Jim Baen, publisher and editor, passed away June 28th following a massive stroke. Baen Books website posted a brief notice. David Drake has a longer obituary. I used to buy a ton of Baen paperbacks a few years ago, especially the paperback magazines (I first read Vernor Vinge’s short story, “The Ungoverned,” in one of these), but in the last decade of so none of the writers in their line appealed to me, nor did the covers; I never really read that much military sf. I also remember meeting Jack Vance’s Cugel character in Baen’s editions of some of Vance’s books. Recently Baen also was a force in promoting unencrypted web versions of books from their line, and proved this model as a viable and ethical business model. Quite a few Prometheus Award-winning sf writers appeared in Baen editions, including L. Neil Smith and James P. Hogan, as well as F. Paul Wilson.
Over at reason Magazine, Nick Gillespie asks “what good are the arts?” As an English major in college (well, English and history), I used the time as an excuse to read books that I enjoyed, and more than once had to endure silly Marxist lit crit teachers and students, who sought to fit every book into a predefined model.
(yeah, I realize this is from April. I keep checking reason’s front page to see if they posted an essay on children’s literature that ran in the print magazine a few months ago, but nada.)
The NSA soon might be sniffing there for financial info about users. Via Boing Boing.
The picture in this story sent chills down my spine. I grew up in Zambia, spent 11 years of my life there, and saw those building all the time from the other side, where Cairo Road runs. I rode my bike there all the time, and it’s great to see people there talking about alternatives to socialism. History is the history of liberty, someone once wrote, and this certainly is a much better tale than what’s happening to Zambia’s neighbor in the south under Mugabe’s mismanagement. One day I hope to take my children to Zambia, and drive down streets where I walked and biked, and feel safe as we do so.
Your bank records safe? This NY Times records indicates otherwise. Hello, AT&T, meet your new friend the local bank. As the government spokesman says, there is no doubt this is “a legal and proper use of our authorities.” Uh, yeah, right… “President’s emergency powers” sounds horrific in the context of America.
Over at reason magazine Amy Strugis muses on the fiction and recent passing of sf writer Octavia Butler. Sadly, I think I’ve only read a few short stories by Butler.
The key to remember here is that any record of any activity, once kept by any entity, is subject to being handed over to the government. Your library records, your movie rental records, memberships in any organization, your phone records, etc. In this case AT&T commits double-speak, streamlining information by stripping away any privacy guarantees.
If you wonder what happened to this blog, all I can say is that I barely have time these days to read a few regular web sites, as I am trying to read novels and short stories that need to be reviewed in Prometheus, or which are up for the Prometheus Award. I could break down the segments of my day, but even though I’m averaging 6 hours of sleep each day (up from 4), there’s still not enough time in the day to get to everything. I started some rather long posts a while back, including reviews of all Prometheus Award finalists, but no posts came close to blogger ready. I also had a change of heart when it came to posting what I wrote, as I was far from happy with some of the nominees. I also started a post listing a stack of books received, some of which I have worked my way through and now am in the process of reviewing. Even when it comes to this part I am way behind schedule. The best novel I read this year originally appeared in 2005 – Ken MacLeod’s Learning the World. I just started Vernor Vinge’s new novel, but even that has to wait until I have met all my review obligations for the Summer issue of Prometheus. Right now I’m reading Future Washington (sorry, no time for a link), which contains several excellent pieces, including a very timely (and scary) work of fiction on RFIDs. In case you’re reading this, and looking for news on libertarian fiction, all I can do is plead baby-duty and hope I’ll be able to post more data sometime in mid-July.
Another fan-based show set in the Firefly universe.
Excuse me a few minutes while I stitch back my gut after seeing this Firefly parody. Mosquito is quite amusing, with a near-lookalike of Kaylee, and neat twists on the other characters from Joss Whedon’s universe.