Monthly Archives: February 2014

Friday Links! (basketball, earthquakes, and a Cher-off)

It’s the last Friday of February. Here’s a collection of news and other things that struck me as worthy of being shared:

How does a small and unglamorous Seattle neighborhood send more players to the NBA than three New York City boroughs (combined!)? By being different.

A $10.10 Federal Minimum Wage Would Raise Walmart Prices by Only a Penny per $16 Item.

WATCH: Bradley Cooper Is Basically The Most Badass Raccoon For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’.

Lively, LaBarbera Launch New International Hate Group.

If the Christian Right really wants to get work up about sexual controversy, they should read these 5 Bible stories. “…I think a settled gay marriage is rather healthier than imprisoning 300 people in your house to have sex with at your whim.”

Bill Watterson Talks: For new documentary, cartoonist offers his first public cartoon since ending ‘Calvin and Hobbes’.

What Is Pluto? A New Video from New Horizons.

Whatsapp is everything wrong with the U.S. economy. His thesis is actually that business models that leverage public and other assets without contributing to the support of those assets, which makes more sense.

Can Moons Have Moons?.

In the eye of a chicken, a new state of matter comes into view.

Science Journalism vs. Sports Journalism.

Stream of stars in Andromeda satellite galaxy shows cosmic collision

The incredible earthquake detector invented nearly 2,000 years ago.

Is Information Physical? What Does That Mean?.

Gay Denialism Is the New Homophobia—and It’s Terrifying.

An Army Of Chers Promote The 2014 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Say Something – Pentatonix (A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera Cover):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

I’ve always been a fan of the Godzilla movies. I hope this one is good:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

A fun video, that reminds me of stories written by my friend, Edd (thanks to Zorkfox for the tip):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

This song is just uplifting and fun to dance to:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Just what went wrong?

Quit squirming cartoon.
“Quit squirming!”
It’s no coincidence that about a dozen states are all trying to pass virtually identical laws specifically permitting anyone discriminate against anyone else so long as it was because of their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” A lot of the so-called pro-family organizations have been lobbying legislators in every state and providing an already written bill, ultimately coming from an ultra conservative think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Right now, everyone is declaring a gay rights victory because a big enough stink was raised and the Governor of Arizona vetoed her state’s version of the bill. I think that’s wrong for a couple of reasons…

Continue reading Just what went wrong?

Why’d he do that?

My fiction seldom contains much exposition. I describe the actions of the characters, I give them a lot of dialogue, then just try to let the action and interaction speak for itself. Not everyone can always infer the motives or feelings a character is experiencing just from the action and dialog. So, when my writer’s group points those things out, I try to fix it.

I was reminded about the difficulty in perceiving character motivation by an extremely odd set of actions on my bus ride Tuesday morning…

Continue reading Why’d he do that?

“And then what happened?”

Why I write meme.
Ain’t it the truth?

Some time back an acquaintance was ranting on-line about his pet peeve: people who criticized a movie by saying it had no plot. This was his pet peeve, he said, because it was impossible. “No matter how badly written or executed a movie is, something happens. So it has a plot!” He wasn’t very happy with me when I told him that he didn’t know what the word “plot” means, at least in regards to a narrative such as a play or novel.

The definition I usually cite is one common in books and articles about writing: “a plot is a problem, riddle, or obstacle that confronts the protagonist at the beginning of the story, is resolved by the protagonist’s own actions at the end of the story, and is the thread which connects everything the happens between the beginning and ending.”

In other words, it’s not just that things happen, it’s that the events of the story need to be related. A well constructed story can appear to have a lot of chaotic things happening, but by the end the audience needs to feel that those seemingly random events meant something, or contributed to the character’s struggle. The whole point of a narrative—the whole reason humans tell each other stories—is to create meaning…

Continue reading “And then what happened?”

I don’t mean to be grumpy

Jimmy Tohill/National Geographic Contest
I’ve had better days.
I’d been looking forward to Sunday for weeks. A friend (who is a very talented artist and teacher) had suggested a meet up on Sunday afternoon at a restaurant/tavern several of us enjoy for the express purpose of drawing or otherwise arting together, while drinking with friends. Two of my New Year’s resolutions are to do more socializing that isn’t driven by specific projects, and to do more art and music. So this was a tangible way to do a bit of both. Then my favorite meteorology professor said, during his weekly science of weather segment on one of the local NPR stations, said that we had a probability of lowland snow this weekend, and the further north of Seattle one went, the higher the probability.

And specifically he said, “Bellingham will see it for sure.” Bellingham being where the host of the event lives, and the location of the event being a spot sort of midway between Seattle and Bellingham, therefore in the snow zone, there was a possibility the event would be canceled… Continue reading I don’t mean to be grumpy

Not this stuff, again!
We’re having a teeny bit of snow. Compared to the winter a lot of other people have had, we’ve been getting off easy. But that doesn’t mean I won’t grouse about it.

I’ve been checking up on the blog by Professor Cliff Mass (he teaches meteorology at the U of Washington, and was once a grad student of Carl Sagan). I’ve been following his weekly weather bit on a couple of the local NPR stations for years, where he nerds out about the science of weather. Today’s “nowcast” about our current series of alternating cold and warm fronts.

He was talking about the various computer models that they run, and how as they run them again and again they all change in the same way. He said, “Meteorologists call this dprog/dt or dmodel/dt (those who know some calculus will understand the name!).”

To unpack that joke, in math we are often concerned with rates of change. So we’ll talk about dx/dy, with the “d” referred to delta or change, and the “x” and “y” each being variables representing some quantity you might be monitoring, so “dx/dy” can be transliterated into English as “the change in x in relationship to the change in y.” Which sounds weird and abstract until I point out that every time you look at the speedometer on your car, it’s showing the “the change in distance in relationship to the change in time.” Most of the time we in physics and other physical sciences, the variable “t” represents time, so “dt” is “the change in time.” So Cliff’s comment about “dprog/dt” would be “the change in [the result from the] program in relation to the change in time” and “dmodel/dt” would be “the change in [the result from the computer] model in relation to the change in time.”

Anyway, it made me think of what may be my new favorite rate of change: dsnow/dt, “the change in the amount of snow in relationship to the change in time.”

And let me just say, I hope the slope of that curve goes negative sooner, rather than later. (Which is a nerdy way of saying I want the dang snow to go away!)

Friday Links! (Including Ed Sullivan!)

Here’s a collection of news and other things that struck me as worthy of being shared:

Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People.

The 6 Male Characters Women Never Get to See in Movies.

One in four Americans unaware that Earth circles Sun.

Chalk up 3 more lives decimated by anti-gay “Christianity”.

Tea Partier Chides Obama For Cuts To Medicaid For Which He Personally Voted THREE Times .

Prosecutor Told Mother Of Five Year Old Rape Victim ‘Boys Will Be Boys’.

Guardian mistakenly outs Patrick “Picard” Stewart as gay – he’s not. I just loved Sir Patrick’s responses on twitter.

Study: Homophobia takes 2.5 years off [the bigot’s] life.

STUDY: LGB INDIVIDUALS IN ANTI-GAY AREAS DIE 12 YEARS EARLIER. Note: showing it’s the anti-gay bias that is the problem…

Group claims study shows that family-friendly movies are beating out sex and violence; counts Fast and Furious 6 as “family friendly”.

National Review Is To The Right Of The Kansas GOP.

Cardinals Start To Copy Pope’s Simple Style.

Sex Is Not an ‘Economy’ and You Are Not Merchandise.

Religious Liberty Or Anti-Gay Animus?. Money quote: “…with devout Catholics, the acid test is divorce. The bar on divorce – which, unlike the gay issue, is upheld directly by Jesus in the Gospels – is just as integral to the Catholic meaning of marriage as the prohibition on gay couples. So why no laws including that potential violation of religious liberty? Both kinds of marriage are equally verboten in Catholicism. So where is the political movement to insist that devout Catholics do not have to cater the second weddings of previously divorced people? … Do we enshrine the right of, say, an Orthodox Jewish hotel-owner to discriminate against couples who might be inter-married across faiths?”

Google Offers a Guide to Not Being a ‘Creepy’ Google Glass Owner. So, so many straight lines in this one…

The Semicolon Is the Perfect Punctuation for the Digital Age.

An octopus steals his video camera and swims off with it:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here. Thank’s to Nami for the link!)

Annie Feat. Bjarne Melgaard, “Russian Kiss” (Part of the proceeds from the song will go to the gay rights advocacy non-profit All Out):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

If you have somehow managed to miss the Guardian’s of the Galaxy trailor:

When I first heard they were adapting this Marvel comic as a movie, I was confused as to how it could possibly work. The problem was that I was thinking of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book as published from 1969-95, which was a weird sort of resistance group made of of characters that had originally appeared in one-shot Marvel sci-fi titles of the 50s and early 60s, each of whom was the last survivor of a planet that had been destroyed by a n alien empire. I didn’t realize that in 2008 Marvel gathered a bunch of odd characters from some of their weirder 70s sci fi titles and created a very different group of misfits that seems to share more than a bit in common with the crew of both the Farscape and Serenity. Anyway, now that I know which characters they’re going with (and these guys were all involved in fighting Thanos, who was the “mysterious” bad guy in the after credit sequence of The Avengers), it makes a whole lot more sense. (And how can you go wrong with the Blue Swede cover of “Hooked on a Feeling”???)

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Speaking of Blue Swede’s version of “Hooked on a Feeling,” here’s a blast from 1974:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

The original was a hit in 1968 by B.J. Thomas (and yes, yes, I’m old enough to remember that, too). The only videos I found of him singing are from much more recent shows where he looks he doesn’t look quite as ancient as I feared. However I found this awesome clip from the Ed Sullivan Show, 1969, of B.J. Thomas singing his much bigger hit. And you really ought to watch it. Put up with the very cheesy background choregraphy, because a bit after the 2:00 minute mark it gets too silly:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Focus, what’s that?

Kitten falling asleep on an Apply keyboard.
I nap a lot…
Almost all the writing I’ve gotten done in the last 7 weeks (outside of work) has been posting for this blog. On my novel, I’ve done some revision, spelling clean-ups, sorted out some of the scene- and chapter-order issues I ignored during NaNoWriMo, and have managed to write only one actual new scene. Since between us, we’ve been sick pretty much continuously since late December, maybe I shouldn’t feel so bad about how little I’ve actually finished.

The last 7 to 9 days have been particularly bad. Those days that I’ve worked, pretty much every bit of energy I had has gone into trying to make deadlines there.

Last night was the first commute home from work since February 6 that I didn’t feel it was a struggle to walk the last block (or more) to the house. Even the day I drove in, I had to sit in the car for a few minutes after I parked to work up the energy to pick up my laptop bag and walk into the house.

And what did I wind up doing? I read, finishing off the book that I’ve been reading on my morning bus rides the last few weeks.

Maybe I needed a recharge before I can get writing again.

Which part of ‘no’ are you having trouble with?

Creepy stalker face
That smile…
One night last week I was doing my thing—reading news online, occassionally checking my twitter feed—when a message pops up on IM. Honestly, I’d forgotten that my instant messaging client was up. I’d run it earlier in the day because it was a work-from-home day, and just forgot to log out of all the accounts. Anyway, the message that pops up says, “I liked what you wrote.” I didn’t recognize the name, but sometimes that’s just because I forget all the handles some of my friends use (and let’s not even get into the friends who have a habit of changing the name and user picture on their accounts all the frikkin’ time…).

So I type back, “Thanks. Which thing, specifically, did you like?”

I write a lot of things, and have them posted/published lots of places, so this seemed like a reasonable question… Continue reading Which part of ‘no’ are you having trouble with?

Grandmas who kick butt

Danielle Henderson has recently begun writing for Seattle’s The Stranger, and I really like her stuff. But on Valentine’s Day, thanks to a posting from Danielle to the Stranger’s newsblog, I became a total fanboy of Danielle’s 81-year-old grandmother, who is quoted twice in Danielle’s post in reaction to an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal written by Susan Patton. (Patton is the “Princeton Mom” who wrote the open-letter to women at the college advising them to be concerned about their “shelf life” as a desirable wife. Patton has since landed a book deal and gets asked to write for the Wall Street Journal, bless her heart.)

First, Danielle tells us the best advice she ever got from her grandmother:

“Don’t marry the first guy you have sex with, always make your own money, and for god’s sake get a f—ing education!”

Then, after reading an excerpt from Patton’s editorial, Dannielle’s grandmother’s reaction is:

“Who the hell wants to end up with a man that doesn’t want you because you’re smart? Don’t date dummies and you won’t have a problem.”

Someone needs to offer Danielle’s grandmother a book deal. I’d much rather read her advice than Patton’s.

You can read Danielle’s entire post about Patton’s latest drivel here.