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Issue Number : 48 - Driven Daft, New Novel In The Works, Short Story Due Out In February, Heretics Books, Bulletin Board

TO: JAMES P. HOGAN MAILING LIST -- January 20, 2008


When I moved to the U.S. in 1977, producing a UK driver's license was sufficient for me to be issued with a Massachusetts one, and that was that. Fast forward 30 years of progressive enlightenment to the present. Sheryl moves from the U.S. to Ireland, and despite having driven without a violation for almost 40 years, has to take a test to qualify for an Irish license. But that's not all. When I started driving back in the early 60s, the test was a pretty basic affair requiring you to show that you could control a vehicle, deal with situations encountered in an average traffic system, and were familiar with the essential rules of the road as spelled out in a booklet that took maybe an hour or two of study and recapping to digest. The aim was to be reasonably sure that you could be turned loose without undue risk to others, and it was generally understood that the finer arts and judgments that go to making the advanced all-round driver would add themselves in the only way they could--with time and experience.

Not so anymore, it seems. An inescapable byproduct of the surplus wealth created by modern-day society seems to be an accumulation of bureaucratic deadwood ensconced in job security with nothing worthwhile to do that spreads and thickens like creeping moss over sunless rocks. And those with no business of their own that's worth minding, someone once said, mind other people's business. The disconnect of those who make the rules from anything resembling reality has apparently become such that for the preliminary written test alone (a new imposition in itself), the novice is expected to master 500 densely filled pages, which include over 250 road signs to be memorized, and the answers to 1,000 or so questions. That's just to qualify for a learner's permit! The application procedure has gotten so complicated that it was already taking months to get an appointment even before the geniuses in charge announced their latest measure to help the public that they profess to serve, which was to make it no longer permissible for students who have failed their first test, and therefore still hold "provisional" licenses, to drive unaccompanied by a full-license holder. This means that thousands of people who depend on their cars to get to work and school have no way of complying legally, and in the ensuing scramble for re-tests, the last I heard was that the backlog is over 60,000 and growing.But I suppose they need the increased revenue to pay for the additional administrators. Meanwhile, we have a new centralized regional medical administration center, but the general hospital in Sligo has been forced to let go 30 nurses for lack of funds to pay them.


Contract just signed with Baen books for a new novel tentatively titled The Migration. The world as we know it finally succumbed to the death wish that had been evident for centuries, and from the ruins has emerged a patchwork of diverse and disconnected cultures. Technology has re-emerged too, but its practitioners are not prepared again to subordinate themselves and their knowledge to political and military masters. Instead, they conceive and bring to completion a project for a mission to found a culture of their own elsewhere among the stars. But this is more than simply simply a generation "ship." As the population grows and the descendants of the pioneers evolve their own unpredictable ideas of social ordering, economics, and values, they build as they go a growing ensemble of artificial worlds-in-miniature reflecting the various systems that arise. Some are new, while others attempt to recreate ideals imagined to have existed on Earth. Nobody can foresee what form of human society might arrive eventually at the distant star. But that was the whole idea.


"Escape" A convicted killer accepts a deal to be the first guinea-pig for an experiment in downloading a human mind into an artificial host body. The researchers feel this is a reasonable price for getting a reprieve from Death Row. But the subject has other plans. Included in an anthology entitled Transhuman, compiled by Mark Van Name and Toni Weisskopf, that brings together a collection of stories focusing on the dreaded Vinge/Kurzweil "Singularity."


Since the last newsletter, we've added the following titles on Environmentalism and Global Warming.

The Chilling Stars, by Henrik Svensmark & Nigel Calder. How cosmic rays affect the Earth's climate, and in turn are regulated by the activity of the Sun.

Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism, by Christopher C. Horner. A look into the sordid politics by an attorney with 12 years of experience.

Global Warming and Other Eco Myths, Ronald Bailey (Ed.). A collection of essays by 14 contributors on various environmental topics.

A Primer on CO2 and Climate, by Howard C. Hayden. The exaggeration of carbon dioxide's effect on climate, and the shortcomings of computer modeling.

The Sky's Not Falling!: Why It's Ok to Chill About Global Warming, by Holly Fretwell. Much-needed factual reassurance for children.

Also, not unrelated:

Scared to Death, by Christopher Booker & Richard North. From SARS and Mad Cows to the Great Global Warming, how scares have been manufactured and exaggerated for the empowerment and enrichment of some, at the cost to many.


Recent postings include:

With thanks as always for your ongoing interest.

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