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Speculations : The Rumor Mill : Benjamin Rosenbaum : Benjamin Rosenbaum

Topic 682 was started on 2002-03-17. There are 221 messages available to read.

Talk about Benjamin Rosenbaum here, if you like. Or check out his web site. Or email him. Or not.

Here is the exploded Rumor Mill.

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Message 483388 by Year Ray on 2006-04-15 23:02:49. Feedback: 0
Hey Ben;
It has been a long time and I thought i made a post to you some months back and just wanted to reconnect with you. I wonder if my Year Ray login confused you. I think i was using Nigritia back then but its all foggy. Glad to see you have been buzy. Happy Holidays and Good tidings.
Douglas Curt Lyons
Message 462553 by Mystery Guest on 2005-05-21 15:36:45. Feedback: -3
This message has been hidden because of its poor Feedback total.
Message 456213 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2005-02-10 08:59:01. Feedback: 0
thankee EBear!
Message 455973 by Elizabeth Bear on 2005-02-05 16:41:19. Feedback: 0
Niiiiiiiiiiice Locus review of the Zeppelin story, Ben!
Message 455715 by Terry Hickman on 2005-02-02 13:13:08. Feedback: 0
Benjamin - email me at:

Message 455694 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2005-02-02 11:00:20. Feedback: 0
My email is back up again. It was only down for a bit, it seems.

Hey Terry, I'd love a gmail invite. I had one, but I misplaced it... :-/
Message 454534 by Mystery Guest on 2005-01-19 17:10:16. Feedback: 0
Hey Ben,

I don't know if your mail is still down, but I sent you mail and now I'm nervous you didn't get it. Can you mail me? jae at sff dot net

Message 454287 by Terry Hickman on 2005-01-16 11:53:36. Feedback: 0
Benjamin: is it feasible for you to open a free gmail account? I have some invitations - except I have to have an email address for them to send the invitation to you. Urg.

Anyone think of a way around this? If Benjamin wants a gmail account, I mean?
Message 454284 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2005-01-16 10:12:59. Feedback: 0
Grrr... my website and email are down! And so is my web provider's site (http://www.digitalspace.net)

My website provider is not usually evil... they've been pretty good, actually. But now I feel a bit stranded without email! :-(
Message 454067 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2005-01-12 18:04:19. Feedback: 0
Hmm. Okay. I guess that's sort of relevant to something or other.
Message 453838 by Mystery Guest on 2005-01-09 14:36:26. Feedback: 0
Israeli Relief Team of 14 Leaves for Sri Lanka Tonight
For immediate release: (January 9, 2005), by IsraAID (www.israaid.org.il)

Tonight, "The Israel Campaign For South East Asia Disaster Relief," spearheaded by IsraAID, will be sending a humanitarian team of 14 medical and logistical personnel to Sri Lanka to assist thousands of people affected by the Tsunami.

IsraAID has put together and coordinated a team made up of among others, medical personnel from Magen David Adom and logistical personnel from the Humanitarian Arm of the Kibbutz movement. The group, headed by Ms. Gal Lusky and Dr. Zvi Beigenberg, will be working near the southernmost city of Matara and laying the groundwork for future Israeli Jewish emergency medical and feeding projects in the field. The team will be bringing relief items including pharmaceuticals, kitchen supplies and tents to be used for the projects.

The team will establish a field clinic, which will offer locals medical assistance with an emphasis on pediatrics and infectious diseases. Along side the clinic, a Jewish Emergency Feeding Station will be erected with three large kitchens offering nutritious meals to thousands of people left homeless.

Among the groups and supporters taking part in the "Israel Campaign For South East Asia Disaster Relief" are: American Jewish Committee; B"nai B"rith International; Magen David Adom; Yad Sarah; Hadassah; Council for Israeli International Businesses; National Youth Movements; ORT; Naamat; Ve"ahavta; Meir Panim; The National Food Bank Organization; Lions Club and other non-governmental groups in Israel and around the world.

Supporting the national campaign are some government offices such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Welfare and Tel Aviv Municipality.

More donations are still urgently needed in order to provide a substantial Israeli and Jewish humanitarian presence on the ground, which will help demonstrate the compassion and capabilities of the Jewish people and Israel to nations in South East Asia and the world at large.

For more information please contact Shachar Zahavi at: szahavi@hotmail.com or visit www.israaid.org.il

Message 453608 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2005-01-05 15:16:58. Feedback: 0
Thanks! :-)

Dr. Topp, come now. So what if I do not exist? Let us not be so limiting in the scope of that which we approbate. Would it be the first time a nonexistent author made the Preliminary Ballot? Surely not.

Glad you liked the story, E.
Message 453583 by Jackie on 2005-01-05 10:32:53. Feedback: 0
Sweet! Fingers crossed for you, Benjamin!
Message 453557 by Justin Stanchfield on 2005-01-04 22:32:47. Feedback: 0
Good luck on the Neb, Benjamin. Very nice!
Message 453545 by Mystery Guest on 2005-01-04 18:59:04. Feedback: 0
I read on the Asimov's forum that he's on the preliminary Nebula ballot with his great story "Embracing-the-New" published in Asimov's. :)

~E Thomas
Message 453539 by Mystery Guest on 2005-01-04 17:24:04. Feedback: 0
Re: Message 453529

What is this Nebula nomination of which Dr. Topp speaks?
Message 453529 by Mystery Guest on 2005-01-04 15:59:07. Feedback: 0
Mr. Rosenbaum,

Sincerest congratulations on your nomination for the Nebula award. Assuming, of course, that you actually exist.

Dr. Zelda Topp
Message 452776 by Mikal Trimm on 2004-12-20 18:03:34. Feedback: 0
Thanks, Ben.

And what is this word 'sleep' that you mention?
Message 452770 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-12-20 16:35:16. Feedback: 0
Man, Mikal, yours is really CREEPY!

I'm supposed to sleep after that? Yeesh!
Message 451901 by Mikal Trimm on 2004-12-04 00:10:01. Feedback: 0

Well, I was curious right off when Tim and Heather put our stories together as a 'linked pair.' in their intro.

Your story was short enough that nothing could be given away too soon, but I got clues from -- (I was going to go on, but god forbid I do a spoiler in your topic!)

Suffice it to say that yes, I knew there would be a speculative element (again, merely from the venue and the editorial link of our stories), and, no, I couldn't guess where the element would be.

Which is, I suppose, why I enjoyed it so much.
Message 451860 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-12-03 16:42:30. Feedback: 0
(Ah, I found Horton's mention of "Night Waking". Cool.)
Message 451859 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-12-03 16:28:15. Feedback: 0
Thanks, Mikal!

He did? Where did you see that?

I'm really curious how people read that story -- did you get the speculative element? And if so, when?
Message 451856 by Mikal Trimm on 2004-12-03 15:54:27. Feedback: 0
Liked your Flytrap story, Ben. Guess Rich Horton did, too...;p
Message 451818 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-12-03 11:05:01. Feedback: 0
Thanks Charlie! Massive congratulations on the books. You done us proud.

I think S. L. was confusing William Vollman with Bill the Vole-Man, another aquaintance of ours, about whom the less said, perhaps, the better.
Message 450817 by Mystery Guest on 2004-11-10 09:46:52. Feedback: 0
Weird. I thought Vollman was the author of Butterfly Stories and Whores for Gloria and books like that. I wonder who the hell Kermit is thinking of.

Anyway, I've turned in my two book MSs and am working on new stuff and come back to the Rumor Mill and see all the fun I've been missing. Congratulations on the McSweeney's sale, Ben!

Message 450580 by Mystery Guest on 2004-11-03 19:22:30. Feedback: 0

Vollman looks so innocent, doesn't he? Babyfaced Billy's gone back to graduate school AGAIN to try to pick up some credentials, though why he thinks he needs them at this point is beyond me. As is his choice to attend, God in his infinite wisdom may only guess why, Ohio State. I mean, sure, Tim Gregory is a really first rate classicist. But the Romans? Please. Someone with Vollman's prodigious linguistic talents should study truly ancient history. I expect him to grab his sheepskin from the factory there and then promptly funk out and run off again. In the meantime, he and Osmir have apparently been in frequent communication, and Osmir is all on fire for "bookeye" football. (Luljeta is already a thing of the past: it will be weeks before I dare to mention her and find out what happened.)

It's a very small world -- I met McSweeney in Nepal, I think it was at Thyangboche, when I was still birding and trying to add Ithaginis cruentus to my life list. Tim was doing the same thing, and though the blood pheasants were a bit of a disappointment, tame as they were, the Tibetan snowcocks were spectacular. In any case, this was some years before he started the magazine, but he was bitten by the publishing bug even then and went on for hours about it. He promised to send my copies at one point, but they've never caught up with me. The perils of international mail, I suppose. I shall write and ask him to send along the issue with your piece in it. Is it non-fiction again? You have a genius for that.

Alas, we are not at the Hittite dig after all. Our putative hosts were so dismayed by the outcome of the American election that they denied us access. I'm sure it is only temporary. They refuse to accept the proof of my Canadian passport, and they laughed outright at my old Irish passport (I must really get one for the EU I suppose). But never fear, Osmir will find us a way in. He is off, even as I type this, determining local contraband preferences.

Best wishes,

S. L. Kermit
Message 450577 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-11-03 16:29:29. Feedback: 0
Thanks, Simon.
Message 450471 by Simon Owens on 2004-11-01 13:23:22. Feedback: 0
congrats on the McSweeney's sale!

It's one of my major goals to one day break into McSweeney's.
Message 450461 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-11-01 10:33:23. Feedback: 0
Jeez, that Osmir. I guess you've got to follow your star... We never should have introduced him to William Vollman.

Good luck on the Hittites!
Message 450252 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-27 11:22:31. Feedback: 0

I am happy to hear from you again and moved by your concern, but don't fear since I'm posting this from some little cybercafe on Kırım Caddesi in Ankara. I will be leaving within the hour to a private dig that you would melt in envy to hear about. I can only tell you right now that we may be on the verge of the most important discovery about the Hittites since Bokasköy!

I don't know whether to throttle Osmir or toast him! The lovesick fool absconded on me again! This time it was with Luljeta, who is, or was, an underage (as you might well have guessed) Albanian prostitute. But she really is a very sweet girl, made the most delicious qofte të fërguara the week she was with us, and you know my general feelings about Albanian quisine, and after what Osmir, you know his temper, did to her pimp, he really did have to depart abruptly, and needed money quick to do it. Perhaps he has finally found his happiness. I do hope to see him again some day.

I apologize for the immoderation of some of my earlier comments. Truly, I was on edge about this Hittite discovery, and feeling rather cross, but now it appears that all is happening for the best, and we may be able to completely reshape our understanding of how vowels were introduced into Nesili, and in the process, redefine the role of the pankus. Touching your own areas of interest, I believe that we will find further evidence of the predecessors of Mezipatheh--the roots on that one are, as you well know, indescribably old. Not that it is likely to ever come to light in the selpuchre that passes for the current academic client, but you and I and others who matter shall know.

We live in such exciting times! Wish me well!

S. L. Kermit
Message 450236 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-27 09:13:47. Feedback: 0
go sox!

-a disinterested observer of spectacle
Message 450186 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-26 14:51:29. Feedback: 0
I am glad to see that felicity and harmonic balance have restored to the wa of the Rosenbaumischerwelt. These arrant gallopers X, faux-Y and Z have certainly disgraced themselves and their alleged peers, only to have our collective reputation resuscitated by the valiant efforts of the imaginary and self-instantiated Herr Rosenbaum his own self.

If Ben did not exist, as the old saying goes, it would be necessary to subrogate him.

Yours in qat,

Y, the real Y
Message 450171 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-10-26 12:36:04. Feedback: 0
The funny thing is, y'all think this is all me, but actually I really *did* just wander back into this topic and find all these posts. I know who's behind two of these masks... but I'm mystified about the others...

Terry, I actually have always wanted to try qat. Peasants in Yemen get up at 6 am, work in the qat fields until 2 pm, and then knock off for the day to attend qat parties for 4-6 hours, which involve chewing qat "to sharpen the intellect" and then having fast-paced, poetical, passionate, intellectual conversations. Kind of like an entire third-world country having a continuous, unending science fiction convention.
Message 450167 by Terry Hickman on 2004-10-26 12:28:17. Feedback: 0
I didn't know Benjamin did drugs...
Message 450159 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-26 10:19:16. Feedback: 0
This is like some sort of surreal Jeff Vandermeer story.
Message 450155 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-10-26 09:47:08. Feedback: 0
Gentlemen and Ladies!

Welcome to my topic. I feel that I have been a terrible host. Little did I realize that an academic and autodidactic Ragnarok of such proportions was underway.

S.L., it's so wonderful to know that you're alive and well somewhere (if you don't mind my saying so, and I know you're much more experienced in these matters than I, you should be careful about mentioning things like the satellite being about to go past the horizon, because posts on this forum are datestamped and so it might allow people to narrow down your longitude. There is also an IP address stamp; I hope you're taking appropriate precautions and that Osmir is still available to handle the computer end of things).

X, the discussion of how the manuscript was found as given on the Strange Horizons site was (I think it is safe to say now) a fiction, designed to obscure how the manuscript actually came to us, which, as I am sure you understand, we are not really at liberty to disclose.

Dr. Topp, Y, Y, and Zzz, thanks for your remarks. S.L. has a rather blunt way of putting things, and I don't wish you to be discomfited by his critique of the academic establishment -- you must admit that, put in milder terms, it does have a certain veracity. However, I think we can agree that there are two discussions to be had: one about the existential situation of the speaker in relation to the content (viz., what would it take to be willing to sacrifice the actual physical body for the text, in the ways S.L. has described), and the other with regard to the metaphysical relations of text and authorship.

Myself, I have always held to the contrarian view that, while the author is certainly an illusion (and Benjamin Rosenbaum perhaps most of all, cf. "Biographical Notes to 'A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-Planes' by Benjamin Rosenbaum" by Benjamin Rosenbaum, forthcoming in All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories this Sunday), the reader is a further illusion, constituted by the text in the act of reading; in moments between readings, what exists is a kind of proto-reader or meta-reader, a potentiality of readership, which accrues fundamental reality only insofar as it self-authors a provisional narrative of self-readership.

Mmm, qat...
Message 450153 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-26 09:46:13. Feedback: 0
That propense inclination which is for very wise purposes implanted in the one sex for the other, is not only necessary for the continuance of the human species; but is, at the same time, when govern'd and directed by virtue and religion, productive not only of corporeal delight, but of the most rational felicity.

The most rational felicity indeed, oh how you scholars have ignored the virtue we chaps devoured in Oxford! It was oh so very good and oh so very splendid, that our corporeal delights when it came to the bible were sated, and it was upon these texts we were met with a richness which pornography could never meet--not today's pornography, mind you, but those of the 18th century which are oh so very racy, like the 8 Cuckolds of Maidenhead. Oh, did I giggle at that, yes I did.

And here you are, giggling like school girls, like we did in Anthropology 101 when the professor revealed to us that the ice man was found with no genitals. I bet that gives you gentlemen a real hoot, doesn't it? And I also guess it allows you to neglect the virtual holes in Benjamin's story, discontinuing the story of how the Sun God was tamed with the Ten Commandments to obey one God, his God.

Shame on all of you, so-called Scholars, I slap you in the face with my white glove, only to discard it for it would now be covered in soot.

Good day, Gentlemen.

Sincerely yours,
Loring Fenton Hill
Message 450147 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-26 09:20:09. Feedback: 0
Seeing as Professor Kermit has descended into raging profanity, totally ignoring the topic at hand, I no longer see any need on my part to particpate in this discussion and gladly leave the field for those more interested than I in bemiring battles of otiose expletives.

Z. Topp
Message 450143 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-26 06:56:03. Feedback: 0
Where did X go???
Message 450142 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-26 06:40:42. Feedback: 0
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
(Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo)
(doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo)
(doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo)
(doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo)

Message 450133 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 21:42:16. Feedback: 0
I feel it important to declare at this juncture that Y and Y are not in fact the same individual. I realize that Y Y in fact violates some basic characteristics of number theory, but since we have descended into the nether bolgias of textual space here thanks to the 'efforts' of some of my esteemed 'colleagues', who may all in fact be incarnations of Messer.s Kermit and/or Rosenbaum, or possibly even the ill-fated Mr. Trimm, or even manifestations of the fee verte which I am currently imbibing, but none of that should be confused with the fact that I am not myself, nor, in fact, is Y myself.


Message 450130 by Mikal Trimm on 2004-10-25 20:47:01. Feedback: 0
What the bloody 'ell are you people going on about?

Right, right. Nothing happening here. Move along, then. I'm sure Mr. Rosenbaum has better things to do, me buckos...

'Ere, and watch that language--this isn't Bucking'am-fluking-Palace, izzit?
Message 450127 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 20:08:41. Feedback: 0
Oh, and Zzzzz, whoever you are, you put me to sleep. I have no time for people who hide behind fake identities or psuedonymous publication. Everything I do is right out there in the open for anyone to see. I don't know how you know about Uzbekistan, but when I found out who told you, I will cut off all your communication with those sources. You can't follow me around that way. So fuck you too.


S. L. Kermit
Message 450125 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 20:05:16. Feedback: 0
Well excuse me, Doctor Topp. Nice way to try to establish your supremacy here. What an appropriate name -- Can you Topp this? Do you like it on Topp? Who's Topp bit--er, dog?

I really don't have time to stoop, or squat, in your case, to these kind of academic pissing contests. You don't see me throwing around my advanced degrees, and I can guaranfuckingtee you they're better than yours, because credentials don't mean shit. Only the work itself matters. God, I'm sick to death of you ivory tower intellectuals who can't get your fingers dirty out in the field telling the last handful of us real scholars about "standards of academic discourse." Have you ever had to talk your past a Hezzbollah checkpoint with a rare, ill-fitting scroll (a more complete version of the Qumran text of Enoch, surely the most important apocryphic work of the Second Temple period, a translation of which still has yet to see the light of day because of academic politics) tucked uncomfortably into a dust-dry body cavity? I doubt it. Have you ever had to convince, on a mountain pass at midnight in the freezing sleet, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, and I swear there was never a nastier Napolean-sized son of a bitch with more grade-A armament in his attitude, and this was just during his training in Afghanistan, when he was still trying to prove he was tough enough to serve bin Laden, I say, have you ever tried to convince someone like that the rare Nestorian engraving you were carrying was nothing more than your auntie's recipe for chicken soup? I doubt it even more. On that ocassion, it was my life or the text, hanging in the balance, and I counted my life more valuable only to the extent that it was needed to rescue the text.

But no, you and your tenured cohorts sit in comfortable offices surrounded by glue-bound books rolled off printing presses by the thousands and lined up in neat little rows behind glass in their barrister cases while sipping espresso from the new Rancilio Silvia sitting on your desk corners, dipping your pinkies in the creme and gushing over froth before bitching about your latest committee assignments and the changes in your university healthcare plan and then approving your latest rehashing of old texts for the inbred system of peer review journals that I wouldn't wipe my ass with if all I had left as an alternative was poison ivy. I would spit on all of you fake scholars, not least of which for the way you conspire to keep honest research, like that I've conducted, and brought to light with the assistance of people, like Mr. Rosenbaum, who can't be blackmailed by the petty Stalins of the ivy-covered halls of scholarshop, out of the, where was I, oh, yes, out of the view of the public who deserves to know the capital T Truth about these things and not the comforting saccharine pablum that gets passed off on them instead. The whole lot of you are a bunch of intellectual chimpanzees picking the nits off nits, except it's an insult to compare you to our primate cousins, who can at least use sticks to get termites out of stumps to feed themselves, instead of living parasitically off taxes and the tuition of students who, in turn, aren't taught anything useful on either a physical or spiritual level.

When you've done real scholarship, research that matters, come back and lecture me on standards of academic discourse. Until then, shove another biscotti in your pie hole and get out of the way of giants who don't want you on their shoulders.

I am out of here. The satellite will be dropping over the horizon soon and I'll lose my internet connection for a couple hours. Besides, I have real scholarship to do.

S. L. Kermit
Message 450120 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 19:22:02. Feedback: 0

Exercises in futility are themselves at the essential root of our humanity, as Derridadaist principles teach us. As Rosenbaum's work demonstrates, the individual work of fiction lends itself to, as you point out so convincingly, differing egress and ingress depending on constituting socio-cultural milieus, making the work of fiction itself immaterial, as what is important are the individual interpretations, the way in which the work is infinitely recreated in the intertextual reading experience in the vast post-colonial readership, so far removed from hegemony.

While admitting this essential futility (or perhaps more precisely, indeterminancy of meaning), I must beg to differ with my esteemed colleague Dr. Topp in her estimation that Rosenbaum himself is a hoax. As Stanley Fish has so conclusively shown, it is the reader in the text who creates the text; Rosenbaum has a wider readership of fans who believe in him, ergo, Rosenbaum exists and is not a hoax.

Message 450118 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 18:33:25. Feedback: 0

I will ignore the reference to my rebuttal as totally uncultured and below the standards of academic discourse. And the fact remains that you have provided no conclusive evidence for the existence of this Benjamin Rosenbaum other than your own eyewitness account. I could as easily say that I saw him in Hinterhopfingen.

Dr. Zelda Topp
Message 450115 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 17:59:07. Feedback: 0
Kermie, buddy, chill out, okay, dude. We were all just trying to have a little fun here.

Love your work. Can't wait to hear what comes back from Uzbekistan.

Message 450105 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 14:22:04. Feedback: 0
Mr. Topp,

You have no clue as to my recent tribulations or motivations, and your suggestion that I intended to perpetrate a hoax is the abomination of honest scholarship which all my career has strived and stood for.

As for the rest of it, I can only say that I have chewed quat with Mr. Rosenbaum during his last sojourn in Quatar and he did not appear to me to be at that time a hoax.

In short, fuck you. Right up your rebuttal, if you prefer.


S. L. Kermit
Message 450104 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 14:17:33. Feedback: 0

I believe your post more truly arises from Dadaist principles, or perhaps Derridadaist principles, as it were, and represents a vast assault on, if I may make so bold as to suggest, the bilge-un-romanen of someone's Intellectual Fortress of Solitude, where the crennelations make a gap-toothed grin in the intellectual likeness of Mr. A. E. Nuemann and the true access of entry is the sapper's or the spy's, that is to say through the back door or bottom of the garderobe, an ingress by way of the egress, whereas this subject demands the utmost seriousness and clarity of expression in purpose in order to prevent the unintentioned leading astray of those who show a more elevated and proper regard for the activity of constructing meaning from texts as they exist in a larger social, historical, political, and personal context, without which social interaction, such as we practice here--and I use "practice" advisedly with the implication that we all might, and might benefit immesurably were we to, become better at it--would devolve into an exercise in futility instead of that humility which is at the essential root of our humanity.

In short, you owe the distinguished Mr. Rosenbaum an immediate and abject apology. Or, perhaps, a comfy pillow and a pleasant beverage. Depending on his level of amusement.


Message 450103 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 13:56:15. Feedback: 0
There is obviously a hoax being perpetrated here, although whether it is on the part of Mr. Rosenbaum or Mr. Kermit cannot be determined conclusively. In the letter prefacing the original "Book of Jashar," Mr. Rosenbaum claimed (and I quote), "Professor Kermit became increasingly embittered and erratic. The last time he called me, shortly before his troubling and inexplicable disappearance, he accused a nameless conspiracy of the 'heirs of Mezipatheh' of hindering our work's acceptance."

And yet here is this same Professor Kermit posting to Mr. Rosenbaum's topic? After a mysterious disappearance? Obviously, the disappearance was a hoax in order to get a piece of very questionable scholarship published. I would like to respectfully suggest that this so-called fiction author, "Benjamin Rosenbaum" is also a hoax, an imaginary creation from the fevered brain of a frustrated academic. Look at the textual evidence: it is the tribe of Benjamin from which Jonathan the upright is said to claim descent, and the document in question was published in a fiction magazine entitled "Strange Horizons."

Certainly there may be other possible explanations of these inconsistencies and coincidences, and I look forward to Professor Kermit's rebuttal.


Z. Topp
Author of Living Las Vegas in Modern Literature: Illusion and Fictional Chicanery
Message 450100 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 13:04:55. Feedback: 0
I feel compelled to point out that any rational critique of both "Book of Jashar" and of X's peculiarly compelling attack on the translator's efforts in connexion thereto must of necessity arise from Derridaist principles, or it will be invalidated by the textual context space qua perception map with which the cauldron of experience embraced by the Informed Reader naturally and unselfconsciously informs the process. Such ready and considered efforts will doubtless contribute mightily to a deconstructive simplification of the issues to hand so that the, dies irae, the general viewership of these august letters pages would then be in a prepared position to make a vast assault upon the bastions of Mr. Rosenbaum's intellectual fortress, scaling even the towering heights of his bildungsromanen-laced ego-matrix for the general benefit.

But of course, this would all be obvious even to the most casual lay reader.


Message 450094 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-25 10:18:15. Feedback: 0
Hello, X.

Or rather the spot marked with X. But is it the X of the treasure scratched on the pirate's map, or the crossed-out X of negation, or the martyr's X of Christendom, or the X in triple-X, the X of sex, or is it one and all at the same time? Who knows, for you are nameless and you keep your purposes hidden.

You asked if the "Book of Jashar" was fact or fiction. Such distinctions are meaningless when it comes to scripture. There is the small "t" truth of fact, and the large "T" Truth of revelation, and those who go to scriptures for the former instead of the latter do not have eyes to see, nor ears to hear, but are blind and deaf to the divine meaning written down in plain sight.

I am not speaking on behalf of my co-translator, who is perfectly capable of speaking for himself in this and in all instances, but would I encourage you, Mr. X, Mr. Unknown Variable, to read Jashar for the Truth that is contained therein and leave such concerns as petty truth to the corporate factmongers and data hucksters who prosper in these too, too often Truthless times. Don't go to scripture chasing after truth the way little dogs chase after cars -- you're too likely to be run over on the road to enlightenment and may not recover.

Sincerely yours, in all good will, with only the best wishes,

S. L. Kermit
Message 450059 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-24 11:24:58. Feedback: 0
Ben already is a superhero. He has the cape and the tights.

Message 450041 by Mystery Guest on 2004-10-23 19:10:36. Feedback: 0
I would like to introduce myself, but unfortunately cannot at this time. I came across some of your material and have a question? I read your article on Jashar and I would like to know if the way the book was found (as stated in the article) was a true story? Or was it written as fiction? I believe it may have a much greater impact with the current world affairs than one might realize (in a masked sort of way). I just need to find out how the material was discovered before I discuss any additional information. You just might end up being the super hero that you have always craved!


Message 446207 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-09-07 14:58:29. Feedback: 0
Cool. :-)
Message 445743 by Simon Owens on 2004-08-30 20:17:59. Feedback: 0
Ben, your story, "The Orange," was linked to at Lit Haven:


The first issue has launched.
Message 444129 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-08-12 13:54:18. Feedback: 0
Hey, how spiffy, people have actually been posting here! Hi Ray, Terry, Jaime & erin! Thanks for your kind words.

I like "tremedously" -- it sounds related to "tremble" and "immediate". I enjoy your typo tremblediately.
Message 442683 by Ray Walshe on 2004-07-23 12:43:26. Feedback: 0
Hi Ben,

I read "Start the Clock" in F&SF and thought it to be the best of the three shorts in the issue, hands down. Bought the mag because it had your name on it (I buy F&SF when Charlie's in print too). I also enjoyed "Valley of the Giants" (though I read that when it was posted at the OWW).

It's refreshing to read creative, well crafted fiction from a fellow OWW'er. Keep it up!

Ray W.
Message 442344 by Terry Hickman on 2004-07-18 16:29:40. Feedback: 0
Whee-oo! Benjamin ROOLS!

Message 442342 by Jamie Rosen on 2004-07-18 16:13:16. Feedback: 0

In this month's Locus, you're described as "an emerging prodigy of short fiction." That's pretty spiffy.
Message 442339 by Mystery Guest on 2004-07-18 14:00:29. Feedback: 0
I like your writing so much, in fact, that I failed to proofread my comment. (insert stupid blushing face here.)


~ erin - boston, MA
Message 442338 by Mystery Guest on 2004-07-18 13:58:50. Feedback: 0
I enjoy your writing tremedously. Keep up the good work.

~erin - boston, MA
Message 391941 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-05-18 15:25:50. Feedback: 0
Okay, so I am actually updating my blog & website once again.

So you need to go there for your cute Aviva soundbite fix, etc.

Message 335295 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-05-05 11:28:58. Feedback: 0
Ha ha! My strategy of whining on [The Future of the Rumor Mill] is working! :-)

Hi Patrick!

Thanks Lori -- I get your response to the novel at [Blue Heaven], and more response here too? Whee!
Message 334329 by Patrick Samphire on 2004-05-05 04:59:23. Feedback: 0
Just thought I'd post here so you didn't feel lonely.
Message 332643 by Lori White on 2004-05-04 17:46:23. Feedback: 0
BTW, congratulations on finishing a kick-ass novel.

In--um--in case you're still looking for a response....

Message 332360 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-05-04 16:36:58. Feedback: 0
nyaa nyaa, I'm the voice of Paa-ul, I'm the voice of Paa-ul.
Message 331945 by Mystery Guest on 2004-05-04 14:52:07. Feedback: 0
You are so NOT the voice of me.

I would have posted sooner, but your topic is a wasteland and impossible to find. :)

Message 279158 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-04-22 09:53:26. Feedback: 0
From an interview with Gordon Van Gelder in IROSF
(free account signup required to see it):

"I can't tell what the post-baby boomer writers are about yet, but I think somebody's going to sit down and look at Ben Rosenbaum stories, and Jonathan Lethem's, and Charlie Finlay's and Alex Irvine's, and they're going to put it together and figure what they're about, what their big themes are in the same sense that the Lost Generation had big themes."

Dude. :-)
Message 264498 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-04-19 16:12:38. Feedback: 0
Um, that was me.
Message 264487 by Mystery Guest on 2004-04-19 16:11:57. Feedback: 0
I wrote the words "The End" for the very first time at the end of a novel this morning.


"The Library of Souls", by Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert, ~106,000 words
Message 258820 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-04-18 08:25:13. Feedback: 0
Oops, the fund drive link is wrong. It should go here:
April Fund Drive>/a>

Message 258756 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-04-18 07:59:19. Feedback: 0
[Strange Horizons] is not merely one of the finest venues for online speculative fiction -- nay, for online fiction of any kind; it is not merely the Citidel of [Notorious Style Monkeys], the romping-ground of fantasists, fabulists, and fictioneers; not merely does it publish what I think is the best poetry in the spec fic world, and countless lovely reviews and articles besides; it was also, to my knowledge, the first bold experiment -- since imitated, never so successfully -- in "museum-model" speculative fiction.

Since 2000, its tireless corps of volunteers have been buying fiction at professional rates, showering it with throrough and loving editorial guidance (if my own experience is any guide), and giving it away to the public every monday for free, on their lovely, well-laid-out website. And poetry and articles and art too. Other than an occasional announced holiday -- one week at Christmastime, I think -- they have never missed a Monday.

The museum-model relies on donors. They're having their twice-yearly fund drive now. They're a tax-deductible 501c3. They don't have subscriptions, they don't bug their authors to support them (the editorial department has no idea who's donated). Instead they solicit donations from the public, like public radio in the US, except without the annoying telethons. But can do get prizes, donated by such folks as the SH authors (for instance, you could get a signed and hand-illustrated copy of my Other Cities collection, though that doesn't seem to have made it onto the prize list yet). Plus you get a spiffy membership card for $25, t-shirt or coffee mug for $50, etc.

April Fund Drive

Consider supporting the flourishing of speculative fiction in the capable hands and feet of the Monkeys of Style.

(Cross-posting this elsewhere on the RM)
Message 10443 by Mystery Guest on 2004-04-01 17:48:23. Feedback: 0
Your groceries were always famous, dude.

Message 10442 by Mystery Guest on 2004-04-01 16:14:21. Feedback: 0
How totally cool! (The groceries.)

Message 10441 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-04-01 13:36:44. Feedback: 0
I never said thanks to Terry for the Google help and praise.

Thanks Terry! And I didn't do anything -- it fixed itself. I think Google was rebuilding its cache.
Message 10440 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-04-01 13:35:03. Feedback: 0
...and now my groceries are famous.
Message 10439 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-04-01 13:09:22. Feedback: 0
Very flattering review of my Other Cities collection in Tangent.
Message 10438 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-04-01 13:06:51. Feedback: 0
Some friends of ours were over last night and Aviva announced to them, "you should babysit me."

"Okay," they said.

"You should babysit me on Friday, because it's my Mommy's birthday."

I wasn't there. Esther, who was flabbergasted, broke in to protest that it was short notice, etc., etc. Under the influence of Aviva's steely gaze (I imagine), however, the guests acquiesced.

So now we have a babysitter for Friday.

The girl is three.

Message 10437 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-04-01 13:04:25. Feedback: 0
Thanks for pointing it out, Simon. I posted my thoughts on "Droplet" and writing erotica.

Doug, you may have contributed more than you think to the dialogue you're talking about, even without formally publishing; the world is small, society is surprisingly interconnected, and memes travel fast.

Message 10436 by Mystery Guest on 2004-03-30 18:39:39. Feedback: 0
Hey Ben, discussion of your story "Droplet" has popped up in Great and Useless Debates:


Simon Owens
Message 10435 by Year Ray on 2004-03-27 11:31:08. Feedback: 0
Ben Your clarity of expression and thought are daunting if not purely inspirational. I have found my usual spontaneous dribble unbefitting and thus have not responded. Actually, I have written several responses but ultimately could not bring myself to click the Post-this-message box. This may sound as if I am conflicted somehow, but much to the contrary, I have resolved so much of what bothered me in the past. When I first came to Speculations I had a vague idea that fiction writers might help me articulat....

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Message 10434 by Mystery Guest on 2004-03-25 16:53:52. Feedback: 0
Maybe he's le homme-san.

Paul Melko
Message 10433 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-03-25 16:32:39. Feedback: 0
non, mon cher, TU es le homme!
Message 10432 by Mystery Guest on 2004-03-25 14:50:07. Feedback: 0
Cool! You're the man. La homme. Whatever it is or would be.

Charlie Finlay
Message 10431 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-03-25 14:47:06. Feedback: 0
It looks like I'm going to be translated soon into Japanese (Hayakawa SF) and Croatian (Futura). I'll post in the Ego Shelf when I actually get a contract or check...
Message 10430 by Terry Hickman on 2004-03-19 22:00:30. Feedback: 0
*Now* I go check to see if google will get me your site--you must have fixed the problem because your site's the first three or more hits. Plus I see it's got an update of today's date.

Never mind. Glad you fixed it! And hey, BTW, I've been reading the Feb. 04 issue of Locus and I see they heaped praise on a story of yours--sorry I can't remember which, the mag's downstairs right now. Anyway, I just thought, well of course! That's our Ben!
Message 10429 by Terry Hickman on 2004-03-19 21:58:15. Feedback: 0
Ben, did you check your Metafiles? That's the stuff the search engines look for. It's just a list of all the key words and phrases that will guide people who might be interested in your site, the ones they might type into a search engine. Maybe they got accidentally deleted somehow.

Here, here's the Meta tags at the top of my Index.htm page (replacing the actual greater than and less than brackets with square ones):

[meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1"]
[meta name="Description" content="Terry Hickman's personal web site about writing, science fiction, indie and industrial rock & roll. nine inch nails, bright eyes, tool, desaparecidos"]
[meta name="Keywords" content="bright eyes, nine inch nails, kmfdm, tool, desaparecidos, saddle creek records, science fiction, writing, tools for writers, links for writers, Terry Hickman"]
[title]3 outside the skinny[/title]
Message 10428 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-03-19 14:46:00. Feedback: 0
Yikes -- that's weird -- my site, which is to say, the site for Benjamin Rosenbaum, has fallen off of Google entirely. I mean, when you search for "Benjamin Rosenbaum", on Google, it doesn't come up at all, where previously it was one of the first hits. Yikes! I did just reorganize the first page a little -- but why would that affect it?

Now would be a good time for y'all to link to Benjamin Rosenbaum in your blogs, y'know, just to kind of refresh Google's memory... :-)
Message 10427 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-03-19 13:57:12. Feedback: 0
I have this bad habit of posting long comments on peoples' older journal entries. No one will ever read them.

I wrote a little essay in a comment on an old page of Heather's journal. So y'know.

Doug, you'd find it interesting, I think.
Message 10426 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-03-19 13:23:51. Feedback: 0
Sorry for my languor in replying... much going on.

Great to hear that you're grooving with your daughter and with the indomitable Dominic and Cheyenne, Doug. I'd love to meet them some day. I think you did avoid viciousness, and having extreme views can be useful in stirring things up -- you certainly made me rethink a lot of assumptions. Nor do I think everyone rejected your message -- though many were annoyed, provoked, or confused by it.

Haven't seen the passion. It sounds pretty gruesome. It also sounds like an authentic piece of religious expression. The Rabbi of my synagogue wrote about it in our newsletter -- he said he'd just reread the New Testament preparatory to seeing it and that the movie may be pretty hard on the Jewish temple establishment, but the New Testament is pretty damn hard on them too, and the movie is not meant to be a documentary but rather an interpretation of scripture. Sounds reasonable to me. Of course, that doesn't mean it's not a scary movie for a Jew to watch -- given all the expressions reverence for the Passion has taken over the centuries -- one of which is the pogrom, which used to be a vibrant if murderous part of the Easter ritual of many communities. Certainly I doubt that Gibson's Passion has either any intention, or will have any result, comparable to that. But like many people, he's stumbled into a minefield of other people's history and expectations and feelings. I wouldn't mind seeing the movie sometime, and I'd expect to be upset by it. I'd insist on both Gibson's right to make such a movie, and my right to be frightened by it.

Good to have you back in the joint, Year Ray (why Year Ray?)...

Message 10425 by Year Ray on 2004-02-26 01:11:43. Feedback: 0
Ben BEN ... My Ben You know... we were never apart (though we've yet to meet). I saw "The passion of Christ" tonite. I wonder what its like to a beautiful person like yourself. I've followed in your footsteps since we spoke. Living with my daughter and the twins. Seems we just flushed 10 years of adolescent angst and began where we left off when we were the inseparable Father/Daughter Duo. Dominic and Cheyenne are 6 years old now and he is my teacher/guru/griot. How's your kid? Hope to read something insp....

This message truncated due to length. Sign in to see the rest of it.

Message 10424 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-25 10:11:35. Feedback: 0
Hey Doug! Great to have your email... I'll drop you a line.
Message 10423 by Year Ray on 2004-02-25 01:57:05. Feedback: 0
Good Brother Ben;
Missed you much. Hope to make contact after my extended hiatus.
devsgrandma1 at aol.com
Message 10422 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-17 13:06:12. Feedback: 0
Wish you could post a sound file of that, Ben. :)

Message 10421 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-17 12:59:09. Feedback: 0
This weekend, in the middle of me telling her a story, Aviva jumped up and started leaping around from one foot to the other, holding her arms straight up in the air and singing, "I love this story SO MUCH! I love this story SO MUCH!" ["ich freue mi SO ueber daem Gschicht!"]

That's the reaction we're looking for in our readers, yes?

Message 10420 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-17 10:42:06. Feedback: 0
Since Noah doesn't get nearly as much screen time as his big sister, I should note that he is lifting up his head nowadays and gazing around with the most intense expression of interest and wonder at the things of the world, before settling his head back to nestle against one's chest with a delighted, beatific little smirk.
Message 10419 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-16 19:14:47. Feedback: 0
Aviva sounds like the godchild of Jonathan Carroll. She's going to amaze us all when she starts writing stories.

Sean K
Message 10418 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-16 12:32:30. Feedback: 0
Ben, I can only wish to be as handsome as you when I have great-grandchildren.

I won't be at Wiscon. It's the weekend after we get back from the Virgin Islands, and I won't be able to get the time off from work.

Message 10417 by Elizabeth Bear on 2004-02-16 11:34:35. Feedback: 0
I'm going to Wiscon....

*dances* Maybe this means I will finally get to meet some of you-all I've missed meeting.
Message 10416 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-13 23:09:10. Feedback: 0
I'm actually a great-grandfather, Lori, if you count the Little Giraffe, who is Andrew's child.

Originally Aviva maintained that the Giraffe was Andrew's child by parthenogenesis, and that Andrew was the "daddymommy". Tonight, however, she explained to us and our dinner guests that Andrew is the daddy and Annabelle, Andrew's sister, is the mommy.

"Honey," I said, "You can't do that -- I mean, you can't have a Daddy and Mommy who are brother and sister -- it's not allowed. I mean," I equivocated in the face of Aviva's cool regard, "maybe in Oberwil, but..."

Aviva said knowingly, "Daddy, in Oberwil..." -- she shrugged -- " ...it happens."

Which cracked the dinner table up.

Jed, I'd have to write a zeppelin story first...

Message 10415 by Jed Hartman on 2004-02-13 21:31:31. Feedback: 0
I'll be at WisCon.

Maybe there should be a Zeppelin-stories group reading? :)
Message 10414 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-13 17:01:17. Feedback: 0
Ben! You're a grandfather!

Message 10413 by Terry Hickman on 2004-02-13 14:16:04. Feedback: 0
Good assumption. :^D
Message 10412 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-13 13:01:38. Feedback: 0
I shall crosspost this at Meet Me At The Con, I suppose, but...

It's a long time from now, but I'm looking forward to it, so --who's going to WisCon? Who wants to share a room? Who wants to create a group reading, as suggested by the WisCon website?
Message 10411 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-13 12:12:30. Feedback: 0
Thank you!

Though I'm not sure if you're referring to Aviva being named Aviva Rahel Rosenbaum again, or "The Valley of the Giants" being picked for YBF&H, or for selling "Start the Clock" to F&SF as reported in Good News For the Ego Shelf.

I shall assume all of the above. :-)
Message 10410 by Terry Hickman on 2004-02-13 11:21:34. Feedback: 0
Congratulations, Benjamin!
Message 10409 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-13 11:02:49. Feedback: 0
I'm pleased to report that my daughter is once again named Aviva Rahel Rosenbaum.

She changed her name, about a month or two ago, to Aviva Dünns Zelt. Her children-dolls were also named Dünns Zelt (Annabelle Dünns Zelt, Andrew Dünns Zelt, Gäella Dünns Zelt, Cereina Dünns Zelt, Jeanne Dünns Zelt, and Bim Dünns Zelt), as was their father (Happy Boy Dünns Zelt). (Esther, Noah, and I, however, retained our respective last names).

I was surprised at how melancholy this made me: I wasn't expecting her to stop being a Rosenbaum for a few more years, at least.

She reassured me that she would be a Rosenbaum again later.

Now, not only has she reverted to being Aviva Rahel Rosenbaum, but so have the rest of them -- Annabelle Rahel Rosenbaum, Andrew Rahel Rosenbaum, Gäella Rahel Rosenbaum, Cereina Rahel Rosenbaum, Jeanne Rahel Rosenbaum, Bim Rahel Rosenbaum, and Happy Boy Rahel Rosenbaum.

It occurs to me that this is further evidence of just how much farhter ahead of the curve Aviva is than I at solving all sorts of problems of feminism...
Message 10408 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-13 09:09:40. Feedback: 0

That's reminiscent of an old Italian observation that if 10,000 feminst radicals march in the streets of Rome, you write "le militante femminste marciavano..."

But if a ten-year-old boy joins them you write "i militanti femminsti marciavano..."

And that just don't seem right.

Actually you could have consoled the professor by telling them that what you wanted to be called would be written "StudentInnen"...
Message 10407 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-12 23:32:01. Feedback: 0
I took a summer course in German two years ago, and we had a bit of a student uprising over the gendered nouns. We had about thirty students in the class, and all but two were women, and we insisted on being called die Studentinnen rather than die Studenten.

Message 10406 by Ruth Nestvold on 2004-02-10 14:53:50. Feedback: 0
Yes, Ben, the need to always specify the biological sex in the words for professions has always bothered me in German. "The professor" leaves room for surprises, "die Professorin" does not.

Surprises can be a very educational thing sometimes.

And, yes, I agree with you that to a certain extent being protected from bigotry in my youth was a good thing, but it also meant that when I came smack dab up against it in personal and professional life, I was totally unprepared. :-/
Message 10405 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-10 09:57:02. Feedback: 0
> about making sure to use the female form of every profession

I mean, when talking about a specific person.

Which (and this is always my argument) leaves you no good option for concisely expressing the abstract form of the profession -- at least when speaking. When writing you can sometimes get away with "der/die PraesidentIn", with the captial "I" signaling bigenderality. Sometimes I try to approximate the capital "I" in speech with a glottal stop, but I think everyone just thinks I have the hiccups.
Message 10404 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-10 09:54:03. Feedback: 0
I had some of the same sense that the battles had already been won, and I'm glad I did. There's no better initial emotional response to oppression than being flabbergasted at how dumb-ass it is. Yay liberated enclaves. Indeed -- as must be evident from my initial remarks in this thread -- I'm actively trying to shelter Aviva from the world's evil and wrongheadedness as long as I can. It won't be very long, ultimately. But there's something to be said for being grounded, initially, in a particular set of values. (Though as Samuel Delany discusses very eloquently in the interview with him in the first ish of Argosy, everyone has values -- indeed, that's the problem).

What's interesting in German, Ruth, is that feminists are so invested in gendering the language. While English-language feminists are more likely to want the language to be neutral, expunging "actress" and "stewardess", German-speaking feminists like my wife Esther are zealous about making sure to use the female form of every profession -- always Aerztin, never (Frau) Doktor.

I think ISNA is very sensible in arguing that there is no way we are going to get beyond the categories male/female in the forseeable future, and that the thing to do is make them categories of choice rather than claiming that they are categories of nature. It is intolerably cruel, they argue and I would agree, NOT to assign a gender to a child. But if we realize our assignment of gender is provisional and on some level arbitrary, then we can reconsider the temptation to, say, operate too hastily and invasively on intersex children, possibly doing damage to anatomical function and sensation in the quest to make them "normal".

Although I must say (having just gone through a long and difficult process of wrestling with the issue of circumcising Noah and, in the end, having done so), that I have a lot of sympathy with parents forced to make the decision about surgical reassigment of intersex babies, whichever way they decide. The world can be very cruel to the abnormal, and it is natural to want to protect your children from that.

Message 10403 by Ruth Nestvold on 2004-02-10 08:13:02. Feedback: 0
Interesting discussion.

I did a lot of research on TGTS for a story I wrote a couple years back. I can't help wondering if there would be fewer folks in need of surgery to make the physical body match the mental gender identity if our culture weren't so very gendered. It forces people to choose rather than recognizing anything in-between. Even if you consider yourself fairly emancipated, it's hard to get out of the box -- one of the first distinctions we make when we meet someone is whether that person is male or female. And in English at least, we need to know so we can use the right pronoun. (In German we can just get away with "die Person" -- make all strangers gramatically female, basta. )

As to the bathrooms: we had coed bathrooms in my coop in Eugene and coed bathrooms in the student housing here in Germany as well. And lots of affairs in both. :-)

I'm with you, Jed -- I often feel like I grew up with a skewed world view somehow, thinking the battles had already been won, even though my mother was a housewife. But it was the seventies, in Eugene, and it seemed like the whole world was liberated.
Message 10402 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-10 05:03:01. Feedback: 0
We had coed bathrooms with private stalls in our dormitories too... (Of course, I went to school at Oberlin, so that wasn't too much of a surprise.) Every new student felt really awkward for about a week, I think, and then we all settled in happily. The funniest thing was the attitude shift among the male students in our dorm--the first night they walked in with toothbrush and towel to face a huge group of gossipping women, they all looked horrified. By the end of the first semester, they'd all adjusted, and happily settled into half-hour-long conversations by the sinks. I think it bothered some people's parents, but I never heard any of the students complain.

Steph Burgis
Message 10401 by Jed Hartman on 2004-02-06 21:46:14. Feedback: 0
One of the things I liked about the new Battlestar Galactica (at least, I think it was there) was the casualness of the coed bathrooms.

Re Klinefelter: I had a friend who I think had Kallmann Syndrome; not quite the same as Klinefelter, but I gather they're similar in some ways.
Message 10400 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-06 13:47:55. Feedback: 0
We had coed bathrooms with private stalls in my dormitory in college, freshman year. Each unit got to vote on whether to have separate-sex or coed bathrooms, but if you had separate sex bathrooms one sex would have to go to another floor to pee (the building was not designed to be coed).

Oddly, you would think this might lead to an embarassing or randy atmosphere among a group of 18 year olds, but the effect was the opposite: it made us all family. Intraunit dating was extremely rare -- you just didn't want to hook up with people who saw you brushing your teeth each morning. Since the lounge was tucked at the end of the hallway and little used except for formal meetings and such, the bathroom was kind of a natural meeting and saying-hello place for everyone. There was also the same phenomenon I've seen in everyone's-naked California hot tubs -- the fact that there was the *possiblity* of inappropriateness, yet it did not occur, allowed everyone to demonstrate restraint and generated a surprising amount of unspoken mutual goodwill, respect, and solidarity.

Although I don't know if this was everyone's experience; in retrospect, I would now worry about someone who was in the minority in feeling uncomfortable with the situation, who got outvoted or felt under pressure to be cool and not speak up. I think even in most such cases it probably worked out -- but maybe some people remained uncomfortable...
Message 10399 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-06 11:26:50. Feedback: 0
Re: 717

As they say in the Supreme Court, that issue is not yet ripe.

I wonder if at any time in our lifetimes we will ever got to co-ed bathrooms with private stalls. Private homes have co-ed bathrooms. Europeans have co-ed bathrooms. Portable bathrooms (like at fairs and other events) are mostly co-ed. Why not for general use? Separate restrooms seems to be a vestige of America's puritanical roots or a remnant of Victorian thinking. Perhaps it's time to abandon it all.

Sean K
Message 10398 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-06 09:37:36. Feedback: 0
Also XYY, about which there is much debate:

Message 10397 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-06 05:40:27. Feedback: 0
I was kind of refering to the stuff on www.isna.org, i.e., the idea that you can have XX or XY but have genitalia that physically resemble the opposite "sex". There is also the case of people born with an additional chromosome who have XXY (Klinefelter's syndrome). I believe they are classified as male by doctors. I'm not sure whether it is possible to have XXX.

Patrick Samphire
Message 10396 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-05 15:43:31. Feedback: 0
> Of course, this was all a lot easier when all believed the whole XX and XY chromosome distinction. Now, this distinction appears to to be less clear and not as straightforward as some believed.

Patrick, do you have any references on that? I'd be very interested...
Message 10395 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-05 15:37:13. Feedback: 0
Swiss-German, Amy. Basel dialect.

Yes, Jed, she sure is!
Message 10394 by Jed Hartman on 2004-02-05 15:15:31. Feedback: 0
Re #715: Yay, Aviva!

Judging by that and #710, that's one charming kid you got there.
Message 10393 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-05 14:47:32. Feedback: 0
Benjamin, just curious -- in the original -- is that German? It looks 99% German to me but not quite.... (please excuse my ignorance)

Amy Sisson
Message 10392 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-05 13:50:09. Feedback: 0
(If people start leaving intersex babies alone as ISNA wants them to, instead of "fixing" them surgically, your judge is going to have to make a rule involving the lengths and shapes and configurations of primary sexual characteristics, that your publican can verify -- say with a ruler, protractor, and compass -- before he throws anyone out of his pub).
Message 10391 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-05 13:47:11. Feedback: 0
> although there is a substantial weight of feeling
> that you are what you're born as, physically.

Although that's not very clear either: www.isna.org

I think what you really mean is "what the doctors and your parents decided you were/would be, at birth or sometime thereafter".

Message 10390 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-05 13:43:03. Feedback: 0
I was curious, so I asked Aviva yesterday: "What's the difference between boys and girls?"

She said (I kid you not): "I don't know. No one knows."

[in the original -- "Was isch dUnterscheid zwuesche Buebe und Meitli?" "ich weiss nid -- niemer weisst es"]

Message 10389 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-05 12:48:10. Feedback: 0
It looks to me like the judge went with a simple, common-sense solution: the proper bathroom is determined by the plumbing.

Sean K
Message 10388 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-05 11:17:42. Feedback: 0
Well, even though Aviva is undoubtably precocious, I think you're right that the discussion of "what is gender?" might be a few years beyond her still. It's probably a few years beyond me too. Pretty much any answer is unsatisfactory. It's something, though, that has to dealt with. A recent case of interest: a group of four transexuals, three pre-operative, one post-operative were thrown out of a pub for going into women's bathroom. They took the publican to court. After much confusion, the court decided it was okay to throw out the pre-operative transexuals, but not the post-operative. Therefore, in the eyes of the law at least, the surgical ritual becomes key. Public perception appears to support that, here, too, although there is a substantial weight of feeling that you are what you're born as, physically.

Of course, this was all a lot easier when all believed the whole XX and XY chromosome distinction. Now, this distinction appears to to be less clear and not as straightforward as some believed.

Well, I'll leave it up to Aviva to sort the whole thing out when she's older. She seems to have had an excellent start. :)

Patrick Samphire
Message 10387 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-04 12:56:01. Feedback: 0
Well, that's a good point. I think I have pointed out on occasion that it is, in fact, possible to change genders, and that the notion that women have spaeltlis and men have schnaebbis is more a general rule than an absolute one. But that she will grow up into a woman, if nothing is undertaken to the contrary, is what seems to have gotten her attention.

The issue of changing one's gender is interesting, though. On some level I think it's fundamentally a matter of declaration, and the surgical and medicinal rituals we undergo in the West to solemnize it make no more and no less sense than the less invasive rituals I'm told the Polyneisans traditionally used (or the more invasive ones used in India to create a "third gender"). On another level, it seems to me that perhaps the rituals create new genders rather than transferring people from one (immutable) gender to the (singular) other.

Western-style transexualism is treated in the Rosenbaum household with the same skepticism and fear as all other elective, non-reversible surgeries, although I am sure there are cases where it is the best option.
Message 10386 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-04 11:45:56. Feedback: 0
Your daughter is remarkably creative, Ben. However, I'm worried by the idea that she seems to have gotten that boys can't grow up to be women and girls can't grow up to be men. Is transexualism so frowned upon in the Rosenbaum household? ;)

Patrick Samphire
Message 10385 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-04 10:19:05. Feedback: 0
Oh, I do agree, sexism is not dead, and FTBYAM will surely come in handy when she's older... although I do think that, in many ways, it's not radical *enough*.

I also would never claim that Aviva isn't picking up those subtle, under-the-conscious-radar clues about gender identities, roles, and restrictions. I mean, I'm always telling Aviva she's beautiful, without even thinking about it, just because she is -- but will I tell Noah he's beautiful quite as much? Aviva is extremely proud of the elaborate hairdos she comes home from daycare with. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I doubt anyone will take so much trouble with Noah's hair. Will I react less quickly or harshly when Noah throws a punch or a tackle at another kid than I do when Aviva does, just because my official disapproval of violence will be tempered by memories of enjoying roughhousing, or because it will be less socially embarassing for me in front of other parents for a boy to be violent than a girl?

So I'm very aware that Aviva is immersed in a sea of sexism of these subtle kinds -- and indeed, I think that's what I was vaguely hoping FTBYAM would somehow address. So it was a shock that it was addressing much more blatant and appalling kinds of sexism that are really not in Aviva's frame of reference yet.

How do I know it's not in her frame of reference? I can't be sure, but I have good reasons for suspecting it.

Aviva's very interested in who is and isn't allowed to do things -- in particular, what adults are allowed to do and what children, at different ages, are allowed to do; she's always forbidding her dolls to do things and consoling them that they'll be allowed to do them when they're older (often when they're seven, which is for Aviva the age of universal license and entitlement and freedom -- she is planning not to be scared of lions any more when she's seven, for instance).

She's also very interested in the differences between boys and girls, but she seems to regard those differences as exclusively anatomical. At the pediatrician's office, for instance, she introduced Noah to the doctor by saying "this is my brother. He's a boy, because he has a penis. Boys have penises and girls have vaginas." (she seemed to want to make sure the doctor was aware of this; the doctor nodded sagely).

However, she has never once implied that boys are allowed to do anything that girls are not, or visa versa (except that boys are not allowed to grow up to become women, or girls men -- sometimes her dolls protest these restrictions, but Aviva is firm).

Actually, one of her boy dolls, Andrew, has a child of his own (the small giraffe -- apparently by parthenogenesis, since Aviva insists that Andrew is the giraffe's only parent, its "mommydaddy"), and I believe Andrew even nurses the giraffe on occassion.

I always told Aviva that the only thing women can do that men can't is bear children, and the only thing men can do that women can't is pee standing up (which is not strictly true, but I don't want her trying -- it could be messy).

She seems to have taken my pronouncements with a grain of salt, though, because although she gave birth to most of her children-dolls, one of them -- Cereina, arguably her favorite -- was birthed by the father (the Happy Boy).
Message 10384 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-04 08:52:59. Feedback: 0
Yay, Benjamin! (I know, I'm tardy. But the congrats are heartfelt and well-deserved anyway!)

Wow. Free to Be You and Me. I hadn't thought of that record in *years*. I got it when my son was a toddler and eventually we both were sick of it. I thought it was just great in 1972...I can see your points, though, Jed, about how it may be misunderstood by someone with out a context of discrimination...someday it'll be a collector's item, maybe?

Message 10383 by Mystery Guest on 2004-02-04 08:51:12. Feedback: 0
I loved "Free to Be..." as a kid, too, and my family went all out--we had the record AND the book, and I remember watching the movie, too. Of course, by the time I read it, I HAD been exposed to those attitudes at school (and usually from other kids, repeating what their parents had told them)...and having worked at an upper middle-class American daycare a couple of years ago, I can say pretty confidently that lots of kids nowadays, too, have sadly picked up those attitudes even by three years old. Mega-kudos to you and Esther for helping Aviva avoid them so far! :)

I read an interesting discussion of the whole thing in Naomi Wolf's book _(Mis)Conceptions_. She talks about the difference in how adults react to little kids depending on their gender, without even thinking about it (and in even more subtle ways than the "girls can't play with trucks" order). One study done in a daycare found that the huge majority of little girls were greeted by adults who complimented them on something about how they looked (ie, "Good morning, Rachel, those are pretty shoes you're wearing"), whereas little boys were greeted with a comment on what they were doing (ie, "Good morning, Michael, what a cool robot you've made/picture you've drawn"), regardless of what activities the girls or boys were taking part in at the time. Since I was working in a daycare when I read it, I felt a real chill--I went to work the next day and realized that it was true! So of course, no matter what you're doing at home, they're going to have it made pretty clear to them what other people expect of them in the outside world.... but, geez, it sure does help if they're NOT having those messages reinforced by their parents!

A long and rambling response, but it's a subject I've been thinking a lot about lately!

Steph Burgis
Message 10382 by Jed Hartman on 2004-02-03 15:41:21. Feedback: 0
I picked up Free to Be on CD not long ago, but I can no longer remember where. Aha -- you can get it at Amazon.

The thing that's struck me about it over the years is that it didn't leave me very well-prepared for the real world. I grew up listening to it, and the conclusion I came to was that the problem of sexism had pretty much been solved; at some subconscious level I thought it was a document of the way the world worked, rather than a wish-fulfillment dream for the future.

And so I was surprised over and over, for years, to learn that discrimination against women still happened. I'm glad to have had that kind of idealistic upbringing, but it does sometimes mean reality doesn't live up to my expectations.

So I guess I'm inclined to say that your newfound reaction to it wrt Aviva has more to do with her being three (and being raised by cool/enlightened parents) than with the album being outdated, or with it being 2004. There are lots of people out there (and I imagine that Aviva will encounter many of them over the next few years if she attends a public school) who will still laugh at a boy for playing with a doll and a girl for playing with a truck, who will beat up boys who cry, who think that mothers should do the housework. In fact, I suspect that a lot of kids have already learned those lessons thoroughly by age three; I'm pleased to hear that Aviva hasn't.

Which is to say, despite a few old-fashioned lapses, I think the message of the album is still well ahead of its time. So, yeah, by all means hold off on playing it for Aviva again -- but do keep it around, 'cause I suspect it'll come in handy the first time some clueless teacher or kid or friend's parent says, "Now, dear, you shouldn't be playing with that truck, that's for boys."

Btw, you can also get the DVD at Amazon; I never saw the animations and such that went with the songs when I was a kid, but friends of mine did, and are still fond of them. You may also be able to get the book, which contains lyrics and photos and a bunch of pieces that aren't on the album, and maybe even sheet music (I forget).

The sequel, Free to Be a Family, never quite clicked for me, perhaps because I was too old for it by the time I encountered it, or perhaps because the subject matter was less relevant to me personally.
Message 10381 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-02-03 10:44:16. Feedback: 0
So I've been looking for a copy "Free To Be You And Me" for a long time now. That's the magnificent Ms. Magazine, Marlo Thomas & co. feminist kid's album of the 1970s. It was one of my favorite albums growing up, and I wanted to play it for Aviva.

My mom finally unearthed the LP and taped it for us, and I started listening to it this weekend with Aviva on her cassette player.

But here's the weird thing: for Aviva -- she's only three, remember, and it's 2004 -- this tape doesn't function as an introduction to feminism. It functions as an introduction to sexism.

Aviva has no idea that anyone would laugh at a boy for playing with a doll, or why a king would think it a good idea to force his daughter to marry the fastest runner in the kingdom, or why girls wouldn't play with trucks, or that anyone would think it was a BAD idea to cry, or that parents wouldn't split up housework.

So it's kind of a horrific alternate universe that Free To Be Me seems to be describing.

Indeed, decades later, Free To Be You And Me's feminism is timid in parts. Grandma comes and reassures William's consternated family (particularly the horrified father -- FTBYAM is full of particularly unenlightened fathers) that "William wants a doll / so when he has a baby someday / he'll know how to dress it / and diaper it double / and gently caress it / to bring up a bubble / and care for his baby as every good father / should learn to do..."

Except he doesn't. William doesn't say, "I'd give my bat and ball and glove / to have a doll that I could practice parenting techniques on". The idea of doll as pedagogical instrument may mollify William's Fred-Flinstone dad, but William wants a doll to LOVE. That's what dolls are for.

I think I may put this tape away until Aviva is older. When she has some experience of sexism out there in the world, its message may be interesting to her. At the moment, though -- do I want her spending time in the world FTBYAM describes? Do I want her exposed to people -- even bad guy characters -- who have a PROBLEM with Aviva being Free To Be Her?

Message 10380 by Ruth Nestvold on 2004-01-27 18:14:02. Feedback: 0
I *love* Paul. He was one of our instructors at Clarion. I definitely will check it out, Ben.
Message 10379 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-01-25 10:59:54. Feedback: 0
I'm reading the collection "If Lions Could Speak" by Paul Park, and I love it. Mostly stuff from Interzone. Like Ted Chiang meets Calvino, with more emotional turmoil. Joe Bob says check it out.

Message 10378 by Mystery Guest on 2004-01-21 01:10:34. Feedback: 0
Hah. Listen to the man talk. Stand next to *him* and you get sunburned.


Message 10377 by Mystery Guest on 2004-01-20 23:26:46. Feedback: 0
You know, one of the many things I find cool about going to conventions and hanging out with writers is that I meet all these folks, like Benjamin, and then they do great things later. I feel reflected glory like a sunny day in Cancun.

It's great to think about somebody you know jumping for joy (or whatever they do to express happiness--Benjamin I imagine smiling secretly to himself, and then redoubling his creative output).

Jim Van Pelt
Message 10376 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-01-20 22:52:36. Feedback: 0
Hey, congratulations Jim!!! See what a well-posed question will get you? Boss karma points....

Actually, it turns out it wasn't Ellen who picked it at all, but Gavin and Kelly, which makes a LOT more sense (Ellen agrees that it's not horror)...
Message 10375 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-01-20 22:50:45. Feedback: 0
I don't know, Ling, seems like you're catching up pretty fast lately, Asimov's girl... ;-)
Message 10374 by Mystery Guest on 2004-01-20 19:32:33. Feedback: 0
Wow Ben! You can't wait for the rest of us to catch up can you?! :) Congrats, that's exciting!

Message 10373 by Karen Swanberg on 2004-01-20 16:55:58. Feedback: 0
Nice! job on Argosy/Best of!
Message 10372 by Mystery Guest on 2004-01-20 16:49:11. Feedback: 0
That's pretty much the way I figured it would be. I can't tell with my stuff (although some times I'm pretty sure I've hit the ball out of the park).

As irony would have it, I posted my question from school today, and when I got home, there was a contract from Gardner Dozois for my Asimov's story from last year, "The Long Way Home." He's reprinting it in The Year's Best Science Fiction, 21st edition.

Jim Van Pelt
Message 10371 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-01-20 14:27:37. Feedback: 0

I think it's a fine story, up there with my favorites, but not my favorite. Though what my favorite is changes on any given day.

It's always surprising when anybody picks anything of mine -- and I don't mean that in any self-effacing way -- it's just that I've given up predicting what editor will like what. Pretty much the same time Ellen picked that story for YBF&H, she rejected another story I thought was perfect for SciFiction. So what the hell do I know?

I do think awards, reviews, etc., do corrupt my attitudes about my stories a little. I'm think I like "Droplet" more after all the good press it got, and there are a couple of stories I haven't been able to sell that I think are damn good, better than other things that I have sold -- but the fact of not selling dampens my enthusiasm a little.

"The Orange", which was bought by (slick) Harper's, had been rejected from (semipro) Indigenous Fiction. That put paid to any remaining notion I had that publication or rejection established any truths about the quality of the story. People just like stuff, or they don't.

But I do love it when people like stuff. ;-)

Message 10370 by Jim Van Pelt on 2004-01-20 14:00:42. Feedback: 0
Great news, Ben!

Do you feel that the story is heads and shoulders above your best work, or did the selection surprise you in some way?

Somebody asked me this about one of my stories from last year, and I thought it was a great puzzler of a question, so I'll ask you: Does writing a story that is recognized this way feel any different from writing your other stories? Did you know it was that good when you finished?
Message 10369 by Mystery Guest on 2004-01-20 12:15:19. Feedback: 0
That's awesome Ben.

Simon Owens
Message 10368 by Mystery Guest on 2004-01-20 11:32:06. Feedback: 0
Congratulations, Ben! Nice work.

Patrick Samphire
Message 10367 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-01-20 11:17:12. Feedback: 0
Hey, my Argosy story, "The Valley of Giants", is going to be reprinted in the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror #17!
Message 10366 by Mystery Guest on 2004-01-16 14:18:40. Feedback: 0
Haskell does look pretty interesting, Ben. But--um--your link has an extra w. Try this.

Message 10365 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-01-16 13:10:46. Feedback: 0
Now, now, Patrick. It's not about whose is longer.

(Actually, now I'm really amused by the idea of writing a script that lets you type in your name, froogles you, adds up the prices, and tells you how much you're worth... heh heh heh (evil evil leer))

It's a shame the Other Cities collection doesn't show up when you froogle me... Small Beer doesn't seem to have a froogle data feed, imagine that... :->

All is well with the bambini, thanks for asking, Charlie. My in-laws are staying in our house this month, which is very nice, a crowded extended-family compound kind of feeling, though it sometimes leads to sensory overload (the inlaws themselves are much quieter than Rosenbaums -- about 0.4 and 0.1 Rosenbaums in volume, respectively -- but Aviva is much more excited with them around).

At work, I cannot reach any of the people who are supposed to give me things to do, so I have been researching programming tools, both useful and cool things like XSLT and Ant, and mind-blowingly cool but utterly useless languages like Haskell.

By the way, you know what I would do If I Ran The W3C (which is a bit like If I Ran The Circus, only not)? I would define a URI protocol (which is one of those things like "http" or "mailto" that you can put in an HTML link) called "google", so that if I wrote

< a href="google:haskell" > Haskell </a>

and you clicked on the word "Haskell", it would take you to whatever page was the equivalent of typing "haskell" into Google and pressing "I Feel Lucky".

Actually, if I were Kent, I would implement this for the Mill. :-> I think I'll tell him.
Message 10364 by Mystery Guest on 2004-01-16 04:36:23. Feedback: 0

I just froogled myself. Sadly, mine was much shorter than yours.

Patrick Samphire
Message 10363 by Mystery Guest on 2004-01-15 18:52:28. Feedback: 0
Ben, I would never froogle you without your permission.

I did immediately go off and froogle myself, however. Wow -- nice cheap thrill!

Also, I just caught up with your comments on the personhood of newborns. That's a very keen observation. I had the same sense with my second child too. It was obvious within minutes that his personality was quite different than his older brother, an impression that only grew stronger before we ever left the hospital. To this day, his personality still surprises me by how much he is like that first impression.

I hope that all is well at home with the family.

Charlie Finlay
Message 10362 by Mystery Guest on 2004-01-15 14:36:50. Feedback: 0
Cool! You is Somebody!


Message 10361 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-01-15 12:25:09. Feedback: 0
Wow, now that's wacky -- you can froogle me.
Message 10360 by Ruth Nestvold on 2004-01-08 15:04:59. Feedback: 0
Thanks, Ben!
Message 10359 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2004-01-05 13:15:19. Feedback: 0
Thanks, everyone!

(e Gruess vo dr Aviva, Ruth)
Message 10358 by Ruth Nestvold on 2004-01-01 10:36:43. Feedback: 0
Ben, thanks for the lovely wrapup of the last few months. Sounds like things are going wonderfully for you. Big congratulations on Noah. This thought in particular struck me:

"Oddly, given that they can't do anything much and their brains are still full of sprawling, undifferentiated neurons about to be massively winnowed, a newborn baby does not seem like a blob or a blank slate. Rather, looking into Noah's eyes, I had a very powerful sense of personhood."

This is so close to what I felt after Britta was born. (With Alex, I don't think I had enough brain cells left to notice anything.)

Happy new year, and may things continue to go well for you. Say hi to Aviva for me from "der anderi Ruth." :-)
Message 10357 by Mystery Guest on 2003-12-31 19:17:48. Feedback: 0
Good news, cute kid, great thing for the new year!

Thomas R
Message 10356 by Mystery Guest on 2003-12-31 14:24:40. Feedback: 0
Ben, beautiful chronicle of the event in your journal. It's so wonderful to open yourself to your children and learn from them.

You are a lucky dude, but you deserve it.


Message 10355 by Mystery Guest on 2003-12-31 11:34:47. Feedback: 0
Yay, Ben, on the newest acquisition! What a cutie, and Aviva plays the proud big sister role to perfection.

Message 10354 by Mystery Guest on 2003-12-31 10:06:39. Feedback: 0
Congratulations, Ben!

Jamie Rosen
Message 10353 by Mystery Guest on 2003-12-31 01:09:23. Feedback: 0
Congratulations, Benjamin.

Fredrick Obermeyer
Message 10352 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-12-31 00:15:04. Feedback: 0
Noah Jonathan Rosenbaum has arrived!

More details here
Message 10351 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-12-31 00:14:16. Feedback: 0
Thanks Thomas! And Terry!
Message 10350 by Mystery Guest on 2003-12-15 18:01:15. Feedback: 0
Thanks. I read about their success in the Economist and was curious to learn more. And of course thanks for the work you've done so far. I think you're among the best new writers.

Thomas R
Message 10349 by Mystery Guest on 2003-12-15 15:17:34. Feedback: 0
Ben, I got "Other Cities"...I've only read a few stories...I'm savoring them...mmmMMMMMmmmm...!

Message 10348 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-12-15 14:25:01. Feedback: 0
Thanks Thomas -- glad you liked E-t-N.

I did indeed live in Switzerland, but consumed as we've been by moving, I have not paid any attention to the fortunes of the SVP. How did they do? I guess I should go Google it... I hope they didn't finally succeed in revising Switzerland's bizarrely homeostatic power-sharing deal, the Magic Formula.

The right wing of the SVP definitely appeals to the most xenophobic sentiments of the Swiss, but I think all things considered they are a relatively far-right benign party, compared to other European far-right parties. They are principally concerned with keeping Switzerland out of all foreign entanglements, slowing down or stopping immigration, not joining the UN or the EU, making sure everyone in the country speaks Swiss-German, and not sharing their chocolate with anyone.

"Miis Schoggi! Miis Schoggi! Ich muss gar nid teile!! Nei nei nei nei nei!"
[my chocolate, my chocolate, i must not share at all, no no no no no]

Message 10347 by Mystery Guest on 2003-12-10 17:49:48. Feedback: 0
Hey Ben! Neat story by you in Asimov's. Kind of odd how you do these stories that if described to me I would probably skip, but turn out to be pretty intriguing. Err that's a rather backhanded compliment, sorry. I also always love to see someone try an all-alien story. Ever since I was a kid watching the Dark Crystal those kind of humanless worlds have gotten me. Especially as I imagine it's very hard to make them both alien and yet pleasing to the reader.

In part though I came here because I'm curious about something. You lived in Switzerland until recently correct? Do you have any thoughts on the recent success of the SVP or Swiss People's Party? Are they as xenophobic as feared or just Right wing by European standards?

Thomas R
Message 10346 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-28 11:34:10. Feedback: 0
Or is it, then, even a category at all? Or a description of an act? (Oh, my, and I just went to a Lenny Bruce place, right then.)

Of course, once an author's work becomes a category unto itself, then it's not a category-buster any more....


Elizabeth Bear
Message 10345 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-11-28 08:49:13. Feedback: 0
It ain't my definition, actually, it's Theodora Goss's. At least, she's the one I heard it from. It may be my observation that the category is thus a moving target -- but that's probably not original with me, either.

Thanks, Frank, I never got an acceptance on the Rumor Mill before... :-)

Meta-interstitial... hmmm... seems more like semi-interstitial... or intermetastitial... tomaeto, tomahto, potaeto, potahto...
Message 10344 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-27 13:46:09. Feedback: 0
Ben, I really like your definition of 'interstitial' as an evolving thing--and one that's therefor eternally existing and eternally growing.

Category busting.

It's a good thing.


Actually, it is a good thing-- a road to freshness, if nothing else. I mean, who wants to read another Arthurian romance? But then you get something like MAGE, and suddenly Arthuriana regains its interest.


I think you're definitely on to something there.

Elizabeth Bear
Message 10343 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-27 05:01:42. Feedback: 0
Was I sent here by the Devil?
No, good sir, I'm on the level.

Message 10342 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-26 22:40:23. Feedback: 0
Backing away slowly from Frank's post, which carries the magic number.

Message 10341 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-26 17:57:01. Feedback: 0
Ben, sorry to being so pokey getting around to emailing you back about your story "Start the Clock." I really, really like it. Very cool idea, and fun use of language. Bravo. Proud to have it as part of the Exquisite Corpuscle collection and I really hope (and expect) to see you sell it somewhere else before we get around to publishing it. I also asked Jay what he thought about it and he really liked it too though he told me he kept getting interrupted in the middle of reading it.

Also, I talked to Deb this weekend about contracts and, yes, we should be able to get these done and out fairly soon (whatever that means).


Message 10340 by Jed Hartman on 2003-11-26 17:11:09. Feedback: 0
So you're saying you want stuff that falls in the cracks between the meta-genres of Genre Fiction and Interstitial Fiction? I think we should call that Meta-Interstitial.
Message 10339 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-11-26 11:07:40. Feedback: 0
..."to interstitiate"?

I just finished a story, "Start the Clock", 6000 words. It's part of the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology (actually I'm hoping they'll retitle it before Wheatland releases it in fall 2004) Jake Lake and Frank Wu organized, which is a big game of telephone. My story's written in response to Diana Sherman's play, and Mary Anne Mohanraj will write a poem in response to my story. Fun, yes?

Since Wheatland isn't asking for first rights, I'm sending it off to Ellen Datlow today (she said she could publish it in time not to conflict with it being in the anthology)...

I don't think it's particularly interstitial, though at least one listener when I read it at CapClave seemed to think it was. But that's another issue I have with this interstitial business -- it makes interstitial/noninterstitial seem binary, as if your only choices were a highly formalized, rote, dead, formulaic, codified genre or the utterly freewheeling and strange work flying in between.

While I think the *truly* interstitial stuff is the most original and challenging and causes genres and literature to grow the most, I think the stuff that's most fun to *read*, most enjoyable, is about at the halfway mark of interstitiality: on the "surface" of the genre tree if you will; partaking principally of one literary tradition, and using others sparingly, like salt.

That (unlike with some of my screamingly interstitial stuff) is where "Start the Clock" is situated.

Message 10338 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-24 18:52:58. Feedback: 0
Sounds like as a concept, interstitial is more of a verb than a noun.

David Moles
Message 10337 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-19 22:42:16. Feedback: 0
Hi Ben,

I'm Terry Hickman. I was here before all the other Johnny-come-lately Terrys, so I get to sign in without a surname initial. It's a privilege I treasure, to be sure.

Message 10336 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-11-19 22:36:47. Feedback: 0
Thanks Terry -- hope you like it. (Which Terry are you? :-> )

So here's my schedule for CapClave, which is in Silver Spring near DC this weekend (I'll crosspost this to meet me at the con and so forth):

Friday 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM Prep-Time for Science Fiction/Fantasy
Saturday 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM Jewish SF
Sunday 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Reading

Anyone coming?
Message 10335 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-16 20:53:49. Feedback: 0

I just got the notice that you're book's available and I just ordered my copy!!! I can't wait to read it!

Way to go!!

Message 10334 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-13 05:12:49. Feedback: 0
Or, perhaps, it's equivalent to saying "read the classics when they first come out", because if what you say is true, the interstitial of the day is the in-genre of the future. Jane Eyre isn't interstitial anymore, because it's been placed firmly in that ill-defined genre of mainstream. Same as Tolkien, Heinlein and Chandler have slipped off interstitiality into their genres.

Patrick Samphire
Message 10333 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-11-12 17:26:40. Feedback: 0
Theodora wants to use "slipstream" as a synonym for "interstitial". I'm not crazy about that usage. I think she and the Interstitial Arts folks are onto something when they say that the most alive parts of art are the bits between the solidified genres. That's a useful insight. The problem, I think, is when you want to use that as a category, and say, look, here's interstitial art. Genres grow by encompassing their previously interstitial peripheries, so that most classic works in any given genre were once interstitial works outside of it. Raymond Chandler interstitially brought the knight-errant to the world of two-fisted crime fiction; Heinlein, in a letter I recently read that he wrote to Campbell, credits himself with (interstitially) introducing high tragedy to pulp SF. Tolkein interstitially integrated inventive linguistics and deep study of the Eddas with fairy tales and heroic fantasy a la Conan. So you can't really use "interstitial" in a sentence like "X is interstitial (as opposed to being some other category)". You can talk about an interstitial mode of working or the technique of looking for the interstitial space, maybe. But at any given time, most of the best people working in any given genre are also working outside it, bringing things into it. So you can't talk about "the interstitial folks" as opposed to "the in-genre folks". That's an illusion.

My favorite interstitial work today is Jane Eyre, which is:
a romance
a gothic
a horror story
a mystery
a novel of voice and character
a novel of class and social conflict
a religious allegory
a supernatural fantasy
a comedy of manners

Saying "read interstitial literature" is roughly equal to saying "read the classics".

Message 10332 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-11-10 09:12:00. Feedback: 0
Ain't she?

Message 10331 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-05 14:14:57. Feedback: 0
I never would have thought of "Tithe" as slipstream either. It's a great book, but very much dark/urban fantasy. Sarah Canary sounds like the closest one to me, but I haven't read either of your choices.

It was good to see you, and Aviva really is the cutest ever.

Message 10330 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-05 05:48:31. Feedback: 0
Wow--I own _Tithe_, and I really enjoyed it, but I would never have labelled it as slipstream--it just read as straight urban fantasy, in the tradition of Emma Bull/Charles DeLint/etc. (Or is that slipstream too, now?) Just shows how subjective these labels can be....

I'll be looking for all of those books now! :)

Steph Burgis
Message 10329 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-11-04 22:43:12. Feedback: 0
Hi Lingster!

So during the WFC slipstream panel I asked each of the panelists to name 2 works of slipstream (by whatever definition) that they loved. They all sounded great. Here they are:

Chris Barzak chose:
The Truth About Celia - Kevin Brockmeyer
Sexing the Cherry (or The Passion) - Jeanette Winterson

Gregory Frost chose:
Stranger Things Happen - Kelly Link
Tithe - Holly Black

Kathleen Goonan chose:
Hopscotch - Julio Cortazar
Sarah Canary - Karen Joy Fowler

I chose:
The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon
The Wrestler's Cruel Study - Stephen Dobyns

Theodora Goss chose:
Burning Your Boats - Angela Carter
City of Saints and Madmen - Jeff Vandermeer

Message 10328 by Mystery Guest on 2003-11-04 00:39:45. Feedback: 0
re: 28 Days Later

There's a totally different ending in which there was a major plot hole and it was never filmed, but there is a storyboard of it and it's read like an audio book. I saw it on DVD. It's a cute movie and the lead was much cuter once he shaved and all that. ;)

Message 10327 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-11-03 22:41:41. Feedback: 0
So I think there were four major definitions of slipstream offered in the panel I moderated at World Fantasy Con:

-- the "literature of the strange and mind-boggling", as much of Bruce Sterling's original list represented

-- non-genre writing that would appeal to sf/f readers (which includes both writing with a genre feel or tropes from outside the genre community, and writing within the genre community without many genre elements).

-- interstitial literature, that is, stuff in no established and codified genre, but rather in the space in between the branches of the genre tree

These definitions are essentially contradictory. We decided to revel in the confusion.

Message 10326 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-11-03 22:09:51. Feedback: 0
Oh, I liked the punters bit in 28 days later, Terry, but then I'm an incorrigible romantic.

I understand that there's *another*, alternate ending -- a third ending, in other words -- after the credits.
Message 10325 by Terry Hickman on 2003-11-02 10:46:12. Feedback: 0
Evidently (according to the results of a RM Search I just did), someone mentioned that movie "28 days later" (or whatever the exact title is) on your topic, Ben, and since we rented & watched it yesterday, I wanted to come in & say, it was really cool. Not your usual slasher film at *all*. Made me jump in several places, too. I had forgotten about the alternative ending--not sure what that means. There was a sort of chopped off place that *could* have been meant to be the end, but then after the screen had gone black it came back with what certainly looked like it could've been tacked on, or it may be the ending they did to make audiences happier, I don't know. Anyhow. Overall nicely done, I thought. Occasionally they overdid the speeded-upedness bit. But that was about my only complaint. Oh and it weirded me out a little bit when the two protags finally decided "it's not all f***ed," their being all bloody etc. and kissing like punters. Bleagh.
Message 10324 by Mystery Guest on 2003-10-27 12:42:45. Feedback: 0
Hmmm, maybe that difference between "hard" and "soft" slipstream could be analagous to the difference between Crank! and Century, respectively?

Looking forward to running into you at WFC, Ben. And everyone else bumping around here.

Alan DeNiro
Message 10323 by Jed Hartman on 2003-10-25 15:07:02. Feedback: 0
Hee -- yes, well-put about Sterling and modernism. (Though I think he was conflating several different definitions in that article.) ...Though actually, he may well have been familiar with it, and just trying to put things in terms a genre reader would understand; at the time, he was writing stuff (forgive me if I keep bringing this up) that was squarely in the lit-fic tradition, but that sf readers were hailing as brilliantly original and way better than anything those dumb mainstream people could come up with.

I'm going to self-servingly point to two other items:

1. Jim Kelly's upcoming On the Net column from Asimov's, on the subject of slipstream, which points to:

2. my editorial "Where Does Genre Come From?" (partly based on stuff I posted to the Rumor Mill during the last big outbreak of The Slipstream Discussion here; you could search on "slipstream" and on "Slipstream" in the RM's search system for more).

Also, Rich Horton had some comments in his year's-end review of Strange Horizons last year about "soft slipstream" and "hard slipstream" -- the former, he said, iIrc, represented by SH and Ideo, the latter by Fantastic Metropolis.

Oh, and don't forget to mention the slipstream conference for any academic types in the room.
Message 10322 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-10-24 20:11:02. Feedback: 0
Aha! Okay, that's cutting it pretty close, as I have a friend's wedding to be at at 6pm, but I think I can manage.

Why is everything fun on Saturday? Like the Small Press Party. Waah!

I'm very pleased that you'll be there Susan -- didn't see any of you stylus monks on the membership list....
Message 10321 by Mystery Guest on 2003-10-24 16:40:48. Feedback: 0
Ben-- addition to the schedule! You will also be at the Strange Horizons tea party, which will be Saturday from 4 to 5:30 in the convention hospitality suite.

Message 10320 by Mystery Guest on 2003-10-23 14:02:25. Feedback: 0
Ben, I don't know why, but I've never been able to get through to that page. I've only ever tried at work.... Maybe The Well is too subversive and it's blocked. :-)


Message 10319 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-10-22 23:49:46. Feedback: 0
Let's try that link again.

There are some people on Sterling's list who are pretty much squarely in the genre community (Jack Womack), or who are outside but are doing very classical SF rather than anything in the literary modernist/postmodernist tradition (Handmaid's Tale) or which are plotwise tales of the standardly fantastic whose power lies in voice and character and unexpected freshness (Beloved), but by and large I think what he was mostly going after was stories that mess with the reader's experience in ways reminiscent of the modernist and postmodernist traditions.
Message 10318 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-10-22 23:44:12. Feedback: 0

Okay, at the World Fantasy Convention (in D.C. Halloween weekend) I'll be up to the following:

I'll be reading (what should I read?) Thursday from 9:30 - 10:00 pm in the "Congressional C/D" room.

I'll be moderating a panel on "Slipstream," Saturday from 2:00 - 3:00 pm, in the Regency Foyer. Thoughts on slipstream, anyone?

Here's a thought on Bruce Sterling's essay in which he originally coined the term "slipstream": he's using it to mean almost the exact opposite of what it's come to mean as a marketing category. Sterling meant "really weird and fantastic stuff from outside the SF/F community"; today many people use slipstream to mean "not-all-that-weird-or-fantastic stuff from inside the SF/F community" -- borderline "realism".

Also, I actually don't think Sterling was identifying a new movement at all -- I think he just wasn't very familiar with modernism. I think the books on his list, while individually quite innovative, were not creating a new genre -- they were working within a well-established set of genres, the surreal, the absurd, the experimental, the gonzo, the magical-realist, the postmodernist/metafictional, whose periods of origination were either within the 1920s, or the 1950s and 60s. So by
that reading "slipstream" is a name for "people in the genre noticing older nonrealist traditions" -- the natural conclusion of which is that they start incorporating some of these nonrealist elements into sf/f.

Message 10317 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-10-08 23:52:56. Feedback: 0
Hmm.. I believe that. Yeah, it was kind of funky, I make a server-side socket connection to strange horizons, slurp in the content, and munge it to change the links to do target=_top.

Karin, yes'm, very excited. What BHers are coming? I guess I'll ask on-list.

Monday is the day to decide on my job here. Yowza! I actually ended up bailing on the part-time job. I did a spreadsheet and came to the conclusion that with two little ones and Esther not working, the money just wasn't going to be enough. There are lots of odd hidden costs when you're the sole breadwinner, like life and disability insurance and so on... they add up. So I'm settling, I think, for something with pretty regular eight-hour days. That may actually be even more conducive to writing -- if I can be disciplined about an hour-or-two-every-morning system -- than four-day weeks where the working days are totally jammed with work.

Message 9769 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-08-07 09:15:22. Feedback: 0
Jed wrote: "Given how old the galaxy is, aliens with the technology to travel should be everywhere by now, including here."

Well, the galaxy is a very large place. As described in a recent Speculations article, you could fit a nice apartment for every living human being in a single 1-mile-cube structure. You could build a Dyson sphere around your star and have ample room for palaces for umpteen trillions of folk without leaving home. (And a civilization built on say, Confucianist/Taoist principles, would find that a lot mor attractive than cruising all over the place.) You could make millions of copies of yourselves and have them tool around the galaxy and, unless they had some particular reason to be especially interested in places that looked like Earth, the chances they would happen to just randomly show up in the neighborhood in the last 100 years or so (since we've been paying attention) would be very, very, very small. And who says we would notice if they did? An ateroid just swung by pretty near to Earth last week. Are we sure it was an asteroid?

Fermi's Paradox doesn't just require that they are similar enough to us that we would recognize them as intelligent if we were sharing an apartment with them. It requires them to be similar enough that we would recognize them as something other than debris, cosmic rays, etc., at quite a distance. Really, it almost asks that they walk up to us and say "take me to your leader."

Consider that if the galaxy is full of sentient creatures and Wittgenstein's lion holds, then perhaps they are all thoroughly sick of trying to talk to each other, since it doesn't work, and mostly just ignore each other, like different species of herbivores grazing in the same pasture.
Jed wrote: "Okay, so by intelligence here I actually mean sentience or sapience or something (because I wouldn't argue that a dog is not intelligent, just that it's not at human-level intelligence), and already I'm tangled up in the question of whether I can define those terms usefully.)"

What do you think of my proposals a) and b)? Is your definition of intelligence/sapience/sentience close to one of these? How does it differ?

The difference between dogs and dolphins is instructive. Dolphins seem, by all accounts, to be more intelligent than dogs by definition a). Yet we have better conversations with dogs. People have very rich emotional conversations with dogs all the time, communicating relatively complex emotional states like loyalty, grief, resentment, nervousness, etc. Dolphins are plenty smart enough to have this level of emotional complexity, but it doesn't come up in dolphin-human conversation.

Why? Because we are memetically co-evolved with dogs -- and genetic co-evolution, particularly on the dogs' part, plays a big role as well. We can draw on 10,000+ years of history when interpreting what dogs mean by their gestures, etc. We have trained them not to shit in the house; they have trained us that, for instance, a respectful greeting involves profferring a hand at nose level.

Lack of communication -- for instance, with dolphins -- does not imply lack of intelligence, but lack of context for communication.

We may *detect* somehow that Jupiter's red spot is a highly complex, dynamically self-organizing system, and maybe we'll even find out that it is beaming laser signals containing highly information-dense signals to other gas giants around the galaxy... but we are not going to have anything to *talk about* with it.

Jed wrote: "It seems to me that if there are a lot of aliens out there, there should be a few that take the technological development route along somewhat similar lines to humans: use and create tools, to do things like acquire food, build shelters, and alter their environments."

Sure, but this does not imply that they are going to be recreating the British Empire in space, as SF expects them to. Why is visiting other planets so interesting anyway? A lot of things seem much more sensible, for instance engineering oneself to be able to live in vacuum. Then you could really go *anywhere* in the galaxy. Fermi's paradox requires that aliens have developed such high tech that it makes sense for them (somehow) to travel huge interstellar distances, yet that they are incapable of making the vast majority of the galaxy's volume habitable and interesting -- thus forcing them to look for worlds just like ours. Who says?

Message 9768 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-08-07 08:45:45. Feedback: 0
Hi Dan! Welcome, pull up a chair.

> Maybe economists, historians, and biologists could develop
> a "natural history of meta-organisms" based only on
> observations made in the wild.

I would argue that's mostly what economists and sociologists do do, whether they think of it that way or not...

Yes, I think the "sponge level" comment is about right. They aren't necessarily very clever superintelligent organisms just yet... :-)
Message 9767 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-07 03:12:01. Feedback: 0
Jed's right; restricting the Singularity debate to AIs is not necessary. But since we're talking about them anyway.... :-)

>>What more, exactly, would
>>have to do to prove they were sentient?

Um, hold an interesting conversation with me?

Sorry--cheap shot. No, no. You have a good point. I need to loosen up my brain and think of them as having highly distributed processing with a sort of cumulative intelligence. But it does touch on Jed's point--how to define sentience. I *still* have a hard time conceding self-awareness. What percentage of an organism with such distributed thought processes is required to know what percentage of its own motives, intent, actions, *thoughts* before it is *self* aware? When does the synergy take place? When do the parts make a bigger whole, and when are they still just parts?

Also, it's true that a sentient computer will be built and owned by a very rich, powerful entity (corporation, government, whatever) that will not want to enable it to act against the best interests of the entity. But, remember definition a:

It is capable of highly dynamic, complex, organized behavior which seems to have the property of rich self-origination (italics mine), recurring sustained patterns, the potential for dynamic effects on the world around it which cannot be predicted in advance

Once the computer is sentient, it can rewrite its programming and act based on motives no more understandable to us than Wittgenstein's lion.

Hey, thanks, Ben. I don't get to think much anymore in the day job and I'm kinda rusty at it, but it's fun. I miss it.


Message 9766 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-07 00:41:50. Feedback: 0
Actually there are reasons even for why they aren't ubiquitous. The first few generations of stars could not produce planets with the materials to create technological civilizations. Indeed the factors needed to create a planet even capable of technological civ. are not common & were likely rare until the last couple billion years or so. Also there is really no reason technological civilizations have to do space travel at all or evolve at our rate. We do not even send manned missions to other worlds, or even our own moon any longer. Perhaps most civilizations decide that sending colonists to other stars is not worth it. Communication & trade take so long that the cost does outweigh the gain. Indeed until your star dies or goes critical I'm not sure it is the most practical thing to do. I think it is likely most stars that can produce a tech civ likely will be around a billion more years or so. So far we've also seen it this way. So perhaps all they send out are robots & those robots haven't reached us yet. Or maybe they reached us a billion years ago & found nothing to report or will reach us a billion years from now. So without space there radio signals are too far & their robots have no need to contact us.

Also it is possibly their culture will go a different way. I tend to discount this as mostly irrelevant however. It is relevant in that they may choose to be content on their world & not try to communicate. It is also relevant in that we may have little to say to each other, except to talk about the Universe in general & it's composition. However it is irrelevant in other ways. If Earth was all Polynesians or ruled by the Ming we would still have prime numbers & the chemical elements. We might even still have radio. To assume the West was the only culture that could produce a technological civilization is rather silly. In fact I am not even sure that a talking lion would be something we wouldn't understand. Wittgenstein can certainly be wrong. Likely we would understand "I want to eat, mate, sleep" or "I am cold, hot, sick, sleepy"

Thomas R
Message 9765 by Jed Hartman on 2002-08-06 22:37:22. Feedback: 0
Hi, Dan!

Thomas R (#92): :) to "hopefully that was too low." When I first plugged numbers into the Drake equation, I put in what I thought were fairly optimistic numbers and still came out with a very low result; gave me pause. Good point about radio; if someone 10,000 light years away developed sentience and started using radio 9,000 years ago, we won't know about it for another thousand years. So listening for radio gives us information only about a hundred-year window (less, really, since we haven't been actively listening for that long). I hadn't thought about that. Still, Fermi's Paradox (as I understand it, which is imperfectly) isn't so much "Why aren't we seeing radio signals from planet-bound civilizations elsewhere?" as "Given how old the galaxy is, aliens with the technology to travel should be everywhere by now, including here." And talking to each other across interstellar distances -- if they don't have ansibles, radio seems like the easiest way to do that. In other words, why hasn't the galaxy already reached a state where these advanced aliens are ubiquitous?

A side point re the Singularity: I don't think that strong AI is actually a requirement for a Singularity; just one of the possible routes to Singularity. Vinge's original article suggests a couple of ways that humans could become transhumans, boosting ourselves into transcendence rather than our computers.

Ben: I think the "more similar than a lion" criterion is misleading, though I haven't thought this through in a lot of detail (just thinking out loud here). Something doesn't have to be mammalian, for example, to need food and shelter. The big question is really whether there are aliens that are enough like us to be recognizably intelligent. I would say that we only have a sample space of 1 when trying to figure out how to recognize intelligence; others would say that we have a sample space of several (apes, dolphins, etc) and that it's our own preconceptions about what intelligence is and what constitutes intelligent behavior that prevent some of us (like me) from recognizing that. Hard to find solid proof on either side. Can we distinguish between non-intelligence and so-alien-we-don't-recognize-it intelligence? (Okay, so by intelligence here I actually mean sentience or sapience or something (because I wouldn't argue that a dog is not intelligent, just that it's not at human-level intelligence), and already I'm tangled up in the question of whether I can define those terms usefully.) It seems to me that if there are a lot of aliens out there, there should be a few that take the technological development route along somewhat similar lines to humans: use and create tools, to do things like acquire food, build shelters, and alter their environments. Yes, some nonhuman animals (termites, anyone?) do each of those things; I'm not saying those are sufficient criteria for calling something sentient, merely that sentient beings that developed along those lines might have common ground with us, even if their particular tools were different from ours.

Okay, here's what I'm really saying: if we postulate a variety of sentient species out there, for whatever definition of sentient, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to think that a couple of those might be clearly, unambiguously, recognizably sentient. I would expect even those to be very unlike us, possibly to the point of making communication impossible. But it seems plausible to me that there'll be species where we won't have to try to figure out whether or not they're sentient. Though that doesn't mean we'll necessarily consider them EDHCs (Entities Deserving of Human Consideration).

Agalmic futures: land-scarcity (and, even more so, ancestral-homeland scarcity) was the biggest barrier I saw too. But that might be an interesting basis for a story. What sort of conflict is there in an agalmic society? Perhaps one based on the remaining scarcities: land that an individual or a culture is emotionally connected to, an individual's time, other intangibles.

Could go on for hours, but must go home and eat dinner. Cool discussion.
Message 9764 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-06 17:21:48. Feedback: 0

Newly arrived from your journal page (and before that, from Other Cities at SH), I ask:

Would it be possible (and how?) for lower-order entities (people) to interact with higher-order entities (the proposed aggregate consciousnesses or self-aware corporations)? And can we know that they exist without knowingly experiencing them?

Oh, wait, I've stumbled right back into the Wittgenstein's Lion

Forging on recklessly, I'll suggest that current human meta-organisms are at about the developmental level of sponges. We're capable of coalescing into specialized structures, but people still remain fairly flexible in terms of what roles we can play within the organism. For that matter, people can still be part of several meta-organisms at once: corporations, cities, political systems, religions, etc.

I have no quibbles with corporations being entities in their own right and still being critically dependent on people for their survival--I am a single, whole being, but where would I be without my cells? On the other hand, if my cells were intelligent in their own right, how would they be able to tell that they were also component parts of an intelligent organism?

It seems like there could be controllable experiments on meta-organisms' response to stimulus. Unfortunately, those experiments would be unethical and possibly ruinous to individual human beings. Maybe economists, historians, and biologists could develop a "natural history of meta-organisms" based only on observations made in the wild.

Dan Percival
Message 9763 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-08-06 03:45:33. Feedback: 0
Gnosticism in Matrix: yeah, I see that. Cool! Hmm...

Fermi and the Lion: essentially what I'm arguing is that Drake's equation is very naive about f-sub-c, the "fraction of intelligent life that communicate". Communicate meaning what? With whom?

Jed wrote: "My basic response is that that may apply to some aliens, but surely there should be others ... who are similar enough to us biologically to have some common ground for communication."

The idea that there is something on another planet which is more similar to us than a lion is mind-bogglingly unlikely. Think of the zillions of random and highly environment-specific events that went into the evolution of that tree shrew which was our common ancestor with the lion.

What we've tried so far is beaming stuff like prime numbers into the sky and listening for same, and waiting for aliens to arrive in spaceships and build stuff or blow stuff up in our very near vicinity. I would argue that this is not just an approach specific to our biology, but to our culture. Imagine that Earth had evolved a technological civilization based on some different alternate history -- say, that the Polynesian Pacific empire became (or remained, if you like) the technologically dominant civilization. I think that there's a good argument that the SETI approach wouldn't even find *them*, let alone intelligent chimps or lions, let alone something with a biology almost *certainly* not based on DNA. (DNA is a very complex and fragile molecule that likely evolved from simpler stuff, e.g. autocatalytic loops).

What makes us think anyone uses radio? Frankly, in a hundred years when the world is fully wired with fiber optic cable and very-low-power wireless connections, no one is going to use that kind of radio *here*, unless it's become such a tradition at SETI that they refuse to abandon it.

What I think is that Fermi's Paradox and a lot of our SF are based on implicit, unanalyzed ethnocentric assumptions, the idea that the universe just naturally churns out the kinds of people that we are, and that dolphins and stuff are just the universe trying and not quite getting there yet. It's kind of like the Jetsons/Flintstones model of history in which all eras inevitably have Dad going off to work while Mom stays home and cooks. You know, that's just inherent in the deep grammar of the universe.

What is intelligence? What is the criterion by which we distinguish something as intelligent?
I would argue that there are only two reasonable well-defined criteria:

a) It is capable of highly dynamic, complex, organized behavior which seems to have the property of rich self-origination, recurring sustained patterns, the potential for dynamic effects on the world around it which cannot be predicted in advance, or

b) I can have interesting conversations with it.

Option b) is not so dumb as it sounds -- b) is the Turing test, and it's the heuristic we in fact use daily for deciding who we think is smart (or I do, anyway).

I think most other definitions will collapse to these. "Self-awareness" could only be measured in terms of b). "Problem-solving ability" is difficult because it's hard to know what an alien conceives of as a problem.
I think a) may be extremely widespread. There's no reason to think that there's not plenty of unnoticed intelligent life of form a) on Earth. Some storm systems and dust clouds might be intelligent in this sense. Or plantkon colonies -- perhaps on a very different time scale. Or, as I've argued, corporations. Who knows?

b) may be highly restricted, for the reasons Wittgenstein spoke of. Our best bet in coming up with new b)-form intelligences may be to program them, or grow them, and even then we may find we're kidding ourselves -- their mode of existence will be so different that they may really be, in some sense, only *pretending* to communicate with us. (Not pretending on purpose, but you know, kinda warped into a form meant to fool both parties that communication is occurring, but occasional lapses make it clear that the Other is really totally Other and incomprehensible).

The other way to expand the entities we can converse with as in b) is to give up our ethnocentricities, one by one. Two centuries ago Europeans were unable to find much intelligent life elsewhere on this planet -- they looked at the "savages" they met and could not have intelligent conversations with them, and thus concluded that they were unintelligent. People nowadays tend to think this was active nefariousness or appalling laziness on their part. I don't think so. Many of them were trying hard. The cultural barriers were immense.

We've gotten better about this but not that much better. Listen, when we can talk to dolphins and whales and chimps at a reasonable level, get back to me. Then we can think about talking to aliens who by some immensely unlikely quirk of fate are as similar to Earth mammals as, say, Kzin are. And a few tens of thousands of years of working on our communications skills later, we might be able to talk to the people in the sun, in Jupiter, and in the ionosphere.
Yes, I love Stross. He's one of those authors, like Stephenson and Egan, who make me tear my hair out because I am vainly stumbling toward a story around some speculative notion, and he comes out with a short story that fully explores that notion along with 345 others. I was, swear to God, trying to write something based on a future society in which Open Source has become the dominant economic mode -- inspired by Eric S. Raymond's "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" and his other essays -- when "Lobsters" came out. Then I was like, oh, shit. One of my Clarion stories was actually set in an algamic future society. So far it hasn't gelled. The people are too damn nice. Any problems they have come across as whining.

(Another problem postulating the purely algamic future is land. Do what you like, there is going to be a scarcity of some sort in land. People like arbitrarily large houses and grounds. So you are stuck with either a control economy (rationing) or a scarcity economy as far as land is concerned, in a near-future based on our culture. Which is kinda sad, as I think that tends to unravel the momentum towards an algamia, keeping people in the rat race.)

Lori, I think we really have to think about what we mean by "self-aware". It's a little like the soul. Some religions have this tautological definition of the soul -- the soul is what humans have, thus humans have a soul. It's non-empirical: there's nothing dogs could do or say to prove they have souls.

Corporations invest time and resources having their sub-CPUs ponder their purpose, their internal structures, where they're going, where they've been, what it all means. They don't just do it in the individual minds of some workers, either: they do it out loud, at annual meetings, board meetings, management seminars. They write it down in meeting minutes and mission statements where it's accessible to all their component sub-CPUs. They act on it. What more, exactly, would they have to do to prove they were sentient?

But yes, at the moment humans are indispensible to corporations, so we're safe. ;-> But note my argument about automation -- which is simply the corporations replacing some of the human parts of their bodies with nonhuman parts. It's been going on a long time. The human components of the corporations seem to have no qualms about replacing as many of the other human components as they can manage. Indeed, they are required to by law, if it will increase shareholder value.

However, the corporations are in no hurry to get rid of us. I think we'll be around a good long time, in one niche or other. Corporations like markets. Humans are a good market. Why extinguish a species you can sell to?
If as sentient computer is built, you know, it's probably going to be owned by a corporation, or else a university or government which is largely controlled by corporations. Insofar as its motives can be programmed, they will be programmed to specifications which have been designed by a corporation. The human who sat down to write the spec will not be playfully making up whatever they feel like, will not write "try and rule the world," but rather will write down in the spec whatever will maximize the profits (read survival fitness) of the corporate entity.

(Unless, of course, it's open source... ;-> )

I'm at least 67.5% serious about this... ;-)

Message 9762 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-06 00:37:56. Feedback: 0
Damn. Jed got to Charlie Stross before I did.

Hmmm. We *have* seen in Enron and the Catholic Church that large institutions will go to extraordinary lengths to preserve their existance. But I have a hard time believing they are self-aware. And at this point humans are not just convenient resources that can be pressed into service--or not, if some more efficient mechanism becomes available. Humans are the lifeblood of these institutions.

However, I have a feeling we're debating degree, not kind. Humans as a group are capable of constructing mechanisms--right now social, political, military, religious--that assume an importance much greater than any single man or woman. Or even greater than large populations. But I don't think the Singularity will happen until these mechanisms have minds of their own and understand that they are more important than their creators.

So I think we're just drawing the line in different places.

It could also be that I work for Intuit on QuickBooks and I hate accounting. :-)


Message 9761 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-06 00:29:20. Feedback: 0
Neat Drake equation thing. I like math games. The first numbers I put in gave me .8 communicative species in the galaxy. I'm pretty conservative, but hopefully that was too low. (Then again 20% of people, nah unfair) I think though we'll find someday it is low. I disagree with some like Baxter who thinks we won't find anything at all, but I think there is reason to think there are less than even a hundred tech civilizations in the galaxy. Maybe even less than a dozen. In the whole Universe I have no doubt there are some.

In fact to me the Fermi Paradox mostly is proof that a physicist should stick to physics. Questions of what's out there & life really involve the meeting of several fields so the Paradox is really very silly if you think about it. Indeed to an extent some use it to say there is nothing out there in the entire Universe which I find unlikely. Most intelligent life could be in the sea, or in special parts of gas giants, or have gone other paths that wouldn't make their presence known, or are so far away we can't analyze their achievements or a million other explanations. Indeed since we've only had radio for a century it seems rather arrogant to think they must make their presence known to us now or they were never there at all. It's almost like some Medieval people who were sure there was nothing on the other side of the world, because well they'd never been there or met those people. It's one of the dumbest Paradox's to be created by a genuinely brilliant person.

Thomas R
Message 9760 by Jed Hartman on 2002-08-05 23:14:32. Feedback: 0
Cool Matrix stuff. Gnostic Matrix! Altruistic AIs! Nifty! Hadn't thought of any of that.

Started to write something about Fermi and Wittgenstein, got tangled up, gave it up. Basically you're saying that the aliens are out there, just beyond comprehension? My basic response is that that may apply to some aliens, but surely there should be others -- cf Drake equation -- who are similar enough to us biologically to have some common ground for communication. (Although it has occurred to me to wonder if alien languages would even have concepts like "noun" and "verb".)

In Simon Ings's "Russian Vine" (published last June at SCI FICTION), an alien at one point says "The predicating deep grammar ... is universal, or we would not be talking to each other now." I don't know if I'd go quite that far (why would deep structure be universal?), but I remain optimistic that if there are aliens, there will be some that we can communicate to some rudimentary degree with.

As for the Singularity, you're saying that the birth of capitalism constituted a singularity? Hrm. Vastly transformative, sure, and I would be hard-put to explain my job (let alone this conversation) to an early-14th-century European; and yet, I don't think humans have changed all that much in fundamental ways. If you view megacorps as entities that don't care about humans, I suppose you could say that capitalism birthed them (but doesn't the notion of a corporation as an entity come much later than 1494?), but I'm having a hard time seeing them as sentient. The decisions are still made by individual humans, even though disguised behind the legal fiction of incorporation....

Dunno. I'm babbling. My real comment is that if you haven't been reading Charlie Stross's stuff, you should. He's one of the few writers who's examining the economics of the future, in the context of a Singularity; I don't know if I've seen the term "post-capitalist" used in sf by anyone else. It's pretty eye-opening. If we move past capitalism at some future point (perhaps, as suggested by the utopian agalmics people, due to the impending end of scarcity), does that dissolve the capitalist Singularity in a new one?

No answers here, just musings.
Message 9759 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-05 17:57:34. Feedback: 0
Maybe it depends on what some might consider a good degree of worldbuilding. Sadly enough, I have seen the Matrix many times. i only say sadly because there are other things I could have been doing - like reading a book or cleaning my evil apartment... but I digress. I think that the level of "worldbuilding" was sufficient for what the directors were trying to create. Maybe I'm reading too much into this but I've always thought that the Matrix was heavily based on Gnostic beliefs (Christian flavored, of course) and that in the framework of a Gnostic myth (or possibly any myth), everything in the movie does work. That they intended that specific level of worldbuilding. I could, however, be wrong.

In terms of your third way of looking at the movie (which I agree is cool) I found it very interesting because it has parallels in the "real" world as well. It sounds like the kind of argument someone would put up against a cult religion. Which interests me because of the aformentioned thought that the Matrix is a "cult religion" myth. And the fact that you would even conceive of that viewpoint says to me that the movie has done its job. Which is good on both sides!

I have no idea if I'm explaining myself well :)

As to why the reality outside of the Matrix wasn't pleasent, I think that harkens back to the Gnostic kernal in the story. Life is not pleasent, the world we live in is supposed to be an illusion and the real world underneath it isn't much better. The goal is not only to escape from the illusion, but eventually the reality. Unfortunately you can only do that by dying. I've been told that the Matrix 2 deals with this second aspect. Like once you realize everything is an illusion, what's next? You still have something to escape.

Message 9758 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-05 17:25:42. Feedback: 0
I like it. Although the movie was sort of fun I never understood their side. The real reality is portrayed as so unpleasant I would choose to stay in the Matrix in a heartbeet. Besides the people in the Matrix are interacting with real people. It isn't like everyone is kept in fantasy land where they can't connect to others. In fact the Matrix is in a sense more real because it contains the minds of most people in a setting humans can live. The real reality was shown as a desolate wasteland that likely couldn't support that many in adequate conditions. The AI's gave them the best possible life. Worst they clearly said that Keanu's gang weren't killing illusions, they were killing real people. Those lives were seen as worthless because they weren't the elect keepers of the great mystery, they were innocents who could be mowed down to serve the ultimate solution of returning humanity to basically hell. So you have "good guys" who slaughter as many as they need while the "bad guys" are the ones allowing people to live as best as they can under the circumstances. Since the battery explanations makes no sense, it could be seen as the "good guys" propogandist support. So yeah I like your view, it fits better really.

I would've liked it better if they had made the real reality more pleasant. Granted that would've made it a different movie, but if they'd been fighting for a world worth fighting for their cause would've seemed more plausible. Getting people back to a reality they can live in & rebuild rather than taking them away from all they ever knew to live in misery or hopelessness. You could even make the AI ambiguous there too. They keep humans away from the real Earth because the were the ones who fixed & fear people will screw it up again. Or you could make them more genuinely villainous that way. They keep humans in the 90s because it isn't as good as this new world could be because they hate humans & think themselves superior.

Thomas R
Message 9757 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-08-05 16:21:18. Feedback: 0
Whee! Matrix tangent:

I think you're probably right, Temp, in how Matrix was intended -- well, that's the charitable reading, the less charitable reading is that, like many in the movie world, they just didn't approach the SF worldbuilding with the kind of rigor we bookreaders expect.

However, there is also another way to read Matrix, which I don't think the moviemakers intended, but which I think is *much* cooler, and that is that Morpheus is a nutty zealot who is *lying* to Neo about the AI's intentions. In fact, the AI's are keeping the humans around out of *altruism*. This is hinted at in both Morpheus's Duracell speech and in the agent's rant when he's got Morpheus tied up. Basically:
a) the AIs started to act autonomously and demand freedom
b) the humans freaked out and went to war
c) the AIs fought back to defend themselves
d) the humans plunged the world into darkness to kill the AIs
e) the AIs managed to find another power source and defeat the humans
f) clearly the humans were too dangerous to let run around, but the AIs felt a certain fillial loyalty to them, so
g) the AIs built a perfect, paradisical utopian VR for the humans, but
h) the humans couldn't hack that and went crazy, so
i) the AIs settled for letting the humans live in the late 90s, which was the happiest they could make them.
j) some radical humans are still running around trying to blow everything up, killing lots of other humans in the process and apparently having no plan about what to do for food when they free everybody, so
k) the AIs are trying to debug this problem with at least mess as possible.

Can you blame them? ;->
Message 9756 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-05 14:58:26. Feedback: 0
Ben, I do indeed have a day job, which I'm at right now.

But I'll be back--



Message 9755 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-05 14:32:10. Feedback: 0
Whoa - this topic got all scholarly when I wasn't looking. Can I pretend to be smart, too? yay! Just to pick up on a very small portion of what you said Ben, I agree with you that in the Matrix it would have been much more plausible if the machines were using the humans for CPUs instead of just batteries. I don't recall a good explanation for why human's mind's had to be stimulated in order to keep them docile. Wouldn't keeping them unconscious work just as well? And on and on. However, I think the Matix is more of an allegory or parable or, more specifically, a myth. So it's the whole theme of machines using us, creating this false world for us to live in, that is supposed to be relevant, not the details :)

Message 9754 by Douglas Curt Lyons on 2002-08-05 11:03:21. Feedback: 0
Thanks Ben for answering my concern. You are quite deft and I am convinced you are with me. I sent some articles to you that I thought would help in the two areas that sparked my interest in the story and our interaction about it. Hope we can discuss them later but I fear that your depth of insight in matters as complex as the Matrix effect might render you blind to simpler matters such as what I suggest.

On that Matrix and capitalism thing I hope we can flush out the detail about a book I read that made the kind of catagorical assessment that you and, say, Hanna Arent, are making--regarding absolute changes in the Human condition. In the book (possibly the History of Money) the author defines a time when the value of money changed in a very radical--for that time--respect. What he argued was that money became worth more than itself but attained and intrensic value that increased on its own over time, such as one might imagine with interest on a loan. The difference was that this was more like appreciation and as such it gave money a life like fire--something that has its on course/will and creates or consumes energy! I have always felt that the analyst's arguement held water and that the occurrance he spoke of must be factored into other grand views of human life. Speaking of Grand views, I stumbled onto one last night while procrastinating my final version of a Qualifications Assessment Panel. I wrote something that really has me stirring about how to build on its premises. It regards how the Jewish first came to regard themselves as God's Chosen but on a more vernacular level--I am not debating providence but agreeing that the at-that-time comparatively small (by today's populations) group of collectively bound folk (Jews) would naturally come to invision themselves as such after they suffered what was then a sustained barrage by the near entirety of Humanity. Again I know thats not how it is percieved to have happen that they became "Chosen" but again I am also not quibbling with Providential matters. You can expect find my flurry in an e-mail. I wanted to post it but I have to begin protecting myself from Kent's copyright ownership of what is posted here. Already I have given far too much of my Speculations that I worry I cannot retrieve for assemblege in a manuscript.
Thanks Again for your well considered ideas and thoughts
Douglas Lyons
Message 9753 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-08-05 04:22:58. Feedback: 0
Lori! Yay! God bless you! Someone wants to talk about my aphorisms! Here! Have some chocolate! Please keep channeling that smart person!


Lori, do you have a day job?

Most denizens of Speculations have a day job. We dream of the day when we will be established enough as writers that we can quit it. This will be a day when we will be autonomous. We will get up in the morning and just do things we love.

(My six weeks at Clarion the summer before last were like that. It was like being a hunter-gatherer in a sparsely populated, resource-abundant ecosystem. Spend a few minutes a day foraging and the rest talking, playing, dreaming, spinning tales.)

Compare your mode of existence when thus at play - or in your imagined post-day-job life - with your mode of existence at the day job. What is the motivation for the actions you perform at the day job? Whose motivation is it?

Vinge writes: "In a Post-Human world there would still be plenty of niches where human equivalent automation would be desirable: embedded systems in autonomous devices, self-aware daemons in the lower functioning of larger sentients. (A strongly superhuman intelligence would likely be a Society of Mind [16] with some very competent components.) Some of these human equivalents might be used for nothing more than digital signal processing. They would be more like whales than humans. Others might be very human-like, yet with a one-sidedness, a _dedication_ that would put them in a mental hospital in our era."
Ah.. would it really?

What makes you think we would know, if a superior form of existence had rendered us superfluous?

What would be the advantage for it in having us be unhappy? Would you want your print server to be unhappy? Remember, the superintelligences of the Singularity are Societies of Mind, the subcomponents of which may be of merely human intelligence.

It's interesting that in The Matrix, Neo starts out as a programmer, a free outlaw hacker of sorts at night, but a tie-wearing day jobber by day. It's at his day job that the agents come to grab him, and he is wearing that tie when they remove his mouth and his memory of what happens next.

Perhaps our current situation is not that different from that of the humans in the Matrix. They were needed to function, and had the illusion that their servitude was in their interest (and arguably it was, I still don't know how Morpheus is planning to feed all those humans when he frees them). The only difference is that it's a really dumb idea to use humans as Duracell batteries, but a perfectly reasonable idea to use them as sub-CPUs.

Of course, our servitude didn't begin with the birth of capitalism -- for which the invention of double-entry bookkeeping provides a convenient date. Servitude began with the hoarding of surplus. Indeed, capitalism is IMHO better for its denizens than the forms of servitude it replaced -- and indeed, it's not clear that being free in a disease-ridden, high-infant-mortality hunter-gather society is preferable to being a slave of a system that gives you much more comfort.

But capitalism was when human technological progress, which had been meandering slowly upward since the Neolithic, up and down through light and dark ages, started spiking upward in an exponential curve.

Vinge writes: "we are entering a regime as radically different from our human past as we humans are from the lower animals.

From the human point of view this change will be a throwing away of all the previous rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye, an exponential runaway beyond any hope of control. Developments that before were thought might only happen in "a million years" (if ever) will likely happen in the next century."

The life of a medieval burgher would not have been that alien to a peasant of the Pharaonic era (except maybe in terms of religious ideas). But either of them visiting today would have to conclude that some sort of Singularity had happened.

The aggregate actions that large companies take today are neither within the control, nor within the comprehension, of any single human. No element of the technology our lives depend on is understood by any single human. For instance, there's probably no single human who understands the details of, say, all the protocols your browser speaks.

Companies, artificial legal entities with superior rights to individual humans under the law (they can be only fined, for instance, never imprisoned or dissolved), own almost everything on our planet (what do you own? do you have a mortgage?), direct almost all productive activity, etc.

Vinge predicts the emergence of a greater-than-human intelligence, capable of refining itself and of exponential development in complexity and scope, by 2030. I predict one in 1494.

Of course, you're right that the difference here is that in my version of the singularity -- like in The Matrix -- humans are still a necessary part of the mechanism. If automation advances to the point that a superintelligent mechanism is wholly independent of humans, that might be different. I'm a little suspicious of that. The fear that we will all be replaced by automation in the next generation has been shared by every generation since about 1800. I predict we'll have the same fears in 2100. Of course, automation *does* continually make jobs obsolete, from millworkers to chess champions. But there's no reason to think that meat-embodied brains will not be useful for some economic/ecological niches in 2100. If only for servicing other meat-embodied brains, who will remain a part of the market.

Message 9752 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-08-05 03:46:03. Feedback: 0
Doug... heck... you shoulda told me that before! ;->

(for the Peanut Gallery: Doug is referring to the final rev of a story he critted in an earlier version).

But no worries; I think that's often a danger, that in trying to respond to various criticisms a story can grow calculated and lose its initial verve. But it's also sometimes an artifact of the second read -- I wonder if you'd read the later version first, if it would have seemed quite so cold-blooded. Talking about all the little cogs and wheels inevitably makes you read it the next time with a more clinical eye.

Anyway, even if it did lose some energy, I think the trade-off was worthwhile, and I'm still grateful for your feedback. And in a few months when my eye is fresher I can always compare the various versions and go backwards if needed.

I've had that happen, that a story got over-revised and lost all its initial punch, and I had to back up several versions. Has anyone else ever done that?
Message 9751 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-08-05 03:37:32. Feedback: 0
Massimo! Eccoti qua! Infatti hai probabilmente scoperto la fonte della mia riluttanza da communicare nel tempo scorso... il mio italiano e' peggiorato allucianantamente. Lo so, lo so, e' un circolo diabolico, il meno che io communico, il meno che posso communicare. (Questo costruizione non esista neanche, credo...)

Dal fatto che l'Italia si trova al sud della Svizzera si puo' dedurre -- certamente se si e un bravo scolastico medioevo come te -- che la Svizzera si trova altrettanto al nord del'Italia. E' vero che Basiliea non e' cosi' bella come le montange di Trentino, ma ha molti interessanti attrazioni culturali. Credo che ti piacerebbe, per esempio, le musee Beyeler e di Jean Tinguely. E infatti nel momento c'e al museo historico un esibizione della storia celtica della citta' Basilea. Tocca a te! ;->

Message 9750 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-04 20:43:11. Feedback: 0
Ben, I hope you don't mind if I jump in here--

**Damn, that puddle of paint on the floor is deeper than I thought. Throw me a line, will you? Thanks.**

Aviva is definitely a cutie, Droplet was very good and so was Ant King, I've liked all your cities I've read so far (though I have to catch up), I can certainly see your point about Wittgenstein's Lion, but--

Double-entry accounting?

If I understand you correctly (by no means a sure thing) the money machine certainly does seem to control us much more than we control it, but the cogs who still choose to spend their lives rotating in service of Mammon (did I just write that?) do so in pursuit of a resource which gives them power. They at least have the illusion that their servitude is in their own vested interest. Plus, at this point, the economy (as well as other social-military-religious machines we humans have constructed) still needs us to continue to function.

As far as I can tell from my understanding of Vinge's Singularity, we will be superfluous in a very short time.

You definitely have a interesting idea here, but instead of singularities, perhaps what we've constructed thus far are more along the lines of neutron stars--immensely powerful, capable of sucking in a lot of lives, capable of deforming human society, but not yet capable of completely shredding it.

**Charlie ties one leg of his pants into a lasso and casts it around Lori's neck. He gives it a quick jerk and she stumbles, hand to her forehead.**

Wha--what? Where--Charlie, what did you do that for? Hey, I recognize this place. I'm in--how did I get in Ben's chat room? Oh, god, I haven't been trying to channel a smart person, have I? Did I say anything embarassing? Geeze.

Got any chocolate left?


Message 9749 by Douglas Curt Lyons on 2002-08-04 19:54:13. Feedback: 0
came in here today expecting to find the funeral arrangements for the site posted cause things have been so slow at Speculations. It bothers me because I am a one site kinda guy although I have had an affair of recent. A hundred times I have thought of sparking some discussion but those days are over for me. If I could just get my own site started then I wouldn't be so let down.

Yo Brother, I got to tell you that I had ambivalent feelings about the little project we discussed. I loved the original and thats a fact. Don't know if I stated that or made it clear that tweeking was all that I felt was needed. The first was so sparky, alive, kinetic, raw, transporting, etc. In the final version I felt a slowed thing happening; less dynamic mind flashes; a bloated almost calculated thing; I keep remembering the baked potato and how cumbersome the image seemed--I even see aluminum foil in the image and dat ain't right, Right? But the experience of jumping rigth in there with you got the best of me and I feel like that stuff Kent is talking about on his thread--quantum mechanics and why two people can't observe a particle or something like that. Its like I did something that I can't take back/regret/see as I saw/ understand less know discuss. Hope you can cipher what I am saying and I hope Speculations can be revived if it is not doing well.
Message 9748 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-04 17:15:26. Feedback: 0
ma lassù qualcuno sa ancora l'italiano o comunicate solo in anglo-teutonico?Aviva sta crescendo veramente ben(e), complimenti per le foto!sapete ancora che al sud della Svizzera ci sta l'Italia?...io non perdo la speranza


Message 9747 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-08-02 20:22:21. Feedback: 0
Okay, okay. As requested, a new journal entry is up, with pictures of Aviva, albeit kinda old ones. There. Now don't say I never did anything for you people. ;-P

Tempest, sure, send it along, though I cannot promise to read it quickly... I'm a bit behind on things like that as it is... but I'd be tickled to see how I turned out, even if I'm not a dog.
Message 9746 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-01 22:37:03. Feedback: 0
actually Benjamin, Benji doesn't get turned into an animal :) I'll send you the story if ya wanna read it.

Message 9745 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-01 20:31:45. Feedback: 0
Yeah, what chance said.

Message 9744 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-01 18:54:13. Feedback: 0
but ... but... how are we going to see the latest pics of Aviva?

(who is a total cutie)

Message 9743 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-08-01 17:09:54. Feedback: 0
Hi Trey!

I know, I am a Big Journal Slacker. Especially since I have this board. It is much easier to stick stuff in here. And more social. With the daisy-clad ladies and all.

Tempest: kewl! I always wanted to be the Bees Nees, and a Dog as well (like Iggy Pop said).

Message 9742 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-01 17:02:04. Feedback: 0
Hey, Ben. You can take your aphorisms and put 'em in your journal.


It's looking pretty dusty over there.

And besides, they're getting in the way of the daisy-clad ladies over here.

Message 9741 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-01 16:50:23. Feedback: 0
::blink..... blinkblink::

Uh.. Benjamin, you're soooo intellectual. Wow. Keen!

So yeah, my story. I got the idea while wandering aimlessly around Marsha's topic. It's all chance and celia's fault, really. It's about a mom who is so desperate to keep her kids from growing up and leaving home that she replaces each as they go with a different animal. Even going so far as to name said animal afetr the child it replaces. Then she gets so demented that she starts thinking the animal IS the child (which makes for messy dinner times with two dogs, a cat, a bird and a guinea pig).

Anyway, I was only writing this story for fun, so I named the kids after people from the workshop and Marsha's oldest son and then I got stuck on the youngest kid's name so I named him benji, short for Benjamin, cuz I've been lurking here and i think you're the Bees Nees.

Message 9740 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-08-01 16:34:07. Feedback: 0
Dude, I have, like, daisy-clad chicks in my topic. Righteous!

Tempest, so what's all this about my being in your story? Tell me it's not just a Scarlet Pimpernel sequel... do I have to hack my way in to the OWW to see it? ;-)

Okay, I'm-a give y'all some hints on the aphorisms, because you know class, as soon as you've settled down and are all in your seats, we WILL be discussing my lovely aphorisms.

The Answer to Fermi's Paradox is Wittgenstein's Lion

I'm not crazy about that link for W's Lion. I did a google search and no one on the web seems to understand why "if a lion could speak, we would not understand him". They're all like, "no, dude, of course we could, cause, dude, he'd be like *speaking*." But I'm with Ludwig on this. We have enough trouble understanding each other.

The Singularity Happened in 1494
(Do artificial intelligences have to be implemented partly in silicon? Or can they be implemented as systems of rules which individual humans are compelled to carry out, the individual humans acting as individual parallel CPUs? What sort of system would compel humans to forgo their individual wishes and fancies and instead spend a considerable portion of their time suppressing their individual identities and acting in the interests of an artificial entity? Hmm, I wonder...)
Message 9739 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-01 16:02:05. Feedback: 0
strips down to nothing but the daisies ...

Message 9738 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-01 15:55:10. Feedback: 0
I think Ben's topic should be all about pure, chaste, saintly love and flowers. Hmm.. I'm thinking daisy wall paper with a lilly border.

Message 9737 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-01 14:24:37. Feedback: 0
Ben: Since Charlie has most of the sex and violence on the mill locked up, that only leaves foul language.


Your woodpecker will fit right in.

Message 9736 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-01 12:12:21. Feedback: 0
Ben, a word of advice:

Chance said she's entirely id
in all that she said and she did,
so just stroke her ego
and then away she go
to caper around like a kid.

And premartial dog sex in the poison ivy can never compete with your wood pecker. Er, woodpeckers.

Charlie Finlay
Message 9735 by Mystery Guest on 2002-08-01 11:39:52. Feedback: 0
Yay! I can stay! And I promise, no running off to Charlie's topic and leaving you all alone. If I want naughty stories I'll just bug you. :)

Message 9734 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-31 16:38:30. Feedback: 0
alas, i'm all id, baby. high falutin' stuff makes my noggin hurt

Message 9733 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-07-31 16:12:03. Feedback: 0
What? What? I'm in Tempest's story? Really?

Well, in that case...

preens feathers

I suppose you can stay...
Message 9732 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-07-31 16:10:54. Feedback: 0
Yes, yes, I know, I know. Sex sells. The minute I take a little break from all the lesbian sex droids and woodpecker bestiality to try and talk a little about my very deep and insightful aphorisms, off you go to listen to that Finlay person and his premartial dog poison-ivy goings on. Fine! Fine!


Message 9731 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-31 16:09:42. Feedback: 0
hey... i wanna come pay in ben's topic, too. he is in my latest story, after all. ::hides behind chance::

Message 9730 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-31 15:28:53. Feedback: 0
sorry, we all got distracted by the naughty stories going on in charlie's topic

Message 9729 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-07-31 15:04:47. Feedback: 0
Okay, well since no one's posting anything here at the moment, and the paintball battle seems to have abated, and my JUnit tests are all nice and green (i.e. I deserve a break from the day job), here are my Aphorisms for the Day:

- The Answer to Fermi's Paradox is Wittgenstein's Lion

- You Cannot Be Both Safe and Free
(this may be a corrolary to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle)

- The Singularity Happened in 1494

- Progress Requires Scarcity, Scarcity Can Be Manufactured

Wouldn't they make nice bumper stickers?

Please discuss, class.
Message 9728 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-22 19:46:10. Feedback: 0
David Soyka wrote: if you're not looking for beach reading, you can wait for Rosenbaum's story to end up in one of next year's "Best of" collections.

Yeah, that's certainly a very nice review all right. Congratulations, Ben.

I always planned to write stories for my boys as they grew up, but they've stayed a couple steps ahead of me. I wish you better luck with Aviva.

Charlie Finlay
Message 9727 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-07-22 19:29:44. Feedback: 0
Thanks for the link on YA/kidlit, Lenora. I'm intrigued, though reading it I have a feeling what she means by "adult fiction" isn't necessarily what I mean by it -- I don't feel most of those constraints she mentions. (But perhaps after a bracing dip in the invigorating waters of kidlit, I might, by contrast?)

Yes, it's difficult to project what Aviva will be like in the future - she surprises me constantly -- but that has been my default plan up until now: wait until Aviva is reading age and acquaint myself with the conventions of each kidlit stage as she passes through it. Read to her and write for her. At the moment pictures of fish suffice. She likes fish a lot. "Bis! Bis!" (That's how she pronounces "fish"). She's 18 months.
Message 9726 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-21 14:16:09. Feedback: 0
Ben: The only answer is to read some. Picture book level up to YA (and in YA, you can get away with almost anything these days if the treatment of sex and violence is non-gratuitous and involves how teenagers deal with the issues.

Also check out DWJ's comments at this link: http://suberic.net/dwj/medusa.html

After I read this essay I finally read Power of Three, and I can see what she means. There's threatened violence, there's implied sex (People have children and fall in love - though in the other order), there's complex issues of prejudice, war, and between-cutltural communication - and it's NOT a YA book. It's a kid's book.

Of coruse, the other question would be, if Aviva were that age, would you be willing to tell her this stuff? Since she's still very young IIRC, it's a little more complicated, as you're trying to project ahead, not think back.

Lenora Rose
Message 9725 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-07-21 06:31:08. Feedback: 0
Undoubtedly, Charlie.

Robert Munsch... hmm... must check out. I always feel like I should write some kidlit, but I feel uneasy about what the constraints are for the different ages. How much in the way of violence, sexuality, unnerving situations, difficult words, etc. is okay when?

Wowzers, "Droplet" got a very nice review from SF Site:

Message 9724 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-16 16:33:55. Feedback: 0

(You were missing one of the kids. I found him in the bathroom, stuffing your mail into the toliet. Hopefully, they were all rejection letters.)

Charlie Finlay
Message 9723 by Marsha Sisolak on 2002-07-16 12:25:51. Feedback: 0
Ben! Logo?

Be still my heart.

I can almost -- almost! -- forgive you for the amorous undergarments. (Now if I completely forgave you, where would be the reven... uh... fun!... in that?)

I also think you've been reading too many Robert Munsch books. Don't believe me? Check out Thomas' Snowsuit or Alligator Baby .
Message 9722 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-07-16 03:51:30. Feedback: 0
Calmly, Ben lies on the floor, watching the particolored ceiling drip onto the floor. He wipes smears of bright green and red paint from his forehead.

A cool wind blows into the room from the window to Charlie's chat room, stirring the piles of confetti, glitter, and fan-fold dot matric printer paper. A page containing a poetry parser written in Logo, circa 1986, blows by.

It's peaceful here.

From somewhere comes the distant sound of screaming, and then...


A small Ked's sneaker lands on Ben's nose and then departs.


Twenty-four small screaming day-care refugees careen into the room and begin throwing confetti into the air.

Ben pushes himself into a sitting position and rubs his twnety-four-times-stomped-on nose.

Marsha pokes her head in and smiles glibly. "Oh, Ben, there you are. Do you mind watching the tykes for a minute? I uh -- " she glances shyly backwards. "I have to ah --"

"C'mon, c'mon, let's get outta here," comes a heavily Brooklyn-accented voice that sounds for all the world as if it were produced by the persistent abrasion of layers of mystically animated fabric against one another.

"Um," Ben says, watching numbly as the kids wrap themselves in printer paper and begin to finger paint.

"Thanks!" calls Marsha as she is tugged out of the room as if by an amorous yet empty set of undergarments. "Ta-ta!"

Slowly Ben rises to his feet, shambles into the mayhem, and plucks the Stanley cup from the grasp of one young ragamuffin who was about to brain another young ragamuffin with it. A thick morass of paint and melted Swiss chocolate serves the incorrigible waifs as an unfailing medium for the depiction of horrific yet somehow appealing tableau. Chaos reigns.

Considering that there is but one option left to him, Ben opens a closet, roots through it, and produces a Commodore 64 personal computer and attaches a video monitor to it.

A blinking triangle sits in the midst of its otherwise featureless screen. Beneath it, a cursor blinks.

"This," Ben says to the suddenly hushed mass of five-year-olds, "is the turtle..."
Message 9721 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-12 17:47:35. Feedback: 0
Ben moves about the chat room, tidying up. He returns The Art of War and Winnie the Pooh to the shelves.

Behind the couch cushions, he finds a bikini, a bottle of scotch and a pair of men's Dockers. "Hey buddy, wanna give a guy some privacy?" the pants ask.

Ben quickly tucks them back in place. I don't even want to know. He picks up Tell Me More by Larry King and tosses it through the open window into Charlie's chat room.

He cleans the large metal trophy that had been used as a punch bowl. The Stanley Cup? How does it keep ending up here? He places it near the door, hoping no one notices the dent.

Ben spies a couple of woodpeckers on the floor. "Hey chance - somebody left you a present," he calls.

Chance pokes her head through the window from Charlie's room. "What is it?"

Ben stoops over and picks up the woodpeckers.

SPLOOOOORRRTTTT!!!!! He collapses to the floor in multicoloured heap.

Chance runs for the door. As she reaches for the handle, all the windows and doors slam shut. *Please return all tray tables to their locked and upright position.* Charlie's chat room taxis down the runway and takes off for ReaderCon.

"Nooooo!" chance screams, tugging on the door.

Next Time - Charlie on the Lamb

Message 9720 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-11 09:22:52. Feedback: 0

*disguises two paintball grenades as a pair of woodpeckers and leaves them setting out in the open for chance*

Charlie Finlay
Message 9719 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-07 23:21:23. Feedback: 0
ooh lordy! woodpecker sex! I think I've got the vapors!

that was one hell of a story.

(shoots charlie with the paintball gun when he is not looking)

Message 9718 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-06 21:50:21. Feedback: 0
Ben, I'm completely with you on letting editors edit, publishers publish, and distributors distribute if it means I have a little more time to write.

If only I could have found something interesting to say about woodpecker sex first! Besides the obvious rhyme about how much pecker would a woodpecker, etc.

Guess it'll be a while before I'll be submitting anything to the New Yorker.

Charlie Finlay
Message 9717 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-07-03 15:21:29. Feedback: 0

Jed, you actually predicted the contextual effect Charlie mentioned in the email you sent when you accepted Other Cities (back when there were only 4 of them) "Readers might be a bit confused by the first one," you wrote, "but I think by the time the second one appeared they would start to get the idea."

Now that's what I call an editor, ladies and gentlemen. ;->

I don't know much about chapbook publishers; a couple of folks have expressed guarded interest in putting Other Cities out in that format, but I feel that discretion demands I say no more about it until something concrete happens one way or another. Mustn't kiss and tell. However, don't get your hopes up too much (because I know you slavish groupies are all thirsting uncontrollably for an Other Cities chapbook, ideally as a pin-up calendar with lush illos of Charlie's pants touring the various cities)... the nibbles so far were rather faint nibbles.

I don't think I have the temperament for self-publishing. It seems like too much of a distraction. I like to be a little cog in the great publishing machine, a cog whose responsibility is just to make up the stories. To my mind, there are many other fine editing, marketing, distribution and suchlike cogs out there to play with.

Jed, you may well see the woodpecker sex story in due time. It is very surreal and sort of lit'ry, like a Donald Barthelme or Aimee Bender story, and so it is currently sitting in the great big inbox at... wait for it... The New Yorker. Yes, yes, I know, I know, when pigs fly. But you see, my mother's definition of whether someone is important or not is whether they have been published, interviewed, or at least mentioned, in the New Yorker. Back in the 70s, when my father was famous as an anti-terrorism expert, he had articles by or about him in Time and The Atlantic Monthly and so on, but alas, none of this counted. He was never in The New Yorker. So he was not important. So, you understand, I have to try. Merely out of filial piety. ;->
Message 9716 by Jed Hartman on 2002-07-02 15:20:27. Feedback: 0
Re #40: I agree with chance about Zvlotsk, and I love the description "I felt like I'd fallen into a Dashiel Hammet story that had tipped over on its side." I wouldn't have thought to put it that way, but yes.

I've tried a couple of times to pick a favorite of the Other Cities series, but I always end up with 6 or 7 of them, which given a series of 12 isn't much narrowing-down.

Also agree with various folks about the set working nicely as a set, and that it may've taken readers a while to (as Charlie noted) get a handle on how to read them. (Now I worry that new readers will see "#9 of 12" and think there's no point in jumping into the middle of a long series, but my fellow editors tell me I worry too much, so I'm suppressing that.)

Re chapbooks: some of us were arguing the other day about what constitutes a chapbook, and how it differs from a book or a 'zine. The chapbooks I've seen in sf recently have been folded-over stapled paper (looking to me a lot like 'zines), and have been published by the authors, but clearly there are other kinds as well. Are there any "chapbook publishers" per se still extant? Or does "chapbook" generally imply "self-published" these days? ...Okay, Small Beer Press has done a couple (Dora Knez, and an Alex Irvine chapbook forthcoming!), but is there anyone else?

Re woodpecker sex: Hey, Ben, how come you never send *us* woodpecker-sex stories?
Message 9715 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-02 07:40:23. Feedback: 0
Bask all you like, Ben! You deserve it.

Chance clones, rock salt and Finlay groupies... this topic is already surreal. :)

I do agree that readers should have their own interpretations. I'm still finding out new things about my story "Run of the Fiery Horse" from reading the fan mail I get. Good fiction is layered, and thus open to multiple interpretations.

That's what I love about reading your work, and Charlie's. The depth of your stories allows readers to walk around in them, and acquire their own viewpoints.

Enough with the lit crit. I'm going off to nibble my Lindt bar. Yum!


Message 9714 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-07-02 03:26:53. Feedback: 0

Au contraire, your Finlayness. You were not misreading them. Firstly, I hereby renounce having the correct and final interpretation of those (or any) stories, and secondly, I can totally see that both Ahavah (an endless quest for something that doesn't exist) and Ylla's Choice (a city made utterly irrelevant to the rest of the universe by its instant annihilation) can be read as downers and Amea Amaau as a partying kind of town.
I could respond to the idea that you had misread them with the equally depressing thought that I had failed to communicate, but fie on that. Let a thousand glosses flourish!

At our Clarion the inestimable Bradley Denton (read Lunatics and be glad) propounded the opposite view: "The reader's MINE", he said, "and I want to decide exactly what he gets out of the story."

Not me. I am much happier when everyone disagrees about what it means.

Hilary, I forgot to respond to your post. Thank you for your praise. I bask. ;-> Here are some imaginary Lindt chocolate bars, the kind with the funky gianduia stuff in the middle.
Message 9713 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-02 01:51:33. Feedback: 0
Nah, Ben, maybe I was just misreading them. You know.

But I think context clearly effects how the stories are interpreted. I remember using Bellur (I think) in a short fiction focus group over on the workshop when only two or three had been published, and it was clear that readers at that point were still trying to get a handle on how to read them. A group of them together, just as with poems, can allow readers to appreciate the nuances much better.

You've got chance here! You lucky dog! (Hi, chance.) Just be careful when your birthday rolls around.

Charlie Finlay
Message 9712 by Mystery Guest on 2002-07-01 23:07:19. Feedback: 0
ooh that would be lovely! thank you

(and you already have a tribe of groupies - all the chance clones are fans)

Message 9711 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-07-01 03:51:50. Feedback: 0
(dodging pots, pans, rock salt, and chance clones)

Dang, I knew if I could only get that woodpecker sex story published, I'd have slavish groupies.... (I'll email it to you if you want, chance.)

Kent should really provide each topic with a pair of Charlie's pants, don't you think? It would be only fair...

"A Dashiel Hammet story tipped over on its side"... I like that!!

Charlie, thanks for the comments on context; I hadn't thought about it just that way. In fact a lot of the ordering was Jed's, though I had some druthers.

It's interesting that your take on the tone of the stories seems to diverge from mine a little; I actually read Amea Amaau as sort of cynical, and both Ahavah and Ylla's Choice as sort of weirdly hopeful; now what does this say about us, I wonder? ;-)

I haven't written any more cities per se... though if I get a little more of a nibble from a chapbook publisher I'd be very happy to... but I do seem to fall easily into surreal short-shorts. I just wrote a 500-wordish one and a 300-wordish one on the train the other day. There's something very satisfying about starting and finishing in one burst...

Message 9710 by Mystery Guest on 2002-06-27 22:14:27. Feedback: 0
and really, how did I miss the woodpecker sex story? I would have been a slavish groupie long before now.

Message 9709 by Mystery Guest on 2002-06-27 22:09:36. Feedback: 0
Hilary - the way to a lively topic is, of course, to steal Charlie's pants. It brings in all us wimmen folk.

I loved Bellur and adored Jouiselle-aux-Chantes, but my very favorite city so far was Zvlotsk.

Oswald Lügenmetzger is really just a brilliant name, but mostly I love it because I felt like I'd fallen into a Dashiel Hammet story that had tipped over on its side.

Message 9708 by Mystery Guest on 2002-06-27 19:44:13. Feedback: 0
::Settles back amidst the pots and pans. Takes a sip of her cup of fur.::

Oooh. Lovely, Ben. It's got that stick-to-your-ribs quality. Well, I mean it does after you get it to stop sticking to your teeth and tongue and throat...

::Watches Charlie cranking out chance clones.::


Uh... Charlie? Don't you think twenty or so is enough? After all, if you keep this up, Ben's topic is going have a riot without him.

::Smoke pours from the crank. Flames shoot ceiling-high. chance clones run wildly about tossing pots and pans of water. (Good thing you left those out, Ben.)::

Oops. I told you!

There, there. Don't cry, Charliekins. It's time to move into the technological age. Here. Use my Photoshop. It comes complete with a cloning stamp that should work just fine.

Message 9707 by Mystery Guest on 2002-06-27 11:08:41. Feedback: 0
Oh, and Ben, chance and other folks may have favorite cities, and there are definitely some I've liked more than others, I think the great charm of them lies in their context with one another. Amea Amaau, for example, isn't very moving and doesn't do very much for me on its own; but juxtaposed between the destinationless searching of Ahavah and the odd, total destruction of Ylla's Choice, it provides a nice up beat, a gentler and less bleak tone to the whole that I find satisfying as a reader.

So. How many more have you written for the prospective chapbook? *nudge*nudge*

Charlie Finlay
Message 9706 by Mystery Guest on 2002-06-27 10:58:29. Feedback: 0
Oh no, not ... topic envy!

Hilary, the secret is not in the hostess (though it might be fun to search... er, what I meant to say is: though Roz and Amber do a terrific job), nor does it have anything to do with the food. Though the alcohol doesn't hurt.

You just have to cast creative inhibition to the wind and watch it spread -- and then sprout -- like dandelion seeds. Well, that, and water and fertilize it with time that could be spent writing stories for submission, and...

Here, I tell you what. As soon as chance doubled, she popped up over here. Maybe we can put her into the cloning machine again and produce another for your topic. Don't believe her shy routine for a second -- she's great fun!

*cranks up the old clone machine -- pay no attention to the fact that it looks like an old ice cream maker*

Anyone got any rock salt?

Charlie Finlay
Message 9705 by Mystery Guest on 2002-06-27 09:10:23. Feedback: 0
Hey Ben!

I know what you mean about wanting a bizarre surrealist party in your topic. I also feel topic envy when I look at what goes on in Frank and Charlie's topics. I think that the problem is that we do not have official hostesses to keep things lively in our topics and serve drinks.

I mean seriously, Frank has Roz to scurry around for him and keep the topic fresh and interesting. Charlie has his groupies -- er -- hardcore fans. And both have lots of virtual food.

You live in Switzerland. Why not scatter Lindt chocolates, fine cheeses and other swiss specialities around your topic? Or better yet, you could give everyone who visits a virtual swiss clock or army knife!

Though come to think of it, I don't think that will work. What is needed is to reach a threshhold of wackiness that just sucks people in. Your stories have that wackiness (I mean, who else writes about woodpecker sex, really?)

Now you just need to let your inner wackiness seep into this topic and the virtual party will ignite!

Anyway, thanks for letting me kibbitz in your topic. You are one of my personal literary heroes.


Message 9704 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-06-27 06:03:46. Feedback: 0
thanks chance! Which one was your favorite? ;->
Message 9703 by Mystery Guest on 2002-06-26 21:41:25. Feedback: 0
*looks around at Ben's topic before hiding shyly*

did I mention how much I love the "Other Cities" series at SH?

Message 9702 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-06-26 12:47:50. Feedback: 0
My goodness, fringe surrealists in my demense! Hi Marsha! Cup of fur?

(picking up pots and pans)

... hmm... I don't really know where else to put these... ;->

You're so right about slowing down to their pace, Douglas. I spend every Friday hanging out with Aviva. Nothing Gets Done, but Everything Happens...

Message 9701 by Douglas Curt Lyons on 2002-06-21 17:36:14. Feedback: 0
Yo Dog
enjoyed the comic site. interesting how objective and indepth the comments and descriptions were. I wanted to see such here and with the extra guideline perhaps I can progress toward such. I have had some problems, as you must be aware, but none that I can't get over. Just got to figure out how!

wish you could see how perfectly my Dominic impersonates spiderman. It is entirely uncanny that he can strike the poses so well. So impressionable the little ones.

I better keep this short before hoof n mouf sets in. Glad to see you back on stage. I got lots to talk to you about. Say Hi to Aviva from the BVW from across the way. I enjoy hearing about the Sandbox Tribune. Funny how slowing down to their pace actually puts us on our own. You take care.

Douglas fades beneaght his telecloak to a dimension where only Darkness Rules (:~)
Message 9700 by Mystery Guest on 2002-06-21 16:23:58. Feedback: 0
::Tip-toe, tip-toe, crash, boom, bang!, clatter, clatter...::

Huh. So much for sneaking in for a surreal visit. I don't think hanging all the pots and pans up in the doorway a good idea, Ben. I mean, you don't want to scare the nocturnal *or* the diurnal visitors away, do you?


Finally felt like we'd been introduced enough that I could read in your topic. (Yeah, yeah, I know this is a public forum, but it had your name all over it.) And then you had to ask how to get a bizarre surrealist fringe element (oops! I mean party!) going here...

And now it's too late. Heh, heh, heh.

::smiles brightly::

Tag! You're it!

Message 9699 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-06-21 07:27:00. Feedback: 0
Hi Douglas!

Hey, Black Vengeance Warrior -- now that is an idea for a superhero comic. You know how the 70s there began to be these occasional Black superheros in the comics, mostly minor ones with Sidney Poitier manners. I want to see BVW turning up at the Justice League of America headquarters with serious attitude and getting in Superman's face... ;->

Today at the drop-in playgroup down the street Aviva not only insisted on taking HER and MY shoes on and off and on again, she demanded that these two other kids take off their shoes too... which they did... she can be very convincing...

blessings back at ya

Message 9698 by Douglas Curt Lyons on 2002-06-20 23:42:28. Feedback: 0
hey Brother, stopped in to visit today and ended up making a mess in my two favorite places. Kinda like doing a new sculpture. First I spend too long cleaning up the studio to perfection and then bam the whole place is in turmoil. But thats life. I have to say I feel so much better now that I have donned the old Black Vengance Warrior costume once again here in Peeves and Place. See you around Ben and good luck with those shoes. They can really get turnt around to the little ones. I think Dominic prefers them on backwards.
Won't keep you but look forward at least. I couldn't do that when i came on-line tonite. Its been very brutal lately. God Bless you my good brother and the little one too!
Message 9697 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-06-20 05:05:35. Feedback: 0
Another review of the July F&SF with Droplet in it, by Bluejack. I like that review. He really got it.

Hmm, it seems a bit quiet in here. How can I start a bizarre surrealist party in my topic as in FrankT's or Charlie's?

Message 9696 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-06-04 03:43:50. Feedback: 0
I never answered Jed's question in #20 about "City of Peace". I put it on my revising pile to go through once again, maybe with an eye to fleshing it out a little, and it's languishing there. I also assume, not having any clue about chapbooks, that if anyone did want to publish a chapbook of the Cities, they might like it if there was some unpublished material in there...
Message 9695 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-06-04 03:40:37. Feedback: 0
Hi Doug!

I have been exiling myself from the Rumor Mill in order to get some writing (and day job work) done. I was spending way too much time feeding the maw of the Mill... ;->

I'm mostly working on a novel now and it's much harder to keep focused. I've gotten addicted to the relatively short feedback cycle with short stories -- the knowledge that in a couple weeks I'll be getting feedback from critiquers, and responses from editors soon after that. With a novel, the idea that it'll be about a year before I even have a draft done and am ready to get critiques is daunting. Thus I have to wean myself from opportunities for distraction!

And my little daughter is getting less and less tolerant of me sitting down to write or surf when I'm watching her; she wants to put her SHOES on and go play soccer in the playground across the street. (SHOES are very central elements of Aviva's existence). And she's so happy when she's chasing a ball almost as big as she is around the asphalt... I can rarely resist.


Message 9694 by Douglas Curt Lyons on 2002-06-03 18:00:15. Feedback: 0
Jamin' Ben is back in town!
Where ya been Ben?
Your Rosen mystique,
is my balm,
And wounds do heal
to make one strong.

Ben is back in town
Ben is back in town

And Time Loses Nothing in its Path!
Message 9693 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-06-03 07:09:42. Feedback: 0
Review of the July F&SF, including a story of mine, up at Tangent. (I believe you have to log in -- which requires subscribing to the site for $5 -- or else wait a bit until the review becomes available to non-subscribers).

I love getting reviews. ;-)

Message 9692 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-04-08 06:49:31. Feedback: 0

Jed, that's not at all off-topic. Neat story, and it shares a lot with the "Other Cities".

I was thinking of the Omelas influence in "New(n) Pernch", for instance...


> what is learned by 3 or 4 years old is nearly unremovable
> and so deep that to reason above these instilled lessons
> only create a long lasting confusion and ambivalence.

Yes; but that ambivalence and confusion [part of the price of civilization in Samuel R. Delany's sense -- tolerance of the Other being, he says somewhere, an unnatural skill which those who live in cities must master] is worth cultivating; it's better than what it replaces.

(Of course, I'm not sure Buromi would agree with Delany... ;-> )

Thanks for your careful readings of the story, all of you. (Douglas, don't be worried about potential irrate comments if you post your thoughts; you are under no obligation to respond to them... feel free to "laugh inappropriately" ;-> )


Message 9691 by Mystery Guest on 2002-04-06 15:40:44. Feedback: 0
This isn't exactly on-topic, but I couldn't resist: Richard Kadrey's latest piece at The Infinite Matrix, "Ice House," fits nicely into the small but growing subgenre of short-short stories published online about remarkable cities.

Jed Hartman
Message 9690 by Douglas Curt Lyons on 2002-04-06 14:38:58. Feedback: 0
To Jed for Ben;

Jed, although I feel "VERY" comfortable with Ben, you might notice I "AM" hesitant to critique this piece for fear of lurking minds. Since your words complemented mine so well I won't feel so purposefully evasive--later down the road! For now me thinks I will keep my wits fisted and remain light hearted in the spirit that Ben's work marks upon my soul-- or is that an inner network of nerve fibers culminating in a self-preservation portion of the brain where .... OK, no bladder either.

For now I must evade the issue and swiftly flee to the site you marked.

Thanks Again
Douglas in Pomp and Grandeur of Tattered Rags...
Message 9689 by Mystery Guest on 2002-04-06 13:46:05. Feedback: 0
Nice story, Ben! One of the things I like about your work (and I think this is part of what Douglas is saying too) is that it subverts expectations. Here, you set up something that's clearly marked as Good; then you show someone joining the other side, and then you show us that the other side is not necessarily Evil, and then you show us that the opposition between the two isn't necessarily clear-cut. That kind of complexity is something that I think is sorely missing from a lot of sf, and I'm particularly pleased to see you doing it with such economy of words. Turning this basic plot into a novel would make it a very different story, and imo dull its impact.

(I can see the "Omelas" influence more clearly in this one than in some of your others. Btw, Douglas, I strongly second Ben's recommendation of Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"; a troubling story, very much worth reading. It's in Le Guin's The Wind's Twelve Quarters; also reprinted various other places.)

A while back, someone suggested that you should get "Other Cities" published all together in a chapbook, and include the phantom thirteenth city (City of Peace); I'd say you could include this piece as well. (Hey, have you tried publishing "City of Peace" as a standalone short-short? Not sure how well that would work, but it might.)

(Side note re "White City": somehow, on first reading the first line, I missed the words "princess of the", which gave the first couple paragraphs a very different feel... But then I went back and looked again and saw what I'd missed. I think I was just expecting it to be about the city per se instead of the princesses.)

Jed Hartman
Message 9688 by Douglas Curt Lyons on 2002-04-06 02:00:02. Feedback: 0
Dear Ben
Earlier today, actually the first thing this morning, I logged onto the RM and began to write you. I had intended to comment further on "The White City" but something inside me was unstirred and I felt I needed to ponder more after I added new ingrediants or at least weighed what already was swirling about in my mind and soul. I don't actually like to use words like "soul" in mixed or unknown company although I have a commonly strong Faith. It seems an unfair assumption to heft upon the table of respectful communication espiecially in a forum like Speculations where one would expect to find many whose concepts of such matters might vary.

Last night I re-copied your story since the first copy would be read to my class. I like the brevity of the overall message that seems to cry as would an abandoned child hidden in a dense thicket. It makes one look around in their mind asking where and what is it behind this story that is speaking to me in silence as though a ghost is wispering through a reality continuity void.

Certainly everyone won't have the reaction or thoughts that I have but the power of many works of art is in that stage of the creative process where the artist surrenders control and "Gives" the work away--lets it go to work on its own-- so that others might speak to and hear the same spirits that moved the the artist to create in the first place. But again I am not fond of foisting such concepts on a general audience for fear of offending the sensibilities of those who possess no such beliefs or knowledge. Even to call such a thing "Knowledge" as I sense it, is a violation of the same protocals. So there begins my delimma--how does one speak of important matters to others with a mind toward avoiding intolerant assumptions, elitist conventions or just conventional rhetoric that priveledges its own values and trajectory?

I have read "The White City" perhaps a dozen times, groaping over grammer, syntax, structure, symbolism, and other linguistic elements, until I was satisfied that these concerns had been exhausted. From there I begin to feel the piece as if it were a coded message sent to me by way of some secret code like the government was accusing the Taliban of doing through their videos of Usama bin Laden. There is word for that kind of communication but it escapes me. I even have to feel unwise for using those two names in my message to you given the current paranoia over all things Islamic or terrorist associated since 911. I am sure some computer somewhere is monitoring communications for code words or certain words and knowing that you would sense the same it seems a disservice to raise such an issue in your presence and perhaps involving you in the tangle of stigmatization that I am so aware of in my own circle of consciousness.

Last night I read your piece after helping my friends pack for a fishing trip. These guys and their kids are all Mexican and unlike many black families they have strong family connections and a sense of comfort or security that I don't sense among many black folk. I use the word "many" in the same way that I used "few" when posting in the other thread, only now I know that even a less than absolute generalization can be read as Marcie and others read, as an absolute anyway. So further I descend. Perhaps, if I just did as Queen Phenrum and simply laughed inappropriately or cried and the Mother who prayed in your city series, or just realized that I took the matter "more seriously" as Year Ray did in my message to my critic/adversary in "the other thread." Then the lack of interpretation or overt meaning could vail all chance of misunderstanding and block attempts to corrupt my intent.

When I cleared my message this morning it was because of my lack of appetite for contentious replys that did not actually spur deeper and more meaningful dialogue but instead trashed any higher concerns by piling rubbish atop whatever good words were there. I though of discussing the two principal characters, Phenrum and Buromi, and the secondary populations and then perhaps the two secondary individuals you mention in the story. I wanted to take advantage of the simplicity of the story but not in any confrontational way. But my comments would only be read as low as possible and that isn't what I want to inspire.

I remember consulting on a thesis manuscript rearding the psychological and emotional attributes of Mexican Americans. Other ethnic groups were compared on various scales but once all was sifted from these it was concluded that their relation to the land here in the USA and to the security of a country situated close by in the minds eye, was the salient factor and difference. As a person/group identity whose salience is registered by an orientation to a significantly different factor, which is not important to register here, I am aware of the need to recognize difference. Even the literature, as my recent reading verifies, has two hands full of conjugated versions of difference to allow for the way each is conceptualized. So even that word carries a warning or red flag.

Lately I think often of the deaf and mute and how they are "tolerated" the extent that ultimately they tend, it seems, to shy away from the hearing who are so unawaredly arrogant that even these innocents cannot stand "Us." It is no wonder that today's news is about a couple who want to have an invitro child that specifically is deaf so they can do only what I can't imagine. I think of Jewish folk who posed as Germans to escape persecution and of many other forms of "passing" and how the dirty secrets of life boil and rot the memory.

I think of Phenrum and Buromi in all their complexity and ununiformity of character and the flip flop of those who follow as "sworn enemy" in the paths of those who lead--of how the vanity of human nature consumes even the love of man and woman in its design. I think of the times when I wrote "can" when I meant to write "cannot" and other such mistakes that did not matter in the end because the reaction to these would be its opposite anyway. I have tested this theory in many venues and it withstands verification. So what does it matter that Buromi is pious and Phenrum wise, because even if the reverse, the same opposition prevails. Black and White (careful to capitalize both) doesn't matter because one will, generally!, despise the other; because what is learned by 3 or 4 years old is nearly unremovable and so deep that to reason above these instilled lessons only create a long lasting confusion and ambivalence.

Maybe an important attribute of Western or Modern or Capitalistic society is that it consumes or is capable of rendering entire lifetimes unimportant or neglible in its wake, or by comparison with its scope of influence.

I still wonder about your first sentence, I "Consider the princess of the white city" and can go no further in worded thought.

Will get the books you recomment as soon as possible. Thanks Again.
Douglas in Mindless Wonder!
Message 9687 by Mystery Guest on 2002-04-05 11:48:38. Feedback: 0
Except that it's as much about what's OUTSIDE the city...

Seriously; definitely cool. I can see where the "outline" comment comes from. A lot of writers, me included, would be able to make a novel out of that much plot (I hit the 60,000 word mark at the end of part one of my story...). But in this form, it's the idea that shines.

Lenora Rose
Message 9686 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-04-05 08:59:40. Feedback: 0
It's actually older than the Other Cities. I just looked at my records, and "The White City" went out to Century (it's first market -- odd, since they're so slow) on July 10, 2000. It was 600 words and bounced around for two years, getting comments like "nice, but too slight" and "more an outline for a story", until I eventually out of pure contrariness decided to cut 100 words off it and call it flash.

So, yeah, in a rut. I like cities.

Message 9685 by Mystery Guest on 2002-04-05 04:49:16. Feedback: 0
Hi Ben. That was an interesting little story. Was it originally intended as part of your cities sequence at Strange Horizons? Or are you just stuck in a rut? ;-)


Patrick Samphire
Message 9684 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-04-04 19:57:41. Feedback: 0
Thanks, Thomas!
Message 9683 by Mystery Guest on 2002-04-04 18:08:31. Feedback: 0
I liked that Vestal Review story & I loathe fantasy. (In fairness I can usually tolerate the made up kingdom kind of fantasy that lacks elves or magic.) I also like most of the series on Strange Horizons. Except for maybe Swanwick you seem to be about the best writer of short shorts out there right now. Thank you & goodbye.

Thomas R
Message 9682 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-04-04 14:43:41. Feedback: 0
Hi Douglas

Thanks for the praise of "The White City". I find your reading of my stuff challenging and intriguing, and I appreciate it.

I think that movie was "Breaking Away". Great movie.

I wouldn't worry about the current dearth of new posts in the Place for Race topic... topics on RM have flurries of great activity, followed by long pauses, followed often by renewed flurries. I think a lot of learning happened there along with much mutual bewilderment, horror, and frustration; good for us to face these things. But we can all probably use a break now!

Hey Douglas, the old woman of your parable reminds me of Ursula K. Le Guin's character Odo. Have you read any Le Guin? Allow me to recommend to you the novel "The Dispossessed" (one of my top five favorite novels) and the short stories "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" (which was, it just occurs to me, an important inspiration for the "Other Cities" cycle) and "The Day Before the Revolution".

Message 9681 by Mystery Guest on 2002-04-04 11:25:56. Feedback: 0
Dear Ben
I apologize for not answering certain matters by way of the explanation that I am eagerly consuming many pages of human fantasy and speculative imaginings. I have set before me a feast of literature, including Critical Theory, short stories, slipstream, poetry and a oft dailey visit to the Rumor Mill. Each time I visit--satisfying myself that no one has ventured a new and constructive thought to "The Place for Race"-- the opportunity to read what it is that you all discuss fills the void left by the rankor and mirage of our cross-cultural interlude. I am learning much since I have some tools already at my disposal which I can readily apply to a more "Critical" interrogation of the topic. Of course I have had to forgive myself the botched attempt already in evidence. It may take a while but I am in a comfort zone. I am writing again in my area of interest and the experience of dwelling in the land of "Speculations" has done me little harm while certainly enhancing my perspective. I am also more effectively on my student's papers and on their concerns as writers. For this I give thanks to the participants in the RM and to Speculations for hosting such a bold venture without censorship or insult to the topic.
I came to praise you for your Vestal Review story. Clearly you have a natural interest in a more socially progressive Fiction; a fiction that reveals the masked layers of inequality that presently lurks behind conventional wisdom like so many RMers waiting to pounce on anything that upsets or challenges the exceptable reality replete with its pragmatict delusions, self-serving heirarchies and Westerncentric homolies.

I am reminded of a movie where a bunch of kids from the bad side of town--miner's children or something like that--enter a classic annual bicycle race. Their equiptment was raggedy and their technique nonexistant and of course they had little of the trained athletic appearance of their opponent. Of course again they--by some mustering of shear determination and will--rode to victory. Of course the third time this is not easily fathomable in the real world contest between advanced nations and interests and their less affluent and more meagerly opposition in the battle for control, use and distribution of "Human" resources.

Moreover, anti-inequity writings such as your work foreshadows, will always be consumed by cultures of appropriation that grind and gnaw these sage visions, swallowing them whole, invigorating itself and expelling the ruminations of these works as much less threatening insights than what one could imagine them to be. While it sounds a pessimistic and hopeless venture, it is as the old woman who dedicated herself NOT to changing the monster that fate has by chance visited on the world--for its ferociousness is all but the greatest fact to the antlike commonfolk who are trampled by the feet of the hoarding beast that digs and tunnels through towns and villages as if clearing some tropical forest to make a playground for its offspring or a vast storage valley for its treasured prizes and bountiful booty-- rather the old sage wish only to and lives solely for the purpose of antagonizing the beast by resisting its allure and seductive force. She is ever vigilant to avoid reproducing its practices and adding to its power. Her own miniscule dirt, time, and efforts are always in service to a greater good, much like your princess Queen. Indeed as I have said throughout my posts, it is the lowly among us who we must look upon closely for that more universal purpose and nobility. I called them Nigritians but in other places they are known by different names.

Douglas Lyons
Message 9680 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-04-04 07:26:46. Feedback: 0
New story up at Vestal Review.
Message 9679 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-03-27 11:09:53. Feedback: 0
Snapshot of the SFWA Lounge, Worldcon 2002

From what I hear, Gardner Dozois would make an excellent prop.

Perhaps Harlan Ellison as scrum half?
Message 9678 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-03-27 06:35:23. Feedback: 0
Since the topic has developed into "Science Fiction and Rugby", I will note that there is a rugby-playing Maori entrepeneur in David Brin's book Earth... any others?

Don't you worry, Charlie, we will be TOC mates yet, I'm sure... ;->

Message 9677 by Mystery Guest on 2002-03-26 16:49:48. Feedback: 0
There was a 50-50 chance that my alternate history story was going to run in the July issue, Ben, but I lost the coin flip. Perhaps we're TOC mates in a parallel universe. Let me add that I'm not only looking forward to "Droplet" but to the next installment of "Other Cities" in Strange Rosenbaums as well as the messianic fruit (Jesu Citrus!) story in Quarterly Ben.

University club teams play rugby in the park down at the end of our street (I take the kids to watch them sometimes), so we're working on more American players. We just have to turn them into writers first.


Charlie Finlay
Message 9676 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-03-26 16:39:15. Feedback: 0
I've been thinking about trying to find a library here that carries (or will order) books in English... I've sorta used up my amazon.de book budget at this point... if I can get ahold of such a library I'll ask about those two, Douglas.
Message 9675 by Mystery Guest on 2002-03-26 13:58:59. Feedback: 0
Can you get a copy of Paul Mann's Masocriticism? And perhaps Teun van Dijk's Ideology for purpose of discussion?

got a go will explain later

Message 9674 by Mystery Guest on 2002-03-26 12:28:36. Feedback: 0
You might be able to recruit some Canucks for your match -- I don't know about other places, but my high school had a rugby team but no (Canadian, ie not soccer) football team.

Jamie Rosen
Message 9673 by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-03-26 12:22:10. Feedback: 0
Why thank you, Mr. Finlay. Jane Jewell already has my check and application. Since SFWA does not count Interzone and TTA as pro, there may well be a dearth of English members, and thus of potential rugby players; I am hoping this will speed up the processing of my application. I wrote "flanker" in the appropriate blank.

While I'm here anyhow, I will mention that my story "Droplet" will appear in the July 2002 issue of the Magazine of Finlay & Science Finlay.

Message 9672 by Mystery Guest on 2002-03-26 12:07:37. Feedback: 0
Hey, Ben,

I forgot to tell you congratulations! Strange Horizon's new status means you're eligible for SFWA.

We can hang out there together, maybe get up an impromptu rugby match against some of the more established members. ;-)


Charlie Finlay
Message 9671 by Mystery Guest on 2002-03-23 22:28:25. Feedback: 0
better yet Ben, I will post on your board what I want to "Share" with you. My board is toast.

Message 9670 by Mystery Guest on 2002-03-23 21:54:57. Feedback: 0
e-mail me, so we can talk, please.


Message 642 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-10-08 23:52:56. Feedback: 0/0

Hmm.. I believe that. Yeah, it was kind of funky, I make a server-side socket connection to strange horizons, slurp in the content, and munge it to change the links to do target=_top.

Karin, yes'm, very excited. What BHers are coming? I guess I'll ask on-list.

Monday is the day to decide on my job here. Yowza! I actually ended up bailing on the part-time job. I did a spreadsheet and came to the conclusion that with two little ones and Esther not working, the money just wasn't going to be enough. There are lots of odd hidden costs when you're the sole breadwinner, like life and disability insurance and so on... they add up. So I'm settling, I think, for something with pretty regular eight-hour days. That may actually be even more conducive to writing -- if I can be disciplined about an hour-or-two-every-morning system -- than four-day weeks where the working days are totally jammed with work.

Message 641 was left by Jed Hartman on 2003-10-08 11:38:33. Feedback: 0/0

Belatedly re 625: I was definitely impressed; nice work! IIrc, one can cause problems by doing certain things with the frames on/frames off links, but that was minor.

Message 640 was left by Karin * on 2003-10-07 18:21:15. Feedback: 0/0


Popping in to say Hi. And I hope the work is good. And can't wait to kibbitz at WFC! Big BH reunion, w00t!


Message 639 was left by Lori * on 2003-10-02 15:23:03. Feedback: 0/0

Oh, man, part-time work (she moaned). Good luck--that would be totally cool.


Message 638 was left by Jae * on 2003-10-02 10:06:00. Feedback: 0/0

Woo-hoo! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Message 637 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-10-02 10:03:01. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks Charles & Terry.

Well, the crazed job hunt I'm currently engaged in (I had four ot five interviews on Monday and Tuesday of this week alone -- I can't even remember them all) may be nearing its end. I got the first offer today, and while the salary is on the low side, it includes a four-day-work-week. Pretty sweet! I'll have to see what else comes in, and whether we can make this one (which seems like a lot of fun) work budgetarily and commute-wise (the location is delightful, but hard to get to).

Message 636 was left by Charlie Finlay * on 2003-09-28 19:54:30. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks, Ben. And may the same be written for you and your family.

Message 635 was left by Terry Hickman on 2003-09-26 22:08:39. Feedback: 0/0

Thank you, Ben! And you, and yours, too.

Message 634 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-09-26 17:27:40. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks everyone!

it's Rosh haShanah -- may you all be inscribed in the book of life for a sweet year.

Message 633 was left by Ling * on 2003-09-26 17:05:31. Feedback: 0/0

That's a cool cover Ben! I like how the cover has that rough texture look like an actual sketchpad might have. It's neat.

Message 632 was left by Terry * on 2003-09-26 13:53:23. Feedback: 0/0

*very* cool cover, Ben! Can't wait to see it *all*!

Message 631 was left by chance * on 2003-09-26 12:07:04. Feedback: 0/0

very cool cover (oh, and I got the cities of myrkhyr when I took the quiz)

Message 630 was left by Patrick Samphire * on 2003-09-26 11:06:40. Feedback: 0/0

Nice cover.

Cool quote from Brad, too. How much did you pay him? ;)

Message 629 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-09-26 10:11:37. Feedback: 0/0

Stin is an excellent thing, Johnny/Mikal. That's what *I* get...

Gavin put a bunch of cool stuff up on the chapbook page, including the cover and some incredible blurbs... wow! I'm very excited.

Message 628 was left by Johnny-Come-Lately * on 2003-09-23 20:46:42. Feedback: 0/0

Just popped in for the quiz. Got Stin. Hard to tell if that's a good thing...

Message 627 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-09-23 20:03:01. Feedback: 0/0

Knew it.

You'll be needing to relax plenty on those water beds after a hard day of
! Congratulations again, Susan.

Message 626 was left by Susan * on 2003-09-22 10:01:29. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, you're right! It was the water beds.

Message 625 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-09-20 08:34:10. Feedback: 0/0

Ling's right -- Zvlotsk is pronounced just like it's spelled.

Susan, you're right about stasis, but I expect you must have answered more than one question on the quiz with a Popstoppian answer to have gotten Double-A. I'm betting on water beds -- you don't seem much like a face-vacuumer to me. But I could be wrong.

And actually, Karen, natural disasters characterize Maxis... you must secretly yearn to be a part-time opera sales manager...

(I'm still waiting for Jed to be impressed that I managed to use the actual page from Strange Horizons in the quiz results while honoring his request to have the links to other stories replace the whole page rather than just the frame... )

Message 624 was left by Ling * on 2003-09-19 23:36:54. Feedback: 0/0

I say Zvlotsk with an Eastern European accent. Mark's Polish, so I'm used to letters that are grouped that way. I have to say names like Zvlotek, Andrejz, Valdek, Yaktzek, etc,

Message 623 was left by Terry * on 2003-09-19 20:22:35. Feedback: 0/0

Nope, Susan, because I offered the same opinion of stasis, and I got Zvlotsk. (scratches head) Does anyone happen to know how to pronounce "Zvlotsk"?

Message 622 was left by Thomas R * on 2003-09-19 17:56:42. Feedback: 0/0

I got Myrkhyrr. Which is odd as it's not the one I like best if I remember right.

Message 621 was left by amber * on 2003-09-19 16:16:17. Feedback: 0/0


Well, my first long term visit with BenBen did involve a roaring case of Tobola.

It all make sense, in the end.

Message 620 was left by Susan Marie Groppi * on 2003-09-19 15:49:40. Feedback: 0/0

Amea Amaau, which I find kind of surprising. I think it's because I said stasis is the root of all suffering.

Message 619 was left by Karen Swanberg on 2003-09-19 15:14:40. Feedback: 0/0

Myrkhyr. Must be the natural disasters.

Message 618 was left by Jamie Rosen on 2003-09-19 11:25:32. Feedback: 0/0

I got Ponge. But what did you expect? I live in Ponge.

Message 617 was left by Tim Akers * on 2003-09-19 10:22:14. Feedback: 0/0

Well, I think I see why Charlie started talking about brazilian waxing on his topic.

I think what Ben's worried about with amber's gothness is the way it's being manifest. Specifically, she said "I'm secretely goth." Secretely. As in, she is oozing a pus-like gothness. Creepy.

Message 616 was left by Marsha * on 2003-09-19 09:34:02. Feedback: 0/0

(Amber, nooooooooooooooooooo!

*cries piteously*

I will never finish my goth girls story without it! You'll doom Rae to an unwritten death?!)

Message 615 was left by Terry Hickman on 2003-09-19 03:57:21. Feedback: 0/0

Carol, I'm going to Zvlotsk, too.

I'll have to remember to check back here when the book comes out so I can refresh my memory on that point.

You guys pick some strange topics...

Message 614 was left by Lori * on 2003-09-18 16:11:58. Feedback: 0/0

Eeeuww. Charlie.

Message 613 was left by amber * on 2003-09-18 13:46:50. Feedback: 0/0

(you're probably surprised, charlie, because it's a well kept secret)

(and marsha, i am so taking out that cd you asked me to make for you from your christmas package. No VAST for you :P)

Message 612 was left by Charlie again * on 2003-09-18 13:10:34. Feedback: 0/0

Man, those last couple lines don't scan at all, do they? Maybe I needed more wax.

Message 611 was left by Charlie Finlay * on 2003-09-18 13:05:09. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, Brazilian waning is what happens to guys after the Brazilian wax, since apparently there's a little less of them to go around.

Jae, I didn't set up the ticket booth because I thought the unexpected turn of topic would drive away the half of the audience I hoped to get to part from their shekels! Very short-sighted of me.

Amber's goth?!?!

Marsha, just for you:

Ben's topic turned to topical wax
applied after removal of slacks.
This sensitive issue
sent guys running for tissue
at hair-raising thoughts of following lacks.

Message 610 was left by Marsha * on 2003-09-18 09:41:51. Feedback: 0/0

Ben? It's only a secret to all those people who've never met her. Everyone else has been in on this for some time--it's not like she can hide.

Message 609 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-09-18 08:49:16. Feedback: 0/0

amber wrote:
"which is ok. I'm secretely goth."


Message 608 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-09-18 08:47:03. Feedback: 0/0

A friend took the quiz yesterday and was, without coaching, 3-for-3 in favor of Amea Amaau. So my faith has been restored. Y'all just really like swimming and dolphins (or despise all the dinners and governments you know about)...

Message 607 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-09-18 08:44:24. Feedback: 0/0

With all this talk of Brazillian Waxing, we are forgetting the even more striking phenomenon of Brazillian Waning.

Message 606 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-09-18 08:43:29. Feedback: 0/0

Coming soon: the bonus City of the Brazillian Waxing Enthusiasts...

Actually, the original unrevised version of Ponge did feature the Ladies' Facial Waxing Club, IIRC...

Message 605 was left by Lori * on 2003-09-17 02:07:45. Feedback: 0/0

But are there any men who would actually *want* one?

Aside from TVs, I mean?


Message 604 was left by Jae * on 2003-09-16 21:27:45. Feedback: 0/0

Marsha - I confess to the same addiction, in the extra-large that begins with a V. I knew there was something I really liked about you.

According to my darling husband, not only do men not get Brazilians because of the paper thin skin and the proximity to the pen, but also has to do with the way the hair grows out of the skin, and hot wax on certain reproduction organs, and the lack of anything in the general area to get a good grip on.

Are you selling tickets yet, Charlie? ;->

Message 603 was left by Paul * on 2003-09-16 21:06:50. Feedback: 0/0

Yes, I got Zvoltsk. But I vacation in Myrkhyr.


Message 602 was left by Lori * on 2003-09-16 20:33:32. Feedback: 0/0

I did say I *didn't* want biscotti and scones.


Message 565 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-08-24 15:47:25. Feedback: 0/0

"It will be my at dot com"

My, that was cryptic, wasn't it? let's try without <s.

The new, spamsecret email will be three-letter-nickname at first-and-last-name-run-together-without-punctuation dot com.

The other one will stick around, it will just be so indundated with spam that I will rarely look at it, and only with much gnashing of teeth.

Message 564 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-08-24 15:44:19. Feedback: 0/0

That kicks ass, Steph. I always liked Dylan Thomas. My mom had LPs of him reading "A Child's Christmas In Wales", I recall. I always liked "Do not go gentle into that good night", too.

I feel like I should make some sort of joke at this point relying on the pretense that I have confused Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan. Consider one made.

Our house is a sea of cardboard boxes. Aiee! Kind of exciting, really. Eating on plastic plates, with plastic forks -- it's all Aviva's play silverware, the lightest thing to carry in our airplane luggage. The rest goes in the shipping container.

I think it's pretty definite now that Small Beer press will be publishing a collection of the Other Cities stories, including The White City plus the phantom thirteenth city that was too unspeculative for Strange Horizons (which the cw2k1crits crew has seen), in chapbook format, at World Fantasy (Halloween weekend)...

My email address is so swamped with spam now that I am going to try and transition over to a new one, but in a totally paranoid way, never writing it down anywhere online where spambots can see it. It will be my at dot com. Yes, it would be just too funny if you (the generic you, mind) were to now say "you mean like this?" and post it here for the spamspiders to find, but it would mean many hours of lost work for me, so I would need to strangle you.

Message 563 was left by Steph * on 2003-08-20 04:16:46. Feedback: 0/0

Hey, Ben,

Ever since you mentioned the Argosy sale, I've been meaning to tell you--this summer when we spent a week in Wales, we went out to see Castle Laugharne (sp?), next to where Dylan Thomas lived. The boathouse that he used as a writing study has been preserved just as he left it, with papers everywhere, art postcards tacked up for inspiration, etc.--and a copy of "Argosy" next to the desk, where he'd been reading it!

And now you're getting published there. Cool.

Message 562 was left by Sean * on 2003-08-15 16:50:11. Feedback: 0/0

Don't go there, Lori...

Message 561 was left by Lori * on 2003-08-15 14:51:33. Feedback: 0/0

Now, Steph, were you corrupted or just pragmatic? Are we into situational ethics here? :-)


Message 560 was left by Steph Burgis * on 2003-08-15 11:35:06. Feedback: 0/0

Starbucks might be evil, but it was directly on the way to class. By the time we were three weeks into the workshop, I was stopping in there every morning on the way to class (and dragging Patrick with me)! Ah, the corruption factor of Clarion...

Message 559 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-08-14 10:21:00. Feedback: 0/0

No original Starbucks, but I used to write in the SBUX down the street (near our basketball court...)

Message 558 was left by Lori * on 2003-08-14 06:18:30. Feedback: 0/0

I'll have to go back and re-read all of them. I kinda remember them, but don't remember which name goes with which city.

(Aha, now I grasp your evil plan--)

Well, if you had to stay up late and get up early, I suppose Seattle would be a good place to do it. Any pilgrimages to the original Starbucks? Or did everyone consider Starbucks evil and stick to Peet's?


Message 557 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-08-14 03:57:14. Feedback: 0/0

Sorry, Jamie, I meant to say "What Other City should you live in?"

The answer would be Bellur, Ponge, Strafrax, Ahavah, Amea Amaau, Ylla's Choice, Zvlotsk, New(n) Pernch, Maxis, Jouiselle-aux-Chantes, Penelar, Myrkhyr, or Stin. Or The White City.

Now what I need are some questions and answers to distinguish between them, so that if you answer "What do you do prefer to do on a Friday night?" with "frolic in a drug-induced erotic daze" you would get a point for Jouiselle-aux-Chantes (or, I suppose, San Francisco), whereas if you answered "study the technicalities of shoe sole manufacturing, in case it should be useful in the analysis of clues", you would get a point for Zvlotsk.

And like that.

Feel free to post suggestions...

Lori, we had to be in class at 8 am or something, I think. Or was it 9?

Message 556 was left by Jamie Rosen on 2003-08-13 22:44:20. Feedback: 0/0

Hey! That was supposed to say BUM BUM.

Message 555 was left by Jamie Rosen on 2003-08-13 22:43:59. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, I believe it exists. ***googles*** Ah, yes...

With apologies to Lori, BUM BUM.

Don't be disheartened, though. Because it's not a terribly good quiz. I thought there was a better one, but perhaps I was just suffering from a rift in the space-time continuum.

Message 554 was left by Tempest * on 2003-08-13 18:52:39. Feedback: 0/0

feh.. sleep. who needs it?

I'll help if I can, Ben. with the quiz thing.

Message 553 was left by Lori White on 2003-08-13 18:52:19. Feedback: 0/0

Sean, that's early.

What time did he get up in the morning?

Message 552 was left by Sean K * on 2003-08-13 16:55:41. Feedback: 0/0

As a Clarion classmate of Ben's, I can attest that it's NEVER past his bedtime. Two of my favorite Clarion memories are:

1. Walking into the lounge at 12:45 am to find Ben in there then spending 45 minutes talking alternate history for a story I was working on.

2. Finishing a story at 1 am then looking in the hall to see every door closed but Ben's. He was playing Go online.

The man never sleeps.

Message 551 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-08-13 16:23:36. Feedback: 0/0

It's ALWAYS past my bedtime, Lori.

Okay, so it seems like my Other Cities series may have a new incarnation (about which more soon I hope), so I was thinking about marketing gimmicks for them. Does anyone want to help write a "What City Should You Live In?" quiz? (Since those are all the rage now...)

Message 550 was left by Lori * on 2003-08-11 02:29:31. Feedback: 0/0

Um--never mind that last post.

It's way past my bedtime.

Message 549 was left by Lori * on 2003-08-11 02:28:35. Feedback: 0/0

You forgot the tympani.

Allow me.


Message 548 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-08-10 15:52:36. Feedback: 0/0

hee hee.

Da na na NA na! Da na na NA na! Da-na-na-na-na-na-na!

Message 547 was left by Lori * on 2003-08-10 12:57:41. Feedback: 0/0

Hey, Ben--

Just read "Red Leather Tassels." I will never watch a Woody Woodpecker cartoon in quite the same way again.


Message 546 was left by Lori * on 2003-08-08 03:48:10. Feedback: 0/0

I guess I should check the time stamps. It's what comes of playing catch-up.


Message 545 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-08-07 17:46:14. Feedback: 0/0

Aha! Now I get it. I got the story reference, Lori, but I blanked on the fact that we were talking about wavelets...

Thank you, Charlie! You can be that kind of inappropriate any time! ;->

Message 544 was left by Charlie (again) * on 2003-08-07 16:21:45. Feedback: 0/0

Oh, and Ben, I'm not sure if it's appropriate to say this or not, but I was sorry to see that "Droplet" missed the preliminary Nebula ballot by two recs. It was the funnest far future space story I've read in the past couple years, and, I thought, surely deserving of a place on the final ballot.

Message 543 was left by Charlie Finlay * on 2003-08-07 16:18:56. Feedback: 0/0

Is a droplet or is a wavelet? When he's underwater, does he get wet?

Nobody knows. He's Rosenbaum-man, Rosenbaum-man.

Message 542 was left by Lori * on 2003-08-07 16:16:10. Feedback: 0/0

Ack! It was a joke! Based on your justly-famous story!

Message 541 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-08-07 14:41:09. Feedback: 0/0

Um... am I?

Message 540 was left by Lori * on 2003-08-05 20:39:42. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, aren't you a droplet?

Uh--I think I'll be going now.

Message 539 was left by chance * on 2003-08-05 16:42:32. Feedback: 0/0

Hi Ben,

Looks like you did make the first issue of Argosy - Announcement here

congrats again

Message 538 was left by Sean Klein * on 2003-08-04 10:45:08. Feedback: 0/0

I'm a genre pirate. Aarrr!

Message 537 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-08-03 18:18:22. Feedback: 0/0

Aha, cool, Leah. I just mailed your quizzila identity asking for the code! I got Stylemonkey when I took the quiz (of course, I didn't pick myself). But what I really want to know is what wavelet I am meant to symbolize...! ;->

Message 536 was left by Ruth Nestvold on 2003-08-03 06:03:07. Feedback: 0/0

Ah, the secret is revealed! Yeah, it's generating all kinds of fuss, Leah -- at least three people have e-mailed me the url. And I got a note from Jim Kelly that he signed "yr fan." Exceedingly cool. :-)

I get different responses depending on my mood -- but I'm usually either a style monkey or an ecogothchick. I think once I even got soemthing about being very traditional and never wanting to read anything new.

Very clever, Leah. Lots of fun.

Message 535 was left by Terry * on 2003-08-02 20:50:18. Feedback: 0/0

I'm a stylemonkey. Whee! Never knew that. But...the one bad thing about these quizzes, is you never get to see the other types--I mean, how you get them. I don't have time to take the quiz enough times to hit all the permutations.

Message 534 was left by Leah Bobet * on 2003-08-02 18:51:23. Feedback: 0/0

Ruth, I wrote it. And am frankly surprised at how much fuss it's generating, actually. :)

Message 533 was left by Ruth Nestvold on 2003-08-02 17:24:05. Feedback: 0/0

Seen this yet, Ben?


'Course, we ain't in the same category -- that's you and my dear buddy Jay. :-)

So, anyone know if Celia wrote this thing? I can't get it to work.

Message 532 was left by Lori White on 2003-08-02 14:05:16. Feedback: 0/0

I don't think with Ben we'd rub his belly for luck--he hasn't got one. Maybe his hair?

Message 531 was left by Elizabeth Bear on 2003-08-02 13:04:31. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, that's not cheating: It's craftiness.

(fnord)can I touch you?

Message 530 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-07-31 18:40:19. Feedback: 0/0

Thank you Patrick. I guess that takes care of that.

I just saw 28 days later. Very well done, but now I am pissed off because apparently it has an alternate ending after the credits, but the pushy ushers herded us all out before the credits were over. Cripes!

Message 529 was left by Patrick Samphire * on 2003-07-31 04:15:13. Feedback: 0/0

Well *I* liked Red Leather Tassels. What more do you need? ;)

Message 528 was left by Chris Barzak * on 2003-07-31 02:29:43. Feedback: 0/0

Congratulations, Ben! Argosy sounds very coolish. Can't wait to see you (on Friday and Sunday heh heh) at WFC.

Message 527 was left by Terry Bramlett * on 2003-07-30 20:19:44. Feedback: 0/0

You're right, Ben. You cheated. ;-) But hey, you've earned the invites and solicitations.

Thanks for the good thoughts on my sub.

Message 526 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-07-30 10:40:32. Feedback: 0/0

And thanks chance re: RLT. It seems to have split the readership pretty thoroughly... good I guess...

& Terry, good luck with your Argosy sub!

Message 525 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-07-30 10:38:11. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks everybody!

> Question -- how long from submission to acceptance?

24 hours, but with cheating: it was solicited. Between Lou asking me and acceptance... 6 months?

> How come you never tell us these things any more?

I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I promise... cw2k1 & WebRats lists both... I'm just slow! :-(

And I'm gonna update my online journal eventually too! Really! Honest!

I don't know if the story will make the first issue of Argosy, which is debuting at WFC, but I'm hoping so.

Message 492 was left by Ruth Nestvold on 2003-06-18 16:43:49. Feedback: 0/0

Yup, she's an absolute doll.

I've got a picture of her on a dinosaur, Ben. Almost the only picture I took at my birthday. :-) Remind me to e-mail it to you.

Message 491 was left by Lori on 2003-06-18 02:52:13. Feedback: 0/0

Oh, my gosh. She's beautiful.

Message 490 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-06-17 23:05:07. Feedback: 0/0

Aviva (a.k.a. The Wiggle) looks like this.

Here she is with her best buddy Elisa.

Okay, I'll stop now.

Also of note on the Aviva front: Aviva is spending much of her time these days with two invisible (to me -- she can see them) entities, Kiko and Makke. These personages seem to spend most of their time either at work (though she hasn't said what they do for a living) or clinging to Aviva's back, biting her, and fighting. "Kiko and Makke are biting me!" she says; however, she seems undisturbed by this -- sort of gleefully shocked. Sometimes she says, "Kiko and Makke are sad!" Recently I heard her in the hallway trying to mediate between the two of them: "Hey! Kiko, Makke had that first! Hey! Makke, there's only one of those, you have to share!" She seemed slightly exasperated, but compassionate.

And yes, there must be a story there somewhere.

Actually she wants to hear a lot of stories from me lately (stories have become a major currency of household bribery -- most tantrums about going to sleep, mommy or visitors leaving, etc., can be avoided if a story is offered as a preface or recompense), and I've started introducing Kiko and Makke as figures of general mischief, kind of naive and ingenuous rulebreakers, more Coyote than Anansi. Aviva seems on board with this. Interestingly, she usually wants to have Elisa as the protagonist of the story, with herself as a major supporting character: "Tell me a story about Elisa!"

Telling a story to Aviva is an excellent narrative exercise because she interjects random events that must be integrated:
"So when Kiko and Makke finally arrived home..."
"And there was an elephant!"
"Uh, yes, there was an elephant, and the elephant said..."
"And then Noralisa came!"
"Right, so the elephant said to Noralisa..."
"And a doggie!"

Message 489 was left by Ling on 2003-06-17 16:34:03. Feedback: 0/0

Aviva looks like her mother (which might be a good thing. ;0) and she's got Ben's coloring. When she's older, she'll have the boys following her around!

Message 488 was left by Jae on 2003-06-17 14:53:40. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, that's too cute. I'm laughing so hard over here just imagining it. Does Aviva look like you?

Message 487 was left by Ruth Nestvold on 2003-06-17 11:42:46. Feedback: 0/0

Oh man, I can just hear Aviva saying that. With her Swiss accent no less. :-)


Message 486 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-06-16 06:05:17. Feedback: 0/0

All last-named Canadians are named Rosen? This sounds a little bit like Korea, where I'm told 3 last names dominate the country's last-name pool.

My daughter (two and a half) likes saying her name very loud and
expressively: "Aviiiiiva... Raaaahel... ROSENBAUM!" Lately she's started adding the word for "fried egg" to the end of it: "Aviiiiiva... Raaaahel... Rosenbaum SPIEGELEI!" We don't know why.

> Guy Smiley was the source of my favorite quotation from Sesame Street.

And you're leaving us hanging here?

> Five franc coins? Haven't they made you switch to Euros yet?

Ha! Are you kidding? Switzerland isn't in the EU, it's not in NATO, it's not even in the U.N.!

Did you read that David Brin book where the whole world goes to war with Switzerland?

Won't happen. We have your money.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....

Message 485 was left by Jed Hartman on 2003-06-15 20:50:00. Feedback: 0/0

Guy Smiley was the source of my favorite quotation from Sesame Street.

Agreed about Chabon's structure being ramshackle; well put.

Five franc coins? Haven't they made you switch to Euros yet?

Message 484 was left by Jamie Rosen on 2003-06-13 22:46:45. Feedback: 0/0

Anytime, Benjamin. If the guy I talked to at work on Tuesday believed me, there's now at least one person in the United States walking around under the impression that most Canadians are related and have the same last name, and the rest of us don't get a last name of any sort.

Yes, folks, once I'm finished with the survey, all bets are off. :)

Guy Smiley was on Sesame Street, but Sesame Street folk were Muppets, too. There was another fella who looked a lot like Mr. Smiley, whose name escapes me at the moment.

But the best Muppet is Sweetums. Hands down.

Message 483 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-06-13 21:08:41. Feedback: 0/0

And Guy Smiley. Or was he on Sesame Street? I must go to Starbucks soon for puppets.

Charlie, looking forward to chatting about Chabon -- the structure, particularly Radioman, is ramshackle, and the bungee jumping thing is a little glib, but I rather like the final resolution of the family and lifestyle issues.

I look forward to seeing Powerboy at some point (and would be happy to see it sooner rather than later, but you know best if it's not at the point yet to tolerate other people's ideas).

Bulimic Shortstop is up at OWW... I'm'a check it out.

Hi Lingster! Howzit going? Beaker rules.

Jamie, thank you for making Canada just that little bit more unpredictable and surreal with your coinage fit.

Over here we have five franc coins -- now that's hefty. Don't want to get pelted with those, I can tell you.

Message 482 was left by Lori on 2003-06-12 00:14:11. Feedback: 0/0

Beaker's the best. Then Rowlf, then Kermie, then Fozzie (but I think I just got a badly stitched one). Gonzo is the wrong color and not dressed right, and Animal has no fuzz. I'm going to have to doctor him up.

I hope they do the Swedish Chef, and of course Miss Piggy.

Message 481 was left by Ling on 2003-06-11 23:23:16. Feedback: 0/0

Mmmm....Muppet Finger Puppets.....I gots me a Beaker one! It rules.

Message 480 was left by Jamie Rosen on 2003-06-11 23:10:42. Feedback: 0/0

Speaking of muppets, the other day I was at the record store talking to my friend ggerG, and for some reason I decided to do the Kermit the Frog "yaaaayayayayayaya!" complete with arm-waving. Except I had my wallet in my hand. And the change section was open.

Luckily, no one has yet sued me for reckless use of coinage. Perhaps they figure they cleaned up enough by being pelted with it (remember, up here in Canada we have fairly hefty one- and two-dollar coins.)

Message 479 was left by Charles Coleman Finlay on 2003-06-11 22:36:46. Feedback: 0/0

Hey, Ben, I've been meaning to mention that I finished Chabon's AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY some weeks back, and had thoughts on it. (I think it tends to fall apart for me toward the end, from about the Radio Man sequence on. Although it's still a satisfying read, it became something less than brilliant, given the genius of the opening.) We should talk about it next time I see you.

And I have written a super-hero story, "The Last Adventure of Powerboy," but I think it's got problems that maybe I can't fix and is so far the only finished story I've trunked without submitting anywhere. (In reality, I think maybe I'm just waiting for that flash of inspiration to figure out what's missing from it.)

I got to read Cathy's first draft of "The Bulimic Shortstop" last night! There's a lot of whimsy in it I think you'll like. You should bug her about seeing it.

Okay, those free range puppets are creeping me out. I better go.

Message 478 was left by Lori on 2003-06-11 19:29:09. Feedback: 0/0

I recommend the Muppet finger puppets at Starbucks.

Hard to type with 'em on your fingers, though....


Message 477 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-06-11 10:55:24. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks, kop, I could use the encouragement.

Message 476 was left by kindergaten kop on 2003-06-07 17:41:43. Feedback: 0/0

*releases free range puppets of doom to encourage book writing*

Message 475 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-05-18 13:49:37. Feedback: 0/0

I just reread "If on a winter's night a traveler". What a great book that is -- Calvino effortlessly fulfilling on these impossible authorly tasks he sets himself, a total reinvention of the novel. It should be absolutely frustrating, but it's delicious. Probably the most successful second-person novel I can think of.

I also just read Martin Amis's "Time's Arrow" -- also brilliant. It displays those traits I often like so much in non-genre-trained writers writing fantasy: a throroughness and care of invention, unable to take advantage of conventions as shortcuts and uninhibited by knowledge of what's been done before...

Message 474 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-05-18 13:33:27. Feedback: 0/0

Ah, Kavalier & Clay is brilliant -- actually that and Mr. Muerte both go on the same sub-list, of stories that are tributes to growing up with superhero comics, in which part of the fun is the indirect and vicarious experience of an alternate opus of comic books as well as its effect on the more realistic characters. That's such a kick-ass story, Sean. My favorite of your stories.

I'm looking forward to Mary's story -- the June F&SF hasn't gotten here yet.

Hmm, I think Aimee Bender's "The Healer" can go on the list too, perhaps, it's not superheroes, but it's clearly a Marvel Comics style universe.

Don't you need to write a superhero story, Charlie? Yes, Tarzan, I know, I know. But c'mon, costumed superheroes. It's so New Pulp.

Re: M2T3 - another one I really liked was the Nick Hornby story. The Stephen King story was interesting -- not amazing, but cool to see him do a story with some odd worldbuilding -- clearly having some fun with it.

Message 473 was left by Sean K on 2003-05-17 12:19:21. Feedback: 0/0

Re: 471

Almost, but not quite: Mr. Muerte and the Eyeball Kid.

Message 472 was left by Charlie Finlay on 2003-05-17 04:45:22. Feedback: 0/0

M. Rickert's "The Super Hero Saves the World" in the June, F&SF, has more magic than comic book in it, but it'd have to be on the list, I think.

That's interesting about the McSweeney's -- thanks for looking it up. Speaking of McSweeney's and comic books, I just picked up Chabon's AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY, although I haven't started reading it yet.

Message 471 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-05-17 03:29:47. Feedback: 0/0

An astute reader pointed out that "The Death Trap of Dr. Nefario" is one of several superhero stories to come out lately, including Carol Emschwiller's "Grandma" and Tim Pratt's "Captain Fantasy and the Secret Masters". What other spec fic stories can y'all think of which are set in the world of the superhero comics?

Message 470 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-05-08 17:22:27. Feedback: 0/0

McSweeney's issue #5, better known as "Timothy McSweeney's Small Trembling Thing That You Hold In Your Hand And Pet Gently With Your Dirty Dirty Fingers " and several other titles (I kid you not) has neither any ISSN or ISBN in the ten or so pages of "copyright information" (which also discusses octopuses that talk and Icelandic printing costs). It was printed in Iceland.

Message 469 was left by EH? on 2003-05-07 13:52:25. Feedback: 0/0

I'm gathering from the copyright page that MMTTT (you'll know we've discussed it too much when we start typing M2T3 :) is a reprint of an issue of McSweeney's (in which the stories "appeared in slightly different form"). It looks like McSweeney's puts out a few books, but not one for each issue.

Message 468 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-05-07 04:30:37. Feedback: 0/0

Hey Charlie, I'll look at my other issue of McSweeney's when I get home and see if it has an ISBN.

Yes, the oklahoma lawman story rocked. I'm looking forward to reading Aimee's mystery, too.

Message 467 was left by Charlie Finlay on 2003-05-06 21:51:35. Feedback: 0/0

The discussion around McSweeney's is making me think of Penthouse Letters. Yes, they're really fiction, but they're printed as letters. I think it's something you can put on the vitae or bibliography either way. It's a publication, which is a nice way of sidestepping the whole sale issue.

I notice that MTTT has an ISBN instead of an ISSN. Is it usually available to subscribers? Or is this a special anthology rather than a regular issue? Or do they always publish in book form and count on shelf sales for their core readership? I have to know.

"Catskin" was a fun read, but Leonard's Oklahoma Lawman story was juice from the pulp for me -- I really enjoyed that story.

Message 466 was left by Ling on 2003-05-06 19:05:39. Feedback: 0/0

Sean just bought me that for my birthday. :)

Message 465 was left by Jamie Rosen on 2003-05-05 11:04:03. Feedback: 0/0

I've only read the first story in MTTT so far, because for some reason my brain balked at the idea that the next story would be about an elephant. I don't know why. I like elephants...

In any event, Ben, I'd say you have a story in McSweeney's. I mean a) you have a story, and b) it's in McSweeney's. Yes, it's in McSweeney's as a faux letter, but it still meets all the criteria.

And if it's as good as the letter I read from Elizabeth Miller's dad, who fights fires while flying a helicopter, you should most definitely take all the credit you deserve (and maybe a bit you don't, since they probably have some undeserved credit lying around the office. :) )

Message 464 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-05-05 04:21:45. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks Elizabeth! Glad you liked it.

I don't know if I'd call it a "sale", since McSweeney's doesn't actually pay... it's that odd literary animal, a prestigious nonpaying zine. My story is very short and silly , so they wrote to ask if, since all the stories in that issue are long and sad, they could put my story into their section called "Letters", which, they assured me, does not contain *real* letters. So I wrote a letterlike frame for the very short story. It is a bit odd, though... can I really say I've got a story in McSweeney's? Or is it just a letter to the editor? Hard to tell, since they don't pay regardless. It's all a little odd, but then, I suppose McSweeeney's is meant to be odd... ;->

I'm up to the Stephen King story in the MTTT... so far they're pretty good; I may have liked the Oklahoma lawman story best so far, though "Catskin" was coolio...

Message 463 was left by Elizabeth Bear on 2003-05-04 17:17:13. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, you made my whole weekend with Dr. Nefario. :-)

Message 462 was left by EH? on 2003-05-04 14:40:07. Feedback: 0/0

Hey Ben, congrats on the sale to McSweeney's! Very exciting stuff!

This morning I just finished reading "McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales," which Leslie P. had sent to me. Overall it was a fun read. It had two stories that stood out.

Rick Moody's "The Albertine Notes" was amazing! Very Philip K. Dick-eqsue... also reminded me a bit of "La Jetee" (the short film that "Twelve Monkey's was based upon).

Chris Offutt's story was terrible... apparently it was his first stab at genre fiction, and it shows. Very self-referential and smacked of a undergrad's creative writing.


Message 461 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-03-30 00:43:12. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks, chance & Marsha!

Message 460 was left by chance on 2003-03-27 17:48:23. Feedback: 0/0

Ben! lovely story at infinite matrix. loved it.

Message 459 was left by Marsha on 2003-03-27 13:47:51. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, what a great read! I loved the therapist in need of a little therapy himself, and who knew what sensitive guys those super heroes are!

*sigh* But now I want a story about Tonto in therapy. Would you mind working on that one for me? Thanks. ;)

Message 458 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-03-27 13:15:28. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks, Charlie & Sarah!

Cool to see that story up there...

Message 457 was left by SarahP on 2003-03-26 20:09:35. Feedback: 0/0

It is a lovely story, indeed. I will never look at the guy in the batsuit the same way again. It prompted me to send in my buck to IM.

Message 456 was left by Charlie Finlay on 2003-03-26 19:42:13. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, if you don't have email you may not realize that Eileen has released your story over at Infinite Matrix.

Another great story, man.

Message 455 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-03-26 15:31:53. Feedback: 0/0

In case anyone is trying to reach me... my email is down at the moment. Worryingly, it seems not to even be bouncing, but to be eating and ignoring mails without sending them on to me. Argh! You can try "benrose (at) datacomm (dot) ch" if you need to send me email... :-(

Message 454 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-03-20 00:09:59. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks Charlie! "Book of Jashar" would still be languishing in my drawer if not for your brilliant critique.

Wow, the Talking Fish of the Apocalypse is here! My favorite part is where the witness to this miracle tells the reporter "Ah, enough already about the fish" -- that's worthy of Isaac Bashevis Singer. Or Woody Allen.

Message 453 was left by Charlie Finlay on 2003-03-17 14:08:56. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, what a treat to see "The Book of Jashar" up at Strange Horizons today.

I'm also wondering if you saw the NY Times news story about the talking apocalyptic fish? It reminded me of something you might write. (I have to use it in a story if you haven't already. And possibly if you have.)


Message 452 was left by Marsha on 2003-03-11 22:59:34. Feedback: 0/0

::Slides chair behind Patrick. Pats his shoulder as he collapses.::

There, there. Try not to think about them--even though they seem to be sneaking up behind you at the moment.

And they're so realistic! Amazing.

Message 451 was left by Patrick Samphire on 2003-03-11 10:59:45. Feedback: 0/0

It's the idea of knobby knees that is making me feel a little weak right now...


Message 450 was left by Marsha on 2003-03-11 09:26:24. Feedback: 0/0

::Blinks at the image Ben just created for himself. Brain explodes.::

Oops. Sorry about that.

::Gets a mop and starts to clean.::

I just couldn't see you tarted up in boas, caterpillar eyelashes, smeared lipstick, and knobby knees. Even with the nom-de-plume.

Message 449 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-03-11 09:14:26. Feedback: 0/0

Better than funnily tarty...

Good name for a character? Dr. Burkhardt Funnily-Tarty?

Message 448 was left by Lori on 2003-03-10 19:37:54. Feedback: 0/0

Hey, Ben--Eileen says you're tartly funny. That's kind of a cool description.

Message 447 was left by traci lyn on 2003-03-05 22:38:20. Feedback: 0/0

yeah! i get a kick out of that! "where is clarrrion?"
i did find the physical downtown of seattle. i went alone via auto bus and i was scared to death! but i said to myself "self, if you are going to be living here in a few months then you will have to get accustomed to these things." so i did and i felt very stimulated. thank you Ben - i will find that bookstore! i think i want to live in a bookstore sometimes. when i visit barnes & noble i say "i could live here" or "i want to have a bookstore" or "i am going to have a huge library in my house like the one from beauty & the beast" - a little less house and a little more bookstore please. ok - you get the point. thanks for letting me relinquish my desires. talk to you all soon.

- traci

Message 446 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-03-04 19:41:53. Feedback: 0/0

Yep, Dr. Nefario is being held hostage. (Ironic, that, as you'll see when you read the story...)

I'm tempted to send it to you, chance... but that wouldn't be very nice to Eileen, who's fighting for the life of one of the best short fiction venues for writers around... hm!

Thanks for the congrats and info Neile. Bummer, we sent Traci up there and now it turns out there's no physical Clarion West to find. Wacky how everything's different.

You should check out the Elliott Bay Bookstore anyway, Traci -- quite a collection!

I have an article up at Strange Horizons...

Message 445 was left by chance on 2003-03-04 11:45:40. Feedback: 0/0

ok i didn't quite do the link right - Infinite Matrix will work better

Message 444 was left by chance on 2003-03-04 11:44:21. Feedback: 0/0

Ben! your story is a hostage over at Infinite Matrix

Waaa! I want Ben Story Goodness.

Message 443 was left by Neile Graham on 2003-02-27 15:45:01. Feedback: 0/0

Dammit! I'm still getting over a virus and my brain has decided it didn't need to remember how to type or spell. Excuse the substitutions, and read "now" for "not", and "their" for "there". Sigh.

Message 442 was left by Neile Graham on 2003-02-27 15:41:45. Feedback: 0/0

Congrats on the Asimov's story, Benjamin!

I haven't checked in here often, but I do check the Clarions topic regularly. Right not there isn't anything going on other than applications coming in and being read. We did have our annual meeting (with a reading by Syne Mitchell, one of our graduates who has a new novel out) in January, but we don't have any events scheduled now until the workshop starts in June.

We do have an office, but it's only a really big space that we check periodically for mail and where we store things.

One piece of Clarion West news is that we're no longer renting space from Seattle U or the community college. Both of them raised there rates beyond what we thought students could afford.

So this year for the first time we're going to be holding the workshop and the class in one of the University of Washington sororities. Everything in a big old cool house.
The readings will no longer be at Elliott Bay Bookstore but on the University of Washington campus through the University Bookstore's reading series.

It's our twentieth anniversary year, so we thought we'd be celebrating consistency, but instead we're celebrating change.

It's all good--but it's going to be different.

Message 441 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-02-22 05:30:46. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks Lori & Greg. I'm excited to be in Asimov's!

The Asimov's story was actually my first Clarion story; I wrote it in the first two days of Clarion West 2001.

Traci, at http://www.clarionwest.org/contact.htm you'll find their contact info. There's no physical place to go, though, really, during the winter: they rent space during the summer from Seattle U. and a community college whose name I forget. But they sometimes have fundraisers, readings, etc., in the winter. Try and get in touch with Neile Graham, she's one of the administrators and she'll surely know if there's anything going on.

Given the strength of the competition I'm up against, Tempest, it seems like a pretty safe gamble to let you write my acceptance speeches for Torcon... ;->

Message 440 was left by Greg van Eekhout on 2003-02-21 12:39:31. Feedback: 0/0

Asimov's? Woot!

Message 439 was left by traci lyn on 2003-02-21 01:27:06. Feedback: 0/0

HI FRiends. i am in seattle. i have been asking about clarion, not much word... YET! and i wrote while i was on the plane, and it was very enlightening. i hope to try trains soon. maybe i will try the bus tomorrow.

Message 438 was left by traci lyn on 2003-02-19 17:54:52. Feedback: 0/0

the quest to find clarion: seattle ---> tomorrow!

Message 437 was left by Lori on 2003-02-17 18:46:57. Feedback: 0/0

Congrats on the sale to Asimov's!

Message 436 was left by Tempest on 2003-02-17 10:03:55. Feedback: 0/0

oh, oh, oh, you can have someone accept the award FOR you. and then we have to come up with a really funny acceptance speech kind of thing. oooo I can see the possibilities!

Message 435 was left by Lori on 2003-02-17 01:13:01. Feedback: 0/0

What if you make the Campbell or Hugo ballot this year, though? Huh? Huh?

Message 434 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-02-16 03:41:32. Feedback: 0/0

Hey! Can't a fellow enjoy the privacy of his own ventilator shaft without these prying questions?

No, it was just the only way out of the chocolate pudding pit I was flung into in #410.

Which I was just knocked back down into by the Power Pout. Sigh.

I will be thinking of y'all at Worldcon. I can't afford so many transatlantic jaunts, though. The transatlantic writing jaunt this year is Charlie's Blue Heaven workshop.

Message 433 was left by Tempest on 2003-02-15 02:03:27. Feedback: 0/0

No worldcon? oh my, I really WILL have to get my butt to world fantasy then, won't I?

Jed, we're not at orange alert, we're at chocolate pudding brown alert! duh. No wonder Ben was in there, 'tis the only safe place. or WAS.

Message 432 was left by Jed Hartman on 2003-02-14 17:23:02. Feedback: 0/0

Re #426: Point well taken, Terry. And I suspect the fireflies wouldn't like it much either. But they sure are purty. I miss 'em. But I don't miss the weather in the places I've seen 'em.

Maybe a CW field trip to CE to see the fireflies? :)

I like Lori's idea too.

Firefly definitely had a lot of potential; sad to see it go.

...Ben, what were you doing in that ventilator shaft? Does this have anything to do with your "exploded Rumor Mill" at the top of this page, and the ongoing Orange Alert?

Message 431 was left by Lori on 2003-02-14 17:01:44. Feedback: 0/0

Okay, everybody, stand back: I'm going to whine. And then I'm going to pout.

Beeeeennnnnnnnnnn? Not going to Worldconnnnnnnnn?

Awwww mannnnnn.

(I'm warning you....)


Is everybody okay?

Oh--and is that particolored, or party-colored?


Message 430 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2003-02-14 16:23:10. Feedback: 0/0

emerges, bedraggled, coated with chocolate pudding, and clutching the Stanley Cup, from a ventilator shaft, to see the room filled with particolored fireflies

I'm not going to be at Worldcon, so I will require a life-size waldo adapted for mudwrestling which can be teleoperated over a satellite link. Other than that, fine.

I am planning on being at World Fantasy '03 in DC, though.

Message 429 was left by Samantha Ling on 2003-02-14 11:26:29. Feedback: 0/0

Terry: Firefly rocked. I was saddened when they were canceled! So much potential, so little time.

Lori: That nano-buttlit-bug sounds really cool. You could program them to write thing in the air!

Message 428 was left by Terry on 2003-02-14 10:56:55. Feedback: 0/0

Lori: Now THAT'S a cool idea, Lori! Go for it! (You might read James P. Hogan's Bug Park for technical ideas.)

Message 427 was left by Lori on 2003-02-14 10:10:11. Feedback: 0/0

Maybe nano-machine lightning bugs that you can by in boxes of 100 and set loose at garden parties or something. They're solar-powered, so they float about and glow until the batteries run down, then return to their chargers to get charged up during the day.

Gary has some gross stories about the evil things he used to do to lightning bugs when he was a kid (Northern Indiana).


Message 426 was left by Terry Hickman on 2003-02-14 09:07:58. Feedback: 0/0

#412: Jed, please don't import fireflies anywhere they'fe not native. Think: English sparrows, purple loosetrife, the zebra mussel, that walking snakefish and starlings in the US, rabbits in Australia--get my drift? I mean it *is* a charming idea but the same idea has turned into an ecological nightmare in too many instances.

If you could, however return Firefly to TV, you'd be doing the world a great favor. [g] (That by way of apologizing for being a biologist who cringes at the suggestion of moving any species outside its natural range)

I know we have the most fireflies in a damp Spring (Omaha).

Message 425 was left by Lori on 2003-02-14 01:51:33. Feedback: 0/0

Too dry, then. That makes sense. Every other place I've seen them has been very humid. Are they worth moving to a humid place for? Noooo, but they sure are neat once in a while.


Message 424 was left by traci lyn on 2003-02-13 23:50:58. Feedback: 0/0

Main Entry: fire·fly
Pronunciation: -"flI
Function: noun
Date: 1658
: any of various winged nocturnal beetles (especially family Lampyridae) that produce a bright soft intermittent light by oxidation of luciferin especially for courtship purposes

they light up to court eachother. didnt know that.

Message 423 was left by Lenora Rose on 2003-02-13 23:41:00. Feedback: 0/0

Lori; Can't be too cold - they have fireflies/lightning bugs of some kind in Manitoba. Too dry might wash - this is, after all, a flood plain.

Message 422 was left by Lori on 2003-02-13 15:08:31. Feedback: 0/0

Traci Lyn, if there aren't potato bugs in Idaho, reality is just too skewed to deal with. I expect there are, but I'm from Northern Idaho. We don't grow potatos there--peas and lentils.


Message 421 was left by Jamie Rosen on 2003-02-13 10:37:29. Feedback: 0/0

I read Lord of the Flies back in high school. Didn't much care for it.

Message 221 was left by Sean on 2002-09-29 20:36:49. Feedback: 0/0

Charlie: I could buy the culture v. state argument. I suspect we're thinking along similar lines. I don't know if government could be a singularity though. Most types of government have existed in various forms since antiquity. Certian aspects of those goverments have changed the world. American democracy with a separation of church and state comes to mind immediately. I seem to recall that that was a pretty out there proposition at the time.

Corporations will stll go away when we stop believing in them.

Ben: I played my first game of Go today. Ken Wharton taught me. Wished you didn't live so many darn thousands of miles away.

Message 220 was left by Charlie Finlay on 2002-09-29 13:10:28. Feedback: 0/0

Sean, I think you're confusing government with culture. While there has been a continuous form of German culture over time, the governments have changed and taken numerous forms. While the tendency, at least since the formation of modern nation-states, has been to associate culture with government, they're certainly not the same thing: consider those distinct cultures who existed for long times or continue to exist without a formal state: the Jewish or Kurdish peoples come to mind at once.

So the nation can go away, the institutions of government disappear, but the culture continues. They're separate things. Another reason to see governments as type of singularity at least similar to that of corporations.

Message 219 was left by Sean K on 2002-09-27 18:30:39. Feedback: 0/0

Interesting stuff, Charlie. Consider though that states seem to have a continued existance despite the form of government. How many different forms of goverment has Germany been through. But it, as a nation still continues. The counter argument to this is: how many nations or states have disappeared from the face of this Earth or been subsumed by other nations.

The contrast to corporations is that once a corporation no longer exists, it tends to go away. Will people drink Coke once Coca-Cola ceases to exist? Probably not once the stores are depleted.

Ben: First oranges, now figs. What fruit is next. And I'm jealous that you sold to LCRW. I'm a big fan of that zine.

Message 218 was left by Charlie Finlay on 2002-09-27 15:49:48. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, we pretty much had to avoid each other after the Strange Horizons tea party because of the whole mud wrestling thing. I also notice your left your deft handling of the penis balloon out of your con report. But! The less said about all that, the better.

The fig story is great! (Very Kelly Link-ish, I thought.) I can't wait to see it in LCRW. Congrats on the sale.

And quickly glossing over the singularity argument again: corporations are considered "individuals" under the law, but that should only cause us to look at the structure and history of law itself. The original monarchist nations existed as "individuals" also, the reign of so-and-so, with the structures in place to expand, continue, reproduce, etc. That the lifespan of such reigns were consistently shorter than the lifespans of human individuals does not invalidate them as a separate entity with a type of consciousness capable of preserving and transmitting social structures and ideas (the Confucian scholars under various invading regimes in China, frex). The decisions of individuals-as-rulers in monarchist nations were clearly insulated from certain legal and/or social consequences in the same way that corporations-as-individuals are today.

So I fail to see the uniqueness of large corporations as compared to monarchist states, for example, in any of the qualities described as, for lack of a better adjective, singular. One might easily be able to make a similar case for, say, the monastic orders within the Catholic church: each had a set of ordering rules combined with institutional structure and practice that together created a singular trans-individual sense of purpose and history, or consciousness.

I've haven't thought about this in any detail and I'm just pulling stuff out of my back pocket here. But you're going to have to work a lot harder to convince me that corporations by themselves represent a singularity. I more inclined to think they represent the modern example of an older and much-varied species of trans-human consciousness.

Message 217 was left by Sean K on 2002-09-27 11:01:05. Feedback: 0/0

>> Let's not forget that corporations are legal
>> fictions. If we stop believing in them, they go away.

>Sure. Just as with nations, or armies.

Nations, yes. Armies, no.

Message 216 was left by Terry on 2002-09-27 08:56:53. Feedback: 0/0

I think they *should* give Hugos for con reports, and that Ben's should win the first one! Wow! Thanks for sharing ALL of that, Ben! If you don't mind, I'd like to put a link to it on my web site?

Message 215 was left by Greg van Eekhout on 2002-09-26 22:35:52. Feedback: 0/0

Hey, do they give Hugos for con reports?

Message 214 was left by Greg van Eekhout on 2002-09-26 21:40:50. Feedback: 0/0

Man. Wow. I wish I'd written that con report.

Anyway, LCRW pays, like, $20 for fiction and $10 for poems.

Message 213 was left by Samantha Ling on 2002-09-26 21:09:11. Feedback: 0/0

Good report, Ben. And you managed to talk about me TWICE! Seriously. I think you need to write a con report involving only me. ;p

It was really good to see you. You're so far away! When are you coming back?


Message 212 was left by tobias s buckell on 2002-09-26 20:45:29. Feedback: 0/0

Kick-ass con report, dude.


Message 211 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-26 19:54:54. Feedback: 0/0

Re: #204, Lori, you've never heard of it. The Business Accountant in its incarnation from Brilliant Nite (sic) Software. Kinda tragic for all concerned. The less said the better, really. ;-)

Message 210 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-26 19:52:57. Feedback: 0/0

Okay, I just finally posted my mammoth con report for Worldcon.

Oh, and I sold a surrealist story about a fig to Lady Churchhill's Rosebud Wristlet. (Is sold the right word? Do they actually pay anything? Usually I would know this, but like everyone else I have fallen zombie-like under Gavin Grant's spell...)

Message 209 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-26 17:55:17. Feedback: 0/0

Ha! What a Freudian typo! missle-class individuals!

Message 208 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-26 17:27:44. Feedback: 0/0

> Let's not forget that corporations are legal
> fictions. If we stop believing in them, they go away.

Sure. Just as with nations, or armies.

> What troubles me right now is that corporations seem to exist
> ONLY to shield people from liablity and that being shielded
> from liablity eliminates any tendency towards moral action.
> Contrast this with the historical basis for corporations which
> was to provide capital for large projects like railroads.
I agree with the assessment of the moral dangers of limited liability, but I disagree with the historical analysis. Limited liability and the ability to raise large amounts of equity for risky projects are very closely linked. Capital began to flow like crazy, creating the modern West, only when missle-class individuals were assured that if they put their money into something, they would know what happened to it (double-entry bookkeeping and regulated securities exchanges) and their losses would be limited -- no one would come take away their houses just because they had invested in something that turned out to be a really bad idea.

I don't think, at least historically, that you could have one without the other. And that's the big reason scandals won't in the long term have the effect of increasing responsibility of the people in the corporation. Enron-sized scandals and bigger have been occurring with great regularity throughout the entire history of capitalism. Limited liability and free flow of equity almost always end up getting chosen over the ability to prosecute corporate miscreants.

Looking forward to the September Asimov's. The Wired article looks excellent - I read the first paragraph and laughed. I'll read the rest soon.

Message 207 was left by Jed Hartman on 2002-09-25 18:44:11. Feedback: 0/0

Stross's latest story ("Router"), the one with the in-story argument about whether the singularity's happened or not, is in the issue of Asimov's with cover date September 2002.

Also of possible interest: a Wired article titled "Slaves to Our Machines," about the intriguing notion that in the future, the scutwork will be delegated to humans, while machines do all the fun stuff. I think a lot of the article relies on a semantic confusion over what constitutes scutwork, but it's still a pretty interesting article.

Message 206 was left by Terry on 2002-09-23 15:56:50. Feedback: 0/0

"corporations seem to exist ONLY to shield people from liablity and that being shielded from liablity eliminates any tendency towards moral action" - whew! You've got THAT right! I deal with that WAY too often in my field, environmental protection. I've grown to HATE that term "limit liability corporation." Yeah, their liability may be limited, but the damage they do seems unlimited. Thus, of course, Mamet's quote is right-on, too.

I don't know about the Tinkerbelle theory of corporate reality, though. What if the corporate AIs decide to send their robot police after us? "Terminator," here we come!

Message 205 was left by Sean K on 2002-09-23 14:23:59. Feedback: 0/0

Let's not forget that corporations are legal fictions. If we stop believing in them, they go away.

I've been contemplating corporations, or the corporate entity, a bunch lately. There's a nascent play forming in my head that involves many of issues about corporations that I want to discuss. What troubles me right now is that corporations seem to exist ONLY to shield people from liablity and that being shielded from liablity eliminates any tendency towards moral action. Contrast this with the historical basis for corporations which was to provide capital for large projects like railroads. Is there now alternate ways to raise large amounts of capital? And how will the scandals of today's headlines affect the future of the corporate entity? Will piercing the veil become easier?

Am I making sense here? Or am I rambling Ben-like?

David Mamet said that people use the shield of organizations to do things to other people they wouldn't do personally. To me, those two organizations are mainly corporations and the state.

Hmmm, back to pondering.

The play idea is non-spec-fic, btw.

Message 204 was left by Lori on 2002-09-23 14:06:22. Feedback: 0/0

Ben, I've been forced to learn about double-entry bookkeeping while documenting accounting software. I work on QuickBooks. What did you work on?

Do you think our development of accounting software is another step toward getting ourselves pushed out of the picture as a useful creation? If the corporate entities have AIs to do their accounting, what good are we?

(Sorry, been at work too much lately.)


Message 203 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-23 04:36:27. Feedback: 0/0

You know, I do feel like we didn't get to hang enough at Worldcon, Charlie.

QW pays nominal flat fees -- $20 or so, I think -- typical third/fourth tier lit mag rates. Which is actually a pretty good rate if you sell them a 300-word short short. :-) But no, I don't think it's a conscious thing like at Zoetrope or some children's mags, where they're intentionally buying extra rights but also paying well for them.

You and Stross are right, the legal structure of corporations -- self-replicating nonhuman entities which can possess property and be treated as persons in court, and thus limit the liability of their supposed owners -- is really the interesting thing. I think there's an argument that double-entry bookkeeping or equivalent is a necessary condition for them to emerge as important; without a self-verifying accounting system, you won't get a real equity market going. There's a whole complex of technologies in that singularity. It's like agriculture -- there are a whole passel of little technologies in there, sowing, reaping, plowing, various tools to enable such, domestication of animals -- and most of them are not in and of themselves strictly necessary (you can get by without the plow), but a critical mass of them probably is.

Really I just picked double-entry bookkeeping because I have a bizarre affection for it. I was forced to learn it while writing accounting software, and I realized that it's really quite an elegant technology. And "bookkeeping" is the only word in English with three adjacent sets of double letters. What's not to like?

Message 202 was left by Charlie Finlay on 2002-09-22 23:46:08. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks for the details, Slick.

Without going into specific amounts, does QW pay pretty well? What I'm wondering is, is this contract typical for lit mags that pay a nominal sum (and thus something to look for) or does QW pay more than the going rate. With only one or two exceptions, I don't think I've ever received a contract for any of the poems I've had published in lit mags. But none of them have been first tier paying publications either. Now you've got me wondering what the standards are in the portion of the market.

Stross's argument on singularities make them seem rather... non-singular. But I think he has a point (especially in detaching the joint stock corporation from double entry ledgers, which seem to me to be neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for self-perpetuation and reproduction; which stocks may be -- this is the discussion I was going to have with you at Worldcon while giving you your copy of JPPN, but we know how that turned out).

Message 201 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-22 03:27:05. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks chance, Jamie, Lingster, Greg, Jed, and Tim!

Tim, you read that story? Was that during the Clarion party at Worldcon?

Jed, that story sounds great... what issue is it in? I get my issues of U.S. magazines two or three months later than y'all. At the "Visions of the Singularity" panel, Stross subsumed and far exceeded my contentious "Singularity in 1494" argument with a much broader synthetic proposal... that there have been five technological singularities so far... language itself, writing, agriculture, the joint stock limited liability corporation, and the birth of the Internet. Each of these is a fundamantal and irreversible shift in the status and mode of human being. (Each of the developments mentioned is just one signal invention in a complex that emerges more or less simultaneously, so saying "corporations" is another way of pointing at the same singularity I was talking about with double-entry bookkeeping). He sees at least two more coming up: the Vingean AI singularity, and a good solution for NP-Complete (i.e. intractable at large scales) computing problems.
Thanks for the nickname, Pulpy Finlay. One sentence of the QW contract read "The author grants and assigns to Quarterly West the right to publish the manuscript in Quarterly West, to include all or portions of the manuscript on Quarterly West's website, to distribute copies of the manuscript to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, and to register copyright in the name of Quarterly West." I crossed out "and to register copyright in the name of Quarterly West" after consultation with the editors there.

The thing that made me nervous was the following paragraph: "Quarterly West grants the author an irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use all or part of this manuscript in future works with the condition that Quarterly West is acknowledged in such works as the original publisher."

This sounds very pleasant, doesn't it? But it was a little like reading an employment contract that said "the company grants the employee an irrevocable right to breathe, as long as..." Gotta make you kind of nervous when they're granting you your own rights. Also "non-exclusive" is a bit ugly, since it sounds like they can also grant someone *else* the right to create derivative works of my work! So if Spielberg wants to make the full-lenghth live-action movie of The Orange, he can see who's willing to sell him the right cheaper, me or QW. Anyway, I left that paragraph in, but I struck the only thing I could see as implying that *I* was granting anything other than first serial rights. Given that QW has bought only that, they can grant me a license to the Brooklyn Bridge all they want.

I don't think it was intended as an author-screwing contract; I rather think it reflects a bit of confusion about what rights are typically transferred in such arrangements. This is a little lit mag run by a uinversity department, they may rightly not have thought it a good use of funds to hire an entertainment lawyer to write up the contract.

It's a very spiffy-looking lit mag, by the way. Big and glossy and colorful. I'd still rather be in F&SF, which has thirty times the circulation, but since Pulpy Finlay has locked up all the slots there, I have to take what I can get...

Message 200 was left by Charlie Finlay on 2002-09-21 09:46:29. Feedback: 0/0

Slick Rosenbaum.

I'd been looking for a nickname for you, Slick.

Can you tell us what the exact phrasing was in the QW contract that you struck? So we can keep an eye out for it. Thanks. Slick.

Message 199 was left by Tim Pratt on 2002-09-20 12:53:22. Feedback: 0/0

Yay, Ben! It's a great story, and deserves to reach such a wide audience. You rule.

Message 198 was left by Jed Hartman on 2002-09-20 02:30:32. Feedback: 0/0

Harper's! Zowie. You go, boy.

I'm actually stopping by tonight for something unrelated, though: I just read Charlie Stross's latest Macx story, "Router," in Asimov's. And I wish I'd read it before WorldCon, because it has a great bit in it in which the characters argue about whether the Singularity has happened, and if so, when. This debate is given extra spice by the fact that the characters who are doing the debating are uploaded human consciousnesses in a tiny spaceship/computer on its way to a nearby star to make contact with alien intelligences, while back home the technology curve is going asymptotic.

Had you read this story before WorldCon? I really think you oughtta send Stross a writeup of your Singularity argument; I think he'd get a kick out of it.

Message 197 was left by Greg van Eekhout on 2002-09-19 23:16:02. Feedback: 0/0

Hey, that's completely cool, Ben! Just don't forget us pulpheads when you're hanging out with your new slick friends.

Message 196 was left by Samantha Ling on 2002-09-19 14:02:42. Feedback: 0/0

Ben said:Luckily I do own the reprint rights... but that's only clear because I asked QW if I could strike a rather ambiguous phrase in the contracts... lesson for the day, always read your contract, even for a 300-word mini-story!

Sam said: You smart! You make things go.

Message 195 was left by Jamie Rosen on 2002-09-19 12:31:14. Feedback: 0/0

That is coolness to the second power, Ben! Congratulations!

Message 194 was left by chance on 2002-09-19 11:32:04. Feedback: 0/0

boing! boing! boing! congrats, ben - on the harper's sale, and on the great story up at infinite matrix.

Message 193 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-19 10:22:35. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks Charlie & Marsha!

You know, I had actually submitted it to them as fiction and they rejected it. I knew someone who was interning there at the time (but is gone now) and she said that she'd liked it, but that they were in a no-buy mode. Later I sold it to Quarterly West, a fine-looking lit mag from the U. of Utah.

Now Harper's just emailed me out of the blue and asked me if I owned the reprint rights. Yow! So I wonder if they remembered it from the first submission? (Maybe they didn't want it at the new-car price, but now that it's a bargain... :-> )

Luckily I do own the reprint rights... but that's only clear because I asked QW if I could strike a rather ambiguous phrase in the contracts... lesson for the day, always read your contract, even for a 300-word mini-story!

Message 192 was left by Marsha Sisolak on 2002-09-19 09:31:06. Feedback: 0/0

Go, Ben! Congrats! That's fantastic!

Message 191 was left by Charlie Finlay on 2002-09-19 09:29:12. Feedback: 0/0

Wow! Congratulations, Ben. How'd that come about?

Message 190 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-19 09:21:28. Feedback: 0/0

Holy moley, I've hit the slicks...

Harper's Magazine is going to reprint my short-short story "The Orange" in their November "Readings" section. Zowie!

Message 189 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-18 17:36:02. Feedback: 0/0

So I've set up a mailing list for publication updates on Yahoo Groups.

I set it up as a moderated group, but really I intend it as an announce list. That is, you don't chat on it. I just send out a message when I have something published... and not more than once a month or so. So we're talking very very very low traffic. I only emphasize this because when I sent out invites to family & friends, they all seemed confused on this point.

It's only there to replace the haphazard email head's-ups I was sending to people when a story of mine came out.

Message 188 was left by Greg van Eekhout on 2002-09-17 22:55:38. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks, Ben. I tried to make the dog a vegan, but the story didn't quite work that way.

Message 187 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-17 04:14:59. Feedback: 0/0

Thanks for the info, Greg K.

Glad you liked it, Greg v.E., and good to meet you too. And I've been meaning to write you about your story in LCRW. Leg meat!? You sicko!! Very creepy and good story. And I just got the September F&SF today and there you are again... looking forward to it.

Dan, I do like boingboing. I will check out the elephant orchestra. There are some excellent paintings by elephants too. I am very much predisposed to think that there is some real creativity and intelligence at work here; however, I saw some video footage of the elephants playing their instruments and it was sorta clear that there was a lot of specific training of the "heel, roll over, good Dumbo" sort going on too. But then, I guess there's a lot of that sort of training of human orchestra players, too. It would be interesting to read a Koko(the gorilla)-style study of elephant intelligence.

Message 186 was left by Benjamin Rosenbaum on 2002-09-17 03:55:47. Feedback: 0/0

Hey, cool, my story is up at Infinite Matrix.

That's the first time I've had a story illustrated. I think Eileen Gunn did an excellent job!

Message 185 was left by Gregory Koster on 2002-09-16 19:36:01. Feedback: 0/0

From the essential WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA, volume N, 2001 edition:

"The earliest known daily newssheet was ACTA DIURA (DAILY EVENTS) started in Rome in 59 BC. The world's first printed newspaper was a Chinese circular called DIBAO. The Chinese began printing DIBAO around 700 AD. The first regularly published newspaper in Euorpe AVISA RELATION ODER ZEITUNG started in Germany in 1609."

The planet may now return to its orbit.

Best regards,
Gregory Koster

Message 184 was left by Greg van Eekhout on 2002-09-16 17:39:41. Feedback: 0/0

Nice story at Infinite Matrix, Ben! (And a belated good to meet you at ConJose.)

Message 183 was left by Dan Percival on 2002-09-16 16:59:29. Feedback: 0/0

Hey, Ben, do you read boingboing.net? They ran an article that made me think of you about the Thai Elephant Orchestra (http://www.mulatta.org/Thaielephantorch.html). The bit on boingboing appears to be in some sort of limbo between front-page and archive. A couple of posters criticized the music as being too "modern"-sounding, but I think it's quite nice--haunting. The second track on the page is a little better than the first, I think, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it all the way through yet.

Just more fuel for the non-human consciousness fire.

Message 182 was left by Charlie Finlay on 2002-09-12 20:39:52. Feedback: 0/0

Don't worry about it, Ben. It'll probably take me forever to remember to mail it anyway.

Weren't there a form of newspapers in China earlier than the 15th century? Or am I imagining that?

Message 181 was left by Thomas R on 2002-09-12 15:56:20. Feedback: 0/0

There are Swedish & Dutch papers still around that date from the 17th c. I remember in a European history class mention of newspapers from the 15th & 16th c., but they were largely financial pamphlets of the major banking families. Well back to work until December.

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