Friday 30 November 2001, 22:51

I was in the computer lab, just finishing off the last of the coding for my assignment. There'd still be doc to do, and the way my luck was running they'd change the requirements again at the last minute anyway - Oh, didn't we mention that it had to be portable to the ZX-81? Gee, we thought that was obvious! - but I could deal with all that stuff in the morning. I heard a noise, and I looked up to see a man walking through the door. That was a little unusual. It was almost midnight and I was the only person in the place and he didn't look like a student anyway, nor a prof that I recognized. He was in his fifties, maybe. Medium height, thin, the most noticeable thing was his odd hairstyle - bald on top but long light brown hair in the back, drawn into a pony tail. He was wearing a black suit that looked heavily worn and a little too small for him, and several silvery metal rings high on the cartilege of each ear.

The blessed ones

Thursday 29 November 2001, 22:14

The blessed ones, damn them, I wish they'd leave me alone. They start in just when the moon is slipping into that eclipse position, just at the corners, the fringes. My peripheral vision is pretty good, I can detect movement in practically any direction, but I can only see clearly through my glasses. So when they start sneaking into my field of view I only see their vague forms, green and pink, right on the edge there, I can't see their faces at all.


Wednesday 28 November 2001, 22:07

It's not the same when you go back but you do too have to go back, that is the law, the closure of the set. Wherever you draw the line of your path, there'll be those places in the margin. You see the surfaces as you pass, you infer what's behind them, and some day before you leave you must stop and take a look, fix the images in your mind because it won't be the same and even the first time it isn't how you imagined, always a surprise as that is information, I told you before: it's not what you imagined even the first time, and the second time you don't see what you thought you remembered the first time.

Pink Terra

Tuesday 27 November 2001, 20:11

After Contact, all our petty global economic concerns became irrelevant. Large-scale hyperspace transport made imports cheap; almost anything that humans would want could be grown or manufactured more cheaply on some other planet. Like all new frontier worlds, Terra was forced to concentrate on its few unique local industries, the things we invented that no other planet had ever seen before.


Monday 26 November 2001, 22:31

Homeopathic medicine is based on the claim that the dose-response curve does a funky little dipsy doodle near zero, so that extremely small doses of various substances can produce therapeutic effects. For instance, there's a homeopathic remedy very popular in France which is made from the heart and liver of a wild duck, diluted by a factor of 10 to the 400th power. You're supposed to take it if you think you're coming down with the flu. The more you know about chemistry and suchlike, the more you're likely to pooh-pooh this idea; after all, there are a lot fewer than 1e400 atoms in the average-sized duck liver, and so the chances are extremely small that any of the original is even present in the medicine at all. You might as well be taking placebo pills, and the systematic double-blind studies (indicating that actually it does work better than placebo pills made without the duck heart even though the duck heart can't possibly be there at all for any practical purpose anyway because it's so diluted), anyway those studies have just gotta be some sort of fraud. It's psuedoscience, dammit! Don't confuse me with journal papers!

The cosmic brokers

Monday 26 November 2001, 00:12

Einstein taught us that space and time can be considered equivalent, and the Gilbreths taught us that time and money are similarly connected. Money, by definition, can be used to buy matter and energy, and those things can also be sold for money. These relationships form a sort of skeleton, technically what graph theorists call a "spanning tree", among the five elements of space, time, money, matter, and energy. The existence of a spanning tree, with the transitivity of the equivalence relation, implies a complete graph, with all vertices adjacent to each other. Each of of the Five can be exchanged for any other, and in a perfectly efficient economy, that would be the end of it all.

Where it goes

Saturday 24 November 2001, 22:10

Sometimes it gets into the nose, and you can hear it humming and rattling around up there, but that's not too bad, it comes out again pretty soon and you barely even remember.

Nothing new under Ra (100 words)

Friday 23 November 2001, 21:58


The soul that speaketh this chapter during the day of going forth shall dwell peacefully all its days within a grand tomb of noble stature.

Hail to thee Ra, and to thee, oh Horus and Thoth. Let this be the spell of the construction of my tomb, in just five days with minimal effort. It is known that this is perfectly legal in your sight. Let me place one stone upon each grave named on this list, and then upon adding mine own name to the

[remainder of text lost]


Thursday 22 November 2001, 21:31

Yeah, I subscribe to sci.crypt. It's pretty good. Right now they've got a thread going on marble versus concrete. Of course, I'm not really qualified to debate with these guys, they have some pretty high-powered scientists on both sides of the issue, but it sure is interesting to listen. I'm learning a lot and you never know when it'll come in handy. It's great sometimes in the club I'll just break into a conversation and throw in a comment like "Well, actually, it's seven feet, there needs to be some extra for settling and erosion" and they'll just be like awed because it sounds like I know my stuff. Girls in the palm of my hand, baby, palm of my hand. Now, of course, it isn't all moonshine and lilies. We get some vicious porn spammers, I have to warn you, some of those binaries you do not want to download. I just delete 'em. And there are the kooks and the people who like to flame newbies. Don't mention shovels, especially not in your first post. Still, you should subscribe. It's low traffic, and kinda fun.

In the Devil's drawing-room

Wednesday 21 November 2001, 21:01

It is a place of thick red carpets and elaborate plasterwork. The furniture shows centuries, if not millenia, of wear, but has stood up well on the whole both in physical and stylistic terms. You wouldn't be able to guess just when some damned hand first rubbed that varnish.