Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Even More Fun With Statistics

I noted in passing on the intertubes that someone named Mitt Romney was "projected" as the "winner" of the Arizona primary based (at the time of this posting) on 0% of the precincts reporting. 

Now that's statistics!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fun With Statistics

Yes, yes, we all know the title is a tautology.  How can one not have fun with statistics!  Today's object d'art is one we are all familiar with: the Mindless Linear Trend (MLT).  This time, it is a graph of the top height of clouds
Scientists at the University of Auckland in New Zealand analyzed the first 10 years of global cloud-top height measurements (from March 2000 to February 2010) from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft. The study, published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, revealed an overall trend of decreasing cloud height. Global average cloud height declined by around one percent over the decade, or by around 100 to 130 feet (30 to 40 meters). Most of the reduction was due to fewer clouds occurring at very high altitudes.
which also illustrates the fact that once an instrument is available to measure something, it will be measured and analyzed and its entrails examined.  


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spare a Moment to Remember

Pfc. Joseph Flynn, 5th Eng. Btn, 5th Corps
before the last living memories are gone and the revisionists take over.

I received the following email a few days ago from my dad
Yesterday was the 67th anniversary of D-day on Iwo Jima.
So many men died that day, it was terrible.  And last night,
67 years ago, was the most anxious night of my life; as you can well imagine.

I will think a lot about Iwo throughout the coming Month -- not every moment
of course, but a lot none-the-less.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Make an Ash of Yourself

Ash Wednesday
Today is the most subversive day on the revolutionary calendar.  It is the day when we become fleetingly aware that maybe Nietzsche was not right and the will need not be triumphant.  Recall that ol' Crazy Fred told us in Will to Power
Through Christianity, the individual was made so important, so absolute, that he could no longer be sacrificed. ... All 'souls' became equal before God: but this is precisely the most dangerous of all possible evaluations.
Crazy Fred
Hence, the fierce determination of the Late Modern to deny the very existence of soul.  In Latin, this is anima, and is the same as "life."  So what follows from soul-denying is necessarily life-denying.  We also see the root of the Late Modern determination to subordinate the individual to the group, replacing individual human natural rights with state-granted group-entitlements.  And in that rejection of all souls being equal, we wound up with some lives being less equal than others, the lebensunwertes Leben, or "life unworthy of life," a pig which we sometimes tart up with the lipstick of "quality of life."  And those who fall too far down the "quality" scale may be denied life by their betters. 

Fred also wrote:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Post Script

Gutti, Gutti Macher, Whither Do Ye Wander?

Regarding the recent post on statistical illiteracy among people citing the Guttmacher Institute report on contraceptive use, a few clarifications are in order.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Statistics, Obamas, and Internet Memes

Statistics made visible!!
The Principle of Statistical Inference
One of the many reasons for doing Statistics, besides the fact that it is more fun than one may have sitting down, is that it enables one to draw tentative conclusions about unexamined populations based on carefully examined samples.  In fact, the difference between probability, statistics, and process control can be visualized by means of a sample taken from a box full of beads, some percentage of which are red and the others white.

1. Probability. Knowing the proportion of red beads in the box, how many red beads will show up in a sample of n beads?
2. Statistics.  Knowing the number of red beads in a sample of n beads, what is the proportion of red beads in the box? 
3. Process Control.  Is there a box?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Shipwrecks of Time

The damage of the loss is less than feared.  About 7 kilowords have walked with Jesus, and some of that required a bit of noodling to pin down dates and things.  The noodles will need re-researching, a bothersome necessity when setting a story in the past.  Wonderfully, there is a site where I can find temperatures for Milwaukee for any of the years involved, release dates of movies, dates when certain songs were popular, and so on.  The years 1965-67 were pivot years.  Freeways were not everywhere; channels still signed off late at night.  Camp was camp.  Meatless Fridays went away, and altars were reversed.  Cities burned in the summers, and the US sent combat troops to stiffen the ARVN.  The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother took their vows on the Feast of St. Clare in the same month that the new passenger railroad station opened.  The Milwaukee Youth Council began picketing the Eagles Club and the next year led marches across the bridge in support of open housing.  The Klan set off two bombs and the following summer, in 1967, Milwaukee exploded. 

It makes for a perfect cover.


In the Lion's Mouth

A review in the San Diego Union-Tribune, second item:
#8220;"In the Lion’s Mouth”
Michael Flynn
Tor; 304 pages, $25.99

Michael Flynn continues his space opera series around the adventures of Donovan buigh — no typo; these characters often speak Gaelactic — and his former employers, the Confederation of Central Worlds. His daughter, the master harper Mearana, had hoped to reconcile him with her mother, a Hound of the League, one Bridget ban, but Donovan’s gone missing … kidnapped by Ravn Olafdsdottr, who shows up at Clanthompson Hall to tell the story of her interactions with Donovan.

Continuing the rich, cheery, grim density of the two previous novels in the series, “The January Dancer” and “Up Jim River,” Flynn shuttles us from Bridget ban’s estate to the ship where Donovan, in all his many personae, is captive, to conferences between operatives of the Confederation and the United League of the Periphery, to odd planets where some differences are … worked out. In engagingly violent ways. Flynn plays joyfully with more than one language, but even in straight English: “One no more despises an enemy than the knife despises the whetstone.” (I found that net searches for some of the Gaelic terms helped me appreciate more of the humor here and in the first two books).

There’s spying and thieving and politicking, both clean and not-so, and rifts in the bureaucracies that think they run this part of the Spiral Arm … and, as we are reminded often enough, it’s a big Spiral Arm. Certainly big enough for this lovely series, and, by the way, the ending does seem to leave room for a sequel, now that Donovan has more or less reintegrated all the characters who live in his head.

Jim Hopper, of Normal Heights, sometimes has trouble
enough with the single character in his head.

"Rich, cheery, grim density."   "Engagingly violent."  Interesting comments.  Not many books display cheering grimness or engaging violence.  And he hasn't laid eyes on ON THE RAZOR'S EDGE yet. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Elmira, 1895

In modest recompense for losing a month's work, I have learned that my short story, "Elmira 1895," has been accepted by ANALOG.
   He came with the night mail on the West Shore Line at just that moment when the world teetered between one day and the next.  Midnight is a magic time, the single instant when there is no present; only a receding past and an unrealized future.  He stood alone on the platform with his greatcoat and valise and watched the red lanterns of the caboose vanish into the night. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mega-bummer.

Having discovered two copies of the novel-in-progress resident on the Machine, I deleted one and emptied the trash.  It turned out I misread the date, and I now have a copy of the file as of Jan 10; nearly a month's work down the memory hole.  There's supposed to be a resident back up somewhere, but I haven't found it yet.  That will teach me to do such things at 11PM

The hard back-up from the auxiliary drive is the aforesaid Jan 10 copy; so it could have been worse: 4000 words instead of 48,000.  It's supposed to back up automatically, but sometimes I forget to unlock the drive.  Okay, a lot of time I forget to unlock the drive. 

Perhaps rewriting from scratch will work out for the best; but I hate the idea of replicating all the en passant research on 1960s Milwaukee.  I had renamed a character, and altered the chapter structure, brought the narrative up through Feb 1967.  Read through on-line copies of the Milwaukee Journal to get the skinny on various background events.  Found specifics on the various chansons de geste, including document numbers and repostitories.  Ach, du lieber Zeit! 

Yes, I know.  I should have been more Christ-like.  Jesus saves. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Now This is Funny


h/t Jerry Pournelle

Interview with a Flynn

Michael Ventrella has posted an interview with yr. obt. svt.

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: Today I am pleased to be interviewing Hugo-nominated author Michael Flynn. Mike and I met at the Greater Lehigh Valley Writer’s Group and have run across each other at Philcon and other conventions before, but we’ve never really had a conversation together, so this should resolve that.

Mike, what was your first big break into the business?

MICHAEL FLYNN: I entered a contest by Charlie Ryan, who was editor at the old Galileo magazine. It was for never-before published writers. So I wrote a story “Slan Libh,” about a fellow who has invented a time machine and decides to use it to feed his ancestors during the Irish Potato Famine.  continued here