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Since I Never Get the Last Word


Monday, November 13, 2006
Trantor Re-visited

More reasons why the Good Doctor ignored some of the details of the capitol world of his universe:

A 1,000 lb horse will eat 1 to 1.25% of its body weight per day. Let’s take the minimum number and call it 10 lbs. That 1,000 lb horse will drink about 12 gallons of water per day; that’s another 100lbs intake per day. Now that same horse will eliminate 10 tons of manure per year, about 20% of which will be urine. That’s 54lbs of output/day. And that’s just a horse.

Suppose people survive according to the same ratios. If we posit an average weight of 175 lbs – http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/04news/americans.htm - then, the human eats almost 2 lbs of stuff per day, drinks a gallon of something (for11 lb total intake)and eliminates 9.45 lbs of waste.

Since the U.S. STS costs about $120US/pound to lift payloads into space, then lifting the waste from the planet’s 6 billion people would cost (6B * 9.45 * 120) = $6.804 trillion per day.

The little town I run into to buy a loaf of bread has a population of @50,000. My little town is producing @ 1/2M tons of human waste per day. Lifting that waste into space would cost (50K * 9.45 * 120) = $56.7M US/day. That’s an annual budget of $20.7B US.

Trantor had a population of 45 billion.

And, then, what do you suppose they did with it once they got it into space?

Editorial note: For a reason no one can explain, I had it in my mind that water weighs 64lb/gal. That is obviously wrong. The math is now corrected.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-11-13 08:05:55


Friday, November 10, 2006
Alexander Graham Bell As a Misanthrope

Disregarding any current arguments over who actually invented the telephone, sticking to AGB’s claim,I propose the title of this post as a truism. Coinsider the following facts:

(1) The telephone connects two people who otherwise might not ever encounter each other in their lifetimes. e.g., telemarketers.

(2) The telephone allows relatives to inquire about things that they would not take the time to walk across the street to ask.

(3) Technology managed to save us from the original version but then technology felt compelled to develop a new version of the party line: the cell phone.

(4) Civilization has adapted to the telephone by making it the most important object in a person’s life. No matter what they are doing, evedrything stops when the phone rings; nothing surpasses the importance of answering the phone.My favorite example is the trailer for the new TV show, 3 lbs, wherein we are in the operating room during brain surgery and someone calls one of the surgeons on his cell. Why he took the damned thing into the surgery or why the nurse answeres it are not even a decent questions; persons who own cell phones cannot not have them on their person at all times. Of course the trailer and the show are fiction, the sentiment is not.

That’s what happens when people rush to invention concerned only with the biopic to be filmed. Worrying about who will play them in the movie inures them to worrying about the impact of what they are inventing.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-11-10 09:51:04


Tuesday, November 7, 2006
Election Day

Cynicism seems quite fashionable these days, especially when it comes to politics in the U.S.A. But cyncism is too damned easy. After all, Bieger’s Other Law is: “Any damned fool can criticize; it takes some intelligence to see how to make it better.”

Ergo, therefore, and swoyi, today I want to reflect on some positive things about our elections:

(1) We’re still having them which seems to me a whole lot better than any alternative I can think of.

(2) People are still voting. They may be like a phone call I received the other day, a relative to tell me that they were going to vote the bastards out of office, all of “em. Even with this one, the urge to vote is stronger than the contempt for the politicians.

(3) They provide a remarkable showcase for the contempt with which politicians seem to hold the general public. Sooner or later, the hands that feed them are going to slap them silly. They’re already beginning to turn some previously 100%-committed-to-their-cause voters and, every political ad, every time they open their mouths, they allow people to see what fools these politicians believe we are.,

(4) They expose the political bias of the news media giving the lie to all their pet slogans.

(5) They give us something to discuss in the bar when the World Fantasy Convention fails to do so.

In summary, I’m in favor of elections; they do a lot more good than we give them credit for.

Okay, so there is a little cynicism in points 3-5. Nobody’s perfect.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-11-07 09:24:32


Monday, October 30, 2006
Imaginary Baseball

This one came out of this year's World Serious Baseball Champioship in the U.S.:

Well, folks, here we are in the bottom of the fifth inning, no score, and not much happening. Even the mascot is up in the stands chasing the young ladies. He's had about much success scoring as the Hannigan Meadow Wolves which he is supposed to resemble.

This is Joe Doe bringing you the play-by-play. Pepe Le Pew takes the mound for Wolves looking a little beleagured. The other day we had Wild Willy Wonka of the Pinetop Conesthrowing 103 mile per hour fast balls but Pepe hasn’t thrown anything faster than 94 mph. By the way, we’re all hoping Casey Atbat comes out of the coma real soon. Wonka hit him in the first inning shattering Casey’s batting helmet and, evidently, part of Casey’s skull as well.

Pepe’s gotten through thr first four inings throwing 36 pitches, all strikes. He hasn’t allowed a runner on base but I think it’s safe to say that his manager, who told me before the game that he doesn’t like to see Pepe get up around 100 pitches in a game, is beginning to worry as well. At this rate, Pepe will be up around 81 pitches when the game is over and that’s pretty close to 100.

If this were the big leagues, all those strikes and strike outs would have a row of K’s stretched behind the dugout but this isn’t the big leagues and no one down here knows that you spell strikeout with a K.

Pepe isn’t getting much support from his teammates. They’ve loaded the bases in every inning but have yet to score a run. I think their power hitter, Manny Machismo, has set some kind of record by hitting into consecurive triple plays. They’ve had eighteen hits, all singles, and have yet to score a run. Their opponents have recorded three double plays to go with the two triple plays so no runner has crossed home plate.

We’re hoping the game gets interesting pretty soon.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-10-30 07:00:06


Sunday, October 29, 2006
World Fantasy Convention - Anticipation

Going to the World Fantasy Convention. Why? Mostly because I can and it will be a chance to mingle with folk who share the same avocation as myself, a treat not to dismissed summaraily.

There will be authors there that I have spent a good part of my life with reading their work. Of the authors who I can claim to have read everything they’ve written, there will be Joe Haldeman, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Dave Duncan. Part of me dreads learning that I do not like the person though I will continue torespect these authors as much as any I’ve read because of the sheer pleasure they’ve given me with their books.

The same applies but not us universally to Robin Hobb and Patricia McKillip – I can’t claim to have read all their work. It will be nice just to shake their hand and say “thank you!”.

Sue tells me I need to make acquaintance with Hal Duncan, as well, so that is on my agenda. And, I expect to hoist a few in the bar with the likes of Messers Malone and Wassner, if they find me.

Wish I was arriving in time for “The Small Press in the Big Woods” but won’t. Must attend the “Effects of the Web and Online Publishing on Fantasy” and “Aging Wonder: Writing and Reading Fantasy Throughtout the Lifetime.”

Anticipation builds.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-10-29 09:49:15


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