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Friday, July 09, 2004


Jelly Babies

Autumn 1997, Boston -
Barb is leaning against the kitchen doorjam. Her shoulders are heaving, her face is purple and tears are running down her cheeks. Her husband, Roger, and their friend Brent look on with concern. She shakes her hands in an "I'm okay" fashion to allay their fears. Soon after, she recovers enough to merely laugh and then to talk, shows them the contents of the package I asked Brent to bring them, and tells the story.

When I learned that Brent was going to visit Barb and Rog I googled the phrase 'jelly babies' knowing that somewhere somebody had to have a product by that name - and I knew that Barb would be amused to have it sprung on her. What I found was a line of gummy bearish candies from the UK where it seems each piece of candy is a distinct character that the people eating them are supposed to know and care about (!?!?). I bought a package and wrapped it nicely.

1989-1995, outside of Boulder (repeatedly)
Me: (something stupid, evil or both)
Barb: "You jelly baby!", or "Stop being such a jelly baby", or "You're such a jelly baby"

Summer 1975, Charlotte -
I went out a few times with a very lovely and charming school teacher. We went to a party that was about 90% other school teachers. I had met her friend Ken before and he was there with a small group around him. Looked interesting. Was. Ken taught at the local Florence Crittenton home. This was a place for single mothers to get shelter and learn some basic skills. At this time most of the girls there were black teenagers from eastern North Carolina. The rural areas in that time and place were just about Third World in every regard. Among the classes Ken taught was one on reproductive stuff. Here's what had happened earlier that week. As class was finishing up Ken asked if there were any questions. A girl asked "Well, what about jelly babies?".
Ken - "What?"
girl - "Jelly babies, you know, jelly babies."
Ken - "You'll have to explain, I've never heard of a jelly baby."
girl (rolling eyes) - "Well, jelly babies happens when two fags be fuckin' on each other. The one on the receivin' end sometime gets a little baby grow up in the small of his back. It only get this big (fingers held apart) and then it die (spoken sadly) and he shit it out."
Ken - "Sorry girls, but that's impossible. It's an old wive's tale."
girl (triumphantly) - "You can't be tellin us they ain't no such thing as no jelly baby when I had to tell you about it in the first place."
With that the girl and her friends walked out of the room with pride and dignity, having shown up the pretentious honky for the ignorant fool that he was.

Saturday, July 03, 2004


Your grandkids won't speak English (or any other language we know)

Okay folks, stay with me here. Assume that nanotech is going to merge with biotech in the near future and bring about a kind of 'evolution' that will completely alter what it means to be human. Or, scoff at the whole notion and be amused at the ramblings of a sick mind. Nanotech will allow us to build or install thousands of tiny computers in our bodies, all about the size of a grain of salt, many of them dedicated to augmenting our brains. Math processors, all kinds of sensory enhancers, memory storage (recite 'Paradise Lost' and impress nobody) and lots of general purpose machines. People will quickly adapt some of the machines to store non-native languages - lots of them, sound and script. It'll start with military and business users loading up languages relevant to their needs. Soon after, teens will start loading up obscure languages to impress their peers. The more obscure the better of course. (The big 'if' is the machine/brain interface and how smoothly the two integrate. This opens up all kinds of issues that are beyond the scope of this speculation, or my capabilities really.) So anyway, these teens start racing each other to acquire languages and integrate enough of them into their daily speech to baffle their elders and impress girls. Words, literary allusions , changes in syntax and conjugation across species - it'll be a goddamn mess. And once it starts it will very quickly lead to the birth of a new world language utterly unpredictable and unrecognizable to any one of us today. But, it'll work and it'll be fun and while every language that's living at the time will be saved they'll also be left behind - every one of them.



I'm starting this blog to share some of the ideas which spring into my head, tell some stories, and maybe get some feedback. My situation is a little bit unusual. Last Wednesday my doctor informed me that the leukemia that we were getting confident we'd killed made an appearance in my latest bone marrow sample. That was a pretty bad day. The best course now is a bone marrow transplant. It's a nasty procedure for both recipient and donor and the recipient is in a good deal of danger. Wish me luck. Anyway, I want to spew this stuff out and once the procedure starts (at least six weeks away) my production could, ahem, drop off precipitously. So let's get started. Oh yeah, my production will be sporadic because a) these wacky ideas don't come like clockwork, and b) I'm a lazy s.o.b. Should the worst happen someone will update the site one last time.

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