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from Bubbles = Tom Digby



Issue #11

New Moon of November 22, 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.

Where Were You When....

Since this New Moon will be on November 22 in most of the world, it seems fitting to remember another November 22 over half my life ago. Here's my portion of a discussion in one computer conference system I'm on, reformatted and very lightly edited:

I still have a copy of a Pomona paper with the headline and a First Family comedy LP.

I was at work, at my first job after getting out of college, at General Dynamics in Pomona. First there was some agitated conversation among some of the other engineers, perhaps from someone having phoned in the news. Then they announced it on the PA system. My first thought was "The Zero Year strikes again" because I'd previously heard of the jinx from a tour guide at the U.S. Capitol years before. So I sort of expected him to die. When they announced the death a collective groan went up.

[Someone said something about the Zero Year jinx missing Reagan.]

I recall an astrologer I knew in the late sixties predicting, from astrological calculations, that the Zero Year jinx would skip 1980, strike once more in 2000, and then end. So Reagan being shot but not dying seems consistent with that.

[There were more responses about how totally unexpected it all was. But I'd sort of believed in the jinx ever since I heard it.]

Am I the only one here who had heard of the Zero Year thing before 1963?

And I may have been the only person who'd heard of the Zero Year thing, and thought, after the nominations, that one of the two (Kennedy or Nixon) had less than eight years (two terms) to live.


"What's this 'Zoo Glue' they're selling?"

"Well, the budget for the zoo has been cut and they're selling glue to make up the difference."

"I heard that on the news. But is it really made from ..."

"No, the name is just a scare tactic."

I'm Afraid I don't Understand This

[something I did for a fanzine some years back]

"A traveler passing through any major spaceport is likely to find, at some of the boarding gates, signs proclaiming 'USE A HRASHK, GO TO SREERB'. Attempts to ask gate agents or other spaceport employees what the signs mean generally produce very vague answers. The reason for this vagueness is that nobody, or at least nobody who can communicate in any human languages, really knows what the signs mean. The wording was supplied by the G'vell, who insist that such signs be posted at any departure gate where ships to G'vell planets may be boarded. According to G'vell sources the signs are a formality required by G'vell law, but since the underlying concepts have zero interaction cross-section with the human mind a precise translation is impossible. The words 'hrashk' and 'sreerb' were synthesized to give the approximate mood or feeling that would be invoked by a proper translation were it possible to make such a translation, which it is not. Native G'vell translators do of course know what the words mean, but only when thinking in non-human languages. The best advice to human travelers is to think of hrashk and sreerb as things that don't exist, making the signs nothing to worry about." --TRAVEL TIPS May 2040

[Several people offered theories. My response:]

It has been stated, by the authors of the guidebook in which "hrashk" and "sreerb" are discussed, that "the interaction cross-section between those concepts and the human psyche is zero." Thus it seems to me that theories about what "hrashk" and "sreerb" mean can be disproved as follows:

(1) Humans can understand what X and Y are.

(2) If hrashk and sreerb were X and Y, then humans could understand hrashk and sreerb.

(3) Humans cannot understand hrashk and sreerb.

(4) Therefore hrashk and sreerb are not X and Y.


[more theories offered]

When somebody says something about Hrashk and Sreerb I can reply "That's not how it is" because I know that any theory of Hrashk and Sreerb that can be described by a human is wrong, even if I myself don't know what the right explanation is. So if someone says "I have a theory on this" you can reply "That's not the way it is" even before hearing the theory.

"Why is a raven like a writing-desk?"

This is an ago-old question, made famous by Lewis Carroll, to which I don't know the answer. There seem to be more differences than similarities, and similarities are few. In fact, there are hardly any. And most people seem to know this, at least subconsciously. You don't see poems, for example, about writing-desks saying "nevermore" over and over all the time, although with modern technology you could build such a thing if you wanted one. You don't see stores having back-to-school sales on ravens. You might see a Raven brand writing-desk, but I don't recall one. And if such did exist, it would most likely be a consequence of the question, not the answer.

Is someone missing a great marketing opportunity? Probably not. I could see a corrupt vendor trying to pass off whichever is cheaper as being the other, thus defrauding schools or zoos as the case may be, but I think most procurement people for either type of enterprise are smart enough to tell the difference. If the items were similar enough for that to be a problem, prospective purchasing inspectors would be asked, as part of their training, "What are the differences between a raven and a writing desk?" But that doesn't seem to happen, and the version of the question in popular circulation asks about similarities rather than differences, leading me to think they're more different than similar.

          Comes now the time for the traditional reprinting of

                            THE CHRISTMAS CAT

Once upon a time in a village
In a little mountain valley in Borschtenstein
Lived a wicked millionaire
Whose hobby was foreclosing mortgages
And sending people out into the snow.
He also took great pride in having
The best Christmas decorations in the village.

Also in this same village
In the little valley in Borschtenstein
Lived a poor family
Whose mortgage, which came due on Christmas,
Was designed to be impossible to pay off.
The Christmas weather forecast was for snow
And the millionaire's eviction lawyers were waiting.

Now this wicked millionaire
In the valley village etcetera, etcetera, etcetera,
Also had the monopoly on Christmas trees
To be sure of having the prettiest Christmas decorations
In the whole village.
Thus the poor family had nothing at all
To put their presents under.

Now by chance it so happened
In that village in etcetera, etcetera, etcetera,
The wicked millionaire had evicted his cat
Because its ears and tail were the wrong color
And it hadn't paid its mortgage.
And the poor family had taken it in
And given it a home.

So just before Christmas
When the Good Fairies asked the animals of the village
About people in need and deserving of help
The poor family got the highest recommendation.
"We will help them!" said the elves and fairies,
"They won't have to worry about that mortgage
And they'll have the prettiest Christmas decorations in town!"

The mortgage was really not much problem:
If the millionaire couldn't throw people out into the snow
He wouldn't bother throwing them out at all.
So the elves spoke to the North Wind and they agreed:
No more snow to throw people out into.
Some people in the village would have liked snow to play in
But agreed the sacrifice was for a good cause.

Christmas trees were more of a problem:
They had already given them out to other needy families
And there were none left at all.
They rummaged around in forgotten corners
But not a Christmas tree could they find.
Then someone had an idea:
"Let's decorate their cat!"

While one of the elves who spoke Feline
Worked out the details with the cat
The fairies flew around gathering decorations:
Borrowed bits of light from small stars nobody ever notices,
Streamers of leftover comet tails,
And other assorted trinkets
From odd corners of the universe.

So the poor family gathered around their Christmas cat
And sang songs and opened presents
And had the happiest Christmas imaginable
While all agreed they had the prettiest decorations
The village had ever seen
And the millionaire's eviction lawyers
Waited in vain for snow.

So that is why, to this day,
In that valley village in Borschtenstein,
It never snows
Unless the eviction lawyers are out of town
And every year the millionaire tries to decorate a Christmas cat
But gets nothing for his pains
But bleeding scratches.


While overnight miracles are rare outside of story books,
Even those who learn slowly do learn.
So keep checking the weather reports for Borschtenstein.
If some Christmas it snows there
You will know the millionaire has given up being wicked
And has found a truer meaning 
Of Christmas.

                                first draft written  0115 hr 12/25/74
                                this version edited  2320 hr 12/14/86

                                signature & greeting reformatted 
                                for Silicon Soapware 0850 hr 11/22/95


          May you have the happiest holiday season imaginable!

                             Thomas G. Digby


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