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Now John at the bar is a friend of mine. He gets me my drinks for free.
And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke, but there's someplace that he'd rather be.
He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me," as a smile ran away from his face.
"Well, I'm sure that I could be a movie star if I could get out of this place."

Monday, June 27, 2016

What I did this weekend

In this age of plastic money, do children still know the joy of counting up change to see if you can afford something you want? I know, I could afford it no matter what, but there is something visceral in counting pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that still brings a smile to my heart. Seeing all those shinies in stacks and piles, knowing the value of each, it still thrills me. I don't know if kids know that simple pleasure any more. I will note I was born at a time when you could get multiple packs of bubblegum for a penny (I remember when Bazooka went from 3 pieces to 2).

I'm not sure counting Chucky-E-Cheese tickets is the same thing. First off, they don't have the weight coinage has. There's also not the thrill of discovering a new facing on the money or an especially old date. Tickets don't weigh you down with their gravity. There's no real smell to tickets (or there shouldn't be) like coins smell as they're handled.

Oh, and it was $55.38, which means I can get my honey that gift. So there was also the joy in that. Yes, I was going to buy it anyway. It's an easier decision (and it made me feel a little younger) when I know I have the cash in hand (which will be translated into a gift certificate and then into the gift itself).

I don't use cash that often anymore, so I don't collect that much change. This would be the various pieces of change I've collected for almost two years now. Which is another thing I wonder if kids are missing. Cash was hard, real, in your face when I was young. Pricing, however, could be all over the board and wasn't very real (or realistic). Now money is the same way.

Oh, and since we're talking about it, "Git offa my lawn!" :: shakes cain in general direction ::

It wasn't all I did. It's not like I Scrooge McDucked into the piles ($55, mostly in quarters, isn't much of a pile to begin with). I also did cleaning and woodworking (rebuilt one of the tables, created a new one, smaller top but taller legs). Also I notice I couldn't keep the tally in my head as well as I used to. While I've always stacked them in denominations (quarters in dollar stacks, pennies in tens), I had always been able to keep track of what I had counted. This time I needed the stacks to confirm what I had in my head.

Linkee-poo wears my sunglasses at night so I can forget my name while you collect your claim

SCOTUS strikes down provisions in the Texas anti-abortion law as undue burdens. Sometimes the good guys win (also, yeah for domestic violence convictions meaning "no gun purchase" but boo for "quid-pro-quo must be direct").

An academic paper (PDF) on Victorian elves and Tolkien's elves. (Grokked from Terri Windling)

On the snake motif in Viking art. Also note close resemblance to Celtic art. As a designer, these early art forms always turn my knobs to 11. (Grokked from Terri Windling)

"On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of a family that had been accused of not teaching their children anything because they were waiting to be 'raptured.'" What could possibly go wrong? (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"(T)ens of millions of Americans expressed their confusion to reporters Friday about a system of government in which a leader would resign after making a terrible decision." Never leave us, Onion. Or we'll hunt you down. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

Sacramento neo-Nazis rally and the "anti-facsist" counter-protestors attack each other. While my sympathies are with the counter-protestors (and right now it looks like they were the ones who took the brunt of the violence), and I most certainly understand their anger against the neo-Nazis (as well as their fear of losing their hard won rights), this is exactly what the neo-Nazis and Trump Supporters are looking for (the neo-Nazi rally was in support of Trump's candidacy - the people you keep company with). It is easy to meet hate with hate and violence with violence (and given the reports from non-trump supporters who have attended the rallies outside of the "media pens", yes, the Trump supporters, those who go to the rallies, are full of hate and violence). And it does feel like "weakness" to not respond. But you were 400 to their 30. It's easy to allow "anarchists" to drive the mood of the crowd (they train for this). Having seen a few KKK marches I know first hand the desire to knock some heads. Organize, plan, let them know what they do can no longer be done in ignorance and in the dark. But violence is their calling card, don't give them what they want.

Former Governor Jan Brewer doesn't understand what people are calling Donald Trump and his ilk racists and bigots. Well, Gov. Brewer, seeing as the side that calls the democrats idiots and degenerates is throwing stones, let's just say if the shoe fits.

The problem with running a campaign where "breaking the rules" is considered a strong point is that then everyone believes that have a right to break the rules. The Trumpster says he won't let anyone who doesn't endorse him speak at the RNC, and the party is placing "stalwarts" in positions to try and keep a delegate rebellion in check.

"In a baffling segment Saturday, the Donald Trump supporter told CNN’s Brian Stelter he doesn’t think fact-checkers — as in, people who verify whether politicians are using actual facts or just making stuff up — have a place in today’s political campaigns." When the facts aren't with you, kill the fact-checkers. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Linkee-poo, well I am death, none can excel, I'll open the door to heaven or hell

I'm sure this Brexit thing is all economic and not a totally "We older white people are afraid of you younger brown people" thing. Yeah, totally sure it's not about racism. Noted that, just like Trumpster supporters, not everyone who voted for "Leave" was a racist douchebag, but I'm pretty sure all the racist douchebags voted for "Leave." The company you keep. (Grokked from Annalee Flower Horn)

"So, here’s the thing. This was never a referendum on the EU. It was a referendum on the modern world, and yesterday the frightened, parochial lizard-brain of Britain voted out, out, out, and today we've all woken up still strapped onto this ghost-train as it hurtles off the tracks. Leave voters are finding they care less about immigration now that their pension pots are under threat. Maybe one of the gurning pundits promising them pride and sovereignty should have mentioned that, but they were too busy lying about the NHS. " (Grokked from Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

The Sixth Annual Maureen "AJ" Ramey Memorial Summer Reading Program brought to you by Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men is up and running.

Trotify. Because you need it. (Grokked from Dan)

Happy. Lately I've been thinking a lot about this, how to increase happiness (rather than just stave off depression). Sort of looking at this dog playing with its automatic ball tosser (grokked from Jim Hines). That kinda happy. The end of "On Writing" by Stephen King kinda happy. (Grokked from Janiece)

So, you know when you go before a judge it helps to behave and be contrite, especially in criminal proceedings. Then there's the other way of doing it. So, that worked out well. My guess is there's some undiagnosed mental issues there.

President Obama dedicates the Stonewall National Monument in New York City. Commence right-wing whackaloon freakout in 3… 2… 1…

Hey look, now that TSA has made it hell to go through their lines and people are literally missing their flights because of it (even though they arrive 2 hours early), Pre-Check applications are up. Also, private company who was hired to handle is is now "scrambling" to keep up. Remember when we decided to outsource these things? "Private businesses can easily adapt" they said. "Private business is infinitely flexible" they said.

"'It would be horribly tragic if my ability to protect myself or my family were to be taken away,' Sheats wrote in March on her Facebook page, 'but that's exactly what Democrats are determined to do by banning semi-automatic handguns.'" And then she used her guns to kill her two daughters and was then shot by the sheriff when she refused to drop her weapon. Texas. (Grokked from Annalee Flower Horne)

"'What is the EU?" is the second top UK question on the EU since the #EURefResults were officially announced" I'm sorry, as you'll read in the syllabus, we deduct one full letter grade for every day your homework is late. (Grokked from Mur Lafferty)

The fall out from the Trumpster continues as George Will changes his party affiliation from the GOP. Welcome, George, we have jackets. Also, maybe now is the time to re-examine what you thought were the basis of your former party to see exactly how those policies affect the lives of the people you live with.

The Trumpster moderates his "ban on all muslims" to just those from "terrorist countries." The Trumpster also doesn't understand that we live in a globalized world and doesn't understand why Brexit is affecting US stocks. So, how's that smart businessman thing working out?

The ACLU negotiates a smaller "event zone" for the RNC.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Linkee-poo you say Franz Ferdinand was shot?

"What happens to England and Wales now?… Short version: economic turmoil caused by the uncertainty. An upswing in right-wing xenophobia as the utterly odious crypto-fascist Nigel Farage makes hay while the Sun shines on his project." Charlie Stross on the Brexit vote. 'Cause here's the lesson of history, fascists weren't only in Germany and Italy at the start of WWII. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Remain calls "Do over!" (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

Also, the Brexit is exactly the same economic phony-baloney that US conservatives are trying to sell you. They're quite happy the UK's economy is about to drag everyone down. Well done, GOP.

On of the major issues of any advertising/marketing department in this modern "just-in-time" manufacturing (bullshit) culture is not having an actual product to shoot when you need to develop marketing materials (this is relatively less common in the "olden days" when we actually built things in this country and knew how to run businesses). So, enter the Mill's Blackbird video rig. It's basically a chassis that can be programmed to mimic the performance of (almost) any car and so can be taken on the road to get footage and then you can add the car through CGI in post. Brilliant. Also, advertising lies. In case you needed a reminder. Also, yes, this fills a very real need. (Grokked from John)

Muscle memory. Okay, well, there is a link between exercise and brain functions, and now they think they may have identified part of that link, cathepsin B. But with all silver linings, there is the inevitable cloud. "(Cathepsin B is) produced by tumor cells and has been linked to the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's." Kinda sucks, doesn't it?

Some magnificent photos from Cassini. I could look at those all day. Also, fodder for your space opera novel. (Grokked from Jim Hines)

"When telling this story (of how 12 girls came to "live" with Kaplan, plus one who was "gifted" and gave birth to 3 of the other girls) to the detective, Stoltzfus and Kaplan appeared to believe nothing was wrong, said Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler." Abusers never think what they do is wrong. "Cary Hall and Alexander Tuttle said. "Until all the facts are in, we (Cary Hall and Alexander Tuttle, lawyers for Savilla Stoltzfus) ask that the court of public opinion hold its judgment of our client as well." Yeah, I think I'm going to go ahead and judge this one now, if that's okay with you all.

The Trumpster forgives his campaign the $50M loan he gave to himself. Well, that was kind. Also, wow, that really frees up some of that cash. Also, "'Unlike the all talk, no action politicians that have failed the American people for far too long, Mr. Trump is not beholden to the special interests that have corrupted Washington, D.C,' the statement read. 'Mr. Trump will continue to put America and our people first.'" But he's now asking for donations. Like he did before. Like he denies he needs. And while I love Twitter, I also know exactly how much value it has. So for the campaign to rely of the Trumpsters social media presence, wow. Much ignorance. Such narcissism. He's also banking on the free TV he's gotten so far. That's good, because word on the street is any TV advertising slots between now and November are very few and far between.

This is hilarious. "Donald Trump on Friday morning praised Britain's decision to leave the European Union, drawing a parallel to the 2016 presidential election in the United States." And then "Donald Trump on Friday said that President Barack Obama bore some responsibility for the UK’s historic decision to leave the European Union." The Trumpster is patting himself on the back over "correctly calling it", however "As recently as June 1, Trump seemed unfamiliar with the term 'Brexit,' but he has maintained throughout the last few months that he thought a departure would be beneficial for the UK."

In case you're looking to see if the Trumpster has really thought out the ramifications of his economic and immigration policy, "They don't know,' he said (referring to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s concerns that the Brexit would negatively impact the U.S. economy). 'Look, we have to see how it plays out.'" And there you have it, "Hey, it's a crap shoot, you put your dollar down, roll your dice and see what happens." Great way to plan for business success, don'tcha think?

Tweet of my heart: @QUEENWlTCH my heart goes out to any aspiring dystopian fiction authors who keep having their ideas stolen by the conservative party

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Linkee-poo can give you what you want, but you gotta come home with me

Justine Larbalestier on how her evolving views on writing the Other with some good points for any white writer who is thinking about writing a protagonist of color.

Brandon Sanderson's BYU lectures on writing SF/F, now with more production values. Can't attend a writing workshop? Here's a good alternative. Although the change in audio quality is sometimes jarring, but at least is recognizable. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

These days, nothing you see in a movie is there by accident. How directors use color to manipulate your emotional response.

A BBC radio report about a model of a bewitched ship and the prevalence of witches in the 16th century. Also a good primer for why the campaign against immigrants is the new witch hunt. (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

British Columbia is experiencing what we're all seeing as heroin is being replaced with Fentanyl and W-18 (that later one is still mostly in Canada). And this could be why we see spikes in overdoses.

"It probably started because I did a few dilation and evacuations on labor and delivery for women at 22 or 23 weeks with ruptured membranes, infections, and fetal demise. It’s technically a very hard procedure when there is an infection and helping a woman not need a hysterectomy to save her life is something only people who have learned how to do late-term abortions can do. It’s nerve wracking because with infection the uterus is like soft butter and you are using hard instruments. And it’s all by feel. In those days we didn’t use ultrasound." Why teaching abortion to Ob-Gyns and in general is a needed skill. (Grokked from Annalee Flower Horne)

A giant octopus kite taking flight. Wow.

The Brexit in four easy charts. Well, pretty much the first one tells you what you need to know.

The population demographic of Texas in four easy charts. Hmm, I sense a trend. (Grokked form Robert J Bennett)

"I'm where I am in part because of my mother's sacrifice, in part because I also had a white middle-class father a few miles away who was active in my life and invested in my education. I worked hard, sure, but nobody works harder to survive than poor people. I just got some good breaks and so did many of my ancestors." About the same, except for the Dad part, it was mostly my Mom. An opinion piece about the disappearing middle-class written by a person who clawed their way into it from the working-poor. Also pointed to because of this line, "I think most Americans love the rich — as long as they can convince themselves it's possible to join their ranks." So true.

"… because the US welfare state is 'submerged' and sliced up among a variety of different programs, many of which operate indirectly rather than directly, it is mostly invisible to US citizens… The fact that nearly half of Social Security recipients do not believe that they have benefited from a government social program, and that the same is true of some 40% of G.I. Bill beneficiaries and Medicare recipients is a rather extraordinary one." With a list of programs listed by the percentage of the populace that uses them that denies they are using any government program. (Grokked from Ferrett Steinmetz)

Congressional Democrats stage a sit-in on the floor of the House to demand votes on gun-control issues. I would feel a lot better if 1) they had any chance of passing and 2) would fix the lists they want to use to exclude people from buying guns. How about we just focus on closing the private sale/gun show loop-hole? Or maybe repeal the Dickey Amendment? I appreciate that it's good optics, but I want real fucking change and something that has a chance of both passing and actually doing something.

So now that the GOP has recovered their "healthcare thoughts and prayers" from the past 6 years and tried again to say it's an actual policy and actionable legislation, how is Obamacare doing? "The US is spending trillions less than expected on health care — and uninsured rates are at an all-time low… Medicare alone has cost $455 billion less than expected." Now you know what every single idiot who claims they want to rollback Obamacare is actually for, increased spending by the government and for you. (Grokked from Fred Clark)

You know, whenever I see these "Trump supporters and hangers-on/white-supremist" stories I wonder if we're all just being punked or that they're some piece of performance art. Unfortunately it's all true. Including the desire to go full retrograde and take the country "back" to an time where they imagined everything was okay. "'(The) Leave it to Beaver time when there were no break-ins; no violent crime; no mass immigration,' (Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District independent candidate Rick Tyler) told the news station." His billboard's actual headline was "Make America White Again." But of course he doesn't hate anybody. Of course not. (Grokked from Dan)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Linkee-poo, when I die and they lay me to rest, gonna go to the place that's the best

On why there are so many new publishing imprints. (Grokked from Mrs. Tadd)

"'It's the biggest timber frame structure in the world,' the Ark's founder, Ken Ham, told me on the top deck of the Ark -- which will include an upscale restaurant." You know, like Noah had in the "original" Ark. So I'll wait for the first lawsuit regarding Ham's hiring practices. The Ark was built with some state funds.

So, a few years ago Mississippi promised to get to the bottom of the murders of civil rights activists that inspired the movie Mississippi Burning, they're throwing in the towel. "'It's just gotten to the point that it's 52 years later and we've done all we can do,' Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said Monday." Fancy that. Look, the international court just convicted what will probably be the last Nazi brought to justice while alive. I think we can do better.

Apparently with the RNC coming to Cleveland, the Sherwin-Williams company is going to replace the Lebron James sign on their building. I'm sure this won't cause any problems within the local community (quickly invests in touches and pitchforks). (Grokked from Dan)

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is now scheduled to close in 2025. Having been built near several fault lines in California, this plant has always been a major issue. But now maybe we will have a discussion about what to do with all the waste from nuclear power's "clean" energy production.

"'As much as I appreciate everyone's concern over our finances, when you look at it in totality year-over-year, we're doing really, really well.'" Well, yes, compared to last year when the campaigns were just starting, $1.3M is doing really, really well. You now, compared to $0. But June's fundraising has just been "incredible." That's probably true, it's incredibly low as many of the main cash cows are sitting it out. However, they then have that much more to plow into their various Super PACs.

The problem with an society overly entranced with sports, "'The main reason that I'm (prosecuting two athletes for marijuana and weapons charges) is that I refuse to ruin the lives of two young men who have spent their adolescence and their teenage years working and sweating while we were all home in the air conditioning,' (District Attorney Jerry) Jones said." Unfortunately when people talk about how our system is broken, they're not talking about this.

NC Governor's office sets up hotline to shame Attorney General for being difficult to find while the governors office ignores several public records requests. So "missing in action" isn't something the governor's office should be criticizing. (Grokked from Mur Lafferty)

"But the 37-page white paper falls far short of a full-scale replacement proposal for 'Obamacare' and leaves key questions unanswered, including the size of the tax credits, the overall price tag of the plan, and how many people would be covered." The Republicans would offer a replacement plan without providing specifics? Shocked, shocked I am… And is it just me or does any plan you purchase with "tax credits" sound a lot like "buy more, save more" incentives? Basically it means you have to pony up the cash first and then, if you make enough, you can deduct it on your taxes. "This report is the beginning of the conversation, not the end," the report authors state. Uh, guys, it's been six fucking years since Obamacare was enacted. This isn't the beginning of anything.

"'I am encouraging patriots and Trump supporters and those that support liberty and freedom to come lawfully armed with lethal and non-lethal weaponry,' said Jim Stachowiak, a right-wing activist and former police officer, in a video posted on his YouTube channel." Yeah, I'm sure this will turn out well. On the plus side, the last rally he called for drew exactly one person. So here's to the successful one. I love the Onion, but when reality starts imitating their story style I being to question their influence. Whackaloon quotient already sky-high. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"The moderator, former Republican presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, told Trump this would not be an 'inquisition,' but rather people had come because they want someone who will 'lead this nation out of the abyss.'" Or in other words, Mikee knows if the conservative Christians look too closely, or examine the Trumpsters answers as compared to reality, they won't like what they see. And the GOP absolutely needs these "conservatives" (i.e. social conservatives) to win anything. This is why the GOP is in the shape they are now, thanks to Reagan's compromise to bring the Christian conservatives into the fold. Also, you may remember me saying that the social conservative love the Trumpster because they see him as taking action, but not caring really what action he may take and is willing to be led. So here's this part of that article, "(Ben) Carson told the crowd God is like a 'grandmaster' chess player, and seemed to compare Trump to a chess piece that's usually considered the weakest one: 'Sometimes he uses a pawn; sometimes he does things in a way that is not very apparent to us. And that's where faith comes in.'" They fully accept that they can swing the Trumpster, that he's their man. Also note the audio from the report covers different things than the written article.

Tweet of my heart: @DKElections Florida Man rejected for dream job, decides to reapply for job he hates.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Linkee-poo, we dip and dive a drunken jive, falling as a pair

Posted here in case I need it, the June 21 Writers Almanac with the poem Still, I Give Thanks by Marie Reynolds. Fuck cancer. "Large-scale brain-like machines with human-like abilities to solve problems could become a reality, now that researchers have invented microscopic gadgets that mimic the connections between neurons in the human brain better than any previous devices." Hype hype hype, blather, blather, blather. It's still a 0 or 1 transaction (not in reality, but in processing). Okay, look, the synapse is the space between the neuron's axion and the next neuron's dendrite. The neuron itself has many dendrites and a few axions. And because of the chemical signals that transfers across the synapse the neuron knows where to route the signal and at what strength to route that signal. And then you have to deal with the fact that we still don't have a good grip on where sentience comes from. Is it a hardwired part of the brain, or an emergent property of the brain? We're learning more and more of how the brain distributes its work load, but we still don't understand how those nodes are constructed and why they work they way they do (this is what President Obama's brain mapping initiative hopes to find out. But it's still a question when we understand the physical makeup of the brain will we understand how it truly works. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

"'If people are going to be eating burgers in 50 years, they're not going to be made from cows,' said (Stanford biochemist and Impossible Foods' founder and CEO Patrick) Brown. 'We're saving the burger.'" Soylent brown? The "fake" meat products continue to advance. I've tried some of Beyond Meat's products and they're not bad, but their also not really a substitute yet. But while this industry isn't exactly new (Boca burger for example was started in 1979) it still hasn't matured ("artificial" meat is still more expensive than "real" meat). And while Beyond Meat didn't sway me to switch, it was close enough for me to give it and their competitors another try as they improve.

"'If you were unfortunate enough to be an oxygen ion in the upper atmosphere of Venus then you have won a terrible, terrible lottery,' said Collinson, 'You and all your ion friends will be dragged off kicking and screaming into space by an invisible hand, and nothing can save you.'" An "electric wind" has stripped Venus of it's water. (Grokked from Warren Ellis)

Just a reminder, your work computer belongs to your job and anything you type or use it for may be monitored by IT or HR and/or requested by law enforcement.

"With southeast Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy behind bars as he and his four sons await trial, the Bureau of Land Management announced Friday that it plans to resume work in the Gold Butte region for the first time since an armed standoff near Bundy's Bunkerville ranch in spring 2014." And it looks like they've got a lot of work a head of them.

Teaching the next generation of Ob-Gyn doctors about abortion in Texas. While the Pro-Lifers will think this is great, no matter which side you're on there are times when it is absolutely necessary to induce an abortion to save the life of the mother (such as when a miscarriage goes wrong). Doctors need to know how to save lives. This isn't a case of, "well, if we close all the abortion clinics our doctors don't need to know how to perform abortions."

Party before country. They GOP is going to have a hard time explaining their support of the Trumpster as anything else.

Why is it when oil prices are low oil industry insiders always talk about closing our strategic petroleum reserves. Dear US Government, buy low, sell high. Also, while there is a lot of untapped oil in our country (thanks to fraking), it's not easily recoverable and in this slow down those oil rigs we would need are rotting out on the prairie. I also suspect that the same thing will happen this year as has happened in past years when our domestic oil industry has slowed, those rigs will be sold off and moved out of the country, we'll lose our domestic steel tube industries, and the number of people qualified to actually work on the rigs will plummet. Which means the next time oil prices rise dramatically it'll take another decade before we can successfully tap our domestic production capability.

"A week after Orlando was rocked by the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, a Florida state senator and congressional candidate launched a contest to award a constituent with a AR-15 semiautomatic rifle." Guess which party. Aw, it's no fun if you don't guess. This is what's known as the Part of "I Don't Give a Damn." And of course he has an NRA rating of A+. Good job, Evers.

Not sure if I said it on the blog or in a tweet last week on how the NRA was being reasonable in the wake of Orlando when it came to gun control and if that would translate to them not lobbying to scuttle any legislation down the time line. Welp, here's the answer. Of course they're going to try and sink any legislation. You can sell more guns (and that's the business the NRA is in, making sure gun manufacturers can sell all the guns they can). (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"This is it. This week House Republicans will unveil their plan to replace Obamacare… Except by 'plan' they mean be a 'broad outline,' and by 'replace' they mean without giving any specific dollar amounts that would show how far they'd go to guarantee that Americans don't lose coverage, according to a report last week in The Hill." Won't get fooled again.

"The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that courts need not suppress evidence of a crime, even if it was obtained through an illegal stop." Fuckstockings. Sure, there are those who say, "Well, they were criminal, so alls well that ends well," except what this does is gives police a license to stop anyone at anytime and then check to see if there's an outstanding warrant and if they're able to find evidence of another crime while they've stopped that person, that evidence can also be admissible in court. This over turns a lot of existing law that states if the police obtain evidence in an illegal manner that it cannot be used in a court (because it's only a few steps from illegal procedures to simply planting evidence to justify an arrest). While the ruling is specifically for one case, the president it sets is one of the building blocks of a police state. And if you think this will only be used against "those people", you really don't know how the police operate.

"In a new ad to be aired on television this week, Florida businessman and GOP Senate candidate Carlos Beruff says he's tired of 'hyphenated Americans.'" After, you know, touting his Cuban-American heritage. Because in Florida being Cuban-American can't hurt. So, anybody else getting the vibe that Race in 2016 will be what Rape was in 2012?

"Donald J. Trump has fired his divisive campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, a move that comes as the presumptive Republican nominee faces challenges as he heads into the general election." Munches popcorn waiting for the Dunning-Kruger fireworks. Not that I think he was a good guy, but all accounts he's an ass. Although to be fair to the Trumpster, it's not at all uncommon for a major shakeup in the candidate's organization just before the convention.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Old McDonald had a brand, e-i-e-i-o

Because it's starting to surface in the consciousness of writers again, I thought this time I'll actually write that post on Brand.

Wait, wait, come back. See, I actually know a little of what I'm talking about here, unlike most of the people spouting off about Brand. And I'm going to try and explain this as simply as I can and try and blow away the clouds that surround brand and show you what it is and a little of how it works. And since the focus of this blog is mostly toward writers (yes, I know, politics as well, but that's because as Han Solo said in the Return of the Jedi, "Hey, it's me.") But there's something you need to know first.

Everybody has a brand.

I'm not joshing you. The only way to not have a brand is to not engage with anyone else. Ever. In any fashion. And that, for a writer, means you're dead. You can escape having a brand. When I hear authors scream "I am not a brand!" what they're really saying is, "I am not a commodity," which is a fair enough sentiment (it's wrong, but I understand). Why does everyone have Brand?

A brand is the emotional response others have toward you or in reaction to something (physical object, a process, or even another emotion).

This is not all commercial (although brand is mostly thought of in the commercial sense). Do your friends like it when you show up? That's your brand. When a reader encounters your name (or genre, or book cover type) do they have a positive or negative reaction (like "ooo, another Stephen King novel" or "ugh, not another Stephen King novel").

A little discussion on why people get confused on brand.

First up, everybody who says "Brand" is lying because they say "Brand" when they mean a whole host of other things. There is Brand (which is not a thing that can be held or pointed to), brand name, brand item, brand identity, brand switching, brand migration, brain maintenance/management, a whole panoply of brand concepts all of which are often referred to by the shorthand of "Brand" (all of which I could write a few thousand words on each). I don't blame you for being confused because the people who work with brands, who should understand then, often confuse it all up in their own head mostly because they're lying when they say they understand brand, very few people do. And here's the little design world secret, even those design gods who walk among us get it wrong. There's a whole subspecies who understand it (much better than I do) and they demand top dollar (and by top dollar I'm talking a few thousand a day) to consult with other designers/marketers. It's like the world of reinsurers (or underwriting), there's this whole other sphere of the business world most people don't even know exists.

When most lay people say brand they really mean "brand name" or "brand item." And this is what writers often declare they are NOT. And those people are fools or believe they are "artists" which they wrongly believe is the antithesis of "commercial." Art is commerce. Okay, granted, I'm a Graphic Designer by training, trade, vocation and advocation. In the art world that means I'm a whore. But everyone of those little assholes who call us that would sell their grandmothers as chattel to get a good gallery to show their work. Why? They'll say it's for the exposure or fame, but it's about the money (why else get exposure or fame, which are both commercialized concepts).

You are a brand (name).

So yes, little scribbler, you are not the commodity, you are not the brand. Except you are. Or at least your name is a brand name (and you should be damn glad it works that way). Take a look at all those writing heroes you love. Look at their books. Are their names set larger and more noticeable than the title of the book? Why? Because they are brands and the publishers know their name is what will convert that inked pulp into cash. Your name has become the brand name. And it'll either sell books, or it won't. It's in the crux of that conjunction where pseudonyms are born.

Is a pseudonym anything other than a brand name? And, to the reader at least, the person who is putting their money up in exchange for your entertainment, is there any difference between the author's actual name or a pseudonym (note, this is not a discussion on when people's pseudonyms are outed like JK Rowling's "Robert Galbraith" book, but more of Joe King writing as Joe Hill)? The answer to that is ten-thousand pages of commercial psychology and marketing studies that say, no, there is no difference.

A side note here on the effects of brand. When Robert Galbraith was outed as JK Rowling, the sales spiked. Why? Because of Rowling's brand. People who love her Harry Potter books wanted to read more by her even if it wasn't Harry Potter (and there is the confusion between brand name and branded item). The brand is tied to JK Rowling, it was built on the success of Harry Potter, which is one of her "brands" (actually a branded item). HP is it's own brand, which has been slapped on everything, although JK Rowling was very particular in the beginning because she knew (my guess would be overtly if not intuitively) how quickly a brand can sour because of poor brand management. On the other hand, how many more books and stories could Joe Hill have sold if he put his real name on it? The answer is easy to find because it's an open secret. That sales bump is the result of brand transfer from his dad's brand to him which, IIRC, he explicitly did not want to build his career on (and he didn't), but his agents and publishers were certainly glad when that secret dropped.

Your name, as the author, if your brand name, not the book title (which could be it's own brand name, but 90% of the time isn't, here I'm thinking about Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/Sweet Valley High kinds of series). The book is not your brand, it is a branded item. Your brand exists in the mind and emotions of the reader. If that reader really likes your writing and stories, congratulations, you've got yourself a little brand. Do you yourself like to read certain authors because you know how their stories are going to affect you? Will you give authors you like more leniency when it comes to suspension of disbelief because you know they're going to bring it all around and satisfy you at the end? (To new authors, there's the rub, and it's why you need to be better than those authors)

To those authors who love to pound their books on the tables at conventions and shout, "this is my brand", you're entirely wrong. The book is not your brand, but a branded item (and your brand is quickly on it's way to "asshole"). To those authors who shout, "I am a brand" you're entirely wrong. You are the manufacturer of the branded item. To those authors who shout "I am not a brand" you're entirely correct. And you're doomed to failure. You are the brand identity, the brand builder, the person who does the branding, and your name (or pseudonym) is the brand name. How people perceive you affects your success because it affects your brand, the emotion the reader holds in their head.

So, as an author (or anyone selling anything) you should be grateful and proud if you have a strong, good brand. Many people would kill (and I'm not being fanciful here) for a good brand. Millions of dollars are spent every single day (probably every hour) to build good brands; to either instill positive thoughts about a brand that you might not have experience with or to reverse negative thoughts about a brand, or to reinforce a brand message. Having a good brand is literally gold. But you should also beware of developing a negative brand.

When established authors encourage new authors to go to conventions and make friends, be positive, be nice, this is what they're encouraging. Nobody wants to work with dicks. The only exception (because talk to almost any editor and you'll get stories) is if your books sell well before they discover you're a dick. And then it's the brand in the readers' heads the publishers will be buying. But if you start out with a good brand, where people like to work with you, where they know you'll be professional, half your work is done.

And that is the power of Brand. It does the work for you. Is selling a book hard work? Just ask any of your author friends who have published. And you want to develop a readership. You want to leave a positive impression in those readers (reviewers, other authors, other editors and publishers) heads. You want that very much. Because that means for your second book, half of your work is already done. The readers who loved your first book will buy the second, they'll talk about you, they'll generate hype entirely on their own. That doesn't mean you shouldn't work as hard as you did the first time. Quite the opposite, but that's a different discussion on brand building and market penetration.

This is why you want to embrace your brand. Nurture it. Feed it. Make it the best brand you can because that brand will bring about sales of your book (branded item) because your name (brand name) is on it. Success building on success. It may not get any easier if you're expanding the base, but you don't have to work so hard to keep what you've already gained.

This didn't go exactly where I wanted it, but I think that's a good primer.

Finally, I'd like to leave you with a case study of an author who "gets it." James Patterson. And he should, he used to work in advertising/marketing. He's an industry. Most of his books are now ghost written (with varying degrees of his input). And while that may seem a little sketchy to "artist" who may decry his blatant commercialism, he can't hear you in his Palm Beach mansion where he Scrooge McDucks into piles of money. Okay, I don't think he does that because, man, the paper cuts alone… But he makes what I believe the bankers call a "shit-ton of money". And he pays his ghost writers well (at least that's what I hear). He is, by all accounts, a good guy. And people buy his books. All of them. Because of his brand, and it's a good brand (when it comes to the book buying populace). And he understands that and nurtures his brand.

Frankly if you offered me the chance to either labor away in a garret apartment overlooking the Seine to get the next thing agented and published or working my ass off on a luxurious estate (and have no doubt, he's still working his ass off) to sell a few million books I know which one I would choose.

Linkee-poo has seen some changes, but it's getting better all the time

Invisibilia is back! And their first episode is posted, on how learning to be vulnerable can make life safer. It also increases productivity. The transcript/text story is just part of the podcast. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"The reversed (light) pulse not only propagates backward, but it releases a forward pulse out the far end of the fiber. In this way, the pulse that enters the front of the fiber appears out the end almost instantly, apparently traveling faster than the regular speed of light." My brain hurts. My initial take would be it's some form of quantum entanglement going on in the doping of the fiber with erbium. But still, ow-ee ow-ee ow-ee. (Grokked from Dan)

Exercising while depressed. "The fitness industry talks a lot about 'exercise lifehacks for depression!!!', but it seems to be coming from a place of ignorance about the cold war going on in the average depressed person’s head." Yup. (Grokked from Xeni)

"The list of major U.S. companies that plan to scale back funding for the Republican National Convention or avoid it altogether keeps growing as the July event in Cleveland draws closer." Don't worry, GOP, the sex-workers have already started showing up.

"Leadership doesn't just end like that." Jer gets what most managers fail at.

So when the progress of our economy comes up this election season, sure we aren't growing as fast as the old days. But we're doing better than most of the rest of the world. Gee, when did 2% GDP become the goal? Well, back in the 70s we started busting unions and neoliberalism took hold of some people's brains. "But the study also concluded many problems have worsened: income inequality has widened; gains in educational performance have slowed; entrepreneurship is down; productivity is declining and public infrastructure spending is inadequate."

For every one of those idiots who say people are environmentalists because it's "politically correct" or "where the money is." "A report released Monday by the nonprofit watchdog group Global Witness claims that 2015 was the deadliest yet for people who sought to protect their land, forests and rivers from mining, logging and dams." People are dying to protect the environment. And while many aren't being killed in the US, don't for a second think there isn't massive intimidation going on. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Linkee-poo hides in my music, forget the day, and dream of a girl I used to know

"The option to make one’s living as a pro artist is bestowed upon a small portion of the people who desire it… One U.K. study finds that artists there are predominantly middle class, and a U.S. report declared that average household income during the childhood of artists (in 1979)… above the 60th percentile of family income. Our own analysis of the 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts via the National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture reveals that professionals in “Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations” were about 60% more likely than average to have a father who attended at least some college (55.9% vs. 34.5%), and 70% more likely to have a mother who attended college (55.9% vs. 32.6%). That is the most extreme skew of any of 23 occupation categories for mother’s education; for fathers, it’s exceeded only by mathematics and computer science occupations." On who can afford to be a starving artist. That pretty much matches to my experience (with notable exceptions, like myself and many friends). Don't quit your day job, friends. Also noted for it's examples of what you can expect form a life in art (and here you can include writing in that group, although I don't think the article did). (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

Oh look, this past May was also the hottest May on record. You know, like the previous months of this year (although I think we missed April, but I might have just not seen that posted anywhere). We're boned. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Historically, the best-off salaried workers in America worked the shortest hours… But on the way to neolibertopia, the hours of the rich and the poor have swapped places: the poor, hourly waged workers struggle to piece together enough hours to make ends meet (fighting with employers who want to avoid the threshold at which they have to treat their hourly employees with a modicum of fairness). The best-paid salaried workers, by contrast, work longer hours than at any time in American history." Yep, seen this myself. Although, "One omission in the research is the possibility that waged workers are also putting in very long hours, but doing so at two or more jobs." Been there, have the t-shirt.

"Too many teenagers and young adults are dying of some types of cancer, a Europe-wide report warns… Their survival rates for cancers such as leukaemia are much lower than in younger children, says a report in the Lancet Oncology… The researchers suggest differences in tumours, delays in diagnosis and treatment and a lack of clinical trials for that age group are to blame." There are cancers that are more prevalent in children than in adults (specifically some forms of brain or blood cancers). And many of those are incredibly aggressive, so that might be a cause. But the real worry is the overall numbers of cancer cases are going up. (Grokked from Xeni)

A case example of why industry sponsored studies should always be looked at with a gimlet eye. In this case, OceanSpray funded studies showing cranberry juice helping to reduce risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). "It turns out this had much to do with how the researchers chose to measure and analyze their data." But here's the thing, this isn't limited to just industry sponsored research (just as a note, almost all drug safety and efficacy studies are not only "industry sponsored" they are almost entirely run by pharma scientists, off-label research being a notable exception). (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

America, we're leading the world! "Russia launched the world's biggest, most powerful icebreaker on Thursday in St. Petersburg." Say, how many nuclear, or even heavy, icebreakers does the US have? (Don't look for it unless you want to weep). "In addition to launching new icebreakers, Russia is building new bases in the Arctic Circle and modernizing its nuclear submarines." If only the GOP was thinking about this when they talk about increasing military spending.

"Gwen Moore to propose bill requiring (drug testing) for returns with itemized deductions of more than $150,000, in response to right’s 'criminalization of poverty'." Brilliant. So far from what I've seen (and I haven't done in-depth research), the results of those "drug tests before welfare" programs has been dismally low (, less than 1% although the number of people applying remains the same). My guess is for the top earners the positive results would skew much higher. I doubt it'll have much of a chance (unlike the bill to include women in the draft which went much farther than the author intended), but I like the thinking. (Grokked from Wil Wheaton)

"An Alabama county commissioner has refused to lower their flags to half-staff this week out of respect for the victims in the Orlando nightclub shooting, saying… 'I am of the opinion, by reading the flag code of the United States… it doesn’t meet the test of the reason for the flag to be lowered to half-staff…'." Let's see, I've read that code and IIRC having the President request it (and then your own governor make the same request) is certainly more than enough reason to lower the flag. "'When the flag is at half-staff, our country’s head is figuratively held low, and quite frankly, I am not willing to hang my head down because of a terrorist attack against our people and our allies.'" I'll betcha dimes to dollars he lowers his head every September 11th and would have screamed bloody-murder if it hadn't been lowered on the original 9/11. (Grokked from Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

"It’s been extremely common for news accounts to portray Donald Trump’s candidacy as a 'working-class' rebellion against Republican elites." But when you look at the actual data, not so much. The stories we tell ourselves. The Trumpster's "working class" may be in relation to other Republicans voting in this race (although looking at the chart, Cruz seems to have locked in that demographic), that is other candidates scored the top end of the income ranges, but it's still higher than the national median salary, and higher than what both Hillary and Bernie voters made. This is where the "Trump voters and Bernie voters are the same" line breaks down. Even for the Democrats, Hillary scored a lot of lower income voters than Bernie (although that tracked to race/ethnicity in each state, overall both averaged the same). While 23 states isn't even half, it's an interesting look. And there are some troubling data in there for the Democrats as well. But I think you can see that Bernie was correct (and it's been a truism for all of my adult life), poor people don't vote (in the same percentages are those more well to do vote). (Grokked from Ferrett Steinmetz)

The Trumpster, the story about the DNC being hacked is totally fake and meant to distract from Hillary's problems. Oh, and it's all lies anyway. Sight unseen. That's special.

"Rifle-toting groups patrol streets as protesters rally at Trump event in Dallas." Not the first time. What could possibly go wrong? (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Linkee-poo got a call from an old friend, we used to be real close

So, SpaceX gets high marks for the balance beam, but fails to stick the landing. Space is hard. Also, RUD, rapid unscheduled disassembly, yeah, that's going in somewhere. (Grokked from Dan)

One day the schools will be fully funded and the Air Force will need to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber. "So here’s what I’m asking. Will you donate a book (to a school library that hasn't been updated since the 90s)? A real book. Something literary or fun—something that speaks to your truth, their truths. Something that teaches (the students) something about the world. Makes them feel less alone?" (Grokked from Maureen Johnson)

DC comic about to reboot their universe. Again. But this time more "hopey changey" as they say.

Everything old is new again. "Happy Days are here again, and we're not talking about the famous tune. That's right, the classic '70s sitcom, along with its equally popular spinoff Laverne & Shirley, might be headed for a comeback." No, Hollywood. Just no. Although if you're going to do it, make it a gritty, reality based reboot. You know, like the original material. And in another decade would could talk about a reboot of Roseann, which pretty much drove the stake into the heart of the 70s sitcoms. (Grokked from John)

"Since June 1, the first day Louisianans could sign up for the expanded (Medicaid) program, more than 201,000 people have enrolled. The state is well on track to meet its 375,000-enrollee goal, which will save Louisiana an estimated $184 million in the next year… Those numbers are even more remarkable given the obstacles facing the Edwards administration, namely the refusal of the GOP legislature to fund even one new employee to ease the transition to the expanded program." Yes, Virginia, conservatives really don't want to run the government more efficiently and save tax payers money.

"The work confirms with hard data what most doctors and policymakers already know: Hospital deaths are more expensive and intrusive than deaths at home, in hospice care, or even in nursing homes." Make sure the people you love know your wishes, write a living will, have a healthcare power-of-attorney. In a hospital, without any direction, we are obligated to try everything even when we know it's not going to help.

The legacy of colonialism. On how scientific discovery, in this case archeology, isn't "real" until Europeans learn of it. Even then such "discoveries" (often known to the indigenous population) are discounted as not as important as anything in Europe or revered by Europeans. It's the stories we tell ourselves. Don't believe me? Okay, did you know there are Pre-Columbian pyramids in North America? But I'll bet you probably have heard of the Great Snake Mound in Southern Ohio. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

"'That kind of intolerance is no doubt why politicians sometimes don’t say what they really think,' (Gretchen) Carlson added." Gretchen gets hate mail after suggesting that, yes, it probably is time to have an assault weapons ban in the US. Welcome to the machine you helped create Mrs. Carlson. Welcome to the machine.

Despite all the sturm und drang about the Orlando shooter's pledge of allegiance to ISIL and the general GOP Chicken Little dance, the CIA hasn't been able to find an actual link between ISIL and the shooter. Pascal's Wager.

Meet the new boss (Paul Ryan). Same as the old boss (John Boehner).

So, during my vacations I met a lot of people who genuinely though our Ohio Gov. John Kasich was a good guy moderate whom they probably could have supported as president, mostly because he wasn't the raging dumpster fire the rest of the GOP candidates were. I tried to disabuse these people by explaining the only reason they thought he was moderate is because the news media hadn't focused on him because he never caught fire in the primary. Here's one more example of the extremist politics being played out in the battleground state of Ohio. "Republican lawmakers in Ohio approved a bill late Wednesday night that would force residents to put up a cash bond when they petition a court extend voting hours during an election day emergency, such as a natural disaster.… Ohio could become the first state in the nation to make voters risk losing tens of thousands of dollars of their own money when making the case for keeping the polls open a few extra hours." This is after the courts have demanded that our Sec. of State Jon Husted restore early voting hours because of how the new hours disadvantaged the poor and minority populations in Ohio. Sound moderate enough for the country? (Grokked from Hannah Bowman)

You know, now that the Trumpster is the presumptive nominee and is being schooled to read speeches from a teleprompter you'd think someone in his campaign would take the reigns of his twitter account to keep him from continually embarrassing himself. You would be wrong. The Trumpster continually falls for conspiracy theories. Really, will his National Security Advisor need a professional subscription to Snoops to do their job?

"But, a new study by Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University… documents not only the outsized coverage Trump received — from TV and digital media — in the early days of his campaign but also how overwhelmingly positive that coverage was." Sure, he's rating gold. Clowns always are. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Hugh Hewitt comes to the realization that the Trumpster may one a lizard man, but he's the GOP's lizard man. So, how much is a soul worth these days? Do you get a discount if they're already in the media?

So, what happens when the "irresistible force" meets the "immovable object"? In this case, the Trumpster is to go talk to the NRA about banning people on the no-fly list from buying guns. This should be good (makes popcorn). Also, the NRA, despite their lobbying and campaign activities, are not the ones who actually get to decide or make the law (for various definitions of both of those terms given the spinelessness and incompetence of the current crop of legislators).

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tomorrow Never Knows

One of the things I love about NE Ohio is that we still have some quirky radio stations devoted to rock. So last night on the way home this song came on while I was flipping stations. It's one of my favorite Beatles songs because it is so very unlike everything else they did, and yet still recognizable as the Beatles.

Love is all and love is everyone
It is knowing, it is knowing
That ignorance and hates may mourn the dead
It is believing, it is believing