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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in ianrandalstrock's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, December 4th, 2016
1:37 am
Foreign finance
The headline is a little provocative, but the article does bear it out. An interesting take on finance abroad: Venezuela's currency value depends largely on one guy at an Alabama Home Depot.
Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
6:03 pm
Philcon weekend
This weekend, I'll be in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for the latest iteration of Philcon. As per usual, I'll be spending the daylight hours tethered to the Fantastic Books table in the dealers' room. But if you'll be there, you'll also be able to catch me on a few programming items: Friday at 11pm in Crystal Ballroom Two, it's "Eye of Argon Interactive" with Michael A Ventrella, Peter Prellwitz, Hildy Silverman, and Bethlynne Prellwitz. Saturday at noon in Plaza Two is the panel "What To Do When Real Science Outpaces Your Current SF Project" with John Skylar, Phil Giunta, Mike McPhail, Jane Fancher, and David Walton. Saturday at 11pm in Crystal Ballroom Two (again) will be "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" with Peter Prellwitz, Hildy Silverman, Tee Morris, and Michael A. Ventrella. Hope to see some of you there!
Thursday, October 13th, 2016
6:35 pm
Quick visit to Sagamore Hill
A quick visit to Theodore Roosevelt's Long Island resort leads to the happy discovery of my book on the shelves: see the blog post on my personal site.
Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
2:41 pm
Designated Survivor: television and real-life
Tonight, ABC Television is debuting a new series called Designated Survivor, apparently about what happens when the President, Vice President, most of the Cabinet, and Congress die during a State of the Union address, and how the one Cabinet member who stayed home as the “designated survivor” becomes the President. I’ll be watching, because I’m fascinated by the White House and the Presidency, although I wonder what they can do to differentiate it from The West Wing beyond the first few episodes, if they’re planning to make it an open-ended series.

Tom Clancy explored a similar scenario in his Jack Ryan series (the book Executive Orders, published in 1996), and Irving Wallace looked into it from a racial point of view in The Man (published in 1964).

The Presidential order of succession—beyond the Vice President—has been frequently discussed, and several laws have been adopted, switching around the order over the decades, although none of them have ever had to be put into use. Nevertheless, it is an interesting topic for fiction to explore. And if you’re looking for more on the factual side (what is the designated survivor, how did it come to be, and who has been that person who was one terrorist attack from the Oval Office?), check out chapters 72-77 in my newest book Ranking the Vice Presidents (specifically, chapter 77 is titled “Designated Survivor”).
Monday, September 12th, 2016
12:47 am
News from Comet 67P
In November 2014, Tanith Lee wrote this dedication for her collection Dancing Through the Fire (which Fantastic Books published in September 2015): "To Philae—and her Mother-Ship, Rosetta—Who danced through the fire, the ice, the dust and the shadow, to bring about the first landing… On a Comet."

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day has something to say about that.
Tuesday, August 16th, 2016
5:58 pm
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
11:42 pm
Gray Rabbit press release
Victoria Woodhull: Thinking Today's Thoughts 150 Years Ago

With all the hoopla surrounding Hillary Clinton's historic nomination for the Presidency of the United States, it's important to remember that her "first" comes with a caveat: she's the first female nominee for President from one of the two major parties. But long before she broke that glass ceiling, Victoria Claflin Woodhull broke the gender barrier. In 1872—75 years before Hillary Clinton was born—Victoria Woodhull won the nomination of the Equal Rights Party (who also nominated Frederick Douglass for Vice President). She came to national prominence through a series of lectures and writings on the United States government: what it was and what she believed it ought to be. She collected much of that thinking into the volume The Origins, Tendencies and Principles of Government.

And while she was waging her unsuccessful campaign for the Presidency, she was also part of the growing movement for female suffrage, which culminated in the adoption of the 19th Amendment in 1920. She was also a proponent of Free Love, freedom for women to choose how and with whom they'd live their lives, and even topics that were radical at the time, and today are simply expressions of equality.

In this newest year of the woman, Gray Rabbit Publications is proud to be publishing two volumes of Victoria Woodhull's ideas.

The Origins, Tendencies and Principles of Government (266 pages, $8.99, trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1-5154-0047-9) is the original text published by Woodhull's own firm in 1871.

Victoria C. Woodhull: Ideas Ahead of Her Time (210 pages, $7.99, trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1-5154-0046-8) is a collection of essays on suffrage, government and society, collected together for the first time. Contents include: "A New Constitution for the United States of the World," "The Memorial of Victoria C. Woodhull to Congress," "Constitutional Equality," "A Lecture on Constitutional Equality," "Children—Their Rights and Privileges," "And The Truth Shall Make You Free," "The Elixir of Life, or, Why Do We Die?" and "The Garden of Eden, or, The Paradise Lost & Found."

Both books are available through all major online retailers, and to physical bookstores via special order through Ingram, which is the distributor of all Gray Rabbit titles.
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
3:12 pm
Book! (Again)
This time, I wasn't surprised by an unexpected advance copy of the book. Rather, I'd ordered some copies to have them here for a launch party I'm hosting. So when the box showed up, with the side labeled in large letters "RANKING THE VICE PRESIDENTS", I pretty much knew what was going to be inside. Nevertheless, I'm very excited to announce the arrival of my newest book (official -publication date is still August 16th)!

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Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
11:12 pm
Interview
Michael A. Ventrella conducted a fairly extensive interview with me, which is now available on his web site.
Monday, July 18th, 2016
4:52 pm
A three-way race is possible and potentially interesting
Data point: CNN’s latest poll says “In a four-way matchup between [Democrat Hillary] Clinton, [Republican Donald] Trump, [Libertarian Gary] Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Clinton carries 42%, Trump 37%, Johnson 13% and Stein 5%.” [See this article.]

Data point: The Washington Post reports that “Both candidates remain highly unpopular — the two most unpopular in the history of Post-ABC polling. By about 2 to 1 (64 percent to 31 percent), Americans view Trump unfavorably. Clinton’s numbers are not quite as negative — 42 percent favorable and 54 percent unfavorable. Half of all registered voters say they have strongly unfavorable views of Trump, while 47 percent say they have strongly unfavorable views of Clinton — the highest ever in a Post-ABC poll for her.” [See this article.]

Data point: The Commission on Presidential Debate says that to be invited to participate in a debate, a candidate must be polling at 15% or more. [See this page.]

Combine those data points, and I’ve decided to urge everyone, if you are included in a political opinion poll, to tell the pollster you support Gary Johnson. I’m not asking you to change your vote (if you’ve already decided who you’re supporting, and apparently 80% of the electorate has already made that decision), and I’m not asking you to vote for any candidate. But I think the debates would be fascinating, and the campaign would be much more interesting than the current cesspool we’re wading through, if it did start to look like a three-way race.
Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
1:23 pm
Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
11:18 am
They're real!
A FedEx truck just showed up with an unexpected box: author copies of Ranking the First Ladies. So that one which showed up by itself isn't a fluke: the book really does exist!
rtflauthorcopies
Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
1:59 pm
Links
Cool ancient technology: more deciphering of the Antikythera Device! The world’s oldest computer is still revealing its secrets
Monday, June 6th, 2016
8:34 pm
Book!
Today's mail brought a wonderful surprise, completely unexpected: an advance copy of Ranking the First Ladies! Publication date is July 5th, but now I can hold my first hard cover book in my hot little hands!
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Thursday, May 19th, 2016
12:37 pm
California appearance
Just got confirmation that I will be speaking at American Mensa's Annual Gathering this summer in San Diego, California. My talk will be Sunday, July 3rd, at 12noon. Titled "Hail to the Chiefs! (And their Vice Presidents, and First Ladies…)", you can probably guess what I'll be talking about. July 3rd is the final day of the AG, and while noon is not the final programming slot, it's pretty darn close, so I'll be hoping to grab enough people who are staying to the bitter end to make sure the audience isn't depressingly small. On the up-side, I'm hoping to have finished copies of Ranking the First Ladies with me at the talk (the official publication date is July 5th); I don't think I'll have copies of Ranking the Vice Presidents (the publication date of which is early August).
Wednesday, May 4th, 2016
12:49 am
Dancing Through the Fire - award finalist
Exciting news! Tanith Lee's collection Dancing Through the Fire is a finalist for the 2016 Locus Award for Best Collection. Complete list of nominees is listed on this page.
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016
2:53 pm
Monday, May 2nd, 2016
3:02 pm
Recommending Allen Steele's Arkwright
I just finished reading Allen Steele's novel Arkwright (which I didn't publish, but I won't hold that against him). For a space-exploration nut like me, it's kind of depressing, because his theorizing of what's to come is probably spot on. On the other hand, he does present a plausible method for getting humanity out into the cosmos. He grabbed me early in the book with his scenes set at the 1939 WorldCon; a feeling of nostalgia and loss, because I met a few of those people much later in their lives, and now they're gone, so seeing them much younger was nice. There's also a good homage to Isaac Asimov's Foundation series (you don't have to have read Foundation, but it feels good if you have). Anyway, overall, a very good book: recommended.

And if, after reading it, you start scanning the heavens looking for Eos, try this article.
2:59 pm
Intellectual property article
A good article, link provided by Fantastic Books author Tom Purdom: Go Ahead, Make Your Own Cronut by Megan McArdle.
Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
8:21 pm
Ted Cruz picks Carly Fiorina: good move?
Did Ted Cruz just guarantee himself a trip to an open convention, in exchange for giving away the bargaining chip that might get him the nomination?

I listened to Ted Cruz's announcement today, that he has chosen a Vice Presidential running mate (something that isn't normally done for the primaries, but what the heck, it's a strange election this go-round).

Then I listened to Carly Fiorina's speech accepting the role. Not bad. Not great, but not bad. But I think they're positioning her improperly at this point. One thing that caught my ear was her comment about how wealthy Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are out of touch with the real people like you and me, because she included herself in that "non-wealthy" group. Sure, a net worth of $60 million is out of Trump's league (and probably Clinton's), but it is far and above the average American. It would have been much better, I think, if she'd positioned herself as a business executive with skills equal to Trump's, that would have changed his uniqueness (business acumen among a field of politicians) into just a feature that was shared with another ticket. Her presence on the ticket does remove Clinton's uniqueness as the only woman in the field.

I also listened to some of the post-announcement commentary. "Why did he make this announcement?" "Why did he pick her?" "Did they do a good job on stage?" It got very tedious, very quickly.

Why did he pick her? To remind people that he's still running, to draw media attention away from the front-runners, to try to cut into Hillary Clinton's seeming lock on the female vote due to the fact that she is female, to help him in the upcoming California primary. Actually, that last one is probably the biggest, because he knows there's a chance Trump can win the nomination before the convention, in which case he's done. But if Cruz can win California, the race may just continue all the way to the convention. And he needs to get to the convention if he wants any chance of winning the nomination. But this particular decision, at this point, if he gets his immediate goal (an open convention) may come back to bite him at the convention: he's just given away a major bargaining chip. He can't offer anybody the Vice Presidency in exchange for getting the nomination. Fiorina may be a good Vice Presidential running mate, but she can't give him anything to get the nomination except, maybe, her California roots.

We now return you to the horse-race journalism we've been suffering through during this year's primary season (of which, I admit, this commentary is a part).
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