Mad Times

“To be sane in a mad time is bad for the brain, worse for the heart.” – Wendell Berry

November 27th, 2006 at 2:51 am

Murphy’s Gambit by Syne Mitchell

Cover of Murphy's GambitI first read Mitchell when one of her books (End In Fire) came up on the list for this year’s Endeavour Award. I liked that one enough to pick this one up when it showed up on the shelf at the library.

The setting is a far distant future where faster-than-light travel has scattered humans throughout the galaxy. Unfortunately they haven’t been able to leave capitalism behind on the home world, so things are run by a cabal of powerful corporations and the class divide is alive and well, just morphed by space travel from the simple haves and have-nots to those who live in gravity and the “floaters,” those who have worked long enough in zero-gee that they can’t function effectively in significant gravity. The floaters are primarily working class.

The Murphy of the title is a young floater woman who has made it into the galactic police academy and excelled as a pilot. As the book opens, she competes with another student in a test with a new space ship design. She wins, but her chance to capitalize on her success is cut short when she is framed in a crime by a fellow student. And thus begins a series of plot devices that slam our heroine from event to event through the course of the book.

The plot is arbitrary and cliche, but Mitchell speeds through it with such bravado that I didn’t have time to get too annoyed with it while reading the book. There’s nothing subtle about this book, but sometimes it’s fun to read a simple adventure that doesn’t ask too much of your higher reason.

November 27th, 2006 at 2:04 am

Lost glove #105

From October 21.

November 27th, 2006 at 2:03 am

Lost glove #104

From October 11.

November 27th, 2006 at 2:00 am

Lost glove #103

From September 15.

November 26th, 2006 at 1:22 pm

Lost gloves in the news

The Seattle Times has an article about a group of engineers working for Sound Transit on the Seattle bus tunnel retrofit many of whom bike to work and have taken to collecting the lost gloves they see on their way to work and adding them to a display in their offices.

November 25th, 2006 at 12:57 am

Not its intended use

Alice sitting atop a colorful conga drum

They don’t make green-eye filters for cats like they do red-eye filters for us humans. Alice can see half the neighborhood when she’s perched up there. At least once she stops seeing spots.

November 21st, 2006 at 6:13 pm

Prisoner of Trebekistan by Bob Harris

This is the post I was trying to put up when the old blog croaked.

author behind a Jeopardy! podiumI got this from the library after Jane Espenson was raving about it on her blog. So when a conspicuous character in the book was named Jane I was a little suspicious, and when it turned out that it was that Jane, it made the book that much more fun. (For those who don’t recognize her name, Jane Espenson is a TV writer who’s done major work on little shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and Gilmore Girls and even has an upcoming episode of Battlestar Galactica to her credit.)

Bob Harris was a contestant on the tv game show, Jeopardy. The book is a memoir of his experience with the show and the impact the show had on his life. You’d think this would be the kind of boring story about some egghead who bones up on trivia for fun and profit, but you haven’t met Bob Harris.

Harris is a funny guy. And from his story it seems he’s not really the proverbial egghead either. Actually, to hear him tell it, the primary reason for his success is his ability to press his thumb on the signal button (or “Jeopardy Weapon”) at just the right time. That and the ability to cram reams of trivia into his head and retrieve it as needed.

The book has tips and tricks on remembering stuff, surprisingly suspenseful accounts of the Jeopardy games Harris played, and even more surprisingly, truly touching accounts of how playing this game changed Harris’s life.

It’s an immensely entertaining book about how his quest to win the game led to a genuine love of knowledge and even to love of another kind. And did I mention the funny?

November 20th, 2006 at 9:24 pm

…and we’re back!

Anybody still here?

So the blog turned out to be really and truly hosed. Something I did to the database in my clumsy attempts to cure it actually corrupted it beyond my ability to fix. Sad, but provided the impetus to get something new out here.

So, I’ve slapped in a WordPress engine here and picked a not-too-ugly theme for it.

I’ll figure out how to make it look like I want it to and bring back all my side links and stuff as time goes on, but at least I’ve got enough infrastructure in place to start posting content again. I’ll also be getting some links in place to the old archives since all that content is still sitting here on my server for your nostalgic enjoyment. For now, you can start on the old homepage if you want to see old stuff.

Those of you who read on the site won’t have to change anything. Those of you who read via one of the RSS feeds, please redirect your aggregator to the new feed link:

I might come up with a better link for that later, but that seems to work at least. Sorry it’s just an excerpt. I’ll change it to full-text as soon as I figure out how. Fixed–note new link in the unlikely event you saw the previous incorrect one.

Another advantage of the new software is that commenting should work again, so let me know you found your way here!

More info as things change, and look for some book reviews and gloves and maybe even some other stuff coming soon.

November 1st, 2006 at 12:00 am

output here