Monthly Archives: January 2005

110580432854790566

Taste of Russian Fantastica

I’m instituting a new feature here at Aliens in This World.
Every week or so, I’d like to explore a noted work of Russian Fantastica
(SF/F) by translating the first paragraph or so.

(I’m only able to do this because Russian fans and writers have cooperated
in putting a large number of books online. With a huge number of books and
stories available but few in print at any one time, a fandom that lives not
only all over the former Soviet Union but all over the world, libraries and
bookstores never able to keep up, publishers keeping prices down but also
printing on thin acidic paper, and the erratic delivery of Russian mail,
this is a very practical solution. However, I do also mean to continue to
buy actual Russian books through kniga.com
and the like, as well as physical Russian bookstores in the US.)

My intention is that Anglosphere publishers and fans should become interested
in, or at least aware of, the rich flowering of Russian science fiction and
fantasy. Also, I mean to educate myself about Russian SF/F, if only by a
quick glance at what Russian fans are reading.

I should warn people, however, that first paragraphs may be especially misleading in Russian books. Russian writers and readers seem to like a nice leisurely start, often including the season and current state of the weather in that world!

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Taste of Russian Fantastica: Andrei Lazarchuk, The Other Sky

Andrei Lazarchuk has won many Russian awards for both his science fiction and fantasy. In 1994, he won the Long Form Strannik for The Other Sky (Inoe Nebo, an alternate history novel; as well as the Moon Sword for horror for his novel Mummy; the Sword of Rumata for heroic SF, for his novel Sturmvogel; and the Mirror Sword for alternate history, for his collaboration with Mikhail Uspensky, Look in the Monsters’ Eyes.

His other novels include Too Late by Summer, The Holy Month of Rin’, Soldiers of Babylon, Tin Pinewood, Tranquilium, Everyone Able to Hold a Weapon, and another collaboration with Mikhail Uspensky, The
Hyperborean Plague
. He’s also translated works by Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, and Lucius Shepard.

Lazarchuk was born in Krasnoyarsk in 1958 and got his degree from the Krasnoyarsk Medical Institute in 1981. First he worked as a doctor, but he’s been a professional writer since 1989 and lived in St. Petersburg since 1999.

Here’s the first paragraph of The Other Sky. It’s very long!


6/6/1991
About 1400 hours.
Vargash Station, on the nation’s border.

Everyone, I’ve had enough of Japanese technology: I bought a watch a week ago, and the minute hand has already come loose and shows not the time, but the direction of the center of the Earth — that which interests me least of all today. In the end, why can’t an engineer, even given that it’s government work, not be able to get himself a decent watch? Maybe not Swiss. That’s butter. Maybe an Adler… Beyond the railcar window rolling from right to left, came the clanking of bumpers: probably they’d hitched an engine to the Imperium. Of course, the Imperium can’t diverge from the timetable. But we, of course, can… The quite identical Japanese men standing under the railcar sheds hurried to their places. The black and white Japanese — black coats, white trousers — sat themselves down in the black and white cars of the Imperium, the Pyongyang-Tomsk-Berlin-London express, the only train which passes through the lands of all four Great Powers…something about this seemed to me neither amusing nor symbolic — more likely, it seemed, done from boredom — but I didn’t have time to hit upon it, because the quiet musician from the speakers was interrupted by a sweet voice — I also saw it as belonging to this blonde, blue-eyed girl with a little doll’s mouth and a magnificent bow on her head — first in German, and then in Russian, pronouncing: “At the border guards’ insistence, the search of the railcars has been lengthened. The company extends its apologies to the gentleman passengers traveling to Kurgan, Kamenetsk-Ural and Yekaterinburg Stations; they may obtain compensation from the station cashier whenever convenient for them. We will return to the timetable after reaching Yekaterinburg.” So…it’s a lengthy search… I automatically looked at the watch, and then I slammed it against the table. When we get to Kurgan — I’ll buy a new one. I’ll buy an Adler — in spite of the Commander. It’s decided. I’ll do it that way.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

110567236754578567

Russian Military SF

See Russian writers imitate Baen.

See Russian artists imitate Baen.

See Russian publishers making Baen’s covers look better than Baen does.

(Yes, I like Baen, but their cover design are el-stinko. Anyway…it’s a funny place to find Honor Harrington!)

Roman Zlotnikov seems to write a tad bit of military sf/f, and he’s won some awards so he must be decent to read. Here’s some of what he’s written:

Assembly (Sobor): In the primeval forest live ancient mages. They’ve kept Perun’s magic up to today. Now soldier and mage go into a deadly fight with evil.

The Eternal: Swords Over Stars (Vechniy: Shlagi nad Zvezdami): Humanity is losing planet after planet to the forces of the Dark. Only the Eternal, who unite all humanity, can give humans a hope of victory. Other books in the series: Risen from the Ashes, …And Manyfaced He Came aka Trap for the Ruby Prince, Last Raid.

Soldier: Doomed to Fight (Voin: Obrecheniy na boy): KGB agent Kasimir Puskevich dies and finds himself in a parallel world. Now he fights for good, and they call him Gron. Other novels are: Deadly Blow and Last Battle.

Imperiya: Vivat Imperator!: There are immortals among us; they blend in and often help. When the aliens show up and we have to look unified to impress them, the immortals decide Russia must become a “monarchy” again — and then a global empire. Other books in the series: Imperiya: Armageddon.

Mutiny on the Edge of the Galaxy: Humanity is attacked and the Earth conquered by aliens. Some keep some technology. Others, scrabbling for life deep beneath the surface, become the tribes called berserkers. Others in the series: Soldiers on the Edge of the Galaxy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Strannik Awards

As non-Russian fans of science fiction may or may not know, there are a good number of awards being given in Russian sf fandom. The Strannik Awards are one of the more prestigious ones, and are given at each Russian Congress of the Fantastic for specific achievement in the previous year. (Well, except for the lifetime achievement type awards like “Master from Afar”.)

Anyway, I recently found the website for the Stranniks and its complete list of awards and winners. (And nominees, but I’m not that insane.) Since someday it may happen that a winner must be found, I’ve got a little list that I’ve transliterated and translated. Please feel free to copy it elsewhere.


1994:

Long form:
Andrei Lazarchuk
Another Sky (Inoe Nebo)

Midlength:
Andrei Stolyarov
“Message to the Corinthian” (“Poslanie k Korinfyanam”)

Short form:
Andrei Stolyarov
“Little Gray Donkey” (“Malenkiy Ceriy Oslik”)

Translator:
Alexander Shcherbakov,
Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Criticism and Journalism:
Dr. R.S. Katz for The History of Soviet SF
(Istoriya Sovyetskoy Fantastiki)

Artist:
Sergei Shekov
Art for English SF Novels (Angliyskiy Fantaskicheskiy Roman)
and Philip K. Dick’s “Svikhnuvsheyesya Time”

Editor: Yefim Shur (Fantakim-mega magazine)

Publisher: Terra Fantastica

Golden Ostap for satire and humor:
Viktor Pelevin,
novella “Omon Ra”

Little Stranniks to the founding fathers of the awards:
Arkady Strugatsky and Vladimir Mikhailov, for founding modern Russian SF;
Yevgeny Lukin, for the hit of the season, the song “The Horse System Ran”
Boris Zavgorodniy, as “the legendary man of Russian fandom”


1995:

Special Award:
Vitaliy Bugrov (posthumous)

Long form:
Mikhail Uspenskiy,
There, Where There’s No Us (Tam, Gde Nas Nyet)

Midlength:
Mikhail Uspenskiy,
“Dear Comrade King” (“Dorogoi Tovarishch Korol’”)

Short form:
Boris Shtern,
“Koshchei the Undying – Demon Poet” (“Koshchey Bessmertniy — Poet Besov”)

Translator:
Sergei Khrenov
James Branch Cabell’s Manuel Saga

Criticism and Journalism:
Viktor Pelevin, for the essay “Zombification”

Artist:
Yana Ashmarina,
Illustrations for the Collected Works of Robert Heinlein.

Editor: Roman Solnitsev, Day and Night magazine (Den’ i Noch’)

Publisher: Mir

Little Stranniks:
Sergei Rogov for being a friend of the Strannik Awards
Aleksandr Sidorovich for founding Interpresscon and being a friend of the Stranniks.

In 1995 at the Strannik Awards, actual swords were given out for special achievement in subgenres of the fantastic.

The Sword in the Stone Award for fantasy:
Mikhail Uspensky, There, Where There Is No Us, 1994.

The Moon Sword for horror:
Andrey Lazarchuk. Mummy, 1993.

The Mirror Sword for alternate history:
Vyacheslav Rybakov. Starship ‘Tsesarevich’, 1993.

The Sword of Rumata for heroic-romantic SF&F:
Sergey Lukyanenko. The Knights of the Forty Islands, 1992.


1996:

Long form:
S. Vititskiy,
Quest for a Destination, or the Twenty-seventh Theorem of Ethics

Midlength:
Yuri Koval’,
“Suer-vier”

Short form:
Andrei Stolyarov,
“Till Daylight” (“Do Svet”)

Criticism and Journalism:
Sergei Pereslegin, for article collection Eye of the Typhoon

Translation:
A. Korotkov, S. Silakova, and N. Naumenko
Dan Simmons’ Hyperion

Artist:
A. Karalyetyan,
illustrations to M. Uspensky’s There, Where There’s No Us

Editor:
G. Khublarov, editor of the ‘New Russian SF’ series from Lokid

Publisher: Lokid

Paladin of the Fantastic:
Vladimir Mikhailov

Little Golden Ostap:
Yevgeniy Lukin,
novella “There, behind Acheron” (“Tam, za Akheronom”)

Little Stranniks:
Yuliy Burkin, for bridging fantasy and music
Aleksandr Kashirin, for bridging fantasy and readers
by founding Russia’s first specialized fantasy bookstore, Stozhari.


1997:

Long form:
Viktor Pelevin,
Chapayev and Void (Chapayev i pustota)
published in English as The Clay Machine Gun and Buddha’s Little Finger

Midlength:
Lev Vershinin,
“First Year of the Republic” (“Perviy god respubliki”)

Short form:
Yevgeniy Lukin,
“The Philologists” (“Slovesvniki”)

Translation:
Alexandra Petrova,
Michael Swanwick’s The Iron Dragon’s Daughter

Criticism and Journalism:
Eduard Gevorkin, for the essay “Soldiers of the Terracotta Guard”

Publisher: AST

Artist:
Yana Ashmarina,
illustrations and design, Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber;
illustrations, anthology Time of the Apprentice

Paladin of the Fantastic:
Robert Sheckley

Little Golden Ostap:
Robert Sheckley

(Robert Sheckley was the guest that year, and as he is wildly popular in Russia, it’s not surprising he won several awards.)

Little Stranniks:
Charles Brown for founding and editing Locus magazine
Bruce Sterling for helping found the cyberpunk movement

Once again, swords for excellence in subgenres were awarded.

The Sword of Rumata for heroic-romantic SF&F:
Sergey Lukyanenko, Emperor of Illusions duology.

The Mirror Sword for alternate history:
Lev Vershinin, “The First Year of the Republic”.

The Sword in the Stone Award for fantasy:
Marina and Sergei Dyachenko, The Scar.

The Moon Sword for horror:
Henry Lion Oldie, “Stepchildren of the Eighth Commandment”.
(“Oldie” is the pseudonym used by Dimitriy Gromov and Oleg Ladyzhenskiy)


1998:

Long form:
Boris Shtern,
Ethiop

Midlength:
Yevgeniy Lukin,
“Sledgehammer Genius” (“Geniy kuvaldi”)

Short form:
Vladimir Pokrovskiy,
“Dream People” (“Lyudi sna”)

Translation:
Kirill Korolyev,
Glenn Cook’s Petty Pewter Gods

Criticism and Journalism:
Kirill Korolyev, for The Encyclopedia of Supernatural Beings

Editor:
Alexandr Shalganov, If magazine (Esli), Moscow.

Publisher: AST

Artist:
Anatoliy Dubovik

Paladin of the Fantastic:
Boris Shtern

Little Golden Ostap:
Andrei Lazarchuk and Mikhail Uspensky,
story “The Mordovian Komsomol Member’s Yellow Submarine”


1999:

Long form:
Sergei Luk’yanenko,
Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor)

Midlength:
Alexandr Yetoyev
“The Flight into Egypt” (“Begstvo v Yegipet”)

Short form:
Andrei Salomatov,
“Holiday”

Translation:
Andrei Laktionov,
L Shepard, Saga of the Dragon

Criticism and Journalism:
Igor’ Khalimbadzha (posthumous) for the article “SF Samizdat”

Publisher: Eksmo
Editor, compiler:
Aleksandr Roife (Moscow), section head, Book Review weekly gazette

Artist:
Yana Ashmarina

Paladin of the Fantastic:
Vadim Shefner

Little Golden Ostap:
Aleksandr Yetoyev for “The Flight to Egypt”

Little Stranniks:
Robert Sheckley for making people fall in love with fantasy;
Oono Norihiro for representing Russian fantasy in Japan

Special Convention Prize (Fifth Sword):
Nikolai Perumov

Master from Afar:
Poul Anderson

And once again, the swords were awarded for excellence in subgenres:

The Sword of Rumata for heroic-romantic SF&F:
Yuri Bryder and Nikolai Chadovich, Between the Headsman’s Block and the Axe

The Mirror Sword for alternate history:
Andrei Lazarchuk and Mikhail Uspenskiy, Look in the Monsters’ Eyes.

The Sword in the Stone Award for fantasy:
Yevgeniy Lukin, We Rolled Your Sun.

The Moon Sword for horror:
Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, The Cave.


2000:

Long form:
Marina and Sergei Dyachenko,
Execution (Kazn’)

Midlength:
Vladimir Mikhailov,
“Nayugir’s Way” (“Put’ Naiyugiri”)

Short form:
Yevgeniy Lukin,
“In the Land of the Setting Sun” (“B Stranye Zakhodyashchevo Solntsa”)

Translation:
Pavel Vyanikov,
Frank Herbert’s Dune

Criticism, History of Literature, Journalism, Essay:
Dmitriy Volodikhin, for a cycle of articles in Book Review gazette

Publisher: Azbuka

Editor, Compiler:
Dmitriy Vatolin,
website “Russkaya Fantastika v Ceti”

Artist:
Igor’ Tarachkov,
cover designs for If (Esli) magazine #6-12, 1999.

Paladin of the Fantastic:
Arkady and Boris Strugatskiy

Legend of Russian SF Cinematography:
Aleksandr Sokurov,
Eclipse Days

Master from Afar:
Lois McMaster Bujold; Robert Jordan


2001:

Long form:
Yuliy Burkin,
Flowers on Our Ashes (Tsveti na nashem peple)

Midlength:
Aleksandr Gromov
“Calculator” (“Vichiclitel’”)

Short form:
Sergei Luk’yanenko
“An Evening Chat with Mr. Special Ambassador”)

Translation:
Irina Gurova,
Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis

Criticism:
Anatoliy Britikov, for the book Domestic Science Fiction Literature:
Some Problems of Genre History and Theory

Publisher: Eksmo-Press

Editor:
Nikolai Naumenko
book lines: Starry Labyrinth, The Coordinates of Wonder, Age of the Dragon;
anthology: Fantastika-2000

Artist:
Anton Lomayev,
illustrations for Heirs of Tolkien line;
illustrations for novels by Kh. van Zaichik

Paladin of the Fantastic:
Olga Larionova

Legend of Russian SF Cinematography:
Aleksandr Abdulov, lead actor in
_Ordinary Miracle_ and _To Kill a Dragon_

Legend of Russian SF Theater:
Mikhail Boyarskiy, actor who played Sam Pant in the Leningrad TV production An Extra Day in June, adapted from Priestley’s novel 31 June.

Master from Afar:
Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Little Stranniks:
Dmitriy Ivashintsov, Russian Culture‘s correspondent at the Congress.
Aleksandr Sidorovich (repeat award), for helping shape the Russian fantasy field.

Withered Strannik:
Yefim Ostrovskiy, for the first year he’s not runner-up for a Strannik.

Swords for excellence in subgenres:

The Sword of Rumata for heroic-romantic SF&F:
Andrei Lazarchuk, Sturmvogel.

The Mirror Sword for alternate history:
Holm van Zaitchik, No Bad People series (aka “The Eurasian Symphony”).

The Sword in the Stone Award for fantasy:
Kirill Yes’kov, Last Ringwearer.

The Moon Sword for horror:
Andrei Stolyarov, “Comes the Mesozoic”.


2002:

Long form:
Oleg Divov
Saboteur (Sabotazhnik)

Midlength:
Andrei Salomatov,
“Next Year, I’ll Be Better Off” (“V budushchem godu ya stanu luchshe”

Short form:
Alan Kubatiev,
“You Fly, If You Like!”

Criticism:
Kirill Yes’kov, for the article “Our Reply to Fukuyama”

Translation:
Dmitriy Kovalenin
Haruki Murakami’s Dance, Dance, Dance….

Artist:
Aleksandr Kudryavtsev
design of book lines for AST publisher

Editor:
Aleksandr Shalganov, If magazine (Esli)

Publisher: AST

Legend of Russian SF Cinematography:
Georgiy Daneliya, art film “Kin-dza-dza”

Master from Afar:
Luis Royo


2003:

Paladin of the Fantastic:
Kir Bulychev

Master from Afar:
Robert Sheckley

Long form:
Svyatoslav Loginov,
Light in the Window (Svet v Okoshkye)

Midlength:
Yelena Khayetskaya,
“Dust” (“Prakh”)

Short form:
Leonid Kaganov
“Epos of the Predator”

Criticism:
Gennadiy Prashkevich,
article “Little NF Baedeker”

Translation:
Andrei Lazarchuk,
Robert Heinlein’s I Will Fear No Evil

Artist:
Vladimir Bondar’,
covers for books by Lukyanenko, A. Valentinova, and GL Oldi

Editor:
Svetlana Bondarenko,
collected works of the Strugatsky Brothers

Publisher: AST

Swords for excellence in subgenres:

The Sword of Rumata for heroic-romantic SF&F:
Yelena Khayetskaya, Bertran from Languedoc.

The Moon Sword for horror:
Marina and Sergei Dyachenko, Valley of Conscience

The Sword in the Stone Award for fantasy:
Olga Yeliseeva, Falcon on Wrist.

The Mirror Sword for alternate history:
Yuri Bryder and Nikolai Chadovich, Nail on the Head.

Sword of Going Next:
Roman Zlotnikov

Starry Sword/Legend of Russian Fantastic Theater:
Valeriy Gergiev


You may also be interested in learning about other Russian sf/f awards such as the Bronze Snail, the Interpresscon Awards, and the Aelita.

Leave a comment

Filed under fandom

110561778363698283

My New Digital Camera

I got myself a digital camera for Christmas. (Kodak. $99.00. Thanks for the tip, Instapundit.) I am having a good amount of fun with it. I’m afraid I’ll never be a journalist, though; I keep missing all my opportunities to take pictures of massive drifts and raging floodwaters. I do, however, mean to work on my incredibly picturesque sunsets. :)

I also want to put up pictures of the beautiful churches in Dayton’s diocese (and whereever else I happen to wander). I mean, I’m going to church anyway, so why not?

On Saturday, I ended up traipsing around downtown Dayton in the unseasonable winter sunshine. Here are a few pictures.

Lorenz Publishing building

Lorenz Publishing, a very good church music publisher. I don’t remember the name of the Protestant church next door. St. Joseph’s is a block behind Lorenz.

St Patrick side

St. Joseph’s was an immigrant neighborhood church (mostly German and Irish). They had an old and small church on the present spot, which they’d outgrown. So they got the money together just after the turn of the century to build this showplace. Note St. Patrick and the Infant of Prague. (The baptismal font and other stuff were moved over to this side area during Christmas.)

Holy Family stained glass

Today St. Joseph’s is run by the Precious Blood Fathers, since the neighborhood really can’t support a parish. (Nobody lives downtown anymore.) But lots of people do go there. For one thing, there’s been a 6 PM Sunday Mass at St. Joe’s for as long as anyone can remember, and that’s a real lifesaver.

POD prolife picture hung in vestibule

Also, a good deal of pro-life and traditional-but-not-rebellious activity is centered here, due to the PODness of the good fathers. This picture is hung out in the vestibule over the pro-life bulletin board.

St Therese

On one side of the vestibule, St. Therese and her roses preside over the bulletin boards and radiators. (The other end has the bathrooms and water fountain, with a plaster bas relief of the Last Judgement. The old baptistery has also been turned into bathrooms, an act of charity toward the elderly church attendees.) You will notice that St. Therese’s toes get a lot of wear! This statue was put up shortly after she got canonized.

Vestibuledoors

Here’s one of the beautiful sets of vestibule doors. Note the stained glass over it — the lily for chastity is an attribute of St. Joseph.

Nativity scene

As you can see, the Nativity scene and Christmas decorations were still up (probably because of all the weird weather). So I took some pictures of them. The top picture is how a lot of these pictures looked without “enhancement” by my software. The camera doesn’t see things as brightly as the human eye and brain can with its proprietary self-adjusting hardware and software. Even though your digital camera has a flash. :)

More Nativity scene

St Anthony corner

There’s always been a St. Anthony statue in the back of the church. He’s (among other things) the patron of finding lost objects (because a thief once stole his psalter and then returned it). So it’s appropriate and charming that the shelf underneath his statue has become the designated lost and found area. You can’t really make it out, but there are gloves and scarves down there. (As well as Elmo.)

I apologize for not having any good pictures of the beautiful altar and tabernacle. St. Joe’s always has a lot of people praying and doing devotions both before and after Mass, even on weekdays. I didn’t want to disturb them with my flash. Then the lights got turned down after Mass, and there were still tons of people there, so I held off some more, and…well, finally I did take pictures, but there were still enough people praying that I felt the need to slink around the outer bits, and not snap any good pictures of the altar. So that’s why there’s no pictures yet of the most important parts of this church, not because I lack understanding of the relationship between the architecture and the Mass. ;)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Deluge of Flood Thoughts

The terrible tsunami and all the snowmelt flooding in the Miami Valley have inevitably reminded people around here of the terrible 1913 Flood. Obviously, the scope was not at all the same (although both Dayton and Cincinnati suffered terribly, and most of the Midwest was hit hard). OTOH, the tsunami survivors didn’t have to face cold rain, gas explosions, or raging infernos doing their best to destroy all that was left.

But Dayton does have a powerful lesson for everyone about what to do after a disaster: “Remember the Promises Made in the Attic”. It is vitally important that people affected by the tsunami should band together and insist that something be done. I know these people are very poor in many cases, but there ought to be some sort of simple precautions and preparedness that can help against storm damage and even the odd tsunami. Naturally there will be lots of political infighting and outright corruption; but something must be done. In Dayton, it was the donations of local people and local corporations that did the job. There was no sense waiting on the state or the federal government to keep Dayton safe. So they raised the money themselves, even before everything was rebuilt. Here are some old political cartoons documenting what happened.

Finally, I am very pleased to note that my disreputable relative the madam made an appearance in Noah Adams’ Wright Brothers book, The Flyers. Scroll down to “Lib Hedges”. I didn’t know she was buried in Woodlawn, so I called my mom, only to be informed that she’d already known that. Apparently my grandfather may have occasionally visited her grave on the sly, just as he’d visited her office without previously informing his parents of his intention when he was a kid.

(I’ve probably told this story before, but…my grandfather was a great exploiter of the various family feuds among the elder generation of Hales and Heyers. He visited everybody who wasn’t talking to each other, and generally collected goodies. So naturally, when he found out he had a relative who was a rich madam, he made it his business to find out where her real estate/legitimate business office was. From then on, he and his cousin, or another little friend, would drop by every so often and chat with his seriously disowned great-aunt. She would give them money to go to the movie house, which was just down the street…and which belonged to her. If this whole story doesn’t give you a deep understanding of my mother’s side of the family, I don’t know what will.)

So I fully intend to visit my great-aunt’s grave when the weather’s good. She didn’t live the easiest life, and she apparently got all reclusive after losing most of her money in the stock market crash and Depression. (Though not all of it, apparently. Most of that half million was probably not liquid assets, though; it was her real estate holdings.) There’s no denying that she got her money by exploiting other people, though. Though she supposedly treated her girls well, she was still selling their bodies. Though prostitution was legal in Ohio back then, it was still wrong.

All the same, she did give a lot to charity. Famous Daytonians talks about her notable contributions to the YMCA and YWCA. And the most famous (and Hale-like) story about her tells how she not only donated a thousand dollars to flood relief, but told the collectors to tell every businessman how much she’d given. A very nice bit of psychology, that — both shame and genteel blackmail in one. The woman deserves at least a few flowers.

(BTW, the Look Homeward, Angel story is a bunch of bushwah. Wolfe’s dad carved an angel in their hometown which is a much more likely candidate.)

2 Comments

Filed under History

110487711895733398

Christians Cause Natural Disasters

More than 1500 years after this idea was polished off by The City of God, certain theologically ungifted Muslims flirt with the idea that Christian holidays cause natural disasters. Just ’cause we’ve got a lot of holidays in spring and December, apparently.

However, a short bebop over to an online perpetual calendar with Muslim holidays listed reveals that the forum folks are missing quite a few natural disasters on and around their own holidays.

Feb. 29, 1960
Leap year hits and so does a massive earth tremblor in Agadir, Morocco. What lives the quake doesn’t claim, the resulting damage does. A tidal wave and fires combine to take 12,000 victims.


Note: Ramadan began on Feb 28 in 1960.

May 31, 1970 (sic)
Far away from China, another tremblor leaves 50,000 dead, after the earth moves in Peru.

Note: The Prophet’s birthday was celebrated May 18. And the temblor was May 21, actually.

November 1970
It’s considered by many to be the greatest natural disaster in modern history. A cyclone that roared through Bangladesh and coastal India caused a storm surge, and is believed to have taken an unimaginable 300,000-500,000 people, the greatest single toll from one storm in the 20th Century.


Note: Nov. 12, 1970. Lailat ul Qadr was celebrated on Nov. 25.

September-December 1983
The tsunami tragedy must have left many in Thailand feeling a tragic sense of deja vu. More than 10,000 people were killed in a series of monsoons that struck the nation in just four months.


Note: Eid al Adha was celebrated Sep 18, and Muharram on Oct 8.

June 21, 1990
An earthquake hits northwest Iran, and rumbles the Richter scale at 7.7 By the time it’s over, 50,000 lie dead and 60,000 more are injured. At least 400,000 are homeless.


Note: Eid al Adha was celebrated on July 4.

April 1991
At least 138,000 succumbed when a cyclone smashed ashore in the Chittagong region of Bangladesh. A country already suffering from such terrible poverty could hardly afford the cost of this disaster. It’s estimated the damage was around $1.5 billion.


Note: Apr 29. Lailat ul Qadr celebrated Apr. 11, and Eid al Fitr on Apr. 16.

December 1999
Venezuela, warmed by the phenomenon of La Nina, experienced ten days of non-stop rains and deadly flash floods, leading to mudslides, drownings, and severe sickness, as more than 10,000 die. Almost 150,000 are homeless.


Note: Ramadan began Dec. 9.

Some disasters not mentioned on the forum:

November 13, 1985:
A small eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia on November 13, 1985 leads to a massive mudflow that covers the city of Armero and kills more than 23,000 people.
Note: Prophet’s Birthday celebrated Nov. 25.

June 15, 1896:
About 27,000 people drown following an earthquake-induced tsunami off the coast of Japan.
Note: Muharram celebrated June 12.

August 26, 1883:
Krakatoa, a small volcano on an uninhabited island between Sumatra and Java, explodes. The eruption and a tsunami kill 36,000 people in this Indonesian region.
Note: Eid al Fitr celebrated August 5.

Now, did all that prove anything beyond “there’s bad weather in the spring, fall and winter” and “this chick has a lot of time on her hands”? Of course not. It’s a silly discussion altogether.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Fact-Checking: Did Bush Sr. Say Atheists Shouldn’t Be Citizens?

This is what Snopes says: probably not.

(Also, notice how the transcript doesn’t sound like Bush Sr.)

And this is what I say: There are no transcripts of any such press conference in the vast archives of the Federal News Service, a private company founded in 1985 which provides independent transcripts of all sorts of political news events. In fact, between 1985 and 1992, there doesn’t seem to have been any similar press conference; and the words “atheist” and “atheists” occur in only two contexts: events dealing with religious freedom and persecution (generally Soviet), and events dealing with religious bodies or celebrities. Nor do there seem to have been any followup questions from journalists or narsty moments on Meet the Press or Crossfire or the morning shows.

But don’t believe me. Click on the link above and search for yourself. (Searching is free; it’s reading the transcripts themselves you have to pay for.) I suggest trying the following search terms, which I also used: “O’Hare”; “schedule Bush”; and just plain “Bush” (with appropriate time limits!)

As you’ll see, Bush doesn’t appear to have even been in Chicago on August 27, 1987 or 1988.

However, and just in case, I also turned to the local news sources. If this happened in Chicago, surely it would be reported, no matter how busy Kemp was debating with Gephardt up in New Hampshire. And yet, “atheist Bush” and “atheists Bush” didn’t present me with any stories of the kind from either the archives of the Sun-Times (which go back to 1986) or the Chicago Tribune (which go back to January 1985). Again, feel free to search for yourself if you don’t believe me.

This is of course only my cursory search of the most obvious sources. But it seems awfully like another malicious urban legend to me.

3 Comments

Filed under Politics