Inhuman Swill : November 2008

The Flame

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We had a fine, fine time at the SFWA mill-and-swill last night, saw tons of great people. But what we appreciated most about the evening was that when we got back to our hotel—not even drunk!—and found that room service wasn't answering its phone even though it will still supposed to be operating, we just walked around the corner to one of those all-night Greek diners and ordered a couple of gyro platters. Midnight dining in midtown, man. It really hit the spot.

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Bridge and tunnel

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We're back. Not five minutes on the street, as we're walking down Ninth Avenue, a guy leans out a car window and asks, "Do you know where the Latin Quarter is?"

So I put on my best wiseguy and say, "Yeah, it's in fuckin' New Orleans."

I know, it doesn't make any sense, what I said, but we're fucking back.

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"Retrogression" progression

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Retrogression progression
I'm not one to announce my daily word count, but I will say that progress is beginning to be made. Today it was made at a Starbucks on Greenview after I got my B12 shot at the doctor's office. Yes, it turns out I have quite a B12 deficiency, which might explain the tingling I sometimes feel in my back and legs, not to mention my frequent fatigue and general lack of energy. I think it's too early to chalk today's productivity up to the vitamin boost, though.

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Of the Six Fundamental Machines inscribed by the Builder in the Cornerstone of Time, the Wheel and Axle lends itself to perhaps the most stupendous domain of potential recomplications. Picture the sky as a giant clockwork mechanism—each planet a semiprecious stone set in the rim of its own great wheel, ticking about the axis of a star that is in turn a chip of diamond studding the rim of its own greater wheel, one that inscribes a unique but interdependent path about the center of gravity of a galaxy that is itself less than a cog on a still greater wheel that in concert with hundreds of billions of others drives the engine of the Universe. Fractal geometry on a scale to beggar the imagination.

Now zoom in again to picture yourself on the rim of your own planetary wheel, observing the progress of a friend on the rim of another wheel in the same system. Assuming different rates of travel, to watch that friend is sometimes to see an apparent reversal in his course. This loop of retrogression, as it's known, stems from the fact that you the observer are yourself a passenger on a body in motion.

All things in the Builder's creation serve not only their own functions as objects but also as lessons for his children. Thus does the Wheel and Axle teach us that to move forward is sometimes to appear, perhaps even to ourselves, to slide back.

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A suggestion for Rand McNally

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There are plenty of sources that list the distances of various stars from Earth, but does anyone know of a source for looking up the distances of stars from one another? If not, I may have to dust off some spherical geometry that I would rather leave in its rusty box.

Specifically, I need to know the distance between Tau Ceti and Van Maanen's Star.

Update:  I found the specific answer I needed—Tau Ceti and Van Maanen's Star are 6.2 light-years apart—but I'd still be happy to be pointed toward a more general resource.
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Don't let the mothers get you down


"Hello, and what seems to be the problem with your 1-800-FLOWERS online order, sir?"

"Well, I'm not really sure. All the voicemail told me was there was a problem and I should call."

"All right, sir, I can help you with that. Let me just look up your order. One moment."

"Thank you."

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The bottom of the deck

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No, Ella is not awaiting a date with the hangman. This is not a gallows but the new deck that's being constructed on the back of our house, and Ella is eagerly awaiting the day when the second level is complete and the back door out of our kitchen no longer opens on empty air.

Right now, Ella is mightily confused as to why we don't let her out the back door anymore.

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Waiting for the re-up

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Thanks to Netflix, I've been enjoying a steady diet of The Wire, an episode a day on average—um, sometimes two. I'm nearly to the end of the third season. I watched Episode 10 last Thursday. The fifth disc of Season Three, with the last two episodes, was supposed to arrive Friday.

Friday's mail came and went. No DVD.

I didn't start to panic until Saturday's mail had also come and gone with no sign of my re-up. Trembling a little, I logged into Netflix to report the disc lost. Netflix told me that occasional delays are to be expected, and that I would not be able to report the disc missing and request a replacement until Monday.

I began to sweat.

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Dear signmaker

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Um, yeah, it's not a "condo" if it's for "rent."

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Attacks on gays = a tax on Mormons


I don't know about you, but I am incensed about the LDS Church's over-the-pulpit exhortation of its members to mobilize and help pass California's Proposition 8, banning gay marriage. When I first heard about it, in fact, my first reaction was, "Damn, they need to have their tax-exempt status revoked."

Now you can help urge the IRS to make that happen. Here are all the instructions and supporting documents you need in order to:

File a Complaint Asking the IRS to Revoke the LDS Church's Tax-Exempt Status

If the Church is going to jump into the political arena (yes, okay, they've never not been a player in the political arena) and try to legislate a segment of our population out of their legal rights, then it's only fair that they as a corporation should share this country's tax burden. They pulled this same kind of nonsense 30 years ago to help defeat the Equal Rights Amendment,* and who knows what they'll try next if their actions are left legally unchallenged?

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