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Some people complain because we ended up in a future without flying cars. You can keep your flying cars, which would be more dangerous than ground cars, and probably noisier, too. I like the future we ended up with.

My latest Android tablet weighs less than 18 ounces including the leather case and stylus. With the case closed it is 8.25 by 5.5 inches and less than 1/2 inch thick. It has 16 Gigs of native storage and a 64 Gig SD chip. Neither storage area is close to being filled.

The first hard drive I ever bought cost more than the tablet, and had 20 Megabytes of storage. In constannt dollars, the drive cost more than the tablet, case, SD chip and set of cables and accessories I bought to support the tablet.

I took advantage of some fast hotel wireless to pull my Nook books out of the cloud and into local storage, and between those and various side-loaded epubs and some PDFs and Kindle books, I have more than a thousand books literally at my fingertips in the tablet, which only weighs as much as a pound because I put it in a leather case/reading stand. And the vast majority of the thousand books are novels, not working texts, since I mainly use the Web for working references

In Ada Palmer's excellent talk on the Benedictine monastery of San Marco in Florence (http://www.lumenchristi.org/san-marco/ ) she mentions at one point that when the University of Paris was founded, back before the printing press, it had a huge library (for its time) of 400 books.

I have been traveling a lot on business in the past few months and will be traveling again beginning next week, so I am taking advantage of this interim week to finally rip most of my CD collection. I can carry my music with me in the same pound of tablet and have it with me in the hotel rooms in the evenings. I'm not doing the orchectral classical music or the holiday stuff -- I'll leave those for a later round. I've ripped about 2800 tracks as I write this, and I expect to reach 3000 before I finish this phase of ripping. Adding the classical and holiday tracks will put the count closer to 4000 than 3000, when I get around to ripping them. (With most of phase one of the ripping complete, I'm using less than 9 Gigs for the Music, so the SD chip is less than 1/4 full).

It will be nice to have a choiceof music in the evenings, though I will admit I have encountered a few mysteries. Thee song titles on the one Cranberries disc are generic enough that I can't remember which one or ones led me to buy the disc. And Portishead is even less familiar than that. I'm going to have some exploring to do.

And I dropped a group of discs that included the first Afro Celt Sound System disc before they fell and not when I picked them back up. One problem with discs that use "clever" packages instead of jewel cases is that they hide easily and are hard to scan for. If it had to get lost in the Twilight Zone, I wish it had waited until after I ripped the tracks. Gives me incentive to tidy that storage room, I suppose.

Fruitcake Polenta

4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fine ground polenta

5 Tbsp sugar
lemon peel (ground)
orange peel (ground)
candied citron
candied lemon peel
candied orange peel
ground cloves

Being diagnosed allergic to dairy, eggs, wheat, rice, almonds, walnuts, bananas and pineapple has made the holidays very depressing: cooking and baking has always been a huge part of the holidays for me.

Today, out of desperation for the smells and tastes of the holidays, I made a sweet polenta with fruitcake fruit and ginger-snap spices, partly inspired by Nonna's Frittura Dousa. It was worth it just for the smells.

Need to use a finer grind of cornmeal next time than what I had in the cupboard, I think, but not the "instant" polenta kind

Bring the salt and water to a rolling boil. Add the corn meal slowly. When it is all in, add the raisins and sugar, fruits and spices and cook until it is very thick.

I spread most of it out on oiled plates, but ate a serving as hot cereal for breakfast. I'd love to bread and fry it like frittura dousa fritters, but I'm not sure how to do that without eggs and breadcrumbs. Maybe I'll try broiling the set polenta slices in the toaster oven.

DINO poltroon Jared Polis

Jared Polis is my congressional representative. Unfortunately. Sorry, that's a mistake -- I have come to the conclusion that he is properly referred to as DINO poltroon Jared Polis. Where DINO, of course, stands for "Democrat in Name Only".

DINO poltroon Jared Polis is my congressional representative.

There was a time when I was proud to have him a representative. In the long ago days when the House of Representatives actually had votes on substantive matters, his votes on things like net neutrality and internet privacy that suggested that he had at least a passing acquaintance with technology. I donated some money to his campaign.

I wish I could get a refund of the money I donated to DINO poltroon Jared Polis.

In the past few years the House has done comparatively little, and when there are votes, DINO poltroon Polis has voted on the side stupidity and greed with depressing and increasing regularity. The question in my mind was becoming not "Has he sold out to the corporate interests?" but "Has he sold out? Or was he a corporatist stooge all along?"

His recent vote to effectively bar Syrian refugees has been beyond disgusting. Since the Daesh stated goal is to make Syrians miserable and destroy tolerance and cultural diversity in the west, I consider the House vote tantamount to treason.

I sent a very strongly worded email to Dinohim. It included words like "embarrassed", "ashamed", "gutless", "hard-hearted" (or possibly "cold-hearted") and "evil". He sent me an email reply making excuses. I think I left out "brainless"from my original letter. But I don't believe he is stupid or gullible, and I am insulted that he thinks I am either of those things.

I have also emailed the Colorado Democratic Party, asking whether there might be an actual Democrat available to primary him on the left. And I wrote to the Bernie Sanders organization asking whether they have someone in their Colorado organization who could go up against DINO poltroon Jared Polis.

It is possible that a lot of my usual charitable giving make be diverted into politics over the next year. This is very depressing.


I'm Doing NanoWriMo this year. I started off fast, which is good because I may be traveling on business later in the month.

The book is "Luck Storms". The official synopsis is "Secondary world fantasy, not quite ice-age Earth (but you can see our continents if you squint and ignore where Florida ended up), strange magic system with ecological and climatological effects, middle-aged spinster (that's a pun) librarian heroine, a male lead who is not exactly human any more and a (non-verbal) magical mammoth who doesn't need any uplifting to match humans, thank you very much."

It doesn't adequately explain how peculiar the story is...

At the moment, the pieces I'm writing are going well, but looking forward, I'm deciding what to do about stuff I'm calling "reverse Lewis and Clark" or "East Across the Plains with Mammoth and Pack Llamas".

Tolkien was lucky he was dealing on European scales. It's 980 miles from Boulder CO to St. Louis MO, and 19 hundred some from Boulder to Cape Hatteras. That's a lot of walking in either case. But I can't skip the journey entirely -- there are a couple of key plot points along the way.

Fortunately, I won't need to decide how I'm handling it until this weekend, or maybe next week some time.

Knowing Where to HIt

There's an old joke about a plumber who looked at a problem, took out a hammer, hit the pipes once, solved the problem, and presented a bill for $100.

When asked for an itemized bill, he produced:
Hitting pipe with hammer $10
Knowing where to hit $90

I have just had a week like that, only more so.

A client I consulted for previously hired me to help implement some software tools changes, and I felt like I accomplished nothing. I spent most of the week exchanging emails with people trying to figure out what they wanted to do and what information and tasks would be involved in accomplishing it.

I didn't even get near the point of hitting the pipe with the hammer, but the customer was very happy with the progress, because I knew what questions to ask and kept asking them until I was able to start sorting out the requirements for the project.

Knowing what questions to ask or figuring out what questions to ask is a big part of my skill set, either in this kind of project definition or in actual troubleshooting. It's not clearly related to any particular OS or software package, and in the recent past I've run into a number of situations where people I know are technologically competent displayed an amazing lack of it. Information I expected to be available, because of course you would collect it if you were dealing with a problem, just wasn't there. Sometimes not even when I asked for it because there had been no record-keeping or logs had been erased, or written over of not kept in the first place. I must be way the heck out on one limb of Dunning-Kruger.

I need to remember that knowing where to hit is valuable. I also need to remember that I can't expect most people -- even most technical people -- to do even a basic job of problem analysis without being led by the hand.

Bending toward Justice?

The Supreme Court has done excellent work this last while, not just in the decisions they have made, but in the writing of them.

Elena Kagan's decision that quoted Spiderman's Uncle Ben and referred to the lyrics of the old Spiderman theme song while resolving the Marvel patent case were delightful.

I agree with those who predict Justice Kennedy's words about marriage will be quoted in many wedding ceremonies, straight as well as gay.

The decisions on Obamacare and the Fair Housing Act were more sensible than many had feared (or others had hoped) as was the decision that arbitrarily extending sentences is unconstitutional

As for Antonin Scalia: I would say: may the universe deal with him justly, and in the same spirit of kindness and compassion he shows for others, but I wonder if that is not already taking place. His filters seem to be failing over time -- to a point that makes him a target of mockery -- and a seminar on brain structure I attended listed that as an early symptom of dementia.


President Obama's eulogy for Clementa Pinckney appears to be one of the great speeches of his career. It saddens me because it reminds me of the day we approached his first inauguration with such hope, but he has said things that needed to be said, and said them well.

For all I regret the half measures and incomplete promises, considering virulent opposition he has faced, I think Obama has done a fair job.


Congress, by contrast, showed itself to be the captive of the corporations in passing the fast track for the (potentially treasonous, but who can say while it is secret) TransPacific Pact.

There was a time when Daily Kos published a daily summary of activity in the House and Senate, even though sometimes it was just a list of busywork like renaming post offices. They have not bothered for the past few years. I miss the summary. Even more, I miss having a legislature that occasionally did something worth summarizing instead of frittering away their time with gridlock and symbolic votes.

I have been getting many begging emails because this is the end of the quarter and important in FEC rules about political donations. I made another small donation to Bernie Sanders. I have been replying to emails about funds that would benefit Jared Polis and Michael Bennet with emails explaining exactly why I am not donating money to them at this time, and expressing my wish that they would be primaried on the left.

I sent similar thoughts to the Sanders campaign: as much as he needs money, Bernie needs a party, or at least a faction, that will support his ideas.


Mass murderers sometimes hope that their example will start an uprising of the like-minded. There is something very satisfying in the fact that Roof's crime seems to have had exactly the opposite effect. I will not miss the rebel flag, but I am about as distant as I can be from the demographic that finds it meaningful.

The interesting thing is that I think he catalyzed a transition that was already in progress. There is a recent commercial for something automotive that features 2 young men in an orange stock car, being chased. I think they even address each other as Bo and Luke (or my mind is interpolating that due to the power of suggestion). The car in the commercial does NOT have the Rebel Flag on its hood. (And I don't think it was just to avoid trademarks.) The first time I saw the commercial, it got to the end before I figured out what was missing.

Edit to fix ref: Roberts wrote the decision on Obamacare, Kennedy wrote the Same Sex Marriage decision.


A little before noon I opened my front door on my way out to run an errand. A buck with complicated velvet antlers (10 points? 12? more?) jumped up from where he had been resting in the shade of the house and moved away from me. Another buck (maybe 6 points) closer to the south end of the house moved away into my neighbor's yard and the senior buck followed.

I've seen evidence of deer in the yard over the years -- Tracks. Droppings. Chewed branches on my lilac bush. Shapes in my headlights late at night. But this is the first time I've seen them in daylight or so close to the house.

I wish I hadn't left my phone on the coffee table... I wasn't able to get a picture.

Feral Crabapple

I live on the edge of Boulder Open Space (not entirely sure whether it's county or city open space) and have no good water for irrigation, so I generally practice what I refer to as Darwinian Xeriscaping. I don't water, and what wants to grow and can survive, grows.

I have lots of different wild flowers growing in my yard, including yuccas and little prickly-pear cacti and wild roses and lots of different things with yellow flowers. I don't get the yard mowed more than once or twice a year because the wildflowers are so pretty. The grasses are pretty, too, if you let them grow enough to develop their seed-heads.

I also have a feral crabapple. I did not plant it, it just started growing several years ago -- a twig with leaves instead of the usual soft stuff. Now there are a bunch of slender trunks, some more than 10 feet tall and most with branches. I suspect the seeds were brought from one of my neighbors' trees by the birds or squirrels. The crabapple lasted through three or four years of moderate drought with no help from me. and two years ago it developed flowers and fruit on one branch for the first time.

I have been a little worried about it because a year and a half ago I had it moved about 12 feet farther into the yard. (Birds and squirrels don't understand about not planting trees too close to the house.) But it seems to have recovered well from the shock of the move -- the tree is showing flowers on most of its trunks and branches this year.

It will be interesting to see what the fruit looks like. Apples don't breed true from seed. The fruit two years ago was odd enough looking that I wasn't entirely sure they were apples (though obviously something in Rosaceae) and it is quite possible that not all of the stems in the cluster came from the same seed, so there may be differences in the fruit produced. I've been thinking that in a few years I may try to find a source for some grafts of edible fruit varieties and add those to the mix.


The world seems to be pushing toward activism this year, sometimes in odd ways.


DuPont is having a contested Board election this year. I usually don't bother sending in proxies -- I almost never own more than 100 shares of any one stock I've invested in, so my choices are likely to be hidden in the statistical noise. But the DuPont board of directors, with many millions of shares of which I own 100, called me FOUR times to make sure I would vote in the election... so I voted.

I did not vote for anyone on either Board of Directors slate (as far as I could tell it was a choice between sharks and tapeworms).

I voted for the proposed auditors, and against the executive compensation that was being proposed (see comment about tapeworms).

And I voted in favor of all of the questions that had been placed on the ballot by trade unions and religious groups.

I don't expect my votes made an real difference -- I'm a couple of decimal places below anything that will even show up in the voting reports. But there may be a lot of small stockholders like me who will be harassed into paying attention to the ballot. Maybe some of the ballot questions will make it out of statistical noise territory.

Bernie Sanders.

For a long time I was registered as an Independent. Then one year there was a local race where the Democratic primary mattered more the the general election (there's a reason they sometimes call it the People's Republic of Boulder), and it occurred to me that it had been at least 10 years since I'd had an opportunity to vote for a Republican candidate I found acceptable, so I registered as a Democrat.

In the past few years I have started occasionally making small political donations, and also 'signing' various on-line petitions. I'd like to think that some of the recipients might check their donor lists and the petitions they receive for correlations, but I honestly don't think they are that smart. In 2014 I donated to the Democratic Congressional campaign rather than to my actual Representative because I did not like the way he voted on a few things in the lead-up to the elections, and I would be stunned if the analyses could pick up that sort of subtlety.

I donated to Bernie Sanders, possibly just outside the first 24 hours after he announced his presidential campaign. I want his voice in the debates and the Democratic platform. (I've been realizing lately that many of my opinions are left-ish even by Canadian and European standards.)

I got a phone call from the Hillary Clinton campaign this afternoon. I enjoyed telling them that I was supporting Bernie. Maybe it will decrease the phone-spam I get. Or maybe not. I think I was averaging more than a call a day from campaigns and pollsters last fall.

The 2015 nominations for the Hugo awards were hijacked by a bunch of people with appallingly horrible taste who took advantage of a loophole in the rules.

The first WorldCon I attended was IguanaCon II in Phoenix in 1978. I have been an attending or a voting member many times since then (with occasional gaps), but have rarely nominated anything.

I think I missed voting last year due to health and other distractions, though I had a voting membership. I generally approved of the results and definiely approved of the Hugo for best novel.

I am voting this year. Emphatically. "No Award" is an option in Hugo voting, which is nice when all of the options presented are mediocre or worse. I am also making a point of buying works of non-slate nominees in the categories that have them.

I have sampled the works of some slate nominees who dropped out due to disagreements with the organizers of the ballot-stuffing, and I'm sorry to say I have not found anything that makes me regret that they are non longer on the ballots.

There is one special case: I bought the latest book in the Dresden series by Jim Butcher when the ebook first came out. It had some nice bits and the writing is decent, but I would have been surprised if it showed up on the Hugo ballot. Having it show up as part of the slate is... disconcerting. It indicates that he is not part of my tribe. What's the saying? "If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas". I'm a cat person.

I have been reading and enjoying the Dresden series long enough that I would have bought the first volume of Butcher's new series on spec when it first came out if he had not displayed a casual opportunism regarding the slate that I find a bit off-putting. I think I'm going to wait for either the paperback release (and accompanying ebook price cut) or mind-bendingly good reviews before I sample it.

My voting membership this year gives me nominating rights next year, but I have also just bought my voting membership for 2016 (which will give me nominating rights in 2017) and mailed out the fee for voting rights in 2017 (which will give me voting rights in 2018).

Unlike past years, I'm going to make use of my ability to nominate. I tend to think of myself as not a short fiction reader, but I read enough on-line and follow enough links from various websites and blogs that I have more exposure to current short works than I've had since I stopped subscribing to some of the genre magazines, 25 or 30 years ago.