Stone of Remembrance

March 26, 2007

Active Minions Feed My Blog, Part One

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 17:23

Welcome to the new week with a passel o’ stuff passed on to me by my friend Slet. I don’t know if he qualifies as a minion, exactly, but he does find some interesting things. To wit:

Post-Rapture Postal Service

“Do you know someone who is in danger of being “left behind” because of a sinful life? Imagine if you could write a letter to a friend or loved one after the Great Day of Reckoning . . . It could be that your message is the light that opens a sinner’s eyes to the Glory of God and allows them entrance to Heaven during the trials before the Second Coming. This is where the Post-Rapture Post comes in.”

The best part about this is that they actually offer a service you can order, with the letter to be in your handwriting, printed on resume-quality paper, or (best of all, for $799)

hand-scribed on medieval style parchment sheets, and then rolled and wrapped with a fine Italian ribbon. The Class III message is delivered immediately after the Rapture, so expect delivery in as little as one day, depending on the transportation options available to those rejected from the Kingdom of God.

I suspect they’re doing better with the greeting cards and other merchandise. Anyway, it’s damned funny, and I’m sure that God will get them for it.

Headgear For Paranoids

<a href="

An Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie (AFDB) is a type of headwear that can shield your brain from most electromagnetic psychotronic mind control carriers. . . . This cheap and unobtrusive form of mind control protection offers real security to the masses. Not only do they protect against incoming signals, but they also block most forms of brain scanning and mind reading, keeping the secrets in your head truly secret. AFDBs are safe and operate automatically. All you do is make it and wear it and you’re good to go! Plus, AFDBs are stylish and comfortable.

This one pretty much speaks for itself, but I commend the history page to your attention, particularly the sidebar pictures and captions. I think Lyle Zapato is joking. I think so. I’m not sure, but I . . . think . . . so . . .

Sounds of Star Trek

Should anyone need them. Now I know how to spell Qapla’. It is a Good Day For Sound Effects.

What’s Special About This Number?

This page is a compendium of numbers from 0 to 10,000 and what makes them “special”. For example, 151 is a palindromic prime number; 40 is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order; 192 is the smallest number with 14 divisors.

I love stuff like that.

March 16, 2007

Unfortunate News, 16 March Edition

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 14:50


Shown here as a public service.

Randall Monroe reports on his blag that his laptop was stolen by someone who forced a ground-floor window and took it from right next to where he was sleeping.

In myth, a stolen object turns out to be burdensome or injurious, and the guilty party is forced to return or discard it. In real life, however, miscreants wind up enjoying the fruits of their deeds and never get caught or punished. Which, unfortunately, sucks.

Here’s hoping the thief gets caught and that the laptop is recovered.

March 13, 2007

“It is a Good Day to Campaign.”

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 11:50

yIrqI’ yIy yIy qaSvI’ ‘oH pongwIj’e’ ‘ej vInlan yejquvDaq jIjeS. pa’ DIvI’ SuDqu’ vI’oS.

pe’vIl parmaq vIvoq. qo’ vIDub vIneH; motlhwI’ vIqaD vIneH; ngoch ngachlu’taHvIS qechmey chu’ vIchel vIneH. jIHvaD Daj qechmeyvam: De’ nugh, vummeH mIw patlh, DuSaQ’a’ ngoch, ‘oghmeH toDuj je; nIb Hoch ghotpu’ DuHmey ‘ej pImwI’ cherghlu’ ‘e’ vIqel je.

qaS Dochmeyvam vIneH:
- ‘ebmey jonlaH Hoch
- tlhablu’DI’ ngoy’nISlu’ je
- roghvaH qum
- rewbe’pu’ jIj nugh
- wa’ Dol nIvDaq matay’DI’ maQap
- pImwI’ cherghlu’

It’s the coming thing, apparently: Policy-Maker Kasvi, a Green Party (formerly Young Finns Party) member of the Finnish Parliament, has offered his policy positions in Klingon (as shown above).

According to CNN,

“Some have thought it is blasphemy to mix politics and Klingon,” said Jyrki Kasvi, an ardent Trekkie. “Others say it is good if politicians can laugh at themselves.”

Well, everyone else does.

He said his politics posed some translation difficulties, since Klingon does not have words for matters such as tolerance,

That’s going to be a problem, I’d say.

or for many colors, including green – the party under whose banner he is running in the national elections on March 18.

Is there a Klingon word for irony? :-)

So here’s what I want to know, from Lawrence Schoen or whoever else can tackle the text above – Is it a good day to campaign?

Nyuk, nyuk. Best of luck to Jyrki Kasvi. Better a Klingon than a Ferengi,

March 10, 2007

Brave Words

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 23:45

I heard a brief commentary on the radio from the American Jewish Committee regarding a poem written in the New York Times on March 7. The entire text of the commentary can be found here. David Harris, the speaker, called these “brave and unflinching words” – and they are:


When you cannot find a single garden in your city, but there is a mosque on every corner – you know that you are in an Arab country.

When religion has control over science – you can be sure that you are in an Arab country.

When you hear the clerics saying that democracy is heresy, but seizing every opportunity provided by democracy to grab high positions – do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country …

When you discover that a woman is worth half of what a man is worth, or less – do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country …

When fear constantly lives in the eyes of the people – you can be certain you are in an Arab country …

I don’t know if this is constructive dialogue with a culture we don’t understand – but even if it comes from a commentary provided by a Jewish organization, it quotes an Egyptian author writing about his own culture. It is possible that there is a portion of that world that is as repelled by the things that repel us. It is conceivable that there is a bridge across that gulf that separates us, based on the idea that simple humanity trumps violence and base politics and, ultimately, hatred.

It will take a lot more brave words like this to accomplish it; further, it’s important that they be said by Moslems. Can our culture make concessions and admit our own shortcomings as well? Of course we can, and must. Hatred and narrow-mindedness stalks America and Europe as well. But we’re not making our young men and women and children into human bombs to prove somehow that our cause is right.

When fear constantly lives in the eyes of the people … now that’s a frightening thought. That’s not a place I want to live.

Maybe there’s a chance to do something about it.

March 8, 2007

Tor Website Redesign

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 23:21

Tor Books, the publisher of my four science fiction novels, has done a nice job redesigning its website. I recently located my series on its own page. It’s good to know that I’m still part of the active back list, even though there are no plans to add to the series at present.

By the way, while I was in Minnesota I picked up a copy of The Dark Path, the second book of the series. It’s made it to a second printing, so I’m still optimistic about the series staying in print. For those of you who bought my books, let me thank you again.

Been There, Been Doing That

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 11:23

I’ve had a busy few weeks, including two conventions: Boskone, which took place on the third weekend in February at the Westin Waterfront in Boston, and Marscon, which took place on the first weekend in March at the Holiday Inn Select in Minneapolis.

Boskone

Both were great conventions. At Boskone I had great programming items, including a panel with Jane Yolen, the wonderful fantasy writer and storyteller (who advised the Smith College Science Fiction Club when it was first founded). Jane was challenged a bit about whether a writer can actually tackle subjects with which s/he has no experience. “Well,” she said, deadpan, “I write murder mysteries.” Best line of the convention.

Boskone is only a part of the Boston fandom community. Arisia is the other major part. Both moved hotels this year; Arisia was at the Hyatt Cambridge, which was a logistical disaster, while Boskone’s convention space was expensive and remote, but extremely comfortable and spacious. But the two fan groups, split for more than fifteen years and holding separate conventions a month apart, can’t seem to reconcile their deep philosophical differences. That may last until all of the children are dead. In the meanwhile, some pros go to one and not the other, and others go to both; if I wasn’t local to Boston, I’d have to choose one or the other, which would be a shame. But see below.

Marscon

I attended this convention for the fourth time; last year they made me their literary guest of honor, the first time I have been accorded such an honor. I should mention that I will be the special guest at Context in Columbus, Ohio in October; this con is described as most similar to Readercon. (If any other convention wants to make the same offer, feel free to drop me a line!)

Marscon is a hugely fun convention. There are (fairly polite!) Klingons, including a Klingon Elvis (”the Kling” – “It is a good day to die, momma. Thank you. Thank you verymuch.”); some wonderful local authors including my friends Kathryn Sullivan and Lyda Morehouse. Lyda did a turn as Tate Hallaway, her romance writer alter ego, and I did my best to thwart her relentless self-deprecation – because it’s misplaced, and because it drives her nuts when I publicly praise her.

I also spent time with my friend D., who teaches history at a local high school. It was intended for me to visit the school and speak to students, but there was enough snow to close just about all of Minnesota on Friday; try to imagine how much snow that is. Instead we had a chance to visit Village Games in Anoka; his stepson bought Settlers and Ticket to Ride, both of which got lots of play right away. (Hooray, another Eurogamer! Sorry Slet, the official count is up to 10. . . ) On Saturday morning I had breakfast with a fan friend who gave me a brief Babyfix™ when I was permitted to hold his beautiful 18-month-old daughter.

Minnesota has three conventions, of which Marscon is only one. As in Boston, Marscon was hived off from Minicon at some point, and there’s a third one – Convergence – in the summer. Having had a close up view of the Boston experience, I have a fair idea of what this must have been like: but because these three cons are 1200 miles from home, there’s no way for me to attend all three. I’m not sure whether Marscon is the best venue from me: Minicon is more book-oriented, while Convergence seems to be more general appeal. Neither of the others has invited me, and I don’t know how much overlap there is among readers and fan groups. So here’s my problem: I can’t afford to pay my own way to three conventions in Minnesota. There are cities with one convention that I don’t ever visit, for crying out loud. I’ve been to Marscon four times, had four enjoyable experiences with reasonably good book sales between the con and Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore, where I signed on Saturday; and next year’s con chairs told me just how much they wanted me to come back. But I’m not sure whether I should be going to one of the other two. Not as well: instead. To say that to the Marscon folks, after their generosity and courtesy over the past four years, seems somewhat impolite.

What’s Coming

I wanted to go to BayCon in San Jose, and was invited there; but I had to decline for cost reasons. Looks like I’ll be at Balticon in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend. I went to Columbus last year, but since I’ll be there in October I think I’ll return to the old stomping ground in Baltimore.

But at least I get a little time at home in between . . . whew. A. and I were in Maine to do research the week after Boskone, so my wife and I are back getting to know each other. I’ll be going to the Gathering in April, so I’ll be away just about the time she gets sick of me again . . . :-)

March 2, 2007

Tide of Iron

Filed under: Games — admin @ 22:36

And speaking of games, Fantasy Flight Games is soon to release a tactical World War II simulation called Tide of Iron. In order to promote this game, which looks a lot like Memoir ‘44 gone all serious and grognardish, the company has announced Operation: Early Bird to show off the game at FLGSs. (”Friendly Local Game Stores”, if you didn’t recognize the acronym.) There’s no store in Massachusetts so honored, but there will be events at three New England stores:

Since Memoir has gotten some play at our house – by my wife and daughter too – I may look at trying to attend one of the upcoming events. Hey, it’s got plastic trucks; what’s not to like?


Trucks. What’s not to like?

Update 2 March: While I haven’t had a chance to play it, I had a chance to look at the components and inside the box this afternoon at a great Minnesota game store, Village Games in Anoka, Minnesota, one of the sites chosen for Early Bird promotion. Carl Hotchkiss, the store’s proprietor, very kindly took the time to explain the game and show it off to me – something that’s not possible with an online retailer, but is an invaluable part of your FLGS experience. Tip o’ the hat to Village Games.

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