What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo goes into an extended set for an extended weekend

"Sadly, reports of violent altercations linked to holiday shopping have already started to trickle in." It's the most wonderful time of the year… my ass. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

And it's all retail theater, anyway. Also, want to know another secret? Some of this "door buster" items aren't the same quality as the regular merchandise. Hint: check the part numbers and UPC codes.

In what I hope is a successful attempt to change the market, SFWA raises the pay rates for what they will consider "pro" markets. And the teeth gnashing and garnet garment rending begins in 3… 2… 1…

The emerging new adult market (for books).

Thirteen quote on writing from Octavia Butler. "You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence." Yes, that.

I'm pretty sure I've linked to this before, but authors respond to a questionnaire about symbolism in the novel. A lot of symbolism is subconscious (that is, after all, symbolisms playground). A lot of symbolism is unintended because everybody will bring their own thoughts, experiences, beliefs, and mind state to the work. You can't control that. In case you haven't noticed, about a third of the time the linkee-poo music quote is somewhat linked to something in the content. As a reader you may or may not see that, and I'll wager donuts to dollars that some of you have seen connections I've not intended. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Terri Windling with a good quoted passage about writing. I'll let you go read it there.

Here's 9 ways to undermine your character's best laid plans. Create people we care about, and then torture them.

Because the internet wasn't shiny enough, all things linguistic. Say goodbye to your productive time. (Grokked from Dr. Doyle)

While you're thinking about what to get the kids (your own, nieces, nephews, cousins), don't forget the books that will help warp form their little brains. (Grokked from Matt Staggs, I think)

How to work with a graphic designer, part two. :: points :: Also that graphic at the top, yes, that. You get to pick two.

Aw, aren't those sea horses so cute they're just swimming along and OMG what was THAT!. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, sea horses gotta eat. And it turns out they're pretty good at hunting their prey.

Earliest evidence for a shine at Siddhartha's birthplace is uncovered. It's under several incarnations of the same shrine. Imagine the Catholic Church allowing archeologists to dig at Paris's Notre Dame to find out what shrine was originally there (there is some evidence it was a pagan worship site). All while holding services. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

An NPR story on the rise of cider drinks. I'm a part of this trend. Even with the commercial brands, I like the taste, I like how I feel at the end of a bottle (and I'm not talking about the alcoholic content). But then I think I have some problems with gluten (as we all do to some extent). If you drink have haven't tried ciders, I recommend you do. There is a wide variety of tastes (personally I like Magners, but it's also somewhat expensive, Woodchuck's Granny Smith, but don't really like Strongbow's, but they seem to be the most common brand in bars).

This is what happens when you have unexamined privilege. You end up saying stupid things. Unfortunately this past week was full of them (fortunately not mine). (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

A Mormon bishop disguises himself as a homeless man to see how his congregation would respond. And I hate to say there was a predictable response.

"When one of the Help Desk men answers a question or solves a problem, he’s put in for the weekly employee recognition even though he’s just doing his normal job. When the sole woman on the help desk does the same, she’s just doing her normal job and nobody thinks to put her name up for that recognition. Why is that?" Brandie Tarvin on the prevalence of sexism in the workplace. Yes, this. Also this is one of my blind spots in seeing it in the workplace.

"The empirical evidence finds that states with the most antiabortion policies are also the same states that have significantly lower indicators of infant/child well-being. This supports the contention by pro-choice supporters that efforts by pro-life supporters to protect the life of the fetus end at birth." Kinda sucks, doesn't it. But, again, the pro-life movement isn't about anti-abortion or the rights of the unborn and is instead about restricting women's rights and anti-feminist. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

"There are fates worse than sleeping with the fishes." An Italian mob boss is fed to pigs while still alive in a revenge killing. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Boris Johnson, asshat Mayor of London is an asshat. That article keeps on talking about how, basically, he spoke an uncomfortable truth by saying that the smart people make more money and that's the way the world works. So let me just correct the record, it has been my experience that most people who have lots of money are not the brightest crayons in the box. Some are far from it. He isn't speaking the truth, he's living in a bubble of unexamined privilege. So while some are being hush hush and wondering why people get persecuted for speaking the truth let me say this loud and clear, he isn't speaking anything close to the truth. And if he was a s smart as he thinks he is, he would know he is making an unjustified comparison (aka "false cause"). (Grokked from Jason Sandford)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Linkee-poo is thankful for you

Happy Thanksgiving… or as it's now known, that thing before and in-between Black Friday sales. Although this may be the year they cancel Thanksgiving (sung to the tune of "The Year Without a Santa Claus"). All because the weather wouldn't cooperate and they couldn't blow up the parade balloons for the Macy's Thanksgiving "Why don't you come to New York and see the full length version of all these shows we're demoing here, and buy these has been and wannabe artists albums, oh and you may want to empty your wallets of cash, but only in NYC because everywhere else sucks" Parade. Me, I'll be watching Detroit's America's Parade.

Okay, this is a cool view of comet Encke and Ison as the pass close to the sun. This is a gif animation of images from NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft.

So, a new type of flying machine that even the inventor can't say for sure how the physics works. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

I always love it when conservatives thrown down the rhetorical gauntlet. I'm even more gleeful than the chatting monkeys who are going on about the Healthcare.gov website.

"How Republicans are sabotaging the ACA, hurting the poor, and driving up costs for the middle class." So, today on Fox News I got to see a little segment with the crawler title something like "CEOs now say they'll pass more of health cares cost to employees." I'm sure they were saying it was Obamacare's fault, but this just continues a trend that is now almost two decades old. Also note, where politicians didn't intentionally sabotage Obamacare, it seems to work just fine. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Fred Clark with 8 more habits of wealthy people.

What really happened when the Senate "repealed" the filibuster. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo can sneak in just under the wire

Writing and feeling stuck at a certain point? Mary Robinette Kowal gives some good examples of how to get past that. Many writers I know have some form of [insert something cool here]. It gets you past that sticking point and keeps you from getting distracted from the flow of the story.

Charting the phylogeny of Little Red Riding Hood. It's been long common for folklorists to do this kind of thing, but this is the first, I think, of using tools developed for genetic studies to trace the origins of folk tales. (Grokked from Tor.com)

The secrets of finding an agent.

Terrifying kids from vintage advertisements. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"A logo is as important as any other business decision. Know your designer. Due diligence is required." Yes, this. I'm not sure if I've talked about it lately, but one of the reasons I'm rebooting instead of trying to develop my freelance work comes from looking at those freelance auction sites. Seriously cheap people out there. So this logo cost the cafe $25, and left them hanging for several hundreds in merchandise and opened them up to an infringement suit that would cost them thousands. This isn't saying "reputable" designers aren't also guilty of this. Or as an example of another way this happens, people in my class were real keen to have me use someone else's artwork and it "would be okay if we just put their name on it." Um, no. No it's not. And for being in a new career that having a conviction is a career ending event, you'd think they'd be a little more cautious. Also, new website to follow, LogoThief.

Quetzalcoatlus northropi. Yea, let's see Duck Dynasty deal with a lizard-stork the size of a giraffe. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Nurses at War. Yes, this. (Grokked from Janiece)

The DIY Burial Movement. There was a time in the US when we didn't have funeral parlors. In many places in the US, families handle their dead all by themselves. Here in rural Ohio there are thousands of small cemeteries (both family plots and common burial grounds). IIRC, in Ohio, there are laws about home burial. I might have to brush up on those. Funerals are for the living. The dead don't care much for them. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The long con of "prosperity" evangelists. There's a reason why a lot of the scams and dodgy financial deals occur in religious communities. One, there is a trust for fellow "Christians" (and yes, I do mean those quotes there), and two, most Christians like to both hide their fault at being duped and have an ingrained "forgiveness" function (but mostly they're avoiding the embarrassment). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

The drowned towns of the St. Lawrence Sea Way. Ah, engineering on a grand scale. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Christian relics. One of the cooler displays in the old Cleveland Museum of Art were the reliquaries. I haven't been to the fully reopened museum, yet, but I hope they have those (and the illuminated manuscripts) on display. A few of them still have the relics.

"Walmart employees not only need food stamps to get by, Walmart is the largest place where those food stamps are redeemed. It’s a cycle that grinds employees (and communities) relentlessly down, while driving Walmart revenues just as consistently up." (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

"Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years… Miami Gardens police have arrested Sampson 62 times for one offense: trespassing… But Sampson isn’t loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop." To serve and protect… you're doing it wrong. (Grokked from the Slactivist, I think)

Freeze-dried whackaloon quotient goes up. Note to Websters, apparently "the masses" equates to less than 100, and being a group made up of 30 other groups, all those groups could only send 3 or so people (the fact that most of them are the exact same people who created different groups to raise more money form the same small group of donors who give to these causes, well, we'll skip over that part). But I'm not willing to laugh these people off the stage. These are dangerous idiots who are playing with fire. I wonder what will happen when they're refused admittance at Independence Hall? I predict this will not end well. (Grokked from the Slactivist and Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @DJRotaryRachel Not saying your kid is a brat but I just saw an Oompa Loompa blow into a pitch pipe.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Because I will soon be able to watch TV again

Oh Great Internet Brain,

I'm looking for an external TV tuner that can pull in both analog and digital cable signals and isn't a USB device (would like either a composite coax or the 3 RCA jack output, although HDMI might work as well). If it had the ability to digitally record more than one show at a time would be nice, but not entirely necessary. Also would like to not have to pay a monthly fee to use a device (both the analog part and this last rule out TiVO - seriously TiVO, I can't use your device without paying an extra $15 a month? Fail. And yes, I doubt you actually work with my incredibly small local cable provider). If it had an input switch for more than one input would also be helpful but not necessary.

See, for my TV rig I'd like to replace the VCR I'm using as an analog tuner stationed before all the recording devices and TV. Our local cable offers a few digital channels (unadvertised) and I'd like to watch them without having to turn off all the rest of the rig and just use the TV's built in Analog/QAM tuner. Was able to watch the NOVA show on Sprites, and switched to digital to do so, reminded me what a pain in the rear it is.

TIA.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Linkee-poo many's the time I've been mistaken, and many times confused

Vince shares 8 new punctuation marks that we need.

Wildlife photographer doesn't understand wildlife. Apparently neither does any of the other people "photographing wildlife" or the commentators. The mistake was him dropping his head after the mistake of letting the elk get too close. Dropping the head is the signal for these animals to butt heads. Fortunately this was a young elk who hadn't reached prime or that guy would have been one of the many people killed by elk every year. Unfortunately this story has a sad ending for the elk. Idiots who fed it, idiots who don't understand the animals they live near. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"A Walmart in northeast Ohio is holding a holiday canned food drive — for its own underpaid employees. 'Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,' a sign reads in the employee lounge of a Canton-area Walmart… Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, says the drive is a positive thing… Indeed, Lundberg is correct that it’s commendable to make an effort to help out those who are in need, especially during the holidays… But the need for a food drive illustrates how difficult it is for Walmart workers to get by on its notoriously low pay." Well, at least they aren't expecting the rest of us to pick up the bill through food stamps. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

McDonalds advice to the hungry.

Economics is like a foreign country, they do things exactly the same there. Mexico's Buen Fin weekend, being sold the way Black Friday is being sold in the US.

Ancient Finnish warrior found with two long blades in grave. I'm not sure I entirely agree with some of the implications here as a broken sword is often a sign of victory over an opponent (and many cultures buried their great warriors with the broken swords of their enemies, the Iron Throne isn't all that strange a concept). (Grokked form Matt Staggs)

How doctors die. I already had a DNR and a durable power of attorney signed. After working just the little I have at the hospital, I really believe in these things. Which is also why I'm pissed that the Tea Party helped strike the provision in Obamacare that allowed doctors to discuss end-of-life care and have Medicare pay for the appointment. This stuff is important. And if doctors can get confused (especially in their speciality), the lay person has an even greater hill to climb.

Worried about the NSA? How about your LG TV? "A second blogger has published evidence that his LG-manufactured smart television is sharing sensitive user data with the Korea-based company in a post that offers support for the theory that the snooping isn't isolated behavior that affects a small number of sets." Frankly I'd prefer the government to know that data instead of a private company (also note that much of the recent "disclosures" have involved the government getting access to information these companies have been keeping on you all along). (Pointed to by John)

"The machinists take a look at the current record profits that Boeing has and the fact that the CEO, Jim McNerney has a defined pension plan that is worth $250,000 a month upon retirement, and they say: Why should we give back?" A story on Boeing's record orders announced at the Dubai Air Show with a little on labor relations.

Just in case I ever get to preachy about the virtues and sanity of the left, you have permission to point me back to this. An NBC anchor is an idiot at Sarah Palin. Look, I'm not one to sing her praises, but there's no need, or excuse, for this kind of idiocy. Asshole anchor is an asshole. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Also, so many ways to approach this story, but I think I'll keep it simple. Dick politicians are dicks, no matter which party they belong to. A Hawaiian state rep takes a sledgehammer to homeless peoples' shopping carts. I wonder if any of the shopping plazas which own those carts will sue for destruction of property? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Just because they've been wrong for fifty years doesn't mean they'll be wrong again this year. Ah, the Rapture. Along with helpful video of what to do if you're Left Behind. Wait, "In the last days there will be… a dramatic increase in knowledge…". When did that get added? Plus, I didn't know the whole "Seven years of Tribulation" were because God has halted the countdown specified in Daniel at T minute 7 Years to the New Jerusalem. Two-thousand plus years, even NASA doesn't have launch holds that long. Plus, I also giggle at the concept of a Christian saying they're willing to die for Christ. They've missed the whole point of the story. Yea, don't watch the videos unless you're wearing your Spiritual Armor C-Collar or you might get whiplash. Too much Heaven on their minds.

And Early Linkee-poo by itself

From today's Writers Almanac.
"It's the birthday of anthologist and writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch… remembered by writers today… for one of the most enduring but non-attributed pieces of writing advice ever given. He wrote in his 1916 book On the Art of Writing, 'Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press: Murder your darlings.'… Now a popular catchphrase… 'murder your darlings' admonishes writers to refrain from being too precious about their prose and to trust in the values of simplicity and efficiency."
Do ye likewise.

Just in case that phrase was ever confusing (I've actually answered questions about this in several writing groups and even as a panelist).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo may leave here for 4 days in space, but when you return, it's the same old place

I'm in surgery this week. Also have a big test of Tuesday. Then I have to write a paper. So, things are going to get a little busy again. I better get this one out early.

Dr. Doyle with some of the basics of dialog. You might think everybody knows these two simple rules, but they don't. I can't tell you how many early writers who don't have a grasp of these basics.

Dr. Doyle also has some good recommendations for things writers should do at least once. Yes, those. Also I would make an addendum to that first rule that you should fire the type of gun for the period you're talking about (they all have different characteristics). And if you're writing about swords and knives, you should also handle one (you don't need to go through the training, but know their balance and how each will move and cause your muscles to move). And if you've never built a fire before, you should know how. It's not as easy as they make it look on TV.

Chuck Wendig's own letter to a young writer.

Research. It's important so you don't look like an idiot. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Terri Windling offers some good advice for creatives. The things about creativity and inspiration is this, you gotta show up first. While it may come at any time, more often it shows up in the garden of hard work.

Pearls Before Swine with the new author syndrome (which a few older authors also suffer from). Or "how not to use Amazon when your first book is published."

Ten negotiation strategies for creatives. Geared towards designers, but transferable to other creative ventures.

Ever wonder what all those terms to define sub-genres of fantasy mean? You know, the ones all those smart people up on the podium like to throw around. Well, here's a good crib sheet. (Grokked from Tor.com)

A handy chart for how dangerous a zombie is. (Grokked from Tor.com)

The twenty things that happen in one minute infographic. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The opening line of Beowulf may have been mistranslated all these years. (Grokked from Tor.com)

On saying "You're welcome" when someone says "Thank you." I'm not sure I entirely agree with this (the article reports on advice to say "I know you'd do the same for me"). There's an implied reciprocity in that change that I know I don't have when I do something for someone else. Also, in my current day-to-day, I hear "Thank you" most often after I finish an x-ray procedure. I know the person isn't thanking me for what I did, but for being a part of the total care they're receiving, as in x-ray we often have to cause pain to get the images the radiologists need. Also, we know our tables are hard and cold. There are reasons for both. So when they say "Thank you", often they are saying I was being as gentle as I could be, or I explained what I was doing better than they often get. When I help my neighbor, I help them because they're my neighbor. It's nice if they're able to reciprocate, but I'm not going to demand it. I help people because I like helping people. Helping them is my reward. So, "you're welcome." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Fred Clark with a little on eschatology in the modern age.

Three charts that show why Obamacare is important. Because of all the positives that Obamacare has already brought about, people often forget just how bad it looked for healthcare spending before Obamacare. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

John Boehner again repeated that we have the best health care system in the world. John Boehner is full of shit. Just in case you were forgetting why Obamacare needed passing (and why some of us don't think it went far enough). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

The physics of peeing and avoiding splash-back. For those of us of the boy variety (or for those who prefer standing). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"The two men are being held in jail under suspicion of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit a crime and false imprisonment… The priests involved will not face any charges." Ummm… (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Want a smaller government (like, really small)? Want less regulation? Want those free market solutions to dominate the landscape? Welcome to Haiti.

Tweet of my heart: @Andrew Kaczynski A man tattooed Leviticus 18:22 on his arm that forbids homosexuality, unfortunately Leviticus 19:28 forbids tattoos. pic.twitter.com/heZ2woyfzt

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Lamentable State of the Business Today

Or why I'm doing the reboot.

Why the design market sucks. here's one example from Monster. Looking for a Graphic Designer/Assistant Manager to handle co-managing a team plus be responsible for 100+ "multiple page" publications within 4 months (4x4x5=80 days, which means 1+ large publications per day). Plus communications with their 100+ customer base. And what are they willing to pay? $13-15 an hour (or $27,040 to $31200 a year). "Company confidential"? Why, so we won't egg your place? Dear company confidential, same you pal, and the horses you rode in on. Seriously? The sad part is they're probably swamped with resumes. More fodder for the reboot.

I guess it could be worse. You could be applying for "This position is your opportunity to join a respected organization that is redefining media advertising in Northeast Ohio by offering an extensive portfolio of digital and print media solutions." :: rolls-eyes :: The small print, "Northeast Ohio Media Group is a new, digitally focused company…" So, a brand new company that's respected and redefining advertising. That's some shit slinging right there. Oh yea, the title is "Part-time", but the description is "full-time". That's redefining all right.

Last but not least is this designer position who is basically responsible for everything. I mean everything. Writing, layout, proof-reading, and all their social media out reach (that's 3 full-time jobs right there). Plus, "Possess strong graphic design skills." Oh yea, there's also the "Demonstrate strong computer skills including proficiency in Microsoft Office Applications…" (meaning they want you to design print ads using Powerpoint). And what education do they want? "Associates or Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university preferably in English, Marketing, or Business Administration." Uh, yea, Bob.

Linkee-poo can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?

Wow, almost a week between linkee-poos. Sorry about that folks. Under the gun with the day thing, the reboot, and the freelance stuff. It's crazy. I hope to get to sleep this weekend. I hope.

Fourteen ways to tick off a writer. Yes, that. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jim Hines' Year of the Poser calendar is now on sale.

Wait, alligators don't live under escalators. They live in the sewers under NYC, as everybody knows. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Everybody is a damned art director. You'll need to scroll down to see the posters. Yea, I've heard a few of those. (Grokked from How Magazine)

The sound of one hand calling to tell you that you have the clap. Who says government doesn't work for you?

Why you really want to be an astronaut. (Grokked from Jim Hines)

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine. What Google would have looked like in those heady days of 80's BBS. Does it show my age that I get this? (Pointed to by Dan)

Not the first article I've seen about this, but if you're going to espouse austerity it might help to not be wearing white-tie and tails and drinking out of gold goblets sitting next to someone on a gold throne. Sure, the rich are just like you and me. Only dumber. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

So, you say you want a revolution, well you know, we all want to change the world.

I'm sure people will debate this, but wanna see what our future holds if we don't do something about climate change? Look at Tacloban. Strongest storm ever recorded. Let's see, Katrina, Sandy, and now Haiyan. Remember when these were rare? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Who made Steve? Yes, truly a question for the ages. As a member of the International Secret Cabal of Steves, this made me giggle.

Jay Lake pretty well sums up why the fears about assisted suicide are a bunch of bunk. People really do want to live (for the most part), but there comes a time when the living is harder than dying. If you've ever watched someone die a slow death over months you've probably seen that point.

"'This is a great example of the kind of consumer abuses that are typical of the insurance industry, and they're supposed to stop under the ACA,' Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care For America Now, a pro-Obamacare advocacy group, told TPM. 'In this case, they're trying to get in just one more abuse.'" Insurance companies using the conservative mandated confusion on the healthcare insurance marketplaces to screw their customers over all while blaming Obamacare? Shocked, shocked I am… And doubtful you'll ever hear that side of the story from Fox or the rest of the media. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Little Boxes

Some things on my mind lately, pretty much summed up by this old song.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Linkee-poo oh baby, then it fell apart, it fell apart, like it always does

So, you've completed that first book and are flogging it at agents, what do you do now? Well, Buttercup, here are a few ideas. The easy answer is this, take a breath, and start writing the next book. Or, you could, like me, start training for a new career. But, see, when I had time I did start the next book. And you'll have plenty of time, this rain dances don't take very long (although I'm partial to dancing naked in the light of the waxing moon, YMMV).

And since I point to Chuck Wendig's blog, but it was an article by someone other than Chuck, how about a Chuck post (Chuck Post, BTW is the name of my next polka band). Like his quick-create guide to character development. It really isn't all that quick, but it is a nice guide. I think I need to get a tattoo of "Plot is Soylent Green — it is made of people". I've never really had problems with creating characters, it might be because I've known a number of them in my day. Although, I'll admit, showing them in depth, on the page, has been a little stumbling block. Maybe because I want to say, "they're just like Bob. You know Bob, right?" Also, the NaNoWriMo dialogs.

"Nobody is born knowing how to write, any more than you’re born knowing how to perform brain surgery. We’ve got to get past the myth of inborn talent and recognize that this thing we’ve decided to do is hard work. It takes time, and there’s no end point to the learning process." Jim Hines is smart about writing in his keynote address in front of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.

On obsession, drive, focus, detail, and how all of that focuses into what we do. And, yea, as a graphic designer some people get into how to make the perfect ellipsis. But unless you're a type designer I'll just be glad if yours actually represents an unexpressed thought that should be obvious and is only three dots long. Also that you use them sparingly (if you only get 3 "!" per novel, I'm willing to give you six "…" for every 100,000 words). If you've gone to business school (and use powerpoint), I'm betting you couldn't do any of those to save your life.

As you may have heard, Neil Gaiman will be teaching at Bard College for a five-year mission to explore… wait, that's not right. But he's there for five years or so, starting this January. He's teaching an advanced writing course on fantasy fiction. If Bard College, the Great Courses, or any of the great audio archives or audiobook companies are not planning on recording these (you know, unless Mr. Gaiman has it specified in his contract that no recordings will be made) the world at large is missing an excellent opportunity. Hell, if they're not and anybody reading this is at Bard and taking his class, if he allows it on his syllabus, I will send you an audio recording device as long as you share the files (you must attend all classes, sit in the front, and make recordings of his lectures).

On using MRI and discovering just how much work "spontaneous creativity" takes. Anyone who has done "creativity" for a living knows it's hard work (we also know how to be creative at need - one big part is feeding the subconscious a diet rich in information). Sometimes when I hear people talking about "creativity" and how "you need to be inspired" (frankly, my paycheck inspires me a great deal) I'm reminded of the lines on the Big Bang Theory. Howard: "You can't just tell a falcon to hunt." Leonard: "Yes you can. There's a whole sport based on it called falconry." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Oh sure, you knew that Sean Connery, Roger More, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Bernard Lee, Robert Brown, and Judi Dench all reprised roles and appearing in more than one James Bond movie, but did you know these other actors appeared in more than one Bond movie? Truth be told, I only knew about half of them. (Pointed to by Dan)

Bogosort. (Pointed to by John)

The 13 horrible ways to die if you're an insect for your edification and story bone factors. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Time has come today. Fred Clark on people hearing things in rock songs, in this case predicting the Rapture (you know, something other than the Satan worship and suicide cheerleading that people normally hear).

The winners in annual contest sponsored by Nikon for microscopic imaging. If I've done this link correctly it'll take you to the image that shows what neurons look like. All this branches at the top, those are receiving extensions that take in input from other neurons. All those branches at the bottom, transmission points which send chemicals across the void to other neurons (most of those will go to other individual neurons). This is one of the reasons that I don't believe computers will ever be able to match us for human level intelligence. Designing a circuit board that could simulate that would be nearly impossible. And by imitating it, you don't get the same processes. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

This is your brain. This is candy. This is your brain on candy. 'Nough said. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Apparently dogs watch which side other dogs wag on. There's so much in that story, including why sinister means left-handed and that you probably never noticed dogs and cats wag more on one side than the other.

Also, turns out that even before the Great Recession small business, the "magic pill" of politics, was in trouble. Just keep that in mind the next time someone talks about how good small businesses are for the US and how we all should be supporting them.

Oh noes, another person getting thrown off their insurance and getting screwed over by Obamacare. On second glance, just another person parroting the line about how it's all so bad, but didn't actually check it for themselves (and the "interviewer" also didn't check). Without knowing their doctor, we can't be sure the doctor is in the other plans, and if they make more money next year they may not qualify for the subsidy they qualify for this year, but, yea, they'd save money and get a better plan (lower deductibles and out of pocket costs, no limits on doctor's visits, etc). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Also, health insurance companies may not tell the truth when trying to get their customers to pay higher premiums and then blame Obamacare for it? Why that's unpossible. It's just like Cleveland Clinic blaming their recent downsizing on Obamacare (when they stand to make more money from its implementation). I'm sure it has nothing to do with their recent acquisitions that aren't panning out, or executive compensation, or their reduced bed count, or than other hospitals might be scoring better on customer surveys (which will be linked to medicare reimbursements). No, I'm sure that's not the case. I'm sure it's also not the case that by removing one or two vice-presidents could have saved all those jobs or maybe cutting the decorating budget. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Thou shall not commit logical fallacies the poster. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Obamacare clarification

Over the weekend on the linkee-poo I made a few comments about the new anti-Obamacare drumbeat of "Oh noes, the insurance company cancelled my insurance and now I have to buy something better."

My friend and fellow writer Ferrett Steinmetz posted to his blog a thoughtful take on some of us liberals defending the ACA and some of the stupid things liberals do. I'm not sure Ferrett was responding to my post, but I can see that someone might take the point he is making as something I implied in my post.

So, first up, let me say I get it. Yes, paying more for something you were already buying and used to set your budget around totally sucks. It sucks if you're poor and it still sucks if you're middle class or rich. After all, most people (like 80% or so of us) are a few paychecks away from disaster. I never meant to say otherwise, but was making a point about how the media really isn't telling you even half of the story here in their attempt to tell you that Obamacare is bad (here I include the vast majority of media, and despite the conservative meme of "they's all hates us", the general media is not liberally biased).

I also get being poor. Believe me. Since John Scalzi recently did a "10 things I've done that you probably haven't" let me tell you about my growing up. There were many times we had to make those choices. As some of you know, my metabolism is messed up. This is the result of eating cheap calories for most of my life. I used to wear jeans two waist sizes too big and 4" too long in the inseam because we could hem them up and baste in the waist. I typically wore these until they were waders (only once do I remember outgrowing the waist size). One of my comfort foods is mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and peanut butter (besides bread, two of those we grew in our garden and one of those came in large cans from government surplus). In college I wore Goodwill purchase clothes and did pull one jacket out of the dumpster (for me, fortunately these were less than 50% of my wardrobe). I stole toilet paper to make ends meet. I can no longer really stomach raman noodles (and still consider adding a can of peas as "that special dinner"), but for some reason I haven't completely worn out my taste for macaroni and cheese (often made without milk and seasoned with ketchup if I was lucky and could steal a few packages from McDs). I understand the difference an extra $50 makes a month.

As an adult, I've been fortunate that I can now help friends and my mother financially. But when I lost the printing job I had a raging ear infection that I let going to the point that I would get shooting pains if I moved my head because I didn't want to spend the $75 to go to the urgent care (and then whatever the drugs would be). I also had an allergic reaction so strong that at my second interview for the day job I currently have I could barely close my hands. If I had known I would have a good job within 6 months, I could have afforded those things quickly and would have gotten help sooner. At the time, though, I didn't know how long I would be out of work, so I was saving as much as I could. I have damaged my ear and now have infections about every 4-6 months (we're trying to repair all the damage I let happen, but that may not be fully possible). My hands still occasionally hurt, but haven't swelled that much since then.

And I was better off than some of my friends.

So, yeah, I get that. But if you're at that low income level, chances are you qualify for either the Medicare expansion (fortunately approved by Gov. Kasich here in Ohio) or subsidies to help pay for your coverage. Also, this is just one of the very many reasons why I support increasing the minimum wage. Jobs that used to be considered "first jobs for teenagers" (of which I've had a few) are now "bread winning jobs." This is why "asset checks" are evil (IMHO). People who have enough in the bank rarely apply for help, and why shouldn't we allow people to have a reserve that can help them get off of assistance even quicker. And, frankly, this is why I still support the single-payor concept of healthcare.

But the point I was trying to make is better made by this chart (Grokked from Jay Lake). Approximately 94% of people will either benefit from or have no change because of Obamacare. For three percent it'll be a wash. The last three percent will be adversely affected. So when people tell you about how "it's all bad", now you know the percentages. Those 3% have a microphone and they're using it now. And this is not to diminish their pain. This will be hard for a large number of people (that 3% is a lot of people after all).

That doesn't mean there aren't people in that 94% who think they're being misused either. But it's not news when "nothing happened." It's only news when people are devastated (because even the news has had to ramp up the drama to keep us interested). You rarely get news of the "my life is better because…" unless it has to do with individual heroes helping individuals. It's a well known fact that government can't help you and the media is damn sure they're going to make sure you continue to think that.

A lot of what Obamacare does in the market is shift cost from government and as a collective to the individual. Not all of it. We're still going to pay a premium for those who can't pay their healthcare bills, who file bankruptcies because of healthcare payments (although it should be less than we've had before because of regulations regarding the dropping of insurance and yearly and lifetime caps), and those who have insurance that isn't all that great still (it's a game of relativity after all). But now some of that cost we've all been bearing (if you pay medicare, income tax, and have descent health insurance) will now be spread out farther and will be financed in more direct ways.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo shakes its shaggy head and walks away

Just a note about the new conservative meme about people having their policies cancelled because of Obamacare. You may have heard about the "underinsured" before this. Now you know who they are. Here's the thing, those insurance companies could have increased the coverage to the bare minimum required by the ACA. But here's the thing, they're crappy insurance plans designed to reduce premiums and provide relatively little coverage (high deductibles, coverage that's basically "if you have a disaster, you might have some coverage of some of your bills"). These are the plans that when you have an emergency, suddenly you find that your insurance is dropping you instead of paying your bills. And yes, the poor and the rich have these plans. Many of those people who are having sticker shock? That doesn't mean they chose the "best" (read "cheapest") option from the exchanges, but instead went for the silver or gold options (from having been underinsured before).

And, gee, v1.0 of a complicated website doesn't work? Why, that hardly ever happens. Except that it does all the time. And all those sites conservatives like to tout in the line, "we'll if X could do it, why can't we?" One, the government is not a business (in fact, there are many laws that keep them from functioning like a business, including contracting laws). And two, those other sites started out relatively simple and grew in their complexity, and not all of those steps were successful. So everyone that is shocked that there were bumps in the implementation, you all don't live in reality. Also, the enrollment deadline is March. If, as the consultants have predicted, we'll have the site running well (note, not completely glitch free) by the end of November, that's still four months to sign up. That is twice as long as most open enrollment periods.

Before there were "turtle tunnels" in Florida, NY City had a cow tunnel. Although the turtle tunnels are to protect the turtles, whereas the cow tunnels were just a long atrium to the slaughter house. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

Vince shares the Chapel of Skulls.

Noted without comment, the @FloridaWoman twitter feed. (Pointed to by John)

More advertising gone horribly wrong. And they didn't even have to use the many companies that have used "classical music" in their commercials only to discover that music is actually a funeral requiem. (Grokked from Vince)

Random Michelle brings us the good news that black lung is no more. Oh wait, no, that isn't what she meant at all. Yea, we don't need no gubberment to regulate businesses. After all, I'm sure all those people who are still dying from black lung were willful participants in their attempts to zoom the government and really wish they weren't forced to fake air quality reports. If we didn't have regulations, we wouldn't need to fake the data. Or something like that.

"This is what the war on abortion access looks like in Kansas: betraying the confidence of medical patients, pretending that forcing 10-year-olds to birth rapists’ babies is no big deal, bankrupting doctors, driving one man into a frenzy of anti-choice hate so much so that he murders someone, and allowing convicted terrorists to be the leaders running the whole thing. Under the circumstances, it’s no big surprise that one anti-choice leader is dropping hints that gun violence at the South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita is coming." (Grokked from the Slactivist)

You may wonder what I mean by whackaloon. Here are a few" examples.