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                            SILICON SOAPWARE 
       wafting your way along the slipstreams of the Info Highway
                        from Bubbles = Tom Digby
                           = bubbles@well.com 


                                Issue #238
                        New Moon of April 28, 2014

Contents copyright 2014 by Thomas G. Digby, and licensed under a Creative 
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.  See the Creative 
Commons site at http://creativecommons.org/ for details. 

Silicon Soapware is available via email with or without reader feedback.  
Details of how to sign up are at the end.  


So here we are with tax season over (at least in the US) and spring well 
on its way to becoming summer, and we have more fiftieth anniversaries of 
things that helped make our society what it is today.

Fifty years ago, give or take a few weeks, the Rolling Stones released 
their first album.  People marched and demonstrated and counter- 
demonstrated for and against various causes in various places, sometimes 
peacefully, sometimes violently.  Young men started burning draft cards.  
And the computer language BASIC made its first appearance.

I was a bit surprised to find that last item.  It was longer ago than I'd 
thought it was, and while it was happening I hadn't noticed it, probably 
because back then people just didn't have computers of their very own at 

Computers were mysterious things found only in a handful of corporate 
offices or big-name colleges.  Only a few people had access to them.  I 
knew a little about them because the college I'd been to had one, but I 
didn't expect them to become what they are today.

So what new thing is sitting quietly in the shadows today, destined to 
remake our world two or three decades from now?


All through the 1950's the school I attended somehow managed to not do a 
Maypole thing on May Day.  I recall kind of missing it and hoping they 
would do it some year, but they never did.  One year they tried, but got 
rained out.  Other years I don't think they even did that much.

I suspect part of it may have been that May Day had become political, 
what with workers' groups using it to do rallies and demonstrations while 
the Soviets showed off their military might with big parades of troops 
and such.  So we came up with patriotic alternatives, such as "Law Day".  
These may have been more "American" than what people were doing 
elsewhere, but they were also kind of dull in comparison to traditional 
May Day.

But now traditional May Day seems to be making a comeback, unencumbered 
by patriotic stuff and military parades and political rallies.  So now we 
get to do Maypoles again.


Another event that's over for another year is Easter.  I trust that those 
of you who hid Easter eggs got permission from whoever was in charge of 
whatever venue you hid them in.  And I also trust that you were diligent 
about gathering up any unfound eggs if your agreement with the venue 
specified that you should do so.

Unless, of course, having the last remaining eggs gradually become harder 
to ignore over the course of several weeks is part of the game.


In recent months I've been browsing through an old (1946 publication 
date) book of science fiction stories.  In one of the stories a person 
from another planet says that their civilization is forty thousand years 
ahead of Earth's.

That reminded me that it was fairly common in science fiction of years 
past for someone to take a quick look at another civilization and 
immediately estimate that they are X number of years ahead of or behind 
us.  X was usually several hundred years, and was pretty much always a 
single simple number.  You almost never heard of some other culture being 
ahead of us in some areas but behind us in others.  I think assumptions 
about such things are different today.

Another bit of differing assumptions: People on this other world have 
common ancestry with Earth humans, and have decided that they need to 
bring in some Earth human genetic material to revitalize their race.  So 
far, so good, if you take the premise that they're close enough to Earth 
humans genetically for this to work.

So there's this whole big plot about bringing an Earth human to their 
planet to live and mate with their females.  Since physical appearance 
and standards of beauty differ, they use mind-control rays or some such 
to make them want to actually do the coupling.

Wouldn't it have been easier to collect semen samples on Earth and bring 
just the samples (as opposed to the whole living person) back to their 
planet and do artificial insemination?

Of course then there wouldn't have been any story about the Earth human 
escaping and being hunted down by the aliens.

There's a lot more plot stuff I've left out, but I don't have any major 
thoughts on it right now.

(The story is "A Matter of Size" by Harry Bates.  The book is ADVENTURES 
IN TIME AND SPACE from Random House.)


That book also has some stories about time travel, and I'm reminded that 
in many of those stories time travelers tend to do so on the sly.  They 
act as if their presence is not really legal, and the authorities would 
do unpleasant things to them if they were discovered.

That brings up the question of the legal status of time travelers.  If 
you travel into the past or future of whatever country you're a citizen 
of, are you there legally?  Do we know of any countries that have 
anything in their laws regarding time travelers from other eras?

Does it depend on what country you're from?  If you started from a place 
that was never part of the country you're visiting and never will be, 
then the laws about coming in from foreign countries may apply.  But what 
if you're coming from the past or future of the country you're going to?  
Does it make a difference whether you've gone back to before your country 
was founded or forward to after it's taken over by someone else?

Does it affect your citizenship status if you go back to before you were 
born or forward to after your death?  Is it illegal for more than one of 
you to be in the same jurisdiction at the same time?

What happens if some time traveler gets involved in litigation and 
introduces the court's eventual ruling in the case as evidence?  This 
brings up the whole area of time travelers going into the past and doing 
stuff that didn't happen.  It can get messy.

I suspect governments and courts of law will not handle time travel 
paradoxes well.


Today's (May 4, 2014) LuAnn comic strip had a flashback to April 20, 
1986.  Two nitpicks:

First, 1986 was 28 years ago.  That means the main characters have been 
in school for at least 28 years even though they are only just now about 
to graduate from high school.  Although the characters have never been 
aging at the same rate as the readers, acknowledging that fact this 
explicitly is kind of unusual.

Second, April 20, 1986 was a Sunday.  The flashback shows them in class 
with the teacher announcing a field trip.  So did they have school on 
Sundays back then?  Probably not.  It probably just means the episode 
they're flashing back to ran on that date.  But I just sort of had to 


There was a news item about soccer fans throwing a toilet bowl out of a 
stadium, fatally injuring the person it landed on.  One question they 
didn't answer was where the thing came from.

I can sort of see a family of soccer fans having an old toilet left over 
from remodeling or something.  It's sitting in the front yard making the 
place look bad while the wife nags the husband to get rid of it.  But he 
doesn't really know what to do.

Then inspiration strikes: The big game is coming up, and if he can manage 
to sneak the toilet in past the ticket takers and such then there will 
almost certainly be some moment of peak excitement when people will be 
throwing stuff.  That's when he'll give it the heave-ho.  Problem solved.

But that doesn't really seem likely.  Sneaking something like a toilet 
past ticket takers and various assorted paranoid security people is no 
easy task, and there are easier ways of getting rid of it.  So scratch 
that idea.

What is more likely is that they were doing construction or remodeling or 
something in the stadium and the toilet was just sitting there loose in 
an area that wasn't as secure as the relevant staff people thought it 
was.  Someone saw it as an item of opportunity and the rest is history.

So now, assuming it broke when it was thrown, the contractor is one 
toilet short.  So will one restroom stall be forever empty, except 
perhaps for a memorial plaque explaining why there's no fixture there?

Probably not.  They'll probably just order a replacement from the 
factory.  But it is a rather amusing image.


               Incident Along Fantasy Way 1840 hr 7/28/74
                              The Derelicts

The street is subdued, quiet, drowsing in the sun.
Most of the strangeness has faded.
Day is less a time for dreaming.

I come upon a sign:
Pointing to a faint little-used path leading off over a hill.

Some sea air would be nice on such a warm day
But it is not to be.
For being, as all are here, in many places at once,
I am also in the supermarket
So my Sargasso Sea is instead
The Valley of Lost Shopping Carts.

From all of space and time come the carts that 
     thoughtless shoppers 
"Borrow" and neglect to return,
Piled in heaps of rusting confusion, 
     the familiar shapes with familiar store names 
Mixed with antigravity platforms from the far future
And with contrivances totally unrecognizable
Save that there function has somehow made them eligible
To be tossed here.

                                   Thomas G. Digby
                                   written 1840 hr  7/28/74
                                   entered 2210 hr  2/08/92



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                                -- END --

Date: 2014-05-06 06:10 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Interesting as always.

•Save that there function
-> their
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