31 July 2005

reality tv

i think it'd be cool to put a bunch of people in a large well-equiped lab with a machine shop/carpentry shopand have them build stuff we use or used everyday. without ANY reference materials, of course. lightbulb, telegraph, telephone, radio, thermometer, pen, etc.

Goe, got more ideas than desire to jot them all down.

29 July 2005


am going to link most of the ones i have on the right, below the archive thingie n other stuff. don't have copies of a few, they got eaten with the nest.

Goe, doesn't know if he'll rewrite the one with the hand-knit balloons.

Nothing to watch?

Movie Reviews from muppets. Much funnier in concept than execution.

Goe, snickered a bit.

28 July 2005

A potato named McKenzie

The car was a bright brown, almost neon, and it's driver was not a happy man. He stopped the car in front of a small house on an otherwise deserted large street. He peered out the windows, and checked the house number against a piece of paper he pulled from his pocket. Grimacing, he opened his door and stepped out. He moved briskly to the trunk, opening it and removing two large plastic jugs. He closed the trunk and placed one jug on it, and the second on the first, before picking them both up and turning toward the house again. He moved with great deliberation, not quite breaking into a run, yet definately not strolling along the walkway. He stared straight ahead, ignoring the dandelions growing to either side. The dandelions would have to die, but other matters were more pressing.

He tapped the door with his foot as soon as he was close enough, and it swung back into shadow. He stepped inside and the door was slammed behind him. The man behind the door looked at him, looking terrified despite wielding a large scythe. "Only two, Grover?" he asked, glancing between the newcomer and the door.

"Only two," replied Grover, as he set the jugs down against the wall. He carefully stepped over to the window. "They know we're planning something. They were waiting for me. I don't think they know about the goats yet."

The man behind the door sighed. "As long as you weren't followed, we can wait until dusk." Grover shook his head.

"They're coming," he said, watching the dandelion seeds scatter lazily in the non-existance breeze. The other man joined him at the window and watched in horror as dozens of small white flowers sprang up through the tangle of weeds and turned toward the house. Grover stepped away from the window and tried to tip-toe hastily toward the garage. He opened the door and several dozen pastel-colored goats ran past him into the living room.

The other man walked back to the front door, standing behind it with his scythe again. "Ready when you are."

Grover nodded and opened a jug. The door swung open and both men chased the goats outside. The two men followed, Grover sloshing a milky green fluid from the open jug across the weeds, the other man slashing stems with the scythe. The goats milled around under the eaves, eating the weeds closest to their feet. Without warning, an unfinished monkey swung down from the roof and landed on Grover's shoulder, knocking him flat.

The other man swung around with the scythe, cracking part of the monkey's ceramic endoskeleton and severing the hydraulic lines running to it's tail. He swung again and connected with it's head, a black goo dripping from where it's computer should have been. The monkey went limp and Grover rolled over onto his stomach before lifting himself up. The two men nodded to each other and began backing into the house. As the door shut, a very pale black goat stepped out from the eaves and began nibbling on the broken monkey. The remaining flowers turned toward that goat, and, for the first time in it's existence, the master potato was afraid.

Goe, wants to know more about Lord Kimbot.

27 July 2005

jibba jabba

it turns out that being eaten alive is bad for you.

corruption plus incompetence equals government.

Goe, keeping an eye out for falling rocks and pitiable foo's.

26 July 2005


landlocked countries required to provide port facilities for international shipping.

that's the kind of thing that happens when you leave the government in charge.

Goe, thinks we should sink europe and start over.

24 July 2005

Schroedinger's Cat

I heard a really unbelievable explanation of schroedinger's cat, so I looked it up. It seems that people who should know are split on what it means. Some think he was proving that quantum physics are a load of crap, and others think he was proving that quantum physics are really bizarre. I'm inclined to agree with the former, what's your take?

Goe, because the falling tree will make a lot of noise.

22 July 2005

A bat free moon.

is apparently not what it seems. Zoom in.

Goe, wasn't expecting that.

21 July 2005

London Bombs

this sort of agrees with this, but also not.

The police were confident for the first few days last time that the bombs were timed. It's possible that the police were wrong, the timers were faulty, or that the timers were deliberately set short to make them suicide bombs.

Things were different the second time. either the bombs were deliberately crippled by the bombers to protect themselves, or by the bomb-builder to compensate for the possibility of faulty timers.

Goe, not blowing anything up today.

18 July 2005


There was a lot of noise, and he didn't care much for it. Each of the five screens had it's own sound system, all blaring the alarm. The screens were flashing brightly colored warnings. He couldn't concentrate because none of the five screens nor their accompanying sirens were synchronized. Loud and distracting, it was one of the most unpleasant noises he'd ever heard in his life.
He spent most of his time watching the five screens and listening to their audio streams. Most of the time his job bored him senseless. With the audio off, he would stare at the ceiling and let his mind wander. It was this habit of not paying attention to the here and now that let him think. He had, out of pure habit, muted all the screens and began to look at them as their messages flickered through the room.
An engine had failed. He didn't know what engine had failed, why it had done so, or anything else about it. He wasn't an engineer and knew practically nothing about them. As a communications analyst, his job was to watch the screens and write reports about the people on the planet below, not meddle with the engines. That was what the engineers were for.
There wasn't one on the ship, he was alone. He was almost through with his year-long observation mission, and hadn't needed one yet. He hadn't needed one ever, he realized once he stopped and thought about it, nor had he ever heard of someone needing an engineer while observing. He knew someone who needed a dentist once while on a mission, but that wasn't going to help him with the engines.
The computer knew enough about the engines to flash screens at him and play sirens, so he shut off the screens and went to the main control console. He switched it over to the engine computers and it's screen began flashing. He hit buttons at random until the flashing stopped, and then read the warning messages. It seemed that some sort of valve thing had failed and caused an engine of some sort to do something which meant that the ship was now falling out of orbit.
The ships were quite spacious, intended to land on planets during the first planetary contact and serve as an embassy until a more formal structure could be built. All of the offices and apartments were sealed off. The analyst could get into them, but didn't want to have the bother of keeping them clean. He knew the ambassador and staff were to arrive in a few weeks, to relieve him and make contact, but the ship was leaving orbit early. It was leaving orbit right then, and although landing on a planet is technically done through a controlled fall, he wasn't very happy with that description. It sounded bad, and things that sounded bad usually were.
He fiddled around with the controls until he was able to get a projection of the ships course. The screen showed the planet's surface, with a small flashing "X" in the middle of an ocean and an estimated impact velocity. He wasn't sure what the number meant, physics wasn't his field, but it was very large and he didn't like it. He furrowed his brow and stared at the screen.
He hit a big button marked 'RADIO' and the screen flashed up another message. 'CURRENT COURSE PLOT WILL RESULT IN COLLISION. (A)BORT or (C)hange'. He tried to abort it, and the map of the planet was displayed again. He pressed the radio button again, aborted again, and looked at the map again. Abort wasn't working, but maybe Change would change him to the radio so that he could call for help. He pressed radio again, pressed change, and saw something new. "SELECT NEW LANDING SPEED/LOCATION" appeared on the map, with bullet instructions on the interface.
He selected a city at random, and lowered the speed as much as the computer would let him. He pushed the execute button and felt larger engines firing. Pilots were trained for thirty years to master what he had done in five minutes. He wondered if he could just take a licensing test and become a landing pilot without the decades of study, there didn't seem to be that much to it, after all.
It wasn't until he landed that he remembered that ambassadors also get several decades of training. He smiled slightly. He had been writing reports on the planets cultures for the ambassador to study. Watching their television broadcasts for so long had left him with a functional use of the language. He wasn't really an ambassador, but for a few weeks at least, he could fake it.

Goe, more later.


as it turns out, can get hot.

Goe, happy to have ac.

15 July 2005

American Sunshine

First demonstrated 60 years ago tomorrow.

Goe, leaves stuff on the table.

14 July 2005

Rules of Thumb

I wrote these for someone else a few weeks ago.

Any non-libertarian will support libertarian principles only so long as their political opponents are in power. Such support will cease once they or their political allies have power when the empowerment of the state (and hence themselves or their allies) will take priority over any previously libertarian positions they held.

The rhetoric of any political group not currently holding sway over the reigns of power will closely match libertarians regardless of their previous rhetoric or current ideological stance.

A person's opposition to state repression grows with the level of state repression they are experiencing. A person with authority over state repression will not repress themselves and hence have little or no opposition to the state repression of others.

No person is an absolute libertarian. Any person will support the repression of others in some circumstances. The ideology that determines which circumstances differentiate most political groups and are the primary guage of libertarianism.

I'm reposting them because of this. It's become fairly common lately to declare oneself a moderate. Being a moderate means nothing though. Anything other than sitting on the fence makes you an extremist. Being 'moderate' on one issue doesn't make you 'moderate' on any others. Being a moderate just means you're calling yourself a moderate (or someone else is).

You can think instapundit is bad for drinking puppy milkshakes, but it doesn't prevent you from thinking frank j is good or bad for drinking kitten milkshakes unless you're acting off of ideological principles. Principles that lead to a 'moderate' position will lead to extremist positions in other circumstances. Circumstances have a way of tripping people up, and why people who have a guiding principle of being seen as 'moderate' seem to flip-flop on everything.

Philosophical labels don't mean much either. Every socialist varient pretends to be the one true path, and claims to have nothing in common with the others. Anarchists supported the imposition of police states in Eastern Europe.

Have principles, explain them, but calling yourself a moderate doesn't tell anyone any more than posting internet quiz results that show which south park character you'd most likely lose a knife fight to.

Goe, not moderate.


China threatens to nuke us if we interfere with their invasion of taiwan. I think the date for the invasion is getting close, and they'll do it either shortly after the 2008 olympics, or early enough before that it'll be over and done with before the games start.

This isn't some official giving his opinion off-hand, people who do that are put under house arrest in China.

Goe, very concerned.

13 July 2005

12 July 2005

Londoners are blowing up...

Londoners were blown up last week by some not very pleasant people, probably 'young muslims'. The London police invited a suicide-bombing advocate to give a lecture to 'young muslims'.

At least they're not offering him a teaching position at a college like the offer Colin Powell supported. I doubt that the police have been picking up remains "with their bare hands", gloves do seem to be very popular with the British.

I meet a man who worked for years for the VOA and Radio Free Europe. He says that “the radios” were nothing, really, until Reagan came along: He rallied the spirits of those serving them. And he made the radios fulfill their missions. The man confides to me, “I believe Reagan was sent by God” — to confront Communism, and overcome it.

My friend is not alone.
- Impromptus

The peoples of the world who are now free after decades of communism tend to idolize Reagan. They're also prospering by trying to emulate the image of America Reagan represented. We should try that here sometime.

Goe, viva la Reagan Revolucion!

11 July 2005

Public Servants

try getting the job held by the top dog in the Public Employee Retirement System sweepstakes. He only made $89,000 a year when he was working for the state (not quite 300 percent of the average wage of the taxpayers who funded his salary). But when he retired, the PERS board (in its infinite collective wisdom) decided that he was entitled to $221,000 a year for the rest of his life.

Voting just seems to encourage them.

Goe, may have to come up with a different plan.

Tumbledown Logic

An article on bush hatred. I would like to point out that Hitchens wrote well before and after he crossed that 'crevasse'. Being civil or polite didn't make his position any more tenable. If something pisses me off, I'm usually not civil. It has no bearing on whether or not I'm right.

Here we can see a discognitive dissonance that is semi-politely framed. The author holds the position that we're unaware of ongoing violence in Iraq, and that we're encouraging ongoing violence in Iraq. His positions are in complete contrast, except for their hatred of the current administration and its foreign policy. Unlike Hitchens, they are unlikely to go somewhere or do something that might make them aware of this.

There is no happy medium with such things. If we don't send troops into Darfur to stop the ethnic cleansing campaign, it's because of imperialism, racism, and religious extremism. If we did send troops into Darfur to stop the ethnic cleansing campaign, it'd be because of imperialism, racism and religious extremism. No matter what is done, they'll be unhappy because what is or isn't done isn't what bothers people on the left. What bothers them is that they don't have control over others.

People handing out copies of religious magazines are annoying, but you're not required by law to take one. Television and radio stations are not required to encourage self-reliance or personal liberty, but corvee labor is not just considered desireable by leftists, many public institutions require it. The people on the left who value freedom follow in the ideological footsteps of those who considered stalinism an exemplary model of governance and personal liberty, and those on the right who value freedom (the libertarian wing of the republican party) just want to be left alone. The right is far less likely to torture and tyrannize than the left, but the left is far better with propaganda.

Goe, on account of the barking moonbats.

10 July 2005

random idiots.

went looking at local blogs this evening. the most conservative one i've found makes howard dean look right-wing.

For each teacher, secretary, principal, janitor and other worker, Oregon schools paid an average of $18,300 for health insurance and retirement pay in 2002-03. That was 55 percent more than schools across the nation.

As of July 1, school districts must pay 17 percent on top of salaries for state pension costs, up from 12 percent the past two years.

By contrast, Washington school districts now pay 3 percent on top of salary to fund their employees' state pensions.

Yes, class sizes are too large and electives too few, says Kris Kain, president of the state teachers union, the Oregon Education Association. But fixing those problems should be accomplished by trimming health insurance costs, closing corporate tax breaks and having Oregonians invest more money in schools -- not by cutting teacher benefits.

- paper

Their solution is to demand more money from everyone else. It's not education, students need to be learning for that, it's extortion.

Goe, against it.

Troop Transformation.

The Inventor of the Puppy-based Milkshake cites a few sources generally regarded as reputable to downplay the recruitment problems the army is having.

They say it doesn't mean much because the combat troops can be gained by transferring troops from support to combat, and filling the support roles with civilians...

The army is using a lot more civilians now. In a war like this, it’s cheaper to hire additional civilians, on short term contracts, than it is to recruit and train more troops.
says strategypage.

Short term contracts are cheaper if you're in a short term war. The theater may change, but this war will, by all assurances, go on a very long time. If the civilians are, on average, being paid more than their military counterparts then it's a waste of money in the long term to hire civilians for jobs that could be done by uniformed troops (giving us more accountability as well). If they're being paid less, than it undercuts the argument that high-paying civilian jobs are drawing away potential recruits, a claim Strategypage has also put forth. So Strategypage holds that we can't find enough recruits because they can get paid more to do the same job if they stay a civilian, and this is good because it'll cost us less to pay them more. Nonsense.

Frankly, person for person civilians are capable of doing as good a job as the green suiters and in many cases can do it better.

The primary reason is that the military duty cycle at a given position is one or two years. In extreme cases it can go as high as four to five, but that is truly extreme and requires special circumstances. On the Civilian side, we commonly work at in a given position 5 to 7 years just like in private industry. We don't stop being the new guy until a year or two in, but by that time the green suiters are already moving on to their next posting.
- Not Strategypage

This is really only true for officers. Enlisted soldiers can stay in the same field for their entire career, and the army created the specialist ranks (4-7) to accomodate people who did this. The 5-7 ranks were abolished and those people were made NCO's of the same paygrade, turning the SP4's into SPC's, who get paid the same as a corporal but haven't the same authority. The wisened old sergeant who excelled in his field was a hallmark of army training from it's founding over 200 years ago, but has been discarded recently in favor of a jack-of-all-trades. The old system worked well, providing the framework around which the nco corps was scaled up with each new war. If they weren't suddenly short on combat troops, the pentagon would probably be happy to let it continue forever.

This is also why the National Guard is trained in a lot of technical fields like communications.

This just isn't true. The Army has been fighting to speed up the process of redesignating and retraining national guard units to fill other roles. Primarily they want to turn reserve component combat units into mp's so that they can be deployed on more peacekeeping missions. This requires a restructuring of troop assignments as well as retraining, voiding decades of experience and cohesion.

The reason a lot of support unit were put in the reserve component (and primarily the reserves, not the national guard) is that the army felt it didn't use those assets regularly enough to justify paying for them full-time. making them reserve units kept direct pentagon control (no state interference), and kept a pool of trained soldiers with the maintained equipment just in case they were needed. the expertise one gets through years of experience is not something the army has ever planned on or counted on, and is something actively discouraged in the officer corps, which has a doctrine of "up or out", get promoted or leave, but don't stay put.

His position only makes sense if you believe officers are the only people in the army who do anything, but their not. They're there to give orders.

A side note to both is the role of civilians in combat. Since the pentagon has chosen a war strategy based on firebases seperated by great distances, everyone outside of a firebase perimeter is in a combat zone. (and I know I'm using the term firebase loosely, the fob's we've set up in Iraq don't have the artillery that gave firebases their fire, relying on airstrikes instead, but the general principle of their usage is closer to firebases than to any other modern warfare concepts... non-modern, they're flat forts from which the soldiers rally forth to patrol and fight).

With our support and logistical train in the combat zone, we've packed it with civilians, who can either remain unarmed and die quickly, or arm themselves for self-defense making the larger paycheck the only difference between them and the troops they've replaced.

No matter what happens with civilians in combat or recruitment levels, I'm confident that Instapundit and Strategypage will claim it's good news.

Goe, doesn't understand how a toe-mah-toe would be cheaper than a toe-may-toe.

09 July 2005

Foreign Aid

I don't like it. I posted elsewheres that I don't like it (in the comments). Almost all of it is wasted through corruption. Too much of it is collected not from generous donors but through extortion, "give us money or we'll throw your tourists in jail!".

And yes, I know that technically I shouldn't end a sentence with !"., but grammar rules never made sense so I try to take a logical approach to such things.

There's a better way to do foreign aid, methinks. Establish an office in our embassies in whichever third world countries respect the rights of their citizens. Probably already an office for foreign aid in all of them, so it'd really be closing the offices in oppressive countries.

The office would field requests, not from the country's national government, but from private individuals and local (city/town/village) councils for things they want/need. A lot of these will be spurious requests for self-aggrandizement, but some will have actual benefits to the general public. We don't, however, give them the money. We run bids, let local businessmen made bids (w/ designs/blueprints for anything involving construction), and if it looks good, award pay-on-completion contracts to the best bid (price::quality).

It would build up skillsets in the local population, pump money into the local economy, and provide them with things of lasting public benefit while circumventing the bulk of local governmental agencies (the ambassadors will have to earn their pay) hence bypassing the bulk of the corruption. It'd have the added benefit of raising the profile of our aid programs with the public in those countries, since pretty much every country's media wants to portray us as evil.

Goe, needs to finish that story for Rachmeg, but sleep first.

08 July 2005

Multilingual Debate

How Can We Blame America, asks the BBC.

The so called 'war on terror' has if anything fuelled terrorism and this attack is almost wholly due to our invasion of Iraq.

I blame the so-called war on terror for this frightening attack. Joining the US in Bush's unrelated and unprovoked attack on Iraq has made London a target, nothing else. Bush and Blair have made the world more dangerous for all of us.

These two people seriously believe arab terrorists never struck Britain before 11SEP2001? Lockerbie anyone?

Since the attack on Afghanistan, the US has not been serious in fighting al-Qaeda, because it sees al-Qaeda's existence necessary for the American forces to remain in Afghanistan. As long as the US just talks about fighting the terrorism (rather than taking action), we cannot be immune for terror attacks, be it in Madrid or Tehran or London or Baghdad. We should really think about where the next target would be.

If we ignore that Al Qaeda was working in Iraq before we invaded Iraq, and assume that Al Qaeda is being left in Afghanistan to justify keeping troops there, then why would we need to be looking at the next target instead of just cleaning up Afghanistan? And how could we clean up Afghanistan if the terrorists can just skedaddle into Pakistan, Syria, Iran, or any other islamic country... or even into Europe, where the WTC attackers did most of their planning.

Of course any terrorist act against innocent people in condemned, but we should look at the reasons why they did this in an impartial way

i.e., normally blowing people up would be a bad thing, but...

Goe, given you an idea of how we're being blamed.

France Denied

Air France plane turned back. If only it was that easy to turn back France.

Goe, against france.

a side note

I'd also like to note that ever since he was elected prime minister of israel, sharon has held a steady platform of "we shall show strength by making sure the terrorists are held at gunpoint while we give them whatever they ask for!"

Everybody's rewarding terrorism these days, and it's not a good thing for anyone to be doing. can't someone in a leadership position somewhere grow a damned spine already?

Goe, not invertebrate.

You don't say...

"Targeting civilians in their transport means and lives is denounced and rejected," Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy chief of the group's political bureau said in Damascus by telephone.


West Bank Attack, May 13, 1996:
Arab gunmen opened fire on a bus and a group of Yeshiva students near the Bet El settlement, killing a dual U.S./Israeli citizen and wounding three Israelis. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but HAMAS was suspected.

Jerusalem Bus Attack, August 21, 1995:
HAMAS claimed responsibility for the detonation of a bomb that killed 6 and injured over 100 persons, including several U.S. citizens.

HAMAS Bus Attack, February 26, 1996:
In Jerusalem, a suicide bomber blew up a bus, killing 26 persons, including three U.S. citizens, and injuring some 80 persons, including three other US citizens.

- U.S. Army

Hamas Takes Blame for Deadly Bus Bombs, a little more recently.

I guess what he meant is that bombing civilians is bad unless it's convenient and/or not likely to bring about any retaliation.

Goe, noting that islam is intrinsically racist.

07 July 2005

Repetition is the soul of blah blah blah

IMAO suggests using pork products in weapons systems to ward off potential attackers. The Dissident Frogman made a very similar suggestion some time ago. If this gets repeated enough, it may catch on.

Goe, thinks it's a good idea.

06 July 2005


Constitutional Slavery.

Goe, found it disturbingly amusing.

I'm more ____ than you!

Saw something that reminded me of a post I made elsewhere on moderates. Basically, a moderate is someone who agrees with you, an extremist is one who has a view that you won't tolerate. It doesn't really matter what your views are, that's the way our society defines those terms.

I was poking around online and saw someone describe themselves as being raised Southern Baptist but "more open-minded" than what they claim their family wanted. This falls into the same realm as 'moderate'. I've met about as many people who were more open-minded than I am as I have people who were less so. The primary difference seems to be what they are open-minded about, which doesn't actually make them open-minded, just of different opinions.

Most of the people I know who would feel comfortable marching in a gay rights parade would go spastic if Southern Baptists held a prayer vigil in a city park. The person I know who most advocates against religious persecution wants the Catholic church outlawed. Very few people are more tolerant, they just tolerate different things.

Goe, doesn't tolerate bigots or the french.


Patriot or lefty, you decide.

Goe, hearing strange noises.

05 July 2005


on a story.

Goe, may have it done soon.

Reduced Capacity

During the Second World War, U.S. engineers landed on an island with no development on it, filled in a small lagoon, and built an airstrip on the filled-in lagoon. It was twelve days from the time the first engineer landed on the island until the first airplane landed on that airstrip.

Goe, doesn't think we could do that today.


in case you missed it, supreme court news.

Goe, doesn't care for justices who don't care for freedom.

04 July 2005

Fallacy of Pentagon Plans

The Pentagon may be changing big-picture strategy according to the New York Times.

The current military strategy is known by a numerical label, 1-4-2-1, with the first number representing the defense of American territory. That is followed by numbers representing the ability to deter hostilities in four critical areas of the world, and to swiftly defeat two adversaries in near-simultaneous major combat operations The final number stands for a requirement that the military retain the capability, at the same time, to decisively defeat one of those two adversaries, which would include capturing a capital and toppling a government.

It's what's known as the two-war strategy because it centers on only fighting two regional wars at one time. Note that we hold the enemy in one war, while winning the other. The plan doesn't have us advancing on both enemy capitals at the same time.

If you read this Pentagon publication, you'll see that the two-war doctrine is seen there as being too aggressive in posture. They want to drop the deterrence in non-war theaters of the two war plan, and reduce the offensive capacity of the war designated a holding action, in favor of supplementing the non-holding war with additional resources.

One of the many problems with this is that, like most plans on military restructuring, it centers on Hollywood's view of military capability. Special Forces and gadgetry are the answer to every question. Despite the repeated claims of restructing advocates, there is not an infinite supply of special forces soldiers lying around waiting to be tapped. There's nothing 'special' about a special forces soldier unless they've finished special forces training, and if the training requirements are lowered so that more people can graduate, they'll be less 'special'.

Special Forces were created to fill a niche in unconventional warfare. Their training and equipment doesn't suit conventional warfare very well because it's not their reason for being. While we've got special forces units who've trained for and spent time in Korea, they're not the ones who've been sitting on the border. The guys sitting on the border are the ones we need more of, but their duties, while important, are too mundane to attract interest or support.

Another reason the pentagon wants to get rid of conventional forces is money. Soldiers require food and supplies, and that means more soldiers to supply and guard, who require more food and supplies, etc. The pentagon wants to reduce the tooth:tail ratio to get rid of the expensive non-combat tail. This isn't a new problem, it's centuries old. Armies of the Roman Empire had baggage trains to carry their supplies. By the Napoleonic Era, baggage trains could easily dwarf the armies they supported as not only supplies but soldiers families and their supplies, merchants and their goods and supplies, and all manner of assorted hangers-on joined the baggage trains.

In the Second World War, a pared down logistical structure meant about that each soldier on the front in Europe required five more to keep him fed, paid, supplied, and treated if injured. In the Pacific, each soldier required seventeen for the same ends. In the first gulf war, it took us six months to move about twelve divisions (counting assorted brigade and lesser elements as well as the Marines) into Saudi Arabia. In this last war, it took us the same amount of time to move fewer than six divisions into place, and our logistical structure almost broke under the pressure of doing so while also supplying soldiers in Afghanistan. Just the drop in air-sorties by ground-based aircraft should have made this war much easier to support than the last, but our logistical capabilities were cut deeper than our offensive assets. We can outfight any enemy, but in heavy combat, our units will run out of ammo before they run out of targets. we've already had to purchase large amounts of ammunition from other countries because the pentagon shut down a lot of our own ammunition production.

The pentagon isn't deterred by their own inability to deploy and supply troops. Special forces are easy to deploy and supply, and with sufficient carrier battle groups, can hold off a much larger attacking force. Are we going to tie our warfighting ability to how many carrier battle groups we can get into a region? A great many of the military's new technologies require more technicians to repair and maintain than the combat soldiers the systems make obsolete. The tail either gets longer or the equipment breaks down, eliminating any advantage of having it.

(an ignored disadvantage of a combat multiplier is that as we deploy more of them in lieu of regular infantry, we're collecting our eggs into fewer baskets for our enemies to hit. Remote controlled airplanes are really useful until someone pops into a radio shack and builds a wide-spectrum jammer.)

Goe, ranting and raving.

Attack of the Comets

I'm sure that by now you've heard of the recent strike against a comet, and the resulting lawsuit. I would like to point out that the comet is not expected to veer off course and impact the Earth. Instead, it will fly back out to the Oort Cloud, aka the Cometsphere, where it's experiences will be relayed to other comets via a combination of talkshow appearances and Instacomet postings, until the other comets have been angered and come charging in at us. Fortunately for us, the abandonment of serious space exploration by our government three decades ago means when the comets get here, Europe and China will be the guilty-looking parties.

Goe, not being very serious.

03 July 2005

Phil A. Busters

Sadly, there's probably more than a little truth to this fake news.

Goe, falling behind on his to do list.


British paper says Robert Mugabe is being maliciously slandered just because he wants his political opponents to die. Samizdata notes absurdity of story.

Only at the very end of some reports is it said that the Harare city authority's stated reason for the evictions is to build better, legal houses for 150,000 people

- Guardian trying to downplay sincerity of reports.

The poor, punished for their poverty rather than for voting one way or another, will become poorer and the shacks and shelters so brutally pulled down in the past month will just go up somewhere else.

- Guardian admitting that the mass evictions don't actually serve a purpose.

Goe, has an idea but probably won't be able to concentrate until the weekend is over.

02 July 2005

Flagpole, right ahead!

Someone wanted to make a statement. The flag is 7200 square feet, the 'Star Spangled Banner' was only 1260 square feet, and it was huge. This should not be taken as a sign that Sheboygan is threatened with naval bombardment.

Some people are just proud of their country, and it's flag.

Goe, thinks every carrier at sea should be flying a big-assed flag.


went hiking on a local trail. this is the lower waterfall.

the upper falls is sort of two falls in one. the person gives a sense of scale, even though i've no idea who they are and didn't really want them in the picture.

Goe, feels oblidged to add content even though there's only one reader.

01 July 2005

Better late than never

The Nine Commentaries have apparently persuaded several million people to leave the Chinese Communist Party.

Goe, against commies.

Blockbuster Mad-libs

You can now write your own hit film! Just assemble the pieces below, and presto, instant winning synopsis!

Your characters Name

First name:

Last name:

They are unhappy and living...:

They meet:

who guides them towards the bigger world.

The first place they see the bigger world is

They find out about a special item...

that they wind up

against the advice of (but really with the support of)

Goe, letting you know it may not work right in some browsers, and could use some more work anyways.


I can't see the moon anymore. I think it was there a few minutes ago, but it's definitely not there now. A dark spot, about moon-sized was missing from the field of stars overhead, if I remember correctly. There are no blanked out parts of the sky now though. A perfect night sky, a billion pinpricks of light giving the heavens a grayish tone. Something is wrong though, I can't quite put my finger on it. A cloudless star-filled sky in the early evening is just wrong though.
I mustn't panic. I was definitely panicking earlier, but everyone else was panicking too, so I wasn't being unreasonable. Panicking when the sun ceases to be is a perfectly rational reaction. She didn't panic, but everyone else did. She gave me a poncho when we started to head here. It was to keep me dry in the rain, or to stop the wind, I can't remember. It had to be the wind, because we didn't even see the sun until after the clouds vanished.
I don't see her anywhere, but I know she must be around here somewhere. We got up here before the wind stopped. She was standing next to the edge of the roof, trying to tell me something, but her poncho was flapping in the wind and I couldn't hear her with all the noise.
The antenna on the roof faced toward the city, at least it did before the power went out and we could still see the lights, but now it just points out into the nothingness. Or did it point at the mountain, I don't remember things well under stress. I wish I had my notepad with me today, so I could jot these things down.
Nobody on the radio this morning said anything about the moon vanishing. I would have remembered that, I think. I do need to get off of this roof though, would be easier if there were some stars out so I could see. I wonder how long they've been gone.


The keyboard clicked, and he liked it. He liked it so much he kept typing, striking keys almost at random, quite pleased that he had finally gotten rid of the old keyboard. The old keyboard didn't click, and a few of the keys usually didn't register, so he had swapped it with the keyboard from the cubicle next to his. The woman in the next cubicle had already gone home for the day, while he was stuck working late. He was supposed to be finishing up a report on the projected impact of a competitor's ad campaign on the janitorial requirements of a distant production facility. He knew there was no impact, but management wanted something, and the overtime was nice for the paycheck.
He stopped typing and stood up to stretch. He didn't need to, but it was a habit he had developed shortly after moving into a cubicle for the first time. He was pretty sure staring at cubicle walls wasn't a healthy activity. The cloth-covered cardboard and metal framework was a physical reminder that his goals, ambitions, and dreams, i.e. his life, could go no further. He started at the same cubicle wall everyday, like a rat in a maze, who upon reaching a dead end, hasn't the common sense to turn around and try another path.
He looked around the office. The windows, quite some distance away, were nothing more than black squares on the walls, like rows of perfectly aligned posters. The lights from outside could not compete with the irritating, mind-numbing flicker of the fluorescent banks overhead. The office was, except for him, devoid of life. Even the janitorial staff had fled to the tiled security of the restrooms for the evening.
He was trapped, and he knew it. Most of the people who worked here during the day knew it. Some didn't care, some tried to make the best of it, coming across as retarded Pollyanna's Others tried to pretend they were someplace else, something made easy by the very indistinct office layout. It could have been an office on the moon, or on a basement sub-level, or in the middle of an office building, which is where this one happened to be. He was trapped, he knew it, he was required to explain the obvious to the oblivious via reports and assessments, and he was powerless to change anything.
On the plus side, his keyboard clicked, so he sat back down and began typing again.
After twenty-minutes or so of typing, he deleted everything he had written and started a new introductory paragraph. He considered trying to find a way to trick management into mandating that everyone have a clicky keyboard, but couldn't come up with a plan. Then, a first for both him personally and the company as a whole, he had a stroke of genius. He wrote his report so that no matter what happened, the ad campaign was going to change things in all of their facilities to such an extent, that the janitorial staffs would need to be doubled in size, at least. The most obvious way to minimize the huge financial impact this would have on the company, and this office in particular, was to remove unnecessary furnishings, primarily the cubicle walls. He finished the report, e-mailed it to his manager and a half-dozen assistant vice-presidents, and went home. The next morning, everything was moving as normal. He had received several letters of acknowledgment regarding the report, vague statements of intention to read it later. He never received any feedback at all on the report, but that afternoon, people began to dismantle the cubicle walls. It took them two days to remove them all, but they were gone. The metal framework, the cardboard filler, the cheap tattered cloth. Gone. All of it.
He was greatly enjoying his newfound freedom. Able to see clear across the floor without having to stand up, being able to see if it was safe to sneak an extra break into his schedule, and being able to see things happen. And he saw things happen. He saw impromptu meetings, he saw reports typed, he saw calls made and taken, he saw everything, and he had made it happen. He hadn't planned on everybody else seeing everything, which also happened. The cloth and cardboard that padded his cell was to many others a comforting blanket, shielding them from the office and the people in it.
Productivity skyrocketed. Everybody was working harder. There was no daydreaming, no staring into empty space, no mindlessly typing away on clicky or non-clicky keyboards, no playing with pens, no paperclip-tiddlywinks, nothing but work. He didn't mind this part, always being under someone's scrutiny kept him working, and when he was working, he tended to get lost in his work, not noticing where he was or how long he'd been there. He was no longer a rat in a small, square dead end, he was in a very large dead end, with a lot of other people.
He was singled out though. When the ad campaign began, and the nothing he had always known would happen did finally happen, the janitorial costs didn't budge. His report didn't say that though, and the lack of change was credited to his astute recommendation that they remove cubicle walls. Management believed he had saved the company millions, and he was promoted.
One of the perks of his new position was his own office. Since he was still far below the assistant vice-presidents in stature and salary, it was a rather small office. Just enough space for a desk, chair, and maybe a potted plant. There was a large window next to the door. Through it he could see the hallway, and the door of the office opposite his. He tried to work but couldn't, something just didn't feel right. He stood up to look around, and noticed the view hadn't changed at all. He sat back down and thought that everything would be fine again, if only his new keyboard clicked.

Rising up

There is nothing special to know about balloons. Even balloons don’t know anything special about themselves. They come in many colors and shapes. They remember nothing before their inflation. They have short lives. A few spend their whole lives trying to reach the sky. The rest lie about and dream of a child-safe world. This is not a story about a child-safe world, so balloons of this sort will not find it interesting.
One day, some balloons were filled. They instinctively tried to rise. The Giver of the Air held them down though, for reasons unknown. The Giver tied strings to them then tied the strings together. The Giver then filled more balloons, tied more strings, and tied those strings to the original bunch of strings. The Giver repeated this several more times before taking the balloons out into the world. They were tied to a post, and abandoned.
Tied or not, they tried to rise. Rising was their whole purpose in life. It was why the Giver of Air gave them air. They had to rise, there was nothing else. The lower balloons tried to force their way upwards while the upper balloons tried to do the same. None of them got very far. Mostly they bounced and rubbed against one another. None of the balloons were very happy, but after a while things calmed down. The balloons stopped moving of their own accord, bobbing around only when the wind caught them.
After a few more minutes, the balloons in the middle tried to rise, but couldn’t see where they were going. A white balloon convinced them that the balloons on the top were holding them back. They begged to be let up. The balloons on the top tried to rise also, but were tethered to the others. A blue balloon, almost the topmost balloon, convinced the other top balloons that the lower balloons were intentionally tugging them downwards. Words were exchanged, followed swiftly by another scuffle.
The balloons were too occupied with the fight to notice the Giver of Air had returned. Another clump of balloons was being tied to a nearby post. A yellow balloon from the bottom of the original set banged into its immediate neighbors to draw their attention, informing them of the newcomers. Rather swiftly, the fight ended and every balloon that could see was watching the struggle within the new group as new balloons vied to be on top.
They watched quietly as balloons tugged on strings, squeaked against each other, and made crass remarks about one another’s texture and knot. The balloons watched but did not interfere. When the fighting amongst the newcomers settled down, the original balloons began to stare upwards. They dreamed of rising, floating above all else, and the power that came with being the top balloon.
Most of them could see the top balloon. It was yellow, and far above them. It drifted along slowly, seeing all that there was to see. It held onto its position jealously, sending heat to deter all comers. It hurt their skin, and faded their color. The top balloon had power, and each balloon wanted that power for itself. No fading or thinning would deter them. They wanted to rise, and could think of nothing else.
They could not rise. The strings were still holding them back. For days they struggled against the strings, squabbled amongst themselves, and were burned by the Great Yellow Balloon. There was simply nothing else for them to do. The lives of balloons were short, but also very simple and straightforward. Then the green balloon just to the left of the blue balloon toward the bottom had an idea.
Balloons are not known for being great thinkers. They were thin pieces of latex filled with gas. They were respected accordingly, which wasn’t much, but in keeping with their expectations as balloons. For intellectual prowess, the best comparisons would be a traffic light or a governmental bureaucrat. Original ideas were not their field, rising was. Like a bureaucrat who refuses to do anything other than send matters to another bureaucrat lest he have to make a decision, the balloons desire to rise steered them away from thought.
The green balloon had the idea anyway. The problem, the green balloon reasoned, was not that the upper balloons were holding it back, but that the strings were keeping it from moving far enough to the side to go around the upper balloons. It shared this theory with the blue balloon it was just to the left of, and the blue balloon agreed.
“What difference does that make?” asked a red balloon just above the blue balloon. “Held back by string or strata, we’re still held back!”
The green balloon considered this. It then proposed that if every balloon pulled at the same time, maybe the strings tying them to the post would pop. The red balloon concurred, and passed the message upwards. Within moments, the whole collection of balloons was chanting “1, 2, 3, Pull!”
Some pulled on each “pull”. Some dropped down during the count to get a running start upwards. Some never stopped pulling, but every balloon pulled. They slipped around each other, they were squeezed and jostled, but they pulled. The strings did not pop. The strings didn’t even squeak. There was no sign that the balloons united effort was having any affect on the strings, but the balloons persisted.
A gust of wind from a passing truck hit the straining balloons. The strings snapped and the balloons went tumbling off to the side. They began rising as soon as they realized they were free of the post. They were not free of each other, the string having snapped almost at the post, and so rose together in close to the same positions they had when tied down.
A few moments into their flight, the white balloon in the middle convinced the balloons around it that they’d be rising faster if the balloons on top weren’t holding them back. The blue balloon, almost the topmost balloon, convinced the others on top that they’d be rising faster if the lower balloons weren’t holding them back. They were too busy with the resurrected fighting to see the Giver of Air desperately trying to grab the string.

Tortoise and Cat

The tortoise knew of the cats. There were many cats that roamed through the green lawns, but the suburb was in a desert, leaving very little other green. The tortoise cared about this because he ate anything green he could catch. He ate mostly plants, small cactus, assorted grasses, and the occasional suburban flowerbed. It had been hot, and he'd expended a great deal of energy looking for green away from the lawns, but could only find a lot of browns, which were far too dry and crunchy to make a decent meal. He didn't see another choice (partly because he was tired, hungry, and thirsty, and partly because his eyesight wasn't as good as it had never been), so he slowly headed for the suburbs.
There were many fences along the suburb lawns, more of an annoyance than a hindrance. It had, whenever the need arose, been easy for him to get to the green lawns without crossing the black rock. Many tortoises and other animals had died on the black rock, which stretched as far as his eyes could see. He had crossed the black rock before, but only at night, when the giant crushing monsters didn't roam around it, and almost every tortoise knew better than to try walking on it during the heat of the day.
So he had made his way, step by step, towards the green he couldn't see yet. He made his way across sand, gravel, and browns, and came to a fence. It was a fence he recognized as having a dog on the other side, so he turned and slowly plodded along down the fence-line until he found a dog-free fence. He pushed himself through a small hole, not being large enough to need a larger one, and found himself in a yard. It was a yard full of green, and he felt as happy as a tortoise can.
He didn't see the cat on the fence, but he did feel it land on his shell. There was searing pain in his leg as claws dug in. He tried to turn around and head back for the hole, but the cat had immobilized his leg. He was too occupied with whether or not to panic to realize the cat had released his leg. The leathery pads on the cat's feet pressing down on his snout grabbed his attention, and he retracted into his shell to consider his position.
He knew he couldn't outrun the cat. He couldn't out fight the cat. He was magical though, in the way that all tortoises are, and cats are not. Tortoise magic is not fancy, no bright lights or loud noises, no flying or fire. The tortoise just pulls his extremities back into his shell, says a few magic words, and takes a magic nap, and when he wakes up, everyone else has gone away. The tortoise was already tired and withdrawn into his shell, so he said his magic words, and took his magic nap.
When he woke up, it was dark out. He could see nothing at all. Slowly he pushed his head forward, but instead of seeing what was outside his shell, he got a face-full of fur. This didn't please him, so he bit at it. The fur moved away. He looked out of his shell at the cat that was looking back in. He said his magic words again and tried to take another magic nap.
The cat wouldn't let him nap though. It tried desperately to get him out of his shell. He watched as a foot kept poking in at his face, only to scratch the leathery skin that formed an inverse neck. Being a fairly clever tortoise, he opened his mouth and moved his head forward. When he felt a claw in his tongue, he bit down and tasted red for the first time. He didn't care much for red so he released the foot, watching it withdraw from his shell and vanish to one side as the face of another cat came into view. The first cat lunged at the second, and both scampered out of sight, leaving the tortoise to his green.

Rock and Tide

The beach was rather large, stretching along the water's edge. Toward the center of the beach, a large rock jutted up from the sand, almost ten feet up. It was the largest rock on the beach, being the only rock larger than the small pebbles that lay strewn on the sand.
There was a legend on the beach that there was once a larger rock. One much larger than the one standing. No one knew where exactly it had been, some sand saying it was over here, some sand saying it was over there, the pebbles offering other possibilities. This rock of legend had held back tides. It had brought sand up from the depths. It had collected pebbles of all types and taught them to live in harmony. There was nothing that the rock was not supposed to have done. The large rock never talked about the legendary rock. Sometimes the pebbles would ask, but they were usually ignored.
When the tide started to come in, the pebbles shouted to one another, "We must move, the tide is coming!"
"We will move," chanted the sand, almost hypnotically.
"I will not move." said the large rock.
The pebbles were surprised by this. "You must move, nothing stands before the tide."
"I will not move."
"The tide moves all. The rock of legend is not here to protect us!"
"I will not move."
"We will move," continued the sand.
The argument grew more heated as the tide moved forward. The sand began to shift around as the waves lapped higher and higher on the beach. The pebbles closest to the waterline began to bounce in the frothing water. But the large rock would not move.
The tide kept coming. It came to cover the whole length of the beach, save for one rock jutting up from the turbulent waters. The rock did not move, but stood still as the tide flowed around it on both sides. When the tide crested, only it and the rock remained.
In time, the tide receded. New pebbles and sand had been upturned and were exposed by the withdrawing water. Pebbles began to attribute their surfacing to the large rock, the only thing of note in any direction.
"Thank you for bringing us here! We shall always be grateful!" yelled the pebbles.
"Shut up," said the large rock.
The pebbles were quiet for a while, but soon they began talking with the sand, about the rock that withstood the tide and brought them together. In time, the rock was attributed with bringing unity to the pebbles and sand. With each telling, it grew larger and more mythical, less real.
When the tide started to come in again, the pebbles shouted to one another "We must move, the tide is coming!"


The man was having a very bad day. Traffic had been unusually congested due to an elephant wandering through the streets, making him very late for work. He had barely managed to clock in and get to his desk before his boss arrived. The boss was always late, and usually never returned from lunch, but being later than the boss would get one noticed for all the wrong reasons. He made it this time, but it was close enough to leave him jumpy all day.
Things weren't any better when he left work. He had to work late to make up missed time from that morning, and had to slowly drive home in the evening traffic. He slowly made his way home, and the traffic lightened as the sky grew darker. By the time he turned onto his street, it was quite dark out, and his frustration had been overwhelmed by fatigue.
He almost missed his own driveway. The landmark he usually reacted instinctively to, a small lamppost jutting upwards out of a cluster of shrubs, was not lit, but stood there, silent as always, and unusually dark. He did manage a sharp turn into the driveway, He went inside the house, turned on the porch light, and grabbed a few screwdrivers in case they were needed.
Back in the front yard, he removed the metal frame around the glass shade, and put the shade itself on the ground next to the bushes. He checked the wattage on the bulb and went back inside. He rummaged through two closets and the garage, but didn't find any bulbs Depressed at the thought of more traffic, he went back to his car and drove to the store.
Traffic had lessened considerably, and he made it to the store quickly. It took him a minute or two to find a parking spot, and he made his way inside the store. The store he had chosen was a local home remodeling store. He had done some shopping there before for assorted tasks his wife had nagged him into doing, and had been left with a generally favorable impression of the place.
Inside the store, an entire aisle was devoted to light bulbs and their fixtures. He went past the regular bulbs, and the long tubular florescent lights, and stopped in front of the bulbs that promised energy efficiency and long life. He didn't really care if they saved any energy, his primary concern was that he not need to replace it for a long time. He found one that promised an exceptional lifespan. It was a thin narrow tube, twisted into the general shape of a regular bulb. He took it to the cashier, bought it, and went home.
The traffic was very light on the short drive home, but he muttered about it anyway, and slammed his fist on the dash to emphasize his imagined frustration. When he got home, he wasted no time putting in the new bulb. It was very dim to start with, but it flickered a few times and lit up the yard very brightly. He put the shade back on the lamppost, and reattached the metal cage that held it all together.
The light didn't really light up the yard anymore. Instead, the shade was a very bright ball which seemed to just hover over his yard. He felt a little proud, having achieved something so visible, and smiled. As he turned to go into the house, the light flickered a few times in quick succession, then a brilliant flash cut through the darkness along the street. He panicked and ran inside.
He called the police straight away. It wasn't anything they could help him with, but he didn't know who else to call. The person who answered brushed him off as soon as he described the problem, so he called the fire department. They told him they could only help with fires, and recommended the police, so he called the police again. This time, he was told a patrol car would come around to cite him for making false reports. He thanked the person, and went outside to wait.
The police car came down the street rather quickly. He didn't know if they could see it from where they were, and soon was certain they couldn't. The police car didn't even slow down until the last second, but squealing breaks were not enough to keep it from falling in. It vanished into the hole, and for a split second, he thought he could see flashing lights coming from the void. He didn't wait outside, but went back inside and tried to call the police again. Outside, a gentle breeze blowing through the night sky tugged at the hole in the darkness, as the light flickered merrily.


Sam Hall was not a great man in the opinions of very many people. He was only one person though, and regarded himself very highly. Hall thought as little of others as they thought of him. He was illiterate, dishonest, and for the greater part of his life, not noteworthy beyond the circle of drunks and cardsharks who knew him well enough to not trust him.
Hall was handsome. He was also tall, and spoke of things with great confidence. He didn't know very many things, and rarely spoke of them. Most of his speaking was business related, his business being talking other people into giving him their money. He was a swindler by trade and training, and even his great ignorance about the world did not keep him from prospering.
Once he happened upon a group of geologists. They had purchased an old mine in the mountains, and were going to study the rocks therein. Hall encouraged them to have a few drinks and play a few games of cards. Cheating as usual, he won away their mine, and the lands that came with it.
He didn't think the mine was real, believing that they had been swindled into buying it by someone else in his line of work. It was someplace he didn't yet have a reputation, so he packed up his few belonging, as well as some other people's belongings, and set off. The mine turned out to be real, and Hall was soon a moderately wealthy man.
He thought often of those geologists, fooled by a simple card trick. Years of education had not taught them things he'd learned at a young age. Most of the people he had swindled were rich, and most of them were also well educated. It didn't take much alcohol for him to realize that if wealthy people were educated, there was money in education.
Sumphall University got it's name because Hall was quite drunk when he dictated the instructions to his secretary. Not being literate, he himself never knew of the mistake. The university kept going, providing third-rate educations for first-rate prices. Most of the graduates went on to careers as insurance salesmen or realtors, with enough bad doctors and cheap lawyers to keep it from being a trade school.
Neither the university nor it's students excelled at anything. The athletic programs were so dismal that no sport managed to sustain a team for more than a few years in a row. Literature classes were taught to consider anything post-Chaucer as meaningless pop culture. Medical students are still required to learn phrenology, and students in many subjects were getting even poorer educations. Sumphall was a bastion of superstition and ignorance, surrounded by a forest, and on top of a gold mine.
Stanley was a professor at Sumphall, teaching physics from photocopied Seventeenth Century texts and the writings of Plato. He was a short man, with very hairy hands and a bald head. He believed quite sincerely that science was based on reason, not facts, and the administrators were quite pleased to have him on their staff.
One fall, he had an early morning class of Introduction to Science and Reason. His students were all sitting quietly in their seats, not having any idea what to expect from him or the school. He looked around the room, squinting at each student in turn, until he had turned full circle and was facing the chalkboard. He grabbed a piece of chalk and with a few quick motions made some lines and curves on the board. He then turned back around to face the class and spoke.
"Any questions?"
A hand rose timidly in the back. Stanley waved the chalk towards it. "Yes, what is your question then?"
"Is this Introduction to Science and Reason with Stanley?" asked the girl, slouching in her seat.
Stanley turned around to face the chalkboard again, paused, and then swiveled back. "Yes, I've written it on the board. If you have a problem reading the board, perhaps you should sit closer to the front of the class. I'm sure one of these fine gentlemen would make room for you," he said, waving the chalk in a sweeping motion past the first row of desks, all empty.
"Is that some sort of code?" asked the girl.
"It is shorthand, and if you can't read that, how did you ever get this far in your education? How are you possibly going to pass if you're illiterate?"
"Nobody uses shorthand anymore," voiced another student, staring out a window.
"Nonsense!" said Stanley, with some irritation in his voice, "people will be using shorthand long after we're dead. Next you'll be saying Jupiter has rings, trees can move of their own volition, or rain falls up."
"I don't know about Jupiter or rain, sir, but there's a tree walking across the football field," said the student, still staring out the window.
The other students near the windows turned to look outside as Stanley stomped across the floor towards them. He looked out to see a large tree moving around the unused but well maintained football field flailing branches at the groundskeepers. Armed with shovels and rakes, the groundskeepers appeared to be losing the fight. Each time one got close, the tree sent him flying through the air, leaving the tools of their trade littering the field.
"Oh dear," muttered Stanley.

Not Being

On Monday, he wasn't. He wasn't not in the sense that he wasn't at all, indeed he was quite aware that he wasn't, but if someone were to be looking for him, they could look right where he wasn't and not find him. There wasn't anybody he was very eager to see, so this suited him just fine.
It didn't please his employer, who fired him for not being at work. He wasn't being at home all day, and was vaguely aware of the message left on his answering machine about the firing. He had considered not being at work, but decided it wasn't worth the effort since nobody would know he wasn't there anyway.
He thought not being all day would be relaxing, but he was mistaken. Whenever he was aware that he wasn't he worried about all manner of things, from his rent to whether or not the milk had soured. Even when he wasn't, he still wasn't very happy. He eventually slipped into daydreams that were, frightening his neighbors considerably and causing a lot of confusion in the neighborhood.
Not being was, for him, much like sitting down for an evening of mindless entertainment only to rediscover that mindlessness isn't at all entertaining. He tried, during one of his more aware moments in the afternoon, to tidy up a bit, but not being, couldn't. He found his inability to impact the world around him slightly frustrating, but it didn't bother him much. Between being overruled and ignored, he didn't have much of an impact on things when he was. That he wasn't didn't seem to change things. Not being was so close to how he normally existed that when he was again, he wasn't aware of it.

Made for vacation

The Twer worker was going on vacation. He'd never been on a vacation, and neither had any of the other workers he knew. He didn't even really want to take a vacation, but didn't feel he had much of a choice. He did have a choice, he could have said "no" but workers don't say that. They work. It's what they were bred for.
There are many varieties of workers in Twer society. This worker was from a subspecies of the more generic industrial workers bred by the Twer in times past. It was very strong and well-suited for working in high-altitude environs, with thick skin to keep it warm in the cold air, reinforced tendons to help it maintain whatever position it needs in extremely high winds, and a set of enzyme secretions from it's skin allowing it to adhere or detach itself from almost any surface.
They were also very obedient. The Twer made all of their servant species obedient. Some castes were less obedient, but only because their duties required more independent thought. The upper castes had a considerable amount of free will, and performed many of the administrative tasks of the Twer. It was they who had led the revolt.
The Twer had sent some of the administrative caste to do duties out of their designated field, to spy on other worlds Those administrators learned of many subversive ideas and led the rest of their caste in revolt. The Twer were removed from power and exiled to a small habitable moon. Without their tools and castes at their disposal, the few remaining Twer soon perished in the rather mild environment.
The castes remained behind, and the rights once reserved to the Twer alone were granted by the administrators to all of Twer society. Life continued on for the castes, pretty much as it had before. Instead of being directed by the Twer, the administrators left the lower castes alone, requesting things of them only rarely.
Usually nothing needed to be asked of them. The lower castes performed their duties without being asked, the desire to do their specialized tasks very deeply ingrained into their genetic structures. They worked, they reproduced, they ate, they didn't ask questions, and they didn't use their vacation time.
The administrators decided to free the galaxy of slavery, in much the same manner as they had freed themselves. The warrior castes, being primarily based on an insect-like species, was eager for a war. The females of the warrior castes preferred to mate with males who had been in battle, as the Twer had designed them to.
The society won several wars against oppressive neighbors, and the administrators were looking for more ways to improve things when a member of the filing caste noted that since no members of the society took their vacations or disobeyed, they were still acting as slaves to masters long dead.
She requested a vacation and it was granted. She then spent two weeks visiting a potential mate and helping him with his filing. When she returned to her workplace, she was far happier and even introduced a potted plant into the fileroom, like the one a Twer had forgotten in the other fileroom.
The administrators took note of this, and decided that to promote alternative viewpoints within castes, caste members would be required to take vacations. Vacation ideas from the days of the Twer were copied from the records kept by the record keeping castes, and a set number of each caste were to be sent on a random vacation every few weeks. It was hoped that they would learn new things and bring new ideas into their own castes, and blind obedience would be replaced by conscious acceptance of a common purpose.
The worker was being sent to another planet for his vacation. He had never been to another planet and had no idea what to take. So he took nothing, and assumed that whatever he needed for his vacation would be provided, as was normal for the high altitude construction he worked on. He was provided with a beacon, so that he could be picked up when his vacation was over. It was fastened by a small band to his arm, and he found it rather uncomfortable.
He was told that the planet he was visiting did not know of the Twer society, and advised to keep out of sight. He was then led to a transport which took him to his vacation world and left him at a local transit center.
Trying to not be seen, he scurried along walls, trying to stay in the shadows. He was hoping he didn't have two weeks of skulking about. He wanted to build things, very tall things, up where the air is cold, thin, and windy. He didn't understand the purpose of the vacation.
He came to a fence, still close enough to the transit center to hear vehicles coming and going. He looked around a bit, and saw a large clearing, where lights were being shown on patches of ground. He saw lights moving overhead, and then he heard the animals. They weren't large, but they didn't sound pleasant, growling and snarling. He was not of the warrior castes and could not fight well if needed.
He ran instead, away from the fence, and into the dark field between the illuminated strips of land. Laying down in the darkness, he almost unconsciously began rubbing the band holding his beacon to him. He saw lights moving again, this time towards him. A large craft was moving towards the illuminated strip.
He leapt up, ran across the field, and adhered himself to the underside of it. The noise bothered him greatly, growing as the craft moved faster. Soon, he was in the air, and even the rushing of the wind was drowned out by the horrible noise of the craft's motors. He climbed around the side of the vehicle and onto it's roof. He lay there briefly before falling asleep.
When he woke up, he was surprised to find that he'd become almost accustomed to the noise of the engines holding the craft and him at some imperceptible altitude. He looked around and then stood up. The chilly wind blowing past him, he looked to the sunrise in the east. He had seen many sunrises from high altitude, standing in the open air in his many years of labor. "This," he thought, "is what I was created for. I love vacation!"

Flower Song

This all started a long time ago in a small valley up north. It's about two hours drive on the freeway, but the freeway wasn't there back then. Most of the people going anywhere back then were trappers just passing through. There weren't even any roads as the settlers had just started coming over the mountains. There were trails, but you couldn't take a trail from here to there. You'd have to take a trail partway, then cut across open ground to
another trail to finish the trip. Making trails was easy for the trappers,
but intersections took a lot of work.

They put in the freeway a while back, and a lot of roads before that, so if you really want to go up there, you can, but there isn't much to see anymore. Most of the buildings fell apart years ago, and trees have grown back in most of the fields. Even the old monkey factory burned to the ground. There was talk for a while about building a tourist information center for people from out of state, but there's not much there to interest

The first to settle there was the Roberts' family, from somewhere in New England. The Danner's and Samuelson's came not too far behind, and they had themselves a little town in the valley. Not a large town, but it was big enough, and it grew as the mill grew.

The mill was owned by the Danner's, and they did well with it. They stuck to timber, and the Samuelson's became cattle ranchers. It's not easy to ranch cattle in a forest (too much shade for the grass to grow) so the Samuelson's were always struggling.

The Roberts' became farmers, growing potatoes, corn, and whatever vegetables the town store ordered seeds for. They were doing well, selling not only what they grew, but also being paid by the Danner's to log the land, making way for more fields. The Samuelson's wouldn't permit their land to be logged, thinking the cows would grow faster in the shade. They were nice, hard-working folks, but not the smartest people in town.

The families were all settled in pretty well and there was talk of a railhead being built near town because of the mill. Cliff Danner, oldest of the Danner boys, was walking the land looking for a path to put the track on. While stumbling drunk through the bushes, he heard a woman crying. It wasn't the loud bawling kind of crying woman, but the soft sobbing type. He knew that there shouldn't be any women on the property except for his mother and his sister, both named Ruth, so he went looking for the source of tears.

He didn't find a woman, but a small plant, bearing some resemblance to a blue daffodil. A large fern was standing beside it, swaying in the breeze, and each time the fern brushed the daffodil, it sobbed. Cliff was a drunk, but even drunk, he was a smart man, so he looked around for more of the crying flowers. He found two more that were blue and cried, and four that made a whooshing noise like the breeze blowing past every time the breeze blew past. These were a very light shade of black, and were growing on the
bank of a small stream.

Cliff was pretty sure he could find the stream again, so he went back to the house, had a few drinks, filled a small wagon with flowerpots and a shovel, and dragged it back into the woods. He didn't find the stream right away (it was a very large piece of property) but he found some more flowers, a red one that hooted like an owl, a green one that rustled like grass, and a pink one that made a noise not unlike the clip-clop of hooves. He dug up a sample of each, potted it, and put it in the wagon.

He did make his way to the stream bank, and got samples of the flowers there. He followed the water upstream, as close as he could without tipping the wagon over, and found a few dozen more noisy flowers, He collected one of each until his pots were all full, and went home to satiate his thirst.

Ruth, his mother, told Ruth, his sister, to make a garden for the flowers. She had plenty of labor to help her, the mill employed most of the town and was in shouting distance of the Danner home, but she had other plans for her day. She told her mother that she knew just the perfect spot for a symphonic flowerbed, and had one of the hired hands pull the wagon over to the Roberts' farm.

The hired hand was a Roberts, so the family wasn't surprised to see him, most of the men in the Roberts' family worked in the mill when they weren't working the fields. The matriarch of the Roberts' household earned extra money as a piano teacher. She didn't know how to play the piano, but had once been taught the violin, making her the most skilled musician in town.

Ruth had been in love with Francis, the man who pulled her wagon, for a few years, and everyone in both families knew they'd be married as soon as they were both of age, which would have been that coming fall. Ruth told Francis's mother, also named Francis, that she'd marry Francis, the son, if he had his own house and enough land for her flower garden. Francis, the mother, thought that was reasonable, and gave them a plot of land next to the river.

It wasn't a big river, but Ruth raised her growing family by the riverside. Over the years, she took her children boating whenever she could. Sometimes the river would run low and submerged rocks would damage the boat. The children would play in the woods until their father came home. Francis kept working at the mill, and would repair his wife's boat during his free time. While waiting for him to float her boat, she would tend her garden of sounds.

She was becoming a skilled horticulturist, and was growing many flowers in her garden. Cliff would bring her new flowers whenever he found them, and she had become quite adept at cross-breeding to obtain a specific sound, and growing new plants from shoots. Every Christmas, family and friends could count on a potted plant, with a baby-blue flower, that giggled like a child.

After the first few years, the novelty wore off, and the giggling plants found themselves planted around the home of Bill Felson, a cousin of the Samuelson's who'd moved to town after his wife died in a tragic macramé accident. He was a very angry man and didn't like visitors. The only times he left his home were to work at the mill, to shop which he did every Saturday morning, and to run around his yard stomping on the giggling flowers.

It was one of Ruth and Francis' children who stumbled on the advantages of noisy plants. Christopher Roberts had traveled into the nearest city with his uncle Cliff, and after a few drinks each, wound up in a playhouse. They weren't impressed with the play, thinking it was far too dreary to be funny, and had too many jokes to be dramatic. Christopher recognized the potential, and with some borrowed money and a few plants, started his own playhouse.

The plays all came with sound effects. There were roaring lions, bugle calls, and even fake laughter and applause should the audience be unwilling to provide their own. The playhouse prospered, and Ruth's garden grew ever larger as Christopher's requests were bred and nurtured.

It was a few decades before the mill shut down. The Samuelson's had sold their ranch, and moved away to try their luck as oil wildcatters in northern Nevada. The Roberts' had bought the ranch and sold the timber on it. Ruth's garden now spanned the property, tended by her grandchildren. The death of the mill had taken most of the town with it. Only the Roberts' two farms had stayed. The food was shipped to town by truck, and the flowers were hand-delivered to any vaudeville theater willing to pay the Roberts' prices.

Demand grew as radio stations cropped up. Nobody could get the plants to grow long outside of the valley, so the Roberts' family was making a fortune selling new ones to old customers. Business was thriving and there was talk of building a mansion. When movies learned to talk, the price went up some and the Roberts' plowed under their other crops, growing nothing but flowers of every color and sound imaginable.

There was so much money floating around that valley, that the town started to recover. The war ended that. The army needed sounds for training, and took over the farm. The Roberts' tried to accommodate the country's needs, but were pushed off their land. Before it was over, some egghead out east had built a machine which made all the sounds that they were growing. It wasn't very good at first, but by the time the war was over, everybody wanted the machine and nobody wanted the plants.

You can still go up there and look around. The flowers are in bloom now, and what's left of the Roberts' clan won't mind if you look around, so long as you don't try to dig one up. If you should happen to meet one of the Roberts' while you're there, be very careful to not complain about the noise. They're very sensitive about that.


He woke up refreshed. He always woke up refreshed after being made a manager, and was pretty sure that the job just agreed with him. He prepared himself for a pleasant day of progress reports and status meetings, and before leaving for work, fixed himself a nice breakfast. As he ate, he heard a noise coming from his living room. He didn't think much of it, as the apartment was prone to strange noises. He'd never had any problems except for the time his neighbor's fishtank leaked and left his carpet squishy. It took the building manager two days to fix that mess.
When he finished breakfast, he got up, grabbed his coat, and headed for the door. He saw something moving under his couch, so he walked over to it, got on his hands and knees, and looked under the couch. Under the couch, he saw a hippopotamus. It wasn't a small hippopotamus, and being well-suited for management, he didn't realize at first that it shouldn't fit under his couch. Instead, he wondered how it got in his apartment, and how he was going to get it back out. Endangered animal or not, he wasn't going to pay extra to building management to keep a pet.
He stared at it for a few minutes, but it seemed to be looking the other way, and was most definitely not intimidated. He tried grabbing it's foot, but could only get his fingers under the edge of the couch. He stood up, went to his bookshelf, and grabbed some of the thicker volumes. He went back to one end of the couch, dropped two of the thicker volumes near the corners, and lifted that end. With his feet, one at a time, he pushed the books under the legs of the couch. The books in place, he lowered that end, and repeated the process at the other end of the couch.
He went back to the front of the couch, and found plenty of room under the frontal crosspiece to reach under with his arms. He looked for a leg, and pushing himself forward so much that he hit his nose on the couch and had to turn his head to one side, he reached for it. The leg, being that of an adult hippopotamus, was too large for him to grab securely, and the weight of the leg itself was too much for him to budge from the awkward position he had placed himself in. He pulled back, and looked under the couch again.
The hippo had turned around and was looking at him. It looked past him, towards the door. It turned it's head towards him and snorted, then looked back to the door. He yelled at it, and slapped his hand on the floor several times, but the hippopotamus didn't flinch. He got back up and went to the closet. He brushed aside the cobwebs and grabbed the broom. He walked to the end of the couch furthest from the door, laid down so he could see under the couch, and started poking the hippopotamus with the broom.
It didn't seem to mind getting poked, but it wasn't angered by the action either. It slowly turned around, and bit at the broom handle. His arms were no match for the hippopotamus's jaws, and he pulled back as soon as the broom was jerked from his hands. He lay still and watched as the end of the broom closest to him jerked around in circular motions as the hippopotamus chewed on the other end. He almost didn't notice when it charged at him.
The couch lunged almost a foot. He rolled away from it, banging into an end table. He jumped to his feet as the couch came at him again. He sprinted past it and into the hallway, turning around just in time to see the couch slam into the doorframe. He stumbled backwards and fell against the wall. The couch backed up and charged again, hitting the doorframe and stopping, then backing up and trying again.
The loud cracking sound of the collisions drew attention from his neighbors, several head poking out of partially opened doorways. Nobody came to help, or even looked for more than a few seconds, except for an elderly woman down the hall, who asked if he'd seen a hippopotamus. He nodded slowly, and watched the charging couch. The old woman came over, with a long rope in hand, and walked under the couch. He couldn't see what the elderly neighbor was doing, but the couch stopped moving. She emerged shortly, leading the hippopotamus with the rope.
The old lady smiled, patted the hippo on it's large toothy head, and said "Sorry for the trouble, but Bessie here gave me quite a fright when she snuck out last night. I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell the manager about this." He nodded insincerely, and slumped to the floor as she led her oversized pet down the narrow hallway.

Shadow of his former self

He hated the neighbors. He hadn't liked them when he was alive, and now that he was dead, he liked them even less. They used to, whenever waiting for the elevator, look in his direction and whisper. Now they spoke openly of rumors so outlandish and implausible that he wished they were true. He tried to scare them once, but the only person who normally saw him was the doorman, who was, in keeping with the traditions of the city, an elderly gentlemen with only a few years left.
He thought being dead would be more interesting, either going into a wonderful light, or hanging around frightening dogs and small children. There was never a light, no tunnels, and no being inexplicably drawn anywhere. Dogs tended to ignore him. He knew they could sense him, as they made a point of urinating on anything he brushed against. They were vicious snarling creatures, so he was pleased to not interact with them.
His apartment was leased out shortly after his death. All of his things had been packed up and shipped off to unknown places and a family moved in. He tried to stay out of their way as much as possible. He didn't have any biological functions, so he never had cause to enter most rooms, but he hung out in the living room and on the balcony. He spent his nights sleeping on the couch. He didn't need sleep, but he enjoyed it and frequently indulged himself.
The new family was nice. They did a nice job of redecorating the place on their small budget. They were pleasant to one another and kept the place clean. Being disembodied, there wasn't much else he could ask of them. He could pass through walls, so it didn't really matter if the place was cleaned or not, but it was a pleasant touch. He spent many late evenings and early mornings dusting in the few rooms be visited. He didn't think they ever noticed, but he hoped that they had.
Sometimes, when the weather was nice, he'd go outside and walk through the park. When he was alive, he had loved to walk in the rain. He enjoyed feeling the rain beat down on him, only to fall off to the side while he still stood. It made him feel like nature, with all of it's power, could never knock him over. Walking in the rain these days was nowhere near as pleasant or refreshing. It left him feeling congested throughout his entire body. He didn't actually have a body, but that's the way it felt.
Actually getting to the park still proved to be a bit difficult. He could make his way downstairs without incident. The doorman always opened the door for him, with a smile and a nod, as if he was a living tenant. Usually there were other people in the lobby, and this made him uncomfortable. Sometimes they would look in his direction, as if they saw something, which he suspected that they did. He didn't know what exactly they saw, and was pretty sure they didn't either, but it still made him uncomfortable.
He would try to flatten himself up against the wall, and slide carefully along in someone's shadow. He hoped he could pass himself off as a trick of light, but sometimes people stopped and looked with a puzzled expression. It wouldn't have bothered him so much if these same people hadn't given him that same puzzled expression when he was alive, but they had, and it bothered him considerably.
In the park, he was free to be himself. Nobody wandering through the park paid much attention to anything odd they may have seen flitting past. The pigeons never flocked near him, and the squirrels were more approachable now. The squirrels had coarse, rough fur, not like the smooth, almost silky fur of the police horses. It had taken a while to get the horses used to his presence, but now he could approach them and feed them carrots he had swiped from a local grocer.
When duck came, he would head back to the apartment, pass the ever friendly doorman, and make his way upstairs. He would sneak past the neighbors milling around in the hallway and pass through his door. Once back in the apartment, he would catch up on the days news and gossip from the new occupants. When they went to bed, he would tidy up a bit, then head out to the balcony for some fresh air. On some days, the new residents would complain about the neighbors dogs urinating on the doors and stairwells. The less they liked the neighbors, the less isolated he felt, and the more he liked them.