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O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Linkee-poo begins the countdown

Filled with some final outrage for a year full of outrages expecting a New Year with even more outrages to come. I'll try and keep it clean, but I don't promise.

Neil Gaiman shares his new years wish for us all. Yes, that.

My own wish for us all, may we achieve all that we're possible of. May the world become a better place for our passage through it.

Vince's daughter comes up with a great idea for a tax. Every time one of our elected officials do or say something dumb, they have to pay $5. Vince, I think your daughter is being pessimistic about her plan, I think we'd have half the debt paid off in a month. It's an election year after all.

Jim Wright shares a great photo. Oh, yeah, it's also a part of his year end post about how nothing happened. Okay, well, at least all that bad crap those right-wings nuts said would happen, happened. I would ask if it was becoming incredibly obvious that the conservative blathering class is continuingly wrong, but I think there's a portion of our population that is addicted to that particular brand of kool-aid. About 30% of the population to be exact.

Oh for fuck's sake, now the Girl Scouts are suspect of "being lefty"? But then this is coming from a political party whose moderate candidate's son thinks it's funny to repeat a joke about President Obama releasing his birth certificate and grades (already did, and stupid conservative conspiracy crap) before his father will release his tax returns (mandated by law). And form a party that labels a president governing from a right-centrist position (Grokked from Jay Lake) as the "most liberal president EVAR!" And let us not forget that the whackaloon quotient of the far right continues to mount (Grokked from Jim Wright). Why people would listen to Victoria Jackson on politics, I don't know, but there it is.

Dear Universe

It's my last day as an elected councilman. Don't screw it up. kthxbai

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Mortgage

So I'm looking at refinancing our home mortgage since rates are at an all time low. Talked with one bank and could get 3.5%, which is an excellent rate and 3 points below our current mortgage. But, as you remember I make extra payments, which throws us into an interesting quandary. Which is, refinancing, after you factor in the closing costs (which seem exorbitant considering the amount) doesn't save us very much. In fact, if we would apply the closing costs to our current loan as a one time payment the difference is less than a rounding error. However it does lower our minimum monthly payment.

If our current personal economy continues at the same level, it doesn't make much sense to refinance. However, if it has a chance of souring, it makes sense to refinance to have the lower monthly minimum.

So right now I'm in a quandary. Should I commit the funds for a short term lost for a small long term gain, but with the possibility of a securer future should things go south. Or keep on the current plan and save funds for the near future.

Edit, 12-31-11 11pm I think I'm going to go forward with the refinance.

Linkee-poo gears up for the New Year

Infographic on the history of Science Fiction. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Some HOW design post I missed that they had in their top 10 posts of the year post. Like the infographic of a day in the life of a graphic designer. Oh, so true. That pretty much sums up the life at a big studio. And a more serious 29 things a young designer needs to know. Good luck with that.

If you're completely bored and miss arts & crafts, welcome cubecraft.com. There you can get free 3d paper doll patterns. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Why no, we don't need to regulate businesses. I mean, after all, they all act in totally responsible ways. Not. That's an article on the use of shell companies by Chesapeake Energy to make a vast land grab, all while avoiding liability and reputation damage when it then cancelled its leases without paying the signing bonuses. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Eric gives us an well reasoned discussion about the Rick Perry idiocy outlined in this article. Now, Eric (and others) focus on the one quote about Canada not being a foreign country. But there's plenty of Perry's own brand of stupidity to go around in there.

Tobias with some great solar power links. And in other news, the South Pole reaches highest temperature ever recorded (grokked from Jay Lake).

"As 2011 slithers to its end, none of the major problems that led to the crisis point three years ago have really been solved… The Street and its ministries of propaganda have fallen back on a Big Lie as old as capitalism itself: that all that has gone wrong has been government’s fault." A little "viva la revolution" for the coming year. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Linkee-poo watches the snow, because it's up to something

Chuck Wendig with the top 25 posts (mainly of "25 whatevers for whatever") of the year. Lots of writerly stuff in there.

The simplest pranks are the best ones. (Grokked from George Takei)

Lynn Ward woodcuts. Telling a story through pictures, before "graphic novels" were an actual thing. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

What 5mrgs of storage used to look like. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"The (DoJ) will block the voter ID provisions of an election law passed in South Carolina earlier this year because the state’s own statistics demonstrated that the photo identification requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents…" Oh no. I'm sure it's about the almost non-existant "voter fraud" problem. No, I'm sure disenfranchising 30%+ of voters will be worth it. At least to re-afirm the prejudice and world view of a minority of white people (his comment would have be okay, somewhat, if he hadn't followed it up).

Springtime for toxic pollution. Paul Krugman on why finally implementing the EPA mercury standards will be a good thing. But, again, most of these arguments are all about cost shifting. Lots of people don't see the $90 billion from reduced health care and other problems as connected to the toxic waste coming out of the smoke stacks. So they don't see that paying $10 billion will save them selves $90 billion. They just see the $10 billion.

Paul Solman and a discussion on higher or lower taxes and economic prosperity.

"'Virginia ballot access rules are among the most onerous… in a multi-candidate election,” Perry spokesperson Ray Sullivan said… 'We believe that the Virginia provisions unconstitutionally restrict the rights of candidates and voters by severely restricting access to the ballot, and we hope to have those provisions overturned or modified…'" Yep, that's right, Rick Perry, Mr. "States Rights RULEZ!", is suing the state of Virginia in Federal Court because he doesn't like Virginia's state rights. Right there is the conservative mind set. It's all about what they want, screw consistent political platforms. This is indicative of the "Got mine, screw you" mind set so prevalent in conservative politics these days. Basically what the Perry Campaign is saying, "We want the Fed out of the States hair, as long as those States do what we want. If not, we'll force them by using the power of the Fed." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Well, that's 9 years

Tonight was my last meeting as a councilman for the Village of Orwell. Unless there's an emergency. Thus ends an era in my life.

So what things have I learned? Patience. Lots and lots of patience. Nine times out of ten whatever the rumor is, it's completely wrong. That last one out of ten, just 90% wrong. If someone in government is found embezzling funds, lots of people have to have screwed up. Government accounting is the weirdest contraption know to modern accounting. Most people's conception of government and how it works is completely backassward and incomplete.

I've been involved in most aspects of the local government. I was liaison for Parks, BOPA (water), and backup liaison for SCAD (our ambulance service) and a few other things. Served on Streets and Lands and Buildings, Finance, and have been chairman of Streets/LB and Safety. I've been involved with the purchase of most of the vehicles the village currently uses. I've hired seven people, fired/let go two. And I have missed approximately 8 meetings that whole time (most of them over the past two summers because of classes). Pushed legislation, fixed legislation, helped get legislation passed.

All in all, I guess it was worth it.

In that time I've missed family events, missed writer events, and generally have had the wind constantly knocked out of my sails. Just when I think I would get my feet under me, something would come along and require more attention than things really should take. I would be into the rhythm of writing, and then some temporary crisis would arise that would take my time and attention.

No more. Now I can have my life interrupted by the normal things. You know, things that other writers friends have already dealt with and have tips of how to overcome. Have I mentioned how much this council thing sucked away my time and brain?

Would I recommend getting involved with your government? Yes. Citizens getting involved is what it's all about. Plus, you'll never know what you'll learn about the process. I've loved a lot of it. The people involved wiht our local government are hard working and do this work because they feel responsible for the village. It's been my great pleasure to have worked with them. I've learned more about my community that I ever would have other wise (and it's not like I wasn't involved before, being a member of the planning commission and a director in Ruritans (or local service club).

But, okay, I've done my bit for king and country. Actually, this is my second go at that well. It's time for others to step up to the plate.

Linkee-poo has holiday hang-over

Just a short one for today, but high quality.

Kelly Link with tips for writing. Kelly Link is one of those writers I wish I would be compared with. In a favorable sense. Not in the, "never could be like" sense. Anyway, she also references the great book, Storyteller. Lots of stuff in there (and some good review if you've already gone over these concepts). Also, as a side note, what she (and Kate Wilhelm) call the Silent Partner is what I call "the Muse." Yes, I know their description is closer to reality. But isn't it easier to say "the Muse" than to go into the pedantic arena with how we are actually subconscious beings with a veneer of consciousness icing on top? (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Because unlimited money and campaign contributions can't possibly buy votes or legislature's loyalty. Ah, the Koch Brothers are at it again. While funding PBS science programs like NOVA, they're also working to undermine any chance we have at actually halting global climate change by getting politicians to deny science and reality. Also, they're big TP supporters (because with the TP, they know they'll never have to change or pay for their intransigence). There's your third party. (Grokked from Morgan Locke)

Remember the conservative campaign ads about "Liberals are cutting your Medicare"? Well, what they're trying to cut is the 10% extra they have to pay for private insurers to run Medicare Advantage plans. Yes, again, the private/free-market always costs more than the government to do exactly the same thing (in in this case, less). Oh no, this industry doesn't need any changing. But, hey, I never did get to sell my Wellpoint stock, so thanks, taxpayers, for your part of my $54 in dividends this past year. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Home in time for after the holidays

Ah, back home. Bet you didn't know I was gone. Actually, yes, I was. I spent the weekend doing family stuff and not paying attention to myself. So, now I have a cold and an ear ache. Fabulous.

But now we're home and can have our Xmas. Well, tomorrow. It's late.

Helped Mom with some home things. Went bowling (broke 100 for both games, which is a good thing). But that also means my fingers hurt. I have big hands. Most "lane balls" that have holes that fit my fingers are at the 14 lbs range. So I'm either throwing a ball at least 2 lbs greater than I like, or I'm mashing my fingers into lighter balls. My fingers feel like they have rheumatoid arthritis in the distal joints.

Then there was the in-law Xmas, which after the "oh noes, how will we set this up" conversation I just started carrying tables myself. And even though the nieces and nephews are of age, it was just us adults cleaning up. Next time, yeah, I think I'm going to say something to them.

So, we're alive. Hope you had a great holiday if you celebrate. Tomorrow the weather turns nasty and the snow will arrive. Of course, I keep my decorations up until New Years at least. Sigh. Was hoping maybe not to freeze my tuckus off while taking down the decorations. Not to be.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Pilgrim's Way

A poem for the holidays. Not by me, but one I've come to love over the years.
I do not look for holy saints to guide me on my way,
Or male and female devilkins to lead my feet astray.
If these are added, I rejoice - if not, I shall not mind,
So long as I have leave and choice to meet my fellow-kind.
For as we come and as we go, and deadly-soon go we!
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Thus I will honour pious men whose virtue shines so bright
Though none are more amazed than I when I by chance do right,
And I will pity foolish men for woe their sins have bred
Though ninety-nine per cent. of mine I brought on my own head.
And, Amorite or Eremite, or General Averagee,
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

And when they bore me overmuch, I will not shake mine ears,
Recalling many thousand such whom I have bored to tears.
And when they labour to impress, I will not doubt nor scoff;
Since I myself have done no less and sometimes pulled it off.
Yea, as we are and we are not, and we pretend to be,
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

And when they work me random wrong, as oftentimes hath been,
I will not cherish hate too long (my hands are none too clean).
And when they do me random good I will not feign surprise.
No more than those whom I have cheered with wayside charities.
But, as we give and as we take – whate'er our takings be –
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

But when I meet with frantic folk who sinfully declare
There is no pardon for their sin, the same I will not spare
Till I have proved that Heaven and Hell which in our hearts we have
Show nothing irredeemable on either side of the grave.
For as we live and as we die - if utter Death there be -
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Deliver me from every pride - the Middle, High, and Low -
That bars me from a brother's side, whatever pride he show.
And purge me from all heresies of thought and speech and pen
That bid me judge him otherwise than I am judged. Amen!
That I may sing of Crowd or King or road-borne company,
That I may labour in my day, vocation and degree,
To prove the same in deed and name, and hold unshakenly
Where'er I go, whate'er I know, whoe'er my neighbor be
This single faith in Life and Death and to Eternity:
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Rudyard Kipling
Have a great holiday, everybody. We're on the downhill run to the New Year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Linkee-poo branches out this holiday

Hope you're having a fabulous holiday, if you celebrate.

Jim Hines is a geeky holiday decorator.

Or the portal Xmas treet. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Then there is the fire breathing Godzilla tree. We're not worthy.

Or trees of unusual color.

And there are completely unique trees.

Or these trees, which are sometimes only trees in the implied sense. Don't miss the cojoined tree at the bottom.

Then there are trees that are jewels, or at least covered in them.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Oh Great Internet Brain - Christmas Light Effect

Oh Great Internet Brain, I have two questions regarding Christmas Lighting Effect.

The first one if for controller boxes. What I would like to do is set up several large "ornaments" (3-4' stars with strings of lights to illuminate them) and have them go on and off in a random fashion. Has anybody done this, or do they have experience with any of the commercial boxes available?

This year I've noticed a new trend. For large trees and boughs of garlands, ie. commercial displays, there are lights that have a strobing effect. This is like watching stadiums at sports events and seeing all the flashbulbs going off distributed throughout the audience. I haven't been able to find any such lights. There are random twinkle lights, but they don't have the power of whatever these places are using. Does anybody know what these lights are called or how I could set up the same effect?

As always, TIA.

Linkee-poo knows it's Christmas (somewhere) afterall

NORAD's Santa Track.

Santa's workload calculated. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

John Scalzi shares eight things you didn't know about your favorite holiday music.

Forgot to mention the Dan has his internet-age car stickers for sale now.

Comet Lovejoy continues to dazzle the southern hemisphere.

The six really lame reasons why aliens invade us and the reasons why they really wouldn't invade us for those reasons. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Linkee-poo thinks it's beginning to look a lot like Easter

Some snow today. Just enough to make the deck look like a powdered donut. It's pretty much melted on the streets and lawn. Ah, global warming. Family has been visiting so I haven't had much time to go a-reading across these here intertubuals.

Edit, link is fixed As @fran_wilde said, I love how Pluto's all 'bet you wish I were in your boring planet club now, don'tcha?'" (Grokked from Steven Gould)

"Don’t worry about Best Buy, though. The retailer isn’t hurting its bottom line by canceling orders en mass. The Wall Street Journal quotes an analyst stating 'It’s a hiccup for the company' and 'It probably won’t make a big difference for Best Buy’s holiday sales.' Oh good. Because Best Buy’s earnings were the first things I thought of when this story broke. Screw the customers. They don’t matter anyway." (Grokked from Vince)

Filed under "those in glass houses just shouldn't" Vince shares Rachael Maddow taking Fox News and Sarah Palin to task on their criticism of White House Xmas card. I made the comment the other day that with the standard conservative wackiness, the jokes just write themselves.

So, you've been indefinitely detained. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Linkee-poo sinks, drowning in the inkiness of the longest night

When do you know you're a writer? One of the answers is when another writer calls you one.

Jay Lake is going to ConFusion. Hmm, when Link Salad and Linkee-poo meet in real life, will it be like particle and anti-particle or Indiana Jones and Renne Belloq? "I am but a shadowy reflection of you…" (actually, I have met Jay Lake in real life, for like 5 minutes at World Fantasy, I doubt he remembers, he was focused on other things)

A brief history of changelings. The article is specifically about one novel and their take, but some good general info about the belief.

Yes, Virginia, there are people without a clue. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Gay community apologizes to Amy Koch for ruining her marriage. (Grokked from @random_michelle)

Kenimer Mound in Georgia a 1,100 year old Mayan ruin and one of the seven cities of gold? (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Random Holiday Advertising Thoughts

Stop it with the Carol of the Bells already. No, really, there's like a thousand other holiday songs/Christmas Carols. How about a little The Holly and the Ivy, or something like Good King Whatshisname. It's not that hard.

So is it just me, or does anybody else thing the elves in the T-Mobil commercial are actually singing, "Walking in an Orgy Wonderland"? I know it's supposed to be "4G", but that "f" is real soft. Might have chosen a different song.

Or, in other words, changing a holiday song to fit your product? Don't be a jerk, okay?

Give Santa a break. I mean it's not like we don't work the poor guy to death one day out of every year. But you guys aren't helping.

It's also about the Anglo-Germanic-Nast-ian view of the holidays, isn't it? Even the whole "Bad Santa" sub-genre. There are plenty of other traditions that include Santa and holiday decorations, how about we mine those a little?

If you attempt to do the "tear-jerker" routine, I'm turning the channel. Thanks, already have enough of that in real life, don't need it on the TV. (I'm looking at you, Sarah McLachlan)

The whole "older son in (college, military, other state) coming home for a surprise Christmas visit" has also been done to death. And given the prevalence of both home security systems and concealed carry laws, your premises don't work very well. Plus, you know, most of those kids are living at home these days because of the economy.

Giving a car for Christmas? Wow, are you talking to the top 10% or what. Or, in other words, "fuck you, nobody who has a real life does this."

The "save so much so you can…" or just in general the "give yourself a gift at Christmas" ploy? Glad we're not being cynical about American Culture here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The longest night

It always amazes me that there is a subset of people who like to celebrate the exact moment of things. I think these are the people who wait until the actual hour of their birth (waking up in the middle of the night if necessary) to wish themselves a happy birthday. There's now a thread of our culture that likes to celebrate the exact moment of the changing of the seasons (full moon, tide crest, etc). Like it's all that important. And that time that is given for the change of the seasons has little to do with events on Earth, but with our orbit around the sun. See, the time is the specific time of a specific event (like when certain stars appear out of the corona of the sun - or as our orbit finally takes us to a paralax when we can view the star without having our Sun in the way).

I blame the digital watches, myself.

Our ancestors didn't celebrate the exact time of the solstice (except maybe sunrise and sunset since solstice and equinox celebrations are distinctly tied to solar worship/observance as compared to moon worship/observance which typically predates a focus on the sun). To them, knowing kinda sorta around the right day was enough.

And so, welcome Solstice Night. A time to light candles and fires. To sing the songs of our ancestors. Drink fortified wine, beer, cider, whatever you want. Eat the stores of food. And celebrate.

May the coming of the sun bring us our warmth and life. May it bring prosperity, fecundity, and success.

Ring out those solstice bells.

The Laughing Coyote Guide to GOP Debates

Okay, for you all, I think I'll just save you all the time of actually watching the debates. Pretty much all the candidates are going to say the same thing from now until the Iowa Caucus (except for Ron Paul who appeals to those who flunked economics, Ron has his own brand of crazy). All the candidates are trying to rack up as many endorsements as they can, mostly from the thousands of groups who are committed to ending the persecutions of the Christians in this country who obviously are forced to praise God in secret, forming house churches that are two steps from being outed by their neighbors (for the noise) and dragged off to the FEMA Re-Education Camps.

You can pretty much insert this text for the "blah blah blah" they're going to say. Again, except for Ron "End the Fed" Paul. This is offered as a time saving exercise.
"Brothers! Oh, brothers. We have all gathered here, to preserve our hallowed culture and heritage. We aim to pull evil up by the root, before it chokes out the flower of our culture and heritage. And our women, let's not forget those ladies, y'all. Looking to us for protection. From darkies, from Jews, from papists, and from all those smart-ass folks say we come descended from monkeys. That's not my culture and heritage. Is that your culture and heritage?!" - Homer Stokes
Then add in the stock arguments of "evolution is teh evil" and "we don't see no global climate change" and you pretty much got it. What I keep hearing from the right isn't so much, "We've got better ideas" as it is, "Keep Obama a one-term president."

Linkee-poo rings out those Solstice Bells

Catherine Shaffer shares her plan for world domination. Okay, well, maybe just winning literary/genre awards.

Jim Hines explains in comic form why budding authors are often exercised from their family.

It's interesting to see a revival of type as design element. There was also a dancing type link, of which I've apparently lost.

Catherine Shaff-Stump is looking for blogging suggestions. Yes, I think we might have to remedy that glaring omission.

Eric shares the Count being censored. Yep, as parents you really should be watching what your kids are watching. You never know what insidious message is getting through.

You know, one of these days Jim Wright is going to say something that pisses me off, or he'll post a dude. But, that isn't today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Linkee-poo has garlic in its soul

If you're looking to hone your writing chops, Strange Horizons is looking so a slush reader. Slush reading is one of those milestones some people talk about in their writing careers. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

What's the value of cancer treatment? Some inside baseball into the UK's National Health Service. When we talk about "controlling the cost of health care" in this country, all these problems play out here as well. However, it's not negotiated and planned by "experts". There's a handy infographic that sums up the stakeholders and the positions. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The 10 happiest jobs which also includes a list of 10 most hated jobs. (Grokked from Miranda Suri)

Some private insurance insanity which I have also experienced. Yeah, we don't need to reform that industry, not at all. Because it's not wasteful. Know what major provision of the ACA the insurance industries hate? The requirement that 80% of your premiums must go toward coverage of medical expenses. They're currently lobbying the rule righters to have "marketing" covered in medical expenses. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sailing cards.

Sarah Palin is not ready to endorse any GOP presidential candidates. Why? Well, she says she just doesn't "feel" it yet. More than likely it's because the race keeps changing and she doesn't know who the winner will be. It's awfully much more convenient to keep your high success rate when you pick the foregone winner from the pack. Don't worry, I'm sure she'll choose sometime right before the RNC nominating convention.

And this way lies tyranny. Seriously, if that just didn't make his history PhD committee say, "maybe we should re-evaluate our decision", I don't know what would.

The Brandeis Tax. And interesting proposal, but I doubt it will ever see the light of day. The top 1% feel "victory" is in their grasp (note equivalent emotion of ultra-conservatives). What they've forgotten is their history. "'We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both (said Louis Branseis).' Brandeis lived at a time when enormous disparities between the rich and the poor led to violent labor unrest and ultimately to a reform movement." History may not repeat, but it surely rhymes. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Fear the new light bulb. The baby Jesus is weeping. Look, the standard incandescent light bulb is a huge money waster. It's a huge drain on our already outdated electrical grid. Asking for a 25% improvement in efficiency (with 5 years notice) is not a big thing. Just another example of the radical right having lost its mind.

Paul Krugman on the GOP monetary madness. I think I've made similar points in person (and somewhat on this blog). Remember all the sturm und drang about the bailouts of Fed monetary policy. Well, if the GOP were correct, we'd all be pushing our wheelbarrows of greenback to the grocery by now. I don't expect them to have a contemplative thought of, "Oh, hey, I guess we were wrong about that. Wonder what else we were wrong about?" Especially not in an election year. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Monday, December 19, 2011

The questions that vex us

So, there's an re-emerging trend within audio productions (both songs, and in many cases, movie trailers). I call it the, "just barely conscious signal", in which the audio or video skitezes you, flickers between frames with lots of static-y sounds and visuals. You know. Like you used to get when TVs and radios had knobs you had to turn which moved a connection along a coil to "tune-in" a signal.

You can sometimes get the same effect now-a-days when you have a regular FM/AM signal and there's an intense lightning storm in the area. When I was young, this was a staple of life. The hiss and whine of broadcast signals. It's often used in horror to have the effect of, "emergency broadcast that you can just barely pickup or hear."

It takes me back to my childhood and knowing how to finesse a dial to get a clearer signal. But, you know what? We don't do that anymore. How does this translate to the target audience (12-24 year olds) who all grew up in the digital tuner/cable (and now digital signal) age?

Is it a cultural legacy? Societal anachronistic short hand we all accept (like "dialing" a phone, I remember dialing, my nieces and nephews have never dialed a phone)? Is it part of our genetic memory (the way chickens will scatter when the shadow of a hawk passes over them, even if they've never experienced a bird of prey before)?

And yes, this is what writers stay up past the witching hour contemplating. Because, we must know. How else to play upon your emotions, dear reader, than to know not only what makes you tick, but how.

Linkee-poo likes the running of the deer

Win all The Wheel of Time audiobooks.

Added to the "Things I Didn't Know", Random Michelle K has a reading blog and Jim Wright has an Etsy store (although he only has pens there right now).

Weird thought of the morning, when I get to be a rich and famous writer who can't go out into public for fear of being mobbed by my fans, I might resort to hiring a locations scout to fill out scenes in my worlds.

Vintage science posters. (Grokked from Tor)

A good article on male privilege in geekdom. "The idea that perhaps the way women are portrayed in fandom is aleetle sexist is regularly met with denials, justifications and outright dismissal of the issue. So regularly, in fact, that there's a Bingo card covering the most common responses… We will now pause for the expected responses…" Yes, that. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Well, that could explain why OWS isn't sweeping the nation like a brush fire. BTW, just as a statistical nature exercise, it is highly unlikely that anybody reading this post is in the 1%. In the top 10%? It depends (I'm not tracking individuals here, but I know one or two who "know" about this blog). But the top 1% is right out. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

In relation to yesterday's link on it not being okay to not know how the internet works, I deleted a few lines about what else it isn't okay to say these days. One of those was it's not okay to say being gay is a choice. There's a whole list of things that we could state here ("your people", "AIDS is a gay disease", "poor people want to be poor", "welfare queen", etc). I just thought I should recreate a portion of the list here for future reference. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Scenes from a Morning Commute

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Linkee-poo has the Sunday Blahs

So, this morning I was watching "Meet the Press" and John Boehner. He was asked about his opinion of Newt Gingrich, as Newt is the current front runner. The Speaker of the House, someone who worked closely with Newt back in the day (and lost his position for opposing Newt) declined to comment. Actually, what he said was "I have a busy job and I don't have time to pay attention to the political race," or something like that. Really? The Republican who holds the highest elected office in the party, and office that is two-steps away from the Presidency, who has the time to send an aid to meddle in Ohio's redistricting, he isn't paying attention? He doesn't have an opinion of a person he work with for years? Complete and utter bullshit.

John Scalzi is gathering feed back on Whatever. Go let him know what you think of this past year's performance. Cry havoc and let slip the comments of snark!

The reverse gender gap. Not sure I completely agree with some of the "why is this happening" speculation in the article, nor with the "zomg, it's everywhere" or with what people may take from it. Namely, "well, we solved that gender inequality thing, no need to worry about it." Not that this is surprising to me, I'm pretty sure (without adding it up), I've reported to more women than I have to men in my career. As to the quote, “We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase… only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of the party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up — and those who remain are leering by the cheese table…", that's a whole 'nother problem. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And, as a surprise to no one, Joe Arpaio claims the DOJ allegations are a "sneak attack" and just politics. Given all the crop of the past year, we all know this drill, don't we? We all have our Scumbag-Claims-He's-A-Scapegoat Bingo Cards ready, right?

Fox News intentionally reports rumors/speculation as facts? Shocked, shocked I am…

So, have you noticed, that for the GOP to shout from the TV Talk Show roof-tops that America deserves a government that doesn't kick the can down the road, every since they got the majority in the House, that's all they've been doing? You did notice that we had another "potential government shutdown showdown" last week, right? Yeah. Neither did many people. The boy has officially cried "wolf" one too many times. And remember the push that bills should be about one subject or that you'll have 3 days to read the final legislation before there's any vote on it in the House? How's the GOP doing on any of those promises? How's the Tea Party doing holding their GOP representatives to keep to those promises?

Thinking of the failures of our elected representatives, it's not longer okay to not know how the internet works. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Snowy Saturday

Spent the day at a play downtown. Okay, well, I did do other things. Like I went to a client's to take some photos. See snowy day comments and the photos were to be of his horses. This is the third time we tried. So I left my camera with him so he could get them while he could (the problem with working all the daylight hours). Then we ran errands for recyclables and cat food (there was a sale, on the cat food, not the recyclables).

Did I mention it was snowy?

So it took some time to get downtown. It was well worth it. Playhouse Square was finely done for the holidays. And the Allen Theater looked fabulous. The play itself started off slowly, but the second act picked up and ended very well. The characters started off somewhat cardboard thin, but go interesting in the second act. Lots of Shakespeare in the play, which is always enjoyable. And while I had the end of the play by the start of the second act, there were enough twists to keep me engaged.

However the tickets we $70 a piece, and we were in the very last row. There were $50 tickets, and I'm wondering just where those were. Like I said, we were in the last row of the balcony. Peasants, w(h)ine for Caeser.

Had dinner in Mentor on the way home, while we ran some more errands. The food was excellent, and given the crowd at 5pm, obviously very popular. Although I had a fairly light dinner (chicken piccante), I feel a little heavy from it. Weird.

So that was the day. How's your weekend going?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Healthy, Wealthy and Wide

Or something like that. It's been a while since I've done a health update. In general, I'm doing okay.

On the weight side of things, there hasn't been much progress. Okay, there was, but my week at an Indian Casino and sitting in a seat most of the day lead to a major rollback. I had been down to 301 in the middle of November (last weigh in with doctor), but as of monday I was at 315. Not good. And unfortunately my regular exercise (15 minute fast walk at noon, and walking up 3 stories every Monday and Wednesday for class) is no longer happening. On top of that I'm taking Claritin as a prophylactic to keep my nose clear. Allergy medicines are becoming known for helping put on the weight. Since the was smoking at the casino, I was taking a pill several times a day. I need to get back to using the Wii. It's been over a year since I've been able to use it regularly. the good news is weight goes up, but weight goes down too. That's good news, because as long as the weight is moving it means I can still lose weight (without severe dieting). The other good news is that when I can control the snacking at work (we have free snacks, it's a poisonous thing) and drink my own tea, I lose weight.

The big D has been at bay this year. There's been a few little d episodes, but those are normal. Given the levels of stress this past year, I think that's somewhat of a miracle. There have been two weeks when I haven't had Welbutrin (scheduling issues with getting refills and having most evenings scheduled). And each time I haven't felt the edges of the big D. I would have stretched the experiments longer, but both times were high-stress moments (see not being able to stop at the drug store on the way home because of being busy). Maybe in the New Year we'll try to go off for a long time and see if the big D comes stalking at my door.

It's now been about two months with the CPAP machine. I'm definitely sleeping better. In fact, there has been dreaming (of the normal type). But now I have some experience with the machines, so here is what I've learned. The different companies that produce machines and masks have very different products. Between the sleep tests, my wife's CPAP, and finagling samples, I have been able to try out a lot of equipment. IMHO, Philips Respironics is leading the pack (and I would avoid Fisher & Paykel - just my advice). I have their CPAP machine (with warm mist - technically a BiPAP - which means the machine adjust pressure as I breath out), and have pretty much stayed with their masks. I didn't think with my allergies and nose problems I'd be able to use just a nose mask, but I really love my ComfortGel Nasal Mask (large). I don't have much of a "red line" problem, or nasal soreness with it. There have been a few nights where I've had to switch to a full mask (I have a couple of those). Even with the warm mist, I get dry mouth very quickly. And if I have to breathe through my mouth with the mask, I feel like those guys doing the G testing in centrifuges (with the lips and checks flapping). the full face mask I like to use is a ResMed. Between the two masks I have more leak problems with the ResMed. I have more issues with the Fisher & Paykel.

There are several things to keep in mind with the masks. They should fit comfortably. I typically wear them higher than I think they're supposed to be worn, but then I also don't have a sore nose bridge either.

Another thing to think about with masks is how they come apart for cleaning. This may not seem like a big thing, but trust me on this one. And, again, the Respironics has the engineering advantage. The ComfortGel mask easily separates into components that are easy to wash and easy to put back together. The ResMed is a little less easy. The F&P is the worse. Also, cleaning the machine shows the same breakdown (in fact, the F&P machine that my wife has is a pain in the arse to clean). While the manuals say to clean everyday, I do it about once a week and we're doing fine (if I go longer, I'll add a little vinegar to the dishsoap mix).

Another thing to keep in mind is how to adjust the mask. You might be tempted to make the mask as tight as you can stand to keep the seal. I would advise you to adjust your mask to be as loose as possible, but still not leak.

So there it is. Lots of ups and downs, but pretty well averaged over the year.

It's beginning to look a lot like Xmas

I'm sure some of you have been saying, "Oh sure, Steve, but what do your decorations look like this year?"

So here is as wide a shot as I can get. You can just barely see the large ornaments hanging from the tree.


And here is just the deer on the righthand side.


Then there is the side yard display. Note the new wreath hanging on the storage barn in back.


And here is a closer shot of the front of the house. Most of these lights are new, as is the garland around the doors (I've really been wanting to do that for years - this isn't really what I wanted to do, but it's what I could afford this year, and it doesn't look much different from the street).


And then there is a partial view of my neighbors lawn (he's added more things since this shot, and well as several inflatables to the right, and a few to the left). My neighbor feels we're in some kind of competition with each other. Which led me to almost get the 12' inflatable Santa. Just because that would be my trump card this week. But I refrained.


So there's a few new things this year. I also have garland wrap around the mailbox (so it looks good during the day). I've relamped 2 of the deer this year with LEDs (warm whites, which are a nice addition as they only look slightly different from the others, unlike the deer I relamped in cool whites, which look blueish).

There's plenty I wanted to get, but the cost was a little too high. We'll check out the after Xmas sales (depending on other factors going on).

Linkee-poo knows it's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n roll

Stick a fork in it, the intertubules have been won. (Grokked from everywhere)

We all have our million dollar ideas. Here's Dan's. I have to admit that I'm often puzzled by what these car stickers mean (yes, I know they're country codes from the EU, but that's not how we use them here in the US). At least these I'll understand. Plus, Dan's looking for feedback while he's in the testing phase. Any ones he should include, ideas for his commercial site, whatever?

I hate it when Hollywood does fairy tales. Why? Because they intentionally fuck it up. Jack and the Bean Stalk is not the same Jack in Jack the Giant Killer. Sure, they have the same first name, but then I have the same first name with Stephen Hawking. And I doubt anyone would confuse the two of us. Jack is an all purpose name for "everyman hero" in the fairy tales of the British Isles.

Oh Noes! Another Ghost Rider movie. Look, I saw the first one really, really wanting it to be cool. I mean, come on; motorcycle, flaming skull, demonic fighting with a flaming chain, Nic Cage, Peter Fonda, and Sam Elliot… it should have been damn awesome. How can you screw up such a thing? But screw up they did. It was one of those movies that you end up continuing to watch just to see how bad it would suck, and it even failed that test. Okay, I admit, I was really tired when I watched it. Like, "Oh, the remote is all the way on the other side of the couch, I'll never turn the channel again," tired. But still, blech.

Kelly Swails shares a holiday greeting. As she says, "It's Serratia marcescens and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, in case you're wondering."

"Into the kitchen rushes a Lubavitch SWAT team of three rabbis and an intern." An article on making the White House Kitchen Kosher for the Holidays (and you know which ones I'm talking about). "During the tumult, Rabbi Baron reviews a Hebrew passage from Shulchan Aruch, the venerable code of Jewish law. He finds it on his iPad." (that last is a personal note to me to rewrite "Grace" to send out). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The newsworthy events of 2011 in Lego. I wonder if the OWS will become a commercial set? (Grokked from Jim Hines)

So, just who are the job creators? (Hint: No, it ain't the rich). No need to worry, that banging sound is someone trying to shatter of world views of the GOP (they're particularly hard headed). And here I'll just point out that I hope you're all noticing that the GOP isn't for tax breaks for everybody (like the payroll tax holiday that affects all working people), they're just for tax breaks for the rich (those of you in the other 9% of the top 10% just get the benefit of being close, but the GOP isn't looking out for you either). (Pointed to by Sheila)

Oh, hell no. Those anti-immigration laws can't be about just brown people. So, besides driving Alabama's agricultural industry into the ground, it's also affecting all those industries that Alabama lured in to increase their tax base. But I'm sure they're not looking to revise their law just because some non-brown people were "inconvenienced." No, I'm sure they have some better reason to rethink their idiotic, racist, Jim Crow wannabe crap law. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Ta-Nehisi Coates with and interesting squib on cultural and our inherited baggage. I've also experienced the same thing he did and had been wondering about it. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart:
@seriouslyemily: The correct algorithm to find the serving size of Doritos is your height divided by your sad.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Synchronicity

Saw Captain America for the first time last night (yeah, I know, but I've been really busy). The one thing I want to comment about, thought, is I'm now in love with Steve Viola. He's the designer behind the end title sequence. They used vintage propaganda posters to develop the titles and, I'll admit, left me in total designer squee mode. So that's why it's sad to hear that Joe Simon passed on the day before I saw the modern movie based on his creation.

Linkee-poo decking the halls with boughs of holly

Oh, to be back in the days of the innocence of yore. 1561 should be good for some clean, wholesome, entertainment. Yeah. Right. Mmm, sexting through the use of Chaucer. And next, kiddies, we'll dissect some of my favorite Shakespeare, who also never wrote about sex. wink (Grokked from Jay Lake)

What was Kurt Vonnegut like as a teacher? Yeah, that's one of the reasons I like him.

Comet Lovejoy's suicide may become visible with the naked eye. The comet will be grazing the sun at such a close distance it will most probably be destroyed. As it does so, its magnitude of brightness is growing greater than predicted. If things work out right, you might be able to see the comet next to the sun in broad daylight.

Augmented reality hits the toy shelves. New tech tends to have two routes into the world, porn or toys (okay, well, military/space is another one). It's interesting to see this, I'm not so sure the Cars tie-in will workout (driving or manipulating a physical toy that has to be in close contact with the gaming screen isn't much different that just playing the game, IMHO, kinect is more AR, but in reverse is you see what I mean). And the Skylander's aren't so much augmented reality as platform agnostic game info storage devices. However, I see the Skylander's tech as more viable. Imagine if you had these for your RPG characters? You could merge video game play (online and solo) with table-top RPG experiences. You could reorder how gaming conventions are run (as in, real game changer). As a side note, AR has been in toys for about four years now. There's a stuffed toy you can buy that comes with a code to allows you to unlock an online experience, also there have been AR readers (show icon to camera, see animated 3d model on screen) in games for at least two years. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Ah, well, good thing somebody is getting nice raises these days. Too bad it's the same 1% that's been getting all the raises for the past three decades. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Punks arrested in Jakarta and given "re-education." Long-haired hippy-freaks need not apply. (Pointed to by John)

And what comes as a surprise to nobody, the DoJ investigation into Sheriff Joe Arpaio finds extreme ethnic bias in his policing practices. Cue the diner signers to another chorus of, "but they commit all the crimes."

If Money=Political Speech, only 58 of us are doing 80% of the speaking through SuperPACs. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Priebus's Army? Like Dumbledore's Army, but less competent and more angry.

For Jim, because



We know how much Jim Wright loves this song. (Grokked from ticia42)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Linkee-poo knows it's all run by a big eastern syndicate

Spent the morning at the courthouse, only to have the judge dismiss one count, and the state drop their prosecution of the other count. So, thanks Universe. I think that was meant to be a good thing.

George Takei, broker of intergalactic peace. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tor is sending Tobias Buckell on the road for his new book, Arctic Rising. So happy for my friend, you just wouldn't believe. Ah, I think I've found the Christmas Spirit early. Oh, wait, that's just the hard cider. All the events are on the other coast. (Congrats, Tobias.)

How doctors die. Having watched too many people go through a rough end of life, there is something to be said for Hospice (although, please note, not everyone there goes gently into the night either). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sure, you've seen the cats playing with the Friskee's app, but can they play a real video game like this bearded dragon? I think not. (Pointed to by John)

When the "free market" goes too far. Amazon once again shows the dark side of the force. Now, I'll admit, I've made purchases through Amazon after seeing something in a brick-and-mortar store. I've even made the comment to my wife, "I bet I could get a good deal on-line for (whatever see's looking at)." So I'm guilty. However, that's the consumer doing price shopping (and here I'll also say that I've gone the other way saying, "I could probably save a buck buying this online/outside my local shops", but then realizing what I'd save I would spend in doing that runaround, just purchased the item - there's several scenarios around this). This app is industrial espionage at an exceptionally course level. If Amazon went out and gathered this info (more difficult than just walking into a store with a pen and paper - see stories from Best Buy about doing that), and then set its price accordingly, I'm okay with that. But enlisting the consumer to do the dirty work? There's a line back there that we crossed. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Paul Allen goes for the full Howard Hughes. Okay, well, launching rockets after taking them close to orbit by another means (aircraft, ballon) isn't a new idea. The old space launch company he funded (now Virgin Galactic) did the same thing with White Knight and SpaceShip One.

You know how climate scientists talk about "tipping points." Well we might have just passed one. It's already been seen that the melting permafrost in Alaska has been releasing methane, but this is a whole different scale. You know how we all get worried about CO2 releases? Yeah, methane is about 20x worse. Of course, the other side is all pictures or it didn't happen. Unfortunately, I can't find that the AGU has released the papers presented, yet. Considering this scientist has been talking about this for 5 years (that I can remember) and has more scientific cred that the deniers, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. But measurements would be nice (as I remember, though, methane research isn't what he's doing, these are just incidental sightings). (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Lies, damnable lies, and infographics. Serious face palm going on over at Fox News. Really, dudes, when it's only drawing grid lines to show how much you faked the chart, you're not even trying. And yes, I've been asked to make charts like that in previous positions, there are better ways of doing this work which don't intentionally show the lie (like how the chart goes from 8.0 to 10.0, which flattens out the line). Oh. Wait. I get it. This is the "Help, I'm being held prisoner in a fortune cookie factory" message. (Grokked from Phiala)

Another Tennessee house burns as firefighter watch. I'm of two minds about this, being Chairman of Safety (for only a few more weeks). It's damn expensive to run a fire department (you wouldn't believe the cost of equipment and the training necessary). So I understand the thinking behind the "the fire service is for our municipality, if you want it outside of that line, you need to buy into the service." $75 is chicken feed, btw, for such insurance. But I also understand there are people for whom $75 is a hardship. The way to settle this is property tax in the form of a levy to buy into the local municipality's fire service (we have two such arrangements, while the millage is the same, because of the increased value of property inside the village, we still pay they lion's share, not to mention tossing in extra income tax dollars). If you don't believe in taxes, then you have to go to fee for service. But then you have these types of things. And, yes, the firefighters will watch the blaze (not welcomely, they'd rather fight it) to make sure it doesn't spread to other properties that have paid the fee (or for which they could get reimbursed by federal agencies, like preventing a forest fire). (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

I hope you'v all be working out, keeping this calluses in good shape, because this election year is going to be a doozy of a face palm season. Not to mention a rehash of the has-beens of the last election. I might want to stock up on the pepto bismol. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

When Rick Perry's campaign started off with his Day of Prayer, I worried a little. Then when it was exposed that the people behind his Day of Prayer were the New Apostolic Reformation, I got concerned. Then with his video, "Strong" Rick Perry proved he was a tool. Dear Texans, if you have the recall, I'd start doing it now. No, really, Rick has jumped the shark. The whole, "Obama's war on Christianity"? That takes some serious reality disconnect to get to. Rick shouldn't be allowed to operate a motor vehicle while taking such strong stuff, let alone being handed keys of power. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart
@God_Damn_Batman: The holidays are the most stressful time of year. What with all the shopping and armies of penguins with tiny missiles on their back.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Late breaking heads

So, the last month on Council just can't be an easy one, can it? Thanks, Universe, for more heartbreak on the way out.

Well, we had one officer resign (which I already knew about). So I need to hire another this month (almost solved). I mean, they couldn't wait another month?

But then there's more health problems around Council. If you happen to think that there's all this giving away of the house by the government when it comes to health care, think again. Because of the regulations instituted by Congress attempting to cut their liability, one of our own is suffering more than necessary. They need a necessary procedure, but unfortunately are just outside the approved level to be helped. So, instead, we have a few more expensive hospital visits instead of fixing the problem. Saving a few pennies to spend a few dollars. Great.

Then someone goes through a stop sign and takes out the sibling of another of our workers. Funeral was yesterday (so I missed all of it).

Then there's our State Attorney General who feels that pursuing a former employee for overpayments which had already been discovered and "approved" by the elected board members (different body) 6 years ago is now worth pursuing to bring money in for the state. Dollar amount is below $500, the clerk had already been disciplined, the error was caught and corrected before the audit, the elected members of the board absolved the debt. In an attempted to drive revenues, the AG isn't hearing any of it and required response immediately. Six years ago. So our choice was to force the former employee (who is facing medical and financial problems of their own) to repay, force the Clerk to pay, or tap our Bond (which at least will increase our costs, might lead to loosing it). And we had to decide tonight, or let the AG make the choice. Have we talked about how the OAG is also looking at getting welfare recipients to repay government overpayments from up to 25 years ago? Can we pick a swell bunch in this state or what.

Also, I have jury duty tomorrow. Freaking fantastic. Every other year I've been called for duty, but haven't had to serve (dismissed the night before). Hey, thanks a load.

Dear Universe, I don't know what I did to piss you off, but you can stop it now.

Scenes from a Morning Commute

And if you're wondering how the week back is going, do this give you a clue?

Never let them tell you that designers don't do math (that's just from this afternoon, this morning's figures took up a whole page and are in the trash now).

Linkee-poo is sold by volume, not by weight

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium opening January 21, 2012. It's been a long, damnable wait. And $22 for an 1.5 experience?

Catherine Schaff-Stump shares what she learned this NaNaWriMo. Also demonstrating that just because you write one way one day, doesn't mean you can't mix it up the next. Heck, you may have to.

MiB3. 'nough said.

Nathan would like to share with you some of the lesser known heros of the "War on Christmas". At least I now know where my annual desire to eat potato knishes comes from.

And open letter from (some of) the truck drivers affected by OWS's shutdown yesterday. "We love being behind the wheel. We are proud of the work we do… But we feel humiliated when we receive paychecks that suggest we work part time at a fast-food counter. Especially when we work an average of 60 or more hours a week…" Just simple justice. Also, a nice essay on what happens when you deregulate and allow "the market" to set the terms. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Siri fails at family planning. It's one thing to have a missing piece of data, it's a different thing to have specific black holes of information, while providing in-depth information for topics just adjacent (ie. if you know Viagra, you should know Plan B). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Vince shares a video that might upset some of you. NSFW (explicative laden), you are warned. I don't agree totally with it (extenuating circumstances), but from the angle the ranter is coming from, yes.

The epidemic of autism. The the article reports, it's mostly an epidemic of diagnosis. "Indeed, some parents pursue it doggedly… because it can open the door to publicly funded services." It also can create distinct advantages, especially for students. With the mainstreaming of students who used to be relegated to special ed, general ed make allowances for them: special tutoring, longer times to take tests, readers, etc. That second part, longer time frames for test taking, has been extremely attractive to parents (and students). There are a lot of people out there diagnosed with "developmental disabilities" who really don't have them, but their parents bullied doctors into making the diagnosis so they could get those benefits. That's why ADD diagnosis's spiked in the 80s and 90s, and now autism is the flavor of choice. (that is not to say all the increase is because of this, or even a majority of the increase is because of this, but there are some percentage points that fall into the "give my kid a better chance" category). "… cases were concentrated in places where parents were highly educated and had easy access to treatment." You could also link this spike to the same factors that made Lyme disease the horror of the 80s. Basically it was at that time doctors finally realized, "Hey, this might actually be a disease." Some of you might remember that before then, people complaining of Lyme disease were often dismissed with, "It's all in your head." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

As a side note, the true silent epidemic in this country is Hepatitis C.

A graphical representation of the effect of Newt Gingrich's tax plan (or, if you want the data from the Tax Policy Center). Good thing he doesn't believe in redistributing wealth, because then we'd all have to watch our wallets. Welcome to what a regressive tax policy looks like. Not to mention, it'll add $850B to the deficit in the first year (where as Perry's plan would only add $570B). Remember when conservatives were about ending deficit spending? Well, that doesn't count when you can give your friends a few hundred thousand more a year, does it now. (Grokked from Morgan Locke)

And just in case you think I don't want Newt to win, think again. I want Newt for the same reason I wanted Cain. Boy howdy would my side win. "Please, Brair Fox, don't throw me in that briar patch." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Because sunlight is the best disinfectant for political bullshit (Grokked from Jay Lake). Your liberal media at work. Sometimes I just don't understand Log Cabin Republicans. Yes, I know a few personally. They're all about smaller government, lower taxes, etc, all the things the Republicans say they're about. But they've missed that the social conservatives have hijacked the party and flung it deep into ultra-wacky-right-land. And those social conservatives aren't about those things (although they'll mouth the words), they're about the hate for others. They're tired of the world showing them they're wrong, and so they will fight to their last breath denying all of reality. So, to my Log Cabin friends, that party has abandoned you, too. It's time to wake up and smell the closet that the social conservatives just want your money and they don't give a flying fig about you. You might think you've won the war on this issue (also grokked from Jay Lake). Really? How's Roe v. Wade doing these days? This is the conservative theme. They never admit defeat and will keep fighting to make the world they way they perceive it should be, and there's no room in that warped reality for you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Micro in the bag

Tonight was the finals, and because of being out of state last week, I had to do both the Lab and Lecture final. Since we were both there early, I took the Lab first and scored 21/20 (22 total possible points). There were a few questions that it took me a while to get the correct answer, and one I totally pulled out of ass (what is albumin's role in plasma - it's to regulate osmotic pressure in case you're wondering). On the Lecture test I scored an 83%. My lowest score of the semester. Considering I missed 2 out of the 3 lectures that covered the material, I think I did okay. There were a few that I changed my answer to the incorrect answer (none that went the other way, that is, I didn't change any to the correct answer), one that I marked the wrong box, and a few that I debated between two answers and chose the wrong one.

If I've done my math correctly, even with the automatic 10 point deduction for missing class last week, I think I still made an A. Not my highest A, in fact I think this is my poorest performance to date. But it's an A. The GPA doesn't care if I blew out the top end or barely scrapped by.

Small Aggravations

Okay, so, for exotoxins of microbes (the toxins the microbes create and shed, as compared to the toxins formed within the microbe that are released as the microbe is lysed - destroyed - which are endotoxins), there can be a two part system referred to as A-B. They're two different toxins (proteins), but here the B helps the A into the cell. The B has the receptors to attach to the cell wall, which then causes phagocytosis - the cell "eats" it. The A part attaches to the B part, so when the B gets eaten, so does the A. Now, in most cases, the B doesn't do much of anything else. It's the A protein that causes the problems (acts as the toxin).

With me so far?

Clostridium difficile (C. diff), has two enterotoxins (toxins that work in your GI tract) called A and B.

Sigh. Really? REALLY? We couldn't call them C and D (you know, for C. diff)? One of the reasons this shit is so hard. Don't even get me started on "di-" versus "bis-" prefixes.

Linkee-poo jangles your jingle bells

Kim Wright expounds on the "just" parts of axioms. In this world, you never "just" have to do something. You have to do all the other parts. Same goes for writing and publishing. As someone once said, "I have two hobbies. The first one is writing. The second is submitting." And here I'll reiterate a widely dispersed theme, don't be a dick about marketing (ie. if all you have to say is, "buy my book" people will tune you out and turn you off).

A gift list for the writers in your life. And also, just like Jay Lake, wants.

Edward Gorey and things you're not (officially) allowed to do on envelopes anymore. From back in the glory days when people processed the mail.

Iceland, apparently, isn't fooling around. Instead of allowing bonuses to be paid, they've arrested executives of failed banks. Although, it appears, the Icelanders have direct evidence of corrupt practices (stock purchases for loans and bad investments). (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

NPR goes on a hunt to find those millionaire job creators who would suffer from the surtax. After checking in with the Republican Congressional Offices to get someone to talk to, and then the lobbyists working against the surtax and coming up with bumpkiss, they turn to Facebook. There they get a few nibbles, all of whom who say the tax rates don't even come into their decisions to hire or not hire. Republicans trot out the line that they could have gotten the millionaires that would be affected to talk, but they didn't wanna. Say, remember the "Estate/Death Tax" debate about how all these family farms would be hurt if it wasn't repealed? Remember how, when pressed, Republican's couldn't produce a single family farm that was affected by the estate tax? What do you call people who consistently can't tell the truth? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's a Christmas (Carol) Miracle

Okay, well, maybe epiphany is more the like.

For those of you new to my blog you may not know this, but Dickens's A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite stories and has been very informative on my psyche. I know I haven't done much on it in the past few years. I have a feeling that there will be more this year.

But it just occurred to me that I now understand the conservative mind a little more. This whole "War on Christmas" thrust has been confusing to me. I mean, you could just chalk it up to the feelings of martyrdom envy, the perceived persecution of "christians" (which, in this case, has always translated as "conservative privilege"), and a need to feel that it's "us against those dirty liberals". However, I finally just got it.

See, if you promote free-market capitalism, the belief of being overtaxed, living in a welfare state, and promoting the concept that those people on the "have not" side of the equation should just go out and get a job already… well then, those are the people who are cheering Scrooge as he snuffs out Christmas Past with her cap. Don't believe me? Go and reread the Stave 1 in A Christmas Carol. Scrooge is a market capitalist, to the nth degree. When approached for charity, he complains about his high taxes supporting the welfare society and certainly that is enough for him. If those people who are in "want" don't like the Treadmill or the Work Houses, well then, they should die and decrease the surplus population.

So the "War on Christmas" (or, the War Against a Non-Existent Foe) is actually a preemptive strike to avoid that label of "Scrooge" being applied to them. See, "we's all about the Jebus and Christmas, so obviously we can't be Scrooge."

As the song goes, "but don't you believe it." Dickens wrote his little yarn because capitalism was driving Christmas into being just another work day.
"And yet," said Scrooge, "you don't think me ill-used, when I pay a day's wages for no work."

The clerk observed that it was only once a year.

"A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!"
If that's not a complaint about not letting capitalism run it's own course without interfering government and societal, long-haired hippy notions, I don't know what is.

Never vacation at a casino

Because I gained 6 pounds last week. Damn. I think it was the smokey atmosphere (it was an Indian Casino, so exempt from local laws regarding smoking), the 5 hours of sleep (if I was lucky), jet lag, and not access to the food I would have liked. The bad part of this is that after Monday, I no longer have my major exercise event (walking up to the third floor of the building for class).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Linkee-poo is back home

Okay, I think I missed posting one of the linkee-poos this week. I'll need to check everywhere it might be to see what happened. Also, just ordered tickets for a play down at Playhouse Square. Each time I do this, the lingering feeling that I've been fleeced after having a jailhouse romance are reasons I don't do this more often. First up is the ordering system that doesn't let me choose the seats (I'm a large guy, sitting in the middle would make a bad experience for me and my neighbors, especially since theaters love to put in small seats, so they can fit more). After $70 a piece for the back of the balcony ($50 second balcony tickets were no longer available, and when I say "back" I mean the last row), then they add the fees on top of it. Including the "shipping and handling" charge… when I have them at "will call" (don't worry, the fee didn't change even if I selected the "print out your own tickets").

Some iPad apps for designers.

Jim Van Pelt on voice. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

John Joseph Adams gets a starred review in Publishers Weekly for Lightspeed: Year One, a compilation of the magazine he edits (and now publishes).

I've never really gotten into LARPs (live-action role-playing), although I find it interesting to see people do it in real life (ie. not a part of a game). But in case you were interested, heres some basic rules of how not to be. What happens inside the LARP, stays inside the LARP. Although some of the problems Michele Reznik points out are basic problems with any gaming group (board games, RPGs, monopoly tournies, scrabble enthusiasts).

Ta-Nehisi Coates takes Rick Perry to task. The more I watch the Republican Primary, the more I see Coates's main point reiterated. The Old Order has collapsed and people who were quite comfortable in their bubble now have to live in the real world. They don't like it and don't want it. For many reasons, including the general denial when world views are shattered, but also because they know the rules they set up were fundamentally unfair for those in the under-class. And now they realize, they may end up there themselves. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Then, of course, it's not just Rick Perry who is living in their own fantasy land, Ricky Santorum believes that nobody has ever died from lack of health insurance. That's not merely living in your own bubble, that's active denial. Newt Gingrich, the history professor, is busy rewriting his own history. Only someone in their own bubble can live two and a half decades in Congress, attain the office of Speaker, engineer the "Republican Revolution", become a highly-paid lobbyist and political commentator for Fox News try to run as an outsider. And if you think the conservatives living in bubbles only affects them, you don't understand their delusions force the rest of us to live in their world. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Erich points out how warped the conservative view of history is. In this case, about how the Minority Leader of the Senate has a complete misunderstanding of what the Constitution really says. Not that I support the movement Mitch McConnell is bashing, but that he should do it on reality based arguments. But that would require the argument about equality.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Symptoms of a Malignant Disease

Chris Armstrong talks about some obvious (to me) design issues for websites. Well, it's mostly about how we (the design industry) typically prototypes and generate comps for the client. Much of what he is talking about transcends much of the design industry and also works for print and TV. What he's talking about are legacy industry issues (I've only recently run into design shops that still have the old rigid job hierarchies, really, dudes, ADs that don't understand or can't do production? Get with the 90s.). I can't tell you how many times I've been in meetings where I've made the comment, "Hey, that's fabulous. It doesn't work that way in the real world." 

And here I will make the comment that I've broken new paradigms and have a knack for figuring out tough production problems. And it's a matter of pride that at my last day job I only had to go back to a client once to tell them, "Not possible" (although I have had to tell them that doing a 3-sided bleed on an envelope just isn't going to happen without converting the envelopes, which costs more and wasn't in the quote - or things similar to that, which goes back to actually understanding production). What I did tell them was, "I can make this effect you're looking for (which, BTW, your production solution was the worst concept) in two-color. I can do it in four color, like how you prototyped it, but two-color doesn't work that way." 

But with web design, I've been in teams that have experienced more of the, "this doesn't look like the prototype/demo" meetings.  It's all related to doing design work without an understanding of how the work will be produced in the real world. BTW, this is also a major failing of software instruction seminars/manuals. Most of the instructors and manual writers have never produced work in the products they make or train on. So they make basic mistakes, which they then convince their students are "just the way it is." 

For similar concepts see yesterday's link regarding standardized testing in education. The people doing the front end, management, training, and consulting only have a basic academic understanding of what they're doing. They've never done the work themselves, so they make rookie mistakes. But just like the garage passing through a computer, because they're being paid big dollars, nobody questions their shit. 

When I worked at Wendy's, one of the many shifts I worked was late night/prep. Every newly minted manager would be given that shift. After the third jerk came through with the, "We're going to make late night a money maker because, obviously, you've all just been lazing around and I've got ideas." They would all fail and usually mean we'd have to work extra hours to make up for the time they wasted. So the last two managers I trained on that shift, as they started their, "We're all a team" speech, I stopped them and said, "Work with us for a week. If you have ideas to improve the process after that, we're all ears."

Dear business managers, please learn the production side of the work you're involved in. It will save you so much time and money you just wouldn't believe it.

Linkee-poo came out even at the slots, called it a day

Still in California. Still way behind on studying. Only having as minute amount of fun.

Chuck Wendig talks about self publishing and reality assessments. Lots of good concepts in there, including a list of what not to do. Well, okay, more of, "these are not the droids you're looking for" kinds of tests. Not a 25 items list.  

Alma Alexander talks about how to treat your audience and what you can expect back. And I like to echo those thoughts, although not everybody feels the same. As is obvious from a lot of TV, some people like being spoon-fed their entertainment. It's been my experience that the more successful works of communications are the ones that trust the viewer to keep up. 

Jim Hines follows up on his earlier post with a post on those comments that you most often hear in response to being confronted with abusers of others. I lost another link that explained this a little more, but words have meaning. Jim gives you what the real meaning behind the script.

Vince gives some historical texts on how our "true Christian founders" of this country felt about Christmas. News to current conservatives, they started the War on Christmas, and they were very successful (for their time). And as an opposite side, I'll just remind us all that one of the reasons Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol was that businesses were demanding their employees work on Christmas, and that the observance of the holiday were diminishing. 

Tobias Buckell has a post on Denver voting to go green for energy. His thoughts pretty well nail the difference between green and carbon based forms of energy production, localized (community to point source) versus distance production. When the costs of producing electricity were enormous, it made more sense to have distance generation (it placed the generative capability  near their sources, and away from population centers). Now that the cost of energy is being reduced (and green sources are coming down), and generation is having a lighter footprint (see green), it makes more sense to localize energy production. And this is why "big" coal is fighting like hell. They can't make money that way.

Jim Wright nails the mental space Bachmann and her like dwell. This is one of the major things about the social conservative movement that drives me batty. BEcause to do what they really want, they require a much more invasive and controlling government. Of course for them, it won't seem like it because they were already going to behave a certain way. But for the rest of us, it would be like having to pass aTSA screening every thirty minutes. And that's on a good day.

On the fallacies of standardized testing. As someone who is going through consultant hell right at the moment, hey, education, welcome to the world we've been living in for two decades. Yes, it's bs. But it's MBA bs, which has its own shine on the shinola.  (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Linkee-poo runs at periscope depth

Getting a little more used to using the iPad as a working device. Also hitting several roadblocks (combination on limits of device and internet apps *cough*microsoft*cough*). In general, the iPad isn't a viable laptop replacement for what I'm doing. Now I'm just seeing how productive can I be with it (and finding things I could change to make it more productive). So, still fiddling.

Also, let me state the obvious, I'm way behind on reading and keeping up to date.

Tobias Buckell and Dave Klecha's co-written story, A Militant Peace is being picked up for Dozois' Year Best. Fargin' cool, guys. Congrats on the score.

Jim Hines talks about how to support victims of sexual harassment. And here I'll say that his points are also pretty good about any harassment, including your standard bullying (which is a form of harassment) .

Once again, my friends are channeling my own thoughts. This time about Newt Gingrich. I should mention at some point, I don't always agree with Eric and Jim, but sometimes they elucidate my own thoughts better than I can.

Fox Business News (besides being completely ignorant of real business practices) has officially jumped the shark. Again. And let's give as good as we get, shall we. Okay. Obviously Fox News is against small, entrepreneurial business because their against the Muppets getting a small business back up and running. A business that offers more job opportunities, is local, supports their community, and provides a needed service. Instead, FNB is all about the monopolist who will rape local resources and provide nothing back to the community (including no long term jobs, no support, no local responsibility). (Grokked from wannabewriter6)