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Jun. 30th, 2030 | 11:59 pm

Hi there. Interested in following along with what's going on in my life and my random thoughts? Add me to your friends list, and I'll most likely friend you back. I think you can send me a message via the LJ message center too. I'm not overly paranoid about what I write - I just don't like internet search engines and identity correlation machines data-mining me.

Usually I write about my little girl, family, current happenings, thoughts on politics and a fair amount of geek stuff.

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Dec. 14th, 2011 | 02:56 pm

Looks like LJ doesn't allow my "friends page" to go back more than 20 posts anymore?

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Mine Sweeper - The Movie

Nov. 24th, 2008 | 05:16 pm

Something we can all relate to. :)

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Ethan of Athos

Nov. 23rd, 2008 | 01:00 am

Ethan of Athos Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This story is set in the Miles Vorkosigan world, but really happens completely apart from those characters save for one member of the Dendarii Mercenaries joining forces with the protagonist as part of her own investigation.

One of the key technologies of this universe is the uterine replicator, a piece of equipment that lets people make babies without a women carrying the baby to term herself. So the idea of a bunch of religious nuts deciding women are evil and settling a remote planet with a bunch of uterine replicators and their own ovarian cultures seems like a logical and believable next step.

In any case, faced with the collapse of the ovarian cultures several generations later, this backwater world (Athos) has to extend its head out of its proverbial shell of isolation to obtain new samples since the ones they had contracted to deliver were sabotaged. Enter Ethan, one of the supervisors of the reproduction facilities, picked for his can-do attitude and medical ability to "Go get us some eggs!". Take his naive world views and mix with agents of intrigue on a space station, and Bujold spins a yarn of adventure and misadventure with enough plot twists to keep anyone happy.

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All Tomorrow's Parties

Nov. 23rd, 2008 | 12:36 am

All Tomorrow's Parties All Tomorrow's Parties by William Gibson

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This review contains spoilers.

The conclusion of "The Bridge Trilogy" was bittersweet for me. I very much enjoyed watching Rydell, the down-on-his-luck failed cop cum security guard, stumble his way through Gibson's world and continue to land on his feet while playing pivotal roles in events too large for him to really comprehend. That ability to land on his feet is what prevents Rydell from attaining his goal of being on the reality-show "Cops in Trouble". I also enjoyed Chevette, the street-wise bike courier originating from the Bridge whose street smarts let her see what Rydell consistently misses. Some of the most piercing insights of the book are delivered through her. I'm sad to be leaving this character and others. I enjoyed the ride, yet found the climax missed the mark.

In this final installment, Rydell finds himself the custodian of Rei Torei, the Japanese media icon who has never been anything but an media construct, self aware and emergent, and also iconic. Perhaps this character was meant to represent how our own perceptions of celebrity are unattainable even for celebrities. Both Rydell and Rei are guided from cyberspace by Laney, the lens through which Gibson focuses his critical eye on the media and our mass-produced culture. Laney is cursed by the ability to aggregate data on the Net and perceive inflection points both in people's personal lives and in the course of society. Laney calls them nodal points, and he perceives a nodal point only once equaled in history is in the process of forming, the epicenter of which is on perhaps the most intriguing character of the trilogy, The Bridge.

The Bridge is what we know as the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and in the novel it was condemned after earth-quake damage rendered it unsafe for vehicular traffic. Eventually it was settled by squatters, becoming a fairly autonomous subculture, and a refuge from the corporatized monoculture of the rest of the city. Gibson did a nice job painting this environment with rich textures. So much so that the discovery of a Lucky Dragon convenience store (think 7-11) at the entrance to the bridge in this third novel jarred me as much as it did the characters.

Guiding events, even shaping them and causing the nodal point to come to fruition, is the villain of the series, Cody Hargrove. Unfortunately, the climax loses some of its punch due to the fact that the outcome Hargrove seeks to manifest is ambiguous even by his own admission. Hargrove seeks not to eliminate an enemy, or reap a fortune. Rather, he is attempting to manifest pivotal change while maintaining his position on the other side of that change. In that way, Hargrove's intentions aren't personal, they are corporate, and perhaps he is simply meant to be a human face for the ambitions of corporate greed. The desire for corporations to suppress threats (change) yet survive and profit from the change that does happen fits perfectly.

The paradigm shifting change in this book is a disruptive technology - nanoreplicators that are installed into every Lucky Dragon to enable a new service - the nanofax. Buy an object, fax a copy to a Lucky Dragon near you. In the world of overnight delivery that struck me as a bit odd, though Hargrove's assertion "it's too stupid to fail" rings true too. During an interview between Hargrove and a reporter the issue of copyright is touched upon indirectly, and in my mind would have been the perfect motive for yet another corporate alliance to oppose Hargrove, not to mention a fine soap box for yet more social commentary. Yet Hargrove (and Gibson) dismiss this issue immediately as not important.

Those who who read Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy may recall how many of those characters were humans obsessed with "crossing over" into immortality, into cyberspace, into emergent systems? In light of that observation, what the nanofaxes at the lucky dragons portend for Rei Torei hint at one of the outcomes of the novel, and given Rei Torei was created by corporations as a media construct, it manifests the issue of copyright on a completely different level. Yet the significance of this moment is hard to grasp within the story that is told. Hargrove is defeated, but it doesn't seem to matter. Circumstances force Rydell and Chevette to cross paths and come together again, yet it's not clear why their future as a couple, or the world they live in, is brighter. Rei Torei is made manifest a thousand times over, yet Hargrove doesn't seem to have ever been trying to thwart that outcome - probably because Rei Torei never indicated she was trying to achieve that outcome.

Many more colorful characters decorate the pages as dazzling gems, and for those characters and how their observations about the world they live in relate to ours, the book is worth reading. Just don't be surprised if you're scratching your head a little. If you're not, call me and tell me what I missed.

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Instant Messenger Pigeons

Nov. 10th, 2008 | 03:21 pm

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

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A declaration of war

Nov. 6th, 2008 | 02:10 pm

I have a bad habit. I let my mail stack up until it becomes a huge project to sort through it. This is so I can optimize the process of opening and sorting mail into piles. There's the "to process" pile, the "to file" pile, the "to shred" pile, and the "to recycle" pile. I get so many credit solicitations that in the course of a month or two the "to recycle" and "to shred" piles add up to over a paper grocery bag full of recycled paper. I really resent the time this crap I get inundated with takes from my life. Thanks to my friend at Apple sharing with me his photos and experiences about fighting junk mail I decided to take a shot at getting control of my mailbox again. I'm declaring war on junk mail.

Step 1: http://dmachoice.org - This website offers a place to register your address and each name located there, and to then add your name to do-not-mail lists for various categories.

Step 2: Keep following the Ten Step Plan at http://www.ecocycle.org/junkmail/

Wish me luck!

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(no subject)

Nov. 4th, 2008 | 01:15 am

My favorite political ad for 2008. I hope its powers of predictions hold true November 4th. But for those of you not remembering (or repressing) the original, I'll include it here first.

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Oct. 29th, 2008 | 01:00 pm

While browsing around in a super market, I found a circular tub filled with ice and bottles of Coca-Cola. At first glance I couldn't see why they it was $1.39 for a bottle of coke. Then I noticed it was "Mexi-coke". Coke imported from Mexico, which means it was sweetened with cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup, which presumably means it tastes better. I purchased a bottle and performed a taste test myself - I did like it better but not so much better I felt I just "HAD* to have more.

The reason High Fructose Corn Syrup is so popular as a sweetener in the US is because the US embargo's the world sugar. So sugar is 3x more expensive in the states.

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(no subject)

Oct. 24th, 2008 | 04:56 pm

The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan) The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the introduction to Miles Vorkosigan, the driving force and principal character in The Vorkosigan series. As a sharp mind trapped in a brittle body, it is enjoyable to watch a character relying on wits more than brawn. Miles is not just encumbered by his body - he is driven to compensate and this is fuel for some of the fires he gets himself into. The ball bounces a little too unbelievably in Miles' favor sometimes, but in the end Bujold pulls off a fast paced adventure that morphs into a conspiracy plot of palace intrigue in a satisfying way. This series reminds me of the Sci-Fi show "Firefly". I keep wanting to not like it and keep finding myself reaching for the next book with even more anticipation. I'm hooked.

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