lagilman: Does Not Play Well With Stupid People (stupid people)
 Meanwhile, the Weather Channel is having some Science Opinions about climate change and 45's most recent fail, regarding the Paris Accord...


(So much Factual Science Snark, it would be glorious to see, if the context and content weren't all so depressing)
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
So there was a "Forward on Climate Change" march in Washington. You may or may not have seen coverage on the news (my folks caught some on ABC last night).

It was a march to call on President Obama to walk the walk, now that he's talked the talk, and DO something about the damage we're doing to our world, starting with an executive order to refuse the Keystone pipeline access to the US.

"We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it's too late." - President Barack Obama, 2013 State of the Union Address


IMG_20130217_122643
They had hoped for 20,000 people to show up, in sub-freezing temperatures. The conservative estimate on-site was 35,000 (with upward swings to 45,000). That's 4x the number of people who showed up for the first rally. I saw young kids with their parents, I saw people in wheelchairs, I saw folk well into their 70's and 80's.  I saw, slightly paraphrasing the words of one of the First Nation speakers, "red cousins and black cousins, yellow cousins and white cousins, here today as one family."

We heard from local and national activists, we heard from politicians and Wall Street investors who see no money in the "old way" of doing things but are urging investment in alternative energies as the smart money, and we heard incredibly moving speeches from those representatives of the First Nations in Canada, talking about the damage already done, both environmentally and legally.  We marched on the White House, sometimes chanting, sometimes singing (why can no-one ever remember the last verse of "This Land is Our Land?"), sometimes talking amongst ourselves, sharing stories and plans, hopes and fears.

And polar bears.
IMG_20130217_135722IMG_20130217_152448

There wasn't much media coverage - we weren't radicals, or dangerous, or particularly media-worthy, I guess.  Just a portion of the population who've looked around and thought "no.  this can't go on.  This cannot continue."  Because it's not about what we'll leave to our grandchildren any more, some thing in the distant near future.  It's today.  It's yesterday.

Once we've strip-mined and polluted the earth, killed off half the eco-system and turned the rest toxic...what then, humanity? Because for all that we explore space, hoping to find new life - and new homes - out there, there's nobody saying "oh sure, you shat in your own house, come live in ours now!"

I mean - would you?

IMG_20130217_145637
lagilman: coffee or die (brain.  hurts.)
Some day I will learn not to get hard science in my fantasy. This duology? Ain't that.

And I'm trying to lead my characters where I need them to go, and none of them are scientists and the science isn't the point, the realization is the point, and so this morning I came up with the following:

here be spoilers )

And I ask you, oh readers - does that make any sense, even without surrounding context? Does the handwaving convince you? Or have I just blown a lot of smoke up my own plot?
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
Mainly because 3.5 hours was the amount of sleep I got last night, after crashing from my post-Mars tension/excitement/celebration. I woke up at 6am, as usual, and had what I termed a Science Hangover - which, considering all I had to drink last night was a few sips of a Celebratory Scotch - is not far from the truth.

So after a valiant attempt to get out of bed failed utterly, I gave in and crashed again for another 2 hours.

And I woke up again still grinning, thinking "MARS! We're on FUCKING MARS!"

Yes, I know it's 'only' a robot, not a manned probe. But this is how it goes - we send machines out to test the wilderness, send back the things we need to know, leave our calling card, and then ponder our next step.

We may not be able to fix things here - too many people with too many differing agendas, all screaming and scrambling for the lead. But out there? Out there, at least for now, it's about Knowing. Finding. Learning. All of us, no matter our color or creeds, focused on discovery.

And the hope that maybe, some day, we'll be able to become real grownups, citizens of the universe.


In the meanwhile, I will drink my coffee, and try to get back on some sort of Monday Schedule...
lagilman: coffee or die (brain.  hurts.)
Higgs Boson. Just sayin.

(and yes, I'm already using this - or at least, the LHC - in one of my books. No, really, I am. Because at this level, science = magic = science. Or magic = science = magic.)
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
Ladies and gents and writers of all ages, your bit of Cool News for the Day, via NPR:
------------------------

Here's the story: About 13 miles from this spindle of rock, there's a bigger island, called Lord Howe Island.

On Howe, there used to be an insect, famous for being big. It's a stick insect, a critter that masquerades as a piece of wood, and the Lord Howe Island version was so large — as big as a human hand — that the Europeans labeled it a "tree lobster" because of its size and hard, lobsterlike exoskeleton. It was 12 centimeters long and the heaviest flightless stick insect in the world. Local fishermen used to put them on fishing hooks and use them as bait.

Then one day in 1918, a supply ship, the S.S. Makambo from Britain, ran aground at Lord Howe Island and had to be evacuated. One passenger drowned. The rest were put ashore. It took nine days to repair the Makambo, and during that time, some black rats managed to get from the ship to the island, where they instantly discovered a delicious new rat food: giant stick insects. Two years later, the rats were everywhere and the tree lobsters were gone.

Totally gone. After 1920, there wasn't a single sighting. By 1960, the Lord Howe stick insect, Dryococelus australis, was presumed extinct.

There was a rumor, though.

Link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/02/24/147367644/six-legged-giant-finds-secret-hideaway-hides-for-80-years?


lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
Yesterday's plans to go to the zoo were put on hold, since various news outlets wanted to lay hands on G. Several phone calls and recalls and a lot of waiting later (during which he graded papers and I wrote a chapter), ABC sent a car to take him down to tape a segment for both Good Morning America and World News Tonight. Once released, we headed downtown to check out Agave, a Mexican restaurant with, well, an impressive tequila list.

As I don't drink tequila, I can't say [G seemed to enjoy the ones that he tried], but the blue crab quesadilla (I'd call it a sincronizada) was extremely yum (as were their blue corn chips, although the guac wasn't spicy enough). They are also set up to handle large groups, and the staff there didn't seem to blink an eye at a table of 18. The noise level was high but even next to that group we were still able to hear each other. Def. checking it out again some time NOT a Saturday night.

Afterward, walked around the Village for a bit, enjoying the near-spring air and just being around people.

Today, it's back to work, as my beta reader agreed with me that the chapter might work better 3rd person than 1st. Already I can feel the "rightness" in the flow. Will save the joint 1st person unreliable narrative approach for another project.

Have already had a pot of coffee and two bagels. Switching to iced tea now, which proves it really IS warmer weather.

------

The World News segment ended up being cut to give more time to the expanding coverage of the nuclear plant troubles. The GMA bit is now online, if you're interested.... http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/24508919
lagilman: coffee or die (dandelion break)
I was going to post this morning about the Scotch tasting we went to last night.

I was going to mention that this Friday's Practical Meerkat is up.

I was going to mention that I'm interviewed on I SHOULD BE WRITING.


Instead this morning we woke to the news of the massive earthquake in Japan. As The Guy is a seismologist, this sort of changed the tone of the day - by 7:30 he was on the phone with his workplace, trying to track down people, canceling meetings and rounding up experts to throw to the media wolves (he got thrown too, I'm told).

We both know people in that area of Japan. We know people in the paths of the expected tsunamis. I have heard from most of my friends, by now, and they are all well... but I am once again reminded how small and dangerous this world is. Small and dangerous and beautiful, too.


Be gentle with yourselves. Be kind to others. And this weekend, celebrate being alive.


[and, if publicly-appropriate, come back and share how you did it!]
lagilman: coffee or die (meerkat coffee)
Practical Meerkat, week 9, is up.. I ended up hard-posting it at 5 this mroning so please let me know here if you find any typos or not-quite-English, okay?

Meanwhile, I am adding more names to the mailing list today, while Mine Webmistress fights with the sign-up code. If you haven't gotten your confirmation email by ths afternoon, let me know!

And, related to my utter lack of sleep and overfull schedule, a link of interest: Caffeine: A User's Guide to Getting Optimally Wired. My black, 2 sugars has scientific support!
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
Mmm. Spring rolls, check. They were sort of improvised around available ingredients, but then what in my grimoire isn't?

And while I was having dinner, this came in over the wire. Velly innnnteresting...


Washington, DC - December 9, 2008

Obama Space Team Seeks Public Comment on Space Solar Power White Paper Submitted by Space Frontier Foundation

The Space Frontier Foundation pointed out that President-elect Obama's transition team has published for public comment a white paper entitled Space Solar Power (SSP) - A Solution for Energy Independence & Climate Change. The paper was prepared and submitted by the Space Frontier Foundation and other citizen space advocates, and calls for the new Administration to make development of Space Solar Power a national priority.

The SSP white paper was among the first ten released by the Obama transition team. It is the first and only space-related white paper released by the transition team to date. With 140 comments thus far, it is already among the top five most-discussed of the 20-some white papers on Change.gov.

Foundation Chairman Berin Szoka called upon all Americans to join the discussion about Space Solar Power at Change.gov: "For over twenty years, the Space Frontier Foundation has championed Space Solar Power as a world-changing technology that could do more to improve life here on Earth than any space program or commercial space venture ever. We applaud the Obama transition team's interest in developing Space Solar Power as a clean energy source that could significantly reduce U.S. dependence on strategically vulnerable energy sources."
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The full text and related information can be read here:
http://tinyurl.com/54vb2q
lagilman: coffee or die (bitch)
*sigh*

I just wrote a long rant about the difference between a quick intercession to support the financial infrastructure of an entire economy and handing money out to industries that failed to adapt to the new markets of the 21st century, despite being given a decade-long lead time filled with clear warnings. [edit: note I said the infrastructure, not the players who screwed with it]

And then I realized that would segue into a rant about the banking institutions who were given that support and still insist on screwing the pooch [and us] with it, which would in turn lead to a rant of OMG you PEOPLE, WTF, get your HEADS out of your HOLES!

And then I decided I was just too tired, and had too many other things to do. Like, y'know, adapting to the new markets of the 21st century.

If you're within reach of the Santa Barbara fires, stay safe and sound. I'm turning off the news and getting back to work.

And, for those of you who missed the bit of exciting-in-a-good way news: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/14/science/space/14planet.html Baby exoplanets! We are not unique. This gives me great pleasure (for those who want/need to believe in a Greater Plan, just call them God's backup plan for when we blow it entirely, and a new starting point is needed)

EtA: and, in the way things often happen, [livejournal.com profile] truepenny just externalized something I've been mulling for a while, about perfection, and how it's actually a bad path, rather than a good one. The money shot, for me: "But my point is, if you don't fail, or don't allow yourself to fail, you don't become a better person. You become a more rigid person. More brittle. More uptight. And because you don't allow yourself to fail, you have no empathy for other people when they fail. You don't have room for it, because you can't give yourself the leeway to imagine failing."

Yes. That.
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
Hrm. No *poof* yet. Unless it kicked us all into an alternate dimension/universe? *checks newspaper* Nope, alas, looks like the same old one (and if the alternate universe is exactly like the old one only with a few pinprick differences I'm just not going to give it the satisfaction of noticing, okay?)

Reminder: if you missed it in your end-of-the-world jitters I posted an excerpt from BLOOD FROM STONE yesterday.. And I have a new darling from that book:

"The fact that Chang had even thought to think about that impressed Wren – she supposed it came with the job, to think like a criminal. Danny did the same thing. Funny, really. She was a criminal, and she didn’t think like one."



So, last night, having actually remembered the new season's starting, I watched "Fringe."
And?
And...I dunno.

the pros, the cons, the decision )


Woke at 5 this morning, surprisingly un-tired. I guess I've recovered from my post-Trip meltdown. Managed to get the household stuff sorted before the sun was up. That's just Wrong, y'know? Today is all about short fiction. "Cold Iron Cross" is going down, man! Meanwhile I have started eying potatoes and lamb and bottles of red wine, and there's that red garlic in the pantry too... I think there's stew in the near future. Wow, all this energy. Must be autumn. Yay!
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
There comes a time when you look at The Research and you think "if I put anything more into my brain, I will become paralyzed with accumulated knowledge, and never be able to lie convincingly about any of it." And since lying about research is at the base of good world-building....

The Vineart War, Book 1. Due 15 December 2008
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20,000 / 100,000
(20.0%)


*takes a deep breath, makes a running head start, and dives into a totally Other world...*

(this does not mean that Resarch is Done, just that now it will be problem-specific, rather than general intake)


and speaking of other worlds..."Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!!" the Mars Phoenix Lander tweeted at about 5:15 pm.. Now to find out what (if anything) it all means...
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
Writing. Laundry. E-mail. A couple of phone calls. More writing. Excitement R us.

My morning reading: Mental Mirrors: Special Cells in the Brain Mimic The Actions and Intentions of Others, Forming the Basis of Empathy and Social Connections (adapted from MIRRORING PEOPLE: THE NEW SCIENCE OF HOW WE CONNECT WITH OTHERS, by Marco Iacoboni, FS&G, on-sale next month). I'm not sure if this is just something I already knew, or the author is really good at explaining the topic (I suspect a little of both) but a lot of it seems "well, yeah, obviously" to me. Not uninteresting, but obvious. However, the combination of the article and some people-watching I was doing last night is making me wonder about the nature of competitive conversationalism a la nature vs nurture. If you show awareness/interest by involuntarily mirroring the confederate, is it the lack of mirror neurons that prevents you from doing that? Or is it also a learned social dominance game-trait? In other words, is the person who runs roughshod over you and refuses to return social cues missing mirror neurons in some capacity or another (a sliding scale from 'rude' to 'low-functioning autism,' for example), or can you have a full compliment of mirror neurons and still not acknowledge* the other person/people in the equation, either intentionally or through lack of what we like to call social skills?

It would be nice to say "oh, so-and-so can't help it, they're chemical that way," but I've always thought it was a bit of a cop-out. Maybe I'm wrong, and the cold and conversationally abusive among us need more help than Miss Manners can provide...

*not in the 'cut direct" way, since that's a reaction itself, but as though the person wasn't even there.

Or maybe I need more coffee. Yeah.



And a bonus photo, for those interested:

Coke bottle shown actual size.
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
for geeks in the NYC area...

Mining the Sky:
The engineering, economics, and ethics of exploiting the Solar System's natural resources


Thursday, March 13, 2008
at the Museum of Natural History

Panelists before the WMAP image from the Big Bang DebatePlanets, moons, asteroids, and comets contain natural resources such as water, minerals, and trace elements that may have survival value to visiting astronauts and economic value to life on Earth. How did we learn of these materials? How would one go about mining them? Who owns these resources, if anyone? And should they be mined at all?

Join moderator Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, as we explore and debate the frontier of this subject with a panel of experts drawn from planetary science, aerospace engineering, environmental engineering, and space law.

the panelists are )

eclipse!

Feb. 20th, 2008 10:51 pm
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
Eclipses manage to combine the ultimate tedium of science with the ultimate total wow of science. All at once. And I can see it all out my office window, while staying all warm and comfy. Yay for amateur geeking!
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
For those of you who are not spider-phobic, a close-up of the spider who has been guarding my house from mosquitos and other crunchy bites.
He's lovely and fierce, but a little unnerving. Anyone know what he is? And we have a winner! European garden spider (Araneus diadematus, cross spider)

come into my parlor.... )
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
first, the warning sign: When you turn on the tv and with your back to it, hear the squeal of tires and think "oh, "To Catch a Thief!" without even looking...

you've probably seen the movie a few times too many, yeah.


Anyway. Down in NYC the American Museum of Natural History has a temporary exhibit (through the end of the year) called 'Mythic Creatures.' As you might imagine, it features mythological creatures and their relation (or not) to actual creatures. I found the text was trying too hard to be "these are NOT REAL!" even to the point of overlooking some interesting correlations between culture, myth, and nature, but they had a lot of interesting material, some fascinating taped interviews (including one that referenced myth as being not the opposite of history, but the companion of it [paraphrased]). Also, some very cool exhibits, including this dragon:



That head's about 3/4 suri-sized, for scale.

I think they're charging too much for what is, at best, an hour's worth of browsing, but it's a tax deduction and a good cause. And it's cool stuff. If you're in the area, I'd say it's worth checking out, especially since the exhibit empties out into the dinosaur displays, so you can compare the dragon's forearms (hoobah!)to some actual dinosaur reconstructions...


on the tv front: Bones. Yay! Bones is back! Bones is still cute and fun and totally my guilty pleasure. And then House -- I really enjoyed it, and wish they'd waited longer before bringing back the kids, but will reserve judgement until I actually see next week's episode. And then I watched Cane, which I really really wanted to like because, dude. Jimmy Smits. But it's too much a mellerdrama for my taste, I suspect. Pity. It's so very very pretty.

And on Thursday, CSI returns. I am prepared to once again have my heart eaten with a spoon.
lagilman: coffee or die (caffeine)
Homo politicus: brain function of liberals, conservatives differs
by Marlowe Hood
Sun Sep 9, 1:33 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) - "The brain neurons of liberals and conservatives fire differently when confronted with tough choices, suggesting that some political divides may be hard-wired, according a study released Sunday.

Aristotle may have been more on the mark than he realised when he said that man is by nature a political animal.

Dozens of previous studies have established a strong link between political persuasion and certain personality traits.

Conservatives tend to crave order and structure in their lives, and are more consistent in the way they make decisions. Liberals, by contrast, show a higher tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, and adapt more easily to unexpected circumstances.

The affinity between political views and "cognitive style" has also been shown to be heritable, handed down from parents to children, said the study, published in the British journal Nature Neuroscience.

Intrigued by these correlations, New York University political scientist David Amodio and colleagues decided to find out if the brains of liberals and conservatives reacted differently to the same stimuli."

results here

In the end, of course, it's all boiled down to "yes, but it depends." As they say, the brain is a malleable thing. But interesting, methought, on both a political and a personal level.

and, of course, A new case study of a stroke patient suggests that adults' brains might be just as "plastic," or capable of creating new neural pathways, as those of children.

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lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
Laura Anne Gilman

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