Inhuman Swill : May 2003

North and south

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Laura and I are planning a cycling trip in Ireland late this summer. From an email from an Irish friend of a friend, filled with delightful advice, comes this gem:

avoid the (political) north unless you're doing it by car.... belfast city is a great place if you like grey skies, religious oppression and wee shits throwing bottles at your bike. catholics are more fun and they have better music, so stay in the (political) south.
I think I'm going to enjoy this trip.

More Plan-related news. I just now received the EP The Ice of Boston that I ordered online from a used CD store in Ohio a couple of weeks ago. It contains two songs I haven't heard before, "The First Anniversary of Your Last Phone Call" and "Just Like You," and a demo version of "Spider in the Snow." I slipped it into the CD-ROM drive moments ago. The only problem is, I can't get up onstage right now to dance.

Plan B

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The Dismemberment Plan will swing through New York again on their farewell tour. Bowery Ballroom, July 24 and 25. Yeah!

Son of Balticon

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Left out one bit from my Saturday report. While Laura and Scott and I were walking back from the American Dime Museum, we stopped at the Washington Monument on Charles Street. This is a cylindrical tower of white stone which was designed by the same architect who would later design the more famous Washington Monument in D.C. In fact, it was the first large-scale civic monument in America, if the plaques are to be trusted. It's hollow inside, and the young stewards sitting inside the entrance watching sports on TV were more than happy to take our dollar apiece donation for admission. (On the way out we saw the donation box in the lobby and began to suspect that our dollars had ended up in the stewards' pockets.)

The interior of the tower was a steep and narrow spiral staircase with 228 steps. Though it was a bit claustrophobic, we all managed to get to the top, look out the barred windows at the city on every side, and descend again without mishap or hyperventilation. I started to get mild cramps in my thighs as we continued down the street, though, so when Laura wanted to stop at a shoe store I took advantage of the opportunity to rest on the couch for a minute. When we told the shoe store clerk that we'd just been to the top of the monument, she said, "Oh, that's not so high."

If it weren't for this callous dismissal of our effort, I would never point out that the clerk's hindquarters were rather too wide for her to have made it up that staircase herself without suffering serious abrasions.

Anyway.

Full entry

Balticon so far

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It's 5:40 pm on Sunday at Balticon, and I'm coming to you through the miracle of wi-fi in the hotel common areas. Laura and I have been having a fine time so far, despite not having seen much of the con programming.

We took Amtrak down from New York late Friday morning, checked in, and immediately set out to find lunch. Our first choice, the Womens Industrial Exchange Restaurant (where Laura joked I intended to exchange her for an industrial model), was closed for renovation, so we ended up at a deli called David & Dad's. Good burgers, and fries with brown gravy. Yeah! When Laura added our two Stewart's sodas to the bill herself, I predicted she had probably messed up the deli's billing system. The joke was on me—the fellow at the counter told us the only system they used at David & Dad's was the honor system.

Programming started at 4:00, and also started a four-hour-straight block of programming for me. I hosted a kaffeklatch from 4 to 6 on the topic of writing your memoirs (fortunately not on selling your memoirs). Only one person showed up—the programming person who had scheduled me for it! Laura and I had a fine time listening to her life story, and I think we may have managed to get a few pointers across too.

At 6 was a panel on what happened to the future we were promised in our youth. Where are our rocket packs and flying cars??? Dave Kirtley and I were the obligatory silent voices next to Michael Swanwick and Kathryn Cramer, though actually we both managed to get a few good comments in. I made the point early that the generation growing up today have different myths of the future of the sort that include jacking in and virtual reality, and that they will no doubt be disappointed when they're aging and the world again surprises us with a whole different set of miracles. I also shared our experiences with our Roomba, the robot vacuum cleaner, and got a big laugh when I pointed out that the manufacturer is called iRobot.

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The other night, while all the contractor shit was going down, our downstairs neighbor called us on the phone. This would have been after midnight. "Hi, I'm locked out," he said. "Can you let me in?"

This happens occasionally, though this time it wasn't his own forgetfulness but the fact that the contractors had been replacing doors. (Why he doesn't use his back door is beyond me.)

So, annoyed but trying not to show it, I went downstairs to let him in. Then I trudged back upstairs.

I was nearly back in bed when all the electricity in the apartment went out. It came back on a few seconds later, only to die and return again.

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Do you get squicked out when you're in a public restroom and a cell phone rings in the next stall? And the person answers it?

If you care...

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The countdown clock is a really nifty, get-involved type marketing idea, and if you want it you can get your HTML snippet here.

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Jesus, and I thought hearing Elmo telling me to buckle up in New York City cabs was bad enough....

Sesame Street breaks Iraqi POWs Uncooperative prisoners are being exposed for prolonged periods to tracks by rock group Metallica and music from children's TV programmes Sesame Street and Barney in the hope of making them talk.

The US's Psychological Operations Company (Psy Ops) said the aim was to break a prisoner's resistance through sleep deprivation and playing music that was culturally offensive to them.

However, human rights organisation, Amnesty International, said such tactics may constitute torture—and coalition forces could be in breach of the Geneva Convention. [read all]

I would suggest the POWs also be forced to watch the first 23 episodes of 24, but not the season finale.

Quote unquote

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Don't fucking say "Quote unquote" to me. I might quote unquote rip your head off.

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