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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Linkee-poo sells the tickets at the Tree Museum

Cat Rambo give us her notes on Michael Stackpole's "How to Write a Novel in 21 Days." Well, it's more like how to lay the foundation for a character driven novel in 21 days, then you go write it. It probably wouldn't work well for me, but maybe for you.

Chuck Wendig on the 25 lies writer tell. Yes, this. And I say this as someone who talks about the Muse and "Creativity." Because I know what he's saying, but in pleasant company, you sound like a overachieving sociopath when you talk about the chemical nature of the brain.

"Yet now the mandate might prove to be the undoing of the A.C.A. It’s a bitter irony for Democrats who’ve been pushing health-care reform for decades: Justice Anthony Kennedy seemed to suggest on Tuesday that the single-payer system of liberals’ dreams, which of course is politically unfeasible, would be constitutional. But the politically feasible solution—the one that was originally a conservative idea, put into practice by the leading contender for the Republican Presidential nomination—might not be." Don't think the irony isn't lost on those of us who were pushing for a single-payer system. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Conservatives, help me out here. See, I'm trying to figure out how a party that vocally "supports the Constitution" is so forcefully trying to take away our rights and give this country to corporations. Well, about the only right lately they seem to embrace is the right to shoot some black kid for the crime of walking through their neighborhood. Seriously, no rights for unions, no rights for workers, no right to sue for redress of grievances (civil, criminal, and against he government), limiting the 1st Amendment (unless you want to call a law student at Georgetown a "slut")… about the only other right I see conservatives supporting is the right to lie to kids in school (and cripple our economy in the world marketplace). As the song goes, "did you really think about it before you made the rules?" (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

I mean, this guy, the guy I've heard way too many interviews of voters saying, "We know what's in his heart, and he's one of us, with strong values," this guy is your conservative standard bearer? No, I'm sorry, you don't get to claim this isn't about race anymore.

Oh look, all that fire and brimstone surrounding Solyndra turns out to be much ado about nothing. And while it's a long distance to November, it looks like the Obama Administration will end out its first term oddly scandal free. Much to the disappointment of the Tea Party and their Conservative Whipping Dogs. By Summer I expect a few polls to show how those people who don't listen to Fox News recognize this fact, and those who do listen to Fox News (and conservative talk radio) believe Obama is the most corrupt president evar! (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Friday, March 30, 2012

This ain't your Dad's Apple

So, the other day a friend pointed me towards the Mac App Store and Neverwinter Nights 2. The game was on sale for $1. NWN has been a game I've wanted to play, but at $45, it was too rich for me. And, you know, I'm trying to write so I could keep that distraction at arms length. But $1? Oh yeah, downloaded it that night.

So, two weeks later and I finally had some moment to play it. I went all the way through the tutorial. It's okay. The controls are bit wonky, but I could get used to it. But then as I tried to start the actual game it froze. And it kept freezing in exactly the same place. Well, it turns out the game doesn't support the graphics card we have in our iMac.

In the old days, this would never have happened. Not that there weren't troubles, but mostly that was an OS version problem. I have all the proper software, memory, processor, etc. It's just the graphics card. WTF.

Honor Among Thieves

Okay, so on my earlier post about the scene of using a flame thrower to clear out a restaurant of turncoats... yeah, I went a wrote the crappy first draft over the weekend. I had to. The scene kept floating back into my head whenever I tried to star something else. "I can't get it ut of my head," as ELO sang. Well, now it is.

And it was crappy, but it felt right and what isn't working or on the page is fixable. That's one of the skills I acquired without knowing how. I can tell about how many words a story will take, can match word counts pretty well, and I can feel if something is working, even when it's all bugger on the page at the moment.

Right now, I have no idea what the longer story will be. I'm thinking about transitions in the world, and plot twists (darn you Uncle Jim McDonald!). Something is saying Bonita Kassandra ends up in some position of power, maybe taking over for the Old Man. I'm not sure how she would do it, or how she would fair there (which is why I'm thinking it's a lesser position).

Plus I'm not sure how much of my enthusiasm for this is "Ooo, shiny penny!"

Linkee-poo, 50,000 watts of power and it's pushing overload

As someone trying to write comedy, wise words are wise.

Twenty retold fairy tales you should read. Hey, I know people on that list! (Grokked from Tor.com)

Janiece gives away more of her jam. Take it from me, it's delicious. Okay, well, on the first jar I got exactly 1 piece of toast with jam on it. But Bette promises me this time I'll get more before it's all gone. Which might mean 2 pieces of toast. But that's double, right?

Don't believe me about how far out of touch with reality conservatives are? The Slactivist links to articles that show the conservative Supreme Court Justices are also out of touch with reality. Like claiming the "cornhusker exemption" was still in the bill, when it wasn't. So, obviously, the Justices haven't read the actual bill either.

Ah, the soon to be water wars. Texas' water problems are actually somewhat of a concern to those of us in the Great Lakes. Not only do we have a love of cotton clothing, but our states are finalizing our water compact that stipulates how much water can be drawn from our lakes, and where it goes. Guess where some of it will be going? Good thing Ricky Perry says that global warming is a myth, 'cause, you know, that would make it even worse. Also a good thing he dropped out of the presidential race before he could bring the Texas Miracle to all of us. (Grokked from Morgan J. Locke)

Colony collapse is still a problem. But now there's research that puts a direct link between new systemic pesticides and bee colony collapse. "(one of the companies that makes one of these pesticides) also argues that so many factors affect bee health, including parasites, viruses and malnutrition, that there is no one single assailant." And this just in, more doctors prefer to smoke Camels. Mmmm, smooth taste. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

"The Emergency Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA)… passed by Congress in 1986… requires every hospital with an emergency room to screen and treat all patients who present themselves and require emergency treatment… Many people know about this law and use it as an excuse to avoid purchasing health insurance by planning to use the emergency room as an access point for 'free' healthcare… healthcare through hospital emergency rooms is not only very expensive, it is a terrible misuse of scarce resources. Since healthcare providers must absorb the expense… (they) simply shift the cost to those who can pay more: that is, privately insured patients. Hence… those with private healthcare insurance are paying for… those who do not have insurance." They don't talk about the direct payments to hospitals to help with some of that, the cost of which comes out of our taxes. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A story about the divers who go into the nuclear reactor pools to do maintenance. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Want to know why conservatives (and the Right-to-Life movement) are so wacky about The Pill? "'We found that women who had early access to the pill in the 1960s and 1970s earned 8 percent more on average by the 1980s and 1990s than women without early access," said (Martha Bailey, an assistant professor of economics in the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts)… 'By cause or coincidence, the pill's diffusion coincided with important changes in norms and ideas about women's work'… As these laws (regarding access to birth control pills) changed… the inadvertent side-effect was that women could obtain the pill at younger ages. This meant that women no longer had to decide between looking for a mate… and investing in their educations and careers. They could do both." Right-to-life and much of the conservative wingnuttery is all about antifeminism and rolling back the sexual revolution, not about "the children" or "the innocent unborn" or "women's health." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Eric takes on the spate of non-apologies coming from the right. In this case, the recent one from Geraldo Rivera. Who pretty much said, "If girls wouldn't dress like sluts, they wouldn't get raped," but in this case, it was about wearing a hoodie and being shot by psychopaths.

Want to know some of what Google collects about you and your activity online (you might remember the recent uproar over Google merging all it's privacy policies)? Here's how they tell you about signing up to receive a report. It's an opt-in feature, not something you might see unless you go through your account information. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Alligator Quotient: Hey wait, these are all new alligators? When the hell was shift change?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Linkee-poo, fastest thing on two feet

Still too much work. Plus trying to plan a vacation. The first one in 8 years (not counting Viable Paradise, which wasn't much of a vacation for me, fun, yes, vacation, no). I don't do vacations well. It's part of my recovering from being a workaholic.

You know you want your own functional tricorder. Well, there's how to build one yourself. (Pointed to by John)

About the near lost art of diagraming sentences. I'm old enough to remember being taught this when very young, but then that was never followed up on and I've lost all but the most basic parts of it. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Study shows the obvious, conservative trust in science has fallen dramatically since 1970. "As for the study’s implications… it raises important questions about the future role of science in public policy. 'In a political climate in which all sides do not share a basic trust in science, scientific evidence no longer is viewed as a politically neutral factor in judging whether a public policy is good or bad…'" (Pointed to by John)

"When EPA finally cranked up efforts to do something about it, the agency was viciously attacked. Industry shills said it was an agenda to control Americans’ lives, driven by scientists who wanted research money and a cabal of extreme environmentalists. They said there were no viable alternatives… and the regulations would raise… prices and destroy the economy." That's an article on the on-going battle to get lead out of our environment. But you could swap out "lead" and "gas" for "CO2" and "energy" and it's still the same story. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Not like it was an orchestrated plan or anything. Another example of the reason why conservatives are so quick to think there's an ulterior motives and conspiracy, it's because they themselves engage in them.

Paul Krugman on ALEC and other stealth conservative power players. Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law" was written in one of their committees. (Grokked from Jay Lake) Also, there's some mention of ALEC working with the NRA, so here's an NPR story on Marion Hammer who did the leg work of pushing through that law. And there you see just why conservatives are going ape shit trying to smear Travyon. Because they know what this will mean to their overall legislative thrust.

"We have half the country living in its own universe of belief, with its own history, its own politics, and its own physical laws. It's like running elections against the anti-gravity party. It is not healthy for any of us." The real problem is that the other side is so wrapped into their own bubble, they can't even see reality from where they are standing. I would comment that it's a complete wast of time to wrestle with a dirty pig, because the pig likes it too much, but occasionally you do find one or two people who can see reality. "My anger and hatred was borne completely out of my ignorance. I chose only to listen to one set of stories, rather than to all of the stories." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Alligator Quotient: Still buried under the bodies, but I've lulled them to sleep.

That hollow, empty sound that rests in the valley

The vast majority of people swim with the flow through the river of life. Some perturb the waters and create ripples, some widen the bank, some even swim against the flow. And then there are those few who cut whole new channels. Earl Scruggs was one of those last people. Most modern US banjo players play Scruggs Style. The world is a little less rich because one of the giants has fallen. At least we have his music. If all you know is Foggy Mountain Breakdown or the Ballad of Jed Clampett, that's a pity.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Linkee-poo chose a gun and threw away the sun

Still way, way behind in my reading. Sorry. Last night I had to tell myself to go to bed when it was almost 1am (I normally get up a little after 6am). Too much.

The value of tenacity (because I haven't had time to write my own squib about it)

Justine Larbalester with the moving goals posts of "I know I've made it as a writer when…".

Catherine Shaffer on the "boys won't read about girls" canard. Look, okay, some boys won't, but that's because they're mirroring the attitudes they see at home and in their idols. For the real book industry (or at least the geek based genres), that's not too large a population to really worry about, because those people don't buy icky genre books anyway.

The Council on Foreign Relations new report finds "(t)he United States' failure to educate its students leaves them unprepared to compete and threatens the country's ability to thrive in a global economy and maintain its leadership role…". Don't worry, I'm sure if we just let the kids pray, learn creations, dismiss that global warming pap and give greater local authority and control, it'll all sort itself out. Actually, they put a heavy emphasis on "competition and choice" even though that's been shown to not affect outcomes. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Calculating the refresh rate of the universe. (Pointed to by John)

Haven't done this yet, so before it gets too far away, in all the hullballu, I nearly missed the passing of Peter Bergman. A founding member (the founding member) of Firesign Theatre, his work has had a large influence on my sense of humor and the way I view the world. If you ever see me sitting by myself watching the crowds passing by and smiling, it's probably because in the back of my head there is a tape running giving all the background comedic noise that was de rigor on the Firesign Records. "Antelope Freeway, one sixty-fourth of a mile…" (that sketch runs through my head every time I use the GPS).

ZOMG, the new EPA rules will mean another coal fired power plant will never be built in the US. Well, the industry (power generation) doesn't seem all that concerned 'cause they're all huffing the natural gas these days. But I'm sure we'll get the various conservative propaganda engines fired up about it (they, BTW, do run on coal, the high sulfur kind). So, to head off any strikes, I've just got one question for ya, where the fuck are you on clean coal? It's been over a decade and you only have 1 pilot plant who's technology has proven to be too expensive and doesn't scale well. Time for that lie to die it's quiet death.

The myth of the independent voter. While there are some, it's not really the 40% that is often touted.

The smear campaign against Trayvon Martin. Why would conservatives want to smear a 17-year old murder victim? Because they know that this is exactly the case people have been making against the fringe positions and laws pushed by the NRA. And it's a big enough story that they can't bury it. So they need to create the narrative that Travyon was "asking for it", Zimmerman was "protecting" himself, and Travyon was the aggressor here. Because the opposite of those positions destroys their arguments. Again, as I stated here, their arguments hold no logical basis.

Good thing we didn't let the terrorists win, filling us with fear and hate and the desire to destroy our own cultural and moral foundations.

Tweet of my heart:
@vidensadastra: So as it turns out when you work at a library "I don't want to leave my book group" is a totally valid reason to get your schedule changed.

Alligator Quotient: When you stack enough of them together, they look like a big, squiggly leather wallet. From the inside.

Smart people can be very dumb sometimes

Dear Justice Antonin Scalia,

Regarding your argument that "young people are not "'stupid' and should be able to buy insurance when there is a 'substantial risk of incurring high medical costs.'"

With all due respect sir, your argument does not have a basis in reality as the most popular provision of the ACA already enacted is that parents can keep their kids on their health insurance until the children are 26. Your argument here, on the face of it, holds no water.

This is because the parents, at least, know that young people can, very suddenly and without prior indication, end up with medical bills that would exceed the amount of their total student loans for a four-year college. One broken bone which requires surgery can lead to a total bill over $35,000 (I know this from personal experience, and that amount is approximately 10 years out of date now). The news regularly reports on kids falling over dead because of undiagnosed heart or circulatory problems. They don't even mention those that survive to find themselves dealing with a chronic condition. Again, here I speak from the experience of a friend who found himself with a chronic heart condition in his late 20s. I don't know the total amount of his medical expenses, but I do know he was glad for coverage under his wife's employment plan.

Please, sir, move beyond the circle of your friends and look out at the wider experience. Obviously all those parents who are glad they can keep their children on their own plans know something you haven't experienced, or that you wish to ignore. Costly medical bills and chronic healthcare problems are not the provence of the aged.

Sincerely,
Me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Trees Are in Bloom



The trees outside the dayjob office.

Linkee-poo, after all, is just another brick in the wall

A short list because I am buried.

A video that visualizes the ocean currents from June 2005 to December 2007. More proof the world is stranger than we think. Plus, knowing the Antarctic Circumpolar Current exists, but to see it in motion is another thing. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Stuart Sternberg with another hurdle writers must overcome while marketing their books. Sure, you got people to buy the things, but are they really reading (I don't want to admit to the size of my guilt stack of just hard copy books).

Really? You're problem with The Hunger Games is there are sympathetic and righteous characters who are black? Hello, teens killing teens used as amusement and sport, you think you'd have a problem with that part.

Two years on, how Americans feel about the ACA/Obamacare.

Tweet of my heart:
@VoodooDarling: When satan puts the mark of the beast on people's foreheads during the end times, he'll do it in comic sans.

Alligator Quotient: I don't know who is rowing this boat, but they better go faster.

Poking the bees nest

I really didn't want to write about this subject, but I get tired of bullshit.

Okay, for all of you shouting about how George Zimmerman had the right to defend himself under Florida's Stand Your Ground law, what about Trayvon Martin's rights under that same law? After all, he was being trailed by someone who was armed for absolutely no good reason (both being armed and trailing him).

While there's lots of flying crap all over this one (including the police department or school leaking the story about him being dispelled for having traces of marijuana in his bookbag – which whomever did that? that was a violation of the law, hope they put you in jail for abusing the trust you're given), so it can cover everybody who jumps into this story (which was why I didn't want to comment). Before you go off shouting about how poor George was ambushed and had to fight for his life, understand that Trayvon was already operating under those rules when George was tracking him before calling 911.

Neighborhood Watches are an excellent law enforcement tool. Going on patrol, while armed, trailing "suspects" is not a part of that program. That's what vigilantes do. When George stepped out with his gun, that's where the problem started.

And before you decide to say, "You're just anti-gun" I remind everyone that I've already completed the concealed carry course here in Ohio. I'm not NRA lunatic fringe material, but I do believe in a healthy exercise of the 2nd Amendment. I just don't buy in to all the swaggering bullshit that surrounds that issue.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Linkee-poo, dere he come, dere he go, and he ain't wearin' no clothes

After Todd Wheeler commented on yesterday's linkee-poo, I couldn't remember if I had posted a link to Todd's debut novel, Garbageland. Todd is going the self-published route with this one, and I wish him well with it. I think I did a link before to it, but if I didn't, I apologize for that oversight.

(Moved to the top, because it's what we'll all be talking about this week) Rachel Maddow on embracing the label "Obamacare." This week we'll all be in an uproar as the Supreme Court hears a record long argument on the legal aspects of the ACA. While I've been a proponent of saying "healthcare act" and "ACA", lately I've been thinking the right has made a potentially massive mistake. Let's call it Obamacare, and if it'sup held in court, and people begin to realize all this teeth gnashing is over nothing, Obamacare will stick. And it will be a constant reminder of who started this journey, and which party was responsible. If it's struck down or repealed (unlikely unless it's struck down by the court), it'll fade into history like "Hillarycare." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Along the lines of fantasy writers needing to treat their horses like actual animals instead of biological machines, five more things you should know about horses. I think if most fantasy writers can get through their head that horses are prey animals, that should help stories become more realistic very fast. Nope, even if your warhorse has trod through mounds of the dead in battle, when confronted with the predator stench of a dragon, that horse is going to high tail it out of the area. No mater how much you think it loves you. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The 75 word every SF fan should know. Which brings up an interesting argument (for another day) about how SF is killing off it's fandom by requiring a pre-existing database of shared cultural memory to click into new works. I also see tell tale traces of these in Fantasy. (Grokked from Tor.com)

A visual guide on when it's okay to make shit up. (Grokked from Eric)

"Today it is cold, the light is dim, this vellum is hairy, something is wrong." Life in the margins of illuminated manuscripts. A little why I love those books (Cleveland Museum of Art contains a great collection). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And will we know have connoisseur magazines for super conductivity? Never though that a superconductivity lab would have a wine list. (Grokked from ChiaLynn)

"He shared a story about one of the loudest abortion foes he ever encountered… He walked into an examining room to find her there. She needed an abortion and had come to him because… he was a familiar face… she assured him she wasn’t like all those other women: loose, unprincipled…'Nothing like life,' he responded, 'to teach you a little more.'" Life has a way of doing that, if you pay attention. Of course, the story ends with the woman going back to yell at those seeking an abortion. More of the "my abortion is moral, you're just a slut" mentality. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

No, I'm afraid astronaut is one of those titles you carry for life. Because it's a profession. Unlike "President", "Attorney General", "Governor" etc that are temporary positions. Although we like to keep those titles these days, I don't understand why. When I was growing up at best you would get "Former" added to the front of political titles when one was no longer serving in that capacity. It helped with keeping straight who was and who wasn't in power. That seems to have fallen out of favor. And what kind of assnards want to strip someone of their title "astronaut"? (Pointed to by Karl Z).

On the myth of cutting taxes helping the economy. It helps some people, just not the majority of us. "Why does this self-serving argument fly? Because too many Americans don’t get where they stand in the scheme of things. The U.S. has one of the most unequal distributions of income in the developed world… But much of the country's workforce believes it’s either already in the overtaxed bourgeoisie or on its way there." The stories we tell ourselves. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Forced castrations reportedly found in Roman Catholic Care. In the 1950s, it's alleged that the Church castrated underaged sexual abuse victims in the Church run psychiatric wards. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Alligator Quotient: I'm teaching the little buggers to play poker, and taking their pocket change.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Linkee-poo for a Sunday

Sorry, working hard and the whole later sunset is screwing me up.

Catherine Schaff-Stump offers some good tips on to process writer workshop/critique feedback. I'll add here that it's always best to take notes on everything a critiquer says. At the time that they are making the comment, you might disagree completely and an early reaction to that would be to discount the advice. But you want to have their comment down because everybody else in the critique group might say, "I agree with soandso about this, but they said it better than I could." Or, you might be having the piece (even in rewrite) being critiqued by the same or other group and this point may be even more prominent during this round and you'll want to be able to remind yourself on all the aspects of how to fix it.

Fight scene basics.

The Slactivist with proof that I'm not too late to write "Post-Rapture Industries." Apparently, the evangelicals are still awaiting the apocalypse. And they believe that Madonna (yes, that Madonna) is a part of the Satan's (or the Illuminati's) grand plan.

The inerrant word of God. But it's updatable to whatever political stance you want. Has been since the Nicene Council and King James versions. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"These guys spent a lot of time in Dumpsters figuring out what kind of trash we produce." The Denver Zoo is about to unleash a rickshaw that runs on gasified pellets made from both the zoo's human waste stream and the animal poo. It's a prototype of the technology that will be used to power their new Elephant Passage exhibit. (Grokked from Random Michelle K)

Hullabaloo combs through the comments at Fox News. I think we've discovered the trolls homeland. Oh sure, it's not about race in this country. Remember the whole, "Commentators at Daily Kos are saying horrible things," only to have it be like one or two comments that they had to troll the whole website to find? Yeah, these are just from the Trayvon Martin story. (Grokked from Jay lake)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Some days there are things other than the internets

Spent the day doing spurious shopping (needed to get some insect spray as the ants are engaging in their annual Spring Invasion) and going to see John Carter of Mars. I really recommend you go see this before theaters decide to pull the plug, it's a fucking good adventure movie.

Sure, I could point out the various plot holes (including the glaring one at the end), or the "gee, seen this before" moments (actually, they aren't really as bad as the critiques claim, the only really bad moment is when they're going into the arena to fight for their lives, very much Star Wars Episode II, the Dumbing Down), or the various cultural issues, but screw all that. It's a great adventure movie. Go see it.

On the other side, there was a trailer for "Lockout", besides spotting the major plot holes in the trailer (and here I'm talking about things like, "did the writer's really think this thing through?"), it's basically "Escape from New York, but Innnnn Sspppaaaaaacccceeee!" Escape from New York wasn't that good of a movie to require a remake. Lockout is one of the few movies that if I would even be given a free ticket, I probably wouldn't go see. And there was a trailer for Wrath of the Titans that why eyerollingly blah, and it looks 100 times better. When the Lockout trailer finally got to the line, "but he's a loose cannon," I was done. And I think that only took 30 seconds. I also wanted to stand up and shout, "Well, of course he is. Central Casting? Please send us up another wise-cracking loose cannon." What's sad is that it will probably have a better opening week than John Carter of Mars.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The things that got away, or when the train goes off the tracks

SO, just working through some things. One of my thoughts has been to write the continuing story of Gary Mullens, Bladesman. Yes, I've had ideas for it.

Actually one of my originally unrelated story ideas was an assassination by flame thrower. Actually I originally wrote this as an experiment in screen writing. So I formed it from a cinematic framework which would have to be changed, because you can't do camera tricks in narration (okay, well, not the ones I was thinking of). While I was writing Bladesman I did figure that the assassin character, which was actually a special operations mob enforcer, would be a perfect fit for Gary. And that the position of bladesman would also include exotic weapons.

So the basic plot is there's a meeting of some conspirators in a restaurant, they're in a booth discussing overthrowing a local mob boss (they're lieutenants in this organization and they're talking about rubbing out the big boss). A lone assassin enters the restaurant and lays waste to the conspirators with a flamethrower, setting the place on fire (of which they already called the fire department before they walked in).

One of the things that bothered me in Bladesman is that while there are women in high positions throughout the story, they aren't closer into the main story. However I did set up that all of the Old Man's daughters are power hungry, and the Old Man is suspects them of trying to muscle him out, all while he's trying to keep them insulated from the criminal side of the organization.

And then I was reading some thoughts on the Bechdel test. And I was thinking that my first novel sort of fails that test (because it doesn't have women discussing between only themselves as it's told first person through Gary's eyes). And that moment happened where the scene clicks as the daughters discussing offing the Old Man. The Old Man knows about this and sends Gary to kill his daughters. Ooo, lotsa angsty family guilt and conflict.

And then the other part of my brain kicked in and said, "Wait a sec, you're going to give the daughters a primary spot, have then discuss real issues and make real plans, all of which doesn't include talking about boys, shoes, or clothes all to say, 'hey, look, I pass the Bechdel test' only then to kill them all in a blazing ball of fire?"

Yeah, not so great an idea after all, is it?

Linkee-poo wonders who finds the money when you pay the rent? Did you think that money was heaven sent?

"Just keep working." Yeah, yeah, patience. How long with that take? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Darth Vader, Tai Chi, with Jain (short sword - in this case light saber). For those of you that know, I based the sword technique in Bladesman on Tai Chi (although I changed the names to be evacuative of the movement without having to explain it). That's because Tai Chi is the appropriate style for Jain (short, straight, dual-edged blade). Also, while Tai Chi is a mostly formalized art these days (it's only seven-hundred years young), there are differences in style and forms between schools. What is not being shown here is how your opposing hand is used to balance and support the sword arm (talisman, IIRC). So if you wanted to get a better look at sorta what Gary is doing, here it is (minus the cape, of course). (Grokked from Tor.com)

Oh, look, domestic drilling doesn't decrease gas prices. Whodda thought it. (Grokked from Dan)

The Komen Race for the Cure in Arizona is facing a crisis in fundraising. I point to this article not just for the story about Komen's shooting itself in the foot because of the political ideology held by their board, but as an example of why the ACA is needed. Please read the story of the women who is co-chair of the race this year and note 1) for the 6-month program of Medicaid she was forced to become destitute (having helped put Bette's uncle in Medicaid last year, this isn't unusual, but a part of the program as changed by conservatives in the late 90s - because we wouldn't just want anyone applying for government aid, after all), 2) her cost after that 6-month program ran out, and 3) that she doesn't qualify for medicaid now because she's single and doesn't have kids (also, that 6-month emergency need program, that's gone now as well). I'll remind you that Arizona is controlled by conservatives (both legislatures and governor). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"In each and every dark pit of desperation, I have never seen a pro-lifer. I ain’t never seen them babysitting, scrubbing floors, bringing over goods, handing mom $50 bucks a month or driving her to the pediatrician… sitting up for hours with an autistic child who screams and rages so his mother can get some sleep while she rests up from working 14-hour days… fixing leaks in rundown houses or playing with a kid while the police prepare to interview (the mother) about her sexual abuse. They’re not paying for the funerals of babies and children who died after birth… And the crazy thing is they think they’ve already done their job, because the child was born!" (Grokked from Absolute Write)

Revision to global temperature stats doesn't change the fact of global warming. In fact, it makes the case stronger. Also, it's good to see a little higher visibility, proactive action from this side. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

If they'll know we are Christians by our love, they'll know you're a racist by your racist actions. Okay, I want a copy of this dictionary all these conservatives keep referring to ("well, obviously you misunderstood me because you don't understand the True Definition of the words I used." - yeah, I've seen that defense one too many times). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Wait, there are private armies fighting the Somali pirates? And their floating arsenals aren't secure? What could possibly go wrong?

Alligator Quotient: Are you sure all of these are alligators?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Linkee-poo wonders how you manage to make ends meet

Bryan Thomas Schmidt put together a punch list for self-editing from taking Cat Rambo's editing class. I need to reread this when I have more time for it to actually sink in. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

John Joseph Adams is giving away ARCs of his latest anthology, Armored (of which I posted a link to the story by Tobias Buckell and Dave Klecha yesterday) on Goodreads (where I should be doing more, sigh, in a moment Ishmael, in a moment).

You know that whole less regulation, let's do away with unions, and all that conservative crap, this is what happens in such a world. Employees fired because they all wore orange shirts on the same day so that when they went to happy hour after work, they'd look like a group. I wonder if the lawyers would look at themselves and say, "Hey, we're all wearing dark suits, we must be part of a protest" and fire themselves. Nope, that wouldn't happen because they're the people with big degrees. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Gene Wolfe, Neil Gaiman, David Hartwell, Michael Swanwick and others ride a merry-go-round. Okay, anybody else thinking of that scene in American Gods? I keep waiting to see their true forms show up in a psychedelic light show.(Grokked from Tor.com)

Patty Jansen on boring beginnings and why you shouldn't do them. Read and learn. (Grokked from Elizabeth)

Catherine Schaff-Stump with some good advice for a writers' workshop. Catherine is wise indeed.

Miranda Suri gives some good reasons why you want to go on writer workshops/retreats/conventions. Miranda is also wise. I'll also point out that, at least for me, after going on these, you start to miss them when you're not on one. It's a hard habit to break.

(This seems to be a VP XIII day, go figure)

Lookie, Santorum gets caught applauding a religious assnard (thanks, John Scalzi, I'm kinda liking that word). While it's roiled into pseudo-religo-speek, that's called "hate" spewing out all over that stage. Expect the MSM and Fox News to endless run this one just like they did with the Rev. Wright sermon. Yeah, that last line cracked me up too. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"But set aside the role Fox News played in her death and consider the role it played in her life. Watching Fox News made this poor woman miserable. She lived in needless terror, troubled by a constant anxiety that was manufactured and fabricated by political operatives posing as journalists… That’s harmful. It’s wrong. Decent people don’t torment the elderly with imaginary threats." As someone who is dealing with a little bit of this in my own family, yes, this.

One of the things I keep hearing from lots of friends who live in foreign lands, and on the news whenever it's a slow news day and reporters go out and ask people questions, is "Just WTF is going on over there?" The rest of the world is getting ready to go to the Hague and have us all involuntarily committed. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Alligator Quotient: The benefit of so many alligators stacked up, the ones still at my level can't open their mouths.

How can it be Spring when I feel so sprung already?

I think I've killed myself by learning too much about story. Some stories I like to write are just an interesting story, but there's very little conflict. But now I'm looking at the stories from the viewpoint of "who wants what/which desires conflict/how does this shape the story" and things are falling down. Sigh. Sometimes I think the desires of the characters aren't open enough and so the story fails because the reader doesn't understand the desires.

And I think that's part of why I'm stuck spinning my wheels in the outlines. You know, other than the ZOMG busy, busy, busy schedule. Another thing that keeps me in the bullpen warming up instead of pitching the game is the day thing. I literally feel blowout by the time I get home. And while I used to feel good about that, the "giving it my all" to the job, it's now more the feeling of being blowout like a flat tire. And now is the added flavor of strife between divisions of which I get to be a pawn in the game. That'll pretty much knock the wind out of my sails (not to mention cue the stress eating behaviors).

On top of all that I'm beginning to feel my subconscious doesn't want to the write the book my consciousness wants to write. It might be early writing jitters (would be better if I was actually, you know, writing), but when I think about other books I've started ideas for, they feel fresher and "more inviting." They feel "more right."

You can probably chalk this all up to, "Writer feeling the jitters, again. Writer complaining about how hard it is (find time/find words/get enthused) to write, again." But would it be an actual creative process if we didn't complain about it?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Linkee-poo loves rock 'n roll, so put another dime in the jukebox, baby

Sorry, not to many writing links today. My "to be read" list is growing by the minute.

Hey, you can read two of my favorite people in one yogurt with fruit on the bottom mashup with their co-written story, Jungle Walkers.

John Scalzi gives voice and a stage for a doctor to talk about the transvaginal-ultrasound before abortion bills. As of late Tuesday night there's at least 400 comments on the page and John notes in his twitter feed that he was about to pass a one day visitor record on the Whatever (and that's saying something). The thing I find interesting about reading this article is I'm struck by the fact that we have more laws on the books that give a physician, nurse, and pharmacist the "freedom of conscience" to not be involved in any medical procedure that violates their personal convictions/religion/conscience. Ohio is one of those states, and there's been talk about trying to pass one of those transvaginal-ultrasound bills here (also a personhood bill). As I remember, our "freedom of conscience" bill is not limited to any medical procedure. I would recommend to any Ohio Doctor (and any doctor) that they refuse to follow any of the egregious anti-abortion restrictions (waiting period, mandated speeches or reading materials or just regular ultrasounds) as against their conscience. This of course would mean risking prosecution and jail time, lost of license, and tomatoes or worse thrown against their houses.

"…'Land said he recently told [Romney advisers] that Romney could win over recalcitrant conservatives by picking Sen. Marco Rubio as his vice-presidential running mate and previewing a few Cabinet selections: Santorum as attorney general, Gingrich as ambassador to the United Nations, and John Bolton as secretary of state.'" (Just in case you think this is the paranoia of the progressives) And that, friends, is the trumpet blare that signals the opening of the Fourth Seal. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Mitt Romney can’t be held accountable for his extreme right-wing views, at least according to his campaign’s senior adviser, who said the candidate should be given a “reset button” on any positions he’s taken during the primary campaign…" Okay, well, that means he's going to be lying some of us. And what makes you think that he'll stop there. Hell, given that thought process he can just change back or to something else entirely after the general election. I can only imagine that the opposition research of the Obama Campaign are practically having orgasms at their desk over the Republican Primary. (Grokked from Ferrett Steinmetz)

A book of advice from one of the real Mad Men.

Conservative wonder why "liberals" love this president, here's one of the reasons. He knows enough sign language to respond to someone in ASL. Unlike the previous administration that might have you arrested for disagreeing. (ASL link grokked from JG Barr)

Knit a uterus to donate to a Congressman in need. Without comment. (Grokked from Absolute Write)

Tweet of my heart:
@JustineLavaworm: I'm confused. RT @JackHeathWriter: If u think u've written the world's best book, u're deluded, but if u don't, then it needs more work.

Double dip:
@maureenjohnson: ME: It's CALLED Random House. It's a publisher. FEDEX: Yeah, but we can't send to a random house. It needs an address. ME: It HAS one.

Alligator Quotient: It's alligators all the way up.

Form of Word Verification

Sorry, had to turn it back on. I know it's a pain (especially in the new incarnation), but I don't have the time to deal with all the spam. And I'm pretty sure some has gotten through on the older posts. Again, sorry.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Scenes from a Morning Commute

Not today's, but I needed rainbows. This was from last Wednesday, IIRC.

Linkee-poo is feeling all vernally and balanced between light and dark

Why affordable housing is a myth, in one chart. You know if conservatives are so hot to "end government dependency", then there's going to need to do something about the income inequality. Because without it, people won't be able to live. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Native Americans are split on Alaska's oil drilling debate (aka opening ANWR and the coast). Noted not for the obviousness (traditional life versus hospitals, roads, and a good living), but for the notation that the real thing driving this is that Prudhoe Bay is almost played out (pipeline is running at 1/3 capacity).

Because of course the race of the person proposing/endorsing the legislation has nothing to do with how vociferously people oppose it. Except that it does. Especially for social conservatives. And now we have the research to prove it. I expect Fox News to start the discrediting smear campaign against Michael Tesler in 3… 2… 1…

For a party that likes to throw out the label of communist, who really behaves like one? (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Homosexuals and transgender people are largely shunned in Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country of 240 million people, and attacks against gay people by Islamic hardliners are common." Well, that's something conservative evangelicals have in common with their ideological conservative brothers in the Islamic world. From an article on our President's nanny while Obama lived in Jakarta. The nanny also happens to be transgender. (Pointed to by Dan)

Also, the count of advertisers to request their ads not be run during Rush Limbaugh's show is now up to 140. And Rush has caused collateral damage. "The advertisers have also requested to be excluded from other right-wing hosts including Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity… because they have been 'deemed to be offensive.'" All that remains to be seen is just how long this lasts. (Pointed to by John)

Winter ice in the Bering Sea is more southernly and more extensive than normal this year. Cue the climate denialist who will conveniently ignore the last paragraph, "The Bering stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Arctic ice cap, where sea ice extent was below average… Ice cover was down drastically on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Arctic… where ice-free waters were 4 to 8 degrees Celsius… above the norm," in 3… 2… 1… (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart:
TheDailyEdge: Woman Selling "Don't Re-nig!" Sticker Says She's Not Racist. Which Would Be More Believable If She Wasn't Such a Fucking Racist

The Economy Is Better

Because it's been less than one day with the word verification turned off, and we're already being hit with spam. I'll see how it goes for the rest of the day, but if it doesn't slow down, I'll have to put word verification back on. Sorry about that.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What's the worst that could happen?

Back in the saddle and road testing the new synopsis. It's off to the next set of agents. The next three are all snail mail submissions, so I'll need to get printing for the next set.

I got stuck in the old fashioned way, waiting for a response. That was my fault. So now we'll see if I can keep to the schedule of submitting regularly.

Good luck little submissions. Wing your way on to success.

Linkee-poo is short, and it doesn't stand to tall neither

I'm still entertaining comments on my four paragraph synopsis of Bladesman.

The inside story of how John Carter was doomed from the beginning. I just hope it stays around until I get to see it.

Think the lunatic fringe on the right is new? Nope, just still crazy after all these years. In other news, there's nothing new under the sun except the shavings from filing off the serial numbers. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Some more on that pink slime you may be hearing about these days. Hey, remember all that talk about how what we need is less regulation? This is one of those places where they want less. Because there actual is a limit on what food processors can do (yes, a limit beyond treating meat with ammonium hydroxide - the government actually has the gaul to say just how much can be treated). And if you really think that what we need is less regulation, have you looked to see what level of rat droppings is allowed to be in your food? Don't look unless you want to be sick for awhile, also note this problem isn't just meat but plant based foods. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Linkee-poo wastes its Sunday

"(The old feminists) would tell me that while things were better, they weren’t perfect. And they would remind me that any freedoms gained could be snatched away at any point… I suppose I knew this was a possibility, but it seemed so unlikely that I never gave it more than a cursory thought. Of course women would continue to enjoy the freedoms that they had. Of course men would listen to women about issues that affected women. Of course dignity and civility would be the primary mode of conversations." So, how did that work out? (Grokked from the Slactivist)

The water wars are here. At least in West Texas. Note they're discussing the Ogallala Aquifer and just how much damage we've done to that very slow filling subterranean water source. Also note that the original Keystone Oil Pipeline proposed route would have put part of the pipeline running through that same aquifer (only much farther north). (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Right to work laws explained. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bladesman Synopsis in 4/4 time

Gary Mullens, apprentice bladesman to the Hernandez Family, is caught in the middle when a Chinese Tong tries to take over a rebuilt San Francisco. The Tong's plan has been long in play and has caught the endemic criminal organizations off their guard. The gang war escalates with thrust, counter thrust and parry, but things don't look so good for the natives even as they attempt to form a coalition to save themselves. And if things weren't tough enough for Gary, he must also prove he's up to the challenge of being a bladesman, a position responsible for protecting the honor and security of the family, and try to finish his training without the help of his instructor and mentor.

The opposition has also deployed its most potent weapon, a magician. Against an enforcer who can wield the elements, all seems lost. The last person to fight and win against a magician was Gary's instructor, who was assassinated two weeks before the story starts. The Chinese Tong also throws in several red herrings to keep the Hernandez family guessing at who is responsible and what their play really is.

Gary teams up with the new Hernandez head of security and together they set to unwrap the puzzle before them. Piece by piece they build the whole picture while also fending off attacks, making strategic strikes against the tong, and trying to figure out where the magician is hiding and how to defeat him. The daughter of the Hernandez boss is kidnapped, and it appears that the civilian government, normally neutral in the machinations of the criminal families, has chosen to back the Chinese Tong.

Gary recruits the resources necessary to continue his training and help the Hernandez family figure out where the magician is hiding. While he leads the assault on the magician's hideout, Gary struggles to maintain the Hernandez's honor and be victorious. In winning Gary learns what price his new job will ask of him and that honor isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Okay, how's that? In four paragraphs I don't think I can do a whole plot structure, just give the feeling, the setup, and the resolution. Sound like something you'd like to read? Sound like something you'd plot $8 down to read?

Linkee-poo slides off the rails

First some personal and writerly updates (yeah, I know, I should do a separate post, but I'm tired and trying to rewrite the synopsis to be 5 or less paragraphs). Today I went up in the attic to see about adding two solar tubes to the living room. Our living room is dark even on the brightest day because we have no south facing windows. Without window treatments it's fine, but with curtains and sheers, those knock the light back enough that it's dark. However, to my dismay, because of our genius builder there's no easy way to get to that portion of the ceiling. At least without redoing the whole attic. Also, where I would be working, I would be practically lying down to fit. So that project is off the books until I can figure out how to do it.

And I finally heard back from the agent that requested the partial. They're passing on it. Fair cop. So now I'm reworking the synopsis to conform to the most strict requirements, and also jazzing up the language a little while I'm at it. For the new book I stared at the screen for an hour last night and nothing came. Then going to bed I got two ideas, but I didn't write them down so guess what happened. Also in a dream last night I was interviewing at a design studio and having a rough time of it convincing the owner I was more than creative enough to handle the job. Not a good omen.

The Google TiSP Network. A little early for April 1, but what the hell. (Pointed to by John)

Ray Garten on how to deal effectively with writers. Yes, this. Also note any "creative" endeavor could be substituted for "writers" in the article and it wouldn't change the sentiment or experiences one iota. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The sky just got deeper and fuller. (Pointed to by John)

The ecclesiastical history of gay marriage. You may remember that sometime in the early 90's the Vatican closed it's famed archives because researchers found evidence of same-sex marriage ceremonies blessed by the Church. Before that time the Vatican Archives were fairly open to all researchers. After that came out, they are fairly well closed to researchers. Just in case anyone tries to tell you about "traditional" marriage is only between a man and a woman (actually, until quite recently, it was a contract between the husband and father/guardian of the bride). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

While it's good that the Federal Government has cut Medicare block grants to Texas because they're violating their citizen's rights to that money. But, unfortunately as is in most cases, it's not the assnards who are responsible who will pay the price.

2012 or Never. On why the rhetoric from the fringe right is so apocalyptic this election cycle. "The (GOP) had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites… Meanwhile, the Democrats had increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees (ed note: one notable exception in my experience has been MBAs), particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. As a whole… the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP… By 2020—just eight years away—nonwhite voters should rise from a quarter of the 2008 electorate to one third. In 30 years, nonwhites will outnumber whites… Rather than adjust themselves to their slowly weakening position, (conservatives) chose instead to stage a decisive confrontation." It's a long, but interesting read and explains a lot, including the "We want our country back." It's not a flatter look at either side of the political spectrum, but is mostly on demographics and history. I see a few flaws with that Johnathan Chalt is saying, but I am seeing his overall point. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The weird games my mind and my perceptions play on me

Yesterday I received my first pay since having a promotion and raise. The raise was significant, and, hey, I"m a senior designer again. But through it all, no one discussed the actual money. At least not with me. When I heard second hand about the amount, I was ecstatic. Like I said, it was significant. I was told it would be $10,000 more.

So, as usual, the math side of my brain started to kick in. That would be an extra $6-$7000 a year. That's almost a motorcycle. Whoopie! We could do that, or finally go on a decent vacation. Yeah, one with air travel, somewhere out West or Southwest, or, heck maybe even the Canadian Rockies or Europe. Or we could go back to the more aggressive payment schedule for the house debt and finish out in 3.5 years instead of 5.5. Or, I could get the laptop I've had my eye on, and probably still finish out the loan early. Steve was a happy camper even as he was working his tail feathers off on several "special projects" (ie. projects that need to be done NOW, and projects that take precedent over the other pressing projects - or the reason why when people ask me "When do you think we could accomplish this long-term on-going project?" and I look at them like "How did someone with that level of intelligence get to be a manager?")

However, the raise was $10,000 more than my starting salary, not $10,00 from from current pay. Now, that's still about $8,000 more, or a little over 15% (and what now looks like an extra $4700 a year in take home). But I was very disappointed for some reason. And now I'm not all that happy as I was before (20% less happy? I don't know).

And I know the standard answer to rhetorical questions that hinge on "does this mean" is "yes", but does that make me a dick? Hell, just two weeks ago we had a round of layoffs, of which I was happy to keep my job. And then I get a promotion and an extra 15% in pay and my brain is thinking, "Well, that sucks." WTF is wrong with me? I still can make more aggressive payments on the debt, just not as aggressive as I originally thought. And while it might not be a motorcycle (at least not one less than 8 years old and above 600cc) it still more than what I was working for, and it more than replaces the money lost from the council gig.

Maybe that's the rub, it is just barely over what I made from council (which I lost at the beginning of the year when my term ran out). So, my brain did the long calculation and came up with it only being about 103% raise over what I made last year, and the realization of that was the cause of my not being as happy.

And yeah, I know, I should be damn happy that 1) I have a good paying job and 2) the recognize my value by giving me a good raise and promotion at the same time they're cutting back elsewhere and 3) I continue to have said job in this economy. And 4) I have a job that allows me to pursue (at least financially) my writing habit.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Linkee-poo is missing in action

Because I had to go out to get lunch, and with the various projects at work demanding my time, linkee-poo will be late, if at all, today.

Alligator Quotient: There has to be an invisible sun.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Culture War

Catherine Shaffer on "What if we threw a Culture War and nobody came." I respect Catherine, and Gods I wish I could see her point as valid here. I really do wish we lived in a world where her tactics would work. It's taken me a long time to realize that we don't. So instead of polluting her blog with my poisoned soul, I'll respond more fully here.

Sorry, reading my blogroll out of order here, so I just got to your argument here. Catherine, please understand that I agree with your sentiment. In an equal society, things would work well. However, the major point I would disagree with you is that we're not living in a free and open society any more than Voltaire was. As things stand now, we're operating under "Some people are more equal than others."

Also, as you state, "Getting back to the title of this post, what if we decide we don’t want a culture war? What if we refuse to wage it? What if, when faced with paranoid, hateful, intolerant speech, we turn and walk away? " I'm a student of history. Walking away never helped anyone. MLK, Ghandi, Jesus and Buddha didn't walk away. They engaged, and they used all the tricks in their book (and while they themselves didn't embrace or advocate violence, their acolytes did).

I'll also point out that all of the above engaged in economic warfare against their opposition. MLK with strikes and boycotts, sit ins and demonstrations. Ghandi sought to cripple the all important salt trade. Jesus threw the money lenders out of the Temple. And Buddha started from a position of high privilege.

I would love not to have this culture war. I like so many others are crying on the insides, "Didn't we go through this fire two decades ago? Wasn't it too painful to revisit?" However, in my case, the opposition doesn't care. They are engaged in war. They never stopped being engaged in war. To walk away is to hand them the field and the victory. If this was only about, "you think your way, I think my way, let's go our own ways," that would be one thing. This isn't about that. They want me to think their way. It's their goal to either force me to their opinions or to legally block me from my rights.

I don't want my nieces and nephews to have to "escort" women into clinics again, to bring this very much into the current fight. I and my friends had to do that. I'm tired of constantly fighting this battle. The opposition has set the terms and conditions of this war. They aren't in it to win hearts and minds. They've chosen scorched earth tactics. It's my choice as to how I proceed. I will not relinquish the field. The opposition has stated their goals and what they're willing to give up to achieve them. I've fought this war the good way once. We won. The opposition said they didn't care, licked their wounds, and counted on "my" (the royal me in this case) being tired of the fight. And they were right. They've gained back much of the ground.

I won't put my nieces and nephews through what I had to go through. They'll have their own battles to wage. So, do I continue press forward keeping nice only to lose what we fought so hard to gain?

No. I won't do it. Fuck the enemy. They choose to fight to the death. I'm now willing to oblige them. And if the world burns as a result? The fire is preferable to the cage. The war is here if we want it or not. I wish I could see non-violence as a viable path out of this one. The opposition has removed that option from the board.

And here I'll state that stating my opinions forcefully, waging economic and political war, actually is non-violence. It's only in comparison to my side's previously held tactics that it looks violent. This isn't a call to beat daylight into the skulls of the opposition (although I often have the fear it will come to that). But I'm no longer willing to "live and let live" because my opposition isn't willing to embrace that. In my view of the world, the opposition is perfectly fine to hold their beliefs and continue on their merry way. They haven't afforded me the same curtesy. They don't have the right. It's time someone reminded them.

Linkee-poo chose a gun and threw away the sun

Chuck Wendig's 25 things you should know about creativity.

How far away are we from Skynet? New report concludes that 51% of website traffic is from non-human sources. (Pointed to by John)

Mysterious hog farm explosions stump scientists. How can you not read an article like that? Exploding hog farms! It's Animal Farm terrorists, that's what. Well, and to be fair, they know why and how the explosions occur, they just don't know what's changed that causing a new foam to form on the top of poo pits. Still, I blame the terrorists. Or the evolutionists. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

WTF, conservatives? Arizona moves forward with a bill that will allow employers to fire female employees for using their insurance to get birth control pills that will be used for actual birth control. Hey, Nanny-state assnards (hey, look, John, I used your word), just what in hell do you think you're doing? Just another example of when a conservative tells you their worried about government control over your lives, they're really worried that you'll let them do it. It's like the DUI driver that asked to be put in jail before they kill again. So, you have to have the pill covered by insurance (you know, it's still a good idea because it lowers your overall liability/rates), but fuck it all if you actually use it? (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

I mean, seriously, are conservatives auditioning for the roles of Blue Meanies?

Yep, I guess so. And they're coming out in cattle call numbers.

You know, I was going to make the statement about "Wasn't this supposed to be about jobs." Notice, everybody, no jobs bill but damn if there isn't a lot of social conservative bills on all the Republican controlled Legislature and Governor's Office agendas. And then I realized, "Hey, I'm trying to reboot my career into radiologic tech, of which ultrasound is one of the certifications. Will all these mandated ultra sounds (notice, these health care mandates are coming from the very people who supposedly oppose health care mandates), they're creating jobs for me!" Yeah, don't need the extra job prospects. Thanks.

Catherine Shaffer is wise in her disagreement with my position on free speech. Just in case you wanted to see the opposite argument. Also, more on the conservative hypocrisy regarding boycotts. (Grokked from Jay Lake). I say, "goose, meet gander."

Under which administration did we have the highest gas prices? Why, if you have any memory at all, it was the GW Bush administration. You know, the Presidency that has been excised from conservative memories because of it's long storied embarrassments and counter-orthodoxy positions. Like how deficits don't matter. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Alligator Quotient: Snapping at things higher than my heels.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Linkee-poo has a crummy job, it don't pay near enough

And I'm working like a dog at that job, so not a long one today.

Also, I'd like to mention that last night I happen on that last sign of spring. The spring peepers are up and singing. There were several spots on the commute home where they drown out the radio.

Cat Rambo waxes on transitions and Joe Abercrombie. Transitions are a tough one, and it's a skill that I think plenty of us can work on. And now I go to put Joe Abercrombie on my to read list.

The title of this article is "The Reproduction of Privilege". IT should be, "The Reinforcement of Privilege." I should feel lucky. I'm probably from the last generation of kids from low income families that could go to college on grants and scholarships. That's not to say I wasn't saddled with over $15,000 of debt by the time I graduated (it was nearly 3x as much for my wife). But it was doable at the time (I still wonder how I did it). And that doesn't include the debt my Mom incurred when she was able, but just the loan amounts. And I think our country is poorer because kids like I was don't have the same opportunities (not only from a gross-finance perspective, but as evidenced by my experience with the local school system, because they're told they shouldn't even try and aren't given the tools to make the attempt). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

John Scalzi on how movie profits works. Also note, this is how most entertainment products (music, books, etc) work (although to different percentages).

"A lot of these things are in his heart." Ricky's statements about Holland's euthanasia "program" gets challenged by a Dutch reporter, only to be stymied by the Santorum spokesperson constantly repeating talking points only tangentially related to the question. So, what does that make a "Christian" who has falsehoods in their heart? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Ah, the fabled Reagan economy and recovery. Yeah, begin to see the hypocrisy? Hey, TPers, time to face reality. Who am I kidding, it's not about reality, is it. I mean, domestic oil production is significantly up under Obama's rules but the fringe-right likes to talk about how it's down.

Alligator Quotient: I'm draining the swamp while nobody is looking. That might help.

You Daily Dose of Irony



PMO Scientist Pest Control, for when those pesky scientists are about to ruin your well thought out political stance with their objective research, data, and projections. It's funny, because it's true. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

There goes Tokyo, go, go Rush Limbaugh

This whole issue of censoring Rush Limbaugh has gone way overboard. (Grokked from Jay Lake) First off, Limbaugh's speech is actually "commercial speech" (or it used to be before the Supreme Court decided that corporations were people endowed with every right as regular citizens, excepting the right to go to jail for violating the law, but I digress). This would be different if Rush was standing on a soap box at the local park spouting his poison at passersby. Instead, Rush is the head of a corporation, he is paid for his speech, and his speech sells products. That pretty much takes it out of regular "freedom of speech" categories and places it into "commercial speech." Fortunately for Rush, President Reagan helped push through a repeal of "truth in news" laws back in the 80s. If those were still in place, Rush wouldn't have a show (and neither would Fox News, but I digress again).

And even free speech has had it's limits. While everyone (okay, most people) know the infamous, "Can't yell fire in a crowded theater" argument, fewer people know that it's not just about panic but about incitement to riot, encouraging violation of laws (ask any civil rights leader about that one), and a few other categories. And we have plenty of things that we censor. Do you have a copy of the Anarchists Cookbook? Should you be allowed to send death threats or white powder through the mail? What about your right to tell a joke in line (just try to joke about a bomb in a TSA or Customs line - it's a felony)?

I don't think that the FCC should pull Clear Channel's license on the "public interest" argument (and this is frankly the first I've heard of that). However, I do believe it is our right to contact all those sponsors of Rush's show and let them know that because of their support, we won't buy their products or shop at their stores. That isn't censorship, that's the free market, baby. So I strongly disagree with the authors contention that this is morally wrong. Rush isn't being stopped from saying what he wants to say, we're just looking to remove his megaphone. There's a difference. Also, if you're a corporate sponsor, you are supporting that show. If we say, "I don't like these opinions and that reflects badly on you for supporting them," I don't see anything wrong about that. Suck it up, Buttercup.

I also disagree that it's wrong to stand up and refute someone's argument on stage. See, there's all those other people in the room and as we've seen at various conservative political events, those people also have the right to shout down the hecklers. All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good (people) to do nothing. And by not responding, if you sit there meekly on your hands, you're giving tacit approval to what is being said.

The radical right has coasted for too long on the left's willingness to be courteous and tolerant, while they have not reciprocated. How many people remember actual discourse before it was a shouting match? I do. The right no longer accepts that, and they shouldn't be given the courtesy. Eventually that "do unto others" gets turned into "as they have done unto you." So it's time to talk over them, as they do to us. It's time to not let them get away with three attacks and we only get to respond to one. It's time for our own GOPAC memo.

"Free speech means tolerating views that you despise." Bullshit. Free speech is I get to call you on being an idiot when you're being an idiot. Like I said, I'm against using the government arm to push Rush out of the public sphere. That is censorship that we shouldn't do. However, I'm not above using other means to remove the man's microphone. And that includes shouting him down, hitting him in his income stream, and exposing his lies. Free speech means knowing that people don't agree with you and have different opinions. I need to protect their ability to express those opinions. But nothing says I have to tolerate them. That is a false argument. In this case, we don't have free speech. Rush's radio show, his microphone, distorts the acceptance and prevalence of his views. The opposition voices start with a disadvantage. Rush's "free speech" drowns out other voices (just listen to how he handles callers who disagree with his opinions). Don't think that's true, just ask any stand-up comedian about hecklers. The person on the stage has the microphone, if you make it a "fair fight" the person with the microphone will always win out.

Conservatives in this argument like to throw out Bill Maher as an example. As someone said, "like a b-rated comedian on a c-rated show is a comparison for Rush Limbaugh's presence in the market place." Jon Stewart would be a closer comparison. But, hey, conservatives, pony up to the bar. You've actually have had Bill Maher thrown off the airwaves before. He keeps coming back, just as I expect Rush will too.

Jim Hines has a good primer on this (although he's specifically talking about his own blog - also this should not be taken as an endorsement by Jim Hines of the position I'm outlining here).

And finally, you want to see what censorship actually looks like? Here it is. (also grokked from Jay Lake) This isn't the first time Doonesbury comics have been taken off the comics pages. So, hear the conservatives shouting about this censorship? Nope, what you hear is them saying, "Ah, it was all well and good 'cause we wouldn't want to trouble anyone on the comics pages with reality and satire."

Linkee-poo is your one way ticket to midnight

Jim Van Pelt on one of the stories we tell ourselves. This time it's the "it has to be good, I worked very hard at it." I've had stories I've worked like a dog on, and they suck. In fact, I worked hard on them probably because I was trying to vacuum all the suck out of them. And then I failed. And then there's stories I've tossed off quickly that actually work quite well. And you know how they work quite well? Because I worked like a dog on all those stories that sucked. Working hard on something doesn't mean that thing will be good, but hopefully you will be better for having worked hard on it. (Grokked from Catherine Schaff-Stump)

The infographic on US manned space launches. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The ACA is reducing Medicare costs? It's doing what it was designed to do instead of turning us all into socialist? Shocked, shocked I am… (Pointed to by Dan) But that doesn't mean conservatives won't try to continue to flog a dead horse. (Grokked from Jay Lake) You know, Romney is basically running out the lie that helped get a lot of conservatives elected in 2010. Then they realized they themselves, by voting for the Ryan Budget, were vulnerable on the exact same point. To which they tried to say, "we need a truce on the Medicare scare thing." Live by the sword…

Hacking the judicial system by insisting on our rights. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"We struggle with the right words to describe the design process at Apple, but it is very much about designing and prototyping and making. When you separate those, I think the final result suffers." That's Jonathon Ive on industrial design. And it pretty much mirrors what I feel about graphic design, you have to own the whole process. In this post-computer design world, a designer needs to understand the whole process from branding, concept, production, and ink on paper or pixels on a screen. Mostly because in most houses, one person does the whole chain of what used to be four or five people's jobs. And it always astonishes me when I meet designers who don't understand this. How many times have I heard a designer lament that they just can't find a reliable printer that can make their designs work? Enough that I'm tired of hearing it. And it's typically because the designer has created an impossible design (ranges from "if all your lines are hairlines, chances are it's not going to work" to "color doesn't work that way on a subtractive media"). "…but one of the things that really irritates me in products is when I’m aware of designers wagging their tails in my face." Oh, yes. I so hear that. (Pointed to by John)

An NPR story on the pharmacology of phytochemicals (although they don't call them that). "(Sheila West's) study found that a spicy meal helps cut levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in the blood — even when the meal is rich in oily sauces and high in fat… It's good news for those of us who love a rich curry made with lots of turmeric or bold amounts of garlic and oregano. During the study, they used a blend that included these spices, as well as paprika, rosemary and ginger." Look, someone's actually doing the research on what people have known since before Marco Polo went in search of new spices in the Orient. Now, those people didn't know how they worked, or on what principles they functioned, but they new these things made them feel better and live longer. Of course part of the research is to find the exact part of these spices that work (because spices in and of themselves are not patentable). I know people look at me weird when I try to explain how food is a drug, but maybe this will make it easier.

"Everybody is so busy telling us how we should act in the bedroom, they’re letting the country fall through the cracks," said Fran Kelley… who voted for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama in the 2008 election. Of the Republican candidates this year, she added, "They’re nothing but hatemongers trying to control everyone, saying, 'Live as I live.'" Hi, welcome to the social-conservative agenda for America, you can pick up your American Burka at department stores now. And as you can see in all the states that went to GOP controlled Governors and Legislatures, the social issues are more important than the economic issues. Now as long as the economy continues to improve (did I mention the revising of the jobs created figures and the growth of the GDP for the past few months?) the conservatives will have to fight on their social agenda. They do have another arrow in their quiver, but I'm not going to help them by reminding them of their own policy goals. "'I’m looking for a candidate that will be honest, that will come out and say, "Yes, I support women, I want you advanced and not trampled upon,"' said Ms. Stevens, 63… 'I want candidates to tell me, "I’m not overturning Roe v. Wade." It’s there. Leave it there.'" Dear Ms. Stevens, you may have missed that it's a plank of the party platform to overturn Roe v. Wade. They've been working hard at it since 1984. They're almost there. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Right now, all (Obama and his campaign advisors) have to do is sit back as Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul claw each other for the right to oppose the president this fall." False. And this is the Democrats weakness. While Napoleon was correct in "never interrupt your opponent when they're making a mistake," there are three responses to seeing a house on fire. First is to do nothing and watch it burn. Next is to fight the fire and save what you can. The last option is to make sure the fire has enough oxygen to keep burning bright. Conservatives have been good at the last one, and Democrats need to learn. While in a fair fight you don't kick someone when they're down, politics is no longer a fair fight. At the very least we should be selling popcorn and drinks to all those people watching the fire. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Erich takes on The Lifespan of a Fact. When non-fiction crosses the line to "enhance" the truth.

From today's Writer's Almanac, it's the birthday of Janet Flanner, who said of all her journalism work she was more proud of her 1936 piece on Hitler. "…he says he regards liberalism as a form of tyranny, hatred and attack as part of man's civic virtues, and equality of men as immoral and against nature… His moods change often, his opinions never. Since the age of twenty, they have been mainly anti-Semitic, anti-Communist, anti-suffrage, and Pan-German. He has a fine library of six thousand volumes, yet he never reads; books would do him no good — his mind is made up." Just in case you believe the conservative canard that Fascism is a "liberal" thing. They are diametrically opposed.

Tweet of my heart: @ReadtheShorts: "The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It's the lack of a DEADLINE." Chris Baty

Alligator Quotient: Eye to crocodile-teary eye.

Sure signs of spring

Now that the political signs have bloomed and withered in the great state of Ohio, the other signs of spring have returned. For the past two weeks the hawks have been passing through. I've seen Redtail, Marsh, and Sharps hawks on the wing and perched by the roadside waiting for someone to hit their dinner. The redwing blackbirds have also been back for a week or two, but yesterday I heard them start their electrical buzz of courting songs. And on Sunday I saw the first turkey vulture (aka buzzard to us in NE Ohio). This Sunday is when the buzzards return to Hinkley (or at least the pancake breakfast fundraisers for it).

I've been hearing robin song all winter long (robins don't migrate, but follow their food sources to the deep woods, since it wasn't so cold this year, they didn't move very far). And my grass didn't die back as hard (note to self, if somewhat dry this weekend, I should go out and rake the rest of the leaves off the lawn before they create dead spots).

This morning I noticed a lot of field have been disced already. There was water in the fallows, so I don't think they'll be planning right away, but the farmers are getting ready. Last year many of them couldn't get their crops in because of the rain. I suspect they'll put them in the first chance they get (and risk a freeze).

I haven't noticed any of the flowers popping out yet, but then I haven't looked very hard. And now that it's getting warmer it's time to start gearing up for the house improvement projects of this year. On deck is adding solar tubes to the living room ceiling (we don't have a southern facing window, so the main room is dark even in bright daylight, it's time to remedy that). I'll be putting in two 14" tubes and we'll see how much light that lets in. And I have to finish taking out the cement pad out back and put in the stone (ie. brick) patio. I'm also thinking of putting in crushed stone walkways to the composting heaps and the shed. I'm going to have to get a lot of stone delivered, might as well double the order and get those two projects out of the way and only pay one delivery charge.

So what's on your plate this Spring?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Newt Gingrich Is Full of Crap

Okay, one of the things Newt is promising he'll do is bring gas down to $2.50 and make us less dependent on "foreign oil" (and here we'll continue to include Canadian imports, because we really can't quit the Canadians without making us more dependent on places like Venezuela, African West Coast countries, and the dreaded Middle-East). About every price fluctuation of $10 a barrel translates to $0.25 in gas prices. Light sweet oil is about $106 a barrel right now. Current average gas price is $3.80. Okay, so to get to $2.50 a gallon oil prices per barrel would need to be reduced by approximately $52. Sounds doable, right?

Wrong. That gives us a per barrel price of $54. To keep oil flowing from the Canadian Oil Sands the price per barrel needs to be above $70. Let's say they're making 15% profit at $70, that gives us a break even point of $59.50 a barrel to mine that oil (if they'll continue to pump the stuff for costs, anybody believe they'll do that?). Canada accounts for over 20% of all our imported oil (they are by far and away the largest single contributor to our imported oil).

All that "domestic oil" that people are salivating over? That's shale oil which costs even more to produce (notice not much is being made from shale oil). Deep sea oil drilling? Not really economical for below $60 a barrel (for what we're exploring now, all the cheeper oil is being produced). PRetty much all the new oil we're looking for in the US has a bottom base price of around $60 (median, some areas are as low as $30, some as high as $80 with most being on the upper end).

So, let's say Gringrich is actually able to wave his fairy wand and make gas $2.50 a gallon (let us not discuss the over control of the market that would be necessary here, and how antithetical that control is to conservatives). Domestic oil exploration ceases. Canadian oil imports dry up (which might be good for Canada who still imports much of their oil, oddly enough). And we'll be at the mercy of countries that actually do hate us.

So, still think Gingrich has great ideas? He's farting in the pews and everybody is thinking that someone delivered roses.

Unless we have a severe program for conservation, somehow make cars that get over 80mpg, or everybody stops driving and our economy crashes to the ground, we aren't going to see $2.50 gas anytime soon. If ever again.

And before anybody says, "but if we produce more domestically…", look, oil is sold on a world market. Doesn't matter where it's produced. The only difference is that we'll stop making other countries rich from our oil habit. At best we can hope for is $2.80 a gallon. And unless we stop speculators (which is the real reason oil prices are above $80 a barrel), we won't see that either. And does anybody believe that with the current political environment that we'll be able to reign in commodity speculators?