August 9th, 2008

I get silly....

In response to this about color schemes, I wrote
The idea of subduing a color gives me the giggles. There I am with my whip of de-garishing, flicking green, brown, and gray at a rising blob of bright red. "Down! Down, I say!"

Link thanks to rinku.

ursulav wrote a story starting thusly:
Once upon a time there was a swamp on the edge of the vast and trackless grassland known as the Rootveldt.

The swamp was not vast, nor was it trackless. It was actually a fairly small chunk of swamp where the coastal salt marsh oozed into more conventional wetland, so insignificant that it didn't show up on most maps. (The one map it did show up on listed it as the Ugbert T. Wamphit Memorial Swamp. There were a surprising number of topographical features with the Wamphit name on them, largely because the Wamphit family was a major subsidizer of the Guild of Cartographers.)

The inhabitants of the Ugbert T. Wamphit Memorial Swamp called it "the swamp," or occasionally "our swamp," to differentiate it from any other swamps that might be lurking about the area. (There were several, but it was generally agreed that those swamps were not as nice as our swamp.) They were amphibious in a desultory sort of way, had rudimentary gills, and possessed seventy-three distinct words for mud, although some were archaic and eleven of them were not suitable for mixed company.


The story (which you should definitely read if you have any liking at all for that sort of humor) ended with "something must be done", and I said.....
Something has to be done, but it should be really odd. Legal pressure isn't it unless the legal system (especially the punishments) are at least of Vancian weirdness. Is there something about having a last name starting with V?

Unfortunately, farmed fungus produces an oil that doesn't taste as good, especially if you grow it faster.

Fond as I am of a robot Great Plover, and I'm fonder than that of giant mutant crocodiles, both of them are straight-line plot developments and are therefore disallowed.

I recommend cross-breeding this story with Greg Egan. Sapient squee-trees have been maintaining local geometry. One reason they're bad at IQ tests is that they don't do geometry by looking at pictures. They grab right into the metrics.

Take out enough squee-trees, and shapes and distances start going sproingy.

You'd be amazed how hard it is to get spare parts for your advanced machines when distances are even a little different. (Stolen from Clarke's "Superiority", but Ursula's story has echoes of Foster's Mid-World and I think something by Vance. Brains of low-status beings turning out to be especially tasty or otherwise useful isn't the most common trope, but it turns up now and then. We need more stories about high-status brains being tasty and or useful. Offhand, the only story I can think of is Lafferty's "Frog on the Mountain".) Push the trees harder, and things start getting excessively fractal.

The only thing we need to explain is why the squee-trees didn't act faster. For one thing, they're trees, they aren't fast. To some extent, they maintain local geometry by reflex, so they couldn't do much until there were fewer of them.

The arcane force which made it necessary to have squee-trees to stabilize geometry in that one swamp is left as an exercise for the reader. So is the advanced tech made possible if you get enough squee-trees in close proximity and your scientists and techs don't get too happy from living in squee-trees.

All the sf I've cited above is good stuff. "Superiority" is such a classic description of the perversity of things that it's taught to the US military. Mid-World is as fine a jungle as I've seen in sf (seven layers, a great mix of predators, and scary stuff at ground level). Mid-Flinx, the sequel, was written after Foster actually visited a rain forest. While I don't remember striking new invention in it, it has a feeling of the immersiveness of the sounds and smells. Lafferty wrote tall tale science fiction. If you like Helprin....Lafferty is much better. I recommend his Nine Hundred Grandmothers (short stories) and Past Master (Thomas Moore is hauled out of the past to solve the problems of a planet based on his utopia and finds he likes the problems better).

Submissive behavior and the police

I went to a presentation of Busted at the local anarchist book store. The video covers some basics like not consenting to searches and not giving away information if you're a suspect. The presenter was a lawyer who answered questions and added local information. Unfortunately, I hit overload at some point, so I can't remember in what way New Jersey law and practice tend to be more intrusive that Philadelphia's, though at least PA isn't likely to countersue if you try to sue the police.

Anyway, I've seen advice in more than one place to use submissive body language when dealing with the police. The video implicitly recommended solid (a little on the assertive side of neutral, I'd say) body language. I asked the lawyer about it, and he said he didn't think submissive body language helped, and overdoing it could make the police suspicious.

Anyone know if there's evidence one way or the other?