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On the side of a hill in the deep forest green, tracing a sparrow on snow-crested ground,
blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain sleeps unaware of the clarion call.
On the side of a hill, a sprinkling of leaves washes the grave with silvery tears,
a soldier cleans and polishes a gun.
War bellows, blazing in scarlet battalions, generals order their soldiers to kill
and to fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten

Monday, January 31, 2011

Linkee-poo hunkers down for the storm

Some steampunkery goodness in the form of the lost world of aerial ropeways. (pointed out by Dan).

Who doesn't enjoy a good were-flamingo story? (Sotry by fellow VPXIII-er L.K. Herndon.

Elizabeth Bear (aka eBear, aka matociquala) weighs forth on the care and feeding of the speculative fiction writer over on the Clarion blog. "We suffer from vitamin D deficiencies," check, "and flabby muscles that cannot adequately support our spines," check, "and repetitive motion trauma," check (and "ouch!"), "and deep vein thrombosis," not sure I'm there yet, but I have had extremity pain while writing long periods of time.

And Jim Hines gets his zazzle on. Gotta do that myself one of these centuries.

Proud of the conservative wave yet? Dear Congress, it's about jobs, not this other bullshit. This just makes me want to point and laugh, unfortunately you're motives and intent leave me too sad and shaking with rage to play the clown. Hey, TP, remember when you said you'd hold these idiots accountable if they didn't cut the spending and reduce the size of government? How well are they doing so far? Yeah. It's beginning to look like the TP is just a feint by the social conservatives to mask their moves.

But then again, principled opposition never holds up in reality. And it always helps when you ignore the parts that don't fit the internal story.

Waiting for the storm


Yeah, I should probably clean my windshield.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Linkee-poo of one

Becomes sometimes it's just that good.

Friend and commentor Rick is starting up a new webzine. There will be more details to come, but so far it looks cool. Good luck, Rick.

Random Thoughts on a Sunday

Friday and Saturday was spent cleaning and freelancing. Today will be spent snow blowing, odd chores, and studying.

So, there's this meme going around about how auto-correct sucks. And I agree. As someone who uses some fairly rare words, and unusual spellings, it can be a severe pain if I'm not watching. There are times I have to rekey a word three times before the damn software stops trying to make it something else. Now, part of this is the fact that until college I didn't consider English classes all that important (and a young teacher who followed my class from 7th to 12th grade and imprinted my brain with the joys of the 80s sweater dress didn't help with my focus on the material). So my spelling and grammar skills are sub-par (although they've been improving).

However, there are some pretty simple words that are getting replaced. Like "bicycle" and "house". Seriously folks, if you all knew how to spell as least half as good as I do you wouldn't be having these problems. I mean, my bane is the homophone and from/form. But I do better than this.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Linkee-poo takes some exceptions as coupons

Superstars Writing Seminars with an audio of Tracy Hickman on why writers write. It's in the middle of the page. (Grokked from Miranda Suri)

Michael Chabon subbing for Ta-Nehisi Coates gives the best definition of writing and blogging I've seen yet. Yes. This. (pointed out by Dan through Daring Fireball)

On Magical Words they're going through the Hero's Journey. Always a fun time.

edited to add the next two links
The more things change the more the present looks like an aberration. If this Huff article on early 20th century clerical support for abortion services didn't track to history I've already research, I'd say thy had made it up. Unfortunately for reality, the history is real. And unfortunately it seems like we need to learn this lesson all over again. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch on surviving the mid-list predations. It's a long post with links to other articles. I'm not through it yet, but I will read and devour this when I have time. (Grokked from Jay Lake)
end edit

Part of the myths we tell ourselves, and how they can be very hurtful. That's an article commenting on the Giffords' case and how "she's a fighter" and the assumption that will make her better. It's the popular myth about how we should not go gentle into the good night. And the final part of that article shows the logical flaw of such an argument. Grokked from Jay Lake who had his own experience with cancer. I have my own stories of cancer, most of which also break that myth.

Vince makes with the funny. As Lewis Black said, "How could nobody in government see this coming? Everybody with a job could see this depression/recession coming, because somewhere around Nov. 2007, either you said this, or a coworker looked around the cubicle and said, 'Uh, I think we're fucked.'"

The Slactivist weighs in on some of the current idiocy being bandied about regarding abortion activists equating themselves with abolitionists. I could make a meta argument about the previous administration attempting the same thing with the Greatest Generation/WWII and neo-neo-conservatives/libertarians co-oping the Founding Fathers/Revolutionary War. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And Paul Broun continues in his ignorance. Can somebody buy this guy a clue? I could make this a meta argument about how the right just doesn't understand the words coming out of their mouths. Tie in Sarah Pallin and a few others. No, really you all, grab onto a reality rope cause you're all about to sink into that morass.

Frying pan, meet fryer

There's been a lot of buzz about the protests in Egypt. I'm not so trilled. I'm no fan of Mubarak, and I'm all for the people revolting against a totalitarian regime, but the opposition in this case (IMHO) isn't a step forward. They're saying "Democracy!" at least for now. However I'm not sold that they won't exchange one totalitarianism for another.

I guess I shouldn't be so cryptic, should I? The main opposition is the Muslim Brotherhood, and organization devoted to reestablishing the Caliphate, and one with ties to white supremacists here in the US (seems strange, I know, but there it is). The Muslim Brotherhood is outwardly dedicated to "religion focused government" (ie. theocracy). Their hands aren't clean in this matter. They are a Pan-Arab organization, and as such has ties to terrorist organizations (Hamas, al Shabaab, and even al Qaeda). The ties are not strong or permanent, as far as I've seen, but they have been substantiated (more so than the terrorist ties to Saddam's Iraq).

If they gain prominence outside of the existing Egyptian Constitution, the US may be drawn into this to support Mubarak, and that would be bad. (War on Terror, Israel, Mubarak being legitimately elected - yes, I know, but they had elections, etc)

The media is connecting this movement with the Tunisia revolution (Jasmine, whatever, a revolution I think for the good, BTW). While the uprising in Tunisia (which is still not a fait accompli) can be seen as the spark for this fire (yes, that was intentional, ask me about the buddhist monks in Vietnam some day), other than timing and kicking out someone who has overstayed their welcome, there's not much else to tie them together.

So before we all start rooting for the underdog here we may want to look this horse in the mouth (to mix my metaphors). IMHO, Egypt is looking to trade a tyranny of one for a tyranny by committee.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Linkee-poo didn't spend $1500 on your damn dog's collar

Okay, I haven't read these writing posts yet, so consider this a parking post.
SF Signal Mind Meld on the future of publishing (e-books or print, my guess is that there will be a mix with print books being the predominate form for many reasons). (Grokked from Tor.com).

Tobias Buckell weighs in on piracy. It's a long post. What I've read so far tracks to my own perceptions on digital piracy. It's a very nuanced argument where most people confuse anecdote for data.

Jim Hines expands his thoughts on the piracy issue.

Miranda Suri holds forth on writer groups. What she said. Yes, Virginia, some groups are personality, motivation, and time vampires. Avoid them. But there are others who understand and work to help every individual ini the group progress to their highest level possible. Find the later and avoid the former.

I also had half a post written on social vampirism before a crash sucked it away. Ironic, no? We all occasionally require the energy and enthusiasm of others. When you realize it's a cycle and the more you give, the more you get back, your experiences become richer. However, and just ask any instructor or entertainer about this, there are times when you pour out your body and soul and the crowd gives nothing back. That hurts physically and mentally. But you pick yourself back up and try again (hopefully to a different crowd). This kind of energy is the preverbal loaves and fishes, you gain more by sharing. If you horde it you end up with a meager meal.

And then comes the politics. I think several people went off their meds this past week.

Ted Haggard comes out as bisexual. Except that he doesn't, 'cause he's found God or is too old or something like that. Goes to my theory that most people who think "you can choose" your sexuality are actually bisexuals, but society doesn't accept them yet. So they feel they need to go one way or the other. In other news, the sun rises in the East.

$50,000 for thank you letters? Okay, I'm in the wrong business, again.

Sarah Palin once again proves she doesn't know WTF she's talking about. And people still think they should listen to her? Especially when she talks about history?

But, Rep. Paul Broun looks so normal to be batshit crazy. And then he goes and double-dog dares it. I'm coming to the conclusion that conservatives just don't understand how far in right field they've gone. That and they don't understand the definition of the words they're using.

Hey, a Republican proposal I can get behind. Yes, if you want to do something serious about cutting government spending, 2008 wasn't a very good year to model on. Now, 1998 is something else. I agree. You want to do this, do it whole heartedly. Don't wittle the edges, cut deep. Although he's just a candidate (and it's damn easy to say things when a candidate and just a representative), in Ohio it looks like we may just have to do that strategy. So far Kasich has a majority saying, "Yes," but then he hasn't actually said what he'll cut. When the reality switches from "cut them over there" to "OMG, we're all gonna die from these cuts," I expect to hear the howling from here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

linkee-poo misses you like an ache misses its tooth

First up the writing posts.

Fellow Hamster Ferrett has been doing post on the Clarion Blog on five things about Clarion. For those of you who don't know, here's the Clarion website. If I had the time and money, or was young and dumb (as in, willing to take risks without having much to lose), I'd do Clarion. It's six weeks and from what I hear, fantastic if you can make it. I didn't have 6 weeks to blow, and wouldn't be able to fit it in (cue the "but you must sacrifice for your art" crowd in 3… 2… 1…), but I did have 1 week and instead went to Viable Paradise. You don't need either to have a healthy a full writing career, but they certainly help. If not for the actual information you get out of it, but for the camaraderie and kinship you can develop. Writing, like Death, is a lonely business. It helps to have friends that are doing the same thing you are. It's also why I like listening to the Writers' Almanac when I can (it's only 5 minutes, and includes poetry).

And, yes, I enjoyed writing, "Fellow Hamster Ferrett." It tickles the writing wonk in my head.

Jim Hines with the writer funny. 'nough said.

And then to politics

Well, the verdict on the financial crisis is in. Guess it wasn't all those bums taking about bad loans after all or the government "encouraging homeownership." As you read that article, you can see how some people's world views don't change easily. Take heart, that in reality, nobody leaves the table unscathed. But we don't need no stinkin' regulations I can hear the shouts from here.

And speaking of regulations, there seems to be a renewed attack on them (if only government would just get out of the way we could all be living shorter lives and eating fingers with our dinners). So, here's a story of just why we have them. It's also a story about how "trial lawyers" really aren't the bugaboo certain conservative cyclists want you to believe. One of the earliest (and some considered onerous and idiotic) regulations concern food product. There are regulations for everything, like how many tomatoes are needed before you can call "sugared red sauce" ketchup. See, there's also regulations on just how much cow you need before you can call something "beef." It's 70%, in case you're wondering. To call something "spiced taco meat filling" it needs to be 40% beef (or "flesh of the cow"). Seems Taco Bell's beefy filling is somewhere around 35%. If so, they can't use the words "beef" or "taco meat filling." And yet they use "beef" in their advertising, while internally calling it "taco meat filling." When it's neither. But, you know, we don't need any regulations to keep up, the consumers, safe.

And facts just destroy political theater. Although, Michelle Bachmann is that "magic projector" kind of theater anyway (with an under current of the "suburban horror" genre). While watching her rebuttal of the rebuttal of the SOTU, I started doing a mashup of her and the Church Lady. It made her speech much more tolerable. Dear TP, please get leaders who are both reality based and have a brain so they don't embarrass themselves on national TV. I want to take you seriously.

Story Bone

Not so sure it's a story bone, 'cause right at the moment I'm thinking it's a poem of some sort.

One of the other students at my lab table is trying to get a job reading heart monitors. Many modern hospitals have rooms like this, filled with banks of monitoring equipment (literally hundreds of them) where there are a second set of eyes watching the feeds. All those monitors connected to live people throughout the hospital system (they don't even need to be in the same building). And someone watching in the dark rooms in the bowels of the hospital, making sure nobody is dying. Ready with a call button to bring help. No names on the monitors, and the person watching doesn't even need to have nursing training to do their job. It's like a night janitor's job. The anonymous faces who scrub up the detritus of the day and make the floors all shiny, those who make the world work properly and make your shoes squeak on the floor. Imagine the stress they feel. You can't see the patient, can't hear them breathing or see their chests rise and fall. Can't feel their pulse. But you know all those things, watching the screens. Watching the patients breath twice removed. See their hearts pulse and flicker on the screens. Waiting. Waiting to reach out if need be, like angels stooping from heaven. Waiting to switch off the dead monitors.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Linkee-poo will just polish the fenders

Web ads, don't work? Well, you could have knocked me over with a bulldozer. No, really. Hey, industry, they haven't worked since 2000 when everybody learned how to ignore them. Here's something, ads don't work the way you think they do (and then they only work if you're selling widgets). Christ. WTF do they teach you all in schools these days? I understand when my bio instructor doesn't quite grok learned behavior with his powerpoint slides (last night was "blue for water-soluble enzymes" and then didn't understand that we then thought everything he had in blue was water-soluble enzymes, instead of "no, this color blue relates to this blue in the diagram"), he's a nuero doc after all. But for communication pros to not understand? It makes me Donald Duck mad.

Look, look, look. Violations of the law in the White House. Real crimes of stealing the country. Oh, wait, it was the Bush Administration. Nothing to see here citizen, move along. I would make a joke about political commissars, but that would date me as being too old.

But then, when you're the party of lower taxes and "government out of health care" and then propose the exact opposite (to raise taxes and get between patients and their doctors) your moral standing isn't all that high to begin with.

Sucks when your world view isn't supported by facts. I guess TP chewy toy Michelle Bachmann hosted an event where someone asked Justice Scalia about the constitutionality of earmarks. Probably created and building negative pressure system when he explained the truth. Yeah, I know, we're for the free market and bipartisanship, but only if you agree with my positions.

Well, my guess about the recent spate of death threats against a 78-year old sociology professor is really about bad grades or long simmering latent anger over an article nearly 30 years old. 'Cause it can't have anything to do with what anybody might say on the TV or radio, you know. Sometimes, the dots are right there, but we refuse to connect them. Granted, these people aren't the most stable of personalities, but eventually more and more people will begin to notice.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Confusion in Pictures

For those of you who say, "photos, or it didn't happen," Tobias has some good ones with me. Yes, I sat between John Scalzi and Pat Rothfuss, then next to Paul Melko and you didn't. I also got to hang with Jim Hines, including being on that PC panel he talked about (yes, that was a rocking' good time, much better than what I had thought it would be, learned a lot of Paolo Bacigalupi on how to handle such a panel). John Scalzi discusses it a little. Finally got to meet a bunch of people in the flesh (waves at Christine Purcell). I sat across from Cherie Priest, although I didn't have much to offer the conversation (actually met her first in the elevator as I was getting off, one of those moments of "shake hands quickly before they're caught in the closing doors). And had a small chance to catch up with some friends (who also happen to be excellent writers themselves). A weekend was way to short of time to spend as much time as I wanted with everybody.



No, they're perfectly in focus, everybody was a blur that evening. While I didn't get to sit with the Mer Gaggle (aka Kletcha Club) early in the evening, I still managed to have fun time until all these other people got out of my way and I could get closer. If it's my one regret of the weekend is that there weren't nearly enough hours in the day, and my attempts to clone myself were unsuccessful. Like I got to say hi to Dr. Phil, and then was on a panel with him, but never had a sit down talk this year. I need one of those Time Twirler-ee things from Prisoner of Azkaban.

I could name drop all the day long and still not mention everybody (Dosell, Catherine, Amity, Yanni, Christian, Deb, Stewart, Charles, Emily, Jim, Ed, Larry and the brothers Darrell...) . And I'd probably forget a few, which would only be because my brain doesn't focus that way, not because those people are forgettable. So I won't try.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Alive, or at least breathing

Alive and home. Will need to do a fuller post on the Con.

Got to spend time with friends. But it's never enough to spend all the time I'd like to spend with all my friends. Got to spend time getting to know some friends better, which is good. Also got to meet a lot of new people, or at least new in person. If I attempt to drop names, I'm going to forget someone, which I don't want to do.

When I went to leave today, my car battery was dead. I'm hoping that it'll hold a charge overnight for a few days until I can replace it. We'll find out tomorrow.

Very tired. Didn't get much sleep. Also I had a very disturbing dream Friday night. That lead to not being rested and having some difficulty engaging on Saturday. It was one of those dreams that when you fall back to sleep, even after walking around for a little bit, you drop right back into the dream. Was. Not. Fun. I'm not sure I want to discuss the subject matter, but I have a feeling I know where it came from and why. The dream wasn't what normal people would call horror, but for me keyed into one of the fears I carry in my heart (a fear that with my current life I know I'll never have to deal with). At least in the form I had to deal with in the dream. So if you were there and I seemed a little distracted Saturday morning, that's the reason.

I also didn't eat well while there. Which leads to other problems. I think I gained a few pounds this weekend, which isn't good. So I'm going to have to be doubly good for the next few weeks.

Did you have a good weekend?

Friday, January 21, 2011

At Confusion

And in the bar, which Is actually the restaurant because the bar is under construction. His should make for an interesting dynamic. No longer can you grab people as they walk by. Stop in and say "hi."

Linkee-poo drives into the the teeth of the storm

An interesting take on the "unconstitutionality of the PPACA/HCR Act." First, there's the liberal slant to reality, and now history. Some more on the rhetorical hijinxed used to justify the conservatives' feelings toward PPACA/HCR Act. Also, I'm no fan of Bill Frist (the whole Terri Shiavo thing dumped any credibility I gave him), but he is a former Republican Leader and an actual doctor. And then there's the whole question of just what "The Voters" really want.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Linkee-poo feels a storm brewing

Some more perspective on the HCR Act debate. But see, the debate isn't really about heath care, it's about power and perception. The side that cared about health care helped pass the HCR Act. The other side is more interested in power.

If just keeps getting clearer that to be a conservative in this country, it helps to live in a fantasy world (and to my TP readers, I'll point you to the last two paragraphs in that story wherein the the whole "we'll note the Constitutional Provision each Bill operates under" pledge isn't off to a good start, 1 not cited and the other cited wrong) and/or a bubble. Please, stop making it this easy to criticize your movement.

And just a political comment, notice how there's no news cycle surrounding the President's recent bump in the polls. But then, "Person lives well and loves his family," isn't news.

Edited to add the first roll of thunder. Happy about the movement yet? This absurdity is the smell of lightning on the wind.

Confusion Bound

Tomorrow I'll be heading for Detroit and Confusion to confer, converse, and otherwise hob-nob with my brother and sister wizards. This weekend will also see the coldest weather we've had all year. And, as I remember, that seems to be a constant event for every Confusion. Hmmm.

Last year I had meant to go, but my neck wasn't cooperating and the 4-5 hours drive just wasn't going to happen. Oh, and the next week I lost my job. Fun times.

But this year that won't happen. No it won't. Really, it won't. And while with the editing my neck is feeling a little twinge-y (that might also be because I haven't seen my chiropractor for about a year now), I'm on the programming this year. And that means hell or high water I'll be there.

And, because all the cool kids are doing it, here's my schedule.
Saturday
12:00 PM Salon E
What Happened to the Future? Has the future died as a source of hope? The future used to mean flying cars and space colonies- now it’s the economy of scarcity and doom. What happened? Paolo Bacigalupi (M), Peter V. Brett, Tobias Buckell, Steve Buchheit, Peter Halasz
1:00 PM Salon E
Creating an Effect with Your Writing. Many writers strive to create a certain feeling in the reader with their work. How is this achieved and how does it affect the writing of the story? Sarah Zettel (M), Peter V. Brett, Paul Melko, Catherine Shaffer, Steve Buchheit
4:00 PM Salon G
The book as an artifact of memory in the electronic age. Why do we still want to one own made of paper? ␣Jim Frenkel (m), Anne Harris, Jim Deak, Stephen Leigh, Steve Buchheit, Stephen Haffner, Peter Halasz
9:00 PM Dennison III/IV
Political Correctness Are we politically correct, should we be politically correct, and can we have fun having a non- politically correct discussion about it? Where is the line? When do we as writers ‘cross the line’? What happens when we do cross it? Paolo Bacigalupi (M), Jime Hines, Philip Kaldon, Steve Buchheit
Sunday
10:00 AM Salon E
Science Fiction as a mind altering substance. A discussion about how readers often read genre fiction to make themselves feel certain emotions or to exercise their minds and how writers can create this effect. Paul Melko (M), Jim Frenkel, Steve Buchheit, Lois Gresh, Jim Deak


So if you're in the Detroit area and like SF/F and even a little horror, there are worse ways of spending the weekend. Think about stopping out and saying hi. If not for me, for the other wonderful guests. Confusion is one of my favorite cons, big enough to draw big names (hey, the award winning Cherie Priest and Paolo Bacigalupi will be there this year, not to mention the usual suspects).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The True Measure

Via this post by Janiece about Judge John M. Roll. I have a few thoughts. It's the things we do when we don't think anyone is watching that are our true measure. There was very little time to think through the situation, Judge Roll acted according to his true nature.

Linkee-poo falls off the wagon, again

Last night I didn't get any more editing done. There was too much to do yesterday and the day job is sucking my brain away. There's a lot I could complain about, but I'll just say it's all reasons I had when I had a choice of positions for not taking a studio or in-house job.

Well, seems that even conservative voices are starting to lose patience with Sarah Palin (although to be fair, David Frum has never been smitten with her before). Also notice the comments about even her recent appearance on the softball show of Hannity might come off as not even convincing to her base of supporters. I believe the quote he was looking for, "The lady doth protest too much." It's a bitcher when you realize blood is on your hands and you can't wash them off fast enough. What I think is hilarious is that, just like me, people aren't making a direct connection, but talking about the "tone". That just seems like to subtle a difference for the side of "With Us/Against Us."

But I guess when you have freshman representatives making asses out of themselves by 1) choosing an inappropriate topic (child labor for instance) and 2) being defeated by actual history (sure, the Supreme Court ruled the original law was unconstitutional, but then completely missing that twenty years later a new law banning child labor was unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court, and with such a ruling invalidated your main premise). But then, when has reality had anything to do with modern conservative values or ideas? Did I mention the revisionists or the ability to flip-flop positions like a champion belly whooper among the conservatives?Probably not.

Say, did you hear about the backpack bomb found before the Spokane MLK Parade? Nope, neither had I until Dan pointed it out to me. Notice that this device was an actual working bomb, unlike other scares that were on the 24/7 newscycle.

I wonder if you could lose weight on the newscycle (I've been gaining these past two weeks, stress eating). And tonight starts the A&P II class, and this weekend I'm on several panels that I haven't been able to do basic research on. I hate not being prepared.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Linkee-poo mixes his drinks in a blender

A post on the fast track to literary success. Just a side note, also works well for musical careers and removing those nasty waters spots the automatic dishwasher leaves on your glassware. (pointed out by Eric)

Miranda Suri tells us what she did on her winter vacation. Well, she went to the Superstars Writing Seminar. So that maybe something more interesting than, "We came to the river. The river was there."

And the Gov. Elect of Alabama says he's the governor of all the people (of Alabama), but if you're not saved you're not his brother or sister. Great. DO I need to mention which party he's from? ''You know, (for) a lot of people, it's hard to trust a Republican governor," he also said. Gee, I wonder if there's a reason for that.

And a little on things being isolated incidents. (Grokked form Jay Lake)

Monday, January 17, 2011

You can't get there from here


From my trip in December. As they got closer to depart time, the gate attendants kept apologizing each time they got on the air.

Linkee-poo is happy he took his anti-depressent today

An interesting blog post on problems of in-house design people. Um. Yeah. I know a few of those.

Jim Hines is talking about e-publishing again. While his post is (IMHO) reasonable (just the facts, ma'am) I believe he's kicked over the bee's hive again. His post (actually, all his posts on e-publishing and self-publish) I find very interesting, and part of why one of my panels this weekend will be discussing the printed book as memory artifact.

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a visual reminder of the not-so-distant past. Was also thinking about things this morning. I'm a panelists this weekend discussing the topic of Political Correctness. So I've been making mental notes of witty things to say. So here's one. One of the benefits of having had the PC movement (if there is such a thing) is that you can always tell the racists. They begin their statements with, "I don't know if this makes me a racists or not…" What follows is pretty assuredly a racist statement. You could win big money betting on that trend in Vegas.

Paul Krugman takes apart the argument against the HCR Act. Or, you can always make an argument to do something when you include spurious bullshit. (Grokked from Steven Gould)

Another nail in the coffin of American Exceptionalism. While all the conservatives were shouting, "America, hell yeah!" all while cutting education funding, deriding educators, dismissing scientific data and analysis, and creating tax loopholes for corporations to export both jobs (really gone) and their headquarters (not so much gone), the rest of the world has been quietly hitting singles and getting better and better. I disagree with the "Sputnik Moment" that occurred this past fall (in regards to the testing data that showed the US to be far behind). It's been that way now for over a decade. This was just the first time an "emerging economy" (ie. China) took top honors. We can dissect the data all we want (like how the US includes many different levels of students and the China data is supposedly form their top 1% schools), it doesn't change the trend. (Also see earlier linked chart on how China is speeding 4 times the amount the US is on renewable energy and green technology.)

And given that the conservatives came into power after shouting for two years about "we should stop the political bickering and theater and create jobs, damnit!" only to spend a week passing a repeal of the HCR Act (while ignoring the costs to the deficit, you know, the other thing they've been yelling about) which has absolutely no chance of making it into law, I doubt their stance toward reality (aka science) will change much. Which, did I mention, that in the face of an $8 billion shortfall in the state budget, our newly elected governor raised the pay for top level (read, politically appointed) officials, while cutting the pay of their staffs?

On the weather front it's going to get warm, and then freeze again. Yippie! And on Friday it'll be the coldest (not supposed to break above 20 degrees). Friday, as you may remember, is when I'll be leaving for Detroit. And my car gets worse mileage the colder it gets. Yeah for it being the coldest day on when I have to drive the farthest. Oh, and it's supposed to snow. Yippie for ice buildup on the front! I can't wait.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Progress, too slow for comfort

Finished editing a few more chapters (and you can see the updated word count). I'm now into the areas that I haven't visited much. On the plus side, things seem to be in pretty good shape (yes, typos abound, and tortured grammar galore). Most changes are in adding plot lines that show up later. Doing the good footwork as it were. I know there's one section I'll have to do a major rewrite on, adding in one or two scenes, but hopefully not much more than that. I think I'm pretty lucky that the story came out pretty coherently the first time through. Lucky, because I read other authors who have to do much more. Maybe it's first timer's luck.

Sunday morning fuzzyheadedness

Sunday morning

Last night I had a dream that I was at a large writing workshop. There were several large video projection screens and a panel of heavy weight authors and agents. The workshop class numbered around a hundred, all packed into a classroom with tables (as compared to the usual workshop experience of just having chairs and you write your notes the best way possible). I remember clearly the end of the day. I suddenly found that on a screen to my left, one that was hard for me to read as I was sitting on the far left of the class (the screen was along the left wall of the classroom) there were homework assignments that hadn't been discussed in the lecture. I tried to get an angle where I could read the screen, and couldn't make anything out that was intelligible as an assignment before the screen projector was turned off. Then we had to packup and get out. That involved a bookbag, a series of notebooks and a totebag of books. I would pack mine up only to find I had somehow picked up someone else's materials. This happened several times, all while I was desperately asking my fellow workshoppers just what the assignments were. A totally frustrating experience.

So this morning, having a quick scan of the news leads to a few strange conclusions. The first of which is the post humble of the Giffords shooting is now behind us.

Tell me again how the conservative movements, including the tea party, aren't about race again or about rolling back civil liberty actions, because I keep forgetting. Slactivist has some comments about the TN school curriculum thing.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

She's a Little Slice of Heaven

Spent the day viewing The Treasures of Heaven at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Exceptionally fascinating, and somewhat gruesome. The majority of the show was dedicated to the display of the relics (some of which still contain the remains). There was a lot of information on the development of the "Cult of Saints", and the evolution of the form and function of reliquaries. There were various teeth encased in rock crystal, thorns of the Crown of Thorns, and plenty of splinters of the True Cross.

There's a part in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose where he criticizes the fetish of such relics. the main character mentions having seen the skull of St. John the Baptist as a Child, and his belief that if all the splinters of the True Cross were brought together, the would form a forest of crosses. I did have occasion for some grim humor. Like the one reliquary that held the head of a saint. The main vessel was a covered silver bowl, originally created for a different purpose, but then used to hold the severed head of the saint. There were some notches cut in the top to either hold sticks of incense or to pour water or oil through and create "contact" relics (something pilgrims could take home to show the neighbors - or act as relics in their personal shrine - other favored ways to get something for themselves included lower cloth to touch the remains and therefore become holy itself). The part of it I found facinating was that someone had to be looking at the bowl and think, "You know what would look good in there...".

Lots of story bones there, including the last part that showed the real meaning of iconoclasts (the breaker of icons). See, while most religious history likes to gloss over what Martin Luther did, the resulting Reformation wasn't exactly either bloodless or easy. Many churches were ransacked, and their relics broken, scattered, and desecrated. Many smaller churches were "whitewashed" (ie. stripped of their religious iconography and statuary and had the highly decorated walls covered in white. This was all in a reaction to the perceived adoration of the materiality of the saints, the sale of indulgences (also tied in some ways to the saints) and the realization that many relics were frauds.

The final piece, though, was a recent reliquary given to the Cleveland Diocese that contains some fragments of the True Cross. The piece was commissioned in 1993.

The other surprise for me was to see some of the reliquaries that are like the Holy version of the Hot Wheels Big Wheel with niches for many relics. They were like a Cabinet of Curiosities, only with parts of people wrapped in cloth. I had seen some with four or five relics, but had never thought there would be some (other than transportable altars) that held over twenty individual pieces.

All and all a full day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Linkee-poo is busier than a spider at a loom

Seems it's not just liberals who see a connection.

Wait, the Arkansas bird and fish kills is because God is pissed we repealed DADT? One, she plays six-degrees of separation and Biblical bingo, but really? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Dear "Hammer" DeLay, it's called a persecution complex. First it's "liberal will acquit me because they're more empathetic" (gee, thanks, glad to see you recognize that) and then it becomes, "those bastard liberals, they had it out for me." Here's the thing, liberals in general don't hate conservatives, unlike some conservatives who hate liberals and try to convince all their conservative friends to do so as well.

And Pawlenty throws some red-meat to the base.

That damn liberal bias of reality again, mucking up all those global warming deniers. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And no matter how much it changes, it always stays the same. That's an ad to keep women from getting the vote. The rhetoric sounds familiar in some way. (thanks, Vince)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just what is she talking about

In case there's any doubt.

Full Disclosure: I've used a medieval illustrated book's rendering of "Blood Libel" as an illustration for a play. It was germane to the subject matter of the play (blood libel was a big plot driver).

After the Tourists Go Home

Sorry for the low-rez nature, but I didn't want to miss the scene.

(Okay, well, he's filling up gas cans, but I still chuckled - does that horse required high-test or just plain 82 octane?)

Linkee-poo keeps climbing back up on the wagon

Lilith Saintcrow on stealing books (about illegal downloading/pirating ebooks). Noted without comment. (grokked from Jay Lake).

Faith Hunter with some notes on how to get noticed at a con. There's a fine line between the lingering gaze of an admirer and the piercing stare of a lunatic. Which, BTW, in case I haven't mentioned it in all the political hashing, I'll be at Confusion this year. I hope to have nothing interfere with that as I'm on the program (make mental note to pic up copy of "Tales Out of Miskatonic University" before panel to flog book I'm in - "lookee, I's a realz righter")

A little window into the fun that is ink on paper. It's difficult to explain why, but doing things like that just turns my knobs to 11. Back from when printing was hard, and more of an art than a science. The best pressmen still know how to do certain tricks, but a lot of that knowledge has been lost to automation and the computer. Hell, I remember in school doing photo collage using a copier (including the "make weird art by scanning objects off the glass").

edited Had to add this because it just blows my mind. Not only do thunderstorms on Earth produce gamma-ray bursts, they also produce positrons. You know, the anti-electron, anti-matter. More proof that the world we live on is stranger than we think. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today's Heath Care Madness

So, back right before Christmas I had a physical, the first full work-up I've had in 5 years. One of the hot-est things lately, at least here in Cleveland, is to check your vitamin D levels (vit D being important in digestion as well as other things, as well as being actually a steroid). Seems we're all chronically short on it. And sure enough, my levels we low. Very low. As in, "bad things, man" low.

Just an aside here, you know those nutrition labels that have your percentage of the daily recommended amounts? Well, here's the thing, that's actually the "minimum daily recommended amount." As in, "below this amount of intake, you're having some problems, or will." Now, as a counter, too much of something can be just as bad (vit A for example).

My doctor prescribed me vit D pills. They include something ridiculous like 10,000 units. I'm to take one a week. In the first bottle I they gave me four pills. You know, one a week for the month. I took the first one when I got home, that Monday. That means this past Monday was the last one. So I called in the prescription for a refill (I'm supposed to go three months like this). Today I went to pick it up (two days after it was supposed to be done, there's this snowstorm going on). Well, because of insurance they won't authorize a refill until Friday.

Now, I'm out of pills. Used the last one already, and because of insurance rules I can't get a refill until Friday. Thank Brid I don''t need one right away, or to actually live, and I'm home where I can pick it up (which wasn't the plan for this week, btw). You know, I can understand that rule for pain killers and other opiates, but vit D pills? Really?

Ah, the rebuttal is exquisite

"… journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn." That's a quote from Her Extreme Northernness herself. Or, in other words, "Don't make me angry or I'll target you as well." Or to requote Marvin the Martian, "You're making me angry, very, very angry." And "blood libel"? Okay, I know she really has no concept of what the words she says mean, but blood libel is pretty significant historically.

So, Sarah, since those cross hairs were really "survey marks" and you really don't have anything to be ashamed of for your kind of rhetoric, how come your people felt the need to scrub your site of them? Because maybe, just maybe, you (or probably an advisor of yours) really know what you're saying and you realize that, now that something close to what you advocated for has happened, people might point that out.

As to the heated debate, she replies, "But when was it less heated? Back in those 'calm days' when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols?" Really? The last time I knew that happened here in the states it involved Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. And it happened once.

You know, in the olden days when you turned on the light, the cockroaches had the common decency to scurry out of sight. These days, I guess they just complain about the wattage and give the critique that you've obviously been suckered in by getting a CFL.

I'm sure she didn't mean to imply the current political discourse might lead to "pistols at twenty paces." I know she really meant to say that her rhetoric doesn't to rise to the level of "fightin' words." You know, except when she expects her acolytes to go out and "fight to take back the country" and not to "… retreat, but reload."

Then there is the news that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is criticizing Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of getting too political. Um, Kettle, the Pot is leaving you a voicemail right now.

And note to Sharon Angle, you're the one who talked about "Second Amendment Remedies." Well, maybe next time you'll actually know just what that term means. And criticizing you for your statement isn't infringing on your civil liberties (I know you believe it is as your school marm-ish world view prevents any criticism).

It's a crying shame

"It's horrible/despicable/disgusting/disturbing that people would use the Giffords' shooting to make political/partisan points!"

So sayeth the party and partisans of 9/11 and Ft. Hood Shootings.

For more and better commentary, there's Eric and the ever popular Jim.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

From the Cold North

Tim Pawlenty gave NPR an interview where the topic of health care came up. It's very telling, especially when the interviewer counters Pawlenty's claims of how he did it better in Minnesota by saying, "But, isn't that in the HCR?" Of course, it's "just a pilot program." Because pilot programs never blossom.

Also his business philosophy about paying for better outcomes has some sever problems. Such as, unless you have all the data (what doctors/hospitals charge and what their outcomes are, including things like being cited for practice violations, etc) the consumer can't make the effective choice he's asking us to do. Besides, isn't that really the job of the licensing boards and, say, government regulators? And they way he states it, about paying more if you have a bad outcome (because you the insurance shouldn't pay for bad outcomes) that leaves the patient, who is now dealing with the bad outcomes and now has increased bills from the original procedure on top of trying to get better. How is that helpful to the patient.

It's sort of like going to McDonalds and not know what the prices are on the menu, and they can vary from day to day. But if you get indigestion, you have to pay more for the privilege.

And just how are consumers supposed to make these decisions when finding the data is 1) hard and 2) the doctors have organizations to hide that data and 3) how much are you going to shop around when you have an emergency?

Enabling Petard Hoisting Since 1982

Again, since there's a lot being slung around, I guess I should take a moment and define what I'm saying.

I am not saying that this gunman was filled with the thoughts of the Tea Party and conservatives, steeped in the mythology, and fed on the political rhetoric until it came pouring out the end of his glock. I'm not even saying he's a disciple of the more coarse elements of the right.

If, once he starts talking or we find out through investigation, that there is a direct link, I will be very amazed.

At best, for that connection, he will be considered a "Lone Wolf." That is, somebody who never was really a part of any organization but hung out at the edges. Who believed it was their mission to do so and to handle the dirtier side of things while maintaining a distance from the organization/leadership.

What I am saying is that the atmosphere created by that rhetoric, the fetishising of firearms, and changing the political discourse from one of compromise to revolution opens the door to such actions. That is, it becomes possible. Such actions are not so far to the fringe. That because people talk in this manner, the possibility of such actions become greater.

Don't believe me?

It's exactly the same argument against giving full informational sex education, and free condoms, to teenagers.

And the people who are protesting way too much are the same people who make the same argument to either end sex education or declare it should only be abstinence only. Because, you know, talking about sex openly and frankly might give people ideas that they may want to try it themselves. Just like talking in the terms of "if not ballots, then bullets" and "second amendment solutions" and some of the even more softer links (such as the "Help me defeat Giffords, come and shoot a fully automatic M16").

Linkee-poo Twofer while stuck in Ohio - no Florida for me

Tobias has a graphic that will be very telling in about 5 years from now. How much the US is betting on clean energy compared to how much China is betting. Yeah. To quote Bender, "We're boned." No, really. Given the previous administration's (and the current conservatives now in charge of the House) attitude's toward real science, and that one of the main criticisms of putting an offshore wind farm in Lake Erie is that the turbines would be made in China, we are behind the preverbal 8-ball. I'll also call you to the "public vs private" difference between the countries. So, how good do you feel about that American Exceptionalism now?

Because I was pointing out some things on the right concerning the Giffords shooting, as I said with another links, there is enough idiocy to cover both sides of the aisle. That said, I find it interesting that some lawyers on the talking head shows are debating the reason the judge was there at the event. See, if a federal employee is shot in the course of their official duties, that's the death penalty. Here's something, one of Gifford's staff aids was shot and killed. They're also federal employees. It doesn't matter why the judge was there now.

Just as an example

In case any one of my conservative friends are looking for examples of what Liberals are calling the coarsening of the dialog, Townhall Magazine just named their "50 Most Dangerous Liberals." There's an interesting example. A "mainstream" publication (put to bed before the shooting this past weekend, so there was no chance to change the headline) that lists liberals as "dangerous." Not, "strongest liberal voices" or "liberal movers and shakers," no, they have to (again) demonize the opposition and raise the "red flag" for conservatives. Those liberals, see, they're dangerous. Just like criminals.

Sure, a banal example, but again, a magazine meant for mass consumption and they can't keep from this kind of rhetoric. Unlike, say, a memo or internal communications that can be a bit more unguarded, this is meant to be in the public sphere.

I guess I should be happy they didn't add either "unpatriotic" or "non-American" to the title.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Yes, Virginia

There are idiots on all sides. There's one thing in condemning speech, it's a whole other thing to make such speech criminal, when it hasn't been before. Can we just all agree it's in bad taste, inciteful and incendiary and move on?

Oh, and speaking of idiots... (sent by Dan)

Drilled too deep

Dear Senator Lamar Alexander,

Regarding your statement to the press,
"What we know about this individual, for example, is that he was reading Karl Marx, and reading Hitler, and burning the American flag," Alexander said. "That's not the profile of a typical tea party member if that's the inference that's being made."

Taken from here.

It also doesn't fit the profile of your typical liberal or "lefty" either, if that's the inference your making. Which I think you're trying to do. Considering the Right and the Tea Party claim to be experts on both Socialism, Communism and Nazi-ism, I would think that they would have studied those seminal documents of the movements to know just what they're talking about. You know, as long as your weren't pulling rabbits out of your nether-regions and using terms that you have no idea what they mean. So, I would think that Tea Party members who spout drivel such as the "president's socialist ideas" would have read such works. Or I'm left to conclude that you're just idiots and bullies. You wouldn't want me to make that inference, would you?

Dear Mark Mekler,

If you want to say that you find it appalling that anyone would tie the shootings to the hightened rhetoric of your movement, or the glorification of firearms and violence and the attendant language that also flows from your movement, I can understand. Even to say you "condemn such linkages," I can understand you're argument. However, to say sinks to the level of evil and also call those who say it "scumbags," well, sir, it just let's me know you don't know WTF you're doing. And you're a lawyer? I've known and worked with plenty of lawyers, some of them on the opposite side of the table in contentious issues, and none of them publicly use such idiotic and inflammatory terms. Seriously, are you really conscious of what is coming out of your mouth or of your actions? Because it doesn't appear that you are. You're calling not only the local sheriff, but national figures like the FBI's Robert Mueller that. Do you really want that?

With all do respect, please crawl back to your play pen and let the adults handle the conversation.

To both of you, please make it harder for those of us on the left to find examples of your extreme ignorance and hate. Right now it's all to easy. And in case you're missing it, we're not tying this person to you, but we are saying that the level of discourse and imagery that you and yours have brought to the table is creating the atmosphere that such things become easier to reach. I know you probably don't understand that, because to do so means you need to go beyond yourself and think of others and how you're affecting them.

If this was a blog flame war, I'd use the rhetorical trick of, "So, hit a nerve did we?"

Not yours, truly,
Me

Words are the currency of thought

George Orwell was correct in his views of language, power and thought in 1984.

Because it seems relevant to some discussions going on (and because it's now becoming a knee-jerk defense, mostly from one side of the political spectrum). A criticism of speech (print, verbal, blog, whatever) is not censorship of said speech. I understand that some people can be confused on that issue given their world view and their "absolutist" stances on ideas.

So, if you would say something like, "I believe the sky is blue," and I would say, "You're wrong, it's azure," this doesn't mean I think you should be muzzled and prevented from providing any thoughts on the matter of color (of the sky or anything else). Even if I should say, "Your ability to recognize color selection is ignorant and until you learn better you should STFU and sit down," that isn't censorship.

Now, if I would try and make a law that only people who can discern a delta-E of 3 (That's a color sensitivity term that is a scientific determination on who close two colors are, most people can readily see a delta-E of 18-20, and if the colors are next to each other a delta-E of 10, highly trained people can discern down to a delta-E of 3. That's where mine is at, BTW. Below a delta-E of 3, it's presumed only machines can discern the difference.) should be allowed to give their opinion of what a color is, that would be censorship. If I would exert my minimal influence to make sure that anybody who didn't have the same level of capability couldn't have their opinion of color given to the public through the print, digital, or broadcast media, that would also be an example of censorship. If I would remove the word "blue" from the lexicon to keep you from making such a statement, that would also be a form of censorship.

But standing up and saying, "You're wrong, that's azure," or "that's an ignorant statement," or even, "you have no idea just what you're saying," isn't an example of censorship. Even if I say, "I'm not going to listen to you," isn't an example of censorship. And to the far end, if I say, "What you've been saying about the color of the sky has ruined the ability of others to correctly name said color and you should really rethink how you discuss color before you do any more damage," isn't censorship.

To consider such statements as censorship is to fail at discourse.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dark thoughts for a Sunday Morning

Here's something that I'll bet you never expected of me, I agree with Speaker Boehner, an attack on one is an attack on all who serve. That I agree with him probably won't happen again for a long time.

Just a comment in general, there is a big difference in saying that "it'll be hand to hand combat to get our agenda through the congress" and "if ballots don't work, maybe bullets will" or even "second amendment solutions." If you can't recognize that, I'm not sure we can have a rational discussion.

I said earlier in this whole bruhaha that certain elements were playing with fire, not understanding the potential consequences. Maybe now people might become a little more sober. Given the responses I've seen so far, I don't have high hopes.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Notes on the Job Thing

So, I've never gone through and closed out my accounts with the various job search sites. Consider it just market research. While normally the auto emailed job listing never actually had any jobs in my field (related, but not really design jobs) while I was looking, I now see a few.

Dear employer,
When your job description reads...
...needs talented pro ready to work in a dynamic creative environment. Must be proficient with computers, posses top-caliber design skills, thorough knowledge of print production and the ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously. Must be well-organized and comfortable working with tight deadlines...

it makes me think that you don't know WTF you're doing. Every design job can read exactly the same. It's two decades since the desktop revolution. If you're not proficient with computers, you haven't worked in this industry for 15 years. Everybody is looking to top-notch design skills. Who looks for sloppy designers? The "thorough knowledge of print production" is about the only thing that tells me what this job actually entails. And, again, if you're a designer and don't know ink on paper, try greeting al Wal-Mart. This statement is like the McDonald's people asking if you want fries with that. Finally, must be able to work on multiple projects, well-organized, and meet tight deadlines, what design job doesn't require these things? No, seriously, where do these people work that these aren't the bare minimum qualifications?

And then there's the new links showing up for placement agencies. "Tired of applying to jobs? Let a professional do it for you." Unfortunately the majority of these employee pre-paid schemes. Just as a hint, most of the reputable services are either employer paid, or paid after you get your first paycheck.

Plus, with all the "discouraged workers" out there, I've always wondered just what they're doing? How do they live, pay bills, make mortgage/rent, etc? It just makes me wonder.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Linkee-poo is considering a political 12-step program

I keep trying to find other things to write about, I do. At least the first one isn't political

It seems bad design isn't just related to print materials. If you're designing for humans to interface with your application, you might want to read the f#$%ing human interface guidelines. Seriously. A lot of work went into those guidelines, and it's not like they charge extra for it. (sent by Dan)

What happens when you let the public drive your intelligence/police work. So while technically he was arrested for failing to cooperate fully with the flight attendants, it was over a frickin' bagel. Some of my conservative friends like to bewail the new FCC regulation of "Net Neutrality" and yet when we allowed pilots to carry firearms and made it illegal to not comply with a flight attendant, nary a peep. The guy may have even gotten obstreperous, but 1) no questioning of the source (an untrained source) and 2) it's a frickin' bagel. What, we didn't like he violated our good sense by not bringing a box of Krispy Kremes instead? (also sent by Dan) Or, you know, you could go all ballistic over some signs that encourage you to snitch on your neighbors.

Because, you know, those of us progressives just don't listen to the other side. Instead, we invite them to speak against the law we're signing into effect. You know, instead of making them stand in a "Free Speech Zone" three blocks away and behind a parking deck.

So much for actual openness. Then again, he is using the work differently than you or I do. He's talking about "amendments" as "openness" equating an "open process" to an "open bill." I wonder when he'll backtrack on the 3 day reading period where everything is open to the public. Oh, wait, he hasn't even put that in place yet (and in all the other hoopla, he hasn't mentioned it at all after winning the majority). Good thing we still have the Thomas tool from the Library of Congress. Like we did before. And, Eric says it better than I do, anyway.

But, hey, you know there's always those Freudian slips. I know. Big words, they're so confusing sometimes.

The other day I mentioned the #2 reason why I dropped my Republican affiliation. Here's an example of reason #1. The "social conservatives" are running the show now. I understand how many people who are gay are also conservatives. I mean, it's a good line and all. But someday they'll have to come to grips with the fact that the Republican Party left those values they hold dear a long time ago and instead went about courting the social conservative vote (who were people who also didn't get involved in politics before, sound familiar?) during the Reagan era and missed that the looneys took the ship over and no longer really care about conservative issues if there's a conflict with their social conservative views.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

In case you were wondering

The crazy as batshit continues today. I'd make a pithy comment about how this at least gives the comedians a full employment clause with the new legislature and that may be a few more jobs, but I have to live in this world. And right now it's just making me sad.

Linkee-poo just shakes it's shaggy head and walks away

To make up for my sin of no political links yesterday, apparently everybody decided to go batshit crazy.

Hey, it's like the early 2000's all over again. Remember "50 plus 1 is a mandate"? Ah, good times. And here they are again.
"(on the HCR repeal), the GOP hasn't (but Democrats have) asked the CBO to score its health care repeal bill. Republicans know what that score will say: that repeal will blow up the deficit. But they don't buy the numbers, and, whenever those numbers conflict with their policy priorities, they'll ignore them."

To those that will argue, "It's just what the Dems did." Uh, no. HCR is to the right of what Trent Lott proposed as a counter to Clinton's Heath Care Reform. If the Dems "did it too", we'd all be wondering when the Public Option would kick in. Also, the Finance Reform has how many hundred Republican sponsored amendments in committee? Yeah. Just goes to the point that conservatives, when in power, are about that power. Liberals, when in power, are about governance. You may disagree with that direction (initially I was going to say, "helping real people with real problems," but that's a qualitative statement that's open to even more interpretation). But at least it is a governance. Where as the other side just calls anybody who disagrees with them either liars, incompetent, or "they just aren't looking at the whole picture."

And because I'm just tired of the trite "What the People Want" and "the Public Doesn't Like Congress/Democratic Rule" and it all being a one sided argument. Well karma comes knocking in a Rasmussen Poll. Read that again, a Rassmussen Poll. You know, the people who ask, "are you upset about anything the President has done" and lumps those into "those who think the President is doing a bad job." Also notice that those who think a Republican Congress would do better has gone down since the election. They have barely taken power (and in this poll, they hadn't yet), and already their numbers are "tanking" (that term used according to Hannity Statistics).

And I'm sure this will get the Bread and Circuses crowd. However, it's a dangerous precedent, and one based on intentional lying. And this new Congress is unfortunately filled to the brim with these kinds of stories (people appointed into positions of power who have no business being there, including some conservatives who are now chairmen of committees that have investigated them in the past, which would be like putting Charlie Rangle in charge of the Ethics Committee). However we now have a party in power that feels changing the name of the Energy and Labor Committee to Energy and Workforce Committee is a priority. So, how much did that cost to have new letterhead and business cards printed.

Oh, and the new Conservative House Leadership is going to cut the House Memeber's budgets by 5%. Big. Frickin'. Woop. Want to get close to what we in your local governments have been facing. Our income last year, while better than we expected (by about 1.5%), is still running at 50% of our budget three years ago. Cut your budgets by 30%, or you ain't whistling' dixie.

Add another voice to the growing cacophony on the disparity of wealth in our country. Yes, it's another progressive. In case you're wondering, this topic was #2 on why I became disillusioned with the conservative movement. A rising tide may lift all boats, but if you're chained to the bottom, you drown. And even if you're on one of the boats, or hanging on to the ladder, the water level doesn't change for you. Only those who have a vested interest in the tides gain and they buy bigger and bigger boats. You also can pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don't even have boots to begin with.

And can I just say, that for all this talk of "we should be focused on jobs and doing something that can help people" and then focusing on repealing HCR which has zero chance of not being vetoed (without the votes for an override) if it even passes the Senate and some other priorities of the new Congress before they get to anything that will actually help (which they haven't said what that would be, but promised it) until late February? Yeah, thanks guys.

And lastly, we have Ronald Reagan on socialized medicine (aka Medicare). Say, has any of that fear mongering come true? And Medicare has been going for how long now? And, yes, doesn't that rhetoric sound awfully familiar? Why, yes, it does. Especially the line, "we'll tell our children stories about when men were free." Aren't we the free-est nation on Earth? Why, yes, I hear that too. From those same mouths that spouted the other things as well. Awfully slow damn socialist revolution if you ask me. They must be out getting coffee.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Linkee-poo is thinking Orthodox Xmas should be a holiday, too

Holly Black on why unicorns are better than zombies. Can't we all just get along? (Grokked from Camille Alexa)

A few tips on electronic submissions. A little basic, but it never hurts to review some of the basics. We all have our Homer Simpson moments from time to time. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

Donald Maass speculates on the contradictory nature of great fiction. I disagree a little what where he starts, that readers both want pablum and to be moved by what they read. I would classify it as two different classes of readers, not so much the same person. Or not so much two different people, but people in different stages. Sometimes you want to try the thing on the menu you can't pronounce, but sometimes you want those comfort foods. However, what he gets to at the end is something vital. It can be summed up with what my sister-in-law tells the kids, "Drive fast, take chances." You can't always go the easy road, and the first step of that journey is to realize you can't be easy with yourself.

Maybe that's my problem. With all the turmoil of the past year, I've been in search of comfort food and that's why I haven't pushed myself as hard as I should have been doing. Don't mind me, just a little internal psychoanalyzing going on here. Nothing to see. Move along now.

Dendrophilous links to Kaplan free books. If I'm anything, I'm wild about free books. Especially when Kaplan has a lot of medical text that are free. (Note, when browsing with my ipod, some of the titles they list as free, aren't listen in the iBook Store as free).

Jim Hines discusses his writing income. Understand, Jim is approaching "wildly successful" land (and has been at this from the other side of the "Published Author" line since early this century). He has not one, but two popular series out in the wilderness. So, yeah, don't quit your day thing. What he's making is nothing to sneeze at, mind you. Just with thinking about self employment taxes around 50%(a good round number to do your forecasting to), he's also not rolling in the dough. If you're a starting genre writer thinking you'll make it to the be profiled on "Cribs of the Famous" from your mad writing skilz, look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! (no slight on Jim, who is a genuinely nice guy, even through he writes jokes about nose picking)

Look, a linkee-poo where I didn't even mention politics. Oh, damn.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Linkee-poo is Mr. Cranky Pants This Morning

Because I'm reading instead of writing. Sigh. Will get this one day. Also one of the reasons I've thought of taking a hiatus.

If you're in the NY area, and are looking for some part time work, Tor.com is looking for a "Community Aggregator." Why this job requires coming into the office seems a little beyond me (except, I think one of those lines translates to, "and sell the social media thing internally"). And I'm not one to trash another's opportunity, but this strikes me vaguely of being a professional video game player. I understand the need, and the business model behind it (except for the "in their offices" part), but haven't we gotten to the point where this is just part and parcel of the business? (Disclosure, yes, the day thing is struggling with its own "social media" presence so I may have had more connection to this than most)

Another example of a separate legal system working in tandem with our civil law. In this case it's Jewish law and orthodox members (one of whom happens to be working within government) and how they perceive things compared to our secular law. It's a divorce case and the tension is between both how divorce is done within Jewish Law, and how it's done in our secular law. Also notice how the "shared custody" issue would be perfectly reasonable within the secular law, but is prohibitive when you consider Orthodox Jewish Law. I wonder why we don't hear those people who scream about sharia also scream about the beit din? (Grokked from Jay Lake, who had a different interest in it)

Well, here's hoping the Tea Party holds to their expectations. Why do I wish that? Because of the ramifications. 1) I expect most TP members to become disillusioned in the reality of actual governance and 2) many of those they "helped" elect will be gone in two years as the TP throws their weight behind someone else. Also, it seems the TP doesn't want to expand the debt ceiling. So when government shuts down and we have trouble paying our warfighters, keep federal office lights on, and in general, make a hash of the place, I expect the blowback will be something they're not prepared for (having told themselves the myth they are the silent majority and the rest of the country holds to their ideals). While it may sound nice to shut down the IRS, the department we all love to hate, (or pick your favorite department to hate; Education, CDC, FCC, Energy, National Weather Bureau and Hurricane Forecast Center, whatever) when our warfighters are stranded in foreign countries trying to buy their ammo on the black market (or worse, behave like the Russians in Georgia, which I severely hope not, but it's hard to tell what someone will do when faced with starvation and working for no pay), National Parks and Monuments close, and your refund, social security, medicare, unemployment checks fail to arrive, or a hurricane slams into Florida with little warning, you think the TP were loud last year? You might want to invest in ear plugs for that avalanche. Okay, well, I'll use the euphemism of "social unrest."

And thinking of such, that is holding the new congress to their higher standard, I guess it doesn't include being consistent when it comes to rhetoric. Yes, all those "tricks and underhanded tactics" are back in vogue and perfectly acceptable when it's conservatives doing them. Or, you know, you could just exempt your priorities from being held to the same rules regarding the deficit. But then, they can also grand stand so they look good in their newsletters back home all the while saying, "Well, I tried, but you know Washington." Proud of your accomplishments yet? I guess when they toss out all those freshman conservatives, they can always get jobs on K Street. You know, like they've done since '94.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year Arrived, a New Year to Live

Another long weekend shot and not much in the way of progress. I've accomplished exactly one tenth of what I had hoped to accomplish over the holidays. But then, there were external circumstances that took more time than expected and then the day job, trying to be helpful, filled up a few days that I expected to have vacation, and entertaining house guests also soaked up a good deal of time. So, less than a third of the time I expected actually was available.

And now we're into the long slog form New Year's to Memorial Day. Class begins in two weeks, one week will be taken up by travel, which I have no idea what will entail in the way of time sink. A weekend at the end of the month is going to be gone.

Several friends have taken hiatus from the internets when they've had to focus on their writing. I would be lying if I hadn't considered the same strategy. It wouldn't be soon, I have plenty of other things to distract me for the foreseeable future that any hiatus would not be profitable. However I expect that sometime this year it will happen.

Every year I've made some sort of prognostication on where I would focus my time, either writing or freelance. And each year, it's always turned out to be 100% the opposite. This year I think I'll refrain. I need to focus on both this year. Things are going well enough right now, but I expect some rockier road ahead.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Slow Motion Sunday

It seems the heat wave is over now that most of the snow has melted. The ice damn on the back of the roof is now gone, thank Brid. Unfortunately there's a remnant on the front. Fortunately it is much less than before (we had kept the house warm for a bit, hopefully we can go back to 68 now). It's supposed to snow again, soon.

I've spent the day trying to be offline and working like a good boy, but that hasn't happened. Maybe I could use a few more days off to get nice and bored. That'll get me working on this novel, by Jove. Well, I have been working on it a little. But I find the littlest thing now stops me in my tracks. Then I need to work through that. Suddenly something shiny goes floating past.

And now "Forbidden Planet" is on TCM. Leslie Nielsen looks so young. He's dead now, you know.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Year of Magical Thinking

So, in a few days we begin the new political year. I'll be involved, again, with council. It'll be my last year (unless something VERY strange happens) as my tenure runs out 12-31-2011. With our own local budget, we have been lucky. Last year tax revenues came in higher than expected (not by much, but at least more than we originally budgeted). While it was a rough year, and we are severely ignoring some long term issues, we ended in the black. I'm saying this so you know I have some experience with budget austerity.

Then we look at the national issues. In a few days a new congress will be sworn in. A congress that has already shaped the national dialog. And here's where the magic comes in.

There was a lot of breast beating about the deficit and debt the past two years. And activists on the "ZOMG We're Going to Hell in a Handbasket" side made a change in the political landscape and helped usher in a new Freshman Congressional Class that leans heavily toward the Conservative end of the political spectrum. So you'd think things would get better, wouldn't you.

But what's the major victory so far? Extension of all the budget busting Bush-era tax cuts. You know, the ones that took us from budget surpluses (that were being used to reduce the long term debt) to record deficits. And now those same conservatives are running the line about how tax cuts don't have to be offset in the budget. As Paul Krugman opined, "Then why not just cut all taxes?"

Now, somehow, with lowered revenues, we're going to budget cut our way to fiscal prosperity but without having defense or medicare on the table. Yeah, almost forgot, we're also going to roll-back (or at least defund) the Obama HCR Act. You know, the legislation that will actually reduce our deficit in the long run. It's what's known as magical thinking. There's this mindset that there's a whole army of federal employees that can be cut from the rolls, we can outsource some functions, and other nonsense that has no basis in reality.

Obama announced a pay freeze for all federal employees in the coming year. It will save use $35 billion for the next ten years. With annual budgets over $1.3 Trillion, that's almost a magnitude of a rounding error. Also, we now have over a decade and a half's experience with outsourcing government functions (Medicare Advantage, IRS Debt Collections and Processing, Federal Student Loans, etc.). None (absolutely none) of those have saved us money. In fact, they have cost us on average 14% more than if we had kept those functions within the Federal Government (including all the new employees, buildings, and capital expenditures that would entail). In fact, the Medicare Advantage overpayments were enshrined in law by those same conservatives who talk about how much we can save by outsourcing (and it's where the majority of medicare savings will come from in the new HCR Act, by changing those mandated overpayments).

Let's not even start on the insanity of the new budgeting rules. You know, how tax cuts don't have to be offset, but any other spending increases need to be offset by cuts elsewhere (not by revenue increases - ie. tax increases or in reality, closing tax loops holes). But then, this is also by the party that likes to say we have the highest taxes in the world when even if you look at our nominal rates, we're in the lowest 15 (depending on your income) and for effective rates (after all the deductions, etc, and including all the taxes other countries collect, like VAT) we're the third lowest in the world. Because it's not about reality, it's about feeding on the fears and disgruntled (such as the new tax service who's commercial talks about how the IRS will take advantage of you for not knowing the rules, which they're forbidden by law for doing - okay, well, it's one of those complaints against the private contractor the IRS was forced to use, by the conservatives again, and has lead to record findings against the IRS because of the contractor's incompetence, which leads to their 22% higher cost of operation).

So all the ideas they're floating have been shown, with historical data, to do absolutely nothing to reduce the deficit. Including the canards of "reduce tax levels increase tax revenues" and "giving tax breaks to the top 1% increases employment" have been shown to be false.

But, I'm sure, if we just try one more time and really believe, this time it will work. We just need to clap harder and faster to bring Tinkerbell back.

And have I mentioned I've already heard the argument of how the new congress won't be able to do anything, so no changes will get done, and how that's a good thing. Coming from the same people who last year complained about how nothing was being done to increase employment and the government's/Obama's main focus should be that. (However, all that's a smoke screen and is basically saying "We don't want the current administration to roll back any of our Social Conservative advances")

So, welcome to the year of magical thinking. Thank Brid that the economy has actually been on the mend this past year (again, disproving the whole argument about how the Stimulus and Bailouts did nothing). Hopefully the new Congress won't screw it up too much.