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

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Story Bone

I've been debating this one for a few days. Jay Lake shared his experience that dying of cancer seems to be his new career. He discusses how people, because they know he is dying, feel more comfortable sharing their experiences, fears, and dread about death.

This is one of our societal quirks. Once you know someone is either experiencing or will experience something that you have gone through, a bond is created. You can share more intimately than you normally would. People who have known death in an up close and personal way don't share a lot of that event unless they know you have also been there (trust me on this, for those of you who haven't experienced a close death or serious illness, when the others of us mention the guilt, impotence, and anger we have gone through you all look at us like we had lobsters coming out of our ears, let alone the complications of chemo or the visceral dread and then odd calm of waiting for biopsy test). At work, there are a few of us who have been close to people who have had cancer, or who have had cancer themselves. We talk differently to each other when we're alone. It's a more direct and matter of fact way.

As an example, another coworker was experiencing their first taste of mortality. The rest of us wanted to help, but they had cocooned their emotions. Badly I might add. We wanted to help them, give them advice, guide them to a more gentle experience than most of us had, but they wouldn't let us in. And so our group's conversation took a different turn. We started asking questions like, "Do you think they've reached this stage, yet?" and, "Do you think they've made their peace with their family member?"

It's a different way of communicating. You may know someone who has had cancer, but unless you experience it at a close range, you miss a lot. One of my coworkers has gone through breast cancer, after I shared my cancer experiences with her, and asked her a lot of focused questions, our working relationship changed. There are fewer walls between us, and we have often shared things that most coworkers would never share with each other. And it is a comfort than I know people with whom I can have those conversations. In the sharing, it lightens all our loads. A monster brought into the light is always less scary than the monster in the dark.

So here is the story bone. What if a society "uses" people who know they are dying as a way of easing their own collective psychology? In the way of a sin-eater, they would gather our fears of death, and become our confessor of life. So that with their passing, they would take those fears, worries, regrets, all the so called baggage of life with them and reduce the load on the rest of society.

What does this mean to such a culture? What does a terminal diagnosis then become? An honor to serve, or even more of a nightmare than some people already believe? And what does this do to the person who has that diagnosis? What price do they pay for hefting our load? What if this is an actual career for someone, the person chosen to whom you can go to for this type of thing (without the terminal illness)? If those people are selected by lottery or those who travel the path of the shaman (note, most shaman's never chose that profession, the profession choses them)? What if this is the function we ask of those condemned to death as part of their penalty? What if they were thought of as those who could take messages to the dead and it was their job to memorize all the personal messages from the living to those who have passed on? And in this last case, what if they are sworn to secrecy about the messages, only to have someone confess some horrible secret (the classic "criminal confesses to their priest" conundrum)? Are these people required to travel so that others have access to them?

Frankly, I think the resulting social changes would be very interesting, as would the psychology of the person dying.

Edited 10-01-2013 Christopher Gronlund also has a take on Jay's post that might be helpful, The Wisdom of the Dead. "It’s as if people believe once one knows they are dying, suddenly a flood of wisdom falls into their heads… just waiting to be dispensed." Yea and verily. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Along these lines, there's a poem I just half remembered, something about that maybe there are some secrets the dead are telling us.

Figures don't lie, but…

Okay, is someone with a big readership linking to my linkee-poo posts? 'Cause even though my posting schedule is way slower than it used to be, some of these numbers of unique views are just astronomical. I'm humbled, but I don't think it's really me. Did I get on someone's list or something?

I know, I should probably go crunch the numbers of where all these hits are coming from (there has been an increase in attempted spam and link farming lately). I just don't have the time at the moment.

Linkee-poo is this real love or just madness keeping us afloat

Sorry for the shortness of the links given the length of radio silence. Still playing catch up. My reading list has gone over 500 articles, I doubt I'll ever be able to get all those read anytime soon. Plus I have lots of thoughts about what will be happening this week in politics, but little time to share my thoughts. So here are just a few thoughts.

Conservative are showing their insanity. Ted Cruz launched his Presidential bid standing on an idealogical plank that I think will eventually sink his bid (especially if we do shut down and default - the economic consequences of either are bad, of both it's catastrophic), while attempting to outshine Rand Paul. The last government shutdown wasn't the result of being unable to pass an appropriations bill (of which this time it's just a continuing resolution, which isn't hardly anything more than, "we agree to continue spending at the same levels we did last time until the end of December", you know, compared to the real work of trying to decide things for a full year), it was because of Bill Clinton's veto of the budget (but remember who took the blame for that). Obamacare doesn't start on Tuesday, it started two years ago. Most of it will be in force January 1st. Tuesday is just the most visible and undeniable step that Obamacare is here (conservative will be unable to convince people that it hasn't happened yet and there's still time to stop it). And conservatives are correct when they say it'll be catastrophic… it'll be catastrophic for them. In conservative mythology, it's a well accepted tenant that the reason why Democrats controlled both houses for the majority of the last half of the last century was because of Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and Civil Rights. Obamacare, once people understand that it's nothing like the conservatives have painted it, has the potential of changing the current political dynamic and ending conservative dreams of "the permanent majority." Some of them are realizing they've already signed their party's suicide pact (hence their willingness to play economic brinkmanship, can't play chicken with somebody who has already decided to commit suicide).

Mary Robinette Kowal on writing for audio. Also has some good tips for writing for reading.

Lucus Films introduces real time rendering. Another step in the revolution of seriously cool tech. (Grokked from Dan)

Vince reminds of how easy it is to disappear.

The "creativity under threat" infographics. Same as it ever was, if you ask me. Although it's disheartening to see "lack of being inspired" as a major impediment to doing our work (see previous writing advice that says don't wait for inspiration or you'll never get the book done).

For the next time someone laments to you about how good and pure the old days were, when we were all more patriotic. That's a post about the Bellamy Salute given while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listing to the National Anthem. Good thing that we don't change our traditions, eh? (Grokked from the Slactivist)

So the next time someone tells you to go to Hell, now you have the directions.

The boy genius of Ulan Bator. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

“It’s not an in-apt analogy to compare this to light sabers,” Harvard physics Prof. Mikhail Lukin said in a report.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cotton Scrubs

Oh Great Internet Brain,

It can't be this hard to find 100% cotton, solid navy blue scrubs (4x - extra moose size). Anybody have a good resource?


Monday, September 23, 2013

Linkee-poo tries to catch up

You may remember me starting to ask, what would Neil (Gaiman) write as my own WWJD mantra. Well, there's some writing advice by Neil. (Grokked from

Terri Windling with a fairy blessing. Gotta watch out for them fairies. Sometimes the give us what we need, not what we want.

Chuck Wendig with 25 tips on editing that unmerciful suck out of your story.

The lovely bones. The jeweled saints of Europe. Skeletons bedecked in jewels from the Roman catacombs, assumed to be early saints, distributed to cathedrals and churches.

A bronze brothel token discovered in the Thames. Ah, that Puritanical history we keep hearing about. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Some researchers are setting up a bronze-age, graduate student thunderdome. Or at least, that's how I picture the research into bronze aged weapons. (Grokked from

The world is stranger than we think, and the theory of pan-spermia just got a big boost from the discovery of a lot of organic molecules in a meteorite. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo before the weekend is out

Happy Fall everyone. Yea, I didn't notice either.

"… well, it’s ungracious to begrudge the old familiar place its newfound good fortune, just because it isn’t exactly the way it was when we found it all those years ago." Dr Doyle with the "before it was cool" argument as it pertains to SF/F. Wait, SF/F is popular?

Tobias Buckell reflects on the fact that most of our "far future dreams" are now almost a century old. So while I'm on record as being a heretic about some of these (such as human level AI and post-human fantasies), I do agree it's time for new ideas. But that's the rub, ain't it, while we like to claim how SF is all futuristic, it general deals with current (or past) problems projected on a set that has the trapping of an increasingly pie-in-the-sky future model.

"You fail only if you stop writing." Something I try to keep in mind. As I've said recently (not here) about the reboot, if I fail, I want to fail for trying, not fail for not trying.

Horse feathers, you say? Dinosaur feathers, I say. Stuck in amber and (re)discovered. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"She was a professor?" On the plight of the adjunct professor (who are probably teaching the majority of classes in US colleges and universities these days), abject poverty and no respect from the administration, for whom they help balance the budget. If you think this is a rare case, think again. Full disclosure, my wife is an adjunct professor and despite her actual working tenure being much longer than most full-time professors at the places she teaches, is never considered for the full-time positions that come available. What's not said in the article is that adjuncts across the country are having their course loads cut because "of Obamacare." See, part of the ACA requires employers to evaluate how much time per week an employee actually works. And, as a surprise to no one but the collegiate administration, their "part-time" employees have long worked more than full-time hours. Well, the new law says they then need to offer health care. So to avoid paying health care (or, say, creating more full-time positions), they just cut them back to one class a semester (which increases their costs to maintain a larger employment pool and the turn-over that entails). (Grokked from Dr. Phil)

~The nine thought experiments that might keep you up at night. But maybe not (maybe that's the tenth, secret thought experiment going on here). (Grokked from

Those neighbor kids bothering you with playing their ZZ Top too loud? Then what you need is a 16' tall AT-ST, conveniently for sale. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

SF not your cup of tea? Okay, how about a 30' robotic, fire-brething dragon to teach those kids a lesson? (Grokked from Jim Hines)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Linkee-poo is late and short

I haven't even looked at my reading list since last Friday, so I'm sure there's a bunch out there. Unfortunately I still don't have time to look at it. So here's just a few links.

This year looks like the worst one for measles in a long time. Like since before vaccines.

Sure, you may have snuck in your kid's bedroom to slip their baby teeth out from under the pillow and slid in a quarter (what, are we up to $1 coins now?). But, could you have done the same thing with a pneumatic tube system? I think not. (Grokked from Dan)

Calvin and Muad'Dib. No words. (Grokked from John)

The scourge of Mt. Dew mouth. Sure, all that sugar water, it has no effect at all.

Janiece talks about something that has been bothering me since about the mid 90s. The military has become a "class" of people, instead of a citizens military (the fantasies of a select few whackaloons non-withstanding).

See something, say something. What could go wrong? The ACLU pulls the suspicious activity reports from the FBI. Sure, nothing to see here.

You know all those people who keep saying how government can't affect business or the economy? Sure they can't, unless it's the Indian economy. Or our own stock markets.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Linkee-poo has a serious case of the "DontWannas"

Chuck Wendig jumps in the deep end. Braver man than I. Good luck.

While revising, you are likely to be eaten by a grue. :: points to it jumping up and down in giggly glee :: (Grokked from Dr. Doyle)

Jennifer Crusie with a large infographics of writing advice. You know, for your wall papering needs.

Vince shares the names of things that you probably didn't know had names. Actually, I did know some of these.

And this works for a writing link, what kind of procrastinator are you. (Grokked form Kameron Hurley)

The last surviving WWI 18" rail howitzer goes on display. It's seems quaint in the world of UAVs and ballistic missiles, but at the time these were the atomic weapons of war. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tobias Buckell on bullshit jobs. Just for the record I would like to say I do work a lot of that 40-50 hours a week. However in the last two months I've had so many meetings scheduled it's been putting a major dent in the time I need to get the actual work done. The meetings, for the most part, haven't been of the "motivational" kind, but of the "bosses want to be a part of the process not understanding they're slowing down the process and just give me the damn data and let me do the work." But I understand where the writer Tobias quotes is coming from. Some bosses love to have meetings and send certain email in what appears to be simple "filling up the calendar."

"Christian schools shreds $20,000 in literature over ‘satanic’ peace sign." I got nothing. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

In America, you wouldn't believe what's legal. And now you know the real reason for the witch hunt against ACORN and why Fox News is all full of conspiracies about the CFPB, which is working for consumers. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

On how you build and test a climate model. Just in case you were fuzzy on the subject. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Alex Jones has decided that the United Nations (and Obama, of course) have embarked on a course of destabilizing and destroying countries so they can reduce the world to a primitive state and control it from jetcopters' as Methuselah cyborgs." The mocking, it's just getting too easy. And that, your honor, is when the wheels came off the bus. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Searching for a third way in Syria. One of the positives of this lengthy "debate" about Syria is the rise of several non-military interventions, ways of helping the Syrian people without adding more violence into an already violent situation.

Giving truth to the phrase, "No thanks, we're all full up on crazy here," the TEA Party Congressional darlings take the Crazy Train on the road. You know, I was getting worried that the "Bad Chinese" were about to overshadow the "Bad American" as an international pariah. Kudos.

Just a general thought about Syria. It amazes me that because of the last 13 years (mostly during a previous administration) of black and white thinking about the world, we, as a people, have totally forgotten what "proportional and measured response" means.

(Sorry about the crappy sound, I couldn't find a better clip, actually I was looking for the conversation between Fitzwallace and Leo after Pres Bartlett orders Fitz to develop plans for an overwhelming strike)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Linkee-poo, nothing to see here, go back to your trailer

X-rays of NASA spacesuits. (Grokked from

How to tell if you're having sex with a fallen angel. A good list to keep in mind. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

There's a hole in the bottom of the ocean, and there's a Grand Canyon under all that Greenland ice. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And speaking of holes in the bottom of the ocean, how about the world's largest super volcano being discovered in the Pacific. Oh, and I can hear you say, first that pillar to Azathoth, then blood worms in the water, and now a hige volcano at the bottom of the Pacific, surely the stars are aligning and the Old Gods slumbers are disturbed. The volcano is in the northern Pacific. Of course, "(t)he possibility that there were other undiscovered super volcanoes lurking beneath the earth's oceans could not be dismissed…" Sleep well. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

The "Walkie-Talkie" skyscraper in London that's focusing light strongly enough to melt cars. No, really. Apparently this isn't the first building by Rafael Viñoly that has this problem. For an international level architect, you'd think they would have heard of a parabolic mirror and what you can do with it. And then not make the same stupid mistake.

Ten storybook cottages. Although I'm sure if some of those people on House Hunters saw they they'd complain about the paint color. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Linkee-poo walks into the light of midnight

The world of thew newbie writer is slightly less safe now than one of our defenders, Ann C. Crispin, has passed. If you don't know Writer Beware and are just starting out writing, you really need to check them out.

Todd Wheeler wraps up his summer reading program. Congrats to commentator and all around good person, Random Michelle.

Also, Janiece's writing program has also concluded.

Someone's getting a little cranky about the writing advice.

First there's that marker to Azathoth shows up at that Oklahoma restaurant, and now an Oklahoma town's water system is infesting with hard to kill blood worms. Not so funny now, is it? (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Roughly 2 million years ago, the Taylor Glacier sealed beneath it a small body of water which contained an ancient community of microbes… they have remained there ever since… Evolving independently of the rest of the living world… The trapped lake has very high salinity and is rich in iron, which gives the waterfall its red color. A fissure in the glacier allows the subglacial lake to flow out, forming the falls without contaminating the ecosystem within." Um, yea, what about the ecosystem without? A blood-red waterfall is flowing out of glacier in Antarctica. What could possibly go wrong? Say, wasn't Antarctica where At the Mountains of Madness took place? We're boned. (Grokked from

"What fresh shovelful of bullshit is this?" Apparently US business has forgotten just who buys the crap they like to sell. Or they think they'll get the top 10% to buy everything. And "The best way to 'foster serious discussion,' of course, is to ignore the country's low-wage workers when they take to the streets. That always turns out well." (Grokked form the Slactivist)

Want to really dissuade the rest of the world from screwing with the US? Show them things like this. We put flame throwers on mobility scooters. Just for the fun of it, and in our spare time. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"What happened to my mother was a relic of an America that was not free nor equal nor very kind." And yet there is a very large and well funded movement to turns us back to that time. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

You know what the opposite of herd immunity is? Hot spot activity. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Linke-poo all the time in the world, not

Sorry, not much. Haven't been able to keep up with the readings, and some of these are getting stale. So time to hit the publish button.

Noted here the passing of Frederik Pohl. Mr. Pohl was the first bonafide BNA I ever met, some 20 years before I made it a point to met BNAs. I remember his excellent t-shirt, painted with a star-scape. I'm sorry Mr. Pohl, I didn't recognize you, but then at the time I never thought I could actually met a star from the firmament and shake their hands.

Random Michelle's Labor Day post.

Hey, this is one way to totally fuck-over your brand. The new Yahoo logo designed over a weekend with the CEO working in illustrator. Yea, I've been on projects like that. (Pointed to by John)

Jay Lake feels the dark side of our public (and corporate) policy. Or, basically, in this country, if you want any sort of benefit, even from your private insurance, first you must prove you're totally an invalid and/or destitute. I have experience with this through Ohio Unemployment. Any money (any) you make from any source is automatically deducted from your unemployment, unless you fail to report (which is a crime on its own). So when conservatives start yapping about how easy "these people" using benefits "have it", I just want to smack them upside the head.

Being on the right or wrong side of history is often difficult to see in the moment. Although, really, the right side of history is always toward the path of more freedom, more rights to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, and acknowledging the humanity of people.

Tweets of my heart (this time multiple from the same person): @RBReich The American social contract: 1. No one who works full time should live in poverty.

‏@RBReich The American social contract 2: Everyone should have an opportunity to make the most of their talents and intelligence.

‏@RBReich The American social contract 3: No individual or group should enjoy special political privilege based on the size of their wallets.

‏@RBReich The American social contract 4: Anyone who becomes sick, injured, or impoverished through no fault of their own deserves a helping hand.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Linkee-poo for Labor Day

On the plus side, I cleared out my backlog of reading.

Enjoying the Labor Day Weekend (depending on when I get around to publishing this), think of the people who started this and those who fought and died in the Battle of Blair Mountain. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Face the fear. Four aspects of the fear of writing.

In a corollary to the axiom "just because it happened doesn't make it a good story", sometimes writing stuff that didn't really happen can make a good story.

Tobias Buckell relates a lot of good advice in his Getting Past Being Joe Blow Neopro. One of which is the story of Bruce Lee scouring everything he could find on martial arts and body building and distilling the advice that everyone gives and making that the core of the advice they need to follow. Here's the one thing I've seen in every writer's advice column. And you should know by know what that advice really is.

Some advice on aiding your discipline (to write).

Proving that art is in the eye of the beholder, the 11 creative film interpretations you probably hadn't considered. Have you have ever had the conversation with a believer about the "true meaning of Star Trek"? Then these probably won't be so weird to you. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Life advice from Bill Watterson. You may remember him from Calvin and Hobbes. It's advice I wish I could take. Maybe you can, though. (Grokked from

Sure, you maybe an HP Lovecraft fan, but are you willing to create a monument to Azathoth and then leave it in a restaurant's yard? (Grokked from

You may remember me talking about what happens when you ingest high-fructose corn syrup and aspartame. Well, in my personal life there seems to be a synchronicity regarding aspartame toxicity reports. There are several organizations "dedicated" to getting the news out about this as well as several industry sites saying there's nothing to worry about. I'm not going to link to them because they obviously have an agenda (and are questionable sources). So, first here is a SNOPES article debunking some claims. Here's a letter to the FDA in 2003 in support of regulating aspartame that has a nice list of references supporting that side. You'll also note that it's difficult for either side because nobody is officially tracking anything and those people trying to report results are shunted to other departments. It should be noted there is a problem for people with PKU, and this might be an effect of people who aren't diagnosed with PKU or whose symptoms are too mild to fully diagnose them (note, there is also growing evidence of increasing reactions to gluten in people who don't have full blown celiac disease). And while it's anecdotal, I have reactions to aspartame. If I accidentally ingest some, I get all the unpleasant side effects of being drunk (including decreased mental cognition, but not emesis) and I still believe it's responsible for my difficulty remembering names (I used to be very good).

John Scalzi, Troll Slayer.

Sure, you've probably heard about peak oil, but have you considered that we've reached "peak water." And in the West, desalinization isn't an option (although it may allow recouping some limited resources). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

The price of saline solution (salt water). How and why medical costs continue to rise. Tell me again why we shouldn't completely reform this business? (Grokked from Jay Lake)

You know the line about how people don't want electric cars, well in the past year Tesla Model S have outsold other high-end cars in California. Oh, and don't miss how the Toyota Prius is the best selling car, in California. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"Because if that’s the case, if our faith is all about personal gain and being right, then I think Miroslav Volf is absolutely correct… We do have a faith worth losing." Well that's dangerous thought in popular Christianity. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

One of the options being floated for a Syria intervention. I'm not sure I entirely believe the capabilities they're discussing, and it might just be disinformation to make the Syrians wonder. There are reports, however, of Iranian forces being used in country to secure the chemical stockpiles in Syria.

"Obama derangement syndrome." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, (Arkansas State Senator) Hutchinson (R) became interested in arming school personnel, he said. He was invited to attend an 'active shooter' training and - using a rubber bullet-loaded pistol - he mistakenly shot a teacher who was confronting a 'bad guy.'" Not sure much else need be said here except fortunately it was an "exercise", but those rubber-bullets can still cause a lot of damage (even death). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

The Onion is 25. (Grokked from

We wish this was fake, but Rep. Steve King once again proves what an ass he is. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Tweet of my heart: @rosalarian I think the internet has become 40% porn, 20% fanfiction, 10% Netflix, and 30% petitions now.

Double dip: @KateElliottSFF We could power the world off the energy of our as-yet-unwritten-no-time-to-write-yet stories

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Weekend Linkee-poo wonders if it really is the weekend why am I still working

As I feared, not a whole lot of time. Also, the washer broke this week. I've repaired it on both a "permanent" level as well as a temporary fix on another to get it working (level up, unlock ability "Handyman"). And everything else going on. So I haven't even checked on where my reading list is at for the past 4 days.

The art of the opening line, all of them from Elmore Leonard. (Grokked from

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, until they become my enemy once again. And then we'll worry about the chemical weapons we gave them. Iraq during the Reagan administration which conveniently looked past the evidence that Saddam gas his own citizens and even the evidence that he was going to do it again. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

And as we look at new uses of chemical weapons, Janiece reminds us to remember the people we will be putting in harms way.

Then, Jim Wright has a few thoughts about the Syria mess.

My thoughts? I think it's a cluster fuck waiting to happen. I think the fool's adventure in Iraq is screwing over our foreign policy (and here is the difference, BTW, in Iraq "We think he has these weapons because we still have the receipts and he wouldn't voluntarily disarm" but in Syria, "We saw him launch and we have the dead bodies to prove it", that's the difference). What do I think we should do? I think we should finally, openly, choose a side (we're already providing some support to the rebellion, but not a lot). We should counter the money flowing in from Saudi Arabia which is fueling the more radical elements of the rebellion (to the point that they are taking over). And here's the tricky part, we should work with Israel to deliver a crushing blow to Hezbollah forces in Syria. The problems, avoiding Iranian forces and an excuse to widen the war, Iraq sapped our will to intervene, our treasury, and our credibility in the world, add on top of all that a Congress that wants to hand the President a defeat (like Parliament did to Cameron).

This is not the fish you're looking for. "59% of the fish labeled "tuna" sold at restaurants and grocery stores in the US is not tuna." Business hasn't quite figured out how technology has changed the landscape. Of course, they're still counting on the consumers' desire for "cheep". (Grokked from the Slactivist)

In North Korea, Kim Jong-Il dates you. And if you break up, watch your back. Or, in other words, the little bastard is out to prove how tough he is to consolidate power and is eliminating anyone who might pose a threat to him. (Pointed to by John)