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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Riding the hill down

What comes as a surprise to few people, the House of Representatives couldn't get off their fat asses and get a deal done. So I'm stuck with two metaphors and one life lesson.

I'm an old style Cleveland Browns fan, but the new Browns seem to have brought the playing style of the old Browns back to life. When I was a younger man, the Browns' nickname was the "Kardiac Kids." It was a combination of some of the players names and the fact that they would wait to bring the A-game until the two minute warning. For a while this worked spectacularly. Those were very exciting games. Seriously, on the edge of your seat, yelling at the TV, blood pressure inducing, cathartic experiences. Right up until Red Right 88. If you don't know, that's the play that killed our dreams, which was then smashed during The Drive. But what it's come down to today is the Browns come on very strong in the first half, only to lose a lot of ground in the second half, but then rally near the end to either win or lose the game narrowly. Most often these past few years those games have gone into the "loss" category. So this is the lesson to be learned from this: bring your A-game the whole damn time. Don't wait until the last minute to pull the ball across the line, or make a field goal, to win the game by 1 or 2. Eventually that strategy fails. And then it keeps on failing.

My day job is very concerned with deadlines, many of which are outside my own control and driven by our client. I've been involved on many big projects, all of which have had deadline extensions. But here's the thing that drives me crazy with team work dynamics. For me, okay, the customer has given us more time, I don't want to take it. By the time the extension comes down we've already aligned all the resources (sure, it's a burden on most of them), all the cats have been wrangled, and our ducks are marching in formation. Then suddenly we get two more weeks (or extra months) and instead of saying, "okay, maybe we could use an extra day or two, but let's keep the heat on since we have all the resources dedicated, let's take the ball over the line. With the extra time we can polish it if needed." Instead what normally happens is the team goes their merry way and the work gets put on the shelf until it's crunch time again. Which then makes it twice as hard to gather all the team back together. And I don't think the end product is ever as good as it could have been. But here's the thing, with the extension we should have no problem meeting it. After all, we were on track to make the first deadline (which would have been a struggle, but still). Instead we've come very, very close to missing deadlines (and in fact have been saved by some further extensions of the deadlines). So if we could have just kept going as we were to meet the first deadline, we could have saved ourselves all the heartache and stress. Believe me, studying ahead this past semester saved my ass more than once (ie. I'm trying not to wait until the last minute). I keep this thought because eventually you run out of extensions, especially if you start expecting them.

When you're on a roller coaster, the roughest ride is in the last car. It's also the fasted ride. The front car you get the horrendous sights of going down the hill and seeing things coming at you, but you don't reach full speed until that last car goes over the top of the hill. Having ridden many roller coasters before the advent of all these new safety harnesses I can tell you the most fun you can have is to be able to raise your arms and shout like an idiot as you go over the hill. As you raise up out of the seat, it's tempting to grab the bar in front of you. Resist, keep your hands up and scream louder. Because once you're going down the hill, there's no getting off the coaster until it stops.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Linkee-poo is a bad banana, with a greasy, black peel

Britain, not satisfied with putting images of illustrated manuscripts online, has now put all the paintings held by the public online. That's over 211,000 images. (Grokked from Phiala)

Programming computers to see like painters. Pretty interesting. There's still a lot of skills a trained artist brings to the table that I don't feel threatened by this, but just the ability to recognize and prioritize information in photographs is a major leap forward. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

If you ever realy want to know why I love Apple products so much (you know, after the whole, "they just work, damn it" part), here's some early Apple prototypes. While they don't look like much now, you have to remember that these were cutting edge concepts in the mid 80s (with some functionality we've only achieved in the past 10 years). (Grokked from Dan)

On liberal bullying. Yeah, that. Many moons ago I often commented on John Scalzi's Whatever and the Nielsen Hayden's Making Light on their political posts and took a lot of conservatives to task for their world ignorant comments (at least that's what I wanted to believe). There have been times that I've been at conventions and people have recognized my name because of those comments. At first I loved that. And then I started thinking about what I was actually doing. This happened just at the time that my day job became much more complex and I no longer had the time or energy to keep up with comment threads (absolutely necessary if you're going to wade into battle, especially if you're going to call people on sock-puppetry). So I stopped doing that. It doesn't mean that I didn't follow some of their political posts, and I often read most of the comment threads, but I couldn't keep up with all of it and I was suspect of my own motives to post.

In an example of synchronicity, Jim Hines also does a post on the idea of just walking away from the argument. There's plenty of times I should have done that.

Here I will make the comment that I've seen what the opposite side of the political spectrum does with online arguments. I've seen comments that make Jim's example of watching a conversation devolve into those "throw the liberals into wood-chipper" statement seem tame. And sometimes that's why I have the fire in my belly. I've seen the other side take a no-holds-bared attitude and I won't let them get away with it because they think my side won't go the whole distance. But then, like Jim saw, you see whole evenings and days be taken away by an argument with someone who will never see the point.

"The tape of Petraeus and McFarland's conversation is an amazing document, a testament to the willingness of Murdoch and the wily genius he hired to create Fox News to run roughshod over the American civic and political landscape without regard to even the traditional niceties or pretenses of journalistic independence and honesty." An article on the burying of Bob Woodward's amazing story about how Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch tried to subvert American Democracy. Add in the rise of the SuperPAC and the various corporate shell games and you begin to see a whole different picture of the previous election and just how close we came to giving over our freedoms to corporate domination. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And this is why the GOP is in the shape it's in. This is also why after three proposals from the White House to avoid the Fiscal Cliff you heard GOP leaders talk about how they were waiting for th eWhite House to propose something, like they don't have people who read the news and could tell them what has been proposed. Hey, GOP, you're the ones that want to cut spending, make your own gorram proposals. But then, they're much too much the cowards to actually put forward what they want to cut. (Grokked from Will Wheaton)

Tweet of my heart: @GerryDuggan: I'm sad it's only a metaphorical cliff, because throwing our Congress into a deep chasm is actually a fine idea.

Torture of Writing

Spent the day doing various chores and staying out of my wife's way. Also tried to get some writing done. All in all I think I got about 1000 words out, but it was split between several projects, and the words weren't all that good. Sigh.

Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow will be better.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weekend Linkee-poo is a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich, with arsenic sauce

Phil Plait shares his most beautiful astronomical images from 2012. 'Nough said. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Ninety-nine life hack. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Want some more space stuff, here's a radiolab episode on space. Yes, you'll have to listen to the audio. I recommend the part where they interview Neil deGrasse Tyson. You know, in case you're starting to get a big head about anything. (Hint, it's all about our perspective of the universe, always attempting to place us in the center and finding out we're wrong, not to mention that now with Dark Matter, while we may be made of star dust, we aren't made from what comprises 94% of the universe). "Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving, and revolving at 900 miles an hour…"

Remember when I said that for science, until it's observed and documented it's not real? Well, after decades of anecdotal evidence, science has now observed chemo brain. Now it just needs to permeate through the medical literature and doctors will finally stop telling people it's all in their head. Plus, as you may have heard, half of what you know is wrong, or will be proved wrong eventually. I remember a high-school-aged son of a friend who remarked how he didn't really pay attention in class because, "half of what they teach you are lies." As I responded then, "That may be true, but have you figured out which half?" Or as my A&P prof said, "Medicine, the best lies we know." Of course the problem is we still haven't figured out which half. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

There are parts of the world that are riddled with land mines, such as Afghanistan. The 'Stan is littered with mines dating back to the Soviet Occupation and endless tribal wars that raged after the withdraw of Soviet forces. We've tried lots of things to clear the mine fields including training rats to find explosives. But here's an idea that would work fairly well in Afghanistan. That's a "sculpture" sort of like a metallic tumbleweed. The idea is the wind will blow it across areas that we know are mind and it will eventually trigger most of the mines in the area. Or it'll lose enough limbs that it'll need replaced. I'm not sure it's entirely effective, but if you have the time and the wind, it'll do the job. Beats having kids lose arms, legs, and life because they found something shiny in the dirt. Now if we could make something similar that would work in Vietnam/Cambodia. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

The Slactivist with a link post about how the GOP continues to reach out to minorities, seniors, women, and all the other demographics they lost. It's called irony. I just thought I point that out because after reading those links I don't believe anyone knows what irony is anymore. Links include stories about how Florida Republicans are now admitting their election laws were designed to disenfranchise the young, the old, and the poor by making it harder for them to cast a vote. A NJ congressman who is going to vote against aid for Storm Sandy that would help their own constituents. So much for "compassionate conservatism." The continuing battle over a UN treaty covering discrimination based largely on our own ADA laws, and without any real enforcement provisions. Because, I don't know, the UN/Black Helicopters/FEMA Reeducation Camps or something. Also, the emerging post-election consensus is the GOP didn't clap hard enough. So Tinker Bell lay on the floor.

Cancer screening rates are dropping. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the increase in copays and reduced coverage for preventive medicine. I wonder if we'll see that as a "healthy choices" campaign for employment wellness programs. Probably not since there isn't any Tobacco Settlement Money in it (where there is for smoking cessation programs). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

It's a good thing in the wake of the Newton Shootings we aren't focusing on our gun crazed society, but instead on kids doodling in their notebooks. Okay, sure, it was the doodle and that he had "electronics" and "chemicals" at home that might have been, possibly, used to make a bomb. Let's see, I have electronics in various pieces and chemicals that I could, possibly, make into an explosive (albeit a low-yield, not much more than a pop, although a gas weapon, yeah, I've got those, and so does probably everybody else that cleans their own house) in my house and, ZOMG! I doodle on the edges of my notes in class! Oh noes! Hint to local police everywhere, most high schoolers who dabble in explosive neither use electronics nor "chemicals", most go for the good, old fashioned black powder pipe bombs. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

Then again, instead of tagging people who like to spout anti-government sentiments and also brandish weapons as terrorists, our government would rather tag peaceful movements like Occupy as terrorists. I feel so much safer now, don't you? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @nickbilton: Going to Facebook has become the equivalent of opening the fridge & staring inside, even though you're not hungry.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Linkee-poo nauseates me with a nauseous super naus

Indie film career killers and how to avoid them. Also applicable to writers. (Grokked from Gabriel Novo)

More and more people own an e-reader or tablet. While the article talks about more people reading e-books while print reading drops, you have to read the actual Pew Report to get the numbers.

Chang shares some inspirational art for when you've received the latest rejection and watch all your peers getting publishing contracts. He also wishes to remind us just what a treasure Patrick Stewart is.

Why I like swords, a "samurai" slices speeding "bullet" with sword. On video tape. Well, okay, it's a pellet fired from an airgun and technically there are no samurai anymore (and samurai were more than bushido or the sword or fighting for that matter). (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

SpaceX's Grasshopper performs a 12-story hop test. What isn't talked about in the article is this… look Ma, no launch tower.

The historical prices of solar power. Watch them drop. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

You know my comment yesterday about it not being legal to own a TOW missile… yeah, about that… - look at the second picture. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"A suspect under arrest was shot and killed inside a police station in New Jersey early Friday after he obtained a weapon and opened fire on three officers, injuring one seriously, according to police officials." If you happen to be one of those people who think "more guns" is the solution, I want you to read that again and let the implications sink in. Now, if only the police carried loaded guns and were trained in situations where there is an active shooter, all of this could have been prevented… wait, no, that's not right. Or as I said when we started allowing pilots to carry firearms aboard airplanes, the terrorists will thank us for getting their weapons past security for them. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Fox News gets it wrong, again. So much for the post-election epiphanies. (Grokked from Jay Lake)


Yeah, I've had days like that.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

That Pesky Amendment Language and Originalism

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
People have been arguing the meaning of that one sentence for decades now. Originalists, Constitutionalists, and just plain whackadoodles have all said that they believe the Founders got it right, you know as long as you ignore the whole militia part and just focusing on what is said after that first comma. They then go on to say that we should take this at an absolute, even though almost all the other 9 Amendments of the Bill of Rights have been altered, amended, and in various ways infringed upon.

But, okay, let's go with that. Let's go with the concept that the Founders wanted to make sure everybody has not only the right, but the social obligation to own their own firearm of some type. You know, for hunting, keeping the damn British off our shores, personal protection, keeping those kids from playing ZZ Top, or in case the "guberment" goes all tyrannical on their asses… or, you know, Zombie Apocalypse.

Here I could talk about what is really necessary for all of those, the practicality, the fantasy of being Lucas McCain in The Rifleman, or any of the other delusions held by the general public about firearms. Or I could talk about how there already are existing limitations on the 2nd Amendment that even the NRA doesn't seem to be talking about, like the restriction on full auto firing or that you can't own a grenade launcher or TOW missile.

So, basically, as the insult goes, we've already determined the occupation, we're just negotiating the renumeration.

But I have a different idea. One that doesn't run afoul of the Amendment as written, keeps the Founders as the wise demi-gods some people think they are, and takes us back to the true meaning of "right to bear arms."

I'm not saying it would work, or would actually be a good idea, but it's the "bold new ideas" all the crazy conservative cats seem to dig (except when they go against them).

At the time the Amendment was written and adopted, the concept of cartridges was beyond them. Sure, premeasured powder packs were coming into use, but a firearm with a receiver and the all in one powder and shot cartridge wasn't even in their dreams. At the time, most people who owned their firearms would pour their own shot, although you could buy commercially made musket balls.

So, to stop mass killers, we phase out of commercial ammunition except for military and law enforcement use. At first we prohibit sales of both premanufactured ammo and blank cases, and after a few years we then prohibit possession. We don't prohibit home manufacture of ammo, so people can pour and press their own shot without limit (although we may want to limit powder sales to only so much per month/year). And you can own any firearm you want. See, your right to bear arms is not infringed.

However most people don't have the skill, time, or patience to make their own ammo. Possession of manufactured ammo eventually becomes a crime which can be pursued for prosecution. Those people who do have ammo to use would by necessity be a little more skilled in the use of firearms. It also would be incredibly difficult to amass the overwhelming stores that seem to be the hallmark of recent mass shootings (most of which goes unused anyway).

Of course this is unworkable for more reasons than I can really count, besides the obvious cynical nature of the proposal. But, ammo is not covered by the 2nd Amendment, no matter how much the NRA will say it is. That would only show the NRA for not really being the defenders of the 2nd Amendment as they like to say, but just a organization based and funded to sell as many firearms and ammunition as possible to as many people as possible. Notice how their answer to every problem (shootings, crime in general, liberals getting elected to office, low flying airplanes, whatever) is "more guns", ever wonder why? Don't look at their finances if you don't want to know.

Linkee-poo's brain is full of spiders, it's got garlic in its soul

A little bit late, but Christopher Lee reads "A Nightmare Before Xmas" with some excellent animation.

Dr. Doyle with three character types to avoid. Or in other words, nobody is Charlie Brown and even James Bond has bad days.

Noah Chinn on being a taker-outer or a putter-inner. One of the first major "real writer lessons" I learned was I have to be a putter-inner. All the writing advice out there is to be a "taker-outer" (the infamous Second Draft = First Draft -10% rule). Now, I actually do a mix of this (editing out as well as adding in description), but for me it ends up being Second Draft = First Draft +15-20%. The Third draft also grows, but for that go around I'm often rewriting 20-30% with a deletion factor of about 10% (as in, "Things that are completely excised from the text" instead of rewritten).

Cat Rambo with four rules regarding dialog. Yes, this. Listen to how people actually talk, especially those who do it for a living, and then pass that through the filter of the writer's pen. While you don't want to transcribe conversations, which don't work well on paper. Seriously, if you want to know just how insane actual conversation is record some (with permission), or take some samples from talk shows on TV or the radio, and then transcribe it word for word if you don't believe me.

Also, Cat is offering a discount on some classes. But only until Jan 2.

The British Library releases more than 35,000 images from their collection of illuminated manuscripts. Their searchable if you're interested in something specific, and they have collections already started, like the bestiary collection. Wow, like I didn't already waste too much time on the internets.

A podcast on the dark side of creativity, rationalization and dishonest. 'Rut 'rho! Someone's got my number. Actually, I've heard a few interviews with Dan Ariely, professor of behavioral economics. He's got some interesting views on lying, and lying to ourselves. For those of you wondering how the Evil Overlord can honesty think they're doing right, you might want to take a listen. The road to hell maybe paved with good intentions, but all the sign posts are the little rationalizations we make.

Strange how when movies are well written and exciting they both win awards and are box office hits. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Assuming the research holds up, it suggests that the 2009 paper, far from overestimating warming in West Antarctica, had probably underestimated it, especially in summer." That temperature had already been climbing at a rate that was at the upper end of previous estimates. But, I'm sure there's nothing to worry about. You know, except for more heat waves and precipitation in the NE US. While the drought has gobbled up our attention for the past two years (and probably next year), too much rain also brings problems. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

So long, and thanks for all the fish. Wild dolphins giving gifts of food to humans in Australia at the Tangalooma Island Resort. Of course, the humans also are feeding the dolphins, which puts them in direct, regular contact with them. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Jim Wright is back with bang, bang crazy, part four. "The primary function of law isn't to prevent crime." A lot of people don't get that, mostly because conservatives have been using that argument (laws prevent crime) as a way of passing some pretty egregious laws all in the name of "preventing crime" which don't do much more than locking up brown people for minor offenses.

Using earthworms to create biocompatible quantum dots. Those quantum dots can then be used to target cancer cells, which can then be targeted easily by the fluorescence. Hmm, I may have to rethink going into nuclear medicine. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Having been somewhat involved with getting someone into the Medicaid system (and with the aftermath as they come to grips with what that means), I can totally relate to this. There's a wife who's husband needs to be in a nursing home. However, they have too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to really afford the nursing home care. So stuck between a rock and a hard place, she's refusing to allow her husband to be discharged from the hospital he is in. This is what happens when you "reform" the security net (new rules meant to trim costs force people to be destitute before getting Medicaid, without regard to actual lives). In our case, the relative didn't have any complications of living spouses or dependents. But still, we needed to make him poor (not really a hard job, and not the whole story of what needed to be done) before Medicaid would cover the help he needed. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Alligator Quotient: They're off for the holidays. Probably resting up for an interesting New Year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Linkee-poo has all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday. There was lots of travel and various consternations involved for us. Did get to see the Hobbit, and I might have more to say later. But for now, the blizzard is coming, they say. Hope you all are warm and safe.

So, didn't like to read Beowulf in school? What if it were done in the style of Seuss' Grinch? Does that make it better? (Grokked from Mrs. Tad)

Some perspective on the Apocalypses (Apocali?) and their believers, including a little on the prep-ers. A light treatment, and I'm not sure I agree with all of their assumptions, but there you go. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jim Wright offer's his opinion on the Wayne LaPierre freakout. Look, a badger! Actually Jim touches on most of the points I made, but his argument is more coherent. You know, now that I think about it, I've never seen myself and Jim in the same room at the same time. Hmmm.

The Slactivist with an excellent link post on the Class War. (Hint to everybody, the rich have been waging this war since Reagan, and they're winning) Including "They (employers) just don’t get that I’d rather they pay me a better wage so I wouldn’t have to go to a(n employer sponsored) food bank.'" A more complete explanation of what "Right to Work" really means with the consequences of the law, and exposing the hypocrisy of it being "better" but not offering it to police or firemen, "the most esteemed workers under (the law makers) purview." Another view on the Hostess bankruptcy and "One of the reasons Social Security is necessary is that most workers never see their pensions because their companies go under before there is ever a pay-out; but executives always seem to walk away with a pile of money anyway." Remember who will pick up the tab for the reduced pension benefits those workers will receive, that's the US taxpayer. And many more good links.

Since the killings at Sandy Hook, over 100 people have been killed by guns. That link quickly outlines some of those. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @ferretthimself: Who would have guessed that Newsweek's final cover would read, "SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH"?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Xmas Morning

Happy Xmas.

For this morning, how about a little Loudon Wainwright's "Christmas Morning."

Monday, December 24, 2012


I hope you're having a fabulous holiday so far.

Another from the playlist, although this live version is a little more interesting. Leo Kottke plays "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

The studio version is here.

I'll have a b-b-b-blue Christmas without you

'nough said.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We can only hope

One more from the playlist. Sort of a standard, but I bet you don't have this one. Sam Bush plays "Let It Snow." You're welcome.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Story Bone

Not one of mine, but one from Jay Lake. Very historical.

The rising of the sun, the running of the deer

One of my favorites of the holidays, and one of my favorite versions, Kate Rusby sings "The Holly and the Ivy."

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown

Friday, December 21, 2012

Random Thoughts on the Ramblings of a Mad Man

If when the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems start looking like nails, what do all your problems look like when your only tool is a gun?

The NRAs Wayne LaPierre answered that question today. In a call that amounts to a larger government presence in our lives, increased deficit spending, and greater federal interference in schools, LaPierre said the Congress should immediately approve "whatever it takes" to put armed police in schools. If the GOP, Tea Party, and True Conservative everywhere don't denounce him for this, which is against every conservative talking point that doesn't involve God, they will demonstrate they're only giving lip service to what they claim are their "core values."

As for his argument about schools and the Gun-Free Schools initiatives as "… tell(ing) every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk," it is nonsensical on the face of it. If this were the case, why aren't we seeing more shootings in government buildings, sports arenas or churches and other places of worship? Those places are also protected by the government as "gun free zones". Sure you can say government buildings and sports arenas have guards, so they aren't all that safe, but what about churches? If I had to make a guess, I think more schools have community patrol officers (police in school program) than churches do. So why don't gunmen go wild in more churches.

And if here you want to talk about God being in churches but having been thrown out of schools I will merely remind you that prayer groups in schools were a particular target of school shooters in the 90s.

As for those who we protect with armed guards, you do remember that several Presidents have been shot and killed since the additional assignment to the Secret Service to act as bodyguard. Not to mention the numerous attempts and threats on the President's life.

I know it's a fantasy of an armed civilian taking out the shooter, well the real life experiences aren't so clear cut.

Nearly half of LaPierre's public rant consisted of "It's not us. Look, a badger!" He rolled out the entertainment industry, video games, comics, everything but rock and roll (although he did mention music, it sounded like he was speaking about rap), to the consternation of one person who tweeted that it was a shame that rock is no longer challenging enough that it gets blamed for what's wrong in our country. Here's the thing, Wayne, we have a ratings system for all of those things. Those rating are a shining example of "industry self regulation" BTW. But, hey, thanks Wayne, we've already looked into that. By making these allegations the VP of the NRA places himself squarely stuck in the 80s, unable to see that the world has changed and moved on.

And when entertainment oversteps the line and gets someone killed, like the recent radio hosts spoofing one of the royal's nurses which ended in her death, those hosts we taken off the air (probably temporarily) and an international conversation occurred. When movies go beyond the pale, there's at least a week long beating of the breast about a movie that usually bombs in two weeks.

And now let us get to his actual plan, and I want you to think about this. His plan is putting a killer in each of the schools. Placing someone whose sole job, the only reason there are there, the focus of their training, is to keep their eyes on everybody who enters the school and judges if they should kill them. That's his plan. Remember, sometimes it's the students who do the shooting, so nobody is not a suspect. And to prevent a killing, the new "guards" would have to shoot first.

Plus, you might remember, school teachers are already over stretched and under assault. We're trying to cut their salaries, their retirement savings, and push their position in society to the lowest rung possible. And these are the people LaPierre wants to give guns to. These two things do not match up, in case you're wondering.

If Mr. LaPierre were serious about "finding solutions", the NRA would stop blocking research and remove the Dickey Amendement (something so wonderfully named) from any budget and appropriation legislation. In case you didn't know, because of the NRA's lobbying efforts while the ATF does collect statistics on gun violence, they are prohibited by law from releasing it. The CDC has also been threatened with loss of funding if they explore gun violence any deeper than reporting raw numbers in their Morbidity and Mortality reports. (Links grokked from Jay Lake)

But the NRA aren't serious about finding solutions to the problem of gun violence in our society. Because they do know what the data would show and the conclusions would be to limit gun ownership and restrict what civilians could own in terms of firearms.

And, seriously, for what purpose does any civilian need with an AK-47, AR-15, 50 cal. or a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds? These firearms are only designed to kill as many people possible as fast as possible. Sport shooting? Target shooting? It isn't hunting, these weapons suck for hunting. Unless you're varmint shooting, which is hardly done these days. Really, ask the "hunter" you know the last time they went squirrel, skunk, groundhog, or any small game hunting. When I was a kid, that was an actual thing. I don't think I've met anyone who does that anymore (the farmer out back does shoot groundhogs, but he isn't very good at it, and he does it because he feels he is losing too much of his crops to them).

It's all a fantasy. You want these firearms to keep the "guberment" out of your business, and maybe "take back your government"? Seriously? Say, how did that work out for the Branch Davidians or Randy Weaver at Ruby Rudge? They all had firearms for that exact reason. Didn't help them at all, did it. In fact, it tended to make the situation worse. And in both circumstances they only faced law enforcement, not actual military. Heck, when the Southern States broke off and tried to form another country they had some actual military people (one of the premier strategist of the day, actually) and they still lost. If you think you can do better, please stop deluding yourself. Think just because you have guns the government will stay away? How did that work for the Hutaree? Didn't do squat.

Mostly what Wayne LaPierre sounded like is a paranoid who realizes that people are out to get him. The meds aren't working, Wayne. The crazy is peeking through.

Praise be to the distant sister sun

Because I have to clean my brain's pallet.

And now, a little Tull.

Join together beneath the mistletoe.
by the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.

Happy Solstice, everybody.


While Wayne laPierre was getting all flecked with spittle, in PA there was another "mass" shooting (I'm not sure if 3 people plus the shooter still qualifies for "mass" shootings, maybe it's like the $1 menu of mass shootings). Three state troopers were injured in the melee. While not all the facts are in, yet, if only there were armed guards available to stop the rampage… oh, wait.

Look, if you have combat shooter experience/training, sure, I'm somewhat okay with that. But if you're not putting 200 rounds down target at least every other month, you aren't prepared.

The whole fantasy of the random armed citizen putting down a determined shooting is nonsense. Columbine HS had an armed guard. Virginia Tech had a whole police force. Don't believe me? Okay, ask your local policeman if they support the concept of citizens returning fire. As for armed guards, guess who would be the first victims.

Linkee-poo rings out those Solstice Bells

Now that the Solstice is here (well, the astrological solstice), don't forget to the light the fires and dance in it's radiance. Remember than bonfires are a corruption of "bone fires." The sun stands still. The Earth is dead. Give power to the sun and begin the rebirth. Eat some pomegranate seeds… just for kicks, but only three. Deck the halls with boughs of holly and greens. Bring the mistletoe inside and nail it to the rafters so love may be present in the house. Invite the wassailing crowd in and give them food and drink, if you're adventurous (never know what those singing carousers will do once invited inside). And if you're feeling particularly pagan, light a white candle, walk through your house with it, then open the front door. The moon is waxing gibbous. It's a day of power.

Irene Gallo with images of winter. Have I mentioned how much I love these posts?

Upset the world didn't end? Buck up little campers, there's enough apocalypses to go around for everyone. That's an article on the Zoroastrian end of days, with a not-complete list of previous predictions of doom and sackcloth like suns. There's always something new to look forward to. Say, did you know in a few more years Unix calendars run out of bits to count the days? True story. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Just in case you need it, the right and wrong answers to 8 classic interview questions. And here I thought it was going to be a comedic piece, but alas, no. "What is your dream job?" Me: "To make a bazillion bucks reading the internet and writing my novels, but I'll take what you're offering instead." (Grokked from WannbeWriter06)

Hey look, out of respect for the dead the NRA, and Wayne LaPierre, waited an entire week before becoming dicks again. Dear Wayne Pierre, reality is calling. It's sorry you haven't seen each other in years and wants to make up. Say, tell me again how the 2nd amendment allows citizens to use armor piecing bullets and some other rounds that are even worse (although, IIRC, flechettes are still illegal). Not to mention the silliness of having a 50 cal. rifle and 30 round magazines for "target shooting." And please, stop with the fear mongering, you're being transparent. You sicken me, sir.

Do to craziness at work and personal life, I haven't had that much time to keep up with the reading. And I should tell you that until after Xmas, posting is going to be light here. Sorry. Sometimes life gets in the way of the internets. But I wish you all a very merry Solstice and/or Xmas, time off work, or whatever you wish to celebrate this week. May our New Year be brighter and more prosperous and may the next Winter Solstice see us all.

Aligator Quotient: Don't they know it's Christmas, after all?

The Longest Night

Another fav of mine from my Xmas mix list. This one is the Tea Party's "Winter Solstice." This is the live version.

If you want the album released version which is all kinds of awesome sauce, here it is.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Linke-poo that's great, it starts with an earthquake

With the world ending tomorrow, according to people who aren't Mayan, can anybody confirm that the dolphins are still with us? I might start believing if they bug out. They can't stand Vogon poetry, either.

The 27 science fictions that became science fact in 2012. That robotic arm in #1? Full disclosure, the company I work for developed the arm/hand and the ability to integrate the neural interface. PU Hospitals licensed it from us.

From histories almost forgotten to futures undreamt. A major hub for the internet is placed in the basement of an old press building where the workers plastered the walls with photos, wrote summations, and basically left behind a time capsule pierced by the optic fibers of today's technology. (Grokked from Chia Lynn)

Why you should probably stop eating wheat. Lots of biochemistry going on in there. And I've heard similar things, mostly in counter point to the Green Revolution. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Officials in Michigan close 33 schools because of fears people are freaking out over the Mayan End-of-World rumors. Seriously? Hey, remember in the 90s when conservatives tried to completely defund PBS because the educational factor has been taken over by cable channels like Discovery and History Channel? How's that concept tuning out? Last I checked, nobody when crazy because of something Robert Krulwich, David Pogue or Neil deGrasse Tyson said on Nova, or that Rick Steves finds the best deals for European travel. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"This is (Tau) Ceti Alpha 5!" Okay, well, it's Tau Ceti something, but it's a rocky planet within the "Goldilock's Zone" orbiting a star that you can go outside and play "I Spy" with. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

We saw "ice flow flowers" last week, this week is "frost flowers." While it means probably death for the plant, those are just beautiful structures of ice. I've seen ice do weird things. A few years ago when the winter was really cold early, we could hear trees split from the ice pressure, it was like gunshots going off. I'll also get ice towers coming up out of the soil (it looks like ants on meth who couldn't agree where to build the mound). But I haven't seen these. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The sink hole caused by oil and gas exploration (the wells produced a brine used in the process) and caused the evacuation of the area. Sounds like it happened in the third world, right? Otherwise you would have heard of it, right? Wrong. It happened in Assumption Parish, LA this year. (Grokked form Matt Staggs)

You know how some gun rights advocates like to talk about how concealed carry stops crime? You know, unless it actually leads to more crime. In this case one customer at a Little Caesars in St. Petersburg, FL, shooting another customer because the later was complaining about the service and the former admonished him. And you also heard about the guy who shot up a car of teenagers after an argument he started by asking the kids to turn down the music, right? Feel safer yet? I'm sure the pro-gun lobby will talk about how this will lead to a more "civil society." What most pro-gun lobbyist miss is that it becomes an arms race from who has the more powerful weapon to who will shoot first. This is exampled by a kid bringing a gun to school to supposedly stop a CT style attack (although how waving it around on the playground and threatening other kids does that, you've got me). And then there's just the fuckin' crazy people. I'm sure we're all glad he was just trying to relax and re-safetied the weapon after firing 50 rounds into the parking lot, not to mention being polite to the police. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Quote for you: "Writers end up writing stories – or rather, stories' shadows – and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough" —Joy Williams

I fought for King and country I loved dear

Another from the Xmas playlist, John McCutcheon's "Christmas in the Trenches."

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each prepared to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wonderous night
"Whose family have I fixed within my sights?"

What is often left out from the histories is that the troops who engaged in a few of these truces had to be replaced because they refused to follow orders to attack. The insurrection was so wide spread that the officers couldn't court martial all the participants, so instead they just cycled in fresh recruits. The future use of gas munitions ended much of the peace that had prevailed.

Left of West and coming in a hurry with the furies breathing down your neck

In the next two days you're going to hear this endlessly on the media. So I thought I'd get a jump on them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Linkee-poo is down in the workshop making toys for the good gentile-girls and the good gentile-boys

You know how some people talk about how brick and mortar book stores need to find new ideas to keep people coming in? Here's one, Mr. B's Reading Spa with "treatments" and "gift vouchers." (Grokked from Mary Robinette Kowal)

Elizabeth Shack shares her experience with the Two-Year Novel course.

This is your brain, this is your brain on Christmas. Any questions? The usual about SAD, but a little more on the internal biochemistry going on with the eating and the drinking. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

You've got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Or sometimes it's best to ignore writing advice. Again, keep whatever works best for you. Toss the rest.

Everybody is wondering, just were the persistent oil sheen on the Gulf of Mexico's surface located just above the BP Macondo well sight is coming from. I wonder how long they'll scratch their heads until the realized they scratched those same heads over where a lot of the oil that disappeared during the blow out went? Nothing "goes away" forever. Something about the conservation of energy principle here. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Bulls make money, Bears make money. You know the whole, "ZOMG, Greece is about to implode, run away, run away"most pundits were shouting from the rooftops? People who placed their money into Greek debt are profiting handsomely. Here's something I've learned with my meager stock experience, when the talking heads say "run" either it's already too late or it time to look into investing. You do know that part of the Quantitative Easing the Fed has been doing includes buying a metric buttload of "toxic assets", right? Mostly for pennies on the dollar. You do remember how there were enough good loans in those packages to mask the bad ones, right?

The most deadly school attack? It happened in 1927 at an elementary school in Bath, MI. Seems another person, upset at having to pay taxes, decided to wire the school to explode and then set it off on a school day killing 45, 38 were children. (Grokked from Ferret Stienmetz)

Pygmy Right Whales are possibly the last of a very old lineage of whales thought to have gone extinct. More proof that our world is stranger than we think. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"You read that right. According to Bryan Fischer’s view of Scripture, God was too much of a 'gentleman' to stop the slaughter of 6-year-olds." Really Bryan Fischer, your God is a petulant asshole? I don't know what God you're worshipping, but it is certainly none of the gods I ever studied. Let me see, Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world. You know, except for all the children in public schools, obviously. You might beware, Bryan (and Mike), I seem to remember something about not judging lest ye be judged the same. I read that somewhere once. (Grokked from Joe Hill)

Tweet of my heart: @ticia42: I suffer from Punctuation Tourette Syndrome.

Davy stole a Xmas tree from K-Mart last night

Mary Gauthier's "Christmas In Paradise." If you ask me it's 1000x better than "Christmas Shoes" (which I just might have to take out an elf if I hear ever again).

Christmas in paradise under the Cow Key Bridge
where the warm breeze blows so nice
and the landlord forgives.

Unfortunate Ad Placement

During my usual reading far and wide to find you only the best links for the linkee-poo posts, I read where the Discovery Channel is showing Teddy Nugent the door. However, the one ad placement seemed both very appropriate to the meta conversation while inappropriate to the actual article. And I thought I'd share. If you embiggify you should be able to read the text.

Also, no, this article won't be in the linkee-poo.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We're non-union labor

Because of the saccharine holiday music on the office muzak today, a small musical interlude for me.

Please stand behind the yellow safety line until the holiday comes to a complete and final halt.

Linkee-poo is walking in a Winter Wonder… muddy, green field

Tobias Buckell tells how he used Kickstarter to restart his novel writing career. And it looks like he's been successful. Note that Toby had a lot of dedicated readers to begin with, and a good core of people cheering him on. He also took one hell of a risk.

Ken McConnell is releasing his Star Series books as an omnibus edition.

Sigh, turns out the Dr. Jones package sent to the University of Chicago was an eBay product created for a collector that got misdirected. Sigh.

The speed of perception. More analysis (although in just three paragraphs) on how we actually "see". (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Some people have way too much time on their hands. Or making programable holiday display lights on the (somewhat) cheap. I've seen some of the light setups that the uber lightship people use, and considering this all fits in what's essentially a tool box is just amazing. Some people dedicate entire closet spaces (walk-in closet spaces) or half their garage to do similar things (although they tend to put lights everywhere, including on the ground). (Pointed to by Dan)

In other holiday news, free printable wrapping paper. For those small gifts. (Pointed to by Dan)

What if they had "steadi-cams" when we went to the moon? That's film from Apollo 16, which drove the lunar rover. It was pretty jumpy footage at the time, but now it's nice a smooth. Which makes it look even cooler. (Pointed to by John)

The Minimum Wage Machine art sculpture. "The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage. Turning the crank will yield one penny every 4.97 seconds, for $7.25 an hour (NY state minimum wage)." Sometimes art likes to make a statement. Something to think about the next time you go on the late night Taco Bell run. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Oh no, William Shatner, you didn't. But I guess you did. Of course the opposite response would be, "Wasn't his poetry done by app before this?" I wonder how long before we have Spock app as well? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Paragould, Arkansas is set to create a new law enforcement unit… will patrol on foot and may have the power to 'randomly ask residents for identification.'" Reality is starting to Godwin itself. (Grokked from Vince)

The Seasteading Concept gets rolled out once more as libertarians look for some place to "Go Gault" in their own ways. This has been done before, it was called Sealand. Sealand had it's own issues, including a few pirate attacks. But mostly the Seasteaders just want to avoid taxes and being a part of the community, or what they call, "choices." Don't forget to read all the way to the bottom of that NPR article to see what usually happens to separatists. But, hey, go ahead. Set up your businesses on the refitted ship. Say, anybody tell you about import taxes? See, you're not a nation that we really need to worry about, and you won't be a part of the international trade communities, so there are no existing trading agreements or protections. Also, will all that concentration of wealth in one area, relatively unprotected… well, you do know that high-sea piracy is still a problem, right? Mostly it's kidnapping for ransom and or property confiscation (ie. nice boats). Oh, and don't forget the drug traffickers who would just love a nice base to launch their smuggling operations from (note the Zetas are highly militarized). And as "being separate", you may ask for help from the Coast Guard (Law of the Sea and all), but that doesn't mean we won't send a bill for it afterwards. Good luck, buckaroos. Do it. I really want to see you try so everybody else with pie in the sky dreams can see what happens. Just wait until the first "assessment" for "shared utilities" after installation costs happen. Oh, and I hope your desalination plant is equipped for the increased acidity of the ocean. Or you'll be replacing that real soon.

"'Yeah, some people are going to say, "Oh, those stupid Arizonans, there they go again,"' (Gila County, Arizona GOP chair Don Ascoli, also one of the Electors for President) said in an interview. 'But, you know, I’d rather be right than popular.'" What if you're neither, Don? It's time to just point and laugh, like you do at the zoo watching the monkeys flinging poo. (Pointed to by Dan)

"As has been pointed out before, GOP extremism in the Congress doesn’t have a Democratic analog." With the facts and figures to prove it. "What’s more, you have to add Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Henry Waxman together to get a liberal counterpart to Ron Paul’s conservatism." Hahahahaha. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"I’m saying that we are a violent people, we Americans… We glory in violence. We revel in violence. We worship violence." In case you're wondering what I was referring to earlier about "the disease in our society", Jim Wright sums it up pretty well.

"And there’s no such thing as one good bullet." Warren Ellis on the logic fallacy of increasing the prevalence of guns in society as a way of stopping gun violence. (Grokked from Joe Hill)

The Tobias Buckell post on perceptions, insular cultures devoted to exceptionalism, and the prevalence of guns in our culture that lots of people are pointing to.

"Of course, Westboro (Church) denied the charges and taunted Anonymous as incompetent hackers. They claimed their website was protected by God… A few days later, while a Westboro spokeswoman was boasting about how the church foiled Anonymous on a radio talk show, an Anonymous spokesman called in and hacked the church’s website in real time on the air." (Pointed to by Dan)

Eric posts the song he talked about in the comments. "And he can see no reason 'cause there are no reasons. What reason do you need to be shown?"

Tweet of my heart: @neiltyson: If you're always successful at BS'ing it's because you are not hanging around people who are smarter than you.

Alligator Quotient: They're all here in person. Yippie.

West Bethlehem was no place for a 12-year old

Well, it's not exactly a Christmas song, but I like to play it around Christmas as a part of my mix. John Prine's Jesus, The Missing Years.

Charlie bought some popcorn, Billy bought a car
Someone almost bought the farm, but they didn't go that far
Things shut down at midnight, at least around here they do
'Cause we all reside down the block, inside at 23 skidoo.

Monday, December 17, 2012

You're joking me, aren't you

This morning on the way in to work there was plenty of discussion about how the CT State Police might release what they believe is the motive for the Newtown killings. With the heady addition of, "and then we'll know."


No. Seriously. Really?

This is the motive of someone who shot their Mother in the head several times. And then, just for giggles, went to his old elementary school and shoot the youngest kids there. And now you expect the internal motivations of this person to make any sense?

I understand this is a "search for answers." The reality is, "there are no good answers." Part of the healing process for the nation needs to be to accept that truth. There are no good answers here. Something was going to set this off. Low blood sugar, only getting 3 ketchups at the drive-thru when you specifically ask for 5-8, a low flying airplane, something.

But I'm sure something will come of it and we all feel safe once we ban kids from wearing leather dusters, wearing black, or coming in costume to movies. Because that's what's really responsible. Just like we all have to take our shoes off when we go through the airport because it's the shoe's fault. Thankfully backscatter x-ray machines arrived just in time to avoid making the TSA screening area look like a clothing optional community after the underwear bomber.

Linkee-poo thinks they have too much heaven on their minds, it was beautiful, but now it's sour

Releasing the linkee-poo early as it's has grown very long. Just a short note on the Newtown insanity that has happened over the weekend (see some links at the bottom). If it's because we took God out of the schools, why then in the past year have two people shot up shopping malls not to mention all the businesses that have experienced shootings. And there have been shootings at both Sikh temples and churches. And why aren't there more shootings in schools, then? It's because this is a non-sensicle reason. Also for those idiots who think adding guns into schools is the solution let me remind you pilots can fly with side arms, has that made the TSA screening less onerous? Yeah, both of those sentiments are answers from dip-shits. Those people are part of the problem if you ask me (looking at you Huckabee and Gomert).

Kristen Lamb on being rejected and how to handle it.

Find the tells in your prose. (Grokked from Vince)

One sure fire way to get an agent, start with a deal in hand. Of course there's a lot of prework needed, but then you're already making those connections, aren't you? Now that classes are on break I have been weighing this path. I just need to find those few editor cards I've gathered along the way.

One way to keep track of all your characters' viewpoints is to chart them out. For those writers who love to plan and outline everything, this might help you know where all the balls are that you're trying to keep in the air.

Dr Doyle with some blogs dedicated to words and their study. You know, for people who like those things.

"In America Ron Hubbard, a manufacturer of hi-tech underground survival shelters, has seen his business explode." That's from a story about the Mayan calendar rolling over this coming Friday. While the reality is like a car's odometer rolling over, many people are of the opinion of "ZOMG, it's all going to end." But that line just stopped me in my tracks with a "Wait, what was that?" (Grokked from Jay Lake)

An interesting take on the Green Man iconography. Also with lots of post 1066 English history. Also interesting for how grudges live on. (Grokked from Terri Windling)

The Architeuthis in their natural habit has supposedly been caught on video. Although we won't see it until January. Architeuthis is the giant squid, in case you didn't know. (Grokked from

A Wired article on deciphering the Copiale text. Lots on ciphers and secret orders in there. (Grokked from Terri Windling)

"During an April meeting, Bangladeshi suppliers reached out to retailers of their garments with a plan that would help upgrade their facilities to make them more fire-proof -- other retailers approved the plan -- only to have it fall through when Wal-mart and the Gap refused to pay higher prices to make such upgrades feasible." Ah, good record keeping to the rescue. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Former Governor Mike Huckabee, I understand that this comes from your focus, but man are you a tool. I mean, it's not even a post hoc ergo prompter hock logic fault. See, if what you said was true there would be school shootings every week. Instead you're using this horrific event to advance your own non-related political agenda. You are lying. And you know you're lying. God has a word for you. It's the same word He uses for Bryan Fischer. Seriously a bookmatched pair of ginormous knobs.

And speaking of tools, "So far Crowder has not sought out police help after he was hit. Adamczyk pointed out he’s instead turned the video into a national conservative media tour." That's the Fox News reporter in Michigan who has video of a "union thug" taking several swipes at him. For the "law and order" conservative movement, this seems strange that he wouldn't report the crime that he has the video of it happening. You know, except that the police would demand the unedited video. The parts possibly showing that Crowder first pushed the union member to the ground would probably be used as evidence against Crowder.

The Slactivist with a good link post regarding the Newtown shootings. Teresa Nielsen Hayden over at Making Light also has some things to say, and some people's comments to share. And Eric has a few things to say as well.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekend Linkee-poo must away ere break of day to seek the pale enchanted gold

I'm not sure I'm going to talk about Newtown. What else is there to say after this Onion article? But you know when people talk about how they always thought "it just couldn't happen here"? A few more of these and nobody with any sense of the outside world and history will be able to say things like that. However, you want to know something that puts this all into focus for me? Incidents like this are on the decline, from what I understand. Many people will talk about how we should pass and enforce more gun control, watch out for "aspires", maybe increase public awareness of mental illness and/or increase access to treatment, arm the teachers, and all other silliness. I'm not against some gun control, and I'm all for increased awareness of mental illness and access to treatment, but the real question is what is wrong with us that we need all these guns in the first place? That's the real disease in our society. And why does it take so many deaths of children to get us to face these issues? Not to mention the questions of why these children matter to us, but many of us can ignore the children in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan who have died because of our actions?

Ten New Year's Resolutions for writers. The intern job from hell. Good thing the Dalkey Archive is overseas as we have laws here to prevent such a thing (unpaid internships need to benefit the intern more than the company). You know, if we actually enforced them.

Want you're own planetarium? Don't want to pay the thousands for those really good star machines? Check out Night Shade. Can't beat free.

Ice "flowers" in the Arctic. More proof the world is stranger than we think. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Why? Because we can." Eric with a little snark regarding the HSBC money laundering settlement.

"JIM HENSON: I think Ms. Rand and my character Oscar the Grouch would have a lot to talk about actually. I am laughing out loud at this idea." Bwahahaha. That's a link to an early online conversation between Ayn Rand, Yoko Ono, Jim Henson and Sidney Nolan (ARPANET Dialogue IV). (Pointed to by John)

Tweet of my heat: @tobiasbuckell: These are the people that were being called union thugs and parasites, teachers, heroes:…

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Linkee-poo to dungeons deep and caverns old

Jim Hines clarifies the point behind his pose off. Having worked in advertising and design and partially in their distant cousin, fashion, for over 20 years now, what Jim is exposing is only the tip of the iceberg. Fr'instance, Cosmopolitan is a flagship publication for feminism. You've seen the contents, I would hope. Both the ads and the "visual" articles? While some of that can be chalked up to "spiked-heel" feminism, some of it also ties into the self-loathing complexes that feminism was partially about (ie. to stop that cultural shit).

One of my favorite people interviews another of my favorite people. Or Catherine Schaff-Stump interviews Mer Haskell about her writing process (wherein I am name checked).

I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers! A replica of Dr. Henry Jones' Grail Diary is sent to the University of Chicago. Sometime people with way too much time on their hands do silly things, like Dr. Moreau experiments on Peeps. However, this waste of time I approve of. Making the universe special one package at a time. (Grokked from Chia Lynn)

They don't make 'em like they used to. Irene Gallo on how you paint a 150 foot tall "The Hobbit" movie poster. Out where I live I see the faded remnants of the time when barns were painted to be rural billboards. Doing art this way is sadly going away. Although happily for my friends who work in large format.

Wait, there's a Lone Ranger movie? And Johnny Depp is Tanto? I hate to say it, but the trailer looks like it's a lot of cgi "ooo, don't this look special" stuff, which would be too bad. And, if you listen closely, you can hear the protests already. I like Johnny Depp, but I'm not sure about this one. Also, a little questioning of the physics of that last sequence in the trailer would have gone a long way.

The world's first and only honest resume of a graphic designer. Bwahahahaha. "Skills: All the computer programs known to man, except for Microsoft Word. That is where graphic design goes to lay down and die." Hahahahahahaha. Oh my yes, this. (Pointed to by Dan)

Speaking of, the Creative Group just released their marketing salary survey. Get 'em before your annual review. It's presented as a travel brochure :: rolls eyes :: Whatever happened to "Form Follows Function" people?

All colors are in essence, black. Or all movies are the same, and they're all becoming spaghetti westerns with excellent CGI. Why, because this is the true Hollywood Formula, "Oh, that worked and made us a butt-load of money? More of that, please."

There are huge numbers of (admittedly geeks) who think the Singularity is going to be wonderful. If you don't know, the Singularity has morphed from the moment that technological change occurs so fast, nobody can keep up with it, then it was faster than we could realize (think entire industrial revolution occurring in an afternoon), and finally is now recognized as that moment were we can upload our brains into computers. Personally, I think that's a horrible future and would never consider it unless I was 104 and we were sending a ship to a nearby star and that was the only way to go. One of the many reasons boils down to essentially this. I love programmers. Hell, I was on that course myself. But the vast majority of programmers couldn't get out of a wet paper bag (let alone program their way out) with a map, a light, and a knife. Seriously, if the NYTs, The Paper of one of the US's most integrated and diverse cities, can't get their subscription page right, what makes you think I would trust them with my memories? "Oops, sorry, buffer overload."

Eric deconstructs the latest mind fart of Justice Antonin Scalia. Sometime I wonder just what happened to him since at one point he had to have the intellectual chops to graduate from law school. And at one time he was considered one of the most principled and intellectual of the justices. But for a while he's been going down hill, which most people finally recognized by his intellectual u-turn in dissenting over the Obamacare case (which was argued to the positive specifically along the lines of his previous rulings, at one point it was thought that he might actually be the 5th vote to uphold the law simply because to not do so would involve a theoretical pretzel knot that seemed unsurmountable - but then he just threw out his previous forty years of judicial decisions and philosophy to find against).

Just in case you run into someone who likes to talk about "what the Bible forbids", here's 76 other things banned by the Bible. Conservatives like to forget about "66. Mistreating foreigners – 'the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born' ((Leviticus) 19:33-34)" Waiting to see if the conservatives who love to talk about "teh gayz 'cause Bible" realize that they also then need to remove restrictions of immigration. 'Cause if they argue Paul's vision in Acts of God spreading the banquet before him nullifies the prohibitions against foods, but not acts, well, yeah, that whole "love thy neighbor" admonition is also an act, not a food. (Pointed to by Dan)

Not sure if this is of interest to anyone else, but the Navy is testing the UCAS aboard the USS Truman. That's the Navy's fighter drone program getting ready for all carrier operations. If you watch the video on that page, apparently the UCAS comes complete with a Kinetics.

"'It's what lawyers call betrayal without remedy'." The fuck the worker campaign continues rolling along. This time Hostess executives took pension money from the employees (and in case you didn't know, the Baker's Union is very, very, big on pensions) and plowed it into operating expenses instead of depositing it in the pension plan. And I disagree with the lawyers, while you may not be able to sue under pension laws (and ain't that grand, you all do know about the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation), if the deal was structured as a $0.30 raise, $0.28 diverted to the pension fund, I would still try to sue under wage theft. Say, you know how the state and local governments talk about their pension liabilities? You know this is how they got those unpaid liabilities, right? They didn't contribute the proper amount to the pension funds for decades and now the bill is coming due. But we're going to screw those employees over as well. (Grokked from Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

And more, "… Hostess’ CEO, Gregory Rayburn, essentially admitted that his company stole employee pension money and put it toward CEO and senior executive pay… If there's no way to recover the money for the Hostess pension plans for workers, then we the taxpayers - through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. - will have to foot the bill to make sure workers get the retirement money they paid in." Well ain't that just kick in the crotch, spit on your neck dandy? Tell me again why we shouldn't tax mother-fuckers like this into oblivion? And there's no longer many laws that could be used to sue or prosecute them. Still feel positive about those Bush Era Tax Cuts? (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

But then, we are always afraid of outsourcing. And damn the costs, don't we all want our WalMart "falling prices"? Not only is worker compensation and safety compromised, the side argument to this is environmental destruction. You outsource jobs because of that as well. (Grokked from Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

Who won the space race? That's an article about how Kazakhstan wants Russia to reopen negotiations on the use of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia's main launch facility. But out of 17 planned launches by NASA next year, by my count 9 of them are from Baikonur. So again I ask, who won? (Pointed to by John)

The Red Scare and it's Red Channels. The terrorist watch list of the time. History doesn't repeat, but it often rhymes.

Tweet of my heart: @saladinahmed: What SHOULD come up in coverage of legalization debate: prisons, deficits, public health, Bill of Rights. What ACTUALLY comes up: Taco Bell.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm stickin' to the union

Look, okay, you want "Right to Work"? Fine. Here's the deal that should be made. If you decide not to joint the union in a union shop, you are not covered under the union contract and your employer can not use the union contract as the basis for your pay or benefits. Also, you do not accumulate seniority (placing you at the bottom of the list no matter how long you work there, until you joint the union - seniority would start accumulating when you join the union). You are not covered under union rules for redress or position protection. You are not entitled to union representation during reviews or disciplinary matters. Nor are you dismissed for union activities (if you have them in your shop). You are "Right to Work" which means "at will" work. Also protect payroll deduction for union dues and pensions. Seriously, this is why you have a payroll department or service (and if you don't, more than likely you're not big enough to have a union either). Accept those terms, enforce those rules on business, and sure, I'll accept "Right to Work" legislation.

If not, Right to Work is an entitlement program benefiting people who contributed nothing to the program to begin with. And aren't conservatives morally opposed to "entitlements"?

Edited to add You know how in 2010 the Tea Party and other disaffected conservatives voted in majorities of Republic legislatures, governors, and the House of Representatives to nominally put our nation back on fiscal track. And then those new Republican majorities set out to strip women of their reproductive rights, deny gays equal protection under the law, and make futile votes to "Repeal Obamacare"? You know, everything but passing a budget that could work, making tax reform work (that mythical rewritting and simplifying the tax code that's been in the works since, what, 1996), and "righting the fiscal ship of state". So now it appears these two years will be devoted to "how much of the state can we dismantle to give employers their right to screw over their employees as much as possible." This is why whenever any conservative touts how they're "more fiscally responsible" then those tax and spend liberals, I've taken to laughing in their faces. The GOP is no longer focused on the fiscal stuff. They are social conservatives (who really aren't "conservative" as much as "retro") 24/7/365. It was my hope the Tea Party might skew them back to fiscal matters, but they've also been co-opted by social conservatives.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Linkee-poo is standing, stretching every nerve

What the eye has seen can not be unseen. Forewarned. The Jim Hines/John Scalzi pose off with voting opportunities. Thank the gods I have hard cider at home.

Picturing the Hobbit. An Irene Gallo post over at I love her posts, BTW. She has such a great eye. Also, I can't wait to see how Smaug looks in the movie. Jackson did a great job with the Balrog.

Of import to the link to Scalzi's blog in the last linkee-poo regarding working for free, the should I work for free flow chart. They're a little bit more generous than I am (or should I say, "have become in my crotchety old age"). (Grokked from commentator Daughter Number Three)

Kim Neville on tuning out your inner editor. Yeah. I've got that problem.

Matthew Cheney on the new (and old) Red Dawn. And yeah, I remember seeing the original in theater. Glad we aren't all paranoid racists or anything. I haven't wanted to see this movie form the first time I heard they were remaking it. Didn't we win the Cold War?

Ah, the fuck the worker parade continues. No, not about Michigan's "right to have benefits from something you didn't contribute to" law (talk about entitlements). This time it's my home state's Supreme Court being activist and redefining the restrictive workers compensation tort law to mean safety equipment is only that which is on a machine (um, guys, OSHA wants to have a word with you) and a work place can only be sued if they directly intended to harm workers. Um, I think that's called "assault" and if they accomplish it, "battery" and is already covered. But this time the onus is on the worker to prove the company intended to harm them directly. If you can't prove it all you get is worker's comp, disability (if you have it), and a 3 year struggle to get disability from Social Security. You know, those things our tax money pays for. Ohio, we're open for business. Accidentally poison your employees, get them electrocuted by supplying the wrong equipment, or have a vehicle operating outside its design limit crush them? No worries. Come on in and kill us. But hey, jobs!

The conservative amnesia around the Bush Administration continues unabated. This time, the newsletter for a Fox News anchor conveniently forgets they actually did have the meeting that they threw out as a straw man to show how enraged they were at MSNBC getting briefed by the President. Were conservatives all smoking dope during the 2000s, because their starting to affect the opinion of the Bush Administration as hippies have of the 60s. If you can remember it, you weren't there. Seriously, you all know Jon Stewart has a large video library and the rest of us have Google, right?(Grokked from Jay Lake)

Alligator Quotient: You know that monster in Cloverfield? Yeah, like that.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fell in love with this song the first time I heard it

More from my holiday playlist. This time it's Tish Hinajosa with Arbolito.

Wish she had an official youtube channel I could point to.

Linkee-poo is before its time

I'm going to post this linkee-poo early, I was saving it for Monday. This is for several reasons. Because of clinicals I've been punting on the Friday posts and because it's getting very long. This coming week is Finals, so I'm going to be a little distracted this week. Also I'm trying to figure out how to make Spring Semester and 16 hours of clinicals work with classes and putting in a 40 hours week at the day thing. Which is giving me freakouts over the future of 32 hours in the Summer and 24 hours of clinicals next Fall and Spring. When I started this I thought I had the effort in me. Right now I'm not so sure.

As the negative reviews of the Hobbit start coming in, Peter Jackson releases more footage and materials from the movies to counter act them (there's a video on that guardian page that collect 6 clips from the movie, somewhat long clips). (Grokked from Mrs. Tad)

Sea silk. More proof that the world we live in is stranger than we think. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Have you ever tried to have an idea. Any idea at all, with a gun to your head? This is the daily reality for the creative drone. And when he’s done, sometime in the wee small hours, he then has to face his two harshest critics. Himself, and everyone else." A post called "A short/overdue lesson in perspective." That perspective is of a lifetime in the advertising profession (of which I work in a very closely related field) from someone now facing cancer and forced to drop from the race. Their career started before mine, I came in in those crazy 90s, so I didn't have that time of "the creative process", although that's what I studied in school. Now nearing if not the end of that career, at least the twilight edge of it, oh yes this. Including the saddest statement of all in that essay, that even now there is no lack for bright-young-things coming in who have no clue what they're really signing up for. I've had two "dream" jobs in this business, and both were built on that premise of, "but we allow you to be so creative, why do you want to be paid money for it?" and that concept of "competition." I've also missed a lot in life, many times I should have been home but instead was working on something that just doesn't matter, trading my health (physical and mental) for baubles. This, or something like it, should be required reading in design school. (Grokked from Xeni)

On a slightly related note to the above, some creatives do get it, do know their value, and aren't willing to be guilted or manipulated in a passive-aggressive manner to do excellent work for peanuts. In this case attempting to get John Scalzi to write for you for free. And for anyone that cares, yeah, we designers get those types of requests all the time.

The Keep Calm-o-matic. It seems amazing to me how much this WWII Blitz poster has become a meme in the past year. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The CNBC Holiday Tipping Guide. You know what would be better than tipping for, say, your garbage collectors? Paying them a decent salary to begin with. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

The sworn virgins of the Blakans. Some more fodder for your world building experiences. To say nothing of the intense social commentary on the positions of women in the patriarchal Western Culture. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Know why there's all that regulation that is "stifling business innovation"? Because the industries that are being innovated have existing players that want it that way. And they're willing to donate big to make sure it stays that way. It's a legal form of corruption. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

You know all the talk here in Ohio about fracking not affecting groundwater and how it's all safe and everything? Well in Colorado they're starting to think a little differently because of their longer experience with drilling. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

A story on NPR about the increasing acidification of the worlds oceans as they continue to act as a buffer for our pumping out CO2. The canaries are starting to keel over in more noticeable numbers and places. In this case the oyster trade is being put in peril. See, acidic waters dissolve shellfish calcium based shells and exoskeletons. But now the pH has dropped enough that it's killing oysters outright. Most humans don't think about things like this, but we're also susceptible to these problems. We miss it because our bodies are normally pretty good at keeping homeostasis. But once we tip over (for pH and temperature, not to mention some other chemicals balances like where you have salt accumulations), death quickly follows (look at the tables of how long you can last in near freezing water without a survival suit). And here is the problem with buffers, they continue to absorb whatever they buffer at a good rate, until they become saturated. And then the absorption drops precipitously. So the ocean is taking in CO2, which is keeping it from increasing the greenhouse effect. Now it's pH is dropping, which means it's approaching saturation.

"It isn’t just the Conservative entertainment complex that is driving the GOP to ever more ridiculous and preposterous positions, the Conservative scam-PACs are demanding the same… To get eyeballs glued to the screen, and to liberate cash from wallets, Fox News and the GOP PACs need a continuous state of political crisis… GOP politicians must know that they are going to lose this game, but if you can lose and get an $8m payout, then is it really losing at all?" Well, all that money has got to go somewhere. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"At heart Fox News remains a business where the bottom line is just as important, if not more so, than the political line. And in a second Obama term, there is still a rich vein of conservative anger to be mined among core viewers." A leopard can't change it's spots, but it can wear a coat for a while. (Grokked from Mrs. Tad)

Bryan Fischer with Barack the Destroyer. Wasn't that the Conan movie people don't remember going to see? Okay, I'm just wondering when this fruit-loop will find his "one step to far" moment. Either that or we should take up a collection for tag and release of the wackaloons. Or maybe use the tranquilizer darts for remote administration of Prozac. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

One Million Moms again shows that what conservatives are really upset with concerning gay spokespeople and marriage is that it doesn't allow them to deny that gay people exist. In this case the AFA's overly optimistically named One Million Moms Movement is upset that JC Penny had the audacity to use Ellen DeGeneres on a holiday ad. I guess all five of those families' kids will be getting Chick-fil-A gift certificates in their stockings this year. (Grokked from Vince)

"Boehner is a man riding a proverbial tiger in the tax issue; it could consume his speakership if he gets it wrong for the country and/or his party. But Obama’s got his own problems with left-wing irreconcilables in his own party." An article supposedly on how GOP politics are unravelling, but it pretty clearly states out some of the political issues over the financial cliff. And I agree that preogressives maybe gleeful a bit prematurely. The GOP has a lot of experience of nearly unraveling and then refocusing on the hard right and reforming. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @johnjbarry: @neilhimself Why are people talking about 'the' meaning of a story? As if stories have only one. Every person gets their own one...