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Windycon 2021

I will be attending Windycon in person this year and I am on programming. I am told programming is more limited than usual due to social distancing requirements and the need to provide an Internet feed to people not attending in person. The event will happen at the Lombard Westin from November 12 to 14th and can also be viewed online. Herewith is my schedule:

Saturday 11/13 - 10 AM

Lilac B/D - Readings
(Part of a group of 4)

Saturday 11/13 - 2 PM

Junior B/C - Hugo Awards Discussion

A discussion of the 2021 Hugo Awards! Who was nominated, who should have been nominated, who should win? Strong opinions welcome!

Sunday 11/14 - None

Junior A - Climate Change is Optional

How can we keep our planet inhabitable using the technology that we already have? Our panelists discuss.

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It's better to be lucky than good, part whatever

I was NOT in a car accident. I was driving to the gym today down a side street when a white cargo van ran a stopsign. I mean ran it - didn't even slow down. The car in front of me, which had no chance to do anything, T-boned the van.

The van was going at sufficient speed such that after the collision it jumped a curb and took out two retaining walls in the driveway of a house on the other side of the intersection. I called it in to 911 - fortunately nobody was hurt but the front end of the car in front of me was trashed.

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On Civil War

I really want to second this post. For those not clicking through, the gist of it is the more likely somebody says "civil war in the US is imminent" the more likely they are not playing with a full deck. Here's the real thing about civil war in the US circa now - if you're not prepared to walk up to your local cop and shoot them in the face, you are not prepared for civil war.

The linked post really drills down on that concept. It also drills down on a related concept, which is "what that guy over there thinks." A lot of polls ask questions like "are race relations bad?" People answer those polls based on what they think other people think, not what they think. That's a big difference.

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Three Things Make A Post

Like the label on the tin says:

Thing The First

Star Trek's "Genesis Trology" proved you don't need to have a plan. As somebody who committed trilogy by accident, I fully endorse this idea.

Thing The Second

Afghanistan Isn’t 1975 South Vietnam, It’s 1948 China. Basically, we "lost" China because Chiang Kai Shek’s Kuomintang (AKA Nationalist) Party did a shit job of governing. To paraphrase Dean Wormer, corrupt, greedy and incompetent is no way to run a government.

Ditto Afghanistan. In both countries, as George Marshall said of China, "A great deal must be done by the Chinese authorities themselves…nobody else can do it for them.” The key difference is that in China, some US policy-makers were honest about the situation. In Afghanistan we stuck our heads in the sand.

Thing The Third

Much ink has been spilled about why the job market is so tight. Since the extra Federal aid has ended, that can't be the cause. I agree with Robert Reich when he says "American Workers Are on Strike Over 'Low-Wage S*** Jobs."

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Review of Last Rituals

Last Rituals: A Novel of SuspenseLast Rituals: A Novel of Suspense by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


On the recommendation of author Elizabeth Bear I ordered this book. It proved to be a good recommendation. Writing in her native Icelandic, Yrsa Sigurdordottir produced a very interesting murder novel, as well as a look at the culture of modern Iceland. Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, a local lawyer, is asked by the family of a murdered German student to investigate, as they are not confident that the police have the right person.

The prose is merely serviceable, which may be an artifact of the translation process. The content, however, is quite good. Thora is not a detective and as a single mother she has a slew of family issues to deal with. She's also got some money issues - namely not enough - and the secretary at her law office serves as some comic relief. I found the story engrossing enough to read it in a single evening.



View all my reviews

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On sublimation and politics, or Old Generals Don't Die...

Per Wikipedia, Sublimation is the transition of a substance directly from the solid to the gas state without passing through the liquid state. I shall address the relevance of that to politics in a moment.

I am continually weary of the phenomenon in which, no matter what evils Trump committed are revealed, he always has a group of loud supporters. I find it concerning. Then I take heart when I see Only 44% of Republicans and leaners want Trump to run again. I think what's happening here is political sublimation.

Basically, one does not (usually) go from a fervent Trump supporter to a fervent Biden supporter. What happens is the supporter slowly loses faith in Trump. When the Trump flag hanging on their front porch gets ripped and faded, it's not replaced, rather quietly retired. The bumper stickers fade, and our supporter stops showing up at rallies. More importantly, they don't show up to vote or if they do they don't vote Trump. Much like old generals, they don't die, they just fade away.

Looking at the landscape as a whole, this fading away is hard to see. Much like something sublimating, it takes a while before the effect is obvious. At least, that is my hope.

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Friday Afternoon Thoughts

Three things make a post, so here's three random thoughts.

Random Thought #1

I recently had cause to watch the WWII movie The Guns of Navarone. In it, there are several scenes in German, but no subtitles are provided. I also noted that the theatrical release of The Battle of Britain had a lot of such un-subtitled scenes. When did the convention change from "learn German, damn it!" to subtitles?

Random Thought #2

On Facebook, I linked to an article which claimed an ancient city in Israel had been destroyed by a meteor strike. The claim was this incident was what caused both the Sodom and Gomorrah story and the fall of the walls of Jericho. Well, Anne Geyer, a friend, did a bit of research and found the people advancing the claims were very shady. Not everything you read on the Internet is true.

Random Thought #3

I found this article about Trump and Evangelical Christians. The subtitle of the article was "How unchurched Evangelicals are helping create a God-and-country lifestyle brand." My response is "Unchurched Evangelicals" are like "undocumented aliens." They are both euphemisms for people who are breaking the rules. This frankly is one of the many things that get my goat when talking to a lot of Trump supporters. I, an out-of-practice Roman Catholic, know more about the Bible they profess to follow then they do."

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General Milley

Word has come out that Trump appointee General Mark Milley, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took various steps to ensure Trump did not unilaterally launch nuclear warheads after Trump lost the election. Various right-wing sources are running around claiming "treason" or "loss of civilian control of the military."

These sources are wrong. Every US military officer, when commissioned, takes an oath. The relevant part is "I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic." This is not an oath to a political party or a President. It was first enacted into law in 1789 by the First Congress, and specifically envisioned a need for the military to defend against domestic threats.

Simply put, if Milley, or any other officer, thought the President was an enemy of the Constitution, they had a duty to defend the Constitution, not the President. Starting a thermonuclear war because you're mad at losing an election certainly qualifies as being an enemy. This is what being a "nation of laws" means - some orders are illegal and thus not to be obeyed.

In general, this logic of requiring real human beings to actually send and execute orders is imbedded in our nuclear forces. We could have automated the launch systems such that one individual could push a button and all our missiles start flying. We did not, specifically to avoid wars by accident, error or insanity. Milley's actions are a feature, not a bug.

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I Can Haz Clothes Dryer and Dining Out!

I Can Haz Clothes Dryer!

As reported previously, my clothes dryer went to that Great Laundry Room in the Sky. As my washing machine was well into senior citizen territory, I replaced them both with a pair of GE models. Said models are one step up from the entry-level machines, but had all the features I needed. (I do *not* need Wi-Fi on my laundry devices!) There was a hitch on getting the dryer installed (the team didn't have a needed part) but that's been resolved.

Both machines so far function as desired. I've noticed that my washing machine does a better job extracting water during the spin cycle, which appears to decrease the drying time. I'm told that the washing machine is a high-efficiency model and will consume less water as well. We'll see.

Dining Out

I went out to lunch yesterday - a business lunch, no less. We first went to a place (mid-tier chain) only to discover they weren't open for lunch on Tuesday. We went to another mid-tier place in the same parking lot. They were only about a third occupied, but they were at least one waiter short of what was needed. Given the time it took to get our orders, I'd say that they were at least one short in the kitchen.

I've seen these staff shortages at other places. Anecdotally, one of the things that's causing the problem is child care. Until schools open (which they are just starting to) getting staff is difficult. Also, a lot of the people who used to wait tables are now driving Amazon trucks or otherwise no longer in the market. This will eventually sort itself out, but it will take a while.

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Hugo Awards - My Vote

Here's my ballot so far. I'm still working on the short fiction and Lodestar categories, so that will be reported later.

Best Novel
1. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
2. Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tor.com)
3. Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Gallery / Saga Press)
4. The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor Books)
5. The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
6. Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com)

Commentary: If I had bounced any harder off of Harrow I would have injured myself. I liked Relentless Moon, but I felt the middle section got a bit draggy.

Best Series
1. The Lady Astronaut Universe, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor Books/Audible/Magazine of
Fantasy and Science Fiction)
2. The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells (Tor.com)
3. The Interdependency, John Scalzi (Tor Books)

Commentary: I really like the Lady Astronaut series - it felt original and fresh. I also liked how Mary Robinette wrote her way out of the corner formed by the two short stories that bookend the series. Murderbot is, well, Murderbot, and Scalzi is Scalzi - both solid entries.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
1. The Old Guard, written by Greg Rucka, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Netflix /
Skydance Media)
2. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), written by
Christina Hodson, directed by Cathy Yan (Warner Bros.)
3. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, written by Will Ferrell, Andrew Steele,
directed by David Dobkin (European Broadcasting Union/Netflix)

Commentary: Frankly, Eurovision is a bit of a stretch to call genre, but it's definitely got it's moments.

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