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Journal Journal: Martians


PFC O'Brien lounged back in his recliner, sipping flavored water and munching on something salty and crunchy. The game was going well, the New Salem Rorigars was beating the snot out of the Norwegian Nebulans.

Mars had been terraformed millions of years earlier. A hole had been dug all the way to its core, a giant molten magnet inserted, the entire asteroid belt moved to the surface of Mars and an atmosphere similar to Earth's generated chemically, with higher levels of CO2 and lower levels of nitrogen. Oceans were provided by comets and much of Saturn's rings. It was no longer the "red planet;" with its mostly nitrogen atmosphere, it was almost as blue as Earth.

Early Martian settlers had trouble growing crops in the lowered nitrogen atmosphere, but chemical fertilizers made up the slack. Mars needed the carbon dioxide to keep it warm, especially since the removal of the asteroid belt had gravitationally shifted its orbit a tiny bit towards Jupiter. The early settlers had it very rough, many of them dying at early ages; even "terraformed" it wasn't exactly like Earth and was very inhospitable to the early immigrants. The environment was different enough that the Martians had evolved to better fit it. Nobody knew if the Martians could still breed with the Amish left behind on Earth. They assumed there had been evolution there, considering the Milankovitch cycles and the warming and cooling caused by them. But nobody on Mars knew.

It also wasn't known how the Amish wound up in charge of the Earth, outlawing most technology, or how the technoratti had decided to leave and take their technology with them. History had been lost in the mists of time, especially since the early Martians had faced such hardships.

It was ironic that Martians would have such a thing as sports, while the Venusians didn't. "Venusians," O'Brian spat, in his mind. "Vulgar bastards, always after nothing but pleasure for themselves and pain and misery for others." You would expect them to like the violently peaceful sports and the peaceful wars between sports teams. The problem, he thought to himself, was the "peaceful" part. Venusians hated peace; they called it "boredom", he thought. Stupid Venusians, always wanting to fuck or fight and do nothing else.

There was a bit of irony here, too, since O'Brien was in the Martian military. Of course, Mars' military never did any fighting; their only purpose for existence was to be there in case the Venusians decided to stupidly attack them again, or even more unlikely, someone from another galaxy would attack, or a stray meteor from the Ort cloud might hit; the Martian military was prepared for any emergency, no matter how unlikely. Out of the billion Martians on Mars, only a few thousand were in the military. There were more sports players and entertainers than soldiers.

He decided to change his view of the game and adjusted a control. The holographic wall's scene swung around, with the strange (or would be to you) sensation that the room itself was spinning.

Fifty to thirty. "Go, Rorigars!"

"Honey, dinner's on the table. Hey, what are you doing eating those cow chips? I told you dinner was almost done!"

"Sorry, Precious, I was hungry. I still am. You mind if I watch the rest of the game in the dining room?"

Dennis smiled. She loved her husband, and was proud of his work, even though a life in the military wasn't held in high esteem on Mars. Martians loved learning; the only one more respected than a teacher was a researcher, and the only vocation held in less esteem than a soldier was a sports player. Even entertainers were more highly respected than a soldier, which was little at all.

She was on sabbatical from her job as a chef, as she was expecting their first child. "Ok," she answered, "but I want to watch the news. How much longer is the game going to be on?"

"It's almost ov...YEAH! Pointdown!" A buzzer sounded. "That was a good game, and honey, your timing was perfect! Lets eat! What are we having?"

"Cowburgers and shrimp fries, with mashed oglos and poopers."

Back on the base, his boss was uneasy looking through his telescope and checking the electromagnetic radiation from Venus. "Shit," muttered Zales under his breath."Damned Venusians. This doesn't look good at all. I'd better call Lieutenant Maris."



Journal Journal: A heads-up for Nobot followers

I'm going to move a few chapters around; chapter 2 is going to be chapter 1, a new chapter 2 is forthcoming. Its title will be "Martians". After that, a new chapter 3 titled "Venus Envy" will come next. I'm not sure where I'll stick chapter one, which I whipped out in about ten minutes. I'm certainly no Asimov, he wrote a short story during a commercial break when he was a guest on the Tonight Show on a typewriter borrowed from Johnny Carson's secretary.

As it is, there can't be more than a couple of chapters after the last one I've posted, and there's not enough material to be a novel. As it stands it's only a novella.

Plus, it's the three characters almost all the way to the end of the book before the space aliens even show up. I'll have to add a couple of chapters about the Earthian Controls as well, but I only have the two above-named chapters in my head, and still nebulous.

When I write, I write for me; I write what I'd want to read, written how I'd like to read it. And I'm not happy with the thing so far (especially the discontinuities).

I'm also unhappy with all the typos; they'll be (hopefully) gone in the finished work, which I plan on publishing in dead tree before E just to see what happens.

Five or ten years ago, my daughter Patty bought The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide for me for Christmas, an omnibus edition of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that contains all five novels, a short story about a young Zaphod, and an introduction by Adams, The Guide to the Guide. It's a really nice hardbound tome with the cover printed in gold leaf... she must have paid a fortune for it. Or bought it from one of the redneck Kentucky dopers that buy games at the GameStop she works at south of Cincinnati.

Anyway, I got it off the shelf the other day and started re-reading it, and in the introduction I discovered that Adams had some of the same problems writing it that I'm having writing Nobots.


The story grew in the most convoluted way, as many people will be surprised to learn. Writing episodically meant that when I finished one episode I had no idea what the next one would contain. When, in some twists and turns of the plot, some event seemed to illuminate things that had gone before, I was as surprised as anyone else.

He goes on to mention continuity problems. Again, I'm no Douglas Adams, either. Hell, I didn't take a single journalism or literature or writing class class in college; I had no interest in writing back then... but maybe Asimov didn't have any training in writing, either.

Many of the chapters are going to need a lot of revision, as I found out after I assembled it in Open Office and read it again. What a mess!

Even though I'm in good health (except for my advanced peritonitis, which is damned painful... I've GOT to see an oral surgeon), I'm no spring chicken, as Patty's redneck crackhead customers would say. Adams would be my age if he hadn't died eleven years ago. So if you're lucky I might even finish this thing.

Don't worry too much, my parents are still alive. My mom's oldest sister just passed away late last year at the age of 99. So I should be OK unless I get shot walking home from Felbers or one of the idiots in this town runs over me.

About this time next year I'll be starting retirement, so I'll have a lot more time to devote to smoking pot and drinking... and writing.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The rogue animal 19

This was going to be a comment in Jeremiah Cornelius' JE about Christopher Jordan Dorner, but adding it as another JE might perhaps get it more eyeballs, and it's a bit long for a comment. The following treatise is an observation about the species Homo Sapiens. Please read JC's linked JE before continuing.

Corporate media mentions the "manifesto" but nothing about its contents. Corporate media has indeed vilified this man and terrorized a lot of people. "A killer is on the loose!" Well, I know and have known a lot of killers. They're called "soldiers" and "veterans." A lot of the killers I've known are now dead from Agent Orange. But the thing is, he's a soldier. He's only targeting the enemy -- cops and those associated with cops. And often cops are the enemy of "we, the people." If you're poor (or sometimes just black) they're almost always the enemy.

Cops are supposed to be for justice, and justice is what this brave soldier is after.

They say it as if he's "snapped" (their word) and ask the stupid question "why five years after he was fired?" It's a stupid question because it's aimed at the stupid; they know the answer -- his appeals are now exhausted.

Like any other animal, homo sapiens have strong instincts, but we convince ourselves that we're rational. We're not. Do a little experiment sometime. Take a 100 mile trip and do 5mph under the speed limit and you'll see evidence of one of our strongest instincts -- the herding instinct. A group of ten to a hundred cars will pass you, slowing down briefly to unconsciously attempt to get you to join the herd, yet still following the herd's lead. Then, empty highway for a while until the next herd comes along.

Those in power know this, and use your animal instincts against you. You can train any animal if you understand its instincts, even "untrainable" house cats. Mine actually come when called! I once trained a cat to play dead. It isn't hard if you understand their instincts.

Humans are no different, except they're easier to train because we are one of the most, if not the most, social of all animals. We follow the herd. Steve Jobs knew this, or iThings would not be so popular. Fashion designers know this or you wouldn't find like-new clothing at Goodwill. We've been trained to believe (easy because of our herding instinct) that if it's not in fashion, it's worthless. We've been trained to believe that "free equals worthless" despite the fact that two of the most valuable things there are are free -- air and rain. We buy Alieve even though the exact same drug in a generic bottle costs 1/3 as much because "you get what you pay for."

My mother once told me "Steve, you think too much." I disagree. We don't think enough. We follow the herd. The leaders of the pack know this.

That soldier who "has gone rogue" is following his instinct and training. Unfortunately for the corrupt LAPD, he is also a thinker.

Thinkers are dangerous -- to the leaders of the herd. If you're not a cop or related to one, you have nothing to fear from this man, despite media lies. This man is a patriot, and those he targets are traitors.


Journal Journal: Captain Future and Buck 2

Previously: Acrux

Ford awoke with a start. Just a dream? But he couldn't shake the emotions that had hit him when he'd dreamed he'd been shackled and tortured. It was so real. he'd never had a dream seem so real in his life.

Of course, it was "real", a real nobotic simulation. Rority hoped the psychologists were right about Ford and Washington. And Gumal had clued him in that the program changes in the nobotic simulations were her doing, after she discovered (or rather, one of the astrohistorians had, and clued her about it.)

Rority hoped the shrinks were right, he didn't want to kill these two stupid aliens. Even if they were assholes. He took a toke off his stratodoober, thought of a protohuman movie he'd seen, and laughed. He decided to nickname Washington "Scroob" and Ford "Dark helmet".

Back on Mars, Gorn was watching via Gumal's timeceiver. "So the Venusians are really the ones who destroyed the solar system's southern hemispheres? Maybe I ought to see about tossing a few nukes at Venus."

Gumal laughed. "You sound like a Venusian. You know, we should rename that planet, and call it 'Venal'. It would better fit. After all, Venus was the protohumans' goddess of love.

"But Gorn, Rority's nobots lied to Washington. The Venusians didn't colonize Acrux, you Martians did."

"What? But... that just isn't like us Martians!"

"Of course not," Gumal answered. "It looks like we have better record keeping than you fellows, even if the data are hard to find sometimes. What happened was, a group of Martians got a lust for power and tried to take over Mars. They were put in stasis and exiled to Acrux, far enough that they couldn't get back, since you didn't have interstellar space faring technology back then. The records say the trip took a hundred years, there was no way possible they could have gotten back.

"It was a long time ago. They surely were no longer the same species as you when they blew themselves up." Gumal took a toke off his stratodoober, and handed it to Gorn. "But if Rority had told them the truth, well, there would have been no possible way to stave off interplanetary war." He took a sip of his Guiness.

"How come that poison doesn't kill you?" Gorn asked.

"It isn't lethal quantities, and in fact the biologists say in moderation it's actually good for ape-descended lifeforms. Want one?"

"No thanks," Gorn said, making a face. "I took a sip once, it tasted nasty. Love that stratodoober, though. Has Rority talked to those Venusians about their apocalypse yet?"

Rority was getting ready to do just that. The next part was going to even be more fun than torturing these two idiots who ran an entire planet. Well, an entire half planet since the supernova. Both had gone back to sleep, and their nightmares were going to get worse.

They both awoke at the same time -- in the same bed. Before either had a chance to react there was an animal growl, and a tiger barred its fangs and roared. Both screamed, and the tiger spoke. "Prepare to die, Venuslings!" it growled. Ford quickly pulled out an energy weapon and fired at it. The flashback, the echo off the tiger, stunned both slightly as the wall behind the tiger burst into flames. The tiger laughed as the two naked Venusians' jaws dropped.

The tiger morphed into a Venusian, who held a small box. "Do you criminals know what this is?"

"Criminals!?" exclaimed Washington. "You... you'll be crucified for this treason," he stammered. The unknown Venusian laughed.

"You were about to wage war on your genetic cousins," it said. "This is a thermonuclear device. If it goes off, this entire city will be obliterated. Your government will be completely gone. Venus will go into chaos, and the survivors will be far too busy fighting each other for control to worry about conquering the peaceful Earthians and Martians. You could not win a war with them in any case with your primitive technologies. Compared to you, they are gods! They can see anything you do, hear anything you say. You will never know what's real and what isn't. Be glad they are not like you, or you Venuslings would be their slaves." It disappeared in a waft of nobotic dust.

Rority was laughing uncontrollably again. The lame script was straight from a "Captain Future" from the protohumans' pulp science fiction from around zero AB, with a little Buck Rogers thrown in for good measure. Crude, lame, but he hoped, effective.

He laughed again and took another toke off of his stratodoober. This was almost as fun as time travel!



Journal Journal: What's your favorite Linux distro, and why? 9

Has Shuttleworth graduated from snorting coke to smoking crack?? I upgraded my kubuntu install, and Amazon wants my location! WTF??? What's more, it comes up on every reboot even though I dismissed the retarded thing. This is entirely against the very soul of open source! I am outraged. So no more Ubuntu for me until Shuttleworth puts the crack pipe down... I guess Unity should have clued us that he'd gone batshit crazy.

I used Mandriva (after Mandrake) and was happy with it. I switched when everyone said it was dead, I'll probably switch back. But first, since the Linux machine is now even less useable than the Windows (UGH!) box I'm typing this on, I might as well try out some others first... plus, Mandriva is now a DVD install and the computer's old DVD drive has all but bit the dust.

I've heard good things about Mint and will certainly give XMBC a shout, since the Linux box is mostly used for watching movies, youtube, and TV, and listening to the radio and Oggs on.

The box not only needs a new DVD drive but more memory, too, so I'm looking for something not too awfully bloated, although it ran videos fine until I stupidly upgraded. Also, what are the best Linux tools for video editing and format translation?



Journal Journal: Acrux

Previously: Ford and Gorn

"Seize that impostor!" Ford screamed. Rority's nobotic robot simulation of Ford smiled. "It won't work, Martian. Men, take this... whatever it is to an interrogation booth."

Ford's eyes widened in terror. "NO!" he screamed, "Please, no! Galaxy no!" He started shaking. Rority absent-mindedly noted that this was like time travel, where nobots did the actual traveling while making it look to the traveler like he's actually being transported in time.

Ever since the supernova had ripped the shrouds of fake reality from the underground Earthians' eyes, archaeohistorians had been busy studying the early days of their self-imposed nocube matrix, and found that the earliest time travelers knew they weren't really traveling through time, but were doing so by proxy; living cells never survived the trip -- traveling through time involved speeds greater than C, and approaching C was akin to being in the southern hemisphere when the supernova went off. Just getting to Venus in two days put a huge strain on rad shields. Of course, time travel was not like interstellar travel, that was accomplished by space and time itself being expanded and contracted. The radiation danger wasn't there.

Rority shook his head... too much stratodoobing, he really shouldn't let his mind wander like that. Now to visit General Washington.

Millions of miles away on the red planet, Colonel Gorn and Gumal were laughing hysterically. "I'd better call Rority and see how things are going, then I need to talk to Rula."

Gorn giggled. "Shame about the speed of light radio lag, how far away is Venus this week?"

"It doesn't matter," Gumal said. "We have timeceivers. The signal is sent backwards in time as well as through space. I'm really incredulous that you fellows don't have this tech."

"You can travel through time? Really? How do you do that?"

"Speed," said Gumal. "Time slows down as you go faster. Theoretically, at the speed of light it would seem to a traveler going to Proxima Centauri that they went there instantaneously, while to an observer here or there it would have taken four years, effectively putting them four years into the future. That's how to go forward. To go backward you pass C."

"Except," he added, "that you can't. Going much past a fraction of lightspeed kills everything in the ship that's alive from all the redshift radiation. So we do it using nobots as a proxy. Actual space travel is different; you simply warp space."

"Simply?" asked Gorn, who promptly had another laughing fit. "I love this stratodoober thing, you need to get this tech to the Venusians. Galaxy knows they need to lighten up! So, what is you partner's progress?"

"Give me a minute," said Gumal, standing up. "I gotta pee. Only thing wrong with beer. I'll call Rority while I'm relieving myself... uh, where are your facilities?"

Yes, they still have to pee ten million years in the future. Especially when they're drinking beer.

Back on Earth, Rula was bemoaning the entire situation. There was timework to be done, and here the two best were busy dealing with Martians and Venusians, because a protohistorian was the closest thing they had to a diplomat. And what about these so-called "controls", the Amish? Well, at least they didn't have too much to worry about from them... unless Venusians showed up. She fervently hoped Rority would have no trouble.

Rority was both annoyed and amused. Annoyed with these primitive, violent Venusians and amused at what was going to happen to their leader. Unknown to Washington, the nobots were streaming into his castle, and he'd soon have a psychedelic experience that Timothy Leary would be in awe of. He'd liked Leary, even if the old protobastard was batshit insane. Looking in hindsight, he was glad it was a robot and not him that had gone back, since LSD has no effect on robots, but has a pretty profound effect on animals, including protohumans, humans, controls, Venusians, and Martians. But Washington wasn't getting LSD, his trip would be real. It would be a real nobotic simulation.

Washington was eating dinner. He stuck his fork into the horse meat... or tried. It moved out of the way. Startled, he rubbed his eyes and tried again. "Please don't hurt me!" the meat begged. Washington snarled and tried again, when a translucent apparition walked through the wall. "Washington!" it thundered.

"What..." Washington stammered, "what... who... what do you want?"

"I am the ghost of Alpha Crucis. I am what was left when the Acrux collided 321 years ago."

"What? What is Atrix? And who was this Mister Crucis?" Washington asked perplexedly.

"Acrux, not Atrix. Stars in the southern cross. It's a multiple star system south of Venus. Two artificial neutron stars in the Acrux system collided, destroying every every star in the system, and the planets that orbited them. Two of the planets were settled from your system half a million years ago and were at war with each other three centuries ago. Both developed stronger and stronger weapons pretty much on the same time frames, and it culminated in both developing neutron star construction capabilities within months of each other, and each launched their weapon at the others' planet.

"Of course, the enormous masses of each star, meant to swallow the opposition's planet, attracted gravitationally and collided, resulting in a supernova that obliterated the Acrux system and sent huge amounts of gamma radiation straight at Sol."

"Look, whatever you are," Washington interrupted.

"Silence!" the voice of the nobotic apparition boomed. "Your very existence depends on your listening to me!"

Rority was puzzled; he didn't program that fertilizer into the apparition's speech. So they must not have been bovine manure, but something from the nobots' network database. He'd have to study this, of course, but later. He had to study Washington's reaction now.

"One planet was named Nuevo Venus, the other's name was Aphrodite. Your people were both our parents and our executioners, and you executed over half your own population by sending us to Acrux. You are Guerra, as were we.

"War. And war is its own enemy and its own executioner. To war is to die. Take heed, fool, or you will suicide as we did."

The apparition vanished. Washington sat there with his mouth hanging open.

Rority laughed, and took a toke from his stratodoober, sipped his beer, and began studying whatever it was the nobots were telling Washington. It was going to be a busy night.

He was really enjoying this.




Journal Journal: If I wanted to be nagged I'd get married... 2

Once again I'm reminded of one of that horrible, shitty operating system's shortcomings. If I were sober and not so damned tired I'd install Linux on this sucker right now.

I've had a shitty day. I spent $140 on a fifteen year old cat this afternoon; she had an ingrown nail and I had to take her to the vet. She's on amoxicillin (why in the hell isn't that in FireFox's shitty def file? Had to look the spelling up on Google... shit, "firefox" isn't even on the list) and the poor kitty is stoned to the gills on morphine. She had the thirty dollar bandage off in four hours. So I'm NOT in a good mood. Of course, my friend Amy calls in tears because her idiot son went to basic training without seeing her and saying goodbye. Dumb kid'll probably get his ass shot off in Afghanistan, and I'm sure she's worried about that. Why call me? Let her cry on her husband's shoulder.

So I decide to get on the laptop and chill... and there's the daily virus def update notification. So I look, and it's not just defs but patches to fix Windows' shitty buggy worthless piece of shit code. Since I've had a few beers by now I forgot what a goddamned fucking pain in the ass it is to patch this piece of shit OS.

So I'm reading about CBS and C|net's stupidity at the CES on slashdot, trying to get out of my shitty mood and of course, Windows nags me that I need to restart the computer. The Linux box has never asked me to restart it. If it did it would be no problem, forty seconds and it would be restarted and intelligently have everything that was open reopened. Not Microsoft, their programmers aren't good enough coders to pull it off, I guess.

If I worked for Microsoft and someone asked me what I did for a living, I'd lie and say I sold dope and peddled hookers, that's a far less embarrassing line of work.

Doesn't MS care about their customers? Of course they do. The problem is, I'm not their customer -- Acer is. They have no reason at all to care about user experience, it's all about the OEMs and enterprise customers. Fuck the user, the user doesn't matter.

Of course, by morning I'll realize I'm too busy to screw with it. I have to help Leila get her notebook (I bought both daughters computers just like this one) back online. Their router bit the dust, they got a new one, and Windows of course tries to use their old password, and just stupidly fails when it can't connect, rather than opening a password dialog. I tried to talk her through it over the phone but she was way too upset with Microsoft to listen.

God damned Microsoft, are all their developers on crack? I wish those stupid fucktards would get their act together. But I'm sure hell will freeze over first.

Shit, now the battery's dying! What a shitty day...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Twelve: The Final Chapter 1

It's that time of year again. The time of year when everyone and their dog waxes nostalgic about all the shit nobody cares about from the year past, and stupidly predicts the next year in the grim knowlege that when the next New Year comes along nobody will remember that the dumbass predicted a bunch of foolish shit that turned out to be complete and utter balderdash. I might as well, too. Just like I did last year (yes, a lot of this was pasted from last year's final chapter). But first, the yearly index:

the Paxil Diaries
A Paxil Diary Christmas Story

Age-related mental degradation
Springfield Funny Paper
I Hate Windows #FF69A71B6403[stack overfl
The Upgrade part 2
More Stormy weather
Nobody expects an Easter miracle
The best things in life are free

A strange discovery
I've been working on this book all year. It started with a single, very short story. By the third story I started thinking "book". Originally the book was titled Everything You Know Is Wrong but the title changed. I'd say it's maybe half done.
Hadron Destroyers
Little Green Men
The Death of Two Protohumans
It's the end of the world (but I feel fine)
Stratodoober Madness
Terry and the Nac Mac Feegle
The Dance
Not a ghost of a chance
The Time Triangle
The Zeta Reticuli Incident
Everything You Know Is Wrong
The Surface
War of the Worlds
Venus and Mars
Ford and Gorn

Last years' stupid predictions:

Someone will die. Not necessarily anybody I know...
SETI will find no sign of intelligent life. Not even on Earth.
The Pirate Party won't make inroads in the US. I hope I'm wrong about that one.
US politicians will continue to be wholly owned by the corporations.
I'll still be a nerd.
You'll still be a nerd.
technophobic fashionista jocks will troll slashdot.
Slashdot will be rife with dupes.
Many FPs will be poorly edited.

I think I'll keep those predictions for another year.

I'll finally get that book in paper form
Sigh. Not yet. I hope to get it out shortly. I'll go ahead and predict that again, too.

I had thought that this December I would be eligible to retire, but I made a math error -- I'm already eligible. Too bad I won't be able to afford it until I can collect Social Security. Imagine how much more I'll be writing when I no longer have to work!

Happy New Year! Ready for another trip around the sun?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Videogames as art? 3

From Yahoo News:

NEW YORKâ"The hallways of the Museum of Modern Art have always been packed with visitors looking to catch a glimpse of some of the most famous artwork in the world.

Van Goghâ(TM)s âoeStarry Nightâ is on display here, as are Andy Warholâ(TM)s âoeCampbellâ(TM)s Soup Cansâ and Monetâ(TM)s âoeWater Liliesââ"three celebrated images that have been replicated in countless prints and on postcards worldwide.

And just steps away, beginning next March, patrons will be able to observe the museumâ(TM)s latest high-profile acquisitionsâ"ones that they may have even owned. Last month, MoMa announced it would add 14 video games to its collection as part of a new design category that will display in the museumâ(TM)s Philip Johnson Galleries.

The titlesâ"including âoePac-Man,â âoeTetrisâ and âoeSimCity 2000ââ"mark the first of what museum officials say will be a collection of about 40 video games. Other games MoMa is hoping to acquire in coming years: âoeSuper Mario Bros,â âoeThe Legend of Zeldaâ and âoeSpace Invaders.â

The acquisition revives a long-simmering debate among critics, art aficionados and gamers: Is a video game really in the same category as a Picasso?


Journal Journal: Why Republicans MUST go off the "cliff" 3

I've been laughing about this all month, people really expected a deal. Two words explain why a pre-2013 deal is impossible: Grover Norquist. A quarter century ago when federal taxes were quite a bit higher than the present "lower than ever in your lifetime" tax rates, he convinces a very large number of Republicans to swear to never raise taxes. If they make a deal with the Democrats now, they've gone back on their word.

However, next Wednesday taxes go up all by themselves. Making a deal now means they're raising taxes, while waiting until next week lets them campaign on "I lowered your taxes!!!"

Don't expect a deal before Wednesday. Expect one two or three weeks later.


Journal Journal: Ford and Gorn

Previously: Venus and Mars

General Ford woke with a start. "Who are... what are you? You're a Martian!" he exclaimed as he reached for his nonexistent weapon.

It had taken Rority three days to reach Venus, and he was a little cranky. He hadn't liked learning Venusian and didn't much care for the Venusians themselves. Ugly bastards, he thought, although no more repulsive than the Controls or Martians. He took a toke from his stratodoober. "No, I'm not a Martian. I'm an Earthian. And you're in deep shit, buddy, you know that?"

Ford was speechless. Rority continued. "Your boss is batshit insane; I studied him. Off his rocker, lost his marbles, toys in the attic, mad as a hatter, and a hundred other cliches. He's nuts and he's about to destroy Venus for you, dumbass."

"Wrong, alien. We're going to destroy you and the Martians. And I've seen Earthians and you're not one."

Rority laughed. "Not one you've seen; we Expies live underground in a simulated existence, and we like it that way. And you poor fools are two hundred years behind the Martians and about two million behind us. Compared to you pathetic Venusians, we're gods."

Ford sneered. "Mars will fall in two weeks."

"Nope, we've intercepted all your probes. Would you like those rocks to fall on Venus? We control them now. We have things you haven't even dreamed of. We can get to Betelgeuse in a couple of months, and most of that time is getting out of the solar system and past the heliopause; warping space messes up gravity quite a bit, so we can only go a fraction of lightspeed in a stellar system."

"What are you going to do?"

"First, I'm taking your place. Second, we're going to kill that madman, and you'll be in charge of Venus. And I'm warning you, we can kill you as easily as we can kill Washington." Rority's nobotic sheath changed into Ford himself. "So you see, poor pitiful Venusian, you'd better stop messing with the other planets in the solar system."

"You're the ones who killed everybody in the southern hemisphere!" Ford said, and lunged at Rority. Which wasn't a very smart thing to do, seeing as how Rority had nobots. With a flying leap Ford hit Rority and bounced off as if he'd hit a steel beam that was bolted to the floor -- which wasn't too much unlike hitting a human with a nobotic sheath.

"No," Rority said calmly, as he helped the poor hapless Venusian off the floor. "There was a supernova, we aren't sure where yet. The southern hemispheres of all the inhabited solar planets are now devoid of life; you, me, the Martians. Except Earth, we who live underground were well shielded. And Washington knows it. Now, you're going to wait here while I go stand next to him at his speech. Unfortunately, he's going to have heart failure." Rority walked out. Ford tried the door, which was locked. He sat back down on the bed, worried. This was surreal!

Rority was thinking about the similarities between Venus and certain protohuman countries he'd "traveled" back to. Korea about seventy AB, and this Washington seemed like the northern Korea's dictator... and a few other countries back then as well. "Dumb animals", he thought.

Back on Mars, Colonel Gorn was talking with Gumal. "Damned frustrating, those Venusians. We're about science. And these idiots only want to wage war!"

"How did the trouble start, Colonel?"

"Venus is... well, I guess after the supernova, was greatly overpopulated. We're not, and never have been. Venusians want nothing but war and sex, we're about gathering knowledge. They used to be better at war than sex, which held their population down, but they pretty much bombed themselves almost to the point of extinction and lost almost all their technology. All they could do after that was eat and copulate. What tech they have now was mostly stolen from us."

"So, they never lost space travel?"

"Actually, they did. We were stupid enough to try and help them through their trouble, now they're trying to take over the solar system."

"Well, Colonel, you'll be relieved to know that we have the situation under control and you can get back to your telescopes and test tubes."

"Our what?"

Gumal laughed. "Sorry, I've been hanging around Rority too much. Say, Colonel, have you ever had beer?"

Gorn looked puzzled. "Beer?"

Gumal pulled out a Guiness and handed it to the Colonel.

"What's this for?" asked Colonel Gorn. "Looks like glass with some sort of liquid, and an indescipherable label."

"It's for drinking."

"Oh, we have plenty of water."

Gumal smiled. "Well, it isn't exactly water. Try some," opened his own bottle and took a sip of the delicious nectar.

"UGH!" said Gorn. "This is offal! You drink this disgusting stuff??"

"The taste grows on you, and you don't drink it for the taste, anyway. I propose a toast!"

"Uh, what's that?"

"We clink bottles and take a drink together. This stuff has ethyl alcohol in it."

"You drink alcohol? Alcohol is poison, no wonder it tastes so bad!"

"Well, yeah, drink enough and you'll die. But we're not drinking that much."

"Sorry, old fellow, I don't think I want to poison myself."

Gumal shrugged. "More for me. Want a hit off this stratodoober?"

"I'd rather learn how nobots work."

"Sorry, wrong guy. That isn't my field. here," he said, hitting the stratodoober and handing it to Gorn.

"Hmmm... pleasant taste... uh what were we talking about again?"


Christmas Cheer

Journal Journal: Season's Greedings! 8

'Tis the season we celebrate America's predominant worship rites. The month long celebration that starts with Black Friday, continues on Local Saturday, more on Cyber Sunday, and all through December. The season when children are indoctrinated into worship, with visions of toys and iPads. When adults drive like morons to get to the mall and SPEND SPEND SPEND. The season when fights break out in stores over the objects of their worship.

'Tis the season of gluttony and drunken revelry. Blessed are the profits, for their followers shall inherit the Earth. Blessed are the rich, and the shopkeepers, and the greedy. Blessed are the lawyers and those who climb to power on the backs of their fellow men, never looking back or caring.

The season is here, when we buy a pagan tree to put in our homes, with the objects of worship beneath it. The season of cursing our fellow man, the season of no peace anywhere. The season of gimme.

Celebrate what we really worship -- celebrate money. Season's greedings to all! Except the poor, of course. Fuck those lazy bastards, they should all pull themselves up by their own bootstraps like Romney and Trump and the other saints have done.

Merry kid's mess, everyone! Season's greedings from WalMart, Target, Best Buy, and every other TV advertisers!


Journal Journal: Venus and Mars 1

Previously: War of the Worlds

"Sarge? We've got more signals from Earth, and they're at least using a reasonable modulation. They seem to be words, but I can't read it. Want a look?"

"Sure, O'brien," said Zales. The Sergeant sat down at the private's terminal. "Hmmm... nope. I'll take it to the Lieutenant."

Sgt. Zales was worried, but didn't show it to his underling. O'Brien was visibly worried, and neither knew why. Zales left to see Lieutenant Maris. The Lieutenant had a look at it. "I can make some of this out from a class I took in college, but not much. Sergeant, get the Colonel on the phone."

"Yes sir," said Zales. After speaking to the base commander's secretary on the phone he handed it to Maris. "Sir," said the Lieutenant, "we have a communication from Earth. It seems to be in an archaic language. Uh, huh. Yes sir. Right away, sir." He transmitted the undeciphered message to the Colonel, who transferred it to a historian, then contacted his superior.

On Venus, General Washington was pleased with himself. "We've launched, Ford. In a month it will have reached Saturn, and two or three weeks after that the Martians will be gone."

"Is this necessary, General?" General Ford asked. "We have the entire southern hemisphere waiting for repopulation. We don't need Mars now."

"Yes, we do, Ford. We need a scapegoat. The last thing we want is massive unrest. I've already addressed the Venusian populace and told them that the Martians were responsible and we were retaliating, with specicide."

"Nobody objected to wiping out the Humartian species, as well as all the other species on Mars?"

"Of course not, any more than they minded wiping out the Vigers here. Why in the galaxy our ancestors would bring felines here I'll never understand. They should have realized what they'd evolve into. At any rate, even if the Martians aren't a menace yet, they surely will be in time. They're a militaristic species."

General Ford didn't loose his thoughts on Washington; the Martians had never been aggressive until the Venusians had threatened them, and that hadn't happened until Washington had pulled off his coup.

Back in the underground cube matrix on Earth, Rority was, of course, puffing his stratodoober and contemplating what Rula had communicated. They had learned fairly quickly how to communicate with the Martians and had even gotten face to face communications with them, hindered, of course, by the ten minute and lengthening lag between planetary communications. The Martians were odd looking, odder than the controls, odder even than the Venusians. It made sense; Mars had been terraformed first, and the terraforming had taken millinea. Mars still had quite a bit less mass and much less density than Earth or Venus but now had a magnetic field and an atmosphere, although the atmosphere was only 3/4 the pressure of Earth's. The Martians all were tall, with large chests and spindly legs, with smaller heads than the Experimentals. The Venusians looked somewhat like Controls, only larger and more muscular and with a strange skin coloration. "Well," he thought, "time to go to Venus." Not in reality as he'd believed before the supernova had ripped the veil of unreality, but as an operator. It would seem the same; an operator was all he was before.

Gumal was busy launching a nobotic probe to intercept the Venusian probe.

Rula was busy planning the next stage. Intercepted communications from Venus showed that the Venusians were in the process of launching hundreds more rock interceptors. just in case. Of course, a good dictator was always prepared for anything, and always paranoid of everyone. He hadn't liked the look in Ford's eyes and was thinking of Ford being killed "by Martians." Two birds with one stone. He contemplated that archaic saying and wondered what a "bird" was. Some sort of craft, perhaps?

He shook the thought off. He needed a plan to make it look like Martians had assassinated Ford, or better yet, to have the Martians do the dirty deed themselves. He grinned, and stroked the purple lizard that had jumped in his lap purring. "Soon, soon, we will rule not just Venus, but the entire solar system." It was his. HIS! All his! As soon as the Martians were exterminated, he would move on to the Earthians.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Einstein can't escape Apple's grenade (8/15/2002) 1

Ten years ago, an Apple ad caught my funny bone, and I posted the following. The links are all dead.

Apple has introduced a computer that runs faster than light (do "edit-> search" for "faster-than-light" on the linked Apple page, which I ought to cache since... well, they have this new fast processor...)

So I ordered one just to see how it worked.

It arrived two weeks before ordering it, so I didn't order it and got my shiny new Power Mac with its faster than light processor for free!

I discovered some other weird effects using this processor. For one thing, it weighs a LOT when you turn it on- so much that it dented the table and bent the legs. Yes, Einstein was right about speed affecting gravity.

So I decided to do a little experiment. I cut the power cord (the computer bounced a full six inches when I shut it off) and reversed the power's polarity. Being household A/C that shouldn't have had an effect, but it did. When I turned it back on, it flew upwards until it ran out of cord, and when it yanked its plug from the wall it of course came crashing down.

So I took it out to my van and plugged it into the cigarette lighter. Viola, flying car! This was great!

And it's a fast flying car, too. It handles like a flying pig when I'm flying, though, as you can only steer it by moving the front wheels with the steering wheel, and the wind drag helps steer.

Of course, once I left the atmosphere I was screwed. No air, no steering. Darn it! Darn it to heck (sorry, I already used this month's allotment of swear words discussing politics)

I discovered that I could steer with the gas pedal, with the slight variation in voltage caused by the imperfections in the car's alternator affecting the voltage supplied to the Mac, and thereby affecting its gravity.

I, uh, got it going TOO fast. Not only was the computer itself traveling faster than light, the car was getting dangerously close to it.

As I crossed the lightspeed barrier I saw Yello and ten thousand alternate Siscos. Yello asked about granny and promptly vanished in a puff of green smoke. Curious.

But past the lightspeed limit, the universe seemed to shrink to a pinpoint, which was angrily chasing me. Which was a very silly thing for it to do, as I wanted to get back inside it. It was kind of like my wife when she's mad at me.

That thought kind of unnerved me, so I freaked and pulled the key out of the ignition.

I found myself holding the phone getting ready to place an order for a Mac.

WTF was I thinking? I can't afford one of these! I put the phone down.

Thank God for Einstein. I'd be paying for that damned computer until Hell froze over.

At least I got my month's allotment of swear words back. Oh, uh, if you notice some strange things going on with your clock, I guess that's my fault...

Springfield Fragfest 8/15/2002

User Journal

Journal Journal: An open letter to RCA 11

I bought an RCA digital tuner last year. It will be the very last RCA product I'll ever buy.

I was going to send this as an email to RCA, but they have no email address anywhere on their site. I couldn't find it. Apparently, looking at Google, neither can anyone else. So rather than a strongly worded private email, FUCK YOU RCA I'm just going to post this open letter to slashdot in the hopes that one of your incompetent engineers see it and hang his head in shame. Where did you get your credentials, cretin, out of a crackerjack box?

I ditched cable a year and a half ago for an antenna and bought a "converter" from Wal=Mart. Worst $40 I ever spent.

I picked up an RCA antenna to go along with it, and that ten bucks was wasted as well. So I threw good money after bad and spent another$40 on a better RCA antenna.

I have never seen such poorly engineered pure shit in my life. I get six channels... once in a blue moon. I get four... sometimes. My friend with a $10 used Magnavox anda $3 rabbit ears, six blocks away, gets fifteen channels all the time.

Worse, even on a good day it will cut out. Then it has a box that takes up 1/3 of the screen saying "no signal." Well, no sit, Sherlock. I've had DVDs since forever and damn it you fucking morons, I know what it means when the screen freezes. Worse, it then loses the sound completely, until another car goes by and I lose the signal agin, tune to a nonexistant channel, or reboot the god damned piece of shit.

I have never seen more poorly engineered tech in my six decades on this rock. If I'd designed this utter worthless piece of crap... well, I'd find another line of work. The $40 antenna is no better than the $10 rabbit ears.

There is no reason that I shouldn't be able to pick up a station IN TOWN. Damn it, I feel robbed. So I went to their web site, and it's as fucked as their electronics! The only contact is by phone, and it hangs up on you.

It's sad, like Sony they used to be a good brand. Like Sony, I will never give you stupid assholes another dime. Fucking thieves.

Rca (and you, too,Sony) I'm getting my money back one way or another. Mailing me a check for $90 and an apology and firing all your engineers, managers, CEO and board of directors and I might consider buying product from you again. If your HQ gets bombed, don't look at me, look for someone that's not nonviolent who you fucked over with your utter fail of equipment.

Sony, you rooted my computer ten years ago and I won't settle for less than ten grand.

God damn it, are there any corporations left that aren't the epitome of evil? Why can't we elect politicians who will put these motherfuckers in prison where they belong?

BTW, blame any typos on beer.

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