Inhuman Swill : Page 187
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

What went right today

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In other, happier news, I got a welcome phone call today between bouts of working myself into a lather. Our insurance claim agent called to compliment me on my burglary report and to tell me she would be approving our claim immediately. We'll get the full cost of the laptop back, plus a portion of the cost of the jewelry.

This is a terrific relief, because I ordered a new and better laptop from Dell on Tuesday, and now I don't have to go very deep into my pockets for it. It's a 600m, with a 60 Gb hard drive. I'll fit well over a 1,000 albums onto that puppy!

I love the feature at the Dell site that lets you track the progress of your new computer. Mine is kitted, built, and tested, and is now in the boxing phase. The original predicted ship date was April 11th, so it seems ours is well ahead of schedule. Laura said, "Looks like we're on track for a premature delivery." We'll love our little preemie well.

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Haight speech

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My mother doesn't forward religious emails to me very often any more, not since I asked her to cease and desist last year. But on occasion she still does, and today's incensed me like none I've received since ... well, last year:

Subject: Comforting to know

Hint: The original message that was shared is at the bottom. There are a couple of other short exchanges prior to that concerning permission or appropriateness for sharing this.

> Thought you would find this interesting.
> This is pretty comforting. I hope it helps all of
> you feel better about what we are doing in Iraq.

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A rather, um, incredible story from the Weekly World News:

"Time traveler" busted for insider trading Sources at the Security and Exchange Commission confirm that 44-year-old Andrew Carlssin offered the bizarre explanation for his uncanny success in the stock market after being led off in handcuffs on January 28....

Carlssin declared that he had traveled back in time from over 200 years in the future, when it is common knowledge that our era experienced one of the worst stock plunges in history. Yet anyone armed with knowledge of the handful of stocks destined to go through the roof could make a fortune.... [read all]

I don't believe the story has been accurately reported, but it's certainly entertaining.

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Oh, yes, I just love to get letters like this one:

hey, watsup
      hows it goin?

I was just wondering what the hell you think your doing here.

What the hell is your goal in life; is it to be some bum, that complains about his life and blames everything on a religion that you cant figure out.

What the hell are you doing.

Are you trying to ruin peoples lives or something,

I just finished my DADS letters to you about being an ex mormon like he is, and because of you, I might as well beat the hell out of him.

You just agrivated a kid that wants nothing but good in this life.

why do you have to be like that, why do you have to put down a religion.

Your mind is so fixed on nothing that you dont know what you are doing.

My dad lives far away, and divorced my mom when i was one.

No i never saw him that often,

But the next time he does come down here, i am going to beat the living day lights out of him.

Its people like you that make this place a terrible place to be in.

You put things up, and you dont know the kind of consequences that you will get,

You dont see the big picture.

You just like my dad, sit there and care about yourselves. This website of yours makes you feel good doesnt it.

your selfish.

Maybe thats why you and my dad are the same. Maybe you dont have any love in you. Maybe your so cought up with yourselves that you dont care to love anyone else, like a normal human does.

You denied the truth, and you know it, no-matter what you say, you know you are miserable, and feel rotten.

I went with my dad a little while ago, and he looked miserable.

I felt sorry for him.

But what can i do, He has no love in him, and neither do you.

You loveless hate filled man, that likes to ruin peoples relationships, and ruin peoples faith, and bring people down from when they were happy and enjoying life.

You need to shut the hell up and get on with life you loser.

What do you even say to that? It makes me feel so sad for both the writer and his father, but I don't for a second labor under the delusion that any of it is my fault. I wouldn't even if I knew what letter the writer is referring to.

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March's CD mix of the month

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My pal Mark Bourne, a liberal Portland writer of SF and other good things, offered this eminently sensible tongue-lashing to disruptive antiwar protesters in a guest commentary column published in yesterday's Oregonian:

Limbaugh's loving every minute of it If you engage in knee-jerk belligerence while protesting, don't pretend to be representing me. If you shut down traffic or close bridges or force people to endure other annoyance-for-peace tactics, don't think that I'm with you. If you harangue our police, insult the soldiers who are honor-bound to obey the orders they are given, or throw a brick through a window (corporate or otherwise), absolutely don't count me among your number. Instead, consider me against you....

If nothing else, think of it like this: When you block traffic or provoke anger in those who might otherwise listen to your words, Rush Limbaugh is right there, loving every minute of it. [read all]

Turns out, Limbaugh really is loving every minute of it. Mark's name-check brought the column to the Rushmeister's attention, and the big fat idiot read from it on the air yesterday afternoon. A transcript:

Yes, Limbaugh is loving this He closes with this line: "When you block traffic or provoke anger in those who might otherwise listen to your words, Rush Limbaugh is right there, loving every minute of it." Damn, they're getting it! But they won't listen to the guy. If anti-war Canadians can turn on Wayne Gretzky over supporting Bush, then anti-war people on this side of the 49th parallel will turn on Bourne. He'll be called a traitor to the cause. He'll be accused of having lost his courage or selling out. These people have closed minds, and they don't care about persuading anyone. You're either with them or you're against them. [read all]
Backhanded as it is, what a compliment!
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Wriggling through

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It's eighteen days since the burglary, and I've only just now finished writing out my account of the event for our insurance claim. Boy, does my hand hurt. They wanted detail. I gave them detail.

I'll try to hit the highlights, because I feel like I've left everyone hanging on this one. Laura called me at the office at 3:45 that fateful Friday to tell me that our upstairs neighbor Jason had called her from his cell phone to say there'd been a break-in. I left the office immediately and got on the subway. I had a book in my bag, but I couldn't read. I was consumed with a sick anticipation of what might be missing. My laptop, surely. Stereo components? Possibly. What else? I didn't care what else. I just hoped the mess wasn't too bad.

When I changed trains, I realized that I didn't want to think any longer. I want to read about violent things happening to bad people. Fortunately, the book in my bag was Hard Freeze by Dan Simmons, and he and his antihero Joe Kurtz cheerfully obliged me for the next segment of the trip.

Thirty minutes after leaving the office, I reached the house. Jason was standing in the street outside with a police officer. I joined them. Jason had not yet been inside. He had been coming home from class when he saw the front door open and a panel missing from the bottom of the solid-wood inner front door. Through the hole left by the kicked-in panel, he could see that the door to my and Laura's apartment was open. Rather than going in, he called Laura's cell phone, then called the police.

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Yesterday I received my judging materials for the 2003 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (SF/Fantasy category). I have forty-odd manuscripts to read and grade in the next couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to diving in, but I also suspect that by the end of it I'll have more sympathy for magazine editors. What I'm really looking forward to understanding, though, is the editor's delight in discovering gold.

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"Strategies and Paradigms"

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Tom Marzullo at

We have hit the various compounds and facilities in that urban area with great precision, seeking to spare the populace from harm. Yet in ignoring the publicly announced paradigm of our enemy, we are in all likelihood targeting places long empty of the enemy's strength. So where are these divisions of Republican Guards?...

If we use the same facts plainly in evidence—but evaluate them by first taking Saddam at his word, in the awful knowledge of his brutal tactics and arrogant disregard for human life—it becomes apparent that he has not planned to use human shields for his facilities, but rather for each of his individual soldiers. This stratagem at a stroke accomplishes several critical military and political goals. First, it reduces the effectiveness of our advanced standoff weapons—forces us into close combat and the increased casualties, both civilian and/or coalition that it will inevitably create. It also suppresses any internal revolt without diverting forces away from engaging coalition forces. On the political side, it uses our own citizens' paradigm of expecting quick, bloodless victory and our public policy of reducing civilian casualties against us.

So where is the Iraqi military? It is hiding in the homes of everyday citizens, suppressing any nascent revolt while using their own country's women and children as living sandbags—a stunningly brutal, but highly effective tactic. Hitler told us what he was planning in "Mein Kampf" and was ignored at the cost of rivers of blood, but we cannot afford to discount Saddam's announcement—nor should we. Sept. 11 should have already taught us that innocents are of no concern to terrorists or their supporters.

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Thanks anyway, friend

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Before arriving in South Carolina, Shana told Laura and me something I think we already understood intellectually: "You might want to avoid the subject of politics for the duration of your stay."

I never had to trot it out, but I had my response ready should anyone ask me my opinion of the war: "I just hope it's over quickly."

Like I say, I never had to use my response, but Shana herself certainly had a brush with the need. While we were at the steeplechase Saturday, she wandered over to where I was attepting not to eat very much of the food piled on a friend's tailgate.

"See that fellow over there in the green Polo shirt?" she asked.

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William Shunn