Saturday, March 06, 2004

What To Write Next

Apropos of nothing (OK, since I haven't talked about writing on this blog for a while), it's occurred to me that an SF or fantasy book that basically lifts as its plot elements of the life of William the Conqueror would be pretty neat.

I mean, get a load of this guy's CV:

Da died while on pilgrimage;
Uncle Walter slept in his room to guard him from kidnappers;
Escaped a kidnapping attempt of Guy of Burgundy, got Henry on his side, and defeated the bloke in 1047;
Spent next 13 years reconquering everything, I do mean *everything* to become William of Normandy;
Married the daughter of the Count of Flanders;
Partly defanged his most immediate competitor (Earl Godwin of Wessex) by marrying his daughter to Godwin's son;
Then offed Harold Godwinson (Oy! In battle) and conquered England;
Undertook to learn English around this time but didn't do too well;
Spent over half his reign in Normandy, 'cause the counts of Anjou were scrappy;
Built a truckload of castles;
Put down a over there...
Paid off the Scandinavian invaders when the Danish King Swein Estrithson invaded;
Lost in Brittany during a siege of the castle of Dol;
Fought his son Robert and, um, lost, but was rescued;
Undertook a land survey that resulted in the Domesday Book (The Book of Doomsday) [which I just finally bought];
Mortally wounded, split his holdings (England, Normandy, and a honkin' sum of money to William Jr, Robert, and Henry);
Died, decayed, and THEN had his Mass (so they rushed it);
And his death had some cowering in fear, expecting vast natural catastrophes to follow. Nothing else could mark "the passing of so fearsome a king"*.

*"Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs", by Carolly Erickson

I mean, <expletive deleted> you could do a novel on just the first three items. So, I might.

I do want to tackle another book-length project when I'm done with Mitch Chevrolet, Supernatural PI, and it's either this William the Conqueror idea, a star trek-with-extra-psychics idea, or a Dr. Who novel, up next.

Whichever shall it be. Dr. Who? Got an outline. Know some fans. Plenty of canon. And canon. And canon. Dear god, more. William the SOB, or my psychic Swedes in Space tale.

Need to work on plots. Not my strong suit.

(Maybe I need a collaborator. Hence this idea of stealing from history.)

Hum dee hum dee hum.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Secure? What Secure?

Election Worker Fired
"I was asked by Wil Wesley, as my immediate supervisor, to implement a procedure in Johnson County that I personally felt was attacking the integrity of the future election and the security of the future elections in Johnson County. Not to mention that I felt those procedures were illegal..."

I love that the PR rep at ES&S (Election Systems and Software) said this:
"We carry out our mission with the highest degree of integrity and professionalism. For anyone to assert otherwise is unfortunate."

Sure it's unfortunate. But, is it untrue?

Will Your Vote Count? Part One | Part Two

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Avi and Me, Election Officials

Avi Rubin (John Hopkins Computer Security Institute) served as an election judge in yesterday's primary in his area (Baltimore, Maryland), using the Diebold Accuvote TS.

He has several remarks, has relaxed about some of his security concerns, and is even more worried about some others. Read on

I served -- similar job, different title -- as an assistant system inspector in my own precinct yesterday (San Diego County, California), using the Diebold TsX, a slightly different system. I'll be posting a detailed description of the experience within the next couple days, including a couple photos.

My biggest concern recently has been about Registrar control over the version of the software used in these units, and election transparancy, and it has not been assuaged.

Gosh, no! We're non-partisan! Really!

(reprinted in whole, by permission)


President Bush last week added fuel to the argument that he is willing to devalue science in favor of politics by dumping two highly respected members of a presidential bioethics advisory council and replacing them with political appointees whose opinions are clearly aligned with those of his Administration.

The President dismissed renowned biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, of the University of California at San Francisco, and ethics scholar William May, of Southern Methodist University, from his Council on Bioethics. Both had expressed support for human embryonic research, a stance that brought them into conflict with the Administration's positions.

They are being replaced by Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, who supports a greater role for religion in public life; Diana Schaub, chairman of the department of political science at Loyola
College in Maryland, who has called embryonic research "the evil of the willful destruction of innocent human life;" and Peter Lawler, a professor of government at Berry College in Georgia, an outspoken abortion critic.[1]

Blackburn told the Washington Post that she believes she was let go because of her political views. "I think this is Bush stacking the council with the compliant," she said, in a Washington Post story that ran Saturday.

"She was one of the basic scientists who understood the biology of many of the issues we're talking about," Dartmouth neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga, another committee member, told the Post.[2]

The bioethics panel is one of several that have been stripped of respected scientists who were replaced by appointees whose views match those of the Administration, as documented in a report released two weeks ago by the Washington, D.C.-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The UCS report, Scientific Integrity in Policymaking, and an accompanying statement signed by more than 60 of the country's preeminent scientists (including 20 Nobel laureates), criticized President Bush for a series of actions that "suppressed and distorted scientific analysis from federal agencies," and "undermined the quality of scientific advisory panels."

In the two weeks since the report's release, at least 1, 000 more scientists have contacted the UCS website to add their names to the statement.

The issue is also being monitored by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, ranking member of the House Committee on Government Reform, whose website lists numerous scientific advisory panels being investigated for "manipulation" by the Bush Administration. They include committees advising federal agencies on environmental health; HIV/AIDS; global warming; lead poisoning; and substance abuse.[4]

"In case after case, scientific input to policymaking is being censored and distorted," said Dr. Neal Lane, senior fellow at
the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and head of the National Science Foundation under
President Clinton. "This will have serious consequences for public health."[5]


Let Bush know that you want to protect the integrity of science at


[1] Washington Post, "Bush Ejects Two From Bioethics Council," February 28, 2004.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Union of Concerned Scientists press release, "Preeminent Scientists Protest Bush Administration's Misuse of Science,"
Feb. 18, 2004.
[4] Politics & Science,
[5] Union of Concerned Scientists press release.



1320 18th Street NW 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 463-6670
Web site comments:

Copyright (c) 2003 Environmental Media Services

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for
BushGreenwatch at:

Monday, March 01, 2004

Holy Leaks, Batman!

Well, I've just ordered replacements for the copies of my Writer's Markets that were ruined during the Great Drip Catastrophe of 2004. (Trust me, it was underwhelming in the end.) My Borland manuals are probably ruined, too, but I haven't touched that app in seven or eight years, I'm probably OK without them.

Pure luck I didn't lose half my dictionaries. Pure luck, and a cat catching my attention right on my way out of the house to go to work. (Looks at cat. Cat looks funny. Walks over to cat. Is struck by water. Yells expletive deleted and removes laptop from danger area. Cat stalks away scornfully.)