOs in its logo are designed to mark the 143rd birthday of author HG Wells.

New Scientist brings us a Sci-fi special: The fiction of now, but don't blame Stan Robinson for the headline:
US science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson thinks British science fiction is in a golden age. It's time it won some literary awards – and for everyone to give it a go

I wouldn't count links to Dr. Horrible at the Emmies not rotting, but we'll give it a try:
For more literary tastes, watch and listen as Margaret Atwood explained to the PBS NewsHour earlier this evening that she writes speculative fiction, not science fiction, because people think of science fiction as "Attack Of The Lizard People." [CORRECTION: "Lizard Men"; Amygdala apologizes to Margaret Atwood for misquoting her on this extremely important distinction!]

You should probably try sex with Lizard People, because P. Z. Myers warns us that Sex With Robots is Always Wrong.

If only they'd known that back when Fred Pohl was there for the Science Fiction League.

Get your Star Wars Mimobot Thumb Drives:

Those are all very fine, but I'm concerned that Disney's acquisition of Marvel could interfere with The 21 Awesomest Superhero Mods for My Little Pony.

And apparently Han Solo is a super-hero!
He wouldn't have had to shoot first if he was a super-hero.

More Marvelly:
19 more to go! Slave Leia Little Pony is just terribly terribly wrong.

To cure that ill feeling, you need to read, via Laura Cory-Haywood on Facebook, lots of Uncomfortable Plot Summaries:
[...] ALIENS: An unplanned pregnancy leads to complications. [...] BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: Teenage serial killer destroys town in fit of semi-religious fervor. [...] CONAN THE BARBARIAN: Petty thief murders religious leader. [...] DOCTOR WHO: Elderly man serially abducts young women. [...] SUPERMAN RETURNS: Illegal immigrant is deadbeat dad.
You get the idea.

Now, get out of here to those links, before I uncomfortably summarize why you come back here: because you can't resist.

ADDENDUM, 9/22/09, 12:24 p.m.: Jeannette Winterson reviews Atwood in the Sunday Times Book Review, noting:
[...] That’s what happens in Margaret Atwood’s new novel, “The Year of the Flood,” her latest excursion into what’s sometimes called her “science fiction,” though she prefers “speculative fiction.” If we have to have a label, that’s a better one, since part of Atwood’s mastery as a writer is to use herself as a creative computer, modeling possible futures projected from the available data — in human terms, where we are now.
So it's not all like science fiction, then.

9/21/2009 06:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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Sunday, September 20, 2009
Crystal Lee Sutton, whose defiance of factory bosses invigorated a long-running battle to unionize Southern mill workers and formed the dramatic heart of the Academy Award-winning movie "Norma Rae," died Sept. 11 in Burlington, N.C. She was 68.


In 1973, Sutton worked at the J.P. Stevens textile plant in Roanoke Rapids, N.C. Fed up with the poor pay and working conditions, she joined the Textile Workers Union of America and became an organizer whose activism quickly earned the wrath of management.

Moments after being fired, she wrote "UNION" on a piece of cardboard, climbed onto a table in the middle of the factory floor and raised the sign for co-workers to see. Stunned by her courage, they switched off their machines and focused on the 33-year-old mother of three who earned $2.65 an hour.

Some raised their fingers in a V for victory, but a union contract was still years away.

The victory that day was over fear.

"Stand up for what you believe in, no matter how hard it makes life for you," Sutton, reflecting on her iconic protest, told the Burlington Times News last year. "Do not give up, and always say what you believe."

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5. Support good jobs: buy union.

ADDENDUM, 4:20 p.m.: D. brings this to my attention in comments:
[...] Crystal Lee Jordan, the union activist from North Carolina that inspired Sally Field’s Oscar winning performance in Norma Rae, died on Friday because her health insurance company delayed her cancer treatment. Sutton was diagnosed with meningioma but waited two months to begin taking needed medication because her health insurance refused to cover it. While they debated about whether or not the medicine was included in her policy, the cancer spread through her nervous system making the medicine ultimately ineffective. Sutton herself openly criticized the U.S. health care system as an abuse of the power and potentially murderous for the working class. Her criticism got her insurance company to ultimately approve the medicine she needed, too late.
Based on this, which I'd actually read earlier, but entirely forgotten had crucial info.

D'oh! Thanks, D.!

9/20/2009 09:09:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Saturday, September 19, 2009
WE'RE NUMBER 37. Be proud to be an American.

At least we still know how to do rock and roll. While we're dying, we can rock our way out.
What we're number one at:

Another number:
[...] The total of America's military bases in other people's countries in 2005, according to official sources, was 737.
[...] These numbers, although staggeringly big, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally. The 2005 Base Structure Report fails, for instance, to mention any garrisons in Kosovo (or Serbia, of which Kosovo is still officially a province) -- even though it is the site of the huge Camp Bondsteel built in 1999 and maintained ever since by the KBR corporation (formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root), a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation of Houston.

The report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan, Iraq (106 garrisons as of May 2005), Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, even though the U.S. military has established colossal base structures in the Persian Gulf and Central Asian areas since 9/11. By way of excuse, a note in the preface says that "facilities provided by other nations at foreign locations" are not included, although this is not strictly true. The report does include twenty sites in Turkey, all owned by the Turkish government and used jointly with the Americans. The Pentagon continues to omit from its accounts most of the $5 billion worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases overseas, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure.
Some other numbers:
[...] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 46 million Americans, or 18 percent of the population under the age of 65, were without health insurance in 2007, their latest data available.


# The large majority of the uninsured (85 percent) are native or naturalized citizens.
# Nearly 1.3 million full-time workers lost their health insurance in 2006.
# Over 8 in 10 uninsured people come from working families
Do Your Own Math Scale: 5 out of 5. Rock on, USA.

Think of the video as a rockin' adult version of Sesame Street. With a beat you can dance to.

Video via Robin Postal White at Facebook.

9/19/2009 05:17:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Invention Can Turn Red Wine By-products Into Yoghurt, Chocolates, Creams And More. No offense intended to Christians, but an even better deal than Jesus offered.
[...] During the fermentation process of making wine, by-products are left over which are often just discarded as waste and the friends reasoned that since these by-products contain the goodness of wine in an even more concentrated form, and without the alcohol, shouldn’t it be more often used and consumed by humans?
I like the way these folks think.
[...] He proposed his company develop a method to turn the by-products into a powder preserving as many of the natural, healthy properties of wine as possible - the proteins, B vitamins, minerals and polyphenols, which are thought to prevent heart or circulation diseases, inflammation and thrombosis.


“We didn’t just want to extract the nutrients from red wine and press them into pills,” says ProVino’s project leader Gabriele Randel. “We worked from the principle that if omega-3-fatty acids are good for you, it’s better to eat fish than to swallow a -supplement. By adding red wine powder to products we also wanted to keep some of the taste and colour of red wine.”


Randel’s personal favourites were yoghurt drinks and other dairy products, like ice-cream, and pastries, cakes and chocolates.
My people! For others:
[...] Skin creams using the powder were more effective than red to violet eye-shadow and some wine properties could be good for the skin, including having anti-wrinkle effects. However consumers would have to get used to the idea of applying a cream which is initially violet although does not stay red when absorbed into the skin, says Randel. A face mask using the powder was successful because the tartaric acid in the grapes formed crystals if preserved at a high level. “It had a softening and cleansing effect,” she says.
You've probably head by now that DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated:
Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases.

The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.

“You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.”
Make your notes now for your next intended murder. Also:
[...] Using some of the same techniques, it may be possible to scavenge anyone’s DNA from a discarded drinking cup or cigarette butt and turn it into a saliva sample that could be submitted to a genetic testing company that measures ancestry or the risk of getting various diseases. Celebrities might have to fear “genetic paparazzi,” said Gail H. Javitt of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University.
I also foresee more celebrity hair-pulling.

You've doubtless seen those new Hubble shots.

Slide show.

This means intergalactic war, I tell you!
Slightly more mundanely:
[...] This photo of Stephan's Quintet, also known as Hickson Compact Group 92, was taken by the new Wide Field Camera 3. Stephan's Quintet, as the name implies, is a group of five galaxies. The name, however, is a bit of a misnomer. Studies have shown that group member NGC 7320, at upper left, is actually a foreground galaxy about seven times closer to Earth than the rest of the group.
Japan has gotten its new space freighter off the ground from its Tanegashima base.
The freighter is carrying about 4.5 tonnes of cargo on this maiden flight. It has the capacity to carry six tonnes.

Over the next few years, the HTV, and the other robotic re-supply ships like it, will be central to the operation of a fully crewed, fully functional ISS.
Essential use: space garbage truck.
[...] As the freighter's supplies are used up, the ship will be filled with station rubbish.

Destination? Charles Platt's far-sighted vision.
Enraged at the loss of garbage, Squirrel seen savaging fruit bat.

We also learn from the BBC that Great tits acquire taste for bats, and we have absolutely no comment.

In hope of assuaging the squirrels, Amygdala plans to inform them that Most ancient coloured twine found:
A Georgian cave has yielded what scientists say are the earliest examples of humans making cords.

The microscopic fibres, discovered accidentally while scientists were searching for pollen samples, are around 30,000 years old.

A team reports in the journal Science that ancient humans probably used the plant fibres to carry tools, weave baskets or make garments.

Some of the fibres are coloured and appear to have been dyed.

The fibres were discovered preserved within layers of mud in Dzudzuana Cave in Georgia.

The microscopic fibres, discovered accidentally while scientists were searching for pollen samples, are around 30,000 years old.

"It's impossible to know exactly how they were used, but some of them are twisted," said Ofer Bar-Yosef, a researcher from Harvard University in the US who took part in the study.
They were simply getting an early headstart on the World's Largest Twine Ball.
In competition, Artist creates world landmarks with toothpicks:

[...] His latest exhibition, called Toothpick City II - Temples and Towers, features more than 40 famous religious and tall buildings from around the world.


He combined his childhood passion of toothpicks with his more adult interest in architecture in 2003, following three months of unemployment.
All is explained!
[...] His first Toothpick City, called History of Skyscrapers, was sold to a museum in Mallorca, Spain. It took two years to build and has 50 buildings.
Ambitions for his work:
[...] "I want this exhibit to be a celebration of religious diversity, architectural achievement and historical accuracy - or just 'wow, that's a lot of toothpicks'.

"No one has built all these buildings to the same scale and put them side by side before - let alone out of toothpicks.

"I really wanted to see what it would look like.

"If you can't travel the world, I want people to see this exhibit and think they just did.
People who are very very very confused. "[C]elebration of religious diversity, architectural achievement and historical accuracy - or just 'wow, that's a lot of toothpicks'"?

Amygdala should install a polling widgit again, clearly.

Meanwhile, I'm sure this man is a huge hit on dating websites. Slideshow!

Not to be outdone by toothpicks, Cheese Lady Sarah Kaufmann carves cheesy art out of cheddar. That's one too many references to cheese in that headline, Torygraph.

This inspires me to consider Space Shuttle Unleashes Magnificent Plume of Pee:
Pee Over Hungary, By the Ruins of Essegvar: Last Wednesday, several skygazers scratched their heads when they saw this mysterious glow in the sky.
Slide show!

If you ever wanted to know what it would look like if $DEITY pissed on the earth -- no, literally, this time -- now you know.

Greatly alarmed by this threat to Earth's environment, scientists began feverish work in labs around the world to Reconstruct Mars Automatically In Minutes. Paging Stan Robinson to the white courtesy phone!

Oh, wait. It's just:
A computer system is under development that can automatically combine images of the Martian surface, captured by landers or rovers, in order to reproduce a three dimensional view of the red planet. The resulting model can be viewed from any angle, giving astronomers a realistic and immersive impression of the landscape.
This is cool, but actually reconstructing Mars, possibly every few minutes, would be vastly cooler. Think of the vacation possibilities, people!

If it makes you feel faint, try The Scent of Cthulu: Eau De Lovecraft.
Slides--, oh, wait, no slideshow. Sorry! (Link swiped from D. Langford via Facebook.)

Who didn't point out your alternative scent:
Really, you're going to want these after all the space pee and space garbage being poured on us.

And if you wear these scents, someone will read your fucking script. Dramatically.

If that doesn't work to get your manuscript read, try Tricking out your Carbine with a Laser ‘Pain Beam’.

[...] The Thermal Laser Weapon is a device that attaches to standard rail system on military rifles. Like the vehicle-mounted Active Denial System, it works by heating up the outer layer of skin, causing a very painful burning sensation without — in theory — causing any actual damage. The Active Denial System uses short microwaves, the Thermal Laser Weapon uses an infra-red laser. Work on the device is a direct outgrowth of the work on thermal lasers described in Danger Room last year; field testing of the Thermal Laser Weapon by the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate was announced this week.

The Thermal Laser’s immediate ancestor was the PHaSR (allegedly short for “Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response,” although the makers confess to being Star Trek fans). The PHaSR was a big, bulky weapon which combined an infra-red laser with a laser dazzler to produce a repel effect. Only the heating effect is mentioned for the Thermal Laser, but it seems likely that a visible laser would also be incorporated if only as an adjunct to aiming.
I could never have guessed that the makers were Star Trek fans.

More pain ray news.

You may want to look into obtaining your own sonic blaster protection suit.
Especially if you're going to protest in San Diego:
As town halls unfolded across the country without incident, San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore took it upon himself to place military equipment used in Iraq to repel terrorists, at two San Diego events. The device is also used by the U.S. Navy to repel terrorists from ships.

Gore, who is now under fire for his decision to place the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) at town hall events, went on record to explain his decision making.


“Why would you use a LRAD when members of Congress invited people to talk about health care? The majority of the attendees are probably on Medicare. Are we going after terrorists on walkers now?” LaSuer said.
Remember! You can't be too safe when protecting us from terrists!
[...] The LRAD uses a concentrated sound wave or beam that causes a lot of ear pain, bleeding or death when pointed at a direct source. According to the manufacturer’s website “the directionality of the LRAD device reduces the risk of exposing nearby personnel or peripheral bystanders to harmful audio levels.” So why use this equipment for crowd control?

Looking to Gore’s past history with the FBI Ruby Ridge incident and 9/11 Commission report, LaSuer questions the current Sheriff’s decision making. “Gore deployed a weapon that we use against terrorists on American citizens- shame on him.”

When pressed about the need to use such a lethal device at public town halls Gore states, “It was placed there for reserve and that’s all I can say.”

Another lifetime law enforcement deputy, Bruce Ruff says, “The potential use of lethality is pure incompetence by Sheriff Gore.”
And he'll probably win re-election in a landslide.

But take comfort! From Mike Glyer we learn of beeeeaaaaaeeeeears in space!:
Perhaps best we send them to Mars, where we can wind up with the Fantastic Four Bears!
[...] A panel tasked by the White House with reviewing NASA's human space flight activities (New Scientist, 22 August, p 8) suggests sending astronauts to one of Mars's moons, Phobos or Deimos, among other possibilities raised in its report released last week (


"I, for one, would go to Phobos or Deimos in a heartbeat, even without any hope of landing on Mars," says planetary scientist Pascal Lee of the Mars Institute, a California-based research organisation.
Me, too!
[...] But the insidious threat of space radiation in the form of galactic cosmic rays could keep astronauts confined much closer to home.


Relatively lightweight aluminium or plastic shielding can block charged particles from the sun. But it would take impractically thick and heavy shields to stop the higher-energy galactic cosmic rays. "Shielding is not a solution to the risk problem," says Frank Cucinotta, chief scientist for radiation studies at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Moooommmm! Why can't I go out and play in space and get Fantastic Four powers?!?

Another possibility:
[...] Alternative technologies - which would generate bubbles of plasma that could protect spacecraft without adding much weight - are still at an early stage of development.
Okay, you had to know this headline was coming: 'Deflector' shields could protect future astronauts.

Meanwhile, I've returned to Facebook, because it's now the law: Facebook nearly as large as U.S. population. Soon: fines for not twirping.
[...] Jacquie took a quiz 'If you were an element, which element would you be?' The answer was: Metal
3 people liked this

Mike commented: Sweet!

Verity commented: What does that mean?

Jacquie commented: @Verity, it's just a bit of fun.

Verity commented: I meant, what does it mean, 'the answer was Metal'? Since when was 'metal' an element? It's not a chemical element, it's not an earth-wind-and-fire element. What does it mean?

Jacquie commented: It's just a bit of fun.

Verity commented: In what respect are you like a metal? Do you form a salt and water when dilute hydrochloric acid is added to you? Are you malleable and ductile?

Jacquie commented: It's just a bit of fun.

Verity commented: I've googled up this quiz. Q5 is 'If you carried a wepon [sic] what would it be?' Why are you answering this illiterate rubbish?

Jacquie commented: It's just a bit of fun.
View all 37 comments.
This last stolen again from D. Langford on, yes, Facebook!

Read The Rest Scale: 4.5 out of 5 for that last one, for oh the laffs.

And, really, if L. Ron Hubbard could cobble up a religion out of e-meters and enneagrams, just think what a magnificent religion I could conjure up by using all of the above bits. We could, dare I say it? Rule the world!

Mama said geek you out.

ADDENDUM, 1:15 p.m.: Welcome Pharyngula readers! You can find your Talk Like A Pirate Day historical post here.

Other recent geek links post here.

Chip Delany, Polymath. What Damon Knight really said about science fiction and pointing. A post inspired by Charlie Stross. Some silly science fiction and comics stuff. Perverts raging though science fiction, and other scurrilous gossip here! Further wacky science fiction stuff, with videos, and piccies, here!

Also, I recently lived through another fire, minor this time, but lost various computer and electronic equipment, none of which was paid for by insurance, and that after having to entirely replace my computer a few months ago, so do please feel free to consider hitting the tip jar PayPal links in the sidebar, if you're feeling kind and generous today.

Meanwhile, come back early and often, and we'll try to keep that pee from space off you.

9/19/2009 05:33:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 4 comments

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Friday, September 18, 2009
ARGH, DEJA VU, MATIES. Return with Amygdala to 2006, when we asked "Oy, vey, talk like a pirate, nu? Why do Jews not get their fair credit as pirates, matey?"

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 in celebration of the confluence of this day and these days, and to learn about Real Jewish Pirates.

No, not Bernie Madoff.

ADDENDUM, September 19th, 10:43 p.m.: Before TLAP Day ends, this, via John Hedtke on Facebook.


9/18/2009 05:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009
REAGAN WAS A LENINIST. They owe it all to Herbert George Wells. Reagan:
Reagan said:
[...] I couldn’t help but - when you stop to think that we’re all God’s children, wherever we live in the world, I couldn’t help but say to him [Gorbachev] just how easy his task and mine might be if suddenly there was a threat to this world from some other species from another planet outside in the universe. We’d forget all the little local differences that we have between our countries and we would find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on this Earth together.
Reagan to the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 1987:
In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside of this world. And yet I ask - is not an alien force already among us?
Vladimir Lenin:
Lenin told the British science fiction writer H.G. Wells, who interviewed him in the Kremlin in 1920, that if life were discovered on other planets, revolutionary violence would no longer be necessary: "Human ideas—he told Wells—are based on the scale of the planet we live in. They are based on the assumption that the technical potentialities, as they develop, will never overstep 'the earthly limit.' If we succeed in making contact with the other planets, all our philosophical, social and moral ideas will have to be revised, and in this event these potentialities will become limitless and will put an end to violence as a necessary means of progress."
—Susan Buck-Morss, Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West (2002)
Lenin quote via Gerry Canavan, via Robert Farley on Facebook. (Yes, I've finally rejoined; friend me now! It is your destiny!)

And thus, Q.E.D., scientific romances are proven to be amongst the greatest influences in modern world history.

This also proves, given the Wells influence, that Reagan secretly wanted to follow his ultimate master and secretly believed that:
His most consistent political ideal was the World State. He stated in his autobiography that from 1900 onward he considered a World State inevitable. He envisioned the state to be a planned society that will advance science, end nationalism, and allow people to advance by merit rather than birth. During his work on the League of Nations charter, he opposed any mention of democracy. He feared the average citizen could never be educated or aware enough to decide major world issues. Therefore, he favoured suffrage to be limited to scientists, organisers, engineers, and others of merit, though he believed citizens should have as much freedom as possible without restricting the freedom of others.
Also, Bill Ayers wrote all of Reagan's speeches.

Who says I can't combine my sf and political blogging?

I should note that although I don't believe it's documented, I'd bet almost anything that Reagan surely would have seen The Day The Earth Stood Still.

So, if you break the code successfully, Reagan, in his role as head of the screen actors guild, made sure that picture was made as a way of saying Farewell To His Master, Lenin.

A disguised Lenin stands behind Michael Rennie, who was merely playing the role Ronald Reagan, behind the scenes, as Leninist theory calls for, made into a movie part:
It all falls into place.


Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5 except for possibly reading the original Harry Bates story that "Day The Earth Stood Still" was adapted from, and, of course, the second half of my own post where I first delved into the well-known fact that Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama's books. (If you like that sort of thing, go back to uber-nut Pam Geller's uber-birther post.)

And everyone should always read more about H. G. Wells; fascinating guy.

And for the heck of it, a post from five years ago on what a strange man Ronald Reagan was. A short bit more. And if you really want to know more about Reagan, I linked five years ago to this classic Edmund Morris analysis/account.

ADDENDUM, 6:56 p.m.: Thanks, P. Z.! Welcome, Pharyngula visitors, and do feel free to come back again, and check out other posts.

ADDENDUM, September 16th, 10:17 a.m.: Thanks, Crooks and Liars!

ADDENDUM, September 16th, 1:04 p.m.: Thanks, Robert! Thanks, Jay Lake! Thanks, Crotchety!

ADDENDUM, September 17th, 9:29 a.m.: Thanks, Avedon!

9/15/2009 11:52:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 12 comments

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Sunday, September 13, 2009
CHIP DELANY, POLYMATH AND GENTLEMAN. I had no idea this film had been made: The Polymath: The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman (2007).

It's now saved in my Netflix queue for whenever they have it available.

More about it here.

And here.

Very short IMDB entry here.

And I missed a short write-up in the New Yorker in 2007.

An excellent, quite long, analysis here.

Definitely check out this last piece by Nicholas de Villiers, which is entitled Documentary and the
anamnesis of queer space: The Polymath, or, The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman
, and is a long critical piece itself.
Fred Barney Taylor’s recent documentary portrait [...] is in fact a double portrait. It is at once an affectionate portrayal of the prolific science fiction author and cultural critic known to his friends as “Chip” and a picture of New York City’s changing queer sexual landscape. Delany acts as our “guide,” not unlike eccentric New York tour guide Timothy “Speed” Levitch in The Cruise (Miller, 1998), whose theories of “the cruise” (pedestrian tactics of enjoyment) versus “the anti-cruise” (controlling technocratic strategies, the ideology of the “grid plan”) have great affinity with both Delany and de Certeau.

Like Delany’s brilliantly reflexive memoir The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, Taylor’s film illustrates Delany’s life through a series of what Roland Barthes called biographemes (preferences, inflections, details to which the author might be distilled).


We could also place The Polymath in a series of recent “intellectual profile” documentaries such as Zizek! (Taylor, 2005) and Derrida (Dick & Kofman, 2002) or perhaps Esther Robinson’s A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory (2007), which has a similar ambient electronic soundtrack.


[Chip] explains, “I’m the kind of person who basically thinks about writing all day long, and all the time.” He reveals that he broke up with a lover who said, “Don’t you think about anything except writing?” to which he admits,
“The sad answer to that is ‘no.’ My perception of myself is there’s not a lot of me there, there’s just a big emptiness in which there are a whole lot of words swimming around all the time—sentences, fragments of sentences—that’s how I perceive what me is.”

[Jonathan] Letham argues that Delany “never saw boundaries” and thus makes us question boundaries like that established between high and low art (we see Delany at a comic shop, then a modern art museum).


In The Polymath, Delany frankly states,
“I think that heterosexual monogamy is a really vicious and silly way to live.”
Since he has seen so many made miserable by it, he does not therefore “agree with it.” But he compares it to a religious choice, and thus he respects it the way one must have respect for other religions.
And so on.

A fascinating long piece.

I finally got around to rejoining Facebook yesterday, surmounting this this past event, and Chip Delany mentioned to me this morning that:
Yes, Gary, it's Chip Delany. Will be coming down to Raleigh, NC, to speak at Duke, just after your birthday. I'll be there from the 10th of Nomember to the 12th.
I've checked the Duke University calendar for the month of November, to no avail, but hope to find out the exact date and time soon, and see Chip, which would be lovely.

If memory doesn't fail me, the last time I saw him in person was at a party at his apartment in the late Eighties, and, of course, I'll never forget sleeping with Chip for five nights in August of 1983.

Okay, it was sharing a bed platonically when he and Don Keller let me crash with them, but it sounds so much more exciting the other way.

Then in 2007 I noticed in a local paper that Chip was either speaking at, or teaching a class, or both -- definitely teaching a class -- at a local school in Boulder, where I had been living since December, 2001 (probably Naropa University) -- and figured I'd try to see if I could audit the class, or go if he was public speaking, and then I managed, as is my fashion, to get completely distracted that week, and totally forgot about it until after the fact.

So I'm blogging this to help remind myself to not miss Chip here in the Triangle come November.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5 for the Nicholas de Villiers piece, if you're at all interested in queer theory, Chip, or queer inter-class interracial social institutions, and, you know, Chip-like subjects.

Also, pictures!

For another film on a much more controversial figure, see here; it's a pretty good portrayal. Dreams With Sharp Teeth currently available from Netflix, Amazon, etc. (Buy via that last link and I get some pennies; Netflix is cheaper, though.)

It just occurred to me to wonder whatever happened to J. J. Pierce, who spent so much time and energy denouncing the "New Wave" in sf back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, to the point of aneurysm; could this possibly be the same guy? I recall that John R. Pierce was his father.

The Wikipedia entry makes no mention of family, but other sources confirm that John Jeremy Pierce was John R. Pierce's son.

J. R. Pierce, to digress, was a fascinating guy:
John Robinson Pierce, the father of communications satellites and a writer of science fiction who came to Stanford to pursue his longtime interests in computer music and psychoacoustics, died April 2, 2002 at the age of 92. [...] In 1948 he coined the term "transistor" for the small, electronic switch invented at Bell Labs. But he is probably most famous for proposing the scientific groundwork that made unmanned communications satellites a reality. He urged NASA to build a satellite based on his design, and it was launched in 1960. Essentially a large polyester balloon covered with aluminum foil, Echo I bounced radio waves from a Jet Propulsion Laboratory antenna near Goldstone, Calif., to a Bell Labs station in New Jersey. The first message was recorded by President Eisenhower. The project's success led to the construction and 1962 launch of the first commercial communications satellite, Telstar I, which broadcast the first live television signals across the Atlantic.

[...] He was inventor of the Pierce Gun, a vacuum tube that transmits electrons and is used in satellites and, among other things, the klystrons that power the Stanford Linear Accelerator. Richard Lyon, one of his younger colleagues in the later years at Caltech, notes that his 1948 paper `The Philosophy of PCM' with Claude Shannon and Barney Oliver marked the beginning of the inexorable conversion of analog media to digital, starting with the digitization of short-haul telephony by the Bell System in the 1960s.
And much more.

John Pierce the younger was more than a little fierce, and not at all quiet, in the Sixties and Seventies in his opinion that if your science fiction didn't revolve around very very hard science, it was -- well, he may have left the casual reader or listener with the impression that he felt that burning at the stake would be too good for such writers.

J. J. Pierce became an expert on Cordwainer Smith, and was for a short time editor of Galaxy.

A little googling shows me that Darrell Schweitzer wrote about J. J. Pierce in 2007 that Pierce:
[...] published an article about his editorial experiences recently in The New York Review of Science Fiction, entitled ‘A Year of Torment’. He wasn’t merely making bricks without straw as editor of Galaxy. He was making bricks without mud. That he produced anything at all under the circumstances was remarkable.
Forgive me for this slightly wandering exercise in nostalgic curiosity, but somehow thinking about Chip, and then HE, made me think of those days of the late Sixties, and my early fanzine reading circa 1971-2, when J. J. was so energetically still denouncing the Evil New Wave, and I wonder how he looks back on all that now.

Next post: we recall Ed Earl Repp and Captain S. P. Meek, and consider the writings of Sarge Saturn, and their little-known influence on slipstream fiction, the New Weird, and greenpunk.

Or, as we used to say: Maybe Not.

9/13/2009 10:55:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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