Saturday, December 18, 2010

Somebody's top 100 SF list

From here; I made some effort to clean up the html. Somebody explain what Ayn Rand is doing here.

  • 100. The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. LeGuin

  • 99. Sorcerer's Son by Phyllis Eisenstein

  • 98. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

  • 97. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

  • 96. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

  • 95. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

  • 94. The Company by K.J. Parker

  • 93. An Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe

  • 92. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

  • 91. Dhalgren by Samuel Delany

  • 90. Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch

  • 89. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

  • 88. Song of Kali by Dan Simmons

  • 87. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

  • 86. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller

  • 85. Sphere by Michael Crichton

  • 84. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

  • 83. The Alteration by Kingsley Amis

  • 82. The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

  • 81. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

  • 80. Watership Down by Richard Adams

  • 79. Griffin's Egg by Michael Swanwick

  • 78. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

  • 77. Free Live Free by Gene Wolfe

  • 76. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

  • 75. Ringworld by Larry Niven

  • 74. Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling

  • 73. Old Man's War by John Scalzi

  • 72. Maske: Thaery by Jack Vance

  • 71. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

  • 70. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

  • 69. Flow My Tears The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick

  • 68. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov

  • 67. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

  • 66. The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

  • 65. A Song for Lya by George R.R. Martin

  • 64. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

  • 63. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

  • 62. Wildlife by James Patrick Kelly

  • 61. The Book of Knights by Yves Maynard

  • 60. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

  • 59. Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman

  • 58. Nightwings by Robert Silverberg

  • 57. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • 56. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

  • 55. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

  • 54. The Book of the Short Sun by Gene Wolfe

  • 53. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

  • 52. Foundation by Isaac Asimov

  • 51. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

  • 50. The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe

  • 49. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

  • 48. The Demon Princes by Jack Vance

  • 47. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

  • 46. The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson

  • 45. Alastor by Jack Vance

  • 44. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

  • 43. Flatland by Edwin Abbott

  • 42. Farmer in the Sky by Robert Heinlein

  • 41. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

  • 40. Animal Farm by George Orwell

  • 39. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

  • 38. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

  • 37. Lyonesse by Jack Vance

  • 36. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

  • 35. True Names by Vernor Vinge

  • 34. Ubik by Philip K. Dick

  • 33. The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons

  • 32. Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein

  • 31. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

  • 30. A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge

  • 29. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

  • 28. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon

  • 27. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

  • 26. 1984 by George Orwell

  • 25. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

  • 24. The Cadwal Chronicles by Jack Vance

  • 23. Lost Horizon by James Hilton

  • 22. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

  • 21. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

  • 20. The Fifth Head of Cerebus by Gene Wolfe

  • 19. A Song of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin

  • 18. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

  • 17. The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay

  • 16. The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

  • 15. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

  • 14. All My Sins Remembered by Joe Haldeman

  • 13. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • 12. Planet of Adventure by Jack Vance

  • 11. Dune by Frank Herbert

  • 10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

  • 9. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

  • 8. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

  • 7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

  • 6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

  • 5. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

  • 4. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin

  • 3. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

  • 2. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

  • 1. The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bad guys

When did "bad guys" become a term of art in the US military? Apparently it means somebody you are allowed to kill.

It's infantilizing and dehumanizing and grotesquely avoidant. The decline of the language isn't usually an ethical issue but this time it is.

Friday, October 08, 2010

For the Love of All That's Holy

This is so wrong.

Mexican Poutine Contest!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Too Horriffic

Friday, August 13, 2010

Boomers and Our Kids

To complicate the emergent emergency, we do not find ourselves in an era of international trust and good feeling, though after the defeat of the Soviets one might have expected we would. I attribute this largely to a tragic failure of leadership by my own (boomer) generation in the western countries. We made great breakthroughs in music, cinema and technology, we finally brewed some decent coffee and beer in America, we trashed the landscape and we kept on making enemies and starting wars. Not what I, for one, was hoping for.

And my suspicion is that we made a successor generation that, while to our credit is kind and creative and empathetic, seems to me passive and intellectually lazy and defeatist.

If there is hope, I do not think it will come from the west. But the rest of the world lacks our creativity. So it doesn't look pretty.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Haircut Advice

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vache qui Rit Queso Fresco y Chipotle - Reduced Fat

You think I am making this up but I am not.

I have it on Jewish rye just to round out the multicultural experience. It's better than you'd expect but I imagine it is only available in the southwest. I don't think most people elsewhere have any idea of what "queso fresco & chipotle" might taste like, which by the way, this doesn't really very much.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Just askin'

Was there actually much more to Ludwig von Bertallanfy than a shabby math-less imitation of Norebrt Wiener, likely with a more cultivated accent? And was Ludwig von Drake, in turn, based on von Bertallanfy?

If so, my fascination with Norbert Wiener goes back even longer than I had thought.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


In case you missed it, Joe Romm has a great David Horsey cartoon up considering how things might look in the case of an alternative cause for global warming.

In honor of that, here's a snippet from Throb's that I'm fond of:

Friday, July 16, 2010

You Say You Got a Real Solution

h/t Dr. Matthew Knepley

Enclave within Enclave within Enclave

1/51 is bit of India entirely within a bit of Bangladesh that is entirely within a bit of India that is entirely within Bangladesh. (Scale is km)

Here's a photo of the most recursive boundary on earth:

Here is another enclave within an enclave, but this one not within yet another enclave; there are several of those in the region.

The whole border in that neighborhood is almost fractal, as if some of those jute plants were divided into Muslim leaves and Hindu leaves.

I suppose it's less brutal than the simpler partition that occurred elsewhere. It appears that the enclaves and sub-enclaves are having trouble getting services. Imagine that. Also, in some places the borders are actually enforced with fences and gates and all, while in others they are ignored.

The whole story is here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Baby Pop

Les quelques sous que tu vas gagner
Faudra pour ça durement travailler
Te lever aux aurores
Automne comme été
Tu auras beau économiser
Tu ne pourras rien mettre de côté
Et là-dessus encore
Heureuse si tu peux
Aller danser

Chante, danse Baby pop
Comme si demain Baby pop
Ne devais jamais Baby pop
Jamais revenir
Chante, danse Baby pop
Comme si demain Baby pop
Au petit matin Baby pop
Tu devais mourir

Sur l'amour tu te fais des idées
Un jour ou l'autre c'est obligé
Tu seras une pauvre gosse
Seule et abandonnée
Tu finiras par te marier
Peut-être même contre ton gré
À la nuit de tes noces
Il sera trop tard pour
Le regretter

Chante, danse Baby pop
Comme si demain Baby pop
Ne devais jamais Baby pop
Jamais revenir
Chante, danse Baby pop
Comme si demain Baby pop
Au petit matin Baby pop
Tu devais mourir

Tu ne peux ignorer les dangers
Que représentent les libertés
Les menaces de guerre
Semblent se préciser
À cet instant Baby tu le sais
Où tous les soleils vont se lever
Quelque part sur la terre
Les balles sifflent
Le sang est versé

Chante, danse Baby pop
Comme si demain Baby pop
Ne devais jamais Baby pop
Jamais revenir
Chante, danse Baby pop
Comme si demain Baby pop
Au petit matin Baby pop
Tu devais mourir

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Homage a "Neverending Audit"

"The sound of a resounding tu quoque with the morning coffee is always priceless."

Willard, waking up entertained.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The two best paragraphs I have ever read

It will be a great day in the history of science if we sometime discover a damp shadow elsewhere in the universe where a fungus has sprouted. The mere fossil trace of life in its simplest form would be the crowning achievement of generations of brilliant and diligent labour. And here we are, a gaudy efflorescence of consciousness, staggeringly improbable in light of everything we know about the reality that contains us. There are physicists and philosophers who would correct me. They would say, if there are an infinite number of universes, as in theory there could be, then creatures like us would be very likely to emerge at some time in one of them. But to say this is only to state the fact of our improbability in other terms.

Then there is the odd privilege of existence as a coherent self, the ability to speak the word "I" and to mean by it a richly individual history of experience, perception and thought. For the religious, the sense of the soul may have as a final redoubt, not as argument but as experience, that haunting I who wakes us in the night wondering where time has gone, the I we waken to, sharply aware that we have been unfaithful to ourselves, that a life lived otherwise would have acknowledged a yearning more our own than any of the daylit motives whose behests we answer to so diligently. Our religious traditions give us as the name of God two deeply mysterious words, one deeply mysterious utterance: I AM. Putting to one side the question of their meaning as the name and character by which the God of Moses would be known, these are words any human being can say about herself, and does say, though always with a modifier of some kind. I am hungry, I am comfortable, I am a singer, I am a cook. The abrupt descent into particularity in every statement of this kind – Being itself made an auxiliary to some momentary accident of being – may only startle in the dark of night, when the intuition comes that there is no proportion between the great given of existence and the narrow vessel of circumstance into which it is inevitably forced. "I am Ozymandias, king of kings. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair."

- Marilynne Robinson
Wow. Who is this chick, anyway? Anyway, yeah.

Friday, May 21, 2010

In honour of PO Day

I am sorry I did not find out until today about Piss Everybody Off Day, so I am a bit late to the party. Also I have no clever picture of Mohammed to offer.

Instead I will tell you, truthfully, that I have a five foot long plush python named Jesus.

This is in honour of that Englishwoman teaching school in Libya Sudan who asked her kids what to call their mascot stuffed bear. Of course, they had little choice but to call it Mohammed, upon which the poor woman was jailed for sacrilege. Since I had just acquired my plush python, I decided to call it Jesus in her honour. (Being a Texan python named Jesus, of course it is pronounced Hey-ZOOSS.)

Did I miss anybody? Vegans? Ruby programmers? OK, here goes.

Little Girl: I'd like to buy a bunny rabbit, please, mister.
Rabbit Breeder: That's wonderful! Do you know what color bunny you'd like?
Little Girl: Oh, it doesn't matter. I don't think my pet python will care.

(As long as she names the bunny Ruby, I don't mind.)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Cumberland Blues

I can't stay much longer, Melinda
The sun is getting high
I can't help you with your troubles
If you won't help with mine

I gotta get down
I gotta get down
Got to get down to the mine

You keep me up just one more night
I can't sleep here no more
Little Ben clock says quarter to eight
You kept me up till four

I gotta get down
I gotta get down
Or I can't work there no more

Lotta poor man make a five dollar bill
Keep him happy all the time
Some other fellow making nothing at all
And you can hear him cryin...

"Can I go buddy
Can I go down
Take your shift at the mine?"

Got to get down to the Cumberland mine
That's where I mainly spend my time
Make good money/five dollars a day
Made any more I might move away -

Lotta poor man got the Cumberland Blues
He can't win for losin
Lotta poor man got to walk the line
Just to pay his union dues

I don't know now
I just don't know
If I'm goin back again
I don't know now
I just don't know
If I'm goin back again

- R H

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Verb swifties


"It's worth more than that, but I guess I'll take it," Tom assented.

"I think we've crossed into Arkansas," Tom stated.

"I really couldn't stand that lousy newspaper job anymore," Tom expressed.

"I guess I couldn't eat just one after all," Tom relayed.

"It's corked," Tom whined.

"Actually, my membership has been reinstated," Tom rejoined.

"These are the first words I've spoken in ten years," friar Tom allowed.

"I'll have the saltimbocca plate yet again," Tom revealed.

"She must be warm and cozy in that coat," Tom inferred.

"The cruise ship has returned," Tom reported.

"Now I can see you much better," Tom delighted.

"It was an eventful day, when they had to reattach my arm," Tom remembered.

"And two more makes six," Tom added.

"OK, maybe I don't know how to do all those things," tom recanted.

"Yes, I am employed in the private sector," Tom affirmed.

"Can I have one of those candies with the chewy caramel center?" Tom entreated.

"Yes, there is a corporate logo on my glove," Tom admitted.

"Why don't people see there are better ways to get around besides by car!" Tom railed.

"There's no need to call an electrician," Tom refused.

"I'm sure this ledge can hold my weight," Tom erred.

"Show me your license and registration, sir," Tom demanded.

"Watch out for that tree!" Tom barked.

"Hang on, hang on, I still need to get my clothes on," Tom panted.

"I see the whites of their eyes now!" Tom incited.

"I'm getting up now," Tom lied.

"I still think my cake is much better," Tom retorted.

"My breath is much fresher now," Tom asserted.

"Well, I guess you paid me back last time," Tom relented.

"I'd like to take some photos of you," Tom proposed.

"This kind of mousetrap is inhumane," Tom debated.

"I'm ready for the figure skating competition," Tom informed.

"I'm so pleased with this award for best-dressed woman at the dance," Sally addressed.

"This bra really improves my figure," Sally pointed out.

"This diet works great," Sally expounded. "It didn't work so well for me," Tom announced.

"We'll teach that Saddam a thing or two!" George inveighed.

"Ve're goink to block dat bulldozer until dey come to dere senses!" Moish inveighed.