Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Charlie Stross Explains It All to You

The rest is details:

The reason I choose to pay through the nose for my computers is very simple: unlike just about every other manufacturer in the business, Apple appreciate the importance of good industrial design.

but they’re nice details.

(posted from my daughters’s “new” G4, which needs a new keyboard, but has a right shift key)

[Apple ticker symbol corrected in tags. Thank you.]

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A Dramatic Reading of My Novel

Most of time when I write something, I sign it. A piece in the first Great American Baseball Stat Book. The first three editions of a book called Interest Rate Trends and Comparisons put out by the bank at which I worked in the late 1980s.* Review pieces in various publications. A piece in Institutional Investor last year on the opportunities for clean water and sewage investment in Emerging Market countries. Blog posts, such as this one.

There are two exceptions to this. I reviewed for several years for Publishers Weekly, back in the days when they paid better and protected anonymity by fiat. So while I claim to have been the first person to use “fuck” or “cunnilingus” in a PW review, I can’t be certain that’s so—and, more relevantly, no one else can be certain it was me.

The other is a collaborative novel entitled Atlanta Nights, whose sole author credit is Travis Tea. You may have heard of it. While I did write one chapter of it (Chapter 16; by the way, I did not play midfield for Hull in the 1960s, no matter how Wikipedia links), you’ll find no attribution of that in the book itself. (Nor did any of the other authors take credit; it was a charity work. How the Google book deal will handle such work is left as an exercise.)

I like the book, and am very happy to have had a small part in its development. But I certainly didn’t expect that someone (“manwithoutabody”) would do a Dramatic Reading of, apparently, the entire book, and post same on YouTube.

My wife’s chapter is below, for your enjoyment. Or, possibly, use in the next Eschaton/Sadly No video battle.

cross-posted from skippy, the bush kangaroo

*I believe I may be listed as “Research Associate” in the 1986 edition.

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PSA: WorldCon with an Economist

The first item on Charlie Stross’s World Science Fiction Convention schedule:

Thursday August 6th, 5pm (Location: P-511CF)
Title: In Conversation: Paul Krugman and Charles Stross
Description: 90 minutes of Charles Stross discussing SF, economics, and other topics with Paul Krugman. [link in original]

Those who might wonder why Krugman would be an appropriate guest at Anticipation (this year’s WorldCon, being held in Montreal starting six yearsdays [h/t Loyal Reader] after we move back to NJ*) are referred to this paper [PDF], which I previously discussed at Tom’s place.

*Which is why Shira doesn’t want to do the eight panels on which she was scheduled.

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SF-Politics Tie-In of the Day

Greg Mitchell’s twitter feed reminds us of Upton Sinclair’s 1934 campaign for Governor of California.

Working on Sinclair’s campaign, as noted in an article we ran several years ago in NYRSF, was a former Naval Officer in his mid-20s whose career was cut short by tuberculosis: Robert A. Heinlein.

As Mitchell notes:

The champion of all dirty races in this century, in fact, was that 1934 contest. Like Barack Obama, Sinclair led a “change” campaign with masses of new or re-energized voters leading him to an upset victory for the nomination from the Democrats in dire economic times. Like Obama, he was pictured as mysterious interloper. And like Obama, he was labeled a “Socialist.”

Well, actually, that was mostly true in his case.

It’s always interesting to note that to all the people who say they became “libertarian” because of Heinlein.

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The Only Good Crowding-Out Argument

I was pontificating earlier today about how many of the now-unemployed Financial Services workers were, in a previous life, engineers of one stripe or another, and if we’re going to be doing things with the stimulus bill such as re-engineer the power grid, some of them may well decide to return to their previous life. And with a 60% increase in the number of people unemployed since May of 2007, there should be some decent competition.

Leave it to my old friend Terry Bisson to completely undermine that argument:

I think the big Wall Street bonuses are a fine idea.

Without them, Wall Streeters will all look for other jobs. Do we really want these greedy incompetent clowns building our houses, teaching our children or driving our cabs?

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Weird Tom Disch Connection

Today at Readercon, my wife participated on a Necrology panel. (“Those we’ve lost this year…”)

An audience member mentioned that Tom Disch wrote an episode of Miami Vice, featuring James Brown.

Also appearing was Chris Rock, four years before New Jack City made him a movie star.

Anyone who can tell me about the episode? If not, consider this an open thread.

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Not Painless, or "There’s no way I could tell you/What he meant to me"

UPDATE: NYT Obituary here. Some book cover images added.

Two years ago at Readercon, I found myself doing some hero-worship in the Green Room.

Friday, we had discovered that my piece on Jorge Luis Borges was the first of the appreciations of that year’s Memorial Guest of Honor. (I assume this was because of its length.) Saturday, Shira and I had interviewed living GoH Jim Morrow. Sunday afternoon was going to be for seeing old friends.

Sunday morning, I came out of a panel, and there was Tom Disch, sitting alone in the Green Room.*

So I got five minutes—maybe ten—of getting to bubble over about “The Cardinal Detoxes” and On Wings of Song and Black Alice and The Castle of Indolence.

And he asked about why I was there, and I mumbled something, and Shira pointed out that I had written reviews for The Washington Post—to this man who had been the best reason to read The Nation for much of my early adult life.

And I asked about the rumors that he had stopped writing due to depression over his partner’s death (possibly not that directly), and he said he was still writing, and a few week’s later I found that he did indeed have some works scheduled to come out. And I believed him.

But apparently, that stopped being true.

If I’m at all qualified to have the politics of an Angry Bear, On Wings of Song should get much of the credit. (The excesses are mine.)

Subtitle reference (YouTube link).

*We had seen him on Friday night, having a pleasant dinner with Pamela Zoline, but that’s not a conversation one interrupts to hero-worship, even if you’re not trying to ride herd over two children in a dark bar.

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