A warning for Trump:
You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day, you're the asshole,
A warning for Trump:
You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day, you're the asshole,
Game theory would seem to point to sooner rather than later. As of right now, there is almost zero downside (and quite a few perks available if done right.) Of course, this assumes the GOP congresscritters could organize a piss up in a brewery, something that hasn't been a surefire thing since the 90s.
Can we just call him President Swamp Thing? Would make things easier for everybody.
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 knowledge 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).
Some of these links go to
Last years' stupid predictions (and more):
Last year I said I wasn't going to predict publication of Voyage to Earth and Other Stories, and I was right, it's nearly done. So this year I do predict that Voyage to Earth and Other Stories will be published. I'm waiting for Sentience to come back from Motherboard, who's been hanging on to it since last February. I may have to e-mail them and cancel the submission if it isn't back by this February
I'll also hang on to last year's 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 (but not S/N).
Slashdot will be rife with dupes.
Many Slashdot FPs will be poorly edited.
Slashdot still won't have fixed its patented text mangler.
Microsoft will continue sucking
And a new one: DONALD TRUMP WILL (gasp) BE PRESIDENT IF THE us!!! God help us all! (He can't possibly be worse than George H. Bush or James Buchanan, can he?)
Happy New Year! Ready for another trip around the sun?
Yeeeeesh. Kinda the opposite of the The Force Awakens, weirdly: There's an actual serviceable plot, but none of the characters are given time to develop personalities or motivations. Also, between shitty lines and an underfunded costuming department, Vader looked and sounded like an idiot.
There are a couple of cool moments, and there's a certain satisfaction and integrity present in the fact that R:O is a (mostly) standalone story. But, one thing a Star Wars shouldn't be is boring, and this delivers in spades on that front.
Verily tingling with anticipation.
In related news, Cornell Belcher details how race and racism still had a part to play in the 2016 election:
A question a lot of people ask around the question of the role race and racism played in Trumpâ(TM)s election is, âoeHow can you say Americans are concerned with race when they elected Obama?â I know the long answer is in the data presented in your book, but whatâ(TM)s the simple response to that?
They didnâ(TM)t. Thatâ(TM)s the thing here. The majority of whites did not elect Obama, and thatâ(TM)s the wolf at the door. The vast majority of whites did not support President Obama and President Obama won back-to-back majorities, and that caused the realization of their power waning. Mitt Romney ran up a higher score among white voters than Ronald Reagan, when Reagan had a landslide in 1984.
Conservatives may want to take note of this, however:
In battleground states, particularly more diverse states, the percentage of white people voting Democrat decreases significantly as that population gets more diverse. So diversity is having an opposite impact that is harmful to Democrats.
This is actually good news. Stacking the deck with all these Wall Street chumps means that recession we've been waiting on will happen sooner rather than later. Speaking of which, anyone got any tips for profiting from another major US economic meltdown that doesn't involve the stock market?
So much for the swamp, I guess.
They say that Santa's coming,
He comes 'round every year.
He comes he'll meet a shotgun slug
'cause he ain't welcome here.
Five years ago this Christmas
The fatass came around
With jingle bells and ho ho hos
And looking like a clown.
He came in for a landing
As I let out a yawn
My house is pretty little
So he landed on the lawn.
I didn't have the time to yell
As he came in through the fog;
He came in fast and and came down hard
And landed on my dog.
He looked around all furtive like
As I reached for my gun,
Then jumped in sleigh, yelled âoegiddie upâ
And took off on the run.
And so, that fatassed bastard
Better stay away from here
'cause ever since he killed my dog
I have no Christmas cheer.
I'm not even bothering to paste it, since slashdot would render it unreadably, so I'll just sent you to mcgrew.info.
I really wish they'd fix that horrible bug...
That, right there, is one very useful phrase, I'll have to admit. I've used it in all kinds of contexts, and for different effects, and it works great. It's like a rhetorical swiss army knife.
Moving on, talk about getting shafted! I'm glad my political gambling is a hobby, not an addiction, cuz Cheeto Mussolini just fucked me out of 5K. Although I'm even more glad of my Senate side bet since it helps take the sting out of it.
Congratulations to all the Republicans out there! It's been exhausting work pretending to care about the deficit, unemployment numbers, and whether or not the rest of the world thinks the US is a laughingstock, so I'm sure you'll all be glad for the break.
Last but not least, commiserations to all the kids out there, the ones who'll get punched repeatedly in the face as they struggle through life because global warming as a solvable problem is gone for at least a generation, whilst us Boomers and Gen Xers get to pop our clogs before the really bad shit starts. Time to start volunteering for those Mars missions, I guess.
For any non-Yanks out there, there is a small silver lining: Between, incompetence, corruption, and taking advantage of these historic circumstances to finally bury the Dem party forever, the incoming administration may be too busy trying to fuck over the US to have any time to fuck over the rest of the planet any more than they have already have. Fingers crossed!
âoeSay, Ed! How was your trip? Lager?â
âoeHi, John. Yeah, Iâ(TM)ll have a lager. The whole trip was lousy, a journey through hell all the way.â
âoeDidn't you fly Green-Osbourne?â
The bartender swore; he was a wealthy man who owned the bar he was tending and quite a bit of Green-Osbourne Transportation Company stock as well. âoeWhat went wrong on the trip?â
âoeThose stupid talking robots. God but I hate those things.â
The bartender laughed. âoeEverybody does.â
âoeWhy do you have them talking, then?â
âoeAdvertising and engineering want to point out our superior technology, including AI.â
âoeWell, it's too much A and not much I at all. Those things are really stupid.â
John snickered. He hated talking robots, too, but had been voted down at board meetings. The tendbot he used when it got too busy for a single bartender to easily handle heâ(TM)d special ordered, with no voice, only screen printouts and beeps. Most people thought talking robots were creepy.
âoeWell, look, Ed, they canâ(TM)t really think. Programmers just use humansâ(TM) built-in anthropomorphism and animism. It's a parlor trick, one of our engineers explained it to me once. So what did the stupid thing do?â
âoeIt was dinner time, the first night of the trip. I'd bought a business class ticket and somehow wound up on a first class flight... Say, did you have something to do with that?â
John just smiled. âoeGo on, Ed, what did the stupid robot do?â
Ed gave John a funny look and continued. âoeWell, I'd never had pork before. I thought it must be extra tasty, considering how ridiculously expensive it is.â
âoeWell, it's environmental regulations.â
âoeSure, it's why Earth buys all its ores from space miners. Mining is pretty much illegal on Earth, because poisonous pollution from mining, farming, industry, and transportation nearly ruined the Earth's ability to sustain life a couple of centuries ago. It... Oh wow. Want to get rich, Ed?â
âoeNot particularly, why?â
âoeSomeone will. We should build hog domes and farm pigs in them, and sell the pork to Earthians. Iâ(TM)d do it but Iâ(TM)m way too busy, what with Green-Osbourne, the bar, the brewery, and the farm I grow beer ingredients in.â
âoeWell, I'll talk to a few folks. It would help Marsâ(TM) economy. Fill me up, John,â he said, sliding his glass across the bar. âoeUh, what were we talking about?â
âoePork and robots.â
âoeOh, yeah, pork. Why is it so expensive?â
âoeLike I said, environmental regulations. They almost made Earth unlivable a couple hundred years ago. Pigs are just too nasty to ranch more than a dozen or so in any one place there.â
âoeWell, Earth was damned filthy, thatâ(TM)s for sure. Almost as dirty as it was heavy. Anyway, porkâ(TM)s way too expensive for me. I wouldnâ(TM)t even be able to afford pork on Earth, let alone on Mars, so since I had a first class ticket and meals were covered, I wanted to try pork. So I told the servebot I wanted ham and beans.
âoeThe stupid thing said there was no âHammond beanâ(TM) listed in its database. So I said âNo, you stupid junk pile, ham, and, beans.â(TM) It said âThe word hamand is not in my database.â(TM) stupid thing.â
John grinned. âoeSo what did you do?â
âoeWhat could I do? I ordered a barbecued pork steak. It was really good! But the damned robots annoyed me like that the whole trip. The very next morning I felt like a turkey cheese omelette so I ordered one. The stupid robot said âThere are no Turkish cheeses listed in the database.â(TM) So I said âA turkey omelette with cheese.â(TM) So it says âthere are no Turkish omelette dishes listed in the database.â(TM) Stupid computer.
âoeSo I said âI want a cheese omelette with turkey meat. A turkey omelette has nothing to do with the country called Turkey...â(TM) Whatâ(TM)s so damned funny, John?â
John was laughing uproariously. âoeExactly the same thing happened to Destiny when we first came here, only the computer was printing it out instead of talking. Let me guess, it said âParse error, please rephraseâ(TM).â
âoeYep, exactly. So I said I wanted an omelette with turkey meat, and it goes âThere is no meat that has come from that country listed in the database.â(TM) dumb machine! So I says âTurkey the bird, damn it!â(TM) it said...â
âoeIt said âParse error, please rephrase,â(TM) didnâ(TM)t it?â John interrupted.
âoeSure did. So I asked what meats were available for omelettes. It said pork, chicken, duck, turkey, and beef. So I said âA cheese omelette with turkey meat.â(TM) the idiotic thing repeated âThere is no meat from that country.â(TM) Iâ(TM)ll tell you, John, that damned thing was really making me mad by then. I finally said âDamn it, computer, I want a cheese omelette with bird meat.â(TM) it said âPlease name the bird.â(TM) I told it turkey and finally got my breakfast.â
âoeThereâ(TM)s a trick to it,â John said. âoeTell it you want a cheese and turkey omelette and it wonâ(TM)t give you any trouble. If you would have asked for navy beans and ham you would have gotten your ham and beans. Like I said, they donâ(TM)t really think.â
âoeNo kidding. That must the dumbest computer I ever saw. Well, the tendbot in the commons may have been even more stupid. It didnâ(TM)t know what a Cardinal was.â
John groaned. âoeEd, thatâ(TM)s strictly the Martian name for that drink. Everybody else calls them Bloody Marys.â
âoeOh. Why do they call them that?â
âoeBecause thatâ(TM)s what they were called for hundreds of years before anybody ever came here, before they had space travel, even. Before your ancestors ever left earth.â
âoeSo why do we call then Cardinals then?â
âoeFrank Harris was responsible for the name. He was a farmer who came here from Earth and started growing tomatoes, under the âCardinalâ(TM) brand.â
âoeBut why cardinal?â
âoeThereâ(TM)s a bright red Earthian bird called a cardinal, so he named the bright red tomatoes after the bird. Bartenders here had never had a Bloody Mary before, because nobody here had tomatoes before Hardy brought them. So when they thought they had invented a tomato drink, they named it after the brand of tomatoes.â
âoeHow do you know all this stuff?â
âoeMy wifeâ(TM)s a history buff. Sheâ(TM)s been getting me interested in it, too. So what happened after you got to Earth?â
âoeOh, man, it was pure hell, painful torture and terror. You know I've only been off Mars a few times in my life, mostly to Ceres or an asteroid dome out in the belt. But Earth... oh man. It was nothing like I'd ever experienced before. Or even imagined, it was horrible!â
âoeFirst was the weight! That was part of what was wrong with the trip, when the robot was arguing about the turkey cheese omelette it was already getting really heavy. By the time we reached Earth I couldnâ(TM)t walk at all and had to use an electric chair to get around. How do those people live like that?â
âoeEd, you should have been working out for months before going to Earth, especially since youâ(TM)ve never had more than Mars gravity.â
âoeWell, I did walk.â
âoeWalkingâ(TM)s not nearly enough.â
âoeNo kidding, I couldnâ(TM)t even stand up there. Had to have a robot help me in and out of bed. It was torture!
âoeWhy didn't you use a walker?â
âoeYou have to have gravity close to Earth's to learn how to use one.â
âoeBill Holiday uses one, and he's from Ceres. All the asterites grew up in less gravity than you did and he goes to Earth all the time, it's part of his job.â
âoeHe would have had to train to use it, those things weigh over a hundred kilos counting the power, and training takes longer than I was going to be on Earth.
âoeThe horrible weight was bad enough, but it was horribly scary there as well.â
John grinned. He was an immigrant, who was born in St. Louis and had settled on Mars in late middle age. He hadn't thought of how it must be for a native-born Martian or Asterite on Earth. âoePretty scary, huh? I mean, not having a protective dome.â
âoeWell, I've been outside the dome plenty of times, but being outside without an environment suit...â He shivered visibly. âoeGive me a shot of Scotch.
âoeIt was night when we got there, and they used what seemed like they use here on Mars to connect the ship to the terminal. On Mars it's so passengers don't have to wear environment suits, but I don't know why they do it on Earth. Probably so us spacers would feel at home.â
âoeWell, not really,â John said. âoeIt gets hot and cold there, and it rains. It's so passengers don't have to have coats and umbrellas. They were doing it like that before the first spacer dome was built.â
âoeYeah, I found out about rain and cold the night I got there, and heat the next day. In the entrance way to the terminal there was a flash in a window and a loud boom a second or two later. I thought there had been an explosion.â
âoeYeah, and it was really loud! I almost jumped out of my skin. Anyway, we rented a car and I told it to take us to our hotel for check-in, and the first lightning flash scared the hell out of me. It looked like a crack in the sky and made me feel like all the air would escape, and then the thunder. I've never heard anything so loud!â
âoeYou should hear a chemical rocket with a heavy load taking off!â
âoeI have, down here on Mars, and it's nowhere near as loud as thunder.â
John laughed. âoeEd, there's hardly any air outside the dome. Haven't you noticed how much quieter it is outside the dome?â
âoeThere's nothing out there to make noise.â
âoeWell, if there was it wouldn't be loud.â
âoeI guess. Anyway, parking at the hotel was outside, but the car dropped us off under an awning before it parked itself. Lightning flashed again, and it really gave me the willies. Then it thundered, even louder than it had before. It was so loud you could feel the sound. It was really scary!â He finished his beer and slid his glass to the other side of the bar. âoeFill 'er up, John!â
John poured another beer for Ed as Ed continued his traveling horror story. âoeMan, all that water pouring out of the sky. It was really strange, and even the water was scary and I donâ(TM)t know why. And it was cold. Must have been under twenty.â
âoeIt gets well below zero some places.â
âoeHow do they live like that?â he repeated. âoeI was all right as long as I was inside, except that first night when it stormed. I hated that storm! I sure am glad we donâ(TM)t have anything like that on Mars!
âoeThere was a bar in the hotel, thankfully, so I didnâ(TM)t have to go out until the next morning. But the storm scared the hell out of me.â
âoeSo how did your meeting go?â
âoeWell, I had to take the car there, meaning I had to be outside. It was fine in the dark, like a room with no lights turned on, but walking outside without an environment suit when you could see the sky really freaked me out. I finally told myself it was just a big blue dome.â
âoeDid it work?â
âoeNot really. It was really hard rolling around out there in my electric chair, and it was really hot outside! I never sweated before, and I hate it.
âoeBut worse than that was bugs. Some of them bite. Some of the bugs they called âbutterfliesâ(TM) the Earthians thought were pretty. I thought they were creepy and scary.
âoeAnd barking dogs. I never saw a dog before, and John, those things are scary as hell, just downright terrifying. And there are a whole lot of them there.â
âoeOkay, how did the meeting go?â
âoeLousy. Between the weight and the storm I didnâ(TM)t sleep well. And the weight, the bugs, the dogs, the outside, the heat, the storm, all of it had me so rattled I couldnâ(TM)t think straight, and we didnâ(TM)t get the contract, DA2 did. At least it was a friendâ(TM)s dome.
âoeGive me another shot, John. Man, but Iâ(TM)m glad to be back home here on Mars. Earth sucks. Now I know what people mean by âhell on Earthâ(TM). Earth is hell!â
John grinned again. âoeSo... I take it youâ(TM)re not going back?â
(Non-borked version is at my web log. Slashdot, please fix your buggy code!)
The entire universe was turned inside out and upside down and completely backwards today, and I must have been the only one to see it. It all started with an innocent looking email.
I get a lot of emails like this one, except that the noteâ(TM)s subject line looked like a headline from the National Enquirer, or maybe The Onion. It read âoeArchaeologists Find Twenty Five Million Year Old iPhone.â Misaddressed, maybe? But it was a press release for an art exhibit.
A few minutes after I set the mail aside is when it hit me; the fellow who sent the email had mentioned that heâ(TM)d seen my work before and knew Iâ(TM)d written about art and wanted me to see his exhibit. I had written a story, one story, ten years earlier, and the paper hadnâ(TM)t published it.
I printed it out and went to see Frank, my boss.
âoeWhatâ(TM)s up, Stan?â he asked.
âoeI just got the strangest emailâ I said, handing him the printout. He read it.
âoeSo whatâ(TM)s so weird, Stan? You must get these every day!â
âoeWhatâ(TM)s weird is that yeah, Iâ(TM)m working on that story about the city museum, but I havenâ(TM)t even finished researching it and barely have an outline, and I only wrote one other art thing, and it was never published!â
âoeHuh, that is weird. Why donâ(TM)t you go down and check the place out?â
âoeYou know, Frank, I think I will. Maybe Iâ(TM)ll get a fun story out of it.â
It was here in town, 568 Broadway, up in the eleventh floor. It was only about a fifteen minutes ride on the subway, and I rode the elevator up.
It looked like an Apple store, only it was as weird as the email. For instance, it had strange iPhone accessories, like a case with a built-in hourglass. It was like an Apple store in some twisted alternate dimension.
I had expected to see Evan Yee, the artist behind the installation, but nobody was there at all. Also weird. I took a few photos and left, disappointed that I had gotten no story out of it.
I went to the elevator, and there was no elevator. Instead, there was a door leading outside, at street level. I wondered if I was going crazy, and remembered the time my mother said she had a âoesenior momentâ. Maybe I was just getting old, but I was only forty five.
I reached for my phone as I walked outside, thinking that maybe Iâ(TM)d get some sort of inspiration from the pictures, but it was gone. Damn, that phone cost six hundred dollars! I was glad Iâ(TM)d noticed so soon, and turned around to go in â" and it was an Apple store. Between losing my phone and my disorientation when I left the exhibit, I hadnâ(TM)t noticed that there hadnâ(TM)t been anyone outside.
By now I was sure I was going crazy. I went in anyway, and there was my phone, laying on one of the counters. I picked it up, looked around, and the place looked nothing like it had before Iâ(TM)d left, although it still looked like a weird, twisted, dystopian Apple store.
I left again, and the street and sidewalk were bright green. I just stood there a minute, kind of dazed, I guess. By then I was pretty sure Iâ(TM)d gone stark raving mad. Maybe I was having a stroke? I reached in my pocket to call for an ambulance, and my phone was gone. I could have sworn Iâ(TM)d stuck it in my pocket.
I went back in, and it wasnâ(TM)t an Apple store any more, just an empty room with my phone laying on the floor. I picked it up and tried to call 911, but there was no signal. I went outside again to get a signal; lots of buildings suck for phones, and it was now night; it had been morning when Iâ(TM)d gone in.
And there were two moons. Everything else was normal, but there were two moons in the sky and there were no people.
And my phone was missing again! Next phone I buy is going to be a cheap one. I went back inside, and it was an Apple store again, this time like any other Apple store. Again there was no one there, and again my phone was on the counter. And again, I could get no signal. I firmly gripped it in my fist and walked outside...
And confronted a monster! A giant animal, really huge, bigger than an elephant with huge teeth and claws and feathers. I screamed and ran back inside... a cave.
And Iâ(TM)d dropped my phone outside in my fright. Not that it seemed to work any more, anyway. Or that it mattered, since I had clearly gone insane.
But I couldnâ(TM)t just sit in the cave. I waited a long time to make sure the monster was gone, then peeked outside. No monsters, and no phone. I went back in, I donâ(TM)t know why, and there was my phone laying on a large rock. I put it in my pocket, and noticed the cave had changed. It was huge before, now little more than an indentation in the rock face.
I went back out, and it looked like New York in the early twentieth century, except there were no people. I hadnâ(TM)t seen a soul since Iâ(TM)d started this ordeal, except for the monster.
And my phone was gone again. I turned around, and the Apple storeâ(TM)s sign read âoeBell Telephoneâ. I went inside and there was a bank of antique switchboards, all unmanned. My phone was laying on one.
I put it back in my pocket and walked back out. I donâ(TM)t think Iâ(TM)ve ever been as worried and scared in my life, especially when Iâ(TM)d seen the huge, weird looking animal. This time the streets and signs of civilization were gone, and a group of wigwams was there where New York City had been before.
I was shaking. I sat down on a log, put my face in my hands and cried like a baby. I felt like one, lost like no lost child had ever been lost before.
Cried out, I sat and tried to think of a way out of the mess Iâ(TM)d somehow gotten myself into. The only thing I could think of was going back into the wigwam.
There was a room filled with some very strange looking machinery, machinery Iâ(TM)d never seen before and had an idea that no one else had either. And there were people there this time! Two women, a blonde and a brunette, both wearing extremely strange looking clothing, intently poring over a complex-looking gizmo that looked like it was from some science fiction movie, and didnâ(TM)t notice my entry. I stood there speechless.
âoeWe almost had him!â one of the women exclaimed. âoeIn the right dimension and we almost had him in the right time. It would have taken only one more minute. If heâ(TM)d just sat still a little longer!â
âoeI canâ(TM)t find when he is now. This thing is being extra finicky today,â the other woman remarked.
âoeExcuse me,â I said, âoeBut would someone please call 911? I think Iâ(TM)ve had a stroke or something.â
They both whirled around at the same time. The blonde said âoeOh, no, heâ(TM)s now!â
The brunette said âoeIt will be all right, sir. Please, take your phone and wait in the hallway until it rings. Thereâ(TM)s a comfortable chair out there.â
âoeWhatâ(TM)s going on?â I asked.
The blonde said âoeIâ(TM)m sorry, we canâ(TM)t say anything more without fouling things up even worse than they already are. Please, your world will be normal in a few minutes, just listen for your phone.â
âoeUh, okay, I guess,â I said, and took my phone outside and sat down.
Maybe fifteen minutes later I heard my ring tone, and it was coming from inside the office. I looked in my pocket and my phone was gone again.
I wondered if someone at work could have spiked my coffee with some hallucinogen, but no... nobody at the office would have done such a thing. I sighed, wondering what strangeness I was going to see next, and went in.
I was back at the art exhibit, and again, no one was there. I picked up the phone to answer it, but all that came out of it were some strange noises. I hung up, and I was getting a signal again! I called my boss.
âoeWhere have you been?â Frank asked.
âoeI got lost. I may have had a stroke or something, Iâ(TM)m going to the doctor to get checked out. Iâ(TM)ll call when Iâ(TM)m done to let you know.â
âoeWell, I hope youâ(TM)re all right. Iâ(TM)ll talk to you later.â
I walked hesitantly out into the hallway, and the chair and door to the outside the building were gone, with the elevators taking its place. I pushed the button, and when the car came I stepped in gingerly wondering what would happen when I got outside.
Outside the building everything seemed normal again, with the throngs of people and noise of vehicular traffic. I hailed a cab and took the taxi to the hospital, where they took my vitals and did a brain scan and some psychological tests. The doctor said everything looked normal, but my blood pressure was a little high and I should make an appointment with my regular doctor.
I took the subway back to the office. As I waited for the elevator, Doris, an editor, walked upâ"and she had red hair. Oh, no, I thought. âoeYour hair!â I said, scared again.
âoeLike it?â she said. âoeI was tired of being a blonde so I dyed it last night.â
I could have hugged her. We took the elevator up and I went to see Frank.
âoeFrank, do you mind having someone else check out that exhibit? I donâ(TM)t think I could give them a fair revue.â
Frank said I looked really pale and should go home, so I went home early. I couldnâ(TM)t get this weird day out of my mind, so I just wrote it down.
Of course, Iâ(TM)m not putting this in the paper. Maybe Iâ(TM)ll send it to a science fiction magazine under an assumed name, because thereâ(TM)s no way anyone could believe it wasnâ(TM)t fiction.
But Iâ(TM)m getting a new phone tomorrow.
(Version with photos and without slashdot's patented text borking is at My web log)
I had more fun this weekend than I have in years! Patty and I attended this yearâ(TM)s World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City.
Patty had said that she would be at my momâ(TM)s house in Belleville around one, and I got there a little before.
She got caught in construction work traffic in Indiana, and we didnâ(TM)t get on the road until three. Traffic was terrible, not just through St Louis but all the way there. We decided to go straight to the convention; we could check in to the hotel later.
We got parked (finally), and went in through the light rain, which would be a hard rain later, and cold wind. There inside the building sat Dr. Whoâ(TM)s Tardis! There was a door handle, and Patty decided to see if it would open. She walked up to it, and it moved away!
That was the first really cool thing we saw, but not the coolest by far.
We got to the place to get our badges, and oops: I forgot the magic numbers: the membership and PIN numbers. All I could do was hope we could get in, anyway -- I had the emails from worldcon on my phone.
It turned in not to be a problem, as they had us in their computer systems. Pattyâ(TM)s name tag said âoePatty McGrewâ, mine said simply âoemcgrewâ. A helpful lady in a scooter gave us the lowdown on everything. I asked where the nearest drinking fountain was, and she said that bottled water, soda, and snacks were free in the exhibit hall.
I got a bottle of water and Patty got a soda. We wandered around and came across a life sized cardboard cutout of an astronaut, and someone said a real astronaut was there. There was a fellow in a business suit, the first business suit Iâ(TM)d seen and asked him if he were the astronaut.
âoeNo, she is,â he said, gesturing towards a trim, fit, attractive black woman in a green dress.
Iâ(TM)ve never been one to be starstruck. Iâ(TM)d met dozens, probably hundreds of celebrities while pumping gas for Disney World between 1980 and 1985 â" major league baseball, basketball, and football players; professional golfers, more than one who became irate because I didnâ(TM)t recognize them, despite the fact that Iâ(TM)ve hated that sport since my first job at age sixteen, working as a groundskeeper (âoeIf anybody has to work that damned hard for me to play a silly game, Iâ(TM)m done with golfâ); Rock and pop stars (one of whom, Cris Cross, was a complete and total jerk, but most were pleasant enough)...
And Movie stars. My favorite movie star was Buddy Hackett, a really nice guy. Knowing he had done Disney movies, I told him if he were an employee I could give him a discount. He said he had before and may be again. âoeYes,â I said, âoeI recognized youâ and told him my favorite movie was Mad Mad World. He grimaced.
âoeI hated that movie,â he said. âoeIt was hot, half the actors were not very nice and Mickey Rooney was an asshole and Jim Backus...â (the actor who played the rich guy in Gilliganâ(TM)s Island) âoe...was always flubbing his lines because he was always drunk.
âoeMy favorite movie was The Love bug,â he said. âoewe had SO much fun making that movie!â He had quite a few tales about that movie.
He said he was there to talk to the brass about an upcoming movie, which he didnâ(TM)t name but was The Little Mermaid, where he played... Iâ(TM)ve forgotten, I took my kids when they were little.
It was a very pleasant conversation. He gave me his credit card, I ran it through the machine, the old-fashioned kind with carbon paper, returned his card, thanked him, and he drove off. I mentioned to my co-workers, who all were star-struck, who I had just served. They didnâ(TM)t believe me, so I showed them the card receipt and they all went ape-shit.
John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd stopped by and the star-struck dummies I worked with kept pestering them and they kept repeating that theyâ(TM)d never heard of those guys. âoeGuys, if they say theyâ(TM)re not John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd
As they were leaving, one of them winked and thanked me. The morons I worked with seemed not to realize that the only difference between them and us was that they had better jobs.
And then I met NASA engineer and astronaut Jeanette J. Epps at Worldcon, and for the first time in my life I WAS star-struck. This woman had been in outer space (or rather, will be in 2018)! I had a very pleasant conversation with her. She asked if I wrote science fiction, and I told her âoeyeah, but I read more of it than I write.â It seems she was as impressed by meeting a science fiction writer as I was by meeting an astronaut! At her questioning I told her Sputnik launched when I was six, I watched Armstrong land on the moon, and while living in Florida I saw every shuttle launch before the Challenger accident... and the look on her face told me no astronaut likes to think of that.
She said she was envious, to see all that history with my own eyes. I told her I was envious of folks Pattyâ(TM)s age. âoeNow, only a select, elite few ever make it to space but by the time Patty is my age, space will be open to everyone.â
By then, the word âoeastronautâ would be as disused as the word âoeAviatorâ is now, as everyone would be able to visit space. After all, there was no such thing as an airplane when my grandmother was born, the first airplane flight being six months later, and she flew on several planes and saw men in space land on the moon. Yuri Gagarin flew into space twenty sic years before Patty was born.
We talked of Americaâ(TM)s inability to send people to space (I got the idea that she didnâ(TM)t like Russian rockets) and I countered that at least we could launch cargo, and would soon have our own capsule. âoeThree of them,â she said. I took Pattyâ(TM)s picture with her and shook her hand. She indicated she wanted to see us again the next day (today; the awards are presented tonight; Iâ(TM)m typing a draft in the hotel and will finish when we get home) and I assured her weâ(TM)d be back. I intend to give her a copy of Nobots if I see her today.
As Patty and I walked off, I realized that for the first time in my life I was star-struck. This woman was not only an engineer (all the astronauts are, if Iâ(TM)m not mistaken, scientists and engineers) but an astronaut! âoeThat alone was worth the price of admission,â I told Patty with a huge smile on my face, and she was as impressed as I was.
Dr. Epps was one of the few black people I saw there. There were more Chinese alone, and Japanese, than black people. I saw more blacks in my hotel than in the teeming masses at the convention. I met one black fellow later, an overweight gentleman who said he was an actor from New York. For all I know, he was in Hamilton.
S/N ran a piece last week about âoeracism in SFâ and I can tell you that there are few black SF writers because black SF fans are almost nonexistent.
The crowd was almost as Caucasian as a Donald Trump rally.
Most of the night was that good. I took Pattyâ(TM)s picture as she sat on the throne from Game of Thrones, she took my picture with some alien Japanese monster. However, the weather got to me â" it got cold outside, and with the huge buildingâ(TM)s air conditioning it was cold inside and my arthritis started aching terribly. But the pain didnâ(TM)t stop me from having a great time.
There was a very short man in a Jedi robe, a woman with a robotic baby dragon, and lots of booths put up by cities hoping to host a worldcon. Dublin wants it in 2019, and God if itâ(TM)s there I want to go! Irelandâ(TM)s on my bucket list, anyway.
They were raffling stuff off, some of it really expensive stuff, so we each got a ticket.
We didnâ(TM)t win anything.
After the raffle we drove to the hotel, checked in, and went to our rooms.
Iâ(TM)d gotten to bed about two, and since I canâ(TM)t seem to sleep when itâ(TM)s light I got up about seven. There was a strange small coffeemaker, two packets that said they were coffee, but no basket.
So I took the elevator down to the lobby, hoping to find coffee. Coffeeless, I pushed the wrong button on the elevator and it stopped on the second floor, and there were two computers for guests. I decided to write when I was awake enough; the previous night I had regretted bringing a computer.
Not only was there coffee, there was breakfast. I got a cup of coffee and went back up to my room to read and watch the news. Back down for more coffee and a thumb drive, and on the way back up I stopped on the second floor to write.
No such luck, there were two young teens at the two computers. So I went back up to read some more. Patty was sleeping and wouldnâ(TM)t wake up. It was her rental car, and I considered taking a cab to the convention center, but didnâ(TM)t.
While reading, I heard strange sounds outside the window, three stories down. Looking out through the screen, I saw the Kids on skateboards. Good, I could write!
My coffee was empty after writing for a half hour or so, so I went back downstairs to fill my cup, and back to my room, again considering a cab. It was eight-thirty, so I called Pattyâ(TM)s phone again. This time she answered, and I informed her that she had twenty minutes to get breakfast.
She came back up after breakfast and said she needed to lay down a little while and would be half an hour or so. She said she wasnâ(TM)t feeling well, which was understandable since sheâ(TM)d driven from Cincinnati to Kansas City the day before, and weâ(TM)d been at the convention until after midnight.
Oddly, despite only sleeping five hours the night before, I was fine, wide awake.
We got to the convention about eleven-thirty or so, too late to meet Dr. Epps again. But we discovered that the daytime was a lot more busy and had a lot more to see â" and buy. I bought three tee shirts, and so many books I wonâ(TM)t be at the library for months. One was Star Prince Charlie, co-written by Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson, signed by its editor. At least, I think itâ(TM)s the editorâ(TM)s signature. There was all sorts of cool stuff, like the bridge of the Enterprise and a huge sculpture of the part of the Death Star that Luke Skywalker blew up, made from Legos and including Lukeâ(TM)s and another pilotâ(TM)s craft.
The illustration here is from one of the tee shirts I bought. The title of the book the robot is reading is âoeTomorrow is Nowâ, which makes me wonder if the artist has read Yesterdayâ(TM)s Tomorrows. If so, Iâ(TM)m flattered.
Then I met David Gerrold, who has been writing and selling science fiction since he was twelve, which is an interesting story in itself. He had written a screenplay called The Trouble with Tribbles and sent it, unsolicited, to Paramount. Paramount, like all film studios, return unsolicited manuscripts unopened.
However, they had no script for the next Star Trek episode and were becoming panicked. They read, then after several rewrites, filmed the script. Heâ(TM)s been making a living at it ever since. The September issue of S&SF is dedicated to him, and he signed a copy of it and I bought it from him.
There were more nerds than Iâ(TM)d ever seen at once, far more. And every one of them was smiling. I had pleasant conversations with several people, including a gentleman from the Kansas City library.
Carrying around what felt like fifty pounds of books and short on sleep, I decided to get the car keys from Patty and put the swag in the trunk.
I must have walked around for miles carrying that load trying to find the car. Hot and tired I was stumbling like a drunk, and when I fell down I decided it was time to surrender, and staggered back to the convention center, still hauling my load.
I ran across the librarian, who grinned and said, as has been written in so many science fiction stories and comic books, âoeSo â" We meet again!â
I stumbled back in and got a bottle of water and sat on a couch towards the back of the hall; my back was killing me. I tried to call Patty, but she wasnâ(TM)t answering. I was starting to worry, as my phone battery was getting low, and she had my battery charging battery in her purse. Ten minutes later, my water empty, I decided to get a beer. I tried calling again â" no luck. I sat back down on the couch again as my phone rang; it was Patty. I told her where I was and she couldnâ(TM)t find me.
âoeDo you know where that big screen is?â she asked. I answered âoeYes, I can see it from here.â
âoeStand under it!â I did, and she found me. We sat at a table by the screen and I plugged my phone into the charging battery. There was a heavy black man in a polo shirt, one of the incredibly few black people there. There was an engineering company logo on his shirt.
âoeSo,â I asked, âoeAre you an engineer?â
âoeNo, but I play one on television.â
Patty had gone for snacks and I had a pleasant conversation with the actor, about SF in general and the convention in general.
Patty came back with some veggies; raw broccoli and cherry tomatoes and cheese. We ate it and walked around some more.
There were a couple dozen people in various science fiction costumes. One was a very short man in a Jedi outfit that I mentioned earlier. I could swear Iâ(TM)ve seen the guy on-screen somewhere.
We decided weâ(TM)d seen everything there was to see there by three, so went back to the tables by the screen. It had been beaming some sort of thing that was going on in the auditorium the night before, but only a static photo now. We had a conversation with a couple of folks who looked about my age, two men and a woman. The woman and one man and I talked about science fiction and art, the other man, who was with the woman, was largely silent. Patty had gone to the restroom.
I decided to get a slice of pizza and a beer at the Papa Johns booth, which looked like a permanent part of the place. A very small four piece pizza was eight bucks, and a pint can of Budweiser was six, twice what a Guinness was in any bar at home. But I was having too much fun to worry about my bank balance or credit card bills.
I ate one slice, and nobody else wanted any. The three left, and a while later we made our way to the auditorium to watch the Hugos be presented. âoeToo bad we got here too late to see Dr. Epps again,â I said.
âoeI saw her when you were looking for the car,â she said, âoebut she was with people looking busy so I didnâ(TM)t bother her.â
We got pretty good seats toward the front, but it was still forty five minutes before the ceremonies started. I used the rest room and got another beer, this time a Corona; beer choices were pretty limited.
Finally it started. The Master of Ceremonies was Pat Cadigan, a woman who had won a hugo decades ago, and she would have made a pretty good stand-up comedian.
She came on stage holding a bull whip and after telling everyone to silence their phones, admonished us âoeDonâ(TM)t make me use this!â Her whip was the center of many jokes by many people on stage.
Iâ(TM)d been disappointed since 2012 when I read The Martian that it hadnâ(TM)t gotten the Hugo it deserved, and apparently I wasnâ(TM)t alone, because Andy Wier got two of them this year. One was âoebest new writerâ, probably since it was years too late to award it for the book, and one for Best Long Version Photoplay for the movie version, that even beat Star Wars!
Mr. Wier wasnâ(TM)t there. An astronaut in his astronaut uniform accepted the award in his place for âoebest new writerâ.
When âoe Best Long Version Photoplayâ came around, another astronaut in uniform accepted it for him: None other than Dr. Epps! I gave her a standing ovation, but no one else did.
I havenâ(TM)t had that much fun in years! I spent a fortune, but it was worth every penny.
Step 1: Missile Command, but as a web proxy. Every outgoing connection = 1 incoming missile, labeled with the hostname. The proxy holds onto the connection until the missile hits the city at the bottom. Shoot down the rocket to prevent the connection to tracker.facebook.com or whatever. Speed would be adjustable.
Step 2: add auto-targeting by hostname, so you don't have to click on tracker.facebook.com over and over.
Step 3: whitelist hostnames to avoid having to wait for the connection.
Step 5: browse the internet and watch the fireworks display
One good suit is worth a thousand resumes.