Though I saw it all around
Never thought I could be affected
Thought that we'd be the last to go
It is so strange the way things turn

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weekend Linkee-poo is finally here

What if people got together to just read together? (Grokked from Tor.com)

That 50K Report from Author Earnings that all the hip kids are talking about.

Amtrak's writers residency. (Grokked from just about everyone)

What happens when the author of an original series is (contractually) barred from writing the continuation of the series, but then that series becomes part of Amazon's Kindle Worlds (fanfic)? (Grokked from Tor.com)

The WikiHouse project.

I'm sure the seismic testing has nothing to do with apparent earthquake damage to his home. Yes, fracking is proven and safe (as the commercials tell us). (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

And you thought it was just hipsters who were in love with vinyl. Some music makers are reviving and old style of recording. They call it the 78 Project.

Wanna see what a real magic book looks like? Here ya go. (Grokked from Elizabeth Bear)

I can neither confirm or deny. Lately, with all the things happening in the former USSR, Olympics in Russia, the struggle over Syria, the saber-rattling over Iran and its nuclear ambitions, the NSA revelations, the rise in public perception over cyber attacks, and a thousand other things, I feel so comfortable. This is the world I grew up in, when the Cold War was in full swing. It's almost like comfort food. And just in time, RadioLab does a show on the famous phrase that was developed around the attempt to raise the Soviet submarine, K-129, and the ship Howard Hughes built to do the job, the Glomar Explorer.

"They found that non-trauma facilities were much more likely to admit patients who had insurance, whether it was private insurance or Medicaid coverage, than to transfer the patients to more skilled facilities." I'm sure that it's all patient choice and not ERs keeping the patients they know can pay.

"I know the right is heavily invested not just in ignoring Obamacare success stories, but in cultivating the very horror stories they then use to attack the law… I’m perfectly willing to believe that the Affordable Care Act has really left some people in categorically horrible situations… But at some point it’s worth asking whether the apparent difficulty conservatives have finding them suggests that maybe the law isn’t wreaking all the devastation they want you to believe it is." GOP ad wankers caught distorting the truth again. Actually I think this person truly believes they are worse off, because the media they consume tells them they are. And there are people out there who are always willing to believe they're about to be screwed, even when everybody else is pulling hard to make sure they aren't. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

You might remember that during the whole Obamacare "ZOMG!" episode I talked about how the only way for consumers to help cut down costs was for doctors offices and hospitals to post their prices on a bog menu board (like fast food restaurants do). Because without those, there is no actual open market. The next best thing would be and "all payer claims database." And Colorado is setting one up. However, they're hampered by both the various laws and the opacity of hospital bills and insurance claims forms. But there's another hangup of which people are suddenly noticing (shocked, shocked they are to discover…) that many places have healthcare monopolies. And those places drive up costs. Typically these are rural communities.

After a second dashboard cam video appears a NJ man is acquitted of the charges he was facing and the police were indicted for falsifying reports. Just in case you still think "driving while black" isn't a real thing. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Well, what conservatives warned looks true, rich people are renouncing their US citizenship to avoid regulations and taxes. Just wait until the first one of them needs help form the embassy.

Hey, remember the right wing freakout over a report on white extremist groups in America becoming a rising danger? Yea, good thing that never happened. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Story Bone

Being family means being able to forgive each other of almost anything. Almost. For some things there is never solace or reprieve, no matter the necessity or righteousness of it. Traveling to this year's Memorial Day gathering of the clan feels like going to my own funeral. It must be done, and done well. When the fall is all that's left, it matters very much.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Linkee-poo is long over due

Karen Lord on writing the other and just who is the other. (Grokked from Saladin Ahmed)

Ten disastrous panels you may have been on or seen. Points and says "Yes, this." (Grokked from Mary Robinette Kowal)

Dr. Doyle advises against the prologue. The WIP has a prologue that I think falls into her rule #3, and there really is no way to place it later in the story. I've often thought of cutting it and just publishing it here (I think it's damn funny, which is the whole point of the prologue). It is related to the story, but not the story itself and it happens before all the other parts of the story. And it doesn't concern any of the characters in the story. Mostly it's about 1000 words of "this is the world this story takes place in, you've been warned." It is a stand alone piece that sets the whole tone of the book. Basically, it's two angel friends complaining about the Apocalypse with allusions to Charlie Brown TV specials, Monty Python's "Life of Brian" Sermon on the Mount scene, with a little Douglas Adams thrown in for spicing. It also prepares you for the short "aside" chapters later on (the ones where I have fun with the entire world the story takes place in, the ramifications of the Rapture, and other non-sequiters).

This link points to the video at the top of the post about failing faster. Sarah does have some medical TMI later down the page (don't scroll unless you want to know), but the video is pretty good and having me rethink the posting of the prologue. Lots of thoughts about that.

Ten very creepy places. For your vacation planning.

And a creepy medical tour of the past. BTW, did you know that most of our regulation regarding drug use, labeling, prescription, and the various levels of restrictions all come from the Congress trying to regulate snake oil salesmen and the level of opium in their concoctions? Oh, and that electrical testing of muscles, they still do that (I have had it done to see if the pain I was having was Carpal-Tunnel or if there was permanent nerve damage in my forearms). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A History of programming languages illustrated with pictures and large fonts. Hahahahahaha. If you like that kind of stuff. (Grokked from Dan)

The St. Chad Gospels, an illuminated manuscript with overlay images (different spectra) that shows how historians try to tease information from these pages. (Grokked from Dr. Doyle)

We don't want government to come between you and your doctor, say conservatives. The unspoken second line is, unless your a woman and/or pregnant, and then we want to have a say on everything you do. "But because of the ban, doctors are unable to recommend termination to patients with non-viable pregnancies or who run an elevated risk of life-threatening complications during labor… This is a dangerous medical precedent, doctors say." (Grokked from Morgan J. Locke)

Photos of Islamic art in Iran from Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji. And those places loo fantastic, even without the lens effects. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"The United Arab Emirates wants to become the drone capital of the world…" 'Cause that'll turn out well for all of us. Also, you may remember, Dubai wants to be the solar power capital of the world. Remember when the US wanted to be the business and manufacturing capital of the world? (Pointed to by Dan)

A newly deciphered tablet shares the story of the Babylonian flood where the "Ark" was round (like the boats the author knew). American Nutcake Christians (aka, Young Earth Creationists) loose their shit. Here's something that even the YEC know, most cultures around the world have flood stories. YEC use this as "proof" that Noah was real, and the 40x40x20 cubits ark was a real thing. You know, instead of how the logical world looks at them and realizes that monster floods was a major hazard for civilized man (and most animals), which would wipe out their habitations with regular frequency, and would occasionally have "once in a century" events of super flooding, and how the cultures would process those memories and try to "make sense" of them. Look, many of the stories, and all of the themes in the Bible (the Christian version of the books and the New Testament) aren't anything new. If you look at many of the religions you see them all echoed and told through the different cultures' perspectives. It's an amazing testimony to the sameness of the human experience. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

But then, even Pat Robertson believes people like Ken Ham should stop embarrassing themselves and the rest of fundamental Christianity. And if Crazy Uncle Pat is calling you out as the obnoxious relative at the Thanksgiving table, that's saying something. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Last week, Bob Jones dealt a blow to (the hopes of those who have been abused at Bob Jones), acknowledging that with the investigation (into that abuse is) more than a year old and nearing completion, the university had fired the consulting group, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, or Grace, without warning or explanation." You might remember Bob Jones U as the place John McCain had to go to to apologize for trying to take the GOP back from the extremists. You might also remember BJU as the place that was about to loose it's "religious exemption" from property taxes back in the late 70s, and how that helped launch the Religious Right as a political force. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The six male characters women never get to see in movies. Ha! (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

"What makes 'the crazy ones' crazy… is that they genuinely believe the cynical lies — about government debt, global warming, taxes, healthcare, immigration, Democratic Party fiscal policies and so on — that the non-crazy ones have been feeding the rubes for years." The problem is that the rubes are now in government. This is from a story about someone using private emails of fellow conservatives to send threatening emails. What a wonderful party. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

More proof that Stand Your Ground Laws are basically "permission for white people to shoot non-white people." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The Democrats on the panel asked their Republican colleagues if they could finally move on from Bengahzi. 'This report, produced by House Armed Services Committee Republicans, should finally bring an end to the politicization of the heinous attacks on brave Americans in Benghazi…'" Yea, I wouldn't count on it. Note how well this final report has been reported on. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"'Because the longer-term reduction in work is expected to come almost entirely from a decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply in response to the changes in their incentives, we do not think it is accurate to say that the reduction stems from people losing their jobs,' Elmendorf wrote." On a clarification (well, actually, an attempt to correct the entirely intentional misinterpretation) of the CBO report on Obamacare. This one is very personal for me. In my last job at the print shop, during one layoff my job was on the line. If one of our older workers took early retirement, I would still have my job. Three of the older workers had enough time in, enough saved up in our various retirement funds, to successfully retire. Except for the fact they were too you for Medicare. None of the three took early retirement, all three told me it was because they couldn't afford to lose their insurance. Fortunately for me the shop was able to create a non-union job to keep me on (my skill set was very important to their continued success, fortunately some of those skills were in an area not covered by the union contract). So let me be clear about this, the people using these stats to say "Obamacare will cost us these jobs" are actually saying, "we don't like that you won't be a wage slave anymore." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What I did this weekend

Went to see the Saint John's Bible at the Canton Museum of Art. Highly recommended to see the actual pages in person as the prints do not do justice to the real thing.

As a graphic designer, calligraphy is one of our ancestral arts and our lineage descends from the the ancient scribes. This is the first full handwritten Bible produced in nearly 500 years. And it is an amazing work of art. Not many of the fundamentalists will like it as the intent of the art was to highlight the metaphorical and story telling aspects of the Bible as well as produce a Bible that was open and inclusive of the world and all its major religions. And they do an okay job of that as well.

The Bible hasn't been bound, yet, so they can display several page spreads. As with all art displays, some pieces are better than others and there were several pieces I wish were on display that were absent. While not all of the pages worked well, IMHO, some of them were very moving. Frankly I could have spent the entire afternoon looking at the pages. Each time I would return to certain illuminations or special treatments I would see more and more. The calligraphy itself is just as amazing as the illustrations and illuminations.

It's only at the Canton Museum of Art until March 2, so those of you in the local area don't have much time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Story Bone

Okay, also think I may write this as well. It's a time travel story where the time travelers go back to killer Hitler. Now wait a second, hear me out. But this time they make it look exactly how it happened (help D-day be successful, ease the invasion of Italy), give the guys at the Bulge just enough to win. Because, as it'll come clear in the story, every other option was worse, and in the original timeline, Hitler won. And it's their hope that this solution will finally solve the problem. Oh yea, this is a Hitler assassination story, from the inside of the Reich.

But you may have more time to write it than I do.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Story Bone

When you're in this line of work, you develop a memory for details. You remember how you stood, what position your arms were in, how the other person moved, what their history was, the look on their faces, the color of their eyes. But I still have problems keeping names.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weekend Linkee-poo wants to tell her that it loves her a lot, but it has to get a belly full of wine

Scott Westerfield on rewriting. Mostly for NaNoWriMo, but applicable for any rewrite.

The beam in SF/F's eye. Woody Allen was outed as a serial child rapist over a decade ago, but he isn't the only one who has been shown to be a pedophile only to gain support from their industry. This really is a secondary crime that as a society (in general) we enable this. We make excuses for them, display co-dependent behavior, and simply refuse to believe people we know, who "look normal" could engage in such travesties. We only believe in "stranger danger" as a culture and try to ignore the fact that the majority of child rapists (and rapists in general) aren't strangers at all and they don't look creepy. Many of them look like the fine, upstanding pillars of the community they project.

Dos-a-dos binding. Huhn. Never heard of that before. Six books bound together which can be read separately. (Grokked from Tor.com)

Stellarium. Planetarium open source software. (Grokked from SFWA)

This urban gorilla art is pretty cool. Someone has been "altering" signage on the London Underground. My only issue is that is might confuse someone not familiar with the tube (the alterations to the maps). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

You know, the more I learn about anatomy and physiology, the more I laugh at people who embrace intelligent design. If we're intelligently designed, our designer is a cruel, sick, twisted bastard. Not mentioned in this list is the design of hemoglobin. Most people think that hemoglobin, the highly complex protein found in red blood cells which holds organic iron (heme), is there to get O2 into our bodies. Well, it does that, but mostly it's to get CO2 out of our bodies (it's very highly efficient in doing that, having thousands of connection points, but only one for O2). However, hemoglobin prefers something else over both of those. Carbon Monoxide (CO). It loves CO so much, once it grabs some, it never lets it go (which renders it useless). This is why CO poisoning is so deadly. (Grokked from Kelly Swails)

Who is buried in Charlemagne's tomb? Turns out it was probably Charlemagne. I didn't know there was a controversy. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Four schools that are engaging in class warfare. I… I just… what is wrong with these people? (yea, I know, local elections, asshole conservatives on local school boards, etc). Christ on a pogo stick, people. I know the 70s and 80s happened. I was there. (Grokked from Vince)

Google slaps phasing alert on those Republican scam sites (meant to gather donations from people thinking they're donating to Democrats). As the final paragraph states, who thought this was a good idea? Really, conservatives, are you still discovering the internet? (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

As a recovering workaholic, I can so totally verify all the points made in this Freakonomics article about the inefficiency of working long hours. Also, one of the business habits that has lead to my reboot (ie. firms expect their employees to work these hours, don't think us old people can, but we don't mostly because we've learned how to work smarter, not harder). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Rand Paul makes the second most dangerous mistake in the US. The first of which is "never piss off Mickey Mouse". The second, slightly deadlier at least politically, mistake is never piss off Bill Clinton. He will bury your ass.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekend Linkee-poo has been going in and out of style, but is guaranteed to raise a smile

The Radiolab show on Me, Myself, and the Muse. The deals we make with ourself to make the words come out. With Oliver Sacks and Elizabeth Gilbert. A the liner notes states, "(she) explains why she believes your muse wants you to fight back."

And 29 problems only writers will understand. Ha. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

FX is developing Redshirts into a limited series. Well done, sir. Well done.

The beach art of Andre Amador. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Mmmm, magic mirrors in ancient Japan. Now there's a story detail. (Grokked from Mrs. Tadd)

Were there trained assassins in Medieval Europe? No, Virginia, there weren't. But with some historical info on the hashishiyyin and poisons. (Grokked from Saladin Ahmed)

"Dmitry Kozak, the deputy prime minister responsible for the Olympic preparations, seemed to reflect the view held among many Russian officials that some Western visitors are deliberately trying to sabotage Sochi's big debut out of bias against Russia. 'We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day,' he said." Sometimes the jokes just write themselves. (Grokked from John)

Talkin' (or not) about the deficit. Yea, it's been going down. Not many people are noticing because a deficit that's going down without major spending cuts or reforms doesn't fit into the narrative, the stories we tell ourselves. Sort of like when gas prices go down, nobody thanks the President, but they sure do complain when the prices go up.

Giant jellyfish washes up on shore. Wow, that was a huge loogie. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

When some of us talk about how Republican and conservatives don't want you to have healthcare, we say this because conservatives are actively campaigning to keep you from having healthcare. So it makes it easy to say, the Republican version of health reform is to say to poor patients, "Die quickly." And for those of you who actually managed to get healthcare, conservatives are actually working hard to take it away from you.

Perkinsnacht… Liberal vituperation makes our letter writer's point. Oh, for fuck's sake. "(The Kristallnacht) comparison was unfortunate, albeit provocative." No, it wasn't unfortunate, it was a dick move, made by a dick extraordinary. Okay, fuck it, you want this, fine. Every 1%er should be required to wear a yellow "$" sown into their clothes. They should have the state confiscate (note, not tax, not fee, not any of that shit, I mean, come in with the jackboots and toss the idiots out on the lawn, take their possessions by force, sell some of them, burn the rest form of confiscation) their property (all of it). We should force them into camps. For good measure, we'll call them "Gault Camps". And then, we'll start gassing them. Seem ridiculous? See, that's what it means to be persecuted by Nazis. If that isn't happening, there is no "well, it's just like…". No, mother-fucker, it isn't "just like." Okay, maybe I'm going too far (and I'll agree). How about we do a little French Revolution then? We'll drag them into jail, have kangaroo courts, and lop a few heads off. Oh, and let's not forget to take their entire accumulated wealth. Also note how the idiot editor of this "see, see, we told you!" piece then falls into, "it's all this persecution against conservatives" thing. Dear WSJ, you seem to be besieged by dicks and people of low IQ with paranoidal fantasies. Paranoia is one of the side effects of severe drug use. Might want to see to that. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Freeze-dried whackaloon quotient goes up. Oh yes, it's so terrible to be a billionaire in this country. Here's an open invite to any of them. I'll trade you places. It's almost if they're all reading off the same bullet pointed list. And why do they feel like they'll be persecuted if they speak out? Because they have built their careers and fortunes on persecuting those who spoke out against them. The difference now is they no longer have direct control over those who are speaking out against them. You have to put me in your will before you can use "dropping you from the will" as a threat.

And speaking of imagined persecution, Mississippi is passing a bill to stop something from happening to Christians because they may be oppressed in some way. Sigh. Whackaloon quotient is skyrocketing. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Oh, and to Sam Zell, I've actually have seen how hard the 1% work. You're engaged in mental masterbation. No, you really don't. And there's a reality based TV show that proves it. Or, tell you what, I dare you, triple dog dare you, to follow a head floor nurse around for her/his 12 hour shift and then tell me you work harder. I dare you, fucker.

So, just how much does it cost to try and steal the national elections. Turns out the Koch Brothers know, because they have the receipts. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The armed attack on a power substation in California that you never heard about. Notice the amount of planning and knowledge that went into this attack. Good thing we're all worried about Obamacare so we don't notice these things.

"What was extraordinary about… Cantor's presentation (that most people in the US just want a job, not being an entrepreneur) was not that it was out of place -- it was entirely on-target for a political party hoping to win elections in 2014 -- but that it came six years into the economic downturn, and decades into a protracted decline in middle-class standards of living." Strange how facing abject defeat can bring a modicum of sensibility. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jim Bridenstine, um, you may remember how John McCain handled a supporter when she started spewing bullshit about Mr. Obama (not president yet). You, on the other hand, told your commentator she was "sweet" to you. And then you say you don't condone that kind of speech? You're an unconscionably bad liar. When will politicians realize people are actually recording them? You are part of the problem.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wait, What?

Okay, here there be Sherlock Spoilers. Read on at you're own risk.

I'm going to call bullshit, right off the bat. "His Last Vow", really disappointing. Besides the "why can't we have nice things for once" plots twists, the end just doesn't make sense (even in a way of "ZOMG, and the fannish fanning over the end, you won't believe the hype").

The plots holes in this episode are so wide there's no gauging them. Besides committing the sin of "withholding information from the reader/viewer" serially in this episode, the quick varnishing of Mary being the leverage to get to Mycroft doesn't explain how Jeanine is Magnusson's assistant and Mary's Maid of Honor. As explained in the previous episode, "Sign of Three", the universe isn't so lazy as that.

And then there are 3 very plausible chances to kill Magnusson (which is clearly where all of this is heading) without leading to the forced error ending of shipping Sherlock off to sure death in Eastern Europe. The delay Mary has after disabling all of Magnusson's security - which, BTW, wouldn't that have also tripped the guards to gather Sherlock in the lobby since the big guy was already up top? - is just bad writing. If Mary is who they tried to portray her as, Magnusson would have been bleeding out by the time Sherlock and John got through the routine of checking the other bodies. No, really, pros don't linger and give long speeches (doesn't anybody read the Evil Overlord list?). As Syndrome says in The Incredibles, "I don't believe it, you got me monologuing." Yea, people don't do that. I blame James Bond. Anyway, Sherlock surly went to Magnusson's to kill him (he makes sure John brought his gun, why didn't Sherlock bring his own gun, though, he has one). Why didn't he do this as Magnusson is showing off his master plan (again, read the Evil Overlord lists) sitting in his special room (all the pieces are revealed right then)? And why John just didn't blow Magnusson's head off after the first flick, I'll never know (because, after all, he's in love with Mary, has already dedicated himself to protect her, and this asshole in front of him is both distracted and being an asshole, John already has shown himself capable of sudden violence).

And then there's the end. Really. Are we going to pull that trick a second time? So I'm going to guess here that it's someone else using Moriarity's image and reputation (after all, the voice is completely different, as exemplified by the final cut). Also, Moriarity was not a publicity hound. He works in the shadows, that's his MO. The pubic doesn't know who he is. He's not interested in generic terrorism (which this message clearly is), he is also about leverage and the pressure point. And there's really no way for Moriarity to come back. There was a conspiracy to help Sherlock, Moriarity was alone on that roof. Blanks? Sorry, even blanks fired inside the mouth will kill you (don't try this at home, take my word for it). There is a possibility that shooting yourself (or being shot) through the skull can leave you alive. It's possible, except for what happens when you shoot through the roof of your mouth with the gun in your mouth (there's a lot more damage than just the bullet, which is also why firing a blank in your mouth will kill you as well). Plus, Sherlock, our master of observation, watched him die. If it had been some trick, don't you think he would have noticed? Plus, pulling one character back from the veil may be acceptable, two or more become the "Pamela Ewing discovers Patrick Bobby Ewing in the shower" moment (except for Futurama, but then that is an animated show). So, no, not buying it.

I could accept the rest (drug den to get at Magnusson, which then sort of dies on the vine, Mary being an uber-secretly deadly assassin trying to make good, all the coincidences, and drugging everyone on Christmas), but that last one just tossed me out of the story. If this is actually a return of Moriarity, I have to call bullshit. Also, I have to call "lazy writer syndrome" (which is a shame given the rest of the show).

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weekend Linkee-poo this dusty old dust is a-gettin' my home

Like Saladin Ahmed says, don't be like this person.

Noted here for future reference, conflict in romance.

Cat Rambo with some tips for critiquing and/or workshopping.

Writing fears about wiring the Other and how to get over it. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley, I think)

Jason Sanford outlines a meta discussion going on in SF/F. Also, Jim Hines with a much more in-depth piece.

If "what other people may think" is stopping you from writing, how to stop giving a f@$% what people think. Look, if you sell 100,000 books, that's phenomenal, and not even the depleted population of Cleveland. Sometimes the movie ain't about you, sunshine.

CC Findley on the rejectomancy of his editorialship at F&SF. All of the stories submitted for his guest edited edition with statistics. Good to know what you're up against. As was stated in a panel at Confusion, you're competition isn't everyone else in the slush, it's those stories that are getting published.

A few inforgraphics on publishing. Key book publishing paths info graphic. And publication rights explained.

Today is the day they find out you're a fraud. It's the writers' (actually, most creative people) fear. I feel this way a lot when I talk about writing. It's a little less when I talk about design and advertising (because, hey, I'm a fargin' genius in those areas). I also feel a little this way with the reboot. "The report… states that sometime within the next 24 hours, people will find out that you have no idea what you’re doing, that you’ve been faking it for years, and that… you’ve actually managed to dupe virtually everyone around you into thinking you’re something other than a weak and ineffectual person." Also, why ruthless honesty is the best option. (Grokked from Mur Lafferty)

Marking for writers. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

Jim Hines with more on his writing income. Including links from other authors.

This is a Trent Reznor song. (Pointed to by John)

The busy inner life of the sloth. Kewl. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Steve Hawking does it again. In this case, redefining what we know, or think we know, about black holes. That thing where once you fall past the event horizon there's no coming back. Well, the event horizon is more like guidelines and there may be some coming back (other than Hawking Radiation). (Grokked from Mrs. Tadd)

How long have I got left. On the statistics of disease. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jim Wright on the family's side of having to make the end of life decision.

Introducing scientific thinking into business. Uh, no. Exactly the opposite of what needs to happen. Because here's the thing. Right now there is way too much "they did this and $Profits," without really understanding exactly what was done (note the focus on "teams" without understanding exactly how these teams forms and how they worked). What needs to happen is for the MBA to be taken out of the office and replace them with actual experienced professionals and stop worrying about this quarter's profits/stock price. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Academia explained using Muppets. Hahahaha. (Grokked from Jim Hines)

One of the founders of GOProud leaves the Republican Party because he feels they're out of touch and don't represent his values. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Man (and friend) shot by neighbor for being on his own property. Yea, I'm thinking something else is going on here, too. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Everything you know is wrong

Okay, somethings I've wanted to talk about having been building up, and I think we've reached terminal velocity.

First up, Amazon (or beer/pizza) drones. Look, this was a marketing gimmick. Absolutely for the near future this isn't going to happen. And it won't happen for a very simple reason; energy density. Let's say we're able to get pasts FAA and zoning restrictions, the energy density problem will end this concept. To do this right you need a drone that can hover, so it can deliver the package safely. Next, you need a fairly small drone (you don't want to be parking Cessna sized drones on people's front door steps), and this is where the helicopter system the Marines are using to deliver supplies won't be applicable, besides having actual dedicated space for the drone to land. So that leads us to a version of those small quad-rotor things. As every good science fiction fan knows, you need to be able to not only carry yourself, your payload, but your fuel with you as you launch. For these copters to work you need a very small, stable, energy dense source. That means high-effiency batteries or liquid fuel. Batteries are better (energy to weight, and stable weight), but there aren't good enough for more than a few minutes. Your range is very limited. Liquid fuel cells have a similar problem (along with noise, heavier engines, and the problem of the dynamic weight), but don't extend your range very much. So that leads to needing to have a different delivery source to get the package into neighborhood range. Unlike high-speed internet, the "last-mile" barriers aren't that great here. While Tobias Buckell said to me that we could use delivery blimps to get the product (and the drones) close enough, blimps have their own problems (they aren't stable at low-altitudes in all weather). All of these problems are not insurmountable. But they aren't surmountable at anywhere near the costs that UPS/FedEx/USPS charge. So until there is a breakthrough in energy storage (a big one) and a breakthrough in weather stabilization of the small drones (and lighter than air craft), ain't going to happen. The USA is damn big, this is why the USPS is a governmental organization (and UPS and FedEx don't offer the same service everywhere).

Now, pizza drones may make more sense (although the payment systems will need to be worked out). Pizza shops are close to their customers, so travel distances are short (still longer than most batteries or small tanks could provide). You can standardize the weight loads. But you still have the stability problems.

Next, the Super Bowl is to football the way the World Cup is to rugby. The Super Bowl is corporate America's week to tell itself they're just regular Joes (and Josies). The game itself is just a distraction. This is why everything about the Super Bowl is over the top and looks like a rough parody of what real football is about (note the "ZOMG it's going to snow and be cold, we should never hold it in the North ever again" whining of the past few weeks - yea, I barely am able to listen to TV and I've heard it). Most of the event revolves around parties. The seats are so expensive most football fans will never be able to afford them. This is also why the commercials are as big a part of the game as they are. Corporate America needs to subsidize its habits. That's where the fans come in. The real fan event was the Football Hall of Fame (although that's also been corporatized in the past 15 years or so). Want to see it yourself? Start asking the questions of "how is this unlike a corporate high-level event?" Other than the media coverage, I really can't think of a way it's not. This year may be slightly different, because of the "ZOMG it'll be cold" (or what those of us you live near the HoF call it, real football weather).

I think it's interesting that between the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement, the message with the longest shelf life is the Occupy Movement's message. And even those people who continue to beat the drum for the Tea Party make their statements in the context of the issues Occupy brought to light (ie. "the best way to solve the income inequality problems is to…" insert Tea Party talking point here). The major difference so far is the Tea Party quickly became a political movement and elected true believers, and Occupy is still a social movement.

Advertising really sucks lately. No, really, I don't think these kids know what the hell they're doing. This isn't a whine on, "I'm no longer the target demographic, I don't understand", it's based on knowledge of good visual communication principles and a knowledge of how advertising works. And the social media aspect of it is just laughable. Some companies get it. I know this because I see it and have a memory of thinking, "They get it." But a lot of what I see out there now looks like amateur hour. For some of it I can actually envision the sale meeting and feel the personal desire of the advertisers to make a personal statement (usually, "I've always wanted to make a commercial with a gorilla in it, and I think your widgets would be perfect"). Back to the social media aspect of it, seriously, corporations, you need to get your shit together on this. Do not put the interns on this side of it. I've seen so many promoted tweets and face books postings that are so risible that I'm no longer standing on the sidelines and responding with appropriate snark. And this is the part that gets me, not only is it like shooting fish taped to the end of your gun barrel, these social media idiots either automatically repost my snark, or attempt to respond. Also, there's so much of it, I have to limit myself as to what I'll skewer and what I'll leave alone (note to corporations, even if I immediately think of snark to respond with, if your message actually works, I don't bother with it).