Inhuman Swill : Page 78
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Steinway Street Station

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A sign at my local subway stop warns me that the station is managed by one Crythen Langhorne.

Every time I see this sign, I feel as if I have somehow wandered into New Crobuzon. And I check the track bed for nasties, just in case.

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Raise your hand if you're planning to attend Nebula Awards Weekend in New York next month.

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Habitable planet for man?

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The headline of this Malaysian Sun story is rather optimistic, but the discovery of the most Earthlike extrasolar planet yet is definitely exciting.

A nice perspective on extrasolar planets is offered in this 2004 New York Times essay by Dennis Overbye, written on the occasion of the discovery of what was then the smallest yet detected.

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Countdown to fascism

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In the Guardian, Naomi Wolf shows us the road to a "Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps":

  1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
  2. Create a gulag
  3. Develop a thug caste
  4. Set up an internal surveillance system
  5. Harass citizens' groups
  6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
  7. Target key individuals
  8. Control the press
  9. Equate dissent with treason
  10. Suspend the rule of law
You can see that, as concerned as I am about the slippery slope we're on in America, I still couldn't resist the temptation to edit item #9 for parallel construction.

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Astoria Sidewalk
Every Sunday morning, Laura and I walk Ella through our neighborhood to Astoria Park for a pre-9:00 am romp with her friends. It takes about half an hour to get there. Last Sunday, Laura brought the camera along and took pictures.

Astoria has the largest population of Greeks outside of Greece, or so I am told. It's the kind of neighborhood with a Dunkin' Donuts on one block and a supper club called ΠANΘEON on the next. Astoria's sister city is Athens, which donated a couple of statues to a little park on 30th Avenue called Athens Square.

We don't always walk through Athens Square on the way to Astoria Park, but when we do Ella usually barks at the Socrates statue. (Had she lived in ancient Athens, she'd have been one of the citizens calling for the death of Socrates.) Sunday, though, she couldn't be bothered.

From Athens Square, it's another twenty minutes or so to Astoria Park. There's a children's playground in the park that overlooks the once-dangerous East River channel known as Hell Gate. Only in a Greek neighborhood would the playground be named after Charybdis, the ravenous sea monster of Greek mythology responsible for whirlpools.

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In the years since the Mormon material came down from my site, my ratio of clueless-to-clued-in email has dropped considerably. In fact, back in the old, old days, I had a feature called "Postmarked: Clueless" at the site that was devoted specifically to dissecting the most clueless of those emails. My favorite of all those emails was the first one I ever posted, from back in 1996. On a page linking to other ex-Mormons, I had written a little squib about the porn star Brandy Alexandre in which I praised her site for its "wit and intelligence," and for its "dearth of dirty pictures."

Ms. Alexandre herself sent me email to complain about what I had said about her:

Please do not advertise that my web site has "a dirth of dirty pictures". It does not and I'm proud of the fact that it gets so many hits each month without them.
What are you gonna do?

Sometimes I miss honest, old-fashioned cluelessness like that. Fortunately, this morning's mailbag brought me this gem, which may not be quite as amusing but does indicate a serious misreading of what my manuscript format page is all about:

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Great Googly moogly

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Today's Google logo for Earth Day is pretty poignant.

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ShunnCast #44

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Epidode #44 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill reads the second of three parts of his Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated novella "Inclination."

See also [info]shunncast.

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The Week in green

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Our favorite paper news digest, The Week, has published this week's issue on the web, for free, without a paper version:

For one week only, The Week has published a full issue exclusively online, bringing a bonus issue to you at reduced impact to the environment.
Not a bad advertising technique, either. And when more people subscribe because of this, they can use even more paper!

(But the really bad part is, this issue is not so well suited for bathroom reading.)

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In answer to a question about how one ever sheds the "ex-Mormon" label, or if it's even possible, I posted the following, in part, over at the discussion boards, and thought it bore repeating:

As for shedding that ex-Mormon identity ... I try to, in some ways, but it's hard. I don't want to define myself in negative terms, in terms of what I'm not, but rather in terms of what I am: liberal, atheist, SF writer, husband, scotch connoisseur, what have you. But my Mo past is still a part of me, and always will be. I don't get as angry about the church as I used to, and consequently I feel like it has less power over me, which is a good thing. When I talk or write about the church now, I can take a more analytical view, rather than just unloading with both barrels of my righteous rage. Man, it's exhausting to be so angry all the time, and I find so much more balance now. I can write about the church now with both fun and serious intent, like in my story "Not of This Fold," but feel like I'm using that story to say something about the way humans are in general, rather than having it be specifically the way the Mormon Church screws people up and how pissed off that makes me. If that makes any sense.

So while I *am* an ex-Mormon, that's no longer how I define myself. Or at the very least, it's far from the only or most important ways I define myself.

Some of you will recall the moaning I've done here over the years about the latest flame from some rabid TBM, but since taking down the most incendiary of my Mormonism pages that really doesn't happen any more. Which is fine with me.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

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William Shunn