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[links] Link salad for an achey Wednesday

What grocery stores can teach us about linguistics — Mmm, taxonomy and language.

The Best Response to Grammar Nazis, EverStephen Fry nails it. (Via [info]danjite.)

Lego Goes to Hollywood

Citizens seek cancer cure with “Genes in Space” smartphone game — (Via Dad.)

Most cancers in our world pandemic are preventable — here’s how

Remembrance or revision? Brain study shows memory misleads

Ethics Questions Arise as Genetic Testing of Embryos Increases

Habitability Around Ancient Stars

Cryptography Breakthrough Could Make Software Unhackable — I’m not sure I believe in “unhackable” as a concept, but this is interesting. (Via David Goldman.)

The Female Orgasm—Illustrated — Hahahah. Also: NSFW, in case that wasn’t obvious already.

Courtesy Stigma and the Consequences of Deviance — This is fascinating, and something with which I am familiar in real life.

Talking past each other: Bill Nye vs. creationist Ken Ham on evolutionArs reports on the debate over whether creation is viable as science. I really, really hate the fact that this Creationist tripe is even dignified with a debate, instead of laughed off the stage as it should be. You can believe anything you want about God and the universe, but to mistake your private faith for empirical truth is a grave intellectual and spiritual error.

U.N. Panel Assails Vatican Over Sex Abuse by PriestsA United Nations panel sharply criticized the Vatican on Wednesday for putting the reputation and interests of the Holy See above the interests of children who had been sexually abused by priests, effectively allowing priests to continue abuse and escape prosecution. In a series of hard-hitting observations, the Committee on the Rights of the Child said that “the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.” Yeah, I can feel that moral authority from all the way over here.

California man points gun at Girl Scout at his door to sell cookies — Under the Stand Your Ground laws so beloved of conservatives, there is no test of reasonableness. Only the shooter’s own word that they felt threatened. If the victim is dead, that’s it. Who’s to say otherwise? This means that any person with a firearm in a “Stand Your Ground” state has the legal power of summary execution over any human being they encounter. Yup. Guns definitely make us all safer.

O’Reilly Tells Obama He Didn’t Need Student Loans: ‘That’s Who I Am’ — This is a common conservative meme. But when O’Reilly was young, college was much cheaper in both absolute and relative terms. Four decades of very deliberate conservative chipping away at higher education funding has made it impossible to work your way through college painting houses.

Broken Democracy: Republicans poised to take Senate, Americans Reject their PlatformThe Republican majority in the House of Representatives can already block most legislation, and in 2013 it dedicated itself the the proposition that the country must be punished for re-electing Barack Obama, by being denied virtually any new needed legislation at all.

Delusions of FailureThe truth is that the campaign against Obamacare relies on misleading stories at best, and often on outright deceit. Who pays the price for this deceit? In many cases, American families.

Arksansas Republicans hope to dump 85,000 out of Medicaid They’ll cut 85,000 people out of health care to spite President Obama.

?otD: Relax. I’ll need some information first. Just the basic facts. Can you show me where it hurts?


2/5/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 8.5 hours (solid)
Body movement: n/a (post-operative)
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block inventing polar vortices: 0
Currently reading: n/a

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[cancer|culture] The hour and manner of one’s passing

I don’t have a lot to add to what’s already being said about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was a successful actor and director who was still underrated, in my uninformed understanding of Hollywood and Broadway. He took brave and frightening and silly roles, sometimes all at once, and inhabited the screen with a certain everyman awkwardness that was both endearing and familiar.

But death, now death has become a close friend to me this last year. Riding on my shoulder, always at my side, hearing with my ears, speaking with my tongue, thinking with my thoughts. Even as I write this I am lying in a hotel room bed on a heated mattress pad with my right side wrapped in a heating pad, every breath a pain, every movement an ache, each of those tiny, sharp, endless crystal moments a reminder that barring a medical breakthrough of almost literally miraculous proportions, I will be gone in a matter of months and weeks.

As it happens of course, we’re working on that medical breakthrough. That’s why the bed I am lying in happens to be in Ocean City, Maryland, 2,950 miles from my home in Portland, OR. My crowd-funded Whole Genome Sequencing drives a realtime experiment in mutation-based selection of TIL cells happening on a lab bench not far west of here at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. I am choosing to live, in pain both physical and psychic, for so long as I can. I am perhaps too stupid and stubborn to die any sooner than I might.

Yet, I say this as if I have any direct control over the ways and means of my cancer.

As a matter of philosophy, I don’t oppose what we somewhat ironically call “recreational drug use”. As a matter of philosophy, I support a right to die for those who feel the need to do so. That would almost make me a Libertarian, at least back in the days before that group became Tea Party lunatics and lost all moral and intellectual credibility.

But I strongly oppose harm to others. In any form. Medicating yourself to death, as Hoffman appears to have done (whether accidentally or with a purpose) slays a portion of the hearts of everyone who loves you.

I know this, as I know that my own increasingly overwhelming mortality slays a portion of the hearts of those who love me.

As I’ve said in several other contexts recently, when death is being forced upon you, as it is with me, then life becomes all the more precious. There’s always a tomorrow, no matter how bad today looks.

That’s not me speaking in cliche. That’s me speaking as someone who spent my teens and twenties so gripped in chronic clinical depression that I found it necessary to try to take my own life, and wound up in considerable treatment because of that. I was lucky enough to have a chance to walk it back, and go on to have a life and loves and a child and writing career.

My chances to walk it back are almost gone beyond recall. The hour and manner of my passing is being dictated by genetic inevitability and the toxic tumor-children of my body.

Philip Seymour Hoffman will never have a chance to walk it back now. The hour and manner of his passing has been set and sealed, seemingly by his own hand.

And that makes me sad. For him. For those who loved him in his everyday life. For those among us who admired him from a distance.

Because one of the things that makes me saddest for myself is that there’s always a tomorrow, but soon enough I will never again see the sun rise. Neither will Mr. Hoffman.

The hour and manner of one’s passing is always the last today.

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[links] Link salad reports in from the ICU

Encore, for the Norwegian Curlers and Their Pants — Because color! (Via David Goldman.)

Are You A Super-Spreader of Disease? A small group of special individuals could act as an early warning system for the next epidemic. Their special power? Super-spreading disease.

The Plumes of Ceres — This be some serious cool.

An insider’s story of the global attack on climate scienceAn epic saga of secretly funded climate denial and harassment of scientists.

On the ongoing destruction of Christian communities in the Near East

‘Philomena,’ A Must-See Film About the Magdalene Laundries and Forced Adoptions — (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Real Facts About AbortionThe women who get abortions are not merely irresponsible drug using harlots. They are us.

Top Ten Ways GOP could avoid “War on Women” Label

Glenn Beck and Other ‘Too Little, Too Late’ Apologies“I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language because I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart[.]” — Now that he’s made his fortune, he’s developing a glimmering of a conscience?

Non Sequitur on sweet, sweet reason

?otD: Got drainage tubes?


1/24/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.0 hours (solid)
Body movement: n/a (in hospital)
Weight: n/a (in hospital)
Number of FEMA troops on my block inventing polar vortices: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[links] Link salad knows there is a time to dance, a time to mourn

This Guy’s Wife Got Cancer, So He Did Something Unforgettable. The Last 3 Photos Destroyed Me. — (Via Joyce Scrivner.)

Bill Keller, Get Well Soon: You’re sick — More on the criticism of people who fight their cancer battles in public. This is sad, terrible stuff. Nostalgia for the old conspiracy of silence surround serious illness is so profoundly misplaced and inhumane. (Via [info]goulo.)

Jewish Surnames Explained

Kevin Andrew Murphy on Jack Chick passing the Bechdel test with respect to gaming — Oh, wow. My head hurts.

Eating ‘Paleo?’ Don’t Forget Worms and Tubers

The ‘Nutcracker Man’ Diet: Extinct Species Of Early Human Survived on ‘Tiger Nuts,’ Not Meat

Lost Remains of Slain Ancient Queen Unearthed

African tigerfish catch swallows in flight — Yow.

A Trip to the Moon — About Georges Méliès and his 1902 movie, Le voyage dans la lune.

It’s all work and no play for SpaceShipTwo pilot on virgin flight

Virtual Museum of Decorated Windows — This architectural neepery is interesting in a slightly worry way. (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

Why I Bought A House In Detroit For $500 After college, as my friends left Michigan for better opportunities, I was determined to help fix this broken, chaotic city by building my own home in the middle of it. I was 23 years old. (Via Lisa Costello.)

The great decoupling: another phrase for an end to 20th century capital economics

About that consensus on global warming: 9136 agree, 1 disagrees — Climate change denial is like evolution denial. It’s a political position taken for ideological reasons which has no grounding in evidence-based reality. Consider this: no one arrives at either evolution denial or climate change denial after a dispassionate review of the evidence. There is always an ideological starting point, followed by a search for a convincing explanation to justify the desired ideology. That’s pretty much the opposite of how science works. The constant conservative pretense otherwise is a disgrace to American politics, media and education, and a clear and present danger to our national interests. (Via Scrivener’s Error.)

Fossil Fuels causing Antarctic Glacier to Melt Irreversibly, raise Sea Levels — Nothing to see here, citizens. Move along. Just liberal “facts” and “data”, which as any good conservative knows are lies from the pit of Hell.

Beyond Fire and Brimstone — A different view of the Christian ethic of eternal torment. (Thanks to [info]daveraines.)

Catholic Church Didn’t Have a ProblemIt simply never occurred to the Catholic Church to oppose health care plans that offer contraceptive coverage until opposing the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act became a priority for the Republican Party. Nice to see America’s Christian leadership upholding Biblical standards, which by amazing coincidence swiftly evolve to repeatedly coincide with the conservative political agenda. Smug Republican Jesus smiles upon them. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Chemical Spill Shuts Down Much Of W.Va. Capital — Remember kids, regulations are always bad for the economy. That’s the most important thing. Only stupid liberal moonbats care about drinkable water when there’s quarterly profits at stake.

Keeping Public Buildings Free of Guns Proves Too Costly for Kansas TownsReasoning that more guns mean greater safety, Kansas lawmakers voted last year to require cities and counties to make public buildings accessible to people legally carrying concealed weapons. Because 30,000 gun deaths a year is a small price for you and I and everyone else in America to pay for gun owners’ illusion of safety, that’s why.

Road Rage Victim Made Multiple 911 Calls — Another proud gun owner acting in theoretical defense of his essential liberties by slaughtering an innocent driver. Ask any conservative: more guns means more safety. Now ask the victim.

Coffee With RefugeesIn Lebanon’s Mountains, Syrians Face a Grim Future. (Snurched from The Nib.)

Anatomy of an Obamacare ‘horror story’ — Surprise! Conservatives lie about the ACA, Your Liberal Media does no fact checking. Hmm, the sun must have risen in the east this morning. Also, water is wet. (Via David Goldman.)

Democracy and the Christie phenomenonHe is leading up to an explanation as to why people like the bullying tough guy types such as Chris Christie — they are looking for someone to “take charge” in a world in which they feel a loss of control. That’s a pretty good encapsulation of the whole of modern conservatism. That’s what people wanted from Reagan, after all.

Fox’s Hume: Christie Seen As A Bully Because He’s An “Old Fashioned Guy’s Guy” In Today’s “Feminized Atmosphere” — Actually, Christie is seen as a bully because he’s a bully. Pure and simple. To some people, especially many conservatives longing for a powerful authority figure, that’s admirable manliness, but those people who admire this behavior are wrong and frankly a bit sick in the head.

?otD: Is there a time for peace? Is it too late?


1/13/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.75 hours (interrupted fitful)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Weight: 238.8
Number of FEMA troops on my block faking evidence for evolution: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[links] Link salad heads back to the west coast

Bechdel Test Movie List — Huh. I think seven of my ten novels pass the Bechdel test. (Via [info]willyumtx.)

10 abandoned hotels

Blaze ravages ancient Tibetan town

Mmm, vintage coffee

Decline of large carnivores damages ecosystems, experts warnResearchers recently called for an international initiative to conserve large predators in coexistence with people.

Metamaterials could perform calculus with light wavesA properly structured material could convert a light wave to its derivative. Science!

New discovery could be a Thorne-Zytkow object — Astronomical turducken? (Via David Goldman.)

Rise of the distorporationA mutation in the way companies are financed and managed will change the distribution of the wealth they create. (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

American Conservatives, Jewish Law, and Israel’s New Abortion Policy — In which the intellectual and moral consistency of the American Right is proudly on display once again. It’s so nice to know that our nation’s conservative religious leaders would never stoop to political expediency when Biblical principle is at stake. Wait, sorry, the sarcasm bit got stuck on and dialed up to 11. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

How Newsweek’s ‘global cooling’ story got its legsNine paragraphs written for Newsweek in 1975 continue to trump 40 years of climate science. It’s a record that has the author amazed. Conservatives are not interested in evidence, except that which supports their position. Contrary evidence is ignored because of the well-known liberal bias in reality. Meanwhile, science really does change its collective mind about things. That a theory being explored 40 years might have changed since then due to more compelling evidence to the contrary is apparently inconceivable to conservatives. Confidential to GOP in America: that flexibility is a feature, not a bug, in science. There really is no “gotcha” in pointing out that scientists changed their minds about something over time.

?otD: How far will you go today?


1/11/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (fitful)
Body movement: n/a (airport walking to come)
Weight: n/a (traveling, no scale)
Number of FEMA troops on my block faking evidence for evolution: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[links] Link salad in the Arctic cold

Scrivener’s Error is funny about a lot of things, including my genome being released open source

2013 movies that pass the Bechdel test — (Thanks to Lisa Costello.)

The Coolest Child Care Program You’ve Never Heard Of

Civilian Airplanes, 1914Civilian Flight in 1914 was still a new business, riding hard on the heels of the latest innovations by inventors and tinkerers. Oooh. (Thanks to Danny Adams.)

World War II’s Strangest Battle: When Americans and Germans Fought TogetherDays after Hitler’s suicide a group of American soldiers, French prisoners, and, yes, German soldiers defended an Austrian castle against an SS division—the only time Germans and Allies fought together in World War II. (Via [info]danjite.)

Is it 1914 all over again? We are in danger of repeating the mistakes that started WWI, says a leading historian — (Via Donnie Reynolds.)

160 year-old Documents Intentionally Destroyed in Franklin County, N.C. — This is a crime, in so many senses of the phrase. Including possibly literally so.

Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for StatesThe sinuous Colorado River and its slew of man-made reservoirs from the Rockies to southern Arizona are being sapped by 14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years. Nothing to see here, citizen. Just those evidence-based liberal “facts” and “data”, which as any good conservative knows are lies from the pit of Satan. Move along.

Group unveils Satan statue design for Oklahoma — A bit more on one of my favorite proposals. (Via [info]shsilver.)

Banished for Questioning the Gospel of Guns — And conservatives like to accuse liberals of “political correctness”. This is the stereotype of PC gone amok, in the heart of conservative gun culture. (Via [info]goulo.)

New York Official Freaks Out Audience While Using Handgun As A Laser Pointer — Guns make us all safer! Unless you’re a pinko freak who thinks 30,000 Americans shouldn’t have to die every year for gun owners’ illusions of safety, of course.

Supreme Court Puts Utah Same-Sex Marriage on Hold — And this is the political problem on the Supreme Court. Moderates on the bench attempt to adjudicate fairly, even against their own political interests. At least over the past two or three decades, conservatives on the bench have always followed their political interest, justice be damned.

40 Years Since Women Were Granted the Right to Credit Cards — One of those things conservatives opposed, something to note if you’re a woman who votes Republican.

The Smartest Nerd in the RoomWhy Melissa Harris-Perry is America’s foremost public intellectual, and what she means.Ta-Nehisi Coates on race, culture and media.

GOP Senate Candidate Wants To Move U.S. Capitol To Nebraska — Well, maybe not really. But the idea that Obamacare is the worst law EVAR ignores slavery, segregation, and Japanese internment, just name three things off the top of my head. Not to mention a few hundred more, almost all of them conservative ideas.

Bill Young’s first family emerges to tell their story — A Republican congressman who cheated on his wife with one of his staffers, who had his baby out of wedlock, was awarded the Family and Freedom Award from the Christian Voice, the nation’s largest conservative religious lobby. He received the award because of how he voted on “key moral issues.” And he completely wrote his three kids and all his grandkids through them out of his life. Ah, this why “values voters” always vote Republican. Because the conservative respect for the institution of marriage and the sanctity of the family always comes first, unlike those godless liberals like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama who have been married to the same women all their life.

The Agony of Frank LuntzHaving spent his career telling politicians what the people wanted to hear, Luntz now believed the people had been corrupted and were beyond saving. Obama had ruined the electorate, set them at each other’s throats, and there was no way to turn back. The man who worked for Buchanan and Gingrich, who helped write the Contract With America and was instrumental in honing the GOP’s angry white guy strategy through promoting the politics of resentment, this man thinks Obama is to blame for a divided electorate? “Stupid or evil” is almost always a valid question with Republicans, but this line of utterly self-serving bullshit can only be “stupid and evil”. Either that or the biggest failure of self-awareness since Sarah Palin thought she was fit for public office.

?otD: Could you walk outside today without the weather killing you?


1/7/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 8.0 hours (solid)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Weight: n/a (traveling, no scale)
Number of FEMA troops on my block faking evidence for evolution: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[links] Link salad is too long ago, too far apart

Russell Banks: By the BookAnything described by the author or publisher as fantasy, which to me says, “Don’t worry, Reader, Death will be absent here.” In his brief introduction to “Slow Learner,” Thomas Pynchon says he takes serious writing to be that in which Death is present. I agree. Thus speaks a man most proud of his absolute ignorance on the topic he is discussing. It’s one thing not to care for a literary genre as a matter of taste. It’s another thing to dismiss that entire genre out of hand based on a profound lack of understanding, and then pretend that dismissal is a statement of high principle. So much for Russell Banks’ intellectual honesty.

The more they stay the same! — Sherwood Smith shows us sneering at genre fiction from two and half centuries ago. Russell Banks would be pleased at his place in the pageant of tradition.

Because syntax — This one’s for all you language nerds.

Parseltongue — This one’s for all you language nerds who are Harry Potter fans.

How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood To understand how people look for movies, the video service created 76,897 micro-genres. We took the genre descriptions, broke them down to their key words, … and built our own new-genre generator. Fascinating. (Thanks to Scott Frey.)

Jay Lake #Dayton — Mmm.

This Dad Does Incredible Things To His Kids’ Lunches Every Day. I Can’t Stop Smiling! — This is cool. (Thanks to Lisa Costello.)

Why Everyone Seems to Have Cancer — We’re living longer, basically, and not dying of other things. Then there’s the simply unlucky, like me.

30-Something Everyday Tasks You Might Be Doing ‘Wrong’

Why It’s Nearly Impossible to Castrate a Hippo — Because there are some things you just absolutely, positively need to know. (Via [info]danjite.)

No, Our Solar System is NOT a “Vortex” — That video I posted yesterday? Not so much… (Thanks to [info]ericjamesstone.)

Newly discovered three-star system could debunk Einstein’s theory of General Relativity — Maybe, maybe.

Three CubeSats Released — I love these things.

Physics Professors Search Internet for Time Travelers, Don’t Find Any — All depends on how you want to think about the causality.

The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence In some jobs, being in touch with emotions is essential. In others, it seems to be a detriment. And like any skill, being able to read people can be used for good or evil. (Via Lisa Costello.)

Social Darwinism Isn’t DeadIf you’re doing well, you believe success comes to those who deserve it, and those of lower status must not deserve it.

Why Kim Jong-un probably didn’t feed his naked uncle to 120 dogsPoe’s law definitely applies to North Korea. (Via [info]danjite.)

Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming — Willful idiocy is a backbone of conservative thought.

Papa John’s, Applebee’s And Others Pay Huge Price For Anti-Obamacare Politicking — As much as I would love for this to be true, I have a very hard time believing that enough of the public cares about this kind of thing to be the root cause of such a decline in brand value. If most people cared that much about conservative insanity on such a large scale, we would have a very different House of Representatives right now.

Romney Wishes He Could ‘Turn Back The Clock’“They’re going to find that the doctor they’ve had, they can’t keep. They’re going to find the policies they were promised they could have, they’re not going to be able to keep. And the American people are going to be very, very upset about that.” Right. Because that never, ever happened under the old system. And Romney never lied about anything, especially not his extensive efforts to offer a superior healthcare reform. Still trying to unskew, Mittens?

Gay Marriage Opponents Call For Uprising In Utah“The people of Utah have rights, too, not just the homosexuals. The homosexuals are shoving their agenda down our throats,” Former Graham County, Ariz., Sheriff Richard Mack said at the meeting. Yes, the conservative right to hatred, bigotry and oppression is certainly being endangered by other Americans enjoying their civil rights, that is true. This attitude does not fill me with sympathy.

“Religious liberty” means never being allowed to do anything that someone else’s religion forbids, apparently — Welcome to conservative America, where their beliefs rule your life.

Liz Cheney Dropping Senate Bid — Interestingly, note that one of the key issues was Cheney’s hypocrisy over gay marriage.

The Return of the Welfare QueenRepublicans are launching a class war with racial undertones—and hurting the poor whites they’ll need to win in 2014. Launching? What the hell launching? The GOP has been waging a race-driven class war since Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

The Failure of the Trillion Dollar National Security State

?otD: Can you wait another day now?


1/6/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 8.0 hours (interrupted)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Weight: n/a (traveling, no scale)
Number of FEMA troops on my block faking evidence for evolution: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[links] Link salad could be another Lincoln

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Tolkien — Daniel Larison is very unhappy with Peter Jackson. I pretty much agree with his points, though I am perhaps less vociferous in my articulation thereof.

Literary self-loathing: How Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Gilbert and more keep it at bay — Really? Yeah, maybe for them, but I’m with Scalzi on this one. Doubts are one thing, we all have those, but if you do struggle with genuine self-loathing, see a doctor, get that fixed, and write more. If you don’t struggle with genuine self-loathing, quit posing and write more.

Just in time for Santa!

Taxidermy mouse chess set — For all your gift giving needs. (Via [info]lillypond, a/k/a my sister.)

Repent now. Geographers map 7 deadly sins. — Mmm, lust. (Via [info]lillypond, a/k/a my sister.)

New attack steals e-mail decryption keys by capturing computer soundsScientists use smartphone to extract secret key of nearby PC running PGP app. (Via David Goldman.)

Full-size car made of 500,000 Legos really drives — Whee!

Video shows stunning penguin ‘traveling wave’ — Simulating penguins? (Via David Goldman.)

DNA from Neanderthal toe links ancestors to inbreeding — Headline of the week.

Possible Planet in Nearby Brown Dwarf System

The Big SqueezeWhat happens if you crush an organic substance between diamond anvils? Researchers are finding out, with ramifications for our knowledge of Earth’s core. (Via my Dad.)

A quantum revolution against Feynman diagramsWe all love Richard Feynman, but his diagrams may have to go.

Did Rock Weathering Trigger ‘Snowball Earth’?

The Gangs of Chicago — Ta-Nehisi Coates about being black on the street. Sigh,

Tolerating ChristiansThere’s a persistent, pernicious sentiment from certain Christian conservatives that they’re being persecuted or oppressed for their religious beliefs. It’s a very comforting and self-valorizing perspective that doesn’t need to be rooted in reality to feel real to the people who hold. Rather like pretty much every conservative position I could name. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Pope Francis and the Naked Christ

Good Grief and Great Tits” Sitting Down to Read Sarah Palin’s Christmas Book While I Bake Christmas Cookies for My FamilyModern conservatives have made “merry Christmas” toxic by associating it with Christian fundamentalism, religious intolerance, and the politics of imagined persecution. Yep. This exactly. I never say it any more, because I don’t want someone to accidentally think I’m a Christianist asshole. Unlike so many Bible-believing Christian conservatives, I actually think it’s important to love my neighbor rather than hate them. (Thanks to Lisa Costello.)

Hobby Lobby is fine with forced abortions and mandatory contraception in China, but balks at voluntary contraception for American women — To which I say, which part of “religious conservative” do you not understand? The term is literally and irretrievably synonymous with sanctimonious hypocrisy. Smug Republican Jesus wouldn’t have it any other way, after all.

My abstinence-only educationI was 17 before I found an adult who told me the simple truth about sex. Until then, I heard some crazy things. But abstinence education makes smug Republican Jesus smile! And that’s way more important than protecting and enabling our kids to live in the reality-based world. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Is Edward Snowden a modern Martin Luther? — There’s an angle I never thought of.

GOP Rep Hartzler has flag moved so that it blocks Obama portrait — Now imagine if you will for a moment the reaction if some moderate Democrat had done such a thing during the Bush administration. I mean, I know hypocrisy is more natural to conservatives than breathing, but just think about the firestorm in Your Liberal Media. Versus this chuckling little story.

The death of the American Dream in a single image — Burgeoning income inequality, shrinking social mobility. All a very logical outcome of decades of Republican economy policy. We’re living in conservative paradise.

?otD: Got MRI?


12/19/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.0 hours (solid)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Weight: 237.2
Number of FEMA troops on my block falsifying climate change data: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[links] Link salad says hello to darkness its old friend

Interview: Jay Lake — Ken Scholes interviews me for Lightspeed.

Hobbit’s Gollum Lacked Precioussss VitaminsAn offbeat study, released on Sunday, which concludes that the evil characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” lost their battle against men, elves and dwarves because they suffered from vitamin deficiency. Uh… Rickets. Yeah. (Via David Goldman.)

Every argument you’ll ever need for singular ‘they’ — Not being a prescriptivist myself, and often in need of a gender-neutral third person singular pronoun in my own discourse, I am completely comfortable with the singular ‘they’. Which means I probably need to get off some peoples’ lawns.

Largest and Fastest to the Orient — I love this vintage travel poster.

Tourist distracted by Facebook falls off pier — Oops. (Via David Goldman.)

Caffeine + alcohol keeps your chromosomes just rightThe ends of your chromosomes are sensitive to a variety of environmental factors. Dang. Who knew?

Too Much InformationAre we prepared to know the genetic flaws of the unborn?

Biodegradable Batteries to Power Smart Medical DevicesBiodegradable Batteries to Power Smart Medical Devices.

Perfect enforcement: On the ground in the red light camera wars

The Sixth Mass Extinction: Why Climate Scientists’ Hair is on Fire

?otD: Are the words of the prophets written on the subway walls?


12/18/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.0 hours fitful
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Weight: 237.4
Number of FEMA troops on my block falsifying climate change data: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[movies] Monsters University and Thor: The Dark World

Two more movies we’ve seen for the first time recently are Monsters Universityimdb ] and Thor: The Dark Worldimdb ]. These have both been in release long enough that I’m not going to worry about spoilers, though I’m not deliberately planning any, either.

If you liked Monsters, Inc., you’ll probably like Monsters University. If you didn’t see or care for the first movie, there’s not much reason to see the second. It’s a competent followup, though a prequel rather than a sequel within continuity. The usual Pixar charm applies, though perhaps not so much as in some of their other franchises. Likewise the usual Pixar production values apply, which is always fun if you, like me, enjoy that sort of thing. Since I didn’t see it in the theater I bought the Blu-Ray to go with my Monsters, Inc. DVD. I’m not sorry I did, but I would describe this as satisfying and entertaining without the depth of some of the stronger movies in the Pixar oeuvre. On the plus side, it doesn’t suffer from whatever horrible rot afflicted Cars 2, either.

If you liked Thor in his other recent Marvel film incarnations, you’ll probably like Thor: The Dark World. Witty banter, bombastic music, existential threats to the nine worlds, Natalie Portman, lots of punching and exploding. What’s not to like, if that’s your sort of thing? It’s certainly mine, or can be. The best thing in the film was the twenty seconds or so where Loki turns into Captain America while haranguing his brother about his life choices. The fact that’s the best thing in the film probably tells you everything else you need to know. (Caveat: if male physiques draw your eye and libido, that might be the second best thing in the film after the brief scene of Chris Hemsworth wiping the sweat of valor from his chiseled form.)

In other words, both movies nicely met my expectations as sequelae to their respective franchises, without surprising me or delighting me in any unanticipated ways. Which from contemporary Hollywood is something of a win.

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