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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Linkee-poo is afraid that she might think of me as plain old Jane

Karl Schroeder on the difference between habitable and colonizable worlds when it comes to exoplanets. Lots of good thoughts for SFinal world building.

Carrie Ryan on structure and the promise of the premise.

To put it all into perspective for you: (from the Writers Almanac) "It's the birthday of novelist Georges Simenon… He's one of the most prolific writers of all time, best known for his detective novels featuring Inspector Maigret. He wrote some 400 books, which sold more than 1.4 billion copies from 1935 to 1997. Each book took him on average eight days to write." So at that pace even Stephen King (at whom many jokes have been made about the speed at which he turned out novels) is a slacker. Just saying.

"'There is no way that we are going to win the cybersecurity effort on defense,' says Steven Chabinsky, formerly the FBI's top cyber-attorney. 'We have to go on the offensive.'" Oh look, it's one of the plot bunnies from my novel, Bladesman. Yea, what could go wrong with private companies enacting their own offense (which, IIRC, is a plot line of many 60-80's SF novels).

You know those frogs with all the extra legs? Turns out at least some of them are caused by a parasite which uses the frogs as a way station. Pretty interesting parasitology in there. But also read all the way through to see that, yes, one of the reasons we're seeing more frogs with these deformities is because biodiversity is dropping. Also note it doesn't explain why frog species are crashing.

On the repatriation of human remains that were collected as anatomical specimens. Although there's no word on the various trophy taking (a practice which didn't end all that long ago). There is an issue here, however, that there are many valid scientific reasons for keeping unique specimens in medical colleges and museums. In some cases they do provide needed education for surgeons, doctors, and other medical students. Although lately many of those museums have made their money from offering "freak shows" without calling them such. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"'The prime responsibility for doing this (meat inspection) lies with retailers and food producers, who need to demonstrate that they've taken all necessary actions to ensure the integrity of the food chain in this country,' ( Environment Secretary Owen) Patterson said." So, how did that self-regulation work out? People in England (and the rest of Europe) are shocked to find horse meat having been mixed in to their "beef" products. Look, it's a real life experiment on self regulation. Do I really need to point to The Jungle to remind us here in the US that these things happen. What's not in the transcript (but was on the broadcast story) is the real culprit is consumers wanting cheap food. So companies find ways to keep their costs down to make a profit. So what of there's a little (60% in some cases) horse meat in there? I mean, the other option is to have regulation that is enforced by a strong government. And in case your squeamish, don't go looking for how our own food inspectors have been gutted for the past 30 years.

Oh look, TDR (total drug resistant) tuberculosis is spreading in South Africa (and the world). Fantastic. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Rand Paul takes the train off the rails discussing low-flow toilets. (Note, this isn't a new video). Let us first ignore the abortion-baiting going on. Look, this is how it works. Let us say Rand Paul gets his wish of anybody can buy any flow of toilets (or light bulbs that use more electricity, cars that guzzle gas, etc). For water, this is how the market works. There's a limited supply of potable water. The more people use the water, the scarcer it becomes, the higher price it becomes (also, we'll ignore the effects of scarcity for this). If people like Rand gets his choice and gets a toilet that uses more water, and there's several people like him who do so as well, that will raise the price of water for everybody. You may be using less, because you like saving the environment. But his "choice" affects what you pay. The same is true for gasoline. That Hummer sucking down the gas next to you contributes to the high cost of gasoline that you pay. However, here's the real thing. You can buy whatever manufacturer of toilet, and style of toilet you want (but they all use less water). Some toilets work better than others (even with the high flow toilets the same was true). Shouldn't Paul's miraculous market forces come to the fore here and weed out the poor toilets? After all, he's upset with his toilet. Why doesn't he buy one that works? The manufacturers of the poor functioning toilets go out of business, and all that's left are the good manufacturers. The problem is, this doesn't work in real life, never has. So the problem isn't his choice of toilets (seriously, go to a Home Depot, they have an aisle of nothing but toilets), the problem is his personal choice of that individual toilet which didn't work for him. That's not the government's fault. How would he feel if the government came up with the design and forced all toilets to be built exactly the same so that they all worked? You can also apply this logic to the light bulb argument (more energy use raises the cost of energy) and all the rest. Rand Paul, you're a tool. And for a doctor, you're an idiot (or you think we are). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Oh, and who did this terrible libertarian treachery and made them buy low flow toilets and shower heads? "The low-flow (1.6 gallon) limit on toilets was instituted with the 1992 Energy Policy Act, signed into law by George H.W. Bush."

The professional hair stylists and amateur archeologist who has shown how ancient hairdos were accomplished causing the books to be rewritten. There's so much in that article to unpackage. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Recent and near-retirees, the first major cohort of the 401(k) era, do not have nearly enough in retirement savings to even come close to maintaining their current lifestyles… And that's for people who actually have a retirement account of some kind. A third of households do not." Yep. And even those of us who have had 401(k)s for most of our careers don't have enough in retirement savings. Why? Please see how middle income salaries have been stagnant for three decades now (the entire run of the 401(k) history), and there's more lower-income jobs in the mix. Welcome to the real entitlement bomb about to go off. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Don't believe that? Okay, how about… "Increasingly, people are continuing to work past 65. Almost a third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 70 are working, and among those older than 75, about 7 percent are still on the job." And in case you don't see it, this is a problem. One that was somewhat fixed with the creation of Social Security.

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