Book Review #19

The Psychology Of Time Travel

The Book – The Psychology of Time Travel

The Author– Kate Mascarhenas (?)

The Review – Let’s start with the author’s name. It’s really Kate Flynn, but the name on the cover is Mascarhenas. That comes from the same base as ‘mask’, and ‘mascara.’ It’s a Portuguese-language nom de plume, which means “nom de plume.”

In the book, she includes the words ‘quango’ and ‘lanugo,’ neither common, even in Britain. They are valid English words, but seem as if they should be peeking out of a Romance language, like Spanish, or Italian. I’ll properly introduce you to them later.

This is a book – by a woman – for women – about women. It includes the description of an 8-year-old girl’s birthday party, where, “Her blonde ringlets hung down to the tops of her puffed sleeves, and her lacy skirt stood out straight to the side whenever she twirled around, which she did, a lot.”

The story is inhabited almost entirely by females. The only men who show up, are a male police detective and a journalist, who provide information and clues to the young woman investigating a locked-door murder.

The British authoress works in a commentary on racist attitudes in England. Our hardy, mixed-race investigator came to England as a child, from the Seychelles Islands, where she viewed herself as white. Having recently graduated University as an Engineer, she is working for the time-travel Conclave as a volunteer, but the female police constable who interviews her, regards her as colored, and assumes that she is the cleaning woman.

As usual, I was hoping for some temporal paradoxes to be solved, or some Back To The Future III suspense and manoeuvring, to prevent them. Didn’t happen! I was not surprised to not be given, even a vague hint, at how the time-travel process was accomplished, but it was invented by four women.

As a linguist, I was pleased to read that the process was powered by a newly-discovered, transuranic element called Atroposium, aptly-named after Atropos, the Greek Goddess who cut the thread of fate of mortals’ lives. Apparently the stuff was so safe and stable that it could be carried around in charcoal briquette-sized lumps, wrapped in lead foil.

While not described or explained, the time-travel process is so simple that it is used to produce a child’s toy, a Rubik’s-cube-sized box with a hole in the top. Children put candy in, and it disappears, only to return a minute later. What would happen if they stuck their finger in?

The “psychology” of the title is really just the mental stress felt by (female) time-travellers, caused by experiencing history in a non-linear way. Travelling to the past, they meet people that they know are dead. Travelling to the future, the see death certificates and gravestones for people they know are alive.

The detective/heroine goes back several times, to visit her father, who died when she was young. To her, the visits are weeks, or months, apart. I see, from his perspective, that she shows up twice the same afternoon, or on successive days. This grown woman is not his 8-year-old daughter. ‘Go away lady, you’re bothering me.’

I was expecting nothing when I ordered this book, and that’s what I got. No real time travel. No real psychology. It’s a good thing that I got it for free from the library. It had all the panache of a ‘Nurse Jane’ romance novel, full of ‘feelings.’ I feel disappointed and let down. I feel that I’ll need to read and review something with a little more OOMPH. Stay tuned; I’ll see you later.  🙂

Advertisements

Murphy’s Law

Murphy's Law

The following are some of the rules of the Universe that we have to abide by.  Feel free to add any that you’ve learned through sad experience.

MURPHY WAS AN OPTIMIST!

No good deed goes unpunished
leakproof seals – will
self-starters – will not
interchangeable parts – won’t
there is always one more bug
Nature is a mother
don’t mess with Mrs. Murphy
90% of everything is crap
The moment you light up a cigarette, your bus will arrive
If you’re feeling good, don’t worry, you’ll get over it
all warrantees expire on payment of invoice
where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit
never eat prunes when you are famished
friends come and go, but enemies accumulate
if you try to please everybody, nobody will like it
a short cut is the longest distance between two points

ANYTHING THAT CAN GO WRONG, WILL GO WRONG!

You will always find something in the last place you look.

The chance of a piece of bread falling with the butter/jam side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

No matter how long or hard you shop for an item, after you’ve bought it, it will be on sale somewhere, cheaper.

No-one’s life, liberty or property is safe while the Legislature is in session.

The other line always moves faster.

In order to get a loan, first you must prove that you don’t need it.

Anything you try to fix will take longer and cost more than you thought.

If you fool around with a thing very long, you will screw it up.

A $2000 HDTV will protect a 10 cent fuse by blowing first.

If it jams – force it.  If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.

Force to fit – file to hide – paint to cover

Any tool dropped while repairing a car will roll underneath to the exact center.

The repairman will never have seen a model like yours before.

When a broken appliance is demonstrated to the repairmen it will work perfectly.

A pipe gives a wise man time to think, and a fool something to stick in his mouth.

Everybody should believe in something – I believe I’ll have another beer.

Build a system that even a fool can use – and only a fool will use it.

Everybody has a scheme for getting rich that will not work.

In any hierarchy, each individual rises to his own level of incompetence, and then remains there.

You will remember that you forgot to take out the trash when the garbage truck is two doors away.

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong – but that’s the way to bet.

There’s never enough time to do it properly, but there’s always time to do it over.

When in doubt, mumble.  When in trouble, delegate.

Everything good in life is either illegal, immoral, or fattening.

It is morally wrong to let suckers keep their money.

A bird in the hand is safer than one overhead.

Murphy’s Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold, makes the rules.

Everything East of the San Andreas Fault will eventually plunge into the Atlantic Ocean.

Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.

The light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train.

Celibacy is not hereditary.

Never sleep with anyone crazier than yourself.

Beauty is only skin deep.  Ugly goes right to the bone.

To know yourself is the ultimate form of aggression. (Freudian psychology)

Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.

A Smith & Wesson beats four aces.

If everything seems to be going well, you obviously have no idea what the Hell is going on.

If more than one person is responsible for a miscalculation, no-one will be at fault.

In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.

Never argue with a fool.  People might not know the difference.

***

I apologise for the above.  I’m not always like this.  Lots of days I’m nowhere near this optimistic.  See you soon – if all goes well.  😯

Comin’ ‘Round The Mountains

Condom

A 50 year old man walks into a store and asks the
pretty girl behind the counter where the condoms
are. “What size are you?” she asks.

The man replies “I don’t know”. So, she unzips
his pants and whips out his dick and says
“Ooooh, extra large condoms, Aisle 3”

A 30 year old walks in and asks the same thing.
She unzips his pants whips it out and says “Large
condoms – Aisle 3”

A 14 year old is standing outside and sees all
this “I wonder if I go in there and ask if she’ll
do the same for me?”

So, he goes in and asks…She unzips his pants,
whips it out and shouts “Clean-up to the Counter
please!”

***

We have enough youth,
how about a fountain of smart?

***

A physicist, an engineer, and a statistician go on a hunting trip. They are walking through the woods when they spot a deer in a clearing. The physicist calculates the distance of the target, the velocity and drop of the bullet, adjusts his rifle and fires, missing the deer 5 feet to the left.

The engineer rolls his eyes. ‘You forgot to account for wind. Give it here!’ He snatches the rifle, licks his finger and estimates the speed and direction of the wind and fires, missing the deer 5 feet to the right. Suddenly, the statistician claps his hands and yells “We got him!”

***

Doc: Your lab tests show that you’re doing fairly well for a 65-year-old.
Male Patient: “Fairly well”… Do you think I’ll live to be 80?

Do you smoke tobacco or drink beer or wine?
     No. I’m not doing drugs either.

Do you eat rib eye steaks or barbecued ribs?
     No. I think all red meat is very unhealthy.

Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like golfing, sailing, hiking or bicycling?
No, I don’t.

Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?
No, I don’t do any of those things.

Then why the hell do you want to live to be 80?

***

Why Jim Wheeler doesn’t like this joke

A man worked as a Production Engineer, always trying to find ways to do things faster, easier, cheaper. One day a co-worker asked him if he was like this in his entire life. “Oh yes.” He replied. “Just last week I mentioned to the wife that her system of making my breakfast was inefficient, and made several suggestions as to how she might improve things.” “Did it help?” “Oh yes, she used to take a half an hour to make me fried eggs, bacon, toast and coffee. Now, I do it myself in less than 18 minutes.”

😯

 

Ars Est Celare Artes

olympic-rings

The above title is a Latin motto which means ‘The Art Is To Conceal The Arts’. To properly awe an audience with the performance of a difficult task, it is often necessary to make it appear easy.

A comedian, commenting about the Olympics, said that all he understands about gymnastics is this; he hopped into the air, and landed on his feet, perfectly erect, and said, “That’s good!”  He hopped into the air again, and landed leaning slightly backward, so that he had to put a foot back to keep from falling over, and said, “That’s bad!”  To win gold, you have to make it look easy.

I recently had the chance to read the beginning of an online novel by a writer who, like many of us, hopes to be a published author. He’s a member of a highly respected profession.  He’s intelligent and well educated.  He has a (reasonably) good vocabulary and grasp of grammar and composition.  What he is not, is an author – or writer.

I only managed to read the first three paragraphs, before I had to stop, or suffer nausea and vertigo. Here are the three paragraphs.  Remember to take Gravol. (Americans may take Dramamine.)

You are on the beach, watching the swaying of the waves. The waves sweep across the steeps like a flock of stampeding sheep speeding over the steppes, the snaking waves hissing over the driftwood steeped in the sandy wrack.

A squadron of gulls lifts uneasily into the air and then dissipates against the grey sky. You look meaningly at the gulls. They hover, the flurry of gulls. The gulls lull heavily in the air, squealing their dull squeals.

You incline your head downward and stare at the inrushing waves, each one a hungry-mouthed sheep, coming toward you ravenously. The water is deliquescent twenty feet from the shore. Beyond the shoal the surface seems lacquered, solid, unbreachable, enameled, brackish, thick, as if it were a spreading mass of viscous aquatic jelly. From the shore you cannot fathom, through the spume lid, the pelagic fathoms. The lake’s lid is swarming with wavelets, each one undulant and alive—afroth, the lake’s lip, frosting wisps.

That opening is almost as bad as, “It was a dark and stormy night.” This thing has more verbiage slathered on than icing on a Wal-Mart birthday cake.  This is like the parlor of a Nevada brothel – cheap, gaudy and ostentatious.  Typos, overdone alliteration, excess words, redundant words, repetitive words, overly ornate words, eight-dollar words, employed to seem interesting and impressive, but used incorrectly.   Steppes, and steeps, and stampeding sheeps – oh my.

To ‘look meaningly’ is to use a facial expression to convey information to another person. You cannot look meaningly at seagulls, because their tiny bird-brains don’t get it. And speaking of seagulls, I can think of five verbs to describe the noise they make.  ‘Dull squeals’ is not on the list.

Deliquescent means; The process of a solid dissolving or becoming liquid through the absorption of moisture from the atmosphere. That obviously is not happening here. It’s a good, solid, proud word.  It’s just hanging out in the wrong neighborhood.

Instead of smooth, clear, economical communication, this writer seems to have gone out of his way to confuse and impress, and say, ‘Look how much work I went to, to attract and hold your attention.’ It is not concealed. (But it should be!)

spacehounds-of-ipc

I recently re-read E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Subspace Encounter. Doc was the mentor who taught Robert Heinlein much about writing.  An engineer by trade, Doc always used the exactly correct word, and the exactly correct number of words.

In this book, he has Mankind meet another galactic civilization. Physically, they are Human, but their society is vastly different.  Not cruel, but they are pragmatic to the point of making the Spartans look like soft amateurs.

To identify their empire, he coins the word ‘Justiciate.’ This is literary irony.  It is like referring to The People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea.  It is not ‘for or by the people.’  It is not a democracy, and it is not a Republic.  There is little ‘justice’ in a society, where the ruler of 180 planets is identified as the Supreme Tyrant.  And the supreme ruler of the red-skinned sect, who wants to kill 90% of those of other skin colors and keep the rest as slaves – identifies himself as The Grand Justice.

Having invented the Justiciate, Doc went on to invent an interplanetary monetary unit for them – the Junex, meaning the Justiciate Unit of Exchange.  For an imaginary empire, he created imaginary money to give believability.  No sheeps or steeps or gulls were needed.

As a young adult, I missed much of his precision. Re-reading it now, with life experience, I have a greater appreciation.  He made it look easy, when it really wasn’t.  I’m glad Jim Wheeler made me do it.  😀

Up In Smoke

Cigar

A defendant in a lawsuit involving large sums of
money was talking to his lawyer.

“If I lose this case, I’ll be ruined.

“It’s in the judge’s hands now,” said the lawyer.

“Would it help if I sent the judge a box of cigars?”

“Oh no! This judge is a stickler for ethical
behavior. A stunt like that would prejudice him
against you. He might even hold you in contempt
of court. In fact, you shouldn’t even smile at the judge.”

Within the course of time, the judge rendered a
decision in favor of the defendant.

As the defendant left the courthouse, he said to
his lawyer, “Thanks for the tip about the cigars.
It worked!”

“I’m sure we would have lost the case if you’d
sent them.”

“But I did send them.”

“What?? You did???”

“Yes. That’s how we won the case.”

“I don’t understand,” said the lawyer.

“It’s easy. I sent the cigars to the judge, but
enclosed the plaintiff’s business card.”

***

I have enough money to last me the rest of my
life….unless I buy something.

***

A man with a winking problem is applying for a
position as a sales representative for a large firm.

The interviewer looks over his papers and says,
“This is phenomenal. You’ve graduated from the
best schools; your recommendations are wonderful,
and your experience is unparalleled.

Normally, we’d hire you without a second thought.
However, a sales representative has a highly
visible position, and we’re afraid that your
constant winking will scare off potential
customers. I’m sorry….we can’t hire you.”

“But wait,” he said. “If I take two aspirin, I’ll
stop winking!”

“Really? Great! Show me!”

So the applicant reaches into his jacket pocket
and begins pulling out all sorts of condoms: red
condoms, blue condoms, ribbed condoms, flavored
condoms; finally, at the bottom, he finds a packet
of aspirin. He tears it open, swallows the pills,
and stops winking.

“Well,” said the interviewer, “that’s all well and
good, but this is a respectable company, and we
will not have our employees womanizing all over
the country!”

“Womanizing? What do you mean? I’m a happily
married man!”

“Well then, how do you explain all these condoms?”

“Oh, that,” he sighed. “Have you ever walked into
a pharmacy, winking, and asked for aspirin?”

***

Too bad all the people who know how to run the
country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair.

George Burns

***

Mexico doesn’t have an Olympic Team, because anybody who can run, jump, or swim, is already in the United States.

***

The biggest shithead and the person in command
can generally be shot with the same bullet.

***

An engineer dies and reports to the pearly gates.
St. Peter checks his dossier and says,
“Ah, you’re an engineer you’re in the wrong place.”

So the engineer reports to the gates of hell and
is let in. Pretty soon, the engineer gets
dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell,
and starts designing and building improvements.

After a while, they’ve got air conditioning and
flush toilets and escalators, and the engineer is
a pretty popular guy.

One day God calls Satan up on the telephone and
says with a sneer, “So, how’s it going down there
in hell?” Satan replies, “Hey, things are going
great. We’ve got air conditioning and flush
toilets and escalators and there’s no telling what
this engineer is going to come up with next.”

God replies, “What??? You’ve got an engineer?
That’s a mistake – he should never have gotten
down there; send him up here.”

Satan says, “No way! I like having an engineer
on the staff, and I’m keeping him.”

God says, “Send him back up here, or I’ll sue.”

Satan laughs uproariously and answers, “Yeah,
right. And just where are you going to get a lawyer?”

#485

Clip Art

A number of years ago, my buddy Maury Escher designed the item below for me.  Since I didn’t have any use for it, I put the plan drawing away and forgot it.  It’s got a little scuffed and aged over the years, but I suddenly realized that this thing would be perfect for displaying all the Blog Awards we’re receiving.

Perhaps if we got an engineer like Jim Wheeler to clean up the drawing, and maybe produce the fasteners, we might talk BrainRants into running a few off in his whiz-bang wood shop.  We’d have to be sure about where we mounted them, because once they are up, you can’t take them back down.

Nuts

What do you think??  Anybody interested in a couple?  I’ve got a bunch of these boxes that I could ship them to you in.

Escher box