Friday, January 29, 2010

Terrorism Theater

(Picture from here.)

I don't like to talk about terrorism. I'm a creative person. I can think up many, many nasty things that can happen. I'd just as soon not go through life frightened.

That said, recently botox is now on the terrorism watch list. (See here.) The use of an item used by the Western Rich to make themselves more beautiful (and more vain) as a means of attacking those same Western institutions cannot be ignored. It, or some similar idea of it, changes the playing field.

Terrorism is theater. It is a dramatic means of getting a message across. It was not an accident that the Twin Towers were targeted. Theater has an audience and the nature of that audience determines the nature of the dramatic act.

In Terrorism Theater, Americans are not the audience. Let me repeat that. We are not the audience. That we reacted the way we did is a happy accident for Al Quaeda. The meaning of the act was to destroy an American symbol and show the audience Al Quaeda's power and ability. It was a very successful act.

Americans like simple answers to things. Suicide bombers and terrorists attack us because they "hate freedom" or other similarly inane arguments. The world circles around us in our own minds. That we are incidental to the cause doesn't sit well with us. We're not the most important country in the world; in terms of power, we're the biggest and most obvious. We occupy a symbolic point in the theatrical rhetoric that would be occupied by someone else were we not available.

How we make ourselves available is the subject of another post.

Now, botox comes along. In 9/11, the target of Terrorism Theater was the symbol of American wealth: the Twin Towers. That they fell was a tremendous propaganda coup. But the mechanism of the fall was unimportant. If a car bomb had been used, the coup would have been pretty close to identical. Planes striking the tower were media hot but the fall of the towers was so incredibly hot it made the planes insignificant.

What makes botox so different is that the means of the terrorist act is symbolically hot. What better symbol of Western materialism and arrogance than using a poison as a means of creating physical beauty? Botox could be so symbolically compelling that it could make the target less symbolically importance-- something I think that has been inadvertently protecting us. As long as the target has to be symbolically hot, we can get by protecting hot targets. But as soon as the means becomes hot, then the targets can be broader.

Houston, we have a problem.

Wall of Idiots
High speed glacier melt
Dwelling on Climategate

Links of Interest
Eclipse photographs
Running barefoot
Ginger dinosaurs and here
Humans killed off the megafauna
Exercising good for aging
Aliens in plain sight
Excavating China's dinosaurs
Handling your web affairs post mortem
Ghost peaks of Antarctica
Quantum simulation of Hydrogen
Wind and the grid

5 minute projects
Dessert recipes

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Emergent Properties of Characters

(Picture from here.)

"Character is what you are in the dark."

So says Doctor Emilio Lizardo ably played by John Lithgow in Buckaroo Banzai.

Of the things that are important to me in writing, I have to say character rises to the top. Prose is nice. Plot is good. Imagery is key. But, to me, it revolves around the nature of the participants in the story-- that is, to say, character.

There are inherent issues with understanding characters in story that are not often addressed. The first one is who knows what is going on? The second is who's telling the story? Following from these two is, who's going to tell the reader?

These only appear to be trivial questions.

In SF and fantasy stories there is always the problem of getting the world across to the reader. Often referred to affectionately as the expository lump, for the smooth way it must be swallowed. Consider your own world-- this blog, for example. Say a person from ancient Hyperborea (Boston in the 1970's) appears. You have to explain the internet, cell phones, twitter, etc., to him-- things you would never ordinarily think about because they are part of your world. In fact, in a story, you would absolutely require such an ignorant individual to provide an opportunity to explain the internet, cell phones, etc. This is true for any milieu sufficiently different from the milieu of the reader.

Different writers have handled this in different ways. Some put up a lump. Some hit the ground running and hope the reader will stay with them long enough to explain. (Neal Stephenson does this.) Some twist the environment to make it sufficiently like the reader's (or at least a piece of the reader's) world that no explanation is necessary. Some pander to a perceived truth of the milieu to tell the story trusting the legend will trump actual history. (Amadeus does this.) But, win, lose or draw, if you don't tell the reader directly you're going to need a character to show things.

Hence the first question: Who knows what's going on? Every story has a mystery to unfold and only the characters can know enough to impart it to the reader-- you as the author know it all. But unless you're Puck, you're not telling.

The second question is who's telling the story?

Every story has voice and that voice belongs to someone. You can lie and say it's the author but that's blowing smoke. No author writes the same book twice-- not if that author is worth a damn. For one thing, the act of writing the book changes the author. For another, it must be decided who are the focal characters, what must be left out, what is left in-- these are choices the author must make. Often, it's not the story teller that knows what is going on-- think The Great Gatsby. The narrator knows almost nothing. Think Huckleberry Finn. The reader knows more about what is going on than Huck. Huck sees all but understands little. The storyteller determines what can be revealed and how it must be revealed.

Which leads us to the final, and I think, most important question: who's going to tell the reader?

Let's rephrase the question to make it clearer: How is the reader going to know what is going on? In Huckleberry Finn, Huck knows what happens but understanding is left to the reader to learn-- understanding beyond what Huck is capable of. In HF, Jim is a fully formed man, with wants and needs, with children and a wife. He knows this. The reader can see it. But Huck has to be brought to that revelation.

There's a common flaw in a lot of fiction where a given character knows more than he should. Or suddenly starts talking about something that by all rights is part of the room's furniture. How often do you talk about how light switches work? Yet, in some stories, people talk about the equivalent of "light switches". It's as if the characters are schizophrenic, part of their own world and part of ours and switch between them at the author's necessity.

Remember Lizardo: "Character is what you are in the dark." The nature of the characters in a story is not limited to how they act on stage. In order to be true characters, they have families, lives, ancestors, dreams and ambitions when they are off the stage as well as when they are on the stage. The person that they are when the spotlight hits them has to be congruent with the person that exits stage left.

Wall of Idiots
Rep. Alfred Baldasaro (R, NH)

Links of Interest
NASA's next spacesuit and here
The 1830 Moon Hoax
2009 2cd warmest year yet
Solar power for Haiti and here
Jet fuel from coal
Prions may have positive effect
Soviet versus Capitalist Birds
World's greatest wedding invitation

Bentwood birdhouse
Coconut birdhouse
Shoe birdhouse
Unique birdhouse
$2 Birdhouse
Gourd birdhouse and here
Eastern bluebird house
Paper airplanes
Peanut butter
Chilaquiles Soup
Squirrel proof bird feeder
R/C plane from trash
Weekend workbench

Monday, January 25, 2010

Boskone 47

(Not the Boskone logo. Picture from here.)

Here's my preliminary Boskone 47 schedule:
Friday 8pm Biblical Themes and Religion in Genre Fiction
Jeffrey A. Carver (M)
Walter H. Hunt
Dani Kollin
Steven Popkes
Margaret Ronald
OK, it's full of some really fabulous stories. A lot of people are familiar with it, so there's resonance in the well of souls. Any other reasons writers keep coming back to these sources?
I've been playing in this field for a while. (Note: Fable for Savior and Reptile as an example.) So this should be fun.

Saturday10am SF/Mainstream Convergence? - yes/no, good/bad/
Kathryn Cramer
James Patrick Kelly (M)
Steven Popkes
Vandana Singh
Melinda Snodgrass
Is SF converging with the mainstream? Just as SF tropes have invaded films and TV, have they also become so much part of our common culture that the genre will simply be absorbed (or absorb) the rest of literature? What will this mean for SF and for us? Is it a Good Thing?
Hm? Threat or Menace? Recall I spoke about this somewhat here.

Saturday4pm Graphic Novels, Film Audio, Web Comics, +!? - Different Ways to Tell the Story Bruce Coville (M)
Steven Popkes
Everett Soares
Rene Walling
Jane Yolen
There's more than one way - and more than one media - in which to tell a story, isn't there? Discuss. But - why mix media? Is one picture really worth a thousand words? Can voices convey nuances better than the written word? Than art? What works (and what doesn't)? What's good and what's bad? Recommend some of these unusual and innovative newcomers in the science fiction/fantasy/horror field.
Yay. I get to talk about webcomics.
Sunday 10am Autographing
Not sure what I'm going to be autographing.
Sunday 2pm Werewolves (and Other Shapeshifters): Finally Getting the Respect They Deserve?
Bruce Coville
Leah Cypess
Adam Golaski
Steven Popkes (M)
In many ways, werewolves are the antitheses of vampires. Bursting with life (perhaps too much?) and deeply connected to the natural world in ways their dead, generally more elegant, and possibly darker bretheren can't begin to approach, werewolves *seem* to be beginning to make an impact on fantasy (and horror). True? If so, why is this happening? And -- besides wolves -- what other animals are shapeshifters simulating?
I get to talk about Stegosaurus Boy. Yay!
Wall of Idiots
James M Inhofe, Senator, R Ok.
Losing health care
Democratized investment
V: Colbert rips conservative pundits
Brown costs Democratic majority!
Michelle Bachmann
Pat Robertson

Links of Interest
Sequencing MRSA
Live longer

Microwave mitten warmers
Ice skating rink
Winter vegetables
Solar heater
Ski bike
Heated clothing
Instant hat and scarf
Quinzee (snow hut)
Hot chocolate
Sleep warm anywhere
Winter bike commute
Other winter fun
Things with coffee
Wood projects

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Atheism and The Downfall of Man

(Picture from here.)

For me, atheism is something that just sort of happened. There was a point in my life where I considered being a preacher. But then I discovered sex. The equation was fairly straightforward: Church says sex bad. Sex feels quite good. => Dump church.

But I didn't actually become an atheist until much, much later.

In fact it came about from a desire to convert to Judaism-- which I maintain is Nature's Perfect Religion. However, when it came to the point where I needed to make a decision, I looked in my heart and discovered somewhere along the line I had actually quit believing in God. After that, what was the point of conversion?

I did discuss this at one point with a friend of mine who subsequently emigrated to Israel. Her response was: "What does God have to do with it?"

It's possible I came by this honestly. After all, one of my Mother's heroes was Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

That said, I added it to my image of myself and went on. Sunday became just another day on the weekend.

This was a long time ago. Long before Christianity and Christian lunacy became fashionable.

Nowadays, it seems that atheists seem to have to somehow defend themselves for living a moral life without the intervening excuse of God.

I've become sensitive to this sort of persecution to the point that candidates that flout their religion get a regular downcheck in my political notebook. Candidates that don't are automatically presumed to be extra-honest, since they are penalized these days for not affirming their cozy personal relationship with Jesus.

I don't mind other people's religious beliefs. I just don't want to be bothered by them. Or blamed for their own problems.

It seems these days that a belief in God is connected to doing the right thing, all evidence to the contrary. In opposition, atheism is believed to signal the downfall of America without any evidence whatsoever.

I revel in my new found power.
Wall of Idiots

The Faith Project
Discovery Institute's Darwin's Dilemma
Trijicon's Bible verses on rifles
John Freshwater
Massachusetts Democrats: A story that makes sense

Links of Interest
The amazing tentacled snake
Octopus tool use
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Plug n play hospital
Orangutan as peacemaker
Iceland's penis museum
The Great Stalacpipe Organ

V: Christmas tree rocketry
Snow science
The Spoken Wood
Card and pencil constructions
Chicken coop door opener
Furniture from sawdust
Biodegradable seedling pots
Lathe captive ring
Flat pack cubicle
Seed sprouting bag
Tiny turtles
Smartphone mount
Plastic paper clips
Polynesian ice canoe
Coffee Bean Cooler

Friday, January 22, 2010

Joe Thumbfingers

(Picture from here.)

A recent article in science news suggests the human genome is anything but pure. (See here.)

Human being share the flotsam and jetsam from bacteria and viruses and, in fact, some of these insertions have neuronal implications.

This is relatively easy to explain in evolutionary terms. It's also very exciting to see these "dirty" mechanisms having implications in our make up.

It makes the Intelligent Design ideas even more hard to swallow than they already are. If the system under question is so complex that it can only be conceived as divinely created the implication is that the system is elegant and, well, designed. A Porsche, if you will.

But if that Porsche has a Ford 150 fender bolted on one side, the trunk is comes from an MG migit and two of the four tires comes from a different kind of car and one whole side has tank treads, the "design" idea becomes a little hard to support. After a while, one begins to think that this thing was cobbled together out of parts on hand for the purpose at the moment and then bent to fit. Which is, more or less, what happened.

I guess you can think of God as Joe Thumbfingers who reused every good (and bad) idea he had and then welded things together as best he could. Maybe that's a comfort.

Neat evolutionary links:
Fish may not have evolved gills to breathe
Feet the key to human hand evolution
Primate brains wired for math

Wall of Idiots

Links of Interest


Thursday, January 21, 2010

After the hangover

(Picture from here.)

Interactive maps and analysis of the special election: Here. Here.
Scott Brown's victory speech here. Fairly interesting opinion analysis here. Jon Stewart here. And no commentary would be complete without something from Adolph Hitler.

Scott Brown won. As I write this, the wounds are fresh. Bill Morrissey once said that he recorded all of the 1986 Red Sox World Series debacle and afterwards taped over them with reruns of Love Boat. "Some wounds don't heal easily."

By now, if you read Brown's victory speech, you will see it has become national in importance. The Republicans have claimed it as a mandate.


As if all of the efforts of Obama, Biden and Clinton could ever have gottenCoakley elected.

If you read Brown's acceptance speech you will see that Brown is ready to be a "worthy successor" to Ted Kennedy at the same time he's going to be the "41st Republican". One could think this an impossible presumption but facts do no sway him in the pursuit of his higher truth.

Brown claims to have beaten the "machine". That's sort of like watching a great and wounded elephant stumbling to its knees and dying in front of him, then declaring victory.

What has really happened is that Massachusetts has traded their local politics for national politics. They've traded local democratic rule with national Republican rule. Republicans operate in lockstep and punish severely those to step out of line. This has been shown all through their machinations. If Brown does not represent a Massachusetts "machine", he is owned body and soul by a much nastier and malevolent one.

Enjoy the illusion of autonomy, those of you who voted for Brown. It will be short lived.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thank You, Massachusetts

(Picture from here.)

I'm writing this before the polls close here in our state. I want to get my opinions down before they are soured by whoever wins.

For the fortunate people in Bumfudge, Idaho who haven't been barraged by what's happening up here, it's pretty simple. We have an incompetent Democrat campaigner in a death grip with a savvy Republican. This does not bode well for the state.

Here in Massachusetts we have a strong Democrat political machine. The machine churns up who's going to run and the voters respond. Unfortunately, the machine spits up candidates that satisfy the requirements of the machine but who are often only marginally electable. In 1990, William Weld was elected governor against John Silber, about as unelectable a Democrat as they come. He won 71% reelection against Mark ("Who the Hell was he?") Roosevelt. In 2002, Mitt Romney, as vicious a Republican as could be found anywhere in the country, much less in Massachusetts, trounced Shannon ("And who the Hell is she?") O'Brien. This, in an overwhelmingly Democrat state.

Party acceptables. Voter unacceptables.

Now we're doing it again.

Martha Coakley has been a party hack from day one. You can read about here here. She was attempting to win Ted Kennedy's seat-- who has never been a party hack. You can say many, many bad things about Ted but you cannot say he has been a party hack. So, who does the machine put up to succeed him? Martha ("Oh, yeah. She's the lady that... uh. Can't remember anything good.") Coakley.

But wait, you say: Didn't Coakley win the primary? Yes, she did. Her opponents were Mike Capuano, Alan Khazei and Stephen Pagliuca.

Mike Capuano was a progressive in the House representing the 8th District-- JFK and Tip O'Neill's seat. He actually has national experience and is a known progressive. Alan Khazei has been running interesting non-profits for years. He's one of the founders of City Year. Stephen Pagliuca is the co-owner of the Boston Celtics.

Capuano was the obvious choice. Khazei would have been interesting. Either of them would have been a good contender for Scott Brown. So what happened?

Who votes in the Democrat primary? Dyed in the wool Democrats, that's who. Even though voters classes as Independents can vote, they don't often show up in any numbers. Most Democrats don't, either. Primaries are poorly attended. Special primaries less so. Thus, we got Coakley who can't campaign to safe her life-- and is not campaigning now and it is her political life at stake. Instead, the Mass. Democrats are practicing pre-criminations and wandering around pointing fingers before the pools opened much less before they closed.

And Scott Brown, exactly the same sort of cut taxes and raise spending George Bush sort of Republican is rolling towards to the Senate.

Let us be absolutely clear. Scott Brown has pulled off no miracle. He has made no particularly interest sally into national politics. He was handed his opportunity on a gilded platter, lovingly crafted by the Democratic politicians of Massachusetts.

Thank you Massachusetts Democratic Party.

Addendum: Just to show you that Scott Brown is only supported by loyal Massachusetts Republicans, here is Fox News telling you that if Brown wins, you're 401 K will benefit. Somehow, this is not paying for votes.
Wall of Idiots
Media bias and religion
Pat Robertson and here
Rush Limbaugh

Links of Interest
Preparing for disaster
Doug Gordon: Recipe for the Disturbing

Bend PVC pipe
Mini blind plant tags
Saddle pipe cuts
Djembe drum
Credit card device stand
Green power
Vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Not going to Arisia

(Picture from here.)

I'm not going to Arisia. I'm not going to be on any of the panels I thought I was on.

I have pneumonia. I can barely speak.

I did compile notes on the panels I was supposed to be on. I'll post them over the next few days.

Bummer. Serious Bummer. Serious *$*#&@*^$^!&^&&@$&*#@&(!*&$(*@#& bummer.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Consideration of Works Past: Norstrilia

(Picture from here.)

I never tracked science fiction in the form of magazine stories when I was young. I was denied many of the experiences I've read about, waiting with baited breath for the next [insert big name author here] story in F&SF or Astounding. Instead, I discovered authors in books.

I don't recall discovering any of Cordwainer Smith's (a.k.a. Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger) stories at all until I accidentally found Norstrilia, his one and only SF novel, shortly after it was printed in 1975. I still have that book.

Norstrilia burst on me like a bomb. For me, it was one of Those Books that Changed Everything. I was no stranger to complex futures-- I'd been reading Heinlein, after all. What made Norstrilia so different was the sheer strangeness of the world mixed with the completely odd way Smith told the story. Here's a taste. These are the first few sentences of Norstrilia:


Story, place, and time--these are the essentials.


The story is simple. There was a boy who bought the planet Earth. We know that, to our cost. It only happened once, and we have taken pains that it will never happen again. He came to Earth, got what he wanted, and got away alive, in a series of very remarkable adventures. That's the story.
Here I am, steeped to the gills in Asimov and Heinlein-- scientific and engineering approaches to fiction. Now, Smith begins in simple language something much bigger. Much grander than those two. (It also didn't hurt I had recently discovered Philip K. Dick.)

Two things make Norstrilia remarkable.

First, there is this odd bit of mythical wisdom that Smith brings to the prose. Smith didn't prescribe an uniform future such as Asimov or Heinlein or others did. Many futures described by authors of the time were facets of known cultures-- Asimov had his empires, Heinlein his libertarian democracies. They were, in part, utopian in that the cultures described had a definite fictional purpose and didn't serve much beyond that purpose.

Smith's future represented a broad and diverse culture that appeared to just happen, the long result of wars, interbreeding, genetic manipulation and different empires. There are some humans that have become transcendent. They wander through human culture as tourists. There are some that have attempted to retain 20th century values-- but at a cost that makes the whole point of 20th century values essentially meaningless. It is as alien a culture as I have ever seen described in SF, regardless that it is inhabited only by human beings and their created siblings.

The second is the point of view. Norstrilia looks like a novel: there's a plot, some characters, a sense of immediacy. I don't think it is. I think Norstrilia is a myth restructured as a novel. This isn't so uncommon, right? After all, we borrow from myths to make novels all the time. Lord of Light is a good example.

Not quite the same, though. Lord of Light is a novel that borrows the trappings of a myth to tell its story. Norstrilia is a myth that borrows the trappings of a novel to tell its story. The feel of the novel is that this story is being told from some uncountable thousands of years after the story that became the myth actually happened and this novel/myth is a reconstruction of that story.

I know. This sounds abstract and mechanical. But Smith is not mechanistic. The book is just there for you to read. It's all the little bits that come along with the story that eventually allow you to penetrate the masquerade.

There are issues with the book, of course. Smith was not a great prosist. There are points in the book that will make a strong man wince-- notably near the end involving the Norstilia national anthem. But these are trifles.

I even got my son to read it.
Wall of Idiots
Scott Brown
The Massachusetts Senate Race
China vs. Google
Biofeedback wedding bouquet
Masters of the Universe tribute art show

Links of Interest
Hope, the Obama Musical Story
V: Orchestrion
V: Gyro Monorail
V: Fordson Snow Machine
V: Killer whale robot
V: Introduction to rocketry
MIT Food Printer
Anywhere Organ
Carving baseball bats
One drawing for every page of Moby Dick

Mint chocolate donuts
More chocolate
Cranberry orange preserve
PVC instrument
Sweater boots
Holiday food
Homemade Holidays
Low cost mill
Machining nested cubes
Scroll saw from a sewing machine
Dremel powered lathe
V: Sand shapers

Monday, January 11, 2010

Faux News, Sarah Palin and the Decline of Western Civilization

(Picture from here.)

Both of my readers know I'm a big fan of science. It's not because it produces really neat things but because those things are true.

I don't mean "true" like "in your heart you know he's right", politically true or any other such nonsense but because there is evidence, supporting facts and reasonable conclusions. That sort of true.

While it's not science, I had always hoped for the same from news.

There is a continuing war in this country between illusion and substance. There is Obama the symbol of openness and light and Obama the practical moderate. There is the McCain with the illusion of steadfast strength and creative thinking and the substance of the doddering right wing hack clinging desperately to the hope of his political ventilator, Sarah Palin.

And then there's Plain Sarah Palin, who has not got an original thought in her head and is at best barely above average intelligence-- not that you need much intelligence for her constituency. Palin isn't all that bright but she is brighter than her constituents.

Sarah Palin, Fox News Commentator.

Palin, who has yet to produce a single original thought in any speech, any legislation or governance, who is, in fact, completely without substance, is now going to "comment" at Fox "News", a news organization devoid of news.

Illusion has won.
Wall of Idiots
Scientists not speaking up
Whoppers of 2009
Lies about Health Care
Lies about Obama and here
Lies from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Lies about Congress

Links of Interest
Avatar and floating islands and here
Doctor Megavolt!
This is why you're fat
Sand painting in Tenerife
Steam powered Citroen. Why?
Cal Lane
Duct tape prom dress
30,000 year old human teeth

Friday, January 8, 2010

Shop and Port

(Picture from here.)

Got a lot done this weekend. Made a red port and worked in the shop.

The Port

For me, wine making is like politics: you spend a lot of time trying to spin your mistakes. Previously, (See Here. Here.) I spoke about turning my pounds and pounds of frozen grapes into wine. We used the most recent 30 pounds into a "white" (using a white wine recipe with just the juice) and a regular red. We finished off the "white" and it's aging in the cellar.

The red was more problematic.

Apparently, I overestimated the required sugar. After several months (yes: months) of active fermentation, the yeast finished. Sampling still gave us a fairly sweet wine of an S.G. of 1.01. We added some yeast energizer and made sure the temperature was up from our normally cold house.

(Aside: we keep our house pretty cold. Wendy and I argue over whether the furnace should be 50 degrees or 55 degrees. We make up the difference with the wood stove. Given that, the house is cold.)

But the fermentation was done.

So: what to do with a wine that is too sweet?

The answer: make a port.

One of the big differences between port and regular wine is the addition of brandy at the end of the process. We'd done this before with mixed results. (Hint: don't substitute vodka for brandy just because it's cheaper.) We added the brandy and came up with a fairly good sweet port. Now it's aging in the cellar. Still, it was good enough to have some last night.

The Shop

I've been working on my shop for nearly two years. It's still a work in progress. The shop has a little alcove I had originally thought to dedicate to metal working. But it is Just Too Damned Small. I've had to give up that idea.

The new plan is to take many of the tools that require stands-- sanders, routing table, drill press and the like-- and put them on two carts that I liberated from a dumpster some time back. There is something satisfying in being able to use cast off materials with a minimum of effort.

I moved the metal lathe from the alcove and it's holding down the table in the front of the shop. Eventually, I need to move/get rid of the old Logan lathe I restored. It's too big for what I want to do. But I'm loathe to part with it. I mean, I can cut my own bolts for God's sake.

This weekend I mounted the drill press and band saw on one of the carts and parked it in the alcove next to the wood lathe. The shop is getting more open.

Now, I have to work on the second cart which is a bit more difficult since the second cart doesn't have working casters.
Wall of Idiots
mp3: Rush Limbaugh (listen in private)

Links of Interest
Gene therapy for AIDS
The manure cycle
Time moves forward
Yet another reason to save coral
V: First four legged animal

Wooden pallet sledge
70's string lamp
Movie flipbook
Table saw from a circular saw and here
Thermoelectric lamp
Easter solar engine
Salt water and aluminum foil night light
Chocolate things
Free stuff
High voltage things

Of Interest

(Picture from here.)

Nothing for Friday. The Wall of Idiots is too big.

Wall of Idiots
Michelle Bachmann
Newt Gingrich, Tweeterman
Coulter and O'Reilly
The California Science Center
The Guardian
Rupert Murdoch
Bill Kristol
The US Military

Links of Interest
Greta Christina
Finding your inner fish
Scissor spiders
Foraminifera sculpture park
Russell Blackford
5 new exoplanets and here
Tata Nano US Version
Secret harmful chemicals

Free vintage printers cuts
A collection a day
Tools to start sewing
480 Square Feet
Emergency Power Options

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Arisia 2010 Schedule

(Picture from here.)

A little news: some nice reviews for The Secret Lives of Fairy Tales in this month's F&SF: here and here.

I'll be at Arisia this year, Cambridge, MA 1/15-1/18. My schedule with the description of the panels:

Saturday 5:00 PM
[189] Destination Moon at 60 — 1hr — Paul Revere A
Although it won a "Retro-Hugo" in 2001 as the best dramatic presentation of 1950, "Destination Moon" is hopelessly out of date. On the other hand it had the participation of Robert Heinlein, Chesley Bonestall and Woody Woodpecker. Can this film be redeemed for modern audiences? Is it just a moldy curio of the past or is it still worth taking a look at? Jeffrey A. Carver, Steve E. Popkes, A. Joseph Ross (m)

Not sure how I got on this one. I blame Obama.

Saturday 7:00 PM
[214] Must-Read Stories — 1hr — Room 201
What are essential reads for every SF (or fantasy) fan? Can you really understand later vampire books if you haven't read Bram Stoker's "Dracula"? Must you plow through the entire Foundation series, or track down obscure short stories? Panelists will present their 'essential' lists and debate them. Jonathan Woodward (m), Ken Gale, Peter Maranci, Michael McAfee, Steve E. Popkes

Every field tries to decide what is canon. We're no different. But we do argue about it in public.

Sunday 10:00 AM
[258] The City as Character — 1hr — Paul Revere B
New Crobuzon, The Sprawl, Newford, even Minneapolis in War For the Oaks. What authors use their cities in the most interesting ways? How does the city contribute to the story? Gordon Linzner (m), Meredith Schwartz, Margaret Ronald, Steve E. Popkes, Daniel Rabuzzi

An opportunity to talk about Future Boston. I get to mention Cities, the disease, in a book about a City. Cool.

Sunday 7:00 PM
[372] Stories that Changed Everything — 1hr — William Dawes A
Which stories of science fiction, fantasy or horror changed the paradigm, without necessarily being the best stories? For better or for worse, which stories took the genre—or the world in a new direction? How? Why? James A. Wolf, Mario Di Giacomo, Steve E. Popkes, Mark L. Amidon, Vikki Rose (m)

See above.

Come on. Visit. It'll be fun.
Wall of Idiots
Insect breeding boosted from global warming
Powerful people behaving badly

Links of Interest
A face painted relationship
Assessing BPA risk
Catalog of the microbes
Dog genes and human disease
North magnetic pole on the move
China's nuclear shipping
China's national grid and here
China's renewable energy

Soda bottle spare key
Natural wood raised garden
Cedar chest
Tesla tornado Christmas tree
Wireless power
5 Minute Ice Cream!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jumbo Ears!

(Picture from here.)

My son has bacterial pneumonia. He's getting over it (thanks for asking) but over the weekend, he had a temperature of 104.1.

He woke Wendy up-- there were logistical rather than feminist reasons for this.

Anyway, it's about 3 AM and I get up to use the facilities. I hear from the bathroom the following:

Fishy, fishy in the water
Won't you come and eat my daughter
Fishy, fishy in the water
Let me come and join the slaughter
Then we'll go and fill the larder

Jumbo ears! Jumbo ears!
Will Smith!
Drink that beer!
Jumbo ears! Jumbo ears!
Will Smith!
Eat that deer!

I stand at the bathroom door, trying to push this sound through the early morning brain grease. Wendy comes out and explains she was trying to bring down the fever with a cool bath.

"Gronk? Huzza fitz muh?" I cleverly reply.

She shoos me back to bed.

Some things are best not viewed too clearly.