Inhuman Swill : Page 136
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.
            

So scientists in Seoul have cloned an Afghan wolfhound:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/08/03/dog.clone.ap/index.html

This is exciting news for some, but I fear it will only bring unintended bad consequences. Like Jay Leno jokes about the boon to Korean cuisine.

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The giant backup job I started late, late Sunday night will be complete in roughly half an hour. Well, actually that's just the compression and storage phase. Then comes the comparison phase. God, I hope that doesn't take another two and a half days.

Good thing there's more than one computer in the house.

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Via Paul Melko by way of David Moles, I encountered this morning a fascinating essay by SF writer and scholar John Kessel exploring and repudiating the morality of intention that underpins Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and attempting to explain the book's enduring popularity.

It's a long essay, and quite worth reading if you have any interest in morality and fiction, but here's a distillation:

The number of times this scenario of unjustified attack and savage retaliation is repeated, not just in Ender's Game but in other of Card's stories and novels, suggests that it falls close to the heart of his vision of moral action in the world.... The same destructive act that would condemn a bad person, when performed by a good person, does not implicate the actor, and in fact may be read as a sign of that person's virtue....

This, I fear, is the appeal of Ender's Game: it models this scenario precisely and absolves the child of any doubt that his actions in response to such treatment are questionable. It offers revenge without guilt. If you ever as a child felt unloved, if you ever feared that at some level you might deserve any abuse you suffered, Ender's story tells you that you do not. In your soul, you are good. You are specially gifted, and better than anyone else. Your mistreatment is the evidence of your gifts. You are morally superior. Your turn will come, and then you may severely punish others, yet remain blameless. You are the hero....

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Strossed out

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I've been rereading Charlie Stross's Accelerando stories, so I found myself calculating aloud while Laura and I were buying storage space at J&R yesterday. My new hard drive cost $349, which comes out to a little over 87 cents a gig.

About 10 years ago, when I was buying a new PC, I thought I was doing well with a 120 megabyte drive, which probably ran me about $300, if I remember correctly. That was $2.50 a meg, in other words. At those prices, just one gigabyte of memory would have cost me $2,500 (nearly 3,000 times as much as it does now), and 400 gig would have cost a cool million dollars. A million dollars. (Not to mention how unwieldly it would have been to attach 3,333 120 Mb drives to my box!)

Now I have that much storage sitting on my desk, and it's about the size of a trade paperback.

Is that a singularity I spy ahead?

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So Laura and I did some shopping yesterday. She bought me a shiny new 400Gb external hard drive so that I could back up the 200Gb that, with over 35,000 MP3s, functions as my home music server.

The 200Gb drive was also my backup drive, so last night, after hooking up the new drive and going through the usual associated headaches to make it work, I reconfigured all the backup jobs in Retrospect to use the new external drive, and added the old external drive to the list of drives to be backed up.

Well, I started the initial backup at about midnight last night. I VNC to the home box every so often to see how it's coming along. Only roughly 44 hours left to go! Woo-hoo!

(Subsequent nightly backups will, at least, be differential.)

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Nature's way of saying "Don't touch!":

(From a short hike down country lanes in the tiny French commune of St. Pair du Mont.)

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From the AP news wire:

Teen's Vomit Sentence a Conundrum for Cops OLATHE, Kan.—Police departments in Johnson County aren't sure how they'll carry out an unusual sentence a judge imposed on a teenager convicted of intentionally vomiting on his teacher.

Johnson County Magistrate Judge Michael Farley on Tuesday sentenced the 17-year-old boy to spend the next four months cleaning up anytime someone gets sick in a police car....  [full story]

And you think you have logistical problems.

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Bill

Began Ghostwritten by David Mitchell on flight home.

Laura

Began The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley on flight home.
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Vendredi 15 juillet 2005

Our last full day in Paris, and the last full day of our trip. Rise with the dawn, walk our tired asses up Avenue Bourdonnaise to the Eiffel Tower. Zip zip to the top! among the first batches of the day, keeping a close eye for pickpockets. Quick circuit around the top, spectacular but palm-sweating views a thousand feet up. Laura, who didn't have the tower high on her list, now glad we came. Elevator down to second level, where we spy a workman in full climbing regalia wandering the platform. Stairs down from there.

Café crème on the first platform, writing postcards at a table in the shade of an umbrella in the already fierce sun. Mail postcards from Eiffel Tower post office to get the good postmarks. More stairs down, but not before spying two guys working outside one of the elevator inclines, above the interior courtyard. Photo doesn't do justice, but watching was more palm-sweating than being at the tower's top. Bill finds internet cafe while Laura shops for chocolate. Then it's the Metro to l'Île de la Cité.

Through the metal detectors of the Palais de Justice enclosure, past the stupid American tourists, we enter the spectacular cathedral of Sainte-Chapelle, where all the beauty and ornateness has been saved for the stained-glass windows, the greatest collection in the world, ringing the upstairs chapel on all sides. Don't know how long we stay. Could be months.

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Happy Pi Approximation Day! One version of it, anyway.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

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William Shunn

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