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Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Linkee-poo knows it's gonna be all right

Passive aggressive wifi networks. Ha! (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

I bang on religion a lot here, it's difficult to explain why in less than doctoral dissertation length. But here is one reason why I think, for some people, religion is so necessary. It's the personal story of a yakuza (which got me to look at the video). For him, religion is his salvation in a very true, concrete way. And, IMHO, he's approaching it correctly. It's a journey that begins anew every day. If only American Evangelicals, as a majority, could embrace that vision and that humility (yes, I know several who do that) our world could be very different. (Grokked from Catherine Schaff-Stump)

He kids, ever want what those floppy disk things are that your parents keep on asking where they are on your computer? Here's a nice history. And, ZOMG, I used all of those (tape, 8", 5.25" and 3.5", not to mention punch cards). (Pointed to by John)

What's wrong with the rich these days? "What Halliburton did for U.S. Army logistics, school privatizers will do for public education. A century ago, at least we got some attractive public libraries out of Andrew Carnegie. Noblesse oblige like Carnegie’s is presently lacking among our seceding plutocracy." And that, friends, is from an article in The American Conservative. There's a lot of truth to power in there, but unfortunately the power has hundreds stuck in their ears and they're laughing their way to the bank. "Schwarzman benefits from the so-called 'carried interest rule' loophole… (and takes his) compensation in the form of capital gains rather than salaries, thus knocking down (his) income-tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. But that’s not the only way Mr. Skin-in-the-Game benefits: the 6.2 percent Social Security tax and the 1.45 percent Medicare tax apply only to wages and salaries, not capital gains distributions. Accordingly, Schwarzman is stiffing the… Social Security system that others of his billionaire colleagues… say is unsustainable and needs to be cut." Highly recommended reading and nobody gets away clean in the article, just so you know. (Grokked from Sam Butler)

"(L)ow-wage jobs have not been growing especially quickly in this recovery; they account for such a big share of job growth mostly because midwage job growth has been so slow… Since 2001, employment has grown 8.7 percent in lower-wage occupations and 6.6 percent in high-wage ones. Over that period, midwage occupation employment has fallen by 7.3 percent… A recent study found that this polarization accelerated in the last three recessions…" A new study show most of the jobs created are at the lower (and then higher) end of the pay scales. There's not much in the middle anymore. (Grokked from Matt Staggs - I think)

Republicans believe you have a choice and that this country is based on individual freedoms. Except in the case of abortion. I normally don't really like gotcha politics, but that Daily Show piece is just so incredibly precious. For a party that likes to believe of themselves that they have internal consistency, the duplicity here is just amazing. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

The lies of Romney. Warning, it's a long article. Not because the refutation requires lots of justification but because Romney lies so much. I've heard lots of people say, "Well, all politicians lie." And that's partially true is you include view point issues and promises. What you'll see in that article is Romney is lying about things that are demonstratively proven false. This isn't a "he said, she said", Romney's looking at the sky and saying it's yellow (okay, bad choice, because sometimes the sky is yellow). Okay, maybe it's more like he's saying "one and one equals ostrich." Yeah, that's more like it. This is the view from inside the bubble. The problem is, I don't think Romney knows the truth or wants to know it when he's pointed towards it.

533 factual instances of Mitt’s mendacity. More on Romney's lies. His running mate is starting to catch up in that count. And then there are lies and video tape.(Grokked from Jay Lake)

The Rolling Stone article on Mitt Romney. "He's Gordon Gekko, but a new and improved version, with better PR…" With more on how Bain Capital and other private finance companies work (hint, it's all about sticking the other guy with the check). You know, exactly what they accuse Obama of doing, but here's the thing, they know how to do it better (read: borrow even more money to pay themselves and stick the kids with the debt). (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Think I'm over doing it, well, what does Fox News have to say about it? "On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold… The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth." Granted, that's an opinion piece by one of those commentators that Fox News brings on to give the appearance of "fairness," however they don't often give them such a megaphone. (Pointed to by John)

I'm pointing these things out not because I enjoy it. As I've said, I really wish this was a campaign of ideas. I just wish the conservatives were will to join in that, but instead they give us this. What hasn't been said so far is this is the Romney Campaign's response to the vicious and brutal primary they went through. They learned their lesson then (but didn't learn how to do it well), and they haven't realized that people are starting to pay attention and the general election is a whole 'nother different animal. What worked when only the wonks were watching is different than when the country (most of whom couldn't give two squats for politics) are watching.

The crazy has no bottom. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Tweet of my heart: @chrisrockoz: If you vote against Obama because he can't get stuff done, it's like saying, "this guy can't cure cancer. I'm gonna vote for cancer."

Alligator Quotient: They're not keeping up with the commuting schedule.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Linkee-poo, we can hang around by the pool

And early linkee-poo, because we're getting chock-a-block full up on the crazy.

Jay Lake shares some of the hard thoughts and situation reality going forward. That must have been a damn hard post to write. Thanks for sharing the process, Jay. And as always, I'll continue to hope for the best for you, no matter which direction that hope needs to go.

As a personal note, the only reason I'm not crying just at this moment is I am in a hallway at school about to go into lab. Fuck cancer. Goddamn fuck it that someone close to my age needs to deal with this. Because it sucks that we won't get to know Jay better (I've only met him in person at two cons, and didn't get much time even then, but he's a hoopy frood and those are always good to know). It sucks that we won't have more books and stories by Jay (we've already have lost some due to the time he's been in chemo). Some people feel these times bring them closer to whatever god they believe in. I'm not one of those people.

Donald Maas has a new writing book coming out and Writers Digest has an excerpt.

Have an ebook you're flogging? Here's a promotion, the-cheap.net is starting up their Santa Sampler program and are looking for ebooks their readers can sample and give feedback. The link is to their posting on Absolute Write. It looks like the-cheap.net will be asking their readers a few questions about your sample, like if they would be interested in reading the rest of your book.

The Electric Velocipede's kickstarter with some interesting support level gifts. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Readers do not owe one thing to an author. Robison Wells is wise. You want to see what authors do, go to a convention. Watch authors playing with each other, and then watch authors up on the podium. Especially the guests of honor. While authors are playing with each other, in my experience, they're having fun or whinging or being real, but when they're up on the podium that's the dancing bear routine. When I'm a panelist I'm trying to hold my own in a field crowded with Very Smart People™ saying Very Smart Things™. I've been on panels that everybody is very respectful of each other and I've seen panels where the exact opposite is in effect. But in the end, it isn't about the panelists… ever. It's about the audience, the readers and consumers of what we do. The panelists are there for the audience. Our job is to excite, inform, but above all else, be entertaining. The same is true when we write. Do we try tricks, do we do things for our own enjoyment? Sure. But the ultimate goal is to give the reader entertainment (note: there are many values of "entertainment"). In case you ever want to study people who do this well I suggest watching Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, and David Hartwell to name three people. Especially if you get to see John do his GoH schtick. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

It's not from Life Hacker, but it is a good tip. I guess there's a right way to eat Tic-Tacs. Who knew? Mentioned here because I've been using Tic-Tacs as a way to subvert the "getting a snack" impulse. I've found that what I craved was flavor. And while TT doesn't come in many, there are some nice ones. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

The arctic sea ice just hit a record low and why it matters. If you want the short hand, it's called an amplifying event. Also see #3, "In the past, scientists have underestimated the pace at which Arctic sea ice would disappear." Expect to hear how the "predictions were wrong" from the conservatives, who will conveniently forget to mention the predictions painted too rosy a picture. Also note #5 "The changing Arctic could lead to more extreme summers and winters in the United States and Europe." I guess it was a good thing I got the big snow thrower then. (Pointed to by Dan)

"However, several studies investigating economic mobility across a range of countries have found that Americans are less mobile than many of their European counterparts.2 Comparing rates of relative mobility across countries—a measure of how likely a child’s rank on the income distribution will mirror that of his or her parents’—shows that Americans are more likely than citizens of several other nations to be stuck in the same position economically as their parents." (link it to a Pew Charitable Trusts report PDF) America, fuck yeah! Oh, wait. I'm sure this will be spun by the conservative as "see what's so terrible about the Obama Administration" all the while ignoring this report is about generational differences (ie. 20 year spans). Oh, and it was published last year. As tweeted, "@HansRosling: Study finds it easier for West European kids than for US kids to achieve the American dream." (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"The goal (of a news site hack) wasn't to draw attention to an otherwise ignored issue, or simply for the lulz; the hack was done to sow confusion and to poison the information stream… A black hat hacker could… create a network of Twitter bots set to retweet each other on command,… and drive up the visibility of certain hashtags and keywords. Done with the right target and message, and at the right time, such a network could potentially trigger sudden swings in value of targeted shares. The drop in value need not last for long; trading systems that know the stories to be false could swiftly snap up the briefly-undervalued stock. Conversely, the attack could be done in a way to cripple a particular company or stock market, or even to distract journalists from another story." This is where hackers do their best work, on the social network. And now with lots of systems becoming automated with little human oversight, hacking reality is going to come at more regular intervals. (Grokked from Cherie Priest)

Since I made the comment a while back, I guess NOM actually did call to have "every Wednesday be a Chik-fil-a day." How's that working out? Yeah, I haven't heard anything about it either (article is from the 14th of August). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Hey big spender. Okay, well, the survey is just of individuals, and conservatives spend more per person when they visit strip clubs than do progressives, but there's no data about how many of each. I mean, you'd only need three conservatives to make up the revenue of nine progressives. But if your bar is packed with progressives, it might be better that way. I don't know. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Eric sums up the "need" for voter ID laws and how they relate to a Tea Party mentality. They are, after all, the true Americans. It's simply inconceivable to them that there's a diversity of opinion about anything. Everyone they know, everyone they interact with, everyone they look to for news and opinion, falls into a fairly narrow range of belief with a few eccentric outliers… The other explanation (for their candidate losing an election) is that there are shenanigans at work, that millions of votes were the product of fraud and/or that millions of voters were deceived; this explanation… also means you're right, and your values could only be thwarted through deception and treachery… the teabaggers… are never going to understand they're a minority within a party that itself faces some danger of becoming a minority, and so every election they lose… will be a sign to them the enemy has gotten wilier… they're going to think the problem is the frauds are far more insidious and widespread than they dared imagine, and they'll get worse and worse in their attempts to weed it out. Imaginary enemies are as hard to kill as they are perversely comforting to have in the first place.

And here it may be apropos to relink to Christine Lavin's We are the true Americans.

Catherine Schaff-Stump had a pretty similar response to the (rescheduled) opening night of the RNC.

Just in time for the election season, Janiece gives us a handy-dandy election language primer.

"Four years ago, describing Obama’s election as a risk was met with public disapproval. Today, questioning his very legitimacy has become a mainstream position pushed by some prominent elected officials in the Republican party." On how dissing the president has become mainstream. I can hear the conservative yowls when like is given for like. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"'The demographics race we’re losing badly,' said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). 'We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.'" Well, at least some one in the GOP is being realistic. "'The Republican line is that the overwhelming majority of blacks will vote for Obama because he is African American,' (Raynard Jackson, a black GOP political consultant) wrote. 'I find this thinking extremely insulting as a black Republican. The reason the majority of blacks will vote for Obama is because Republicans have not given African Americans a reason to vote for Republicans or Romney.'" Well, and they haven't given many of the rest of us a good reason either. (Grokked from Jason Sanford)

Hey, I have an idea, now that some conservative governors are trying to walk back their obvious request for waivers on welfare, let's reply, "Oh, hey, sorry, misread your request to HHS Secretary Sebelius, you're approved request for a waiver is rescinded. Good luck with your request in Congress." Seriously, they wanted a waiver to be granted by Congress? I'm sorry, didn't you all pass civics class? And then there's the continuing attack ads against the President folksily stating he's "gutting welfare reform." And the comment "'Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,' (Ashley O'Connor, a top television advertising strategist for Romney), said." Or in other words, "I reject your reality and substitute my own" (quote from Adam Savage, not made in conjunction with the linked article). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"In sum, (Ann Romney) offered up a description of what feminists call 'systemic sexism,'… If it was Gloria Steinem saying the same words… Rush Limbaugh would be having an on-air heart attack… A thousand well-coiffed Fox News anchors would be rushing on air to denounce this liberal nonsense about a 'war on women.' Yet, there Ann Romney was, acknowledging that even conservative women know it to be true… She described sexism in fairly blunt terms." Unfortunately Ann seemed resigned to "It's how it is, isn't it?" No, Ann, it doesn't have to be. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

I'm so glad this election won't be about race, as our conservative friends love to tell us it isn't. Cause that would be bad. Although, good on the RNC for tossing those attendees. (Grokked in a roundabout way from Morgan J Locke)

Tweet of my heart: @Stonekettle: Honestly, is there anything more heartwarming than rich people reminiscing about how rough they had it in college?

Alligator Quotient: It's early in the day and they're still sluggish.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Linkee-poo will go out to meet her when she comes

Elizabeth Shack shares good writing resources and as a reminder to myself and everyone new here about them. There's Duotrope which is excellent for finding markets. Although I see they want you to sign up now. So'kay. I'll do then when I have shorts to flog around. Short stories. Geez, get your mind outa my gutter. The OWW SF&F workshop which is a well respected online writing workshop. A list from the Romance Writers of America about their online workshops. And if you want to bang on romance writers, don't let me know. RWA are cool people. And frankly, many genre writers would kill to have the sales numbers of romance authors. Plus, did I mention they're nice people (they even give an award for genre writing). And a new to me forum, Forward Motion. And I'll add one more here, Absolute Write. If you can get into the Cooler, all the better. Jaleigh Johnson has some more. (that's what I get for not reading all of my backlog first)

Ann VanderMeer lands at Tor.com. That's fabulous for all sides (Ann, Tor.com, and writers). Congrats, Ann. Well deserved and well done.

On book reviews and not feeding the trolls. I haven't been in this business very long, but here's one thing I've learned. Not everybody will love everything you do. And that's okay. Frankly, there are a few authors that I've read and wondered who pays them to write this drivel (usually followed by fervent prayers to the Muses to be so afflicted with a wildly successful novel) (Grokked from Absolute Write)

The UofM's librarycomputer and video game archives. Cool. And I know people who work in the UofM's library system. Double score! Have I mentioned how much librarians rock? (Pointed to by Dan)

The Apple Genius Manual. While the article makes this all sound so sleazy, there's a lot of retail stores that have manuals and training like this. Starbucks is another one. The only way they differ is in how deep and in what direction they go, but they're all focused on providing an "experience" to the customer, and getting that customer to feel they're cared about. (Pointed to by John)

Some links about the RNC going on right now. "Sheriff Gee also sent a message to those coming to protest: 'To the agitators and anarchists who want only to bring a dark cloud to this event, let me be clear: criminal activity and civil disturbances will not be tolerated and enforcement actions will be swift.'" Anybody want to lay bets on how many civil rights cases will be logged against the sheriff this week? Yes, the sheriff is emptying his jails of the good, honest criminals so they can process those rabble rousers who may be exercising their 1st Amendment freedoms. And then where are the Tea Partiers? "There is one problem with such rationalities: They contradict the (Tea Party) movement's belief that to change the system, it must be blown up… For them, political patience was not a virtue." Has the Tea Party sold out? Only their grass roots people who believed they were working for something more. And just in case you thought Romney chose Ryan for anything other than burnishing his Conservative Cred, Ryan exposes his wingnuttiness in an interview. While the main article is going on about how Ryan is basically touting what Akin tried to sell, there's also a lot more in there. Like, "we can burn coal cleanly." Really? When did that happen? Ryan has drunk the kool-aid and found it sweet. And then you have the records of the other speakers coming to light. "Strange to say, however, Mr. Christie has told reporters that he won’t use the term 'Jersey comeback' in his keynote address. And it’s not hard to see why: the comeback, such as it was, has hit the skids." That's usually what happens when reality hits conservative ideals. One or the other comes crashing down. But then, the conservative poo-flinging machine is just getting into second gear. Their strategy is to fling so much disinformation and FUD screaming that it either confuses everybody or disheartens them so that they don't go to the polls. This is like giving the bully your lunch money because they make you afraid of keeping it.(Grokked from Jay Lake)

"A group of coal miners in Ohio feel they would have been fired if they did not attend an Aug. 14 event with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and contribute to his campaign — and to make matters worse, they lost of day of pay for their trouble." Ah, unfettered business at its best. and now you know why people form unions to protect themselves from stupid shit like this and return respect to the workplace. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"First they came for our foreskins, now it’s communism via email!… Why is it that those folks who think of themselves as the biggest bestest Americans are always the first ones to talk about revolution and revolt when they think they’re going to lose an election?" Jim Wright on the seeming rise of teh crazy. Or as I call 'em, the freeze-dried whackaloons. The right has become unhinged. No, really, it's getting to the point that I was about to sell psycho-trama sign bingo cards for the convention. And the people at the convention are supposed to be the cream of the crop. Yeah, I'd say most of them are about a half bubble off plumb.

"Like most of what the federal government is on the hook to fix — highways, bridges and airports — the dome is imperiled both by tough economic times and by a politically polarized Congress. While Senate appropriators have voted to repair the dome, which has not undergone major renovations for 50 years, their House counterparts say there is not money right now. In that way, the dome is a metaphor for the nation’s decaying infrastructure." Now we know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. I'd love to turn you on. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Alligator Quotient: Still running for all I'm worth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Linkee-poo will be your honeybee, if you'll be my honeysuckle

Must keep telling myself this. IIRC, in Tobias Buckell's survey of when authors first sold a novel, the average was novel number 3 with a mean of 5. (Grokked from Mer Haskell)

The Stop Predending Art Is Hard t-shirt. Bwahahaha. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

Catherine Schaff-Stump shares a squib by Gerald Warfield with a description and his experiences with the Odyssey Writing Worshop.

Nathan Bransford describes the publishing process with animated gifs. (Grokked from John Joseph Adams)

Justine Larbalestier on the supposed powers of (negative) reviews. Some views from the "so, you've had your book published, now what?" side of the equation.

Have a really bad plot idea? Hey, now you can win a book with it. And the book is the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents. You know, so you can inflict your bad plot line on them. Or you could win a query/synopsis critique.

Vince reminds us just why the Oxford comma is important. Yeah, you really don't want that.

This is why you hire professionals to handle your events. Here is Kate Upton and Irina Shayk at a launch party for the Samsung Galaxay. Note what phone Kate Upton is actually using. It's sitting on the couch next to her, in case you don't see it. There's a PR person that's looking for a new job.

Eleven things you didn't know about the Apollo 11 moon landing. Actually, I did know a number of those, but then I'm a geek. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

And continuing that theme, some of the most badass moments in space. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Erich makes the cogent argument of why being a CEO doesn't really prepare you for political office. Also, okay, I was going to do a post on this but I might be able to short hand it here. This is what a private equity firm does. They find a company who is sound on all other aspects except one, finance. Typically because of debt or cash flow issues. They then buy the company, which relieves the debt or cash flow issues. Then they leverage the shit out of the company (that is, they take out new debt on the company) to pay themselves a profit. The company then (with or without the equity firm's help) then must both meet profitability goals and repay all that debt the prevail equity firm took out. And just to be clear about this, it's all debt driven. That's right, the guy whom the conservatives of the "get us out of debt" stripe are nominating is the guy who got a lot of companies into a lot of debt. Some of them made it out, some of them didn't. That's his business experience. (Of course there's always other examples, but that's how private equity makes money from the companies they buy, they borrow it)

Ten pieces of bad news for the Romney Campaign. Although #9, as long as Romney can keep vague on just what he'll cut, everybody will be able to self delude themselves (again) into thinking the cuts will only affect those lazy people, not themselves. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @cstross: Economics of spam. Spam industry: $200M global annual revenue. Cost to society of dealing with the damage: $20Bn. Auto theft: $8-12Bn.

Alligator Quotient: Still outpacing them. Maybe I'm fooling myself and they're about to lap me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Linkee-poo's been down one time, been down two times, never going back again

The three Neils. It's often easy to overlook that Neil Armstrong was an Ohio boy. Unlike John Glenn, Neil shunned the spotlight. I think that has a lot to do with his bright smile.

"What I've learned to fear above all at business meetings is the average Power Point presentation." Me too. Roger Ebert on the lip flap. Unfortunately with the advent of many ways to get in contact with people, his and Gene Siskel's aversion to getting voice mail asking you to call back only to be given a message that could just as easily been left on the voice mail has only been multiplied. Like getting an IM telling me someone is about to call to ask if I've seen their email. And yes, that happens. At least once a week. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Imagine Cleveland without the Cleveland Clinic…" That would be horrendous. The Clinic is Cleveland (or at least the East side of Cleveland). (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

Well, it's good to know that that GOP Leaders aren't just against Latinos and refighting Civil Rights. It appears they're still fighting the Indian Wars. Really? New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez meeting with local Native Americans, which is a meeting required by law, somehow disrespects Col Custer according to Republican National Committee leader Pat Rogers? Okay, one, IIRC Custer didn't fight in the Southwest. And you may also need to know that the Indian Wars are over. Like, long over. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

I've often commented to second amendment type people that if, Brid forbid, I was ever involved with an active shooter to please do not return fire. Mostly because I didn't want to get shot in the ass as I ran away screaming like a little girl. I also believe that civilians, who typically don't practice nearly as much or in combat situations as police are required to do, are only going to add to the tragedy, not end it. The NYPD admit that except for the murder victim, all other nine of the casualties were caused by the police. Now, Jeffrey Johnson did pull a gun on the officers, so they were within their rights and operating procedures to return fire. But remember, police are required to re-certify in firearms every year (at least here in Ohio). Many of them practice every week. Linked here because I know I'm going to need it in the future. (Grokked from Chia Lynn)

"I feel like I am, as a reporter in the Capitol, lied to every day, all day. There is so little genuine discussion going on with the reporters… To me, as a reporter, everything is spin.” Andres Seabrook on her years of reporting from the Capitol. Yeah, it's like that for us, too. (Grokked from Morgan J. Locke)

An interesting squib on the old guard Republicans fearing what their marriage of convenience with the Tea Party will do to them. There's this quote that's apropos, I think you've heard of it. "Live by the sword, die by the sword." Wither goes G. W. Bush? He's the unremarked elephant in the room. "A guy who was hailed in 2000 as the first real conservative since Reagan, and in 2004 as the second coming of Winston Churchill, was all but dead to the GOP by 2008." And then there's the next conservative presidential wannabe who is dog whistling his way to the election. "Nothing is more substantial than character. By pandering to the ignorance and bigotry of the most fearful segment of the electorate, Governor Romney has raised the character issue… There is a simple reason why no one has ever questioned Governor Romney’s birth certificate–he’s a white Republican male." And then you have the prospect of what will happen if Romney becomes President. "A dark thought: the Neocons have glommed onto Mitt Romney and will come to power if he does, and they still desperately want a war on Iran." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @MorgonFreeman: If you think reading is boring, you're doing it wrong.

Alligator Quotient: They're all just gonna have to keep up with me.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hitting the hard reboot

After a crazy summer, things are about to get crazier. Tomorrow I start back to classes. That means mornings in class and afternoons/evenings at work.

What this means to you, dear reader, is that the publishing schedule will get even more erratic than before. You may think that's not possible, but trust me, it is. I apologize in advance for missed days and skimpy content.

On the positive side of the reboot, I did get a scholarship. It's not much but it looks like it'll cover the difference between the total tuition bill and what Bette's employee discount pays. So there's still the fees and books (those are enough), and not to mention the extra gas to cover the extra commutes between school and work. Hopefully on that last expense, the day thing will be supplying a laptop to facilitate "working from home" (ie. sitting in a study carrel between class and lab). I've been told this will happen, but haven't seen the laptop yet. If it does, that'll have be about 3 hours on the road that I could apply to getting 40 hours in (without having to work Saturdays… which I'll have to do in the last part of the semester.

Am I freaked out? Yes I am. I have no idea how I'm going to make this work as more and more details come out about what is required. And then I also start wondering if I really do have this level of exertion left in me. When I was younger, it wouldn't have been a problem. It would have hurt, but I'd drive through it. These past few weeks I'm not so sure. I'm hoping it's because my weight has been up and as I get some more exercise I'll feel a lot better about it.

Not everything got done that needs to be done. Hopefully some of it will be okay to hold off until the end of the semester. And what can't wait we can hopefully deal with in the limited time we have.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

One small step

Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has left the building.

One of these days we'll go and see your footsteps and remember the first human to step out onto the surface of another world. And when that happens, kids everywhere will begin dreaming of adventure again.

Godspeed Neil. The stars won't be as bright without you.

Weekend Linkee-poo said you can keep my things, they've come to take me home

Here's a bundle of writing links for you, all on the same topic. So here are three links about plotting, story, and getting started. Alexandra Sokoloff with a plotting checklist. I started doing this with one novel but didn't get very far. Maybe is I go through the list I could get the basic outline finished. Rachael Aaron with the difference between story and plot. And lastly, Chuck Wendig's 25 way to plot plan and prep your story (from before I started reading Chuck regularly). (Grokked from Miranda Suri)

Of some interest to my novel, Bladesman, the Japanese try to crack down on the yakuza. Unfortunately the Japanese organized crime syndicates are highly entrenched. A comparable event would be like trying clean up organized crime in America during Prohibition. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And interesting (and quick) squib on the rise of the mass market paperback. Of general writerly interest, look at the numbers of books sold. Also notice the importance of the distribution channels to the success of the new format (and books in general). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Okay, fine, you can do this on purpose but really, you shouldn’t, because doing something like this on purpose means chasing trends and writing only to a market and becoming a brand and standing on a platform and cobbling together a product rather than a story and basically just, y’know, hammering a circle peg into a square hole — so don’t." Chuck Wendig on writing to the market.

New flexible batteries. What will they think of next? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Going public with depression. Monsters are more scary in the dark than in the light. "Among a million other things I wish he'd lived to see is the community of souls online, generously baring and sharing their depression struggles with strangers." There's lots of links at the bottom of that page, in case you may need them. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

There was an interesting series on Marketplace this week about paychecks. That's a story on sharing what you earn (including who is sharing what about your salary). Also please note who objects to sharing salary information. There's also a part about how with Frank-Dodd publicly traded companies will need to share their salary ratio (what the top exec makes compared to what the rest of the people make). One of the interviewees says how embarrassing it'll be so we shouldn't do it. Um, no, that's exactly the point of sharing it.

Look, Aiken is just the tip of the iceberg. You know, like the old timey really big icebergs. "So when Republicans start kicking out members like Broun, Kingston, Bachmann, Shimkus, Barton, Gohmert and Allen West… I'll know they're serious about cleaning up their party… Until then, they should stop picking on Todd Akin. He's just playing by their rules. And they're only making noise about it because he may cost them the Senate." (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Also on Marketplace, as quick story on police using automatic license plate scanners.

And with other business news, sometimes tragedy is good for profits. It's one thing to position your company to make a profit, it's another to realize that someone's struggle for survival is your enhanced profit, it takes a sociopath to be joyful about it and shiver with anticipation. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And just a final note of this week's Romney toe-tipping into birtherism, it's just another example of his dog-whistling. Dear Mitt, you can continue to jab in the spotlight and "clarify" off camera when nobody is really paying attention, and you'll continue to look like the despicable person you are. At least McCain had the decency to counter bigotry when he heard it, in the same room, and at the time it happened. You know, before the spotlight moved on.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Three! Three things make a post, ah ha ha ha

It's coming up on the Great Geauga County Fair time. How do I know? The Amish boys have been drag racing on the back roads for the past few weeks. Sure, coming over a hill to come face to face with two dragging roadsters is one thing, image it if wasn't roadsters by horse carts (trotter rigs). Tonight on the way home, they were also burning fires, clearing up the brush.

I mentioned on twitter that I had bought a new computer (hurrah!). However, whenever I do nice things for myself, there tends to be smiting in proportion to the cost or joy (or both) that I get from getting myself nice things. Some people may have thought I was being over dramatic. Ask me what went to hell this week. Let's begin with the water heater fritzing out the next day. So it has been having problems before, but we had cleared out what was causing issues (installers didn't follow code). However, the garbage that had gone through was causing other problems. Brought in service tech that helped us get up to code. Long story, but after paying for expedited shipping twice (see earlier rant on Sears Parts not being very customer oriented), one part, the most important part, didn't work. But so far the old part seems to be working again. Work sort of exploded this week and now the week before going to class I'm exhausted again. And did I mention that this morning that my check engine light went on? Oh, and I nearly forgot to go get my second TB injection. So, a banner week.

But the new MacAir is nice. However, my old laptop is so old, the migration assistant won't recognize it. Now besides going through getting everything working, there's also a lot of data I can't forward into the new machine.

And finally, not only did Phyllis Diller pass this week (another Hollywood Square goes dark), but so did Jerry Nelson. Next week will be a lot less funny.

Linkee-poo's heart was going boom boom boom

Sorry, still slammed, now with extra car troubles.

The ten myths about space travel that make SF better. Cry havoc and release the handwavium. (Grokked from Tor.com)

A new study shows that how we remember music is very different that how we remember other things. Unfortunately, these experiments are conducted using people who experience traumatic brain injury (because it's unethical to intentionally damage someone's brain). So while it's only based on one person, most of the rest of this type of research has panned out in the past. (Pointed to by John)

"That is, the RNC isn’t really horrified at what he said, they are just afraid enough women in Missouri will be to stop them from taking health care back away from 44 million Americans." Juan Cole outlines his "five worst planks in GOP Platform." I'm sure it was a struggle to limit it to 5. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Fred Clark sums up some of the crazy. I'd love to say these freeze-dried-whackaloons are harmless, but thanks to the Tea Party, many of them now hold public office. If you want a decent primer on why the Left believes the Right has lost it's collective mind, just go read.

Ah, the vaulted security theater strikes again. Also please note, the main contention was with Delta and the local security, not the TSA. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Alligator Quotient: Still making up for lost time.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Linkee-poo's gotta little woman and she won't be true

Running doing errands before next week, so not a lot of time today, sorry.

The problem with men explaining things, which goes beyond the mansplaining thing. (Grokked from Cherie Priest)

The student loan crisis. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell) Of which I only avoided because of Bette's fiscal prowess. DOn't think this is too much of a problem? Some people are having their Social Security check garnished to pay for their loans (some are for their children or grandchildren). I'm of the first generation that couldn't discharge their loans through bankruptcy, so that was never an option for me (and fortunately, except for those first few years I wasn't in the position to be able to file for bankruptcy). This is why I like President Obama's new payment options on loans. That is, after a certain point in life, the remaining part of the loan is forgiven. I know people like to talk about the looming crisis with SocSec and Medicare, but the demise of student aid and the rise of the loan burden is about to saddle our economy with an even worse problem.

The Fankenstein computer virus platform. I think the concept is kinda interesting, but if I had to make a real guess… well, there's a lot of things. Mostly I would think that it would be easier to write a tightly coded and targeted virus to make the specific attacks you want. It would be handy in mapping out networks, which might encounter platforms/environments that are dissimilar enough that one worm wouldn't be able to exploit all the routes. (pointed to by John)

Why you should hire professionals for somethings. Problem is, Ms. Gimenez may have damaged the under structure of the fresco, which would make a full restoration impossible. Somewhere, Terry Gilliam is saying, "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like."

"Do you know how people as dumb as Judge Tom Pinhead here get into elected office?… Sometimes more stupid people than smart people vote in certain parts of the country and that would explain why Tom Head is a judge." You know that conversation about how both sides of the political spectrum have their nut jobs, and the on going meme that for progressives their on the fringes, but conservatives elect them to office. I don't know what number we're up to, but here's another example. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Fred Clark has a whole list of links about the class war that is going on.

Alligator Quotient: They were waiting in ambush.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Linkee-poo by the pricking of its thumbs, something wicked this way comes

Happy birthday, Ray Bradbury, wherever you are.

Steven Brust wins the internet with this poem about John Scalzi's blog.

Ever wanted to use a wand or sonic screwdriver to change the channel? Well, now you can. (Grokked from Ferrett Steinmetz)

The FF Chartwell font functionality. Okay, that's pretty cool. Although I still prefer to do my own charts, but I could see using this to get shapes that I could play with to make them something stellar. (Grokked from Dan)

My wife has to deal with this stuff every semester, but in case you all aren't aware higher education is no longer a non-contact sport. Student often shout things out like Joe Walsh off his ritalin. And this isn't contained to religious or political issues. Sometimes it's even contentious about the subject if Australia is Old or New world. And I also hate to say that the "don't anybody participate" quote isn't unique either. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Some reasons why you should tip your waiters with cash. Since the Plain Dealer did their expose about this a few years ago I've tried to do this whenever I can. Here in Ohio, besides taking the swipe fee and discount of the tip some owners were charging the whole transaction swipe fee and discount to the tip, which in some cases could take most of the tip. (Grokked from Stewart Sternberg)

"But the Republican Party that produced such thinkers is… gone now… what we have is a party that too often acquiesces–with rolled eyes and grimaces… the know-nothing idiocy of a plurality of its base. There was a period when the Democrats suffered from a similar malady… (t)he Democrats still have some outliers who believe such things. But Bill Clinton showed that Democrats could reform themselves; Barack Obama’s reliance on ideas that were originally Republican or bipartisan in much of his domestic agenda is a reflection of the permanence of that change." (Grokked from Joe Hill)

Because Aiken isn't the only craziness, an official guide to "legitimate" rape. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

If anything, this election season gives us a glimpse into the bubble conservatives have built for themselves. It's something that when exposed, savvy politicians try to run from. And they think they can because the vast majority of people will never read the actual political platforms, or the writings of people they admire. But in this world where even news fact-checking is outsourced most people won't follow a story long enough to see the apologies and reversals. Note that the "You Didn't Build That" meme, so thoroughly debunked, is still with us. People just don't care about what they consider "counterfactuals." See earlier link about higher education for examples. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And I wonder with all these "personhood" movements giving fetuses all "the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood" if a pregnant woman could file for disability payments for the "person inside her" who obviously can't work because of a medical condition?

Alligator Quotient: They're circling, but keeping out of range. They won't be able to keep this up for long.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The bold tangy taste of leadership

Here's and interesting take on politics lately. For the past two election cycles I've heard the conservatives talk about their "boldness" and or "bold leadership." understand that these are cover words for, "I know your pissed at the votes I took, that they're unpopular socially conservative standpoints, but I was exercising bold leadership." Or, in other words, don't criticize me because I took a chance. Which, BTW, the chance they were taking was being pilloried for the positions/votes you say you showed "bold leadership" on.

Know what else was bold leadership? Lord Cardigan leading the Light Brigade into the valley between the Fedyukhin and Causeway Heights, otherwise known as the "Valley of Death." If you don't think that was a bold move and took leadership, you don't really understand the military. Lord Cardigan had his orders, which he misinterpreted because they weren't clear, and he and his men knew their charge was doomed. And yet they went anyway. What you may not know is the Light Brigade made their objective. And after suffering heavy casualties getting there, the remnants were destroyed as they pulled back.

Know what else was bold leadership? Pettigrew's Charge was bold leadership. Every man on the field knew what they were about to get into, including all the officers. The Union held the high ground, including artillery on Little Round Top, and the Confederate artillery bombardment had indeterminate results (viewed from their side of the field). It was only Lee's trust that his men would deliver the impossible that kept the charge going. And Lee was wrong. If you don't know, Pettigrew's Charge is more famously known by his subordinate officer's name, Pickett.

Both are examples of bold leadership and both were disastrous for both side of the conflict. They were more disastrous for those exercising that bold leadership.

So when you hear a politician spouting about how they're showing "bold" or "decisive" leadership instead of "thoughtful" or "correct" leadership, you now have historical examples of what happens in those cases. A lot of people get slaughtered.

Linkee-poo knows you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from some terrible lies

Todd Wheeler's 2012 summer reading program has closed. Janiece's summer reading program is still open. So get those titles in soon.

They probably won't ship in time to qualify for Janiece's summer program, but Subterranean Press is offering 50% off forthcoming books (and a handful of in print books). There's a lot of addendum, please read that page. However, Subterranean Press makes gorgeous books. They're just like I remember books when I was young. The printing, binding, and paper (including deckle edges - I'm pretty sure The Sky that Wraps has deckle edges, at least it does in my mind's eye) are exquisite. It is one of my writing goals to have one of my books reprinted by them. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Yesterday was HP Lovecraft's birthday. Irene Gallo did a post on the call of Lovecraft. I think visual artists are drawn to Lovecraft because of his poetic descriptions (and non-descriptions) that fire the imagination.

"'Ninja just don't fit in the modern day,' (Kawakami, the 21st head of the Ban clan) said. The "last ninja" calls himself the end of the line. (Grokked from Morgan J. Locke)

Telepresence robots are getting cheaper. In this case, the platform builds off of iPads. Still not sure if it'll catch on, at least not for the reasons and groups shown in the demo video. Although, at this price point, it could be offered as a rental device to visit other places. However, I'm not sure it's a better substitute than a good website. (Pointed to by Dan)

"So when the Bloomberg Revisionists attempt to convince us that Iceland's strong (and real) economic recovery was a 'surprise'; this could only be true if none of our governments, none of the bankers and none of the media's precious 'experts' understood the most-elementary principles of arithmetic and economics. Is this the message the media wants to convey?" An interesting "independent" opinion article on "The Street" regarding the crazy around "austerity" vs letting the people at fault for the economic crisis suffer the consequences (hint, "austerity" doesn't work until after the recovery is well entrenched). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Think that opinion is a little over the top? Well, the UK is coming to the realization that austerity doesn't work. That only took three years. Say, what's the Republican Plan for the economy if Romney/Ryan get elected? Oh yeah. "Osborne is now in a real hole. He is under mounting pressure to come up with a Plan B to boost growth, but is reluctant to do a U-turn, both because it would be an admission of failure and because he is worried that the financial markets would freak out. Yet, it is becoming harder and harder for supporters of the government to argue that the strategy is working." I guess they don't get Fox News in the UK. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

2. Ryan keeps attacking Pr(e)sident Obama’s stimulus program now. But in 2002 when then President George W. Bush proposed stimulus spending, Ryan supported it. 'What we’re trying to accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to create jobs and help the unemployed,' Ryan told MSNBC in 2002. You know, as did most conservatives. Because, if nothing else, conservatives are principled in their consistency (money for us, none for you). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

It sounds like an Onion article without the cultural satire, but a powder made from pig's bladders helps regrown tissue. While the article also claims "limbs" in the title, it just appears to be very small scale effects and is mostly for regenerating tissue. So I did some quick googling, here's a CBS article from 2009 and one from boing boing. Note that everybody is quoting the same case (which gives me pause). Of course, some charlatans have already gotten into the mix (no, I don't suggest you but any, and especially not from this outfit). I'll wait until I see the press release from the military doctors. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Though she was initially upset following the brutal sexual assault last month that left her pregnant, victim Martha Byars told reporters she was relieved Sunday to learn from Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) that her ability to conceive her unwanted child proves she was not, in fact, legitimately raped." Sometimes it takes the jester (in the form of the Onion) to point out the absurdity of people's positions. (Grokked from Eric)

@AndrewKirell: FUN FACTS: Total mentions, thus far, of Todd Akin on the cable networks. MSNBC 53, CNN 20, Fox News 1

"It would have been worthwhile for Ferguson to explain why Obama doesn't deserve re-election in this real world we actually live in. Instead, we got an exercise in Ferguson's specialty -- counterfactual history." The Atlantic factchecks Newsweek. Say, remember when reports had to be able to back up everything they said in their news pieces? Also, the article is a fairly good take down on the various myths being toss around as conservative talking points. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Good thing the whole Ohio early election brouhaha isn't about race. Cause that would be bad. Very bad indeed.

Given Romney's statement yesterday that the Obama campaign continues to deceive people, I'm sure they won't want you to read this list from Fred Clark showing their duplicity. Seriously conservatives, it's call projection. You can get therapy for it. People are openly calling the Romney Campaign the first "post-truth" campaign.

Alligator Quotient: I seriously hope the language on the Sears Parts Direct site about my order is boiler plate. Because 1-2 days to process, then 5-7 business days to deliver is NOT expedited in anybody's book.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sears Parts Direct

Really Sears Parts Direct? You don't have the ability to cancel or edit orders less than an hour old (well, they can't do that for any order)? Yes, I put in the wrong part number (right type of part, wrong size) and that's my fault. However, I found the error quickly (1 number difference) and tried calling to get the change. So now I have to pay for two expedited shipments.

It's now 2012, you might want to get with the times. I've been able to do that with other companies for at least the past 5 years now. This is the second time I've had to use Sears Parts Direct, the first time I was sent the wrong part (your fault). And now I have to get parts for my water heater. Which, btw, expedited shipping takes 3 days?

Imagine how I feel about your service. I certainly hope you ship the correct parts this time. I'll just have to process the one for a return. I'll have to swallow the second expedited shipping fee. It would be really, really bad for me to be paying half the price of the water heater to fix the burner, of which we'll be without hot water for 4 days, only to have that delayed even longer.

I wonder when I need a part again if I'll use your site?

Linkee-poo, just call me the Breeze

Jay Lake is running a poll on naming his tumors. There's a few of mine in there, although he skipped by my favorite; Bert, Tom, and Bill, the trolls from the Hobbit. Maybe they were too topical. Anyway, go and vote for your favorites.

And we have a winner in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Although I so like the end of the sentence. (Pointed to by Dan)

No matter how we deny it, we do judge books by their cover. The cover is marketing, and as Shannon Knight mostly says, they will depict what is necessary to sell the book. Which is why we have memes in covers. The cover is meant to quickly convey "this is what this story is about" and that is more than a concern than "this is exactly what's in the plot of this book." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The Salon article on how to write a negative review. Some good points on when to walk away (as a reviewer and a writer), and unfortunately he buries the lead and most important point, "Fifth, don't be a dick." It's about the work, not the writer, for good or bad reviews. (Grokked from Joe Hill)

Big Bang, Big Boom. Wow. Cool video. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

What. The. Fuck. No, really the acronym is not enough here. Look, hopeful Sen. Akin, if you're so mind fucked about basic biology and clueless about the victimization of women, in this specific case rape, you don't have enough brain cells to drive a motor vehicle let alone be given a vote in the Senate. At least, that's IMHO. You're apology, like most conservative apologies in the past 4 years, isn't one. Basically what you're saying is you realize people are upset with what you said and you're apologizing for the words you used. I'm going to say this very simply, because you don't have the capacity for bigger words. People are upset with what you said because you're a detestable ignoramus for believing what you do. We're not upset with your words, we just can't believe that some candidate is being put forward who doesn't have a grasp on reality, biology, or living in the modern word. I would compare you to what lives under rocks but I fear I would be defaming the rocks.(Grokked from Joe Hill)

And, just in case you think this is an isolated incident. I wonder if all those politicians making those comments are conservatives? Why yes. Yes they are. Strange that. Hey, you know that "War on Women" thing that came to everybody's attention this Spring? Just like the class war we've been fighting this war for decades. (Grokked from Chia Lynn)

And this, I can't find a word that adequately expresses my disdain and utter revulsion that a human being can think this way, isn't new at all. As Justine Larbalestier remains us.

This is not a small problem. This isn't some aberration that can be over looked. These people want to be your elected representatives. People who have the power to bankrupt this country, to take us into war, to negotiate and approve treaties with foreign powers. This is the same as having your car mechanic tell you they can fix your car to run on water; your plumber tell you that copper pipe is overrated and any old PVC line would work just as well, your doctor tell you that coffee enemas can cure your breast cancer. This is like your coworker going on about how he's very tired because the black helicopters were buzzing his neighborhood swiping people away to the FEMA re-education camps run by the UN. Or as Dan retweeted, "@thetweetofgod: The public saying of stupid shit is but a symptom of a deeper problem: the private THINKING of stupid shit."

Fred Clark has a good squib on how this explains the difference between having morals and moralism. It's a very good take on this and explains much of what we've seen growing in the political discourse over the past 30 years. There's a quote, and I'm blanking on it right at the moment, that goes something like, "I believe in the indifference of the universe because it would be intolerable to believe that we somehow deserve all we suffer through."

Eric comes up with what I think will become my anthem for this election season. NSFW because of language. "Assholes get elected because assholes get to vote."

As an example of this in other conservative thinking, contrary to what FRC likes to claim, we don't think they're a hate group because they're Christians. We think they're a hate group because of how un-Christian they really are. On why most clear headed people think the Family Research Council is a hate group, including the Southern Poverty Law Center (which calling out hate groups is their speciality). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @jay_lake: "@steampunk is people all over the world doing to the Victorian era what the Victorian era did to them." - Matthew Howden

Alligator Quotient: For a day when they should be bitting and slapping, they're curiously quiescent. They do remember there's a deadline this week, don't they?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Story Bone

When darkness spread her blanket on the battlefield, it wasn't the screaming of the men that kept me awake. The screaming of the horses drove dreams from me. The men had gone into battle fully aware of the stakes. The horses had no stake in the outcome. Horses don't fight for our side or theirs. The went into battle because they trusted the men on their backs to keep them safe. Their screams of pain and betrayal kept even the crows weeping in the trees. Lantern candles bob above the grasses harvesting spirits. Pistol shots send prayers to the stars as screams fall silent one by one. By the witches midnight all that's left is the amputated moans of the men still on the field who know help or peace is no longer coming for them.

Weekend Linkee-poo some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck. Some nights I call it a draw.

What kind of writer are you? Actually the kind of writer who would want to rephrase that question… but the quiz says I'm Toni Morrison. So that's kinda cool. "If novel writing isn’t your cup of tea, dabble in some blogging or draft a dialogue-heavy script for film or television." Note: quiz does not require you to sign up for anything. (Pointed to by Random Michelle K)

Starting in September you'll no longer be able to buy curses, spells, or potions on eBay. Drat. So I'm stuck with this +2 vorpal blade, then. (Pointed to by Dan)

The most unappealing color. Turns out it's PMS448. Go figure. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Peter Bergen on the "documentary" Dishonorable Disclosures. Peter does a better take down that I could. But let me say that for the little I've heard about this attack ad (and it is nothing other than that), I can't believe people who served in uniform as special forces could be this clueless. Dudes, really, stop drinking the kool-aid. The final point Bergen lists, the "you didn't kill bin Laden" charge, if that quote isn't taken out of context - dude, really? Brush up on chain of command. It might surprise you. You might have missed how the President took great pains to praise the intelligence branches, the military, and especially SEAL Team Six. But at the end of the day, it was his order that put a plan on the table, and then it was his express order that implemented the plan. That was a hell of a risk. He's within his rights to take credit for that. Brid knows he would have been pilloried if it went pear-shaped. (Pointed to by Dan)

Yeah, that cartoon pretty much sums it up. A cartoon explaining the past week's pity party by Mitt Romney. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @dianagram: (I can't take credit for this) ... "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan" anagrams to "My ultimate Ayn Rand porn" #perfect

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Music to write by

One of the great things about NPR is you can introduced to a lot of cool music. One of the (three) local NPR stations in my market plays folk music on weekend evenings, which is (most of the time) highly entertaining. However, I heard a snipped of this song on All Things Considered the other day. It was one of those moments where you go, "I know that song" (actually the main riff is fairly standard, but done very well, it hit Dan as the same as Pete Townsend's "I eat heavy metal", and it sounds very Lindsey Buckingham to me). It impressed me so much I bought the entire album. And you know what a notorious skin flint I am.



So yeah, this is now in my playlist (along with the other songs from the album, which I recommend you check out).

Friday, August 17, 2012

Linkee-poo tries twice as hard and is half as liked, but here they come again to jack my style

It's just like have 25 things you should know about metaphor. OR ad D. Adams once said, "The universe is so hard to understand because there's nothing to compare it against."

Oooo, a new Harry Dresden novel. Yummie.

Space: 1999 is the next franchise to be rebooted, but this time in novel form. (Pointed to by John)

For your futuristic stories, a new type of robot. Soft robots could be very cool. (Pointed to by Dan)

And from the future, to the past. Just glue some gears on it and call it "Steampunk." Video is at the bottom of that page. Worth it.

Jim Wright reminds us everything we need to know about politics he learned in the sixth grade. Or something like that. Mmmm, cookies.

Watch light moving in slow motion. (Grokked from Doselle Young)

On the "we don't need no stinking government regulations", the story of the book Shadows of the Wall of Death. (Grokked from Mer Haskell)

On the rise of the totalitarian surveillance technology. It's mostly about the presence of cameras installed in public places that are ideal for use in facial recognition. "To acclimate their populations to this brave new world of invasive surveillance technologies, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and and his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, both recently introduced 'snoop' bills. Meanwhile, in the US – 'the land of the free' – the onward march of the surveillers continues apace, without check or consultation." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Eric fairly well expresses my own thoughts about the current story building on how negative the President and VP are being in this election. Also, Eric points to an excellent take down of this concept by Jon Stewart. Considering the hate and bile spewing from the Right for the past 12 years, the GOP is in no position to lecture anyone else on civility. The whole "wounded puppy" routine from the right is old. They roll this out overtime someone on the Left lands a good punch.

Good thing we now have anonymous money flowing into the campaign. What could possibly go wrong with that? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Dr. Gage, who teaches 20th century history and political thought at Yale, wonders why there's not liberal Ayn Rand. And the answer is, "Gage says the conservative movement has been developing a common intellectual heritage, but liberals have been moving in the opposite direction, to an increasingly diversified, rather than a shared, set of ideas." Just in case someone tries to sell you on the idea of how progressives are ideologues. Speaking from inside the tent, not so much of that going on here.

Also, in case your conservative friends like to talk about how much the current Congress has done, try not to laugh to hard in their face. The current conservative run congress, with a large freshman class of TPers, have passed one tenth of the laws passed by the "Do Nothing" Congress Truman ran against in 48.

Juan Cole with why the Romney Income Tax Returns matter. Also, is it me or did Mitt Romney basically say yesterday ("But every year I've paid at least 13 percent, and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why, the number gets well above 20 percent.") that his taxes were the same as his charity giving? Just another insight into his mindset. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And Paul Ryan seems to have a problem remembering dates. Yep, he blames Obama for not saving an auto plant in his hometown… which closed in 2008. (Pointed to by Dan)

Alligator Quotient: Some of them are waking up to the new reality.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Linkee-poo, who ya gonna call

CamelCase. Figured there was a word for that. After all, there's words for everything even if they mean, "I don't know." (Pointed to by Dan)

Cat Rambo pontificating on how fiction is the mirror of reality. Or, that through fiction we can explore what it means to be human, even if it's fiction about non-humans.

If you run into anybody who tells you that funding NASA and space travel is just a waste, point them here. That's the WTF NASA? website with all the cool things we live with because NASA was here. (Grokked from Tor.com)

The mourner bill of rights. So very this. Talking to someone who is in mourning is difficult only if you're not listening to them or are dealing with your own grief in an abstracted way. Recently a friend had a difficult experience happen in the family. When I asked about it after they came back they told me, "oh, (family member) is dealing with it and is really okay." I looked at them and said, "If it were me, I'd be a total mess inside." While that may sound confrontational, in this case I think that brought us closer together as people who have experienced mourning. We saw in each other the mark of sameness. The cultural admonishment of "never speak evil of the dead" and "they're in a better place" and "we must go on" is a bunch of bull. And as an attendee of many a funeral, funerals are about the living, not the dead. The dead just lay there.

While this post is titled "Looking for Lovecraft in All the Wrong Places" I think it really should be, "Waiting for Cthulhu." And in his fourth paragraph, Jonathan Wood lays out the exact plot I've tried to avoid with my own C-Stories. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Some stats regarding maternal health in the country with "the greatest heath care system EVAR!" I'm sure if we just taught more abstinence classes in school it would clear that all up. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

You know, it's not like he did't have a choice in which farmer he visited. Too bad his people had to pick one that owns 54 farms, is a real estate mogul, and event producer. Doesn't anybody at the Romney Campaign do the homework? Well, I guess since this guy is "just a millionaire", that's much closer to "real people" than Romney normally gets. So maybe a begrudging point or two? Not. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Oh look, there's talk of creating another Gault's Gulch. Zzzz, zzzz, zzzz. In this case it's kinda round about being a Nerd's Oasis, but mostly for the libertarian members of Reddit. No, really, go ahead. Let us know what happens on your Lord of the Flies Island.

Paul Krugman with a more realistic reason why Romney chose Ryan. Given the right's insistence that the news media is "in love with Obama", I doubt this will make much of an impression. And then there was the Iowa Fair brouhaha. "'We’re used to this in Wisconsin,' Ryan claimed." Really? Well, I'm glad he's so blase about it. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Alligator Quotient: They seem to be stuck in a revision/endless loop cycle. Might have to hard restart them all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Linkee-poo was just a dreamer, you were just a dream

Oh fuck. Jay Lake's cancer screening came back with bad news.

Sam Miller with every brilliant piece of writing advice from Clarion 2012. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

What's your particular dream of being a writer. I think most of us would be lying if we said we didn't do the same exact thing. (Grokked from Mer Haskell)

A slush reader for Apex shares the process. (Grokked from Absolute Write)

An interview with Evan Gregory of the Ethan Ellenberg Literary agency. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Rose Fox debunks the myth of "never working in this town again." When you're young and nubile (for various values of "young" and "nubile") you often worry about such things. The publishing industry is a big sea and even big fish can't cover the entire span. She also points to the Jeff VanderMeer post on the same subject.

And essay by Emily Rapp about grief and the stories we tell ourselves. Sometimes those stories, and the public perception that we need to follow their examples, are the cruelest prisons. They are what our fairy tales became, instructional manuals on how to behave in public. When a person loses someone close to them, when we see them being stoic we thinks "that's correct" and "good for them." It fits our stories. When that person looks like the broken life they're living, shows and tells us of the grief that swells in their eviscerated life, cries and wails as they attempt to deal with their lose we think that's wrong when actually it's a truer experience than the stiff upper lip. "It will be, as the Buddhists say, what it is."

How a person uses the internet can predict depression. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

The Window's Surface tablet is rumored to be sold for $199 which would be below costs. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the OS/Browser Wars, Part 2. (Pointed to by John)

A Peruvian burial site with intact graves. One of the more interesting finds is a tomb surrounded by dozens of newborn child skeletons, all positioned as if looking into the tomb. Also noted, some people were buried under newborn skeletons. Piles of them. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

When is a cross not a cross? When it's used as a message of hate. All the Middle Tennessee Baptist Church needs to do is light those babies on fire to complete their transformation to the dark side. Actually, in the back of my head, Firesign Theater's Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him keeps running through my head. "Do you recognize what I'm holding over your heads, lads?", "It's a cross, symbol of the quartering of the universe into active and passive principles." … "What the father means is what is the cross made of. Gold. Do you have any?"

Fred Clark has too many good links he calls "scenes from the class war." Including notables such as the shining mansions on the hill about the implied hard work=success false scripture so often foisted on the masses. The zombie like return of social Dawrinism thanks to the incredibly small heartedness of some of our conservatives. It's almost enough for me to pray that these people find humility before it comes up and kicks them in the ass. Almost. More evidence that "since last summer in Florida that the dogwhistles are now air-raid sirens, and that the Republicans are no longer even trying hard to camouflage what they're actually saying." This race is quickly shaping up not to be about the ideas, but a struggle for the conscience of the nation. Think I'm being dramatic? It so bad we now have headlines that read "Hot New Study Shows That Treating the Sick Saves Lives". This just in, the sun rose in the East this morning as the world revolved in that direction. And I highly recommend the "Mendacity" links at the end of that list. This is beyond "politics twisting the truth". One side of the argument no longer cares if they're even in shouting distance of the truth.

"But let us look at this man, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. A liberal should love him, for he is a triumph of the liberal state." And as so often in that case, his anger and being in that position drives him to destroy the very things that helped him. It's either that or he is so out of touch with his life that he truly doesn't understand how government works, and how he personally has benefited from that (both of which seem to be the peculiar blind spot of conservatives these days).

Sure glad Arizona isn't having any problems decreeing who is and isn't a citizen. Because, you know, jailing someone just because they're brown isn't bad enough, now we add, "and they had a silly name" to the list. But it's refreshing to see it isn't just President Obama whom Arizonian law enforcement thinks have forged their own birth certificate. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

How to talk to people in wheelchairs. You know, talk to them like they're a human being. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Alligator Quotient: There was the snap I was waiting for.

On the guilt of being a future asshole

As you may know, my reboot gets into full swing this month with the start of the program courses. In this case, the program really is a program (you must take these classes at this time in this order, no varying, no going back, the only do over is starting from the beginning). Since I was accepted into the 2012 start from my initially scheduled 2013 start, I didn't have first crack at registration. While the class is small enough for one lecture, we have 4 lab options. The two best options had already closed out by the time I got to register and there are no overrides allowed.

So I have a very much "less than optimal" schedule right at the moment. So much so it'll be hard to get 40 hours in at the day job (I'm working on that end as well). Which means my plan B, sub-option 2, working the weekends is coming into play (hopefully not until the second half of the semester).

But there is another option. This Friday the tuition bill is due. If you're not up to date, or have scheduled a payment plan, your classes are automatically dropped. So, I'm an asshole in the past for hoping that someone forgets or can't get their money in on time and I can swoop in and get their better lab time.

As an added bonus, I just noticed last night that the bill for our background checks had finally caught up with our accounts. That bill, if left unpaid, would count for dropping classes. No notification was sent (either to our homes or by our email accounts). It's only because I happened to check the college website for something else that I noticed. So I'm an asshole last night because I wished that some people in the better labs don't notice it.

All so I can be an asshole this Friday (or next Monday) by changing my labs to the more advantageous ones. And I feel guilty about that. I know how I would feel to find I was auto-dropped and then someone took my classes. Also, being a class of less than 30, it will be easy to figure out who was the vulture. However I have a very pragmatic side, if I can get those better times for labs, my life will be a thousand times easier this fall.

So, I'll feel guilty. If confronted, I'll be suitably embarrassed. But I'm going to do it anyway. Only now I have guilt for something I haven't done (except in my heart).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Linkee-poo double dip

Jay Lake's Link Salad is very good today. Including these gems: Like finding mutated butterflies in Fukushima. That sound? That's another of the shoes dropping. The Arctic is losing 50% more summer ice than predicted. Drop, drop drop. But the good news is that ice is forming faster in the early winter. Which partially masks the greater loss in the summer. Oh well. And a story from Matt Fisher about how insane our laws regarding insurance really are (and before anybody wanks on the "free market" I'll let you guess who had the lobby that pushed for the Maryland law that prevents you from directly suing an insurance company for failure to pay). No, we didn't interbreed with Neanderthals. And there's plenty for the political side. Including Juan Cole's showing how our elections are trying to be bought by 47 billionaires with the rise of the Super PACs. And more on Paul Ryan, including his self-loathing attacks on Social Security Paul Krugman's shouting to try and remind people that Ryan isn't the moderate they're trying to paint him as. And how Ryan is playing to the gullibility of self-proclaimed centrists, who want to show their 'balance' by finding a conservative to praise." And the Ezra Klein with a short brief on who Paul Ryan is.

Linkee-poo will fly by night away from here

Anatomy of an internet rumor. In this case about a "new screw" from Apple. This is how it works, folks. Rev up the snopes-o-meter! (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

A not entirely complete, or accurate list of sea monsters. It also has the occasional SyFy movie monster thrown in for good measure. For various values of "good".

Linxy word recognition with definition app for your iPhone. In case you're reading text and really don't want to retype the word into Google. Free, unless you want all the definitions of the words to show up (and then it's $2). (Pointed to by John)

In case you thought Rachel Maddow was being alarmist on the Ohio Secretary of State defining different early voting rules in Ohio, now the ACLU and other organizations are getting involved. They're also reminding Sec. Husted about his previous comments wanting to keep elections uniform across the state.

The Army tests a new hybrid airship. Cool.

A typogeographical map and tour of Europe (well, mostly Germany). Lots of culture and how it ties into written languages. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

What's so bad about a boy who want to wear a dress? On our society coming to grips with how we think about ourselves and the somewhat arbitrary gender trait assignments. After all, even less than 2000 years ago men wore what would now be called dresses. It was only a hundred years ago every child would wear a "dress" until a certain age.

Since I know a few things about swords, I knew about S. Pacific islanders using sharks' teeth on their weapons (which if you're interested mirror the adoption of obsidian in Pre-Columbus Central American Cultures), but never thought they might shed light on ancient shark populations. Cool. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"… (O)ptical images have an ultimate resolution limit, and this (printing) method hits it. When two objects are too close together, light reflecting off them will diffract, and the two objects blur together. This effect… sets in when the distance between two objects is equal to half the wavelength of the light used for imaging. The wavelength in the middle of the colour spectrum is about 500 nanometres. That means the pixels in a printed image can’t be spaced any closer together than about 250 nanometres without looking smudged. Yang’s images pack the pixels at just this distance." the highest resolution printing possible, done with electron-beam lithography and gold and silver tipped nanorods. It's like a retina display for light waves. (Pointed to by John)

The fifteen heaviest coffee drinkers by profession. Let's see, there I am at #2, #4, and soon to be in a closely related field for #13. Joy. Although I usually only drink tea. (Grokked from Jay Lake) Why can't Romney tell the truth? That might sound like a partisan jab, but it really isn't. "… Romney again praised Ryan for 'working across the aisle' to find solutions… The argument belies Ryan’s storied record as a no-compromise conservative ideologue… wedding nearly all Republicans to a blueprint that has failed to win over a single Democrat… In almost 13 years as a congressman, Ryan has proposed just two bills that have passed and become law, one of which involved renaming a post office in his district… He has introduced many bills, including a Social Security privatization measure in 2004 so far-reaching that the Bush White House called it 'irresponsible.'… Ryan’s voting record makes him almost as conservative as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and more conservative than Rep. Allen West (R-FL)… Ryan has also helped thwart bipartisan efforts at debt reduction, an issue he frequently touts as a top national priority… The Romney campaign’s lone evidence that Ryan is a bipartisan leader amounts to a vague blueprint he co-wrote with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) late last year that mirrors key elements of his Medicare plan. Wyden voted against Ryan’s budget and said Romney’s characterization of their work was dishonest." Next Romney will be touting Ryan's grand total of a few months in the private sector working for a family member as his "sterling record in industry helping to create jobs." And I'm not the only one who wishes this was a real election talking about real issues.

Alligator Quotient: You can feel them getting restless, even in the dark and their scaly bodies grind against your skin.