atlanta jazz transit cities design

28 January 2005

A Better Toolkit

In an old (Dec 2002) Locus interview a writer, Orson Scott Card, who isn't a huge favorite of mine discusses the versatility of SF

Science fiction gives writers a tool set unmatched by any other genre. We can take our tools and step into any genre and do really well, but they can't take their tools and step into ours and do anything but flounder around. Our tools include most (but not all) of theirs. We have the ability to lead readers into a world that is not their own, step by step, without pain. We don't all do it -- there's plenty of bad science fiction where you have no idea where you are and what's going on. But from Robert A. Heinlein on, we've had the tools to do it without expository lumps, with the little details bled in. We train our readers to be able to absorb the changes, the differences between the world of the story and the world they live in, bit by bit and build up the picture slowly, frame by frame. Figuratively, we've learned how to start in a small room and only open the doors as we need to open them. The world expands as we move through it and as we need to reveal it -- which is way better than the horrible prologue that tries to give you the whole big world picture before dropping you into the story. We've learned techniques that actually work.

12 January 2005

Atlanta Parking 1953

Downtown had 18,507 spaces of which 16,460 were off-street and 2,047 were curb

of the offstreet spots, 11,609 were signle-level and 4,851 in structures of two or more levels

estimated demand exceeding supply: 600

(I'll have to hunt down current numbers for comparison -- anybody got a clue where that could come from?)

Bleacher Gambling

Found this in some notes from a meeting with a bunch of old Atlanta Crackers players on 26 Aug 2003 at the Margaret Mitchell House

Buck Riddle who used to play first base was talking about all the gamblers in Poncey Park out in the left field bleachers. Here are some of the odds that would be offered on a per-pitch basis

Fly ball (caught) 2 to 1
Foul tipped 3 to 1

Anybody know more standard odds from those days? 1930s to the 50s

One more funny story. This from lefty pitcher Dick Kelly (~1954). They were playing an exhibition game against inmates in the Atlanta Pen. He heard this from the crowd
Take your time, you've got 20 years to get this guy out

10 January 2005

38 Months

From Liberty Feb 2005 (William E. Merritt)

[After Rumsfeld's answer to Thomas Wilson], a government flack named Pentagon Spokesman Lawrence Di Rita ... went on to mention America's huge industrial capacity and how we'd won WWII [which didn't answer] the question, why don't we have the army we might wish we had at some later time?

This is some time later. Counting from Sept. 11, 2001, to Dec. 7, 2004 -- the day Spc. Wilson asked the obvious -- we were 38 months and 27 days into the War on Terror. When we were 38 months and 27 days into WWII, it was March 3, 1945, and we had the army we wanted by then. In fact, we had it in Germany.

By March 3, 1945, the army we wanted had already won every major battle on the Western Front. By March 3, 1945, the army we wanted had kicked the Axis out of North Africa and Sicily, invaded Italy, conquered Rome, stormed ashore at Normandy, broken out, liberated Paris, pushed back the Bulge and crossed the Rhine. By March 3, 1945, the Secretary of War wasn't trying to figure out how to up-armor jeeps so American soldiers could survive routine supply convoys through already-liberated territory. On March 3, 1945, the American army was about to enter Cologne.

... having brought the Second World War to our attention [you have] brought some other facts to mind, too. Like how German soldiers nearly froze to death outside Moscow in December 1941 -- not because German industry couldn't produce winter clothing but because, with the Soviet armies collapsing during the summer, the Nazi government cancelled its war-production contracts. Then, when the snow hit the fan, the only way the Nazis could keep their young men from dying was to collect up all the ladies' fur coats they could lay their hands on and ship them east.

Now I don't want to make any unpleasant comparisons here, but the Nazis got into this mess because their civilian leaders were too savvy to upset the economy by spending more on the war than was absolutely necessary. So I leave it to you, Secretary Rumsfeld and Moughpiece Di Rita, to explain to me how what happened in Russia in 1941 is different from what's going on right now, with American families having to mail fashionable body armor to Iraq to keep their boys from being blown away.

And how, given the same 38 months and 27 days in which our parents built 90,000 tanks, tens of thousands of landing craft, 300,000 military aircraft, 600,000 jeeps and 7,000 ships, we are straining to turn out 15 sets of Humvee armour a day. And why, exactly, that isn't your fault

04 January 2005

Disturbing Stasis

Not sure if I like this but it does sound pretty accurate. From an interview with Neal Stephenson in the Feb 2005 Reason

terrorism is a much more formidable opponent of political liberty than government. Government acts almost as a recruiting station for libertarians. Anyone who pays taxes or has to fill out government paperwork develops libertarian impulses almost as a knee-jerk reaction. But terrorism acts as a recruiting station for statists. So it looks to me as though we are headed for a triangular system in which libertarians and statists and terrorists interact with each other in a way that I'm afraid might turn out to be quite stable.

This is a long way from the naivite at the end of Cryptonomicon, where basically a safe-haven for untrackable cash was the final product. Eegads