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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo still remembers December's foggy freeze

Getting awfully tired. On Friday night we had an interesting case that went into surgery at 11:30pm, I volunteered to stay and help. Didn't get out of the hospital until 2:40am. Still recovering from that. Only two more weeks. Hope I make it.

Medieval manuscript repaired with silk threads (and the conservation attempts to fix a problem they introduced. Because BOOKS! (Grokked from Jay Lake)

TV Tropes Wiki (also good for fiction). A great way to waste the day. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

A course in knife fighting basics for writers. Unfortunately for me it's in Portland. Although, I've been to a few of the "sword play for writers" panels at cons and have been underwhelmed (not from the actual content, but I've read several manuals in sword fighting when I was younger, so not much new info there - although it's sometimes good to see it in person). Also noted, just like guns are often misportrayed in movies, so are swords and sword play (which is why many movies do hire weapons masters to help school the actors so that they don't look like complete fools). An example, you don't want to use an overhand grip using a double-edged knife/dagger unless it's a two-handed plunge into an opponent on the ground. Why? For the simple reason that any block or ever slashing attempt will likely lead to you cutting yourself - also note this is the same for some single-bladed knives which have a curved (clipped or trailing point) or spear point. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Because I follow things named Laughing Coyote and I found this funny, Laughing Coyote Beverages (specifically tequila).

Congratulations, graduate, here's 11 reasons I will never hire you. Also good to note for non-recent graduates. Having hired about 18 people (and maybe my 19th this fall) and been involved in over 50 hiring decisions, yes, this. (Grokked from Mer Haskell)

Lorem Gibson and Riker Ipsum. FOr al your filler text needs. Hahahaha. I don't know how many times I've had the conversation about "this doesn't look like real text in this proof layout." And I reply, "Yes, it's lorem ipsum. I couldn't put real text in because you haven't provided me any content." (Grokked from Tor.com)

Killer whale sprite. An interesting way to waste a few minutes on the internet. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Some of the world's must "beautiful" abandoned places. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Photos of Icelandic lava tubes. Because the world is weirder than we think. (Grokked from Tor.com)

How Skynet took over… it started out looking cute. (Pointed to by Dan)

R'lyeh? Or that vampiric island Pi found? And island in the Coral Sea goes missing. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Fairy Circles solved. But then how do other fairy circles (the ones I know of are rings of mushrooms) formed? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Fred Clark with a great reposting from his past, Rendering Unto Krugman. Also, sending my best wishes on his 11th blogging anniversary.

Jim Hines on body autonomy and who has it and when.

Food fraud, it's not just for China and horse meat anymore. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

You know how Republicans and conservatives like to claim they're just small government, lower spending, lower-taxes, and all that while not really caring about social conservative issues? Then why is conservative and Tea Party darling, TX Gov. Rick Perry, calling another special session of the Texas Legislature to pass anti-abortion legislation. Oh sure, he also added increased spending on roads (not exactly less government and lower spending there) and a juvenile justice issue (nominally a conservative value). Say, why didn't they work on those instead of trying to pass abortion legislation in the previous special session? Because those other issues are being added in an attempt to "give cover" that this isn't just a social conservative crusade. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"An openly gay state representative was silenced by his colleagues on the Pennsylvania House floor Thursday when he tried to comment on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act… (because it was) just open rebellion against God's law." (Pointed to by Dan)

Speaking of God's Law (as I did recently), here's what happens when the daughter of Zelophechad challenge Moshe to inherit their father's land (Zelophechad died without a male heir, required to transfer his properties according to custom and what many thought was law). Turns out, God is a pretty fair being (at least for that time). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"The experience of death is changing in America, gradually shifting from costly, high-tech battles against death in hospitals into hospices that gently accept the inevitable end." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"So the IRS was targeting Tea Party groups, but it was also targeting progressive groups, which means it wasn’t really singling out anyone. And remember the only group actually denied tax-exempt status was a progressive one." But I expect it will continue to return again as people slowly forget that there wasn't any fire and all the smoke was caused by the hot air being blown all over it. And it'll appear in the context of "send Obama a message and send us money." (Grokked from the Slactivist)

So much for the vaunted internal intellectual consistency of conservative positions. Yes, Justice Scalia, you're a dick. Any credibility you might have had an an intellectual jurist has been destroyed in the years following Bush v. Gore. At least now other people are seeing you for the political hack you are. History won't be kind. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Linkee-poo, you poor old sod, you see it's only me

Noted, the Andre Norton Award Committee is announced. And look who is chair! Booyea! Congrats, Mer.

Four steps to a better twitter bio. Also useful for scribbling out that author's bio.

"Crabs are never happy and they LIKE being in the bucket. They can’t see they will soon be made into crab salad." Kristin Lamb on finding the right writers group and avoiding the crabs.

Some exercises from David B. Coe on word choice and voice. If you're just starting out writing, these concepts might mean very little, but they are very powerful. Don't worry if your voice sounds like other people. Keep writing (and reading). Eventually your voice will emerge. And in it you will hear the echos of all those people you used to sound like.

Also from Mr. Coe, and good explanation on rewriting and changing the story from agent and editorial requests. It's not all bad. "Nothing about our current projects is etched in stone."

Matt Wendig gives a double special with 50 random bits of storytelling advice. Some occasional f-bombs, and I will need to reread when I have more time for it. But so far there's a number of gems hidden in that text. Including "Stop drifting in and out of narrative tense. It makes Story Jesus shoot puppies with lightning."

Some more writing tips with enough f-bombs to require an MRAP to read it. (Grokked from Joe Hill)

Kids these days. An article on school reading lists and how kids are being given "lighter fair." Look, I didn't read Catcher in the Rye until I was way out of any school. And you know what, it sucked. So forcing kids to read "classics" (ie. "the things we were taught to read when we were your age which we also didn't understand because the world had changed") is one sure way to make sure they never develop a love of reading. Get them into the habit, and they will eventually challenge themselves to read more and wider. And even if they don't read beyond the recent bestseller that all the literary people love to hate on, what's the harm? (Grokked from Joe Hill)

A bike light that projects a grid in front of the bike. Okay, severely SFinal solution to what could be helped with a stronger bike light. While I think this would be totally cool, it doesn't help with drivers and others seeing the bicyclist. You know, the other part of having a light. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Plant circadian rhythms don't stop after harvest. The researchers are surprised to see by recreating the light patterns of day and night, plants still produce beneficial (and other) compounds while "on the shelf" (okay, in the lab). They shouldn't be, because even if the food may not be "vigorously alive", once things are "dead" they tend to rot quickly. So maybe the light in the fridge shouldn't go out when we close the door.

Six exoplanets orbit in the habitable zone of Gliese 667C. And they're only 22 light years away. (pointed to by Dan)

"The graph (in the article) shows the answers that physicians give when asked if they would want various interventions at the bitter end. The only intervention that doctors overwhelmingly want is pain medication." Say, remember when conservatives killed that provision in Obamacare that allowed Medicare to pay for end-of-life consulting with your doctor? Guess what information you doctor probably won't give you now. Things like CPR only working 8% (only 3% have a positive outcome). What they don't talk about in the article is that with CPR you get broken ribs (very painful), the possibility of pneumothorax, trauma to the people performing CPR, too much air in the stomach, chance of blood clots… Yea, don't see that in those medical shows, do ya? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

So what do you do when you don't trust your boss? Gnash you teeth, or hold him as a prisoner in his own factory until he pays back wages and severance? Apparently in China, you do the later (if you can). And before you start feeling bad for the American boss who is being held, re-read that part about his business not paying workers for the past two months. And, yea, it also happens here in the US (although any attempt to hold managers captive would quickly devolve into a situation involving the local SWAT team).

About that Times article that stated you don't see atheists handing out hot meals after natural disasters, atheists working on the ground in Oklahoma would like to talk with you about that. Unfortunately they're busy helping people in need and don't have time to talk to the press. Sloppy, sloppy reporting and editing Time. Say, ever wonder why your numbers just keep dropping? Maybe pissing off readers isn't the way to keep them? Also, quoting idiots who have no idea what PTSD is about (and represents the "they need to get over it" mind set) isn't a way of gaining support either. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Fred Clark asks, remember back when we used to have a voting rights act?

It always amazes me that people still try to pull this crap in the age of the internet. After the Texas senate vote for their abortion bill was recorded by the automated software as occurring too late, the page was pulled form the server, adjusted, and then reposted showing it was taken before the senate session expired. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

Rick Santorum gets into the movie business. Wait, didn't he rail against Hollywood-types in the last campaign? Well, my guess is the money in politics was starting to dry up (is he still on Fox?) and so when for the smaller donors bills from more of the people.

Oh look, besides "Patriot" and "Tea Party" there were a whole bunch of other words in the IRS BOLO list like "Progressive" and "Occupy." Plus the whole, "'We have not found evidence of intentional wrongdoing by anyone in the IRS or involvement in these matters by anyone outside the IRS,'(said Danny Werfel acting IRS chief)". So, a whole bunch of sturm und drang and not a lot of meat here. But, I'm sure the conservative groups made enough money off the controversy while it lasted (not to mention that I figure this will also become one of those zombie conspiracy theories we'll keep staking only to have it rise back up from some other low information pundit). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @jaymgates: 1.) I am fucking proud to be an American woman right now. 2.) I am fucking terrified of being an American woman right now. #goWendy

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Linkee-poo reminds you war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength

Too much going on, and now I'm reading that Richard Matheson has passed on. We'll always have the gremlin on the wing.

Mer Haskell on externalizing conflicts and developing YA narratives. Notes from her session at the Ann Arbor Book Festival.

When you're critiquing other's stories or your own, you could do worse than using these checklists.

A post on dissecting others writings with some thoughts on what you should be looking for.

Some allegations that publishers are making more profit off of ebooks at the expense of the writers. I'm too tired at this moment to parse all of that and the writers is being a little cheeky (in their outrage I would guess) and it keeps throwing my brain off the track, but pointed out here for those smarter and more in the know than I to work through it.

Just a reminder that the world is still dealing with making everyone equal. That's an article about the movement to ban primogeniture, or the law that mandates inheritance through the male side of the family. And what backward country is finally getting jiggy with the later half of the 20th century? That would be England. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sometimes people just want to believe in the supernatural explanations. I'm sure the tourist dollars to see the spinning Egyptian statue aren't influencing the decision here. When I looked at the video the answer was obvious to me (vibrations from the foot traffic and an imperfectly carved base). It's easy to solve by placing the statue on a piece of velvet and seeing if it still spins. (Grokked from Tor.com)

In defense of the English Major. I remember this repeated conversation from my time in college, the every present, "Why do I need to know this?" There was also a recent TED talk on the future of education when the person advocating the demolition of the current model in favor of self-exploration. He was railing about the over specification and the making of cogs for a world machine that can be interchanged. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Now we've re-engineered silk worms to produce glow in the dark silk. Next up, worms that spin your silk garments in the color you want eliminating both dying and weaving. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Ten steps toward turning the US into a police state. You'll note only two concern the revelations (not really if you've been paying attention) by Snowden. Also, #4 and 5 are very closely related. If you add in the concept that blacks are four times as likely to be arrested and sentenced for carrying marijuana while the percentages of usage between blacks and whites is roughly equal you begin to see it just as another way to suppress voter turn out. But do you hear those peddlers of both American freedom and decrying government overreach, otherwise known as the Tea Party, protest against any of these actual transgressions against our freedom and liberty? Yeah, I know, it's a cheap shot, but it's not like I haven't made that point before. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Michael Moore and John Fugelsang on humor in political commentary as it relates to documentaries. Lots of good things in there. As I've said before, when you're destroying people's world views and attempting to change their mindset, you need to get them laughing before you stick the knife in. With lines like, "Nobody likes a finger wagging in their face," and "Billy Wilders said, 'Make them laugh while you're telling them the truth or they'll kill you," and "You can't attack down,", "Humor is a very subversive way of going about your politics," you can't go wrong. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"We live in a society that allocates rights to intellectual property in a way that yields huge rewards to a select few, that taxes top incomes at a historically low rate, and so on. Even if the game is fair, nothing says that the game has to look the way it does." Paul Krugman on a particularly galling act of self-denial of self-priviledge. Greg Mankiw says, "My own children are being raised by parents with both more money and more education. Yet I do not see my children as having significantly better opportunities than I had at their age." Bzzzz, sorry, wrong answer. Seriously dude, for someone with "more education" it's appalling that you can't see the basic logic flaw in those two sentences. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @tejucole Good thing the USA won the Cold War, otherwise we might be living in a world of mass surveillance and persecution of dissidents.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

God's Own Law

Okay, well, I guess I'm tired of hearing the canard about how "our laws" (ie. the laws of the United states) are "Biblically based" and all "flow from God's law outlined in the Bible." Not to mention the often repeated, "we're a Christian nation and a nation of Christians." It's a bunch of bullshit and actually violates two of the commandments. But, let's look at it. While there are hundreds and hundreds of laws outlined in the Bible (mainly Old Testament stuff, and even more from the Torah and Halakha), let's just look at the biggies, the Ten Commandments and the Seven Deadlies.

And because I really like the poetry of the KJV (which was written in an antique language style even for its time), well use that text for the Big Ten:

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

1.Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Okay, the first one out of the gate and here we have an establishment of religion. God's saying, "Ignore all those others, pay attention to me and me alone" (although I've had discussions on what this commandment is actually saying given modern Christianity's stance that all other religions are false here God seems to be saying that there are other gods). And that's in direct violation of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution (so much for the religiosity of our Founding Fathers if they can't even get this one right). So we have our first score and it's 0-1.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
There's a whole history regarding just exactly what God may or may not have been talking about here, but I think most of us can safely say that even with the recent "ZOMG, Terrorists!" rules regarding taking photos in public places, we pretty much ignore this one outright. While we don't (as a rule) make statues of gods for our public spaces, we've pretty much have made graven images of thee and me as it were as a matter of course. And if you want to say God was just talking about making graven images of him, and deny the whole "we are made in his image" trap, I say, okay, what about crucifixes, the statuary of Christ being taken off the cross, and the ubiquitous Warner Sallman's Christ painting that seemed to be hanging in everyone's homes when I was a kid. So, our score so far? 0-2. It's not looking good.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
If this was a crime, the jails would be even more full then they are now. Also, here I will point out that this Commandment deals with more than "cussing." Many an evangelical minister is guilty under this by saying they do what they do in the name of God, only to directly contravene his laws and precepts, not to mention the various infidelities and other crimes. Also, when Crazy Uncle Pat says that God/Jesus told him whatever was going to be true (like putting Mitt Romney in the White House and giving the Senate to the GOP) and then it turns out not to happen that way, yeah, guilty of taking the Lord's name in vain. 0-3.

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
At one time in the US there were local laws that forbade any business happening on Sundays (and here we could have a debate on which day the Sabbath actually is). They were a part of the Blue Laws and most have been repealed. Heck, we can't even shame businesses to not be open on Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July and Christmas, how would we close down the malls on every Sunday. So, 0-4.

5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Should I quote the long litany of cultural garment rending that accompanies every new generation about how they don't respect their elders and are a bunch of slackers? IIRC it's even possible for a child to sue for divorce from their parents. So, 0-5. It's not looking so good for God's law, is it.

6. Thou shalt not kill.
Oh sure, you think you've got me here, don'tcha? We could go into the various degrees of killing (felonious to justified) and if the definition of killing in war actually falls under this Commandment or even talk about how not killing people has been a standing rule since we decided to band together to bring down the antelopes that were taunting us. Seriously, it's been a part of any organizations laws since forever and dates back to the Hammurabi Code (which, IIRC, is one of the earliest code of laws written). But I'm feeling generous and will give you this. 1-5.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Puslifer)
Sorry, couldn't resist that joke. And, okay, here we do have codified laws regarding this. Adultery is grounds for divorce or palimony. But that shows the problem here, our law doesn't specifically outlaw it, but recognizes it's caustic effect on relationships. I could also discuss about how we no longer stone adulterers or require them to wear scarlet letters. But I'll call it a draw on this one. Yes, adultery is in the law code, but not really the way this commandment calls for. So, 1-5-1.

8. Thou shalt not steal.
Same thing as with killing, it's been in everyone's law books. I have some thoughts about what is now considered stealing (such as certain right wingers who like to call taxes "government stealing", and how tithes are essentially Church taxes and how they relate), but I'll give you this one. 2-5-1.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Perjury, libel and slander. Seems simple enough, and since I'm going with the killing and stealing I can not give this one. 3-5-1.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
We could talk about the nature of coveting, but if I'm willing to go with killing, stealing and false witnessing, here I'm going to take it back because "Keeping up with the Joneses" is a national hobby (and for any definition of coveting, "I want what they have" is pretty much a standard definition).

So, final score for the Big Ten? 3-6-1. Even grading on a curve, that isn't good.

So what about the Seven Deadlies? You know, the sins that'll take your soul on a straight path to the Lake of Fire. So if our law follows God's law, there should be some strong laws about these.

1. Lust
You've got to be kidding me, right? Okay, well, there are laws against some forms of lust. But here we are mostly talking about intense desire that is differentiated from Greed and Envy (numbers 3 and 6). If lust were made a crime, most teenagers wouldn't make it to adulthood without going afoul of the law. 0-1.

2. Gluttony
There's various definitions for gluttony that go beyond the simple consumption of food beyond one's need. But there ain't no laws against rampant consumerism either. Add in America's obesity epidemic and we get to 0-2.

3. Greed
"Greed is good" pretty much has defined the later half of the 20th century and much of what was wrong with the first decade of the 21st. Nobody has gone to jail (except for violating other laws like perjury and making false statements to investors). You could say the laws against insider trading might qualify, but I think that's pretty shaky ground (as the law isn't so much against greed as it is against getting an unfair advantage regarding your greed). So, 0-3.

4. Sloth
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need…" So you would say that we would incorporate the socialist creed into our laws? 0-4.
5. Wrath
Okay, well, we do have laws regarding the effects of wrath, however not being in one's right mind, ie. filled with wrath, is sometimes used as a defense. So we'll call it a draw. 0-4-1.
6. Envy
You can't be serious if you think this would be encoded in our law. 0-5-1.
7. Pride
Yes, because it's not like we aren't a prideful nation. 0-6-1.

So God's Law fared even worse when it comes to the Seven Deadlies. Care to make any bets on the Commandments as reinterpreted by the Christ? I mean, if we take both the Big Ten and the Seven Deadlie together we're at 3 wins, 12 loses, and 2 ties. Given that Jesus rewrote and consolidated the Big Ten to his Laws of Deuces, love your God and love your neighbor, you'd think we would at least get those two down in the laws.

For a nation founded on God's Law, we don't seem to be doing very well with it.

Weekend Linkee-poo sees a red door and wants to paint it black

Irene Gallo with a post about Summer Illustrations/Paintings (warning, semi-nudity in some images). Of course they include The Lady of Shallot by J. W. Waterhouse, Mending the Sails by Joaquín Sorolla, and Distant Thunder by Andrew Wyeth, some of my favorite paintings. Again, I just love these posts.

Terri Windling continues with her Wild Things posts with a post about our wild neighbors. I recommend the whole series of posts, btw.

An NPR story on how rituals make the world more special (and chocolate tastier) and the discussion afterwards.

And just in case you're still laboring under the delusion that we know everything there is to know, physicists are seeing signs of a new type of particle. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Unprecidented wire-tapping, it's not just for the US anymore. The problem here is developing the tech to take that Niagara Falls of data and weed out the drinking fountain flow of intelligible data. I wonder if the NSA is trying some self-funding with licensing out its tech or if the Brits came up with their own? (Grokked from Saladin Ahmed)

Jim Wright on the Edward Snowden leaks and what they show about our modern world. "This is exactly what people like me have been saying for the last twenty years… Welcome to the party, glad you could make it." I've made more comments about this on twitter, mostly, "Where the hell have you all been", "I hope you don't google ESCHELON", and "At least this president makes sure we have a FISA warrant." Plus, am I the only one who remembers the day the Internet went down (2002 or 2003 as I remember) because, for some reason, all the Internet traffic in the US was being sent through a router in Ft. Meade.

"'What we’re seeing is a reflection of the market that already exists,' said Timothy S. Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia who closely follows the health care law." On the diversity of plans available (or not) as we approach open enrollment using the heath care exchanges set up by Obamacare. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

I forget which Supreme Court Justice said that one of the most horrible things he could think of was intervening between parents and children when it came to parental notification laws and deciding which way a doctor should go should a adolescent want an abortion that her father strictly forbid. At the time I said that this judge had a very poor imagination if he couldn't think of anything worse than a child who says "Yes" and a father who says "No." Like this case. While it's about how conservatives are willing to lie when it comes to Planned Parenthood, read to the bottom to see what the actual situation was in this case as taken from the court documents (a court case set into motion by that chapter of PP doing the right thing). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Linkee-poo acts like summer and walks like rain

Happy solstice, everybody.

Normally I don't put these things first, but this post kinda pulled a lot of triggers and is a sort of hobby horse issue for me. "All I can see in my head is a woman sitting in a corner somewhere wishing everyone would just be quiet about it because it’s all her fault and she doesn’t know where the fuck she’s going to put her feet." An excellent post on how abusive relationships start and how people are controlled in them. Warning, triggers, just saying. Considering this week I was talking with a coworker as she was relating a story that was very familiar. When I told her this person (who fortunately she wasn't in a relationship, yet) was playing on her emotions to get her to feel sympathy for him after his very inappropriate and creepy/stalker behavior she looked at me like I was insane. I'm not sure if I convinced her or not, but it makes me worry for her. (Grokked from ticia42)

Of related note, Kickstarter's apology. That is how you apologize. Lots of politicians could learn from that. (Grokked from Jim Hines)

The Summer Reading Programs are back. Sorry, I've been sitting on these for a while. But now that Random Michelle K is also having one, I had to post them. So that link was to Michelle's announcement. Here is Todd Wheeler's summer reading program to benefit the Prison Reading Program. And here is Janiece's summer reading program to benefit the Douglas County Library Foundation. Go forth and read. Read like the wind.

Twenty quotes from Stephen King on writing (most of which I recognize from his book On Writing). (Grokked from Tor.com)

A Clarion interview with Marie Vibbert. Full disclosure, Marie and I are in the same writers group (although I've been absent for to many meetings - like 3 years worth). She talks about how she actually swung going to Clarion this summer.

"Don’t just say, 'Oh, I need to work on that.' Say, 'I need to work on this element of that.'" Joss Whedon on being prolific. Lots of good advice in there, but it also helps to be kind of a workaholic (said as a relapsing recovered workaholic). (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

Twelve famous authors on literary rejection.

"I don’t think Mormons are bigots because they regard drinking coffee as a kind of sin. But if the Saints suddenly lost their minds and began lobbying for laws denying coffee-drinkers like myself the right to marry, or insisting that it should be legal for employers to fire coffee-drinkers, then, yes, that would be bigotry." Fred Clark on the "conflict" between being obedient and following one's conscience. Although he makes the quoted point regarding coffee drinking, the post is about the persecution of homosexuals by the church (mostly Protestants, although somewhat by the Catholic Church) and some believers perceiving the choice between following the precepts of their religion and following their heart as being at the center of the matter. Also a little on the false sense of "persecution" some church leaders feel for being confronted on their views of homosexuality.

Not a designer, but need to develop a color scheme? Try Adobe's Kuler tool. Kind of fun to play with. And if you don't want to get into a lot of color theory, they offer the quick and easy Complimentary, Analogous, Triad and a few others (where the tool does the math and the matching).

Okay, here's where I rake on my fellow designers. The four design decisions to make your designs greener. "1. Specify a narrow typeface with a small x-height" except that such typefaces (narrow, small x-height) are no longer used and people aren't used to reading them, so unless you're designing with text you don't want anyone to read (or you're expecting a hostile response to them reading it), this is a really dumb idea. I'll explain this with the example of a motorcycle question, "If you knew you were going to be in an accident, would you wear your helmet?" The correct answer is, "No, because if I knew I would be in an accident I wouldn't ride in the first place." Although I do agree Verdana is stupid font to set your type in (this isn't to say there aren't better faces to use than others, but there are actual design trade offs that aren't taken into account here which would mitigate any benefit). Two and three, sure, no problems with those (although the use of non-volitile organic inks has removed much of 3's issues). "4. Choose pictures that don’t bleed" - unless you're designing for photocopying, you aren't doing squat here. This is because designers (as a group) don't understand print production anymore. But, no, unless you're photocopying (which if you design it right doesn't matter if the page bleeds or not), you're going to be printed on standard page sizes which will require trimming (there are only a few exceptions to this). But strangely there's no mention of spec'ing paper with a higher post-consumer recycling content (or higher cotton content, or even non-wood-pulp paper), not using varnishes, not requiring envelopes to be custom made, lower print volumes, and a host of other ideas that would actually make designing greener. So, "fail".

Using LIDAR to discover new structures around Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat has held a special place in my heart ever since I read about it in a NatGeo many, many years ago. The place is just beautiful and is one of the few items on my bucket list. And now with LIDAR, they're discovering a whole new layer (and expanding it's footprint). I'm sure at some point in the future it will show up in some of my fiction. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Can't innovate anymore my ass." I missed this last week, but introducing the new Mac Pro. OMG. Unified thermal core… hmmm.

"One kind of figured (derivatives) were financial instruments of mass destruction, now studies are saying they’re a drag on the economy. All they do is basically enrich the rich and fuck everyone else over." Then Brid forbid we regulate them at all. Don't want to impede the flow of money out of the economy into the coffers of the rich.

Director Mueller admits to the FBI using drones on US soil. Queue the radical right fringe to their weekly freakout. Not all drones are Predators or Global Hawks. In fact, most of them aren't much more sophisticated than the old gas motor model planes with a camera stuck on the front. (Pointed to by Dan)

I've also never understood how people who claim to be compassionate are always so gung-ho to cut programs for the most vulnerable in our society. Take SNAP (aka Food Stamps). One of the best run government programs. But all the opponents want to see "fraud and waste". "In fact, SNAP has a strong record of efficiency. It has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program. SNAP error rates (benefit overpayments and underpayments) are at an all-time low; just 3 percent of benefits went to ineligible households or exceeded the allowable benefit for eligible households. Moreover, honest mistakes by recipients, eligibility workers, data entry clerks or computer programmers – not fraud – account for an overwhelming majority of such overpayments." Again, reality shows its liberal bias. But not really. I've been developing the theory that conservatives secretly want to create a subservient class of the poor to fulfill their dreams of monarchy and righteousness. The problem is that when that happens, it tends to ferment bloody revolution. See "History" and more recently "Arab Spring" for relevant examples. (Grokked from Joe Hill)

"Supplies of oil have been surging this year, and U.S. drivers, who have been switching to more fuel-efficient cars, are using less gasoline… That would seem to be the right economic combination to push down prices at the pump, but gasoline prices have remained stubbornly high this summer." What, "Drill, Baby, Drill" actually doesn't lower gas prices? Shocked, shocked I am… Repeat after me, people, oil is sold on a world market. But one of the reasons oil prices remain high which isn't covered in this article is the reason why oil supplies and drilling has surged. And that's because oil was expensive enough to make how we have to drill for that extra oil cost effective (that is, all this new oil supply isn't cheap oil, it's expensive to get at it).

Apparently the Supreme Court believes that the Fifth Amendment is like the 8-ball in a game of pool, you have to call the shot for it to count. Maybe we could get menus put on police cars an in interrogation rooms. "I'll have the Right to Remain Silent combo meal, and super size that." From the article, "The irony here is that the ruling is yet another reason to actually never cooperate with the authorities, ever, and add an invocation of the Fifth Amendment anytime you are put in a position to speak to one." (Pointed to by John)

"Even if implementation goes terribly, it isn’t like to rekindle widespread angst. Most people will be untouched by implementation—even a disastrous implementation—for the simple reason that they won’t be relying on Obamacare. As Bloomberg’s Josh Barro has explained, 78 percent of us get coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, or our employers, a figure isn’t likely to change very much, or at least very quickly." On the GOP's unhealthy obsession with Obamacare. I think I said this last year, I'm so glad they came up with that name because it's now tied to a Democratic President, and when it works it'll be a political boost (as Social Security and Medicare was) for a few decades. Sure, it'll be updated and (hopefully) expanded, but I have a feeling that name will stick. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Linkee-poo, what's it to you if it's Wednesday at noon and I've traded my ice-tea for scotch

"From October 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013, The Jim Henson Company and Grosset & Dunlap of the Penguin Young Readers Group will be accepting writing submissions to find the author for a new novel set in the world of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. This author search is open to all professional and aspiring professional writers." Just in case you wanted to try for it, or if you just wanted to see what it's like to write in a media-tie-in world. (Grokked from Kelly Swails)

Just because your world isn't weird enough (I can tell from here), have eight real life vampire related crimes. When I was but a young pup running wild through the western marches of the NJ Pine Barrens in a little town called Gibbsboro, we had a vampire. He assaulted something like 6 people, biting them on the neck. The local gossip was he also wore a cape (can't be a vampire without the cape I guess). IIRC, they had cornered the bastard twice, but never actually did catch him (not like our local police were much above Barney Fife level anyway). We also had a high degree of environmental pollution with heavy metals from the Sherwin-Williams plant. These two things might be connected. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"(N)ew research suggests that it’s possible you weren’t even able to taste that fatty goodness, which may be why you just kept on eating. A paper published last week in PLoS ONE suggests that there is a complex relationship between emotional arousal, symptoms of depression, and taste perception, and that this phenomenon could have links to emotional overeating." Why stress eating is a double whammy. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Yup, good government can't do anything. You know, like institute public heath programs that help eliminate destructive diseases like leprosy. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A recently discovered NPR show, Ask Me Another. Because who doesn't like word games? Also the podcast is free, unlike Says You which is also great fun, but I never seem to catch it on the radio and I'm too cheap to buy.

"If someone combined the fierceness of a wolf and the adorableness of a corgi…" The Viking Dog, like a wolf mixed with dachshund and thrown into a drier wet. And now I have an image in my head of the fierce Viking sailing the North Sea in their dragon boats carrying these little dogs in their man purses. (Grokked from Tor.com)

The question isn't who, who wrote the book of love, but who invented the computer mouse. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

In the public's mind the most noticeable product of the marker culture is printable guns. But printing out prosthetic hands is more what the community is about. I think I linked to this story before, but here is a recent incarnation. Material costs? $5. And the new version snaps together. (Pointed to by Dan)

Uploadable brains by 2045? I wonder if the Singularity and it's dream of digital immortality (doesn't seem like a dream to me) will be the next generation's "I want my jet pack"? (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Apparently Antonin Scalia could be bothered to upgrade his education when it comes to molecular biology. :: shakes head in disbelief :: (Grokked from Jay lake)

"But helium has a trick. When cooled below about two degrees kelvin, it becomes a superfluid, which has the odd property that it crawls up and over the walls of containers by capillary forces… It crawls along at about 20 centimeters per second, so it would take the liquid helium less than 30 seconds to start collecting in the bottom of your boat… If it's any consolation, as you lay dying, you would be able to observe an odd phenomenon…" XKCD on floating a boat on mercury, bromine, liquid gallium/tungsten/nitrogen/helium. So at the next party when someone says, "Science is boring," you can say "Pshaw! Let me tell you about rowing across liquid helium…". And yes, I expect you to actually say "pshaw!". (Pointed to by Dan)

Rapid correction of severe acute hypernatremia caused by soy sauce ingestion." Sometimes I wonder if we aren't inventing our own methods of evolutionary pressures. (Grokked from Kelly Swails)

"Most Americans say they want to die at home, but 75 percent die in hospitals or nursing homes. Hospitalization often means aggressive, high-cost treatment at the expense of quality of life. And life-prolonging care accounts for 30 percent of total Medicare spending. Now, two Harvard doctors are making movies that visually depict common forms of end-of life care in hospitals. The short films show real patients receiving treatment such as emergency CPR and feeding tubes. Clinical studies show that patients who view these movies overwhelmingly opt out of costly, life-prolonging treatment." The Diane Rehm Show on making better end-of-life decisions. I didn't get to listen to the whole thing, yet. But what I did hear sounded very interesting. Did you know that when you're put on a vent(ilator), they have to bind your hands so you don't accidentally rip it out?

Tobias Buckell points to an article on hyperdensity. And I have to mirror some of his comments. Having lived most of my adulthood in cities, when I moved out to "the country" I was astounded at how little the people valued green/open space out their. I would think it was a matter of perspective, but I think it really boils down to lack of vision.

"Congressional critics must abandon their futile efforts to repeal Obamacare and focus instead on improving it. Their core premise — that greater government involvement in health care provision spells disaster — lacks support in the wealth of evidence from around the world that bears on it… The truth appears closer to the reverse: Because of pervasive market failures in private health care markets, this may be the sector that benefits most from collective action." Reality once again shows its liberal bias with things like "facts", "studies", and "data." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @MykeCole: All writing advice encapsulated: Work constantly and don't be a dick on the Internet.

Double dip: @camillealexa: Then I'm a hybrid mutant:"Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work"-Stephen King

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo needs to get back to work

Miranda Suri on what works when it comes to writing retreats.

Neil Gaiman shares his top 10 mythical characters. At least a third of them are tricksters, plus the Lilith.

"I think it is because, in fiction, if you like the person telling you the story—which is to say the voice, not the author—you generally will let them tell you a story." Ta-Nehisi Coates on the importance of voice. Some people don't understand voice, what it is and how you develop it. Think of two people. One person could tell you how to make a thousand dollars a day, but the way they tell it makes you feel like listening to nails on a chalkboard (is that an idiom that should be going away?) and at the same time wanting to go to sleep. The other person can tell you about snails crossing the sidewalk and they have you laughing and interested in what happens next. Find out how to be that second person. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Where do you get your ideas? Well, going out an living while keeping your eyes and brain open is a real easy way to develop them.

Jay Lake's advice on titling.

Lisa Chron on why the hero's journey is claptrap. When it's looked at as a formula, yep. But I disagree on some points. For instance, the whole Hero's Journey is about the change of the character, it's all about the internal of the hero, unlike what she states. But I can see her point in how the HJ is often talked about. The HJ is a metastory, not the story itself. If you use the HJ like a check list ("Hero must deny call to action… check!") then you're missing the point of both the structure and what Joseph Campbell was all about. Also, the HJ is about myth, not story. It would be like saying, "I'll use Jung's archetypes as a cookbook to create my characters." You're doing it wrong.

"Don’t you dare TELL me that crap." On showing not telling.

So, you now have an offer of representation. What now?

Okay, then you have your novel published in English. Now what? Looking at my friends careers, selling foreign publication rights is where the money is at.

Chuck Wendig demolishes the standard trolling comment lines when it comes to talking about sexism and misogyny. I've never quite understood the Real Man Woman Haters Club stupidity. Even when it was on the Little Rascals. Just always seemed to be the stupidest world view evar.

Creating a Mjölnir that really shoots lighting. Ah, geeks with soldering irons. (Grokked from Tor.com)

A military compass hidden with a dagger. I remember reading a treatise somewhere that said something like for an item with the only intent of using the point at close range, a dagger with a long blade seems to be an awful waste of steel. (Grokked from Jay Lake) The Jony Ive Redesigns Things tumblr. Hahahahaha (Pointed to by Dan)

How could you make a job of tagging all inventory with RFID tags a whole lot simpler? Well, if you weed out 70% of the stock, that'll make it easier. It'll also save employee time and pay, not to mention all those expensive, pesky stickers you would have needed to use up. Just wow. (Grokked from Elizabeth Stack)

Signal boost (oh what little I have). Get your novel professionally critiqued by Saladin Ahmed.

In Ann Arbor (waves at friends there) they have a subculture of tiny doors. (Grokked from Tor.com)

The return of the cougar. Here in NE Ohio are seeing an increase in bear sightings. And while they still remain invisible to the general public, bob cats have also returned (coming in in the DNA sweeps mentioned in the links and by wildlife management cameras). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"(Sgt Jerome Moran, based at Solihull police station) told (a john that called Britain's version of 911 to complain about a prostitute's looks) that she'd not committed any offences and that it was his actions, in soliciting for sex, that were in fact illegal." Ah, it's good to know it isn't only Americans who call 911 services for totally insane purposes. (Pointed to by Dan)

The monsters in your (well, the hospital's) sink. Lately I've been seeing a lot of stories like this where researchers gather up a whole soulful of DNA and then sift through the data to identify what species are in the area. This works for both micro and macro fauna. "Perhaps the most striking thing about (TM6) is the fact that fully 43 percent of the genes appear to encode proteins that we've never seen before. Typically, due to a combination of common descent and gene transfer, many of the genes in new species are familiar. This one is so far out, most of them don't look like anything we know about. Which, of course, makes it hard to predict what they might do." And doesn't that just make you all comfy and cosy. The word you're thinking of is "nosocomial". (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Rent-a-drone.

If you are not around people who will look at you like you are crazy when you make stupid claims about other people's experiences, then you tend to keep saying stupid things about other people's experiences." If you want to stop being known as stupid, the best path is to stop being stupid about things. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Time is the fire in which we burn

Just as a warning to all you other wannabe writers, get the books you want to write written as soon as you can.

Many more years ago than I wish to think about, the ideas that formed the bones of the current WIP all came together. I won't bore you all with the various Big Ideas™ (trademark of John Scalzi's Whatever), but my elevator pitch is "the Left-Behind romantic comedy for those of us that will be Left-Behind." Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Also, it's a great joke Christmas Tree. But I also shouldn't go into all the details about what's in there because I want to talk about timing.

Let's assume for the moment I can pull this writing feat off and this is going to be a killer book, the kind that the young kids in college ask each other, "Have you read this? You gotta read this" (yes, those dreams of being a Douglas Adams keep coming back no matter how many times reality wants to stake them down). If I had finished it in a relative time frame from when I had the entire story structure down, that would have been about 3 years ago. Let's say a year to get an agent and then two years for the publishing process, the book would probably be coming out soon.

Which would have been great given this summer's movie preoccupation with "End of the World" stories (including not a few "Biblical Rapture" movies on all sides of the issue). That book would have hit the market at a time of high-tide for interest. I can't tell you how much internal strife is going on with that thought right at the moment. Seriously kicking myself over it.

Right now my guess is if I can get it done, we're looking at another 5 years until it might be out (unless a miracle happens - I'm looking at you Powerball). Who knows what the public interest will be then.

So, if you have that killer idea, the one you're not seeing on the shelves right now, write that bugger as fast as you can. Because by the time it's out for sale, you'll never know what will be fashionable or riding the wave of public attention.

And in case you don't see the other part of this argument, write what you want to write about, not what you think the market wants (except for short stories, this is one of the differences between shorts and novels).

Get to writing.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Linkee-poo might as well begin to put some action in my life, breaking the law

A post on titling short stories and novels. One of these is not like the other.

Tobias Buckell on the profit structure of hardcovers and ebooks and how they're apples and oranges.

The NYT article by authors on writing. I'll need some more time to go through all that, if I can get any time at all for it. But just a quick overview of the headlines looks like there could be some good stuff to mine there. (Grokked from Dr. Doyle)

Way oh, there goes Tokyo, go go Godzilla. And article about the increasing body count of extras and people off scene who die in droves so the heros can come out alive and victorious at the end. Or, to put it another way, you know several police departments have rules about high-speed chases (specifically not engaging in them) because by not making the chase you end up saving more lives. Or in other words, at the end of the Avengers, we are left with a body count higher than what we experienced during 9/11 (not to mention nearly wiping out NYC with a tactical nuclear weapon), but instead of heading into cultural shock and mourning that last weeks (if not years), the good guys go out for shawarma. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Actor Peter Mayhew (aka Chewbacca) gets stopped by the TSA for his lightsaber shaped cane. Pointed out because while they get points for the "when a wookie loses" reference, but then loses those points for not commenting on the TSA's side of the story by saying something like, "this wasn't the cane they were looking for." (Grokked from Tor.com)

When I was younger, we used to classify this kind of thing as "gathering stars for your crown in heaven." In this case, Wil Wheaton gains even more super cool geek points. I think he's do for a free frogurt or something.

(Note to self, think up kickstarter for "Geek Stamps" nee "Green Stamps")

Some very cool time-lapse sky photography. And the music is okay. (Pointed to by John)

"Well, actually it is a direct quotation, but not from (Rep.) Stephen Fincher (R-TN). It’s a quotation from the 1936 Constitution of the Soviet Union… The key point for both Fincher and for his fellow-travelers in Stalin’s USSR is that 'work is a duty.'… But Fincher doesn’t understand what that means either. He doesn’t understand that if employment is a duty, then employment must also be a right." And that, friends, is why I read Fred Clark's posts. Mr. Clark also takes Rep. Fincher to task for quoting the Bible, not out of context, but by completely misconstruing both the passage and the content of the passage. When I was a very young, church going kinda guy, my grandfather taught me a very bad habit. He taught me to read the entire Bible chapter being used as the weekly readings before those passages were used in the sermon. And then I was to see if what the passages were actually saying in the context with which they were written in the Bible squared up with what was being preached. Rep. Fincher fails this simple text.

You hear about it all the time, but somebody actually reinvented the (skateboard) wheel. Well, I think I've seen this done before, but they got the patent and are looking to kickstart the startup cash to get a larger production run made. (Pointed to by John)

"Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the court, said the genes Myriad isolated are products (the genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2) of nature, which aren't eligible for patents." I'm not sure if I mentioned this in the link to the Angelina Jolie story, but that test she used to find if she carried the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes is only offered by one company (Myriad), could not be included in other genetic tests (because Myriad charges outrageous licensing rates) and costs a few thousand dollars. Why? Because they owned the patent. They also stopped other researchers from looking into how these genes work with the hope of maybe developing therapies to help women (and men) who carry them. As in, no one else in the world was doing research here and Myriad's own research wasn't nearly close to being able to develop actual treatments. Why should they? They were getting their money from selling the tests.

Eric with a very long piece on the ramifications and implications of the NSA spying controversy. "The first (way to protect the innocent) is to keep nothing… And the second is to keep everything, so that if a pattern emerges from the data--and patterns will emerge…" Yep.

Okay, I'm going to have to alter my opinion of Excel because of this. A man uses Excel to create art reminiscent of Japanese silk painting. Wow. (Pointed to by John)

Dismantling the legacy of The Boston Molasses Disaster. Or the effects of non-regulation and austerity are already known. Most of the time it's described in the terms of "disaster" or "great shame" (like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire). It's really a shame that one segment of our population doesn't understand history and is forcing us all to relearn these lessons (the West Fertilizer Company explosion for instance). And while we can talk about the market forces that would eventually drive these companies out of business and how "that's how it's supposed to work", allowing that to happen ignores the dead bodies left in these policies wakes as well as the money being sucked out of the economy into the stagnant hoards of the rich. Not to mention if we continue cutting welfare, Medicaid (and the cost of rejecting the Medicaid expansion), and SNAP to the poor (which actually is a cost-shiting exercise and doesn't actually save any money while it works for less people) how will Walmart be able to continue their business model. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Linkee-poo has friends in low places

Sorry, this week is exceptionally busy with deadlines and work work work. So, I don't know if all this balances and everything is in the right spot, but gotta get this out.

This article starts off with the questions most often asked by starting writers (waves hand at the crowd), and then goes into the questions we should be asking. Again, waves hand at the crowd. I wish I had thought of many of these questions before the last few years because I had more opportunities to get great answers. Not that I wouldn't get great answers now, but I've sat with more editors in previous cons than I do now. (Grokked from Miranda Suri)

The commissioning editor, gatekeeper to publishing.

"Ignore the haters. You aren’t writing for those weirdos." Writing advice gleaned from The Lorax.

Seven bestseller strategies for writers. When looking at advice like this, the best advice I have is "If 1 – 5 writers did it and were successful, it's a fluke. If you have 30 writers telling you this worked for them, you might want to check it out." Mostly geared toward self-publishers, but also good advice for others. (Grokked from MrsTadd)

Also if you're self publishing, don't allow typos on your cover. Pointed out here as both a book/writing and politics thing. (Pointed to by John)

The Desolation of Smaug trailer appears. It's full of lots of jumpy sword swinging and more elves drawing bows than you can shake a stick at.

If SF/F fandom is inclusionary, why do some of our fans have to go through this crap. Why? Because apparently fandom hasn't had to suffer through 90s with the constant "corporate education videos" about hostile workplaces. Look, guys, can we talk? Cut this shit out. Frankly if you can accept that a geek can be a woman (and you don't understand just how sexualized women have been in our past and how it's not good now) the problem isn't with them. The problem is that the a segment of male fans have decided they would rather throw their wooden shoes, called "sabot", into the modern cultural machinery than deal with a changed world. And if you don't get the reference in that last line (and how I subverted the intent), you aren't a good enough fan to question anyone else. (Grokked from Tor.com)

The Doom that Came to Thonis-Heracleion. The lost city of Thonis-Heracleion, mighty trade port between Greece and a conquered Egypt, now lies under the Mediterranean Sea almost 7 kilometers off the present day coast of Alexandria. If that isn't a Lovecraftian story just waiting to be written, I don't know what is. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

1933 Chicago World's Fair ephemera. From when we designed using flint knives and wore bear skins. Gods I love this stuff.

"What is keming?" Hahahahahaha.

Janiece talks about her own life, but gives good advice for us all. "Virtue unlocked: Perspective."

What to say about the judge's ruling on the case of organic farmers suing to keep Monsanto from suing them if GM plants get mixed into their organic seed supplies. It's not as strange as it might sound (in face, it's happening already). "In its ruling Monday, the appellate court said the organic growers must rely on Monsanto assurances on the company's website that it will not sue them so long as the mix is very slight." Um, yeah, how about defining "very slight"? Ten percent, thirty, fifty-five? The problem here (okay, one of the problems) is that as the gm seed infiltrates into the organic supplies the percentage will continue to grow until a balance point is found (depending on the evolutionary advantages of each strain). But then I'm reminded of the quote from Little Big Man, "But sometimes grass don't grow, wind don't blow and the sky ain't blue." 'Cause it's not like companies update their websites all the time. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

A famous staked vampire body returns to its native soil in Bulgaria. What could possibly go wrong? Double points for those who get the vampire lore there. And yes, stabbing corpses was a thing back then. IIRC, even in Edwardian times it was customary to prick a corpse with a hat pin before burial (this was in the time before embalming was wide spread). (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Apple's OS X goes to the dark side (of server file management). Of somewhat interest to the day thing as we have many servers I need to connect to.

Oh look, George W Bush's popularity is finally creeping into positive territory. Well, actually it's his negatives that are going down. And it only took him being out of office and out of the public's eye for six years. Some conservatives will like to think that this is because his policies are more popular. In reality it's just that people tend for ignore and forget the bad of the past because there is so much current crap we have to deal with. Sort of why people think fondly of the 50's and 70's. I wonder what the numbers would be if the poll first reminded people of what the Bush Presidency was like, and then ask them. (Pointed to by John)

Tweet of my heart: @bunsenhoneydew: I'm less surprised that the US government is tapping all communications than I am that there was a successful large government IT project

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo before the weekend is out

What does 100 consecutive days of writing look like? (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

The story spine solution. Defining the bare bones of the story.

Kameron Hurley on the myth of talent. There are several levels to almost any career or pursuit you ever want to go into. Innate talent can get you through the first level, maybe the second level. But here is something I've learned, those people who have a "talent" typically peter-out when the hit their first major obstacle. Sometimes that's the first person who doesn't tell them how wonderful they are (the dreaded rejection), sometimes it's when they get to the point where they have to engage their talent in a way they don't want to, sometimes is that wall where something becomes work (and there is always that wall waiting). Most people I know who were "talented" at something (music, art, writing, sports) aren't doing what they were talented in. They all hit that winnowing wall and, because they had "talent" and never had to "work" at it, they were ill prepared and didn't have the skills to carry on. Hard work will always win out over talent, because even if you have talent you will eventually have to work at it.

Here I will share a secret. I suck at writing. No, really, I do. I never paid attention in English class when it was important. My 7th grade to 12th grade English education was compromised by my raging hormones and a flirtive teacher (whom I found out later was flirting with the guy who always sat next to me). How have I gotten as far as I have? Because I know how to work at it. I would probably be farther along if I had more time to work at it harder. Same thing with being a designer.

Kristin Lamb on getting past the dip. I have a feeling that's where I'm at, in an extended dip. I certainly hope there's a breakthrough coming when I'm able to get back to try part. Also related, my Pissing and Moaning post where I refer to blogging as the methadone.

Mer Haskell in praise of the House of Hufflepuff.

Feeding your inner reader to help make you a better writer.

Catherine Schaff-Stump digs into the SFWA Harassment Policy. Organizational time does take longer than we all think is necessary, but that's the nature of organizations as compared to dictatorial groups. While I sincerely hope this policy is being put into action, there's enough wiggle room in "(taking) appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and if necessary, to discipline behavior that violates this policy" that can allow a multitude of outcomes. Or as they used to say, there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.

Opportunity finds evidence of fresh water on Mars. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Five myths about the American Flag. Oddly enough, I've had arguments about all five with people who supposedly "revere" the flag. Too bad they don't know how to do it (including the people who wanted flags to line the streets who didn't understand if you fly a flag at night it must be lit).

And, like the growing evidence that the World Bank has been a little too aggressive and optimistic about austerity programs in the face of actual data to the contrary, we now have empirical proof of GOP obstructionism. Are the Democrats blameless? No. But like that friend that takes flirting and double-entendre and goes to far turning it into something creepy, the GOP has gone around the bend. This shouldn't be surprising given their public comments about doing just such a thing. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Fred Clark discusses the various revelations this week about the government's domestic spying. As I tweeted, it's so cute that everybody acts like this is something new. Now you know why a group of us were screaming about the Patriot Act, which didn't so much start this as give legal cover for it. I'm not as worried as Fred Clark is about the semi-competence of the NSA, they've had over 50 years of experience sifting through the dross of mass communications with over 20 years of using computers to winnow the stream (search for ECHELON if you want to know more). Does that mean I agree with it? Hells no. I do think every jackwagon who voted for the Patriot Act and its two extensions, and all those who supported them, they don't get to complain about this. This is exactly what they approved of.

So, you think the NSA is bad? How about the new Xbox? All your software are belong to us.

Komen cancels their walks for the cure in many cities. Cleveland is one of those cities. The local reps completely deny this has anything to do with the recent scandals, but is all about the recession. Sure, I'm sure it has nothing to do with the major drop in participation after the scandals, but is only because of the recession that people aren't giving more. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

They're praying for water in Texas. Again. "About 30 communities statewide could run out of water by the end of the year, according to a list compiled by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality." Say, and I thought Texas was the magical state where people moved there in droves because of the permissive environment and created all those job? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @scalzi: Re: Google, Microsoft, Apple, et al and the NSA: Thank goodness the tech world is full of libertarians!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Linkee-poo is a butterfly, and butterflies are free to fly, fly away

"Fiction is dangerous, of course, 'cause it lets you into other people's heads. Fiction is dangerous because it gives you empathy. Fiction is dangerous because it shows you that the world doesn't have to be like the one that you live in. Which is an incredibly dangerous thing for the world." Neil Gaiman's talk at Book Expo of America.

Elizabeth Shack shares some of the writer podcasts she listens to.

The Oxford Comma infographic.

Twenty-two maps that show how we are a nation divided by a common tongue. And, damnit, it is a fargin' hoagie (actually a hoagie is a specific type of sandwich, one which I can't find here in the wastelands of Subway). And what, no map for those people who pronounce the "r" in "wash"? That's just ridiculous. (Pointed to by John)

So, I hear you ask (you didn't know I could hear you, did you), what should I eat come the zombie apocalypse. Why, bug salad is the answer. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"And before you think this isn't a problem, consider this: Ann Aguirre writes about the problem of sexism in our genre, and immediately receives hate mail. Silvia Moreno-Garcia writes about the problem and receives hate mail. Starting to see a pattern?" Jason Sanford on why rooting out sexism isn't just the "ladies'" problem.

And if you don't think it's a problem, don't worry. Daniel Tosh doesn't get it either. I've never really understood his form of "humor". To be it's very belittling and demeaning. And this is what happens when you go down that road. It's the reason I don't listen to Dennis Miller anymore, and Jeff Dunham is getting close. Eventually the angry young man who will offend "everyone they've ever disagreed with" schtick gets old and it just turns in to an ass being an ass for the sake of being an ass. Mostly at the expense of women.

While many people won't see the connection here, Tobias shares a story about a prostitute in Texas who was shot by a John because she refused and is then acquitted. There's a little more to it, but, as Tobias says, WTF?! Well, if you start from the premise that women's lives aren't important to begin with, it starts to make sense. But seriously, this guy killed her because he was "trying to retrieve stolen property"? Um, no, you go to the police for that (of course, the police aren't going to have much sympathy for losing money while in the progress of another crime).

You're also looking for someplace to put your keys and the Bath and Beyond solutions are working for you? Okay, here's three key racks you can use. (Grokked from Dan)

Tips for negotiating your first salary. My addition is ask for what you think you should be earning 5 years from now? Why? Okay, if you haven't had much experience working, let me reveal one of the secrets. Raises (for the most part) suck. If you think you'll start low and then you can get more later, think again. Chances are you will go for years without a raise at some point in your career. Most raises will be "cost of living" (which don't actually cover the increases in your costs of living), and they might be cut by increases in your healthcare costs (shared premiums and or adjusted terms which increase your co-pays). In over 24 years of working professionally in design I have had only one raise that was more than cost of living that didn't involve either a new job (knocks on wood here) or a new title (I've also had change of title without a raise). I've only had one major raise (for any reason) that really did alter my economic condition.

Wait, the Mars icecaps are water ice with a thinner layer of carbon dioxide (dry ice)? Why didn't I know about this before? (Grokked from Tor.com)

It's a whole new battery type. Mainly it uses sulfur (one of the cheapest and readily available materials) in a solid form to make a solid electrolyte. Plus is has some serious power density. I'm starting to feel like an old man when I talk about the batteries of my youth. (Pointed to by Dan)

Where do all those greenhouse gases come from? A somewhat convoluted info graphic. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Are you upset about what happened in Benghazi? Okay, why weren't you upset about all these attacks on our diplomats and embassies?

Congress is shocked, shocked to find out that the administration is using their (many times renewed) powers under the Patriot Act. Which puts them in a strange position that they need to both protect the mainstream media (after years of attacking them) and to say what they approved under the Patriot Act was wipe away our basic protections and civil liberties. Don't expect them to bring up those points during testimony. They'll be just as glad if no one remembers. But on the plus side, at least this administration got a warrant from the FISA courts, unlike the previous administration who felt it was too time consuming to do so.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Linkee-poo is getting stale like yesterday's donuts

Scalzi steps up in the SFWA Bulletin brouhaha.

"And I’m furious, because they can undo all of the good that SFWA does." Mary Robinette Kowal on why the SFWA brouhaha is a problem.

Still not sure it's a problem? Okay, how about this Onion article on "If You Wish to Be a Writer, Have Sex with Someone Who Works in Publishing." We aren't very far down that road. (Grokked from Dan)

Billion year old water found. The world is stranger than we think. Okay, well, most water is pretty old, but it's been recycled through kidneys (and as rain) so many times… (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The best 404 error code I've ever seen. (Pointed to by John)

Recreating the Girl with Pearl Earring on an iPad mini. Which you can't do, because as Microsoft has told us, you can't create on an iOS device. Also pretty good to show how art is built. Thinking of the iPad, it's also not like a hospital that deployed them to its staff saw an ROI of nine-days. One of the things that takes the longest to do at clinicals is the software side of things. (Pointed to by Dan)

Someone is studying earworms, and they're looking for your input. In my first structure of the WIP, I used earworms as a tertiary joke overlay (I've since cut it out, because it doesn't add to the story), so this has my interest. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Forget the fact that most print journalists are not photographers; that most people who write for a living don't have a great understanding about lighting, composition, the rule of thirds or other tenets of photography… (and) it's ridiculous to think that an iPhone… is anywhere near as good as your basic DSLR." Corporate America at it's best. The bean counters run the world. "Say, this secretary can type, what else do you need to put a newsletter together…" (Pointed to by Dan)

Tired of hearing about the (near magical) Cloud? Well, here's a browser extension that will replace "the Cloud" with "my butt." This, my friends, is exactly what the internet was built for. (Pointed to by John)

Why do I feel the need to mansplain to Rep. Marsha Blackburn that gender equality in the workplace isn't a "special" right, it should be basic liberty. Having a law that makes it illegal to constantly pay a women less than what they're paying men for the same position and responsibilities shouldn't be necessary, but unfortunately it is. Because however many decades since the scandals of paying women sixty-four cents on the dollar, we've made massive progress by bringing that up to seventy-seven cents on the dollar. Progress, baby! Pointed here to demonstrate 1) the effect of drinking the kool-aid and 2) for those arguing why they couldn't be a part of a racist/sexist/bigoted organization because blacks, women, minorities belong to it. (Pointed to by Dan)

Somewhat related, think we're a "post-racial nation"? Think again. While blacks and whites use pot at similar rates, if you're black you're four times as likely to be arrested and sent to jail for it. Stick that in the equality pipe and smoke it. (Grokked from ChiaLynn)

"How many people starved (in the Great Depression)? No one." And instead of John Stossel being laughed off the stage at that point, Kilmeade says, "Good point." No, not good point. No points at all. In fact, Mr. Stossel had to correct his statement. Of course, he did that off line and later. Sure, we can do without the Agriculture Department. Only by living in the cities with no ties as to how their food is produced can one remain ignorant of just how much AG is inter-twinned with our food production. I mean, we don't need anyone inspecting our food or making sure manufacturers follow good processes. What's a little HEP A, Salmonella, C. diff, and a few fingers in our hot dogs between us friends? Or maybe some melamine in your milk. These idiots, these conservatives who want to cut everything but defense, really have no frickin' clue how the world works. They're the type of people who may know intellectually that steak comes from cows, but really believe it comes from grocery stores and restaurants. Oh, and Brian Kilmeade, I think you're eligible for a refund on your BA, because obviously you didn't learn squat. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"And those are the 'winnable' ones." The GOP does research on what young people who they think they can win over think of the GOP. That's gotta keep some people away at nights. (Pointed to by Dan)

Tweet of my heart: @phiala: I support govt regulation. @deborahblum: In 1910, they made fake raspberry jam by coloring jelly with coal tar dyes & mixing in grass seed.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Linkee-poo walks around to catch the thrill of the streets we call the zoo

The seven bad storytelling habits we learned from from superhero comics. (Grokked from Tor.com)

How to get permission to use song lyrics in your book. Noted here for future reference. In the current WIP I use lyrics from RY Harburg and Freddie Mercury and a lot of people in-between.

The seven deadly writing sins. The article links to other articles near the end where they list the sins.

Kameron Hurley expounds on the survivorship bias.

Working out the psychology of our characters.

"Fairy tales are, as Ellen says, maps through the woods, trails of stones to mark the path, marks carved into trees to let us know that other women and men have been this way before."

"Your insistence that your’e being bullied by Nazis trivializes the actual bullying, death threats, and sexual threats people get in this industry simply for asking to be treated like human beings." Kameron Hurley on the SFWA brouhaha. What she said.

The problem when your caught out being an idiot and decide the best option is to continue to dig your hole faster is someone will probably call you on it. The ongoing brouhaha over the Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues. Apparently they believe the criticism of their sexism is coming from anonymous quarters. Well, Jim Hines names names which weren't all that hard to find because they weren't hiding. When digging a hole you have two options, dig deeper and faster or stop digging. Since Resnick and Malzberg have decided to keep digging, they might want to use a shovel. And while I haven't really been looking at the whole scope of the argument, I believe it's quickly coming down to the phrase, "Stop feeding the trolls." Apparently they want to dig to China. They're deep enough already.

How writing affects your brain, an infographic. (Grokked from Karl Schroeder)

While researching to write the Other, don't ask questions like this. That's from the NPR segment "Code Switch." What's sad is I've been with friends when they've been asked questions like that. Also was with one of the very few black people in town when President Obama won his first term and a white person congratulated them on "their win." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

You know how the Keystone Pipeline supporters warned that if we didn't build the pipeline, Canada would just sell their oil to China? Well, apparently they were planning to do that all along anyway. Why? Because oil is sold on the world market. But here's the twist, British Columbia rejected the proposed pipeline plans citing a lack of disaster planning. So, to sum up, Alberta was always planning to sell their oil anywhere they could, and they can't even convince their Canadian neighbors that their pipeline plans are a good idea.

"'What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?' CEO Rex Tillerson said at the oil giant’s (EXXON) annual meeting Wednesday." And we have a winner, folks. Really, this person is a very highly paid CEO (as in, he probably makes more in a month than you'll see in an entire lifetime). This is the high quality people we're told that corporations need to pay those high salaries to attract and retain. And while I'm making the moral case here (seriously, what kind of asshat says something like that), there's also the complete lack of logic in that statement. I wonder if his epitaph will read, "Sorry we fucked up the planet so you can't live there anymore, but, hey, wasn't that a great road trip?" Or, if the planet isn't "saved", humanity will suffer (and likely die out). Seriously, what fucktard board of directors keeps an idiot like this in the CEO position? I wouldn't trust him to push a broom around competently. And the answer is, a board of directors just as stupid and only focused on the money going into their accounts. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sure, you've probably heard about the "makers culture" (the advent of cheaper 3D printers, not the conservative libertarian world view), but what about the "bakers culture." NASA helps fund a food printer.

Erik on the facile marketing of this summer's big SF movies. It's like marketing execs are playing key word bingo without understand the context. You know, like they always do. In some cases I see the ad execs or designers laughing up their sleeves (like using Mozart's Final Requiem for a Microsoft commercial), but I think they've looked at Mad Men and decided to start drinking at the office again.

"The researchers have found that the offspring may be benefiting from epigenetic inheritance, in which the parent's (gastric bypass) surgery influences how the DNA they inherit is interpreted by their cells." The world is stranger than we think. It also tends to be more integrated than we think. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Fred Clark with more on Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN). This time from a Biblical point of view, since Rep. Fincher decided to use the Bible to justify his being a jackwagon by simultaneously cutting SNAP (food for kids) while increasing farm subsidies which he profited from to the tune of $3.48 million since 1999. Tell me again how the conservatives are the party of "morality", 'cause that joke just never gets old.

"But I wonder whether even Republicans really believe that story — or at least are confident enough in their diagnosis to justify policies that more or less literally take food from the mouths of hungry children. As I said, there are times when cynicism just doesn’t cut it; this is a time to get really, really angry." Paul Krugman on why cutting SNAP and other programs is just bad morality, bad policy, and bad for our country. Want to end so much SNAP and other program spending? Here's one thing, support raising the minimum wage. And gee, the same party that's pushing cutting SNAP is also the same party that wants to get rid of the minimum wage. If you haven't put two and two together, they want to "end the taker culture" and replace it with one of wage slaves. And in case you also don't get it, unless you're in the top 10%, you'll be the wage slave. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"In other words, grocery shops, butcher shops, pharmacies, you name it, they have placed large photographs in the windows that if you were driving past and glanced out the window, it would look as if this was a thriving business. It’s an attempt really by the local authority to make the place look as positive as possible for the visiting G8 leaders and their entourages…" Well, if you don't have a a good economy and you're hosting the G8, you fake it to look like you do have one. That way the leadership doesn't need to be bothered with the truth of the matter and the consequences of their policies. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Now that Michelle Bachmann is out (and yea, I'm sure it has nothing to do with the several investigations that are ongoing or her barely squeaking out the last election, yea, nothing like that) apparently Ted Cruz is in. The conservative Tea Party, the whackaloon gift that keeps giving. I'm sure "opportunity conservatism" (or as the rest of us call it, "parasitic economic opportunism") will be big. In Japan or something. And let us not forget that Ted Cruz thought he could be president (hint, he's Canadian). Aren't there any non-whackaloon leaders of the conservatives or Tea Party out there? It's a rhetorical question, no need to answer.

"'I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this (40% of households with children have women who are the primary bread winners) and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology — when you look at the natural world — the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complimentary role.'" The gift that keeps on giving. That's Erik Erickson, editor-in-chief of RedState. Someone nominate this asshole for the "Hasn't Been Awake Since the 70s" Award.

"He comes off like a liberal's caricature of what conservative men think." Eight responses to Erik Erickson's brain fart of a comment and ideology. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jay Lake shares the blogroll he uses to generate links. In which my own contribution is listed. I'm honored.