And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Linkee-poo, come down off your cross, we could use the wood

A primer on how the "No Award" category works on the Hugo ballot. (Grokked from Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

Writing an apocalyptic (or post-apocalyptic) story? Here's some historical research for you. Those interviews at the beginning of Interstellar? Yea, those were real. Also, not to Sen. Inhofe, the Dust Bowl, a wholly man-made disaster, affected your state. Just keep that in mind as you start throwing snowballs. (Grokked from

On the political journey of Robert Heinlein and the effect of his hagiography. (Grokked from Mrs Tadd)

It's the new way to teach poetry. That is, it's exactly the old way where poems are didactic and there is an accepted (acceptable) meaning to the poem and there is no individual response to art. You know, the complete bullshit mannerisms of insecurity and an attempt to sanitize a force that could change the future. "So, what we have here is a mini-syllabus in how to wreck poetry for five- to eight-year-olds. Thank you, Ms Morgan." (Grokked from Camille Alexa)

Coming full circle. "What is most interesting about the HarperCollins initiative to sell their own e-books (and not signing a new contract with Amazon) is one of the formats they support is MOBI. This is compatible with the Kindle line of e-readers and what is most notable is that if you buy them from HC, the MOBI files are DRM-Free." Notice the chain of "we got these people to sign, won't you?" Yea, one of the worst sales pitches ever made, but people still try it. Now, what would be interesting is if HarperCollins went the same same as Tor/Macmillan did with HC has the deep pockets, Amazon has the platform, but they're not the only option. (Grokked from Mrs Tadd)

The Brontosaurus is back, baby! Now, about Pluto… (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Hey, vat-grown burger beef is now getting cheaper. Well, it's sort of like pharmaceuticals, the first pill costs you $4b, the second costs $0.01 (no, really, most pills are actually make for fractions of cents). Sure, it's not that cheap yet, but you get the point. Also, please note the other issues with vat-beef listed at the bottom of the page. (Grokked from Steve Gould)

Every year, non-Christian John Scalzi gives up something for Lent. This year, he's decided he is better off without the thing he gave up (ego-surfing). To which I say, "Good on ya, John" (he was also just in Australia, so I thought I'd go for that phrase, you're welcome). But the comments (ed. note, never read the comments… there are a few exceptions) makes me want to write about what Lent was all about and what it meant to give something up for Lent. Hint, chocolate or "sweets" are what children do. You're already supposed to fast for Lent, so giving up "food" is redundant (see Chocolat for more about this). You are supposed to change your life because of Lent. Doing something for only the Lenten Season is a symptom of our current view of Christianity, so well summed up by a childhood "friend" who informed me that "Once you're saved, you're always saved" (one of my first experiences with radical evangelicalism). That's not how it works. Sin isn't so much a prescribed action as a falling away from God (you know, the Big Yahweh). Our actions are a "sin" and the results of "sinning" lead to that falling away (or absence). The things themselves are not sin (since things and actions have no soul of their own). And once you renounce the sin, you are to ask for forgiveness (being saved), but then you must not sin again. It's one thing to be sorry for hitting your brother and then asking God to forgive you. But the follow on to that is to have learned a lesson and not hit your brother ever again. But Christianity no longer emphasizes that last part (because it's the hardest part, also CALVINISM!). So we now have a larger Christian culture where people fall in and out of sin (sung to the tune of Amy "Falling in and out of love with you"), but think they're continually saved (if you're Catholic, you might see the problem here). It's a nice idea. It's wrong, but it's a nice idea. The point of giving up something for Lent is "letting go and letting God". You're giving up the things that put distance between you and God (the clenched versus the opened hand). Yes, I know in this era of Prosperity Theology (re: echoes of CALVINISM!) that we no longer see Christianity as a separation from the worldly (because THINGS™), but it's a long tradition in Christianity (and other religions) to reject the worldly to be closer My God to Thee, as it were. And that means no more Keeping Up With the Joneses™ and rejecting worldly goods, possessions, and attachments. This is the concept of Giving Up Something for Lent. Bringing those things back into our lives after Easter (Maundy Thursday, Holy Saturday, Clean Monday, whenever) misses the point of the lesson. Now, let us discussed Engagement Christianity (Buddhism, etc) wherein one must be of and involved in the world to effect change…

It's not just the Sierra Nevada mountains that are low on snow. And this isn't the first year. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

An opinion on why the smart money is on "Tesla Announces Home Battery" at the end of this month. Grokked from Dan)

"If you don’t want to serve pizza to gay people… don’t — which, by the way, is legal in Indiana and 28 other states, but even where it is illegal, you’re still free to do so and deal with the consequences of breaking the law. That, pizza shop owner, is your choice. And if you don’t want to deal with those consequences, well, no one is forcing you to be in the pizza business. You’re free to do something else." On the talking point of "government forcing" you to do something. Equally applicable to the talking point that someone is "limiting free speech" by telling you off for you comment.

BTW, IMHO I think the Arizona RFRA law (I think it was Arizona, my google-fu is failing me at the moment) amended to include language stating you must post if you discriminate and which groups you discriminate against, is excellent. Not just because it caused the law to be defeated, but because I want to know which businesses are discriminating so I don't give them any custom. Being a straight, white male who is mostly gender-normative, seeing who is discriminating is difficult (because I may not see the actual act of discrimination), however I don't want to give business to anyone who would discriminate on these grounds (this is different than people refusing to put hate speech on items they sell). Having that sign posted would help me know which businesses to patronize and which to avoid.

Just in case you still think there isn't a War on the Poor happening, a new bill in Maryland, introduced out of order and near the end of the legislative session "would target the poor — disproportionately people of color — as an unequal group without specific, court-determined due process rights; those who can afford an attorney can still have one at initial appearances, those who cannot would be out of luck." It would basically amend the State's Constitution to deny public defenders to people at their initial bail hearings. But, the paper did the numbers and "Given the numbers, it would appear that Mr. Miller would be better off putting together a study group to determine how Maryland can encourage more indigent defendants to turn to public defenders, in the hopes it would keep more of them free before trial and save the state even more money." My guess is someone just got a donation from the for-profit jail companies. (Grokked from Chia Evers)

Sure, it's all about religious freedom, not about discrimination. And the timing has nothing to do with the expected Supreme Court ruling to would make same-sex marriage available throughout the US.

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