Sunday, February 06, 2005

Had a sore throat for a couple days. It has been a stressful couple of weeks. Applying the usual remedies.

In my case, the usual remedies include tea, hot wraps on the throat, and gargling with antiseptic. My antiseptic of choice at the moment is Don Crispin fake tequila, mixed half with water. We picked it up a couple years back in a Puerto Vallarta tourist trap. The bottled liquor is harsh, smoky, and although an agave distillate, created in the wrong area of Mexico to be tequila. Seems like the samples they gave us when selling it tasted better. In any case, it's undrinkable, and doesn't make a good Margarita, either. Mixed half with water, though, it still tastes better than Listerine, and seems equally effective on bleeding gums. Why would you want to use a mouthwash you're carefully warned against swallowing?

Doug and I are going to our local book club this afternoon. This month, we're discussing one of the books we presented for the group's consideration. I'm interested to see how they will like it. I didn't care for last month's selection. Rereading Expendable, by James Alan Gardner this month, I liked it even more than the first time. Festina Ramos has a distinctive voice, she starts cynical and becomes more effective, and I'm completely jealous of the idea he had about how a multi-species galactic civilization might work. One simple rule -- murder a sentient being, and if you travel into interstellar space, you will yourself die. Enforced by Arthur C. Clarke axiom means -- that is, it's probably technology, but it's so advanced it looks like magic. It's one hundred percent effective. This is as brilliant a story seed as Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. Most of the other set-ups for meeting other intelligent species had become a bit tired. The most common is that we're the best, smartest, and fastest out there, or in some other way critical, so that we have an edge. Another is that they are all hostile, so once we get out there, we'll be in one fight after another. It is tricky -- it doesn't seem likely that all other intelligences will be inferior to us. So, if they are vastly more advanced than us, what is to keep them from wiping us out? James Alan Gardner's solution to that conundrum is simple and brilliant. They're civilized, and some of the really advanced ones enforce that civilization on all the rest. There you go -- we can be the new kids on the block, and still have a chance to play.

He's continued the story into a fair number of sequels now. I may just reread the entire series. I had already reread Vigilant. Its vision of a political system that has a system to purge corruption and forsee the consequences of any governmental action felt comforting to return to recently. It's a fast-paced adventure story with Heinleinian social thought in it, too.

I feel some inclination to get the reviews area of this site back in action. I'll link to it here if that inclination becomes reality.

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