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December, 2009:


Mr. Alexander looked up at the office building. Surely that was new? He glanced at Ms. Sharp, walking beside him. Ms. Sharp was unperturbed. Should he ask her about the large gray metal box, with the three turrets and smokestack? He was certain that it hadn’t been there earlier this week. It looked like the kind of addition that required contractors with tool belts and large machinery. It must have always been there, because he would have noticed a crane.

Ms. Sharp flicked her eyes sideways at her companion. Why hadn’t she ever noticed that addition? But she was afraid that inquiring would make her seem foolish and unobservant, so she didn’t.

The time-travellers had seen this before, around the globe and throughout history. Just like tying a firecracker to a cat’s tail, but the cat never noticed. Eventually someone would ask, but by then it was always too late.

Linky catch-up

Sunday afternoon, fiddling around on the computer and organizing stuff. Fiction, non-fiction, photos… it’s all a mess, and all needs sorted out. At least if I post the links I’ve been accumulating, I don’t need to keep track of them any more.

  • Periodic Table of Visualization Methods: One of my interests is in informative ways to present data. To my mind, this site tries a bit too hard to shoehorn everything into a cute visual metaphor, but it is nonetheless an interesting overview of visualization types.
  • An excavated London witch bottle: urine, brimstone, bent pins.
  • Antique microscope slides: Lovely and fascinating bits of science history.
  • TED talk on using a 13th-c. astrolabe: I have a distinct fondness for astrolabes.
  • Where I Write: Science fiction authors in their natural habitat, recorded by the ever-fabulous photographer Kyle Cassidy. It’s a pleasant change to have this come from within the tribe instead of from someone who seems to be examining a slightly sketchy foreign culture.
  • British science fiction from the New Scientist.

That takes care of a good-size chunk of my back links, though by no means all of them.

Good old USA

This sucks.

Canadian science fiction author Peter Watts was stopped by US Border Patrol agents on his way out of the US, beaten up, detained, all his things confiscated, then kicked out. In shirtsleeves. In December. In Ontario.

And he’s been charged with assault too.

Many people have discussion and commentary, including Peter himself.

People are putting together fundraising efforts to pay his legal expenses.

I’m embarrassed for my country. One person is harassed and beaten by US guards at the US border. He happens to be known internationally and his friends are willing and able to raise a fuss, and money. How many people without those resources does this happen to?


Soft splats all around me, and I’d forgotten my umbrella again. I brushed a frog from my shoulder and reached down to dislodge another from the German shepherd. The poodle snapped at a falling amphibian. The Airedale just looked disgruntled. At least it wasn’t blood this time. The dogs had tracked that all over the house. The stains would probably never come off the floors.

I came up with this clever scheme after getting laid off: gullible people paying me up front for the security of knowing their pets would be cared for after the Rapture. Even good dogs don’t go to Heaven. Lots of them did pay me. Now I was stuck with the consequences: dogs, cats, hamsters. I’m glad I said no to the donkeys, even when their owner offered to pay double.

I thought I was so smart, but I don’t even like animals all that much.