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Though I saw it all around
Never thought I could be affected
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Linkee-poo same checks were always cashed, buy a little more distraction

Signal boost, Joshua Palmatier's kickstart project for CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS anthology is getting close to being fully funded.

The shy writers guide to surviving the cocktail party. Also good for general con going tips.

The more they complicate the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain. Probably as a way to distract people from the fact that some implantable devices can now be hacked (the presenter conveniently dead), we now know that it's possible to hack our cars. Great. Oh, someone has already hacked your house.

Remember that coffin found at the burial site of Richard III? Well, turns out there was a sealed lead coffin on the inside. And now archeologists are trying to figure out how to open it without damaging what's on the inside. As the article says, "A wide variety of end-of-the-world scenarios begin with a tableau just like this. Nothing good can come of opening a lead coffin that somebody saw fit to seal within a stone coffin. It’s the medieval equivalent of the Yucca Mountain. Stay away." This is how the zombie apocalypse begins, just saying. Quick, someone send them a copy of The Mummy and The Mummy II with Brendan Fraser. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Rethinking the Goldilock's Zone. Now that we have a better understanding of the physics of our atmosphere, we can run better simulations. And this way we know more about our universe (and the viability of exoplanets to harbor life) and the future of our own planet. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tobia Buckell reminds us of the wage morality of Henry Ford. Pay your people a living wage and it increases your own wealth. The good news is "The ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay is 273-1, down from a high of 383-1 in 2000, but up from 20-1 in 1965." But then, "CEO pay has increased faster than wages to high-skilled workers, suggesting that the salary market isn’t very efficient. 'Consequently, if CEOs earned less or were taxed more, there would be no adverse impact on output or employment,' the report (from the Economic Policy Institute) concludes." (Grokked from the Slactivist except for Tobias' article)

And this is why unions form. When a corporation disrespects it's employees, unions gain strength. And companies, like Walmart, has been disrespecting workers for decades now.

"Republican State Sen. Dave Lewis… wonders what that (Montana Free Clinic for State Employees) free price tag is actually costing the state government as well as the wider Helena community." Turns out, Senator, in it's first year of operation it saved the state $1.5 million. It's also providing more healthcare (catching more people with diabetes, hypertension/high blood pressure, and obesity), diagnosing people earlier (so treatment is less expensive and more than treating symptoms) and even the healthcare workers like the setup. Let's see, "free" (it's a part of the state employees's healthcare insurance, so their premiums go to pay for it), happier doctors and nurses, more employees using the system, catching diseases before they become big ticket expenditures, and reducing costs. I believe they call that a win-win-win scenario. Don't worry, I'm sure the conservatives will find something to bitch about, at the very least that it's to close to "socialism" and that it actually is state provided care. Also note the major reason for the cost savings is the removal of the mark-ups (ie. profit).

"I guess having two awesome parents who taught me to be a respectful young man paid dividends." Allen West on his never experiencing racism. We will ignore the race-baiting part of this quote and get to the main question, really? Hell, I've been with friends and seen the responses the president talked about. I'm going to add one more possibility to the thought train of this article (either he's lying or good for him) and add in the option of, "Maybe Mr. West is so wrapped up in himself he doesn't notice what goes on around him"? I'm sure he's also never had a problem hailing a cab, either. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Sort of like this. "(A) report released Monday from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that up to nearly 1 million workers may voluntarily leave their jobs because of the new health care law." Queue up the conservatives to say people will just go on the public dole. Note two quotes to this in the article. However, what it really does is it allows people to leave jobs they hate for ones they may love. In other words, it brakes the first chain in the wage-slave relationship most employees have with their employer. And that diminishes their power over you. And now you know why so many business people are freaking-the-fuck-out over it (looking at you, Pappa John).

"But that’s not really the debate here. The real debate is: they don’t deserve it." In case conservatives continue to wonder why progressives think they're cruel and heartless. And then there's the taking of millions in farm aid, then deny others food when they're hungry. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Hey look, it's the "raise the minimum wage" argument again. Only this time the workers are getting involved. Rut' rho'. Fast food better be careful, this is how unions form. Also, that "profit margins are slim" and "we won't be able to hire more people" arguments are complete bullshit. This is like "NFL owners don't make any money." Yeah, right.

I guess when you tell one lie, the other come easier. That's a story debunking the "study of stress on women's reproductive cycle done by Nazis" (aka "women have a way of shutting that whole thing down") canard that I guess is making the rounds again. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Anyone with the capacity to Google 'ho chi minh thomas jefferson' would have been able to find all of this in seconds. Wait until Allen West and right-leaning editorialists discover that Karl Marx was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Or that Margaret Thatcher supported the ultra-Maoist, genocidal Khmer Rouge in the 1980s." I think the writer of this misunderstands the label of "low information voter." Or "don't confuse me with the facts, I've got my outrage to get out." President Obama tells the historical fact that Ho Chi Minh was inspired by the Declaration of Independence and our Founding Fathers and the conservative echo chamber goes bat-shit crazy (again). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Are we burning vinyl again? Seriously, a call to burn records (and by extension books) because of "Satanic" influences? Time to break out the "Time Warp" again and travel back to the 80s. Seriously, I know the social conservatives are a retro movement, but to be shown that the 1980s were too progressive for them is really… well, I guess expected. Also, pro tip, if you decide to "burn" cds, stand upwind. Just a hint. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Fred Clark (aka the Slactivist) and his take on Pope Francis saying, "who am I to judge?" There's lots of links to good reading in there. I'm just happy to see a pope who appears to have read the Bible and understood the teaching of the Christ to be something more than, "womp on their asses." 'Cause I don't ever remember reading him saying that anyway.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Linkee-poo gets it all down on paper so it's no longer inside me, threatening the life it belongs to

A JayWake report. With more photos from the man himself.

Kurt Vonnegut's shapes of stories speech and infographic.

Why the world of publishing needs gatekeepers. That's Diana Peterfruend talking about rampant plagiarism in the "indie publishing" world, or at least the part Amazon controls. And Amazon has no interest in being the cop on the beat. Why? Think they make a little money on each sale? BTW, once someone realizes that makes them an accessory to selling stolen goods, watch out. Don't think that could be a problem, ask your local pawn shop owner.

"Let me tell you about Merrie Haskell, the best fantasy writer for middle grade audiences I’ve come across in years." I haven't read Mer's latest (hell, I haven't read much of anything other than textbooks for the past year), but I will.

One of the fairy tales this review mentions that Mer wraps up in her writing is Bluebeard. And that got me to thinking, I wonder how many of these people talking about "the fake geek-girl" (or those who threaten women with rape because they have their own ideas, dreams, and will - see link below or any of the conversations about women gamers, writers, or women who have blogs) have ever read that one, or Mr. Fox (or any of the variants of the story) and how they play into the same story and what their role is? Probably not many.

http://www.sfwa.org/2013/07/the-joy-of-failure-improv-and-writing/"But the route to this tension is to keep saying 'yes' to the 'offers' (the story stuff about characters and plot and location and motivation people introduce). You keep saying yes until you find something that someone values. Once an offer is noticed, you start building upon it." How saying, "Yes, and/but…" (which is the core of improv) can help you write fiction. If you've ever bounced ideas off of someone who can feed back into the loop, you've done this (full disclose, that's how the premise to the WIP came into being, thanks Dan).

Fred Clark on the rise of the corporate singularity. And he outlines some of the complications of treating corporations as people. It's a convenient fiction, corporations as individuals, but it already breaks down in law enforcement. You can't jail a corporation (and although in some case I would like to see them try, the resulting social chaos wouldn't be preferable, however I do think that officers of the company should be held liable by their actions while immune fiscally - that is their money and property is their own, but their time is already given to the company, if they commit crimes or allow them to be committed as an officer of the company, they should face incarceration for those actions). But now the question becomes, will corporations in the future send back terminators in the for of Summer Glau?

"Microsoft also uses some dubious rounding code that transforms the original voting data into misleading percentages. Indeed, developer tools reveal that the top five leaders in the Microsoft STEM education contest miraculously account for 130% of the vote. Let's hope the quality control is better for those Microsoft Surface voting machines!" Wait, Microsoft is hawking Surface tablets for voting? Saints preserve us. (Pointed to by Dan)

The sausage being made. While most conferences send out memos to their members on how to message, it seems as if the GOP has taken this to new levels. Here is the actual full memo the GOP conference sent to it's members with detailed plans, talking points, almost everything except telling their members to shower every day. Frankly if I were to receive this memo, I would write back to the conference leaders telling them not to insult my intelligence. But then, given what I've seen of my new local representative, I think this level of instruction is necessary for the people who have no idea how to act and behave. And seeing how some member have already gone off reservation, it's not surprising this memo had been written. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Good thing we don't have any strict regulations on deer repellent and "fart gas". Because that would totally mess up the free market and stop kids at Bible camp from using chemical weapons on each other. In other news, "WTF is wrong with people?" (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Ah, those ever good social conservatives and how they behave. In this case calling a 14-year old girl a "whore" because she opposed the Texas law restricting abortion rights. Not to mention the ever present threatening rape or believing she was just giving it away for free (in this case with her Dad being the pimp). Stay classy, conservatives. Also note convergence with stories about The Conjuring in this linkee-poo. Having been there when abortion clinics were shouting matches, this behavior really doesn't surprise me. It's not okay, either. Or as I used to say, "You pray to your God with that mouth?" And when you're there on the line, you see what these supposed "Christian Minded" social conservatives are really about, control. And they're not afraid to use violence to "keep" that control. (Not sure who I got this link from first, Morgan J Locke I think)

"The data released today shows that Florida spent $118,140 reimbursing the overwhelming number of Florida TANF applicants (for mandatory drug testing)… who tested negative for drugs… at a net cost to the State of over $45,000… There are also the administrative costs, staff costs, and, of course, the litigation costs." Ah social conservative policies, costing you more to implement the same thing. But I'm sure the testing lab got to hire one or two more people for the four months the program was running. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"The Conjuring reportedly plays up this religious aspect, and the movie studio has hired Grace Hill Media — the current go-to PR firm for this kind of work — to sell the movie to churchgoers." Roll on up for the price is right. Fred Clark on using "true horror" to put people in church pews (and money in the charlatan's pockets). The "true story" horror movie is the modern-day version of the miracle worker (before that title was used in other ways). Nothing like a little Hell and Brimstone to get the donations flowing again. Reminds me to make a t-shirt for the "Witchfinder's Army" because it'll obviously sell big to both the ironic and to those who are irony impaired. Also, from Fred Clark's followup, "Here’s the real 'true story' behind The Conjuring: Any time people get worked up about a menace they believe in but can’t actually see – demons, Commies, jihadis, hordes of hoodie-wearing thugs — they’re likely to take it out on the weakest and most vulnerable people in society." And those people often are women, children, and the dispossessed.

"Thus, on average, private-sector workers in the United States receive ten days of paid vacation per year and six paid holidays. This total still leaves U.S. workers last in the rankings even when compared with the legal minimums highlighted above. And many employers in these other countries also offer more paid leave than legally required." But I'm sure those employers will… you know, sometimes my own sarcasm fails on myself. America, home of the supposed entrepreneurial spirit, leading the way in screwing over your workforce. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"The prices Marylanders will pay (for health insurance through the exchange) are lower than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) anticipated, but do cost more than the bare-bones plans that are available today. Residents will have a choice of nine insurance carriers and three out of four people purchasing coverage through the exchange will qualify for tax credits, further reducing the cost of coverage." Sort of a mixed bag, but then these plans aren't the "keep me out of jail" plans they talk about as "bare-bones" (think $20,000+ deductibles). This is the kind of information the conservative congresspeople are trying to make sure you don't get. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Without him, we would not know how the National Security Agency (NSA) had been able to access the emails, Facebook accounts and videos of citizens across the world; or how it had secretly acquired the phone records of millions of Americans; or how, through a secret court, it has been able to bend nine US internet companies to its demands for access to their users' data." From an article about how the personalization of the Snowden (and Manning) case is just a smokescreen to keep us from talking about the real issues. Now I do quibble with this, frankly anyone who is paying attention already knew those things were happening. And both Snowden and Manning face serious charges for their leaking (and will probably face jail time), I also quibble about if they're "whistleblowers" or "spies" (I don't think this rises to the later, but as to the former, again, didn't we all know this?). But, yeah, we should be talking about the consequences of what they've leaked, not whose shirts they wear. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweets of anger: @JackWelchMBA The Jack Welch Executive MBA provides immediately actionable practices to help you win in business today. Apply now.
And my respose @steve_buchheit @JackWelchMBA 1) start up Capital Division, give out loans and VISA cards, 2) gut everything else 3) retire before house of cards falls.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo pours one more for the road

Feedly decided to dump all my links more than 8 hours old. Wasn't that special. So I lost a lot of what looked to be good links. Here's some I've been gathering, though. Hope you enjoy them.

Recycling night for the Lovecraft household.

Because who doesn't have a spare $20,000 and 1000 hours to build a half-scale version of a tie-fighter in their garage. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Stone coffin found at burial site of Richard III. More than likely contains some knight burial (as the remains of Richard III were positively identified). But my money is on a Richard III mini-me. (Grokked from Mrs. Tad)

What I'll miss about the end of print media. If you've ever seen me discuss the "end of print" in person you may have noticed that quirky smile on my face. That's because as a designer I've been dealing with "the death of print" since 1990. Is print reduced? Yes. Is print what it used to be? No. Will print every go away? They keep saying it will, but we keep printing stuff and distributing it as hard copy.

Do no evil starts at home. "It turns out that, last year, Google hired a conservative former Congresswoman, Susan Molinari, to head up its lobby shop in DC. Since then, Google has been quietly passing donations to some of the most extreme politicians and right-wing causes" (when it comes to climate change). (Grokked from Morgan J Lock, I think)

Remember Fukushima? Yea, still a problem. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"A new NBER working paper… finds that the population in iodine-deficient areas saw IQs rise by a full standard deviation, which is 15 points, after iodized salt was introduced." We don't need no stinkin' regulation and guberment telling us what to do. If I want a goiter, by God, I should be able to have one. BTW, "iodine-deficient areas" covers a large area. (Grokked from Dan)

"But what's so remarkable about the Burj Khalifa elevators is something that visitors neither felt nor saw: the elevators' brain. Capable of predicting human behavior with eerie precision, the ultra-intelligent elevators highlight a new direction in vertical transport." And let's look this up in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. "Not unnaturally, many elevators imbued with intelligence and precognition became terribly frustrated with the mindless business of going up and down, up and down, experimented briefly with the notion of going sideways, as a sort of existential protest, demanded participation in the decision-making process and finally took to squatting in basements sulking… An impoverished hitch-hiker visiting any planets in the Sirius star system these days can pick up easy money working as a counsellor for neurotic elevators." Hahahahaha… oh, wait. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Someone put signs up on some San Diego highways saying "Speed Enforced by Drones." And it wasn't the people responsible for putting signs up (which, BTW, is a crime). Also, those kind of signs (appears to be the same quality as regular road signs) aren't cheap to make, so someone put some money into this. I feel like Captain Louis Renault, "Round up the usual (conspiracy nut) subjects." (Pointed to by Dan)

"(As) our anonymous steward’s white coat reveal, the steward role was taken very seriously: they played an important role in an elite world. This would change with… the introduction of the female flight attendant during World War II. By the ’50s, many airlines would only hire women and the occupation would become increasingly feminized and trivialized, just like the once all-male activity of cheerleading." My wife and I have a habit of watching old movies. Another thing I've noticed is that prior to the 50's most wait staff in "restaurants" are all male. Women were "cigarette girls" or someone who brought your drink from the bar (maybe, most of them were also male, but if it was a club that person could be female). It was only when you got to the diner level that women were taking orders and serving food. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"However, there is much work that still needs to be done, and this work is hindered by a lack of trained scientists." Strange how that happens when you're promoting Creationism. But, hey "Even now, (Institute for Creation Research) is making exciting discoveries in the fields of biology and geology, and we have started new research initiatives in the field of astronomy." Funny how they can do all that without trained scientists. (Pointed to by Dan)

"These data leave no question about whether voter ID laws have a disparate impact on non-white voters. In that sense, Democratic fears and Republican hopes are confirmed. But the North Carolina data also suggests that voter ID laws are unlikely to flip the outcome of a national election, even if it does have an objectionable, disparate impact on non-white and Democratic-leaning voters." Voter ID laws, brought to you by the people who want every vote to count. But only theirs, not yours. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Well, isn't this guy a pip. A police chief in PA goes certifiably nuts. This is a guy who gives the police a bad name. And that his local elected officials support him isn't all that strange. They're either just as nutty or afraid of him. That's the way these sort of things go.

"TxDOT executive John Barton… announced that 12 short, farm-to-market road segments are in such rotten shape that they’re not worth repairing. TxDOT… plans to convert 83 miles of paved roads into gravel roads. Their speed limits would then be reduced from a typical 55 mph to 30 mph…" I'm sure some freemarket solution will present itself. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweets of anger: @steve_buchheit @JackWelchMBA You 2 can degrade a world leading tech company until it no longer can make its own product. But man that Capital division, eh? (my reply to promoted "@JackWelchMBA "Leaders aren't born, they're made.” - Jack Welch. Become a better leader today.) Hey, Jack (yeah, I know it isn't actually you), real "Leaders" don't have to pay to promote their message, just sayin'.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Home Improvement

Last weekend was about the first time I've had all year to do anything more than cleaning around the home. So I decided to make a little sawdust and make an erection… um, I mean get something up… uh, okay, let me think a second, okay build something in the yard. Still working on the back patio work, but that'll take a lot more time. This was something I could complete in a few hours. And, except for the 6" x 6" x 10' posts and some rock, I had all the other materials already (recycled from other projects).



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Linkee-poo ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when

David B Coe on getting the little details in world building right. Although, I'll point out, that riflemen wouldn't "fix" their bayonets to their muskets until given the order for defend or charge. There's several reasons for this, most notably 1) you don't want some bastard tripping and skewering the officers while on patrol duty and 2) firing a musket with a bayonet fixed could be quite disastrous (depending on both the mounting mechanism, the type of bayonet, and the trueness of the ball being shot). Fixing bayonets was left to almost the last minute when you would need them (like when you were out of ammo or the enemy's breath was blowing through your hair). But don't worry, most muskets of this time make great clubs (used that way more often that a bayonet charge - no matter what the movies say). Soldiers were often trained how to fight like that (hint, don't grab the barrel just after you shoot unless you have thick gloves on). Although it makes them sound tougher and gives them the air of desperateness/grittiness (which is why they were often painted that way).

Mer Haskell talks about the impostor syndrome.

Terri Windling has been on fire lately with her posts. In this one she talks about many things. When she discussed beauty, she's not talking about temporal beauty but something deeper. Something Robert Pirsig describes as Quality. She also talks about libraries, so, yeah, libraries.

Meg Rosoff on how to write. MY brain seems to be tracking the number of people who started in advertising or design and are now writing.

The online Graphis design annual. All the friends who have ever helped me move will be glad to see these competitions are now online (when designers do stuff for their own, we don't skimp on the little things, like paper - design annuals have been known to kill people when they fall off the shelves which collapse under their weight).

But also, here's something I really hate about design, and I can wrap it up with this. "Float like a butterfly," and then you're supposed to fill in "sting like a bee", but that's not a bee. That's a wasp. They aren't interchangeable. Clever visual, fucking falls apart in execution. But hey, it got an award. Stupid designers. It's the visual equivalent of intentionally misspelling a word or using bad grammar for no other purpose than to be cute.

"'The court did not agree, concluding that 'the evidence before the Court, at this stage, demonstrates something more and different than honest or even brutally honest commentary.' Elsewhere, it noted that, as phrased, the columns' argument 'questions facts—it does not simply invite the reader to ask questions.' All told, the columns 'are not pure opinion but statements based on provably false facts'." The suit Michael Mann (creator of the "hockey-stick" graph) brought against National Review for attempting to say the brouhaha surrounding Penn State's scandal with Joe Paterno's athletic team was a smoke screen to take pressure off of Michael Mann can go forward. While I agree this suit isn't applicable under SLAPP, if he wins I can't help but believe that certain "news" entities used to making shit up might need to clean up their act. At least for a little while. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Ask Ayn. "Because Ronald Reagan has deposed Jimmy Carter, and I predict that by 2013 my influence will be profound, and a new generation of leaders will hallow my name, and devotion to self-interest and capitalism and the free market will not be the exception but the rule, and these leaders will naturally share my disapproval of religion, my support of abortion rights, and my love of Godiva chocolates." Hahahaha. (Grokked from Tor.com)

"The modern system of retail pioneered by Gilman (A&P stores)… was the first piece of what I’ve come to think of as the 'American cloud': the vast industrial back end of our lives that we access via a theatre of manufactured experiences. If distant tea and coffee plantations were the first modern clouds, A&P stores and mail-order catalogues were the first browsers and apps." When I worked in Las Colinas, Texas (between Dallas and Ft. Worth), the closest food to the office was a McDs along this artificial canal (I later realized it was meant to be like the river walk in San Antonio). The whole set up was meant to be a Spanish American, SW kind of small shop center (very small). We even got there using a monorail (ran between all the buildings in this office complex). The place was maybe 2 years old when I was there, but it was supposed to look like it had been there for a century. All of the graphics, the distressed concrete (for adobe), and the fake wood just screamed that they place was bogus. But my office mates loved it. They bought into every single trick the architects did. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The history of the National Geographic Society's cartographic typefaces. With a little on what your graphic designer is thinking about as they set your communications in type (or what they should be thinking about). (Pointed to by Dan)

So long, and thanks for all the fish. Turns out dolphins have both group and individual names. Well, that'll set some people back on their heels. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The access pin code-breaking robot. Which might not take as long as 20 hours to break your 4 digit pin-code when you apply a little statistical analysis to the job. (Pointed to by Dan)

"While many people never speak to their fellow commuters, one woman in Japan owes a great deal to hers after being freed from beneath a 30,000 kg train when fellow passengers pushed it off her." And that's a difference in cultures. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @AvoidComments I once showed a comments section to a man in Reno, just to watch him cry.

(Not directed at my commentators who are all well informed, insightful, and smell of spring flowers)

MBAs and Reputations

Oh Great Internet Brain,

Since I've dealt with many an MBA in my day, but never really considered one myself, I'm at a loss to answer these questions. If the Great Internet Brain could be of assistance, that would be fabulous.

I know that some business school MBAs are highly sought after (Harvard, Weatherhead (Case), U of Chicago, etc), but those are probably out of reach for me (both distance and cost). Are there sub-tiers of acceptance? Would a State U MBA be worth more than a smaller college MBA? And where does an MBA from someplace like the University of Phoenix fit in? Are there places and programs I should run away from (other than the diploma mills)?

I'm sure it's also dependent on the focus of the program. While I think accountancy would be cool, that really requires a BA in Accountancy. So this would be for either Management, Marketing, or Communications. But is there a focus that is more preferred than others? A for instance would be could be a marketing manager, but having a Marketing MBA isn't as preferable to a Business Management MBA for the position.

Any information you have, articles I should read, magazines I should get, websites to read, etc, would be greatly appreciated in this manner. Mostly what I'm seeing in my searches are sales pitches for specific programs, not so much the hard data of why I would want to go there (other than, "don't you really want to have this (name) behind your degree" or "we'll work with you" etc). And none of the information that would say, "sure, you can get a great MBA education there, but nobody is going to hire you" or vice versa.

TIA

Monday, July 22, 2013

Linkee-poo doesn't know it is a shooting star

Catherine Schaff-Stump talks about writing and the work ethic. She covers many of the thoughts I've been having for the past six months, only she gets to answers where I'm still groping.

Twenty-three tips from famous writers for new writers.

Joshua Palmateir is starting a new publishing venture, Zombies Need Brains, which (IIRC) was also the name of the party he through at a World Fantasy years ago. That steampunk octopus illustration looks wicked.

The plot scenario generator. Sorta like the Edgar Wallace plot wheel. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Kristen Lamb on why we need good antagonists.

Chuck Wendig talks about staking your story through its heart. Or planting stakes in the garden. Anyway, there's 25 things about the how you handle the stakes in your story.

Some tips on approaching agents from an agent.

Some British weather terms. You know, for good local character for your next story set in the isles. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Uh-oh, the secret is out. There is a Hollywood Formula and it seems a lot of movies are following it… page for page. And that's the problem with formulas. The people who understand know that they're more like guidelines (read that in a Geoffrey Rush voice). But when the bean-counters and MBA suits get ahold of it, bammo! Gotta follow the formula until the milk that sucker dry. This even came up at Comic Con. To understand a little about this (in a novel writing sorta way), I recommend the Writing Excuses episode with Lou Anders where he explains the formula. (Pointed to by Dan)

Need the ambiance of a coffee shop, but don't really need the baristas giving you the stink eye for nursing one cup for three hours. Well, now you can have the sound effects to help your writing. (Grokked from Dr. Doyle)

Jay Lake has been sharing photos of Comic-Con. I point this post out because of my undying love for that bottom photo. My black little scribner's heart want to see this at every Westboro Baptist protest.

"I mean, you expect representatives elected by corporate campaign funds to go to bat for the 1%. But they didn’t used to be so mean about it." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A Norwegian woman working in Dubai accuses a man of rape and gets sentenced for 16 months for having extramarital sex and consuming alcohol.. The man got 13 months. Note that the excuse for this is Dubai "remains a deeply conservative region." (Pointed to by Dan)

Strange how providing a supportive environment instead of one that pre-emptively punishes and dehumanizes children they respond by being human. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"On the heels of reports that the Justice Department is placing a hold on all evidence in the case, including the Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm pistol Zimmerman used to kill unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation announced that it is raising money to buy the former neighborhood watch captain a new gun." Way to go, Ohio. Just in case you're still belaboring under the delusion that this case wasn't about gun laws. (Pointed to by Dan)

"But let’s face it – the man was a racist. Not just a creature of his times. Not a youthful indiscretion. Not just viewed with a modern lens. Not just misinformed. A barking mad racist. To him, pretty much all peoples who are not rock-ribbed white New Englanders were inferior, and the less you resembled Lovecraft, the worse you looked to him." And many writers have taken his mantle, and several have attacked this issue head-on to overturn that bigotry. This is an important point. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

SOme of the damage that can be done by preaching the sexual purity gospel. And don't for a second believe it isn't intended. "In case you were wondering, no, this isn’t healthy, and the result of these teachings has been a generation of Christian youth with warped and toxic ideas about sex, dating, and even their own bodies." (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Freedom of religion has become the biggest hoax placed upon the Christian people and on our Christian nation… When reading the writings of our Founding Founders… (I)t was very clear that freedom to worship meant the freedom to worship the God of the Bible in the way you wanted, and not to have a government church denomination dictate how you would worship… This is why we must continue our heritage as a Christian nation and remove all other gods." Would be much of a problem except this is the Republican candidate for Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. Welcome to a theocracy of idiots. Also note how this idiot is willing to bankrupt his county for the sake of his ideology. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"If you believe in the Bible, then abortion is never an option — it’s a requirement. And it must be performed by a member of the clergy in the house of God, just as the Bible says… If you’ve got a problem with that, don’t argue with me — your real argument is with the literalistic clobber-text hermeneutic and what it says we must say the Bible says." Fred Clark knows his Bible. I, personally, would never want to be on the opposite side of a Biblical argument from him.

We're number one! We're number one. We're… oh, wait. We're number one in income inequity, beating out many countries we used to call Banana Republics. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Likewise there is never any collective guilt involved in such crimes; 'Christians' are not tasked with 'controlling' the violent impulses of their young men and not depicted as agonizing over how they managed to produce bombers despite the peaceful character of their religious precepts." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Taking the money from Paul to refund Peter

With the Detroit bankruptcy the media is trolling out the conservative line about public employee pensions being a burden and how we can't and shouldn't ever pay this money to retirees.

Let me say first off this is complete bullshit. This isn't money we need to pay to people who aren't working, this is money these people earned while they were working. This was a part of their contracts, this was a part of the deal we made to get their labor. We agreed to take care of them later as long as they worked for a little less now. Oh, and they needed to put their own money on line as well as their employers committing funds to the pension. This is their money.

If the pensions are underfunded the real reason for this is not that the employees failed on their part. It's that the employers often failed to send in their part of the deal (and in some case, send in the money taken from the workers' pay).

And while I haven't done a scientific study on this the exact same people who are saying public employees should accept lower pension payouts than they were promised seem to be the very same people who told us we couldn't deny Wall Streeters their bonus payments, deny executives their deferred compensation, tax capital gains as income, and every other scheme where the 1% also "take lower pay now for money in the long run" because, after all, they "earned that money." Even if canceling one year of bonuses, or denying one executives deferred package could fully fund the pension programs those same companies then dump on the taxpayer through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. And yes, many times one executive's deferred compensation and/or golden parachute payment could make most pensions full funded, and then would serve thousands of employees.

And did I mention that many of those mechanisms for the 1% are taxed at a lower rate than pension payments (except when those payments are so small the pension recipient qualifies for social welfare programs).

So when these conservatives (and they are almost always conservatives) talk about how these pensions are putting a large liability on government and your tax money keep in mind that as they're stealing money from these employees who have already earned it, they're also making sure all their buddies get their deferred payments. Finally, most of those people in public employee pension programs don't qualify for Social Security (also part of the deal they signed on to, but oddly never talked about as an option since we're changing the rules of the contracts they signed).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo, six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

San Diego State University is soliciting to build a large SF collection.

Paul and Storm perform "Write Like the Wind" at Wootstock, G.R.R. Martin responds. Hahahaha.

Firefly as a MOPRG. Well, that could do very well. I wonder if they'll give you the opportunity to join the Alliance or play as a Reaver? (Pointed to by Dan)

Why do some people think oriental feudalism is so much more exciting than European feudalism? Because of things like this.

Marrying an electric knife (not the kind you carve meat with at home) and a mass-spectrometer to get instant feedback readings for cancer surgery. They're always thinking of something new. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Troubleshooting CSS. Or, as anyone who has tried to make a single page with CSS work in Firefox/Safari/Chrome and IE, how to avoid the urge to take it out hunting one last time and put a bullet in its head. As another website once declared, "Give up and do it with tables" ("work a frustrating 50 minutes with CSS to get it to work, give up and do it with tables in 5 minutes, take a 5 minute coffee break"). And I love that mug. If I start programing websites more, I might have to get me one. (Grokked from Dan)

Use a fan to keep mosquitos away. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

How a Tesla Model S is made. All in one place. Very cool. But then, that's also why they're facing a lot of political pushback. (Grokked from Dan)

An NPR story on bias and it's silent and subtle alteration of our world. Also with lots of research on how to counter it (hint, seeing people in the roles they want to be in outside of the current social norms is about the best way).

"That's it? That's just a Cheerio's commercial." Yea, what they said. "Didn't Martin Luther King fix this?" (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"According to these benchmarks, the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968." (Grokked from Morgan J Locke - I think)

Just in case you think all this garment rending and cheering of the appointment of Richard Cordray to the CFPB is leaving you wondering why, where some sample letters from the CFPB to use in case a debt collector is hounding you (also, I remember a study where over a third of debt collectors use practices that hit or are slightly over the line of what is legal). Your government, working for you. And that's why some were so damn set against confirming anyone to the CFPB. Just keep in mind who had your back. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Again, it’s telling that Bachmann should phrase her fear the way she did. And it’s enlightening, the parts of religion that she embraces. It’s a case here of do unto others before they do unto you, I guess, given that Bachmann is front and center on efforts to reform voting rights in order to disenfranchise the very people she fears. How, exactly, election law could be changed to prevent Republicans from winning she didn’t bother to explain, apparently she’s afraid that Barack Obama will use Executive Orders to make it illegal for rich old white men to vote (if only). Meanwhile, Tea Party republicans in nearly every state with the willing collusion of the Supreme Court are working diligently to to bring back Jim Crow specifically in order to nullify the traditional democratic base." Looks like Jim is going to miss Michelle Bachmann just like I am.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Linkee-poo charged them $25 just to see them

A surprisingly Ohio oriented Writer's Almanac, (for July 17) including a nice, twisty poem about a nearby local.

After going through some nut-worrying over the JK Rowling outing and a little about a new book, Niall Alexander gets to the point I wanted to share, gender representation in submissions to Tor UK.

Some vampire graves unearthed in Poland. Also with a nice quip that basically being a pagan (and using herbs and traditional lore) was enough to get one labeled a vampire. (Grokked from Vince)

North Sentinel Island in the Sea of Bengal. I suspect they're hiding the aliens and it's all just a clever rouse. Plus, so many Story Bones in there (a planet that behaves the same way, "lost island" type stories, and the "what does it look like form the inside). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"There are people who are pointing out that… Sharknado is trash, crowding out worthwhile films while pandering to the masses… Oddly enough, these people do not point out that there’s no scientific basis for Gregor Samsa turning into a cockroach. That’s because Gregor is throwing the kind of party they like, while Fin is dissecting a shark with a chainsaw." Jennifer Crusie with about the best deconstruction of the event known as Sharknado. Full disclosure, I also have no intent to watch that movie, and it just brings up all sorts of permutations for SYFY "jumping the shark." But, as she states, if life gives you sharks, write Sharknado. Bread and circuses, people. That's what sells. Also good for the comments about "committing" to the art and how that changes everything.

And… "Oh look, a Sharknado!" Actually, waterspouts have been known to drop fish miles inland. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tesla (cars) working on getting recharging down to 5 minutes. That would be cool (especially if it's just a software upgrade).

Random Michelle K begins to review her pedometers.

"Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect… State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower." Huhn, same thing in California and Oregon. Why, it's like Obamacare actually does lower costs. Good thing we have, what, 40 some odd GOP "Repeal Obamacare" bills in the last 4 years. Otherwise we wouldn't know who wanted to make sure you were paying higher premiums. And how does it accomplish this amazing task? By "… competition and transparency in the marketplaces…", you know, like those free-market solutions rolled out by the GOP (which weren't more than "don't sue your doctor" bills) kept promising to do, but always seemed to fail to accomplish on the state level. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

I guess Newt Gingrich believes the 38th time is a charm, or something. Why is this idiot still on TV (see other link about Crazy Uncle Pat as well)? Well, I guess they also kept renewing the Jersey Shore as well. It's appeals to about the same intellectual level.

"The Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that rules on the forgiveness of sins, has said that indulgences may be given to those who follow the 'rites and pious exercises' of the (the Pope's visit to Brazil) on television, radio and through social media… The Penitentiary said that Pope Francis' Twitter account, which has already gathered seven million followers, would be one such medium." Retweet if you want to absolve yourself. Or, if I retweet the Pope's message to all my followers, do I get even more indulgences/reduced Purgatory time? (Grokked from Saladin Ahmed)

"A Republican lawmaker in Utah outlined a proposal last week to abolish compulsory education in the state… 'Let’s let them choose it, let’s not force them to do it,' (State Sen. Aaron Osmond - R) said." There goes the baby with the bathwater. Plus, wait, what? :: points :: Hahahahaha.

Just in case you still think voter ID laws are about stopping "voter fraud", "When asked by a Pennsylvania cable news reporter earlier this week if the laws affected last year’s elections, Gleason responded: 'I think we had a better election. Think about this: we cut Obama by 5 percent… I think Voter ID helped a bit in that.'" When you can't win elections outright, you not only try to get your dwindling number of supporters to the polls, you try and keep the other person's supporters from being able to vote. (Grokked from Sarah Groslee)

Never argue with the man who buys ink by the barrel. This is the problem when all these media companies merge and lay off local staff. And it's not really fixed by the rise of the hyper-local freelance services that will sell to the formerly local news outlets.

Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. Oh Crazy Uncle Pat and his minions. Again I'll say, who is it that's the Father of Lies? Apparently we have a worshipper in our midst. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Linkee-poo let's the morning time drop all its petals on me

You're favorite movies as treasure maps. Might be helpful with dissecting plots. (Grokked from Tor.com)

The Story Coaster. Yea, that. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jim C. Hines' PC Monsters of the Genre trading cards.

Terri Windling continues her fabulous Into the Woods posts with this post about how the writers are the ones who journey into the woods.

All of Terry Gilliams animations for Monty Python. NSFW, just saying. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Good news, friends, American love the apocalypse. A new book with an introductory video form the BBC. So I need to get writing that book. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Sure, bats have echolocation, but certain insects have jamming signals (possibly). And some do it by making the sounds with their genitals. Okay, I'm sure that's the titillating part of the story. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"If you feel as if every mosquito in a 50-mile radius has you locked in its sights, while your friends are rarely bitten, you could be right. Up to 20 percent of us are highly alluring to mosquitoes…" They said I was mad! Bwahahaha, now… SCIENCE! Although I have the wrong blood type, but I do tend to run on the hot side of things. (Pointed to by Dan)

What the bones tells. In case you ever wondered just how paleontologists figure out animal behavior, here's a good article to read. They've found a t-rex tooth in a hadrosaur's tail (locked between spinal bones), and the wound had time to heal. That's how you can say that the t-rex did hunt, it wasn't just a scavenger. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Ransomware? Okay, well, here's something that they're now targeting toward Macs. Just so you're all in the know. Also, be on the lookout for good ol' standard malware. Congrats, Mac, you've made the grade. (Pointed to by Dan)

"Better still, it took only four months to make the (rocket) injector using 3D printing, and costs were cut by 70 per cent." NASA for the win. Also as a counter to all those people who say government likes to waste their money. (Pointed to by John)

"The probe experienced a peak deceleration of 24,000g… Its paintwork was scuffed a little after coming to rest against the roof of the concrete holding box… 'It was really successful because the entry velocity was higher than expected and all the systems we've looked at so far have survived,' Marie-Claire Perkinson, the programme's industrial leader from Astrium UK, told BBC News." Aerobraking and supersonic-parachutes are for sissies. Although, I'm not sure I like the concept of basically firing artillery shells into other planets and moons. (Pointed to by John)

"Or, perhaps this represents what they believe a worker should be; someone so on the edge that they are unable to complain. They are one check away from absolute disaster. And this is exactly what corporations want: workers so afraid of losing their jobs they’ll do anything for work, even if it kills them." McDonalds tries to help their employees learn how to live on the measly wages they offer (truth be told, many of the McDs in my area pay slightly above minimum wage, but then that's like saying someone drown in only 2' of water instead of 6'). (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

The Slactivist has some more thoughts and links concenring this McD Budget Lite. Including "The whole thing, in other words, is a scam. McDonald’s has handed over its employees to Visa, possibly in exchange for a cut of whatever fees and interest rates they can gouge out of those workers by duping them into unregulated cards that charge poor people fees to use their own money. When a McDonald’s employee signs up for a prepaid debit card, Visa is able to skim a cut from every financial transaction that person makes — every line in that awful, clueless budget."

Oh sure, you may know how to levitate small objects using sound, but getting them to move is a whole 'nother thing. Sonic screwdriver, here we come. (Pointed to by Dan, also from whom I ripped off that line)

You know, when Michelle Bachmann said she wouldn't run again, it was kind of disappointing. Except she keeps on giving. Let's see, talking about giving President Obama a spanking and "pinching his ears back." Plus, if Obama has a magic wand, I guess that makes him the magic negro in this story (sorry, I couldn't help myself). Plus, hello, sequestration. Oh, forget it. Mrs. Bachmann doesn't play in the reality the rest of us share. Instead she inhabits some fairy-tale Conserva-Land, which is like Candyland, but not nearly as fun or complicated. As a side note, the Tea Party and conservative ground movement often likes to portray politicians as thieves. Well, obviously they're speaking from personal experience (an aid to Rep. Bachmann is charged with theft of <$1000). (Pointed to by Dan)

How doctors die. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I hear you knocking…

Last night the Muse decided to drop a plot point in my lap. And the good thing is that it ties the 1st and 2nd act together with some tighter plot cords. It also solves a void in the narrative. And it adds the opportunity for more contextual jokes. Oh, I think it'll lead to some really great stuff.

I wasn't going to blog so much about writing this Summer, but the Muse demands. As she demands, so should you do (because if you don't she gets all submarine commander on your ass). Don't forget to feed your own Muses.

School Work

Since I mentioned it in my post about school being out (for Summer!), here is a photo of my presentation board.


Click to embiggen.

Linkee-poo, slow down, you move to fast, you've gotta make the morning last

Sarah Waters ten rules for writing. "10. Talent trumps all…For the rest of us, however, rules remain important."

And ten ways for the ADD writer to keep… oooh, shiny." We seem to be on a 10 kick. About 3 of these rules boil down to "learn how to put your arse in the chair for long periods of time", but there's some other good ideas. Here's one of my own, know you'll be distracted. Plan for it. Plan for it to be short.

A sixteen-year old Bruce McAllister does research on symbolism by asking writers what they think of it. The article has scans of his original mimeographed survey snail mailed to authors with an excellent response from Ray Bradbury (and a kinda dickish response from Ayn Rand). (Grokked from Tor.com)

Some good advice for dealing with a bad (book) review.

Mary Robinette Kowal defines the difference between an angry and rabid weasel.

Medieval maps of Palestine (slightly non PC). (Grokked from Sarah Groslee)

So, you say you've always wanted to know what the Punk Rock music scene was all about, but didn't want to jump in the wrong end of the pool? How about 20 favorite punk albums from someone who was on the inside. (Pointed to by Dan)

"When I wrote Arctic Rising, 2050 for ice-free sounded science fictional. Now some scientists are saying it’s 2040…" Tobias Buckell on the progress of melting Arctic Ice.

Speaking of the Arctic Ice, the story of an early exploration mission. If that ain't a hell of a story bone (for several angles and story types and settings), I don't know what would be. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"The most important finding is that family formation negatively affects women’s, but not men’s, academic careers. For men, having children is a career advantage; for women, it is a career killer." And that's in that bastion of liberal thinking, higher education. (Grokked from Sarah Groslee)

GOLD! Oh, Florida. I'll miss your beaches. Although I believe if the gold was found that close to the coast, the State of Florida (and the US) have a nominal claim. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

I get (flying) with a little help from my friends." Hexagonal turbo rotors which can find each other to create a stable flying platform. (Pointed to by Dan)

Bell Labs early computer animation, 1964 style Actually, the really sad part about this is the content focus reminds me of so many bad powerpoint presentations. It also reminds me very much of how we produced our first high-def animations back in school. The video output function didn't work, so we set up a camera in front of the monitor and waited for the frame to draw. Ah, the good ol' days. (Pointed to by John)

Employee rights if you're fired in an "at-will" environment. Most of the US, and most of our jobs are "at-will".

"… (T)here's one member of Congress, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)… Breaking out the teacher's most potent weapon, a red pen, he marked up Republican House members' letter to John Boehner… asking him to resist the immigration reform bill that has already passed America's slightly-less-insane upper chamber. Included in his comments are some words we haven't seen on a Congressional document in years, like 'evidence,' as well as an awesome invitation to 'come by my office' if 'you don't understand the bill.'" With photos. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"A new national report indicates that undocumented immigrants in Oregon paid about $94 million in state and local taxes in 2010." Well, we've got to stop that. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Eric speaks reason to hate in the Zimmerman case. Including some distasteful medicine at the end.

And here's a little of what I think about the case. I think the prosecution threw the case. I think if the prosecution had won, it would have caused an appeals trail that would lead all the way to a questioning of not only Stand Your Ground laws, but also of Concealed Carry. And I think the Florida Attorneys General really didn't want to go down that path. And so they put up some reasonable prosecution which pivoted on such things as trying to figure out just who may have been yelling on a poorly recorded phone call instead of working out intent, motive, and opportunity. The actual deed was not in question. All that remained was to show that if Zimmerman had followed the orders of the dispatcher, it wouldn't have happened and then explain to the jury why he didn't follow those directions.

The family budget calculator. Feed in your family type (funny, no option for two adults, no kids, it's not like we aren't a family), location, and it'll spit out a budget broken down into categories. A nice little thing to have for you're own or when pundits start talking about how all these people on social programs are just mooching off the public larges. "EPI’s Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes… In all cases, they show families need more than twice the amount of the federal poverty line to get by." Funny, that. Then for shits and giggles you can go to the US Census website and get statistics for income in your area, or look at general statistics. Why, look at where most of the income disparity is? Why, that would be a lot of Red State territory. Funny that.(Grokked from John Scalzi)

President Obama honors President G. W. Bush for creating the Thousand Points of Light. Wanna take bets on if any future Republican President honors President Obama, even the curtesy of staying in the White House for any trips to Washington DC? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"U.S. military officials in Kabul, though, say no one checked out the story with them. Not only do they have a sheet surplus, there has been no such thing as a MASH unit – mobile Army surgical hospital – for more than seven years." But that didn't stop any of the conservative good doers from packing up sheets and hard candy and shipping them off. "But their destination may remain a mystery. Christley declined to name the friend’s husband who asked for sheets, his unit, or the medical facility where he experienced the shortage… 'It was an Afghanistan unit and I’m not saying who or where,' she said. 'It doesn’t matter who it went to, it matters that we were able to help.'" Uh, yeah, kinda actually does matter. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Nurses explain Obamacare in 90 seconds. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

So, just how far does the GOP reply on older whites? Quite a lot actually. (Grokked from Vince)

Tweet of my heart: @Will___Ferrell Sometimes I'll think, "How sad for Canada that Bryan Adams is their Springsteen," but then I remember I don't have health insurance.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

And End of Summer

Session that is. My 8 weeks of classes and clinicals are over. So now I get to do all the normal, living things in the next 6 weeks, when Fall starts.

I have the preliminary grade for our "Seminar" class (1 credit). It's an A. The instructor would like to submit the presentation board I did to the OSRT (the Ohio Society of Radiologic Technologists). So I think I did good there. Not sure how I did on clinicals, though. My guess is the best I'll get is a B. Might be a C. I failed a lot of competencies (doing the actual procedures perfectly). Mostly on minor things (not like I x-rayed the wrong part or anything).

But the schedule for Fall is just as crazy as this summer. More so, actually. In fact, I have no idea how I'm going to accommodate classes and work. And that leads me to the difficulty. I might not be able to both continue classes and work at the day thing. So I need to figure out how to juggle both or figure out an alternative plan.

So far my logic flows in this direction: I need to the job to keep going to classes, I don't need the classes to keep going to work. It's going to suck either way.

Weekend Linkee-poo, but don't touch my bags if you please, Mr. Customs Man

Dr. Doyle with some good advice about good writing advice.

Eric has a followup to his post about Ender's Game, in which he works through the suspect morals of the book. Two of the thoughts I had as I read Eric's piece was the kids in the car that try to run down Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451, and the critique of the new Superman movie and the death toll that the man of steel doesn't seem to care about. Also from Eric, "Must be nice, living inside a tautology."

JK Rowling publishing under a pseudonym is outed. (Grokked from Joe Hill, which is also a pseudonym)

Apparently, the editor in previous question (sexual harassment) is no longer with the house he was working for.

Oh, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer, the playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir. Teri Windling with a good post relating many of the stories about humans becoming deer. Like they do.

"They found that the high-entropy terms in what the manuscript's illustrations would suggest are the pharmaceutical and herbal sections of the book were more likely to be related to each other than to terms in sections apparently about astrology, biology and recipes." A new analysis of the Voynich manuscript concludes it may be an actual text (instead of an elaborate hoax). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Be ignorant, be silent, and be thick." The commencement address of Melissa Harris-Perry. (Grokked from Jennifer Cruise)

"After all, who was responsible for initiating the tragic chain of events? Who was following whom? Who was carrying a gun? Who ignored the police urging that he stay in his car? Who thought that the other was one of 'them,' someone about to get a away with something?" From the press statement from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which outlines how the prosecution should have proceeded. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

Ta-Nahesi Coates on the Zimmerman verdict. (Grokked from Ferret Steinmetz)

"Stand your ground is a horrible application of law and justice. End of story." Tobias Buckell on what the Trayvon Martin shooting trial was all about. It's about defending a crappy law (actually a series of laws that start with concealed carry). And it's why I think the state prosecution didn't put on the A-Team for a case with such national attention.

"The Curious Incident at Wickford Harbor" An NPR story that references HP Lovecraft in a non-literary, non-ironic fashion, describing how on June 13th, the Atlantic Ocean decided to punk the East Coast.

"The amendment to the criminal code, which will go into effect on July 1, 2014, makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $1,000 for clergy 'solemnize' a marriage of two men or two women." The Indiana GOP wants to make sure you know that your government doesn't want to get into your personal lives and really doesn't want to "force" religious leaders to do anything against their beliefs. "While it is not widely known, numerous mainstream American religions permit gay nuptials. The faiths include reform Judaism, Evangelical Lutherans, Episcopalians, and the United Church of Christ, among others." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The story you may have missed as all the news networks decided to sit and watch for the jury, "This past week, controversy erupted at the proposed mine after photos and videos emerged of security guards armed with assault rifles patrolling at sites where drilling has begun (in Wisconsin). Those guards have been linked to an Arizona-based contractor, Bulletproof Securities. A spokesperson… has said the guards were necessary because protesters have 'attacked' the site. On June 11, a woman was arrested after an incident a local radio station described as a 'raid' against Gogebic Taonite that reportedly involved 'about 15 people' who threatened workers and damaged equipment."

"Even assuming we can fix the damage inflicted on our democratic party system by the growth of the fourth party, how can we hope to elect governments that can engage constructively with actual social problems when the myths believed by the electorate deviate so wildly from the real picture?" While Charlie Stross is talking about England's political problems, most of the statistics he sites are roughly comparable to the popular beliefs in the US. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Coal plants are shutting down because of a lack of cooling water. Hydropower dams are struggling to generate electricity because reservoir levels are dropping." Wow, the extremes to which the lunatic progressives are willing to take this whole global warming hoax to. You know how some conservatives like to talk about how "the earth will balance out"? Here it is. (Grokked from the Slactavist)

"My lingering suspicion has long been that the House… will never be able to actually pass any legislation that removes the need for government-wide furloughs, program cancellations, and other drastic measures. They'll just go through the entire roster of government duties one-by-one, refunding each and every thing a week after the cut to that thing resulted in either a minor fiasco or an outright disaster, and only when the fiascos or outright disasters are things they can personally see out their office windows." Now that it's hurricane season again, many southern conservatives are starting to realize that the sequestration may affect them personally and they're none too happy about that. Kinda sucks when that happens, doesn't it. But hey, I'm sure if you don't like what your elected government is doing you can just take your little red ball and go home. Say, remember when conservatives said that elections have consequences? Tough medicine again, ain't it. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Why can't Johnny go to church? (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Tweet of my heart @alexirvine So, Florida: a black woman gets 20 years for firing warning shots. Zimmerman stalks and kills a black teenager and walks. #postracial

Friday, July 12, 2013

Linkee-poo finishes the Summer's last week of clinicals

During a critique, it's natural for most writers to respond with "Yeah, but…". What comes after the "but" hardly ever matters.

Some of my friends and people I read are responding to the latest Uncle Orson quotes. Eric does a pretty good summing up. Then Chuck Wendig also has some thoughts. Tobias Buckell also weighs in.

So, while redshirts are tossed off by the dozen, compared to their population on the Enterprise it's actually worse to be a goldshirt. Hmm? (Grokked from Jessica Freely)

GRR Martin's iron throne concept from his Song of Ice and Fire. I agree it's quite impressive, but those stairs would be a draw back.

In case you ever wondered what child indoctrination looks like (as compared to what all the conservative talking heads like to complain about), here's an example.

Random Michelle K gives us her list of fantasy series she's abandoned (or stopped reading). There's been a few I've dropped, most notably I stopped the Wheel of Time series exactly where Rob Briken of io9 stopped (and for the same reason). In other words, a warning to all authors, don't be boring.

In case you happen to be writing about Akron, Ohio, the term for that grassy place between the sidewalk and the road is devil strip. (Grokked from Dan)

I guess goin' down to the crossroads at midnight to learn how to play this here guitar is no longer in style. Sigh. I guess I did that just on a lark, then (yes, I used to play guitar in several bands when I was younger, and I wasn't all that bad). The thing is, though, that new mythologies supplant old ones. It's no longer fashionable to sell your soul to the devil for fame and glory, that doesn't mean there aren't new stories (such as the "instant fame/discovered" story). In both cases people discount years of practice, trial and error in favor of the "easy fame" myth. Money for nothin', chicks for free. BTW, when "Tommy" Johnson appeared in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou it made my little heart jump, not to mention Chris Thomas King is a damn good player. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

If you've had emergency management training, you'll know this isn't a new concept, but President Obama signs Executive Order which gives the DHS the authority to "take control of the country’s wired and wireless communications — including the Internet — in instances of emergency." Wonder if we'll see conservative media machine in outrage over that one? Yea, probably not as long as they think they'll win the White House in 2016. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"But the fact that Perry is more desperate than usual to pass an unpopular bill at the risk of being even more unpopular in his own state, and the fact that (TX Gov. Rick) Perry has a history of nepotism as governor, plus the fact that his sister just so happens to be in a position to profit should the bill become law, should make everyone take a harder look at the situation developing in Texas." It's a little loose in the connections, there's a big chain of "if"s that are involved. But some more grist for the mill when it comes to the travesty that conservative America has become. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"A major insurer of schools has declined to continue offering coverage to Kansas schools after passage of a new state law allowing teachers and staff to carry concealed firearms on campus." I'm sure this has nothing to do with math or the free market but is all because of the Socialist Policies of the president. (Pointed to by Dan)

A boy named Kim. Or "how I discovered gender discrimination." (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

"My 16-year-old son volunteers with an organization that feeds the homeless and fills kits with personal-hygiene supplies for them. It’s a worthwhile project, and I tell him so—but he doesn’t like it when our conversation on the way to his minimum-wage job turns to why these homeless folks aren’t also working. Perhaps, I suggest, because someone is feeding, clothing and, in effect, bathing them?" What a colossal asshat. That link it to an article that quickly dispatches with the idiocy of the WSJ op-ed that quote comes from. Seems a son of a venture capitalist is trying to work on the "sins of the father" kind of thing, only to get grief from the Dad. Dude, really? Well, just another example of how people can totally invalidate their "I'm A Human" card. This "person" may wish to reread the Bible, specifically Matthew 25 (and so should many of the evangelicals in this country, BTW). A visual response to this article would be this Bloomberg Week cover. That's what "trickle-down economics" functions like in reality. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Tweet of my heart: @tiffanyreisz: "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint on the broken glass." - Anton Chekhov”/ I love this so much.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo heard you let that little friend of mine take off your party dress

Sorry so late with this one. We're approaching the last week of the summer session, so hopefully more regular posting after the 12th. If I survive. The two parts of me (the "I can't do that" and the "I'm invincible" sides) keep arguing about it. Mix in the thought that I don't know how I'm going to swing the fall and spring semester, and it's a lot of insecurity going around. But this is late do to sheer tiredness. I slept close to 15 hours last night.

Dr. Doyle with what flavor of stew do you have?

Marketing your book outside the normal routes. There's a few good ideas in there to magnify your voice.

How the typewriter change how we revise our work. (Grokked from Dr. Doyle)

Some 12,000 years ago, humans decorated graves with flowers. (sort of like how we do today, but to a greater extent). "'The emergence of Natufian cemeteries… may represent new and complex social organizations which could have included the establishment or strengthening of special interest groups, inheritance of corporate property, territorial ownerships, and aspects of social organization.'" (Grokked from Jay Lake)

That "free music" from JayZ that Samsung released on the 4th? There is no such thing as a free lunch. Samsung was just hoping you wouldn't notice how it was spyware. (Pointed to by Dan)

The epic superhero done in Native American Style. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jim Wright with an open letter to the "idiot nation." It is truly sad when you realize the people you once admired have decided to go down the crazy path and there's nothing you can do to wave them off that glide path. I would say it's a part of the process of eating our ancestors (in the metaphorical sense, although at one time it was very literal) as we rise to the power positions, but that would be mistaking and misaligning the disease in our culture that is Fox News and conservative talk radio (and their various influences and spin-offs). And, yes, Bullshit Mountain (as Jon Stewart refers to them) is a cancer on our culture and it should be excised from the body politic and eradicated through educational chemotherapy. The good news is the cure is as simple as the truth. The bad news is the patient is more interested in debunked alternative therapies. We're approaching the point where the metastaticies are about to overwhelm any attempt at a cure beyond killing the patient.

"Listening to Cantor argue that he supports increased funding on medical research in part because of his ailing father reminded me of Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) arguing in support of marriage equality because of his gay son. And Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) changing his mind about Medicaid because of his own interactions with the program. Or any number of Republican policymakers changing their mind about federal disaster relief after it's their constituents who are hit with a brutal storm…As I argued in March, it seems the key to American social progress in the 21st century is simple: more conservatives having more life experiences." Life has a way of doing that. And it's very much the same advice given to bidding writers, "write, but also go out and experience things." Unfortunately, there's the well known liberal bias of reality. So people who experience reality often end up with liberal views because of that exposure. Note the correlation to the argument against having religious people engaging with the world (via home schooling, keeping within the community, not learning science or going to college). It's easy to hold certain views, until you see the actual application of those views (::raises hand here:: one of the reasons I'm no longer a conservative). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Charlie Stross vocalizes the bad dream I've been having. Only because Charlie is smarter than I, he does it more justice than I could. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Linkee-poo, a seven nation army couldn't hold me back

One way of outlining. That's how I finished Bladesman and how I think I need to outline the WIP. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Eleven harsh realities of the world of Harry Potter. For writers, let this been known as the wake up call. If you don't do your full world building, someone else will do it for you. And possibly not in a positive light.

So, you've sold your first novel. Now what? Well, the basic advice for writers is always the same, keep writing. Write the next one.

Kristen Lamb with five common errors when self-publishing.

The advice of Wonder Woman. That is excellent. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Mary Robinette Kowal would like the 12 rabid weasels of SFWA to sit down and STFU. It's always a vocal few who cause problems for the rest of us.

And John Scalzi's new convention harassment policy.

Ever wonder what "Crazy Train" might sound like if played on the cello? Sure you have. (Pointed to by Dan)

Because you need more joy in your life, how about a 3d printed prosthetic foot for a duck who had his misshaped foot amputated. Ah, pure duck joy. As a bonus, listen to adults off camera continually call for Buttercup to come back in the house. (Grokked from Jennifer Crusie)

"Astronomers are at a loss to explain what these flashes are — they could be a common astrophysical phenomenon that has only just been detected as our radio antennae have become sensitive enough, or they could be very rare and totally new phenomenon that, so far, defies explanation." Insert ominous music here. (Pointed to by Dan) LeVar Burton's method for avoiding being shot by police. Tell me again how we're a post-racial nation, because it's still not funny. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Oh man, now they're going to have to put windowing bars on the sides of movies. Unless they're Cine-a-rama. (Pointed to by Dan)

Here's and interesting article on the Proposition 8 and DOMA rulings. There's lots of legal jousting going on (including people wondering just why the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Prop 8 case anyway) in the wake of those decisions. And I agree with the conclusion in the first aspect, but not the final statement. "I will say this about the religious right’s latest extremist language: It is a sign of the end-times, just not the end-times they were expecting… The advent of legal gay unions now spreading across the globe is not a sign of the end of America, or the end of the world. It’s simply a sign of the end of their influence, the end of them." For my counter argument I will only say, Roe v. Wade. Not over by a long shot. Especially when some religious conservatives refuse to even acknowledge that gay people exist (it reminds me of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declaring there were no gay people in Iran). Add in the craziness of religious conservatives decrying Star Trek as promoting bestiality (because Kirk can't keep it in his pants) and then equating that with homosexuality I'm not sure any intelligent, constructive conversation can be had. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"While the ACLU claims nuisance ordinances are deleterious to all tenants, there’s special concern for how they may disparately impact domestic violence survivors. As seen with Briggs, survivors may be less likely to call police, fearing their need for protection will be labeled 'disorderly behavior' and count as a strike toward eviction—and, subsequently, homelessness." Well, ain't that fucking special. Here's the thing, there is this concept called "discretion." It's very powerful, and the local police need to learn it. Also, this is the problem with the various criminalization ordinances that many conservatives like to champion. The other most notable effect is the large jail population of young (mostly black) men whose only offense is to have more than 1-2 oz. of pot on their persons. Plus, who the hell wants to incentivize citizens to not call the police when there's a crime being committed? Seriously, it's hard enough to get people to call the police when there aren't these laws in effect. And before you want to decry my singling out conservatives for this behavior, please answer the question on who exactly was blocking reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act? (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Maybe bone marrow stem cell transplants are the cure for HIV. But as they say, it's early, it might not be so promising a year or two out. (Pointed to by Dan)

"'I’m going to be real honest with you,' Tea Party leader Ken Emanuelson said at a Dallas County Republican Party event on May 20. 'The Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they are going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats.'" Oh look, conservatives are getting caught speaking the truth about their positions again. Of course, he walked it back on his facebook page. Dick. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"But public knowledge and understanding is to Republicans what garlic is to vampires. Increased public knowledge and understanding get in the way of their agenda." Oh those crazy Republicans again, sending threatening letters to the major sports groups to keep them from promoting and educating the public about Obamacare. It's a standard conservative tactic that since they can't win on the merits of their position, they'll lie and cajole others to lie to promote their agenda (which, in case you haven't been paying attention, means screwing over most of America to benefit the 1%). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"The 22-year-old woman suffers from severe and complicated illnesses. Her doctors have told her that she will likely die giving birth, and the unborn child will most likely live only a few hours, but she is prevented by law from having an abortion." Coming soon to a country near you. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"First and most important, every voter who gets the door slammed in their face by a corrupt Republican voter suppression law is a vote the GOP has lost for life. All the Democrats need do to claim those votes is to stand up for the disenfranchised voters. And they should be doing it now." Fortunately for the GOP, the Democratic Party has never been good at exploiting these opportunities. The article is interesting for the demographics happening. And they're right that as the GOP becomes more vitriolic with their temporary importance and free election-law reigns, they will turn more and more people off and the actual conservatives (ie. not social conservatives) will get tired of being tarred with the same brush (you can already see that with the larger portion of growth in "independent" being disaffected Republicans). I do disagree that they won't jump back in once the party flounders. You can see it now with the often heard refrain, "we need to focus on conservative values of smaller government and lower taxes." They win seats, and then they enact the draconian social laws that you see being passed right now (Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, S. and N. Carolina). So while the rise in vote discrimination may win a few more elections, all you need to do is look at Egypt to see what the response to disenfranchisement leads to. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"So (Baylor) university knew when they recruited Griner that she was a (lesbian). And they easily could have said, 'What? Oh, sorry, no — we actually have a whole policy about that.' But instead, they said, 'Wait, a 6’8″ dominating center with more blocked shots than any other high-school girl in the country? You could be useful to us! Just don’t make us look bad with all the, y’know, lesbianity. Here’s your scholarship; now shut up and post up, sinner.'" Ah, those good Baptist moral convictions we've all heard about. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

While gentlemen may not read other gentlemen's mail, they'll still glean all the information they can form the outside without nary a pang of consciousness. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"It seems the Catholic bishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has been paying for insurance for some of his employees that covers abortions and contraceptives… Dolan has been leading the Catholic Church’s fight against Obamacare requiring some religiously-affiliated employers to pay for health insurance that includes contraceptive coverage for its employees." Oopsie. So much for that whole "Obamacare is against our religion" crap. And, say, Cardinal Dolan, which side is it that lies? I mean, in the grand cosmological sense. Might want to see to that blacked soul there, Father. (Grokked from the Slactivist)