Texas and guns. Wow. Arlington, Texas police released a teenager on bond today, 24 hours after he opened fire in a classroom, putting bullets in a teacher and a fellow student and wounding two others. Well, now we know what color the shooter is, and can take a pretty good guess that his parents are movers and shakers in the community.

I’m getting a mental image of what’s ahead in Texas and copycat gun-lovin’ states. Picture a panicked student calling to report a school shooting in progress:

Dispatcher: City 911. What is your emergency?

Student: Yes. I’m at the high school. There’s a student here with a gun. He shot someone. Oh god he just shot two more kids! Help!

Dispatcher: What color is the shooter?

Student: Um, I don’t know … oh wait, he’s white!

Dispatcher: I’m transferring you to our automated voice messaging system. Good luck!

While the kids at that Texas high school were hiding in broom closets and sending frantic text messages to their parents, my friend and I cleaned the front and rear ABS sensors on my little Honda scooter.

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We had to remove parts to get to the sensors; a fender and some plastic chrome trim for the front, the right muffler for the rear. I somehow got the idea ABS sensors were mechanical, but it turns out they’re magnets. The rear one was particularly dirty: the crud we cleaned off contained metal particles from brake dust, so with any luck we’ve fixed the problem. At any rate, I didn’t see an ABS warning light during my ride home.

Now to see if I can sell it. If we can’t get what we want for it, we can always keep it. It’s a 20-year-old machine. Insurance and annual registration are cheap, so it won’t be a burden to hang onto it. And who knows, maybe I’ll want to start riding again when it cools down.

Partway into the second episode of “Foundation” on Apple TV, I saw something so glaringly wrong I lost all interest in the series; namely, artificial gravity on the colony ship carrying Hari Seldon and his disciples to exile on Trantor. Would Isaac Asimov have approved of this cheap Star Trek-level violation of physics? I don’t know. Maybe he would’ve. Maybe he did, but I’m not going to re-read the Foundation trilogy to find out.

I grew up on science fiction. By the time I finished high school I’d read everything Asimov ever wrote; a year and a half later I snuck Isaac in as one of our new-born son’s middle names. But I haven’t dared to look back at the man’s work. My tastes in SF have evolved, and I’m afraid I’d find his stuff unreadable today.

Sure, it’s a lot easier to film spaceship scenes if you pretend we’ve invented artificial gravity, especially if you don’t bother to explain how, but unless humanity figures out a way to pack planetary mass into the decks of spaceships, it ain’t gonna happen. I made a snarky comment about giving up on “Foundation” over this quackery and a friend responded that you can’t have science fiction without artificial gravity. Yes you can, I shot back; witness “2001: A Space Odyssey” and television’s “The Expanse.”

Rachel Maddow returned to her show on MSNBC last night after a four-day absence, sporting a bandage on her neck. She opened the show by telling viewers about her first experience with skin cancer and having it removed. She’s about the same age I was when I had my first skin cancer. Mine was on the side of my nose, but otherwise our stories are almost identical. Except, that is, for the part about taking four days off to recover. I was back at work the same day. Rachel, you’re a wuss!

One thought on “Wussing Out

  • Apologies for two comments in one day.

    Cyteen and Regenesis by CJ Cherryh. I think they slot in thematically somewhere between Frank Herbert and Ursula LeGuin–It’s an interesting place.

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