November 28, 2003
Whose Journalists are Nastier: Britain or the USA?
But honestly, writes Kevin, what were they thinking? As the cover of Counterpunch or some Bay Area alt weekly, sure. But on the front page of an allegedly serious broadsheet?
You ain't seen nothin' yet. Newsday, Long Island's daily tabloid, puts the Independent to shame for partisan headlining:
("AWOL" is the sobriquet that Skippy the Bush Kangaroo is promoting for our commander-in-thief, as a reminder of Bush's desertion from his National Guard unit.)
Who would have thunk that a sober paper like Newsday would out-nasty a feisty British political paper?
(Thanks to Skippy for the Newsday headline)
November 27, 2003
They Still Haven't Got It Right
Calpundit quotes a story in the Los Angeles Daily News about the Affirmative Action Office of the County of Los Angeles requesting that computer and video equipment be relabeled from "Master/Slave" to "Primary/Secondary". Alas, this doesn't put a stop to the use of offensive language, but merely shifts the offensive burden from one minority group to another.
Dennis A. Tafoya
Affirmative Action Office
County of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, Calif.
Dear Mr. Tafoya:
As a practitioner of polyamory, I find the usage your office recommends for Los Angeles County facilities of the expressions "primary" and "secondary" (e.g. for IDE disk drives in desktop computer systems) to be demeaning and disrespectful to my lifechoices and relationships.
It's hard enough to be polyamorous in a predominantly monogamous workplace, and especially so if one is "out" to one's co-workers and management. This unfortunate terminology merely provides an opportunity for unwelcome jokes and other forms of harrassment which in fact constitute sexual harrassment for polyamorous employees of Los Angeles County by the less tolerant among their peers.
Since you have already taken the lead in showing sensitivity to issues of this sort, I am confident that you will immediately take action to put a stop to this practice. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Alan L. Bostick
Having Come Unstuck in Time While Singing Gospel Karaoke, I Clean Up After Piglets and Battle Nazis
Not much remembered from this dream, except singing: I'm singing with some other people in a gospel choir. I take a solo, and feel amateurish as I sing the notes around the notes of my song. The other people seem to think I'm doing okay, though. Perhaps it's gospel karaoke, and it's the trying that counts.
Debbie and I are packing to get ready to go to Seattle. [In waking life, we really were going today.] We're discussing the pros and cons of where to stay. At David and Cathy's? With friends? I suggest to Deb that we rent a motel room. The estate (i.e. Isabel's) will pay for it. I turn to the real estate agent who is advising us, to see if the idea will work. I start to explain it; the realtor is distracted by someone else, and shouts a bit of conversation across the room. I start again; the realtor wanders away. I follow him, and tell him that I really want him to pay attention. Once again I explain my idea about the motel room. At that moment, the television over the bar starts showing an episode of The Simpsons, and the realtor is once again distracted.
(1) Walking through a parking garage or something that gets lots of traffic coming through. There are crosswalks across the broad roadways. I have to wait for traffic lights to change before I cross.
(2) There's a parade, and it features farm produce and livestock. Here's a float with lots and lots of live, young pigs. Although they are scarcely more than piglets, they are already quite fat. I follow the float along. I think about taking one of the pigs away for myself. That would be stealing; but it would be very easy.
One of the smaller piglets is sealed into a fine plastic mesh bag, like something in which onions or potatoes would be sold. I pick up the piglet in its bag, and play with it some; it squeals and squirms. I could very easily take it away.... But I decide against it. I place the piglet in its bag back in its place in the display among the other pigs. As I'm doing so, the piglet coughs and vomits. At first I think that none of the vomit splashed me; but I get a cloth to wipe it up from the display; and as I as I am wiping it up I notice a few drops on my sleeve and a large splash of pig vomit on my trouser leg. I wipe these up as well, but there remains a dark, wet spot on my trousers.
(3) I travel some distance to find a comics store to buy a present for my friend Kimberly. At the end of a cul-de-sac, far from the center of town, I find "Spiderman Comics", lit up in lurid blue and red neon lights.
I go inside and begin to look at a graphic novel about a band comprised of young British rock musicians who think that the band Yes is the be-all and end-all of music. An opening splash page of the book shows the four of them, at four different concerts by Yes, being blown away by something about the music: one goes for Rick Wakeman's keyboard playing; another for Steve Howe's guitar work; and so on.
I hear Yes's music in my own mind, and my dream segues from me reading the graphic novel to its story line, and I'm fleeing the scene of some minor crime in an urban setting.
One of my companions is crippled, having difficulty walking. In a sequence I do not now remember, he shows himself to be quite untrustworthy. I talk about this to a friend on the telephone. The friend tells me, "You trusted him? I could have warned you! Elise won't have anything to do with him because of the things he did when she first met him."
Still liking my untrustworthy, crippled friend, I want to talk to Elise about it. I go looking in a mall for her storefront where she sells her jewelry.
My father is dormant (but not dead), lying inside something that partakes of both a sarcophagus and a suit of armor. Suspended on a light chain around his neck, like a pendant, is a Ring of Power. When I know how to wield it myself, I will be a force to be reckoned with among my foes.
Numbering among those foes is a group of neo-Nazi skinheads, organized into a secret society. They know that my father and I possess the secret of wielding great power, but they have no clue about the details. In particular, they wouldn't recognize the ring as being its source unless someone told them.
Their plan is to kidnap my father and have him reveal the secret. (He is catatonic, and cannot reveal it, but they do not know this yet.)
Our own plans are to take part in a parade, to ride on a float whose passengers are clowns. I arrive with my inert father to the parade via balloon, and we descend to the float where we are to ride. My father is in his armor, and I am wearing a clown suit, with greasepaint and fright wig.
As the balloon descends, I watch as the Nazis, also disguised as clowns, climb onto the float and throw the legitimate passengers over the side into the crowd. I realize what is going on just as the balloon lands on the float. There is no time to rescue the Ring; and I know that if I am captured along with my father, the Nazis will be able to learn from me the secret of the Ring. I must escape, leaving my father and the Ring in the Nazi's hands. In the melee that ensues when the balloon touches down, I leap over the side and escape into the crowd.
The Nazis have my comatose father and the Ring, but they do not know the Ring for what it is. What they do have is the knowledge of the Ring's power: should they find out that the Ring is the thing they seek, they will be able to wield it. I know the Ring for what it is, but I do not know how to use it. Now I must rescue my father and recover the Ring. My best shot at doing this is to pose as a Nazi sympathizer and try to infiltrate the group. By doing so, I may be able to learn the secret of the Ring and be able to use it myself.
In the background is a doubt. Am I just posing as a Nazi, or am I joining them in earnest? Isn't there a risk that they will learn my half of the Ring's secret, and they will then use it for their evil purposes? And by "infiltrating" am I not proving that I am myself willing to further their evil purposes in pursuit of the Ring's power for myself?
There is a hotel in a bad part of town which is a front for the Nazi's organization. The basement of the hotel connects with the catacombs beneath the city, where the Nazis meet and conduct their nefarious schemes.
My friend Avedon and I go to check into a room in this hotel. While I am filling out forms at the front desk (and the front desk clerk is covertly checking me out for Nazi sympathies, and I am equally covertly indicating that I have them), a Nazi stormtrooper disguised as a bellhop takes Avedon back to our room. After a while she returns to the lobby, and we talk once I'm finished at the front desk. The stormtrooper attempted to molest her once they were alone in the hotel room. He didn't anticipate that Avedon was skilled in martial arts, however, and she quickly dispatched him. This poses a dilemma: will the stormtrooper tell what happened (this would jeopardize our mission) or will he be too ashamed to admit to other Nazis that a woman got the best of him?
We agree that Avedon should remain in the room to face any consequences on her own, and I should proceed with my mission. I descend into the basement and make my way into the catacombs, looking for the meeting that the desk clerk had hinted I should join.
While wandering in the catacombs the dream segues back to the scene at the parade. The capture of the float recapitulates one of the clowns ejected from the float falls under its wheels and is killed. Do I want to even pretend that I am on the Nazis' side?
In a cardroom or casino, I'm eager to get a high-stakes game going. The management calls down a game, and I sit down with one opponent. We agree to start playing in hopes that more players will show up and the game gets going well.
It's a stud game (high-low split stud, probably). In the very first hand I'm dealt, split fours with a six kicker. I come out raising, and my opponent calls me down. I bet every round and wind up taking a substantial pot with fours full of sixes. My opponent is suddenly much less interested in playing head-up with me, and leaves the game. The game has broken after just one hand. I'm disappointed, although the stakes were high enough that winning that one hand has given my bankroll a shot in the arm.
I talk some to the floorman about my skills at high-low split stud: that I'm pretty good but not great; that I'm good enough to have beat the must-move tables at that 50-100 game I played at this year's WSOP, how I really am somewhat predictable and by-the-book.
I change the chips I won into cash, and count my stake. It turns out that some of my $100 bills are improperly printed, with one side being faded. I wonder if the cage will exchange these for better looking bills before I leave.
I've gotten unstuck in time. I have lost track of where and when I am. I have lived, or will live, for a long, long time; traveling, or will travel, to planets of other stars; helping to establish colonies there. The memory of my whole long life, from its beginning to its end, is with me, like Billy Pilgrim in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, and at any given moment I have difficulty knowing where and when it is along my worldline. The burden of my memory weighs heavily on me.
I find myself in a time that [in the waking world as I write this] is very close to now; but I am unsure of precisely when. Accompanying me is David Bratman's younger brother Kevin. He also has traveled, or will travel, to the stars; he also is unstuck in time. We talk about the many times and places where the skeins of our lives intersect, and share some of what happens to each of us between them. It seems that the span of my life is rather longer and larger than Kevin's.
At a table whose top surface is a map of Iraq and surrounding countries, a man is sitting. He is evidently explaining and justifying United States' actions and positions in the region. My doubt of when I am poses a difficulty for me: I don't want to reveal my status as a time-tripper or my knowledge of the future; but talking with him may inadvertently do so. I settle on asking him about recent developments, letting him talk about facts. A key question in my mind is whether the assassination of an important leader has taken place yet or not. From his answers to my questions, it becomes clear that it has not yet happened. And now I have a much better handle on when I am.
At a party, in a living-room filled with people, I can contain myself no longer; the burden of future memory becomes too much for me. "I am a traveler between the stars!" I say. "I am three hundred years old. Kevin here is seventy-nine. He evidently spent much more of his travels much closer to lightspeed than I." (These ages are our ages at our deaths, not at the moment, but the memories of our whole lives make us feel these ages all the time.) In an impassioned monologue, I tell it all: my life on Earth, my travel to the stars, my tribulations in various colonies, my death alone, many light-years away, thousands of years of Earth-time in the future.
Later, still time-tripping, I find myself in the balcony of a theater where students are about to mount a production of one of Shakespeare's plays, a comedy. The balcony is crowded, but, looking over the edge I observe that the main floor is almost empty. I contemplate whether it is reasonable to move downstairs to get a better seat before the performance begins.
November 25, 2003
"...The U.S. Federal Budget Is Out of Control."
This is what happens when you let Republicans govern without adult supervision:
Spending Discipline Proves Unfashionable This YearBy DAVID E. ROSENBAUM
WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 The Medicare bill about to clear Congress is the latest example of how budget discipline is being given short shrift at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, critics here and on Wall Street say.
By official calculations, the tax cuts and increases in benefits enacted this year alone will increase the national debt by more than $750 billion over the next decade, and the actual amount could be much larger.
"In fiscal terms, there is no doubt in my mind that this has been the most irresponsible year ever," said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan watchdog organization that favors restraining the budget deficit.
Ed McKelvey, an economist at Goldman Sachs, declared in the investment firm's newsletter last week that "the U.S. federal budget is out of control." ...
(via SF Gate)
November 23, 2003
Isabell S. Notkin 1917-2003
Isabell Notkin, Debbie's mother, died in her sleep this morning at approximately 6:15 AM, at University of Washington Medical Center, in the company of her family.
Debbie got a call from her brother, David, last Tuesday evening, saying that Isabell was not feeling well and had been checked into the hospital. On Wednesday David suggested that Debbie come up over the weekend, and by Thursday he was asking her to fly up the next day. On Friday, Debbie and I flew together to Seattle. We've been here since, helping David, his wife Cathy Tuttle and their children Emma and Akiva deal with Isabell's final crisis and its aftermath.
Her funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon at Bikur Cholim Cemetary, in Seattle. Those who knew Isabell may wish to make a donation in her memory to the Fremont Public Association, a community service group on whose board of directors Isabell served.
As Debbie put it, with Isabell's passing, the world is now a less generous place. But her generosity lives on in the hearts of everyone she had reached in her life, to say nothing of her children and grandchildren, who continue to embody the values and joy in life that they learned and inherited from Isabell.
November 19, 2003
Bust Steve Landrum? In Your Dreams ... !
[Debbie and I had Sabyl Cohen and Steve Landrum over for dinner last night, which probably explains why he turned up in my dreams.]
I'm playing in a poker tournament, a seven-card stud tournament. It's been a while since I've played a hand, and my stack is dwindling from the drain of the increasing antes and bring-ins.
I am the bring-in with the diamond deuce showing and an unsuited ace and trey as my hole cards. Across the table, Steve Landrum, with another deuce as his doorcard, completes the bet. I decide my ace makes this a worthwhile hand to play, and call.
We both get deuces on fourth street. Steve is first to act, and he bets. I call all-in. We turn our cards face up: Steve has ace-deuce-four-five, and I've got ace-deuce-three-five. [In case you're wondering what happened to the pairs of deuces, things like this happen all the time in dream poker.]
We're both all-in, there's no more action. The dealer deals the cards. I pair up on fifth street; Steve pairs his ace on sixth, but I make two pair. On seventh street, Steve catches the last ace to make trip aces. Luckily for me, I catch a four to river a straight. I have busted Steve out of the tournament, pretty much by getting lucky. Steve shakes my hand.
The tournament director hands me a wad of money: apparently there was some kind of bounty on Steve. I riffle it, and put it in my pocket. Then I think: wait a minute: he had three aces, and we both had pairs of deuces on fourth street. If Steve had three aces, then he made a full house, and my wheel was no good. But I'm still in the tournament and Steve's out. [Things like this happen all the time in dream poker.]
November 18, 2003
When the Web Was a Scientifictional Dream
Ralph 4CR looked around in astonishment. "You mean... there are invisible beams all around us, carrying information to all parts of the globe, even as we speak?"
The Master of Communications turned towards him solemnly. "Yes," he asseverated, "and the information is not carried whole, but is broken up into a myriad of infinitesimal packets, to be reassembled without fail when they reach their destination."
"You astonish me," breathed Ralph. "And this information is accessible to all?"
"It is," nodded the Master. "The issues of the day are debated by all citizens, no matter where they may be located, and communication no longer waits on tides or weather."
"And what are the great issues so decided?"
The Master cast a glance at the poll on his screen: Which Jedi Knight Are You? He looked severe. "I fear our issues would mean nothing to you across the great gulf of time you have traversed. You should go now and refresh yourself. We will speak later. You have much to learn. Vanna, show our young guest to his room."
A lissome blonde appeared from behind a curtain and beckoned...
November 15, 2003
Pentagon's Terror Market on Track to Open
Remember the Policy Analysis Market the "financial market" in which investors could speculate on political developments, including assassinations and terrorism, in the Middle East?
Well, it's back again. Its Web site has a placeholder page that proclaims that "PAM wil open for trading in March 2004 free of government involvement."
I believe that this effort is doomed to failure. Separate and apart from any moral question, the Policy Analysis Market is a bad idea: it is unsustainable. My opinion of last July still stands:
The market will respond usefully to the activities of a knowledgeable few if and only if it is sufficiently liquid, that is, if there is sufficient interest in buying (or selling) contracts when someone suddenly wants to sell (or buy). Are the market-makers prepared to take the kind of short-term risks that are needed to provide that liquidity? How large a spread between bid and asking prices will be needed to tempt them into taking that risk? ...
In order to gather the information needed to consistently come out ahead in this market, a punter would need intelligence that was good and consistent enough to rival (if not outperform) the secret services and intelligence agencies active in the region. Everyone else is going to lose their shirts, on average, to the market makers' spreads.
(via Daily Kos)
November 14, 2003
Lucky Chances' Gold Rush is More Like a Casual Stroll
The news is full of stories about how poker tournaments are growing in popularity by leaps and bounds, fueled by television coverage like that of the World Poker Tour. (Thanks to Love and Casino War, here is yet another such article, appearing in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
But you wouldn't have known it last night at Lucky Chances Casino, in Colma, California. This week is the week of Lucky Chances' annual Gold Rush tournament series, and the place has about as much buzz as a hive of tortoises.
Last year's Gold Rush was a stop on the World Poker Tour, and the big boys came to town. Local fixture Rick Chin partnered with Tom McEvoy in the partners tournament, to onlookers' amazement. In last year's stud tournament Debbie played at the same table as Phil Hellmuth and Diego Cordovez. I went up against Men Nguyen in a no-limit hold'em game (we wound up splitting the pot in our big confrontation) and railbirded a final table with Dan Negreanu.
But Lucky Chances' star tournament director Matt Savage moved on to Bay 101 in San Jose. By some coincidence, Bay 101's Shooting Stars tournament next April is a WPT event, and Lucky Chances is no longer on the tour. (The World Poker Finals at Foxwoods, in Connecticut, is this weekend's WPT event.)
Debbie and I both played in last night's seven-card stud event. The club was filled with familiar local faces, including a contingent of regulars from the Oaks Club (the best stud players in the Bay Area, not that this is saying all that much). The event was about as heavily subscribed as when the Oaks' monthly Saturday tournament is seven-card stud, with pretty much the same players. And away from the tournament, the club had about as much energy as it usually does on a Thursday night. (The big excitement of the night was their getting a 40-80 hold'em game down.)
I busted out of the tournament shortly after the first break, and proceeded to win my buy-in back in the 20-40 hold'em game. Debbie busted out rather later than I did, and we decided to head for home. Before leaving, I bought Peggy Stein's entry into tonight's tournament, the Hold'em Shootout.
Casino San Pablo, having the installation of slot machines being iminent, has ended its excellent tournament series. Lucky Chances feels like it has lost momentum since losing Matt Savage. Bay 101 in San Jose is a long schlep from Oakland. Poker tournaments may be growing overall, but here in the Bay Area they seem to be shrinking. I'm disappointed.
November 13, 2003
O Brave New World
Just when I was beginning to suspect that my life is not in fact being scripted by Thomas Pynchon (or perhaps Douglas Adams) comes the news that a woman for whose affections I once made a serious play has been listed as one of Scotland's 50 most eligible women.
"One of Scotland's 50 most eligible women." Roll that phrase around in your mouth for its savor.
As Paul Krassner (among many others) has observed: It's tough to be a satirist, when real life is so delightfully surreal.
(Hey, Lillian! La Forκt des Singes, Saturday at noon! Will you be there?)
Evicted From the House of Dreams
Last night's dream:
The household in which I'm living with Patti Beadles, Steve Landrum, J.P. Massar, and others is breaking up amicably. We've got to get all our stuff out by the deadline.
Packing is a tedious chore. I'm putting clothes into boxes and suitcases. I'm hungry, and it's time for a break. I go out to a restaurant with Patti. She gets served quickly, but it takes a long time for my meal to come. I wonder about the passage of time; there's too much more packing and cleaning to do. Eventually my order arrives: macaroni and cheese. The cheese is flavorless, and I don't eat much, just push my food around on my plate for a while.
It's coming down to the wire: Steve tells me we have to be completely packed and out of there by midnight. My clothes are all packed ... but I suddenly see that my desk (with drawers full of papers and kipple) is untouched. Oh, no! There's no time to pack it properly. I want neither to dump the drawer contents unsorted into boxes, nor to move the desk with the drawers full. And there's no time for proper sorting. To make things worse, I have the same trouble with my filing cabinet, and my chest of drawers....
I despair of getting it done in time.
November 12, 2003
Blizzard Chessby Blarney
We'd like to thank all our fans for making Chess the success it is - can't do it without you, guys! Anyway, we're having a few game balance issues, so we're issuing another patch to Chess. Please see details inside.
Most high-level Chess players online recently are using the "center pawn rush" every single game! In order to restore game balance, we're revoking the ability of King Pawns and Queen Pawns to move 2 squares on the first move - from now on, they will only move 1 square per move. All other pawns can move 2 squares as before, which should hopefully end the "center pawn rush" from now on.
The Rook units are severly underused, only coming into the game late or, in some games, never. In order to rectify this, we have given the Rooks a special ability. From now on, given that a Rook and the corresponding Rook Pawn have not yet been moved, a player may simultaneously play P-R4 and R-R3. This should get the Rooks into play and restore balance to the Chess units.
Don't Look Inside Jeff Bezos
From Publishers Weekly's "PW Daily for Booksellers (November 12, 2003)"
One curious feature of Amazon's new Look Inside the Book program is the inability to look inside any biographies or books written by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com.
If you don't believe us, you can look it up... or not, in this case.
(via Debbie Notkin)
Evil Overlord Defeated (Film at 11)
November 11, 2003
Especially for Mason Kong
Britney's Guide to Semiconductor Physics: They aren't silicone; they're gallium arsenide.
(via Making Light)
The Sleep of Reason
(1) I have a job, doing administrative and clerical support for a project where I once had been a researcher. I'm taking care of something in the machine room. I'm naked. It's early in the morning, and only one of the researchers is here. He doesn't seem to notice that I'm naked.
I get an opportunity to go to my office and get dressed. I do so hastily, because I see through the window another of my coworkers coming to work. [The layout of my office happens to be the same as the layout of the room where I stayed in my grandfather's house, with the walkway to the front door going right past my window.]
Dressed and feeling civilized, I emerge and talk about the project with the new arrival. Suddenly I notice that, after I had showered earlier, I hadn't paid attention and shaved. I now have much less of a beard than I had previously. [Perhaps my dreaming mind won't let me off the hook, exchanging one sort of nakedness for another.]
2) I'm talking with porn star Jamie Gillis [whom I know very slightly in waking life, having played cards with him]. He tells me, mockingly, "Sure you could have my job, no problem! It's easy now. With Viagra you never have to worry about getting wood on the set." I can tell from his ironic tone that, even though Viagra has eased one anxiety of working in porn, Gillis still thinks it's a lot tougher than people might think.
(3) I'm sitting in my car. A young woman is sitting next to me. We are talking about religion and spirituality; at the same time, she is leaning close to me, with her arm around me. "I know what you mean," she tells me. "I've read some of the entries on your blog." She moves her hand to the top of my thigh as she talks. I wonder how far she is going to push boundaries. I feel that she's being hypocritical somehow, using a high-toned conversation to conceal her physical approach. But I know what she's doing, and I'm not stopping it.
Her hand brushes my cock as she talks. I lean into her some more and caress her shoulder with my fingertips. She takes the hint, and takes hold of my cock in her hand.
There is a chain of parties in a V-shaped line of banquet halls. Along one leg of the V are parties for a publishing company; the ones along the other line are being thrown by financiers who have connections to the Russian mafia.
There is some kind of misfeasance being done by some of the editors at the publishing company and it is my job to find out who they are and what precisely they are doing. There seems to be some kind of connection with the Russian mafia people in the other wing.
The people who hired me give me a briefing on one of the high-flying editors. He's young, he's hip, and he's making $143,000 per year. Nice work, if you can get it. As I'm going back to the party, the news breaks that the head Russian in the other wing has just been indicted on fraud and racketeering charges. It's only a matter of time before more indictments and arrests come along, and my high-flying editor is likely to be caught up in them.
I decide to check this out. I walk along the corridor on the floor just above the financiers' party floor, and listen to the sound below me. The party is going strong. Evidently the boss Russian hood hasn't told anyone of his difficulties yet, but I hear a note of desperation in his voice. I peer through a hole in the floor to the room below. Champagne corks are popping. One of them comes up through the hole in the floor and falls down again. Amazingly, it bounces on the floor below and comes up to the hole in my floor once more.
The scandal spreads into the publishing company. Another high-flyer, a woman, loses her high-paying job. She is said to be the lover of my high-flyer. Will he look after her? What will he do?
To guess what's going to happen, I do some research. I ask one of the record keepers how much each of them makes in a year, to try to figure out if my editor can support his lover in the style to which she has become accustomed. The records clerk can find information about her easily enough, but his salary information is obscured, hidden. Then I remember that I've been already been told. $143,000 per year is a lot of money -- but the woman has expensive tastes. And my editor lives large.
I tell the people I'm working with that I could probably maintain the woman in style for $143,000 per year, but I live modestly. My editor target, though, simply could not. Expect a break between the two of them soon.
"I could keep her" I repeat. I am talking to a slender woman with frizzy gray hair that hangs to the level of her shoulders. I think she's quite cute. "With $143,000 I'd keep you without a second's thought."
At this point I notice that I am wearing heavy white gloves on my hands.
(1) I and some others are getting around in a building that is half hotel and half hospital. We use the stairs to get between floors. While leaving the stairwell at one floor, I have to use a seat suspended from a cable, a kind of pendulum seat, hoisted by a small crane, to get from the stairs to the hallway. I have no control over the motion of the crane, and it moves me quite close to where a middle-aged black man is working with some hospital equipment. He is wearing scrubs. He is balding, has a moustache, and his face is deeply lined.
He complains when I swing near him, and then the pendulum swing moves me even nearer, so he has to duck. I respond that he is being rude, that an employee of the hospital should not act so unkindly to visitors. We get into an argument, and I threaten to report his rudeness to his managers.
As I leave in a huff, I think to myself that this is the second time in one day that I have gotten into a confrontation over rude behavior with a black man. Is it happenstance, or is it something about me and my racism?
(2) I'm working in an office as an administrative assistant or secretary. One of my charges is Terri Windling. I'm updating her calendar, and notice that she is scheduled to go to Tuscon for a week to present a seminar, and then spend the following weekend at the World Fantasy Convention. [In waking life, Terri actually lives in Tucson; and this year's WFC just ended a week before.]
A scandal has erupted among my graduating high school class. It seems that during our senior year [which in waking life I missed, having left early to go to college] one of the teachers did not properly file his grade reports. As a consequence, some of the students' diplomas are not valid, and they must return to school to clear up this difficulty.
Although only some of us are affected, all of us are there, talking about this. I try to get the attention of one of Lisa Solmssen, one of the affected students, so I can tell her that if the diploma situation doesn't get resolved she and the others would have grounds for legal action against the school. I can't get her attention, though she's always talking to someone else.
(Later) It's after lights-out, and I'm outside of the dormitory. I need to get back into my room and in bed before I'm caught. It hardly adds anything to my situation that I'm naked, too.
I sneak in through the door into the common-room. There is a person there: a cleaning woman. She sees me ... but she doesn't care.
"Hey, wait a minute," I think. "I'm a grown-up. I don't have to worry about curfews any more...!"
Costikyan on Chess
Greg Costikyan has posted to his blog an essay on the game of chess with an eye to its implications for game designers.
Digital game people vidiots, as I have uncharitably described them at times in the past often dismiss games like Chess as being irrelevant to their concerns. Actually, as I think I've shown, there's a lot to be learned from Chess that is directly relevant to digital games. In fact, precisely because it is so different from most digital games, it's a useful reference point when thinking about games, so much so that when someone starts generalizing about games, it's always worthwhile to ask yourself "Does this apply to Chess?" If not, perhaps this generalization is of dubious universality and perhaps there are many fruitful design paths that do not conform to that generalization.
If you care about games, read the whole thing.
November 06, 2003
Dreams: 10/29/2003 Through Last Night
(1) I'm viewing a display, like a museum display, of the evolution of typesetting. First is a large Linotype machine. Then an IBM Compositor, looking like an oversized Selectric. Next in line is a Macintosh. Last in the row is a tiny PowerBook.
(2) I go down into a New York City subway station to wait for a train. It's an older station, kind of grimy. I note that although it is underground, the place isn't claustrophobic, because of the spacious arched ceilings. The sound of an approaching train grows slowly, from a distant rumble to a loud roar. As the sound increases, I walk to the forward end of the station, where the walls of the platform are shrouded in wooden scaffolding some sort of construction work going on. A buzzer sounds, warning of the approaching train. It rushes through the station on the express track down the middle, without stopping. It's an M train.
Once the train has passed, I look down the tunnel after it. After it has gone, I see in the distance, dimly lit, two automobiles driving in the tunnel at a place where the trackway splits. One of the cars is a small car, like a Toyota sedan; the other is a police car.
(3) I'm eating gummy or jelly candies, round, about two inches across, a quarter inch thick. They come wrapped in cellophane. I take the wrapper off a red candy and bite into it. The candy has that "red" flavor.
I look up and see a fruit-bearing tree, an avocado tree. The fruits of the tree are not avocados, though, but artichokes.
I want to see a particular movie, and I wonder if there is time for me to get to the next showing. I get a copy of the East Bay Express to look up showtimes, but I discover that it is old. No, wait, it is a special edition printed for a film festival that takes place in June and in October, and it has both dates printed on the cover. It should be current. But when I open it up and look at the movie listings, they all seem to be from last June.
I'm in Rivendell, helping in the preparations for the Fellowship of the Ring to depart on its quest. I've been doing lots of research in a library, and I've accumulated lots of stacks of books, files, and miscellaneous papers. I'm putting them away now that I'm done with them. I stack file folders on file folders, books on books, and papers on papers, getting ready to put each stack away separately.
I have some meetings with Gandalf and Elrond in Elrond's office; these meetings are grim in mood, but nothing gets accomplished. Later we discover that the "Gandalf" who is camped out in Elrond's office is a fake! It's an automaton, one of the deceits of the Enemy. One grows stupid in its presence and is led astray by it's instructions, until eventually one becomes enslaved by Sauron. The fake Gandalf's body is transparent under its robes, with evil runes written on its skin. Discovered, it collapses and dies.
The real Gandalf says, "There is no time to lose. The Fellowship must depart tomorrow."
The Elves throw a big party the night before the Fellowship departs. There is music and dancing in a crowded hall it feels like a bar or nightclub to me. I join in the music making, playing a conga drum, working syncopations and surprises into the rhythm. The Elves (who are snobs about such things) are amazed at the quality of the contribution of a human.
As the party is breaking up, I encounter one of the Fellowship members. He asks me if I have decided to come along. I say, "Yes, I was always going to go." I explain that I had discussed it with Gandalf and Sam and Frodo, even if I hadn't mentioned it to the other members of the Fellowship. As I say this, I realize that I have been unfair, having been forthcoming only with the people who "counted". If our quest is to be successful, I need to open up to everyone equally.
I and a group of people travel into the mountains along a tiny suspended railroad. We are testing the rather old tracks and our cars, which are small and hold one or two persons each.
The suspended tracks wind higher into the wooded mountains. The trackway is rickety lightweight, made of aluminum and supports are missing here and there. More and more supports are missing the higher and further we go along the way.
We come to the end of the line, where the tracks bend upwards, vertically. The plan is to come to the very end, and I am to hold on to the tracks for a moment, then let go, and our train will run back down the track freely, without stopping, as if it were a rollercoaster.
I am afraid to do my part. The track is unsafe, improperly supported, and I'm afraid that as we rush downward it will give way and we will fall.
The next thing I know, the incident is over. I'm in a room, talking with my companions. All went well, despite my fears. I apologize to them for my having let my fear get in our way.
(1) A polygraph of some kind: a strip-chart recorder that is recording all sorts of biometric data. It's the old-fashioned kind with needles that leave inkmarks on the unrolling sheet of graph paper. Some of the channels have multiplexed data: here's one that has both a slow signal (chest expansion in breathing) and something else that is very fast.
(2) A landscape filled with rockets, rocket launchers, and gantries. Here is a large construction surrounded with scaffolding. It takes a while for me to notice that it, too, is a rocket gantry, and the rocket is being built up under the scaffolding.
I'm with a group of science fiction writers and editors. [They don't seem to be anyone I know in waking life.] We are talking and eating and drinking; it seems to be some kind of party or social function. One of them is a middle-aged man with unkempt curly brown hair shot with gray, and gray stubble growing on his chin. I join in the general laughter and merriment, but when I try to tell jokes or stories with the others, I find it difficult to get a word in edgewise. I feel like they don't take me seriously.
One of them does take me seriously a visiting journalist from Japan. He asks me at one point if he can interview me. I agree, but I wonder why.
Later, the party seems to be continuing in some kind of moving vehicle, the interior of which is carpeted and furnished with a bar and with tables and chairs. We are on our way. The Japanese journalist corners me and says, "Is this a good time for an interview?" and I say yes.
He asks me how I started to read science fiction and what it meant to me when I did. I tell him what I remember about the first books I read, and talk about the sense of difference and amazement they brought me: things don't have to be this way. The dream moves away from the boozy party and towards a kind of philosophical disquisition on the meaning of SF for young boys, me in particular. [I don't remember any of the specifics of this disquisition, unfortunately.
Penguins and Panthers
In his blog Epicycle Dominic Thomas responds to the news that Red Hat is reconfiguring its product line of Linux distributions into a big-bucks Enterprise version and desktop version, Fedora, aimed at "hobbyists."
I hate to say "I told you so", [writes Thomas] but, well... I told you so. It's been clear to me for years that none of the current flavours of Unix was ever going to make significant headway into the home and office PC market, and none of the spluttering and evangelising by Unix lawn dwarves has made me want to change my mind... I've based this impression firmly on my own experiences, too, as I've tried on several occasions to get to grips with small-scale Unix installations only to retreat each time in frustration.
You don't have to browse very far in Thomas's blog to determine that he thinks Windows r00lz and that Linux is teh suck.
But he is, of course, dead wrong about UNIX never getting a foothold in the home or office market. Mactinosh users have adjusted to UNIX without even blinking. Case in point: D. Potter, who I suspect would rather take a job walking dogs than rebuild a kernel, has been an enthusiastically happy UNIX user for some time now. Surprise! Mac OS X is UNIX under the hood, being a direct descendant of 4.3 BSD. (Don't tell the clams at SCO, though they might sue!)
Keep drinking that Kool-Aid, Dominic.
(via Avedon Carol)
November 05, 2003
(1) In some complicated dream involving lots of people packing for a complicated departure, I notice that there are large animals to be packed. People are laying tigers down on the grownd and folding them neatly, like laundry. There is also a giraffe laid out on the ground, awaiting folding.
(2) A computer game is mentioned, written and distributed by "C. Haynes". I wonder if that is the same person as Charles Haynes.
(3) I'm witnessing a complicated sort of aerial recreation, a cross between hot-air ballooning and parasailing: A person in a harness is lifted by a hot-air balloon, and is tethered to a vehicle on the ground.
While this paraballoon is being towed over a cold, snowy landscape, the gasbag ruptures, and the paraballoonist begins to fall to the ground. Fortunately there are rescuers standing by (I seem to be one of them), who swoop in and snag the balloon, lowering it and the paraballoonist gently to the ground.
Once on the ground, it is no longer snowy, but dry and lumpy: the ground is solidly covered by carrots and potatoes. As we stow the balloon and get its passenger out of his harness, some of us are picking up these vegetables.
The paraballoonist mentions that he played football, as a running back, in high school.
There is a buzzing sound. I am gathering potatoes, and feel a vibration in one on the ground as I prepare to pick it up. The buzzing is the sound of bees, and this potato is very close to the entrance of an underground beehive. I hastily back away, fearing possible attack by a swarm of angry bees should I disturb their hive.
(4) I'm inside a wooden building, like an assembly hall, with a group of people. The interior of the building goes dark, and the walls are lit by firelight, as if they are themselves on fire (but they are actually not this is some kind of illusion). Seen as silhouettes against the illusory flames are the shadows of dancing children, our enemies. The shadow-children dance in time to evil music that fills the hall.
This is a magical attack on us by our enemies, and if something isn't done quickly, they will defeat us. I counterattack by singing in a loud, bass voice, to a tune of my own: "THIS MU-SIC IS NOT GOOD MU-SIC; THIS MU-SIC IS <pause> CRUEL MU-SIC!" I sing the phrase over and over again. Will it drive our attackers away? I don't get to find out, because at that point I awaken.
(1) All I remember of this lengthy and complicated dream is of being by the side of a lake that is surrounded by a high, thick wall. There are stairs on the inside of the wall, and I climb them to get to the top. I look around at the lake, at the surrounding countryside. Then I go down on the outside.
(2) I am preparing to return to school, to Caltech, to get another degree. I spend a lot of time wandering the Caltech campus trying to find the office of the program to which I want to apply. I remember it the office being in one of the library buildings [this dream-campus is nothing at all like the Caltech campus in the waking world], but when I go there I discover that the office is there no longer: it had been there only temporarily, while its permanent offices were being constructed. I never actually get to the program's offices.
I also spend some time thinking about precisely to which program I wish to apply. The program I've been thinking about is a humanities program. Maybe I don't want to get a Ph.D. Maybe I should get another masters instead. Or maybe I should apply as an undergraduate and get another bachelors. Maybe I should get another bachelors and another masters.
For some task or purpose, it is necessary that I cut my hair and shave my beard. It is the first time my chin has been clean-shaven in many years. I see myself from an outside perspective. I don't recognize myself: my chin is prominent and pointed.
(1) D. is about to finish a course in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. Unfortunately, NASA is undergoing a series of budget cuts and is not hiring any more. None of the graduating students will be able to get jobs. I ask D. about this, and she assures me that recently she has been taking classes in other subjects so that she is more employable in other fields.
(2) I arrive in Kwajelein to teach a class in health statistics at the local high school. School hasn't started yet. I run around getting errands done, and finish my errands unexpectedly early. I think about what I could do with my time. It's three o'clock, and I have to be at a meeting at five. Suddenly it occurs to me: this is a perfect time to go to the gym and work out.
The YMCA, I recall, is attached to the high school. I get on a bus and take it to the site of the school. I pull the chord to ring the bell as we approach the stop for the school. I see, though, as I get off the bus that at the site of the school there is now only one small building. A FedEx truck is parked there, making a delivery.
I discover that the rest of the school's buildings, including the gym, had burned down last month. No workout for me today! And the classroom for the class I am to teach, along with the other high school classes, has been relocated to another school.
Some people are indignant about some nuclear wastes that had been stored on campus unbeknownst to the community. Those nuclear materials had been consumed in the fire and gone up in smoke. The school's principal assures us that this is all for the best, and that the nuclear waste is now safely disposed of.
I have to sign a disclosure indicating that I have been made aware of the location change for my class. There is a small crowd of other teachers and student teaching aides around the table where the disclosure from is waiting. I wait for my chance and turn the form around to read it to find where I am to sign it. While I am reading it, a student aide snatches it away from me and signs it himself.
I take the form back and scan it for the place where I am to sign. I can't find it; there is no listing for "health statistics" or "statistical health" in the list of affected classes. I hope that this won't turn out to be a problem.
A rival teacher is gloating at me, expecting that I am going to look bad in front of the students. It is raining, and I am getting soaked. My rival starts taking photographs of me in hopes of using them to discredit me with my students. But he's wrong! He doesn't understand that those pictures of me standing in the rain will win their sympathy and increase their rapport with me. My rival is completely clueless! I laugh at him, mocking him, as he walks away.
I take out a flyer for a school event, something involving a visiting professional football team and its cheerleading squad. I begin to hatch a scheme to embarrass my rival, one that involves a famous supermodel, who happens to be married to one of the players on the team.
There are mice in my room. They are funny-looking mice, with coarse gray-white fur, long, thin bodies, and knobby heads.
I hunch down in my bed with a high-powered rifle with a sniper scope. Against the far wall, miles, away is one of the mice. I set my sight on it, allow for range and windage, and squeeze the trigger. I can see the wake of the bullet leave ripples of distortion in the air between us. The bullet hits the mouse, which topples over, dead.
I take sight on another mouse. But as I am aiming I see more ripples in the air. The mouse is firing back! But because I can see the bullets coming, they are easy to dodge. I fire, and hit my target.
I cross the room to investigate further. There's another mouse, sticking its ugly head up. My cat Rocky suddenly appears and pounces. It's a perfect kill: Rocky grabs the mouse in his clawed paw and quickly brings it to his mouth, where he breaks its spine with a quick bite. Rocky plays with the body for a bit, then looks for more mice to kill.
There's another cat in the room, but it isn't our other cat, Chewie. It is a strange cat who must have come in through the cat door. Half of its fur is dark, but half is a shiny silver-blue color.
November 04, 2003
"Torture Nolan?" you ask. "Nolan Dalla? Who would want to torture Nolan Dalla? What's he ever done to you?"
Here's the thing: I just checked in on the front page of Card Player. They now have a "Daily Poll" feature going.
This poll, Television's Impact on Poker, is comprised of several questions, so visit daily to answer all questions. Results will be published in an upcoming Card Player magazine "Table Talk" column by Nolan Dalla. Here is todays question:
Should television networks establish dress codes for players (who appear at final tables)?
Online polls are st00pid. Nobody knows this better than Atrios, who has been siccing his readers on CNN's online polls to get the goat of Lou Dobbs (and before him, Wolf Blitzer). Remember, says Atrios, the point isn't to say what you think, the point is to make him unhappy.
(Dress codes?? You mean, so that Spencer Sun wouldn't be allowed to wear Patti Beadles' hat at the final table of the Tournament of Champions?)
Atrios and Luskin Kiss and Make Up
"We both regret a series of misunderstandings that have resulted in something that neither of us intended. We have discussed our differences, and both of us are confident that such misunderstandings will not occur again in the future. As a result, Mr. Luskin is retracting his demand letter of October 29, 2003. We congratulate each other on having quickly achieved an amicable resolution. We are both glad to have put this behind us."
(Eppur si muove! Italian for "But you're still a horse's ass!")
November 02, 2003
(1) I'm waiting at an airport. It isn't clear whether I'm waiting to depart or waiting to meet someone arriving.
The terminal is a multiple-story affair, with gates on each of four floors. The building is also a parking garage.
A small crowd of people gathers at the next gate. As the plane arrives there I can see why the crowd is small: the arriving plane is small, also, being a short-fuselaged experimental-looking plane, with not much passenger capacity.
(2) I'm on a beach, at the seaside. The water recedes, and receds more. I wonder about this for a moment, then I realize, "tsunami!" I need to get inland, and fast. I hurry across the beach and up the slope of the ground behind it. I have no idea how far I have to go to be safe. I think, "If I knew how far down the water level had gone, I would know how far up I should go."
(3) I'm in a group of people milling around disorderedly. A woman shows up, and says, "My name is Marcie, and I'll be your drill sergeant for the afternoon." She gets us all marching in order. Surprisingly, Marcie isn't mean or overbearing, she just gets us walking together.
I'm listening to a radio program, on KFOG. It's a special retrospective music program, hosted by Dave Morey (the station's morning show host), and it's running a long time. So long that it gets to be late at night, after midnight in fact.
Finally the show ends. I turn off the radio and walk into the kitchen. There I find a friend of mine who lives in the house, female, with very short dark hair. She, too, is a DJ at KFOG. She's just gotten home. She's exhausted.
I ask her how come she had to work so late, given that Dave Morey was hosting the special show. She explains to me that everyone at the station had to do extra work because of the show, and she in particular had been working on one of the station's Internet service channels.
(1) I'm visiting some sort of boarding school. I put my things in a dormitory room set aside for my use, and go to the communal bathroom to take a shower. I take my clothes off and put them in a locker; but I don't have a lock. I cover them with a towel and hope no one notice them and thinks they might be valuable enough to steal.
Later, I'm wandering around a resevoir on a mountain top. There are dangerous creatures swimming in the water of the resevoir.
The aqueduct pipes from the resevoir are leaking. I follow them down the inside of the mountain. At the bottom is an industrial building with glass doors. The interior of the building is being flooded. I leave the building through the doors, and close them. But they burst open again, and a torrent of water pours out.
The village at the base of the mountain must be abandoned for the duration of the flood. I help organize the evacuation.
Two of the villagers are women who look remarkably alike: long dark hair, pale skin, lips emphasized with bright red lipstick. I know them both. One of them is someone with whom I want very much to be close but platonic friends. The other is my lover, she and I have a strong sexual thing going on. I talk for a few moments with the first woman, the friend. Then I turn to the other one. "We don't have to leave for a few minutes yet," the second woman says. "We've got time for a quickie."
We undress, and I climb on top of her to fuck her. I notice a bulge in her belly, about four inches across, protruding hemispherically outward. I ask her about it; she tells me that inside the bulge is a parasite she is carrying. It evidently will be born like a child through her womb.
(2) [Later, towards morning, after I've awoken once] I seem to awaken from another dream, now unremembered. I'm sitting at my desk, fully clothed. I fell asleep in my chair, evidently, and have been sleeping and dreaming since then. I am embarassed, and concerned about how Debbie is going to react when she discovers that I've not been to bed at all. [In reality, I spent the night asleep in bed next to Debbie; the experience of waking up in my chair was in fact a dream.]
November 01, 2003
Black Cape, Top Hat, and Moustache
Charlie Stross has declared his intention to become Evil Overlord of the entire planet. But sshhh! Don't tell anyone.
Charlie couldn't help but do a better job than the current lot. But he had better bone up on the mistakes of his predecessors.
I'm talking to a soldier stationed in Iraq. "The thing is," he tells me, "the coffee here is the best I ever had." I'm holding a half-pound foil bag of whole beans. "It's from Gevalia," the soldier explains. "You only want to make a cup or two at a time, otherwise you have to share it with the whole platoon, and your ration is completely gone, just like that." I look at the trailer-home where the soldier's platoon is billeted. There are enough men living in the trailer that this half-pound bag of coffee would be used up at once.
There's a strange sort of hostage situation in a multi-storey open building. We have been taken hostage by politically-motivated gunmen, and we basically support their cause. We're on their side, they are on ours. The building we are in is has no outside walls, just stone pillars supporting the floors above. The floors are arcades and galleries.
One of the other hostages, a slender woman with long, brown hair, has taken an interest in me, as I have in her. Every chance we get, when our captors aren't looking, we embrace, hugging and kissing. We are both intending to find a way we can have sex.
The police arrive, and warn the hostage-takers to release their captives. After warning them and getting no response, the police drive around the building in a jeep-like vehicle and cast a stream of material like shredded papier-machι into the air through a hose or cannon or blower or some such. I wonder whether this is supposed to release some sort of incapacitating gas, but it has no effect. The police seem impotent, in fact, unable to compel the hostage-takers to do anything.
Meanwhile my lady-friend and I are getting even more serious. She lies on the ground, and I climb on top of her, kissing her.
I'm looking at myself in a mirror, examining my chin. It seems that I have a bald spot on my chin, my whiskers worn away by my habit of rubbing my chin. I notice specifically the smooth skin on the point of my chin, surrounded by a region of very short stubble. This bothers me, I want my beard to be full. I try to conceal the bald spot by combing it over with whiskers from higher up on my face.
(1) I'm about to get inside a very small commercial jet aircraft so small that the passenger entrance is a small hatch just behind the cockpit and right above one of the seats. There is a passenger already sitting in that seat, a caucasian man. He says something like "Surely you can squeeze your way in. ... yeah, I know, 'Don't call me Shirley!'" I step gingerly inside, standing on the armrest. "And don't call me Shirley," I repeat.
(2) I need to reprogram my mobile phone. Some of the speed dial settings have to be reset. I'm trying them out to see which ones are empty and which ones are currently programmed, and what numbers the programmed ones call. An interesting wrinkle is the "teleport" option I can use the phone to dial a number and teleport me to the other end when the connection is made. Needless to say, doing this with an unfamiliar or wrong number can lead to embarrassment. I try some speed dial settings, and hang up when I get voice mail. I don't seem to be making any progress with the task.
Dimly remembered fragment:
I'm crossing the Bay into San Francisco on the Bay Bridge? On a boat? and I can see the buildings appear to grow as I get closer. I notice in particular the Transamerica Pyramid.
I remember my mother and her death, and I'm filled with grief. I begin to weep. I cover my face in my hands, and bow my head.
I have an awareness that my grieving is right and proper, that I am doing myself good by letting it happen.
I look up again, self-possessed in my grief, and see the buildings of the city even nearer.
Journalist Advocates Murder of Presidential Candidates
Syndicated newspaper columnist Kathleen Parker said the following in her column that appeared this morning on townhall.com:
Here's a note I got recently from a friend and former Delta Force member, who has been observing American politics from the trenches: "These bastards like Clark and Kerry and that incipient ass, Dean, and Gephardt and Kucinich and that absolute mental midget Sharpton, race baiter, should all be lined up and shot. ..."
As you will see if you follow the townhall.com link, the quote has since been redacted, from 'shot' to 'slapped' (with a redundant quotation mark was added in the process). But you can't stuff your rewritten history down the oubliette so easily; the original still exists, as a screenshot and as a cached copy from a browser.
As commenters on Eschaton and Counterspin Central point out, in redacting her quote of her "friend and former Delta Force member," she deliberately misquoted her source, either originally or in the revised version. This is a cardinal sin of journalism.
A third possibility, of course, is that she fabricated the quote completely. That's another cardinal sin of journalism.
Any way you look at it, quoting a death threat against presidential candidates contributes to the climate of extremism and intolerance that has surrounded the American conservative movement for the past decade. If people think that to write such things is not beyond the limits of civilized discourse, sooner or later some people are going to start thinking that taking such actions are also within the limits of civilization.
Parker (or her editors) evidently quickly discovered that she had in fact crossed that line, and clumsily brought her back within bounds.
But a commentator who "focuses on social issues related to family, children and gender" probably oughtn't be testing the acceptability of political murder in the first place.
Update 11/2/03: Atrios points out that the Boulder Daily Camera has run Parker's column in its original criminal splendor.