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April 2003

Good Luck

I had as much good luck with computers today as I had bad luck yesterday. (Some have suggested that it was talent or skill, but I swear it was only luck informed by the horrors of yesterday's odeal.)

Anyway, I ended up with the 120 gig drive installed on the machine David came home with last night. Which is fine. Now I can suck down all the files I want over our cable modem connection!

Of course, the miracle of it all is that I installed the drive and did all the other stuff while taking care of at least one child at all times.


Zoran Zivkovic's Books to Appear in the US

Zoran Zivkovic writes from Belgrade:

It's official now, so I hasten to tell you. All my fiction books will be brought out in the USA next year. Here is the schedule:

1. THE BOOK & THE WRITER, Prime Books, February 2004
2. THE FOURTH CIRCLE, Night Shade Books, April 2004
3. IMPOSSIBLE STORIES, Night Shade Books, November 2004: IMPOSSIBLE STORIES are my collected story-suits in one volume: TIME GIFTS, IMPOSSIBLE ENCOUNTERS, SEVEN TOUCHES OF MUSIC, THE LIBRARY and STEPS THROUGH THE MIST. (The identical edition will be published in April 2004 in Spain by Minotauro.)

Zivkovic's wonderful stories have appeared with some frequency in Interzone. We reprinted one of them in our Year's Best Fantasy.


Yesterday's Adventures

Yesterday's weather, except for the afternoon rain storm, was almost ideal for human habitation. It was a glorious spring day.

Ever since we got a cable modem, it has been disturbingly easy to run out of hard drive space, so we ordered a 120 gig hard drive (which arrived several days late for reasons known only to Airbourne Express) and I set about trying to install it in our G3 Mac. I've installed various stuff in previous Macs, so I bravely set out to do this. (Don't send advice. I've probably already tried it or downloaded it.) While I did succeed in backing up the old drive to the new drive, I could not make the new drive and the CD-ROM drive run simultaneously, and from a bleak half hour yesterday afternoon, I thought I'd fried everything, since nothing worked.

I began the process three hours before Peter came home from school, thinking that was plenty of time. I ran out to the street to retrieve Peter from the school bus just at the point that I had everything spread out everywhere and no piece of equipment was on speaking terms with any other piece of equipment.

Peter was uncharacteristically understanding about this, perhaps because he could identify with having unexpectedly made a terrible mess. He played nicely without waking the baby (who eventually woke up herself).

At some point, he was outside the front door nicely watering the daffodils. When I checked on him a few minutes later, he didn't have any clothes on. They were all in a pile on the front walk. He evidently had become concerned that I wouldn't want him to get his clothes wet and had solved this problem without my help! I made him put a bathing suit on and took his clothes in the house.

I did eventually get the computer put back together, though I think I'm going to have the hard drive professionally installed by someone who knows what all these differently shaped connectors inside my computer are for.

David came home with another G3 that he'd bought from Patrick Nielsen Hayden. (It was reassuring to know he was coming home with it at the points when I thought I'd destroyed our current G3.)

Meanwhile, I've also been getting as much stuff as possible out of our garage and over to the Congregational Church for their annual Barn Sale. I was expecting to see Cailin Blasdell there (she is a volunteer helping organize the sale) when I dropped off a load of furniture, but it poured rain during the middle of the afternoon when I'd planned to go. Today is the last day I can decommission major objects taking up space, so I'm determined. So far, it's a beautiful day.


New Links List

I have added the obligatory list of links to other weblogs, which appears at the bottom of the page. (When I understand style sheets better, it will be a sidebar!)

Here's the idea: Since I was having a hard time finding a comprehensive list of links to weblogs by people in my general social sphere, I've decided that my page will have the list I wanted. (If you have a web log or know of a weblog thath fits this description that I have missed, let me know.)


Misc. Friends

Karl Shroeder in Toronto has an interesting piece on the SARS scare: "It's sunny today, people are out doing yardwork and shopping. SARS, at least in Toronto, is now on life-support, kept alive only by fear and a systematic misreading of the situation."

Partrick Nielsen Hayden resumes Electrolite, following a long car trip and an ISP outage.


Say No to Tasteless Exploitation

Bush May Be a Write-In On More Than One State Ballot (washingtonpost.com)

First came the news that officials in Alabama may have to put President Bush on the ballot as a write-in candidate. It turns out Alabama isn't the only state scrambling to figure out what it needs to do to ensure that the president's name will appear on the state ballot next year.

The GOP's unusually late nominating convention -- it does not begin until Aug. 30 -- is the problem. Bush is not scheduled to accept his party's nomination until Sept. 2, 2004. That falls after the deadline for certifying presidential candidates not only in Alabama, but also in California, the District of Columbia and West Virginia. There are bills in the Alabama legislature to move its deadline from Aug. 31 to Sept. 5. But if, for some reason, they don't pass, the president would be forced to run there as a write-in candidate.

If you understand that the sole reason for the late nomination is so that Bush can exploit the memory of the 9/11 dead (see my previous post on this topic), it is clear that all the states in question should just say NO to requests to move deadlines.


The New York Times Sings the Praises of Our School District

The NYT's real estate section reminds me of the advantages of living in suburbia:

Per-pupil spending for the district, which now has three elementary schools, one middle school and the high school, is $16,289, said Henne Starace, the district's business administrator. The ratio of teachers to students varies throughout the district, she said, with kindergarten classes never having more than 20 students.

Interesting to note that they are actually spending more on our son Peter than the astronomical sum we pay in property taxes.


Iraq on EBay Redux?

Back in January, some joker put Iraq on EBay for 99 cents, where it got bid up to $99 before EBay pulled it.

This month, Gregg Easterbrook makes what I take to be a wry but at least partially serious suggestion:

Since the Tikrit palace was taken without a fight, Best Laid Plans proposes that its chandeliers, grand pianos, artwork, and such be auctioned on eBay--proceeds to help finance the reconstruction of Iraq. Imagine what collectors would pay for a brocade antique couch with Saddam Hussein's DNA residue. For a bed he didn't dare sleep in. For the lovely silver used by his food tasters. For the gurneys that took out his food tasters' bodies. What am I bid?

This is just a hair away from something that might appear in the Onion: Iraqi government assets to be liquidated to pay for reconstruction, Ari Fleisher said today. Needless to say, there are a lot more Iraqi government assets. "Iraq's oil fields are the property of the Iraqi people. And we're auctioning them off to pay for the building of schools and hospitals," he explained. Wouldn't Bush's true constituency just love it? I'll bet some have already suggested it. Let's run Iraq like a business! We'll aquire them through a hostile takeover, them liquidate their assets!

In fact, my little parody sounds a lot like this:

Sunday April 27, 2003, The Observer
Iraq may have to leave the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries so it can pump out extra oil to pay for the country's reconstruction, says a former Iraqi oil minister who is now a key adviser to the American government. . . . In the right hands the output of 7 million barrels a day is achievable in about six years. . . . Chalabi, cousin of Ahmed Chalabi, the Pentagon's choice to head the country, said he would be prepared to serve the Iraqi oil industry if a democratically elected government was in place. He said selling off Iraq's oil assets was the only way to secure investment in his country. 'Iraq is going to need a lot of money in the next five years, up to $300bn. 'Privatisation or partial privatisation is the way to secure this investment.

MEANWHILE, having failed to come up with enough evidence to justify this whole mess, Bush has begun to privatize the search for evidence. (Via ScrappleFace.)

PS: Searching on Iraq and EBay on MSN yields the suggestion that I "Buy Iraq for less at Half.com."


Militant Breasts, Anyone?

Breastfeeding Support and Advocacy  at the Militant Breastfeeding Cult -- Need Breastfeeding Help?  We have an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant on staff

I took their quiz, which reveals me to be a militant breastfeeder! I view this movement, of which I seem to be a part, as an upandcoming species of Feminism. (When I can show up with an infant in tow at an accademic conference and have few problems attending or presenting papers, I know our revolution will have succeeded. I did nurse Elizabeth while introducing David's paper at the ICFA. I've also been spotted nursing while signing copies of my new hard sf anthology.)

Another such in the SF/fantasy field is the wonderful new writer Naomi Kritzer. For some really amusing reviews of parenting and pregnancy books, see Naomi's Motherhood Site. (I hate What to Expect When You're Expecting!)


Running the Army Like a Business?

White Resigns As Army Secretary (washingtonpost.com)

Wonder what this one is really about. I suspect the resignation is probably not triggered by the Enron scandal, which this guy seems to have survived, even thought he probably shouldn't have. What I do suspect it that this is part of the fallout from the looting scandal. We'll probably never know.

His corporate ties proved both bane and boon. They were what first commended him to the job, which he took vowing to "run the Army like a business." But they also exposed him to increased scrutiny from Congress and public interest groups once Enron filed one of the biggest bankruptcy cases in U.S. history in December 2001.

One does wonder what business the army was most like, since most businesses don't have guns and WMDs.


Shame on the Bush Campaign

Bush campaign to exploit 9-11

It was bad enough that the Bush administration exploited the first anniversary of 9/11 to sell us the Iraq war.

Now Republican strategists are announcing in advance that a primary element of their campaign strategy will be to exploit the second anniversary. They should be ashamed of themselves -- very deeply ashamed -- for exploiting the memory of the dead.

But they're not.

In fact, judging from their willingness to explain the strategy in advance, they expect not only our acquiescence, but our approval:

President Bush's advisers have drafted a re-election strategy built around staging the latest nominating convention in the party's history, allowing Bush to begin his formal campaign near the third anniversary of Sept. 11 and to enhance his fund-raising advantage, according to Republicans close to the White House.

Breasts of Mass Destruction

Breast-feeding in a time of war

I would boycott Continental Airlines over this, except that in my experience they are better than Northwest about small children and infants:

What did the American male passenger think they were - weapons of mass distraction?

Apparently, yes.

Deborah Wolfe, a Canadian citizen who was just breast-feeding her son and changing his diaper while en route between Houston and Vancouver, says her "subversive" actions led to her being threatened with detainment, RCMP involvement and legal charges for terrorist action against a U.S. citizen in international airspace while on an American flight during a time of war.

I do like the idea that my milk-laden breasts are so formidible. (God, I hate the airlines!)

Via HogBlog.

Update: I wrote to Continental via Continental Airlines - Contact Customer Care

As someone who flew Continenal from Seattle to Newark on Monday with a small infant, I was really upset to read in the Montreal Gazette

that a breastfeeding mother was threatened with legal consequences by a Continental flight attendent for breastfeeding and changing her infant.

While I have been well-treated when flying Continental with small children, it upsets me to know that my experience might have been quite different had I had the flight attendent in question, since I was doing the same things as the breastfeeding mother.

Strike a blow for motherhood and family values. Fire the flight attendent.

Continue reading "Breasts of Mass Destruction" »


Canadian Travel Plans

WHO extends its SARS-related travel advice to Beijing and Shanxi province in China and to Toronto, Canada

Events in Canada I'm still planning to attend:

Science Fiction Research Association, UniversityÝofÝGuelph, Jun 25-29, 2003

American Library Association, Toronto, June 19-25

Returning to its binational roots, the American Library Association will head to Canada for a rare joint conference in Toronto, June 19-25.Ý A record number of programs and events will be available to more than 25,000 Canadian and U.S. librarians, publishers and guests.

And, oh yes, the Worldcon:
Torcon 3, The 61st World Science Fiction Convention, Toronto, August 28-September 1, 2003

One hopes this SARS situation clears up soon. I am the kind of person who would die of it if I caught it, since I have a history of lung problems.

From The Globe and Mail

Yesterday, the World Health Organization clapped the city of Toronto into quarantine. SARS became Toronto's 9/11, the worst crisis in its history. Despite the judgment of the WHO, it's not a health crisis -- yet. It's a crisis of perceptions. The WHO has more or less declared that Toronto has been hit by a deadly terrorist disease, and the world's inclined to believe it.Never mind that the odds of getting SARS remain vanishingly small. In the United States, where the daily SARS news is devoured like the latest chapter in a Michael Crichton thriller, Toronto is now assumed to be as perilous as any pestilential Third World cesspit. And even if it's not, why take a chance?

A couple of measures which I think ought to be tried against SARS, given that it's related to the common cold: sucking on zinc losenges to keep from getting it, and Viropharma's anti-viral drug PICOVIR (pleconeril): it was designed as a cure for the common cold and was not effective enough given the actual low severity of colds in the first place. It is not in commercial production, so they may not have tried it on SARS. But it seems to me that it might work. (I used to own Viropharma stock, but don't anymore.)


Hard-to-Find Front Page Story

U.S. Planners Surprised by Strength of Iraqi Shiites (washingtonpost.com)

This front page story became hard to find by this evening when David wanted to point it out to me. We link to it, since it seems to have been de-emphasized almost into invisibility.

Some U.S. intelligence analysts and Iraq experts said they warned the Bush administration before the war about vanquishing Hussein's government without having anything to replace it. But officials said the concerns were either not heard or fell too low on the priority list of postwar planning.

Chalabi's influence, particularly with senior policymakers at the Pentagon, helped play down the prospects for trouble, some officials said. "They really did believe he is a Shiite leader," although he had been out of the country for 45 years, a U.S. official said. "They thought, 'We're set, we've got a Shiite -- check the box here.' "

"We're flying blind on this. It's a classic case of politics and intelligence," said Walter P. "Pat" Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Agency specialist in Middle Eastern affairs. "In this case, the policy community have absolutely whipped the intel community, or denigrated it so much."

Wish She'd Named Names

Though I don't know how I got on her list, and once tried unsucessfully to get off, Angela Hoy sends me email promoting writersweekley.

The title of an editorial in this week's issue caught my eye:

AngelaHoy.com: Anthologies - A Bad Deal for Writers (Unless You Do It Yourself)

I know a lot about editing anthologies and not only do I edit them, and not only did I spend years working at literary agencies, but I also know many other anthologists. I simply have never heard of many of the practices she describes as standard in anthology editing: She describes payment rates for stories as being on the order of $20 - $50. She presents posting calls for submissions as forcing writers to write for free. That's a new one on me. I've never done an open original anthology because I get paid hourly to read slush. I don't do it for free. But many writers advocates feel it is morally wrong to do closed, by-invitation-only anthologies because they keep out newer writers. This is the first time I've seen open submission policies described as a scam. She also suggests that anthologists coerce writers into becoming a sales force for their books.

Even anthologists for whom I have very little respect don't do things this way. I wish she'd named names.

A few things she says are true: "They get to pick the best [stories] and simply dump the rest." Um, yes. That's my job!

Her solution to the problem is even worse than her description of the problem:

~What Writers Can Do~ If you and a bunch of your friends want to contribute to an anthology, you should publish your own! Print on demand has made it affordable to do so. You can then all share in the low costs ($217 at Booklocker.com) and can also promote the book together AND share in the royalties. To submit your anthology idea to Booklocker.com (no need to submit complete manuscripts on anthology ideas), shoot an email my way. I'm at: angela@writersweekly.com

Perhaps things are different outside sf, fantasy, & horror. But I suspect that whomever she is talking about -- assuming someone actually operates that way -- is not buying fancy cars from the proceeds. Weeding through the slush piles she describes would eat any profits.


Philip K Dick Site

The Philip K Dick Award

Since about the time my son Peter was born, I've been doing the site for the Philip K Dick Awards, by which I really mean, I set up the site and then horribly neglected it for years on end because of the demands of motherhood.

With the addition of a new distraction to the family, it became clear I would never ever again have time for the kind of obsessive fiddling with web sites that I used to enjoy.

So I have set up a revised award site using Movable Type so that the Awards Adminstration can post directly without me standing in the way.

Henceforth, the site should be up-to-date!


How to Move a Totem Pole

Ever wonder how people move totem poles? Quite unexpectedly, we got to find out this afternoon. After a successful morning of thrift shopping, we went to Seattle's Burke Museum, mostly so Peter could see the dinosaur exhibits.

A group of men were struggling to transport a half-carved totem pole up the front steps of them museum. It was big and it looked heavy.

I was standing right next to the camera man from channel 7 and a couple of press people with really expensive-looking camera equipment. I had borrowed dad's Nikon digital and so after a few moments of dumb-founded gawking, I began to snap pictures.

The totem pole is part of the exhibit Out of the Silence: Enduring Power of Totem Poles:

Demonstrations by Emerging Artists
Various artists, including Frank Fulmer and Lorene Kengerski
Selected Saturdays, 11 am - 3 pm, in the Special Exhibit Gallery
The Burke's "Emerging Artists Series" features up-and-coming Northwest Coast artists working on their own projects within the context of the special exhibition, Out of the Silence: The Enduring Power of Totem Poles. This is a unique chance to chat with an array of talented young artists, to ask questions about their craft, to observe the styles that have been passed down in their families, and to discover the vitality of contemporary Northwest Coast art.

As we were leaving, the channel 7 camera man was setting up lights and one of the artists whom I think was Israel Shotridge, one of Alaska's finest Tlingit carvers, was waiting, presumably to beging carving on camera.

It was all so interesting that Peter forgot his teddy bear in the museum and I had to go back for it.