May 15, 2003
The day begins

Today I'm off from work and will be going to E3 in a couple hours. Zoe and I walked to school together and Michele is taking Mira to preschool. The house is quiet and I have a few minutes to collect my thoughts.


Today is day 6 of no caffiene for me. Several people have asked why quit? I'll explain. I had been drinking a cup of tea or coffee in the mornings for a while. No big deal. I started also having a soda pop at lunch and sometimes a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Multiple cups of caffiene became the norm. I wasn't drinking 6 uber-supra-grande mocha lattes per day.

After a while, I found myself getting that caffiene headache in the evenings. Nothing an Excedrin wouldn't handle, right? I thought about the fact that I was feeling ill because I was using (for me) so much caffeine. I know others that drink three cups of coffee before 9AM and don't feel a thing.

So I quit. While I love me a can of iced coffee, it's best I lay off it until the effects clear my system. And while I'm atthat, I guess I should start exercising more and eating better...


Last week I finished the John Barnes book, The Sky So Big and Black.

I've enjoyed John Barnes's novels for a while now. This novel takes place in the future laid out in the previous novels Kaleidoscope Century and Candle. In this future, the concept of Memes that can control the human mind are central to the story. They aren't memes like an idea that spreads across the internet and becomes part of the culture. We are talking about the concept of a method by which a Meme can take over and control a human mind.

In Barnes's future, the Earth is completely taken over by the Meme called One True. The rest of humanity, spread out in space on the Moon and on Mars try to make do without the Earth.

This story takes place on Mars with a group of ecospectors, ecological prospectors. Rather than hunting for valuable minerals, they hunt for ways to terraform Mars by releasing water or identifying other organic resources.

Mars is cast in the light of the seminal Heinlein Libertarian society. Few laws, much personable responsibility, and a huge focus on trust and reputation. It very much harks back to ideas from Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Without giving out any spoilers, the Martians face a tragedy are must make choices between their lifestyle and dealing with One True for help. Barnes looks at how the libertarian world (Mars) and the socialist world (Earth) can interact and what price are the libertarians willing to pay to keep their way of life.

I recommend the book. It's a fast read and has plenty of neat technical ideas interspersed with the storyline.

Posted by michael at May 15, 2003 08:43 AM