Apr. 9th, 2017

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As most people have, I'm abandoning Live Journal and moving to Dreamwidth. The last straw was moving their servers to Russia and forcing a new TOS that's valid on in Russian. Fortunately, the credit card info they have for me is old now, and I've cancelled the auto billing, so no danger of credit card fraud.

I'll be reposting some of my old stuff over here to get caught up, and then I'm sorely tempted to begin posting obscene anti-Putin propaganda to see what they do ;)
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Ok, spent too much time thinking about "Return of the King." Inspired the following satire by me, putting Denethor in the role of George W. Bush (the "shrub").

If the War of the Ring had Been Fought like the "War" on Terror

3009 - Nazgul crashes into Tower of Ecthelion. Denethor declares national crises.

3011 - Denethor enacts Numenorian Act. All non-Numenorian descendent peoples must register with Tower Guards. Each ring of Minas Tirith must spy on the ring below them. Gondorian Security Council begins use of spyware to listen in on Palantir communication.

3013 - Nazgul traced to Minas Morgul, obviously funded by Sauron of Mordor. Denethor orders attack on Saruman of Isengard.

3015. Theoden refuses safe passage of Gondorian Army through Rohan. Denethor fortifies border, sends army up Anduin, through Fangorn.

3016 - Fangorn forest logging rights given to Dol Halliburton. Gondorian army quickly advances through clearcut to vale of Isengard.

3017 - Siege of Isengard. Denethor promises quick end to siege.

3018 - Siege continues.

3019 - Rising discontent in Gondor over length of siege. Many people declared "under the Shadow" through Numenorian act rulings and placed in stockade in ruins of Osgiliath.

3020 - Isengard falls. The Wizard's Vale occupied by Gondor army. Saruman escapes. Dol Halliburton given contract to rebuild ring of Isengard.

3021 - Nazgul crashes into Orthanc. Lothlorien intelligence traces Nazgul back to Sauron of Morder. Denethor accuses Galadriel of profiteering from trade with Mordor.

3023 - Orcs harass occupying Gondorian Army in Isengard. Search begins for Saruman near the Gladden Fields.

3024 - The West, alarmed by Denethor's growing dementia, calls council in Rivendell. Aragorn called upon to pursue claim to Gondor throne. Gandalf becomes Aragorn's advisor.

3025 - Sauron begins massive arms buildup along border of Mordor. Denethor dismisses reports as fabrications of Rohirrim sympathizers and evokes trade pact with Mordor.

3026 - Denethor declares Gandalf an enemy of Gondor and "under the Shadow." Calls for his immediate arrest if ever found in Gondorian territories. Gandalf issues reply "I've lived for thousands of years, single-handedly defeated a Balrog, and striven against the forces of Sauron when you were still hurling at drunken frat parties at Amroth Tech. Bring it on, you little wad of orc dung."

3027 - Rumours of outrages by Dol Halliburton advisors throughout the vale of Isengard and West Emnet of Rohan. Denethor states that the West Emnet must be occupied by Gondorian forces for security purposes. Theoden calls upon Lords of the West for help. Aragorn leads Really Last Alliance of Elves, Men, Dwarves, and People of Little Stature south to contest Denethor and claim throne.

3028 - People of Gondor hail Aragorn as rightful king of Gondor as he passes Gap of Rohan, defeating combined army of Gondor and Dol Halliburton. Denethor refuses to vacate Stewardship and calls upon Great Council of Gondor to decide issue.

3029 - Great Council, all appointed by Denethor, rules Aragorn ineligible for throne due to residency requirement.

3030 - Armies of the West and Gondor meet in battle in south Gondor.

3031 - Battle ends with last Gondorian army defeated. Fertile regions of Gondor laid waste and much famine follows. Denethor declares victory in Minas Tirith while setting fire to royal palace.

3032 - Aragorn arrives at Pelennor Field. Minas Tirith in flames as Sauron launches army of orcs and trolls long in preparation. Depleted Army of the West overrun by Sauron's forces. Kingdom of Gondor comes to an end. Sauron declares victory.

3033 - Nazgul crashes into Caras Galadhon.
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This is something I wrote this past summer. A&M was going through large budget cuts, layoffs, etc. The Math department was in the building I worked at the time, and the head of the undergrad department had no sense of humor. So I wrote this up formatted it to look like an official departmental notice. I then posted it on the Math department bulleton board on the first floor of the building. It managed to stay up most of the summer before someone noticed it and took it down.

Department of Mathematics to Eliminate Unreal Numbers

by Jessica Scribner
special to The Journal of Academic Affairs

(College Station) Due to the ongoing budge constraints at Texas A&M University, the Department of Mathematics has decided to eliminate unreal numbers beginning first summer session of 2003. Dr. William Rundell, Department Head, states "I can no longer justify the expenditure of teaching the use of unreal numbers given the current fiscal crises. I want our graduates to be prepared for jobs in the private sector, and that means using real numbers. Unreal numbers are just theoretical concepts with no practical use. Let's save them for science fiction novels where they belong. Our graduates will be grounded in real world realities, and that means real numbers."

Faculty members were unwilling to comment publicly, but one privately stated "I'm afraid this is just the beginning. If we eliminate unreal numbers, what's next? Do we drop non-Euclidian geometry because we live in a Euclidean universe? What about imaginary numbers? Will they be considered the province of fantasy novels and dropped also?" Another professor worried about his own research program. "I've spend my entire life trying to determine the absolute value of pi. I'm afraid my entire life's work will be suspended soon, when I've only had the chance to publish the first seventeen volumes of my findings."

Math department insiders say there is a very good chance that repeating decimals will be the next victim. "Dr. Rundell has been heard discussing the prospect of eliminating repeating decimals. His view is that one is enough, repetition is unnecessary."
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I found something I wrote a good while ago, as a satire, showing what Tolkien would have gone through if he had dealt with modern fantasy publishing. It's a series of letters to Tolkien from a fictitous modern editor.

Dear Professor Tolkien,

I don’t want to sound too critical, but I think the extended traverse through the Mines of Moria is a mistake. The story feels too claustrophobic here, and there’s little action. With the darkness, you loose the chance for detailed description of the surroundings, which has always been one of your strongest writing techniques. Unless you have a reason for this section, perhaps it could be shortened, or even eliminated?

I also think you’ve become inconsistent with Gandalf. He’s supposed to be your powerful wizard, yet he’s showing too much indecision and self-doubt. I don’t think he’d have a problem opening the Doors of Durin. Perhaps we could just skip Moria all-together and have him melt the snow on the Redhorn Pass using his staff? That could make a great effects scene, highlighting his magical power.

Once again, there’s a major problem with too much back story in the Council of Elrond. I think you need to compress most of this to keep the story moving. Otherwise, we have a chapter that’s nothing but talking heads. There’s also the continuing problem of too much poetry that won’t appeal to the readers. Please remove all of this in the next rewrite. In addition, I think there’s too many characters in the company of the ring. Can it be pared down to just Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, and Sam?

One final thing, our executive copy editor, Miss Black, has commented that you continually use the wrong plural of dwarfs and elfs. It’s dwarfs, not dwarves, and elfs, not elves. This was a problem we noticed in THE HOBBIT that we’d like to correct in the current book.

Eudora Macalpin

Dear Professor Tolkien,

Got the latest chapters, thanks for your promptness. I can’t believe you killed Gandalf! He’s a major character, and seemingly the only strong connection with THE HOBBIT since you obviously don’t intend to use Bilbo more. I think this is a mistake. Let’s talk on the phone next week and discuss this more.

The fight with the Balrog was fantastic! I think with some paring down of the Moria journey, this will make for a highlight of the book. I noticed you didn’t have much description of the Balrog. Perhaps you could elaborate more? Isn’t the Balrog a type of dragon? That would make for a wonderful book cover!

I’m not sure about how you’re handling the paring down of the characters, however. I like removing most of the fellowship and setting up Frodo and Sam to be the main characters, but I think some folks will wonder what Aragorn and the others are doing. Perhaps you could mention them at some point? I like the transformation of the Black Riders into Nazgul. Those are dragons they’re riding now, correct? I’m glad to see my suggestions helped.

Eudora Macalpin

Dear Professor Tolkien,

Ok, I’m confused. I thought we would be following Frodo and Sam as the main characters now? You’ve turned in several chapters and it’s all about Aragorn and company. While I mentioned it would be nice to find out what they’re up to, I didn’t mean for them to take over the book. Remember Frodo? Remember the Ring?

I’m glad you took my advice and have brought Gandalf back. That’s a good recover from a major mistake on your part.

I’m not clear on one of the details in the battle of Helm’s Deep. You talk about blasting powder out of Isengard. Is Saruman shelling the fortress from Isengard with artillery?

I liked the scene with the palantir. We just need more description of Sauron so the reader can visualize him better. Too much of these characters are becoming just standard characters out of fantasy. You need to tell us how they are different.

I also think a confusion may set in from the similarities of the names Saruman and Sauron. Saruman works well for the evil wizard, so perhaps another name for Sauron, something with more visual impact? How about Darkbane? That has a ring to it (sorry, pun only slightly intended).

Eudora Macalpin

Dear Professor Tolkien,

Ok, I see we’re back on track with Frodo and Sam, even if you left us a big hanging with Pippin on the way to Minas Tirith. I liked the character of Faramir. He was a nice contrast to his evil brother Boromir. Perhaps you could bring out more of their childhood together and how Boromir treated him? Emphasize how Faramir was able to survive his bullying?

I think you need to put more in about how Smeagol/Gollum reacts to the dry air and heat, since he was originally an aquatic creature in HOBBIT.

The journey all the way through the Emyn Muil, Dead marshes, Ithilien, etc. takes a bit long. This should be speeded up some, since not much happens in this section until they meet Faramir. I think you should also use this section to bring out more characterization of Frodo and Sam and their relationship together. I hope you’re not going for any homoerotic type relationship, as this wouldn’t be appropriate for a mainstream fantasy. Please bear this in mind and make sure it’s obvious it’s just the platonic relationship between someone and his servant.

The last bit was quite good, and left me anxious to learn how Sam rescues Frodo. However, this brings me to my next concern: the length. In doing a page count, this book is getting unusually large, and you still haven’t gotten close to winding it up. I’ve noticed you’ve separated it into “books.” Perhaps we should consider actually publishing these as separate volumes. There’ four so far, so perhaps the story could be ended in the next one, making five? We could market it as a pentology then.

Eudora Macalpin

Dear Professor Tolkien,

My office received the next packet from you while I was vacationing in Provence, so I’ve only just finished reading the new material.

I think moving back to Pippin and Gandalf throws off the flow of the book. First we’re following Aragorn, then Frodo, then to Gandalf and Pippin and Aragorn. It’s getting a bit confusing to remember what each person was doing last.

I really don’t see the reason for making Denethor go mad and try to murder Faramir. Denethor is supposed to be the wise old ruler of Gondor, and his actions just don’t fit this character type. Perhaps if Pippin, despairing of their cause, did it the action would make more sense.

The Battle of Pelennor Field is very exciting and nicely written, my compliments. It was moving prose worthy of Robert Jordan himself! You seem to be changing the description of the Nazgul’s mounts, however. Remember, they are supposed to be dragons. Perhaps they could attack the city while breathing fire?

I see the story still isn’t finished in book five, requiring another one to finish it I suppose. I understand your reluctance to to break it up into so many volumes, but we must consider the economics of publishing. Perhaps we could compromise with three volumes, each containing two books? That would mean you need to finish the story in book 6.

I’ve also been thinking about individual names, and for the series as a whole. THE LORD OF THE RINGS doesn’t work well as the name of a series. We’ve been considering calling it THE CHRONICLES OF THE RING, emphasizing the serial nature of the work. For individual volumes, we’re considering THE DRAGONRIDERS OF DARKBANE for the first one, since it deals with the persuit of the Black Riders. For volume two I thought FRODO AND THE MAGIC RING would be good, since it emphasizes Frodo as the central character, and the ring which ties it all together. Finally, for the last volume, I’d suggest RING’S FATE, since presumably the final fate of the ring will be told.

Please let me know what you think of my suggestions.

Eudora Macalpin

Dear Professor Tolkien,

I’ve stayed up all weekend finishing your story, and it was very moving. You’ve told a wonderful story, for someone who’s still relatively new at novel writing and the genre of heroic fantasy.

I’m afraid the appendices are totally unnecessary and I suggest we drop them. They aren’t necessary for the story, and frankly, they read like history text. I don’t think this is something our readers will be interested in. I wish you’d told me of your intention of writing them so I could have saved you the time and trouble over them.

I’ve turned your manuscript over to our copy editor, Miss Black, who has worked hard on ironing out the problems. Please pay close attention to her correction of “dwarves” and “elves” along with her suggestions for trimming and rewriting of some key parts. As I indicated in an earlier letter, we’ll be changing the name of Sauron to Darkbane, and Miss Black has gone through and removed several superfluous characters that muddy up the story and elaborated on your descriptions of the dragons the Nazgul ride, and that appears as the Balrog. In addition, she has added more description for Darkbane in the palantir episode, and moved him to Mount Doom at the end for the final face-to-face confrontation with Frodo. I think Sam heroically slaying Gollum and Darkbane while Frodo casts the ring into the Cracks of Doom make for a much more exciting climax!.

I’m sorry you aren’t happy with the volume and series names I’ve suggested, but I’m afraid THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS, and THE WAR OF THE RING don’t work well, according to our marketing department. They are currently considering the necessity of the map you supplied, and whether to release the funds necessary for it.

I’m also including the pencil sketches of the cover art for the books. I’m afraid your watercolors just don’t have the dramatic punch necessary to get the reader’s attention in the bookstores. I particularly like the one of Gandalf slaying the dragon in Moria for the first volume.

Eudora Macalpin

Dear Professor Tolkien,

As you and your agent have demanded, we have removed Miss Macalpin as your editor. I’m sorry you found the relationship a difficult one to work with. I am taking over myself handling your work.

We’ve conceded to your demands to publish the manuscript as written. However, we still need to publish it in three volumes for cost reasons. I’m happy to use THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and THE TWO TOWERS for the first two volumes, and THE LORD OF THE RINGS for the overall title, but I feel that THE RETURN OF THE KING works best for the third volume and will publish it under that title.

The appendices will be published at the end of the third volume, with maps in all three. I suggest the detailed map of Gondor only go in the third book.

Please let me know if I can be of any other service to you.

Raynor Unwin
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With Hurricane Rita, a force 5 Hurricane, the third lowest pressure spot ever to be recorded in the western hemisphere, heading out way, I thought I'd take a moment to describe things here.

Last night we went to HEB to get a few more provisons, and finding it unaccustomly packed for a Wednesday night. The entire bottled water aisle was empty, along with the bread aisle. Most of the chips were gone, and almost all the canned food. We grabbed a few necessities, like fritos and Nestles Quick, along with some fruit juice, some canned goods, toilet paper, other sundries. We called our friends Scott and Nancy in Houston, only to find out they were considering now evacuating, and no amount of pleading seemed to dissuade them.

Today, I get up and find out that Rita has shifted northwards, and will land right at Galveston bay and head up i-45 towards Houston. A.T. will hopefully get here sometime today, probably tonight, since they're talking about 10-12 traffic jams to get out of Houston. No word from Scott and Nancy yet, if they'll stick it out or try to come up. Their bad news is our good news. The old track had it coming over us, now it will veer more over Huntsville to the east. So we mainly have to worry about high winds and the crappy chinese tallow trees in our yard that loose branches ifyou even look at them hard.

Stopped by Albertson's on the way in. No bread still. Bread and most supplies come up from Houston, and no trucks are running. Grabbed milk and some ground meat. In case gas goes out at home, we have barbecue grills, and last resort, the fireplace. We even have iron cauldrons we can heat up and cook in if necessary, and tons of candles. Those years in the SCA were not wasted. I also have plenty of guns and ammo so if rescue helicopters come for us, I can shoot back too ;)

All in all, my worst fears involve no power and no air conditioning, and loss of high-speed internet. I need my high speed internet and a/c. Unless I can convince AT his rent will include standing over me all night waving a fan.

Work has been busy, with me having to move the main servers out of my basement office area to a higher floor, in case of flooding. I found out there's a sub basement beneath me, which will probably flood, especially if power goes out. I had no idea that was down there. I thought I was the lowest thing in the department :)

If power can just hold out, we have enough dvds and tapes to last the weekend, since heavy rains means we loose satellite reception. Main worries: season ending of Stargate Atlantis tomorrow night, and Battlestar Galactica.

And to top things off, I hear Kinky Friedman, who's running for governor, is in town tonight, unless he cancels. I'm sure Rick Davis, our crooked republican (oxymoron?) governor will try to blame him for the hurricane somehow.

well, back to work, and to see if I can fix the servers to start playing "Nearer My God to Thee" if the building starts flooding.
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Well, for us, fortunately, Hurricane Rita was the Comet Kohoutek of hurricanes. It landed early this morning in Lousiana, then skirted into far east Texas. So far we've had some fairly gusty winds, but no rain at all. No flooding, no power outages, and no loss of satellite dish reception (so we saw Atlantis and Battlestar last night, yeah!!).

AT made it in Thursday night around 11, after about 12 hours on the road. Alone the way he saw that Navasota had totally blocked off all exits from Highway 6 into town, to keep the riff-raff from even thinking about stopping. "Welcome to Navasota, don't let the door hit your butt on the way out."

Friday I was off from work, and I staked down the sailboat and canoe, gathered up the lawn furniture, planters, etc. around the corner of the patio, and even managed to pull my motorcycle into the garage behind Martha's Prius. Just barely. I guess if we hadn't done all that work, we'd have been hit hard. So we're very lucky and recognize that.

So today I grilled hamburgers for lunch, since it was windy and cloudy and the burgers would cook before I would. I suspect the remainder of the weekend will be spent industriously laying around, reading (or writing in Martha's case), watching DVDs, and playing on the internet. I should probably go into work tomorrow and move the servers back down to the basement before Monday.


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April 2017


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