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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo is mighty, mighty, just letting it all hang out

An infographic on Kurt Vonnegut's "shape of stories" concept.

Why more people should blog about illness and death. Because of the fear of the unknown can only be defeated by knowing. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A good long list of opportunities for writers. Lots of contests and emeritus positions. I suggest double checking some of these in the usual places.

Books-a-Million posts a good profit. Good news.

Bee colonies continue to have population collapses. Considering that most of the things you eat require bees to pollinate something in the chain, this still continues to be a Bad Thing™. (Grokked from Mary Robinette Kowal)

A good article on austerity and the reduction of public employees as compared to previous recessions. Again, a long history of economic responses all tell us that with austerity, we're doing it wrong. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

So, after the GOP figures out they need to change their message, including spending $10 million on paid spokes people to go into urban neighborhoods (which I would contest was the first gaff), they just can't get their ducks to march in a straight line. (Pointed to by Dan)

Looking for some occult references? Here's almost 2000 texts online. Although they have copies of the Necronomicon, so use wisely and with appropriate caution (as in, here there be bullshit, tread lightly). (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

It Came From Mercury. Sounds like a 50s monster movie to me, but actually scientist have confirmed the first known meteorites from Mercury. Is it me or is this the year of the asteroid? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Coke has mastered the world-wide distribution chain, including to places without phones or safe water. So why not piggyback life saving medicine to places that it would be hard to get to with the Coke? Now that (including the packaging design) is forward thinking. (Grokked from Lisa Morton)

Noted without comment, The Rapture Index. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"In a formal complaint… by at least four parents, (the instructor of a class) is chided for using the word 'vagina' during a tenth-grade biology class on the human reproductive system." While the actual complaint contains more damning accusations, it's the word "vagina" that gets them? Seriously? In 10th grade? Sigh. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jason Sandford deconstructs the "reverse discrimination" myth. Look, angry doesn't look good on anyone. And while there are legitimate reasons to be angry, being made to share the world with everyone else isn't one of them (no matter how much you don't wanna).

Researchers "compared 677 cases in which people were injured in a shooting incident with 684 people living in the same area that had not suffered a gun injury… They found that those with firearms were about 4.5 times more likely to be shot than those who did not carry, utterly belying this oft repeated mantra…" of owning a gun for self-defense. La Pierre is an idiot who is either trying to scare you into keeping his job, or is really disconnected with reality. You know what stops a bad guy with a gun? It isn't a good guy with a gun. Typically the bad guy either finishes what they wanted to do, has their conscience take over, or they lose their taste for violence. The fantasy of the good guy with a gun is the same Ralphie has about Black Bart in "A Christmas Story" and has just as much legitimacy in reality. "Gun aficionados often frame the debate in terms of protection, but it is vital to realize that the vast majority of rape and murder victims are not harmed by nefarious strangers, but by people they know, and often love – friends, family members, lovers." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Man hunts deer in Wal-Mart parking lot. Thank Grue he had his gun with him when he spotted a 10-point buck in the parking lot (don't watch the video, completely insipid). The only good part from the video is that state police decided to let the game warden prosecute the guy because the charges and penalties through that office would be stiffer than the police charging him (hunting without a license, hunting out of season… etc). So, yea, reckless discharge and endangerment would have been the lighter charges. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

A North Carolina Senator authors a bill to require counseling, including course on how divorce affects children, and a two year waiting period for filing for divorce. Yea. That's going to work so well. You know, with all the kids who grew up as children of divorce you'd think the culture would have a little more knowledge about these things. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Meet the new whinge, same as the old whinge

Oh noes, the EPA is going to require that gasoline producers reduce the amount of sulfur in our gas. Cue the rending of garments, the "impossibility" argument, and the "it's going to cost so much" and "we're never going to be able to do it" typical bull. Sure, it's going to cost the industry money. IIRC, cost estimates are about $10 billion. Which sounds like a lot, doesn't it. I mean, how will the oil industry ever find that much money. Why they'll have to raise gas prices by $0.09 a gallon.

I mean, Exxon-Mobil by itself only had $9.6 billion in net profit the last quarter. You know, that money they like to say they need to have to plow back into their business so we shouldn't do anything like closing up the oil company's tax loopholes and deductions. It might mean a whole quarter of one oil company's profit plus the change they can find in the couch cushions to reduce the Medicare and Medicaid's cost (you know, what you and I pay) by $28 billion by reducing respiratory problems. Not mention reducing smog and increasing the life and productivity of our catalytic converters and engines.

Remember when Obama came into office and talked about alternative energy production and using natural gas as a bridging technology from coal? Remember the energy production companies wailing and moaning about how much that would cost and the "oh we can't ever move that fast, it'll take decades and require so much money in research, blah blah blah"? Say, did you know that in less than 5 years we reduced our dependence on coal by 80% by converting our power plants to natural gas? And all it took was for natural gas prices to nose dive to where power companies realized it would be cheaper to convert to natural gas. Did you see your electricity prices rise because of all the retrofitting? Remember the "we could never get our CO2 emissions below 1990 levels" wailing over Kyoto? I mean, we could never meet that goal by 2014. Except that we met that goal last year.

So, no, I don't believe the companies when they say they can't do or afford this. Like I said, it'll take just a little over one quarter's profit of one of the oil companies to pay for this.

Yea, I'm calling shenanigans.

Linkee-poo, tell me, don't you get me wrong, I only want to know

Some tips for writing and working full time.

Amazon buys Goodreads. Insert ominous music here.

Ten tips for titling. Maybe an 11th for being alliterative. Although coming up with good titles is not one of my talents. (Grokked from Diana Peterfreund)

The new Library of Alexandria. Nice. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Other writers give you a hand to keep writing. Or, at least they write their advice on their hands.

A $50,000 prize for authors who have published 3-5 books.

Vince reminds us of the Poetic Edda as source material for Tolkien.

Giant squid are all related to Cthulhu. Oh, wait, no, I guess they're just all related as one species. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

An interactive info graphic on the frequency of words in TMBG lyrics. 'Cause we can, and you know you wanna know. (Pointed to by Dan)

I've been churning this link over. That's Jay Lake sharing his experience of feeling his mortality while seeing other's vitality and having the cognitive dissonance and his feeling on being on the "Final Tour". Very insightful into the process of dying.

Jim Wright gets drawn into the conversation, again. Yea, I've had days like that. The major problem, though, is what I explained after Nov. 6th last year. See, the first time President Obama was elected, the conservatives of the permanent majority, the ones who say "everybody agrees with us", could (if they questioned themselves at all) chalk it up to optimism and an aberration of logic. Surely, soon, all would be right with the world. After all, in 2010 they retook the Congress. They were "RIGHT!" all along. This is why even when Fox News saw the numbers, when those numbers went south for the conservative cause it was because the pollsters were skewing the results. But after the election when not only did they not win the White House, but also lost ground in both the House and Senate (you might remember that even as late as July 2012 they were very confident they would increase their numbers in the House and take control of the Senate) they could no longer sustain the myth. Much of what has resulted from that point is what happens when people's world view is proved wrong and they can no longer lie to themselves that they were correct. There is no permanent majority. And for those in the real know understand just how bad the numbers were (the GOP lost in all national elections in the popular vote, by a large margin). So now everything is bad and wrong and oh we're just all going to hell in a handbasket.

Fred Clark talks about this a little more while discussing the White Evangelical persecution complex.

Congress is upset because they didn't understand just what sequestration really meant. Also notice that they claim that office supplies are "waste". Dear Congress, after "cutting" budgets and looking for waste for 30 years, you might be surprised to find that there is very little waste and fraud left that doesn't require more money to be spent to identify. You know, money spent on "consultants" and the like. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Pope Francis is shaking it up. Not only does he not wash the feet of priests in what is a Holy Thursday event, he even washed girls' feet. ZOMG! Cats and dogs… you know the routine. Why am I reminded of the grand debate between the Franciscans and Benedictines in The Name of the Rose? Enter the revisitation of the concept of the Magdalene being one of the disciples.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Linkee-poo the rocks and stones themselves would start to sing

When Star Trek NG came out, I was kind of a dick. There was this kid on the show I had waited for and I wondered just what the heck is this kid doing on my show? He wasn't even alive when the original Star Trek was on TV. He doesn't understand what it's all about. I'm glad to say I was so fucking wrong about that. This isn't the first time I thought that, but it's just another instance where, if I ever meet Wil Wheaton in the flesh, I need to apologize for my dickishness. I've gone from critic to fan. Yea, he got it. Still does. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Mary Robinette Kowal with some good advice regarding author photos. As I've told some of my clients, "Sure, you could get that nephew to design your brochure or business card. But know that piece of communications will stand in for you when you can't be there. Do you want that nephew to be your sales rep to your potential customers?" That doesn't mean there aren't some very talented amateurs out there. But you do get what you pay for.

Dr. Doyle on rejectomancy.

Jim Hines talks a little more about big-D depression. Big-D is the big liar. It will even lie to you about being present.

A really great article on the history of color systems and teaching kids about color. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Actually, we would really much rather have our eccentric criminals stay safely within the pages of novels by Carl Hiassen or Elmore Leonard, because those characters don’t quite so clearly call attention to how fucked up our system is when it comes to caring for people who are poor, unstable, and maybe not so bright." A man shoots a Wal-Mart manager because the manager refused to let the man's dog in the store. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

You know that kid in school who had that really dangerous hobby? Well, now they just post photos of them doing crazy things. (Pointed to by Dan)

"'We still have a long way to go to develop aircraft capable of safely interacting with people or the environment,' says Korpela." Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Drone engineers develop a claw that works just like an eagle's claw to let drones grab things. What could go wrong? (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"But perhaps the weirdest moment in Bachmann’s speech… was the moment… she asked, 'Where are poor women supposed to go?' for health care… (until the ACA is fully implemented) Poor women will go to the one place poor women have always gone for affordable, reliable access to the health care that is otherwise denied them because they are poor and because they are women: They will go to Planned Parenthood." You know, the one place Rep. Bachmann and other idiots of her ilk have declared holy war on to defund them and have Planned Parenthood close up shop.

Hey, here's a new one, I'm going to say John Boehner is correct. When it comes to the DOMA oral arguments, John Boehner understands how the Constitution works better than Chief Justice John Roberts and Antonin Scalia. The Executive Branch can determine to ignore enforcement of a law (which they aren't in this case, although they did stop defending the law), but they can't declare a law Unconstitutional (except in the press) and then just wipe it from the books (at a local level this is known as police prerogative, or why sometimes you get a warning instead of a ticket). That's not the job of the Executive. To get the law off the books, either the Supreme Court must rule (or either uphold the ruling of a lower court or refuse to revisit the decision of a lower court) or Congress must pass a new law that repeals the old law. That the Chief Justice doesn't comprehend this simple fact is very worrying. But then I'm guessing they're just whinging for having to be put on the spot. Oh, and a last line to Justice Scalia, if the DoJ decides not to enforce a law, they are then culpable and can be sued for not enforcing the law. In this case, if the President instructed the DoJ to ignore the law, Congress (or any of the people defending DOMA) could have brought him up on charges for failure to follow the law. I may disagree with your reasoning, but do the fargin' job.

The Satanic baby-killers who never were, but some of them are still in jail. When people talk about having "good, God-fearing people" in positions of power, I often think they're talking about people like James Randall Noblitt.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Linkee-poo told me I'd meet girls like you, also told me stay away you'll never know what you'll catch

The Doom that Came to Fiddle Creek. A kickstarter project for a marionette HP Lovecraft production. Live theater HP Lovecraft, what's not to like. (Pointed to by Sheila)

A 113 year old rejection letter. Man, talk about wait times. (Grokked from Dr. Doyle)

When juggernauts clash, it's usually the people who aren't involved that get hurt. Or, when the last standing large chain brick and mortar store throws a hissy fit at Simon & Schuster it isn't those two companies who take the hardest hit. It's the S&S authors who pay the heavy price. Also note, this isn't just related to this instance. You may remember the Amazon vs. Macmillan title bout last year. Those of us involved with these industries can only watch from the side lines as thousands of author incomes, livelyhoods, and careers are sacrificed for the sake of a few pennies and pray the same thing doesn't happen to us when our books come out. Also, as a side political note, this is how the free market works folks. Only one B&M chain left, and the smoking holes left by their last competitor have yet to be filled by independents. Free markets love monopolies. But don't worry, the execs for both B&N and S&S will still get their bonuses and golden parachutes, all paid for with the blood, sweat, and years of their midlist authors who are being thrown under this particular bus. (Grokked from Saladin Ahmed)

The magical library. Or more aptly, a private research library of magical texts. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The Gates Foundation creates a $100,000 prise to the person who comes up with a better condom. While the article treats this as a funny story, but actually such a condom would change the dynamics of STDs and incidence of unplanned pregnancies. (Grokked from Rae Carson)

The retro-future tech of the flying platform. I think I see a few of the issues of why this never went very far forward, but I think those could be overcome these days. (Pointed to by Dan)

And example of just what the Cold War did to us all. A Chinese business man wants to build a golf course in a remote section of Iceland. And because of the plain-face absurdity of a luxury golf resort on land that is snowbound most of the year, people are looking for other explanations, which quickly look at geopolitical aspect of the Chinese owning a large swath of a strategically important island. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Got an earworm? Here's how you get rid of it. (Pointed to by Dan)

"There used to be a lot of jobs that you could do with just a high school degree, and that paid enough to be considered middle class. I knew, of course, that those have been disappearing for decades. What surprised me was what has been happening to many of the people who lost those jobs: They've been going on disability." The wrap up NPR report on the rise in disability payments. One time, when I was back at the printing plant, going down the stairs I was nearly plowed into by a sales person running up the stairs. It would have been a very bad fall if I hadn't caught myself in time. And when I got to the bottom of the stairs my brain went back to the SocSec letter I had received the month before (when they used to send them out). I'm pretty much at the top end of the earning curve and I'm fully vested (the benefit of 30 years of working for a paycheck). If I had gone down those stairs and injured my back, broken my leg, whatever and wasn't able to return to work, my disability wouldn't have been that much less than what I was making. That was an interesting afternoon. But in defense of some of this, I know a lot of people who have bad backs. Just because you have lower back pain doesn't mean everyone has the same pain. Mine is pretty manageable, but some people have a much harder time. That's an error this article makes. Also please note the cost of disability, "Going on disability means, assuming you rely only on those disability payments, you will be poor for the rest of your life. That's the deal." It's a very interesting article (I had heard some of the parts on NPR on the way home). (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"Farmers objected. Fertilizer, unlike your average AR-15, serves a useful purpose in society. It took a long time and required added protections for people who need the material to make a living, but eventually the law got passed." On gun control and some of the more silly retorts about how guns aren't the most dangerous thing out there. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @Writepop: Son, your mom and I are very upset about your new "I Worship Satan" tattoo. The kerning is terrible! And papyrus? Really?

Alligator Quotient: It was beautiful, but now it's sour.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo doesn't have a clever title

Lots of studying to do before big test tomorrow, so I haven't been on the internets too much this weekend (the length of this post not withstanding).

Shawn Powers has a great send up of the Google "we can't monetize this" decisions of late. Hahahahaha.

So you're a writer who is getting to the point that you're ready for some graphic design help. Jeanne Kisacky has some tips for you. As a professional graphic designer, yes, this. Another tip (and this varies by designer), if you have samples of design you really love and think would work good for you, bringing those samples with you doesn't bother me in the least given one small rule. Don't say, "I want exactly that." These samples just give me an idea of what turns your crank. I'll ask you questions about the samples and I may or may not want to take them with me (at the end you'll get them back) for reference. I like to have hard copy because 1) I may not be familiar with your reference, and 2) I can point to things and we can have a discussion right then. Also I'll point out that a graphic designer can help you with more things than just "graphics" (cover, logo, single illustration). Also, not every designer is also an illustrator just like not all illustrators can do graphic design.

Chuck Wendig with 25 twists and pivots to make your story like a bad case of volvulus.

The ancient rock cut tombs of Myras. Cool.

One of the most noted complaints about using an iPad for writing is the keyboard function. Of course, the easy way out of that it to use a bluetooth keyboard to do the actual typing. Then comes the discussion of which keyboard you should get. How about if you have a Mac already, you can use the keyboard you have with the Mac. And with Type2Phone you can use the keyboard with the Mac and your iOS device all at the same time. Okay, well, you're switching back and forth. But still, one keyboard on the desk can type into the iPad or the Mac. I think that could be useful. (Pointed to by Dan)

"For farmers… pumping groundwater to keep the crops alive is the only option. But it’s not a very good one… In the Hatch Valley… groundwater has dropped an average of 3 feet in the past three extreme drought years… (the) problem is not so much the dropping aquifer as the quality of the groundwater. It is laden with salt. To keep his family’s 1,000 acres alive during the drought means to slowly suffocate the land." And this isn't just happening in Texas, there's also problems in California and most of the breadbasket. And what we're doing is pretty much mortgaging the future of the soil to keep us today. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Want to know why some of us really hate Nixon? You know, for something besides his sabotaging the democratic process in 1972? How about his sabotaging the democratic process in 1968? Yea, that'll do. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

One nation under the gun. The Huffington Post article on the thousands of gun deaths since Newtown. Within a year we should surpass the death toll of over 10 years in Afghanistan. There's a pretty good infographic in there.

You may have wondered what I meant by my comment about our warped thoughts surrounding firearms. "It is hardly news that the US is politically divided, but the empirical evidence of escalating stockpiling of semi-automatic weapons also suggests that the US is less socially stable. It is hard to see how this frenzy of fear that is driving a spike of emotional intensity over gun ownership will dissipate any time soon." Maybe that article will help define it a little more. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Ever wanted to know just how insane Europe under the Church was? How about the case of the nuns of Loudun. Also good resource material if you want to write about possession. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Story Bone

You know how spy thrillers just haven't really worked lately (although the rise of state-level terrorism has given them a second wind)? Because we're no longer in a distinct cold war, which pretty much was the engine of the spy thriller. Even the James Bond movies with their reliance on what was a major terrorist organization (SPECTOR) played against the backdrop of the cold war between western powers and the USSR (how many times did SPECTOR attempt to launch WWIII? Like four or five times). Without the conflict, a lot of the tension goes away (the Bourne movies play up against this with the theme of "what do you do with your broken toys now the Cold War is over"?)

But you know what, we're genre writers. Hell, in space all wars are cold wars, you know what I'm saying. Most space opera is hot war based, but given the high cost of space transport and the tension between technology levels, a Cold War scenario makes a lot more sense. And who is to say the Seelie and Unseelie Courts‎ aren't engaged in their own Cold War, or even a Cold War with our realm. After all, the fey have been stealing our babies and taking our tech (except for iron) since stories have been told of them.

Carlie Stross does a little of this with his Laundry Stories (I saw what you did there, BTW). They basically are Cold War stories between us and the Lovecraftian mythos. He has even written his books as homages to other spy thriller writers.

This is very fertile ground, as far as I can tell. There's a couple of furrows in it, but actually I don't think many people think of those stories as Cold War spy thrillers. Maybe they do, I don't know.

Anyway, just thinking about it.

All not quiet on the Western Front

Just in case it comes up later, regarding Obamacare, aka ACA, it's not like we're not suffering for our support. See, a part of the new law requires places of employment to figure part time and full time by the hours actually spent working.

As you may or may not know my wife is an adjunct (read: part-time) college professor. Currently she's working for two college systems. This week both of them notified all their adjunct professors that the change in the law requires a change in how many courses they're allowed to teach before they have to offer healthcare insurance. And it's come as a shock to the college administration that their part-time faculty are actually being worked full-time hours. Shocked, shocked they are. Not really, but now they have to acknowledge the fact.

See, before this most adjunct faculty were paid only for their time in class, as determined by the contact/credit hour. As anyone who has ever taught knows, time in class isn't the full story. Considering the college expects that students will spend 2-3 hours outside of class reading/studying/crying into their beers for every hour spent in class, not exactly a surprise. And in case you didn't know, most colleges rely on adjunct and graduate student faculty for the bulk of their classes.

But now they can't work them into the ground like they did before. At one college my wife works for there are approximately 115 full-time faculty and about 850 adjuncts. Also, in case you didn't know, while full-time faculty are paid decently, adjunct faculty are paid significantly less.

So, given the choice between increasing their full-time faculty (and decreasing their reliance on adjunct), they've opted to cut the hours adjunct faculty can work in a semester. What this means is if they continue to offer the same course loads, the balance between full-time and adjunct will be thrown even more out of whack. This might break their business model as while there are plenty of people with Masters and PhDs, they'll have to recruit them, support them, manage them, etc. The result is that their costs will increase anyway.

While unfortunately my wife's income is less than mine (wasn't our plan, BTW), it still is a significant contribution. However, much of that income is consumed by the costs of commutes between two campuses (and some semesters three campuses). The bad part is those commute costs are now for even less pay. And my wife isn't an outlier when it comes to adjunct faculty. Which means it's even less attractive to be an adjunct (so there goes that pool of available higher degrees).

How will this be rectified? I see one of three paths. Colleges will need to increase their full-time staff and work them harder or they'll have to pay more per contact/credit hours, or accept less cash flow from reduced course offerings. The last one I don't believe will happen (given the various other business models colleges have adopted lately which require a high cash flow). The other two would require either a large increase in tuition or lower executive/management pay. Guess which one I think will happen. That will cause a chain reaction that will lead to legislation (it's not like the cost of higher education isn't already insanely high and increasing at similar rates to healthcare costs - just google the burden of student loans in case you don't believe me).

So in case anybody wants to say it's easy for me to be a supporter of Obamacare, it's not. It's directly affecting our bottom line in a negative fashion. But I still support it. As with most major societal/economic changes there is short term pain for long term gain.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Linkee-poo, that long, cool woman had it all

As you may have heard, Google is axing Google Reader this summer (and iGoogle in November). This totally sucks because I'm dependent on both of them. I like (mostly) how Google Reader organizes the feeds and doesn't show me already read articles. There's a small problem with some RSS feeds pushing data into the stack, but frankly all of the other services I've looked at have it even worse. And I like how in iGoogle I can have my twitter feed in one column and right next to it is my RSS feeds. So far all the other services I've looked at put them on separate pages (at that point, why not just have twitter open in one tab and the feeds in another tab). Also, navigating other services and how they handle the RSS feeds… well they all feel cumbersome and more dedicated to new wire feeds than social media feeds. Also many of them are "trying to replicate the look of a news magazine/newspaper." Just stop it people, the internet is different than paper. We interact with it differently. So, I'm still looking for a replacement for iGoogle and Google Reader.

Dr. Doyle goes there. That place all writers get to when you know you've gotta be the bad person and write something very uncomfortable. I've hit that place a few times, mostly on the "the bad, and sometimes the hero, needs to do something very violent or callous." And it takes me a while to get to that place in my head that allows me to say, "this isn't me, this wouldn't be my choice, but it would be the character's choice." Such as leveling an entire building to create an acceptable landing zone for a troop drop ship.

A guide to Victorian Era slang. Just in case you may need it. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

Sarah LaPolla on the importance of the first five pages. (Grokked from Miranda Suri)

Hugh Howey's advice to aspiring authors. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Being tired while trying to write is not necessarily a bad thing. But do make time to clean up the mistakes afterward.

Explaining the "story spine."

Why Charlie Stross doesn't self publish. There's also a good dollup of inside baseball of publishing in there.

Tobias shares the story of how in the name of austerity we're screwing over our future. With an example from the Soviet Union.

Jim Hines answers the questions about how old a child should be before talking to them about rape. Yea, what he said. Let's alter the question a little bit. How old should your child be when you talk to them about grand theft/larceny? The conversation doesn't start there, it starts with respecting other people's property. And that you should be instructing your child on little by little form the time they learn how to use their hands. So how do you talk to a child about rape? It starts with helping the child realize that other people are not there for the child's gratification. That other people have their own feelings, thoughts, hopes and everything else and that it's not okay to impose your will on them. And that can happen as early as 2 (IIRC, that's when children realize they are not an extension of their parents and have their own agency - otherwise known as the "Terrible Twos" and "NO!"). But given how many kids and tweens hands I've pushed away from the candy bowl at Halloween (usually followed with a quick, "Don't grab, if you ask nicely I will give it to you" - when they're older they need to say "Trick or Treat", but I give a pass to the younger kids), I don't think we're doing such a good job on those basics (to be fair, there are also plenty of parents who remind their kids "What do we say?" after I give them candy).

"A swath of science fans expressed shock Wednesday upon learning that a popular science Facebook page is run by a woman." Oh noes, my science has cooties in it. Sigh. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"An empathy that never moves beyond that first step and that first epiphany is morally indistinct from selfishness. To take that first step without the next one is only to move from 'me first' to 'me and mine first.'" Fred Clark on Rob Portman's epiphany and how it just doesn't go far enough. For me it was the "the board is tilted against me" move to "the board is titled against us" to the "a lot of the boards out there are title to disadvantage the most people" that changed me from conservative to progressive. My politics haven't changed all that much, but my world is much wider and I consider much more than I used to.

"The homeowner heard his burglar alarm sound, grabbed his gun and went to investigate… the (homeowner) said he told the teen to leave and fired a warning shot… Caleb didn’t stop, and the homeowner fired again, striking and killing the teen…" Guns don't kill people, but they certainly help. In this case, because we have such a screwed up mentality surrounding guns and are made afraid of situations that really don't happen, one teen is dead, and family is without their son, and a neighbor now has to live with the guilt that it was because of him. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"This isn’t me describing them in such ridiculous terms. This is them describing themselves." The stories we tell ourselves. Or in this case, the stories conservatives tell themselves. Now with video.

And wow, I can't believe I had a linkee-poo post I never got to posting. Below are some slightly older links. Sorry, folks, things continue to spin out of control over here.

The conservative reaction to the Orson Scott Card writing Superman thing. Again with the martyrdom and vast tyranny of having to be nice to people and realizing that what's a personal belief is not necessarily the way society should be organized. Now, if OSC had been fired, or never hired, because of his views that would be one thing. But what really happened here was a group of consumers told a business exactly what would happened in the marketplace if they continued their current course of action. Is there a difference? Yea, there is. It may seem like it's murky, but it really isn't. As I've said, in the previous two jobs I was told to my face that if they had known I was a progressive, they wouldn't have considered hiring me. So before you whine about how unfair the world is to OSC and conservatives, just know that my first response is, "FU, that's what's been happening in the workplace for years, only now conservatives and conservative viewpoints are no longer the privileged/entitled standpoints that they used to be." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A CPAC panel on minority outreach spirals down in a way no-one could have predicted. Shocked, shocked I am… (Grokked from Jason Sanford)

More on that CPAC panel and the shake out. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"That’s what you get when you prioritize political technique and ideological checklists over creative engagement with ideas." While that remark was made specifically at Marco Rubio, it pretty well explains what has happened to the GOP post election. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Linkee-poo has heard about Houston, heard about Detroit, heard about Pittsburgh, PA

Great writers are great readers. Here's some books GRR Martin recommends. Got it, got it, got it, got it… oooo, that one is new. Actually, there are a few new ones on there that bear looking for, but some of the older ones I've been looking for copies for a while. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Terri Windling on writing and forgiveness. Don't miss the photo roll-overs. "And then let me keep working."

"Grad student Supap Kirksang made tens of thousands of dollars having his family buy textbooks in his native Thailand and them selling them to Americans at a profit. The publishing company John Wiley and Sons sued him for copyright infringement. But the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, saying the First Sale Doctrine applies no matter where the product was bought." One of the lawyers analyzing this case (which goes way beyond "textbooks" btw, and was a case a lot of people were worried about) gives the standard line that the publishers will just raise their prices in other countries. Yea, that probably won't happen. See, the rest of the world isn't as tied into the types of purchasing contracts that the US has (some of them also have price controls and mechanisms to negotiate lower prices). Here in the US textbook publishers charge outrageous prices. They make plenty of excuses about what that happens, but the real reason is that they can and they love those profits (so do the textbook authors, BTW). Other countries won't stand for those kinds of profit grabs. What would really stop this practice is charging reasonable prices in all countries (seriously, the end product is cheaper if the publisher first ships it over seas, someone buys it retail and then ships it back to the US where another person sells it for a profit while still undercutting those publishers here, tell me again about how they aren't gouging their US customers). If you'd like to see the reverse of this you can look at the Australian SF/F book market. Our friends down under pay much higher prices than we do.

"But there are people who spend years… trying to find a true sense of purpose… Just find… your one true passion, and do it for the rest of your life on nights and weekends when you’re exhausted and cranky and just want to go to bed… All that matters is that once you know what you want to do, you dive in a full 10 percent and spend the other 90 torturing yourself because you know damn well that it’s far too late to make a drastic career change, and that you’re stuck on this mind-numbing path for the rest of your life." Hahahahah… wait a sec. I resemble that remark. (Grokked from JGBarr)

A new theory on how SSRI drugs actually work to mediate depression. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"(T)oday is the last day children in Utah can send in their submissions for the state-sponsored Earth Day poster contest lauding fossil fuel production." Look who is using children for propaganda purposes now. You know after all the hoopla of Al Gore making a film that explained the problem so children could understand it (and then it was used as school materials to explain the issue to children) I'm sure the right will be up in arms over this transparent action. Anyone? As the Church Lady said, "Well, isn't *that* special." Bueller? Bueller? (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Ever wonder why there's this prevalent thought among Americans that the world is just like us? Well, when you limit your sample size to mostly Americans, it's easy to be lead astray.

"Singapore has had the distinction of having prioritized social and economic equity while achieving very high rates of growth over the past 30 years — an example par excellence that inequality is not just a matter of social justice but of economic performance." And yet, as the US has become less equal in terms of the economy, our growth has stagnated and our GDP is considered "strong" if it grows at 2%. Wasn't always so here. Back after WWII till about the end of the 60s, while we had very distinct racial inequalities, our actual wage equality was pretty good. Back then 2% GDP growth would have been considered anemic. But since the 70s, as economic inequality has become greater (and racial equalities has somewhat gotten better), our overall economy has become shoddy. At the print shop, the old timers told tales about how great it was back in the day. Unfortunately there's a whole political movement and party that believes the exact opposite. Too bad their policies are the ones we end up following. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

It's almost magical. If there's a major political event, say like CPAC, if I wait long enough Jim Wright will explain my thoughts better than I could.

Want to know just how far into wackaloon land the conservatives have gone? How about Lindsey Graham fighting for his fictional family with an AR-15 in a fictional apocalypse. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Richard Perle looks back on the start of the Iraq War. Want to know what's wrong with the conservative mind set. See if you can pick out all the misdirection, rationalization, and thought contradictions in that interview. Including the final comments about Syria. What he's basically saying is, "Oh sure, we were wrong about our intelligence going into the Iraq War" (a mistake, BTW, that he helped contrive with Curveball) ", but we're dead wrong for not getting involved in Syria, even if we don't know which insurgents to support or trust." Yea, because that'll work out so well.

A list of ten things that our war in Iraq harmed. Far more than just blood and treasure (and there was plenty of that). One item missed here (although sideways mentioned in 4 and 7) is we managed to fuck-over another generation.

Your county by county map of life expectancy. Actually it shows the disparity between male and female life expectancies. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Linkee-poo, one of these days I'm going to dance with the little piggies

"You can't leap from one side of the Grand Canyon and beat yourself up for not reaching the other side. The leap's the thing!" A post on how we tend to dismiss how far we've come because we're, I don't know, the next Douglas Adams (yet). It's the journey we should enjoy. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

Was the destruction of the Death Star and inside job? Hahahahaha. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Hand drawn design elements. There's a lot of images there, but damn, I love that stuff. Hint, I've also done my fair share of hand work, although with the computer I do much less than my predecessors. Sometimes, however, it's just easier to do it by hand.

How to get more comments on your blog. Hahahahaha. Oh, wait… (Grokked from Steven Gould)

Scientists find a thriving biosphere at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Okay, it's mostly microbial, but still it's more hospitable than originally thought. Life, stranger than we think. There is water at the bottom of the ocean. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"(Dr. James) Knight’s own lawyer called (their win in the Iowa Supreme Court) 'a victory for family values because Knight fired Melissa Nelson in the interest of saving his marriage, not because she was a woman.' Right… cue the celebration". Uh, yeah, Bob. Say, did you know the reason why those radical Islamists force women to wear a hijab or burka? That's so the women won't "accidentally" lead men on to have impure thoughts. Gee, so glad we don't have that mentality here in the US. Oh, wait… (Grokked from the Slactivist)

A Swedish department store displays "plus-sized" mannequins and causes a stir over body image. So, a few years after the whole "photoshopping models to be thinner and more buxom" conversation, obviously we haven't moved the needle too far on this social debate. Oh, and the "plus-sized" mannequins aren't all that plus-sized, but at least they're more normal sized. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Charles is sharing his story… specifically because some members of the Senate have promised to block (Richard) Cordray’s re-appointment as CFPB director unless there are significant changes made to the agency, changes that would hamstring its ability to make decisions and regulate financial institutions." Yup, a part of the government designed to help actual citizens and is now helping to resolve issues that would require a lawsuit, it's no wonder conservatives are so damn set against it. I mean, it's not like they are saying they aren't the party of rich people and they think frivolous lawsuits are bad. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Good thing the conservatives want to get rid of the EPA, you know, so we can have things like this happen here in the US. Why should China get all the attention? I mean, it's not like industry would just throw whatever they didn't want into rivers if they thought they could get away with it. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Tweet of my heart: @ChuckWendig: Writing is often about kicking doubt in the ass and shoving him out the door. Editing is about inviting him back in for tea and scrutiny.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Troubles in paradise

And the strikes keep coming. The Reboot is in trouble and we're not sure how it's going to shake out. Mostly because there are lots of things up in the air.

In the main I'm doing good, although I feel like I'm stumbling around like the three blind mice. The coursework is still running in the A category, although for clinicals I might end up with a B. This weekend I need to be studying for the mid-term in positioning (delayed because of scheduling conflicts).

I do like the work. And I think I'm pretty good with the patients. I have a decent rapport with them (those I deal with directly). And while most times we're just dealing with pain, last week we had several severe injuries, bleeding, thumb sliced off, and a shattered ankle… the kind that elicits involuntary wincing when you see it in the x-rays. But all of which I could deal with. And surgery is actually sort of fun (although I have a limited experience, and the doctors I have been with are very cool, from what I understand there are plenty who aren't). There's been a few stumbles, but from what I understand that's normal. Several of the tech have shared their stories, include one of the techs I put in the category of "I want to learn from them" who said they did worse than I am doing for their clinicals. It wasn't until 2 years of being a tech that it clicked.

I've tried to figure out why I keep making small mistakes. Looking for where things are going wrong. For all of it I come to one answer. I'm blindingly tired. The day thing I can do in my sleep, and I think that's what I have been doing. My initiative levels are quite low. The only thing that keeps driving me is my damn work ethic.

But were about to head into the section of coursework that requires even more time. So that problem isn't going to get any better. So the question to myself is, is this a level I can work at or am I going to be so tired that I end up making a big mess of something (myself, the coursework, the day job, or the worst of the worse and my biggest fear, a patient). This summer requires 40 hours of clinical for 8 weeks. Right now between classes, work, clinicals and freelance I'm running at around 72 hours (before all the commutes, lunches, etc). How am I going to be able handle 80 hours? And how am I going to juggle that load with the day thing? There's also a few other things happening at the same time, all of which is going to be a drag on continuing the reboot.

So right now I have no answers. Next week we do a mini-review and we start selecting hours for the Summer. If I can't swing a schedule that allows me to keep my day job, I'm not sure how I can keep in school. I need the benefits that the full time job brings to stay in class (not to mention to pay for it). But I don't necessarily need the classes to keep the job.

But then what do I do next? Do I find another avenue for rebooting? Suckj it up buttercup and find a way to keep going? Is this the "time to focus on writing" moment/event? If I can't make the Summer work, should I finish the semester or just stop now and cut my loses?I don't know. Like I said, right now I've got no answers.

Linkee-poo, paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creap

Kristen Lamb wants you to know that "psychic vampires abound in the arts, and they’re also prevalent in many writing groups." While I think she's describing "special snowflakes", I have to save I've run into several psychic vampires in both writing and design. Everything is about feeding their egos, and not about the work. Once you've identified one, run away.

Writer takes typewriter to Starbucks and starts an online row. Actually it reminds me of Harlan Ellison writing while sitting in a bookstore window. Reading the story, though, reminds me that, yes, writing on a typewriter is very different than our modern word processing tools. However, there's nothing preventing developers from mimicking some of the advantages a typewriter has in software (like not being able to edit other than the line you're on easily, although that is only for later typewriters… my first typewriter didn't have an erase ribbon). I'm looking at you, Literature and Latte. Seriously, it could be very much like a "Write or Die" function. That'll cure that pesky editor. And it's not like you couldn't turn it off if you really needed to (maybe set the function to last for two hours, or until you restarted the app). (Grokked from John Scalzi who wants to remind you, you're not fooling anyone when you take your laptop to a coffee shop)

Help Random Michelle K pick a name for Ricky Martin's little siblings. Ricky is a metal chicken, btw. But don't fret, Michelle is open to listening to bribes to win the contest.

How the word has changed, St. Peters Square 2005 and 2013. (Grokked from Dan)

"When asked why he writes strong women characters, Joss Whedon, writer of the Avengers, answered 'Because you have to ask me that question'." On why we don't have superheroine movies. Plug this into the "girls can't be geeks" submeme and you can see just how far we've come. You haven't come a long way, baby. Why is that? Because stupid men make stupid comments like "boys won't go see movies about girls/read books written by girls/root for strong female characters/" whatever other bullshit you want to put there. The Real He-Man Woman-Haters Clubs are still in full swing. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Fred Clark has a great set of links that outlines the state of "gender equality" in the US today.

To quote a Tweet: "The award for Best Dad Ever goes to this guy, who saved his son the worry of coming out, with this heartwarming note." (Grokked from Phiala) Also noted today, our conservative Ohio senator, Rob Portman, has changed his stance on same sex marriage. He now supports it. Why? Well, his son came out to him. Strange how when people we know and love are hurt by our "strongly held" idiotic, ideologic positions we can abandon those positions. Rob voted yes on a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. Rob also voted to ban same sex couples from adopting. Well, that only took two years from when his son came out. As Jay Lake says, "(N)o one likes the results of conservative policies when applied to them personally. Especially not conservatives themselves."

"It’s not that Finkbeiner objects to drawing attention to successful female scientists. She’s produced many of these stories herself. The issue, she says, is that when you emphasize a woman’s sex, you inevitably end up dismissing her science." The Finkbeiner test. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

It's called de-extinction. And it worked. For ten minutes (actually not bad for a first run). (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

Ukrainian attack dolphins on the loose, and apparently looking for a good time (although there's later reports that this may be a hoax). (Pointed to by Dan)

"In the modern-day insurance industry, it is illegal to redline by race and ethnicity… but it is perfectly permissible to redline by ZIP code… And wouldn't you know it? Price-gouging rates tend to target ZIP codes with a disproportionate number of racial and ethnic minorities." Also, having worked in the marketing space, we can define a lot by zip code. And if we know your zip code, and street, we can actually calculate the probability that you may need something like flooring tile, including the style, manufacturer, and selection of tile. Yea, industry doesn't need any stinking rules or regulations. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Take back your lunch break. Yea. That'll happen.

"Fair is a place where they have ponies and merry-go-rounds." Some one tell me why the ass that said that shouldn't be placed in stocks on the public square for general ridiculing. Still think the rich are just like you and me? Okay, how about knowing that the ass-that-said-that's bank makes most of its profit from the public largesse. Understand when conservatives talk about never closing any tax loopholes, they're protecting that kind of racket. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

You know how I've said that the Pro-life crowd really isn't anti-abortion, but more concerned with rolling back feminism and the sexual revolution? Yea, apparently many of the major proponents also know this and say so when they think they're only talking to the faithful.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We have a Popecicle

I love how all the news is a buzz with how Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, chose the name of Francis I. And how that refers to Francis of Assisi and how that means he'll be adopting the mantle of a humble servant. But that's looking at a very small slice of St. Francis' life. You may remember the thing with the birds (which it's often told from the viewpoint of his love of animals and creation, and completely bypasses that it was an admonishment to the church).

But I guess the press has never heard of this guy. You know, the other St. Francis. My guess is they will by the end of the week (or maybe after mass on Sunday).

Linkee-poo is all right, Daddy is all right, they just seem a little weird

Michelle Sagara asks if there's a "male gaze", is there a corresponding "female gaze."

Monday would have been Douglas Adams' 61st birthday. John Scalzi gives his take on the eternal question, "Who will be the next DNA?" As you can probably tell, I loves me some comedic writing. For the longest time one of my goals was to be the next Mr. Adams and warp inspire a whole new generation the way he inspired mine. But I agree with John that DNA was the tactical nuclear strike at the heart of comedic SF/F, and it's really impossible to think of the opening acts after his performance, and really hard to follow. It was just that masterful of a job. That doesn't mean there aren't pretenders to the throne (hell, the moment I fell in love with Scalzi's writing was when I ran headlong into an Adams allusion in his books). While working on the structure of "Post Rapture Industries" I went back and looked at the humor in the Hitchhiker books as a writer and home grown comedian and I came to the same realization John did, nobody can do what DNA did, again. First of all, even if you knocked it out of the park, you would still be in DNA's shadow. How he constructed his humor is really not reproducible (the fantastical elements, the non-sequiters, the diversions and wild tangents, just not possible). Even DNA couldn't follow himself. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish is structurally different from the first 3 books and the Dirk Gently books were their own brand of fantastic. It took me the longest time to realize that what I really wanted wasn't to write like DNA, it was affecting the reader the way he affected me. And that's a goal I think I can do. Finally, knowing that HHGTTG was the third (IIRC) iteration of the story (radio and TV came before the books) should be sufficient balm to all of us pretenders.

Want a sampling of the genius that was Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide? How about 42 of the "best" lines. Yea, those are good ones. Not all the best ones, though.

Random House listens to the feedback and adjusts their standard contract for the previously mentioned imprints. And there you have proof of the value of professional organizations. So thanks to Writer Beware, agents, the BNAs who got involved, SFWA, HWA, and the real heavy weight in the room, the RWA. Not everything is perfect, but there's good progress.

"The book of my enemy has been remaindered And I am pleased." - Clive James Okay, so that's not a quote from the linked story, but that's a good description and reminder to all published novelists. Everyone gets remaindered in the end.

Spock tells you, it gets better.

Projecting gods and spirits on trees in Cambodia.

Glass sculptures of viruses. (Grokked from Sarah Goslee)

"And because it is not possible for them to disobey this law, there is no way for them to wind up 'paying fines and going to jail.'" Fred Clark pretty well nails Southern Baptist leader Richard Land and NRB board member Janet Parshall for the idiocy of their statements. The more I see things like this, the more I believe our society has an unhealthy relationship with the past. For the Tea Party it's the Revolution Fetish, for socially-conservative evangelicals it's the martyrs.

We have a Higgs. But it might not be "the" Higgs. I didn't know there was more than one.

"Overrepresentation in the Senate is among the reasons why the smallest states (and their local governments) received more federal aid per capita in 2010." (Grokked from Dan)

Cannibals of the Old West. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Fred Clark has a wonderful roundup of links regarding guns in society. So, why are you hearing about all these gun incidents now? Really, you've heard about them before. But they weren't big news, so they drifted into the background. Now that we're having a national debate, these smaller incidents are "news" and get bumped up.

Alligator Quotient: When did we start tangoing?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Linkee-poo is the one, the only one, built like an Amazon

Regarding my post on the Alibi/Hydra publishing contracts John Scalzi pretty much has some similar thoughts. That should come as no surprise, because I learned those lessons at John's bloggery knee, as it were. Although John explains the whole argument more than my snarky post did.

Five tips for working with editors. While mostly from a newspaper's standpoint, still pretty good things to keep in mind.

"You may be a novelist (and not a short story writer) if… Your short stories regularly top out at 8000 words or more, even after you cut them for length." Why, yes. Yes I do. To all six of her points. Well, I guess that settles it. I'm a novelist. Although now I'm making "You may be a redneck novelist" jokes.

Want to remember just how insane the Cold War was? How about this Bloom County comic. Yea, we actually talked in those terms, of "acceptable losses" in a nuclear exchange.

Archeologists may have found the Arkenstone fabled sunstone of the Vikings. And a little on the principle of how it works. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"And it’s a question because legislators like Rand Paul and the rest of the overpaid, overfed louts in the House and Senate have made it so… Can the President of the United States kill you, an American?… let’s see, he can disappear you,… have the question put to you,… authorize active surveillance and the monitoring of your phone calls and emails and tweets and texts and social media posts without a review by a court of law… authorize the search of your home without a warrant or authorization by a judge… authorize the confiscation of your property if anybody thinks you might be engaged in terrorism… have you and your children strip-searched in the airports and put on a secret no-fly list… can make the library give up a list of the books you’ve checked out… authorize the secret infiltration of your church, your social clubs, or your school, for the express purpose of spying on you simply because you look like you might… be a subversive… can have you snatched off the street in a foreign country and rendered into the custody of another foreign power for interrogation… When legislators… acting in fear and rage and panic, passed the Patriot Act and the Protect America Act and a dozen other laws with secret provisions and draconian authority and have since continued to renew those very same laws, well, they gave the President those powers." Yea, see back in the aughts when the Tea Party was all happy with how the world was going, all those things went on. But it was only when a Black President had those powers that they decided to get upset.

We don't need no stinkin' EPA rules. I mean, it's not like we have 1200 hog corpses washing up in our rivers. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

One strike back at our robotic overlords. In this case, a Cincinnati judge rules that cameras used to enforce speed limits aren't quite kosher. Although the article, and the proponents, kinda mix up the ruling. Part of the judges ruling is, "if you're going to do this, there are rules already in place." (Pointed to by John)

Wealth Inequality Illustrated. What, you thought the election solved this problem? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

This is how you know where the rich people live.

Oh man, even the trees are in on the climate change conspiracy. Although, you know, I remember seeing X-Mas Trees at the North Pole in "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" when I was a kid, so I'm not sure these are "new" trees. Okay, well, the other joke that came to mind was a more obscure "last march of the Ents" gag. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo in my mind and in my car, we can't rewind, we've gone too far

SF/F writers on Women's History Month, female authors, and female characters. (Pointed to by Dan)

Kristen Lamb with the 7 things confident writers don't do.

"So if a woman has sex and gets pregnant, SDCC says she must be fired, because people can see that. But if a man has sex and gets his girlfriend pregnant, that’s fine, because penis." A good Christian Community College fires a unmarried female teacher because she was pregnant and didn't get an abortion. But then tries to hire the guy who got her pregnant for her old job. Classy.

Wow. Well, first we had the "Riding the Manatees", which I contend is the new political version of "Jumping the Shark". And now we have Fox and Friends "riding the manatees." I mean, sure, they've been there before, but interviewing historical re-enactors who have a political bent (in this case, creationism) and asking them about modern politics. Did Jefferson cut the budget? IIRC, yes he did. But by retiring debt incurred during the Revolutionary War (which were short term loans). Also that debt cutting weakened our nation in the face of the Revolutionary War Part II, aka War of 1812. Oh, and there's this little thing called "Louisiana Purchase" he pushed through which re-indebted the country and was considered in the popular press at the time as a great mistake. Seriously, the guy can't even get the Declaration of Independence right, you expect me to listen to him after that? (Pointed to by Dan)

"Anti-abortion Christians in America are rightly outraged by reports of compulsory abortion in places like China. We have compulsory abortion here in America too — it’s just compelled by market forces and the private sector rather than by the state." Yet another chance for the Pro-Life movement to show us just how much they're all about reducing abortion. Again they're choosing the anti-femanist course.

"But why would you insist on privatizing a health program that is already public, and that does a much better job than the private sector of controlling costs? The answer is pretty obvious: the flip side of higher taxpayer costs is higher medical-industry profits." Again, actions speak louder than words. In this case, conservatives putting corporate profits ahead of public good. Again. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"I'm not a publicist or an expert in p.r. but I think it's probably a bad sign when your rivals think it's hilarious to read your book out loud in public." Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli writes a book (said in a "Horton Hears a Who" way). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Let's put armed guards in the schools!" What could possibly go wrong? "A New York town that began assigning an armed police officer to guard a high school in the wake of the Connecticut massacre has suspended the program after an officer accidentally discharged his pistol in a hallway while classes were in session." I'm sure that didn't cause any problems. (Pointed to by Dan)

Conservatives deceiving their constituents over just exactly what they voted (and didn't vote) for? Why, that would never happen.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Linkee-poo was a school boy when heard his first Beatles song

Sorry, very far behind this week.

Just a reminder that next week the first of two comets for 2013 will be visible in for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Nobody knows how quickly the comet will fade, but for next week it should be viewable without aid in the western sky just after sunset.

There's a giveaway on Goodreads (not done by them, but through them) for Mer Haskell's new book, Handbook for Dragon Slayers. You know you wanna.

The more things change the more they stay the same. In this case the publishing industry. Although even today I think that makes former editor as Dutton an ass, but whatever. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

An old fashion take on what is art? Regarding my earlier comments about "art" vs. "communications", keep that quote in mind while you view the Land Rover ad (link at the bottom). Or this "most awarded ad in history" (no, actually I still think that's the "Is it live or is it Memorex" poster).

La Santa Muerte? An unrecognized saint, or sign of the end-times. Well, and that's the thing about actual religion, it's difficult to control from a central location because people will find what works for them. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Pictures from a (software) developer's life. Hahahahaha (Grokked form Dan)

UltraEverDry? Okay, I'm intrigued. But holy crap it's expensive. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Here there be monsters. Lots about early maps and bestiaries. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Know why most of the rich industrialists (coughKochBrotherscough) try the smoke and mirrors routine when it comes to climate change? Because they have the money to weather the storm (they think). In this case, selling Land Rovers to the rich using fear of the weather changes. Know what 4 wheel drive does for you? It gets you stranded farther away from help. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Alligator Quotient: to the Moon.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Art of the, for lack of better terminology, Deal

There's a firestorm in the SF/F corners of these here internets. Apparently some Random House imprints decided they would attempt to buffalo new writers and use their good name to disguise the fact that their opening bid (as it seems they have made alterations to the boilerplate when authors negotiate) could charitably be called an overreaching rights grabs. Oh, and they ask that you give them your "profit" money first to cover their costs.

Random House was then pilloried by some of the more prominent defenders of the realms. And, IMHO, with good cause.

Random House, being the media savvy company they are, caught the sent of their good name being tarnished. Then they sent a response to the various defenders of the realm, putting their hand on their collective foreheads after falling to the fainting couch from the vapors. To be charitable, they did try to clarify their position and explain what they're doing.

And because of the tone of that letter and the not-exactly-advanced-hucksterism language used (seriously, using the language of SPAM and some of the lesser reputable self-publishing companies is not a good way to defend yourself from the charges that you are in that club) the ridiculing continued.

To someone desperate to be published, they may fall for this language. After all, Random House sounds perfectly reasonable and level-headed. Most people trying to get your money do, after all. They don't want to come off as the bully the 800 pound gorilla can be by not looking beyond themselves.

So for anybody who is thinking this may be a good deal, let me ask you a question. When they say, "When we acquire a title in the Hydra program, it is an all-encompassing collaboration. Our authors provide the storytelling, and we at Hydra support their creativity with best-in-class services…" they are specifically referring to their previous paragraph where they say "As with every business partnership, there are specific costs associated with bringing a book successfully to market…", and then they proceed to say they need to recoup those costs. Before you'll ever see a part of that "… potentially lucrative… publishing model for authors: a profit share." So Random House is going to recoup their sunk costs upfront. Will Random House offset my, or the author's, sunk cost in writing the novel? I would even offer to allow them to subtract their specific costs from my costs of writing the novel. You know, because this is a "all-encompassing collaboration."

BTW, I would calculate my costs at the rate that I charge my favorite clients for freelance work. You know, because we're "partners." That rate is $65 an hour. If I can write 2000 words in a four hour session, that comes to 200 hours for a 100,000 word book. So that's $13,000 before I add in all the rewrites and edits. Oh, and travel if I worked on the book at writer retreats. Oh, and my costs for Viable Paradise which helped me become a better writer. Etc, blah blah.

You'd do that for me, wouldn't you Hydra/Random House? You know, because we're "partners." Right? After all, as you say, "the publisher takes all the financial risk up front." I mean, I took the financial risk of writing the book first. That's worth something. Isn't it, partner?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Linkee-poo late, but… well, just late

Dear self-published authors, think Amazon is on your side? Think again. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

Jim Hines on preventing rape. Or, actually, our cultural warpedness that allows men (and it's mostly men) to inflict violence on women. Think he's being a little over the top on how society feels it needs to train women on how to avoid being raped, but then doesn't feel the same need to educate boys on why they shouldn't, maybe you should read this article on "why all the hate of Anne Hathaway." Those two articles mesh quite well.

Amanda Palmer's TED talk on the art of asking. Yea, that's going to take some processing.

Chuck Wendig takes a stab at processing it. He outlines some of the ideas that came to me as well, but like Chuck, I'm not sure that's entirely what is needed/being said. There's a paradigm wall I can't see through here. At least it's not a simple vision. As I've said before, the music business is not the writing business. So how Amanda Palmer is making it work, I'm not sure if it's a direct transfer to books. But how to translate it is not clear.

The difference between conjecture and real science? Real science continues to investigate even after they think they have the answers. In this case discovering that the supposed "gap" between higher CO2 levels and the end of the last Ice Age. Turns out the gap is either much smaller or non-existant. How much do you want to bet there's someone, right now (probably the same people) who are re-evaluating those results, gathering more samples, doing the thought experiments and lab follow up to see if their conjectures turn out to be true, and then double checking it all on the same subject and time frame? While it doesn't happen all the time, that's what science is supposed to do. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A Spidey-Sense suit. Yea, I'm also surprised the article didn't mention the benefit to blind people.

Grave robbers in China arrested selling corpses for "ghost brides." Okay, so, just besides the "selling dead people" side of it, arranged marriages after death? More proof the world is stranger than we think. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

A man claims he was nearly run over by a shoplifter at Wal-Mart, so he opened fire on the shoplifter's car, missing it a few times, but managing to shatter the rear window. Turns out his initial story doesn't add up once police look at the video. Also turns out the guy didn't exactly follow safe firearm practices. Nope, instead he ran out of the Wal-Mart, chasing the shoplifter, and then fired into the shoplifter's car while a bystander was in his field of fire. And if you think that bystander wasn't in any danger, I'll have you note how close the shooter was to the car, and that one of his rounds went into the asphalt. Why? Because shooting accurately in those circumstances is damn hard. Oh, and since the shooter wasn't in danger himself, but put himself in the position to be in danger, yeah, he's going to jail. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And then you have the shopper who was refused on her $1 coupon threatening Wal-Mart workers with a gun. Albeit standing next to her car in the parking lot, but enough that workers felt threatened and retreated back into the store. And then she was rude to the Sheriff who pulled her over. Not smart. Not with a gun in the car. (Grokked from Matt Staggs) "But couldn't my mom beat the odds?" Another story on end-of-life decisions and even when the patient's wishes are known just how hard those decisions are. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Going to jail to get medical care. Tell me again how we have the best healthcare system in the world. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Random Thoughts

You know when a parent or some other adult figure told you to wear clean underwear just in case you had to go to the hospital and you thought they were full of crap? Yeah, not so much. And really, if you're wearing underwear you're ahead of the game. But make sure it's clean and not ratty or three days old.

And while we're at it, care for your feet and toe nails. Just saying.

I've been seeing the phrase, "We give the customer/consumer exactly what they want," a lot lately. Mostly this comes up in the context of a reporter asking, "Why are you selling crap to people?" That same excuse has been used by drug dealers and pushers of all stripes since forever.

Now that we're in the sequester, I wonder if the pain will be significant enough for John Boehner to get past his own caucus and get the Legislature working again? Probably not. And everyone talks about how "these cuts should be done 'smartly', and instead of cutting all the stuff that affects everybody, we should cut the waste and fraud part of the government's budget." Well, here's the thing. There is very little fraud and waste anymore. When someone says "waste" anymore they really mean "those things I don't support." That is to a certain segment the Dept. of Education or the EPA is "waste." Is there some "waste" in government? Yes, there is, but to correct for that waste you need to hire inspectors and auditors to cut it. Or, in other words, you need to spend more to cut more. Same thing with fraud.

I haven't talked about the reboot lately. It's not going well. Not from the GPA or learning side, but from the juggling a full time job, freelance, losing weight, and school perspective. This is hurting a lot more than I expected. If I were 10 years younger or 100 lbs lighter (but mostly the age), this probably wouldn't be so much of an issue. I hate quitting. And if I don't do this, I need to develop another strategy. I don't know. Maybe this is my "quit the day job to write" moment and I should take the time I'm putting into classes and apply that to the writing. I think I need to talk to a few people before I make a final decision.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo doesn't think you're right for him

Ten more agent submission questions answered.

Mary Robinette Kowal shares an online brainstorming session. It's great when you have friends you can do that with.

Neil Gaiman explains the "why" part of the creative urge pretty well.

Kristen Lamb asks how badly do you want the dream?

Some people ask "why all the hate for 'was'?" Well, maybe this will help explain it a little more. And "copula" was also new to me. (Grokked from Stewart Sternberg)

And how do you do the editing part? Well, Chuck Wendig helps you with a process.

Huhn, there's a third Van Allen belt. Who knew? (Grokked from Miranda Suri)

Interjections! As done by the cast of Star Wars. Thanks, I needed that.

And at least the Seattle PD has a sense of humor.

Gene Simmons never had a personal computer when he was a kid. Oh, that old snark. How we missed you. And also, We wish you a Reagan Christmas, higher taxes next year." Hahahahaha (Grokked from Dan)

When designers become too hip for their own good. Seriously. Design is communication.

"Using Sequestration to cut government spending is exactly like slamming into a wall and depending on your car’s airbag so that you don’t have to fix the brakes." Jim Wright is smart about the sequestration. The problem with all the cuts, especially for the poor, is that being hungry causes changes. More food later on doesn't reverse damage done now. Especially with growing brains.

Senator Grassley does accept the basic principles surrounding the abortion debate on the side of pro-choice. He just doesn't make that connection. That's one of the difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives have their principle positions, but make exceptions all over. Liberals like the rules to apply across the board. In this case, conservatives don't believe that the government should be invasive into people's bodies. Unless you're a woman who wants an abortion. And then the government gets to stick things in your body. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Linkee-poo has been trying to do it right

The Oatmeal on going extinct. How so very true. As with most Oatmeals, somewhat NSFW (for language in large type). (Grokked from Dan)

The top 10 time killers, their causes, and ways to compensate. A long infographic on the subject, mostly for the design industry but also works well for most creatives.

"I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think that’s the point." Robinson Wells shares his own struggles with mental illness. (Grokked from Writing Excuses)

The most insane rope swing. The point where I knew I was an old man was going to Nelsons Ledges with the nephews. The ledges are a limestone formation with lots of deep crevices and fractures. I looked at a 10' wide crack and one side of my brain said, "you could jump that with a running start." Then a newer side of my brain said, "That's a 30' dead-drop, the best you could hope for is a broken leg." Yea. I'm an old man.

Random Michelle's article on the Bitter-End. It's important to have those difficult discussion with loved ones about what you really want. Also, as we discussed in class with week, the joints where your ribs meet your spine aren't exactly meant to move that much. When you put a rib spreader on someone, besides cracking the chest, you're also moving those joints. Which is why people who have open heart surgery, or direct massaged hearts, their backs are also very sore for a very long time.

Gee, the prevalence of increased sugar in our diets is leading to Type 2 Diabetes. When you correct for other factors, it's the strongest correlation. Of relation to the previous linked to article regarding the Bliss Point in manufactured foods. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Wiring rats' brains together. I wonder if they're serial or parallel? (Grokked form Miranda Suri)

"Evidence exists that a large natural nuclear reactor formed and operated on Mars… and apparently underwent explosive disassembly, ejecting large amounts of radioactive material over Mars' surface." More evidence our universe continues to hold surprises for us all. Plus, what a fantastic story bone. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)… lectured today’s workers that they needed to learn responsibility like she did when she worked retail as a teenager… Trouble is, she forgot about that old debbil inflation, and didn’t… realize the $2.15 an hour she was getting paid… in today’s dollars be worth significantly more than the wage Obama is calling for now. Even the minimum wage of $1.60 in 1968-70 was the equivalent of $10.56 today. So Blackburn was inadvertantly making Obama’s point for him." (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"For these conservative think-tankers, pundits and politicians, obscuring America's grinding poverty and spiraling inequality is an exercise in service of a status quo that works pretty well for them, but not for most families." Four conservative myths that were designed to keep us from dealing effectively with poverty in this nation. Make a post about Being Poor and you'll see all four pop up in the comments. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Good thing to know that Crazy Uncle Pat is still truckin' on. This time, apparently demons can attach themselves to inanimate objects and be bought and sold. So it's a good idea to pray over your purchases before bringing them into the house. Also good to know it's still not to late for the WIP. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

The printable gun. (Pointed to by Dan)

"Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has joined the growing list of Republican governors pushing income tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens of his state, and like those other governors, his plan would raise taxes on the poor to pay for it." Welcome to the class war. Alabama has one of the most regressive tax schemes in the US. How's their economy doing. Okay, how about when you delete tourism? (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Star Fish Cities. A little more weirdness of war. This time about WW II. Or if you like water, how about the town that spent 25 years underwater and is now re-emerging. (Grokked from Jay Lake)