February 8th, 2009


Schott's Miscellany 6 February 2009

Waitangi Day (New Zealand)


Like many organizations, the US Postal Service has its own vocabulary of formal and slang terms. For example, envelopes that enter the automatic canceller back to front are called smiles if the flap makes a V and frowns if the flap is inverted. Others include:

Balloon: an unusually large sack or pouch of mail.
Bulkie; Heavy: a regular envelope containing an irregular object (e.g., a pen).
Chunk: a small parcel.
Dump up: to empty sacks for sorting.
Elbow and eyeball: to check empty mail sacks for trapped items.
Flagpole: overseas military post office.
Hit: to postmark mail by hand.
Hot mail: preferential mail.
Log; Truck: a heavy parcel.
Skin sack: a sack or pouch containing few items.
Skip: an item of mail that accidentally escapes machine cancellation.

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can.
Jane Austen (1775-1817)
  • Current Music
    "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" by Bob Dylan

Schott's Miscellany 7 February 2009

The first of the Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered, near Jericho (1947)


Life involves suffering and is inevitably sorrowful.
Suffering has its rootes in desire and craving, which arise from ignorance.
The end of suffering comes with the cessation of desire.
Nirvana can be reached by the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Noble Eightfold Path further outlines a method of disciplined behavior:

Right view: understanding of the Four Noble Truths.
Right aspiration: having caring thoughts and intent for all living things.
Right speech: speaking kindly, truthfully, without bad language.
Right bodily action: following the Five (or Ten) Moral Precepts.
Right livelihood: undertaking work that will harm nothing living.
Right endeavor: practicing meditation and working to stop bad thoughts.
Right mindfulness: giving full attention and best effort to one's actions.
Right concentration: which leads to enlightenment.

You can't say civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.
Will Rogers (1879-1935)
  • Current Music
    "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Warren Zevon

how now brown belt (advanced version)

After an incredibly grueling promotion, I am now an advanced brown belt. This is my first kyu, which means it's the last step before black belt. When he gave me the patch for my belt, Shihan told me he was proud of me, which meant so much.

More later. For now I'm pooped...........
  • Current Mood
    satisfied satisfied
chronic rift

The Chronic Rift Episode 9: MST3K 20th is online!

The ninth episode of The Chronic Rift podcast is up and running, featuring a Roundtable discussion of hosts Andrea K. Lipinski and me talking with Cinefantastique's Dan Persons and "TV's Frank" Frank Conniff about Mystery Science Theatre 3000, the cult show featuring a person and two robots commenting on bad movies as they air that debuted 20 years ago.

Frank gives us some great insight into the inner workings of MST3K, and the rest of us just have fun remembering this great show. In addition, Jay Smith gives us another "Guilty Pleasure," this one about zombies.

Check it out on iTunes, the Rift web site, or from podOmatic's Rift page.
  • Current Music
    "A Little Soulful Tune" by Taj Mahal
singular destiny

another Singular Destiny review

steve_roby has reviewed Star Trek: A Singular Destiny on his Complete Starfleet Library blog.

Money quote (a big one, but I wanted to include all of it):
So, back to Sonek Pran. I think in a couple of respects he wasn't quite 100% successful as a character. He seems a bit too perfect, and some things come a bit too easy to him. The business with him being a great communicator who can't talk to his own son also seemed a bit cliched. On the other hand, he's a new-to-us character in a novel with a hell of a lot to do; there's no time to really build him up. From an in-story perspective, there's no time for him to learn his skills because the Federation needs him to do his thing, do it right, and do it right now. From an out-of-story perspective, he's not going to be a lead character in a series of books, so we don't have the luxury of a few stories to see him become the perfect communicator he is. (Not that I'd mind if he reappears occasionally in future books.)

After all, the importance of communication is what this book is about. Part of the mysterious plan going on in the book proves to revolve around false information, others on diplomacy, others on withheld information. Sonek Pran is needed to get people talking again after the disruptive catastrophe of the Borg invasion. Sonek talking to his son near the end of the book reinforces the message. In a more sinister development, we learn that the catastrophe has led to other people communicating, too -- and forming a new alliance, one that's set to play a key role in many future novels.

Writing a book like this is a bit of a thankless task, I suspect. It isn't all about action. It's about what happens afterwards: trying to make sense of the new world you find yourself in, and only starting to realize that the end of one problem is just the beginning of a new set of a problems. KRAD takes on the challenge of telling that story -- and of using some new characters to do it -- and meets it, crafting a story that kept me reading, eager to learn what would happen next; a story that puts pieces in motion for what comes next, and raises whole sets of new questions for readers paying attention (hope you didn't just skim through that casualty report). It's a big satisfying read that takes care of your first set of "what happens next?" questions and gives you some new ones.
  • Current Music
    "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles (really!!!!)