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[personal] Following up the blog survey

I must confess to being pleasantly surprised at the response to yesterday’s reader poll. Some terrific comments there. I wasn’t surprised at most of what the poll is telling me, but the “new content” section is useful and I will take note.

No, no Twitterstream will appear. I might start a second blog just as a place to archive it, but that will be for my own benefit if so. And no, no Pajamas Media. I don’t really envision syndicating myself to anyone — my daily content is too idiosyncratic to appeal to a wider audience, I’m pretty sure, though I always thought I could do some good stuff with a weekly column somewhere — but even if I did, it would not be Pajamas Media or anything of that ilk. Wrong politics for me. I’d have to wash a lot more often to get the grime off.

As a side note, several people commented on the politics of talking about politics, as it were. The risk being, of course, that one might alienate a section of one’s readership. Doubtless I have done so here, in holding strong political views that largely correspond with the American definition of Left. I have a couple of thoughts about that.

First of all, the writer is not the story. My fiction is neither didactic nor political. My worldview certainly infuses it, but that’s talking about issues of personal responsibility, for example, not the rubric of American electoral politics. Some people might decide not to investigate my writing, based on their reaction to my politics. Too bad for them. Just like it’s too bad for me I won’t read Orson Scott Card any more, for essentially same reason.

Second of all, passion is personal. Even passion one disagrees with. And personal can be more interesting. When I first starting blogging as a writer in the early 2000s (not counting my protoblog Web posts from the late 1990s) I was very careful not to be political or cultural. It was very important to me not to be controversial, for fear of offending potential readers. I held that principle for several years, then one day got fed up with something (a school shooting, I think) and cut loose.

My readership doubled in six weeks.

Oooookay, I thought.

Yea, a few of my regulars promptly dropped away. But a lot more showed up, and some of you have stuck around ever since. I looked around at blogs and bloggers I like and admire — John Scalzi with Whatever, , Making Light. All of them have substantially larger audience footprints than I do. All of them talk about what stirs their passions, most definitely including politics. And it certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt careers.

So I took some validation and some courage from that example, and I’ve let it hang out since. Because, as so many of you have pointed out, this is my blog, and I should say what I want. It’s not like you have to read it.

My goal on this blog is to amuse, entertain and educate myself. That so many of you choose to come along for the ride is a source of great pride and pleasure to me. Thank you.

[links] Link salad is on a timeless flight

Best Fantasy Story of 2009 Poll and ContestFantasy magazine with a poll. I note immodestly that I have a story in this poll, “People of Leaf and Branch“.

What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2010? — (Scott Edelman via .)

with some more photos of my scars (and tattoo) — Slightly NSFW.

Smile! You’ve got cancer — Barbara Ehernreich on cancer and the tyranny of positive thinking. (Thanks to .) Per my brother, see also this related piece in The Economist.

Looking Into the Past — A cool site restaging photos. (Thanks to .)

The Future of Human SpaceflightAre astronauts close to extinction?.

The Year of the Assassin — A leftie semirant which I found pretty interesting. Lots of comments on the American attitude toward war, including this gem: if we are no nation of warriors, from the point of view of the rest of the world we are certainly the planet’s foremost war-makers.

American Evangelicals and the Ugandan anti-gay hate law — You really are responsible for the consequences of your beliefs, people.

?otD: Are you a rocketman?

Body movement: 30 minute ride on stationary bike
Hours slept: 5.5
This morning’s weigh-in: 229.2 (!)
Currently reading: (between books)

[contests] We have a winner

The latest caption contest voting poll has produced a winner, Kyle Cassidy. His winning entry, with a runaway 20% of the vote:

Nov 26 2009

Mr Lake, the implants will work as we discussed, but it’s my personal belief that no one will take you seriously as a supervillan in that hat

Photo © 2009 M. Lake, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Kyle, you have scored an ARC of Pinion and a fresh-off-the-press copy of Death of a Starship.

[links] Link salad sidles toward New Year’s Eve

Don’t forget the latest caption contest voting poll — I’ll be closing this out today or tomorrow, and declaring a winner, so if you haven’t voted yet, go check ’em out.

A reader reacts to Mainspring and Escapement — Mixed reviews in both cases. Also a number of other pocket reviews here.

Today’s Sally Forth hits a point about our missing future that doesn’t get addressed often enough — “The Gernsback Continuum” notwithstanding.

Spelunking the T — A tour of abandoned lines and stations of Boston’s subway. I am soooo jealous.

The first woman to navigate a dirigible solo — From x-planes. The hat is something.

Inside the Secret Service — A photoessay from Life.

The Lithium RushTechnology Review with a striking photoessay on Bolivian salt flats and lithium.

The Problem With Warp DriveCentauri Dreams with some deep neepery on the Alcubierre warp drive.

?otD: Pandora or Endor?

Body movement: n/a (60 minute urban walk forthcoming)
Hours slept: 6.0
This morning’s weigh-in: 226.0
Currently reading: Living With Ghosts by Kari Sperring

[links] Link salad plans to go see Avatar today in 3D IMAX

Don’t forget the latest caption contest voting poll — I’ll be closing this out today or tomorrow, and declaring a winner, so if you haven’t voted yet, go check ’em out.

Atheism, cancer and me — Relinking a Christmas Eve post of mine in case you took the weekend off for holidays. Comment thread is still active, and has a lot of really good discussions, though it is quite long at this point.

My cancer and digestive health TMI post spawned an interesting comment thread on LJ — Which was then echoed, in various ways, by here (hysterectomy), here (celiac), here (menopause) and here (joint disorders). And possibly more I don’t know about. Fascinating stuff in some of those comment threads, too, as we all talk about things people Don’t Talk About.

Failblog with the “four Fs” — “Fighting, fleeing, feeding and mating.” Ahem.

A Microbial EncyclopediaScientists have mapped the genomes of 56 species of microbes. I love the comments about the density of species. Interesting stuff.

Anniversary of a cosmic blast — Somehow I missed the original event. This piece from Bad Astronomy is fascinating, violence on a literally astronomical scale.

For Airline Passengers, Pat-Downs, Searches and Restroom Monitors Pilots on Sunday declared an emergency after a second man, also a Nigerian, spent an unusually long time in an airplane restroom. Oh, joy. Speaking as someone who often spends an unusually long time in restrooms, this will make flying even more of a treat. Maybe there’s an upside to me being grounded for the next seven months.

?otD: Avatar or Dances With Smurfs?

Body movement: n/a (60 minute urban walk forthcoming)
Hours slept: 6.25
This morning’s weigh-in: 225.0
Currently reading: Living With Ghosts by Kari Sperring

[links] Link salad flies to San Francisco

Don’t forget the latest caption contest voting poll

Vader in the Park — (Thanks, I think, to .)

Calvin and Hobbes on how the rules work — Boy do I kow how that is…

Myths of the American Revolution — Interesting history. (Thanks to my Dad.)

Rep Michele Bachmann takes in a lot of money via farm subsidies — Pretty nice position for someone who rails constantly against socialism. I realize most conservatives don’t define farm subsidies as socialism, but that’s just logic chopping to soothe their consciences.

Tidings of Comfort — Paul Krugman on healthcare reform. Though I really like this bit: In the past, there was a general understanding, a sort of implicit clause in the rules of American politics, that major parties would at least pretend to distance themselves from irrational extremists. But those rules are no longer operative. No, Virginia, at this point there is no sanity clause. :: waves to conservative America ::

?otD: What the heck *are* comfits, anyway?

Body movement: 30 minutes on stationary bike
Hours slept: 6.25
This morning’s weigh-in: 225.6
Currently reading: (between books)

[links] Link salad waits for the Child to wake up

Don’t forget the latest caption contest voting poll

Yesterday’s post on atheism, cancer and me produced a deep and interesting comment thread — Lots to read there.

continues to speak frankly about her health, in ways which resonate with my own discussions — Tough times, tough topics. Though on the good side, I was reminded (again) this morning that some of my best pain control can come from exercise, at least for lower grade pain. (Ie, not immediate post op surgical pain)

Bob Spears on writing style

Avatar: Vision or Mere Entertainment? — A review of the new James Cameron movie from a space science perspective.

Is there a Santa Claus? — One of my favorite Straight Dope columns, ever.

Today’s Bible readingBad Science cites the first clinical trial, the book of Daniel.

A novel blimp design — (Thanks to .)

A graceful arcAPOD with a multiple exposure image of the Milky Way over the Cascade range. A rainbow of stars, promising distance and mystery.

?otD: Did you get a gift of the heart this year, whatever your holiday observance?

Body movement: 30 minutes on stationary bike
Hours slept: 7.5
This morning’s weigh-in: 225.6
Currently reading: (between books)

[links] Link salad waits for the fat man to fly

Don’t forget the latest caption contest voting poll

on my cancer, from a Christian perspective — Dave’s a pastor whom I like and respect a great deal.

E-Book Pricing: Attack of the Consultants — Andrew Wheeler is snarky (and interesting) about the book market. I especially like his observation about the limits of competition. It’s really not a zero sum game.

Ring Shadowplay on a Saturn Moon — Something to make you smile, from Bad Astronomy.

Honda develops a motorized unicycle — (Thanks to .)

Imprecatory prayer — And people wonder why I’m an atheist. In truth, not because there are religious nuts; there are plenty of non-religious nuts. I do feel accurate in observing that religion privileges many kinds of nuttery that would be diagnosable outside that context. Though I do love the notion of God as an inept assassin. (Thanks to .)

?otD: How do you like your turkey?

Body movement: 30 minutes on stationary bike
Hours slept: 7.5
This morning’s weigh-in: 225.0
Currently reading: Finch by Jeff VanderMeer

[polls] Caption contest voting poll, Nachoectomy edition

Time for another caption contest voting poll in celebration of my New Adventures in Cancer.

My sister took this photo of me and in the hospital, shortly after my nacho-ectomy.

Nov 26 2009

© 2009 M. Lake, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

felt that this was a natural for a caption contest. The usual comment madness ensued: [ | LiveJournal ]

I have now converted it to a voting poll. Unfortunately, some of the longer witticisms at my expense are truncated by the poll code, so take the time to pop over to those links and look them over before you vote! Usual rules apply. Prize after the voting poll will be an inscribed ARC of Pinion, plus a bonus book. Plus will also get a special prize for his role in inciting this idiocy.

Which caption best suits this photo?

View Results

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[contests] Flash Fiction open has a winner

Hat by criada

Photographed at the Whatcom Creek Estuary, in Washington State, by .

© 2009. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.

The Flash Fiction Open contest [ | LiveJournal ] now has a winner! Jonathan won with “Untitled“, capturing 71 votes out of 162 votes cast. Jonathan, please contact me in comments or via email, and I’ll send you an autographed copy of Green to celebrate your blue hat.

The rest of y’all drop by and read Jonathan’s winning story.

[links] Link salad pops back onto the radar

Don’t forget to vote in the Flash Fiction Open contest: [ | LiveJournal ] — Poll will be closed a bit later today, so be sure to vote early and often!

Google Working to Revise Digital Books Settlement — Hmm. Dare I see this as a ray of hope in the Google Books Settlement mess?

Model seaplane — Even looking at this picture probably violates OHSA standards. Heh.

Scanning Dead Salmon in fMRI Machine Highlights Risk of Red HerringsTo maintain the rigor of the protocol (and perhaps because it was hilarious), the salmon, just like a human test subject, “was asked to determine what emotion the individual in the photo must have been experiencing.”

Blueprint for quantum electric motor — Engineering on the atomic scale. Man…

Moon is coldest known place in the solar system — Huh. Who knew? Surely it’s colder in the Kuiper belt… (Via @glynmoody.)

How to read articles about health — Dissecting science journalism.

Massachusetts to require flu vaccines?Bad Astronomy Blog on the tension between personal choice and public cost.

He may have said, “[w]e need segregated buses,” but that doesn’t mean he’s a racist. The Edge of the American West on alleged racism in conservative discourse.

?otD: Saturday or Shatterday?

Body movement: n/a (up late last night)
Hours slept: 5.5
This morning’s weigh-in: 232.4
Currently reading: The Real Wizard of Oz by Rebecca Loncraine