I’m Off For the Day

Will be AFK doing life stuff.

Don’t break the blog and please, please, please, I beg you, don’t feed Fluffy sardines again. You think it’s lots of fun, but I’m the one cleaning scale-balls all day long the next day.

Be good. Or at least don’t be google.

See you tomorrow.

188 thoughts on “I’m Off For the Day

        1. The aardvark is offended at the notion that he doesn’t have a massive supply of chocolate ready for contingencies.

          The sea serpent in the minion pool suggests BBQ first. After all, you want to eat up the meat before Lent.

          1. Meh. I don’t tick the box for epilepsy, when they want “family history of…” Pretty much everything else, though. If we don’t die of overwork and heart attacks, liver disease from excess liquid libations, or lung disease from all the cigars, we tend to run the scale of end-of-life problems.

            Don’t have the problems associated with not knowing our own gender, not knowing Joe Biden’s a (non AOSHQ) moron, or not knowing how to balance a budget and spot the bullfaeces when we see it, though. Them’s for other people.

          2. What is wrong with you people? Dang near everything.

            I know. Fine. (whining) But S’mores! (more whining) But we don’t feed Fluffy S’mores, let alone chocolate!!!!

              1. just what are you going to do if A Dragon wants S’mores?

                Um. “Nice Fluffy. Have some S’mores.” ???

              2. And here my brain wanders into “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie”. Why I have no idea. The girls tired of that as toddlers and both are full working adults today. so at least 20 years and closer to 25.

                  1. Ugh. Please don’t mention children alongside a phrase like “love tacos” ever again. I know you didn’t mean it that way, but given some of the stuff children are being targeted for these days the mental imagery that inspires is… less than wholesome.

                    1. The way to fix that stuff isn’t by giving in any time they make perfectly normal stuff nasty– take it from a sailor, there is no phrase on earth that cannot be made lewd– it’s to keep doing the right thing.


        1. We have plenty of s’more ingredients precisely because we are sane and know that when the dragon wants s’mores, and there aren’t enough to go around, it’s not the dragon that does without.

  1. The Reader thinks it is time to start research into breeding armor piercing carp.

    1. As it happens, I’ve been engaged in some carp-based mad science myself lately. Allow me to present my results:

  2. So, what I heard was break the blog, feed Fluffy sardines and be more google.

    Challenge accepted!

          1. Fractional C carp bombardment incoming. Of course it is a really small fraction of C, carp don’t take high accelerations well, you sort of end up with ersatz Nuq Mam and thats not as threatening as you’d think.

              1. That is indeed Nuq Mam. But Like Garum and Worcestershire it uses fermented fish, thus not quite the real thing.

            1. You get some increased terminal ballistics if you hard freeze ’em first. They tend to thaw during the flight time, so some sort of discarding sabot or thermal shielding pre-impact is preferred.

              1. Get the frozen carp up to high relativistic, and they won’t thaw quick, at least from the target frame.

              2. But for the fractional C they need to be accelerated at 50-100K G. even a hard frozen carp is fish paste after that…well fish slushy.

                1. Yeah, hitting atmosphere at that point is like hitting (and penetrating) a brick wall, I think. You might get a fine mist of particulates that burn up on re-entry. Need a decent ablative heat abosorber up front to ensure fishile integrity.

                  1. Dan I think any think past .05 C or so and when whatever it is hits atmosphere its plasma. Question is does said plasma make it to the ground or expand like the explosion of a thermonuclear weapon? This is well beyond my limited skill in physics. Dammit Dan I’m a software engineer not a gravitoncs physicist.

                    1. There was an episode of Mythbusters where they were shooting into water. Interestingly enough, pistol rounds (roughly subsonic) penetrated a few feet while rifle rounds (supersonic) fragmented when they hit the water. Sort of the same idea.

                    2. Well, we’ve not defined what fraction of C we’re talking about here, nor the angle of attack. Hitting the atmosphere from some angles at any decent speed is instant splat. We’d have to know the mass of the payload (roughly, anyway), the estimated velocity, and how we’re entering the atmosphere, angle wise. Don’t want to skip off like a round stone on a pond, don’t want to auger in and, well, plasma splat.

                      Slower velocities mean peak heating occurs at lower altitudes, and vice versa. Basically, once we have the trajectory we can get position and V/t. Next you calculate aero heating (friction, more or less) and find the heat curve. That’ll tell us when the fishy missile goes splat. Probably.

                      But then, I’m just a non-practicing anthropologist, former builder, plumber, telecom guy among other things. I could be way off target.

                2. Even a tenth of a G, sustained, gets an eventually useful Tau.

                  Bussard Ramjet, for example.

                  But if you can create a drive of 100kG acceleration, you have obviously learned to mitigate inertially/graviticly the local frame, else your drive flattens itself on startup. Ditto the payload must have its loophole.

        1. Oh!

          Put finger to chin and look quizzical. Hmmmm? Totally stealing. Just gotta figure out where I can quote it. 😉

          1. As one of my DEC coworkers from long ago said “Plagiarism is the sincerest form of productivity”. Certainly true in software, there are several parts of software development (e.g. Bitbake build system info) where the standard operating procedure is to copy an existing working model. Makes you wonder where the first one came from, kind of a chicken and egg issue,

            1. People actually write programs from scratch? There are harder ways to do it, but OhMyGod!

              The bootup sequence for a late ’70s HP 2100 minicomputer involved writing binary to registers with a switch for each bit. Highly entertaining, especially if you missed a bit or the cheat-dots fell off. Yeah, you could do a simple program the same way, but I’d rather not. 🙂

              1. I used to watch DEC PDP repairmen toggle in a boot program from the ‘switchboard’. One did tell me had missed a bit every once in a while, but no cheat sheets, almost wasn’t looking at it while fingers flew.

              2. The first piece of automated test equipment the Reader worked on out of college had an HP 2116 running it (it was an HP 8542 system if any geeks here are interested). The Reader crashed that thing so often that he could key the boot sequence from memory in about 30 seconds.

                1. Despite being at HP, my boss (ex-Fairchild) loved the Fairchild 5000C semiconductor testers. Rollout date of the first models was 1965, though I’m not clear when Fairch stopped production. Most of ours were second or higher hand equipment.

                  It was fairly well suited to the simpler parts (and with too much external circuitry, could do more complex parts), so $BOSS got as many as he could scrounge up. Several of those used the 2116 mini, running with paper tape.

                  Part of the initiation was to dump the 2116 in favor of the 2100(?). (I’m not sure of the processors any more; the one I first mentioned was an HP1000 system, and it worked with hard drives, while the one running the 5000C was upgraded to use mag tape, then later upgraded to take downloads from the 1000.)

                  Booting of the 5000Cs was minimal; I think the start address was set to the power-up default.

                  We were one of the few departments anywhere in HP that didn’t rely on HP testers. When we upgraded (thank you, Lord!), those were from a German company. It was nice going from commands like 210500701500: to something in C. (It’s been 25 years and I still remember. Yikes!)

                  1. Back in my tour in semiconductor test in the early ’90s, we had two different types of wafer handlers and 10 different types of testers, each running a different operating system and test program. The diode tester was controlled by CP/M and the microcontroller test head was run by an Sun workstation. There was an IBM PC running DOS which allowed access to both the Vaxen and the IBM mainframe.

                    The new Japanese wafer handlers being beta testing with a team of factory engineers had most of the menu prompts still in kanji. The “bad” error message looked like stick figure gay bath house activity which the engineers found amusing especially when called late at night.

                    1. I’ve worked in departments and test areas with mixed goodies, but that takes the prize. My first job was in a linear division just starting to emerge from homebuilt kludge boxes for wafer sort, and at first for final test. (One box (type) per product. High volume products had duplicate boxes. Wafer sort was automatic, but final test started with an operator, kludge box and an oscilloscope. Whee. There was one Teradyne just getting implemented, but I wasn’t in test then.

                      Later, I had a test/product gig doing bipolar memories. A couple flavors of Teradyne digital testers (compatible programming? Nope) and one oddball for the sole ECL memory chip.

                      The last was closer to your mix. Started doing simple optoelectronics, ranging from resistors for LEDs to single digit display drivers, all on 2″ wafers. (Late 1970s, but well behind the technology curve.) Eventually, kicking and screaming, we got to 3″, then 4″, then finally 6″. We were picking up test on advanced communication chips, and we were starting to get to release points. At which point management offshored fab & test, then the company decided to sell off the entire semiconductor business line.

                      Still, it was a hodgepodge. We started with one type of tester, then got up to 4 different. Two of them were made so the newer machine used a superset of the older command set, and the common hardware was programmed the same. Yeah!

                      This all collapsed in the dot-com bust in ’01, and that tester company collapsed a year later. I was consulting for them and never got the last month’s pay. OTOH, the gig was pretty lucrative; I could deal. ‘Sides, their headquarters were in Bavaria; I rather liked Wasserburg am Inn (“Mozart slept here. We think.”) in 2001-2. Never had time to do much tourism, though did day-trips each time. Salzburg and the Deutsches Museum were high points, Dachau the opposite.

              3. I booted a supermini that ran the flight simulator environment for a major airline. It was less than a year old in 1988, custom made, state-of-the-art stuff. The designers, who were clearly demented, had made it do you had to manually enter the boot sequence by flipping toggle switches a word at a time. So there I was, kneeling on a prayer mat, with a spiral-bound notepad showing the switch patterns… yes, they had put the line of switches at just above knee height.

                I was told, but I no longer remember how many millions of 1980s dollars that thing cost. But the WTF factor was very high.

                Of course, it might have been deliberate, to keep people from messing with it who shouldn’t. We were there at two o’clock at night on a weekend, and we were playing with a real flight simulator. That’s when I found out I could get airsick in a full-motion simulator. And that control inputs on a jumbo jet are a lot like those of a sailing ship – there is a long time between action and reaction, and I stuffed that simulated L-1011 into the ground a dozen times.

            1. The legal counsel for the American Undead wish to advise you that calling attention to Biden’s brain dead status does not, repeat, not confer upon him the status of undeath.

              –Percival Williamson, Legal Officer with combined (living and undead) experience of 556 years experience, of the Limited Liches Liabilities Companies thanks you in advance for your retraction.

    1. I can’t stand Bradbury as it seems about everything he wrote (that I can recall) was depressing. I was NOT at all surprised when, late in life, he said he wrote “not to predict the future the future, but to prevent some futures.” Fine, prevent. But give SOME dang hope, willya?

      1. If you want hopeless, nothing beats “The Humanoid Touch” by Jack Williamson.

        First book I had an intense physical reaction to, somehow it ended up being flung across the room.

        1. Harlan Ellison has some short stories that fill that niche. I used to have a few of his books, but I’m doing a lot better now. 🙂

          1. I missed that book and from what I read about it, I’m glad that I did. 😦

          2. Hey I read that in High School. It was better (slightly) than a pointy stick in the eye. Now Bell Jar and Leatherstockings there we’re talking brutality. And “On Walden Pond”, what a pointless meandering by that neck bearded mama’s boy Thoreau… We really do abuse high schoolers, although the junk they read now is even worse.

              1. There’s a scene in the movie Sneakers in which the protagonist is sneaking into a building while his team is sitting in a van giving him advice on the radio. One of the team is blind, and he’s reading something in Braille while he has nothing to do. Then something comes up that’s in his area of expertise, he flips the magazine closed, and starts talking on the radio. And there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it closeup of the magazine cover, on which the famous Playboy rabbit logo is clearly visible.

                In other words, he really does read it only for the articles!

                Thing is, a few years ago someone mentioned an interview with Arthur C. Clarke (done in the 70’s or 80’s as I recall) in which he reveals some things about himself that, well, let’s just say don’t redound to his credit. (It seems quite clear from the interview that he was living in Sri Lanka for some less-than-savory purposes.) But the other thing that caught my attention about that article (which I found republished online, not in the original publication) was that it mentioned that it had originally been published in Playboy. And it was actually a quite impressively well-written article.

                Which made me realize that that classic defensive live, “I only read it for the articles” — could actually be plausible, at least in certain circumstances. Because the articles, at least the sample size of 1 that I had experienced, were actually genuinely well-written. Which made the throwaway visual gag in Sneakers all the better, because it meant that there could actually, plausibly, be a Braille edition of Playboy. I don’t think there ever was, but it suddenly elevated that throwaway gag into something I found truly hilarious in hindsight.

                1. Playboy was originally supposed to be a magazine for “gentlemen of particular characteristics.” In some ways, it played to men’s dreams, not to the mundane or unwholesome. Sure, it objectified women. But the kind of woman who was only for you, not for every Joe walking down the street. There are a lot of imitations out there; and most are complete trash because they think it’s all and only about sex. But men have dreams too. Even those with the one we dream about.

                  1. I remember reading a few of the interviews (Louis Rukeyser the finance guy, others) and some other articles in Playboy. I wasn’t interested in the illustrations, but the interviews – at least those that I read – were well done and I learned interesting things.

                2. Check out the reviews on the rebranded Hitachi Magic Wand on Amazon. DO NOT look it up at work.

                  They didn’t rebrand it because it’s not the best stick-massagers for serious muscle issues, especially around the neck and shoulders…they rebranded it because of the kind of snickering reviews for, ahem, “muscle relaxing” uses.
                  Speaking of ability to make any phrase lewd…..

                1. There is a series of books titled: “The Playboy Reader” which features just the articles and short stories. I found a few volumes in a used book store and got them as a gift for a friend. I did read them before gifting and found no smut, but extremely good articles and stories.

      2. The only Bradbury that survived my last round of book culling is The Illustrated Man, and it’s been a few decades since I read it. At a rough guess, my copy is about 50 years old, and it hadn’t been opened for almost that long.

        OTOH, Something Wicked This Way Comes was (as best as I can recall) more of a thriller, and (checks Wiki) Good wins out in the end, but yeah, it doesn’t ring the “I want to reread this” bell.

        I glanced at TIM, and the first story that turned up had a very depressing final paragraph. If I need to get more book space, I have a candidate. The culled books go to the county library. Some might go in the stacks (Tom Clancy novels, likely) while the rest go for fundraising as cheap used books.

          1. I started membership in SFBC in the fall of ’70s. I suspect by the time THT came out (’72), I had had enough of his work to give it a pass.

      3. You must have read very different Bradbury, somehow. The Martian Chronicles ending is one of the most hope-filled things I’ve ever read: We’re the Martians. Government tried to keep us back on Earth under control and destroy us, we built our own backyard ships and left. Farenheit 451: We’ll remember, we’ll keep the books, the government cannot steal our past. Anti-Orwell.

        In the end, they lose. We win. That’s the Bradbury I read.

        1. The Martian Chronicles ending is one of the most hope-filled things I’ve ever read

          All of humanity, and probably all life on Earth, is annihilated, but two families survive on Mars to carry on forward.

          Yes, there is hope. Most hope-filled ever? Can’t go with you on that one.

          1. Hm. I don’t remember it as just two. Just two that the father knew personally, but there would certainly be others. If two could do it, many could.

            Compare to 1984. Or any of the ‘nukes everybody dies’ genre, which is what I, as a teen, thought TMC was a rebuttal to.

            (It’s been a while since TMC crumbled to dust. I need to find a new copy.)

            1. It may have been implied that there were others, but I don’t recall it that way. “The Million Year Picnic”, the closing story in the collection, was published in 1946, I sort of doubt it was a rebuttal to that type of story. Turned out that way, but not written that way.

            2. That said that period in the late 50’s /early 60’s is FULL of depressing stuff. Folks were quite sure they were going to have to bend over and kiss their asses good bye, and that affected large parts of Sci Fi as well as traditional fiction. for example Shutes “On the Beach”, “Alas Babylon!”, a “Canticle for Liebowitz”. Even our own RAH’s “The Long Watch” , “Farnhams Freehold” and “Solution Unsatisfactory” though that last was published in 1941 !

              1. Well, unlike “On the Beach”, “Alas Babylon!” gave the idea that it would hurt but we’d survive.

                At the end of “Alas Babylon!”, the main characters learn that the US is still intact. (Apparently the Soviet Union was hurt worse than the US.)

                Of course, while the characters had hard times, they were doing OK at the end of the book.

                1. Intact for some values of intact. East Coast and major cities smashed. Alas Babylon really is a quite good estimate of an early 1960’s exchange, especially in the Cuban missile Crisis period. That many short to IRBM class weapons were already basically operational in Cuba makes things much hairier than we even thought at the time.

                  1. Nod.

                    Interestingly, he wrote “Alas Babylon!” because he thought too many people (at that time) were taking the prospects of a Nuclear War too lightly.

              2. I’ll differ on ‘The Long Watch’ — it didn’t end well for Lieutenant Dahlquist, but he did thwart the wanna-be warlord and was remembered as a hero.

                1. True, I was more focused on the nuclear sword of Damocles being literally held over the World’s head by the UN surrogate. It is interesting that the whole coup process gets held up by one determined Lieutenant. Also shows that even our local patron saint seems to have got sucked into the one world idea a bit. I’m a little surprised the WEF folks haven’t seen the advantage of holding the High Frontier. Somehow when they got in bed with the eco nuts combined with their zero sum view of the world it put them off that option. Every once and a while we get a win. Dearest Hostess I wonder if parts of your Dark Ships universe might be a little more likely than we’d like.

        2. Martian Chronicles start didn’t make sense to me. 451 all I recall it seemsed a slog (might be due to it being for some class). The short stories… I started noticing, especially after the one with the sun-starved girl on Venus.

      4. Agreed, though I found some of it too unfathomable to be depressing.

        I’m near the end of a huge tranche of Poul Anderson stuff. I had remembered “The High Crusade” and “Virgin Planet” fondly, and they were as good as I remembered, but most of the rest were major downers.

    2. Yeah but he was a bastard that could write. “There will come Soft Rains” gets me every fricking time.

    3. Video game recommendation:
      The Outer Wilds
      It’s one of those where the less you know going in, the better.
      But I’ll give you three phrases in an attempt to sell you.
      Space exploration
      Time loop
      HEAVY Ray Bradbury influence

      1. Sounds interesting. I think it is one of the ones that is no cost if you have the XBox games subscription. I’ve Been fiddling with Stray on my laptop. You play a young (Orange, but you seem to have the brain cell) cat separated from its clan/clowder in a world where humanity long ago disappeared. Puzzle game, your actions are very catly e.g. knocking a flower pot off a wall to block a fan so you can get by. Getting separated from the clan is a bit hard on us cat types. Stray shows potential.

        1. It’s been on and off XBox GamePass a couple of times. It’s currently off, but who knows when or if that might change?

          I’m trying to wrap my head around Stray being described as a puzzle game.
          I mean, it’s not wrong, but by that criteria, most platformers are puzzle games.
          I think I’d describe it as exploration, or even immersive sim. The puzzles are obstacles to get past, not the point of the game.

          But if you like puzzle games, I recommend Call of the Sea. It’s the best video game treatment of Lovecraft I’ve seen. (Even though it’s adventure, not horror. It’s creepy, and has a nice feeling of rising dread, but it’s not actually scary.)

          Of course, if you want the pants scared off of you, try *Subnautica”. Technically, it’s a survival/exploration game, but it does Horror much better than nearly every dedicated horror game, without gratuitous squick. (The Cosmic Horror elements within it do fall a bit flat. They’re not done poorly, it’s just that angst about your place in the universe tends to take a back seat when a lot of hungry predators want to eat you, and implacable alien killing machines are actively hunting you.)

          1. I don’t know first-hand, but I’ve heard Subnautica compared to System Shock 2 in terms of horror level.

            As for Stray, from some of the footage I’ve seen it looks like the cat must have almost human-level intelligence in some respects. I wonder if that’s addressed in-universe?

            1. OK so our feline hero in Stray has a (self aware?) robotic companion that helps him with a lot of stuff so that explains some of it. The initial things you have to do to get the robot back up and running are WAY outside anything a current specimen of F. Sylvestris v. Lybica might do. Of course our hero DOES have human brains, he’s got you :-). As for Genre It feels like someone took one of the Zork style text games and mashed it up with a First Person Shooter/early RPG. You’re trying to solve a mystery and walking your way through that with a cat as an avatar. You certainly can do many cat things, scratch to mark territory (They avoid the other cat marking technique :- ) ), push stuff off items, put your head in a paper bag, meow (you control that), nap etc. The cat animation is OK, but certain motions quickly slide into the uncanny valley. Perhaps they should have mo-capped a cat, but sticking little target balls on a cat might not have been feasible (or likely to lead to healthy continued existence with said cat…). I suspect a very anti society greenie/socialist type ending but honestly I applaud the developers for doing something that is not yet another multiplayer FPS or Skyrim or Minecraft wannabe.

              1. Oh and I forgot walking across keyboards with the expected cat like typing, It is important in at least on plot point.

      2. If you mean the Outer Worlds, yeah that looks like a good game. Saw it played by someone streaming it a year or so ago.

        Some think it’s a distant sequel to the House ending for Fallout New Vegas.

          1. The Outer Wilds.
            Not The Outer Worlds.

            I found The Outer Worlds pretty meh. That it made fun of itself was good, but I didn’t find the story, setting, or gameplay very memorable. It’s OK, but I couldn’t really recommend it.

          2. The worst thing about the similar names, is that they came out about the same time.
            With The Outer Worlds being from a major publisher and getting a lot of push, and The Outer Wilds being an Indie game with only word-of-mouth for advertising.

  3. Somewhere a leftist is screaming in outrage about the lead picture to this post, claiming that the white armor, large guns, and masks, are endorsements of colonialism and species-ism. Because leftists can’t simply enjoy any art, particularly a neat futuristic piece.

    1. Leftists aren’t allowed to enjoy anything. That’s why all the farmers were eventually deemed kulaks and shipped to the deathcamps (gulag is in effect kulak, after all) in Siberia…

  4. For a company that used to have “don’t be evil” as its corporate motto, “don’t be google” is a zinger. Given how easy it is for people to redefine “evil” for their own convenience, I thought that was a little too vague. But apparently even that fuzziness is asking too much.

  5. Reads sign “Open Floor.” Opens door very, very carefully. Peers into room. Observes lack of tile, cement, ground, wood, or carpet. Closes door.

    It is indeed an open floor!

    1. Did you see what was under the “open floor”?

      What’s under the “open floor” could be very nasty. 😈

        1. My other favorite meme, cat with way over dilated pupils, “No I haven’t seen your LSD, but have you seen the dragon in the kitchen?”
          Probably work with Catnip as well, definitely not sardines.

        1. Well, there are worse things than Moose Bites… like Dragon Bites. [Crazy Grin]

    1. Best headline of the week: “Ilhan Omar withdraws support for East Palestine after discovering it’s in America.”

  6. With apologies to a certain Drak, might we feed dragonettes to Fluffy? Slightly bigger scales ought to be easier to handle, and they do flop around more enticingly than at least canned sardines.

    But again, unsupervised …

      1. Bluebellies for snacks. (Lizards, not the Union Soldiers, though some days I could see the other usage applying.)

        I am reminded of the Jurassic Park ending with the T. Rex chomping on the velociraptors.

  7. …and the napalm precursors and bourbon were just sitting there…..


    (Mayhem ensues)

  8. Wait… What?

    “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bought the screen rights to all the 1,100 Nick Carter stories published from the 19th Century through the 1930s. However, all 3 of the films made in the Nick Carter series were based on original stories.”

    1. I suspect that the reasons for that is twofold.

      1) Plenty of written stories are difficult to film.

      2) If you want to make movies based on a character based on a literary character, it is better to own the original stories. Otherwise, to make your film, you have to work with the owners of the original.

      Plenty of the Sherlock Holmes movies weren’t adaptations of the original Holmes stories but were “based on the characters”.

      It was very likely that the movie makers had to work with the Doyle estate (or with Doyle himself).

      Note, Star Trek Next Generation had some problems with the Doyle estate when they had Data play Sherlock Holmes. 😉

      1. From my observation, novels are incredibly hard to turn into a movie. Too much story to squeeze into two hours of screen time. They often make a good mini-series, but American television has historically been terrible at that form factor, unlike the BBC. Novellas & novelettes are about the right complexity to be turned into a movie.

        I’d like to hear other folks thoughts on this.

        1. Novellas is pushing it.
          I’d say short stories.
          And only some of them.

          For example, the stories of Howard P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard are essentially unfilmable. You can’t capture the image of the ineffable or of the human will.
          But the third member of that triumvirate, Clark Ashton Smith, has any number of stories that would be easy to adapt. (Seriously. They’re very visual, and there were several that I thought would make a much better movie while I was reading them.)

          How many times has The Most Dangerous Game been turned into a decent movie?
          But I’ve never seen anyone even attempt The Lady or the Tiger, and for good reason.

          A lot of short stories by Stephen King were made into good movies (some of them much better than the original, especially after changing the endings). But I’ve never seen a good movie (or even a bad one) adapted from Edgar Allen Poe.

          How many times have you seen The Gift of the Maji pulled off?
          How many times have you seen Rip Van Winkle fail?
          You can film allegory, but only to a point.

          Then there’s the extreme oddballs. Fletch was a really bad hard-boiled detective story. But it became a great comedy movie with just good casting and the change in tone Chevy Chase brought to the role. (This one was longer than a short story, but when you replace every “setting the scene” with just “showing the scene” in a dozen or more scenes, it condenses a lot.)

          Anyway, that’s my rambling at the moment. I fear I’ve lost the plot several times between interruptions.

      2. I thought Sherlock Holmes was a public domain character by now? Why would the Doyle estate have any legal say in it?

      3. Unfortunately, producers are currently only hiring writers who aren’t fans of the original material. One even publicly called it a red flag.
        Not to mention the main actor in The Witcher adaptation being called a difficult troublemaker for being a fan of the source material and wanting to stick to it.

    2. They were buying the rights to the name. The character of Nick Carter, like the British Sexton Blake, transformed enormously over the decades, going from boy adventurer to hardboiled gumshoe to James Bond knockoff along the way. But you can bet your bottom dollar, if they made a Nick Carter movie without buying off the rights holders, even if their Nick Carter had nothing to do with the print version, they would have got sued.

  9. Ray Bradbury best sneaky short horror story ever written…The Man Upstairs.
    Best novel of hope….From Dust Returned.
    Best Speilbergian novel…Something Wicked This Way Comes
    On downer stories….Cliffords Simaks stories and Poul Andersons stuff to a huge extent are invitations to suicide or surrender to collectivism.

    1. I’m not sure which Simak and Anderson stories you read, but that does not comport with my reading of either author.

      There’s an element of implicit horror in Simak’s Way Station, which Simak basically brushes away narratively without a thought, but which got explored in depth in a much later story “Now Think Like A Dinosaur” (author name escaping me just now).

      Poul Anderson was a staunch, strident even, libertarian and individualist, to the point where some critics claimed it damaged some of his novels (the one I’m thinking of was a review for The Boat of a Million Years). His late masterworks Harvest of Stars and The Stars Are Also Fire are premised on fighting and escaping collectivism, and the last (and far inferior, alas) book in the series, The Fleet of Stars, is entirely about an AI flat out lying to humanity so that those pesky individuals will stop being so annoyingly individual. And that is presented entirely as a bad thing.

      Simak had a mid-century schoolteacher leftism in his worldview, sure. And Anderson had a very Nordic fatalism in even the best of his works. But paeans to collectivism, and invitations to suicide, not even remotely.

      In fact, I would say that Anderson’s lifetime thematic summary would be something like “Yes, entropy’s going to win in the end, but fight it tooth and claw even so.”

      1. “In fact, I would say that Anderson’s lifetime thematic summary would be something like “Yes, entropy’s going to win in the end, but fight it tooth and claw even so.” That’s how I remember the Dominic Flandry group – he sees things deteriorating but keeps trying to save what he can.

        1. Exactly. In one of the later books, he sits musing on how many billions of individual life-years he kept in civilization before the inevitable collapse. Even if the end is inevitable, there are victories to be won.

          Or, to quote from the prologue of The Stars Are Also Fire:

          Two lives met across death and centuries. To ask what it meant is meaningless. There is no destiny. But sometimes there is bravery.

      2. I ran across one of his odder novels, not necessarily SF. The Devil’s Game. Wiki’s plot description is one line(!), but it entailed a game of Follow the Leader gone evil*, as memory serves. I had it in paperback, finished the book, then tossed it.

        (*) If I recall, Old Scratch makes an appearance as the instigator of the game.

        To say I hated it but couldn’t quite wall it would be appropriate. Now, if I encountered the like, I’d wall it or the equivalent for eBooks.

        It’s the only Poul Anderson book that I haven’t liked. The others? Hard to pick a favorite. I’ll borrow malaprops from Nic Van Rijn. Hey, my beard does make me look extinguished…

        1. Haven’t read that one. And even as a Poul Anderson fanboy, I’m perfectly willing to concede he wrote some bad books. But someone as prolific, and as excellent, as he was, is allowed to have a few misses here and there. (Plus, I can’t imagine living through the ’70s and not having at least a few dark nights of the soul.)

          1. And he did some very good, “Christian,” themed fantasies: “The High Crusade,” and, “Three Hearts and Three Lions,” come to mind. My favorite, though, might be, “Operation Chaos.”

            1. The High Crusade is SF, and none of those are “Christian” in the sense of “evangelical propaganda masquerading as bad fiction”, they are merely good stories with believing Christians in them.

              1. Agreed, but, “good stories with believing Christians in them, ” are what I’m looking for anyway. With the added caveat that the believing Christian characters are actually good people, not the current left-of-center stereotypes.
                But yeah, “edifying tales,” of any ideological/religious stripe are usually pretty awful.

                1. I had more in mind what has been marketed as “Christian fiction” for the past few decades. The Left Behind series, Frank Peretti’s thrillers, The Shack, and so forth.

                  Anderson’s use of Christianity in his fantasy is more interesting to me than any knee-jerk evangelical take could be, because he makes clear that his universe operates on much more complicated rules than “everything good == God; everything not-God == Satan”. His “novel” (actually four connected novellas, that should have been rewritten to work as a novel) The Merman’s Children has a scene early on where the titular Merman enters a church, and all the crosses on the walls flip to face away from him. And yet, he and his children are sympathetic and moral creatures, they simply don’t have a chance at immortality, and know it. I wish it were a better book, because the story had enormous potential, but the four novellas work as stories in themselves, but don’t have the overall pacing that the novel needed. Unlike Operation Chaos, which is a far better book.

                  1. He played a lot with the Fair Folk, as beings who are immortal but soulless, and inclined to be tricky. In The Merman’s children, as I recall at first you could be baptized and gain a soul, but at the cost of losing your memory. Then later, they were given the choice of undergoing baptism and retaining their memories, but becoming mortal.
                    Like many of his stories there’s a lot of tragedy in there.

        2. I read that book years ago and didn’t wall it.

          I remember wondering “How Is This Going To End” while caring for some of the characters.

          Oh, IMO Anderson left us guessing about “Old Scratch”. Was he real or the figment of the imagination of a mad man?

          There was nothing obviously supernatural in the event of the story save for “Old Scratch’s” appearances to the Rich Guy.

          1. By the way, I lost my copy years ago and Don’t Know if I want to see it in e-version. 😉

          2. SPOILER WARNING

            I remember best that the game not having turned out as the man expected, the “devil” proceeded to warn him against moving against the players, and there being considerable doubt about the “devil” being malevolent — or actively benevolent.

            1. Nod.

              The “devil” let the asshole know that if he moved against the players, the asshole would learn “Just How Real The “Devil” Was”.

        1. IIRC, in the contemporaneous discussions about Kelly’s story, it was supposed to be some kind of derogatory epistemological riposte to the classic short, “The Cold Equations.”

          Personally, I think that the situations presented in the two stories are not analogous, because Kelly doesn’t really explain WHY duplicates are a universe-threatening problem (although I can think of a few), whereas Godwin makes it very clear that the stowaway is endangering the lives of many other people.

          Here’s one view, for the background, and some possible answers.

          1. Most of both Simaks and Andersons writings. We had a good library and at one point I owned over 5000 books alot of it SF. The Simak ones I am thinkong of are The Goblin Reservation, City, and one about a synthetic man who has a religious revelation and is tricked into continuing to fight by a synthetic woman pretending to be natural.
            Goblin Reservation the characters just appeared to hate each other. Oddly it was a favorite of mine for years. Then I didnt read it for about 25 years. When I did it was nothing like I recalled. I hunted up a paper copy to make sure it hadnt been changed. City….humans join the great telepathic collective on Jupiter while abandoning. Earth to the ants collective and leaving their loyal friends the dogs with wit but no direct methods to remake the world. Only obedient robots who are slowly dying.
            Someof Andersons works were fun….Operation Chaos and its sequal. Most of his works on rereading had a huge streak of pessimism in resignation. They were the embodiment of the notion that Liberalism was a balm for the suicide of the west.
            The consolation in the stories was that the commies might win but they would lose too. The problem with this view is that commies get replaced by other dictators not free societies. Or relatively free.
            Anyway they were hardly alone in this approach or view.
            It is just that on rereading them after decades of living the bleak pessimism in them is much more apparent.
            Oh bestgrown up horror novel….Courtship Rite by Donald Kingsbury

            1. Kingsbury pulls off the feat of making cannibals sympathetic. I think of it more as, “subversive,” than, “horror.”
              (For those who haven’t read it, it’s a lost colony where all the Terran animals other than man and bees have died out and almost all the native life is poisonous, so the only ready source of protein is…..)

                1. In Stranger, it was “eating human flesh after the person died to honor the person” but not “killing the person in order to eat their flesh”.

                2. No. They commercially create babies for special occasion meals, for one thing. And if there’s a famine or food shortage the lowest-status individuals get culled. One of the major characters lost two children because they were crippled and therefore high on the list to be culled when the harvest went bad.

            2. I have to say, your interpretation of City is… not what I took from the book.

              As for your reading of Anderson, your interpretation is specious, or at least superficial. Anderson frequently posits worst-case scenarios, and then explores the possibilities of hope within them. His Nordic fatalism prevents him from pretending that there are ultimately any happy endings, because everybody’s going to die, and the universe will inevitably fall to entropy. But, and the point you seem to miss is, there is still always hope.

              In Harvest of Stars, which I mentioned, the entire solar system has fallen under one kind of tyranny or another. North America is under a “rational” religious dictatorship. Most of the rest of humanity are ruled by variations of socialism, or a “benevolent” AI called the cybercosm. But one group of people, members of a company called Fireball, fight to be free, and eventually escape to a habitable planet orbiting Alpha Centauri, despite the lack of faster-than-light travel. And they go knowing in advance that the planet they go to will be destroyed in a few centuries (I’m thinking it was a thousand years, but may be misremembering) by an unavoidable collision with another large body in the Alpha C system. Because they will have freedom for that long, and the chance to work out a next step in the time they have.

              And again with the Dominic Flandry stories. Flandry sells his soul, piece by piece (as Sandra Miesel put it) not to “save” civilization, because he knows that’s impossible. The fall of the Empire will come. But he delays that fall, for a few years, possibly a few decades. And the entire point is that, while the end is inevitable, the fight was not pointless. He preserved civilization for billions of beings for those few years, meaning that many billions of life-years being better than they would have been otherwise.

              So, sure, Poul Anderson had a bleak view of the long-term. But it was neither devoid of hope nor an argument for communism or suicide. Like, at all.

  10. We have one granddaughter who is voraciously reading SF and fantasy. At Christmas, she has carried off our paperback collections of Burroughs, McCaffrey, Blish (Star Trek tv series adaptations, really quite good), Bradbury (I never got the doom-and-gloom vibes, just enjoyed the writing), and a few odds and ends. Probably close to 50 books.
    She has put dibs on the Lois Bujold and Scott Card books for the next go.
    Our Heinlein collection went to one of the AesopSons some years ago.

    The biggest problem passing on our library is that all our kids bought their own copies of most of the good books.

            1. With a real book, they can’t edit the wrongthink out of it. I share the duplicates of my thousands of books. Wish there was someone here in Mordor west I could trade with for books I lack.

              It is impossible to have too many books. The only problem is not having enough money for a library addition. I just passed on a duplicate of Dean Koontz “One door away from heaven”. It includes one of the best descriptions of God, as the “playful presence”, that only innocence is capable of knowing.

              Dean Koontz is one of us. He is libeled as horror, when it is more adventure in a dangerous world. Good wins, but it is not an easy battle.

              1. @ Presbypoet > “With a real book, they can’t edit the wrongthink out of it.”

                We used to think that was so.
                Not the Bee also has a post about it titled “Why do you need to own so many books? This is why.”
                (I believe in keeping lots of books for other reasons, but I’ve added this one to the list).

                What IS true is that they can’t edit out the wrongthink in the existing copies, as they can do (and IIRC have done) to electronic one, in addition to just arbitrarily taking them out of your “library.”

                So they will publish the “improved” ones and hope to catch enough new readers that the paper archives won’t matter.
                I suppose they will eventually get around to those “Fahrenheit 451” style.

                1. Which is why my electronic versions are DRM stripped and saved somewhere the source (BN & Amazon) can’t get to them.

    1. I read almost all of Blish’s stuff at one time or another, but the only ones that were worth the time were his Star Trek books.

  11. So our host takes a day off and you think, must not be much here today…. WRONG! I love the comments and the people involved in the ‘conversations’ that evolve from pure nothing. Thanks gang – you gave me a very nice start to my day this morning.

    1. So we have the “creation” of a “universe” from “nothing”. All Sarah has to do is do nothing, and she creates a universe. (With the help of a few minions feeding the dragon).

      1. So pantheistic multiperson solipsism is a thing? The Reader thought that bit of Heinlein was fiction.

        1. Once you understand that the universe is paradoxic, (electron 100% wave, 100% particle) it makes sense we cannot understand, when we understand. So the characters in Sarah’s novel participate in creating the novel.

          1. The Reader has always thought that the duality of ‘particles’ and ‘waves’ was a sign of our inferior understanding of the universe. There is something missing from that description, even though experimental results confirm it to some extent.

            1. For over 40 years I have been collecting paradoxes. Found over 300. A good manager is a cynical-innocent, who trusts everyone and no one at the same time. That is also the sign of a good bank teller. The difference between a true paradox and a mystery is that with a mystery, the more you understand it, the less mysterious it becomes. With a true paradox, the more you understand it, the more mysterious it becomes. So predestination and free will are both 100% true. Easy to say, hard to understand.

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