Friday, October 23, 2009

Sumthin' fer Nuthin'

Send a self addressed stamped envelope to:

System76, Inc. (Free Stickers)
1582 S. Parker Rd. Ste. 310
Denver, Colorado 80231

You get back four stickers. Mine showed up right after I'd forgotten I sent in the S.A.S.E. I put one on my Dell laptop in the place of that Microsoft Vista sticker I peeled off and threw away months ago. The stickers are hard and shiny, like the originals.

That leaves three stickers on a waxed paper strip. I'm using mine as a bookmark in a re-read of Isaac Asimov's preposterously outdated Pebble in the Sky (1950), which almost incidentally predates the U.S. civil rights movement by a dozen years. But Asimov almost certainly took his model for unreasoning riot and hatred from Russian pogroms, if not the Nazi Holocaust itself. American biracial history is full of miscegenation, and even happy marriages, but Pola Shekt, the "Earthie-girl" lab tech, never gets phone calls from goyim ... err ... Outsiders.

Pebble also mentions advanced worlds which have replaced human with robot labor, predating The Good Doctor's own book, Caves of Steel (1954), and gives Mule-like mental powers to Schwarz (of Spaceballs fame — "May the Schwarz be with you!"); although The Mule from his Foundation Trilogy (1951-1953) really backdates to a 1948 story in Astounding Science Fiction.

I also play a little mind game, like Grew's and Schwarz's chess games in the dark, called "Too Much Science." The rules are simple. Take a black magic marker and blot out all references to science, real or imagined, in an Asimov story like Pebble in the Sky. Is it possible to blot out an entire page? Does the story line suffer one iota? Can you make the book resemble a redacted Freedom of Information Act release from the CIA? That's fun. As a kid, though, I was rather taken by Asimov's description of that glow-in-the-dark chess set. I still want one. Can you imagine Dr. Asimov's 3-Mile Island Chess from Parker Brothers?

There's another magic marker game you can play called "That's Good, Doctor!" Using two markers with contrasting colors — I'd recommend fluorescent pink and fluorescent yellowgreen — highlight all conversations involving two people, pink for A, yellowgreen for B. Whenever you realize you've just highlighted an entire page in yellowgreen, but pink is obviously speaking, ding yourself a point and snarl, "Good one, Doctor Asimov!" This game is played like golf, low score wins.
I have a Dell Inspiron 1525, which was not a native Linux laptop at inception. It started life as Vista, but problems arose (to put it nicely), so now it's been through Ubuntu 8.04, 8.10 and 9.04, plus a couple of restore-from-backups. My next laptop (probably my daughter's) will be a Pangolin Performance from System76.

Well, yes, actually. There's an updated glowing version of shogi — albeit electronic and not radioactive — in Cowboy Bebop.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home