wafting your way along the slipstreams of the Info Highway

from Bubbles = Tom Digby



Issue #6

New Moon of June 27, 1995

Contents copyright 1997 by Thomas G. Digby, with a liberal definition of "fair use". In other words, feel free to quote excerpts elsewhere (with proper attribution), post the entire zine (verbatim, including this notice) on other boards that don't charge specifically for reading the zine, link my Web page, and so on, but if something from here forms a substantial part of something you make money from, it's only fair that I get a cut of the profits.

For more background info, details of how the mailing list works, etc., look at issue #Zero.

If you email me a reply or comment, please make clear whether or not it's for publication.

For reasons having to do with a course on improving one's creativity, I spent an hour or two in the Children's section of the library. I read the Dr. Seuss thing about the horse and wagon on Mulberry Street, and a picture book, and then sort of stumbled onto a Hardy Boys mystery. I'd heard about Hardy Boys, but had never actually read one. So now I know what at least one of them is like.

I also got to thinking about time travel. The Mulberry Street book had a 1937 copyright date. This copy was 19th printing, and was stamped 1975, maybe the date the library got it. And there was a note dated 1-8-89 about water stains. So I got to thinking about how the author or publisher would react in 1937 to seeing this copy as it is now. What would they make of the sticker with the bar code? And how would the author feel about a 20-year-old copy, not in the best condition, of his new story? Would he feel the story was being insulted by the water stains and the ripped pages? Would he be happy that it was around for so long, giving lasting enjoyment? Would he have all those feelings? Would he have great thoughts about the Wheel of Time? I expect it might be something like "Of course if this story is a hit it'll get into libraries, and fifty years from now some of those copies will suffer what all books risk at the hands of children. I'd just never thought of it that way. But if the story fills its purpose, then it will happen."

And I'd never thought of it before, but there's the chance that long after I am gone there'll be tattered copies of my works in libraries, in old trunks in attics, on display at garage sales. So long as the content itself endures and remains available, individual copies of it are expendable. And if none of the copies get damaged or abused, then the contents aren't being seen widely enough.

Assuming, of course, that paper or some functional equivalent continues to exist as a medium. What's the equivalent of a tattered copy of Silicon Soapware? There may be none, since damaged computer media tend to become unreadable, except by special data-recovery systems. And then the content will be transferred to a brand new copy. So for practical purposes there may be no equivalent of the children's book with the water stains and ripped pages taped back together, mute testimony to the generations of children it has brought joy to.

There's also time-travel the other way, when I noticed a line about "A Chinaman eating with a pair of sticks." Nowadays that might be considered Politically Incorrect. But it came from 1937, when attitudes were different. And real live Chinese people were probably something of an unusual sight in most of America.

There's a song about "Faraway Places with Strange-Sounding Names". The lyrics mention places like China and Siam. Perhaps, at least for today's audiences, 1937 would also qualify for inclusion, even if we can't actually go there.


Space aliens in today's science fiction have large heads with small jaws to symbolize wisdom and gentle compassion, or advanced evolution away from the Law of the Jungle, or something like that. But I was just thinking about space aliens that are as wise, intelligent, etc., as any of those, but they eat rocks. If you go by vegetarian thinking, that makes them ethically superior not only to meat-eaters, but also to those of us who kill and eat plants. But they don't look wise. Because of their diet they have great big jaws for chewing rocks, and little eyes they can squint almost closed to shield them from flying rock chips. That makes them look the opposite of our image of intelligence and wisdom. Go figure.

Stereotypes, stereotypes.

Kittycat wants attention. Maybe they should have Attention Stamps. When someone wants attention but you're too busy, you hand them an Attention Stamp. They take that to the Bureau of Attention where someone pays attention to them in exchange for the stamp. Create jobs. Save frazzled nerves. Make the world wonderful.

Ever tried free-associating?

Free association. Don't charge for it. Don't take MasterCard or Visa or American Express, because submitting charge slips for zero amounts (because Free Association is free) gets the card companies to thinking you're crazy or something, which is Not Good even if you are crazy. And if someone's card has gone bad, and gets rejected, what then? There should be no practical effect because nobody was being charged anything anyway, but still, it may be a hassle with the bank. Likewise, checks for zero amounts might be looked askance at also. So anything free will be strictly cash. Do we need to have the gov't print up zero-denomination coins and bills for free stuff? Probably not, since it can be handled with present coinage. Whatever amount the customer hands you, just hand them the same amount back as change.

               Incident Along Fantasy Way 0830 hr 7/30/74
                            Arithmetic Lesson

Arithmetic along Fantasy Way is Different.
You CAN add apples and oranges.

TEACHER:  "What do you get when you add coaches
     and pumpkins?"
"Cinderella!" the class shouts back.
"But what else?"
Everybody talking at once:
"You can turn those old junk cars into ..."
"But you'll get rotten pumpkins!"
"But they're still biodegradable!"
"Make costumes for cars at Halloween!"
"And string lights on them at Christmas!"
"And hide them at Easter!"

Arithmetic along Fantasy Way is Different.
There are no wrong answers.

                                   Thomas G. Digby
                                   written 0830 hr  7/30/74
                                   entered 2125 hr  2/08/92

                                -- END --

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