The Fashionista

Odd dreams.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

With global peace but a stagnant world economy, sixteen great families came to dominate policy all over the world. To prevent armed conflicts, they agreed that they would compete for who would have the chair of the New World Order based on popular sentiment and the decisions of a culture committee. In effect, this amounted to fashion wars.

Our story opens as one of the sixteen families chosen scion is preparing to do fashion combat at the season opening soirée. Being a dumpy little guy, he chooses to go with a very tailored jacket worn over a high-collared shirt without a tie. White jacket, blue pants, red shirt. His hair in a little Elvis pompadour, he looks retro, spiffy and daring. He chooses his name for the evening, Arden(t). Spelled just like that, with parentheses.

He knows he has the evening’s competition locked up, the old chairholder is sticking with his Rastifarian vampire chic persona, Killdivah, and everyone is tired of bloodsucking ska.

Meanwhile, the eight minor families (the politics of this are as complex as the bloodlines of Renaissance nobility) who also can compete in the fashion arena have chosen a gladiator. A young woman in a short, glittery, diamond white disco gown and a Sassoon bob is going to drive a 1993 Toyota Corolla right onto the dance floor! It will be sensational at least and get the judges’ attention.

She’s chosen her name for the evening, ShimmerTM. Because, you know, everyone loves dessert and a nice shiny floor.

Of course, I woke up laughing just then.

More Than You Wanted to Know

My sister-in-law asked in an email:
> Did you know this?

Yes, I did. If you wonder what the stuff looks like, Navy peacoats, the heavy wool overcoats sailors wear, are made of Melton cloth. It’s so tightly woven you can’t see the weave. It’s also got clay (fuller’s earth) pounded into it to make it even heavier and pretty much waterproof. Because of the fulling, you can’t dye it bright colors. Browns, blues, grays and dark greens and reds, pretty much. It goes back to around the time of the Napoleonic wars when good heavy woolen coats for soldiers and sailors were needed. In the US, the mackinaw and also some lumberjack coats are made of Melton cloth.

Melton-Mowbray is the town in England where our ancestors, Melton cloth and Stilton cheese all come from. Stilton was the market town nearby and is on the road to London so the cheese got named for it instead of Melton. But the rules of what is Stilton cheese say it has to come from cows born, raised and milked within ten miles of a certain dairy barn outside Melton-Mowbray. Also has to be treated this and so and that and such and aged in one of the villages in the same area.

Stilton is a suburb of Peterborough, the big town in that area nowadays, between Nottingham and Cambridge. Melton-Mowbray is about 20 miles away.

John Milton’s ancestors (he of Paradise Lost fame) came from Melton-Mowbray so he’s probably a distant relative.

Melton-Mowbray is also famous for several kings, dukes and bishops having hunting cottages and dog kennels there. Fox and pheasant hunting, I think, it’s farmland all around. A bit squishy from the look of the map, you probably can’t walk a quarter mile without getting mud on your shoes. All the streets in the town look like they were laid out by following cows around.

Oh, and pork pies. Not the hats, the pies full of pork and veggies that the British eat, those are from Melton-Mowbray, too. So, cows, pigs, sheep, dogs, foxes and pheasants; a crowded place, it’s a wonder there are any people at all.

Coffee and the Morality of Aesthetics

John Henry Was a Coffee Drinking Man…

The link above is to an article that first supposes that artisanal coffee is superior to the best coffee a purely mechanical process can create. And when the blind taste test is done and the artisanal brew has been narrowly defeated, it comes to a different conclusion than that suggested by the evidence.

Is it just rationalization or does moral connection to a process influence the aesthetic? Is beauty being in the eye, or taste buds, of the beholder a misleading supposition?

Does foreknowledge of the origins of our pleasures have any control over our experience — or only our expectations? Give me another doppio and I’ll think about it.

Omega Wolf Pattern

Wolfpacks have a hierarchy of respect, obligation and deference. At the top of this hierarchy are the Alpha Wolves, usually a mated pair but sometimes a single individual. At the bottom of the structure is the Omega Wolf. The Omega eats last and is chased and bitten by all the wolves higher up in the structure.

If the Omega wolf dies or leaves the pack, a new Omega ends up being chosen quickly and is not always the wolf that was formerly the one just above the old Omega.

It’s in the interest of the pack to allow the Omega to remain a member, even though many of the individuals in the pack attempt to drive him or her away. For this reason, the Alpha is obligated by personal interest and social dynamics to defend the Omega when things get out of hand and the weakest member of the pack is in real danger of being driven away or killed.

Humans, lions, hyenas, crows and baboons have oddly resonant social structures; though none of them are similar in all major aspects to the wolfish model, they all do share the Omega Pattern to one degree or another. Humans, lions and crows are actually crueler about this than wolves, baboons and hyenas. Human, crow and lion Alphas sometimes kill or drive off the Omega themselves, perhaps to foster more cohesiveness in the tribe, flock or pride.

But wolf, hyena and baboon Alphas seldom turn on their Omegas wantonly, usually offering them protection from the worst excesses of their pack mates. There must always be an Omega, why get rid of one just to have nature nominate another?

One measure of the civility of human societies might be how much closer to wolf than lion they are in the treatment of their Omegas.

Horses, cattle, rats and elephants do not have Omegas; herds are structured but marginalization is based on different dynamics.

Why am I bringing this up? Just something offered as a topic of meditation, perhaps.

Are we not Omega?

Freespace – Chapter IV – Enter the Bogies

A hundred fifty thousand years ago, humanity exploded across the galaxy like a bad case of acne. Other races, ones that had been mature enough to have developed and used spaceflight for millennia, did not know what to do about the brash young species that seemed intent on claiming every available bit of astral territory, habitable by their kind or not.

Conflict raged, worlds died and with them some of the old races. Humanity, as a whole, did not care, despite the lachrymations of a few sentimental individuals. The Third Galactic Empire, ruled by humans, sprang into existence and flourished for a time. And then, like the two earlier empires, also ruled by young and reckless races in their day, it faded away.

Because Empires on a Galactic scale are just stupid. Aren’t they?

Five hundred years ago, Bogies exploded across the galaxy like a lethal venereal rash. No one knew where they came from or where or when they had developed their fast, efficient space drives and their powerful weapons. What everyone does know is that the Bogies seem intent on exterminating every other form of intelligent life that they encounter. They are less interested in galactic empire and more intent on galactic genocide.

The remnants of the Last Galactic Empire, a few human-dominated planets near the end of the 2nd Spiral Arm, are the only powerful coalition that might stand against the Bogies. And they have their own internal problems – The Freespace Revolution has been growing for decades and now threatens to destroy the Last Empire from inside before the Bogies can do it from outside.

Liberty or survival seem to be the choices the last humans have to make….

Zing and the Art of Furnace Repair

Update: Two days and $400 later I have heat and a new appreciation for the incontinence of PHAC corporations and for the erudition and arcane knowledge of the laborers in that field.

After visiting seven different practitioners of the art and craft of Coleman heater repair and purchasing the wrong replacement motor, we finally found a practitioner of the PHAC art who recognized that part numbers and model numbers are meaningless: all is determined by serial number. It’s like the doctrine of predestination.

But even a wizard can slip up and repair would have been delayed another day had a second PHACartist not contributed a little known bit of expertise: the Golden Grommets without which the motor could not be reinstalled.

These little double-ended screws with rubber in the middle cost $5 each and either five or six of them are required, depending again on serial number.

When I murmured about the cost of them, he said that I should be glad that the motor was going into a heater and not an air conditioner or refrigeration unit because those grommets, identical except that the steel parts were made of brass, were $20 apiece.

I asked if they can realize that steel will corrode in the condensation of refrigerated air, why can’t they realize that rubber will bake to brickosity in a furnace vent and make the softer parts of silicone?

He just shook his head, like all practitioners of the dark arts, he knew when he must bow down to Mystery.

Starting the New Year Cold

First night this winter it actually got below freezing here and my furnace went out at 10 p.m. last night. I didn’t get to sleep until the dog got under the covers with me about 2 a.m. because SHE was cold.

Got the repairman outside looking at it now, if it’s an electrical problem, he should have it fixed soon. If it’s the heat exchanger, well, that furnace is old enough to have run for president against John McCain. Third party ticket though, so no hope of winning.

Got to take Cuddles to her eye checkup in an hour, looking forward to the heater in the Nissan.