New computer rocks. I'm learning the 2007 versions of all the software and appreciating its speed.
Attended a Diversicon Con-Comm meeting the other night. Never gotten to one before. I'm not fond of meetings, preferring to work behind the scenes and just accomplish useful stuff. These are nice people, though, and the restaurant's garlic bread is awesome, so it wasn't too bad. And I just found out [drum roll please!] that the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, an African-American newspaper, will be running a front-page story on Diversicon 15 and GoH Andrea Hairston! How cool is that?
Just got a courteous rejection from Forgotten Worlds.
Family -- My last hard-copy editing project went back to the publisher with small holes in several pages, courtesy of Bootsie, the mad paper-attacking kitty! I just drew an arrow next to each mutilation and wrote "Bootsie, a cat." Earlier this evening, I passed by her cat tower and suddenly had pinpricks of pain in my arm. Sure enough, she'd ambushed me from one of her hidey-holes. Cubby is unhappy about all the rain we've been getting; he doesn't like getting his dainty feet or fur wet (except he lay down in a mud puddle at the dog park the other day, so I don't know . . . ).
Culture -- Just read Liz Williams's Snake Agent (2005), which I picked up from Nightshade Books in the dealers' room at WisCon. Wow!!! What a fabulous book! It blends science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery genres effortlessly as Detective Inspector Chen battles cyberviruses, demons, and human criminals to save the world, his wife, a ghost who belongs in heaven, and his tenuous relationship with his goddess. The plotting is tight and the settings and characters vivid. I was recently given a $30 gift certificate to Amazon.com, and I spent it all on Liz Williams's books.
While waiting for those to come, have cracked open a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Bear titled The Chains That You Refuse (2006), also published by Nightshade Books and purchased at WisCon. The first story was elegantly written but irritating. It's yet another SFnal tale that relies on what I call "name dropping"; that is, populating its world with famous historical/fictional characters whom the author doesn't bother to flesh out because the reader is supposed to know them already. Also, I felt that the mechanics of the magic were hand-waved a bit too much -- why is Shakespeare hanging out with Ginsberg in the bar where Ginsberg used to stash his pot? And maybe I'm just too dumb and ignorant to appreciate certain stories. The second tale, on the other hand -- kind of a female Robocop story in which the protagonist has to make impossible choices and finds a moral compass she can live with in the process -- totally got me.
Home & Garden -- From drought to flood. At least we're up on a hill, so even our basement hasn't taken any water as far as I can tell. And we're not in the flood zone of southeast Minnesota/southwest Wisconsin where houses have come unmoored from their foundations and floated down the street with their occupants screaming for help from the roofs. Now the next few days we should dry out a bit, so I hope to get a bunch of weeding and other yard work done. The plants sure appreciate the water.
- How physics works, and doesn't, in the Loony Toons universe: New Scientist (December 25, 1993)
- An insightful commentary on the I-35 bridge collapse from Don Blyly of Uncle Hugo's bookstore: Newsletter #79 (September-November 2007)
- AC/DC economics. I found out about this kerfuffle from CBC's As It Happens. While waiting in the Vancouver airport, economist Robert Oxoby wrote a joke paper on the influence of AC/DC's music, as sung by the band's two different lead singers over its lifetime, on decision making. A New York Times blogger took it seriously, then had trouble apologizing graciously. Oxoby's real research interests look pretty fascinating; I wish I'd known economists did such things when I suffered through econ classes. At any rate, such work should be the foundation of a character in an SF story. The paper's conclusions?
The question as to who was a better singer, Bon Scott or Brian Johnson, may never truly be resolved. However, our analysis suggests that in terms of affecting efficient decision making among listeners, Brian Johnson was a better singer. Our analysis has direct implications for policy and organizational design: when policymakers or employers are engaging in negotiations (or setting up environments in which other parties will negotiate) and are interested in playing the music of AC/DC, they should choose from the band’s Brian Johnson era discography.
- And last but not least, I recently revisited this essay by Doug McNair, who happens to be married to me, and once again was dazzled by its perspicacity: "If you could change any moment in history, what would it be and why?"