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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Linkee-poo without a fancy title

Ray Bradbury, your writing mentor.

Philip Pullam on the importance to telling children fairy tales. (Grokked from

Mary Robinette Kowal give some "past neo-pro" advice on how to handle being a GoH.

John Scalzi gets to the point of it. Although he kinda speeds right through it. Those dudebros who have a problem with "feminists" or "fake geek girls" or whatever are mostly just so insecure in their own sexuality that they can't allow any challenge to it. At all. Even if that challenge isn't aimed at them or involves them at all. Be comfortable in your own skin and life gets so much easier as a lot of the bullshit falls by the wayside.

Okay, I think I found my new career path. "A new program is working to bring this same level of knowledge to the world of malt and hops by turning out batches of certified beer experts known as Cicerones." Life is too short to drink bad beer.

"Put briefly, an idea is not a story. In fact, a single idea is generally insufficient to make a story with. You need at least two, and then you need, you know, a story." Ann Leckie on how to take an "idea" and turn it into a "story" that won't annoy the "slush reader". (Grokked from Ferrett Steinmetz)

Forty maps that will help you make sense of the world. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Vince lets us know of the phenomenon of Christian Swingers. My brain hurts.

I wonder if it comes in Green. The Artstechnica people are going to try eating "Soylent" (a nutritional "substitute" for food) for a week. (Pointed to by John)

The new gargoyles of Paisley Abbey. I don't think that's weird at all. After all, depending on how you view the function of gargoyles (downspouts, from which they get their name, or from their theological function), the xenomorph works perfectly.

Can't sleep, clown will eat me. A little on the history of clowns and why some people find them down right creepy. Also noted for the slight reference to the sacred clown. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Direct brain to brain communications. Haven't these people seen Brainstorm? Sigh. Don't they know SF has been working hard to tell people to not try and do this? (Pointed to by Dan)

"Coupled with a spacesuit, X1 could provide additional force when needed during surface exploration, improving the ability to walk in a reduced gravity environment, providing even more bang for its small bulk." Anyone else spot the problem with that? (Grokked from

The first rule of gun safety? Safety the gun. You know, that way it won't accidentally go off if you accidentally forget to remove all the rounds when you're giving your firearm safety/concealed carry course. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Apparently being the conservative Speaker of the House in a very conservative state is no guarantee for popularity. Note here that this really doesn't mean his seat is in any jeopardy thanks to the incredibly gerrymandered political map (also note, the state actually isn't 50%+ conservative, but that gerrymandering keeps them in power).

Oh noes, it's the anti-gay movement's biggest nightmare. Apparently if you're a photographer in NM, and a gay couple tries to commission you to shot their wedding, you can't say "No." Instead all you can do is say you're already booked that day. Another symptom of the death of professionalism.

"Who loses? Thousands of people every year. People of all ages who have run out of options to treat terrible diseases like mantle cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and multiple myeloma. Men, women and children who wait for a drug on the verge of approval that could allow them to live months or years longer." For anybody who wants to tell you the Sequester isn't hurting anyone. Not to mention reduced food delivery for shut-ins, Head Start, SNAP, and the other programs that help the other disenfranchised. Take programs that were already struggling with limited funds and then cut them back even further. Compassionate Conservatism my ass. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"'We're stuck with him,'" Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) told attendees at a town hall event this week. Thanks for the ringing endorsement. Not like it'll go over well with your constituents.

Monday, August 26, 2013

For Humor, Context Is Everything

Maybe I just read too much of Doonesbury, but when I saw this in my facebook feed I fell off the chair laughing.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo like the seasons, the wind, the sun or the rain doesn't fear the Reaper

When in doubt, shoot the protagonist and other oblique strategies for writers.

A lot of writing links here. I haven't had a chance to read them all, but maybe you can find information you need.

Six easy tips for self-editing your stories.

When it comes to grammar, lighten up, Francis. (Grokked from Dr. Doyle)

David B Coe with some good advice on attending big conventions.

The eight things Star Wars can teach us about writing. It's not what you may think. (Grokked from Vince)

Building a light bridge to the stars, wherein Geoffrey Landis is name dropped. As with most things, when Geoff starts talking about some technology I'm quickly out of my depth, but I could get enough that this is a pretty cool idea (and now I know why he knew so much about solar sails right off the top of his head when I asked him about them).

A lightning farm to help purify ground water and soils. Pointed to because 1) kewl! and 2) slightly related to a short story I wrote, A History of Lightning. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Remember the astronaut that has water in his helmet? Now you can read the story from his perspective.

The ten quotes losing holdem players say. I know just enough about poker to understand what he's talking about here. Learning Texas Holdem has always been one of those things I've wanted to do (note, I know how to play, but getting into the strategy that he talks about is a level above, from what I hear there's a manual written in the early 20th century that is a must read). (Grokked from Steven Brust)

"'Solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything,' (Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) said." Actually I've always wanted to set up a 2 kW wind turbine, solar would require me to clear too many trees, or place it too far from the house. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

The wisdom of the dying. As the story went when I was young, no one goes to their death bed wishing they had spent more time working. Carpe Diem and don't be a dick about it. Of course, until you're reminded of the eventual destination, sometimes you miss n the forest for the individual trees.

Sic semper VW Microbus. Frankly many kids dream about driving Vetts or a Lamborghini, for me it's always been an original VW Beatle Convertible. (Grokked from Vince)

If we can change the way we think of disease and death we can be more happy. "Disease and death are not shameful." That. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Fred Clark with a little on how I read Revelations. Which is why dispensationalism seems so incredibly strange to me.

Jim Wright answers his email. 'Nough said.

Tweet of my heart: @josswhedon If you see a play about a reunion and someone says they're in AA you will NEVER GUESS what that person is going to do later in the play.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo is too dumb to give up, to stubborn to change

The end of competence porn in SF. (Grokked from someone, sorry, lost the link)

Dr. Doyle with the mad-libs version of the elevator pitch. As she says, it's crazy, but it works.

Catherine Schaff-Stump interviews Will Alexander. Catherine does some great author interviews, I'm pointing this one out because they cover some interesting topics.

Okay, so you've gone beyond the standing desk and made a treadmill desk. Bully for you. How about connecting the treadmill into a feedback loop that determines your internet bandwidth? Ah, you didn't think about THAT, did you Grasshopper. (Pointed to by Dan)

Photos of the human drama at county fairs.

"Noting that he must at least own a computer, know how to use it, and possess the basic skills required to publish his thoughts on numerous websites and forums, internet users said DaemonX—the username of a person who posts dozens of inane and delusional comments online every day—is presumably a stable member of society." Oh, Onion, how I love you. (Grokked from

A short history of hacking and the Hacker's Ethic. Not sure I agree in totality with this article, but interesting none the less. (Grokked from

"There's nothing quite like the… taste of Maine lobster. And fishermen off the state's rocky coastline have been catching more and more of the tasty crustacean over the past five years… But that surging supply has overwhelmed Maine's limited marketing and processing capabilities and driven down the prices paid to lobstermen." Having been there last year, I can tell you the oversupply hasn't affected the price the end-user is paying (so someone is making money).

Can an AI pass the entrance exam to Tokyo University? Some interesting things on how far AIs actually are. Note, still just trying to get answering questions correct. (Grokked from

"Microsoft’s stock is surging, up 8% in pre-market on the news that Steve Ballmer will be vacating the CEO role within the next year." That's gonna leave a mark. (Pointed to by John)

In case the line about how the NSA "only" collects metadata and that's not offensive at all still rings true to you, this is what you can learn from the metadata. And that's just a reporter and a college professor. Real "spooks" know how to glean a lot more.

Where the wild things (whale sharks) are.

You know how some people (mostly conservatives of the paranoid type) claim that Pres. Obama is using all these dirty tricks and spying to try and shut down dissent? This is what that actually looks like. Note: reality not valid for those who think Ronnie Reagan's shit don't stink. I suggest listening to the interview.

"While the National Rifle Association publicly fights against a national gun registry, the organization has gone to incredible lengths to compile information on 'tens of millions' of gun owners — without their consent." Well, I'm sure it's okay then, because nobody's databases have ever been hacked. And, the NRA is only using it for recruitment and fund raising, ya know. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"In fact, since 1979, while productivity has grown 75 percent, average wages are up just five percent." Five percent doesn't keep up with inflation. Well, someone is benefiting from those growths (hint, it's probably not anyone you know personally). Also note the starting conversation about how having a college degree doesn't guarantee higher pay like it used to. Many jobs in Design that I've seen where they've asked for at least 5 years experience are paying roughly what I made in 1995.

"A significant chunk of Louisiana Republicans evidently believe that President Barack Obama is to blame for the poor response to the hurricane that ravaged their state more than three years before he took office." Although the differences look like they're within the margin of error, however the percentage who are sure if it was Bush or Obama leads both by a wide margin, and that's almost as discouraging. This is what is known as "low-information" voters. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jim Hines on the Chelsea Manning thing. Look, I get it. One of the things our main stream society fears is a loss of identity. It fears anything that challenges that sense of identity (a lot of bullying falls into this category). But this really isn't that hard (well, except for where to house Manning, and then you have a whole can of worms). If someone asks you to refer to them as the Christ Reborn, of Napoleon Returned, that's one thing. It's another thing if someone says, "I'm not as I appear to you". Also, form a biological standpoint, if you think sex is as easy as who has an XX and who has an XY in the 23rd chromosome, understand that knowing that and thinking you're an expert is like knowing your ABCs and thinking your Shakespeare. There's a big gap in there even before we get to the psychology of sexual identity.

"From one end of their educational trajectory to the other, our society told these kids science was important. How confusing is it for them now, when scientists receive death threats for simply doing honest research on our planet’s climate history?" Creationism, climate denial, anti-vaxers and all the other anti-science movements are mostly for short-term monetary gain and protecting embedded interests and aren't concerned with helping us afterward. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @ChuckWendig For every so-called rule of writing and storytelling is a bad-ass author breaking the shit out of that rule and making that violation work.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Here comes a candle to light you to bed

So, there was this idea for a novel that came to me yesterday. It's a mashup of several things, but it'll end up being a very dark urban fantasy (toeing the line to horror). And here's where I need you're help.

Oh Great Internet Brain,

I need twisted nursery rhymes or children songs about murders or murders. Particularly songs used to tell children to behave or the killers will come for them.

The main inspiration for this is the song, The Shankhill Butchers by the Decemberists (although I like Sarah Jarosz's voice a little better). Although something along the lines of Lizzy Borden (Lizzy Borden took an axe…) works as well. I've run into the more common ones, "Oranges and Lemons", "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater", "Ring-a-round-the-rosy", "Four and twenty blackbirds", like that. So probably something regional, or if there is a genre of murder ballads for children (if there's a specific name for it). Something that can be for a recurring horror, something to put the kiddies into therapy and having a need for their woobie.

Any thoughts?

As a reward, as a part of my search I turned this up. "What (the murderer) probably was not aware of was that a chunk of his skin would eventually be flayed (after he was executed), tanned and used to cover an 1852 copy of The Poetical Works of John Milton."

Sleep tight.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Linkee-poo knows it was a pleasure to burn

Dr Doyle on what to send to an agent. Follow the guidelines.

Elmore Leonard's rules for writers, the verbose edition. (Grokked from

Elizabeth Bear on why we still are writing in the world that Lovecraft created. Just because HP was a racist and sexist SOB, doesn't mean we need be when we write in his world.

Nine common movie mistakes. And while we're talking about scabbard noises, let's talk about sword and knife fighting. Clashing swords like they're rapiers is completely insane. With rapiers it works because they're all point and no fuckin' blade. Clash blades like you're fencing? You're going to ding up some pretty expensive steel and make the blade worthless (this is why samurai prized the single-draw and strike). Also endlessly taking a stone to the blade. Um, you know you're 1) not sharpening it and 2) just wasting steel, right? I guess if you're beating your blade to hell and back you're going to need a stone to put the edge back on, but you're losing a heck-of-a-lot-a steel doing it. Know how to set an edge (after you get an edge to begin with)? Clay embedded in leather. A strop just like granddaddy used to use on his cut-throat razor. Also, yea, don't touch the blade. Bad skin oils and you don't want to disrupt the oil you have on the blade.

When retelling fairy tales, how to keep them fresh? Ziplock bags help, I'm told. (Grokked form

Failing to get a passing grade in the Bechdel Test, are we lowering the bar with the Mako Mori test, just because geeks happened to love a certain movie? And while I agree that passing the Bechdel Test is not necessarily a hallmark of feminism progression, it is admittedly a low bar to pass (he said, quickly avoiding the topic that my own first book does not in fact pass). (Grokked from

Like we all need this, but 23 signs you may be an introvert. "22. You’re a writer." Hahahaha. Hey, wait a sec… (Grokked from Jer)

So, what would happen if you stuck your head into a running particle accelerator? This is one of those stories like Phineas Gage's. Basically they're both very, very lucky. (Pointed to by Dan)

Using augmented reality on an iPad to assist in liver surgery. Warning about the surgery photos now given. This is what many health care givers now do anyways (if you think we're all the same on the inside, I've got news for you), but this is a way to both help that visualization and codify it. Right now, when I take an x-ray, I'm using standard landmarks, but then adjusting for what I perceive is your body's differences, but sometimes you get surprised when you see the final x-ray. So, yea, this tech is very, very useful. (Pointed to by John)

A vintage video guide to the internet (including the obligatory, "Adjust tracking" screen). It's totally serious, and so totally wrong. Well, not so much wrong, but painful. This is what videos were like back in the day, including the horrible soundtrack, obvious reading of cue cards and periodic summary conversations. Think public health movies only without the charm. Plus boys (rolls eyes at the overriding inherent sexism). And now you can understand the culture that gave us a Star Wars Christmas Special. (Pointed to by Dan)

"In the most recent bit of Russian bizarreness, a 550-ton military hovercraft carrying sophisticated weaponry casually pulled up onto a crowded, seemingly public beach." Well, that's something you don't see every day. (Grokked from Warren Ellis)

How not to win a photo contest (link is a google translation). Yep, stealing a photo and doing basic manipulation won't save you. Good information for those who think, "well, of course it's free to use, it's on the internet." Nope, copyright still exists. (Pointed to by Dan)

As with many civilizations, Vikings sailed out into the northern oceans west of Briton only to find the Celts had been there first. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Until now, Hubble always produced the best visible light images, since even large ground-based telescope with complex adaptive optics imaging cameras could only make blurry images in visible light. The core of the new optics system, the so-called Adaptive Secondary Mirror (ASM) that can change its shape at 585 points on its surface 1,000 times each second, counteracts the blurring effects of the atmosphere." SCIENCE! Wow. (Pointed to by Dan)

"Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) reportedly called 911 when a relative was in jail and tried to use his influence to convince officials to release her. According to CBS Dallas-Ft. Worth, Dewhurst made the call on August 3, four hours after his niece was arrested…" Even having been a councilman of a small village I've had to deal with this crap (including the backlash when I wouldn't use any influence to intervene - which I was chairman of the Safety Committee at the time and if I had heard that my police chief had bowed to such pressure he would have been in serious trouble, so why would I do that). "'What do I need to do to not circumvent anything, follow the law, because this is ridiculous,' Dewhurst insisted… A spokesperson for the Allen Police Department… said that neither his department nor the lieutenant governor did anything wrong…" Au contraire, if he did call 911 that's a violation (although the recording of the call doesn't sound like it's 911). Still, dude, very dumb. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." The clerk at the Atlanta school that talked the gunman out of killing kids. Well, that pretty much shows what a complete load of BS that line from Wayne LaPierre is. (Grokked from Morgan J. Locke)

Fred Clark sums up pre- and post-millenial eschatology and how it affects people's outlook on society and politics.

"Many young women use the 'pull-out method' for birth control, and they tend to have more unintended pregnancies than other women, a new study suggests." I'm just being handed a note… turns out water is wet. Wait, condoms have a failure rate of 15-24%? Um, someone is doing this wrong (last I remember, it was more like 4%). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Yes. Any person of any identity can be an asshole to any person of any other identity. But that doesn’t make it oppression. It doesn’t even make it racism or sexism or heterosexim or any other -ism." A pretty good blog post on the whining of the privileged class (of which I am a nominal member being a straight, white male). Look, there's inequality to spare (even if you're in the 1%, there's always someone with more money than you). But just because "other people" want the same rights and opportunities you have doesn't put you under attack. I could probably write a book about this, but go read the blog post, it's a good one. (Grokked from Mary Robinette Kowal, who has her own excellent post on the issue)

"That was the day I realized that God help me I hate rightwing Republicans. Hate them. Not what they do, but them personally. I know it’s wrong. But, if you’re willing to sacrifice a man and little children on the altar of morality and judgement then I chose to freakin’ hate you." I guess it could have been worse, they could have refused to say anything to save a football program any embarrassment.

Tweet of my heart: @LIFECOACHERS First and foremost, forgive yourself. Someone has to. Asshole.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Linkee-poo is feeling his old, eldritch, squamous self

Rapture Palooza in IMDB. :: Wanders off cussing and kicking small animals :: (Pointed to by Dan)

An NPR story on how libraries are funded.

Butterick's Practical Typography. I haven't read all of it (yet), but so far I don't have too many quibbles with it (although Times New Roman is an acceptable face, not ideal, but good for some uses, and I agree Arial is right out). The site dispenses with a lot of what probably wouldn't be germane to most readers (history, font structure, the names of parts, cold slug vs hot slug, tech that is out of date, etc) and gets to how to use type properly. For those of you who have been around me, you've probably heard me say a lot of these things out loud. Well, in case you thought I was just blowharding, here's proof that it is important. (Pointed to by Dan)

Three times as many Samsung users switch to iPhones than the other way around. Well, that's gonna leave a mark. Apple is the company people love to complain about (too over priced, not an "open" system, blah, blah, typical tourist stuff), but when given a choice, people like to use Apple's product. This is bourn out by the cycle here in my office. (Pointed to by Dan)

"How To Suppress Women's Writing, Russ's satirical text on sexism in art, is 30 years old this year but its lessons are still largely unlearned. Women's writing is dismissed as fantasy, while the fantasies of men are granted some higher status as science fiction." A Guardian article (not the most favorable places to SF/F people even on a good day) on SF invisible women authors. "There's a huge audience of people who love science fiction, but do not see themselves reflected in white male faces that dominate it today." Better get on that. (Grokked from Mrs. Tadd)

the upper atmospheric discharges called sprites. More proof our world is weirder (and more beautiful) than we think. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"A common assumption has been that if such herbicide resistance genes (from GMO rice) manage to make it into weedy or wild relatives, they would be disadvantageous and plants containing them would die out. But the new study… challenges that view: it shows that a weedy form of the common rice crop… gets a significant fitness boost from glyphosate resistance, even when glyphosate is not applied." Oops. (Pointed to by Dan)

An new study ups the chance that global climate change is caused by humans from 90 to 95%. Getting to the point where the difference between what we can measure and figure and 100% is within the margin of error. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"The ISS moves so quickly that if you fired a rifle bullet from one end of a football field,[7] the International Space Station could cross the length of the field before the bullet traveled 10 yards." Because keeping in orbit isn't so much about staying up there as it is about moving laterally really, really fast (basically falling, but you keep missing the Earth). (Pointed to by Dan)

"Global sea level has been rising as a result of global warming, but in 2010 and 2011, sea level actually fell by about a quarter of an inch." But don't worry, 2012 and 2013 have made up for it. Science!

Has Voyager 1 left the solar system?

Why most people die from cancer, it isn't really about the cancer. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

In case you think that the Snowden revelations (I won't say whistle blowing, because, really, we already knew this was going on, didn't we?) doesn't have a chilling effect, various sites that require anonymity and security to function are shutting down because they can't guarantee either. (Pointed to by Dan)

"But groups that would like to see changes to (Obamacare) are finding themselves frustrated by the GOP’s posture, which is that full repeal is the only acceptable stance. The most recent example of this that Republicans are blocking Dem efforts to fix a glitch in the law that could harm small churches." Business groups that helped create, fund, and spur the Tea Party "Revolution" are finding the beast they created a little difficult to control. I guess in their zeal to be anything Anti-Obama, they missed that the TP said they wanted members who wouldn't be responsible to anybody. Say, you would think then these groups (like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business) would then stop filling their campaign coffers, but that's a little too much rationality to expect. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

In California, they have a team of police that go out to confiscate the firearms of those people who have lost the right to own them (felons, those found to be mentally ill, etc). I wonder how the whackaloons feel about this because 1) they're enforcing the law (and they've been all about the "enforce the laws we have") but 2) confiscation of guns (see how little protection you have with all the safeguards the whackaloons like to talk about keeping the guberment from knowing you have guns). "Thus far, no other state has adopted California's gun seizure law. However, there is a bill in Congress to provide funds for other states to follow this model." But since "The NRA initially supported California's program, but it's since become disenchanted," I don't think it's going to go anywhere.

Story bone

Just a title this time (or maybe a plot). From one of my many Mondegreens, "Werewolf of Plunder". Whenever I think about this, I get a vision of half-transformed werewolves jumping over the side of a tall ship.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Linkee-poo has a 5 o'clock girl who waits for me

Some tips for writers on recognizing your brand and building your brand.

Twelve fictional libraries. Wait, they don't have the library on Sarpeidon or Memory Alpha? WTF? (Grokked from

Chuck Wendig has been crowd sourcing genre recommendations for a while now. Carol McKenzie went through the Urban Fantasy list to glean the top ten. Hmm, fancy that. Fifty percent of the recommendations are by writers who are female (actually more as Neil Gaiman appears twice). I wonder if all those anthology editors who created "best of" series that include 0-10% female writers will take notice? Eh, probably not.

Saul Bass and his design contribution to the movie poster. As a designer professor once told me, "Back in the day, when movies were concerned with beauty, Saul Bass created posters and title sequences that defined the genre." (Grokked from

Coyotes in NE Ohio. A documentary showing how these animals have returned and what their roll in the ecosystem is.

A smarter way to control TV. Except for the sign above that sign which shows that you might want to rethink that strategy. Time to reboot the store. (Pointed to by Dan)

An oil company lie about an oil spill and the potential side effects? Shocked, shocked I am… (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The problem there is that (Gary) Bauer would be, himself, contradicting most of the book of Genesis." Mr. Bauer recently gave a speech were he said the US was really close to "outlawing" the book of Genesis. Uh, yeah, Bob.

Jim Wright on the rise of simpletondom.

You may remember that link I had the other day to Fred Clarks post on how those that have actually resent those who don't have, he's not the only one who has come to that thought. "You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people."

"A former Republican operative in Georgia who was diagnosed with cancer revealed last week that his medical struggles have made him a supporter of the new federal health care law known as 'Obamacare.'" This became pretty clear during the Obaamcare debates, people who don't use their insurance have a high level of satisfaction with it and don't understand any need to change. Those people who've actually had to use their insurance don't think the reforms go far enough. In this case, this GOP operative is going to be happy for the state exchanges and the removal of the "pre-existing condition" prohibition. Again, most conservatives don't like conservative policies when they're applied to them.

Wow, Ricky Santorum continues to dive into the deep end of whackaloon. "The likely presidential candidate said progressives focus on politics 'in everything they do and in every aspect of their life…. They live it, they are passionate, they are willing to do and say uncomfortable things in mixed company, they are willing to make the sacrifice with their business because they care enough.'" That would be so hilariously funny if I didn't think he meant it. Gee, Ricky, project much? At this point in my life I think I can count on one hand the number of times someone has just offered up to me that they're a liberal/Democrat/progressive. I've lost count on how many have told me their conservative/Republican/"right" without preamble.

More on how crazy the Cold War was, seven close calls during that time. Those weren't the only ones. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

I guess Whitehall has never heard of off-site or off-line backups. Seriously? UK Government destroys Guardian's hard-drives in an attempt to stop leaks from Snowden. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

The things my friends say

First up, I just want to post this warning that after next week I'm back in school. From now until next mid-July unless I fail, drop-out, fall-over dead, or break, my schedule will be very much like this past Summer. That said, posting will become erratic. I also reserve the right to not read the posts in my RSS feed fully. It's going to be interesting. Not sure if it'll be from the windshield's perspective or the bug's eye view.

I've been blessed by having very smart friends, both of the "meat-space" and online variety. And they often say things that I take to heart, both in the direct sense and the lateral thinking sense. And lately several of my friends comments made years apart have been banging around my head (there's enough room in their for a roller-rink). And all those comments focus on one aspect of my life, the amount of time I spend online reading and posting.

I do a lot of that, in case you didn't notice.

And in my life it's now becoming the "TV" everyone who offers writing advice tells you to unplug and throw out the window. The time spent online has distracted me from what is important. And in reflection it has made me a worse employee, student, friend, son, and husband. I know I should do "things", tell myself I'll do them, and then 2 hours later I realize I haven't done any of them and it's time to go to bed. And it has sucked time away from writing.

There's also the thought in my head that this blog really isn't about Story Bones anymore and I should probably rename it to Links-R-Us. Don't get me wrong, I love sharing all the links I point to. I love that my blog readership has continued to expand (and saw a significant bump when Jay Lake was in New Zealand, which I expect to decrease now that he's back and doing his own Link Salad). And I especially love it when the people who I look to for quality links and commentary mention that I gave them some good links back or I see something I linked to being discussed somewhere else. And I really love reading to find quality links. The writing posts I love because, well, that's what I'm interested in. The science, medicine, and tech posts are fun because I love those things as well. The political links because, well, in case you can't tell I'm pretty opinionated and I want to share the reasoning that goes behind my positions.

You know there's a but coming in here, don't you. But I find myself not reading Locus Online very much anymore. I used to be a regular commenter on Scalzi's Whatever and the Nielsen Hayden's Making Light. I used to read TPM on a regular basis. I used to read fiction online. I kept up to date on the various media trends (even if I didn't see shows or movies, I would know plot lines and concepts). I get nervous and anxious when my RSS feed gets over 100 unread articles and it stresses me out.

And I look at friends who post less often and see the quality of their posts. And I look at friends who post less often and see them advancing in their writing careers. And I look at friends who post less often and still remain relevant.

Now I am a creature of habit. Like I said, I really do enjoy finding links and posting the strange thoughts that come to me. But I used to use blogging as the fire-starter and now it seems to be the whole fire. I used to post linkee-poos that you could read through in less than 10 minutes (maybe not the links, but my post on the links). And I used to actually write blog posts that weren't linkee-poos.

And I think all this talk and reading about the 2016 election is turning me off to the whole politics thing for the moment (it's okay, I go through these phases, it's mostly because of over saturation, it'll pass). One side has either no idea how to govern, having become a party of know-nothings, or simply wants to watch the world burn. And the other side has crossed that cynical line from "let's show we can compromise and be reasonable" to "let's look like we can compromise and be reasonable".

So this is my long winded way of saying that even if I weren't about to start classes, I've been thinking that I need to cut back the time here and spend that time being a better friend, son and husband not to mention giving more time to fiction writing. This isn't the first time I've had these thoughts, and you see how that much has changed my habits. So nothing may change, something may change, I don't really know. But I do have to achieve those goals I outline in the first sentence in this paragraph.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo late edition

Art for art's sake. Yeah, that. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A primer on how to create the perfect pen name. Isn't that: take the name of your first pet and the street you grew up on… oh wait, that's something else.

The Choosetron "self-directed story printer" Kickstarter. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Advice for keeping safe and social online for writers.

Mary Robinette Kowal tries a different form of author promotion.

California's hanging trees. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The groups that fund global climate change denialism. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

And the infographic on "So you wanna solve climate change."

Money for nothin' college for free.

"Fusobacteria, commonly found in the mouth, cause overactive immune responses and turn on cancer growth genes, two US studies reveal." Well, that kinda sucks. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"'A fear of suffering which, in some, goes as far as an aversion for the suffering' diagnoses the disease now afflicting American politics." Well, there's an explanation.

So, conservatives, confused by liberals who label your party as a bunch o' whackaloons when you think you all are perfectly reasonable? How's this for an example. That't he new Oregonian GOP Chairman. Someone who claims he had advanced scientific training. And he's making dumb ass comments like "spraying nuclear waste so we become more resistant to genetic disease" and basically becoming an AIDS/HIV denier. Now, if you happen to think these are good ideas, well then it's a hopeless cause. If you realize that our "immune systems" (actually with radiation we're talking about enzymes that could correct the damage to DNA before replication) doesn't work that way and that the connection between HIV and AIDS is pretty conclusively established, then maybe there is hope to bring conservatives back from the edge. But probably not. (Grokked from Jay Lake) The problem with the NYT assigning a reporter to cover Hillary Clinton full time, 3 years before the next election. Just is case you're still suffering from the delusion that the Grey Lady was in the pocket of the liberal left. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo takes a little trip, takes a little trip with me

If you're ever wondering why agents and publishers have guidelines, Mer Haskell has a good answer for you. It's all about the process. When I was doing programing, one of the things we used to do was vet the data. That meant before processing, you would check to see if the data was actually good and in the format you needed it. If it wasn't, Bad Things™, Dude. So you toss that bad data out and go get another piece of data. If you don't follow the guidelines you're relying on one of two things, the reader is feeling exceptionally generous that day, or your first line is a killer and stops the hand dumping your manuscript in the waste bin.

Star Trek Into Darkness voted as worst ST film, evar. Well, keep in mind these are also the people who dissed Next Generation and all the other iterations. I didn't think it was a great film, and it subverted expectations by not making Khan the villain. (Grokked from

Elizabeth Bear cuts to the heart of the "fake fangirl" controversy.

An art exhibit of tensioned suspension. Or to quote Douglas Adams, "They hung in the air exactly the way bricks don't." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

One of our earliest mammalian ancestors is found. And just as you suspected, it's rat like. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"May be difficult to continue to portray an energy approach as “job killing” when the jobs are right down the road." A great article on some green energy projects (one here in Ohio) and how they contribute to the local economy, produce actual jobs that pay well, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Also a little on the entrenched interests in fossil fuels fighting these projects tooth and nail. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Rick Santorum says the term 'middle class' is 'Marxism talk' since America doesn’t have any classes. 'Since when in America do we have classes?' Santorum asked a Republican gathering in Lyon County, Iowa, 'There’s no class in America.' He added that the GOP, unlike Democrats,'values the dignity of every human life,' and therefore shouldn’t use the term—which he has actually used repeatedly." We'll ignore the ready-made joke in "There's no class in America" (the Europeans will have to do their own heavy lifting on that one). I guess Ricky's history book doesn't cover… like everything since colonists landed on these shores. But then he spring form the party that also birthed (no jokes) Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA). "(A) constituent asked McClintock for his 'stance on Wall Street criminal practices.' The congressman responded, 'Well first of all, for a criminal practice there has to be a gun. It’s pretty simple.'" It's just as simple as Rep. Tom is. So I wonder if I held him up at knife point or at the end of a bat if he would report it to police? But then ,conservatives always hate it when their own ideologies come hiome to roost. Yep, after voting no for Sandy relief, Sen. Flake and McCain are upset that FEMA won't declare that 134 destroyed homes is a federal case. Of course, after yelling that relief should be offset by cuts in other areas, both didn't offer any cuts to balance their requests. The whackaloon quotient continues to rise. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

With "two thirds of the highest food-stamp receiving counties represented by Republicans, the Bloomberg study should make the GOP 'rethink that whole food stamp moocher thing.' It’s nice to think that Republican voters might notice that their party’s policies are causing pain in their own communities, but that strikes us as a tad optimistic. After all, when a Republican voter gets food stamps, it’s a temporary necessity that is only fair because they’ve paid their taxes. It’s always those other people that are lazy moochers." Not to mention "Among the 254 counties where food stamp recipients doubled between 2007 and 2011, Republican Mitt Romney won 213 of them in last year’s presidential election…" (Grokked from the Slactivist)

When it comes to climate change, we're boned. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"That joke about rising sea levels at the Republican National Convention last year looks even less funny as time goes on."

Tweet of my heart: @jessicafreely yurstrulyceleste: on a scale of one to invade russia in the winter how bad is your idea

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Playing the Market

Oh Great Internet Brain,

I need your help. As part of research for the WIP I'm trying to find if there is any market out there that functions in a peculiar way.

So, let's say there's this market and it has only one commodity. This isn't something necessary, nor is it something tangible. But there are a lot of people who are in the market (something like the percentage of people who participate in their 401k program). The items are exchanged through online transfer.

Here's the market. While the commodity is exactly the same for everyone, it's value is variable based on the person. While this is how all markets work (the buyer values the item more than what the seller is asking, and this is also true when the buyer "needs" the item), and the seller is the one who sets the price, in this case the price is based on the seller's profile, but isn't under the "control" of the seller. And the price can vary by a large amount. Think of a widget that is worth $10 to one person, but is worth $1000 to another.

Now here's the game. I haven't decided if the price paid is based on the seller's or buyer's value (again, this value is set by an external agency who isn't accountable to either party, but the values are known to both parties). There's no negotiation, and the decision to sell is solely the seller's option. Which of these make more sense?

Here's the wrinkle, once you're in the game there are only 3 ways out. The first way is death, that you die of natural or other causes unrelated to the game. The other two ways are based on the total value of your portfolio of commodities (either at an arbitrary number on the top end or bottom end). There's some belief that exiting at the top end is highly desirable (joy, bliss, enlightenment, whatever) and exiting at the bottom is exact opposite. People who exit aren't heard from again (for any of the 3 reasons). So it would be possible to exit the game with a low amount of the commodity, as well as exit on the bottom with a large amount of commodity depending on your rating from that external arbiter (your rating doesn't change very fast, so you can see overall trends and respond to them).

The value is based on your actions outside of the game (in case you needed to know).

I haven't been able to find any analog for this game to see a real world model for behaviors. Do any of you know anything like this?


Linkee-poo is tired of the "epic" commercial style

Chuck Wendig and Stephen Blackmore answer author questions usually posed to female authors.

Some tips on writing fight scenes. And here's another tip from me, please, oh please, do not use Hollywood action movies as your basis for writing fights. Movies, the vast majority of movies, and TV shows are, in the main, 100% complete bull-shit when it comes to fight scenes. My favorite example is some TV movie were the bad guy was in an open warehouse space with an AK47 and the police responded with about 8 officers with shotguns and a few handguns and took cover behind boxes and walls and engaged at less than 50 feet. Who won? Of course it was the guy with the AK47. In real life, with the fire the police were putting down, the bad guy would have been a pile of shredded meat. Six shotguns at close range, even without accurate targeting would have done the trick, no problem. That's not saying the bad guy wouldn't have gotten his licks in, but he was firing in the classic "full-auto from the hip" pose (yea, don't do that either, unless you're about to kill that character). Have you ever fired a weapon from the hip? I'm a pretty damn good shot, and doing that with a .22 Ruger at 30 feet and I couldn't hit squat (I put 2 out of 10 rounds on an 8.5 x 11 target, and that was basic luck). Trying to do it with a gun that is notorious for it's muzzle lift in a position that makes it hard to control it… well, let's just say on full auto he'd be doing good if half his shots weren't going through the ceiling. And with actual fist-fighting? Puh-lease. I've seen c-rated karate movies that get it more accurate. And they often have a version of the "fist-o-death."

An infographic on the magical power of the white beard. (Grokked from

Giving cancer the middle-finger. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Now scientists have made glowing rabbits. I'll bet the glowing hawks will just love this… Wait a second, glowing rabbits. Isn't that a plot point in the Sherlock episode "Hounds of Baskerville"?

There's a new star in the skies. Well, actually an old star in the process of self destruction through super-nova. And if I'm reading that report correctly (it's pretty dense in techno-babble) they're saying it looks like it's going to get brighter. Much brighter. (Pointed to by John)

Here's something, a youtube Easter egg. "Go to any YouTube video and when it starts playing type "1980" (without quotes). A missile command game comes up and starts to attack the video. You may have to type it in a few times before it works." (Pointed to by Dan)

"The engineers at SpaceX this week successfully launched a 10-story rocket to an altitude of about 800 feet, moved it about 330 feet sideways and then brought the 'Grasshopper' back down to its landing pad." It not only goes up and down, now it goes sideways. Watching this video I was suddenly struck with the notion that in one of those trailers there was an engineer thinking they were playing a game of Lunar Lander only to be actually controlling the rocket.

A new, secure, short range data transmission scheme emerges. In other countries, many people don't pay by credit card, they pay by cell phone (or mobile). Whenever people like to say how the US is #1 in technology I just think about kids in S. Korea paying for Cokes using their cell phone as a digital wallet. The problem is, it's not very secure technology. So now we have a new way which involves using acoustical transfer. I can't help but imagine seeing all those old acoustic coupler modems, or loading programs into computers using acoustic cassette tapes. (Pointed to by John)

What should come as no surprise, Obamacare works quite effectively where state officials want it to work. That article ends with the hopeful thought that Red-Staters will look across the state-line and wonder why those people are getting better healthcare at a lower cost than they are and then challenge their state officials to do better. With the increased tribalism and myopic focus of the modern citizen, I have doubts about that. Just look at Missouri where they passed a state ballot measure to prevent state and local officials for basically working with or promoting Obamacare. And if that isn't the people sticking their middle finger in their own eye, I don't know what is. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"It may seem counterintuitive, but there's a body of evidence to suggest that the millions of Americans with a diet soda habit may not be doing their waistlines — or their blood sugar — any favors." Told ya so.

Turns out America is not the only land of the freeze-dried whackaloon. Australia has their own version. I want to make a marsupial joke here, but don't want to dehumanize people. But before you point and laugh at all our crazy cousin down-under, John Oliver would like to remind you that they only have to deal with it for a month. Did I mention the 2016 election is already underway? Also their media seems able to chase a question to get an actual answer instead of accepting a non-answer and moving on. Yea, Australia gets the last laugh after all. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Oh look, the Susan B Anthony list is suing for their ability to lie like rugs in political ads. And this isn't one of those "honest people can agree to disagree" arguments of if something is blue or cerulean. They want to put up ads that intentionally tell you something that isn't true. One can only hope that the Supreme Court (they lost in the lower court) will either deny their petition or revive the concept of "commercial speech" being different from "private speech". But given some of their recent rulings, I doubt it. After all, "Corporations are people, too." If not, and the Supremes rule broadly, say goodbye to truth in advertising laws (even in their weakened state). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Facing a generational divide that is sapping their relevance, a group of evangelical conservatives argued Saturday that they need to become even more vocal in their support for often unpopular social positions." Ah, the people just don't understand us, we'll have to shout louder next time. And that it's being embraced by Rick Santorum (again, given the trajectory of GOP nominations, I expect him to be the front runner in 2016) is only more delicious. Yea, you do that, Ricky boy. I triple dog dare you. (Hint, Democrats were vastly outspent in 2012 and still won not only the presidency with a less than 50% approval rating and over 7.5% unemployment, they also gained seats in the House and Senate when smart money was on them continuing to lose in the House and maybe loosing control of the Senate.) Oh, and Rep. King, I don't think you really understand the story of Clearing the Temple of the Moneychangers. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Linkee-poo after dark is a junk food junkie

Artlandia's glossary of pattern design terms. Just in case you need it. (Grokked from Mary Robinette Kowal)

And if you're looking for poisons, here's the Poison Review blog and Wired's Elemental blog (which talks about poisons). (Grokked from Kelly Swails)

Oh no, there goes Tokyo, go, go Giant Jellyfish. From some research trying to find if this is photoshopped or not (I believe it is, it looks that way looking at the light sources) "No one knows for sure what's causing this jellyfish traffic jam (in the Sea of Japan). It's possible that oceans heated by global warming are creating the perfect jellyfish breeding ground. Another theory is that overfishing has decreased the numbers of some fish, which may allow the jellies to chow down without competition for food." History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man.

"Mint Press News reported that real wages fell across the board by 2.8 percent between 2009 and 2012 as global food prices continue to rise. As a result, the value of SNAP benefits decreased by seven percent during that time, according to a recent report by the USDA. And as we reported in June, cutting SNAP would disproportionately affect children who depend on the benefit for vital nutrition in their first years of life." The GOP is planning to cut SNAP even more than their first attempt, which failed. Someone once said, "Let them eat cake" (which we can debate as a reference to a popular play and not a political statement, but in either case), how did that work out for them? (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Back after Egypt's Arab Spring there were many (mostly conservative) talking heads spouting that the Muslim Brotherhood should have been kept out of the process. Well, even though Moressy was "removed from office" for other reasons, the Muslim Brotherhood took it as a sign of an attack on them (which, truth be told, probably isn't so far from the truth as some would like to believe). Now we have a live experiment on what they were advocating for. This. Warning, some of those images may be disturbing to you. (Pointed to by John)

"Who would be so callous as to put partisan spite over the basic health care needs of their community?… Desperate right-wing activists know the law won't be repealed; they know it can't be stopped in the courts; and they know there's a limit to Republican efforts to sabotage the federal health care system. So they've been reduced to one last-ditch effort: convince people with no health care coverage to voluntarily turn down affordable insurance so as to advance their ideological cause." I wonder if Freedomworks will cover all these people's fines? See, I would guess that's part of the strategy. Make people not get insurance, who will then have to pay fines for not getting insurance. This tactic has been successful in the past, it's the basic protest strategy of people begging to be arrested because they know the police and courts can't process them all. But here's the thing, in this case we have these things called "computers" that will do much of the work. But then, the opposition to Obamacare continue to peddle on well debunked lies. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

You know how a lot of people (again, mostly conservatives) like to spout about how the minimum wage needs to be kept low so they can keep their prices low and give better service to their customers? Well, what about those companies that don't buy into that and pay and treat their employees well. Turns out a number of them do quite well and tend to have a better brand and customer loyalty (just a note, I would love to go to Costco, but the only store in the area is very inconvenient for us to get to). Oh, and that canard about these companies that pay low wages creating jobs? Yea, turns out that isn't true either. But then you need to factor in that, for fast food minimum wage workers, "(h)ead honchos get $11.9 million a year on average, including options, while full-time employees earn $15,080…/ And what's one of the major problems? Companies in pursuit of the quarterly profit statement (see link to Tobias Buckell's site previously on shareholder value), we've returned to the horrendous practice of considering employees as "cost units." "Employees are seen not as valuable assets but rather as 'costs' which must be reduced as much as possible to increase profits for the corporations which are already earning record profits and pay huge salaries and bonuses to further line the pockets of top employees who are already rich." I really can't believe we're back to this mental pygmyism (which gives a bad name to pygmies, sorry about that) and moral bankruptcy. I've said it before, we have real life experiments regarding these policies and ideologies. And it hardly ever looks good. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Linkee-poo is too busy for a fancy headline

"What follows is the quickest, dirtiest, most simple route to writing a novel and getting it published by a traditional publisher, which I accomplished from my own couch in Atlanta while nursing a baby and having neither an MFA nor any previous contacts in publishing." Delilah Dawson takes over Chuck Wendig's blog and posts 25 steps to being traditionally published.

A video game about a novelist's life. I guess the game about watching paint dry was copyrighted or something. I also sincerely hope the game is more complex than what is portrayed in this article. As a young designer at one of the jobs I had I was told that I would need to "sacrifice" for "the art." In this case all the designers were divorced at least once and they all seemed hell-bent-on-leather to brake up my relationship. While chasing a dream can certainly strain connections when both people don't share that dream, there are other ways to run than to keep your head down and charge through the barriers. (Grokked from

And infographic on the SF predictions of Ray Bradbury that have come true. I think I need to do a post about this sort of thing.

Don Harmon, could you explain your story breaking process? something about thoughts, ideas, and drawing circles and lines. Best part? "Please note that at this point, people around you will start to express confusion and frustration, because they thought the idea was fine already. Depending on your mood and standing, these people are called hacks, traitors, parasites, scabs or successful colleagues." (Grokked from

"This is why Ursula Le Guin novels don't become movies." A meditation on the lamentable state of SF in film. Or why does every movie come down to "two guys in super-powered suits hitting each other."(Grokked from

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves in New Zealand. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

First paleontological digs in the US. Apparently S. American tribes ascribed the bones to giants. Where as in Greece, they chalked them up to titans and cyclopses. Totally different things. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Go here, go to Street View, and click on the double white arrows in the street beside the police call box. Once inside, you can travel around by using the arrows in the white circle in the top left hand corner." You're welcome. (Grokked Jennifer Crusie)

"If dirt is not purposeful and evil, then the bad faith must lie on the other side." Fred Clark on the grand conspiracy that is global climate change. Apparently, the bugs and the dirt are in on the conspiracy as well. For some reason, Christ's answer to the pharisees in the song "Hosanna" in Jesus Christ Superstar is going through my head.

Tobias Buckell talks about raising the minimum wage. In there he argues, "If conservatives argue against a minimum wage, to me it seems an admission that they don’t really believe in capitalism…". Actually, this is a thought that has been forming in the back of my mind. Conservatives, in their overwhelming zeal to by anti-Obama on anything are abandoning their classic position of being pro-capitalism (for the basic fact that many of Obama's policies are very capitalism oriented). Including passing a law that forbids Florida's Insurance Commissioner from negotiating prices for the health care exchange. And Florida isn't the only state. IIRC, Ohio's commissioner doesn't have her hands tied, but she refused to do the actual negotiations (and listening to an interview of her position, doesn't actually seem to understand health insurance at even a basic level). Medicare is prohibited from negotiating drug prices for Part D, the VA has also had their hands tied recently (the VA was an actual model of government efficiency on this end until hamstrung by conservative policies). And in many states conservative administrations and legislatures are enacting laws that will increase their overall costs while simultaneously reducing services to their citizens. I believe it's North Carolina (again) that passed a law that all cars must be sold through the dealership model (in an attempt to keep Tesla Motors, which sells direct, out of the state). This is not smart business. This isn't really any kind of business. So I'm also coming to the conclusions that many conservatives keep using the word "capitalism", but don't actually know what that means (okay, what they really want it to mean is, "I do what I want how I want and you don't get to do anything").

Another reminder of just how crazy the Cold War was, there was a plan to launch millions of copper fibers into orbit to create and artificial ring around the Earth that would insure against those Ruskies jamming our radio signals. Oh, and it would also help with solar interference. (Pointed to by Dan)

An atheist pro-life supporter tries to help the cause and gets the door slammed in her face. As Fred Clark (whom this is grokked from) says, "It didn’t matter that she fully shared their ideas about what they said was the central purpose of their groups. She didn’t understand the larger, unspoken cultural agenda that they consider far more important than that." (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Tobias Buckell is on a economic roll lately. This time it's about what is really wrong with this recover, quarterly shareholder value. "Executives at publicly traded companies are paid to generate higher share prices, which is done by hitting quarterly earnings targets. This leads to underinvestment relative to the behavior of managers of privately held firms. Not because managers of private firms are indifferent to the interests of shareholders, but because there’s less need for creating the shareholder value link via a simplistic relationship between compensation, share price, and quarterly earnings."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Linkee-poo knows this world is killing you

I'm going to break with the usual flow of links in this post because I think the next two are related. Old man grumblings about "kids these days" are boring and annoying, especially when I find myself doing it. These post relate to a few others I recently did. The first one relates to Tobias Buckell talking about quantity vs quality and how the former often leads to the later but starting with the later leads you nowhere. And the second relates to the article about how kids can't use computers. There's a mindset that locks one into "user" status. Many of these kids who are "computer literate" aren't more than users because they don't know there's a different way to be. I've also overheard complaints of some parents of kids who are now of an age to learn to drive. Most of them are having great difficulty because they've been so distracted all their life they never really watched how their parents drove nor how they got to wherever they were going.

Here's part of what's wrong with design these days. Here's a Sr. Art Director talking to "Juniors" about "where's the craft." Craft? And thinking computers have only changed what we're doing for the past 10 years? Dude, really, it's been 25 years since the computer revolution in design. If it's only affected you the last 10 years, you are way behind the curve. Now in the main I agree. What we do today as compared to what we did 2 decades ago, design is a very diminished form. I don't think I've handled more than a handful of what I would call "quality" photographs (even hiring a "professional" these days is no guarantee) in the past decade. Design has been democratized. If you haven't seen it until lately you have been living a rarified life. Here he is again talking about "craft as beauty", but it's the same argument. Now actually, like I said, I agree with him (except when he calls people "Juniors", which is a reference to Junior Art Directors and Junior Designers, to which I say a hearty "fuck you, dude", let's purge the condescension crap from some of the "Seniors" and we might be able to get back to craft). Today we're beset by ugly but wonderfully manipulated communications. And I would love (love) to have a job where I could do an actual "creative process" instead of having to grind out the work faster today than I did yesterday to drive more profits to the owners' pockets. The sad thing is, with the creative process I could drive even greater profits, but that's a long term game. So, yea, I have contempt for "Seniors" who talk down instead of across, but I also have regret that kids these days are taught computers without learning the basic forms of communications.

"Bret Victor's The Future of Programming should probably be required viewing this fall for all CS majors." And here's a direct link to the video of the presentation. Computing from the viewpoint of a 1973's IBM engineer, back at the dawn of the ARPANET (which is probably the least interesting tech he outlines as "the future of programming"). Also pointed to because of the simplified presentation form of using overheads (every Powerpoint user should take notes - when some of us old codgers talk about the death of the presentation form, this is what we're talking about). This is one of the few anachronisms in his presentation, it's clear his overhears were laser printed. Also good to keep in mind both the progression of "future programing", and how the world is different than what we imagined. Just so much in there and so much to unpack. Highly recommended if you're interested in technology and especially if you're a computer programmer/scientist. What's really sad is I remember a lot of what he's talking about. Man I'm old. And watch until the end. The last 5 minutes are very interesting. "The most dangerous thought you can have as a creative person is to think you know what you're doing." Substitute "computers" and "programming" with "science fiction" and "fantasy" and I believe you also get a cogent statement between the "Golden Age" and the current market of SF/F. (Grokked from Dan)

Elizabeth Bear is running her book sale.

If you're taking photographs, know your rights. I don't do that much photography anymore and I've had to explain to an officer what I was doing. Another tip is to keep calm and be polite. Also, don't give up your rights just because an officer looks and behaves imposing. They're trained to do that. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Two stories about wind power. “Wind farms are being given around £30million a year in compensation to switch off or slow down their turbines because nearly half the electricity they make is not needed.” We need bigger batteries. "'The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged $40/MWh for projects negotiating contracts 2011 and 2012, spurring demand for wind energy.' That’s $0.04 per kWh." Wind is now cheaper than some other forms of production. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"The goal of Project Pterosaur is to mount an expedition to locate and bring back to the United States living specimens of pterosaurs or their fertile eggs, which will be displayed in a Pterosaur Rookery that will be the center piece of the planned Fellowship Creation Science Museum and Research Institute (FCSMRI). Furthermore, the rookery facility will establish a breeding colony of pterosaurs in order to produce specimens that could then be put on display by other regional institutions or church groups." Um, yeah, Bob. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

And now in real science news, the Sun is about to flip magnetically. Queue the End Times and Tin-Foil Hat Brigades. (Grokked from

The internet troll as the modern equivalent of the witch hunt. (Grokked from

"This doesn’t mean that there’s any racial profiling going on(in Atherton, CA), of course. Could be that Latinos in the area just converge on Atherton for the purpose of driving without a license, which is also the most common violation listed." I'm sure there's no racism here, in one of the countries most wealthy communities. "We’ll have to assume that Atherton cops are just really, really good at spotting the telltale signs of a driver whose license is expired. Black hair and brown eyes are among the most common." I'm mean, we're a post-racial society, aren't we? Take the good folk of Beavercreek, OH, just outside of Dayton. I mean, they only want those people who might take the bus into their community to be comfortable with requiring AC and heating in all bus shelters. Might as well add an electrical outlet to charge up your cell phone while you're at it. And I'm sure it's just activist judges who basically said, "BS, get on with it," and are making the good citizens of Beavercreek accept bus service from Dayton to their suburb (also, I wonder how much their legal council makes, if they have them on salary or on an hourly basis). It's just like the good people of King of Prussia, PA who have only charity and warmth in their hearts when they say, "If somebody can't get to King of Prussia by car, they shouldn't be coming at all." And, you know, we can't have brown kids singing our National Anthem. Because, hell, I don't have anything here. My daily allotment of sarcasm has been used up. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Idiots gonna be idiots. And just a reminder that being an idiot knows not real party affiliation. "Progress Kentucky, the bumbling liberal super PAC that did more harm than good for Democrats during its eight-month existence, is no more."

Yea, the anti-Obama people aren't racist. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

The Onion often takes people along for a ride, here's 35 times.

"After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a new benchmark was set for business behavior. Once you hung out your shingle, you could not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or sex, regardless of your religious justification or personal belief. Ironically, the re-emergence of attempts to claim constitutional protection for discriminators over those discriminated against is a measure of the success of the expanded vision of the women’s rights and gay rights movements." But now we're trying to roll those back. One of the first places we saw it was in the pharmacy. State lawmakers would pass laws that would allow pharmacists (and now pharmacy workers) to not have to provide "Plan B" (and now any form of birth control) which would go against their consciousness. Then they expanded it to hospitals, doctors, and nurses to not have to perform abortions. Really? I was approached to do a calendar for the local Right-to-Life group. While I could charge them double, technically I couldn't refuse the work (and unfortunately I worked for someone who supported their cause - fortunately they never had the money and my boss didn't want to do it for free). And if we start allowing these "exemptions" from "commercial businesses", there is no end to discrimination in sight. And, seriously, refusing a booking because the people make you all squicky? Sigh, you want to go down that road? Okay. Many Christian religions are anti-masterbation. Start asking all your customers if they've ever pleasured themselves and then refuse them service if they have. How about if someone enters your establishment wearing poly-blend clothes? No, really, this is a bullshit response unless you want to start enforcing Kosher Laws. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Mike Huckabee doesn’t want you to think he’s a bigot. He just wants you to know that he sees himself as superior to more than a billion people whom he regards as sub-human. Huckabee thinks it would be unfair for you to twist that into making him out to be a bigot." Fred Clark wants you to understand that it is a moral imperative to shout back at hate speech (since hate speech is usually shouted to begin with). The form that shout back takes can be of your choosing. In this case, I'll fight fire with fire (as it were) and say "Mike Huckabee, bless his little heart."

Monday, August 12, 2013

Shocked, shocked we are that…

Crazy thought for the night, and because I'm seeing some twitter traffic about it, I guess Director James Clapper is getting the nod to run the review of our surveillance programs.

And people are up in arms.

When last we saw Dir. Clapper, he was lying to Congress on C-Span (and then on all the news programs) about the extent of the NSA classified eavesdropping programs.

Read that again. Director Clapper was asked, live on C-Span, to out a classified program of surveillance in front of a Congressional committee (that could have held their meeting, or part of their meeting, behind closed doors).

People are shocked. Shocked he lied and he hasn't been thrown out on his boney arse.

Obviously we don't understand what "Classified" means, anymore. Seriously. Has it been that long since the end of the Cold War that we can't comprehend the very basic necessity of 1) not asking the Director of National Intelligence the scope of NSA data gathering on live TV (that's what closed door meetings are made for) and 2) not comprehending on how, if Dir. Clapper had said, "Oh, yea, NSA is pulling down a lot of this stuff and storing to use for future data mining", that he would have been committing a) a felony with possible jail time, b) betrayal of trust and c) violation of his oath? Are we totally confused by the effort to put Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden in jail?

Is this the effect of all those Perry Mason and Matlock shows where the lawyer has a witness on the stand and turns the whole court case around by asking pointed questions and showing the witness is actually the guilty party? Real life doesn't work that way.

Director Clapper knows secrets. That's his job. Keeping those secrets is also his job.

Overall, it's good to be upset that he lied to us (well, to Congress actually). But to really have expected him to answer that question, in front of cameras, truthfully and fully is a degree of naiveté that we really shouldn't have these days.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

CLEAR! (zapf!)

So, checking lottery tickets this weekend and for the Powerball drawing ($40 million, not the $450 million), and I hit the first two numbers… Nearly had a heart attack. Of course, those were the only two numbers I had (didn't have the "powerball" number so no payout). So for me it's back to the salt mines tomorrow. Sigh. So close. Just one more monkey at one more typewriter.

Weekend Linkee-poo could hang out by the pool

Pixar's storytelling rules done in Lego.

Use what works, dump the rest. Or, if what you're doing isn't working, maybe you need to try something else?

"This sentence has five words." If you want a quick lesson on sentence and paragraph structure and pacing.

Cat Rambo on getting away with wordy prose. There is a line you can sidle right up to, but if you cross it woe will come to you. I also hope that poetic prose doesn't always equate to wordy.

Best Clippy Evar. And if you don't know Clippy or get the humor, count yourself lucky.

Tobias Buckell on quantity producing quality. Having seen these arguments up close, yep.

Why we can't have nice things. A review of Elysium. One of the most unique critiques I've ever received was being told my words were my own.

"I’m going to say it again because it’s important: There is no wrong way to have a body." Wise Bear is wise.

Vince informs us that August 8th was apparently the International Day Of The Female Orgasm. Now there's holiday I can get behind.

Living with 4 cats (who was recently the only human at home), I approve this message.

Jim Hines' comic regarding sexual harassment and the various canned responses.

"(W)atching these discussions is like watching an adult struggling to reach an agreement with a child who literally doesn't understand what a compromise is." An allegory on how our divided government "works", at least from the conservative side. It's either an incredibly cynical play, or just gross incompetence. These days I'm not sure which. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

North Carolina and buyer's remorse. I'm not so optimistic as this author that people will realized they went the wrong way with electing in a bunch of social conservatives when they thought they were getting fiscal conservatives. And the damage might already be too great. To paraphrase Machiavelli, do your big evil first and people will forget and forgive. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Researchers have 'resurrected' a 4 billion-year-old protein that may shed light on how life evolved on Earth." Someone send this lab 20 copies of "Jurassic Park", stat! (Grokked from Dan)

Apparently I'm out of the loop. Seems there's new energy efficiency standards for the ceiling fan industry that they're all up in arms over. Except, "The efficiency standards for ceiling fans were requested by the industry itself so they wouldn't have to deal with a patchwork of state-by-state regulations, and the standards were approved in 2005. For those keeping score at home, in 2005, there was a Republican White House, a Republican-run Senate, and a Republican-run House." By why let facts get in the way of a good rage against the Obama administration. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Tomorrow’s politicians, civil servants, police officers, teachers, journalists and CEOs are being created today. These people don’t know how to use computers, yet they are going to be creating laws regarding computers, enforcing laws regarding computers, educating the youth about computers, reporting in the media about computers and lobbying politicians about computers. Do you thinks this is an acceptable state of affairs?" It's an oft told story about how "the kids" are so techno-literate. They are users of technology, but most of them don't understand it. (Grokked from Mer Haskell)

More on that PA wackaloon. Wackaloon knows no political affiliation.

Speaking of whackaloons, Eric has a theory about the GOP policies regarding birth control and abortion. I think I agree with Erich and his conclusion about the direction of these policies, but not so much which his final reasoning. After all, an impoverished, cheap labor force to those who know history can become an army, but to others is a business strategy.

"Well, okay. Christians say that. But it’s not enough. We cannot just hope for the kingdom to come, squeak out the closing hymn, and go have coffee. That’s just not helpful." It lightens my steely, flinty heart that some Christians in the US still get it. With all the flash and noise from ecumenical, apostolic and eschatology battles, some people still get it.