There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Alive in the zombie apocalype

Here at World Fantasy and having a good time, I think. Sitting in on various panels and also catching up with friends. That may seem like it's an expensive way to keep in touch, and it is, but it's worth it. There are so many groups of people I know now that I don't have to many moments of not bein around friends.

I did try and take an hour to study. The flip size of the knowing people is that I didn't get to actually study which means tomorrow night is going to be difficult.

I'm getting a little better with the iPod Touch. Although I have too big of thumbs. 

Another issue is the lack of wifi connectivity.

But tonight, on the way back from dinner we passed a big zombie contingent. And I don't think they were con related. Ah, Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Early Morning

Up early to head to World Fantasy. All the cool kids got there yesterday. Oh well. If you're going, hope to see you there.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don't mind me

You know, one of these times I'd really like to have time off where in the days leading up to it other people think, "Hey, you know, Steve told us he'll be off these days, we'll get wrapped up before hand so he can finish out the work without a great deal of stress or anxiety and maybe have time to do those little things one needs to do before vacation/travel/events." Instead of the "Oh, we're going to wait until the last moment and then dump and run with projects that need to be done before he leaves."

Yeah. I need to clip my toe-nails and I don't know when I'll be able or if I'll be able to do it. (I've already chucked the "trim beard" and "scrub bathrooms" before I go)

And I'm remembering now why I was so whacked and can barely remember Viable Paradise last year. Same thing, same stress, and (this I forgot until recently) I had my flu shot right before leaving and had pain for half the week.

Wednesday's Linkee-poo

And now that we're under a week before the election, prepare for the slinging of accusations that have no basis in reality, but can't be disproven before election day. Yes, as world views crash, one of the instantaneous reactions is "they're cheating." So expect accusations of stealing the election, massive voter fraud, bussing in voters, intimidation, corporations/lobbyist/foreign money distorting, and the ever popular, eating babies. It's still early, and all those early voters don't mean that's how the election well turn out.

Strange what happens when you remove political appointees with ideological charges from government agencies, you finally see the evidence. That's a NASA page showing some evidence of the global warming and making the connection to increased CO2 in the atmosphere. The top chart is most interesting and also matches to temperature variations (although they don't show the chart overlap, which they really should have).

Some more proof that life on this planet is weirder than we think. That's an article on "The Scientist" about a new giant, marine virus being discovered (well, giant as compared to what we thought viruses would top out at). Besides the talk of genetic mixing going on with this viruses (and it's also happening in larger scale animals as well, just look at how retroviruses work), there was this little tidbit most of the way down. (grokked from Jay Lake)
… scientists now realize that there are some 50 million viruses in every milliliter of seawater. Every day, marine viruses kill about 20 percent of the ocean's microorganisms, which produce about half the oxygen on the planet.

An interesting take on the death of the browser. Not that I agree, the browser is a great piece of kit, when it works right (and not doing stupid things like a certain company's hijinx). Somewhat related is this link from Dan on Windows being the Cadillac of OS and the death of the concept of "a PC in every home." As someone who now carries two cell phones and a Touch, I see the argument here. But I think heralding the death of both the browser and the big box computer is a little premature.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gemini Linkee-poo

Adorable girl test global warming hypothesis. Of course, it's not as comprehensive as a whole atmospheric test, but it's a good start. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Here's a steampunk short primer on the 19th century. You know, before government got all that involved in business and taxation and such.

To everything there is a season, set spin cycle to max

Well, it seems those filthy liberals are just trying to trash conservative America's world view again by actually not having an enthusiasm gap and going out to vote early in numbers that match to the 2008 election percentages (where electors declare parties and have early elections). What's a conservative to do? Well, you say there's massive voter fraud and people are stealing the election, of course. Because they can't be in the minority of opinion, they're the Permanent Majority.

Just spent my lunch reading way too many articles about voter fraud allegations that are false on the face of them, the prospect of voter intimidation by "poll watchers" and way too many screeds about "ZOMG, the election isn't going they way we predicted, it must be voter fraud."

Despite the Bush Administration's Justice Department's intense search for voter fraud cases (you may remember the scuttle-butt about a few attorneys being fired over not pursuing cases strongly enough), between 2002-2008 only 100 cases were found. Mostly on minor infractions (and I seem to remember at least a few conservative vote rigging schemes in there, I think in Michigan). Of course, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Keep looking. Keep praying. Keep telling ourselves that "it just can't be that way."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Story Bone

From idle speculation... So, we have present day zombie tales, and near future zombie tales, even far future zombie tales. However, for the life of me, I can't think of a historical zombie story (except, you know, stories written in the past, but those were also present or near future for their time). Now, for other monsters, we have all types of stories, especially about vampires (period pieces, present, far future, SF, Fantasy, horror, humor, mainstream, etc). But I wonder if you could do, say, a Victorian, Edwardian or Napoleonic? I doubt a medieval piece would work (needing the whole Caribbean/African Slave culture as the germ of zombie lore).

Story Bone

We're building a better moon.

Monday's Linkee-poo

This weekend is World Fantasy, and I plan to be there, as long as the waters don't rise and the damn don't break. And this week promises to be another draining week. I'm really getting tire with how all my extra stuff tends to find the times I have a need to be rested for and then screwing it up. I typically refer to this as "my day job doesn't want me to have a life" (although in this case it's the freelance and the night thing).

Steve talks about what our words say about ourselves. I'll just mention that I try persuasion, but it's damn hard against those who have "religion" in their political philosophy and sometimes it's just more fun to screed that to turn a world view around (laughing as the car goes over the cliff so to speak). While Steve and I disagree politically (sometimes vehemently), I know he thinks about his positions. Also, I'm glad all my commentors here are wise enough to make coherent arguments for their positions.

John Joseph Adams expands his domain of conquest. Or something like that. Actually he's just been names as editor for Fantasy Magazine (as well as keeping his gig at Lightspeed). I've had a beer with John. Nice guy. Hopefully I can sell him something down the road.

And since we're in high spin mode, some of the false things "we know" (or as I call them, the Myths We Tell Ourselves). Yes, it's a biased site, but prove their facts wrong.

And since I'm talking about the myths, here's a photo of a bucket-wheeled excavator. You know all those who say, "humans can't do much to affect the Earth," well, yeah, that. Plus, as you can read from the description, some open pit mines can be seen from orbit (not to mention that with our damns and swimming pools, we've increased the rotation rate of the Earth by holding more water at higher latitudes, granted, it's only fractions of seconds each year, but it is measurable). (photo link grokked from Jay Lake)

The Ferret takes on some myths as well (this time libertarian myths, which I think I've pointed out that we've tried that experiment before, it didn't turn out so well). Also see: In Medieval/Ren Fairs, everybody is of the noble class, when hardly anybody was. Also, they like to run about with swords when very few people could 1) afford them and 2) were permitted to wear them (my lineage on my father's side was allowed). Not everybody is a Jedi. And it sucks when you're not. We get grumpy, and then those Sith people keep telling us things could be better if we'd just let them in power (and I like the various permutations of that sentence, so I'm keeping it, and yeah, in the Libertarian=Jedi scenario of this, the Sith are people like me, which tickles my fancy something fierce right at the moment).

And finally, fun with statistics. That's an article on Amazon's "ZOMG Kindle sales are Fabulous" (said with Jazz Hands) press release. While, you know, not releasing actual numbers. And their new Kindle is selling well? Yes, I guess that means you've hit the right price point (with the nudge from competition). And I would hope you're selling more kindle books this year over last considering the numbers of e-readers (the Kindle and things like my iPod Touch which has the Kindle software) are skyrocketing. Still, let's have the numbers so we can compare "paid" Kindle purchases (compared to the Free books) vs. all the other segments (they're still saying "better than hard cover" but hard covers are the smallest segment of physical book sales - trade and mass market paperbacks outselling them in ridiculous numbers - I wanna be a paperback writer!). (grokked form Steven Gould)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday not doing what I should be

This weekend is not going as planned. Not that it's all bad, but just not going in the right direction. And that it's setting up about two weeks of contention isn't good as well. Especially since next weekend is World Fantasy.

First up was a client bringing some extra freelance work. About 14 hours of freelance. Sigh. So didn't have any time to read for the writers group, so not going this afternoon. Which sucks. But 14 hours of billable is good. I guess.

On the positive side, we got toys this weekend.

Twenty-four inches of snow throwing madness. (insert manly grunting here)

And because this fall we're really time strapped, I also got this.

Set it up and used it yesterday. Have to rethink how I clear my yard, but oh yeah.

Finally, just because it's fall, have a wooly bear.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Touchable Elmo

Here's an argument for tactility. I wish more clients would get this. I do some work for an Amish cabinet maker. I was able to make the case to him and did a brochure on 100lb cover stock, with a felt like finish (not glossy). He's told me that brochure has helped him almost double his business. In this economy (okay, he targets the high end of the market which really didn't taper off). Because the brochure also felt architectural (100lb cover is pretty stiff), and the texture felt like fresh cut wood, it keys into people's emotions. Yet another one of our secrets out. So the legions of "thins as possible for cheapness, oh, and make it glossy" can bite me.

If we call it a week, will it go away?

It's been a week at work.

Hypocrisy, while never in short supply, seems to be running high in conservative media. So far, not much about Mara Liasson who also works for NPR and appears on Fox. And there's also a strange silence about how NPR recently reminded their employees that they're not allowed to attend political rallies, including Jon Stewart's Stephen Colbert's rally. And lest we forget, their was all the monkey screaming over Dan Rather, but in the other direction.

And since we're entering the high spin zone heading into the election, here's some links that may help.
and SourceWatch

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


National Geographic's Vampire Forensics. What kept me from going to bed at a decent hour last night.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Three Links for a Busy Tuesday

Hey, here's a fun chart showing the switch form mostly campaign driven spending on advertising to outside group spending. Also, in case it matters, I've heard that so far, spending on the off-year election is running higher than for the last Presidential Year election. Good times. Good times. So glad we didn't' have to worry about corporate spending skewing the political landscape.

And here's a story about IP issues that may ground Predator (and I'm betting, Global Hawk) from making missile strikes. I think that qualifies as a big, "Oops." Also, another argument to quit this crap of outsourcing government functions. Hi, welcome to business practices. Not everybody had to take the Business Ethics 101 class, so they missed a lot of the "Thou shall not screw over thy partner" lecture. (grokked from Vince)

And since I talked about it in the comments in a previous post, the AP/Knowledge Works poll article. At the bottom they give the percentages. I'd still like to see a lot more of the poll, but I'll just point to the fact that 76% of Obama supporters still support him, with only 8% saying they'll switch their vote this fall. Compare that with McCain who only is keeping 71% of voters Republican, with 9% saying they'll vote Democratic. But what do you hear on the news? "Obama in trouble, Democrats defecting, blah blah." Uh, yeah. Your "liberal" news media at work.

Eating Bar-b-qued Iguana

You may have heard about Latinos For Reform. They're running ads in Nevada to tell Hispanics to not vote. You know, to send a message.

Also, to send Sharron Angle to the Senate.

The website (basically, the only front for this organization) is registered to Robert Deposada, a conservative activist (and former employee of the Bush Administration).

And do I need to mention the "unprecedented" drive for a "voter watch" this election? Or remind people of the Philadelphia memo in 2008 that instructed African American voters to vote on Wednesday?

Stay classy, conservatives. It's what you do best.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A link of one

Newsweek op-ed on how the Tea Partiers get the Constitution wrong. (grokked from Eric)

Also, they tend to have a worship of the Founding Fathers and portray them as this collegial group that agreed on How Things Should Be(tm). Nothing is farther from the truth. They bickered and were snide to each other. Adams and Jefferson had a falling out that last years. It's better to say they all compromised and found a middle ground and said, "This is the best we can do."

I'd pretend that I was a billboard

I keep rewriting this, and it just doesn't get better or more coherent. So it's time to stop and put it out there.

They say, "Living well is the best revenge." But you never see that in the operas. Childhood for some is filled with fuzzy memories of laugher in the dappled sunlight of endless summers. College is an amazing time that most people who went through it would do almost anything to be there again. In both cases, this is a product of only remembering the good.

That doesn't mean you don't remember the bad, it's just that you push it off to the side. Childhood? Childhood for me saw a distinct decline from solidly middle-class to working poor. And my class mates, those who weren't my friends, noticed this and took advantage of it to make sure it wasn't them, so pushed me further down the social food chain. And when we moved to Ohio to live with my grandparents, I was thrown into a whole different societal structure.

And college, well, let's just say if I wasn't a criminal as I am, I wouldn't have made it through. To be blunt, times were tough enough that I stole toilet paper. But in college I didn't have to deal with bullies because I could tell them to get bent.

But let's go back to grade school. What I said before doesn't mean I didn't have friends. I certainly did. Good friends as well. We weren't the in crowd though. And while we ran like rabid dogs through the hot summer months and we tight, we also were picked on. When you have friends who are called, "The spaz" that tends to happen. Also, in the 70s, divorce was still a new concept in small town Southern New Jersey (so much so we were interviewed by a local newspaper on "What it was like to grow up in a broken household"). So add that to the mix.

Bullying is all about the social status and conformity. If you don't believe me, go read Michelle Sagara West's posts about it (she's had a great series talking about her son and his experience in school). As I mentioned above, for the first one in my early life I was on the way down. As for conformity, well, I've never been one to conform in both ways I've explained here and other ways I haven't. So I was the one who was picked on.

For those of you who do know me in person, you may find that either easy or difficult to believe, but it's the truth. For those of you who find it easy, well, it's hard to hide all of the past. For those of you who have a hard time believing it, it's not surprising. After I got away from the Air Force in college, I revamped my personality. Also, I never did conform to being the one picked upon.

I fought back.

See, I have an older brother who engaged in much of the worst part of sibling rivalry. My brother is four years older than myself, so I grew up learning how to fight someone who was bigger and older. While there were many episodes of bullying before, the first one I remember clearly was in the fourth grade. We were playing basketball (I've always was tall for my age) with a mixed group from 4th to 8th grade (Gibbsboro grade school was K-8, many parts of the country don't do that). One of the 8th graders, the top line bully, got upset that I 1) scored points and 2) stole the ball from him so he started to push me whenever we were close. And then, he pushed me down on the court.

Have I mentioned I have a temper? Those who know me now may find that hard to believe. One of the things a lot of people use to describe me is "patient." It's a hard won patience. It's a part of how I changed myself. It's also how I know I'm depressed, I get those instant anger flashes.

So, I stood back up and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. It took three 8th graders to pull me off of him.

But here's the difference. Once it was over, I didn't assume his place in the social structure. I went back to being me and being with my friends. Bullies don't understand this. To them it's all about social status and conformity, remember. That you wouldn't want their position is a totally alien concept to them.

That incident put the kibosh on much of the bullying for the next year and a half I was in Gibbsboro. Then we moved to Canton, Ohio, and into a whole different set of rules. When we moved, my Mom told me I could be whatever I wanted to be, that this was an opportunity to change myself. So I wanted to be less violent, part of "Not Being My Dad."

However, coming into a new school district and not wanting to fight for your place is not how to do things. Also, I grew up with a different set of rules. In Ohio, the kid who struts isn't the person to mess with. In NJ, they're the showoff, it's the person who walks confidently that you don't want to mess with. Also, in Ohio they wrestle (and have that body image of toughness), in NJ we fist fight (which has a different body style). So, to make a longer post shorter, let us just say that I typically had to have fights about every two years, selecting the leaders of the group (typically they volunteered anyway, seeing their minions pick on me, so they do it themselves) and beating their asses to a pulp. It took that long for the bullies to forget and to press me to my snapping point. I remember one kid I strangled until he nearly passed out because his friend had taken my glasses and he wasn't fast enough to get away.

So, I'm not your typical person to talk about bullying.

But I wanted to say, it's not about you. It's about the bully. When older people tell you that the bully is jealous or frightened of you, it's bull.

What it is about is that you threaten the bully's world view. Because you're different, or don't buy into their precepts of "the way things are," they feel threatened that maybe what they think and believe isn't so. To some people, this is an easy change. To the majority of people, it invokes a sense of "WRONG." So they need to make sure that you either "aren't worthy" or try to get you to conform. In either way, they're trying to fit you into their world view.

It doesn't change as you get older (except for one crucial difference discussed a few paragraphs down). Much of the current political discourse going on I attribute to this attitude. The social conservatives felt they were on the path to having their view being the dominate view and they felt comfortable and secure in the "Permanent Majority." However, the elections of 2006, when Democrats took back the house and came close in the Senate, sent a shock through their system. But then those who enforced the world view in the larger public calmed them down by saying it was just an anomoly. The big change was the election of 2010 2008, when Democrats increased their lead in the House, took the Senate, and won the Presidency. At that point they realized something was wrong with their world view.

So, they could either accept that their ideals were really in the minority, or they could get pissed.

Typically most humans choose the later.

As it comes clear that the Tea Party is getting a lot of its strength from the Social Conservatives, their cry of "We want our country back" becomes clearer. They thought that it was their country. That they were right. They created a bubble where they could exist and the world (or at least the political side of this country) seem to be going in their direction. And the 2010 election was the rest of the country giving them the big middle finger, at least in their minds. In this context that quote (We want our country back) makes sense. They want their world view back. They don't want a pluralistic society.

I promised to talk about the crucial difference between being in school and being out of school (or even just getting to college). You aren't forced to socialize with the same crowd. You'll have some interactions with the same small minded people who can't handle change or challenge to Their Way(tm), but you can mitigate that exposure. You'll find you can create a "family of choice."

It gets better. It's hard to see that now, but it will. It sucks and it hurts and it looks like it will never end and nothing will ever get better, but it does. School is not life.

My advice right now is to do what you need to survive and make plans. Make plans to escape to someplace else. If you're in a small town, look at going to some city. If you're in a city, they aren't all the same, find one that will fit you better. It takes a lot of work, but it's worth it. It does get better.

edited to correct for dates.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Not A One Time Deal

Just so you all know that it isn't a one time fluke that NE Ohio has pretty dramatic skies. This was the commute home yesterday.

Also, besides all the other things that need to be done this weekend, like recreating the platform bird feeder for the winter, studying, and trying to have a life, I'm playing with my new toy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Have some writerly links

Because, in lieu of making my own content, links are good. Aren't you glad I'm not uploading pictures of my cat?

Magical Words on agent quests (which I hope to be doing before the end of the year).

Some musings, on Urban Fantasy.

Catherine pulls together some of the blog posts about bullying and gives her own story. (Note, I've been musing writing my own post about this. My experience is different than others and I'm not sure if sharing it helps or hurts the conversation.)

My friends over at Elder Sign Press have been exploring the history of the wampyre. The history an entomology of the Myths We Tell Ourselves(™) has always fascinated me. And the current myths are no less whacky than the older ones.

Eric also muses on the Horror Movie. Why do I writer horror? Probably because the first time I ever read Stephen King's Night Shift (short stories), I laughed at the stories. My brother pronounced me "sick" for doing that. I think that was the start of my dark humor streak. Blame it on the King.

The Way Home

While the pervasive cloud cover of NE Ohio can be depressing at times, there are moments when it offers such dramatic skyscapes that make it a little worth while.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Look, it's a Bob-o-Link

First up, new Tron merchandise including the street bike armor. Very cool idea. And why the heck wouldn't you get the light-up version. Of course, for me, $1000 for the entire ensemble, or just $500 for the jacket is way overpriced for something that's intended to leave it's mark on the road so you don't leave yours (as my motorcycle instructor said when asked about why he wore a jacket to ride, "Better to leave dead cow than my own skin on the pavement"). (point to by Dan)

An article on the heritage that Glen Beck embraces and continues. It was a nutcase argument back in the 60s, it's still a nut case argument.

A take on the whole if you raise taxes people have less incentive to work, which I've called bullshit before. Really? It's like the person on Scalzi's blog that liked to say if a "friend, who makes $70,000, and his wife takes another $70,000, that in reality, after she covers (daycare quoted at a rate you could hire a nanny for, and covering all the extra expenses like 2nd car, gas, driving, taxes, etc, like everything we all work for in the first place) would only get $10,000 free and clear at the end of the year, so she won't do it." What a lazy ass argument that is. Really, an extra $10,000 free and clear and you don't think it's worth it?

The NPR story about corporate spending. Two take aways, 1) those people who supported the Citizen's United ruling and said, "It won't really change a thing" lied (either knowingly or out of naivety) and 2) Another reason why the argument of "industry self regulation" is also horse pucky (notice how the forms are not completed, because there is no penalty for not completing them, and there's no government oversight to make sure they do fill out the paperwork properly).

So much for the principled stand against earmarks. Also, promising someone a committee seat (article is on John Boener promising new candidates seats on the Appropriations Committee, where they can steer money to their districts, all while saying they're fighting earmarks) when you're 1) supporting an untested candidate and 2) not in power yet shows an immense hubris and willingness to say "Screw you, I've got mine." Also, there's the quote "Boehner spokesman Michael Steel (Boehner's press secretary, not That Other Michael Steel that's the NRC Chairman) reminds me that the Republicans are currently operating a self-imposed earmark moratorium," to which I call bullshit. My congressman, a Republican through and through, has one earmark for our village (and a few more scattered around his district - ours is for a stop light at our school intersection which is a whole 'nother discussion). So, yeah, self-imposed moratorium my ass.

So, when you get nominated with your whackaloon ideas, I guess running in the general on them isn't such a good idea. Then of course is the wow, there was bad feedback, maybe I should moderate only to be left behind by your supporters. And that's another problem I see with the extremist agenda. While there's a lot of talk about how the Tea Party is all about the fiscal stuff and yet they've only helped nominate solidly social conservatives. While many who support the movement are just "fiscally minded" it's the other crap your nominated candidates and nominal spokespeople bring to the table that worries a lot of America. Of course, there's even darker shades to this.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I dream of rain, I dream of fire

John Scalzi talks about (well, a lot of things, but specifically here he talks about) writing a novel. Note, this is a "why he (we) do it," not so much a how to or how to become wildly famous or other such nonsense stuff. Much of what he says also tracts to my current situation, except exchange "write for profit" with "councilman/freelance/class" and it's almost the same.

A little part of me dies every time I think about where my novel is. It's so close. I can feel it's good. I think this is what may break me out of where I am.

I'm coming to the conclusion that I am a novel length writer at my core. Of the latest critiques of my short stories in process and some of the recent rejections (not to self, need to get them back out again) the most common comment is "This feels like a much larger story." Which, I guess, is good and part of the point (short stories, I think, should feel like they exist in a larger world, the rest of the world just isn't important to the current story).

And I want to get this novel done (because I'm so close, I want to take it across the finish/goal and) because I want to work on the next one. I really want to get that one done soon. Also, it's not like I don't have 4 other ideas waiting (scratch that, quick mental tally is 5). And I'm sure more will come.

I can do this. I want to do this.

I can't cut classes out. That is our future income potential (surer track than writing novels). Freelance is nice for the extra cash (money now!) and it's helping me make up for lost time/income this past spring. In a year and two months my term is up for being a councilman, and at this point I doubt I will seek re-election (I can think of only two or three reasons to run, and I don't expect any of them to happen).

But somewhere in the mean time I need to cut more out of activities that don't promote 1) living and quality of life and 2) writing.

Scenes from a Commute

If you live in NE Ohio, I hope you went out to see the leaves. 'Cause I have a feeling that was the peek. This morning I noticed more bare trees than those that still have their leaves in some sections. Of course, my leaves have only started to fall. I think it was a bumper crop for them this year as the tree were jubilant in the Spring, only to get stressed out in the hot and dry summer. Right now they're trying to get enough water to shut down.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday Links

So, it continues to appear that the conservative cry of "Voter Fraud" is mostly because they're the ones doing it. That a link to the troubles Ann Coulter is experiencing, not her first either (you may want to click that link about the FBI getting involved in 2007).

Oh, and well, so much for Glen Beck's protestations to the opposite. I believe that's called, "incitement to violence." Not enough to make a federal case out of it, but enough to tell Glen to STFU about how these whackaloons have nothing to do with him and his show(s). And the "school teacher" thing is a highly cultivated imaged Glen has worked hard at (it's why he uses the chalkboard and started wearing glasses, it's intentional).

Oh, and before I start banging on the conservative for their wacky notions (like the Wisconsin Senate debate devolving into a literary club talking about Altas Shrugged - I haven't read it, but I know enough about the story to nominally support John Scalzi's interpretation), I'll point out that there are enough whack jobs on the left to be embarrassed about (that's an article where Roger Ebert takes on Andrew O'Hehir on Secretariat). It's just the conservative run their nuts for office, the liberals says, "that's nice" and back away slowly suggesting their compatriots may want to increase the dosage).

And finally, a run down on the cases against the HCR Act and where they stand. Not all good news for either side.

And with a few weeks to go, I'm tired of the political ad crap and may have to retreat to the Zombie Apocalypse Shelter for the duration.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Test Results

Tired, so not much more tonight.

On the first test over the neural system, I scored a 100 out of a possible 100 (no extra credit this time). So, over all, I have a 227 out of 230 points (234 possible) for a 98.695% (97% out of all possible points).

blogger weirdness

not sure why my template isn't working anymore. Will fix when I have time.

Edit Some malformed HTML from Friday was causing problems. Finally figured that out. But, hey, new look. Sorry for any problems that caused anybody.

Slow Burn

It took all summer,
but the trees are showing their tans
A slow burn of rust
consums the branches.
Flakes pile on the floor below
and clog streams.
The scent of pencil shavings
stirs erasure dust memories
of brown corduroy pants
and pink cashmere sweaters.
Heartened pumping of blood
pounds the heartache from my eyes.
Ghost wisps of fog wrap the past
and harden my nights.
Youth calls like
candy apple cravings
and bat winged remembrances
flit in allergic waves
in wood smoke eyes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday in what seems to be a routine

First, what wasn't routine. Spent way too many hours looking for 100% cotton scrubs. I can find some, like Comfort Scrubs (but for the 3x/4x/5x sizes I need, they require an extra 2-3 weeks to make them), or at All Heart (but those are only denim, and they don't have the pant sizes in stock), or if I just want tops and can find a pattern we like (this is for me and Bette), Scrubs Gallery or Lydias Uniforms (but they don't have all cotton pants). Also, as a part of these sites, their shipping can be difficult (although Scrub Gallery has the best options offering free shipping for just $29 in orders).

But then I spent most of the day studying. Tomorrow's test is the first one on the neural system (CNS and PNS gross anatomy and function). I've rewritten the notes, and done a few other things. Tonight will be another review, after dinner.

And the more I read and learn about the brain, the more I realize that a true AI/Singularity (in SF) is a pipe dream (at least with our current technology). Why is the brain compared to a computer? Because the computer is the most complicated thing we have at the moment, not because of any real functional similarity. I can make analogies between them, but it isn't the same. Understand, the brain was once called a switchboard, steam engine, etc, because they were the most complex thing we had at the time. It's also my belief that any AI will really be an emergent/accidental property of some system (akin to Skynet) than an intentional construct of humans. To give an analogy, if you want to think of the brain as a computer and the neural pathways as the transistors in the CPU of a computer, well there are some comparisons. However, a better analogy would be to compare the neurons (of which there are billions) to registers in the CPU, or actually little coprocessors of their own. To say the brain is a massively paralleled system is to only scratch the surface. The level of the brain puts even our largest constructed parallel system (including the distributed networks) to shame.

Also, as a side note, you may have heard that we only use 10% of our brain. Seems kind of miniscule, right? Except that we can only use 10% of our brains because that is the amount of neurons compared to neuroglia (cells that do other things than process or transfer information). You can only use 10%. That's the whole processing power you have available.

Friday, October 8, 2010

More links for a hard working Friday

No need to worry about your civil liberties here. (pointed to by Dan).

If you can't win in science, try winning in court. Problem is, he hasn't been winning in court either. Hey, Cuccinelli, my attorney general is going after the real assholes who hurt our economy (Cordray is one of the lead AGs going after the banks for their robosigning foreclosure documents which is patently illegal). You might want to see to your head. Cause it's someplace you don't want it to be.

And, because it's related to the above, a Climate's post on the Koch Brothers' involvement/sponsorship on a Smithsonian exhibit and the New Yorker article about it.

A dreamer

Happy 70th, John.

"And the two of us went to this bar
and we stayed to close the place.
And every song we played
was for The Late Great Johnny Ace." Late Great Johnny Ace - Paul Simon

Two Quick Links From Yesterday Posted Today

Because it's been that kind of month.

Another article on Branding.

Seems that various political ads are using hijinx to get produced. Here's a bit of a design perspective on the use of a certain "stock" photograph. While stock, especially royalty-free stock, is an highly used and (these days) abused commodity, there are special rules when it comes to the usage of images with people. If you don't believe me, read the licensing statement with the art you buy. If the ad agency/501c/political committee that placed these didn't do their homework, the spanking maybe interesting (although won't come to even a court before February at the earliest).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Even more links, but with some personal reflection

We will have a snowblower this year. Here's what I'm getting, an Ariens Compact 24" 2 Stage Snowblower. Just as an FYI, here's the Farmers Almanac Prediction. Notice that for my area it's "Colder" and we're right on the edge for normal or more precipitation. Last week the National Weather Service announced that with the Summer of 2010 being a summer of record heat (hottest or second hottest, IIRC) Lake Erie will remain open longer into the winter season. Which means more and heavier lake effect snows this year. Last year we had three snows that using the push shovel wasn't useful (for the 10' or so in from the roadway at least). With a doublewide driveway, slinging snow that way is a killer (for reals and seriously, people die that way). So the need for the dual stage, the wide scoop, the horse power (it's a Briggs engine), and, hey, it comes with a headlight (helpful for those 2am clearings).

Jim Wright wins the internet today. ("I'm voting Republican because…" video)

Jay Lake has a caption contest for one of his books. (Vote for me. Vote for me.)

He look, civilian trials for terrorists, they work, and there weren't any hiccups or terror incidents. Civilian trials work, they reinforce that we are a country of laws, and they diffuse the "big, scary, boogy man" image terrorists have. I guess all that garment rending and teeth gnashing were all political staging and fear-mongering after all. Go figure. Could have knocked me over with a feather.

Interesting to probably only me and my design habit, the brother hood of feral barncats. Photos of visual communication in the wild. This is a subject that is endlessly fascinating to me. Just ask any of the friends who have been subjected privileged to hear me hold forth on the design of menus and the like.

And, because it's come up in political discussions where those touting the "honor and dignity" of the hard, minimum wage earning worker ("we're just like you, only smarter and richer" they say with a swarmy handshake) all without knowing exactly what the minimum wage is. It is this elections, "Price of Milk" question. For you're edification, the Ohio minimum wages. $7.30 per hour or $3.65 per hour for tipped employees, federal minimum wage $7.25 per hour for those employees whose employers gross $267,000 or less and or 14 and 15 year old workers. Just in case you get asked. Also, a side note, some of the bastards employers in the village use the "tipped wages" for counter workers who have tip jars. Your local asshole employers may using the same dick head business practices.

Also, probably only me, but noted here for it's graphic design significance and my everlasting love of ephemera, The Matchbook Registry. Old matchbooks. I say old, because I can't remember the last place I was in that actually had matchbooks. When I was young, you could get them everywhere and anywhere. Not that I miss people smoking like chimneys everywhere you went, but, like $0.02 gum, I kind of miss the wackiness of the matchbooks.

I've been thinking about a lot of posts lately. My guess is you'll all be regaled by my thoughts on the story I posted about yesterday where the firefighter let a house burn to the ground, and my thoughts about the existence and prevalence of extra judicial/societal/religous systems in the US, most of which we normally don't' give a second thought about (including the rise of mandatory binding arbitration).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More links, because brain won't work

A short practical on agents. Agents should work for you in a partnership. If that's not happening, getting a new agent is a good idea.

Here's a story that is interesting to me, being Chairman of Safety. Seems there was a brouhaha over a fire department letting a house burn to the ground because the owner did not pay the rural fire district fee. You know, it sucks, but that happens. My guess is that if there were human lives in danger the fire department would have gone in to rescue them (but not for the cat or dog). However, it's a very real scenario for many places.

Freedom of the press is only free when you own the press. Food for thought. (grokked from Jay Lake)

Because it's in a lot of places, Your Tax Receipt.

And more from the boy the elections are long and many things come out in that time. Miller is probably the least completely insane candidates pushed from the dark corners of the right. However, that's a relative statement.

Also, just a general statement, with all the work and everything, I'm way behind in the social media stuff. I barely twitter, my blog roll is constantly above 100 posts to read, and I don't think I've loaded Facebook in weeks. So if you're wondering why I have been as effluent of late, it's because of the work and study, nothing personal.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quickie links

One of the questions I continually hear from beginning and wannabe writers is about how you know where to send your stuff out. Mostly because they believe people will "steal" their ideas and plagiarize there stuff. My first answer is, "send to places you trust." The second sentence is, "If an editor/writer were ever caught doing this..." Well, you get what's about to happen to this person. Ferrel "Rick" Moore is not someone you want to mess with. Not that it takes someone with Rick's abilities to call idiots out, but Rick has a slightly larger megaphone than I do. It's also a good argument for belonging to writers organizations. This is part of what they do. David Boyer (aka Doc Byron, Iron Dave, David Brookes, Leo Wolfe, and Jerry Burkette) is about to get paddled. The problem is, I don't think he is the only author going by "David Boyer", so those other guys are going to have some problems for a while. That trouble might also be addressable through the same mechanisms. Also, this doesn't look like it's the first time the David Boyer we're talking about has seen troubles.

Thinking of writing, Jim Hines has a little post on royalties that's worth reading. Strangely enough over the weekend I just had a conversation with another writer friend about royalties.

Some more charts demonstrating the distribution of wealth in this country. Continuing on with other links I've made showing exactly the same thing. However, this chart also shows how people "perceive" the distribution of wealth, compared to the actual distribution of wealth. The chart is from several years ago (during the Bush/Kerry election), since then, even more wealth has been concentrated at the top. The perception of the bottom 40% of earners is interesting. Notice how in the "actual" chart you can't really see their color blocks, and then how big most people think they are. This is part of the problem of why people don't believe how incredibly disproportionate wealth is distributed in this country. If more people understood, IMHO, they would be less likely to support "tax cutting measures." (grokked form Tobias Buckell)

More, later, when I've had some sleep and return to sanity at work. At last check my blogroll for reading was somewhere over 150 posts. Yeah me. Sigh.

October creeps in

October in the Chair

Leaves dry brush the parking lot
in whorls of brown.
Flocking clouds pile up
on their migration south,
turn a bruised black and blue
and swell to bursting.
Aroma of crushed apples and
burning brush feed
fever dreams of iced lawns.
Cars grow winter coats
of fuzzy road dust.
The clopping of nighttime horses
becomes crisper
before their breath coats the air.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rainy day Sunday

Taking a moment out form the weekend hustle and watching some football before I start studying again. I don't think I've watched football this way in years. After the NFL allowed Model to move my Browns, I stopped watching. And I wasn't alone. Viewer ship, IIRC, has never rebounded to pre-browns-move levels. For those of you not watching, it's the battle of I-71, Browns and Bengals. Currently the Brownies are up 13 to 10. But there's still two quarters to go and if the Browns are good at anything, they're good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Yesterday we studied the chemistry of neurological transmission. While neurons fire an electrical charge down their axons, called Action Potential, it's not like the electricity that flows into your home. Besides being lower voltage (measured in millivolts from a range of 30 to -90 charges, the electrical transfer can demonstrate just how fast cellular processes happen. Without getting into a whole bunch of details, electrical power in your home comes from free electrons flowing down the wire (well, actually, the flow of electrons being jiggled because of the AC nature of the power, instead of pushing electrons down the wire, which is DC), the electrical charge firing down the dendrites and axons of your nervous system are cause by depolarization and how that opens cell membrane channels (protein "holes" in the membrane) that allows Ca+ and K+ ions to cross the membrane through simple diffusion (before being set back to status by facilitated diffusion and the ion pumps along your cellular membrane). This creates a cascade of depolarization down the axon, which is the electrical charge. And it does these at speeds of 15meters/sec at the slowest.

Also an interesting note, you know how cells are very small. However, did you know that the neurons that comprise your nerve bundles are, for the most part, single cells with their cell bodies located either in your CNS or PNS (central and peripheral nervous systems), or your brain and spine if you will, and their axons extending out to the where they either sense or activate? That is, one cell, the head of which is usually in your head or spinal column, then extends out to where you have the sensation. the longest cell in your body runs from the lower part of your spinal column, down your thigh, leg, tarsals, and to your big toe. One cell.

Went to the Pumpkin Festival in Huntsburg, yesterday. Spent too much money doing my part to stimulate the economy. Recaulked the bathroom shower (the old caulking was showing cracks. It took a few hours for the floor to dry out before I could put the new caulk down. Not good. Did some little things around the house. And then I started reading. And read some more. And some more. And, good God, won't this chapter ever end?

This morning was a slow start, but now I need to get back to the reading. And, hey, the Browns are up 23 to 10. But there's still a full quarter and 2 minutes to go. Plenty of time to screw it up.

And even though the Browns are winning, I still would rather be writing.