Is always and forever the enemy of science. One lie leads to another leads to another and soon, you have draconian censorship against dissent.
Is always and forever the enemy of science. One lie leads to another leads to another and soon, you have draconian censorship against dissent.
Too bad it's by a climate change denier, because the mathematical proof of just how much effect man really has on global warming is fascinating.
Anybody else seeing the firehose on the main Stories Page in a sort of a translucent red color?
(Illustrated version here)
After buying copies of books from my book printer, finding errors to correct, and giving the bad copies to my daughter who wants them, rather than discarding them I realized I was stupid. It would be a lot cheaper to buy a laser printer.
An inkjet wouldnâ(TM)t work for me. The printer is going to be sitting idle most of the time, and inkjet nozzles clog; Iâ(TM)ve had several, and all clogged if you didnâ(TM)t use them at least every other day. Plus, the ink dries out in the cartridges. Being a powder, toner has no such problem.
So I went looking at the Staples site, and they badly need a new webmaster. This little four year old laptop only has a gig of memory, and a lot of people have far less. The poor little machine choked. That damned web site took every single one of my billion bytes!
Or rather than firing him, make him design his websites on an old 486. Or even 386.
So what the hell, I just drove down there; I didnâ(TM)t want to wait for (or pay for) it to be shipped, anyway, I just wanted to see what they had.
Buying it was easy. They had exactly the printer I was looking for; Canon, a name I trusted since we had Canons and other brands at work, wireless networking, and not expensive. They had a huge selection of lasers; itâ(TM)s a very big store. I paid for the printer and sheaf of paper, and man, lasers sure have gotten a lot less expensive. I expected at least $250 just for the printer, maybe without even toner, but the total including tax and paper was just a little over a hundred.
When I got home, of course I pulled out the manual like I do with every piece of electronics I buyâ"and it was worse than the âoemanualâ that came with the external hard drive I ranted about here earlier. Cryptic drawings and very little text. At least the hard drive didnâ(TM)t need a manual. All there is is a network port, a USB port, a power socket, and an on/off button. Plug it in and it just works. With the printer, I really needed a manual.
Kids, hieroglyphics are thousands of years out of style and I donâ(TM)t know why youâ(TM)re so drawn to emoticons, but there was an obvious reason for these hieroglyphics: globalization. Far fewer words to be written in three different languages.
I could find nothing better on Canonâ(TM)s web site. So I followed the instructions in the poor excuse for a manual for unpacking it and setting it up, as best as I could.
I couldnâ(TM)t find the paper tray.
Iâ(TM)ve been printing since 1984 when I bought a small plotter and wrote software to make it into a printer. Afterwards I had ink jets at home until now, and lasers at work. All the lasers were different from each other in various ways, usually the shape of the toner cartridge, but all had a drawer that held the paper no matter what brand of printer.
I couldnâ(TM)t find it. Sighing and muttering, I opened the lid to the big laptop and copied the CDâ(TM)s contents to a thumb drive to install the printer on the smaller notebook. Thereâ(TM)s no reason to make two calls to tech support, because an installation screwup is never unexpected when youâ(TM)ve been dealing with computers as long as I have.
And why send a CD? Fewer and fewer computers have CD or DVD burners any more. Why not a thumb drive? All computers have USB ports these days, and have had for over a decade.
The installation was trouble-free but still troubling; I didnâ(TM)t think the wi-fi was connecting, as it said to hold the router button until the blue light on the printer stopped flashing. I held the button down until my finger hurt and was about to call tech support, but as I reached for the phone the light stopped flashing and burned steadily.
Maybe it was working, but Iâ(TM)d have to find the paper tray to find out. But it had installed a manual, one I couldnâ(TM)t find. So I plugged the thumb drive back in and searched it visually with a file manager, and found an executable for the manual. Running it took me to an offline web page which wasnâ(TM)t too badly designed, but I would have far preferred a PDF, as I could put that on the little tablet to reference while I was examining the printer in search of where to stick the damned paper, instead of a bulky, clumsy notebook.
I finally found it, and it wasnâ(TM)t a tray, even though thatâ(TM)s what the documents called it. I havenâ(TM)t seen anything like it before, and the documentation was very unclear. But I did manage to get paper in it, and sent a page to it, and it worked well.
Meanwhile, I wish Staples would fix their web site, and Canon would fix their documentation.
When did clear, legible documentation go out of style? Hell, the lasers we had at work didnâ(TM)t even need docs. Good thing, too, because IT never left them when they installed crap. Another reason Iâ(TM)m glad Iâ(TM)m retired! Work sucks.
At any rate, a few hours later I printed the cleaned up scans of The Golden Book of Springfield so I could check for dirt I missed looking on a screen. I saved it as PDF and printed it from that. And amazingly, this thing prints duplex! It only took fifteen or twenty minutes or so to print the 329 pages.
Iâ(TM)m happy with it. Man, progress... it just amazes me. But when I went to print from Open Office, the word processor Iâ(TM)ve used for years, I didnâ(TM)t try sending the print job to the printer, but it looked like Oo wonâ(TM)t print duplex.
Then I discovered that they may stop developing Open Office because they couldnâ(TM)t get developers; the developers were all working on Libre Office.
Damn. The last time I tried Lo it didnâ(TM)t have full justification, which was a show stopper when Iâ(TM)m publishing books. Iâ(TM)d tried it because someone said it would write in MS Word format. I was skeptical, and my skepticism was fully warranted. It could write a DOC file, but Word couldnâ(TM)t read it. Plus, of course, the show stopping lack of full justification.
I decided to try it out again, since Oo may be doomedâ¦ and man! Not only does it have full justification, it has a lot Oo lacks that I didnâ(TM)t even know I needed. It appears to now actually write a DOC file that Word can read, even though when you save it in DOC the program warns you it might not work in Word.
And it mightâ¦ I havenâ(TM)t tested itâ¦ might arrange pages for a booklet. Iâ(TM)ll test it with this articleâ¦ when itâ(TM)s longer than four pages, as it is now.
This was all over the course of the last week as I was working on a PDF of the Vachel Lindsay book. The computer nagged me that the printer was running low on toner (it has a small âoestarterâ cartridge), with a button to order toner from Canon. I clicked it, and damn, the toner cost almost as much as the printer did.
Then I ran out of paper, so I went back to Staples, where I discovered that the printer I had paid eighty something plus tax for was now twice that price! So I got the toner and five reams of paper.
At any rate, I tried to print this as a booklet, and this is what came out:
Itâ(TM)s backlit; the picture on the top left and the grayer text on the bottom right are on the other side of the page.
But a little fiddling and yes, it will print booklets. It isnâ(TM)t Libre Office doing it, itâ(TM)s the printer itself!
I like this printer. Iâ(TM)ve figured it to about a penny per page, and I donâ(TM)t think thatâ(TM)s too expensive, considering a page is both sides.
And then I had this document open in Libre Office, tried to insert a graphic (the second one in this article), and it simply didnâ(TM)t insert. Maybe it doesnâ(TM)t like JPG files, I donâ(TM)t yet know. A little googling showed me that Iâ(TM)m not the only one with this problem, and none of the fixes I found fixed it. I have Open Office open now.
And here I was going to uninstall Open Office. Iâ(TM)d better not, I guess. Iâ(TM)ll need it if I want to insert a graphic; inserted in Oo they show in Lo. Puzzling.
A week later and Iâ(TM)ve found that sometimes it will insert a graphic, but only if you go through the menu; using text shortcuts never inserts it. And sometimes it simply doesnâ(TM)t insert the picture, and sometimes it says it doesnâ(TM)t recognize the format when Iâ(TM)d just put the same graphic in another Lo document.
Well, Iâ(TM)m not uninstalling Open Office yet, anyway. Not until Lo solves the graphics show-stoppng bug.
I wrote that a few weeks ago, and have been using both. Libre Office has a horrible problem with keyboard shortcuts, and those shortcuts save a LOT of time. But except for its horrible bugs, itâ(TM)s a better word processor than Open Office. So both will remain installed.
Itâ(TM)s possible I may uninstall Microsoft Office, depending on how well Loâ(TM)s spreadsheet works. I havenâ(TM)t even fired it up yet, but Ooâ(TM)s spreadsheet is almost useless.
The above is several months old now. Lo does lack one important thing Oo has: controls to move to the next or previous page. Not good when youâ(TM)re writing books. Also, it still has graphics problems. Often, simply opening a document in Lo removes any graphics.
After sitting idle for a month or so, I needed to print a return label. Iâ(TM)m starting to become wary of buying anything from Amazon. Iâ(TM)d bought a new battery for this laptop a year or two ago, and the battery came from someone other than Amazon, and it was the wrong battery. I got the right battery directly from Acer.
Then I ordered a long throw stapler to make booklets with, and staples for it. The stapler came a week later; no staples. So I bought a box from Walgreenâ(TM)s. A week later, the staples came, again not from Amazon, and they had simply thrown the box of staples in an unprotected envelope. The box was smashed, the rows of staples broken.
Then I ordered a DVD, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I watched the first six, put the seventh in the DVD playerâ"and it was region coded for the UK! Some company from Florida sent it. WTF is wrong with people? So I needed a return label.
It wouldnâ(TM)t print; it just hung in the print queue until it timed out. After a little digging, I found that the router had assigned a new IP address to it.
So after a lot of googling, I gave up and cringed; I was going to need tech support, which is usually a nightmare. I wind up on the phone talking to someone with an accent so heavy I can barely understand them, if at all, who is ignorant of the product and reading from a checklist.
I found Canon was one of those few companies that actually care about keeping their customers happy. Support was over email, painless, and effective.
I have to say, itâ(TM)s the best printer Iâ(TM)ve ever owned.
Yes, the average client computer has more than 4GB of memory nowadays, but that doesn't mean people's browsers can re-download the same framework elements 20,000 times and hope that the article they're trying to read will ever load.
Instead, use static, text and image based adverts. If you must have animation, use animated GIF. Stop abusing the memory resources of the viewers of your websites.
In the end, more page views will translate to more clicks, even with older technology.
(If the text is borked, you can read it here)
Some highly paid people seem to not be very good at thinking straight... or at all.
Weâ(TM)ve all seen robot bartenders in movies: Star Wars episode one; The Fifth Element; I, Robot, etc. Ever notice that human bartenders often have a lot of screen time in movies, but robot bartenders donâ(TM)t? The reason is simple: robots are boring. Which is why we wonâ(TM)t see many robot bartenders in real life, and this real life robot bartender is going to go over like the proverbial lead balloon.
I suspect that the engineer who designed the thing doenâ(TM)t frequent bars, but likes science fiction movies, because nobody goes to a bar to drink. From my upcoming Voyage to Earth:
âoeIs Mars still short of robots?â
âoeNot since that factory opened two years ago.â
âoeIâ(TM)m surprised you donâ(TM)t have robots tending bar, then.â
âoeScrew that. People donâ(TM)t go to bars to drink, they go to bars to socialize; bars are full of lonely people. If thereâ(TM)s nobody to talk to but a damned robot theyâ(TM)re just going to walk out. I do have a tendbot for emergencies, like if one of the human bartenders is sick and we donâ(TM)t have anyone to cover. The tendbot will be working when weâ(TM)re going to Earth, but I avoid using it.â
Someone who doesnâ(TM)t visit bars inventing something to use in bars is about as stupid as Richardson in Mars, Ho! , who assigned a Muslim to design a robot to cook pork and an engineer who didnâ(TM)t drink coffee to make a robotic coffeemaker.
Just because it works in the movies doesnâ(TM)t mean it works in real life.
And it's even on topic! Take that you Fristy Pissters! See front page story on Japanese Toilets.
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?
I completely condemn the death of George Michael yesterday morning, which was senseless, a needless tragedy, and caused great pain to hundreds of millions of fans and those who enjoy music.
This utterly despicable death comes on the heels of the pointless loss of David Bowie, and combined with Brexit and the election of Trump, is more evidence of cruel and malignant mentality amongst those responsible for the guidance of the universe at this present time.
I call upon those responsible to stop it, and to end their monstrous campaign against humanity.
1. No, Liberals were not "in a bubble". Our reaction isn't because we were surprised by the Trump victory, we knew there was a chance of one, pretty much every liberal I knew in a swing state voted for Clinton because we knew how close it was. Our reaction post election is horror, not surprise. Insofar as we expected a Clinton win, it was because the opinion polls seemed to suggest that. Those of us who trusted Nate Silver knew there was a one third chance of Trump winning.
2. No, Trump did not win because his supporters were called idiots, or racists, or fascists, or both. Nobody has ever said "That man called me a fascist! Well, that does it, I'm going to vote for a fascist who'll most likely destroy the country I live in and love! That'll show them!" Besides, we didn't, for the most part, call Trump supporters any of those things, we called TRUMP a fascist, and we also observed that actual self-described NEO-NAZIs ("Deplorables") were voting for Trump - as in David Duke was voting for him, and any analysis of what neo-nazis were doing showed they were enthusiastic about Trump.
(On that note: are you a fascist for voting Trump? You might be, you might not, but what is clear is that you don't consider fascism to be such a terrible thing that you'd refuse to vote for someone who runs as a fascist. That is not a good thing, and whether you're one or not, you should feel bad if you voted for him.)
2.1 No she didn't. She said half of Trump's supporters were "deplorables", an entirely reasonable statement to make. She never said that half of voters, or that all Trump supporters, were racists, you just made that up.
3. You may think he made it all up just to get elected. But you have no real evidence of that. We will be fearful that Trump intends to continue as a fascist until he proves otherwise. Thus far, he's been all over the map, we have to wait until he's in office before we can judge.
4. No, we will not "Hope for Trump's success". We'll hope for America's success, but to our eyes, that appears to be in conflict with the success of Trump. We'll hope that Trump somehow redeems himself, and turns into something completely unlike what we've seen so far.
Addressing a different crowd...
5. No, she didn't win the popular vote. She did great, and has a plurality, but she's not even near the 50% mark. The EC would have absolutely no mandate - moral or otherwise - to substitute Clinton for Trump. Both candidates lost the popular vote.
6. She was a shitty choice of candidate, get over it. No, she's not Nixon, she's the victim of a 25 year long smear campaign, but she's also a neo-con who doesn't represent liberal values on certain key issues like war and civil liberties, and she's spent so much time cosying up to the various establishments that she appears aloof of ordinary American's problems. She's rightly or wrongly associated with her husband who may or may not have been popular but is infamous for regressive anti-progressive positions during his time in office. In the primaries we may have had two shitty candidates to choose from, we may or may not have picked the best of the two, but she was still shitty.
6.1 Sanders? You really think a country brainwashed for more than a century to think Socialist is a bad word would have voted for Sanders? Really? Even Trump had the good sense to not explicitly use the word that described the ideology he was campaigning on. He wasn't even a great campaigner - he might have beaten Ron Paul if the latter had been the Republicans choice, but nobody else.
7. No, we're probably not going to win back either house in 2018. We're not Republicans, we're obsessed with looking reasonable and getting the blessing of the media, and the media is going to normalize Trump and the Democrats will end up compromising themselves and fucking themselves over. When Obama won, the Republicans went Scorched Earth despite there being no reason to think he was particularly offensive. Democrats need to go Scorched Earth now, but won't, because they're pathetic.
8. No, we shouldn't abandon our principles to win the next election. Supporting minorities didn't kill us, failing to address issues that affect everyone might have done, but the two are not in conflict. We need to abandon people suffering real hardship and discrimination so we can focus on the "White Working Class"? Bullshit. We need policies that lift up the whole of the working classes, not just whites. And while we do so, nothing prevents us from reforming chronically discriminatory institutions, or dealing with hate crimes at the same time.
We have precious little we can do at this stage, but we can resist in our own small ways, and make it politically possible for others with more power to resist too. That's what we must, at minimum, do right now.
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...
Trump has been all over the map about the Affordable Care Act since he "won" the election, stating he'd like to keep the "popular" bits after meeting with Obama, then stating he'd organize a special session of Congress the day after he's inaugurated to repeal the whole thing. (He's apparently unaware Congress will already be in session, but, whatever.) If he chooses to keep the "popular" bits, the health insurance industry will crumble, for what it's worth, because they'll be forced to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions to people who refuse to pay a penny in premiums until they fall ill.
My view is nuanced on Obamacare, so I expect 99% of the replies to this post to miss the point completely, probably just focusing on the headline, but...
That it's going... is not to be celebrated, because it means suddenly a huge number of people will be unable to afford health care. That's bad. But simply blaming Republicans and Fascists for its removal is missing the greater picture: it was insanely unpopular. It was something Republicans were able to rally around to defeat Democrats. Think about that for a second: UH should be popular. It should have been a real concern by most of the country that they were going to lose it. When in 2012 Democrats wanted the Senior vote, they pointed out Paul Ryan planned to replace Medicare - UH for seniors - and were rewarded by a shift towards them. Nobody was able to stand up in 2016 and say "Hey guys, Trump will kill Obamacare, you don't want to lose that!" In fact, the opposite happened, Trump used Obamacare against Clinton.
Why did it fail? Because it sucked. It didn't control prices significantly enough that people noticed - in fact, most believed Obamacare was to blame for rising insurance costs. Most had insurance before, they had insurance afterwards, and the insurance afterwards was still going up in price way above inflation. It was the same system as they had before, but it was more expensive.
And those who didn't have insurance before, well, they resented it. Suddenly they were forced to pay for something they hadn't been required to have before, and most people don't have cancer or require an MRI, so they never saw any value in what they were forced to buy, despite the subsidies and so on.
The Democrats, if they ever get back into power, have to decide where they want to go with Universal Healthcare. But next time - if there is a next time - there's really only one option, and that's an income tax funded single payer system. If that's not politically possible thanks to Blue Dogs or whatever, then don't address the issue - it's a waste of time, and it'll result in Democrats being unable to address any other aspects of their agenda. But Single Payer is virtually the only healthcare system you can create that people would be frightened of losing. Which makes it politically the only choice worth pursuing. And in practical terms, it's also the only way to deliver truly universal healthcare.
RIP Obamacare. I'm sorry for the people who'll lose coverage, but I'm not going to blame the Republicans for getting rid of it.
Scott Adams, over a year ago, was predicting that Trump would Win. His And Then There Were Two post suggesting that Hillary's only qualification was that she was a woman. Today he suggested, if you are confused about the results of the election, A reading list of four books could be the answer. http://blog.dilbert.com/post/153009223196/persuasion-or-coincidence
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
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