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And no one sings me lullabyes
And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Linkee-poo takes a flying leap

Still trying to catch up with things. So much to do and only so many hours to do it in.

For every action, there is an opposite and equal(?) reaction. In response to Amazon throwing an 800lb gorilla tantrum removing ebooks distributed by IPG, SFWA is redirecting their "buy this book" links to other vendors when possible. Wasn't it about this time a year or two ago that we did this with Houghton Mifflin books? Not to mention I missed where B&N dissed Amazon Publishing titles.

In case you missed the Monday Night Daily Show, here's the best part. Although the Neil DeGrasse Tyson interview was also a hoot.

Well, that didn't work out so well, did it? Lots of establishment GOPers are crying in their beers over how their revamped primary process has been going. I guess they forgot that their own party played by different rules than the progressives do. See, the Obama/Clinton primary was also played against a GOP primary. But you might remember that while the primary was contentious and had some hard hitting ads, it wasn't a content to see who could be the most bat-shit insane on social issues, or whom was the most pure. IIRC, it was mostly about who can you trust to run the country. There was an exchange of ideas. The GOP thought, "Hey, we can do that, too," but now they begin to realize that conservative politics in this day and age ain't about ideas. It's about who can run the farthest to the right. This is the bed you made, conservatives. Now you need to lay in it. If you think things are bad now, just wait until the contested nomination convention when even more people will be watching.

The slactivist on the evolution of what the Bible says on conception and abortion. So what's the difference between 1971 and 2012? Well, all those women got liberated during the 70s, 'natch. But there's the drumbeat of "We have always been at war with Eastasia." Also, let's not forget that in the early 80's, after accomplishing their goal of making sure Bob Jones University didn't lose its tax exempt status (with the election of Ronald Reagan) the evangelical leaders, fearful of losing their newly gained political power as the faithful went back to their lives, chose abortion as the next great crusade. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Everybody is a conservative, shouting, "Drill, baby, drill" with the best of them. until it's your land they're doing it on. When I loaded that article, the ads were from the Oil & Natural Gas Industry about how it'll be the safest pipeline EVAR! and that jobs can't wait. You got that right. You get a month to accept their offer or they're just going to take you land. And the last two paragraphs are priceless.

A somewhat interesting squibb on advertising. I'm not sure all that that Banksy is railing about, but I suggest they first research Fair Use, specifically for parody and commentary. That doesn't mean you can steal from advertising (it's protected under the various copyright and trademark laws), but you can appropriate images to create a parody, or something that can be defined as "social commentary." You can also incorporate items into "art" (as long as it isn't "commercial art"). Then they need to look up Public Square, or shared spaces. Sorry, no one person controls all the public space, and people do own walls and other surfaces. There's been some specious commercial victories lately that have removed some of the "public" from "public space." But it's not as bad as what has been done to Commercial Speech (which advertising used to fall under). Every time I hear of an advertiser (or more than likely, corporation) suing under Free Speech I just cringe. No, fucktards, it's Commercial Speech and it isn't protected speech (or at least that's the way it was, now a days, I don't even know where the line is because of all the court cases decided by activist conservative judges - see Citizens United for an example). Actually, while I agree with the sentiment of Bansky (Christ on a pogo-stick, do we really need to cover every surface with advertising? And can we stop with the "My girlfriend is better" crap already?), I disagree with the sense of entitlement that pervades the rant. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Santorum is wrong about religion and college? Well slather me in honey and call me biscuits. Actually, what he's really upset is as people learn more about the world, they tend not to be conservative in their outlook. So his brand of politics, where he makes his money, is in jeopardy. But he'll never admit to that in public. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The lunatic fringe is now after Toy-R-Us because they're selling the Life with Archie comic that features a gay couple on the front. Yes, if kids see this image, they might grow up with the wrong ideas that gay people are human, deserve to be as happy as the rest of us, oh and serve in the military. Can't have that in their impressionable little minds before we instill their parent's hatred and fears. Because even if they're our heros who save our lives we need to kick their gay asses out of our company once we know they're gay. Because if they're not around we can stick our fingers in our ears and "Lalalala" all the way to happiness in Mother's Little Helper. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Um, do it again

Dear God, it's me, Steve again. Say, since you were so obliging with the South Carolina vote, may I make another request? Could you make it that Santorum wins Michigan and Romney wins Pennsylvania? That would be bitchin'. Thanks for listening. Me.

Linkee-poo is boggled

Spent last night catching up with reading instead of studying. It was that bad of a day that I felt sabotaging my courses was the wiser form of action. Sometimes I'm not entirely rational.

SF/F authors writing about the climate and what response they've gotten. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

And speaking of Tobias, happy book day, dude. Arctic Rising is now available for sale. Get a copy before it comes true. Which may be in a few years.

(said in fanboy squee voice) ZOMG, Jim Hines talks about fame and fanboy fails. Having seen that from both ends of the stick (but not as the object of fanboyism - yet), yeah, that. I think it's affected me in another way. When running into people who are "famous" I no longer get all squee about it. I don't go and introduce myself to all of them, only the ones that I am a very big fan of. Now, if I ever happen to be in the same room as Neil Gaiman and there's a break in the goth girl contingent, I can't guarantee that I also wouldn't pee myself a little, because, you know, it's Neil Frickin' Gaiman.

Andrew Wheeler with some more inside baseball on the publishing industry. I'm also not sure that the pre-orders wouldn't count as first week sales as Amazon neither charges your account or (obviously) ships the book until they have it (which would be when it would go live on their site anyway). So I would think that the sales wouldn't be registered until you're actually charged for the book. Now, how it would appear on Amazon's ranking lists is another ball of wax. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Chuck Wendig talks about the funny and asks for comments and recommendations. Oh, yeah, we're going to be checking that out. Because, you know with the you know, you know?

Jeff VanderMeer talks about the obsession with word count and staying in contact with your writing.

Lynda Williams on writing what you know, but is really about how to instill verisimilitude.

We always knew R2D2 was saying something they didn't want us to know. He was a precurser of Bender, only more vulgar. (Grokked from George Takei)

And now tilt-shift comes to video (the music is a bit much, but I've seen a few commercials that use this technique in a limited way. I wonder if this look will translate to generations in the future who won't have grown up watching cheaply produced stop animation and puppet shows? Wait a sec, are those storm trooper marching down the road for Carnival? (Pointed to by John)

Vince brings us the end of the slippery Santorum slope, the anti-Copernican, Big Bang, Evolution mouth breathers rise. I'm pointing to Vince's blog, he has the video, because I don't want to give any more link love to those people.

Do you know you Rick Santorum from a Dave Mustaine (former head of Megadeth and Metallica guitarist)? (Pointed to by John)

Just how biased is your media? I need to download the podcast to get all the info there. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

NPR release their new ethics handbook. "At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources. So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth. If our sources try to mislead us or put a false spin on the information they give us, we tell our audience. If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports. We strive to give our audience confidence that all sides have been considered and represented fairly." Good luck with that, NPR. Given the well know liberal bias of reality, I expect the mud slinging and "defund NPR" shouting to begin in 3… 2… 1… (Grokked from Tobias Buckell, I think)

With all the various tax plans of the GOP candidate, having a handy dandy chart would be nice. Oh look at where all the divergence from current policy happens. Why, it all seems to be above the $100-200,000 mark with most of the divergence coming above the $500,000 level.

And last, but certainly not least, God weighs in on the political campaign and shows us part of his plan. (Pointed to by Sheila)

Monday, February 27, 2012

And so it goes

For those of you watch the news, you know that Chardon is in a state of shock today from the shootings. So begins the search for reasons, people lining up on sides, the anger, the sympathy and the insanity that insanity breeds. Cry havoc and let slip the asinine comments of the blowhards.

But I have a few thoughts. One, metal detectors wouldn't help. More guns in schools wouldn't help. Anti-bullying laws wouldn't help (just research Columbine, now more than a decade behind us). Gun controls wouldn't help.

On the cold rational side of things, I want to find everybody who ever told me a .22 couldn't be a "killing weapon" and rub their face in this.

What will happen is everybody's life will be changed. Angry kids will be angrier, disenfranchised kids will be even farther out, scared kids will be even more scared, the in-clique will be tighter and more insular, and everybody will lie about how that won't happen. Not in this town. Not after what happened.

Chardon isn't my local school district, but I worked in Chardon for almost 8 years. I did work for Chardon High School. I know the parents of some of the kids who would be attending high school now. I know the reporters who were first on the scene.

These things don't always happen in someone else's town. Who ever said they'd stay away and not come close? If someone told you that, even if they spoke in your voice, the lied.

Linkee-poo wonders were all the flowers have gone

Ferrett Steinmetz on editing his Nebula nominated story, Sauerkraut Station.

Cat Valente on publishing's many faces (over at Boing Boing).

As a friend of mine once said, Logic, you're doing it wrong. That's a link to several videos about logic and argument and some of the problems that come along with it. (Grokked from Joe Hill)

You know, people like to talk about the sensible mid-west, with our mid-western values, etc (see the PBS special about The Amish). But what is masks the East Coast from is from a little West of the Mississippi to the Rockies, there are pockets of bat-shit insane people. Take for instance the Wyoming Legislature. (Pointed to by John)

And on the bat-shit insane craziness, there are, of course, the absurdist conclusions of certain trains of thought. Are YOU a pawn of the Orgasm Lobby? (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Curiosity Counts with a video about the fight for minds in schools. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

God-moding Windows 7. In case you use that system. (Pointed to by John)

I would say Maureen Dowd is going a bit over the top except that what she's saying is basically becoming apparent to most sentient, politically aware adults in this country (other countries got hip to it a long time ago). The Republican Party is the party of the past. The long distant, hazy remembrance of a past that never actually existed, but had the good virtue of making sure the people in power were never really bothered with the concerns of the other casts… until the villagers were at the gates with pitch and feathers. And, again, the fears they project are reasonable to them because, given the power, they would invoke such horrible decision making processes that most of the rest of us could never imagine (see Conservative Legislative "victories" and proposals since 2010). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And because the world isn't all doom and gloom (no matter what the conservatives want you to believe), have a video of a baby elephant playing in the snow. (Pointed to by John)


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Linkee-poo is still studying

Over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, they have an article about a plagiarist being flushed out. I point to the content not so much for the full story, but the opening about Amazon and their epublishing enabling more and more plagiarism to occur. I'm not sure I'd buy their indemnification about how their only responsibility is to take down offending material. Not when much of their sales point is "let us sell your stuff." IMHO, at some point they're going to have to own the process, or the market will self-implode under the bad publicity and junk being peddled. (Grokked from Camille Alexa)

James Alan Gardner on word choice and word space. A lot of advanced writing stuff in there. Maybe not in the information, but in practice of how it's applied. the only thing I would add is that people carry their own vocabulary with them. It colors their thoughts and speech. And while it's fairly easy to keep dialog within character, it's devilishly hard to keep the narration voice in character.

A NYTimes editorial on the specious religious freedom argument regarding birth control insurance requirements. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

How to remove your YouTube viewing and search history before Google becomes SkyNet combines all your demographic information and all your base belong to them we find out just how far their transgress their motto, "Do no evil." (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Linkee-poo is late for Saturday, but early for Sunday

Spent the day studying. And it's as boring as it sounds.

Kickstarter seems to be all the rage these days in the realms of writing projects. And now Rick Ferrel Moore is trying his hand at one.

In regards to the earlier linked Oatmeal comic about piracy, Jim Hines has posted a response. Essentially his arguments are to the pirates, that they shouldn't feel entitled to the work, no matter how hard it may be to find. After all, it is property, and it's not yours. Also Jim exposes some of the latent sexism in society (uncool, people). On the other hand, Marco Arment directs his thoughts toward the content holders that if your customers are clamoring for a product, maybe you should consider selling it to them.

While I avoided writing my previous post because of the possibility of heading into mansplaining territory, I'll take an extra risk and point to Jim Wright's take on similar issues.

Regarding the transvaginal ultrasound law in Virginia, one Republican congressman's wife goes Lysistrata on him. Not to mention it's well deserved, but also what an asshat the congressperson is for how they related the tale on the floor of the house and asked for an apology from the Democratic congressperson who opposed the bill. (Grokked from Sheila - through comment on Jim's post above)

You're getting your religious freedom in my personal freedom

Well it seems even after an accomodation with the insurance companies, the loony-right has found what they believe will be their issue for the election (or at least for this month). Religious freedom in the form of being in full-on dick mode to women and teh gays not accepting that if a religious organization owns a business outside that of tending to the flocks (as it were), that if they buy insurance (instead of being self-insured), they must cover contraceptives, and that they get a pass when it comes to bullying laws.

Can I just say this is unmitigated bullshit of the highest order and end the argument there? No, I guess not.

First off, and lets be clear about this, this issue has already been litigated to the highest court and the Churches have lost. See, many states already require insurance to cover contraceptives (and here we're talking about that scourge of modern society, the pill, not something like free condoms if you show your insurance card). And the Churches (well, some of the more loony-right winged churches) cried foul and said, "We'll sue!" And they all lost. Every single one of them.

Why? Because the law doesn't mandate that they use birth control, they're not being singled out for special provisions, and not everyone who works for those organizations is actually a member of the said religion. Also (and we'll get back to this), they accept government money (your tax dollars) to run their charities (thank you G. W. Bush), fix and repair their buildings (again, since GW), and Medicare, Medicaid, and both direct payments to hospitals and partial block grants (state distributed federal money). And, again, for the church offices, employees, etc, you have an exemption. It's only when you run an outside business that you need to comply with the law.

So first, a little thing about the compromise. President Obama basically went to the insurance companies and said, "Hey, what I want you to do is cover the birth control prescriptions for free, and not include that in whatever you bill these church affiliated (and sometimes not much more affiliated than with a name or address) business." And the insurance companies went, "Wait, you want us to cover the pill, the thing that lowers out costs (and price), that essentially costs us less than $10 a month, AND we get to bill them like we weren't including that (which is a higher amount)? Fuck yeah!" See, health insurance companies cover the pill, vasectomies, tubal ligation, hysterectomies, etc, because they are much cheaper than even a non-complicated pregnancy (also, see notes about how we're waiting much longer to have babies, which adds to the complexity of the pregnancy, which adds to the costs). So they see it as both reducing their costs for those pregnancies and then the added costs of the pediatrics (which are normally discounted to the end user). When you specifically request to not have those services covered, your potential use and cost goes up, and then so does your premiums (insurance is all about covering the spread).

But now that compromise isn't enough. It's a classic case of moving the goal posts. Also, I'll note here, that while the Catholic Church is against all forms of birth control (except the rhythm method or abstinence), 85% of Catholic women have used the pill (I couldn't find a stat on condom use). Now it's "we don't want anybody using the pill, and because it's our 'religious freedom' we want to make sure the rest of you don't have the choice either." Or, "You can have your religious freedom all you want, as long as it conforms to the most conservative Catholic or Evangelical faiths, and you must belong to one of them."

That's right, what the Churches want is the freedom to enforce their religious precepts on everybody else. Protestant? Agnostic/Atheist? Buddhist, Hindi, Vodun, whatever… domani, domani, domani, you're all Catholics now. That's what this is about.

See, if it was about "religious freedom" those very same people would say, "We don't want your government money." What's that? You don't hear them talking about how they'll leave all that juicy, juicy tax money behind so that they can remain pure to their faith?

And here I will point out the the very same people who cry that religions can separate their mission money from their church funds and that the two aren't related are also the ones who talk about how even with Planned Parenthood having separate bank accounts and business structures (and in some countries, having completely separate corporate identities sharing facilities) that you can't really separate out those funds because any money that goes to the good will and health services also free up funds/help pay the rent of the abortion side of businesses.

So, that's fine. You want to keep your "religious freedom" to enforce your will on people who aren't of your faith? Stop taking government money.

Also notice they're not decrying coverage for those other medical procedures (vasectomy, etc), or coverage for viagra, or really any of the other things that also violate their "religious freedoms" (well, they don't see it that way, because they benefit men), just abortion and the pill. Because they want a government that gets out of your personal business, doesn't get between you and your doctor (and God), and is a government that's smaller. Just small enough to fit inside women's uteruses (see also Personhood Bills)

So, that this is about "religious freedom" is a bunch of bull. This is about keeping power over women by regulating their reproduction. This is about not wanting to live in modern society because it's all icky and people have to share. It's about convincing you that some people are more equal than others.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Linkee-poo wondered what that fishy smell was all about

The new "Brave" trailer. Which is cool on several levels, not the least of which is the attention to detail on the final, slow-mo, arrow release. That's exactly how an arrow behaves as it leaves the bow (it actually curves around the bow toward the direction of the release hand). That jigs up the computer animation geek in me (I used to do this stuff back when we computed wearing bear skins and wielded flint knives). And since I'm touting the realism, yes, how far in the arrow strikes violates the law of thermodynamics (energy of release is the same for all the arrows, it appears, but the arrow that would lose energy by the friction of splitting the last arrow wouldn't embed farther into the target than the other arrows she shot).

Kameron Hurley on gender equality in SF/F. She makes a lot of very good points about "okay, you may have an 'equality' of m/f characters, but have you thought about the consequences of a fully equitable society." Worldbuilding, it ain't for the faint of heart. For some reason I'm queueing into the Big Bang Theory in-story-game "Counterfactuals."

The Night Witches, the Soviet women pilots of WWII, and why women in combat can be scarier than men. Also, more ammo against the "women can't be in combat" moronic statements. (Grokked from Rae Carson)

Because sometimes winning is more that what the final numbers turn out to be. (Grokked from Random Michelle)

Aging eyes and how they affect the circadian rhythms. Just in case anyone is still beset by the notion of "intelligent design" or "man apart from nature." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Colonoscopies save lives. Have them early and often. Or something like that. (Making light of a serious issue, sorry) And yeah, I'm getting to that point in my life. (Grokked from Jay Lake… whose connection to both issues shouldn't require any more explanation)

Tweet of my heart:
@dysolution Ask your doctor if conservative religious dogma-based social policy is right for you.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Linkee-poo has got three passports, a couple of visas, and doesn't even know its real name

Yes, I saw JK Rowling is coming out with another book. No, I haven't looked at the stories enough to have an opinion. At first blush I'm struck with, "Well, yeah, she's a writer. Of course she's publishing another book with another publisher (sounds like her choice in this case)." And the alternate thought of "Those who obtain great fame sometimes wonder if they're a one trick pony. Note the number of superb rock bands who reform only to have mediocre second careers (wither Van Halen?)."

Amazon abuses its market position in ebooks? Shocked, shocked I am to find out… No, not really. Remember, it's Google's motto to "Do No Evil." Amazon's has always been, "To crush your enemies. See them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women." (Grokked from Jay Lake) Also, here's a Authors Guild article on Amazon. I haven't fully read it (it's kinda long and I'm still bustin' a groove at work), but they don't seem too kindly to Amazon bringing out the 800lb gorilla tactics. (Grokked from Jim Hines)

If you're scratching your head about why the commerce department is releasing new online privacy guidelines, you need to listen to last night's Terry Gross' interview with Joseph Turow. I have a lot to say about it, but for the sake of brevity I'll just say I sometimes like to screw with companies following me. Heck, after the Patriot Act was passed I spent a year selecting what items to check out the library in an order to embed coded message to anybody who may check. Also, lots of stuff I surf to online, I do for research (yeah, that's what the kids call it these days) and because I'm looking up info for other people. What I love is that because I buy gifts for my wife, but don't request "gift wrapping" or anything like that, I get very strange recommendations and targeted ads. I'd really hate to see how they silo me. (Noted on some mailing lists I'm "Mrs. Stephen Buchheit", yeah, not so much in real life)

For your world building pleasure, the Tibetan treat of sha momos. "Though most Tibetans are Buddhists… they are also great lovers of meat, and sha momos are the unofficial national dish." That's because Tibetan Buddhism is not only considered the "parent" branch (adopted from neighboring India), but it is also a practical branch of Buddhism. And there are several stories in Tibetan tradition where the Buddha ate meat (mostly because it was already prepared, and to refuse would dishonor the sacrifice of the animal). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Remember when I said that the difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives never give up until they have it all their way? Yeah, I wasn't kidding. That the Mississippi legislature saying, "Okay, if we specifically address all those issues the opposition pointed out that sunk our personhood bill last year, will you pass it this year?"

Stochastic computing? Why am I thinking, "OMG, we have the Finite Improbability Engine." I kept waiting to see where you plugged the hot tea in. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

In case you didn't see Jon Stewart's take down of the Virginia Vaginal Ultra-Sound before Abortion Bill, there's a link to it. Why do conservatives worry that Obamacare will get between you and your doctor, because that's how they would do things. And let us not forget, the conservatives are the party of Chicken Little.

Hey, here's a NYTimes article on that comment I made the other day about conservatives being all against government handouts, but always make sure they're first in line to get theirs. Much of which wouldn't be necessary if we had actual income parity for the past 3 decades, or say a real minimum wage, instead of seeing incomes for all but the top 15% stagnate and a minimum wage that is guaranteed to keep you in poverty. "Many people say they are angry because the government is wasting money and giving money to people who do not deserve it. But more than that, they say they want to reduce the role of government in their own lives. They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it. They say they want less help for themselves; less help in caring for relatives; less assistance when they reach old age." Hey, here's the thing, you have to apply for government aid (even Social Security). If you don't want it, don't apply for it. Of course, it much more about "those undeserving people" getting it than it is about the "good people" getting help. The word they're having problems with is "hypocrisy" and the major conflict is reality banging hard against their preconceived notions. To correct for this problem requires a reality test and a world view adjustment. And that is much more than most people can bear.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Linkee-poo would never give you up for Lent

With the overdose of politics yesterday, I'm on the wagon today.

Noted with a birthday coming up in a few months, the trebuchet toaster. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

One of the old writers' tricks to find awkward sentences is to read the manuscript out loud. I'll admit I'm a little shy about doing this (although I know I shouldn't be). When I read and write, I do hear the words in my head, but I know that I'm hearing the words I meant to type, not what I actually typed. Jay Lake is trying out something interesting by having the computer read his text back to him. Hmmm, I might have to try that.

One of the reasons why people who pirate (who actually use what they pirated) pirate. I probably would have fit the word "pirate" in there one more time, but I had to go to the bathroom. (Grokked from Absolute Write)

Jim Hines talks about one of those problems with epublishing. I read the screed from the mentioned author about how wonderful Amazon is to authors and had the same thought. Which is why I didn't link to it, even to make fun of it. There was just no point to try and correct people who are so far up in the kool-aid they don't know what color it is. But the all the arguments are about the same thing, if you publish though Amazon, Amazon is your publisher. And they can do whatever they want with your book and you can't say squat. Doesn't sound like a good deal to me. This is like marrying those Terms of Service Agreements with contractual law. Somewhat good when you're using a service, somewhat bad when that service uses you.

Well, of course I'd think about it for charity's sake. The 5K Run for Your Life, Zombie Obstacle Course. Some people will do anything for a good zombie tie-in. And the chance to get muddy. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jurassic Park meets Day of the Triffids. A 32,000 year old seed cache gets germinated. What could go wrong?

Tobias Buckell links to an article about how brainstorming doesn't work. I've seen it work both ways, but here's the difference for what we're talking about. Brainstorming doesn't work for everything. In this case, what the research shows isn't that brainstorming doesn't work, but that it doesn't work for problem solving. Brainstorming (when done well) does work in a creative atmosphere where the concept is to generate open-ended ideas (the opposite of solving problems). For problem solving, there's multiple variables that are dependent on each other. In that case, yes, brainstorming is the wrong approach. The main issue here is that "brainstorming works for this, it must be great for everything." And here you can substitute "brainstorming" with any popular business fad (teams, cross-pollination, etc). At my last job one of the final business trends we tried was "Lean Manufacturing." If you've worked in the past decade, you're probably familiar with that term. It's the hot thing. But it doesn't work everywhere. In fact, where it does work is a pretty small segment of business. But that doesn't mean that everybody and their kid sister isn't trying to incorporate it's philosophies into all their businesses, including the one sector that it absolutely doesn't work at all - the service sector. I have either issues with some of the further statements, that what we're seeing here is the pendulum changing its arch, but that would require a full article. However, I do recommend you read the article because there actually is a lot of good stuff in there.

A new study shows that kids who don't conform to society's gender roles are at higher risk of abuse. (Grokked from Jay Lake) And that "The abuse is most often perpetrated by parents or other adults in the household…". Quelle surprise. Even though "… children are likely to display a wide variety of behaviors that have no connection to their future sexual orientation: 85% of gender-non-conforming children in the study were heterosexual in adulthood." Again, quelle surprise. Then there is this NPR Story (hopefully they will fix the transcript soon) on the rise in Gender Identity Disorder. The diagnosis of which is escalating (mostly because of media attention and over-worried parents). Look, even in my decades old intro to psychology class we learned that before puberty, kids try on different identities, including those of the opposite sex. But because society is now hyper-vigilant of "zomg, they have teh gay" parents are freaking the fuck out, IMHO. Hell, when I was young, it was a major thing that I was left handed, because it "wasn't normal." Sometimes I wonder if it's not better to go back to the times of "mother's little helper." If we create a society that is accepting and tolerant, and teach our children to respond that way, these things wouldn't be an issue.

The end of Moore's Law. (Pointed to by John)

On eating a gluten free diet when you don't have celiac disease. This article is nominally about, "it's all in your head." But here it shows some of the limits of science. "…many of these patients may be told by their doctors that they have 'gluten sensitivity' or 'nonceliac gluten intolerance', newish disorders that are frequently made after celiac has been ruled out. The trouble is, according to the authors of the paper, experts don’t agree on a standard definition for this sort of condition, and there’s no reliable way to test for it… Gluten is a component of the more complex protein mixture… As a consequence, it cannot be considered the sole agent responsible for functional symptoms in persons who eat bread and pasta, and other [starchy] proteins…" What the paper's authors are saying is, "We don't have the tests to show this is a disease. And since we haven't tested it, it could be any one of those other components of the gluten containing foods that's causing your problems (if you really have those problems to begin with). There's the blind spot, which more than likely won't be resolved. Because who is going to pay for the double-blind research to show that there are people who have problems with gluten, but don't have celiac disease? That's a lot of money (because you'll have to isolate the problems to the gluten, not just removing the complex proteins that include gluten). The gluten-free food industry won't (even though they would benefit), because they only have to hint at it's possibility to increase sales. There's no drug being tested to help, so pharma won't test it. And finally, nobody is dying, and we have other problems that are causing people to die and that's where the national institutes will spend their (ever decreasing) money. This is the same thing as "vitamins don't help", or "Omega-3s are snake oil" and "herbals can't possibly do anything (unless they interfere with other pharmaceuticals)." From a scientific standpoint, you need to take those positions, because all there are (in accepted literature to the US Health System) is anecdotal evidence. The last paragraph of the article is basically, "even if your patients 'say' they 'feel better' with a gluten free diet, unless there's observable evidence (diarrhea, emesis, and rashes), it's all in their head." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Linkee-poo, it's a celebration

You know, when Eric is bored, he finds some neat stuff to keep the rest of us entertained. I say we should mount an expedition to keep Eric's life boring.

Remember when Iceland was imploding into the sea? Yeah, not so much anymore. Look, it's another real world example of how austerity measures aren't the appropriate response to recession. Not like anybody will really ever believe it, though. (Grokked from Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

How money changes us. And not in the way I described yesterday, but research showing that having money (or thinking about it) makes us less generous, less empathetic, and less likely to help or seek help from others. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

On privilege. Or, "privilege is not a synonym for douchebag." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

You know, when I was young we used to lock up nutbags like this. But now that most of the state hospitals/asylums are closed, they run for office on the GOP ticket. Dear Bob Morris, Um, you're comment about "after talking to some well-informed constituents, I did a small amount of web-based research…" can be pretty well summed up and demised with "echo chamber" and "any crackpot can create a website". You, sir, are a tool. Might want to see to that. I'll have to research if someone is running against you in the next election. I may need to make a donation. On the plus side, my Girl Scout Cookie order just arrived today. I many need to buy a few more boxes of Do-si-dos.

And to the point above, is it becoming clearer that the conservative movement is anti-female (let alone antifeminist)? You know; abortion, birth control, pre-natal screening and amniocenteses, and finally, the Girl Scouts. What's next, requiring women wear skirts? Oo, maybe hoop-skirts. Yeah, that's the ticket.

'Rhut 'rho 'raggy. You know all that bullshit debatable crap worldview things I've been talking about with the GOP primary? You know, wondering just what place these people have been living for the past 4 years to come up with some of the shit comments they say? Yeah, more proof the world isn't how conservatives see it.

Whiy is the right-wing so concerned about "left-wing agendas" and "Sharia law supplanting the Constitution"? Because that's what they want (only with the right-wing agenda and Biblical law supplanting the Constitution). That's an article on Rick Santorum promoting the belief that because of "Creation" God wants us to pillage the Earth, and he'll make it all right. I'm reminded of the Robin Williams routine where Jesus comes back to earth, "I gave you a nice planet and you fucked it up."

I don't know, Senator Lugar, why don't you pull your license out of your wallet and check which address is on it? Hint to soon to be former Senator Lugar, state DMV records are public. How long do you think it will take for someone to realize you falsified your application? I know, you can say that you just haven't thought about it every time you've updated the license for the past 3 decades. Yeah, that should work.

"'I’m against very wealthy ­people attempting to or influencing elections,' Adelson says, 'but as long as it's doable I’m going to do it.'" And that, my friends, is pretty much the conservative mind set. Against earmarks but they're the most egregious perpetrators. Against social program spending but always first in line to get theirs. Against the stimulus, but worked hard to get as much of that dough to their constituencies. All for cutting wasteful spending, until that means the military base in their back yard.

Look, the GOP sees things that aren't there, believes things that have been disproved, can't let go of a damaging belief, believe in wacky mythologies, and and postponing the hard decisions. If this were therapy, it would mean a long, intensive course of intervention.

Tweet of my heart:
@shunn: Graffito at Foster & Winthrop: "I'll believe that corporations are people when Texas executes one."

Monday, February 20, 2012

The State of Steve

Sorry for not posting today. I actually have the day off, one of the benefits of working for a government contractor (actually, the long story is that it was our Good Friday off, but then that was broken out to be a floating holiday, which became cumbersome to manage, so they just choose Presidents Day). And I though I was going to get a lot done. There were some household chores that needed to be done. I did get those done. Then there was some homework. Which I didn't think would take too long, but ended up soaking up the rest of the day. So I didn't get to the writing parts I had wanted.

One of the things that was also supposed to happen today was to close on a refinance of the house. The papers they sent on Friday, however, were dated for Friday. And banks are also closed today, so we couldn't do that. We're refinancing to get a lower rate. While the rate we are getting isn't the lowest out there, it is actually a second mortgage which means the cost is zero. So while we're paying a full percentage point higher than what we could get, because there are no costs we stand to save an extra $2500. As you know, Bob, we're paying off our loan faster than our schedule (if you can afford to do it early, it really is a great deal). Right now we're looking at another 5 years of payments (if we can keep to our same monthly rate of paying). Now, with the lower rate we would have shaved off almost a full year and saved around $4000, but it was going to cost us $3000 to do that. So final savings would have been around $1000 (if we could keep to payments). One of the goals was to get lower minimum payment as we head into the reboot where I will be going to school full time (in a year or two). So having a lower monthly minimum would be a big help if it comes down to it. So with the higher percentage, we only gain a month and a half of possible payments, and we're only saving around $3500. But because there's no costs involved, all that is ours. And the minimum monthly payment is only $20 more.

On the health side of things, I gained around 12 lbs over the holidays. So far it's been rough getting it off, but I think I'm on a good curve downward now. Although when I did my weigh in last week I was still 4 lbs heavier than my last one. Whoops. I've had a cold for the past week, and that's been knocking me down as well. I eventually had to go and beg for the Sudefed behind the counter to help dry up the head (H1 blockers, yeah!). The calf muscle continues to get better. I think I'm going to try going without the brace this week. I'm still using a cane when I'm out, but not in the house (yes, I should, but it's a pain in the ass, and I don't walk around all that much at home). The worse thing, however, is my pinched nerve is acting up. More than likely it's flared up from being twisted around at work by trying to elevate the leg and having been moved to an office to work on uber Top Secret project. Plus being on the phone with the boss for a few hours before saying, "Hell, I'm in an office, I'll put this on speaker." It's still strange to feel pain in my shoulder and arm, but know the actual problem is in my vertebra.

I really hate that pain, btw. It's difficult to get into a comfortable position. Also, the therapy I'm using is a cervical tension devise which isn't much fun (especially with a stuffed up nose, and the chin strap pretty much keeps the mouth closed).

And then there's that project at work. I can't talk about it too much, but let's just say that the stress is driving me crazy. Not to mention that it's not like I don't already have a metric ton of work to do, most of which is already late. Sigh. This being the only designer in a half billion dollar company (which means there should be 3 of us, at least) is starting to drag a little.

And finally we come to the writing, of which there has been a paltry amount of words since the beginning of the year. Between work, commute, classes, chores, etc there has been little time left for me. I could probably scrap out a few hours in the week, but I find myself just mindlessly watching TV. Only when it's time to go to bed do I think, "Damn, I should have been writing just then." And then I forget the next time. Sigh. Must. Get. Back. In. Groove. So, I've moved the laptop to the table. Hopefully this will be a reminder to work on the writing. I wrote a lot of Bladesman at the table. And that's where I am now (having finally finished the homework).

Sorry for the typos (of which I'm sure there's more than a few). I was also using this entry as a test bed. One, it's been about 10 minutes to type all this. And I typed it directly into the blogger interface (which I haven't done for ages). So the good news is that I can get words out. Now I just need to directed them toward the WIP.

So that's me. Hope you all have been faring better.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Linkee-poo after taxes

M.K. Hobson on publishing and permission and outlining the fear that assails me all the time. I'm very money focused. Right now I consider the writing an expensive hobby. And as such, I know there are times I could dedicate to writing, but because I haven't actually been published, yet, my brain equates "no money = not important". So that's an extra hurdle I need to get over. I know once I see money coming in, that barrier will drop (the same thing happened with design freelance - which is why i have two "free" design projects that I haven't even started on). However I do know that not writing will never get me to the point of making money with it. And, yes, I know the money in publishing isn't great (especially in genre), but even a little makes a big difference (in my head). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Nic Alderton on how to write a novel. And how to write a great novel. Yep, that's pretty much it. (Grokked from Joe Hill)

Jennifer Cruise on the writer's trick of changing POV from first to third and back again. I've only done that for small bits of text to figure out how they're not working (or could work better). If I had to do that with a whole novel, I think I'd go insane. For me, the choice of POV is very intimate with the story. Trying to write the story in the wrong POV would be excruciating.

Shelf-Conscious. On the history of shelves, publishing, and our personal relationship with books. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

There's so many things I could say about this. It seem strange that even at this late date there are still people who believe the this Protocol of the Elders crap. Or that more people really ought to learn Wheaton's Law. Or the fact that Neil Gaiman is a class act (and one of the reasons why we love his stuff). (Grokked from so many people I felt I needed to link to it myself)

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab gets life in prison. And that sound you hear from the GOP is crickets. Look, it's another proof that our civilian courts are very capable to handle terrorism cases. You know, like everyone who isn't trying to keep you scared to get your vote has already said. Terrorism is a war of perception. Treat them specially with military courts and trials and you give them legitimacy and power. Try them in civilian courts and you send the message that 1) our democracy is strong and 2) you're just common criminals, nothing special. Oh, and did I forget to mention that his case pretty much shows that Anwar al-Aulaqi was a legitimate target.

Another proof that social conservatives aren't really conservatives at all. An AF procurement program had the motto (in latin) of "Doing God's Work With Other People's Money." Well, it sounds better in latin. Apparently someone pointed out this Constitutionally questionable motto and the department changed it to "Doing Miracles With Other People's Money." A "conservative" representative is incredibly upset about this removal of God from the public sphere, but not so upset about the "spending other people's money" part. You will know the true measure of people by their actions, not their words. (Grokked from Sheila)

Why patriarchal men are utterly petrified of birth control. While I disagree with some of the history and sexual politics in the article, yeah, pretty much that. As I've said before, the anti-abortion movement isn't about abortion, it's about feminism. (Grokked from Rae Carson)

Just when you though that after the GW Bush administrations assault on science was ended, here rise the anti-science lobbyists. This is one of the things that worries me the most about another conservative presidency (and all the candidates of the GOP have bought on to the anti-science movement), that within my lifetime we will have gone from landing on the moon to rejecting overwhelming scientific evidence and pillorying those who try to tell us the truth. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Santorum's gospel of inequality. And people sometimes wonder when I say that listening to the GOP primary debates and speeches, I am left wondering what reality these people live in. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Linkee-poo Saturday

A way to navigate e-books that's more like how we do regular books. Not completely convinced of its effectiveness, there's a lot of clues that come in from flipping pages on a real book that I'm not sure you'd get with this. Now if they could only simulate browsing in a bookstore. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Rachel Aaron on pacing, the three act structure, and keeping tension.

What price freedom. Chuck Wendig on giving away free ebooks. Ken McConnell also shares his experience.

On being a panster or not. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Dan sends some cool iPhone candy. (there's 3 links in there)

Vertical chicken farms. Um, yeah, I don't think they understand the problem correctly. I originally thought the article was going into the "and this is the absurd conclusion of current practices," but I think they're being serious in this proposal. Which leads me to ask, "WTF is wrong with these people?" Look, I'm an omnivore, although lately I'll admit I haven't wanted steak (mostly because the fat levels have gotten to high). And I understand the need to slaughter animals for their food. But that proposal (besides having a few biological hurdles that probably won't be over come) is just down-right sickening and unethical. I'd rather eat vat grown meat (which is meat cancer, if I haven't explained that before). (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

In case you wanted to know what real child indoctrination looks like.

Ah, the do as we say not as we did conservative stance.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Linkee-poo get ready for the Nyquill

Rick Santorum is practically the definition of "google bomb." And now you know why. It's a wonder that it hasn't happened to the whole damn GOP presidential field. (Grokked from Vince)

Yeah, the Tea Party's grass roots millionairs.

The top 10 low point of Darrell Issa's contraception panel. "6. Having to watch a mostly male group of religious zealots try to impose 19th-century views on contraception on American women and girls." that pretty much says it all, doesn't it. Here's the thing that most progressive miss, when conservatives are soundly defeated and shown to be on the wrong side of history we think the issue is settled. For conservatives (especially social conservatives) issues are never settled. They just hold a grudge and wait for everybody to go home to hold their votes in the dark. (Grokked from AbsoluteWrite)

For those youngsters out there, want to know just how fucked up the Cold War was? We tested launching an ICBM from a C5 Galaxy. If you don't know what those acronyms mean, we proved we could launch a an over the pole, low orbit, nuclear missile out the back of a flying truck. Just because we could. Not like we didn't already have land fixed, mobile, and submarine based launch systems. And in the 70s we were looking at tactical nukes in Germany, England, and Turkey.

John Scalzi fairly well makes the point about the 1%. Yes, they do have a wide variance in that 1%, but even the bottom 1% of the top 1% is doing better than 99% of all of us. So bitching that you can't get beluga caviar on alternate Wednesdays, or that the "keeping up with the Joneses" is killing your $1000 a month wine budget, yeah, not going to get a lot of sympathy. And really, I don't mind that your rich. I don't envy your money (or the social cliche you move in, I have enough exposure to that that I don't think a thousand washings could take care of). But if I have to "pay my share" and "tighten my belt" to get by, maybe you should also suck it up, Buttercup.

Jim Wright does a much better job summing up the current GOP primary than I could. Frankly I think you'll get drunk faster and longer using Jim's game than by taking a shot every time Patrick Stewart does the Picard Maneuver in a STNG rewatch.

Proof that Irony is alive and well in Ohio

"(Ohio Governor) Kasich said (to Ohio Small Bankers), 'we need you to start raising hell with people who say they want the economy to grow at the same time they're choking off the capital'… The Republican governor encouraged the room to descend upon Washington with signs, the march around the Capitol… 'I'm not asking you to go sleep in some park somewhere,'… The 'sleep' remark drew laughter. 'But we laugh,' Kasich said. 'People sleeping in a park have gotten more attention from more elements in America than you ever would've imagined.'" And "Kasich tells bankers to start carrying signs that say 'let our people go' and march around the capital."

Okay, one, how to miss the argument completely. And two, okay, I'd pay to see that circus. If only to gather them in one place to throw tomatoes. Our governor, proud sponsor of the Million Millionaires March. And oh those silly OWS people, camping out in the parks. Why, they got more attention than the little people deserve!

Let have our chauffeurs drive us to the capital and we'll have them honk the horns as we shout out of electric, shaded windows to get the people out of our way of fleecing helping the little people. And then we can wave our empty champaign glasses at them like some seriously overhung New Year's Eve revelers.

Okay, I understand that most small bankers aren't like that. And while they may not be the 1%, they are mostly in the top 10%. I just can't wait to see them all camping out, singing "Kumbaya" while they have au pairs making smores for the kids, and having meal delivered from the better restaurants.

There I go again.

Most people agree that the banking reforms the government put into place some two and a half years after the self-inflicted banking meltdown are pretty toothless. There's only one exception, the CFPB. And you'll remember who tried to stop that from coming about until the President agreed to water it down too. Fortunately the President decided to do a recess appointment to get the ball rolling.

Dear Gov. Kasich, Reality is calling on line 2. Might want to pick up.

Where's Steve

Sorry. Sick. Noon doctor's appointment. Rush jobs at work. Alligator quotient is "drowning." Hopefully more later today, tonight, and maybe over the weekend. Hope all your weeks are going better than mine.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Story Bone

Death magic of prognostication. Since the near-dead are said to be able to see beyond the veil, and some older cultures would divine the future by reading the offal of sacrificial victims, mash together to get a society that uses sacrifice to tell the future, but it is verbally transmitted (instead of reading "signs"). Could throw in a good deal of old Oracle speech (often in myth, the Oracle is thought to have said one thing when in fact only in hind sight predicted the opposite, not to mention that Oracles had interpreters to make sense of their babbling). So the culture brings the sacrificial victim to death's door to have them tell the future.

Are the sacrificial victims telling the truth, or are they lying to screw over the people killing them? Is there a way to compel the victim to disclose specific information, you know, other than seeing Gramps welcoming them home? Could someone be kept at the edge of death to continue to give advice? Do you kill them, and then somehow get them to talk in a Max the Miracle Worker way? What does that kind of magic do to the practitioners and society?

Just a wild larking idea.

Linkee-poo knows that to her that ain't nothing, but to me it means everything

A little light again because of the work load. Alligator factor is "Up to Armpits."

David B Coe on transitions and chapter breaks. There's two things that are critical to master. Edited to correct name spelling. D'oh!. (Thanks, Sarah)

The 10 worst mistakes that alternate history authors make. Somewhat of interest as the more I thought about the world I created for Bladesman, the more I found those ripple effects, and that somehow my subconscious had already dealt with them. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Cat Rambo finishes up her editing class, and shares with the rest of us her general process.

With the link to Michelle's pictures of a cemetery, I commented about the iconography of the gravy yard. In case you thought I was making it up, here's one groups list. Although they touch on some of the groups that have their own headstone iconography, they don't call out some of the more famous (like woodsmen of the world). (Grokked from Camille Alexa)

Aw, the Heartland Institute has some of their internal documents released into the wild. You may remember the HI from the Climategate scandal. Also, HI has been instrumental in the spread of denialism. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Genius is what happens when the stupidity stops

I've been stuck. I'm trying to write the next novel and I keep staring at the screen until my brain turns to mush and I go check to see if any of the items in my Amazon cart have decreased enough that I want to hit proceed to checkout. Sigh.

Thing is, I'm trying to write Chapter 1. Which I've already written, but many years ago. So I was starting "fresh", because, well, I needed to.

So there I stared. White pixels burning after-images on my retina while my thoughts moved like armadillos through ice. Neither one would give up its secrets.

And then, I realized, I should just write Chapter 2. And that feels a little better. Of course, it then takes me down the road of this novel still not wanting to come out in order (a major problem the first time I started it). But maybe I should just go with the flow. I might end up on the beach, or I might be cast out to sea. When I get another moment to write I'll find out.

This forehead slapping moment brought to you by Homer Donuts. Mmmm, donuts.

Linkee-poo wishes you a fantastic Lupercalia

Nursing what I think is the start of a head cold and just general, "Oh crap, I gotta do work now" emotions (it happens). So while I could have been funnier on most of these, I don't have the brain space to complete the jokes. And a joke not finished is like a Klingon, a Romulan and a Ferengi walk into a bar.

Sherwood Smith on what writers are like. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Kay Kenyon and surviving in publication. The industry, that is. "But there’s a reason your fellow writers call this 'the trenches.' … Discovering that the life you wanted as an author actually vanished in about 1923." (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

Some of you know that I love old cemeteries. You can learn a lot about a town's past by strolling through its cemetery. There are stories laid bear in the words of heartache and loss. And there's a whole visual language of the mortuary, broken columns, drapes, urns, hands, animals, just a wide range of graphical adornment that tells stories of their own. Random Michelle shares one of her walks through a cemetery. Some very nice pictures, all of which could be a story bone of their own.

Cardinal Edward Egan outs himself as a huge ass. Yep, take back that apology, Cardinal. The apology that activists felt was a good first step in the Church finally acknowledging their complicity in the child abuse scandal. I name thee, Toad. Okay, well, as the article points out the Church was required to report the abuse. It might cause an actual brouhaha (unlike the fake one ginned up over requiring insurance to cover contraception), but time to put some people in jail. Get ready for a diplomatic rift with the Vatican. (Pointed to by John)

On the sexual revolution, of 1700s. Just in case someone tries to buffalo you with the "traditional marriage" and "sexual mores of our forefathers" crap. Of course, back then, it was okay for the 1%ers and frown upon if done by the hoi polo I wonder what the porn jazz would sound like if written by Mozart? Boom-chica-wow-wow. (Grokked from Chia Lynn)

Engaged workaholics? Okay, as a recovering workaholic myself (who often falls off the wagon), I call BS. I think it has to do with the last three paragraphs of the first page. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Oh noes our paper based voter registration is in shambles and leads to inefficiencies and errors. Knock me over with a feather. First of all, let me point to the middle of the article "(the) director of Pew’s Election Initiatives… said that the center’s findings did not suggest any kind of voter fraud or voter suppression from these problems…". Now they do suggest one way to help is to switch to online voter registration, and I'm okay with that… to a certain point. There is still a digital divide and provisions need to be made to have people without access to computers or the internet to be registered to vote. They're also talking about cross checking with drivers license databases, which, again, not everybody has one. And while the article talks about the 1.8 million dead people on the rolls, 2.7 million registered in two states, the 24 million no longer valid registrations, and 12 million who have incorrect addresses, what's more troubling is the 51 million eligible voters who aren't registered. But all those numbers sound very large, but compared to the 230 million or so people over 18 in the US, some of those are rounding errors. Now, I agree, we need to modernize that system, but you know what that means, dontcha. While in the long run it will save money, at first it will be a large capital expenditure, and it's for that reason why we still have the inefficient system we have. Your elected officials (typically at the state and county levels) don't want to spend that money. (Grokked from Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

"(T)tinfoil hats have become a common, if not mandatory, G.O.P. fashion accessory." Paul Krugman summing up much of what I've been saying since, well, since 1990. Only now the chickens are coming home to roost. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Story Bone

A board room apology is a cheap thing. It can be purchased with nothing more than dreams and aspirations. A heart-felt apology, however, is hard currency you can bank on.

Linkee-poo wonders who killed that bird out on you window sill

Space 1999 is coming back as Space 2099. Well, I guess most of us will be dead by then so we won't be disappointed that we aren't living on the moon by then. (Pointed to by John)

Hey, remember when Neanderthals were uni-brow brutes whom our svelte and soccer-built looking ancestors wiped out? Yeah, not so much. So, besides modern humans actually having Neanderthal bits in their DNA, now we find their artistic remains. Ah, I also remember when dinosaurs were slow and drug their tails through the dirt. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

People sometimes wonder why I dismiss the argument of "Pro-Life isn't antifeminism, look at all the women in the organization" (you could also relate this to the Tea Party). It's because I know people are like this (reactions to Chris Brown at the Grammies, if you need context). (Grokked from Ferrett Stinmetz, to which I echo his comments, "Whoa, NOT COOL, folks, NOT COOL.")

"Some ghosts never go away." Alan Moore on the re-appropriation of the mask he appropriated in V for Vendetta. History may not repeat, but it often rhymes. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Why no, humans most assuredly can't affect the planet in any bog ways. You know, not to mention that Iraq used to be the fertile crescent. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And this is why I should be careful for what I wish for.

And in other news, the rest of the world sees us as sitting at the kiddie table and starts spelling when they don't want us to get scared. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Embracing the Crazy

I've been thinking of donating to the Santorum campaign. Now, wait, just hear me out. It's a gamble, but I think it's worth it (except it really doesn't have a chance of happening).

See, Santorum really has very little chance of actually being elected. While I don't hold truck with polls at this point (at least polls about "who would you vote for")it's pretty clear that outside the 30% of hard core conservatives, Santorum polls somewhere below electing a rabid badger into office. Heck, even within that 30% he doesn't have a plurality.

So what's the game? If Romney is the nominee, when he loses this fall the hard core conservatives will look at the rest of the GOP and say, "We told ya so." But if Santorum is the nominee and he gets thoroughly trounced on Nov 6th, that may break the ultra conservative stranglehold. I give it a 50/50 chance of working. The hard core conservatives, if anything, are so full of denial and self flagellation it may not phase them, but I think some of them actually have brains and have enough connection to the real world that the psychological blow would set them reeling. The party leadership, however, I think fully grasps this notion which is why they're pushing so hard for Romney (if they would lose with Santorum, the resulting fallout would reduce the GOP to "also ran" status for a decade)

However, I don't think Santorum can actually win the nomination. Even with a major push, I think the various forces that are driving the party are starting to realize that they better get behind Romney before the faithful completely hijack the party and scuttle it. And it's probably for that reason that I'll keep my money.

The other thing I'm thinking about is right now all the conservative Super PACs are fighting with each other. I expect a few will fall by the wayside, but once Romney is seen as inevitable, they will join forces and attack Obama. I would say that giving to Santorum (or Newt) would continue to drain their resources (see earlier linkee-poo about how few people are actually contributing the vast majority of money to Super PACs), but then I have no illusions of how rich they are (a few million here or there won't affect their bottom lines that much, and they believe it will be much worse for them if Obama wins a second term).

Now, if Romney gets nominated, and wins the election, I think that would be the worst thing for the Republican Party (and the nation). While he may have been a moderate in the past, he's had to go to the hard right to get this far in the nomination process. And once you go there, if you retreat the wolves will tear you apart. Plus, the positions he's had to take would be disastrous for the majority of Americans (but wonderful for the top 5%). Not to mention plunging us into a economic morass that might make Ron Paul's idea of going back to the gold standard seem to be the best option. And the radical fringes of the party would continue to consolidate power and we'd see a repeat of the G W Bush presidency (where he started out on the far right edges of conservativism, and by the end was considered nearly a RINO).

To sum up, the GOP needs a house cleaning and a lot of members need to have a "come to Jesus" moment (which, ironically enough, means abandoning positions they hold because they think the Jesus would want them to, and here we'll ignore what Jesus actually said and stood for, but what modern preachers want the conservatives to think he was all about). If Romney gets the nomination, win or lose, that clearing of the temple won't happen. If Santorum gets the nomination (against all hope) and then Obama wins in a landslide (as most polls show would happen), the GOP will have their come to Jesus moment. And that would be a good thing.

For those of you new here, I am a conservative. I'm actually an old fashioned conservative. I believe in a smaller, nimble government that doesn't regulate needlessly, a tax structure that makes us the envy of the world (which we actually have in practice, although not on paper, but that envy is one of the "ooo, I wish we could pay that", although most of the rest of the world wouldn't give up their social net to get our tax system), and a positive outlook on business. The GOP abandoned all these positions to embraces the radical fringe of social conservatives, anti-tax organizers (as in, "we don't need to pay no stinkin' taxes"), and religious zealots who are only interested in the accumulation of power and wealth, not in serving their fellow humans. It's truly sad when I start to think of Nixon as a great conservative president. And that's why I no longer am registered Republican, but am a Democrat.

And, I'm not the only one who is having these thoughts. (Grokked from Chia Lynn).

Just don't ask me what I think the real chances of Santorum getting the nomination, or of a real "come to Jesus" moment occurring within the rank and file of the GOP. I believe the comparison is to a worm's belly.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Story Bones

Our songs reached to the heavens before the rockets closed the stars and shook the skies. Our gods can no longer hear us. Now only the shaman can traverse the trecherous ways to take our pleas to the old ones. We are forsaken children, but we are not defenseless.

Some things just make me laugh

Really, Amazon, you need to get your categorization together. Not to mention that sometimes your categorization selections cut out far too many options.

Linkee-poo lives the life in a northern town

It looks like there's enough snow out there for me to break out the snow blower. After all the stories about the warmth this summer, we're now getting the "zomg we're all freezing." And in freezing news, my friend Dan goes with the crazy for a good cause. Glad that winter saved up for the big day, Dan. I wouldn't want you to be disappointed.

Some of you have heard me hold forth about studying people's eye movements in regards to art and design. And I know there have been many who have been skeptical of how important I say it is. Here is a study of how someone views the bust of Nefertiti in profile. Yes. We get that anal about it. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Study shows "(c)onsumers in the US who would choose between the box office and piracy choose the box office… but that international consumers… choose piracy due to a lack of legal availability." An interesting story about things I already new, but that the RIAA and MPAA are trying desperately to convince everybody is not true. Also of relevance to book publishing in a world where the only major book chain left is B&N (and them maybe not for long). (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"Let’s skip over the flaws… Such as the fact that many states already require employers’ health care plans to cover contraception and that all over the United States there are Catholic universities and hospitals that comply… Or that the bishops have totally failed to convince their own faithful that birth control is a moral evil and now appear to be trying to get the federal government to do the job for them." As I've said before, it's not about birth control or abortion. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And the radical right can be all upset because the President was "forcing" birth control on the Catholics and then completely ignore all those other teaching and precepts they don't agree with. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Linkee-poo looks for that lost shaker of salt

Spent the day not doing anything of value. Not what I should have been doing, but after this week it was as much as I could do. So another lost day. I can't afford those anymore.

Penguicon is open for registration. Still debating this. Depends on some various things, some of which I can't discuss (part of the hell of the week). But Penguicon has been one of those cons I've really wanted to get to. Plus, it'll be right after my Pharm Tech course ends and my b-day, so plus plus.

Joshua Blimes does the numbers on publishing hardback, mass market, and ebook. With normal royalties to the author, profits to the publisher and how they vary with the different formats and pricing schemes. And this, friends, is why an agent is a very, very good thing. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Mmmm, chocolate covered jalapenos. Just what you need for your hot love. (Pointed to by John)

Because we've learned so much from our past. Now, in truth, at my own high school you could hear three non-English languages being spoken that weren't taught by the school. And in most, the main instruction was how to cuss. But I don't remember anyone being scolded for teach their fellow students how to say "shit" in Greek. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Linkee-poo ain't afraid of ever losing faith in you

Shimmer asks how much to (authors) write in a day. That's the result of "butt in chair" time. Really wish my life would settle down so I can do that again. Or, as I filled out a form in class last night to allow the company sponsoring the class to call me, they asked, "What's the best time to call?" I circled evening because 2016 wasn't an option. And I wrote under it, "Good luck getting a hold of me." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Writer Beware with what hell hath Amazon wrought. Or how Amazon ate the publishing industry. (Grokked from Absolute Write, I think)

David Ogilvy (seminal figure in American Advertising) with 10 tips on writing. Given my many years in-house, and dealing deeply within organizations (as phantom employee, ie. they weren't supposed to know I didn't work for the company), yes, this. Especially #4. Alas, in this day of email and IM, #10 is dead. Although, as I had to explain to a vendor, "I write an email because I know you have other clients, and it's not a 'do it now' kind of thing. I try to ask far enough in advance to give you time. When I'm on the phone with you, it means it's an emergency. Drop everything else and get what I'm asking for done." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The hidden value of editors. Or, why that self-published book is a big question mark. Basically it all boils down to the stories we tell ourselves. It's the popular myth that the writer types up all the pages, in order natch', and then sends them off, still steaming, to their publisher which promptly prints them. And Brittany Spears just up and started singing at 16 and landed a big record contract. Works well in the movies, not so much in real life. (Grokked from someone, sorry, lost the link)

For you young writers out there, this is what happens when you tempt to curry favor with the Gods of Writing. Or, never as John Scalzi to retweet your post unless you really, really, mean it. I'm just kidding, John's a great guy. To get a critique at VP, he only made me eat a habanero while he poked holes in my plot. See, nice, nice guy.

"As legislative leaders secretly developed new election maps last year to strengthen their majority, Republican lawmakers were told to ignore public comments and instead focus on what was said in private strategy sessions, according to a GOP memo that became public Monday. Other… documents also show almost all Republican lawmakers signed legal agreements promising not to discuss the new maps while they were being developed." And that, friends, is a subversion of democracy. "But you say we must love Democracy, but you say we can't be democratic, but you… Karl Rove, coordinate, coordinate!" (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Vince is very smart regarding the teapot tempest that is the "Obama's making us buy birth control" controversy. It's employment law. Many states already require it. The Church has already litigated it, and lost. Even up to the Supreme Court (who refused to hear the appeal).

"Republicans are beginning to grasp their own inadvertent complicity in Obama’s comeback. Some, of course, believe that their failure lies in having compromised too much." There's the "not clapping hard enough" crowd. "The payroll tax fight offers the first test of whether or not the new breeze of tactical realism will prevail, or be overwhelmed by countercurrents of militant obstruction." I'm laying my bets on the later. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Linkee-poo where are you

Sorry. Yesterday was Diet Hell. Today was Hell Full Strength. Tomorrow looks to be Hell On Wheels. Really hoping this weekend doesn't turn out to be Hell Flambé.

Dear Universe, it would be a nice time to win the lottery. Just saying.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Linkee-poo cries alone at night too often

Lost science. (Grokked from Phiala)

Aw, teddy bears. (Grokked from Absolute Write)

"Another human dream was crushed by the uncompromising forces of reality Monday, when the restaurant day job of 29-year-old former aspiring cartoonist Mark Seversen officially became his actual job." And that's why we love The Onion.

Mer Haskell on starting to publish later in life. Egads, and I've got a decade on her. Although with the subjective measure she points to, I'm sure it's more like 3 years or so.

Thinking of the Mary Robinette Kowal letter writing month challenge, (that's a special link about Jennifer Jackson offering to write a letter in response to a query every day, hmmmm, I think I found my #3, she's in the pool of my top picks anyway) the language of stamps. Just in case you've ever thought of the past as a "simpler time."

Chuck Wendig and his 25 reasons that writers are bug-fuck nuts. Note to self, show wife this post so she knows she's not alone.

How to write the Great American (Indian) Novel. (Grokked from Morgan J. Locke)

Elizabeth Bear with one of my favorite historical posters. Ride with Pancho Villa, for Gold and Glory, Weekly Payments in Gold. In other words, "Join Pancho Villa for Glory and Gold, but mostly for the Gold."

Janiece with some interesting fitness geekery. Hmm, I used to wear a pedometer a few years ago. Never really liked it, but it was interesting to track how many "steps" I took in a day.

Vince points out some more of the absolute absurdity of Pete Hoekstra's mentality. Stay classy, conservatives. And while everybody get's hung up on the broken English, how about the bike and the rice paddy?

John Scalzi is very smart (as is his wont) about the Susan G. Komen seppuku and Karen Handel being shown the door. I don't expect this to go away anytime soon as the anti-abortion forces gear up for the election, the pro-choice contingent realizes this election is make or break, and the vast majority of those on the fence begin to realize what the Pro-Life movement is really about.

You know how it's a conservative talking point that government so over regulates business and people's lives and it's politically correct to bang of "junk foods" that it's only so long until they make it illegal to go to McDonalds? Yeah, funny that. So now in Florida not only will you have to pee into a cup (held up in litigation) to get your foodstamps, the GOP controlled legislature now wants to tell you what you can spend that money on (candy is out, natch'). Conservatives, bringing you the government they warned you against since 2008.

Playgrounds are now perfectly safe and boring. Which leads to kids not using them. When I was young, we used to swing across a creek on a rusty cable, dig forts in the sand, climb pine trees, and build dangerous bike ramps. (Grokked from Absolute Write)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Linkee-poo wants to teach the world to sing

I didn't see much of the SuperBowl, but from what I did see, man the commercials sucked this year.

Blake Charlton talks about a month in general and trauma surgery. Of interest to both writing and for the reboot. Not for while you're eating, or if you're weak of stomach. Unless you're already in the health care gig, or thinking of it. Then you better be able to handle it, Buttercup.

Also of medical interest, a description of what an autopsy looks like and why it's necessary. Since the article doesn't address the reasons why autopsies are being done less and less, it's because insurance doesn't normally pay for one and local budgets being under funded, coroners offices are over worked and understaffed. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Note to (hopefully) new novelists self, start a SuperPAC now. (Link is political in nature, but an interesting way to spike book sales)

The interactive scale of the universe. There's an annoying ad to start, but it's worth it to scale back and forth. (Pointed to by John)

Business cards of the (geeky) famous people. (Pointed to by John)

Jeremiah Tolbert wants you to kill your local news. I have to say, in the majority I agree with him. But where I live gives me a special dispensation. I get all the Cleveland stations and two Youngstown stations (one is PBS). The Youngstown station actually runs local news with only a little of the "scary" in it. Unlike the Cleveland stations who love the "if it bleeds it leads" mentality and the "you should be upset about this" stories. Not to mention the local news feeds for every other state and international locations (if the local news is running news that's local to someplace more than a day's drive away, it's not really local news but filler). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Shocked, shocked I am to find racial stereotypes being offensive in conservative campaign ads and literature (not to mention html coding - Pointed to by Dan). It seems so out of character for the conservative party. (This irony brought to you by the Steel Council) The really funny part about this is that it's the Republican's who are responsible for most of the debt (of which China is a minority stake holder), and they're also responsible for much of the policies that encouraged outsourcing (not to mention, conservative led Wal-Mart leading the way in search of the almightily profit margin). So while Hoekstra likes to think that it's the D's fault, really it's conservative ideology that's responsible for the very thing he's trying to blame Democrats for.

The Onion takes in another congressman. Is it me, or does it seem to be a preponderance of conservatives who make this mistake over and over again? (Pointed to by John)