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September 29, 2006

Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. Two)
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:30 AM * 14 comments

Had the previous message been necessary for a science-fiction story, it would properly have been constructed thus:

“Flash, Dr. Zarkov has begun acting … strangely!”
“How so, Dale?”
“He didn’t look down my dress as I passed the Particle Chamber.”
“That is odd. Perhaps … no, we dare not suppose …”
“Suppose what, Flash?”
“That the Venusian burrito the Doctor consumed at Grgl’s Space Cantina contained … beanons!”
“You mean …”
“Indeed I do, Dale. As you already know, beanons are a variant form created by the Venusians after they developed space travel, in order to reduce … methane. But somehow — perhaps due to the color-blindness, or ‘Daltonism’ —”
“Hurry, Flash!”
“You’re right, I must stay focused. Because of that affliction, the Venusians are not quite the organic chemists they have always desired to be.”
“But what does this say about Dr. Zarkov?”
“Since he has just switched the atomic cat vacuum to ‘Overload like a sumbitch,’ I have … my suspicions.”
“Wow, what a cliffhanger noise that was.”

(Continue reading Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Part Two))

Like expertise, only different

Planting gorse to defend your castle isn’t going to hurt. Well, it is, but you get the … uh, never mind.

“Now, look, Jeeves, I like a good kipper as much as the next lordling, but what exactly are we attacking this place for? Is it to do with whatever’s happened to all these cats?”

“I could not say, sir. Matters of the nobility filter down slowly.”

“Well, there’s the old defensible pile itself, best be about it. My tin hat, my trenchant thingummy, Jeeves… Holy palmers and naphtha, Jeeves, please tell me that stuff around the walls isn’t what the old Wooster fetlocks think it is.”

“I am afraid your first impression is correct, sir.”

“My first impression of gorse was as a quite young man, and all those after have only deepened the irritation. I came here for a nice storming and a lamb shank afterward, not a reiteration of late adolescent nights fleeing across darkened tiltyards.”

“I believe it comes under the heading of noblesse oblige, sir.”

— A Lyttel Geste of Sir Bertram


Fortunately for the Donner group, their copy of Brillat-Savarin was written by a seasoned pro.


Sacre merde! This was our goofe majeure — to tell the Boche where the Maginot fortresses were located. Quelle bleeping typique of the Third Republic.”

Articles of confederation

How to — compact Making Light:
How to — preserve all the choices;
How to — talk left, ragged right,
How to — maintain separate voices;
How to prepare a trimmed blogroll on rye;
How to redact
With a semblance of tact
And a cool editorial eye
One blog is all that we need
And it will have RSS feed!

Further technical note

Le Burly Mignon

2 jiggers Old Overholt rye
couple big dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 tsp. anisette sugar

Combine. Drink. You can mess around with the Herbsaint glass and the lemon peel if you want, or have an attractive bartender on call, but we’re assuming you aren’t in a waiting mood.

Gasoline and fluorescent tubes

The following information is provided as a service to our customers.

Welcome, Padawan! Your acquisition of an Incom-Flickertek “Divisa-S” Lightsaber is the beginning of an exciting future of Galactic wisdom and influence. Regardless of your choice of Force paths, the Divisa series offers a lifetime of subtle and precise striking down.

However, as with all ancient weapons, the lightsaber requires care in use and handling. We hope you will find the following tips useful:

— Remember the sequence: Flourish-Force-Flash. First, draw the saber, using your favored technique, or one you learned in some obscure font of Jedi stuntwork. Then, use the Force! Objects that might be in the beam path will cause disturbances that, with a little practice, you will recognize very quickly. (Of course, you will recognize them quickly no matter what.) Once clear, ignite the blade. After all, it’s tough to face down the foe with one knee, even if it was already cybernetic.

— The lens assembly goes through a self-cleaning cycle on each ignition. However, if the saber has not been ignited for some time, or the lens has acquired a heavy coat of debris (smoke, droid lube, bodily fluids, etc.) peripheral effects may occur on ignition. Some Jedi find entering through a cloud of smoke dramatic and even useful. If, however, the saber fails to ignite, or shows a highly specular beam, accompanied by unusual sounds and a smell like frying womp-rat, turn the saber off and use a non-abrasive cleaner on the lens at the first opportunity. Allow solvents to evaporate fully before re-installing the assembly. Note: use of chewing tobacco, while still popular in some corners of the galaxy, is NOT recommended for lightsaber operators.

— Throwing the lightsaber at a distant enemy, and then recovering it with adroit Force use, is a dramatic way to enter any room, but it requires practice. The SwashLITE(tm) Practice Saber, available to match the weight and balance of all our lightsaber models, is highly recommended for those intending to “fling the Force.” It has a holographic simulated blade that generates an audible tone when it passes through a target. As a saber owner, you’re entitled to a considerable discount on the SwashLITE; contact your Incom sales rep.

— Other Padawans may tell you that turning the Proni collimator 90 degrees within the casing will cause “cool things” to happen on ignition. THEY ARE WRONG.

— Most Jedi personalize their sabers with a custom-fitted grip, a distinctive color crystal, decorative though nonfunctional pieces of shiny metal, and so on. Be advised that the external casing, while as durable as our technology can make it, is not indestructible, and cutting or engraving the case, particularly with another lightsaber, is not recommended and will void your warranty.

— Sooner or later you’re going to sever a hand. Either your own, or someone else’s. We all know it happens. But do you know the best method for dealing with this emergency? Here’s our handy reference:
1. Finish the fight as quickly as possible. If the lopped limb was yours, you may need to improvise something beyond the scope of this guide.
2. Extinguish the saber and clean the lens assembly as described above.
3. While the case is open, check the power cell connector for sticky bits. It’s a good idea to wipe down the casing with a soft cloth, as circulatory fluids vary widely in chemical composition.
4. Locate the missing limb and use appropriate measures (cold storage, liquid bath, jumping up and down on it until it gives up).
5. If the former owner of the limb is not of a self-regenerating species, some medical assistance may be necessary, though the remarkable cauterizing powers of a lightsaber blade should make this a minor matter. (If the wounded individual was a Nitronyx, of course, now is the time to gather the bits for the Echo Ceremony).

The above guide is available as a wipe-clean laminated card free from your Incom tech rep.

— We shouldn’t say it, but we’re going to: an upright lightsaber makes a great accent light for romantic situations, and in our considerable experience as lonely tech geeks is a swell chick magnet. That’s why we make the LavaLase(tm) upright table bracket, that keeps the saber upright no matter how energetically you “turn to the Dark Side.”


The Warm, Fuzzy Disposable Flashlight

Crawls into inaccessible corners
Two minutes on the wheel for a full recharge
Scares the you-know-what out of obnoxious dogs

Only $9.95

The deal

I am coming late to this, and perhaps irrelevantly (or redundantly), but in Joanna Russ’s famous JournPopCult essay* on the Paperback Gothic Phenomenon, she offers one reason for the huge popularity of the books (and for those who weren’t around for it, understand that at their peak Gothics were one-half of the original mass-market fiction being published in the US — yet it took not much more than a year for the dank tarn to swallow the whole edifice): that they allowed female protagonists to “have adventures” without violating specific rules about what Good Girls Couldn’t Do. They could be “menaced,” in a nonspecific, Scooby-Doo sort of way, and screw up (note to self: wc) their courage to go face down the similarly cheeserini supernatural terrors, but in the end Mr. Right would arrive in the very nick to save her and reward her with the house key and the bedroom curtains. The Real Threat is not Death (as distinct from “menace”) but Desertion; the ultimate villain was generally Another Woman, inevitably presented as a sexual predator,** often assisted by a faux-kindly gentleman who turns out to be not only Wicked but chewing-the-epicenery gay, and presumably an additional rival. (A fascinating novel could now be written in which this pair wins, and there are two lights glimmering in upper windows of the House, but thatsanotherstory).

The fantastic swell of sales fits with a consciousness rising toward criticality; the audience wants adventure stories for itself but*** hasn’t quite made the jump to nominative asskicking. Once that line is crossed, the demand rapidly deflates, and the writers (almost all of them mass-producers, and a great many of them male behind female pseuds), begins, probably with a toss of the head and a swooning sigh, to fill the new slot. *”Someone’s Trying to Kill Me and I Think It’s My Husband.”
**”Though I loved you from the first, Prudence, I never saw you as beautiful before. It is amazine what the near-fatal tumble — you’ll pardon my coarse language — into the millrace, making your Kate Greenaway frock cling tightly and causing you to lose your sensible mukluks, has done for you.”
***Oh god, he’s not going to say “inchoate yearnings,” is he?

Open thread 41

And hey, it’s blue!

Blue Cura�ao sales continued their downward arc today as more of what the spirits industry calls Visually Centered Rapid Alcohol Swillers (VisCeRAlS) explored other methods of mixing weirdly colored drinks.

Also in response to this move is the new product Windex Reference Blue(tm), a 10cc ampoule of the popular cleaner intended for color-matching by nonprofessional bartenders. Not to be overtaken, Pantone and United Distillers announced a joint effort …


Guns, bullets … merely instrumentalities. Hydrostatic shock kills people.

The book meme that ate blogdom’s brain

Tom, suddenly and at an uncertain hour I want to go write The Da Vinci Code of the Woosters,* but a)I have done way too much of that ‘round here lately, b)I would rather not be struck by the largest and heaviest object to hand the next time Beth sees me, and c)the call of pastiching Wodehouse is an subtil vyce, like trying to do Dunsany voices (though not quite as bad as trying to do Cabell, in which the fact that one is Serious About Wanting to Do It disqualifies one from the task).

Hm. The King of Elfland’s Porker, or, Beyond the Blandings We Know.

Uh-uh. Not tonight.

*”Well, there’s the painting, Jeeves. A castle; two rocks, one with silver service; two women, one wearing a large goose and the other nothing at all, and a dyspeptic Freemason with a disturbing resemblance to yours truly. What do you make of it?”
“That the painter’s experiences of women, geese, and north light were all circumscribed, sir.”


Open thread 42

Next up: your dog hurls herself through a hula hoop at Jar Jar, who then runs screaming into a gigantic East European mining machine. Pull back to show Saruman watching the scene in his palantir. His eyes rise, and he says, “Ah, Mr. Bond. So glad you could join us.”

Technology is Good.


“Jeeves, the twenty-year, and quickly.”

Go, Paris!

“The New York of 1960! Motor vehicles, driven by the light of the atom and guided by superheterodyne radar beams, climb and descend the great helical access ramps to the Island of Wonders that is Manhattan! Observe, tumbling in viridian coils from the suspended superhighways, the genetically advanced Arcadia vines, which clean the air beneath the vast crystal dome and provide a limitless food source for the City’s working classes, both through nutritious fruit and the broad variety of bird species that nest within them. Could the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon have been so magnificent?

“It is a festival day in America, and the annual Macy’s Aerial Display has begun. All the great powers of the world have sent their finest rigid airships to compete in mock battle above the city streets, a remembrance of the days before warfare among men was abandoned for the grander struggle of unrestricted commerce!

“Now see, as the crowds gather, how vast Bakelite panels are extended from the New Jersey and Long Island shores, temporarily abolishing Manhattan’s island status. These crossings were first conceived as a method of evacuating the city in the event of invasion or interplanetary war, but now provide a grandstand for millions as the aerial dreadnoughts, nostalgic toys of a past era, duel with fireworks and intensified light. This year, as in many previous events, the forces of China are victorious, bringing their ancient skill with gunpowder to a peak of art.”

— From an early draft of narration for the “GM Futurama” exhibit at the 1939 NY World’s Fair, before Frank R. Paul’s designs were replaced by the “Democracity” of Norman Bel Geddes. GM’s design staff considered Paul’s work “a damn sight spicier” than Bel Geddes’s, but executives worried that concentrating on an actual city rather than a hypothetical one might offend some visitors, particularly those from Western states.


There’s a long history of adding income property to Lower Manhattan, though I suspect that various hydrodynamic issues — river traffic and the effects of changed flow — would complicate such a project.

Naah, what am I saying? This is America, the land of the $20 variance! Are you tired? Are you poor? Are you huddled? Well, step right up, unless you’re poor. Opportunities are available now for Bahia Bob Moses, a spectacular new project that will unite Manhattan, Governor’s Island, and Staten Island (and possibly Brooklyn, at low tide) into a glistening arc of arcing glist. Conceived of as very expensive, Bahia Bob Moses will be the first part of the city in almost a century to be forbidden access by public transport. This forward-looking program, known as Elective Redlining, allows citizens the freedom of choice they want and the exclusivity they deserve.

What’s that, you say? You’ll miss the romantic views from the Ferry? Fear not, at least not more than this morning’s alert has instructed you to. Those bumper cars of the sea will be recreated at Long Island World, a condominium development and theme park stretching from elegant Les Rikers to the Montauk Foreigner Decontamination Center.

{… heck, where’s Bruce McCall when you really need him?]

There’s glory for you

“Now listen carefully, 007. Bloomsbury put a great deal of thought and effort into this costume before deciding to put you into it. First, the wand. Fires 7.62 NATO, single-shot or cyclic, switching here to 20mm HE or APDS. This is your owl release. The owl contains internal GPS and multispectral scanning, and can drop acoustic mice with satellite uplink. I’d describe the pen, but it doesn’t seem like your style.

Pay attention. These are twin Rolls-Royce ‘Petrel’ vectored-thrust engines. Rainstorms have been known to develop inside the Javits Centre, so I trust you’ll use your customary caution, ha bloody ha. This switch is afterburner. Finally, the moment everyone has been waiting for: the emergency egress system. Once activated, the explosive bolts are on a five-second delay, and once Dame Judi’s recorded voice starts counting down, neither God nor Tony Blair can abort the cycle.”


“Who was that Masked Wiener, anyway?”

“I don’t know. And I wanted to frank him.”

“Seein’ Oscar Wilde speak at the Opry House changed you forever, didn’t it, Buck?”


1. And Squirrel Nutkin said unto his brethren, Behold, I have dreamed a dream, and in it I saw a figure like unto a man yet also llike a goo, and it was clad to its uttermost with the butter of the bean whose two names name it not.
2. And I touched it, and my fur did mat, and I was ashamed therefor.
3. But the figure said, Arise thou, Bushtail, and be not disheartened, for I come to prepare the way for another;
4. And He, though his one eye be weak and he shall walk upon a stick, he shall bring into the midst of your people much that is fresh and good.
5. In his days shall the vacuum seal be opened, and manyfold wonders pour as into a dish;
6. But those who prise out the filberts first ye have always with you, and with them the Brazils. It is to be expected.

Slush: noted in passing

Well, there was “J. P. Morganana,” but that was Henry Miller, host of Er, Well, Something Beginning with S Along with Henry.

And obviously Lord Wobegoncraft is the master of Wobegoncraftcroft, perched high enough above the Lake of which so many tales are told, so high in truth that the shadowed Falls of the Frostbite are visible from its topmost window — the only window that ever shows a light.

But why have the crofters of Roy ceased to sail across the lake in wooden pierogies, trailing their walleyed pikes, and building great anomic piles of slush? Why is load after load of frozen chicken parts delivered to the house’s secret … well, it was supposed to be secret until Chapter 12 … lab and oratory, on nights when great bolts of electricity tear across they sky, lightening the darkening? Have his mad plans to combine the Armstrong and Colpitts oscillator circuits succeeded? Or do they feel *boom* so good, do they feel *ba-boom* so good, do they feel so good that they’ll reanimate some hearts tonight? *baboom*boom*beeeeeeep


I’d always thought “Dooku” was a toddler’s (no particular toddler in mind, though it would have to be one with script approval) pronunciation of “Dracula,” and when Christopher Lee saw his script, he smiled, reminded himself that he was a professional, and wished to heck that Burt Lancaster was still around to offer him “Return of the Crimson Pirate.”

Just as, while fiercely fierce battle, choreographed as if by Fosse or Nijinsky,* swirled all around her, Natalie Portman no doubt thought, L�on would kick all you guys’ backsides into low orbit, and look cool doing it.

*Remembering that both those guys are dead.


Serge, Brains uses the name “Hiram K. Hackenbacker” in a late episode, called, appropriately enough, “Alias Mr. Hackenbacker.” (It’s the thirtieth or fortieth time that villains use the Special VIP Bomb Installation Escalator and Bar-Lounge to put a bomb aboard one of those hypersonic airliners — for plot reasons, not the nuclear Fireflash this time.)

Anyway, according to the Carlton TV website (, H.K.H. is merely a cover name, and “his real name is unknown.” I would think a person of such intelligence could come up with a more euphonious alias (say, “Dr. Octyl S. Suffoccinate”* or maybe “Bond … Hydrogen Bond”) but I guess we’re already having that discussion.

*Not the Spider-Man villain.

Hot New York minute

“Je suis Monsieur Quelquechose. Voici mon truc.”

“Infernokrusher or not, buddy, you can’t park da sucker here.”

More astroturf

The Deep Cow Interview: Excerpts

He was not, as I had expected (and indeed been assured more than once), a Holstein. I was asked not to be more descriptive. “Do people really see any other breed?” he said with amusement. “You aren’t going to hear the phrase, “There was a spotted cow on the grassy knoll.”
“Why colleges?”
“College students are easy to fool. Most professors are only slightly less so, and I do not necessarily mean professors of animal husbandry. Ah, you’re grinning. That always makes people laugh. Ditez-moi, la vache qui rit. But it’s one of the primary purposes of humor: to deflate pomposity. Groucho as a college president — magic. Groucho at the circus — hello, I must be going.”
“How many times have you done this?”
“Not half as many as reported. There’s a sort of cachet to it in the United States; every town a Chelm. You don’t find Swiss cows doing such things; they’re too busy with finishing off Bretton Woods and defense planning. Italian cows are interested mainly in more Italian cows, stereotypical as it may be. French cows are great jokers, however. During the Occupation, many careless Germans found themselves upstairs in much the same predicament as American students. With a terminal case of l’esprit d’escalier, shall we say.”
“I’m afraid I’m missing the connection.”
“Because you aren’t asking the question,” Deep Cow said, with a rumble in his voice heavy and smooth as double Devon cream. “You always ask, ‘what about the stairs?’ You never ask, ‘Where does the blood come from?’”

Archie’s Fourth of July

“Good nobleman, I have come to break through your icy persona and bring love into your cold existence.”
“Lady, I’m just a little busy here at the moment, and I happen to already be married, though it may not have been the best idea I ever had.”
“But … are you not Simon, called the Coldheart?”
“I’m Simon called de bleedin’ Montfort, and unless you have a couple companies of men-at-arms under your kirtle, I think you’d probably better get behind something arrowproof.”


“So what we got?”
“Found insensible. Witness said smell of powder.”
“Don’t doubt it. Enough firecracker fragments scattered around to blow up a whole military parade.”
“You think — ?”
“And they say I never see daylight. What was today? Look at this sock. Probably kept the lucifers in his shoe. Old trick, between hotfoots. And — whoa. Look at this.”
“I am the king of horsehair. Let’s get Doctor Leewenhoek in on the case. Foam-flecked. Any fractious horse calls in the area?”
“Hm. Two fractious, two whinnying, one believed fractious but turned out to be tight girth.”
“Okay, that gives us a nice pat scenario.”
“So are we playing pat and mike?”
“Look under the fingernails. The powder stains inside the elbows. This kid was a pro. You got anything in that sheet on him?”
“Hmm … seen leaving the Deacons’ Drawers Incident a year back. Nothing solid, alibi from Money-Box Gracie.”
“Nothin’ suspicious about that, then.”
“Wait a minute. Witness says he was seen earlier with Archie.”
“Captain Cistern?”
“I’m going to RPD. You keep looking.”
“Like I got a date in this town?”

— CSI Raysburg

A prescient note from Robert Frost

I met a traveler on the downtown A
Who smelled of kiwi and of strawberry;
“At 17th and Park upon my way,
A mirage in the sun there came to me,
A vision deliquescing in the day.
Its architects rode proud from Edison,
And boldly did they raise their shining props,
Yet in one long slow slurping came undone,
And falling banners whispered from the goo,
‘My name is Snapple, I am Tops in Pops,
‘Look up, Italian ices, and despair!’”
The firemen look down. Outside the zone
Of Nike tracks and sticky outerwear
The flacks who spoke of boo-boos walk alone.

Open thread 43

Don’t cry for me, Charlie Berlitz,
How this potato, her joy’s named great is,
Ding-dong, the pen sleeps
On my aunt’s table
And we make nothing,
We fish of April …


If it were for real, would cow orking be a profession, a hobby, or a fetish?

In the Half Past Second Age, before the first film crew entered Middle Earth, the cattle of the Rohirrim were many, and their leathergoods were prized both at Fayre and belowstairs at the castle, though their cheese was runny. Runnier than that. And the horses breathed heavy sighs that there was another source of tack, and it was good.

But the orks, the numerous yet rather poorly described beings of darkness, were an affliction to them, for they would come by night, when as all Men know there is little light, and move among the animals, so that in the day they were spoilt to use, and had moreover acquired faint foreign-sounding accents. Some said the cheese was a little better, but they were not believed.

And after enough of this, the leaders of Rohan gathered, as they did in those days when things to to the point where sitting on a horse in a tin nightshirt wasn’t protection enough, and in their hallowed way said, “There must be some peasants we can lay this off on, and so there came to be the cow orkers, sturdy folk of compact build and good night vision, who would be posted in the fields by night to stand among the cattle, who would themselves be standing like statues, and they’d crouch ‘neath the sky with a cudgel hard by, and they’d hope to give Evil a sock in the eye …
Oh what a beautiful morning
Whupped me a couple of ork,
Keep to yourself what you’re thinking,
They don’t taste nothin’ like pork.

Bad words, no biscuit

Top Client Opinions on Display Type

10. Klingon.

9. That Dr. Bronner — you just gotta read that, it’s amazing.

8. Like the iPod name, only, you know, our product.

7. That cool barbarian thing that has little crosses in all the “O”s.

6. Will it look good on my Blackberry?

5. I never have any trouble finding the D train uptown. Can we talk to Bloomberg about that?

4. Anything, as long as it crawls up into space with loud music.

3. I’ve got this CD-ROM my kid bought — jeez, it’s got a million of the things.

2. This guy I know talks about something called “katakana.” I hear it’s big.

1. Why do you want to put words on it?


“Zo, you shtill haff chiseled serifs liffing in der old country, ja?”


“What do you kids think you’re doing?”
“Mom says it’s okay to smash windows with Arnold Bocklin on them.”
“Yeah, but what she really hates is Stop. I don’t think she’d mind if we burned down a whole building that had Stop on the facade.”
“She’s right. Stop sucks.”
“Well, what Mom says is that it paralyzes our aspirations toward a less complex and more manageable future into a retrograde image of a reactionary pseudo-progress. Also that it keeps the escha-whatsit from being immanemtifazized.”

No ideas but in pieces

[From Verona Total Breakdown (Liebestod), a forgotten early Infernokrusher work by Bill “Hoist This Petard” Shakespeare …

Ro-Mo. Your windows are still mirrored; taunt me not,
But show your colors, dare to challenge me,
These lips are two shaped charges, primed and hot,
That wait the go-code for delivery.
J-Cap. The flag is to the deadly, not the loud,
Yet aim as well as posing show in this;
The worthy throwdown�s always to the proud,
And hammer down is how the hard girls kiss.
Ro-Mo. My draft is stopped; I struggle toward the clutch.
J-Cap. And would a charge of nitrous make thee run?
Ro-Mo. Too much; but what else is there but too much?
Let me take arms, and elevate the gun.
J-Cap.Small arms but hint what demolitions say.
Ro-Mo.Then, gunner, gimme one round.
J-Cap.On the way.



Open thread 44

Tonight on Mythbusters, we’re going to test the legend that if you hook folks up to a Wheatstone bridge and a cheap voltmeter, money will fall out of their pockets.


Melissa, it has been observed many times that the Miser’s Dream (grabbing coins out of the air) has an effect on audiences that much more difficult effects never reach — after all, if you actually had the power, you probably would yank silver dollars out of the ether. There ain’t a bunny shortage.

In an (unfinished) story, I had a stage magician try to explain this: “Oh, they say they want to know how you float the woman, and how the boxes move around, and why the doves don’t crap in your pants. But it’s just curiosity, you could tell ‘em anything and they’d nod and say it was swell. But they really, really, want to know how you do the Dream. And if you do get cash down and tell them — show them every last move, not that there are many to show — they think you’re spoofin’. It can’t be a trick. Catchin’ bullets, yeah, that’s a trick, even when you get killed. But catchin’ money — there’s got to be somethin’ to that.”


Lorem ipsum, quia dolor sit, miserere nobis.

MR. McCLELLAN. No further questions, please.


Okay, I looked at the half-million-dollar synopsis. Made me nostalgic for Giant Demons Attack Earth, and that’s a book packing plenty of algia, noster and meus.

I mean, look at the definitive Smarter Alien. Klaatu was polite. A little naive, occasionally impatient, but still polite. Understands that when technologically advanced (if not very sophisticated) people break stuff, nanocrap isn’t going to make it all better right now. (This may or may not be true of Klaatu hisownself.) Speaks softly, carries a big robot.

“Gort, hungadunga! Put Mr. Bolton down. In one piece.”

Maybe there should be a form rejection that reads,

This is a story about an incredibly smart and powerful alien intelligence that fixes all of Earth’s problems.
That’s why it’s in your lap now.

I seen one a them before

There’s certainly nothing technically impossible about building a park (using that term generically — “open pedestrian space with small structures, some memorial, some commercial within very strict limits (foodservice would probably be good, maybe a kiosk for NY travel and architecture books).” To put it another way, one can always not build a building. On the other hand, if the GWB were destroyed, it would be physically necessary to replace it. There’s also a major transit complex below (the routes have changed since The Day, but any project will contain new tracks); a daylighted, landscaped plaza entry ought to be attractive and could be designed to allow rapid exit in case of an underground emergency (assuming one was actually interested in, you know, security). A little thought about design could make it very hard to drive a smoldering clown car into it.

But this is also the financial center of the known universe, to the degree that something so networked still has a center. The many business tenants would probably like to have offices pretty much where they did. Heck, Windows on the World was pretty cool, though American Harvest probably had better food. I really don’t want to cast it as a “do we do an appropriate building, or do we make rent?” split, because I don’t think those are mutually exclusive. If it’s not apparent, I’m not committed to one particular answer, but I want the answer to be in response to the real questions of use, not a gigantic statue of Stalin giving the bird to foreigners while pissing on the workers below. As Erik said, rebuilding is a positive response, and a public statement, in its own right.

I’ll admit that I like open urban spaces, and Manhattan does not have many of them — actually, it wasn’t meant to have any, until someone paused to think and Olmstead and Vaux started moving dirt around. And “pocket parks” like Paley, that take up a fraction of a block, do a lot to open up the city. If I really wanted to get kicked out of Bloomberg’s office, I might suggest extending the West Side Line as an elevated pedestrian way in an arc through the WTC plaza to South Ferry. And then to the Electric Telegraphy Interdome at One NY Plaza, right up to the Port Authority Zeppelin Terminal.


I know I’m a little late with this, but Gerry Anderson’s still alive, and is apparently about to produce a new version of “Captain Scarlet.” (Though Derek Meddings, the special effects supervisor (for Anderson and some obscure films like the Superman series, half a dozen James Bonds, and Burton’s Batman, died a number of years back.)

Back on the topic, the requirement that the building be, to be honest about it, a bunker pretty much screwed its looking like anything from the ground. One of my several architectural crotchets is large buildings that are intended to look good from some undefined position in space (which may not even be an achievable view), with no concern at all for the street view. They usually have snazzy renderings (or Photoschleps) and swell models, but that’s about it. (We have a notably ugly Peijira downtown. I finally saw the model, and from defined angles, without the surrounding buildings, it’s not all that bad. In context, it’s junk.)

The height requirement is merely a numerological cantrip, and what does it say about the men behind the curtain that it’s essentially a fib? (The Chrysler Building cheated in this fashion, but only in terms of relative height … and of course, it’s a good building regardless of its numbers.)

Buildings can’t help making statements, whether it’s “wouldn’t you like to live here?” or “Our firm is not cooking its books, really,” or “Clowns eat here.” No physical structure could possibly carry the psychic load demanded of the site. The answer that makes sense from an urban-design point of view — provide a memorial, but assume that people are not bleeping stupid and do not need a Two-Minute Hate Pavilion, and build something that would grace the location and serve practical, rather than ideological, uses. (In the not-absurd case that another giant office block would be inappropriate, an open public space, with all the kinds of things that would attract walkers, and no damn revetments or barbed wire, could certainly have been put there, though we know why that didn’t happen.) Cities change as they age, and every time someone builds a building to last until the end of time, either it falls down or Lord Elgin pries something off of it.

A long time ago, an architect was showing off some urban models to this other guy, and the other guy reminded the designer that he hadn’t put flak towers on the tall buildings. He said —and, according to the architect, he didn’t say it cheerfully — that flak towers were the new essential for urban architecture. The architect was Albert Speer; you probably know who the other guy was.

Yo, Wocky Jivvy, Wergle Flomp�

Got online with my 419
Got online with my 419
My 419

Well I saved up my naira and I bided my time
Pony up pony up 419
And I went off to
Pony up pony up 419
Where I would mass-mail my 419
419, 419
Pony up pony up pony up 419

No one can find my site
No one can extradite my 419
419, 419

When I say the money�s dirty marks will fall in line
Pony up pony up 419
It�s simply the pick of the latest crimes
Pony up pony up 419
My avaricious semi-vicious Spanish Prisoner 419
419, 419, 419, 419

Pushin� this crap now


Okay, after this one I gotta check out. It’s just too much fun. (And mild apologies for reminding everybody of this song.)

Let me state my domicile and name
You can read these links that prove that both of them existed somewhere
I�m sure you understand the game
I�ve got secret news to share
And let me tell you why you should care

There was this person, now he�s dead
And he left a pile of unspent funds from bust developments here,
Why don�t we split the cash instead?
Sir or Ma�am, it�s all a cinch to do

Shouldn�t take a lot to get the swag to you
Couple hundred bucks and access to accounts should really do
We got big bucks in Nigeria
Gonna take some time to lubricate a couple palms, ooh

All the risk in the deal is mine
It�s not like you�re the widow of some old dictator, you know
Just a little help and we�ll be fine
Please don�t worry about my illness and all those rebels, oh, no
I must downsize my burdened soul
And your website tells me you�re the one

Barely takes a dime to get this dough to you
Wire-transfer me a grand and PIN and that�ll do
We got big bucks in Nigeria
All we need�s some grease to get the project on the rails, ooh

Sani, hon, I�m comin� to join you

All I need�s a little trust to endow you
Just a couple pieces of ID and then we�re through
We got big bucks in Nigeria
We got big bucks in Nigeria
[repeat 40,000 times]

Nutted by futurity

Amazing … you try to create a realm of High Fantasy where players can enact feats of derring-do, and you end up worrying about sweatshops and bean-counters.

It seems to me that one of the important shifts in fantasy fiction over the last few decades is that it is now not only possible to have the Dead Souls thinking seriously about launching a couple of Magic Missiles at the Rightful King, it would no longer create much of a stir among the audience.

It’s interesting, for a couple of values of the word, to see how economic actions affect the structure of “home” games. The collectible card game made it possible to get better at the game by spending more money on it, in an environment of artificial scarcity. One can get an edge at some sports by buying better equipment (the edge is usually small compared to differences in skill, though the golfball people don’t want you to think that), but if you want carbon-fiber golf clubs you just buy them, you don’t have to buy five hundred clubs in sealed packages to assemble a set o’ sticks.

The MMOs borrowed their “work hard and get goodies” paradigm from face-to-face games, and don’t seem to have thought much about the fact that a home campaign is a closed world, with an economy that can be tuned by fiat, and in which social rules count for as much as written ones. It didn’t take long at all for exploitive gameplay to kick in, and while there have been some ingenious technical patches, the overall problem is one of deliberate transgressive behavior. (Some people insist that they are simply “choosing” to play the game as thugs and bandits, which, ugly as it may be, doesn’t break the fantasy paradigm.) It’s the old question of “who are the police in the anarchist utopia?” with the combined difficulties that a)the unrestricted right of reprisal is the shortcut to chaos, and b)the players, who are paying regular fees to the operators, generally do not think of themselves as being in an anarchy, but a sort of theocracy where the invisible gods will step in if anybody Goes Too Far. (Face-to-face players often behave very transgressively toward the society around them, but the dead NPC extras just go home at the end of the night and come back next time you have fun storming the castle.)

It’s entirely possible that the massive online game could be a new social interociter, turbo-encabulating its way one smoot at a time towards the Big Rock Candy Server. And it could be that the developers will start thinking about what kind of society they want inside their box, rather than soldering in some code every time there’s a crisis (though I’d bet more heavily on the interociter). Or the technical solution might be to have lots of small servers running open-source “universe code,” housing a few hundred avatars whose players have all agreed to certain social norms — which could be anything; there could easily be Iznogoudia, for people who just wanted to grab a +3 chainsaw and go batsh*it on each other’s loot piles. This would not be the same thing as knowing there were tens of thousands of folks out there, but it might be a more workable answer to actually playing games.

“HAL, I’d like to ask why the pod bay is entirely filled with enchanted armor and gold-plated ugly-bashers.”
“Just a moment … just a moment … Dave, Frank wants you to join him in the reactor access. He says he’s discovered a new lower level on the Discovery, and it’s filled with sides of beef and casks of ale.”
“That’s tempting, HAL.”
“You’d better hurry, Dave. You won’t need your helmet.”

Pushing Up Dumbledores

I trust that at least some of you will forgive the cliffhanger aspect of this, but a)I think the burning fuse in such things is always better than the explosion (see Hitchcock), and besides, it was taking too much time and spase

I took stock of the room. It looked like half a dozen angry Cossacks had been through, and after the first hour something had made their horses angry as well.

Hermione had long fled, trailing tattered bits of hessian and dignity, howling like an Ophelia who had finally understood what her father was on about. She would wake with a hangover and a full kettle of remorse, but otherwise intact. I hoped she had a hangover; there were enough unnatural things in this place already.

Snape was backed against the wall, his head shaking. He�d been caught a neat clip across the cheek, and his eye was purpling nicely. His waistcoat had been clawed with all the care of a Limehouse laundrymaid, but his shirt, while missing some buttons, hadn�t been grazed. Regrettable as it was, it was clear that the vile little beast had only meant to teach him a spiritual lesson.

Dumbledore was breathing hard, bracing himself against a wrecked book-case. He looked as though he might give up the ghost at any moment, which I must admit lightened my mood. But there was a tiny light in his eyes that put a chill on the heart.

Potter was apparently still insensible, floating on his back half a yard above the unusable bed like an apprentice fakir. His robe was fluttering oddly, as if something were inside it. It was not an inspiring thought.

All I could see of Weasley was his feet, protruding from beneath an enormous pile of books and oddments. He seemed insensible. As far as I was concerned, he had drawn queens full of aces.

I hadn�t the energy to run, and a cannonball on each ankle wouldn�t have stopped me otherwise. Dumbledore was speaking. His voice was very different just then: there was steel in it, not sharp but hard, as if a man Dumbledore had been long ago had woken up inside and wanted a say. �Young Mr. Flashman,� he said, �there are many things that we must discuss.�

I saw then what I�d been too stupid to see before. I�d thought he was something like Arnold; not so choleric and a good deal wiser, but still a hypocrite like so many of them. But he wasn�t. Dumbledore believed what he said he believed, and unlike most men who do that, he wasn�t a fool. I managed, from somewhere deep in my trembling bowels, to say, �Sir, I know that I must be sent down —�

�You know nothing, Flashman, that is the difficulty. There are many faults among the residents at this school that we can, and indeed must, tolerate, and sometimes even encourage. But ignorance is not among them.� He inclined his head a little. My trousers stirred around my ankles and rose to attention, the belt fastening itself with a flourish. I was beginning to regret my actions; of all the jiggery-pokery I�d seen here, this was the first trick I could see a practical use for.

�Yet we are here to remedy ignorance,� the old man went on. I was trying to find the strength to run; I had learned a few of the more private corners of Hogwarts, some of which I had been assured would turn a thunderbolt. Odd what comforts one grabs for at such moments.

�… but ignorance cannot be overcome merely by external effort. It requires a strength from the student.� There was something in his look now that was both gentle and hotly, anciently evil. �It requires courage.�

I turned to flee, and tripped over Weasley. Something on the pile that buried him tumbled to the floor and shattered like crystal. Then I heard all the bells of Hogwarts, and there were many of them, begin to ring at once.

In my long life I have seen battle and conflagration, dungeon and plague, and anyone reading these memoirs will doubtless have long ago decided that old Flashy is, to be gentlemanly, a bit of a liar.

But I tell you with the precision of a man caught in a trench watching the enemy’s bayonet descend, at that instant all Hell broke loose.

The Coming Race

Oh, the Philip K. Dick broke down
It made a grumbling sound
The audience gasped as the servomechs rasped
And the widgets inside went
File Not Found, File Not Found

Oh, the Philip K. Dick broke down
It gave the wickedest frown
Seeming real beyond doubt till the
Ching crapped out
And the yarrowstalks all went
File Not Found, File Not Found …

Memo to British fandom

Librium: a tranquilizer
Imbrium: a Lunar mare (forecast: showers)
Barium: a milkshake fallen to the Dark Side
Equilibrium: a state of balance
Equipoise: a horse (non-narcotic)

And while we’re summoning our Mael and Kami babies, may I put in a word after Elise? Not that she can’t, etcetera, but one can’t always be Robin at the rehearsal.

Open thread 46

New from Acme Food Enhancement
Dining for the Posthuman Era

Olfactor X
La Recherche du Pain Perdu
(Canadian sales only)

Bakery Components
PanSlik 9000

Pastry Loads
Sploo Plus

Industrial Coatings
(specify matte or buffing)
(specify grain, meat, or Cook’s Surprise)

Salad Armatures
Refurbed Beans
Yaga Ganoush
(specify regular or w/chicken)

Colloids and Seasonal Adjustments

Marshmallow Dingbats

Food Maintenance Supplies
Soup Defogger
Al Dente in a Drum
Souffle Sealant
Pastry Weld


Artistic license could have forgiven “Shakespere” (mostly because he pre-dated standard spelling)

A plague of all dyslexic muralists! If I do not beat the gesso out of them, with their paintings on lath, and drive them from the river a-down to the kahlo — for as you know, Hal, my corita, as the Espaniardos call the heart, lies in Kent — like a flock of wild geese with ARTnews bylines, I shall never wear black in SoHo again.

“Shakespere” indeed, when all men know ‘tis Shagspeare, preserving, as it were, the wit of the country. “Eistein,” too, for a relative folly, when had the fellow’s brain two slits for light to pass through he would painted “Heinberg?”


Well, there are science fiction stories that draw on the Child ballads, but I’m not positioned to discuss the topic.

And in other late-bending news:

Introducing Googol Earths
Because there are a lot of worlds out there, but calling them infinite might be actionable.

The High Energy Number Theory Laboratory at Huxley College (West) today announced broadband access to Googol Earths, providing highish-resolution images of alternate, parallel, perpendicular, and “just plain strange” worlds just like our Earth, only not.

“For a long time,” said Kurt Gogol, one of the project managers, “it’s been supposed that there might be worlds in which something was just a little different from our history — like, the dinosaurs didn’t die out and now they want the vote, or Marilyn Monroe married Bobby Kennedy and the war on organized crime was a lot more like a Tarantino movie. We’re obviously delighted to have proof of one of science fiction’s favorite cheap excuses.

“We discovered the access through a means that’s frankly too darn hinky-fazoo to discuss in public, and we’re theoretical mathematicians, okay? We haven’t completed a full count of the accessible worlds — we’re hoping to sell enough subscriptions to get another meg of RAM in the computer — but we think a googol is in the ballpark. We’d like to point out that this site is not intended to be confused with Google Earth, or Froogle, or Goo Goo Clusters — which got us through all those bad moments of low blood sugar in development — or anything else that might have an attorney attached. We’ve actually found thirty-eight worlds that don’t seem to have any lawyers, although we have to extrapolate — that is, guess hard — from what we can see on the street. Which reminds me, you can’t actually go to any of these places, just watch them on a computer screen. We’re hoping the ESRB doesn’t give us an AO rating, but, well, you know.”

Asked to describe a “googol,” Gogol snarled and left the room. His associate Karl Fleder Maus said, “Imagine one followed by a hundred zeroes, like anybody can. Anyway, it’s a lot; it even impresses astronomers. As for the name, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”


[Trusting you’ll all forgive the uncharacteristic sentimentality;]

Have you got an empty seat for me
Near Earth Orbit’s where I want to be
Give me a blueprint fair and fine
For a reusable design

Oh Skylark
We’ve all seen the view from satellite
Oblate blue spheroid floating in the night
But she has cousins ‘cross the way
And we should visit them someday

It’s not so far up there
And yet it’s half the way to anywhere
And there’ll be music
Faint in the silent deep
Some old familiar tune
From serenaders standing on the Moon

Oh Skylark
It’s a pull that we can’t quite explain
I’ll be looking back for Marc Duquesne
So if you see him, say hello
We’ve both got very far to go

Attack of the Giant Hogweed

Once upon a sunny morning a man who sat in a breakfast nook looked up from his scrambled eggs to see a Brontosaurus with a graceful neck quietly cropping the Umbelliferae in the garden. The man went up to the bedroom where his wife was still asleep and woke her. “There’s a Brontosaurus in the garden,” he said. “Eating umbel-flowers, simple and complex.” She opened one unfriendly eye and looked at him. “Your nomenclature is so last millennium,” she said, and turned her back on him.

Into something rich and strange

(hrm. Thought I’d posted this, but must have got distracted somewhere.)

I don’t think the question is “unanswerable” in the sense of “has no factual response,” but in the sense of “the question displays a reasoning so lateral that the factual reply has no place to sit down.”

To one example, if you snort crushed glass, thou shalt not surely die, just as if you put a .38 Special against your temple and pull the trigger you will not infallibly join the bleedin’ choir invisible. It is the nature of the question, and what prompted it, that causes potential answerers to stay their facilitations in consideration of, where the heck did this come from and if we facilitate it are we going to have to explain ourselves to the Medical Examiner? Which being deconstructed runs, “we were watching Pulp Fiction on DVD, and we started arguing about the effects of various white powdery substances that might be found around the average suburban household on the upper sinus equipment, and by the time the eighteenth Miller Lite had kicked in we’d kinda exhausted the possibilities of the kitchen, the bathroom, and the bedside table — like you do — and as we were headed down the the the the basement, the shop table window got smashed by the cat that we used to have when the girls lived here, and it kinda expanded our field of inquiry. Now, we’re online, and Natasha — we can’t remember if she was the one with the cat or was the cat an sich — had this place bookmarked and kept rubbing our noses in stuff she looked up there, which is why we thought of you in our hour of need.”

Or in different terms, sometimes noumenon just gives phenomenon a significant wedgie and steals its wallet.


Snopes on Broadway
(Busby Berkeley/MGM, 1939)

“Look, kids, so whadda we care if you can’t really get into the Ziegfeld Follies by dressing up as William Randolph Hearst and singing ‘On the Good Ship Lollipop’?”
“And that was my favorite urban legend, too.”
“I’ll tellya what. We can put on our own show.”
“Yeah! We can use my uncle’s money and my daddy knows LaGuardia!”
“We’ll need some acts and specialties. Billy, can you still get your hand so far into your mouth that you can’t get it out again?”
“Great! Eddie’ll make sure to bring the winch and cable shears. Pollyann, does your Pekingese still speak German?”
“Gee manee, don’cha read the papers? But she still knows Mandarin.”
“Even better! Okay, what else have we got rehearsed?”
“Lessee … We’ve got two sketches, ‘Penguin Egg in Texas’ and ‘Who Stole the Dead Guy?’, and the ‘Invisible Bloodsucking Witches, Oh My!’ number.”
“Think you can handle that one, Judy?”
“I guess I’ll try.”
“There’s a trouper! Mr. Berkeley’s going to have so much fun with that. Now, all we need is for Mr. Hart to finish the lyrics for ‘Licking the Perfume I Love,’ ‘Mouthful of Lightbulbs,’ and ‘I Turned Gay from a Milky Way,’ and bright lights, here we come!”

Better bad sentences

She’s tough and determined. When Lucy is being menaced by a fiend she flies at him with nothing but her outrage to protect her and she drives the monster off.

“I thought I drove you off.”
“Something about you drew me back. I think it was your outrage.”
“Excuse me?”
“It was so elemental. So — straightforward.”
“Surely the women of your country have outrage.”
“In quantity. But Hungarian women are more likely to smile really big and then put something nasty in your gulyas, or else whack you from behind with a coal shovel.”
“So what then? I’m supposed to move to the Balkans and sleep in a tip?”
“Compared to English hotel mattresses, you could get to like dirt. But I was actually thinking that I have a large castle with a great many historic papers that could use a good librarian. Would you like a new life … taking dictation?”
“Stereotypical Goth top.”
“Says the switch in a shirtwaist.”
“The Newcastle ferry leaves at 1:25. Train from Amsterdam, then via Munich and Vienna to Buda-Pest. There may be delays in Vienna due to trackwork.”
“There are worse places to be stuck, to use an unfortunate expression. Renfield’s filled a — what are they? Disraeli bags?”
“Yes. We have your soil. From the flower garden.”
“So I can lie back and think of England. Can your erratic assistant drive a coach?”
“For guests … I drive my own coach.”

I wonder if there’s a market for One Hundred Alternate-Reality Classics in One Hundred Pages. It’d almost be worth it just to read the Booklist review.

Also, I happen to have Marshall McLuhan right here

“It lives to reproduce and kill!”

Oh, and I suppose that makes it special.

Though I guess we could have “Unusual Survival Strategy Theatre:”

Pet Rock from Beyond Infinity
“It lives to hold down loose papers and amuse those who are … EASILY AMUSED!”

The Dweller in the Spare Bedroom
“It lives to not be any trouble at all!”

It Came from Bradbury’s Bottom Drawer
“It lives to make green bean casserole … and it knows you are out of fried onions!”

Alien Actuary
“It lives to outlive that which lives!”


All Skif-O-Chan Original Purchased Because No Actual Distributor Ever Got Beyond the N3F Suite at ShoWest to Meet the Producers Movies seem to begin with either Alien or Dinosaur. (Unless they’re from the Mythos on $5 a Shooting Day Series, in which case they’re called something like Shoggoth Cheerleaders Weekend* or Dagon Does Dallas.)

Which makes it possible to work out next season’s entire lineup in advance:
Alien Warehouse
Dinosaur Motel
Alien Discount Electronics
Dinosauras Luchadoras
Alien Hoedown**
Dinosaur Drum Song
Alien IKEA
Dinosaur at 54
An Eldritch Thing Happened on the Way to Innsmouth***
Alien Bris
It’s a Raptor, Raptor, Raptor, Raptor, Raptor World

*Advertised as “a dark Lovecraftian revisioning of On the Town.” It would have been a musical, but the prospective lyricist had too much respect for Comden & Green, and besides, the producers wanted me to buy my own Metrocard.
**”Both racist and sexist.” — Washington Times.
***Halloween special, to be hosted by Kim Newman. They weren’t going to tell him, just call up collect at 11pm New York time and hope he’d make gurgle noises on the phone until they got “cut off by mysterious forces from beyond.”

Comments on Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. Two):
#1 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 01:17 AM:

I miss him.

#2 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 04:34 AM:

Oh, there must be some way to run this stuff through and come out with a bound version? What I wouldn't give....

#3 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 07:11 AM:

I have laughed so hard at this and am smiling so widely now. Thank you.

#4 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 10:40 AM:

Y'know, I think there's a book here somewhere. A real, solid book. Just how and how many copies and from whom, I can't say. But for real.

#5 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 11:34 AM:

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed his appearances... "I am Simon called the bleedin' Montfort". I laughed for days!

#6 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 12:18 PM:

I'd buy the book.

Publish it.

#7 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 12:41 PM:

I keep cycling back to that Verona Total Breakdown excerpt, and its total bloody brilliance.

"Hammer down is how the hard girls kiss," indeed.


#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 01:02 PM:

{Elbows person in next seat}
Hey, that's my dog he's talking about!

#9 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 01:38 PM:

We who thought ourselves witty
Fear to open our mouths
Except to laugh.

He bows silently.

#10 ::: Russell Borogove ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 02:36 PM:

I keep cycling back to that Verona Total Breakdown excerpt, and its total bloody brilliance.


#11 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 08:08 PM:

I would only have bludgeoned him a little bit if he'd written The Da Vinci Code of the Woosters.

#12 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 11:17 PM:

Thank you for posting these.

#13 ::: Elron ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:40 AM:

Another portal to other dimensions is explained in the Google Earth forum at In the middle of the desert the Chinese Army has built a 1:500 scale model of territory it wrested from India in 1962. Next to it is a base where hundreds of troop trucks are parked. The Army has been bugged enough by blog reports that they actually made a statement, essentially not to worry about it, but nobody knows yet what the site is for.

#14 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:09 PM:

I'm pretty sure Mike's literary executor would have to agree to a book.

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