When Swedish Beavers Attack

…granny goes to the hospital.

Astronomers Find Empty Space in Space

That’s right. A big empty space. Either that or it’s a cloaked Romulan vessel.

Vervet Monkeys Sexually Harass Kenyan Women

…complete with breast-grabbing and pointing at beavers genitals.

“Priority” Shipping for Military Contracts: $990,000+ for a $0.19 Washer

…not that the headline and the first paragraph can agree on exactly how much the amount was. But it seems to have been more than $20 million over six years for $68,000 worth of parts.

Money Costs Too Much Money

Pennies cost two cents, nickels cost a dime. Comes to about $100 million wasted every year. Compared to the war debt it’s chump change, but still….

Atlanta Proposes Criminalizing Jail-Inspired Fashion Statement

…and also exposed bra-straps and thongs. I say just go ahead and ban underwear, because then you wouldn’t ever risk seeing any.

I’ve never really seriously considered wearing my underpants on the outside of my pants until now.

Mother Theresa’s Diary Reveals 40 Years of Doubt that God Existed

…proving once and for all that you can have a decent grasp of right and wrong and public service and still be canonized as a saint without any hope of some kind of eternal reward.

…and, if you have no idea what a rejection slip from The Paris Review looks like, here’s one:

unable, eh?
Elsewhere on the intarwebs I have been discussing the amusing differences between the words “unable” and “unwilling”, with some certain amount of conjecture as to what could make editors in the USA (amazingly enough, The Paris Review isn’t French) unable to publish any particular item.


August 29, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else  

Colin Powell John Ashcroft Donald Rumsfeld Scooter Libby Paul Wolfowitz Karl Rove Alberto Gonzales
…and joining the ranks of the Bush Administration resignees is Alberto Gonzales, lawyer shyster behind the the whole “let’s see how close we can get to torturing people without being called on it” scenario, architect of the “who needs habeas corpus?” deal, inventor of the “that Prisoners of War thing is so Hogan’s Heroes” situation, the mastermind behind the “let’s take justice out of the hands of the Judiciary and give it to the Military” fiasco, and principal proponent of the “let’s spy on US citizens without a warrant” movement.

I’m minded to leave out the push to purge the district attorneys’ offices to replace office-holders with party loyalists because everybody does that.

You can’t see Gonzales’s hands in this picture because his left hand is down by his side and his right hand is raised in his typical oath-taking-in-front-of-a-congressional-subcommittee gesture. It’d be about in the right place to give Rove a pair of bunny ears.

I’d like to point out that the rules of the attorney general game aren’t “how close can we come to the edge of the civil liberties toilet without falling in?” but, perhaps, “how do we best provide liberty and justice for all?”

Ex-attorney general Alberto Gonzales, please accept your Swirly. You know you deserve it. Thank you for all your hard work.


August 27, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else  

If any of you are wondering what happened to the alarmist/political stuff that used to happen here once or twice a day not too long ago, it’s not just that I don’t have much time to write. The actuality is that the populace in general seems to have gotten the message.

Gitmo Bad. Bush Administration Bad. Iraq War doomed. Iran War ludicrous. War on Terror risible. Healthcare system collapsing. Mortgage crisis too late to fix.

All the buildings on the block are on fire, yes, but by now everyone knows.

Master Knows about the Danger, Lassie. Good Dog. Stop Barking.

Takes the pressure off a bit.

Meanwhile … there is no meanwhile. Every project I’m working on other than the wake-up-go-to-work-come-home-sleep project is on hold, waiting for … stuff that is in other people’s hands. Been waiting for months, have months more to wait.

It’s 100°F outside. The haze has become a rapist of throats and sinuses and lungs. It’s healthier, no kidding healthier, to filter every breath through a burning cigarette. The temperature speeds up the rate at which the chemicals in the air, particularly the ozone, does nasty things to you. If you suck that through actual fire, you at least know the ozone isn’t making it into your head and lungs. It also gives the carbon monoxide a better chance of being carbon dioxide, and similar things happen with all those spurious nitrous compounds. You can almost see a blueish tinge to the cigarette’s red glow…. It’s a shame about all that nicotine and tar and superheated particulate matter.

Today is, for any of a number of reasons, not the least of which included spending a few happy hours in communication with Dun and Bradstreet and filling out forms to allow access to federal funds/government contracts, a Good Migraine Day. Good for migraine, bad for head. But hey, now I know my DUNS number and I’ve certified my (corporate) identity well enough to accept federal grants and contracts.

It’s also apparently Giant Bug Season. On my desk right now is a dead stag beetle and a cicada, both in the two-inch-plus category. On the front window glass is a three-inch-plus katydid, about the size of last year’s kick-ass wheel bug. I had a coreid bug at the house for a while, but it’s laid eggs and died already. Two weeks ago I took pictures of a moth the size of my palm, but I have no idea what kind it was. Every year I get those huge black-and-yellow orb weaver spiders in my yard, but this year I’m down to one instead of my usual four or five.

Right now I’m hungry enough to consider eating the giant katydid.


August 10, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else  

Time for writing is still quite quite close to zero. Time for reading is an order of magnitude higher than that — maybe close to half an hour per day. Possibly double that if you count time for reading stuff in books I’ve had for years while waiting to wind down enough to sleep or waiting to inflate a saggy tire on the car.

I got an uncharacteristic chance to read a bit about new findings regarding the Casimir effect and van der Waals forces yesterday, a topic hyped in the press and near-press tabloids as “levitation”, as it seems the normally attractive Casimir-Polder force can be reversed with an appropriate lens made out of a kind of metamaterial construct that is at least theoretically possible to build…. but understand here we’re talking about forces that operate over distances of around a hundred atom-widths. This isn’t quite a flying car scenario. “Levitation” is a reversal or nullification of gravity. Levity, gravity. Get it? At a hundred-atom distance, we’re not operating on a scale where gravity is measurable or detectable.


We are talking about nullifying or reversing friction. We’re talking about tinkering with the forces that govern whether a substance is a solid or a liquid or a gas or whatever. For certain classes of substances. In certain carefully exact configurations.

Which means the press that serves the geek audience missed the chance to herald the impending advent of Super-Lube.

I expect they’re really kicking themselves now.

A side track drew me into looking up excitons, magnons, phonons, plasmons, polaritons, and polarons. Makes me wonder how many other (merely) microscopic or even macroscopic effects might be harmonics of quantum forces driven by stuff on the sub-atomic or atomic scale acting in near-concert. Or a bunch of things we haven’t noticed yet. Not exactly wavicles per se, but phenomena that act like them enough to adhere to the weirdness of quantum math. It also reminds me of the entirely consistent “Dark Suckers” theory of light bulbs (“when you turn on a light it sucks all of the dark out of the room”), complete with “speed of dark” calculations…. I swear some of that math looks an awful lot like the “negative pressure” math for the expansion force, and certainly a lot like the “electron hole” stuff for semiconductors and Cooper pair formation in superconductors.

Anyway. Levitation? Not quite. An important widget for creating nanomachinery? You betcha. Turning on and off intermolecular attraction gives a nanomachine a hand. A literal hand. Like for picking stuff up and putting it down. That could be useful.


August 8, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else  

The Dead Walk Again!Every once in a while you just have to do what the public demands. This time what the public has demanded is a follow-up to the Shocklines best-seller The Dead Walk!, a zombie-themed horror anthology edited by Vincent Sneed and published by Die, Monster, Die! Books. So we done it. This new zombie-themed horror anthology is called, unsuprisingly enough, The Dead Walk Again! and is currently available for purchase at Amazon.

Like, this very instant. And you know you just got paid. Go do your duty.

For less than a yuppie foodstamp you get, bound under a single cover (pictured at right, artwork by Stephen Blickenstaff, who did the cover for The Cramps’ “Bad Music for Bad People” album), the following stories:

“2 Dead 2 Walk” an introductory piece by Laszlo Xalieri
“A Large and Rattling Stick” by C.J. Henderson
“Fast Eddie’s Big Night Out” by John L. French
“Of Cabbages and Kings” by Nate Southard
“Laundry Day” by Steven A. Roman
“Married Alive” by D.J. Kirkbride
“High Noon of the Living Dead” by Adam P. Knave
“Ragged Bones” by Bruce Gehweiler
“The Spare” by Laszlo Xalieri
“Zombies on Broadway” by Jack Dolphin
“Zombie and Spice” by Patrick Thomas
“The Dead in their Masses” a novella by James Chambers
“Ode to Brains” a poem by Adam P. Knave

…also edited by Vincent Sneed of Die, Monster, Die! Books. So you know that the pieces were hand-selected and typeset by zombie-loving sensibilities you can trust.

And yes, you read that right. Two pieces by Yours Truly. Written specifically for this compilation and never seen before except by beachsomewhere, to whom I am am married and therefore has the right to see and revise anything that could potentially shame the family brand before whatever it is hits print; murnkay, whom I occasionally pester with new pieces so he can offer valuable critiques and suggestions for titles when I can’t think of something sufficiently satisfying; and the aforementioned Vincent Sneed, book designer, typesetter, and publisher, who assumably has to read these things at least in the act of laying out the text on the pages.

And there you have it. Or, at least, there you will have it when it ships.


August 3, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else