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[links] Link salad is an effective dentrifice when used under proper supervision

My Convention Harassment Policy Co-Sign Thread — Mr. Scalzi asserts leadership. I co-sign.

Steampunk Watch Part Sculptures by Sue Beatrice — Ooooh. [info]lillypond (a/k/a my sister) would love the tiny carousel horse. (Via [info]threeoutside.)

11 Harsh Realities About The World Of Harry PotterWe’re blowing the lid off this totalitarian regime! Once you peel back the layers of child-like wonder, it kind of sucks to be a wizard. (Snurched from Steve Buchheit.)

Pacific Ocean Floor Is a Huge Underwater Garbage Dump — Sigh. (Via David Goldman.)

GALEX decommissioned: What happens to abandoned space probes?NASA’s earth-orbiting GALEX was shut down Friday, meaning that the spacecraft will join a long line of space probes sacrificed to the universe. This is a surprisingly poignant piece. (Via David Goldman.)

Optical transistor switches states by trapping a single photonWhen switched off, the gate photon can be retrieved, too.

Leaving Las Vegas: How a tiny Chinese enclave is remaking the gambling world and Sin City

Faith-Healing Parents Denied Free Exercise of Religion in Death of Child — That’s the persecution narrative of contemporary American Christians in a nutshell. Profoundly immoral self-valorization.

Cyanide and Happiness recaps the arguments against gay marriage — They make more sense that what I read and hear in the media. Which is to say, not much at all.

How Do You Tell When a Politician is Lying? — I do not find this terribly surprising.

In Oregon, a Demand for Safety, but Not on Their Dime — This is what happens in low-revenue, low-tax jurisdictions. (Via Dad.)

NYT: IRS Scrutiny More Complicated Than Previously Thought — What do you know? Like almost every other conservative outrage, the great Obama IRS scandal turns out to be a nothingburger once the details are scrutinized objectively.

QotD?: Did you brush your teeth this morning?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (vacation)
Hours slept: 6.25 hours (badly interrupted)
Body movement: 0.0 hours (away from home)
Weight: n/a (away from home)
Number of FEMA troops on my block building mandatory gay marriage halls: 0
Currently reading: Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program by Sharon Salzberg; Snuff by Terry Pratchett

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[links] Link salad is always questing

Kyle Cassidy reads steampunk in the original Klingon

A quiet scene from The Matrix demonstrates how to make exposition compelling — (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

Ghost War — Electronic and physical deception during WWII.

Asteroid Mining Company Kickstarts a Space Telescope — Just think carefully about that headline for a moment. I love living in the future.

Awesome Time Lapse Video Shows 281 Days Of Roving On Mars

Scientists poke frozen mammoth, liquid blood squirts outA variation on the age-old “poke it with a stick” method revives cloning hopes.

Volcano nerds will love Oregon’s Newberry Monument

Holy Land for sale — Wow. Weird.

Police: Maine man staged kidnap that killed girl — What is the matter with people?

I was a liberal mole at Fox News: From Bill O’Reilly to Roger Ailes, here’s all the inside dope — (Via [info]shsilver.)

Americans Underestimate How Many Other Americans Support Same Sex Marriage — This is in line with the fact that most conservative positions poll much worse than politicians of any stripe believe. Viz the recent votes on gun control in the Senate. Strangely enough, Your Liberal Media significantly overrepresents the socially marginal ideas of the GOP as being a balanced part of the American zeitgeist. Think about this: Why aren’t the core GOP stances of evolution denial and climate change denial laughed right off the newspaper page and television screen on the face of it? In any rational society, they would be. Like many if not most GOP positions, these aren’t debatable issues among intellectually honest people with a grounding in reality. Conservatism has become a religion.

Health Care and Social JusticeLook at which states have rejected the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion — and see how “color-blind” public policy can produce bigoted effects. Ta-Nehisi Coates on ObamaCare and race.

Gun Deaths Outpace Motor Vehicle Deaths in 12 States and the District of Columbia in 2010 — Because guns make us all safer. And unlike automobiles, there is absolutely no reason a sane society that values the lives, health and safety of its citizens would register or regulate firearms. Just ask the GOP and the NRA, they’ll tell you.

This Is How the NRA EndsA bigger, richer, meaner gun-control movement has arrived. We should ever be so lucky as to get those vile, death-worshipping NRA bastards out of our political system.

Top Ten Michele Bachmann Goofs on the Middle East — Well, she is a Republican. As such, there’s no political or cultural expectation that her statements should correspond with reality or those liberal “facts” and “data” in any way. Certainly Your Liberal Media doesn’t hold conservatives accountable for their Reality Gap.

QotD?: Can you remember what you forgot?

Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hour (revisions to “Hook Agonistes”)
Hours slept: 6.75 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bike)
Weight: 248.2
Number of FEMA troops on my block scamming disaster aid slush funds: 0
Currently reading: Thud by Terry Pratchett

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[conventions] Why steampunk cons can be confusing for genre authors

I had an excellent time at Gaslight Gathering this past weekend. This is the fourth different steampunk con I’ve attended (speaking off the top of my head), the others being GEAR Con in Portland, Steamcon in Seattle, and the now-defunct World Steam Expo in Dearborn, MI. I’ve noticed some things about steampunk cons that make them rather different from print-oriented fantasy and science fiction conventions, and in many ways more similar to anime and comic conventions. These differences can confuse authors.

Fundamentally, so far my experience of steampunk conventions is that they are not book-oriented at all. For example, at World Steam Expo, Gail Carriger and I were the only two out of town pro author guests in attendance, with something over 2,000 fan there. Here at Gaslight Gathering, I believe I was the only out of town pro author guest. (In point of fact, I was Guest of Honor.) People are here for a wide variety of experiences. Print publishing is basically a grace note for the steampunk fandom I’ve encountered. As Kevin Hull said in a discussion here at Gaslight Gathering, “Steampunk conventions are costume-driven.” Costumes, yes, and I’ll add art, maker culture, re-enactments, and music to that list.

But steampunk cons are very much about story, about narrative. 80-90% of the people you see are in costume. The tradition of hall costumes at SF and fantasy cons is relatively minor these days, but they are nearly de rigueur in the world of steampunk. And unlike the prevalence of cosplay and tribute costumes in the SF, fantasy, anime and comic worlds, steampunk costumes are mostly original work. Almost very one of those people in costume has a story and and character to go along with their creations. Most of them will be happy to explain in great detail, in character, what they are wearing, how it works, and why.

Like I said, very much about story, about narrative. Just not story and narrative the way a book dinosaur like me thinks of it as being packaged and delivered. In effect, the flow of primary creative endeavor is reversed, the fans becoming the creators. This significantly displaces the role of the author.

Hence the confusion. Because superficially, steampunk cons resemble SF and fantasy cons. They are run by many of the same people. They have the infrastructure of programming, the dealer room, registration, con ops, and so forth. Everyone’s wandering around wearing badges, most of them with ribbons. It all looks very familiar.

And it’s all very different.

The other observation I’ll make is that steampunk cons, along with comic cons and anime cons, is where most of young fandom has gone. Hanging around any of these conventions, I see the average age of the attendees is easily two decades younger than the average age at Worldcon, World Fantasy or most other SF and fantasy cons. The kids and young adults are getting their creative buzz on in different way than they were several decades ago.

What does this all mean? Heck if I know. I think it does bode well for the future of steampunk as a cultural element. And these conventions are a lot of fun. But what’s going on under the hood is different in some fascinating ways that I believe SF and fantasy authors need to take careful note of and spend time thinking about.

What do you think? Have you experienced the wild, whacky world of steampunk differently? Am I misunderstanding the source and direction of primary creativity in these contexts?

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[conventions] Gaslight Gathering, day three

Yesterday was fun, if long. (Like a good date.) [info]the_child, Lisa Costello and I breakfasted as usual. I had a late morning autograph session. We caught a quick lunch, then they headed off for the airport to return home while I geared up for the auction.

I was let off the hook of my ethical dilemma by the excellently good offices of steampunk fan and Gaslight Gathering volunteer Dave Rodger, who is among other things a cattle auctioneer. This violated one my cardinal rules of auction running, which is “Never compete for attention with a cattle auctioneer”, but moved bidding along nicely. (Longtime readers will of course recall that my other cardinal rule of auction running is “Never compete for attention with a clown in a straitjacket on a unicycle.” Experience is a bitter teacher.) As yet I do not know what the auction cleared, but some pretty amazing items went up for sale, and at a wide variety of prices ranging from painfully underbid to amazingly run up. Such is the way of auctions.

Post-auction, I hung about for closing ceremonies, then rested a while in my hotel room. In the fullness of time, concom chair Anastasia Hunter and a cast of dozen took me out to Phil’s B.B.Q., apparently a San Diego institution. Which was quite good, as evidenced by these photos:





No, I did not Eat All the Things, tempted as I was. Those are the plates of three different diners, that last being my order of boneless pork shoulder. I do find the extremely wide variation in style, presentation and meat selection of barbecue around the country to be fascinating. This was extremely delicious.

Afterward, we repaired to a suite at the hotel for a hilarious yet moderately distressing game of Cards Against Humanity, which is currently my top candidate for Most Inappropriate Game Ever. When we were done, Anastasia had me edit a couple of cards, then autograph them.

This morning I have breakfast with at least some of the concom, lunch with Greg van Eekhout, then I’m off to Portland, where I’ll reunite with [info]the_child, Lisa Costello. Starting Tuesday, the rest of this week is dedicated to cancer diagnosis and some likely challenging treatment and life decisions.

I’m very glad I got to spend the weekend here at Gaslight Gathering. My thanks to the folks who invited me, to all the conrunners and volunteers that made this event possible, and to everyone who came to the auction. Also, my especial thanks to all my friends as well as some total strangers who made such amazingly generous donations to the auction. I love the community that is genre.

Photos © 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.

Creative Commons License

This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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[cancer|events] Today’s benefit auction at Gaslight Gathering

I am the emcee and auctioneer for today’s benefit auction at Gaslight Gathering. I’ve done this a number of times before, and it’s a role I generally enjoy quite a bit. Given my affinity for being the center of attention, this should surprise precisely no one.

The auction has some very good items in it. All of them are donations. Many are from the originating authors or artists themselves, others are people putting items from their personal collections. Still others are goods or services. A couple of these things have some serious “wow” factor. As the weekend has progressed, I’ve spent time on bid ordering, auction logistics, all the things one thinks about when arranging such an event.

The thing is, the beneficiary of the auction is me. Gaslight Gathering and all these donors are generously raising funds to help me in my struggle with cancer. And that puts me in a curious position. Normally when I’m conducting a charity auction, I spend time talking up the charity, pointing out to people how much their bids will mean, that sort of thing. Except today if I take that approach, I’ll be talking about myself.

Normally I have no troubles talking about myself. Lord knows that’s not an issue. But talking about myself in a fundraising context like this feels inescapably self-serving. As always, I need to be fun, funny and fast-paced — that’s the only way to keep an auction moving along. But it feels so strange.

I am thrilled and pleased beyond measure that Gaslight Gathering is doing this for me. But this will be a very different auction from my usual approach. This produces interesting emotional and social tensions within me.

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[conventions|photos] Gaslight Gathering, day two

Yesterday was a lot of fun. I had breakfast with The League of S.T.E.A.M., then a day of programming. This included a reading, a guest spotlight, a panel on writing steampunk, and a hilarious hour of improv moderated by Todd McCaffrey. Plus we dropped into Brian Kesinger‘s birthday party. Today I have an autographing, and then I’m emcee’ing the auction.

Some photos by the [info]the_child:

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[conventions] Gaslight Gathering, day one

Yesterday was day one of Gaslight Gathering. We had a darned good time, if I do say so. The morning was more or less our own, except for some time spent with the Guest Liaisons planning Sunday’s auction logistics. There I was given two wonderful new (and very writerly) aloha shirts by conventions chair Anastasia Hunter.

After lunch, the three of us hit Opening Ceremonies, where I was awarded a medal. Literally. We then prowled the Dealer’s Room. There I signed stock for Mysterious Galaxy, and signed books for all comers. That was followed by a rather nice “meet with guests” with fellow Guest of Honor Brian Kesinger. Val and Ron Antell took us out to dinner at D.Z. Akin’s, which was a cultural experience in and of itself. I couldn’t even tell you what I ate, except it was called the “Mini Ethnic Sampler”, and included lots of Jewish carbohydrates from Eastern Europe. We finished off the evening with a concert by Steam Powered Giraffe.

And of course, some photos. Most of them by [info]the_child.

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[conventions] Arriving at Gaslight Gathering

Yesterday, [info]the_child, Lisa Costello and I flew to San Diego to attend Gaslight Gathering, where I am Guest of Honor this weekend. We were graciously met at the airport, then ferried out to Illumina for me to give a talk on cancer and genomics, then brought to the convention hotel and released into the wild for the evening.

I am meeting this morning with Gaslight Gathering’s guest liaison to go over my schedule for the weekend. Specifically the auction on Sunday is going to be an interesting challenge. They have put it together as a benefit for me, and some of the donations have been impressive and humbling. I’ll say more about this when the time comes. I’ll be around all weekend, so if you’re at the convention I should be easy to find.

My philosophy about being a GoH is that my time belongs to the convention. Even so, there will be a little extracurricular visiting while I’m here. Tomorrow morning, my friends from the League of S.T.E.A.M. are coming down from Los Angeles to have breakfast with me. Sunday evening I’m having dinner with @gregvaneekhout. Monday I’m mostly chilling until I fly back to Portland that afternoon. So if you’re in the San Diego area and want to connect, let me know. We can probably work something out.

Meanwhile, I plan to have a heck of a lot of fun here. I know they have some surprises in store for me, but I do not know what those are. (Because they wouldn’t be surprises then, would they?) More to come…

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[travel|conventions] Off to San Diego and Gaslight Gathering

In a couple of hours, Lisa Costello, [info]the_child, and I are off to the airport to fly to San Diego for Gaslight Gathering. Those fine folks have invited me to be their Guest of Honor. How could I say no?

This afternoon when we arrive, we’ll be visiting Illumina, the company that performed the primary analysis for my Whole Genome Sequencing. There I will give my talk on cancer and genomics from the patient perspective. After that, we’ll be the whole weekend at the convention.

The Gaslight Gathering folks have been incredibly kind and generous, offering me all sorts of support. I cannot thank them enough for the invitation, and very much look forward to spending the weekend with that crew. If you’re in southern California, especially San Diego, drop in and see me.

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[links] Link salad falls to the ground with that high, lonesome sound

U.S. booksellers, meeting in KC, express optimism — (Thanks to [info]garyomaha.)

The Arts SetScrivener’s Error is interesting on various aspects of literature, art and publishing.

Streampunk Vegan Leather Corset — Streampunk? Really? Heh. (Via Chris W. Johnson.)

Yo as a Pronoun — Yo. Fascinating. (Thanks to Lisa Costello.)

Capturing life with ‘the last roll’ — Wow. (Via Lisa Costello.)

Was Wittgenstein Right?

The not-so-slight return of Jimi Hendrix

Swimming with spacemen: The image gallery

Retro Revival: Man as Industrial PalaceVintage German artwork on digital steroids, or why you house a factory. (Thanks to [info]threeoutside.)

Graphene Antennas Would Enable Terabit Wireless Downloads

‘I am one of the Fukushima fifty’: One of the men who risked their lives to prevent a catastrophe shares his storyThey displayed a bravery few can comprehend, yet very little is known about the men who stayed behind to save Japan’s stricken nuclear plant. In a rare interview, David McNeill meets Atsufumi Yoshizawa, who was at work on 11 March 2011 when disaster struck.

African forest elephants decline by 62% in 10 years

An Iowa Farmer’s Quest for No Ordinary Pig — (Thanks to Dad.)

Ships to sail directly over the north pole by 2050, scientists sayMelting sea ice will allow ice-strengthened vessels to sail directly over the pole, and normal ships to take the ‘northern sea route’. It’s amazing, the lengths liberals will go to for their global warming conspiracy, right up to actually melting the Arctic ice cap to perpetrate the fraud that the Arctic ice cap is melting!

From Wary To Full Embrace: Obama’s Complete Turnaround On Gay Marriage — Another bigotry domino falls.

Staying In: Growing Up Lesbian in Evangelical America — Oi. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Republicans who didn’t vote for Violence Against Women Act say they did anyway because why not? — When your political ideas are socially and intellectually bankrupt, you may as well lie. That’s conservative morality in a nutshell, right there.

Mooching Off Medicaid — Paul Krugman on the conservative fetish for privatization no matter how much it drives up costs.

The Pope and Prisoner XBoth Israel’s poor handling of the Prisoner X debacle and the Vatican’s mismanagement of the pontiff’s resignation show how maintaining a culture of secrecy, whether through gag orders or media silence, is both damaging and counter-productive.

Voting is no ‘racial entitlement,’ Justice ScaliaSo, Justice Scalia, when you spew that entitlement discourse from the bench you undermine the very core of our democracy. But you know what? I want to thank you for what you said. Because on Wednesday, you showed us all exactly who you are.

Romney is still wooing that all-important brown-hating vote, but why? — Because manufacturing more angry white men is all conservatives know how to do.

Continuing to Get the 2012 Election WrongIt certainly didn’t hurt Obama’s chances that many Americans still held Bush responsible for the country’s woes, which created a significant obstacle to Republican efforts to pin blame on the incumbent, but that wasn’t the only problem. Republicans couldn’t distinguish their economic agenda from Bush’s economic record because there was little or no substantive difference between them, and the economic agenda that their nominee presented also happened to be irrelevant to most voters. Many Americans still hold Bush responsible for a perfectly good reason: reality.

QotD?: Did she follow you down for the kill?

Writing time yesterday: 1.5 hours (WRPA and editing)
Hours slept: 6.75 hours (fitful)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bike, yay hotel gym!)
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block faking evidence for climate change: 0
Currently reading: Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

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