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Old 02-08-2012, 07:44 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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What's Spider Robinson doing these days?

So far as I can find, Spider Robinson has published nothing since before his wife's passing in 2010. Can't find a hint of any forthcoming books on his website, either. I'm starting to wonder if Jeanne's death hit him so hard he decided to retire, or got hopelessly writer's-blocked.
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:45 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Dammit. Mods, please move thread to CS.
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:47 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Modding

Done.
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  #4  
Old 02-08-2012, 08:00 PM
JanMSchroeder JanMSchroeder is offline
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He has contracts to write more books (three, I think) as follow-ups to "Variable Star". While at least one would probably be out by now, he put everything on hold while Jeanne was ill.
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:29 PM
RikWriter RikWriter is offline
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He's probably being bugnuts still.

Sorry, don't mean to be snarky...I used to like him back in his early Callahan's Crosstime Saloon Days but he's gone round the bend.
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:18 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Originally Posted by RikWriter View Post
He's probably being bugnuts still.

Sorry, don't mean to be snarky...I used to like him back in his early Callahan's Crosstime Saloon Days but he's gone round the bend.
He became a naturalized Canadian. One must make allowances for his condition.
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:20 PM
Miller Miller is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RikWriter View Post
He's probably being bugnuts still.

Sorry, don't mean to be snarky...I used to like him back in his early Callahan's Crosstime Saloon Days but he's gone round the bend.
I read a bunch of his Callahan stuff in my early twenties, but never branched out of that to his other stuff, and stopped following him entirely years ago. What this about him going crazy?
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  #8  
Old 02-09-2012, 07:20 AM
ch4rl3s ch4rl3s is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
So far as I can find, Spider Robinson has published nothing since before his wife's passing in 2010. Can't find a hint of any forthcoming books on his website, either. I'm starting to wonder if Jeanne's death hit him so hard he decided to retire, or got hopelessly writer's-blocked.
My mom occassionally sees him in the store, (and other places around the small island town where she lives.) She doesn't tell me anything about what he's writing, though. (she's not a sci-fi/fantasy nut like I am.)
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Old 02-09-2012, 07:54 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Miller: His book of essays marked him as a nut, and the political ranting* in Variable Star and a few other later books showed him as a totally crazy-person. (note that his essays mirrored the spewage in Variable Star. I wouldn't assume that the characters represent the author, but I would say that stuff he publishes in essays are his actual views and if the characters mimic that....

His book of rants (The Crazy Years) reads just like like Grandpa Simpson sounds. In addition to his crackpot political stuff, there's also his reflections on everyday life type stuff (think Andy Rooney, but more obnoxious). He wrote like 4 columns about how all computers suxxor because they're not always on (like a refrigerator) but that they have to warm up (like an oven). And the fact that they've got to boot up and take...what? 2, 3 minutes to boot is intolerable. He also wants every possible program you could ever want integrated into the OS. So if you need a CAD program, it's in the OS. A raytracing program? In the OS. A specialized database for higher-level physics stuff? In the OS. That never gets rebooted. Oh, and the computer needs to be JUST LIKE that MS Word feature that says "It looks like you're trying to type a letter. Here's a template for a letter. Let me reformat your doc."--Robinson wants you to just be able to sit down and start typing and the OS just "knows" that's what you want. Start typing a spreadsheet and the OS knows you want a spreadsheet. (apparently this magical computer exists: the "Canon Cat" but THEY (and you know who THEY are) sunk the company deliberately!!!11!!!)

This would just be normal crank/computer illiterate crackpottery, except that he's so damned incensed about it. You can "hear" the spittle and foam in his voice.

The guy wrote some great stuff, his short story "Melancholy Elephants" is an unsung classic and the short-story version of "Stardance" (not the crappy expanded novel) is probably in the top 25 SF short stories of all time. But the man is a a few light-bulbs short of a chandelier and has been since the early 2000s.

*This isn't a left/right thing, this is a crazy/sane thing. Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich, Carol Mosley Brown(sp?) and Strom Thurmond even, would be on the same side against some of Robinson's drivel.

SPOILER:

In VS, Robinson's claiming that people like Stephen Hawking make people into fundies because Hawking doesn't accept intelligent design and talks about quantum foam and other silly esoteric drivel like that.

He also claims that the "correct" answer to aliens who blow up the sun and kill everyone on Earth and to terrorists who blew up the WTC on 9/11 or did the OKC bombing is to forgive them and love them. You can argue about if invasion of Iraq and/or Afghanistan was right or wrong, but no sane person would argue that you just let the mass-murderers go off to do it again.

And that was just the tip of the iceburg,


Last edited by Fenris; 02-09-2012 at 07:57 AM..
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  #10  
Old 02-09-2012, 08:30 AM
Chipacabra Chipacabra is offline
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That's an interesting interpretation of Variable Star, there... I just read it and...
SPOILER:

The obligatory Zen Buddhist that everyone looks up to pretty explicitly says that the thing to do is calm down, start popping out babies, and prepare the next generations to murder the hell out of the aliens.

I also have no idea where you're getting that about Stephen Hawking.


Really, I love the comparisons of Robinson to Heinlein, because they both have the same tendency to insert their own prejudices and values into their stories as forces of nature.
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  #11  
Old 02-09-2012, 11:53 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
Miller: His book of essays marked him as a nut . . .
This one ain't too crazy.
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  #12  
Old 02-10-2012, 09:11 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
Miller: His book of essays marked him as a nut, and the political ranting* in Variable Star . . .

SPOILER:

In VS, Robinson's claiming that people like Stephen Hawking make people into fundies because Hawking doesn't accept intelligent design and talks about quantum foam and other silly esoteric drivel like that.

He also claims that the "correct" answer to aliens who blow up the sun and kill everyone on Earth and to terrorists who blew up the WTC on 9/11 or did the OKC bombing is to forgive them and love them. You can argue about if invasion of Iraq and/or Afghanistan was right or wrong, but no sane person would argue that you just let the mass-murderers go off to do it again.

And that was just the tip of the iceburg,

I've read VS and I don't recall any of that. Nor any other political messages of any kind.

Last edited by BrainGlutton; 02-10-2012 at 09:11 AM..
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  #13  
Old 02-10-2012, 09:45 AM
Loach Loach is online now
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He used to be one of my favorite authors. But in time I found his methods became too similar any annoying to me. He would set up a premise. Situation A was going to happen. Hero fights long and hard against A. Then at the end the hero realizes that all his assumptions about A were wrong and A is actually a great thing. The problem is at the end I still believe A is wrong and the hero is an idiot. And he fills his books with too many perfect ideal people. At least in his eyes.
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  #14  
Old 02-10-2012, 11:18 AM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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Spider should have stuck to the outrageous puns in Callahans. But after he blew Callahans out of existence, I just kinda drifted away. I've read his later Callahan's books and they just didn't do it for me the way the first ones did.
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  #15  
Old 02-10-2012, 01:06 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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My main problem with Robinson is that he assumes that perfect telepathy with everyone who is living, or who has ever lived, is everyone's idea of paradise. That would be my hell. Right off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen people that I don't want to even talk to, much less be in constant telepathic communication with. Since many of his stories assume that perfect telepathy is a worthy goal, I just can't get into many of them.

And Spider (or rather, his characters, but in many cases his characters are indeed mouthing Spider's viewpoints) is all for diversity, and accepting other people's differences, unless it's a difference that HE doesn't like. It's OK if you're an android/cyborg/robot (can't remember which) from outer space who has come to destroy humanity, the folks at Callahan's can accept that, and even love you. But if you're a short fat immigrant woman with a heavy accent and questionable fashion sense, you will be mocked mercilessly, and completely humiliated. And that's a GOOD thing.
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  #16  
Old 02-10-2012, 03:44 PM
Chipacabra Chipacabra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni View Post
And Spider (or rather, his characters, but in many cases his characters are indeed mouthing Spider's viewpoints) is all for diversity, and accepting other people's differences, unless it's a difference that HE doesn't like. It's OK if you're an android/cyborg/robot (can't remember which) from outer space who has come to destroy humanity, the folks at Callahan's can accept that, and even love you. But if you're a short fat immigrant woman with a heavy accent and questionable fashion sense, you will be mocked mercilessly, and completely humiliated. And that's a GOOD thing.
I think he actually realized that's a problem, eventually. One of the later post-Callahan books (Callahan's Con, I think) ends with Jake going back and apologizing for humiliating the neighbor he was feuding with.
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  #17  
Old 02-10-2012, 03:48 PM
JanMSchroeder JanMSchroeder is offline
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You want to know what Spider's up to? Read this:

http://www.spiderrobinson.com/index2.html

Lightning strikes twice, and not in a good way. I can't imagine the nightmare he's going through. If any of you would care to help out, let me know.

Jan
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  #18  
Old 02-10-2012, 04:12 PM
Le Ministre de l'au-delà Le Ministre de l'au-delà is offline
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I'm ever so sorry to read that; thank you, Jan, for posting that here.
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  #19  
Old 02-10-2012, 04:30 PM
Baker Baker is offline
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OMG, I can't imagine the pain he is going through. Or Terri's pain, or her husband and daughter as well.

I met Spider Robinson once, just once, back in the late 80's when he signed books at a bookstore in East Lansing Michigan. I asked him to sign by the story "True Minds" as it's one of my favorite short sci-fi stories ever. He wrote that nobody had ever told him they liked it! Whether that's true or not I was flattered. I'd never seen a picture of him, but he looked just like I imagined from descriptions.

I wish him and the family all the luck in the world, and I will pray for them. Oh, and buy the book, that should help too.
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  #20  
Old 02-10-2012, 04:39 PM
Bosstone Bosstone is offline
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Well, I was going to post what I thought about Robinson, but after Jan's post maybe not.
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  #21  
Old 02-10-2012, 04:54 PM
Baker Baker is offline
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Then you probably shouldn't have posted at all.
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  #22  
Old 02-10-2012, 05:23 PM
JanMSchroeder JanMSchroeder is offline
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Originally Posted by Bosstone View Post
Well, I was going to post what I thought about Robinson, but after Jan's post maybe not.
I'm glad. Because unless you actually know him, all we'd hear is an opinion on his writing.

I knew Jeanne a little better than Spider but I can tell you that two *nicer* people you'd never meet. Kind, considerate, mindful people. For an idea of what kind of folks they are, I point you to Terri-Luanna's amazing blog at http://www.gracefulwomanwarrior.org/ ...because they raised a hell of a daughter.

I've gotten PMs already from a couple of people asking about the auctions I'll be doing and what I'm going to be looking for. Thanks *very* much!

[request for help deleted]

Thanks,
Jan

Last edited by twickster; 02-10-2012 at 07:17 PM.. Reason: request for help deleted -- see my post #27
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  #23  
Old 02-10-2012, 05:40 PM
Bosstone Bosstone is offline
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That was a pretty stupid post I made, actually, and I apologize. Yes, I just meant an opinion on his writing. Read Callahan, enjoyed it, but got strange at the end and I didn't pursue other books. That's all.
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  #24  
Old 02-10-2012, 06:19 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni View Post
My main problem with Robinson is that he assumes that perfect telepathy with everyone who is living, or who has ever lived, is everyone's idea of paradise. That would be my hell. Right off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen people that I don't want to even talk to, much less be in constant telepathic communication with. Since many of his stories assume that perfect telepathy is a worthy goal, I just can't get into many of them.
Resistance is futile.
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  #25  
Old 02-10-2012, 06:26 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
I've read VS and I don't recall any of that. Nor any other political messages of any kind.
Then you missed pretty large parts of the book.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Variable Star
It was the characteristic flaw of the entire PreCollapse millennium: the assumption of vastly more knowledge than they actually possessed." He closed his eyes and rubbed them. "Over and over like a recurring flu they developed the imbecile idea that they understood nearly everything, in all but the finest details. They had no slightest idea what lightning was, how it worked. They had absolutely no clue how moisture got farther than about ten meters up a tree—the highest that capillary action can push it. Fifty years after the splitting of the atom, they accidentally noticed for the first time that hurricanes emit gamma rays. There were quite a few large, significant phenomena they could 'explain,' often elegantly . . . over and over again . . . and had to, because the explanations kept falling apart at the first hard-data-push. Things like the Tunguska Event, gamma ray bursts, why an airplane wing generated lift, what ninety percent of our DNA was doing there . . . yet they were solemnly convinced they basically understood the universe, except for some details out in the tenth decimal place.

"They somehow managed to persuade themselves that computer models constitute data. That very complicated guesses become facts. They made themselves believe they had the power to accurately model, not merely something as inconceivably complex as, say, a single zygote . . . but a national economy, a weather system, a planetary ecosphere, a multiplanet society—even a universe. They made solemn pronouncements about conditions a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, on the basis of computer models, which they had produced with computers not even bright enough to talk, let alone understand speech. They were unlike all the generations before theirs in several ways, but chiefly in that they had no faintest clue how ignorant they were. Previous ages had usually had a pretty good handle on that."

"Things got worse in that direction soon."

"Sure. Scientists were claiming godlike knowledge, and couldn't deliver. It got to where even the average citizen could sense they were bluffing. They could go on for literally days on what happened in the first five minutes of creation, without ever saying a single thing that meant anything, did anybody any good. They wouldn't even discuss what happened when you died, let alone how random chance produced life. No wonder the citizens decided to go back to a different kind of omniscience, that came with omnipotence and omnibenevolence thrown in at no extra charge. Twentieth-century science handed the world over to Nehemia Scudder, on a plate. No wonder some people preferred 'intelligent design' to evolution. At least it put intelligence somewhere in the mix. Unfortunately, not much."
This...is retarded. Seriously--it's some of the dumbest anti-science rants I've ever had the misfortune to read. Note that it's exactly the same argument that anti Global Warming types, anti-evolution types all make. "

Later in the book, after, after aliens intentionally blow up the sun, he spews this:

Quote:
[long, vaguely conspiracy-theorist rant about 9/11 and Gulf War II is snipped. The "They" he keeps referring to is the USA, post 9/11.
"If we respond to our own unendurable grief and sadness in that same way they did—by looking away from grief and sadness, and seeking comfort in fixating instead on paranoia and rage—if we react with our own version of their Terror Wars—then we will probably lose this fight, and we will probably deserve to."

That produced rumbles, and he let them happen, and waited them out. No one voice chose to try and take the floor, but many small murmured conversations were held at once.

"Let us continue on our journey," Hideo said after a while. "Let us build the new world we planned. Only its very longest-term goals have changed. We hoped one day to be part of a great interstellar community with a radius of ninety light-years and a volume of three million. That is still our goal.

"We hoped that community would live in the peace and harmony we were just beginning to take for normal in our home System. That will not happen now. Defending that community and ending a war are new goals we've only just learned we have.

"We also hoped to communicate efficiently by telepathy through the Terran hub. That will not happen now either. And for that very reason, this war will be so lengthy that we cannot even begin ending it for thirteen more years, and will never live to see any progress whatsoever. We have the luxury of much time in which to make our decisions. Let us make smart ones from the very start.

"The smartest thing we can do is take hate from our hearts. There is nothing to do with it, no one to use it on but each other. Thus we must banish our fear, lest it grow cancerous tendrils around our hearts.

"When a child hits his thumb with a hammer, if he is alone, he will say to his hammer, 'Look what you have done.' If he is with another, he will say, 'Look what you made me do."' A few parents chuckled. "When we become victims, we want to victimize. So badly that if no victim presents himself, we will settle for an inanimate object, rather than have no one to hate. It is nature.

"We must be wiser than that child. There are no persons here but ourselves. There are no inanimate objects here we do not need.

"Be sad, citizens. Hurt. Grieve. Go insane with grief if you must. But please . . . avoid the different insanity of rage.
Yeah, after Pearl Harbor, think how well that drivel would have gone over "Be sad and feel bad but don't get mad at anyone."

That said, I have a lot of sympathy for Robinson. I think his later work is crap, but man--losing your wife and daughter would be rough.

Last edited by Fenris; 02-10-2012 at 06:27 PM..
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  #26  
Old 02-10-2012, 06:32 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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I didn't catch the edit window in time. My last sentence should have read:


That said, I have a lot of sympathy for Robinson. I think his later work is crap, but man--losing your wife to cancer and then having your daughter get it would be rough. My opinions of his writing have nothing to do with my feelings for him as a human being. (And he's still the best book reviewer F&SF has ever had)
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  #27  
Old 02-10-2012, 07:22 PM
twickster twickster is offline
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Moderator note

Welcome to the SDMB, JanMSchroeder. I understand that you're posting out of concern for Mr. Robinson, but you've actually broken a major rule here, as laid out in our registration agreement:

Quote:
This message board is intended as a medium for public discussion. Do not post spam, including but not limited to advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes, solicitations, offers to trade or barter, charitable appeals, or other messages primarily intended to promote a cause, venture, organization, event (except Straight Dope-related events), website, or other entity or activity, whether or not money is involved.
Because he is a public figure, I'm leaving the links to the two blogs -- which I could remove if I were being a true hardass -- but I'm going to ask you to refrain from using the SDMB as a platform to recruit money or help for your fundraising activities.

If people want to contact you directly, that would obviously be an option, since I'm leaving you as an active member rather than banning you as a spammer (as, again, I could do if I were going to be a hardass about this).

Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.

twickster, for the SDMB
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  #28  
Old 02-10-2012, 08:18 PM
JanMSchroeder JanMSchroeder is offline
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Just for the record, if you look back, I registered and posted a response to the question on the 8th. The reason I did so was because it showed up on a Google search I have for Spider's name. As you can see, there's no spam there.

Once I found out what the situation was, I returned today and posted the link here about what was happening with Spider in his own words which had a direct bearing to the original
Quote:
I'm starting to wonder if Jeanne's death hit him so hard he decided to retire, or got hopelessly writer's-blocked.
point made.

As a moderator, I'm certain that you are more than aware that my 'pattern' is far from the usual for spammers. I don't generally *have* fundraising activities but since I responded to the question and linked to an entry where I was directly named it would have seemed pretty odd to not mention that help would be appreciated.

I understand that you need to do as you see fit but I don't accept any attempt to paint me as any kind of spammer when my posts have been far more informative than rule-breaking.

Last edited by JanMSchroeder; 02-10-2012 at 08:18 PM..
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  #29  
Old 02-10-2012, 09:47 PM
twickster twickster is offline
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Moderator note

As I tried to make clear, I'm not treating you as a spammer, which would have involved banning you and disappearing your posts. I'm merely asking that you not use this thread to directly recruit people to donate money or objects for the auction, which is against our registration agreement.

Again, I appreciate your cooperation with my ruling.

twickster, Cafe Society moderator
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