Archive for May, 2004

Fan the Vote

Wednesday, May 12th, 2004

I find Fan the Vote (in which fans sell fannish services in return for campaign contributions to various liberal causes) a fascinating fannish development. I came across it first in Alara’s LJ, where the assumption that all fans are pro-Kerry struck me, as did the going rate for more Judgment Day - $10 for 3,000 words is less than a penny a word and not a professional rate.

At the Fan the Vote LJ community you can get any service (betaing, fic, icons) for any fandom. Issues of legality have been brought up - mainly that it’s illegal for an American political campaign to take money from foreign nationals even through a fannish intermediary, and it’s against the LJ TOS for the fans to solicit money for themselves.

But how about the biggest issue of all - trademark infringement? Sure, none of the fans are profiting from Fan the Vote, but Kerry is. I wouldn’t be so sure, if I were of the Democrat persuasion, that Paramount wanted its properties used to finance the Kerry campaign, or to finance anything at all. Remember when we held the moral high ground because no one was making any money off fandom? Those were the days…

For the sake of fairness in fandom, I had been planning to offer to help fan the vote the other way by ficcing in return for contributions to the Bush campaign, the Libertarian Party, or The Becket Fund, but I doubt that those organizations would want to be involved in this sort of illicit fundraising scheme. So my fic will remain free, at least until the lawyers hear about Fan the Vote and shut us all down, regardless of political persuasion.

Just don’t call them Borg…

Tuesday, May 11th, 2004

Fic of the day: Rubber Sword, a Ninja!Daniel SG story by Milareppa. Just keep in mind that it’s humor. (Note: the NC-17 rating is completely undeserved. I didn’t even notice the PG-13 language on which it’s allegedly based.) Thanks to Jerie for the rec.

I laughed along with everyone else when I heard about the Borg episode of Enterprise. In my Empty Shell drabble The Full Shell, I snarked at the whole pattern of Archer meeting species that Captain Kirk met for the first time a hundred years later. But the lure of the Borg is stronger than the natural aversion to Enterprise, and so I finally got around to watching “Regeneration” tonight.

It wasn’t all that bad, really. After a long lag of no ENT, Scott Bakula’s acting was a fresh and painful shock, but fortunately there were two whole segments of arctic Borgcicles with no Enterprise crew at all before the inevitable whining started. Of course it’s completely unbelievable that these people with their sticks and stones (phase pistols and hull plating) could both defeat the nameless Borg and cure assimilation completely - but this is a matter of degree, not of kind. Janeway also walked a few miles in the Borg’s cybernetic moccasins and defeated them time and time again when she shouldn’t have been able to. At least she did it with style and a-dish-best-served-cold hatred - she never felt guilty about spacing drones.

As an early adopter of the just don’t call them Borg fanfix, I enjoyed seeing it on the little screen. (Like Gene Roddenberry, I get no compensation when TPTB rip off my ideas and make a hash of them. Maybe the Great Bird is being punished for what he did to Harlan Ellison, but what have I ever done?) I also found it ironic that Archer caused the Borg invasion of the Alpha Quadrant, including the massacre at Wolf 359, by his trademark indecisiveness. And you thought his acting was painful!

The thing is, at the end of the episode he knows the Borg will be back in the 24th century. He could have at least left somebody a note about it, just as long as he didn’t call them Borg…

Title Meme Again

Monday, May 10th, 2004

Writing link of the day: The Theory and Practice of Titles by B.W. Clough

I know I’m late to the title meme, which I spotted in Sara’s LJ. Since I’ve done this meme before and chimed in on other title rants, I’ll try to focus on newer titles.

Pick five, or ten, or more, of your fic titles. List them in your journal and explain how you came up with each one. Post this prompt as well, so that the meme spreads.

  1. The Lamne’rau: Everyone’s heard this story before - the title that took longer than the fic. I explained it in “The Lamne’rau” Unplugged as a Romulan verb in the acquiescent mood, meaning “let them collect; let us gather together.” I made up the name of the mood, but there’s a real Romulan root (so to speak), *lamne*, meaning “collect,” taken from the online Rihannsu - English Dictionary V. 3.1. The postfix *rau* (let) is from the online Introduction to Rihannsu Morphology and Syntax.
  2. The Other Side of the Gate: This was my first real SG-1 fic, written in response to a crossover request, and the big issue was how to cross SG over with the other show, while keeping the technobabble consistent with both canons. I decided to send the team through the back of a Stargate rather than the usual flushing side, since that hadn’t been done and anything could happen. Daniel whines about going through the “wrong side” of the gate but I thought “other side” had a more ethereal, titlelike flavor to it.
  3. Goodbye to VOY: This one is a typical filked filk title, for a filk of the Carpenters’ “Goodbye to Love.” It’s notable mainly for the use of a fannish abbreviation (VOY) as a real word. Fortunately, I didn’t need to rhyme anything with it.
  4. Raj of Rage: Although I Will Revive is my most popular Khan filk, this one has my favorite title. It’s a filk of “Turn the Page,” and I owe the title to Seema.
  5. One Brass Horus: This one was another filky titling challenge, for “One Tin Soldier.” Horus guards are those Jaffa soldiers with the silly brass hats.
  6. I do not love you Thursday and And why you come complaining: I adored the episode “2010,” and I wanted something special to put at the top of my Bitter!Jack codas. Nothing says I loved you and you stabbed me in the back but I’m cool with that because bitter becomes me like Edna St. Vincent Millay. Both titles are from her poem “Thursday”.
  7. We Call Them Angels, Theoretically Possible, The Highest Risk, Cordesh Is No Longer, Hail, Dorothy, The Petty Needs of the Goa’uld, and We have no joy on the burn: Drabbling has led to no end of titles, but my favorites are the ones stolen directly from episode dialogue.
  8. A White Dove: Not my best titling work, but since it was just recced at BSO I feel that I ought to explain. This songfic was inspired by “Blowin’ in the Wind” and that was the working title as well. I wanted something a little better, but still taken from the song. Since the story turned out to be about Sam, as was the scene for the verse How many seas must a white dove sail / before she sleeps in the sand?, I decided to name it after her - though I’m still not quite satisfied with it.

Instant IQ

Sunday, May 9th, 2004

Quote of the day: Talent is like a marksman who hits a target that others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target…others cannot even see. — Arthur Schopenhauer

If you don’t trust the results of the on-line IQ test I linked earlier, there’s a quicker way to figure out your IQ: use your standardized test scores. The IQ Comparison Site has tables for conversion between GRE or recent SAT scores and IQ. If you took the SAT after 1974 but before the great grade inflation of April 1995, then you need to use the
old SAT table, and your results will be more accurate.

If you’ve turned out smarter than you expected, check out the list of high IQ societies. There’s a similar list with membership numbers in the Mensa FAQ.

IQ By State

Saturday, May 8th, 2004

IQ link of the day: an IQ Test which Seema assures me is free

Thanks to Steve Sailer for his comments on my recent post, Chad IQ. You can see his evidence that the chart is a hoax and his data on intelligence by state in the sidebar of his main page, [Update: He’s provided a handy permalink for the whole issue here.]

That being said, I don’t believe that it has quite been proven that the IQ-by-state chart is inaccurate (even if it is a hoax). Certainly there’s no reason to believe the data since no citation is given - the attribution that lured me in has since been retracted and was apparently based on a misreading of the original link. Even if it were legitimate it would be insufficient proof of the idea that smart people vote for Democrats and dumb ones for Republicans (because of the Electoral College and other complicating social factors). If I had to guess what the political distribution of intelligence is, I’d agree with something Gene Expression mentioned - Democrats tend to have an inordinate share of both very smart and very not-smart voters (the outliers), and Republicans a bigger share in the middle of the brain range.

So when I wonder whether the chart is accurate, what I’m really wondering is whether it’s plausible that IQ in the US is distributed in the way the chart implies. It’s not enough to cite 8th grade public school tests when trying to approximate adult intelligence by state. Americans move around the country in certain patterns and their children (if they have them at all) regress to the mean. It’s entirely possible that the hoax values are more accurate than anything short of administering IQ tests to a random sample of adults, simply because they were extrapolated from incomes (though doubt has been cast on the accuracy of the incomes as well).

The people with the real answers are the IRS and the Census Bureau, not the NAEP.


Sweet Satisfaction

Friday, May 7th, 2004

After all that, I forgot to mention the upside of discovering new places in Boston - sometimes they’re candy stores. I’ve seen the Arcade at Coolidge Corner before (318 Harvard Street, near the Coolidge Corner Theater), but never ventured far inside its mini-mall walls.

But since I was on a walk of exploration yesterday I gave it a go. All the way in the back I found it, the Holy Grail of sweet teeth everywhere - a candy store with bins. Sure, you can get candy at any of the zillion drug stores in Coolidge Corner, but they don’t have bins. Sweet Satisfaction is owned by a Brookline woman, so you know your candy money is going back into the community instead of down to RI (the headquarters of CVS).

The Places In Between

Thursday, May 6th, 2004

Zoning law of the day: the RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act)

I’ve lived here for years but I can still get lost within half a mile of my apartment. Today I wandered down a different street just to vary the scenery of my walk to the post office and discovered an entire neighborhood I’d never known was there, filled with lovely Victorian houses on quiet tree-lined streets.

Before I found the neighborhood in between I would have said that the main road I started out on and the parallel road I was making for were separated by maybe one other road, or maybe the apartment buildings even backed directly on each other. If I’d kept walking long enough on the first road that would have become true. The trouble with Boston, though, is that none of the roads are straight.

It sounds simple enough on the face of it - some cities are planned on a grid, and others are arranged around cowpaths from colonial times. On a grid, you can always tell where you are, and that there are ten streets of predictable behavior between 70th and 80th. With squiggly cowpaths that change names every 500 yards and counties every mile, there’s no telling what you’ll find, especially if, like me, you keep thinking of the main roads as straight.

So the topology of Boston in my mind is highly non-Euclidean - in fact, it makes relativistic space-time look tame by comparison. My virtual Boston is laid out in virtual spokes of the virtual hub, made up of the branches of the Green Line and the other subway lines, with some bus routes crossing them. Places closer to the T have more fundamental solidity, while places off the T lines exist in a nebulous underworld of faerie Victorians. The trolley tracks mark the rays of maximum coherence, where the cardinal Bostonian directions of Inbound and Outbound can be readily identified. The midpoints between T lines form ghostly spokes of maximum confusion, where wise children should leave breadcrumb trails when wandering out of sight of a known bus route.

Needless to say, none of the spokes, light rail or ghostly, are actually straight, so the amount of real, solid land between them varies enormously. Thus entire neighborhoods can be hidden away, and people can get lost just hundreds of yards away from the T.

For example, at a point in my walk where I did know where I was, a guy in a minivan asked me where the Whole Foods (Bread and Circus to us old timers) was. He said he’d been driving around looking for it for an hour. Whole Foods is on a major road that doesn’t change names and goes in both directions; its street address corresponds to the one name of that road; it has several big green signs in front that say Whole Foods; and, in a city with no parking to speak of, it boasts an alluring parking lot that spans the entire block.

He was literally 300 yards away from Whole Foods, on that very road, when he asked me for directions. That’s what “none of the roads are straight” means.

Chad IQ

Wednesday, May 5th, 2004

Quote of the day: If John Kerry is elected, he will become the first President who can deliver both the State of the Union address and the rebuttal. –Jay Leno

In The Case of the Uncounted Ballots, La Griffe du Lion “evaluates the minimum IQ needed to cast a proper ballot for every voting system used in Florida” and uses it to predict who would have won the election, had the difficulty of punching chads or otherwise casting a ballot been removed.

[Update: according to iSteve, the IQ by state data does not come from the book cited and therefore the whole thing is presumably a hoax - see the comments.] For a national view, check out this chart of average IQ, average income, and 2000 election results by state - thanks to Matthew Yglesias by way of Gene Expression for the link. (Also from Gene Expression comes the intriguing idea that homosexuality is a meme.) Most of that data is also available from American Assembler in a prettier format. The data for IQ by state comes from IQ and the Wealth of Nations [the American Assembler has retracted this claim] so I assume it’s legit, but I’m still amazed that the average IQ by state can vary by almost two standard deviations. [End hoax. The rest is real.]

According to Richard Lynn, the average IQ in the US is 98. Unfortunately, his country list is in alphabetical order. I’d sort them for you, but this blog category is devoted to weird science, not political incorrectness.


Lizzie! The Musical

Tuesday, May 4th, 2004

The Stoneham Theater is presenting Lizze Borden: The Musical throughout the month of May. It’s a shame it’s in Stoneham rather than here or in the original 1892 venue, Fall River.

Zero Sum Game

Monday, May 3rd, 2004

This is my 900th blog entry - if only it counted towards my word count. I’ve been editing, which is a zero-sum game as far as Total Lifetime Word Count goes. The TLWC is hovering around 500,000, not counting non-fiction or filk. I’m halfway to that elusive first mill.