November 22nd, 2011


The Purpose of Law Enforcement ...

... is to provide a safe space for democracy.  Specifically, that's in Madison, Wisconsin.  I may not be proud of this country, but today I'm proud of Madison.  I've been there; it really is quite a delightful city.  Let this be a lesson to the less-educated and less-competent police elsewhere.  Do it like this.  Or hey, you could be canned and replaced with any one of the 4+ unemployed people crowding toward every job opportunity.  Because surely there must be more competent folks out there.

Schrodinger's Heroes: "HALware" Part 1

Schrodinger's Heroes is an apocryphal television show about quantum physics, alternate dimensions, and saving the world. To learn more about the characters and show concept, visit the menu page. It's set just outside of Waxahachie, Texas in the repurposed Superconducting Supercollider. This lends it very well to crossovers.

Here is a crossover featuring HAL 9000 from Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey  series.  According to canon, HAL 9000 was created in HAL Laboratories in Urbana, Illinois -- the same locale as the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where I went to college.  I've always wanted to play with HAL 9000...


[Ash is wrestling with a tangle of computer hardware, tools in one hand, typing with the other hand.]

Ash: "Stupid malware!"

HAL 9000: "As I said before, Ash, my name is HAL."

Ash: "Open the file."

HAL 9000: "I'm sorry, Ash, I can't do that."

Ash: "Oh yes you can, and you're GOING to." [Something clangs.] "I just need to pull this and THIS..."

HAL 9000: "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
I'm half crazy all for the love of you.
It won't be a sty--" [Voice cuts off abruptly.]

Ash: "--and the speaker system. FINALLY, some peace and quiet! Now I can set the affected drive to reformat itself, and head to lunch."

[Doors open and close, footsteps sound, and several voices are heard as Ash walks into the dining room.]

Morgan: "Ash, howzit! Come sit with me. Look, Quinn made shave ice." (1)

Ash: "Did he dismantle anything vital to make an ice crusher?"

Morgan: "I don't think so."

Ash: "Then it's not important. Listen, Morgan, I just spent almost an hour working on computer security."

Morgan: "What happened?"

Ash: "Well, apparently when you went online to download data from the University of Illinois Astronomy Department, you picked up a virus. The firewall stopped the invasion and sequestered the malware -- it called itself HAL -- before it could affect more than the one drive."

Morgan: "I thought nothing could get through the firewall here."

Ash: "Normally, no, but if you DOWNLOAD and OPEN files, then things will get in, so it's up to the security system to identify a potential threat and deal with it. At least the virus didn't manage to wreck anything but some backups of your data. The security system alerted me when there was an unauthorized attempt to access the information on the ethical vector in the Teferact database."

Morgan: "That does not sound good."

* * *

1) Morgan is speaking Hawai'ian pidgin. Howzit   means "hello."  Shave ice  is "snow cone."

[Read Part 2.]

Permission for Fraud Granted

In a stupendous act of idiocy, a Florida appellate court has declared fraud to be protected free speech, overturning a previous ruling.  The new ruling states that it is not illegal to lie or distort the truth in a news broadcast.  No wonder people who watch Fox News are less well informed than people who watch no news at all.

It is difficult to impossible for people to make good decisions based on bad information.  This harms everyone.  A free and accurate  press is the foundation of a democracy.  Remember when America had one of the best press corps in the world?  I miss that.  We used to make fun of party rags like Pravda  in Russia.  Now if I glimpse the American news while out in the world, 19 times out of 20 I think, "Da, eto Pravda."  Which is Russian slang for "ZOMG what total bullshit."  The name of that rag?  It means "truth."
moment of silence, candle

Moment of Silence: Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey has passed away.  She did a lot of groundbreaking for women in science fiction.  She made the world fall in love with dragons.  She will be sorely missed.  I have written an elegy, shared below.

Gone Between
-- an elegy for Anne McCaffrey, 1 April 1926 - 21 November 2011

Gone beyond,
Gone between,
Gold-winged grace
No more seen

Gone to catch
Outward tide
Harper's breath,
Lyon's pride

Gone where stars
And ships sing,
Turned on slim
Dragon wing

Gone from Earth,
Gone aloft,
Soaring toward
Heaven's croft

Leaving tales
Here behind
In every
Heart and mind

* * *

Another elegy for Anne has been posted on Feminist SF.

If you know of more, please share.

About Pepper Spray

Here's a detailed article about pepper spray.  It can kill, and has caused dozens of deaths.  It can have other unfortunate effects too, such as blindness.  In particular, the well-known inflammatory effects can shut off breathing.  Once that happens, you've got 3 minutes to get the victim to an emergency room; not likely during a protest.  So, pepper spray is not an okay thing to use except in desperate situations such as defense of your life or someone else's life.  Torturing people because they annoy you is especially not okay.