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[links] Link salad is hopelessly devoted to you

In which it is announced that I am a Sturgeon Award finalist — For my Sunspin novella, “The Weight of History, the Lightness of the Future“, published by Subterranean Online.

Joss Whedon’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Will Bring Marvel Universe to TV

Big-Bird BrainChildren watching clips of Sesame Street inside fMRI scanners yield unprecedented insights into the functioning of their brains.

Side-By-Side Photos Illustrate Inequality in America — Wow. (Thanks to [info]willyumtx.)

Portland, Ore., is magnet for gay couples wanting babies — I am so proud of us.

Oregon Insurers vying to lower premiums because of Obamacare — What do you know? Obamacare is enabling market forces by forcing carriers to compete on a level playing field.

Climate Milestone: Earth’s CO2 Level Passes 400 ppmGreenhouse gas highest since the Pliocene, when sea levels were higher and the Earth was warmer. Nothing to see here, citizen, move along. Just some more liberal “facts” and “data”, no cause for alarm.

No Need to Worry About Global Warming, Folks: More Carbon Dioxide Will Be Awesome

Global Warming: We are halfway to a mass extinction event — We could try to do something about this. Or we could just stifle the science and political discourse on the topic. Which course has Your Republican Party chosen?

Proposed bill that would regulate NSF research funding faces backlashScientists not amused, bill’s backers appear confused. Republicans confused about science? Really? The party of Creationism and climate change denial? Also, this just in: water is wet, sky is blue.

IRS targeted conservative groups, official saysOrganizations seeking nonprofit status were improperly singled out for extra scrutiny, a top agency official says. This is seriously wrong. Infuriatingly, it’s also a rare piece of validation that further fuels the endless bizarre conspiracy thinking on the Right. Sigh.

QotD?: Ever seen Grease?


5/11/2013
Writing time yesterday: 1.25 hours (WRPA, editing METAtropolis: Green Space)
Hours slept: 7.25 hours (fitful)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bike)
Weight: 251.8 (!)
Number of FEMA troops on my block digging for fossils in the yards of God-fearing Republicans: 0
Currently reading: Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

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[links] Link salad knows that it is not Iron Man

Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy — This is freaking genius. (Spotted lots of places, but sent to me first by Lisa Costello.)

Batman: 1966 — Adam West, back in the day. Courtesy of Shorpy.

Linguists identify 15,000-year-old ‘ultraconserved words’ — Hmmm. (Via my brother.)

European migration evident in DNA patternsA study of people in 40 countries illustrates long-established changes in Europe’s population. Going back a few thousand years, researchers find that everyone on Earth is related to everyone else. This is cool, but hardly surprising, I should think.

More than one-third of Oregon’s National Merit Scholars live in a single Portland-area ZIP code

More than half of the world’s population lives inside this circle

US Air Force Measures Potato Cannon Muzzle Velocities

Antibiotics could cure 40% of chronic back pain patients — Really? (Thanks to David Goldman.)

On the RiseBLDG BLOG on the elevation of Galveston, TX after the devastating hurricane of 1900.

Tropical Climate History…Shrinking — Ice in the tropics.

“While some are seeking to withhold Communion from pro-choice and pro-marriage-equality Catholics, I have heard no call to withhold Communion from priests and bishops who have engaged in horrific sexual abuse against vulnerable children, nor their enablers.” — Yes. This. Religious activism in pursuit of anti-gay bigotry is all about politics and power. Not about morality or what is right and good. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

QotD?: Do you face Stark choices?


5/8/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (stress)
Hours slept: 7.25 hours (fitful)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bike)
Weight: 248.0
Number of FEMA troops on my block digging for fossils in the yards of God-fearing Republicans: 0
Currently reading: The Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

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[links] Link salad celebrates M’aidez

A reader reacts to Escapement — They liked it better than Mainspring.

Worldbuilding with Maps — Art guru James Gurney (of Dinotopia fame) is interesting.

Rob and Laura: 1963 — I’m not quite old enough to remember this as a prime time series, but it was in regular rerun rotation when I was a little kid, in the year or so I actually watched television during my childhood.

Could Body Armor Have Saved Millions in World War I?The follies that led to poor helmets and a lack of torso protection for men in the trenches. (Snurched from [info]james_nicoll.)

Google Glass: Let the evil commenceGlass has now been ‘jailbroken’ with a well-documented exploit. So what can you (or others) do with a hacked headset? Apparently, a whole lot.

More than 20,000 people apply for one-way ticket to Mars — Wow.

Would an antimatter apple fall upward from the earth?

Sun Plus Nanotechnology: Can Solar Energy Get Bigger by Thinking Small?

Atoms star in world’s smallest movie from IBMResearchers at IBM have created the world’s smallest movie by manipulating single atoms on a copper surface.

A Sense of Where You Are — I have an excellent sense of both location and direction. I know people who have very little internal sense of either of those things. Finally, an explanation.

Prenatal DNA SequencingReading the DNA of fetuses is the next frontier of the genome revolution. Do you really want to know the genetic destiny of your unborn child? I sure would. Also note, this story is about the company that did my own Whole Genome Sequencing.

Representing Transracial Adoptions — Wow. As a white parent in an adopted transracial family, just wow.

Pro-Environment Light Bulb Labeling Turns Off Conservatives, Study Finds — Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

Poll: Democratic edge for 2014Slightly more voters say they’ll vote Democratic in the 2014 congressional elections than Republicans, bucking a historical trend of the president’s party losing seats in his sixth year, a new poll Wednesday shows. I’ll believe it when I see it, but if true, this represents a welcome trend away from the fever swamp of destructive insanity that the GOP has become.

QotD?: Est-ce que vous êtes internationale?


5/1/2013
Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hours (WRPA editing work on METAtropolis: Green Space)
Hours slept: 6.25 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bike)
Weight: 248.2
Number of FEMA troops on my block helping welfare recipients buy cell phones and big screen tvs: 0
Currently reading: The Truth by Terry Pratchett

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[cancer|personal] Eating and watching and dreaming and scans

Yesterday was a pretty good day. We had a small family-and-friends fondue party. [info]mlerules describes some of the hilarity here on her Facebook page. Fondue pickles, not for the win. Also, [info]the_child has been introducing me to White Collarimdb ], which so far (early in season one) has been much smarter and wittier than I usually experience series television as being, with no flying snowmen yet. (A few have hopped through and done the high jump, but they haven’t kicked me out of the show to date.)

Overnight, I had the most indescribable dreams. I woke after every REM cycle, though I managed to sleep well enough during the course of the night that I’m not starting today pathologically exhausted, as happened to me last Monday. I dreamt about everything, sometimes all at once, from the zombie apocalypse to pizza to Bridezillas to media takeovers to pizza to endless struggles alongside [info]the_child to pizza to staff meetings at work to pizza to cancer to real estate to pizza. A fair amount of anxiety of the obvious sorts was mixed into the oneiric stream, but a lot of it was just the detritus of my subconscious on parade. Big time.

This morning, Lisa Costello is taking me to have the CT scan to follow up on the elevated CEA levels. Tomorrow, I go in for related bloodwork. Wednesday, I see the oncologist. My scanxiety is always an issue, as in uncertain moments such as this I tend to fixate on the essentially mechanical event of the scan itself, rather than the later-to-be-forthcoming data once the radiologist has read my scan and my oncologist has reviewed the results. The usual reality at my clinic is they release everything to me pre-appointment so I have time to read and process the report, but that’s not a consistent behavior. So I may know more (to my relief or to my horror) as soon as this afternoon, or I may not know anything until I walk into the consultation room Wednesday afternoon.

So I continue quietly terrified for now.

Also, I’m getting a library card today.

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[links] Link salad wants to cast Andy Serkis and Sean Astin in a live action Ren and Stimpy

Have you voted in the Kalimpura caption contest voting poll?

The Cranky Cave Troll — This explains the attack in the Mines of Moria far better than Peter Jackson ever did. Heh heh heh.

The 10 Most Defining Performances in the History of Genre Television — You’ll probably quibble with the picks, but it’s a fun list.

Claws out for pilfering pussycat Sally McLellan‘s cat makes the papers. See the cat’s Facebook page here.

Penicillin as an Aphrodisiac? — The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

Life and soul of the Mars party — Heh.

Centauri B: Targets and PossibilitiesCentauri Dreams on the problems of Going There.

In origin-of-life experiment, cooperative molecules win outRNAs that help each other assemble are more effective than selfish replicators. Interesting in its own right, but the multilayered political and cultural metaphor really writes itself here, doesn’t it?

Preacher Gives Interesting Gay Rights Speech…wait for it — This is about three minutes long, and very much worth the watching. All the way through. (Via [info]willyumtx and other sources.)

“Are You Not Entertained?” — The banal, everyday evil of people who think they’re doing good. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Life and Sex This isn’t to say that the conservative concern over sexual ethics is wrong-headed. It’s just that it has been folded into the Pro-Life conversation in a way that confuses the picture. You think you’re talking about life when we are often talking about sex (and its consequences). In my personal opinion, you can’t have it both ways from a policy perspective. If you want to protect life then that’s the priority, that’s what you have to do. The “pro-life” movement is about nothing more than controlling the behavior of others whom pro-lifers disapprove of. But then, that’s pretty much the entire conservative movement in a nutshell, isn’t it? Controlling the behavior of others so conservatives can feel better about themselves. That’s precisely the reason why conservatism explicitly depends on generating more “angry white guys” for its survival. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Election facts support Obama — Those liberal “facts” can’t hold a candle to conservative truthiness, though. Not in the post-truth world the GOP is dragging us all into.

?otD: Are you an eediot?


10/21/2012
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo fatigue)
Body movement: 0.5 hour stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 10.0 (9.0 hours solid, plus napping and dozing)
Weight: 229.2
Currently reading: n/a

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[links] Link salad, like film stars gets close to you

Middles — Alma Alexander on storytelling.

For Discussion: Best Onscreen Submarine Drama! — Funny stuff. Charles Pierce on the new television series Last Resort. Also, the comments are pretty entertaining.

This is what happens if you ask Siri’s opinion about robot movies — Hahahaha. (Via my brother.)

New African Monkey — James Gurney reporting from the department of charismatic megafauna.

Supersonic skydive to air live‘Fearless Felix’ hopes to reach Mach 1.

The song of killer electrons — Translating the EM spectrum to sound. This is cool.

Why We Need a Supercomputer on the Moon — To throw grain barges at Earth?

Research fraud exploded over the last decade

State’s Chemist Admits “Testing” Drug Samples by Looking at Them — Now that’s a law and order mentality. Feel safer?

The Rage of the Privileged Class — Ta-Nehisi Coates with more on race and privilege and politics.

Conservative Media Warns Readers Not to Listen to ‘The Media’Exposure to diverging views: no telling where that might lead. The risk is high and real that listeners may well find the New York Times more credible than Fox News. Because reasons!

A documented case of false prophecy: Four years later, ‘Letter from 2012′ makes Focus on the Family look ridiculous — Gee. Conservative predictions about the horrors of liberalism proven absolutely wrong? Also, this just in: water is wet.

The Real Referendum — Paul Krugman on the electorate and the social safety net.

Meet a Romney Extremist in Virginia I’ll tell you what really need to do with these illegitimate families on welfare—give all the kids up for adoption and execute the parents. That’s conservative empathy and imagination right there. In a local Romney campaign official. Are you proud of your Republican party? (Snurched from Steve Buchheit.)

Will Romney Reach out to Racists in Debates?

Romney Remains the Candidate of Nostrums — More on Romney’s appalling lack of depth in foreign policy from conservative commentator Daniel Larison.

Top Ten Things Mitt Romney Gets Wrong about US Middle East Policy — Unfortunately, these would be “facts”, drawn from “history”, which being inconvenient to the conservative worldview and like much of reality possessing of a liberal bias, and so will mean nothing to Romney or his supporters, whose ideology keeps them much better informed.

?otD: Have you mirrored his appeal?


10/2/2012
Writing time yesterday: 0.75 hours (1,500 words to finish the novelette)
Body movement: 0.5 hour stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.5 (interrupted, with napping)
Weight: 226.4
Currently reading: Heartland by Mark Teppo

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[links] Link salad awakens once more, stretches and yawns

BAD WRITER, NO BISCUIT — Catherine Shaffer asks writers to share their shame. Heh.

Scenes From A Multiverse on writer’s block

Is Obama more Klingon or more Vulcan? & Michael Dorn Pitches “Captain Worf”

Applied Topology — More urban coolness from BLDG BLOG.

The Legend of the Tsar’s Finger

3.5 billion year old organic deposits show signs of lifeSediment in Australian rocks contains the isotopic signature of metabolism.

Armstrong’s death may speed Tranquility Base preservationEffort is on to save lunar landing site for Apollo 11 mission as National Historic Landmark. (Via David Goldman)

Goodbye asteroid Vesta: NASA Dawn spacecraft to journey to dwarf planet Ceres

A Voyager Far From Home

Review: Raspberry PiCan a $35 computer persuade kids to put down their smartphones and try their hands at programming?

Utah Democrats split on party’s gay-marriage stance — Pssst. Hey. Conservative America. Listen up. Hate really isn’t a family value. You can cloak your homophobia in high minded church doctrine or moralistic rhetoric all you want, but at the end of the day using the force of law to tell people what they can’t do in their own lives simply because you don’t like it isn’t morally or ethically defensible. In this, as with so many other conservative positions of the past century and more, you are utterly on the wrong side of history.

The Invisible Man — Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Republican view of Obama.

The Hex on Paul Ryan

‘64 or Bust — The alleged rewards of Republican intransigence.

?otD: What were you doing at two in the morning?


9/5/2012
Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hour (revisions to Other Me)
Body movement: 60 minute suburban walk
Hours slept: 6.0 (interrupted)
Weight: n/a
Currently reading: Heartland by Mark Teppo

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[personal] Doing stuff with Star Trek and Labyrinth

Yesterday, among other things, I went with Team E— to a free showing of Labyrinth (1986) [ imdb ] at McMenamin’s Bagdad Theater and Pub. It was fun to watch, both because I can remember how much I liked the movie when it first came out, and I can now see how dreadful that movie is at many layers. As I said afterwards, it is very much a product of its times. I also realized somewhere in the middle of the movie that I’d gotten my recollection of the film mixed up with Legend (1985) [ imdb ].

I then hied myself over to Cathedral Park out in St. John’s. Ellen Eades had organized a trip to see the last production of this year’s version of Trek In the Park. I met her there along with good friends [info]davidlevine and [info]kateyule. This year’s episode was “Journey to Babel” [ imdb ]. It was fascinating to see Star Trek acted on a bare stage set with minimalist props. Everything came down to costuming, dialog and action. It was clever as hell, and quite funny.

I was also fascinated by the whole idea that a couple of thousand people could watch and understand something done on such a bare set with so few external cues. If you weren’t familiar with the television series, this would have made very little sense at all. David made a comment about it being Shakespeare for our time. I don’t know about that, but it was an amazing communal experience and most entertaining.

Next year they’re doing “The Trouble With Tribbles” [ imdb ]. Based on the brief preview, I am thinking this will be something not to be missed.

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[process] Balloon prick ideas

Yet another topic that came up in critique discussion this past weekend at Cascade Writers was the concept of a balloon prick idea.

This concept was first pointed out to me some years ago by the brilliant Dean Wesley Smith when he was critiquing one of my stories. Basically, it’s when an author introduces a story element or plot twist which would in reality so profoundly undermine the world in which it exists that the story no longer makes sense.

Dean was critiquing a story of mine where homelessness was in effect a transmissible disease. If a homeless person touched you, you swiftly became homeless, and then socially invisible, and then literally invisible. This was going in a setting of contemporary Portland. As Dean quite rightly pointed out, if such a thing were true, nobody who could possibly afford otherwise would go out in public without body guards and a security perimeter. The separation between the wealthy and the middle class and below would become an uncrossable gulf. Life would look nothing like it does in our current society if this were true.

More prominent examples of the balloon prick idea include the Star Trek transporter. With such a device and its attendant features such as the biofilter, you have fantastic healing powers and functional immortality. Topics which are barely addressed anywhere in the multiple series, and when they are, only as plot conveniences. Likewise, since they can do point-to-point transportation when needed, why bother to ever have a transporter room? These issues are simply never explored. There’s sufficient story action and plot sleight of hand that most viewers never notice.

For another example, see Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. Within the narrative, it is observed that the Romans had dragons. Presumably so did other ancient cultures of the world. That’s a balloon prick idea. Aerial reconnaissance capability means that over-the-horizon deep water navigation is reasonable from the very beginning of long range seafaring, which profoundly changes the dynamic of ancient maritime cultures such as the Minoans, the Romans and the Phoenicians. The likelihood that the trade and colonization patterns of those cultures would have led to a close equivalent of Napoleonic Europe is deeply improbable. The Temeraire novels make sense only if you parse them as being about people who have acquired dragons in the very recent past, and not yet undergone the cultural changes that free flight and aerial combat impose. Which is, in effect, what’s actually going on in the books of that series. The central story question is “How would dragons have affected Napoleonic Europe and rival world powers?”, not “How would dragons have affected the development of human civilization?”

Mind you, I am a huge fan of both Star Trek and Temeraire. In both cases, the balloon prick idea in play doesn’t interfere with the success of the narrative because of other strengths. But for this reader and viewer, in both cases, the balloon prick idea interferes with my suspension of disbelief and requires me to work harder to buy the story.

Take this concept of the balloon prick idea for what it’s worth, but do take it into account when building your worlds and writing your stories.

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[links] Link salad looks down upon the smiling faces

10 Epic Steampunk Cats — A funny little project for which I was both the initial inspiration and the writer of the introduction.

About Female Characters (or as I like to call them, Characters) — Adrienne Kress Is Wise. (Snurched from Steve Buchheit.)

Writer’s Block — Hahaha. (Via [info]willyumtx.)

In Defense of “Nutty” Commas

What fictional character shares your birthday? — In my case, Forrest Gump and Freddie Krueger. (Snurched from Andrew Wheeler.)

Lots of planets have a northLanguage Log on planetology and Dr. Who. Also, the comment section on this post is hilarious and well worth looking through.

Ways to Throw Your Sandwich Away — The Niece is funny. (Thanks to [info]lillypond.)

Getting a sense of the census — A nifty slideshow about the 1940 census.

Cancer Medicine is Stuck in the PastThe chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society calls for a genomics-based approach.

Discovering the Mutants Among UsLast year, the Sanger Institute boldly announced “We are all mutants” when a study was published showing that healthy individuals carry around 60 new mutations from their parents. I’m not sure why this is a bold announcement. I find it interesting but utterly unsurprising.

Emperor Penguins Counted From Space—A First — Um, wow…

The Wrong Stuff: North Korea’s Failure

The Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant — A photo of one of my favorite WWII aircraft.

This Is, In Fact, Your Grandfather’s Safe Sex PSA — Whoo! (Thanks to [info]danjite.)

The Wonderful, Unpredictable Life of the Occupy Movement — (Thanks to [info]tillyjane.)

Breath-taking climate denial nonsense, this time aimed at NASA[O]f the 49 signatories on that letter, not one is an actual working climate scientist. That should give you pause. The overwhelming majority of scientists who study the actual data and work with the actual climate models concur on climate change. (Much the same as with evolution.) Denialism only comes from those with ideological or personal axes to grind. Which, to a denialist, is a valorizing endorsement of their position as a courageous outsider battling the conspiracy. To the rest of us, that’s a strong clue about where reality actually can be found.

How Washington Forgot Where The ‘Buffett Rule’ Came From — Parrots for everyone! No, wait, wrong Buffett.

Catholic group criticizes Paul Ryan — Obviously, Catholic leaders who disagree with the Republican stance on any issue are Communists and secret Muslims.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker Breaks Into Building, Abducts Woman Inside — A hilarious spoof of what the conservative talking points would be on Cory Booker. This comes perilously close to violating Poe’s Law.

On taxes, Republicans repudiate Ronald Reagan — More of that justly famed conservative intellectual consistency. Conservatives are about Reagan the way Evangelicals are about the Bible: the icon means whatever they want it to mean, despite the actual words and deeds. Inviolably so, until the next time they change their minds.

Do Republicans realize they’ve just called for the repeal of welfare reform?Slacktivist Fred Clark on the logical consequences Republican party’s brand new discovery that motherhood is hard work. Not that conservatives are ever responsible for the logical consequences of their positions.

Hilary Rosen was right: Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life. — Yes, the party that demonized and vilified Hillary Clinton with a tissue of lies is shocked when someone accurately challenges a candidate’s wife. Mmm, conservative principles in action.

Obama: Spouses should be left alone — Nice sentiment, and one I happen to agree with, but you are talking to the same conservative politicians and punditocracy who’ve spent the last two decades shredding Hillary Clinton. They certainly don’t agree with Obama, unless, of course, the spouse in question is a Republican spouse. In that case, basic fairness insists that no GOP candidate’s spouse ever be treated the way Democratic candidates’ spouses routinely are.

?otd: Did you polarize the pumpkin-eaters, static-humming panel-beaters, freshly day-glow’d factory cheaters?


4/14/2012
Writing time yesterday: n/a
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 9.25 (solid)
Weight: 242.2 (!)
Currently reading: Somewhere Else by Sally McLennan

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