Inhuman Swill : Page 174
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

My sister forwards this story from KSL-TV in Salt Lake City:

Utah Soldiers Likely Will Stay Longer in Iraq The 1457th Engineering Battalion stationed at Baghdad Airport was given word last week they'd be coming home. Then just yesterday plans changed, and now another extention [sic] is in the works.

Now a year of active duty is looking more like a year and a half, and the worst part for these families is they fear the soldiers are needed in a heavy combat zone.

They have no official word on what their mission is, but chances are it will be just a bit more serious than building roads and bridges. [full story]

Yes, that's my brother's unit. Apparently reports of his homecoming were premature. His wife spoke to him by phone, and Tim figures his unit has about a 99% chance of getting their tour extended by 120 days. It will be their second extension.

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Speaking gig

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I've recently finished serving, together with Scott Edelman and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, as a juror in the SF/fantasy category of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. It was my second year, and it was very fun and rewarding, as before.

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers administers the competition nationwide, but is also the local administrator for New York City regional competition. And they have asked me to be the keynote speaker at the regional awards ceremony at the end of the month.

I am honored and eager, but also a little anxious. What artistic advice would I give to myself if I could go back in time to the high school years? This will take some real thought.

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Pyrrhic victory

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The book I'm reading now is Education of a Felon, the memoir by Edward Bunker. It's a compelling account of the young criminal life in the L.A. of the '50s and '60s, and of life in prisons like San Quentin and Folsom. I'm really enjoying it. But if I read the phrase "Pyrrhic victory" one more time I think I'm going to shiv someone.

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Geometry question

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Can't seem to find the answer to this in a quick web search. What is the number of spherical degrees in a perfect sphere? For some reason, I have the idea that it's not 360.

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Oy, vey!

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I received email from out of the blue last night from a woman I knew from 17 years ago on my mission. She was a sister missionary, and I was her district leader. She wrote simply to chew me out for having thrown away everything I used to preach so powerfully as a missionary and for having "denied the Christ" for the sake of impressing people.

I wrote a very calm email back, explaining that I was confused and conflicted as a missionary, and had doubted the church since long before I went on my mission. I concluded by apologizing for my complicity in the incidents where she played footsie with me, where we started holding hands on the sly, and where we ended up making out late one night at her and her companion's apartment. What good missionaries we were!

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A long sentence

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From [info]curmudgeon:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

Wilde scuffed the surface of the canal-bank path—it had changed from trodden dust to a strip of fused sand which broadened and merged with the street ahead, the permanent way made from the same material as if the finger of a god had drawn the lines from space—and waited for the machine to reply.
From The Stone Canal by Ken MacLeod (charming fellow).
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In country no more

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Word on the family grapevine says my brother is in Kuwait on the first stage of his trip home from Iraq. Thank goodness.

Now if only all the rest of the troops could come home.

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Friday morning, walking to the office from the subway: a blind man standing on the corner beside me, waiting to cross—cane in one hand, cell phone pressed to ear in the other.

Hey, why not?

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Grammar God

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Grammar God!

You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to preserve the English tongue, it should be. Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?

brought to you by Quizilla

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Rev three complete

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This morning before work I finished up the third draft of The Accidental Terrorist. This draft has taken the book from 240,000 words and 1,078 ms pages down to 135,000 words and 573 ms pages. The manuscript is now in my agent's hands, and I'm waiting on pins and needles to see what he thinks.

I've posted a few excerpts from the book, most of them bits that visitors to the old site wouldn't have seen already.

In a strange bit of synchronicity, my agent is also part of an improv troupe, and he's going to be playing a Mormon missionary in their new production. He wrote me today to enlist my help in finding him a set of temple garments. Anyone have any leads?

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

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William Shunn