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Between the (clean) sheets

Dan, from Flutterby, has been pointing to Cleansheets repetitively now for months, and for some reason that I couldn't explain to you (especially if you knew me well :-), I just never quite got over there.

I can see now that's been a mistake. If you are about to need to have 'the talk' with your teenager, this is a story you probably ought to read.

I am also extremely aware of exactly what his mother and I were doing to each other with gleeful enthusiasm every chance we got, when we were dating in high school. We met when we were both 15.

If this sort of habit breeds true, there is clearly a time limit here.

My, but I love good writing. As you'd expect, it gets better from there, but I won't spoil it for you.

As usual, if this sort of thing fundamentally offends you, when you're done sputtering, delete me from your bookmarks, because you'll certainly find more to be offended by later. ;-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2000 @ 04:01 p.m. by jra

Canada: The Rules Are Different Here

In a land where people often are turned down for jobs because they're overqualified, how nice to hear this story about someone who was refused an entry visa into Canada, because they were underqualified.

I'd say 'only in America' here, but... :-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2000 @ 12:44 p.m. by jra

Do you have a clue?

I'm sure glad Dan [ Flutterby; link in Daily ] found this, cause I wanted to run it, and I know the NYTimes would make it difficult... and the St Pete Times, where I saw it, doesn't run wire stuff on their website.

Clueless people don't have a clue.

I like it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2000 @ 12:16 p.m. by jra

Oh, my ghod...

this clock is cool.

[ From Lilly Tao's GirlHacker's Random Log. Apologies, Lilly: I almost deprived you of an 'l'. :-) ]

Tuesday, January 18, 2000 @ 05:25 p.m. by jra


I forget which of my regular reads pointed this one out to me: Steve Ballmer's first words as CEO of Microsoft (scroll down a bit for it).

Monday, January 17, 2000 @ 10:14 p.m. by jra

I ate

Well, there's a surprise, eh?

What I ate was a 'Bootlegger' bacon cheeseburger at Country Kitchen, with CK's peppered bacon -- I gather they usually don't use it on that burger, but I like it... and their home-label barbecue sauce, too. Damn fine dinner.

Pretty cute waitress, too; hi, Liz. :-)

Monday, January 17, 2000 @ 09:50 p.m. by jra

I have a dream...

In case you've had the rock pulled up over your head this month, John Rocker is a relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, not that they especially want to claim him this month, I'd guess.

He had a few things to say last week:

Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing.

For this, and much, much more, I salute John Rocker.

Yes, that's right; I said 'salute'.

There is a quote, commonly attributed to Voltaire, which goes:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

The Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig had his own reply to make, which amounted, roughly, to: "we think he's nuts" [and boy, wouldn't that let us off the hook].

I disagree with his response to the situation.

Rocker's not crazy, he's just a jerk.

He's entitled to say anything he likes, anytime he wants. He's an American Citizen, and I didn't capitalize that just for kicks. As I said, this is a salute to the man, and the reason is this:

That quote doesn't mean much to many people... until someone who has a big mouthpiece says something we all really don't approve of.

Then we have a case in point to think about. I've done my thinking -- and my dream? That everyone else will do theirs.

I think it's John Rocker's perfect right to be an asshole in public.

I also think it is the right of the Braves to fire him. He doesn't get paid what he does solely to show up for the games...

And I hope they do.

Monday, January 17, 2000 @ 09:39 p.m. by jra

Your government at work

Nice to know that the Postal Service has a sense of humor, isn't it?

Sunday, January 16, 2000 @ 02:22 p.m. by jra

Black Humor? Good Grief!

Ok, ok; I can't resist either. But I'm not linking to the fawning testimonials, nor the scathing putdowns.

I'm linking to this.

[ note: if you've left your sense of humor in your other pants, or if the word f*** makes you wet your pants, it will not be my responsibility if you follow this link. ]

Sunday, January 16, 2000 @ 01:49 p.m. by jra

Superbowl Bound Bucs?

One point away...

Howard Troxler is one of the columnists for The St Petersburg Times, and I've always loved his stuff. He's a political columnist, usually, and his cover piece on the Sunday Times today actually is a political story, although you have to read all the way to the end to notice it.

It was as if, after more than half a game of uninspired competition, somebody in some master control booth somewhere flipped two switches, one labeled, "Play Football," and the other, "Cheer." Team and fans responded in unison.

One more game... and if the Vikings win this afternoon -- a topic on which I'm not feeling especially sanguine at the moment -- that will be a home game... and the Bucs are 8 and 1 at home this season, not counting 2 straight wins at home during the pre-season.

Perhaps that Superbowl-Bound Bucs shirt I bought a couple years ago still fits...

Sunday, January 16, 2000 @ 01:37 p.m. by jra

On a hot summer's night

would you offer your art to the wolf with the red roses?

My friend Kat, and her SOFFA Chris, are part and parcel of the staff of quite a well designed e-zine on things dark and role-play-ey. It's not a genre I spend a lot of time in, myself, but if you do, you ought to check it out.

Kat is also a damned fine artist.

Sunday, January 16, 2000 @ 01:29 a.m. by jra

Google is hiring

That's right, my favorite search engine is looking for help.

Is this the job for you?

Sunday, January 16, 2000 @ 01:23 a.m. by jra

One of my regular reads...

whom I think is now a regular reader (a quick scan-back suggests it was Flutterby; Hi, Dan), saw something in the Oxford English Dictionary's newsletter (concerning them going online) that caused him to say "I hope this means free."

I did, too.

Sorry; it doesn't.

Sunday, January 16, 2000 @ 01:07 a.m. by jra

Rant: How stupid are consumers, anyway...

Some people must think we're pretty dumb. (The Star Trek merchandisers are the kings of this, but here's a close second.)

Background: I was at my friend Chel's the other night, watching Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. I never used to understand the show's popularity; hell, even Jerry Pournelle loves it.

Now, I do.

:-) The dialogue is actually intelligent; now, there's an uncommon description of a television show. Especially one aimed at teens and twenty-somethings. Most such shows assume you're too dumb to get the jokes. Buffy doesn't.

So why is it, then, that I see a copy of the Buffy show fanzine at the Borders, take it down and read it...

and come to this review of The Sunnydale High Yearbook.

It's so real, you'll swear it was produced by high-school students...
...gushes the review, which goes on to note that "The yearbook is a flawless reproduction of an actual Sunnydale High school yearbook" (italics mine).

Oh, yes.

My high school yearbooks had the logo of a popular television show plastered all across the top of the front cover.

Why is it that merchandisers, those people out to make an extra buck off of our fascination with some pop-cultural icon, feel the need to insult our intelligence so badly? Is it really that they don't think we're bright enough to get the joke?

Or are they just that insecure and hard up for potential sales that they need to chase after the 'marginal' fan?

If I'm not a Star Trek fan, will I really want to buy a sweatshirt that says "Star Fleet Academy" across the front? If I am, do I really think my friends won't get it?

My slogan is "if you didn't get the joke, it wasn't for you." Perhaps the merchandisers would do well to think about it.

[ Yes, I stole that cover from Amazon; no, there isn't a link under it like I normally put; if you're bright enough not to be the subject of this rant, and interested enough to buy the book, no doubt you can find a way... ]

Sunday, January 16, 2000 @ 12:08 a.m. by jra

Oh yeah...

Wanted (really bad): a Volvo Turbo Wagon with a 5 speed.

Prefer slightly newer than my 1985 745 Turbo sedan. If you know of one, drop me a note.

Saturday, January 15, 2000 @ 08:53 p.m. by jra


5 hours is enough. Gotta be in the office tomorrow anyway, to wrestle with ftape, so I'm heading off to Borders for some books... after probably Bob Evans for some calories.

Damn, that Wildfire sauce is good...

Saturday, January 15, 2000 @ 08:51 p.m. by jra

And I'm wondering...

Did Lawrence Green use that Extreme-Closeup photo of himself on purpose?

[t]he subject matter for c.I.b is the exploitation of race and gender in mass media ... for fun and profit. It's definitely something I can relate to.

Saturday, January 15, 2000 @ 07:39 p.m. by jra


I made it onto Dan Lyke's webring at Nibelung.

I think that's a cool facility, and I'm flattered that Dan thought I was worth putting up there.
[ Ain't referrer logs great? >:-} ]

Hey, Dan? Any chance you can stuff my click tracking crap in there, too? :-)

[ I use the facilites at to keep track of what links out of my site people are interested in, and if anyone linking into my site is motivated enough to copy them into their link, well, so much the happier I'll be -- not that I'll turn down anyone's link, but doesn't log as much as I'd like.

If you want to link to me, just lift that URL out of something, and replace THESLUG with FROM-{whatever} so I can spot it. For the curious amongst you, the results are public. ]

Saturday, January 15, 2000 @ 07:29 p.m. by jra

Da Bucs!

Saturday, January 15, 2000 @ 07:18 p.m. by jra

The Ghost of Internet Past

A thoughtful piece by Andy Oram.

Saturday, January 15, 2000 @ 07:01 p.m. by jra

WHat the hell are you doing here?

If you're in Tampa Bay, you should be here instead!

Saturday, January 15, 2000 @ 04:40 p.m. by jra

Rob Slade is the doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor

He's also a damned fine book reviewer, and he's put out a new one.

The book is Running Linux, by Matt Walsh and (by this point) a cast of thousands.

Well, at least more authors than I want to name here; hit the link. The book is an excellent introduction to the operating system; it explains what's happening, rather than merely telling you what to do. It's certainly a matter of taste -- I prefer to learn what's going on myself, and of course I think everyone else should also try to learn at least a little; it makes the long run a whole lot shorter.

You don't have to be an MS-DOS wizard or a technical support guru to follow this book. If you've installed a few programs and ever added any hardware to your computer, that is probably background enough. Given the variety of hardware choices, and the range of distributions of Linux, itself, you may need to get additional information at some point, but this book will tell you what to get (and, usually, where to get it).

Linux is becoming more and more popular -- to it's detriment, some say. Mostly those are the people who've seen Usenet (the distributed bulletin board system which runs atop the Internet) degrade to the point where advanced tools for things like spam-filtering are almost not enough to make the signal outweigh the noise.

I don't see it that way. Yes, as there are more people using Linux, there will be more people who aren't 'geeks' using it, and they'll ask a whole lot of 'dumb questions'... and some of the less patient of us might get a little annoyed. But I'll ask them to remember that this is supposed to be a Good Thing -- the more popular Linux is, the more it will be taken seriously by everyone.

As long as it doesn't lose track of the fundamental things that got it there -- most notably, unscheduled releases -- the odds are good that things will continue positively because, as Eric puts it, the whole point was to have "software that doesn't suck".

Linux fits that bill nicely, for me.

For more on Linux:

Borders Books (who aren't bright enough to have a button for me to use) search on Linux

Saturday, January 15, 2000 @ 04:04 p.m. by jra

Making the rounds

I refuse to do the dog test.

However, the temperament sorter is another matter.

I'm an INTJ.

There's a surprise...

Friday, January 14, 2000 @ 02:59 p.m. by jra

Dan Gillmor has a weblog, too

... in addition to the column he writes for the San Jose Mercury News. For those for whom geography was not the strongest subject in school, San Jose is the closet available thing to a capital city for Silicon Valley.

He's always a good read, but this column covers the AOL Time Warner proposed merger (let's keep reminding ourselves of that 'proposed', shall we?) succinctly, and ...

"What he said."

Friday, January 14, 2000 @ 02:46 p.m. by jra

I ran into...

my friend Tammy at Borders over lunch. Hadn't seen her since before Christmas, it was nice to know she was still alive... (and dont' worry, I didn't hurt her, much.)

She asked me a question that I have to share with you all:

Why are subscriptions to pregnancy magazines 12 months long?

Friday, January 14, 2000 @ 01:31 p.m. by jra

Dan Bricklin's log

... built with his company's Trellix Web product, doesn't exactly make it easy to point to his stuff, but he has an excellent muse on there about his dealings with a few reporters, and how his writing a weblog turns the tables on them: they now have to worry about how he treats them in 'print'.

I love it.

Friday, January 14, 2000 @ 11:04 a.m. by jra

Fresh, healthy and nutritious

One of the things that the pitas weblog engine does is maintain a page with a list of the most recent postings to all their members pages. I've gotten a lot of traffic from that, and I think (therefore :-) that it's a great idea.

One of the one's I found that way is randomwalks, written by sbomb, whomever he is.

I like his sensibility, and choice of quotes. Definitely a Jay's Recommended Read.

Friday, January 14, 2000 @ 10:28 a.m. by jra

If you're a language geek...

you'll enjoy this pointer to The Oxford English Dictionary newsletter's notes on the etymology of 'nachos'. It's not what you think.

Whatever you think. :-)

[ via Flutterby and Robot Wisdom ]

Friday, January 14, 2000 @ 10:11 a.m. by jra

Ethics and Journalism: 2 data points

Told you there was a flurry coming...

This a thought I had tonight, after reading News is a Verb, a 'Journalism, in a word, is Good' book by veteran news tabloid editor Pete Hamill -- and we mean 'tabloid' in a good way here, ok? Read the Book.

This was an excellent little read that sort of lighted my 'journalism' fire again (hence all this writing tonight).

In conjunction with the whole CBS digital ad insertion fiasco, this book makes me think it's time to remind a whole bunch of people: News Is Different.

You can't treat a news division the way you treat any other part of any other organization.

If they'll live edit a logo.. and do this kind of editing without telling the viewer he's watching an edited recording... then why should I believe anything they say or show? News reporting has to be raw and uncensored or it's just not credible. This is why I support ACs on Slashdot. They are the Great Equalizer that keeps Slashdot legit. There may be loons, flamers, zealots, and baldfaced liars among them, but as long as they can speak uncensored, I can rest assured that the unedited Truth is being spoken in there too, without fear of reprisal from the ACs employer, etc. Any tainted news or slanted reporting will be quickly debunked by the masses. Slashdot without ACs would be just another biased news media outlet.
-- a Slashdot 'Anonymous Coward'

...who has it perfect, on both news reporting... and Anonymous Cowards on Slashdot.

The obvious followup was, of course

You are not required to watch any particular news broadcast. If, for example, you find CBS to now be not credible, they by all means: it's your choice not to watch.
... and he's correct as well, of course. But really, is "well, I just won't watch them anymore" a sufficient reaction? Do you really think that if there is no negative feedback to news reporting organizations that they're going to be able to stand up to the megalomaniacs conglomerates that own them and want to milk them for more profit?

I don't think so.

For more on Journalism and Ethics:

Thursday, January 13, 2000 @ 11:52 p.m. by jra

A nifty little toy for your browser

If you use Netscape 4, grab this bookmark looking thing, and drag it up onto your bookmark-toolbar.

Select a word in the text of a webpage, and click that bookmark, and you'll be taken to, where it will automagically be looked up for you.

The guy who came up with this idea was Steve Kangas, at

Well, ok, as he points out, it's actually in Netscape's JavaScript programming guide, they being the people who thought up the idea. But boy, has he run with it. Ever get annoyed because someone included the text of a URL in a webpage, and didn't make it a hyperlink? He's got one for that.

Ever want to grab a word and search for it in, say, Google? Got one for that, too. There are over 150 of these things, some for NS, some for IE, and some that work on both, depending on what they're doing.

If you fancy yourself a power user (to paraphrase Spider Robinson (one of my two favorite SF authors), you're likely to think these are really cool.

If you don't, you're probably still likely to think that, but someone may have to show you why, first. :-}

Thursday, January 13, 2000 @ 11:02 p.m. by jra

Madison Avenue and the Big Lie

First of a flurry, cause I've built up a backlog...

Madison Avenue is giving in to the Big Lie.

Well, maybe it's the Medium Lie. In any event, I'm starting to see and hear more things in advertising that I'm pretty sure are stretching a point all out of shape, if they're not outright lies.

Case in point: I was reading the New York Times tonight, over dinner. There's a big, full page ad for Omnipoint, a 'wireless phone' company.

Don't even get me started on the whole, artificial cellular v. PCS v. something else controversy, ok?

In any case, this ad made much of the fact that Omnipoint's phones "were the only ones that used" a SIM card, a small memory card that is used in GSM phones to remember the phone number, serial number, settings, and phonebook. It's really a pretty neat idea, almost as good as digital watches. There's only one slight problem.

They're not the only ones doing it.

They're not alone, of course...

Sprint PCS, whose domain name should really have been (but don't get me started on that, either), claim to have "built the only all-digital, all-PCS nationwide network from the ground up".


I'm sure the people at PrimeCo would be interested in hearing about that... since they did it about three years earlier. (Their coverage still sucks, of course, but hey, they're cheaper. :-} )

And I suppose I shouldn't even get into these car dealer ads that say "all credit applications accepted". That observation will be the cover story in next month's issue of Duh Magazine.

Thursday, January 13, 2000 @ 10:59 p.m. by jra


apparently I embarassed Tina, or got her boyfriend mad, or something. Sorry, Tina.

Sometimes I get too cute for the room.

Thursday, January 13, 2000 @ 10:35 p.m. by jra

Hi, Kitten!

Just a quick hello to The Great White North.


Thursday, January 13, 2000 @ 07:06 p.m. by jra

I'll have more to say tonight

on the AOL/Time Warner merger; late reports suggest my observation about Steve Case being in charge are probably wrong.


Mostly, though, this is a gratuitous entry to pull in a few more followers from the pitas member page. :-) Hi, folks. Hope you're finding something to keep you coming back...

Thursday, January 13, 2000 @ 02:14 p.m. by jra

(o )(o ) ( o)( o)

Well, well...

I see that the favorite browser of visitors here is skewing rather notably towards Netscape 4.x. Since that's my preferred browser, I'm pleased to see that.

You don't really want to know my opinions on Microsoft, do you? :-)

Thursday, January 13, 2000 @ 09:54 a.m. by jra

Hi, Tina!

See I told y'all this'd get local sooner or later.

One of my college-student-semi-regular acquaintances at the local Borders' Cafe, Tina, is going on a school trip to Iceland (that's the one that's green) in March.

She wants to know what to wear.

Since her boyfriend (whom I haven't met) may be reading over her shoulder, there will be no links to Victoria's Secret in this entry.


What will replace them are pointers to the CIA World Factbook entry on Iceland, a link to' page on the Icelandic Climate, (which is kind of going right to the horse's mouth), and, oh yeah, a pointer to a page about the hot springs. Did we mention the hot springs?

The other topic she asked me about was how her boyfriend could best get a job in computer programing. After the obligatory "learn anything but Visual Basic" comment, I tried to be a bit more helpful, and here are the pointers to the books I mentioned, since she didn't write them down.

Book one was Fred Brooks seminal work on programming, and it's management, The Mythical Man Month'. I've read this one, and recommend it to all programmers and programming managers. It's both excellent and fun to read, and it's been updated this year for it's 20th anniversary.

Book two is The Practice of Programming, by Brian Kernighan and Rob Pike, both of Bell Laboratories, among other places.

Another winner for programming types, in the readables department, is The New Hacker's Dictionary, AKA The Jargon File, edited by ESR (Eric S. Raymond), whose writings I've pointed out before.

Finally, I've had shockingly good experiences with the 'low-self-esteem' books, as I like to call them (if I stole that phrase from you, please let me know :-), in consequence of which I was going to recommend the new title in that series on 'Beginning Programming'.

Since I haven't read it, I have to depend on the blurb on the Borders website... which makes me pretty certain I don't want to recommend it, so I hereby retract.

In any event, the exposition on the programming industry that I found myself making tonight seemed like a good topic, so look for more of that here.

Thursday, January 13, 2000 @ 12:18 a.m. by jra

The Tide Stain Detective?

I'm laughing too hard too...

Go here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2000 @ 01:26 p.m. by jra

"No sex, please; we're geeks"

I love Slashdot.

They pick up some of the greatest stories... as befits a place that pays it's people to surf... :-) This story covers, in an amusing style -- you'll know why I put it that way after you've read it -- the topic of <reverb level="11">Geeks In Bed!</reverb>.

I guess most people are that way but since the geek social codec is so complex it's easy to make mistakes. That plus the fact that many geeks aren't very verbal can make communication very hard.
-- a Slashdot reply'.

'The geek social codec'. I like that. :-)

I think the primary issue is one of what the psych's like to call 'socialization', which many geeks, depending on how early they got started, aren't especially long on. I was one of those; I'm mostly over it by now...

Wednesday, January 12, 2000 @ 01:08 p.m. by jra

What's the point?

I've had a couple people ask me: "Why do you do this weblog thing? What's the point, anyway?" It's pretty obvious that I'm not reporting news; I didn't go out and learn most of the things I post here myself.

But that's not the point.

Let me ask you this: do you read the movie reviews in the paper? Why? Do you agree with everything the reviewer thinks about every movie?

Of course you don't.

But's that's not the point.
(Are you beginning to see a pattern here?)

The point is that over the course of time, you begin to see where your tastes and your reviewers' match, and where they diverge. You calibrate, so to speak, your interpretation of the reviewers' opinion of the movie you want to go see.

If she hates romantic comedies, and you love them, you go see every movie she pans.

The point, of course, is that 'what we do around here' isn't journalism, but the other side of the house: editorial.

'loggers are supposed to have strong opinions; it's our job. If you don't disagree with at least a few things I say every once in a while, I'm going to feel I'm not doing my job...

(On which topic: note the mailto: links on every story. If you like something, or if you think I'm way off base, let me know. 'loggers love to get mail. :-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2000 @ 11:26 a.m. by jra

It ain't easy, bein' green

"Free at last, free at last..."

And how appropriate the timing, too... After almost 20 years, Kermit has come in from the cold.

The Kermit software package, yes, named after the frog, has been the most widely ported terminal emulator and file transfer program pretty much ever. The 'problem' has been it's license, for reasons the ZDNet piece describes fairly well.

The topic of how to fund the boring day-to-day work necessary on certainly types of open-source projects is still an important, and unanswered question. No doubt there will turn out to be many answers... but being dogmatic about licensing is probably not one of them.

(For those who just came in: much of the progress of Linux is attributed to the fact that it was released under The GNU General Public License (GPL), which permits, roughly, free copying and distribution as long as you include the source code with the binary programs. This license, while popular, is only one of many, and the opinions that the GPL's author -- Richard M. Stallman, or RMS, from MIT -- has about those other licenses are a major contributor to the controversy he inspires, even among people who like the GPL, like myself.

Still downloading...

Wednesday, January 12, 2000 @ 11:11 a.m. by jra

Well, here I sit...

downloading half the planet to the Red Hat 6.1 box in the next office. At least all the updates are in the same place...

Several topics are on my mind this morning, including 'superbugs' -- and I don't mean the Y2K kind... but I'm short of minutes to do my research, so they'll have to keep until tonight.

One of my favorite local singer/songwriters is about to go back on the trail. For those of you who've ever heard Shana, you need to go hear Tonya, too. Damn, can this woman sing. Her website, though pretty spiffing, is admittedly a bit out of date just now, but I hear it's about to get a spring cleaning, a few months early.

I see that Shana, in her ShanaBanana alter-ego, has a new radio show, too! Cool... and I can say I knew her when she sang pirate songs...

And, interestingly enough, damn if I didn't find both these ladies mentioned on the sponsors page for yet another local artist, Oksana Kolesnikova, a classical pianist. I poked around her website a bit, and while the English is a bit stilted, the design is quite pretty. I expect the music will match. Now I think of it, I've seen a poster for her at the Tampa Borders.

Wednesday, January 12, 2000 @ 10:09 a.m. by jra

Well, I've finally gotten the HTML sane

or, at least, livable. Apologies to the people who went blind; your mom told you you shouldn't do that; right? :-)

In any event, I've gotten over the silly lunch fiasco, and being fired this weekend.. which was kind of nice, actually. I'm pretty much re-hired, at least temporarily, and I'm shopping, so let me know if you hear of 'my job'.

Lots of old stories archived tonight; lots of new stuff coming tomorow night. And look for the 'weekly reader' on the left tomorrow, too, I think.

@ by jra

All good things...

make the page too long, eventually. :-)

For the moment, you can go here if you're looking for old stuff; shortly, a table of contents will appear at the bottom of this page.

Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, January 10, 2000 @ pm by jra

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Older Stuff

If you're looking at this, it's because you followed an 'interior' link, and the story it points to has been moved to the archives.

Here are direct links to the older stories, in reverse chronological order.