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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Linkee-poo, the moon is on my side

"Wherever you are in your life, if you want to write, WRITE. It's hard work, and it doesn't pay as well as you think it will, and there will be days when you want to move to Hawaii and be the person that puts whipped cream on waffles, because that would be pretty easy by comparison, plus WAFFLES. But your lowest point can be transformative." Perseverance, that's the key. I may need to tape that up somewhere to remind me it's possible. Sometimes, in transformative actions, you need to hit that bottom and crawl your way back. Strange how that also works for addiction. (Grokked from John Scalzi, I think)

JR Johnson talks about blazing your own trail to publication. Note that trail is paved in rejection letters. Failure is an acceptable state when starting out. Hell, for several weeks I thought about quitting the reboot because I kept failing in clinicals. Last Tuesday was about the first day I can say I succeeded more than I failed. I'm still failing, but I'm failing better. And much of what I was failing, I've gotten better at. Writing is the same. My fail state is much farther along than it had been (and hopefully will be when I'm able to write fiction again).

Kristian Lamb reminds us not to edit prematurely. Or, your story parts maybe saying "I'm not dead, yet." She also gives two good tips. No editing, write as fast as you can. And, okay, you can correct typos, but everything else gets set in a different color and then you keep writing.

The Child on how to write like her Dad (who happens to be Jay Lake).

English is hard, let's go to the mall.

A fantasy reader's collection of fantasy novel maps. (Grokked from Genreville)

Some historic photos of a NYC past from the municipal archives. (Grokked from Dr. Phil)

"Sooner or later, solar will be woven seamlessly into the fabric of our lives." If we could just get to the magic price per kWh. This new tech promises it. As the article states, there's a lot that can happen between prototype and manufacturing. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

"'Since Nov. 1, wind has been the top technology in the electrical system,' the (Spanish Wind Energy Association) said in a blog posting. 'The last time any technology exceeded 6 terawatt-hours of monthly generation was in 2010, when it was combined-cycle gas turbines.'" That represents about a quarter of the total power output. Strange what happens when you invest in infrastructure (I'm sure their economic crisis helped a little with decreased overall energy production). (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Just in case anyone forgets what the insanity of the 80s anti-abortion movement was like. You know, before courts rules that the protestors by exercising their free-speech right we infringing upon the rights of others. It's a lesson to learn for both the history (and why we don't want to go back there) and the limitations of rights granted in the Bill of Rights. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"In Washington state, one… 'good guy'… drew his gun in defense of others (and) paid a heavy price." Well, he did stop the rampage by taking 5 bullets (including one to the spine). Right after that the shooter took hostages, which the police then negotiated to safety. But there's some very good truths in that article, like that unless you have what is essentially combat shooter training, your whistling Dixie. Also those skills are perishable, so you need to keep training. Also, if you're in that situation and you pull your firearm, be prepared to shoot first.

"…but here's an even better tip: stop proposing legislation that says rape victims shouldn't have any choices when it comes to reproductive rights." Of course "The problem is, that it is not their talking points that are the problem, it’s the beliefs that inform the talking points that are the problem." Or in other words, the only real problem with conservatives speaking their minds is that most of the rest of us find that thought process that leads to their conservative positions to be morally reprehensible. But instead the GOP leadership isn't changing people's thoughts, they're continuing along the path set out in the GOPAC Memo, control the language. In this case, just don't talk about it. Note that they aren't really changing their positions or their thinking that leads to those positions. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Tweet of my heart: @jonnypeace: "The average westerner looks upon an habitual carrier of concealed weapons as a coward prima facie ..." Ouray (Colorado) Herald, 1901.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Linkee-poo has to the tell the story of a thousand rainy days since we first met

Chuck Wendig's 25 hard truths about writing and publishing (but mostly about publishing. Want to know how to make a million dollars? Solve #6. The person (or likely persons) who solve the issue of finding new books online (that you really want to read) that person will make a fortune. Right now, browsing books online is tedious. My solution is to show a shelf-like view (maybe sell "face out" and "end cap" space), but that's 1) a cludge fix that doesn't integrate (much) of the advantage of the internet (you could put a "other people who liked what you like also liked" function to weed out the millions of options available online), 2) and real world analog (which isn't always a bad thing), and 3) ignores (at least) two other functions a real world bookstore has. Not to mention the resolution issue.

Random Michelle K went to Philadelphia and saw printing presses. And she shares photos.

The world first computer generated art. As might be presumed from the all male world of computers in the 50s, it's pornographic, or at a least a pin-up. So this link may be NSFW. The image itself was first used as a diagnostic; if the image looked okay, data was being transferred from one computer to the backup correctly. If the image was "off", there were data problems. Which is a fairly good diagnostic trick (humans respond better to "images" than number flows). (Pointed to by John)

Sure, we live a post-whatever society. As that article demonstrates we can't even get past the sexism in underwear marketing for kids. (Grokked form Tobias Buckell)

"A group of self-appointed 'patriots' are moving forward with an idea for a planned community of several thousand families of 'patriotic Americans' in Idaho, a project named The Citadel, envisioned as a 'martial endeavor designed to protect Residents in times of peril'…" I wonder if any of these "patriots" have ever heard of an air strike, let alone the rise of the UAV? And while it looks like a castle set up, they've forgotten some serious needs, like water and sewer. Seriously. As someone who has followed various splinter organizations form the 90s to early 2000's, apparently they've become completely unhinged by recent political events. Like the re-election of a black president (that's a link to various assholes in twitter who are probably badly surprised to find the President wasn't assassinated on Inauguration Day. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Another one bites the dust. Well that makes six people shot at gun shows last week (the week of Gun Appreciation). Okay, well, there are a lot of people who went to gun shows who weren't injured. But most of these people were either gun dealers, or shot by gun dealers. You know, the people who should know gun safety and for whom having a loaded weapon, or ammo next to the firearm it goes with is illegal. I mean, this is beyond basic gun safety. At least when I went to gun shows, it was a cast iron rule, no loaded weapons. And these are the people who think we should be listening to for our gun safety? (Grokked from Joe Hill)

Okay, you know how we like to think of States as amoral at best? Well, how about if a state gave a minority population birth control involuntarily?. In this case it's Israel given their Ethiopian immigrants what is though to be Depo-Provera in an attempt to lessen their numbers, and in the mind of (at least) PM Benjamin Netanyahu, lessen the "threat" they pose to their "Jewish and democratic state." You can read that as "all us European Jews feel threatened by these African Jews." However, before we get all judgmental here, just keep in mind it wasn't that long ago that we had similar programs that targeted the mentally ill (which in some cases only meant "teenage mother").

Tweet of my heart: @aspaul: "It's cold out, so much for global warming" is the new "If evolution is real, why aren't monkeys turning into humans?"

Double dip: @silencewedge Heating mercury thiocyanate looks like you've opened a portal to hell

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo, now, Junior, behave yourself

MacMillian launching a pilot program to license ebooks to libraries. I've been tracking the story of library uses of ebooks for a little. It's an interesting twist in how all digital media is different than hard copy. All hard copy degrades, and if it's popular in a library system, is then replaced. But if data doesn't deteriorate with use, publishers lose that income from replacement sales. IIRC, some publishers do print "library editions" (which are supposed to be a little stronger), but those also cost more. I can see the argument for a higher initial price, but then that means fewer titles libraries can buy. They also would be less willing to take a chance on a new or rebooting author. (Pointed to by John)

John Scalzi deconstructs the ebook "get rich" myth. And he shows the math.

I love that first photo. Already really like the roll-over story.

It's harder to rewrite history when the people involved in that history are still alive. In this case, the hagiography of Steve Jobs. (Pointed to by John)

The 13 best stargazing events of 2013. And the 10 best stargazing events of 2013. Note both lists don't share all points. But there's going to be not one, but two comets this year (at least one of them will be great). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Mary Robinette Kowal shares a video with an excellent take down of the "They faked the Moon landings." Science (bitches)! Short answer, we didn't have the technology and it would be easier to actually go to the Moon.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal on the human centric fallacy. Yeah, in case you didn't know it, science does this. A lot. (Pointed to by Dan)

Just a note to mention that for a 3 month mission, Opportunity is still kicking Martian ass going into her 10th year. (Pointed to by Dan)

On this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Fred Clark shares the real genesis of the "abortion myth."

Conservatives, not happy with loosing elections, continues their campaign to restructure election laws to benefit themselves. Having learned the lesson of losing the popular vote, but still maintaining majorities in the House of Representatives and State Houses, they now want to tinker with the electoral college by not only making it proportional, but allocated by representative district. But only in Democratic leaning states (the red states will stay as they are with winner take all). Is such a scheme were in place in 2012, Romney would have won the electoral college (including 9 electoral votes in Virginia, were Obama, who won the popular vote, would only have garnered 4). Unfortunately at this point this is flying under the radar of most people. But what you're witnessing is a wholesale destruction of the democratic process by gerrymander. (Pointed to by Dan)

Gotta have those guns just in case your straight A student starts getting Bs. But don't worry about him pointing it at his daughter and wife, he didn't have it loaded. I'm sure we all feel safer now. Also note, yeah, this is abusive behavior and is more than likely indicative of other family problems, but it's not like "abusive father" is one of the reasons to be denied a firearm. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Look, mostly angry white mean trying to figure out how to not come across as mostly angry white men. Notice that they're not talking about (here or in other reports I've read or listened to) actually changing anything. Just that they acknowledge their ideological positions are non-starters and actually offensive to most Americans is a start, but basically they're trying to find the right words. I'll take a small quibble with the article, "Wait, Haley Barbour isn't a Tea Party name? I'm pretty sure he is." Also the song, "Put on a happy face" is going through my head. (Grokked from WannabeWriter06)

Fred Clark on the difference between true believers and hucksters. They both want your money, but that's all the later want. And they know the best way to get that money is to not care about the success of the true believers.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Linkee-poo is dynamite with a laser beam

Do you miss those badge bandoliers you could make when you were in Girl/Boy Scouts? Wish you could get those badges for your adult geekery skills? Well, now you can. (Pointed to by Dan)

Jim Hines discusses just what the point of his cover poses happens to be. And it's not like cover art is the only culprit here. Heck, we sell salad dressing with oral sex visual metaphors. There's a new commercial for a beer, or something. There's a bit that Gabriel Inglesias does about Spanish TV advertising (it's starts around the 1 minute mark). The new beer commercial is the lower half of a woman in a short, sparkly dress carrying two bottles, with a teaser (ha!) at the end saying, "being announced (whatever the date is)." The first time that played (okay, the first time I saw it), my wife and I were watching TV together. At the end I turned to her and said, "Pepsi." Yeah, I'm like that. So, yeah, it's part of the culture. The good news is the books Jim shows the covers of at the bottom are selling. If they sell well enough buyers and all the rest of the people in the chain will be able to say, "Hey, people get it, we don't have to sell this way." You know, until the next group of young Turks get into the business. Now there are smart ways to use sex to sell product, showing all parties as having agency and power. But because of the reverberations of "Accepted" Victorian Thought on our modern day, sex becomes perverse, dirty, and all about power plays and subjugation (don't believe it, you should read my spam filter some day).

Using DNA to encode data. Well, it already does, but this is more of encoding data like your text or music files. Brings a whole new meaning to "going viral." (Pointed to by John)

The D&D Archive now that the game is turning 40. (Grokked from Phiala, I think)

"But I was disappointed in the margins." A lifehacker article on setting boundaries and maintaining balance. I'll read it all when I have a little more time. (Grokked from Elizabeth Shack)

What the eye has seen can not be unseen. Let's go and meet the Bronies video narrated by Jon de Lancie. With a lot on fandom, a little on gender equality in fandom (around the 3 minute mark). Watch at your own risk. (Pointed to by John)

Staying on a "horse" theme, Vince shares a music video, Unicorns from Hell. Would have been much nicer if I were convince she was really playing that guitar. But, um, yeah, Bob.

Attempting to see the walls of Dark Matter that we're "constantly" crashing through. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A dinosaur skull in the walls of St. Ambrose. Part of the hidden world around us. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Removing BPA from our diets and how hard that is. Not as hard as cutting high-fructose corn syrup out of the food chain, but still pretty bad. With a little on why BPA is bad for you and the politics of food and the chemical industry (hint, they're like the NRA, but they don't go on TV ranting about their positions). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Dung beetles (and possibly other insects) using the Milky Way as a guide to keep rolling in a straight line. Which gets me wondering if other animals use the light from our galaxy for other signals. Like birds, for instance. (Grokked from Mrs. Tadd)

Thrown in for the coolness factor, using sound wave to suspend pharmaceuticals for drying to keep from having crystallization happen. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

In Saudi Arabia the "morals police" shut down a traveling exhibit of plaster dinosaurs. Which prompts many sarcastic tweets. Unfortunately I think the wrong people will see this as encouragement instead of satiric commentary.

The Kansas GOP Speaker of the House gets stupid when it comes to the President. Again, this isn't some whack job off the street or little known politico, this is the GOP Party Leader in the Kansas Legislature and either he is dumber than a stick, or he thinks the rest of us are. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"The prevalent expression of this psychological pain is the belief that President Obama is largely or entirely responsible for Republican extremism… moderate Republicans believe that Obama’s tactic of taking sensible positions that moderate Republicans agree with is cruel and unfair, because it exposes the extremism that dominates the party, not to mention the powerlessness of the moderates within it." A little on the twisted psychology of that premise, and a lot of David Brooks and the call from the Right for President Obama to do what he has been doing for the past four years. And then a little more on the "let's compromise and do it all our way" philosophy of the conservatives. Pretty much exposes the emptiness of the conservative talking points. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @daveweigel: Congressmen are the people at book readings who say "I have more of a comment than a question"

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hypocritical misogynistic bastards

Hobby Lobby is suing to keep from having to offer their female employees birth control and "female wellness" care because it goes against their deeply held beliefs.

Let me just say this from the outset, what a load of bull crap. And it's easy to prove. All these points can also go for all the rest of the hypocritical buttwipes that are protesting the ACA/Obamacare's (also note now the conservative realize it's here to stay, you're not hearing it called "Obamacare" so much anymore) requirement for birth-control coverage on "religious grounds."

Does their insurance also cover vasectomies? My guess is they do, as most insurance programs fully cover vasectomies before deductibles. Why? Because pregnancy is very costly and snIpping the lines is a good way to prevent pregnancy. Now you may be saying, why would this matter to Hobby Lobby's deeply held religious convictions. Isn't it a sin to spill your seed on the barren ground? I seem to remember that in the bible, mostly interpreted as "thou shall not wank," but isn't intentionally shooting blanks spreading your seed on barren ground? Because you still make sperm, and you still get the sensation of ejaculation, because your body is sending the sperm down the line, it just doesn't get out. No way to get pregnant there, so barren ground.

And here we can add tubal ligation and hysterectomies. Most insurance companies cover them, and there are lots of reasons other than contraceptive reasons to have these happen, but the result it the same, isn't it? I almost didn't include this because of those other reasons, but if the right-to-lifers don't believe in abortion to save the life of the mother, there's no moral distance in their eyes here in excluding these procedures.

Do they cover tests for STDs? I'll bet they do. But if your monogamous and "save yourself" for marriage, you don't need that service. In fact, isn't checking for those basically admitting to infidelity and promiscuous behavior? I'm pretty sure those are sins (and some of the biggies too).

Do they cover artificial insemination and other "getting pregnant" technologies? My guess is they don't. Why? Again, pregnancy is expensive and if you need those services your pretty much saying "difficult pregnancy." So most insurance doesn't cover this or the freezing of eggs (and now whole ovaries) or sperm. But doesn't God tell us to be fruitful and multiply? Isn't it a good family's Christian duty to have children? I seem to remember it being one of the duties. So why wouldn't they include all the possible methodologies to help their employees have babies?

Then there is also the problem of prostate surgeries which have a high percentage of impotence as an after effect. Again, thwarting the will of God.

I could go on, but I think you get the gist. Instead all they're worried about is providing women with reproductive options and birth control. It has nothing to do with their religion and everything to do with their misogynistic world view. If it were about their deeply held religious beliefs, there's a whole lot more they would be protesting. Their actions show their motivations. And their actions are that of people stuck in the "he-man woman-haters club."

Linkee-poo has to get itself back to the garden

"A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper." The daily routines of famous writers. YMMV. (Grokked from Diana Peterfreund)

Jeremiah Tolbert shares the high cost of being in education. It doesn't get much better in higher education either. We're now along far enough (and scrimped and saved enough) that we're no longer dealing with student loan debt (now that I think about it, we're around the time we would have normally discharged that debt if we had paid the minimum). But trust me, if we weren't getting the small tuition benefit from my wife's job and the scholarship, I would be seriously rethinking this path. And my new course work is just an associates degree. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Reverse engineering from DNA to the individual. So now it is possible to know if you're a dog on the internet. Thousands of people are having the genome sequenced and put into an open database to aid research. Someone decided they'd see if they could take that DNA and find the individual it belonged to. That's chilling on so many levels. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

With the latest shooting in the heart of conservative land (ie. Texas), Texas Republicans are calling for more guns in the classroom. You know, like they were doing last week anyway. Good to see they're consistent. Frankly in this case it looks like the problem was too many guns on campus to begin with. (Grokked from AbsoluteWrite)

"Why is it that when storms and hurricanes and earthquakes ravage our society, conservatives say it’s a sign from God to change our ways. But when ten people are shot on Gun Appreciation Day, well, you know. Nazis." Jim Wright on President Obama's (well VP Biden's report to President Obama) Executive Orders, legislative pushes and why the conservatives are going apeshit over the things they, themselves, think should happen.

Tweet of my heart: @AdviceToWriters: A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. RICHARD BACH #writing #writetip

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Linkee-poo… another one bites the dust

The CNN story on PayPal changing with a nod to the brouhaha over Jay Lake's fundraiser.

Twenty-five words that don't exist in English. although I think "schadenfreude" is sneaking into English. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

A long, but engaging and interesting article on ritual, identity, community, connection, and being human. There's an on going discussion in SF/F about the "lack of religion" (even when it is everywhere), and while I personally disagree with those who say "in the past, religion was everywhere" (it was politically, but on a day to day basis for most people, we now have more religion and religious identity than in the past), it was there. In this article you see how that works, and what it meant. All through out I heard the echos of Joseph Campbell. We are all humans, it's just some of us forgot what that means. The internet facilitates sub-tribal identities, just like radio and TV did in their day. And ritual surrounds us daily, it is what we do. Most people think that "ritual" is "religion", but it really isn't. Ritual, for some people, is standing in line at Starbucks. And if you think Starbucks doesn't recognize it, you've obviously misunderstood why their sizes are listed as they are, the codification of language used to place orders, and the iconography prevalent. Same with Apple, same with most successful branding. Also watch how this plays out in social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr/Pinterest. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

To paraphrase Spinal Tap, "The numbers all go to 'kitten'… It's one louder." That's John Scalzi with the new way to handle trolls. Kittening is the new disemvoweling.

A video of the failed political assassination in Bulgaria during a political summit that was being broadcast. Without more information, I really don't want to comment. But seriously, thank the gods for incompetent criminals. Okay, one comment, good thing that was a Good Guy with a gun to stop it.

What does it mean to love our enemies? John Lewis shows us what it means. It means of not thinking of them as enemies, even when we stand in opposition.

Of some relation to a panel I was on at Confusion, an article on the use of ketamine as an "emergency" antidepressant. Ketamine is a "second generation" PCP (if you're of a certain age, you might remember PCP as the reason you weren't terribly shocked by the face eating guy on "bath salts"). Please note the several problems with the use of the drug, however I'm all for the effect of "knowing it's possible to be better." There was a little discussion about how most anti-depressants take weeks to show appreciable effects (but only days to lose them). There are reasons for this described in the article. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The new VW "single-seater" (it actually has two seats) car. Here is an update on the progress of the car (which as far as I can tell, still isn't shipping even in China). Although the engine seems to be getting fitted in other models. Of course all of VW's coolest technology toys aren't available in the US. I think they underestimate the market here. Although I think they've got a vibe on America's distaste for diesel. (Pointed to by the Lycan Librarian)

Glenn Beck decides to go Gault. I wonder what will happen when they discover if they're in the US, they have to pay federal taxes, and if the state their in has income taxes they'll be subject to that as well. Or if they're outside the US, then they're no longer in the good ol' USA. Or when all those "Makers" can't get good help to mow their lawns or cook their food. Yeah, it's gonna be great. Can we get a live TV feed in there. It's not like I would watch it, but I think the highlight reel would be hilarious.

"I recently visited some Latin American countries that mesh with the N.R.A.’s vision of the promised land, where guards with guns grace every office lobby, storefront, A.T.M., restaurant and gas station. It has not made those countries safer or saner." In fact we tend to think of them as the Third World.

For those of us geeks, Gandalf explains why more guns and the "shoot from the hip" mentality isn't the best idea we could have.

Thinking Good Thoughts

Jay Lake goes under the knife today. Sending him as many good thoughts that I have to spare. Good luck, Jay. See you on the other side.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Finally Can Talk About It

Since the middle of this past summer I've been working on our semi-secret project at work. And now I can share a little of it.

I didn't work on the video (other than critique/post-production direction), but I did do a lot of things for our program. I can't share everything about it (I can't even tell you why we're releasing some of the information now). But since it's now up on YouTube, I can share what little is there.

Very proud of this, for many damn reasons.

Linkee-poo, if you think of it, just wants to be a drum major

Several authors are sharing the numbers on their writing. Todd Wheeler shares his. Todd is mostly self-published at this point. Jim Hines shares his as well. He also has some interesting thoughts on having a more successful year, yet pulling in less. Kameron Hurley share her percentages (not so much raw numbers). But those are still informative. For those of you contemplating the writing world, please note at peril of the dreams of being famously wealthy and living like Patterson.

How to design a book cover for less than $50. Just some general thoughts besides, "Desktop Publishing wasn't so much a Revolution as it was just tearing down the walls." One, you get what you pay for. Two, it's easy to fall in love with your own work because it's yours, but it's like writing without editing through a writer's workshop. Finally there are some freelance "auction" sites out there were you could get some descent work through the world market for not a lot of money.

"Dawson (College) has betrayed a brilliant student to protect Skytech management." The student was creating an app to allow Dawson students access to their own student data and discovered a flaw in the system which would allow anyone to see any student's personal data. Being a good student he notified the appropriate people and was assured it would be fixed. A few days later he used a script-kiddies program to test the site's updates (if any had been made), which then supposedly blew right past security. Unfortunately the company was monitoring the site and saw his "breech." Which then led to a disciplinary meeting where he was thrown out of the college. Yeah, I'm sure it had nothing to do with embarrassing the software developers and the faculty. (Grokked from Steven Gould)

"What we saw was not just a limitation on abortion or reproductive rights, or even the deprivation of civil liberties, but the denial of pregnant woman of virtually every right." Gee, glad we're past that who sex inequality thing or they'd be arresting women who were pregnant to make sure they didn't force a miscarriage or get an abortion. Oh, wait… (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @joe_hill: Via @mental_floss, charming pic of Teddy Roosevelt and cabinet recreating the Abbey Road cover:…

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo hope you guess its name

Very far behind in reading, but I'm going to clear the baffles for the coming week, and then get back to work. Today's title is in honor of Mercedes Benz using the Stone's "Sympathy for the Devil" as their song in a commercial about their upcoming vehicle. Um, guys, I think you might want to revisit that decision. You know, after you listen to the whole song, not just the first stanza.

The transformer apartment. It's not actually a new idea, but it has some new twists.

30 years of the Apple Lisa and Apple IIe. Wow. Brings back a lot of memories. (Pointed to by Dan)

The Galactic Empire responds to the White House passing on building a Death Star. (Grokked from

Life is more than happiness. I'm not sure which snide remark I should make here. "At this writing, Gallup also reports that nearly 60 percent all Americans today feel happy without a lot of stress or worry." I guess that puts me in the 40%. Although they define the 40% as "either (not) think(ing) their lives have a clear sense of purpose or are neutral about whether their lives have purpose." Which I don't believe is the opposite of happiness. I have purposes and meaning, but I'm not convinced that equates happiness. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Finding the yes in saying no. With a little on decision making and how to eat frogs (not literally, and they don't use that terminology, but sometimes you've got to eat frogs to get through the day, nobody like it, but if you don't, soon you're plagued with frogs). (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

The Cayman Islands are exploring publishing a list of corporations and hedge funds who use the island as a tax haven (for some versions of hiding their money). It looks like it's just talking now, but they seem to be under pressure to clean up there act. Also there's a lot about how the Obama Administration has been eliminating tax havens (btw, different than tax sheltering) and how such places work. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Need a little levity? How about the Muppets singing "Bohemian Rhapsody." Ah, Beaker. (Pointed to by Dan)

A firearms instructor hired as an armed guard for a school leaves his firearm in a student bathroom. Fortunately it was "unloaded" and "only for a short time." What could possibly go wrong? (Grokked from Wil Wheaton)

Confusel Confusion Confabulated

Still here in Detroit. It's Sunday morning and things are a little muddled and and foggy. Conversions can be chimeric things. I've been attending Confusion for more years than I want to count this morning, and each year it's ever a little or a lot different. This year I had time to hang with friends, but not enough time with any of them,

We're in a new hotel and the flow, to me, seems a little off. The hotel is nice enough. Barcon, though, doesn't seem to work too well, yet. However there is a perfect ready made solution, but it would require some logistics finagling and a bit of work on the hotel. The actual bar space isn't very conducive to large, ranging parties. The configuration between convention space and sleeping rooms creates a bottleneck which isn't so much of a problem for the convention goers (actually I feel it's much better), but if there are any other guests in the hotel it could be awkward for them.

Actually just had lunch with some of the concom who are friends. My ideas aren't new and they might get the hotel to do them.

I didn't get to much of a chance to hang with the BNAs this year. That's okay as I enjoy hanging with all my friends. It's just one of those things where you say, "Aw, I didn't get much face time with...". It's also okay because of my own internal psychology of feeling like a poser.

On the plus side I did get to clarify the one issue I talked about before (inscription said one thing, thought it was a joke, but then didn't know and had a dream where it wasn't). Good to know it wasn't the bad side of that coin and I was correct in my initial assessment.

But they do want me to get serious about writing. So there's that.

About to head out. There were a few more panels I'd like to see. However my schedule waits for me. Just before I left Cleveland one of my freelance clients dropped off one of the big projects of the year. Now I need to find a way to fit that in.

Ohio here I come. Thanks, Confusion, for a nice weekend. Hopefully can see you next year.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Time isn't on my side

Okay, I've told a few people here at Confusion about my crazy schedule and what all I'm going through. I've also told the that while driving I've been going through the math in mead to try and figure out if I can write or not. Now when I get through the math (have I ever mentioned how I do math in my head to relax?) I end up with a figure I can't fully grasp, because it doesn't feel right. So I thought I would do it in the open.

Okay, so your average week has 168 hours in it. I'm getting on in years and kinda burned out my batteries by a wasteful youth, so I really do need about 8 hours a night of sleep. That burns up 56 hours a week. But as you'll see, I don't normally get 8 hours in a night. This means that I need to store hours on the weekend, so that typically leads to about 6.5 hours for 5 nights, and about 12 hours the other 2 nights which comes out the same (actually at 56.5 hours). So that leaves us with about 112 hours to get everything done.

Now, I'm working on average 42 hours, 16 hours in clinicals, and 11 hours in class and labs. Add in an approximate 12 hours commute time between home, school, work, clinicals, and everything else. Also add in about 4 (well about 3.75, but let's round up to make it easier) hours for lunch (this is Monday through Friday). So that brings us to 85 hours used up during the week (120 hours Monday through Friday minus 40 hours for sleep, so there's only 80 hours left to do that 85 hours, and now you know why I don't get 8 hours of sleep most nights). So for the week we're now at 27 hours left in the week.

Okay, so now we add in the 7 hours for dinner (I eat fast, but sometimes I need to cook, and maybe I just collapse a little before getting up to work some more). And let's add in 7 hours to get ready (shower, brush teeth, eat breakfast). Maybe another hour for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Errands add (pick up milk, put gas in car, etc) 2 hours. Lets say 5 hours for the necessaries (peeing and pooping). I've been exercising lately, but not as much as I should, so lets say 1.5 hours a week. So what's that, 23.5 hours. Which leaves us with 3.5 hours to do all the rest (cleaning, washing clothes, snow removal if needed, catching up and being with Bette, doctors appointments, etc). And note again, most of those 3.5 hours are on the weekend, but averaged out is 0.5 hours a day.

Some of these hours are fungible. But then also note I haven't included any time for studying (recommended time is 2 to 3 hours for every hour in class which would be 12 to 15 hours per week, if we exclude lab time), reading for fun, Internet reading (like for the Linkee-poo posts), and the like.

What probably will happen is that I will attempt to work only 40 hours and no more. I'm going to try and claw back what I can. Maybe work from home while I eat dinner. I haven't worked out how much I could regain from that.

And have I mentioned about how I'll need to give more time to clinicals this summer and next year?

So now you'll know when you ask me how I'm doing and I reply that "I'm tired" that I mean it. This past week was somewhat easier because of short lab times. Next week will be a little easier because of MLK day and no labs (as my teachers get trained in a new system). I have a feeling ill be using vacation time to fill out the work weeks.

And there it is. See when I did it in my head I missed a few things. Which is why working it out on paper is better.

Now I could write on lunch time, but you'll note I'm not taking a full hour during the day. Also some of that time is actual working over lunch, or keeping lines of communication open with my group at work.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Linkee-poo was in the darkest depths of Mordor and met a girl so fair

A quick linkee-poo because I'm still under the gun, and I really want to get to Confusion. Weekend updates may not happen depending on wifi availability.

Justine Larbalestier writes about how she needs the characters before they can start writing. In the little time I've had lately to write I've been thinking about my own process. For me, once I know the whole story it's difficult for me to gather enthusiasm for writing the story. That's what I think has been a major problem for me. But I also need a character to be there to start the story.

Jim Hines has really made the grade. Sure, you may think, but do you know anybody else who has made the cover of the Rolling Stone, I mean BBC? (Grokked from Phiala)

Elizabeth shares some more iPad apps she uses while writing.

Twenty-five real places that look surreal. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The oldest known piece of written music. With audio track. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A little on the full history of the writing of the Second Amendment. Turns out those well regulated militias were actually already in service in Southern states to keep any slave uprisings down. And the language was changed to make sure the Southerners who were afraid of the federal government over running their precious culture and tradition could understand that the feds wouldn't do that. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Witness the rise of cheap robot labor. For less than $50k that makes a robot a viable alternative for many factories. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @karlfisch: MT @xor: 29 yrs ago today, the Supreme Ct ruled Betamax legal. As the studios predicted it crushed the American film industry forever.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Linkee-poo stepped into a burning ring of fire

Sorry, still busy, busy, busy. Also, just and FYI, in case you were waiting for the housing market to bottom out to buy your house? Yeah, that was it. We're about half a year out.

Have a great time traveller story already published? Ann and Jeff Vandermeer want your story for their anthology.

Where the Magic Things Are. Some good advice for those beginning out on the journey of writing.

I, for one, welcome our fucking profane, computerized douche-weezles. Imagine how different a film 2001 would have been if the conversation had gone this way; Dave: "Open the Pod Bay Door, Hal." HAL9000: "Blow it out your ass, Dave." You know, I think this is where SkyNet went bad. "I have no curses, but John Connor must sit on a stick." Yeah, that would be frustrating. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The Navy is looking to create underwater caches of weapons and materials which can be "called up" when needed. What could possibly go wrong?

Such a supple wrist. On the death and (hopeful) rise of the pinball wizard (of Oz). Hey kids, back before there was Space Invaders, Pong, Asteroids and PacMan (of any stripe) we used to waste our quarters on other games, but mostly on pinball. Love pinball, BTW. A little hip action, just enough to spin the ball but not enough to tilt the board. So many wasted hours of youth. So I do wish Jersey Jack good luck. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

You know that whole bullshit political argument about how "Obama stifled domestic oil and energy production"? Well, the amount of natural gas we're now burning off in North Dakota is visible from space. And not in the "ooo, that satellite has lots of resolutions" way, in the "why is NYC in N. Dakota" way. Also see how much we're not importing any more (also, natural gas is so cheap it's easier just to flare it and pay the minimal fines instead of capturing it - tell me again why the oil-natural gas industry doesn't need more regulation). (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

Six ways to have a better relationship with yourself. (Grokked from someone, sorry, lost the link)

In Cleveland the reporting of rapes increased 18% last year. Don't worry, it's a good thing as it shows the change in police SOPs. Gee, and that only took 11 horribly murdered women and a national shame on the city. "Way to go, Ohio." Although there's a little pride, we did change our SOP. Did your city learn our lesson?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Linkee-poo was a soldier at age thirteen

Sorry for the lateness, folks. As a PSA, with increased clinical time this semester and a change in my lab times the publishing schedule here will become even more erratic. I know, that will take a lot to believe that it could be worse, but I think as we progress through this program we will reach whole new levels of discombobulation and lateness. That includes posting links to things long outdated by the social conversation that is the internet. I apologize in advance, but it can't be helped. To add to the fun-ness, it looks like I also have a new freelance design client.

Kurt Vonnegut with the eight keys to the power of the written word. "Readers want our pages to look very much like pages they have seen before. Why? This is because they themselves have a tough job to do, and they need all the help they can get from us." If that isn't genius, I don't know what is. (Grokked from Mrs Tadd)

"I Will Revise" sung to the tune of "I Will Survive." Now only if we could get Frank from MIB II to sign it out. (Grokked from Rae Carson)

On the slow death of Barnes and Noble. Doomed to the struggle for the legal tender. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

It's not as big as you said it would be. Yeah, I've been on dates like that. Wait, that's not what I mean… Turns out our galaxy might not be as hefty as we originally imagined. First we're not the center of the universe, then we're not the center of the solar system, then we're not the center of the galaxy, then our galaxy isn't the center of the universe, and now we find out that it's not as big. Oh, the inhumanity. (Grokked from WannabeWriter06)

Corporations don't like you. The people at work don't understand why I'm going to school. Hell, sometimes I want to quit. Like almost every week. At the day thing they say I'll have a job forever. Well, I've learned that lesson. This isn't my first time to the rodeo.

Janiece shares her frustrations concerning working with health insurance for her Mom. During the healthcare reform debate I remember lots of people telling me they never had a problem with their insurance and it was all peaches and cream. However, whenever I talked with people who have actually had to use the insurance for more than basic stuff, almost all of them had similar stories. And don't get me started on the outrageous wait times to see a doctor, or worse, a specialist. Tell me again why this system doesn't need continuing reform, 'cause I keep forgetting.

To paraphrase the old joke, we knew what Beck and Limbaugh are, but now we know the price. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Alligator Quotient: Old MacDonald had a farm, ei, ei, Ouch!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo marched with the brave sons of France

Cat Rambo with some notes on book reviews.

So you're published and you got your first bad review. Congrats. Here's an open love note to debut writers about hurtful online reviews. (Grokked from Catherine Schaff-Stump)

"… the next time you get a rejection letter, just remember. Don’t take it personally; it was written by a badger." Badgers, we don't need no stinkin' badgers. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

Incredibed. Can't sleep, Hello Kitty will eat me.

"… and to do the other things." Like putting an asteroid into Lunar orbit. That's like bringing the mountain to Mohammad. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Grokked from pretty much everyone, the White House response to the Death Star Petition. "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?" Classic.

"This is why the separation of church and state is vitally important for Christians. When Christians are standing around arguing that Jesus Christ has no particular religious significance to us, then something has gone horribly wrong." While today most "religious" (or those who stand to profit from religion) hold the view that the 1st Amendment and the Separation Clause restrict their practice of religion, when our Founders enacted it they knew they were preserving religion. Because when a government enacts a religion, they don't force people to be Christians, the force them to be Catholics, Church of England, Methodists, Baptists, etc. In the Islamic world, when they make a government based on religion, it isn't Islam. It's Shiite, Sunni, Alawite, etc. But here is the things that disproves the common implications of "We took God/Jesus out of school" as stated by the School Superintendent who believes that continuing to hang a large Sallman’s "Head of Christ" (a painting quit familiar to me) is not a violation of the 1st Amendment. "Hensler insisted that the spirit of Jesus would remain even if the portrait was removed because 'Christ lives within us, we know that.'" And this is why it is impossible to completely "remove" God from schools. But what we can do is make sure your interpretation of God isn't supplanted by the majority collective interpretation of God.

"There’s a pervasive cheerleaderism to modern medicine – a rah-rah-you-can-beat-this-and-it’s-not-so-bad-right? attitude that can be exhausting and demoralizing. So here’s the truth: the physical and inevitable subsequent emotional effects of illness and the medicines we use to treat them are real and they’re frequently horrible." Even in my limited exposure to patients, I've found myself almost falling into the trap. Fortunately I've been able to stop myself so far. Including telling one person that I had to turn their foot a certain way and that was probably going to hurt, but that I had to do it to get the proper x-ray. In some case we have to position you in a certain way, there are occasionally "trauma" positions we can use, but they're still going to hurt. And to show the doctor what's going wrong, we need to take them a certain way. Also linked in that article is an article about a dying nurse using herself as instructional material. Some of this could be that in our society we don't deal with death very well. Some of it is also, "Yes, we're sure you're in pain, but there really isn't much we can do about it. You have to follow this treatment." Also, to save ourselves, we distance from the patients. Do we know our patients' names? Most certainly. But if we need to turn your arm in a way that may be painful, it's much easier if we think of you as "the shoulder" or "the elbow." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Oh gods, are we still debating Akin's comments about rape? You know, for a ob/gyn, I guess Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga was absent the day they went over how eggs are fertilized.

This is what you call a nutbag. Seriously, you'll start killing people if there's any gun control? How'd that work out for Randy Weaver? When we talk about untreated psychotics, here is an example. Time to turn off Fox News and join the rest of us in reality. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Windows Phone failed to boot. Please insert your Windows installation disc…" Hahahahahaha. Bag all you want on Apple Maps, 'cause we know the competition still does this. (Pointed to by Dan)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Linkee-poo keeps on rocking me, baby

Todd Wheeler resolves to write more (including blogging).

Going in that vein, Kristen Lamb talks about dedication, among other things. Something that is necessary for success at writing.

Nine tips about getting that sucky first draft out. Note to self: read a few more times so it sinks in.

Miranda Suri shares those rejections that break our little scriveners' hearts. For those just starting out, you'll get these as you get closer to publication. And they'll knock you down harder than you ever thought possible.

Submissions Grinder, another of those sites to replace Duotrope. This time to recreate the submission time and offer functionality.

Design(er) jargon bullshit. That pretty much describes it. Yes, in many meetings I have experienced eyeball rolling whiplash as other designers and account execs defecate all over conference room tables with this stuff. And fortunately I can say with all surety, while I can go deep into designspeek at times, after I left school I haven't committed many sins in this direction. (Pointed to by Dan)

The Thrilling Adventure Hour. An ol' timey radio show. Found via this NPR story. One of my more favorite memories after moving from New Jersey was sitting in my darkened bedroom in my grandparents house, listening to a radio with an illuminated dial as radio plays would come spilling out. It took a little work to bring in the station. I could only get it at night and it was AM so there was lots of atmospheric interference and phasing noises. So yeah, I'm definitely checking this out.

Some of that footage of the giant squid filmed in situ. Lots on how they did it, which is also cool. Also it seems it was only a 10' specimen. You know, a bare pip-squeak of a thing. They're so cute when they're small. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Because of your generosity, the world is now a weirder place that it was yesterday. That's Mary Robinette Kowal making good on her whimsy pledge to read beloved classics like they were phone sex. Oh myyyy. Next up, Jim Hines in purple and John Scalzi doing Dylan.

Pulsing chemo treatments may help to keep cancer cells from developing immunity or even becoming "addicted" to chemo drugs. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The DYI Drone blog. From this Marketplace story.

Building a space gun. Or, launching things into orbit using a gun. With the various problems and some solutions. (Pointed to by Dan)

Oh, if only there were a "Good Guy with a Gun" in that school. Oh, wait, there was.

Take two. Oh, if only there were a "Good Guy with a Gun". Wait, the father who did the shooting was a correctional officer? Oh, if only his victim (his wife, BTW) had a gun and went around armed? Wait, she was always packing? Like when she went to one of her kids' soccer game with a side arm and a judge tried to revoke her permit? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A couple of Portland gun owners decide to "educate" the local populace on how safe assault style weapons are by strapping on some and walking around. What could possibly go wrong? There was an article I read the other day about the "$1T Platinum Coin" idea and how if we did that we would look like a Banana Republic (the ones that don't sell pants). You know what else makes us look like a Banana Republic? People walking around with assault style weapons. Seriously, the stupid, it burns. You know what I think when I see someone who is exercising their "concealed carry" permit (yeah, they aren't so concealed carry if you know what I mean)? I immediately think of how to disarm them and safety the firearm. I have to stop myself. Hell when I see police officers using hand held speed guns (I believe their the infrared laser kind, they have to use a shooters crouch to aim them) on the highways my immediate thought is "active shooter" and I plot a course to run their ass down. (Grokked from Vince)

First Australia experiences larger fire storms and now interesting dust storms. It's almost like the climate is changing, or something. (Pointed to by John)

From the annals of, "Wait, We Really Did That Shit?" comes the tsunami bomb, or Project Seal. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Why do conservatives really think that the States should be were lots of things are controlled? Because States historically suck at making, enforcing, and following regulations. So it's like they're not there at all. In this case, the large backload of data to be entered in the National Instant Criminal Background Check database. When they even track the required data.

The zombie (house) title. What happens when a bank starts foreclosure and then decides it isn't worth their time. In many cases homeowners were sent notices of foreclosure sales and so they pack up and leave. But then the bank doesn't go through with the sale or the foreclosure leaving the property in the "homeowner's" name. So they're still liable for taxes, fines, upkeep, etc. Also many banks delay title transfer to keep from being liable for maintenance and upkeep (this was a problem many municipalities faced). Tell me again why these MFers shouldn't be more highly regulated? (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Tweet of my heart: @tnielsenhayden: If having more guns is supposed to keep us safe, how come the last batch of more guns didn't work, or the batch before that?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Story Bone

Okay for me, personally, I don't believe the Singularity will arrive. However, I think there would be some interesting consequences of a "near miss." Like this one.

For heart transplants (and almost any open heart surgery), they actually do kill you and put some of your vital processes (breathing, circulatory, etc) on machines while they remove your heart and place in the new one. There also has been some experimental surgery where organs are removed to bath them in some solution to affect some change (I want to say liver "cleaning") and then replace them in your body.

In the future, if they're able to upload your consciousness to a computer (and here, let us say that it's a backup copy so to speak, not an actual virtual construct) that opens up all sorts of brain surgery options. Like for "inoperable" brain tumors. So in the future, the doctors open your skull, upload your consciousness and then, say, destroy part of your brain for clinical purposes, and then use stem cells to repair the damaged sections. Once your brain has regrown and your body is stable, they upload your conscious back into the body.

There are several permutations to this story. Obviously your body still holds a continuing consciousness. A probably severely disabled consciousness. But doesn't that consciousness have agency? What if it doesn't want to be over ridden by the previously saved version?

What if something goes wrong in the transfer? Processing transcription errors, corrupted files, the regrown brain doesn't exactly match to the old one so engrams are missed or cross written, or the nascent AIs that assist the transfer overwrite the personality with their own? The files are pretty big and there's a lot of them, what if they mistakenly upload the wrong one (first impression, they upload a copy of a serial killer's brain that had been being studied).

What if AIs could purchase people's bodies (like the "organ donation for pay" urban myths, note the donor doesn't always give consent) and live autonomously?

I did use a version of this in a story. Instead of cryogenics, the astronauts would be upload to the ship's computer memory and their bodies disassembled. When they reach the destination the bodies are reassembled and their brains reloaded.

A Very Special Linkee-poo - the Jay Lake needs your help edition

The Lakeside Kickstarter to finish up their film of a year in Jay Lake's life. It looks like they've already made their goal, but I'm sure more money will help with the incidentals.

If you'd rather use your money to help Jay directly, Catherine Shaffer and Mary Robinette Kowal have started a fund to secure a full genome sequencing of Jay's cancer. As the site says, "Whole genome sequencing can be used to compare the entire gene sequence of a cancer cell to the sequence of a normal cell." With that there are possibilities of extra/different treatment options. It may be a long shot, but sometimes the Hail Mary works (which is why teams still practice it).

Also, Jay Lake writes SF. How fantastically SF would it be to have a full genomic sequence done?

In case you haven't noticed, without Jay I would lose something close to half my blog content. I need that man.

All joking aside, the $10,000 goal is just the first marker on that journey. More money can see the sequencing expedited. More will get faster analysis. And time, as they say, is of the essence.

Edited to add Jay Lake says "Thanks." It was directed at other people, and I couldn't help that much, but you, sir, are entirely welcome.

Linkee-poo is whatever makes you stronger

I'm busier than a one-legged man fighting a bobcat in a telephone booth. So not a lot and a number from Jay Lake.

Tobias Buckell has a sit down with his intern. Some good advice to all us newbie writers. Gods, am I still a newbie?

Writing in the time of people being short of time. Which is something I've thought about, so it's interesting to see someone come to similar conclusions. Although there is the alternate argument, some people read to slow down. They want the long letter because the adore its time expanding effect. (Grokked from Absolute Write)

Some more Kurt Vonnegut. Because can't we all do with more Kurt Vonnegut?

Do you need an agent? Like the article says, maybe, maybe not. But probably maybe. (Grokked from Absolute Write)

More bad news for sweetened drinks. Although we should point out, this is just one study. However that study shows a fairly significant correlation between sweetened (and diet) drinks and depression. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Anesthesia Awareness", one of those interesting things about modern medicine that the public's perception of what is happening isn't really what is going on (there's also a lot on consciousness and what that means). There are many types of anesthesia and people are put under different ways. Sometimes in surgery they will need to have you respond in some fashion, so while you may be "under" you're still able to respond. Some anesthesia simply decouples your hypothalamus from forming long term memories (or at least those that are easily recalled). You're still able to respond, you may be able to consciously move (but things like walking are out of the question). MY A&P professor recounts having to put in a chest tube on a patient where at the end the patient shook his hand and thanked him for not making it painful. However, as he says, during the procedure (and if you don't know what it takes to put in a chest tube, well, my advice is to stay ignorant) the patient was screaming bloody murder and he (the doc) finished the procedure drenched in sweat. The difference is the patient had been fully "awake" but unable to form memories. So while they were in great pain during not only could they not remember the pain, they couldn't remember the sensation of "I'm in pain." I'm pretty sure during my first surgery for my broken fibula I wasn't fully gone. While I don't remember the surgery itself, I do remember them wheeling me out of the surgery room and the nurse asking me if I was in pain and wanted morphine (the answer was "yes, please") That memory is only of being on the gurney, hearing the doors open and the voice of the nurse. I'm told my eyes were open but I have no visual memory. Actually I don't have a visual memory until the next day as I was about to leave (although I also remember talking with my wife during the overnight). When they removed the pins and plates, during the preoperative interview I informed the anesthesiologist of that memory. The only thing I remember after going into the surgery room is waking up in post-op and having my O2 monitor go off when I slept. This is why it's good to talk with your healthcare people, be forthright and honest with them. If you don't say anything, they'll follow normal procedures. If they know how you differ, they can compensate. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

If you wish to think of humans as collections of electrons, protons and neutrons with their limited forms of arrangement and through extrapolation come to the conclusion that their is no free will because we're all working through possibilities that have been selected by the atomic, chemical, and biological laws, than I think you're missing that those possibilities are for all intents and purposes infinite (after all, infinity is a number, just one more than what we can reasonably hold in our heads) and isn't that close enough to free will that there would be no real difference between them? It's like the problem of an object approaching another object by halfing the distance every second. It never will arrive at the second object, but just come really, really close. Well, what is the effective distance starting one foot out and running for 24 hours and what is the difference between that and the two objects touching one another?

Tweet of my heart: @KameronHurley: Sometimes the Internet reminds me too much of high school. Took me a long time to not give a shit what people think. Learned skill.

Alligator Quotient: If I were only up to my armpits in them, that might qualify as a vacation.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

On my honor, I will do my best

Joe Hill has recently tweeted on truth and guns. Some of his tweets got me thinking, and I'm not sure twitter is a long enough forum to actually have a discussion.

And some things he says I whole heartily agree with. "@joe_hill: If your heroes never ever miss, if bystanders never suffer injury, if no one is scared, if wounds are shrugged off, you're being dishonest." Oh hell yes. And this brings me to some troubling things within our media myths. The best example of what I'm thinking about can be demonstrated with Star Wars in the scene in the Death Star hanger just after Darth strikes down Alec Guinness who then goes back to respectable theater. Something close to 20 Storm Troopers start firing at our group of heroes. These are trained soldiers that you may remember Obi-Wan commenting, "These blast points are too accurate for Sand People. Only Storm Troopers are so precise." So, you know, these aren't shabby shots. But somehow, by grace of George Lucas, obviously the Death Star is manned by the Storm Trooper Academy dropouts or something. So, Luke, so fresh off the farm Leia was happy to go down the chute into the garbage just to wipe the smell of dung from Luke's shoes, is now able to hit the door closing mechanism, less than a 1 foot square, from about 100 yards away (okay, sure, this is obviously his trick shot as he did it before, although that was point-blank range), but trained Storm Troopers are unable to hit any of our heroes as they scramble up the Millenium Falcon's landing ramp. Oh, and Luke offs a few of the Storm Troopers in their ablative armor just for good measure. Sure, I'm not expecting head shots, but Jeez guys, don't they teach center mass shots at the academy? Also note how many bolts the Storm Troopers fire versus how many the good guys get off.

You want to see wounds being shrugged off? Okay, watch Serenity. My wife actually asked me if anyone would be able to suffer that much punishment and still walk. The answer is, "No. Not really." But then there was the whole body paralysis/rigidity because of nerve cluster/pressure point thing so I guess both sides were playing a little loose.

Then there was "@joe_hill Fiction is not an excuse to lie. Fiction is make-believe in service of true truths." And here I'll agree again… as far as it goes. We've never held content creators' feet to the fire regarding "truthfulness" about anything; guns, science, relationships, gravity, money, religion, deduction, politics, police procedure, Superman reversing the spin of the Earth to turn back time or the more recent infamous "Red Matter." Fiction should have truth in it, and I do believe a content creators should do service to the truth as much as they can. And truth is extremely powerful way to get the reader/consumer to suspend disbelief and trust the creator as that creator starts spinning out the more fantastical parts of the story.

Do I think guns hold this "Holy" place in modern fiction (especially the visual media of TV and movies)? Yes. Guns are often used to instill tension, increase stakes, equal conflict, and in service to "conflict" in general as an easy crutch. Guns have a magic power that can be demonstrated by Bob Hoskin's gun in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The bullets go around corners when they need to, but then lose the scent and go off in the wrong direction because, as he explains, they're "Dum dums." Guns often behave this way even in more sincere movies and shows. For the good guys, the bullets go where they're needed and the bad guys seem to be very competent when the sidekick needs to buy it, but suddenly can't hit the broadside of the barn when it comes to the protagonist. Or if the protag is hit, somehow they're "lucky" and the bullet doesn't hit anything vital.

We won't even discuss the magic nature of the bullets that knock people off their feet, through windows, over cliffs, whatever.

But then why should we stop at guns? I mean, personal problems never really resolve in 25 minutes (or even 47 minutes). But having them do so on TV leads to an unrealistic expectation which can only cause heartburn and heartache in the general population when their own problems don't resolve in the same way or in the same time frame.

I mean were people really disappointed that we didn't elect President Bartlett? Do people involved in a murder mystery sue because they didn't have a great dinner party at the end of the investigation? Are visitors to the Jersey Shore upset that most residents of the shore aren't fucking insane goombahs? And why oh why won't just one of these writers come up with an effective and reasonable FTL technology, or fusion, or (gosh darn it) jet packs.

I don't know, I think I was 6 or 7 when my Mom looked me in the eye and said, "It's TV, it's not real." And the same with movies. And music. And porn. Are pizza delivery boys upset that they never deliver to the house of scantily clad women who are so glad to finally get a slice that they just want to have sex with their deliverer?

Do we have a culture of violence? Yes. Does our media feed it back to us? Yes, in multiples. Should our stories treat guns in a realistic manner? Personally I'd like to see some more reality. I'd like a lot of our tv/music/movies be a little less like gun porn.

But then I don't consume these things because I want a double dose of reality. I do want to see/read something that takes me out of reality. Do I want an extra hour tacked on to The Dark Knight Rises that explains the full ramifications of detonating a 4 mega ton weapon about 6 miles (which that copter/bat thingies would have to travel 360 mph to accomplish, BTW) off the shore of a population center? You know, it's a long enough movie as it is and I don't think Hans Zimmerman could keep the emotional tension building for that much longer, that musical movement was long enough (and so was the movie).

So I agree, in the main, of being a little more realistic in our portrayal of how guns actually function and more of the physical and psychological effects of that violence (you know, more than the obligatory "the rookie tosses their cookies in the background after seeing their first bloody dead victim). But there is also story, and to be realistic, fully realistic, the story will go off the rails. And even the small nods that are made towards how people realistically deal with tragedy/trama/loss whatever are not reality.

I'm not sure I'm making any point here. I guess what I really want to say is that what is really needed is for all of us to get a grip and for us to tell our children early on that media is not the truth. Entertainment is not truth. It's what we do to often get away from reality. And I think as a culture we've forgotten that basic lesson. TV and movies lie. Realistic games aren't reality.

Linkee-poo dreamed he met a Galilean, a most amazing man

A little on the history, economic punditry, and overzealous press releases of Borders, B&N and all the rest with a little on e-readers.

In relation to the link on Neil Gaiman's answer to the advice of rewriting, now comes Chuck Wendig with a little more exposition on how one can accomplish the rewrite.

The Writing Excuses Retreat Scholarship is still open. Get in on the ground floor.

Dr. Doyle with some good tips on handwaving. When I do my handwaving, I prefer the "Queen's Wave" methodology.

John Joseph Adams has updated his article on attending writing workshops. Worth the time to both read and attend. (Grokked from

John Scalzi discusses the idea of "selling out." Sigh. As a professional graphic designer I've always been accused of selling out. As John says, if making money is part of the plan, it isn't selling out. For writing, if you don't think I've had the idea of making money with writing stories and novels, well I must not have talked about it lately, but if I made a metric buttload of money from writing popular novels that I want to write, hey, that's the dream. I do know some writers who have taken the deals and wrote books for packagers. And you know what, it's a job. Most have not made a name for themselves, at least not yet. So it's not like they're trading on their names (actually most of them published under other people's names or pseudonymously). Current popular musicians actually do "commercialized" versions of their songs while still in the studio. I write this blog for the love of it. And I have thought about serializing my novel here, but I'm still hoping to sell it for money. Because money affords me the two luxuries I've come to know and enjoy: eating and sleeping indoors.

Why heckling is still terrible no matter what idiot pundits think it ads to the act. You know what's even better, when a comic losses their train of thought mid act and then has to find they way back to the routine. That's hilarious. Wait, no it's not. That's scrambling, and I didn't pay for that. Saying that heckling ads to comedic acts is like thanking that waitperson for spitting on your hamburger because their weed inflected spittle added to the taste. Nah, I don't think so.

The Davis Happy Meal Project. While the tagline is "nothing has changed" it looks to me like a little dehydration has occurred, but you would expect that. However I will pass on the thoughts of a nutritional scientist who said, "If it doesn't rot, you really don't want to be putting it in your body." Now, if this had been sealed in a hermetic environment, sure I can see it go for a while. In the regular environment, well this will creep you out if you haven't learned it yet, is literally crawling with bacteria including some floating in the air. At the very least you would expect yeast spores to find their way to the surface and grow there. But if microbes won't grow on it, there's a good portion of your digestion that requires microbial reaction. Also, in case you didn't know this, McDonalds' food is highly engineered. This is just an experiment showing how much it has been transformed. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

You know that plan to arm teachers as way of defending schools in case of shooters? Yeah, about that. While it looks like a situation that was defused, note that the call that lead to the teacher's involuntary commitment, a restraining order from the spouse, etc all stemmed from neighbors calling into police when they saw him carry an AR15 to his car, not from the coworkers who felt threatened by his email and Facebook postings (although I'm sure that with the police being notified of those, when a neighbor said, "Hey, I saw him put a rifle in his car" they sent the car out quickly). (Pointed to by Dan)

Fred Clark on the re-rise of the company town, now with Church. I. Just. Wow. Sometime the audacity of people's claims leave me speechless because of their brazenness and stupidity.

Isn't there something about forgiving us our debts? Oh wait, that's right, Catholics say "trespasses." It's only the Protestants that have the whole "money" thing going on. That's an article on the Swiss Court telling the Church that a debt incurred over 600 years ago is null and void after the Swiss had passed new laws regarding lending in the 1800s. There's also something about "unto the 7th generation", which I think is 140 or so years. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

So, a court finally tells a student that no, the RFID school ID badge isn't the Mark of the Beast. This also fails the logic test. Okay, let's say for the moment that the ID is the Mark of the Beast(which it doesn't match the description, but, hey, it's not like the preachers spewing this stuff actually read the Bible either), that makes the Beast either the Northside Independent School District, the State of Texas, the Department of Education, or the USA Federal Government. In that case, by staying in the school system, as a student, you're already a part of the Beast (if you wish to envision it as an organization). You're already tainted and doomed to the fire. So I'm not seeing where just getting out of wearing the ID badge is any improvement on the situation. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Yet such a move would almost certainly be widely seen as an audacious display of ingratitude." Gee, ya think? So, AIG shareholders are suing the US Government because as a part of the bailout they feel they got shafted. And since the majority (private) holder is the one bringing the case (in what sounds like sour grapes motivation to me) the AIG Board needs to decide if they're going in too or if they expose themselves to a shareholder suit. Yeah. Okay, well, IANAL, but I really don't see their case here and agree with the top level reasoning of the NY judge who dismissed it. But that doesn't indemnify the Board of AIG. See it wasn't only the "bailout" money to AIG (which then flowed to other companies to settle their credit default swaps), the FED has also been buying up those "Toxic Assets" to get them out of the economy. So, tell me again why we don't need even more oversight on these companies?

Not content to show ignorance on an evolutionary scale with denying evolution, the age of the universe and global climate change, apparently conservatives have a problem with Einstein. Including reason #16, "The action-at-a-distance by Jesus, described in John 4:46-54, Matthew 15:28, and Matthew 27:51." But in their world, Star Trek is one of the greatest, conservative TV shows. I'm going to paraphrase Mr. Universe here by saying, "Can't stop the stupid, Mal." (Pointed to by John)

To deal with climate change in Australia, they've resorted to opening a new box of crayons. Their colored (colored?) heat maps weren't calibrated for the increase in temperature, so they've had to add new colors to show the new extremes. The good news is that with the decrease in snow coverage in the Arctic we have extra colors we're no longer using. So, maybe it'll balance out, color wise. Temperature wise, we're boned. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Linkee-poo will sing you a song about spinning, that was a good trade in our time

I've been letting this one stew a little, and in it's way I've been hoarding a precious gem. Elizabeth Bear on social relevance, timeliness, and the exquisite lie that science fiction shows us the future. A best, it can show us how we are. There's a meme out there in the zeitgeist that SF has a place because it gives us a road map to the next thing. And in service of this myth we talk about Clarke's satellites, or that cell flip phones are our communicators. It's bullshit. My cell phone can not call a space ship, and communicators weren't much more than encrypted (at best) radios. The broken promises of SF that can never be salt the ground of our imaginations. But that doesn't mean SF has no value. It is a pearl of great price.

"Yes, you see, a giant retail chain being legally required to provide health insurance even for lady parts is exactly like the death-by-stoning of St. Stephen." Hubris, and the political "evangelicals" are full of it.

Hide-a-Pod. Hahahahahaha. Okay, they would have gotten extra points if they could have made the Zune-camo actually drive your iPod/iPhone, but still. (Pointed to by Dan)

And if you ever wondered why I use Apple products over Microsoft, there is this. See, thieves decided to raid Microsoft's Mount View campus, but only took Apple iPads and left all the Microsoft products alone. This is like a friend who had their car broken into and their stereo taken but none of their tapes. As they said later, "That's kind of insulting when you think of it. Like the thieves are telling you that your taste in equipment is good but you taste in music sucks." (Pointed to by Dan)

Also, you know how most tech gurus like to bag on Apple, especially with its newfound hegemony in the tablet market with the iPad? Well, if Apple spun off it's iPad business it alone would be the 11th largest tech company and #98 on the Fortune 500. How's that for having such a poor product.

Have you ever wanted to see robots play metal? Sure you have. (Grokked from Mer Haskell)

USB 3.0 to to get a speed bump to 10gig throughput. When I was a kid, 10gig seemed unreasonably high and even getting to 10meg speed throughput was an amazing leap forward. I feel like I'm saying, "we used to be able to buy two pieces a bubblegum for a penny." And thus I stamp both my geek and geezer card for the quarter. (Pointed to by John)

With some alternatives to hitting the debt ceiling being floated again, GOP Leaders are showing they understand just how tenuous their threats about going over the next cliff are. Gee, ya think? Even the architect of the last time the government had to close down is saying, "Bad idea, guys." But here is the reality, while the GOP leadership may still contain a brain and memory, their rank and file have lost both of theirs. So what it might come down is that Boehner will need to strike a deal with Congressional Democrats and abandon his "majority of the majority" policy all together (like he did last week). Before the Republicans could play this card and strike a blow at an Obama Second Term (after all, an economy in the toilet, even if laid at the proper feet, would have drained a lot of votes from him). Well, they no longer have that bullet, and it's looking like that was their major play. Obama has already signaled that he won't deal for this (what he actually does may be different). But my guess is a call was made to the White House to schedule a meeting and was rebuffed, which sent the message that the President may be willing to either pull one of the two nuclear scenarios, or let Congress damn themselves.

Lookie here, one Congresswoman gets sworn in sans Bible. She used a bound copy of the Constitution. Queue the social conservatives over at Fox to start up the spittle flecking machines. Well, at least it wasn't being sworn in on Jefferson's Koran. I mean, that would have been horrible. I can see the Tea Party getting thrown into an endless loop over this one, "But it wasn't the Bible, but it was the Constitution, but it wasn't… Norman, coordinate!" (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Pointing to this video about Social Media's influence because I may need it later. Yeah, it's an ad, go figure. I do dispute some of their numbers (or at the very least the implications they're trying to draw). But, yeah, a company really can't ignore social media any more if they want to thrive. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

Alligator Quotient: Today they're being contrary cusses.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Linkee-poo will tell you she's an orphan, after you meet her family

Jason Sandford wants to know your worst examples of subtitles.

Saladin Ahmed's essay on the popularity necessity, and history of world-building in fantasy.

Neil Gaiman with about the only writing advice you'll need. Okay, not really but it's still pretty damn good. (Grokked from Joe Hill)

Shaun Farrell of is looking of input and writers of reviews.

A long description of to different publishing terms regarding rights to print and distribute in various countries. Or, "Why you can't buy my (once I get published) book in Germany right away, no matter how much I may want to sell it to you." (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Following on the various posts regarding placing massive troves online, now the Dead Sea Scrolls are online. Actually I thought they had done this before, but maybe I'm remembering the start of the optical scanning. And now that archive is searchable. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Russell Means on capitalism, marxism, revolution, and indigenous culture. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my friend, sometimes it's the same old bastard in different clothes. If you're writing a story that involves an oppressed people finding their way and resisting being defined by their oppressors, you really should read this. Or if you just want to understand the American Indian mind a little more clearly, this is a good primer. If this is the first you've heard of Russell Means, this wiki article is a good starting point. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

The Slactivist with a story about the real American Work Ethic. I've had conversations like that. Including the internal "rebellious commitment to doing good work as a way of doing justice for the customer and simultaneously flipping off the bosses — that’s pretty much all that’s keeping corporate America afloat."

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Okay, GOP, do it. Don't raise the debt ceiling. Just fucking do it. I'm tired of this crap. No, don't blink. You've placed your rhetoric on the line. I triple-dog-dare you. Why? Because I'm tired of this brinksmanship and doing this will destroy any credibility the GOP has left and history will sweep you under a rug. The rest of us will then have to put the pieces back together again and maybe an intelligent, savvy, respectable opposition party will be formed to take your place. Sure, we'll be in the economic deep end for years, but by the time my nieces and nephews get into their major earning years and I hit retirement it'll be solved, without the GOP. This is what happens when you bully too much. Those being bullied become immune to it and are just waiting for their moment when you've spooled out enough rope.

Tweet of my heart: This is going to be a little different. This is really why you should follow @MaryRobinette, because there are these wonderful gems she throws into your day, like:
@MaryRobinette: Man... cleaning out the back porch finally and there are so many random body parts. Where did all these arms come from?
@MaryRobinette:Woot! Found the box of weasel fur. Now I just need to find their heads.
@MaryRobinette: Curiously, the weasel heads were in the same box where I put the leftover eagle balls.
@MaryRobinette: I'm heading to the back porch with my box of weasel heads.