Well, Iron Lute is getting firmly placed on the back burner, 'cause I've been laid off my job and I need to concentrate on things that will make money. I do intend to get back to it but I have no idea when that will be.
Today's post is about one of the little libraries I'm developing as
part of Iron Lute. In the previous posts, I've laid out what I believe
were successes; today I highlight what is so far a failure for a
change of pace.
Please note that today's post is really more of an XML post then an
outliner post; if you're interested in programming with XML, stay
tuned. If you're only interested in outlining, you should probably
move on. I've tried in the previous posts to be accessible to
interested laymen, but this one may also be only useful to
programmers. Consider yourselves fairly warned.
There is a Fritz Leiber
story entitled "A Pail of Air", a story that despite its hopeful
ending always strikes me as spectacularly bleak. In it, Earth has been
ripped out of the solar system by a wandering black hole, and story is set in the aftermath, where the average temperature of the Earth is the
Universe's average temperature of 3K. The atmosphere of Earth has
The story centers on one family scratching out a precarious
existence in the face of global, complete, utter catastrophe by
keeping a fire going. (As it turns out, the atmosphere freezes by gas,
so the ground actually has highly refined sources of oxygen, nitrogen,
carbon dioxide, etc. in it, so getting oxygen is as easy
as going outside and scooping it up... if you can deal with the
temperature of the gas, that is.) Two children in the story have been
raised in this world.
"Out In The Country" by Three Dog Night, despite not being about
this directly, always reminds me of this story. You know how
you can listen to a song and you only really hear the chorus, since they
repeat it, and often sing it more clearly then the verses? You can download the chorus
Despite being about escaping to the country from an oppressive city,
it always seems to me to have perfectly captured a part of Fritz's
story that he only touches on, those last manic days where everybody
must have known the end was coming, and at least some of them would
have tried to experience as much of the Nature that would soon be gone
as they could. If they were going to write music, this seems like what
it would be, the tone, the words, right down to the phrase "before the sun is just a bright
spot in the night sky" where of course Three Dog Night means that it is buried behind pollution, but in my scenario it is the literal truth. (In fact, I admit when I just heard some
snippets on the radio and didn't hear the whole thing, I wondered if
the Leiber story had directly prompted the creation of the song!
Having heard the whole thing I know better know, but you have to admit
the part I gave you alone certainly makes that theory believable.)
It helps, of course, to hear the whole song and read the whole story, but copyright laws are copyright laws, sorry.
I know it's a strange connection, but those are the most fun. I
recommend the Fritz Leiber story if you can find it. Of course, it
won't be out of copyright until the Sun consumes the Earth, a more likely end to Earth, so I can't
post it here, but it's worth it if you can find it.
(Note to any IP lawyers: This clearly qualifies as fair use, a
small, quality-reduced snippet of a larger work posted to provide an
editorial comment on the work that can't really be duplicated without
the snippet. Please hold the threatening legal letters.)
As much as I love science fiction, I will always begrudge it for the OMIGOD RADIATION!!1! attitudes it has promoted, which seemingly have lodged firmly in the public conciousness.
(Oh, sorry, you don't like that typography? Be glad I didn't use <blink>... I seriously considered it. I also almost made it <font size="+4">... ;-) )
People need to realize how much radiation they are exposed to every day as a perfectly normal part of life. Bananas, cat litter, porcelin, this is only the tip of the radiation iceberg. Cosmic rays along account for a lot of the background radiation we receive.
Then we could have a better debate about nuclear energy. Hey, maybe it isn't the answer (though I think it is seriously underrated as compared to the environmental costs of other power generation techniques; the concentration of nuclear waste is a feature, not a bug!), but we're better off deciding that from a rational and considered debate, not through irrational fears of radiation.
Changing my weblog's name to iRi has had one unanticipated downside: There are a lot of other IRIs out there, including but not limited to:
- Information Resources, Inc.
- International Republican Institute
- International Research Institute for Climate Prediction
- Industrial Research Institute
- Initiative & Referendum Institute in Europe
- Some punk's weblog, what the heck is this doing here... oh...
- Some sort of climate data library
- Some Japanese site
- A ship registry
- Several Italian sites
- the International Reference Ionosphere: a mathematical model of the ionosphere
And the list goes on. I feel like a kid amoung adults.
Actually, it's just a downside for people searching on "iri" and getting my weblog. I don't feel too bad though; I'm just one more among many. Clearly, "iri" is not specific enough a search term to be valuable, though I never would have guessed in advance.
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