I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're goin' through

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend at home

While all the cool kids are Penguicon. One of these years. One of these years.

As it is I'm thinking I won't make it to many Cons in the near future. Not that I don't want to, but not that I have the time.

Spent the day working outside, cleaning up the yard. On the plus side I fixed the hose caddy, so I can take back the one I bought on Friday. The wood is bucked up and put away. Various sticks are picked up. Leaves are raked. The mower is cleaned up, but the local hardware store didn't have the oil pan I was looking for, so I wasn't able to finish it. We'll do that next weekend more than likely. We also prepared the snowblower for storage. Also except for the oil change. I took the blade off the mower, and nearly twisted my arm off. We'll replace that along with the air filter and a few bolts.

Today I also destroyed the second pair of jeans this year. It's somewhat gratifying to have clothes long enough to wear out. I also retired two t-shirts this year. And I have enough jeans that its not a problem. And the two jeans were in the the worse repair, which was why I was using them for my work jeans.

So, for now, I think a movie.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I have principles and logic consistency, reason #328 why I'm not a conservative

I think it's hilarious that people who believe in the free market and less taxation are supporting the Donald. No, really, you all are f***ing idiots.

About oil prices: "'We have nobody in Washington that sits back and said, you're not going to raise that f****ing price,' he says."

Ah, what a great applause line... espousing price controls (or, for you economists out there, a Centrally Controlled Economy, you know, like the Soviet Union). No, really, that's what he's saying, "We'll set the price." And yet, nobody is pointing to him and shouting, "Socialist!"

To China: "'Listen you mother f***ers we're going to tax you 25 percent,' Trump says."

Another applause line. Can't do that. The WTO, favored nation status, and several trading treaties forbid it. Also, import tariffs? That's higher taxes. That's higher taxes on our own companies that for the past decade have been off shoring jobs to China, with the blessing of the conservatives. Also, do you think that tax won't be passed on to the consumers? Hell, this is your own f***ing logic here, conservatives. These are you gorram talking points.

Hey, want to break China? Break Wal-Mart. Beat on all the idiots that outsourced jobs.

This is your Presidential Champion (currently the front leader)? You all are on drugs.

Linkee-poo is sparse, like his braincells

Lately I've been grooving on a new radio show I picked up on night on NPR, and now it's a podcast. It's called The Moth. People telling true stories in front of a live audience, without notes. Some pretty big names show up, such as this week's Andy Borowitz talking about being in the hospital with a sigmoid volvulus (which I knew what that really means - woohoo me!). Just a note, do not listen to the "Anthony Griffith: Best of Times, Worst of Times" in front of people you'll be embarrassed to cry in front of. Anthony Griffith is a pretty funny comedian, his story is not funny. It's painful, as in full of pain. As in he shares his pain. Hell, I'm tearing up just typing this.

Just in case you think Net Neutrality is overblown hype. Web developers can do this.

The iPad is in Hong Kong. So begins the obsessive punching of the "update" button on the tracking website.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Open Letter

White House
re: the release of your Long Form Birth Certificate

Dear Mr. President,

Please, sir, stop feeding the Trolls.


Linkee-poo has been blown to somewhere over the rainbow

DaFont. 'nough said. Okay, maybe not. There are some excellent fonts in there, many for free or shareware. Not many that you'll want to set body copy in, but, man, the variety for display fonts is excellent. (Pointed to by Dan)

They haven't updated the website, but rumors are Steven Brust will be an instructor at Viable Paradise this year. I love my instructors when I went, but, man, that makes me want to reconsider applying again (some people have gone more than once, but I don't have anything new to workshop there, also I don't think I'd have the cash/time to do it again).

As noted everywhere, Machine of Death 2 is now open for submissions. MoD1 did very well by Camille, IIRC.

On the birther thing. I only have one more thing to say, why didn't any of the newspapers just print the Donald's photo with "PWNED!" as the caption? (Pointed to by Morgan J. Locke)

Facebook continues the journey to the Dark Side. (Pointed to by Dan)

Erin O'Brien on why regulation is good for you. I also remember the layer of haze that was permanently over Philly and my then adopted home, Cleveland. I'm not talking about "bad days you can see the air", you could see the layer even on good days. (Pointed to by Steven Gould)

And Porter Grand, the lycanlibrarian, would like to remind you, it's Halloween in April.

Kink is the new black. Somewhat NSFW. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Favorite tweet of the day, @GeorgeTakei In case you missed it : TN bill willprevent use of word "gay" by teachers. I'm lending my name: "It's okay to be Takei."

I make a crack about me and John Audubon having the same birthday, and now the Zombie John Audubon is following me on twitter. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another Tricky Day

The semi-regular update on classes. Tonight's test was on the urinary system. 25/25 on the practical and 100/100 on the lecture (no extra credit questions). I was the only 100 in my class (only 3 As in my class, only four 100% for all 3 sections). If I stopped now, I'd have an 84%/B for the class. Like that's going to happen. Next up? Reproduction. Woohoo!

Have I mentioned here that my summer class will be Interpersonal Communication? Online? Yep. This weekend I need to work through what I'll be taking this fall (registration is Monday). Will it be Micro or Nutrition or some other thing.

Linkee-poo is in WTF land, again

Seriously, birthers, give it a rest. No, really, you're embarrassing yourselves. Okay, really, you're just outing yourselves as to racist (acknowledged or suppressed) and can't accept that anybody not like you is an American. It's tiring, really it is.

Catherine Schaff-Stump points us to some ramblings on working through an agent's critique letter.

Again, I'm sorry we screwed up the next generation. We didn't fight hard enough. The most telling line is the last one, "'For young people… to put themselves in place of a soldier is a level of empathy that most people simply don’t have anymore.'" Our bad. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Penguin joins the dark side of publishing. Book Country, which has a back end into self publishing. Could be interesting, more than likely not. (Pointed to by Absolute Write). Frankly, they could do a lot worse by looking at what Tor did with Tor.com. I haven't explored all of Tor.com (they have a hellofavlota content and spin offs right now), but I don't think they have a "newbie writer community". I'm pretty sure they don't have a self-pub arm (if they did, I think some of the founders would burst into flame).

Jim Hines talks about rape and blaming the victim. What he said. Unfortunately, I've had to have the talk with various people when they say, "He's so nice, she had to make it up." I'm not sure I've always been successful. Didn't we fight this and win in the 80s? Wasn't anybody paying attention? I guess not.

Eric talks a little about where the social contract has gone. Especially in light of where we are asked to put our trust. Another reason I am a Liberal/Progressive. Those same thoughts came to be at the end of the 80s (although not specifically about healthcare).

Not surprising in the least. Unfortunately, he's in charge of a network that most people believe gives them the real truth.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Linkee-poo lays it bet on 45

Jim Hines is making with the funny again. Inverse correlation between coffee consumed and days left. Bwahaha.

Josh Palmatier is giving away books. Also, his pseudonymously published "Well of Sorrows" is now in paperback. Go and high thee hence to a bookery.

Making books (circa 1950s). Lots of linotype/drum printing neppary. Makes me damn glad to have direct to plate technology. This is from when printing was expensive, notice all the people. Just crazy. But once you do it that way, boy do you understand the process and how to impose pages. At the time, that was state of the art automation. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And we've got the biggest balls of them all. Way to go, Cleveland. We'll have the biggest wind turbine, EVAR! Used to have the Huletts, and now we'll have this. (Pointed to by Dan)

Fuel cells really are the future for transportation (and home generation for when the wind don't blow and the sun don't shine). However, they're pretty damn expensive because they require platinum to work the magic of stealing/borrowing electrons to create the circuit. But maybe no for much longer. If that carbon-iron-cobalt catalyst proves out, that's a game changer. I still want my jet pack. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Ohio, exporting the crazy since 1803. (Kane is from one of Ohio's home grown anarchists sovereign citizens movements - yes, we have several)

“Dr Price,” she wrote to her brother, “thinks Thousands of Boyles Clarks and Newtons have Probably been lost to the world, and lived and died in Ignorance and meanness, merely for want of being Placed in favourable Situations, and Injoying Proper Advantages.” Part of why I'm a Liberal/Progressive. Just a little history lesson for those who wish to worship the past. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Monday, April 25, 2011

The writing things

I've been meaning to do a longer post, but haven't had the time. You can translate this to just how well the writing is going.

However, on listening to some podcasts I've decided to get some of Jim Butcher books. The Harry Dresden books, from what I hear are urban fantasy noir, which just happens to be a close analogy to "Bladesman". Right now I'm listening to "White Knight" and digging it.

So here's a small lesson for beginning writers, when you start out into new story territory and think that things are wonderful because it appears to be a desert, that is there aren't many other books or stories that have gone down the same path. Write fast. Because if it's true, you won't have long to enjoy that lack of competition. But more than likely the verdant forest that once stood where your story now stands had been trampled into the dust you now see. Some times this is bad, sometimes this is good. It all depends on what and how you're writing.

I'm just saying this because in the past two years since I started writing this book, the noir voice has really made a major comeback.

Linkee-poo is busier than a... one sec, I gotta do this first

Sorry, still trying to dig out from last Friday/Saturday. Doing to much, and didn't even get any studying done this weekend (we have a test on Wednesday). So things might be a little quiet for a bit (which is sad, since I had finally broken the "Linkee-poo all the time" streak).

A pictographic history of War, or at least WWII. Some cool informational graphics.

Eric nails the reason why I've been eying the beer in my refrigerator lately. Seriously, it's a world gone mad when the KKK are denouncing others as "being too hateful." Jim hits on a similar topic (read a certain way). Although his is discussing the possibility that these here political divides are quickly heading to "them's fight'n words" territory. Dear Conservative America, you're helping the terrorists win. Cut it out.

Some more urban spelunking. This time to the site where American Dominance of Science and Technology died. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Today Seems to be a Day for Dicks

Dear Senator Kyl,

So, in attempting to adjust your comments about Planned Parenthood, because of the overwhelming negative response to your "not a factual statement." However, in removing the "90%" remark your statement now makes it sound like abortions are all Planned Parenthood does.

Abortions are less than 5% of what they do. And you're a dick for not realizing it. You an even worse dick for how you changed your statement to make it seem like instead of it being 90%, it was 100%. I won't tell you how I feel about your apparent estimation of the intelligence of the rest of us, but I think you can guess.

David Brooks Makes an Ass of Himself

David Brooks has decided that he had forgotten the taste of foot and so put it back in his mouth again this afternoon on NPR's All Things Considered. Yes, the American people just want other people to feel all the pain of the economic downturn because 70%+ think that taxes on those making $250,000+ should return to pre-Bush Tax Cut levels. Yes, the rest of us are all just selfish bastards who have been lounging beside the rising tide, sunning ourselves and drinking mimosas. Ah, mimosas.

You might remember when David held forth on regular Americans, "And so, Obama's problem is he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who could go into an Applebee's salad bar, and people think he fits in naturally there."

Yes, David, all of us down here on the lower end of the tax schedule have been living high on the hog with our stagnant wages and our increases costs of living which eat up a higher percentage of our McJob wages. That trickle-down was more like a tsunami for us. The kind were we wash out to sea.

Has it been good at the top, David? I don't think you're part of the 1%, but I'll lay odds you're in the top 25%. I'm sure it's been difficult in paying that minimum wage for the helpers, maybe the end of year tips to all the service people.

In regard to your statement about we just want the rich to take the pain of this economy because we don't want to share in it, with all due respect, Mr. Brooks, kiss my ass. Those of us in the lower 50% of the tax bracket have been hurting for over a decade now. I'm sorry your prejudices and economic station can't let you see that. You might want to get out of the compound more often.

Linkee-poo Is Good on Fridays.

Microsoft releases a countdown widget for the end of XP support. Only runs on Vista or Windows 7. That's the kind of quality programming and market savvy we expect from them. (Pointed to by Dan)

The London Mail Rail. Urban exploring at it's finest. (Pointed to by Chia Lynn)

If you still don't believe, here's another article on how tax cuts do not increase revenues. That one has links to other articles and research. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Some more on the debt we're downing in. Not as historically bad as one might think, when compared to GDP. However, please see the last line about future forecasts because of health care costs.

Best tweet I've seen all day, "@OTOOLEFAN: ATLAS SHRUGGED is a novel in which free market heroes defeat the evils of Socialism by going on strike & forming a commune."

Edit to add Another in the Art vs. Design

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Linkee-poo goes for the really bad eggs

Huhn. World Malaria Day is my father's birthday. There's something oddly correct about that.

Tsunami stones in Japan. There's some cool Story Bone material in that article. There's the angle of people thinking of generations to come and wanting to leave a reminder of their hard won knowledge. The added angle of future generations forgetting those warning, or thinking of them as quaint relics while they got caught up in the economic expansion. How languages change and some stones are erased by time or cultural shift. And the heartbreak of the stones that were swept out to sea in the recent tsunami. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

LetterMpress promises to bring a "virtual letterpress environment" to the iPad. More info is on their kickstarter page. As someone who owns some slug type, okay, yeah, I really dig letterpress stuff. As a way of printing. As a way of composing, I think it would be a great educational tool (hey, I did it, you understand type in a different sense that way, same with photo-type and rub-on type not to mention ordering type from a service and then using an exacto to compose it the way you want). However, it feels more like a "and then if you pay us more, we'll actually print your creations!" model. Hey, thanks, great. I'd rather work with a press of my own choosing. The problem with letterpress process is that not all shops are the same. Part of their strategy is to acquire physical type specimens, which, then locks you into their press. This is a short lived strategy, because physical type wears out and needs to be recarved or recast. Without that craft, its a dead end. And letterpress on a digital screen? I don't see the need (as a visual, for educational purposes, sure). I can create the same effect with Illustrator and Photoshop. I think it'll be good for some designers who have grown up in the age of computer type. IMHO, they don't have the depth of knowledge or skill at composition that some of us older people (who were trained with the old technology as well as computers) have. Leading, to them, is the space between baselines, a button you push. They don't see it as strips of actual lead.

Cognitive Theory, mixed with learning, and type theory. All three are trigger points for me. Some interesting stuff in there about how we learn and perceive how we learn. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Some links on the cost of living and median wages (hint one of these things is not keeping up with the other). Just in case you need reinforcement of that issue.

Strange, when the rubber meets the road (as in, when all those cuts become actualized, including the actual realization of how small all that "extra" spending that people oppose - Foreign Aid, NPR, etc.) people can be down right reasonable. Of course it's easy for me to say when I've been supporting such "tax hikes" (actually, tax break expirations) for years. What's strange, is in most polls a majority of "Republicans" also approve of raising taxes on those who make over $250,000. (Pointed to by Dan) And then there was the booing of Paul Ryan at his own townhall meeting. Considering the TP stance on taxes, and their organizers'/supporters' more extreme view, it'll be interesting to see the fall out of this. First up, I expect to hear the line about how "those lib'rals invaded the meeting and made a fuss." Queue the denial in 3… 2… 1…

Why, that would never happen, raiding a fund set up specifically for healthcare. That would almost be like raiding a retirement fund. (said with tongue firmly in cheek) Can we say, "Drink up me hearties. Yo ho!"

So, anybody else get the feeling they've just been punked? That last year the Republicans were all contrite. Oh yes, they said, we understand now. We had strayed from the path and forgotten our roots. Thank you, TP, for reminding us. We're fiscal conservatives. We're about smaller government and less government intrusion into your personal lives. We got the message and have had our Come to Jesus Moment™. We have sinned, and now as penitents, we ask your forgiveness. Vote for us and we'll put it all aright. Oh, we're in now? We control state legislatures and governorships and have the House? Ha! Psych.

The act you've known for all these years

Tonight, 25 years ago, Bette tickled me until it was too late to go to work (I was working the midnight shift at the main post office in Akron). I had known her for about a year at that point, and she had been dating another guy. That hadn't been working out so far, and she had just dumped him the previous weekend. It had been about 8 months since my engagement was broken off. That night we became a couple.

We've now been a couple longer than most of our friends have had relationships. I'm not sure what that says about us. Maybe that we're too damn stubborn to let external things get in the way of our journey.

It was a rough time those first years. Both of us had issues from our past relationships that we worked through. We discovered a lot about each other. We still continue to discover each other. I think that's part of what has made this a successful relationship.

Our path together hasn't always been the easiest road to travel, and I haven't always been a good companion (being a recovering workaholic). I've learned a lot about what it means to love and be in love with someone. While I normally don't ascribe to this philosophy, Bette has helped me be a better man. And I do it for her. If I come off as a driven, well adjusted, caring person with somewhat enlightened ideals, it's all because of her.

So it's our silver anniversary. Yes, there is a very nice gift that I left for her to discover this morning. I'll find out how successful it is when I go home.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Sweet Song of Spring

Out the window at about 1am as the storms rolled through. As always, click to embiggen.

Just some photo neppery notes. This is about the sixth storm I've tried this with and the first time I've gotten any good results. For each image I had something decent to work with, I had about 20 that didn't (man, I love digital). I really wish I had a full manual camera, it's so much easier then. These all were taken with 1 sec exposures, f3.5 (the most open aperture my camera has). I also hate the delay you get with auto cameras (click. Now, um, how should I expose this, okay, and where to focus, okay, open shutter. No, I want click=open shutter). In Orwell I don't often see lightning strikes, but we instead get lots of "Wow, that lit up the clouds" types. So that's what you're looking at. The night sky lit by lightning. I still want to do more of these. I'm looking for a particular effect. All of these are from those long forking lightning branches that last a second or to and tend to rebound. I would depress the shutter button halfway, the camera would decide on the exposure and focus in the dark, and then I waited.

Linkee-poo, for one, does not welcome our new Skynet Overlords

Jim Hines makin' with the funny on Muses. Synchronicity wise, yesterday I was telling my boss about a poster a former professor had made up. The photo was dark and mysterious, with an old rotary desktop phone. The handset, however, was a smoking revolver. The only text said, "Deadline."

Robin D. Laws on where bad writing advice comes from. Yes, that and a bag of chips. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Another example of living in the future, teleportation. I still want my jet pack. (Pointed to by Dan)

Really? If you don't understand by now that Donald Trump is nothing but a big panda, you just aren't paying attention. It's the classic, "There go my people. I must leave and lead them."

Don't forget, only 31 Days before it all goes kaplewie! Why couldn't it be before the final exam?

Only 8 more months of council-ing. I would be lying if I said that thought hadn't strummed the heart-strings the other night. There are several types of politicians. There are those who are in it for the grandstanding/narcissism/power. And then there are those who reluctantly take up the job because it has to be done/done better/corrected. Sometimes it's hard to see which is which until they're in office. Often the fiery revolutionary is the co-opted sycophant. Have I mentioned the new political committees to help the TP freshmen be connected with "the big donors"?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Linkee-poo is so good to me

Six Signs You're Not Ready to Be a Professional Writer. Making with the funny to mask the knife he's sticking in you. Ouch. (Pointed to by Miranda Suri). While I agree with the majority of what's said, the Writer's Block thing, I only agree with halfway. When I've experienced writer's block it's been because I need to write something one way and either the characters want to go a different way or I don't want to write it (like killing a few hundred people to create landing space for an invasion, but is in reality a head-fake). The section "Linking Writing And Commerce Makes Your Butthole Itch" is pretty much my previous post on not being an "artist" with the day thing. Also, keep in mind, he's talking about when writing is your day job. Unlike most of us to whom writing is what we love, but not what pays the bills.

Dear Russian IM spammers, just stop, okay? I'm tired of clicking "Deny" for your multiple requests to connect. My finger hurts.

In case you happen to think that designers just make pretty pictures, we're pretty savvy when it comes to cognitive theory as well. Again, this is a part of why we're not artists. While artists will incorporate these theories (especially from the surrealists and forward, although Impressionism is very good use of the brain's pattern imaging to make sense of what we see).

PSA for the week

Dear fellow graphic designers,

If you respond to an ad like this one, make sure you negotiate for a share of the free beers the band gets at their gigs. More than likely, that's the only compensation you'll ever see (no matter what they promise).

Someone currently doing two of these projects (and yes, I went into them knowing I won't get paid, they also know they get the lowest priority).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

For Sale, One State, Slightly Used

Dear Fellow Ohioans,

Governor Kasich is about to give our state away.

In his new budget he cuts the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel by 50% which yields no savings to the tax payer as the OCC is funded by assessments on utilities. The OCC is your voice in fighting utilities (see bullet point that over the past 2 years they have saved you $54.5 million directly, and $1.9 billion through other actions - not tax savings, but your money). The savings all go to those utilities, not a dime to the budget. This is a classic giveaway.

He signed in a new bill to enforce performance audits on the state government (spending more money, but for MBAs, which I guess is okay) but excluding the governor's office form those audits. See my earlier post and comment about Six Sigma Blackbelt mentality.

Gov. Kasich is going to privatize 5 more state prisons and redirect funds form state liquor sales to JobsOhio. JobsOhio, you may remember, was the privatization of the Ohio Growth Counsel (a public entity, now replaced by a private non-profit corporation, but still funded with your tax dollars and about raise more money with a bond that will be secured with your tax dollars). JobsOhio also isn't beholden to you, the tax payor, the person funding this corporation. Sunshine Laws don't apply here. Also, there's no legislative oversight. This non-profit is spending your taxes, putting you on the hook for even more taxes, and you have no say as to its actions and no recourse against it.

Have I mentioned he's also revised talks of leasing the turnpike? You know, the plan that was eventually exposed as a bad deal for the state. But, hey, it'll sure balance the books this year, just not 3-25 years down the road.

And now there is this. Hidden away in the 3000+ page budget (hmm, no one shouting about how it's too large, considering it's almost 1000 pages longer than the Heath Care Reform Act? Shocked, shocked I am...) is a little provision that allow the OBM (Office of Budget and Management, a cabinet position, ie. unelected) to basically privatize any part of your state government, without oversight, without appeal, and not in the public eye. The Gov. says the group exposing this has too many ties to former Gov. Strickland's administration and so won't dignify the question with a response.

Ah, come on Gov. Dignify it with a "No."

I'll say it again, privatization of government service has never produced a cost savings, never increase "customer" satisfaction, never reduced fraud and abuse, never accomplished any of the touted goals. It has, however, made many people very rich (just not those who are doing the actual work).

Wake up, Ohioans. You're state is about to be corporatized. And all the mechanisms which helped protect your interests are being dismantled.

You know how people on the right like to shout "socialism" at the drop of a hat. Welcome to the reverse. You're government is going on a fire sale. It looks to be the most radical giveaway to corporate profits ever seen.

Ground Control to Major Tom

So, in all the talk about how FAA tower controllers are falling asleep on the overnight job, where many work by themselves in dark towers with hours of nothing to do, you don't hear this one truth. This is a result of Reagan breaking the unions in the 80s. Before then, the unions fought for safe working conditions, like always having one supervisor and one controller on duty whenever a tower was open. After the unions were busted, the Reagan administration rewrote the rules so that controller was also the supervisor. It was a cost savings, you only had to pay one person overnight pay increases (something started by unions, now entrenched in business practices, but I expect that will also go away soon).

Welcome to MBA 101/Black Belt training (Six Sigma, for those who don't know the lingo) where every cent is squeezed to maximize profit. I'm sure someone along the line said, "This isn't safe." Probably someone left over it. I'm sure in the next week or two there will be a line buried four paragraphs deep about an investigation that will be buried on page 4 of the business section that details some emails and a quote of someone who is now a greeter at Wal-Mart instead of making $80k a a year as a traffic controller. But the truth of the mater is that employees have no power, management continues to roll on with what they want (it's a cynical part of Organizational Change Management, of which I was certified in once upon a time).

This is one of the things unions do, they fight for what is right. Are there some rules that seem silly at a distance? Sure there are. And I'll bet you that three months ago if you stood up in front of a TP rally and said, "You're government is wasting money by having two people on duty overnight at airports when there's hardly any traffic/work for one person," you would have gotten thunderous applause for pointing out that waste.

It's the same mentality of "Shut 'er Down!" Really. Who is going to process all those forms and requests that are legally necessary for new development? Who is going to make sure the government is receiving it's proper revenues? Who is going to approve all the shipping? Notice all the tornadoes going through the country right at the moment? Do you think the National Weather Service could do as good a job with half the staff (when the forecasters are also handling the day to day duties that need to be done by the staff that was considered non-essential)? Hell, you should have heard the bemoaning in the E&Y office when they announced a 3-month hiatus of the coffee service people (and I'll tell yeah, MBAs as a lot, are not the cleanest people on earth). A government shutdown means nothing new gets approved or done.

In the case of the FFA controllers, here we have a live experiment on what it means to run your government like a business. Happy with the results? Yeah, I'm sure, that wasn't the waste you all were talking about. It's easy to say that in hindsight, isn't it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saurday Linkee-poos

Even with the skies trickling down to ground level, I've still got a lot to do today, so only a few links. All of these are form Jay Lake's link salad. There's plenty more cool stuff Jay points to, but I wanted to call out three of them.

Jeremiah Tolbert pretty much experienced what I hope to have happen with the new iPad. When all the other distractions are gone, focusing on the writing comes easily (sort of like how when I had to fly I remembered just how fast I can read when I don't have a hundred other things to do). Could I just buy Scrivener like he did? Sure, but I also want to have this platform more portable than a laptop. I have to haul notes and books, so going to only 1.33lbs is a benefit (as is the thinness).

Some more charts on the reality of taxes in this country. Just as a side note, I believe their last chart (the pie chart) should actually be labeled as "all of government spending" not "budget." How many more times do we need to point this out before people start laughing when conservative politicians start their speechifying on the tax code and how incredibly unfair it is to businesses and the wealthy. How many different ways to we need to add it up and compare it to different indices?

Crooks and Liars on Rick Santorum's latest speech. This guy is the spiritual leader of a movement? Just in case you ever wonder why the rest of us think you all are a little off center, just read this article. Now, I'm sure the rest of his speech was just wonderful. But it's these little nuggets that make the rest of us question his sanity.

Oh, and just a note. I've had three personal experiences with hospice, and one of the women in my class works for them. Dear Conservative Idiots who believe that hospice is killing people or that allowing your loved ones to die in pain is a wonderful virtue. Fuck you.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Late day linkee-poos

You wonder why I keep talking about how privatization doesn't work (especially when it comes to Medicare additions). It's because history is instructive. We've tried it twice. Hasn't worked. It costs us more, provides us with less, and just doesn't accomplish any of the stated goals of the plan (the unstated goal of lining corporate pockets it's pretty good at). As a side argument, the new program is very much like Obamacare. Also see notes in that last article on the difference between insuring 20-40somethings and 65+somethings, both in costs and needs. Also one of the reasons I support single payor.

SC Butler, I write because I'm a gambler.

ASC II art on twitter. For us geeks of a certain age, this is very cool. Raise your hand if you remember printing out photos on a dot matrix printer using letters to provide grey values. This preceded the rage of the late 90s of making large photographic images by compositing smaller images in a digital pointillism construction.

Flower Pron 2011, the first

Just like photos of Bigfoot and the Lock Ness Monster, all good photos of the cool stuff are slightly blurry. This was this morning. We have some flowers in the NE of Ohio. (Sorry, I missed photographing the Snow Drops).

Linkee-poo's ear infection is "green and oozing."

I never had a doctor exclaim as he looked in my ear before. The best word was, "Cool." Getting drugs on the way home. As he said, "Yes, it's way infected." Only a few links because of the time spent going to the Dr's office (only the second time I've done that in my entire career).

Nazi War Crimes as Described by German Soldiers (POWs) and secretly recorded by the Allies. In war, even the atrocious can seem normal. Before anybody starts the inevitable, "but they were the bad guys" argument, understand in Germany they also hold their myths as to the "cleanliness of the Wehrmacht." Also note the percentages, yes, it's a small one. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

This is why you hire a professional designer. A paper record player, freakin' cool. (Pointed to by Dan)

How book publishing has changed since 1984 as told by a insider publisher. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tobias Buckell on independent tracking of ebook sales. It would be interesting to actual have a full tracking service (Nielsen often gets it wrong, and Bookscan has only a slice of the real market). As a sideline, it's a well worn joke that (insert your creative market here, book publishing, movie production, design) pioneered the process of keeping double books that would become all the rage in criminal circles. Unfortunately there appears to be some data missing from his article, but still enough to have food for thought to gnaw on over the weekend.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Linkee-poo is waiting for the angels of Avalon, waiting for the eastern glow

A little on brands and personal identity. While somewhat emo, still some nuggets of wisdom in there.

On why sugar is bad for you. Not all sugar, but processed sugar (what you add to foods as compared to fruits and vegetables with natural sugars), including high-fructose corn syrup. You have to get about halfway through before you get to the meat of the article (the first third is mostly about the politics surrounding the issue), that it's how your liver must process fructose before your body can use it that is the real problem here. There's the terms insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome in there, that's what I've got, BTW. There's plenty of food and science politics discussed in there. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The 0.014 Percent Solution by the Slacktivist. All about the battles over the deficit and how they're not what you think they are. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Logical fallacies, faulty reasoning, and a mob mentality are symptomatic of this worldview. This is the mindset that burned witches at the stake. This is the mindset that carried out the Holy Inquisition. This the mindset that created the Gulag and the concentration camp. This is the mindset that destroyed civilization and brought on the dark ages." What Jim said.

The big deal going through our Ohio Congress? If we should allow concealed carry in bars and sports stadiums that serve alcohol. Great, guys. So glad you've got your priorities straight. Hey, anything about jobs or reducing those evil taxes that stop jobs from coming here, or reducing regulation that keeps jobs overseas, or any of the other shit you all promised during the election? Nah? Yeah, didn't think so. But I'm so glad that while we can't smoke in bars or stadiums, we'll all be able to be packing' heat. Because that usually turns out well in places with high emotions. Proud of the government you helped elect yet, TPers?

It's beginning to look a lot like Tax Day

Eric pointed to an article on Bob Cesca's blog, which quotes this news story about the nine things the rich don't want you to know about taxes. I'm not sure I'm going to have the time to do a full tax post as I'd like, but you really ought to read that article. I know it's long, but there's lots of charts to help you out. It doesn't say anything much different or new that I haven't been harping on for the past three years or so (at least here in this forum, in person I've been doing it a whole lot longer). And it discusses some of the word play that's being used to bamboozle you.

While he covers it obliquely, I'll state it here openly. You know all this talk about Social Security and Medicare reform? I'll remind you that we pay a separate tax for each of those that fully funds those programs. To claim they contribute to the deficit is an outright lie, those taxes you pay are "dedicated" - or mandated - which is why politicians don't like them. Add in the conservative ranker over any social program that helps people and you can see why lots of people want to roll them back in the closet.

Taxes have become regressive instead of progressive. Don't believe it? I keep hearing about how my taxes have "gone down" since 1998. Bullshit. Before 1998 I always (always) had a tax refund. Between 1998 and 2002 my refund lowered to just barely cover the costs of having someone prepare my taxes. Since 2002 I've owed taxes above my withholdings. Since 2003 I've been lowering my deductions every single year and still had to pay extra. Every. Single. Year. Right now I'm at claiming 1 deduction and have my W4 marked to withhold at the higher single rate. I'm about to adjust my W4 once again which means I'll need to fill out the line that says I want an extra amount withheld ($50 a pay, if you need to know, I've been increasing the withholding from the Council job to about $100 a month, and I only get $400 before taxes).

In that time I've gone from renting to home ownership (a deduction). My medical expenses have gone up (a deduction). I can now claim mileage (a lot of it last year, big deduction). I'm also making, numerically (I haven't done the "adjusted for income" calculation yet), a lot more. Not as much of a percentage change from '90 to '98, but still pretty good.

What I don't have is children. If I did, I'd be seeing less taxes. Without children, while the withholding tables have been adjusted to hold back less, my tax burden hasn't shifted. In fact, my Federal tax has gone up.

How do I know? Because I still get a refund from the state (normally local as well, but the Census didn't withhold local and I did significant freelance last year). And while my federal tax owed wasn't as much as I expected (thanks to the mileage deductions, mostly), it was still more than I paid for the tax preparation (and my tax guy is a partner in the firm).

Well, look, I guess I did do the post after all. After reading that article, if you aren't pissed, I don't think you're paying attention. I'll also remind you that Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, said that Pres. Obama's talk of raising taxes on those who make more that $250,000 wasn't what we needed two days before tax day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Linkee-poo is way too tired to be too pithy

David Hewson doesn't need no stinkin' Cory Doctorow. Okay, that makes it sound more confrontational than it really is. But his initial paragraph pretty well states it all. What works for one writer doesn't necessarily translate to others. If found that most statements that re made in the "you gotta do this" when it comes to careers, especially writing, tend to be made by people who really ought to get out more.

Dear New Authors, don't do this. No. Seriously. As Nancy Reagan taught us, "Just say no." (Pointed to by Camille)

Dr. Sketchy for those who need their life drawing kicks. In Akron. Um… no, I probably shouldn't comment here. (pointed to by Dan) (Yes, I passed Life Drawing I and II with a B and an A, respectively. Fun times. No, it's not generally exploitive. If you look at the models on stage in the video, you won't see many "Barbie" types, which is good, because as an artist you should know how to draw bodies realistically. Yes, to do it well you need to keep up with the practice. No, I haven't. Yes, I have stories.)

Logos of the Women't Flat Track Derby Association. Some cool stuff in there. (Also pointed out by Dan)

And because it seems somewhat appropriate here, the Scary Reality of a Real-Life Barbie Doll. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Changing conservative minds one at a time. Strange how when one actually experiences the world outside the echo chamber, one's horizons open up. I'd be hopeful if at last night's council meeting it wasn't suggested several times that I needed to listen to Talk Radio (and they weren't talking about NPR). "We're mass communicatin' here," as the line goes. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

It's like we live in different realities. And as a side comment to Sen. Graham holding nominations hostage because of the withdrawal of funding, 1) for someone who believes in the free market, shouldn't shipping companies pony up the cash? (I guess there is some reality left on the right) and 2) Sen. Graham has a long history of blocking nominations. I don't believe it's only about this. He stepped over the line so long ago, I doubt he could find it again. It's sort of like a fellow councilman who voted against the VIllage's first modest pay raise in 3 years because of a recent incident and he wanted to punish one person. It would actually be plausible if he hadn't voted against every pay raise and benefit boost for the past 9 years I've been on council. In other words, I don't believe your excuses because you were going to do it anyway. No lollipop for you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Linkee-poo insists that Han shot first, which is why we love him

Today in history we have the opening of the Civil War as Confederate Guns opened fire on Fort Sumter 150 years ago. Yuri Gagarin is the first human to make it into space 50 years ago today. And 30 years ago today the Space Shuttle Columbia went throttle up for the first time (the first space shuttle to launch into space). Today NASA announces which institutions will get the retiring shuttles and Sotheby's auctions off the last trial Vostok capsule before Yuri's flight.

Oh look, Fukushima has been upgraded (hint, it's not a good thing). But don't worry, it's not really as bad as Chernobyl. They only released one tenth of the particles into the atmosphere that Chernobyl did. Remember when it was "only radioactive Iodine that has a quick half life"? Good times. Good times. Get the feeling you're in a "The cat is up on the roof and won't come down" joke yet? Like I said, I've been on this ride before. Don't worry folks, we're approaching the bottom of the first hill.

And just because, yes, nuclear power is less costly in terms of human life than coal, oil, or natural gas. Since we celebrated the one year anniversary of the Massey Energy's Big Branch Coal Mine explosion last week I thought I would mention that. Remember when it was a tragic accident that couldn't have been foreseen or prevented? Good times. Good times. Unfortunately nobody will be going to jail on that one either. Remember my comment about having to wait until people are dying on the job before we do anything about it? Too late.

How not to bug the fuck out when writing a novel. Bwahahaha. As the title may be indicative, the language is not exactly safe. "Writing a novel is just freaking weird, man. Feels like you’re wandering through a dark forest with a lantern whose meager light is cast by a flock of disgruntled and unpredictable fireflies. "(Pointed to by Miranda Suri)

Teresa Nielsen Hayden on literary categories and marketing. Making with the funny again. (Although Making Light is on my list, initially pointed to by Jay Lake)

Little girl joins the Dark Side and is promptly kicked out of the Jedi Academy. The funny, today seems made for it. (Pointed to by Eric)

A flapping robot takes flight. I believe that signals "game over" when it comes to flight. And don't miss looking at the AirJelly video further down on the page. That just tickles my inner 12-year old geek to no end. When people tell you that we aren't living in the future, you can now tell them to go stuff it. Of course, I still would like my jet pack, please.

More on how cuts can end up costing you more. You know, unless you just end public access to public records. That would solve a lot of problems while making it easier to install an oligarchy. Really. I posted a link earlier about the proposed conservative agenda to end the republic sort of as a joke. I didn't mean for you all to take it seriously.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm sure they love you in the email

Dear Gov. Kasich,

There are reports that to the contrary of their public statement that city leaders are telling you privately that they support SB 5. But, you say, they can't come out in public and say so.

So here's the thing, either they're lying or you are. Obviously your friends have told you of their support. Let's hear it. Name names. Have a joint press conference. If they're not willing to stand in public and support you, than you really don't have their support. And, frankly, they're not your friends so much.

No. I'm serious. You want to play games, well I'm calling you on it. Either you have the chance to show that they do support you, or I'm calling bullshit on you. Either they are the liars, or you are. Forget being politically expedient, or "being false", it's lying. I want to know who is lying here. If you can't prove your position, I'm calling you the liar. If you want, you can blame your friends for making you the liar. It's time to put up, or shut up.

Pictures, or it didn't happen.

There's a lesson

My Effective Interpersonal Communications text is $80, published last year, no used in this edition. You can consider my effective interpersonal communications to have been enhanced by that revelation. with slight buyers remorse I checked out Public Speaking. That text is $120, same issue. Also that's one of 3 books. Whew, dodged a bullet there.

So, my old habits are coming on strong and I'm thinking of how to liberate said book from some repository.

Linkee-poo still can't get a handle on Mondays

Sorting algorithms as folk dances. Um. Yeah, Bob. Okay, slightly geeky, but still interesting. (Pointed out by Dan)

And because of the anniversary tomorrow, the five myths about why the South seceded. We seem to be having this conversation again, almost 150 years after the issue was settled. Do I need to remind everybody which side won? (Pointed to by Sheila)

Strange, employee lawsuits are up. And continue to go up. Why, that can't be. Our employers always follow the law and never screw workers because in the marketplace they would be punished for that. I can just barely say those things with a straight face anymore. Hey, good thing we're all about the reducing people's collective bargaining rights and stifling employees' ability to form unions. But then, you know, the people forcing these changes on us always tell the truth about how evil collective bargaining is draining our state's budget. See link this weekend to Roger Ebert's One-Percenters article and earlier comment on SB 5 about "You'll take what you're given and like it." Do we really have to go back to the days when people died on the job before we realize what we've lost? But, hey, at least I see a growth opportunity for Xee (aka Blackwater), just like the Pinkertons in the late 19th century.

Paul Krueman asks a question a lot of us are thinking. Just where has our champion gone?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday's Panic Moment

Well, I went and did it. With taxes now behind us, and about 50% of my feared level, I'm feeling a little better about our economics. So with Bette's blessing I went and bought my birthday present (which, with the back log, will probably arrive after my b-day in several weeks).

I bought an iPad. Black, 64 gig, with blue poly cover. I also bought it from the Apple Store, because I wanted the free etching (didn't add any time to the backorder, still 2-3 weeks). What did I have etched? The first line is "Don't Panic", natch. The second line I tried to fit the various pithy quotes about writing, like Tobias' "1st Rule of Write Club, Everybody Must Write", but that was too long. Then I tried, "Write Faster, There's Damage to Be Done." Also too long. So I went with, "Write, Edit, Submit, Do It Again." For a time I thought about, "... until Hell won't have it," but then it would be "Don't panic until Hell won't have it" and that just doesn't make sense, does it?

I'll get the bluetooth keyboard separately, as well as the extended warranty. I can save plenty on tax and extra shipping (and also both use some credit bonus points and gift certificates).

So it's about $790 all said and done (without the keyboard and warranty). Add that to the extra amount for the gift I got Bette (about $500, don't tell her yet, it's a surprise) and I think we'll have a pretty hefty charge card bill later this month. Which is why I'm having the panic moment.

And the iPad is an experiment. I wanted to get a laptop replacement. As you may remember, the 17" Macbook Pro predates that term and is about to enter high school it's so old. While I could have gotten a new laptop, I was looking at portability, functionality, and elimination of some bad habits because the iPad doesn't have certain functions which enable the behaviors. Now, I will say I'm keeping the laptop. It's very handy and it still works. But I have a feeling it'll be used less. Or at least that's the plan. The plan is also to write more. That's what this device will mainly be used for.

And now begins the wait for the iPad to ship. And the inevitable days of tracking it across the Pacific, into Alaska (hey, stop by Jim's place on the way in, will ya), and then across the US to my little humble home. I wonder how many times an hour I'll hit the refresh button on the tracking site?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Why Watson's Appearance on Jeopardy Isn't AI's Moon Landing Moment

There's a lot being bandied about with Watson truly trumping several Jeopardy champions on TV earlier this year. And while it's a pretty damn good triumph, it isn't all that it's being trumped up to be.

Is Watson cool? Oh my, yes! Is Watson a step forward in natural speech recognition? More like a leapfrog, with rocket boosters. Is Watson the clarion call that AI is soon to sweep us all up and soon we'll all be under the thumb of the reality version of Skynet? (insert laughing with snorts here)

Watson is very cool, make no mistake. Watson is also very good a parsing natural speech (which is different than written language, or simple voice commands). And on that front, Watson is an amazing leap forward. However, Watson is very far from passing a Turing Test.

The first myth we need to dispel is the media talking about how computers have bested our best human chess player and now they bested our top Jeopardy champions, this proves how advanced they've become. 1) They were two very different computers, DeepBlue couldn't do what Watson did (even with reprogramming), and neither can Watson play chess. 2) Watson did trash two of the best Jeopardy champions (well, he mop & glowed the floor with them because of the second day), however its full record is much more spotty.

Answering questions isn't the same as intelligence (although in our modern culture that is test oriented, it seems like that). Watson can parse a question in natural, spoken English (an amazing feat considering how crazy our language can be with subtle meanings and conjunctions). Watson, however, can't initiate conversation. Watson can't even reverse the process by coming up with the "answers" that are really Jeopardy questions (the game format being you have to answer in the form of a question, based on the revealed answer on the game board).

If you ask Watson a question, chances are it can find you an answer (although it may not be the answer you're looking for, given how Watson parses your question). It can even offer alternatives (which is also pretty good). However it can't formulate a cohesive thesis based on the answers it finds. It can just find the answers (give them probabilities of being correct) and spit them out within the format it's programmed to handle (in this case, in the form of a question, "Who/What is…"). It can sort through mounds of data and find correlations and connections. It can identify the critical pieces of data that it should be considering.

Right now, Watson is a functioning idiot savant.

I'm long known as a holding heretical SF/F beliefs. I, for instance, don't believe the Singularity will happen. Or at least it won't happen anytime in the near future.

There's several reasons for this. First of all is a misunderstanding of the human brain, and the comparison to a computer. It's not. It's just that the computer is our most complicated machine we have at the moment, so we make the comparison. There are several fundamental differences.

A computer works through polarization of circuits, a brain functions on the depolarization of cells. We can translate a neuron to a transistor, but only as far as both of these are considered the smallest operational pieces. A transistor can only return either "sufficient charge" (ie. on/1) or "insufficient charge" (ie. off/0). Through the manipulation of electrical charges we get the difference engine functions. A neuron doesn't hold a charge, however it has potentials. A neuron can fire (equate to 1) because of either a single large stimulation, several small stimulations from several other neurons, or because one other neuron continues to fire at it. A transistor can only give two possible outcomes, and in only one direction. A neuron can give multiple outcomes (through neural transmitters) and can have multiple directions of outflow. A transistor can only hold a charge when it is stimulated from another current. A neuron can do that, but it can also fire because it doesn't have a stimulation, or because it has a physical stimulation (other than being stimulated with neurotransmitters which is the same as an electrical current in a transistor).

The more I learn about the human body, the more I realized that a computer just doesn't compare.

However, this doesn't mean a computer can't become intelligent, it just won't be the same as human intelligence. When robotics pioneers gave up on making human-like robots they gained tremendous ground in functionality by having their robots mimic the functions of ants and other animals. How? Well, there was nothing to compare it to. It's not like the ants were standing up and saying, "That's not how we do it." Instead they performed to our impression of how ants perform.

I think if computer scientists gave up on mirroring human intelligence in their computers they would also make great strides in developing actual computer intelligences. Once we let go of the ideal that we're the greatest thing because we made sliced bread, the world gets easier. It's an anthropomorphic trap we constantly put ourselves in.

Once we stop trying to make a computer intelligence in our image, but explore new possibilities of consciousness, I think we'll be successful. What will happen then will be completely unexpected and unpredictable. At this moment, all futurism is based on our machines developing and having similar motivations as we do. And that is an act of hubris that might lead to our undoing.

I hate to rain on anybody's parade, but when Skynet goes live, we probably won't even notice it. Instead of a Terminator moment, it will be more like alien first contact, or biological field research.

Linkee-poo saddled up as pestilence, but is now dining on ashes

Jim Hines is putting on his annual fund raiser to help rape crisis centers.

Support rape crisis centers and enter to win an advance copy of The Snow Queen’s Shadow, by Jim C. Hines.

Seven Myths of Transmedia Storytelling Debunked. Interesting. Reminds me that once there is something new, everybody says, "We're it!" and they also say, "It's so over." "(Grokked from Chia Lynn)

As Tobias Buckell points out, solar power is coming down in price and is soon to match coal in generation costs. IIRC, the cost return of solar/wind installation is break even around 7 years. If we get that to 1 year, I have a feeling the market will explode. Of course, when that happens I expect all the government incentives to have expired. So get them while you can. If I ever build a house and have the extra funds, solar and wind will be a part of the installation.

Somewhat relevant to the day jobbery, a SEO rant.

Roger Ebert on the one-percenters. There's so much good commentary in there it's hard to decide on what to bring out. Yes, this. Banks robbing us blind, CEO's and Boards lining their own pockets instead of their shareholders, maybe it's this paragraph,
"What puzzles me is why there isn't more indignation. The Tea Party is the most indignant domestic political movement since Norman Thomas's Socialist Party, but its wrath is turned in the wrong direction. It favors policies that are favorable to corporations and unfavorable to individuals. Its opposition to Obamacare is a textbook example. Insurance companies and the health care industry finance a populist' movement that is manipulated to oppose its own interests. The billionaire Koch brothers payroll right wing front organizations that oppose labor unions and financial reform. The patriots wave their flags and don't realize they're being duped."

What does it say for our republic when a movie critic speaks truth to power more than almost anybody else?

Eric states some of my feelings about the recent budget battle and says it better than I could. Except for the "thanks you, sir, may I have another" feeling of this debate, that pretty much wraps it. Except for the thought that the fat lady is just warming up on this one. I'm sure I'll have more to say soon.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What I expect at this point

I expect the government to be shut down over the weekend, with either a CR in place for Monday to cover the week, or there'll be a deal at the last minute on Sunday night with the House conveniently ignoring their 3 day rule. Government offices may be closed on Monday, possibly Tuesday, but open by Wednesday.

That way everybody can say they fought hard, the TPers get the bone thrown to them by the shutdown, and we get on with the real work.

The TP, BTW, will have this albatross hung around their necks. As I said before, the story line has already been seeded. Nobody will look good, but at this point the Dems can claim higher ground in that they gave/compromised the most. This is still ground in the swamp, but I don't believe they'll be as tarred at the Republicans. The Republicans will push as much as they can on the freshmen.

Then we line up for the 2012 budget battle. Which, frankly, is an Ayn Rand wet dream (as much as possible in reality). Unfortunately it screws a lot of people. My hope will be that there will come a reality check on those ideals as the become concrete with real ramifications. My guess is only a few people will re-examine their positions in light of that. But then we can weedle out those who think that shafting the poor is a good idea.

Linkee-poo is dynamite with a laser beam

So, fair and balanced as someone suffering from dissociative identity disorder. Really Fox? Multicultural markers are what you focus on? Something that's been settled for well nigh on four decades now? I'll also agree with the article, for an organization that touts the strength of the market economy, here it is in action. Of course, the "market" focus is only good when it focuses on their needs and wants, and all that pesky regulation gets out of their way and lets them be the ignorant, selfish children they want to be. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

This TPM article on Rep. Ryan's dismantling of Medicare pretty much says a lot of what I've been thinking. The cynical statements of, "it's exactly what Congress gets" in attempting to explain away this abrogation of basic government principles just ticks me off. Do I need to remind everybody of the poor rep who just can't make ends meet on $174,000 a year salary? (Okay, unfair as there are more expenses than usual for a Congressman, like living in two places, but still) So you're 1) going to charge senior more in hard cash for the "same" coverage, but 2) (most) seniors don't make nearly as much as our representatives. It's just mind boggling idiocy. Really, anybody who thinks they can

And because I'm scooping for content since my brain was scraped out and served as zombie flambé earlier this week, have some random tweeting I've done lately.
Must stop stress eating. Being hungry is GOOD when you're trying to lose weight. But office got pizza for lunch. They're trying to kill me.

We burn our dead in dragon ships. The sea takes her children, until the skies resound with Ragnarok.

Oh great internet brain, anybody know of a reason 2 redirect a url from "www.name.com" to just "name.com"? Is this against standards?

What's worse than stress eating? Knowing it's stress eating and still not being able to stop. Sigh.

Finally got to do some writing. It feels like surfacing after being underwater for too long.

Now that H. Klum is hawking old age products, it's official, all the hot supermodels of my youth have passed the middle matron years.

Internal fire and a drive to make what you're doing better. That and good chocolate. #fundamentals

Dear World, it's a Friday. In the Western World that means you're not allowed to suck. Please see to that.

Lilly Tomlin is just like a daylily, only stranger and more beautiful.

And from the sky, serene and far, A voice fell, like a falling star, Custard! #poetryimprovedbyaddingcustard

Here's hoping I have something more original to say real soon now.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

For love or money

The Great Kalman vs Duffy Deathmatch. That's a combative interview about the future direction of design which occurred while I was in school (yeah, it's old, but still relevant). At the time Duffy seemed to have been winning the hearts and minds of the new generation. However Kalman's vision has come back with a vengeance (I'm cynical about it in that it's a basic play to not pay for good design). Possibly way too design geek napery for most, but this actually was a very influential event at the time.

And, as I stated, it's something the industry is still struggling with. Are we artists who shan't be sullied by vulgar corporate concerns of money and feeding ourselves? Or are we just highly educated street walkers charging a ten-spot for a hand-job?

Personally, I come down on the educated street walker side, although I'm worth more than a Hamilton. While what I do may look, smell, and taste like art, it isn't. Art is a personal expression, even for art that is commissioned (either as we do it now, or even in the days of patronage). What I do is an expression of my client/day job. While my personal style may leak through, it's more a function of production values than a real artistic expression.

That's not to say that I haven't done pieces that are my sole expression of composition. These are typically for the clients who "can't pay" (done as pro boon, work done for which the client welshes, that's another matter entirely). But even with that, most often the message isn't mine.

I'm also not arguing that artists also have free range of expression. Many do commissioned works. That's how you keep the lights on. An artist, however, typically is sought for their vision. Their patron or client is paying for that vision (if they agree with it at the end can typically be a sticking point).

Graphic designers are sought for their skills.

If you think of it militarily, artists are like the warriors who fight because of agape. Graphic designers aren't even soldiers, we're mercenaries who fight for the dollar. Soldiers are somewhere in between those. For a designer, it closely relates to recruitment posters of Poncho Villa. They stated, "Join up for the Glory and the Gold." But mostly for the gold.

Linkee-poo is three on a match

Wassonite, just when you think you've seen it all, science comes along and say, "Nope." Wassonite is a brand new mineral made from Sulfur and Titanium. So far the only existing sample is from a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite. (pointed to by John)

The typewriter interface for iPad. OMG, me so wants. (Steve Silverman via Tobia Buckell)

How do I get the quarters into my iPad Touch to run these 100 Atari Retro Titles? (pointed to by Dan)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Linkee-poo just can't get beyond the WTF existence

Elizabeth Bear is running a book sale. If you've been looking for something of her's, now might be a good time.

Jo Walton on the violence inherent in the system. A refelection on the use of violence in literature (and specifically the genre) and what it gets you and what you can do without it. There's a lot in there about how we interpret conflict (in the literary sense), and the desired to "ramp it up" and how that leads to violence or the threat of it. My first book is exceptionally violent, IMHO. It has pretty high body count by the end.

Writers in wax. 'Nough said.

With the nuclear problem, been there, done that. Like I've said, I've been on this ride before. Trust me when I say it gets worse. (Pointed to by John)

Because this is what advanced degrees and web 2.0 is for, damnit! Well, really, it is pretty cool. The Junkyard Jumbotron, what will they think of next? (Pointed to be John)

The Onion on solving the economy by cutting NPR funding. This is satire that cuts too close to the truth (which only makes it funnier).

When Harry Met Sally 2. Slightly NSFW, but a pretty good send up. Plus, Crystal and Reiner, I'm thinking Hope and Crosby, Laurel and Hardy, and Bill and Ted.

Dear Representative Blackburn, I'll agree to this if you also agree to stating you're a subsidiary of the Federal Government and pass legislation forcing all the companies that receive benefits, grants, and tax loopholes to state in their press releases and annual statement that they're wards of the State. You know, I think this Congress may do well to have a giant banner of Weaton's Law hung from the Washington Monument.

Especially when you have this duplicity surrounding the Ryan Budget (which I'll address later when I have time). That article is interesting on two points, one, about how the Republicans were against a specific cut that now Ryan's Budget does as well (and nary a peep of protest). Also for this line, "Medicare Advantage was intended to use private insurers to bring down health care costs, but its higher overhead actually ended up costing more than Medicare." Privatization has never succeeded in its publicly stated goals of reducing costs. Instead, they magnify the cost and drain your tax dollars away from programs that are actually efficient and bring benefits to citizens. Instead, the Ryan Budget Fiasco is nothing but a major corporate giveaway of your money while eliminating a program that helps. It is classic, "Got mine, screw you" politics.

And even further evidence that conservatives have no idea what the words they are saying actually mean. Dear Rep. Walsh, "compromise" and "bipartisanship" do not mean, "do it my way or else." And why doesn't the Senate come back with a proposal? Because it's the House's constitutional job to make the budget and spending bills, not the Senate's. As someone who was elected on the TP Wave, I think you would have read the Constitution and figured that out. Please, Mr. Walsh, buy a clue. Because it's obvious you don't have one. TP, proud of your representatives yet?

Persecution complex much? It's getting to the point I think reporters should say, "Pictures, or it didn't happen" as press conferences.

Reality, it's not on the side of conservatives. Maybe they should see to that? Nah, Never Never Land is so much prettier. Unfortunately for us, we have to live there. Fortunately for me I've mowed lawns and polished cars for a living before this. I was just hoping to not have to do that in retirement. In a world that now will consider McJobs as self improvement... It's almost beyond words. I wonder if WalMart will have human greeters when I retire, or if they'll have Japanese robots do the job instead?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Linkee-poo hangs its head down and cries

This is interesting, using simulation software to determine history (specifically the marching of armies). Having once checked a book out of the Akron library on Hanibal's adventures and finding in the margins the mathematical explanation of the carrying loads of certain pack animals and a rough calculation of the ability to forage and being psyched by that (it also helps that I personally know who wrote those notes, which he confessed when I asked), I thinned this somewhat fascinating. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A quick thought about the pending shutdown of the federal government (well, the running out of the spending authority). There's been a lot of comparison to the 94-95 shutdown, which it won't be like because at that time the government fully shut down. There was no plan on who was essential and which jobs could wait. This time there are plans for who is and who isn't going to work. Also, federal checks like Social Security and Medicare are now automated so they'll still go out (however, new claims will not be processed, which will create a backlog, which will lead to overtime, which means we'll spend 1.5 times the money we would have to do the same job). Considering claims that won't be processed, if you're waiting for a tax return, guess whose 1040 won't be processed in a timely manner. Also, the politics aren't as clear cut because the conservative side has been throwing sand for the past three months so there's a little obfuscation that might muddy the waters. However, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. To my TP friends, you're going to get hung out to dry on this one. Just so you know in advance. The arguments and spin are already in place (ie. Boehner really had it right with the $30b in cuts, but was driven to go for more by his TP elected freshmen, that's the story line I'm hearing).

There's also news in Ohio about how much SB 5 will save. SB 5 is our own homegrown (yeah, not buying that anymore) union busting legislation. In case you believe this, let me remind you that now our public employees will be contributing 15% to their healthcare and however much to their retirement out of their current pay (ignoring the argument of total compensation, and how this bill welshes on promises and compromised made a long time ago) that those monies, which are currently taxed, will now go "pre-tax." So you know all those savings that local governments are going to get (which are being deputed, because the $1.3b is a load of crap). Multiply by 7% and that's how much lower State Income Tax is going to be, and multiply by your local income tax rate to see what it will do to the local government income (our village is 1%, and we're about the lowest of any incorporated area). Guess who is going to be asked to put in more (local governments are already struggling under this economy)?

Dear Representative Duffy, I think you misunderstand just what is happening here (I'm sure purposefully to play the "I'm beset by these unscrupulous liberals). By all means, sir, please continue to meet with your constituents and talk all you want. In fact, I'm encouraging you to do this. I don't want you to not keep your pledge or to keep quite for that matter. I want you to keep talking, especially in front of cameras. My reasons are two fold. One, I believe everybody should have a voice (understand, that doesn't mean I don't get to respond), and two, it's great comedy in your case.

Newt has officially lost connection with reality. This would be funny if it weren't for people listening to this man and believing he's telling them the truth. Extort? Really? So, Newt is saying the Obama re-election campaign is going to, say, hold my tax return (actually, I don't expect one this year, but for arguments sake) until I give to his reelection campaign? Is this really what he's saying? Newt, you're a tool.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Linkee-poo of two, because they are awesome (and I'm short of time)

Catherine Shaff-Stump asks some deep questions about writing and I stumble around a bit trying to find something witty to say. Or, in other words, "Look! It's an interview of ME!" (Steve now turns off the self-gratuitous flagellation device that is his overswollen ego - egoitis, I thinks me has it). BTW, thanks Cath for doing this. Catherine has been interviewing all of her fellow VP13ers. We're an interesting group, if I say so myself. I think my off switch is a little defaulty.

Mer talks about some things that I haven't had the courage to talk about (dreams and childhood).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Linkee-poo tries to get the hang of weekends

So now that it's 7:30pm on Saturday, I think I've caught up with everything that needed to go out. Quotes are requested, proofs are out, questions answered, grapefruits eaten, and I think I've cleaned out the backlog.

Tobias Buckell talks about his experiment with e-publishing.

Ken McConnell also shares his numbers.

Severely not cool, people. Severely not cool. To my friends on the progressive side, tone it down. Nobody wins with doing these things.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Linkee-poo doubles down on Friday

The self referential statistics link bothers me a little (as in "Read Our Report to See the Numbers"), so I'd take the numbers with a grain of salt, but 12 mind-blowing statistic every marketer should know. Hmm, "intrusive or irrelevant ads" can drive people from your content. Shocked! Shocked I am to discover… (Grokked form Tobias Buckell)

Stewart Sternberg starts off a new series on the big concepts of writing.

SF Writers wants to know what you want to know. So if you were looking to ask questions about the writing biz, there you go.

The ongoing theme of ignoring the past politics on plowing forward into the abyss. This is the party that made an issue out of flip-flopping and now I can barely keep track of all the spinning that's going on with the right. It used to be a joke that soon they would legislate that up is down, but I don't find it all that funny anymore.

You're going to jail. I appreciate the sentiment, but we really are better than this. The process works, and they're creating their own moves into obscurity. There is no need to send threatening emails. Just say, "We're watching, and we remember."

Scenes from a Snowpocalypse

From yesterday's snow storm (that started Wednesday night).

And just in general, I appreciate a lot of the sentiment, but really, this is NE Ohio. It can snow here until May. It'l be hot enough soon enough.

Linkee-poo doesn't need a random date to be a fool

Still way behind in my reading and other living things. This week was worse than last week (although I don't have anything I have to study this weekend, but I have tons of other projects I need to get finished before I do have something to study). We added several emergency freelance projects to the mix. I don't think I've gone to bed before 11 at all since last Friday (when I just plain collapsed at around 10:30pm). I'm catching up in an odd random way, which is I normally read teh internits (sic on purpose, I do enough not on purpose that I thought I should point that out).

Jim Macdonald holds forth on an interesting market twist on the whole ebook "we don't need no stinkin' publishers" thrust. Yes, Virginia, sometimes there is a need for professionals. However the whole piracy/plagiarism side of it I didn't see. That the ebook might be flooded by bad writers, we'll, I've been saying that for awhile. And for those people who don't understand just how bad that issue may be, I don't think I could explain the market dynamics/learned behavior intersect, but I'll just say that because some advertising professionals didn't understand it internet ads nearly died.

Catherine Schaff-Stump gives a little insight into the differences between types of authors and waiting until something is ripe. The short version, at least for me, is that it's all about the story.

Sometimes as new writers (can I still claim that?) focus on the mechanics and buy all those "how to write/publish/edit" books that now take up a whole bookcase. However, Alex Bledsoe over at Tor.com talks about learning to write foremother sources. In this case, from a book about Star Trek (the original series) and how the critiques inside exposed the bones of story. Just to reiterate what you may or may not have heard, the best thing for a writer is to get out and experience the world, not take another writing course or MA in Fiction program.

Jim Wright keeps on a roll with his America: Land That I Love post. Yes, this.