I got an email from something called Wowcher, one of those Groupon-type sites. (“Groupon” always looks like a type of fish to me.) It took a while before I got the pun: wow! + voucher = wowcher. The email thanked me for subscribing to their newsletter, which I hadn’t done. I mean, they’re in London. I don’t think I need coupons for dining in London. At the bottom of the email was an unsubscribe button, and I’ve been unsubscribing from things a lot lately, just to make life easier. I have a program called “Herald” that pops up a transparent window when new mail comes in, so I can keep on top of it - something about which I have been horrid for years - and it plays the AOL “You’ve Got Mail” noise, which turns a few heads in public places. I think they expect to see someone with a fax machine and a cellphone the size of a shoebox.

Because it’s funny and deserves ridicule when we think people used fax machines and big phones! Ha ha. There’s a line in the second “Die Hard” movie; Bruce Willis is trying to get some information, asks for it to be faxed, and the cop on the other end of the line doesn’t know what that means. “Wake up and smell the 90s,” he says. That seemed so high tech. But as long as I’ve been alive there’s been high tech.

Clocks that had those numbers that flipped over. LED watches. Rocket ships.
Microwaves. VCRs. Answering machines. Personal! Computers! Oh! My GOD Personal! Computers!

Then everything got small and powerful, and that made it different; then they got invisible, which made them seem to retreat into some great unseen apparatus behind everything else, like VALIS.

Anyway, when I clicked on the unsubscribe link it sent me to a pharma site with a .ru address. This seemed dodgy. A little. I tweeted out what a scam it was, and finally today:

@lileks Hi, i'm afraid that's someone pretending to be us and is not genuine. Please click spam on the top of your email.

Okay. Clever, whoever did that: make people go to your site because they think they’re blocking spam. Then once they’re there, they think: hey, Russian drugs! My lucky day!

But here’s the page for wowcher: you get one of those annoying ads that asks if you’d like to sign up, and makes you look for the X that closes the box.


There isn’t any X. Either you close your browser window or sign up.

My daughter is doing a rocket project in school. I wasn’t clear on what that meant, since she wasn’t clear on what that meant, except that they were making rockets. Real ones? Bicarb & vinegar propulsion? No, just - never mind. Well, she came back yesterday with the details: they got a catalogue, and selected their rockets. When I googled the names they came back as Estes products. This made me very, very happy. I was an Estes rocketeer as a kid, too - orange launching pad, the wires leading to the control pad, the thrill of launch day. I sent up some ants in the payload rocket. Ants: conscripts for boy-kings. I wonder what’s the highest altitude an ant has ever attained. Maybe one hitched a ride on a rocket, fell off during stage separation or tumbled off after MECO. How long could an ant survive in outer space? Why don't we know these things?



Etc, etc. Just typing this avoiding finishing the column. Given what I have elsewhere on the site today, this is pretty superfluous; I suppose I could have put one of them into a blog post, but I wrote it as a subsite, so there. It has to do with something I found at Hunt and Gather last week, and goes back to the usual reaction I have to finding pieces of people’s lives cast off and forgotten. You’ll see what I mean.

As for the first chapter of the novel . . .

I can't. I'm sorry. Before you say: oh, you promised, you lie! You're right. It doesn't exist! You're wrong. I have spent the last three hours reworking the first chapter. It’s like getting a plaster deathmask of a shapeshifter. First impressions are the most important, you know. I thought it was ready to roll, but just cleaning up formatting in web version made me tweak and revise. This doesn’t meant I’ll obsess over it for months and never let it go - I’m not that kind of writer. I just want the first chapter to shine in the dark.

Plus, the idea of posting it and getting a general "meh" in the comments is dismaying.

Hey: it’s coming. Soon. It's only the first chapter that's giving me grief. If you wish to be informed of the exact date it will be ready for purchase, send an email to

books (at sign) lileks dot com.

Thanks! Have a grand weekend, and I'll see you around. BONUS COMPENSATION FOR LYING: hit that Love letter link up there. And I'm sorry. At least I got a new first line out of tonight:

"I poured the coffee. Dick wrecked the eggs."

If I stick with that, I'll have this evening's exercise to thank.

UPDATE: Changed my mind. I did promise. So here.



















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