Our new cat Zola, it appears, has a mysterious past. The computer that knows about the ID chip embedded under his skin thinks he’s a dog. There’s more to the story. And it makes us think we may have misread Zola’s initial behavior. I’m torn between wishing he could tell us what he’d been through,… Continue reading Mysterious cat is mysterious
I just had a rather hair-raising experience with a phase-of-moon-dependent bug. I released GPSD 3.11 this last Saturday (three days ago) to meet a deadline for a Debian freeze. Code tested ninety-six different ways, run through four different static analyzers, the whole works. Because it was a hurried release I deliberately deferred a bunch of… Continue reading Phase-of-moon-dependent bugs suck
The newest addition to Rootless Root:
Yes, I’m aware of the spam on the blog front page. The management does not hawk dubious drugs. Daniel Franke and I just did an audit and re-secure of the blog last night, so this is a new attack. Looks like a different vector; previously the spam was edited into the posts and invisible, this… Continue reading Spam alert
Once Dead (Richard Phillips; Amazon Publishing) is a passable airport thriller with some SF elements. Jack Gregory should have died in that alley in Calcutta. Assigned by the CIA to kill the renegade reponsible for his brother’s death, he was nearly succeeding – until local knifemen take a hand. Bleeding, stabbed and near death, he… Continue reading Review: Once Dead
Before you read any further, go look at the drawing accompanying the New Tork Times article on the autopsy of Michael Brown, There’s a story in that picture. To read it, you have to be familiar with pistol shooting and the kind of pistol self-defense training that cops and amateur sheepdogs like me engage in.… Continue reading This picture tells a shooting story
One of the reasons I like cats is because I find it enjoyable to try to model their thought processes by observing their behavior. They’re like furry aliens, just enough like us that a limited degree of communication (mostly emotional) is possible. Just now I’m contemplating a recent change in the behavior of our new… Continue reading Alien cat is alien
I join my voice to those of Rand Paul and other prominent libertarians who are reacting to the violence in Ferguson, Mo. by calling for the demilitarization of the U.S.’s police. Beyond question, the local civil police in the U.S. are too heavily armed and in many places have developed an adversarial attitude towards the… Continue reading Demilitarize the police – and stop flinging false racism charges
Unexpected Stories (Octavia Butler; Open Road Integrated Media) is a slight but revealing work; a novelette and a short story, one set in an alien ecology among photophore-skinned not-quite humans, another set in a near future barely distinguishable from her own time. The second piece (Childfinder) was originally intended for publication in Harlan Ellison’s never-completed… Continue reading Review: Unexpected Stories
I shipped point releases of cvs-fast-export and reposurgeon today. Both of them are intended to fix some issues around the translation of ignore patterns in CVS and Subversion repositories. Both releases illustrate, I think, a general point about software engineering: sometimes, it’s better to punt tricky edge cases to a human than to write code… Continue reading Ignoring: complex cases
The Gods of War (Graham Brown & Spencer J. Andrews; Stealth Books) is one of the better arguments for the traditional system of publishing-house gatekeepers I’ve seen recently. It is not merely bad, it is a stinkeroo that trumpets its awfulness from page one.
I just got back from the 2014 World Boardgaming Championships in Lancaster, PA. This event is the “brain” half of the split vacation my wife Cathy and I generally take every year, the “brawn” half being summer weapons camp. WBC is a solid week of tournament tracks in strategy and war games of all kinds,… Continue reading WBC 2014 after-action report
Nexus (Nicholas Wilson; Victory Editing) is the sort of thing that probably would have been unpublishable before e-books, and in this case I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad. There’s a lot about this book that makes me unsure, beginning with whether it’s an intentional sex comedy or a work of naive self-projection by… Continue reading Review: Nexus
LSE is a wasting disease. It invades the brains of writers of SF and other genres, progressively damaging their ability to tell entertaining stories until all they can write is unpleasant gray goo fit only for consumption by lit majors. One of the principal sequelae of the disease is plunging sales. If you are a… Continue reading Warning signs of LSE – literary status envy
One of the minor frustrations of my life, up to now, is that though I can sell as much nonfiction as I care to write, fiction sales had eluded me. What made this particularly irksome is that I don’t have only the usual ego reasons for wanting to succeed. I love the science fiction genre… Continue reading My first SF sale!
Of Bone And Thunder (Chris Evans; Pocket Books) is an object lesson in why fiction writers should avoid political allegory. Yes, it’s a fantasy reflection of the Vietnam War; on the off-hand chance a reader wouldn’t have figured it out by about page 3, the publisher helpfully spells it out in the blurb.
Traitor’s Blade (Sebastian de Castell; Jo Fletcher books) is perhaps best tescribed as a noirish fantasy spin on Dumas’s Three Musketeers. But it’s better, and less derivative, than that sounds.
Before you read the rest of this post, go look at these pictures of a Hobbit Pub and a Hobbit House. And recall the lovely Bag End sets from Peter Jackson’s LOTR movies. I have a very powerful reaction to these buildings that, I believe, has nothing to do with having been a Tolkien fan… Continue reading Tolkien and the Timeless Way of Building