Thursday, June 30, 2011

News From All Over

from the WSJ Best of the Web, news from all over. 

  • "Douglas, Davenport Lead Fever Past Mercury"--headline, Associated Press, June 29
  • "Roddick Flops Early Again, but Venus Stays on Course"--headline, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, June 25
  • "Earth, Wind & Fire Still a Shining Star"--headline, Wilton (Conn.) Villager, June 30
  • "Mars Invests in New US Facility"--headline,, June 30
  • "DNA Samples Will Determine if Jupiter Residents Aren't Picking Up Behind Their Pooches"--headline, Palm Beach Post, June 29
  • "Saturn Friendship Club Meets"--headline, Gonzales (Texas) Cannon, June 30
  • "Hands-On: Dead Rising 2: Off the Record--Playing in Uranus Zone"--headline,, June 9
  • "Neptune's Grant Request Sent Back to City Hall"--headline, Chronicle Herald (Halifax, Nova Scotia), June 29
  • "LeBron James Made His Decision, Now the Cavaliers Make Theirs: Terry Pluto"--headline, Plain Dealer (Cleveland), June 22

Modern History Explained

Google Ngrams give the frequency with which specific words or phrases occur in their database of 5.2 million texts in the Google Books Library.  It is interesting how well this tracks the opinions of certain historians dating the end of the Modern Ages to the Late 19th/Early 20th Century, with the 20th century standing to the Modern Ages as the 15th century stood to the Middle Ages. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Clearing the Tabs


Contracts received for the French e-book edition.  No front money, as is typical for many e-books, but a higher percent of the sales.  So if you can read French, your opportunity to cross my palm with silver will come soon.  Remember, this won the Prix Julia Verlanger while the original did not win the Hugo.  So the French translation must be better than the original.  Right?  Someone buy it and let me know.....


The January Dancer

Author-copy paperbacks for The January Dancer have arrived, so it must be in the book stores.  This is the first volume in the series, even though the second volume was paperbacked already last year.  Big bungle-oo.  They put Up Jim River on the schedule... and bumped The January Dancer to do it! 

"The Return of the Zombie Sea Monster"

A thousand-word short-short was sold to ANALOG as a "Probability Zero" piece.  It marks my first short-short involving zombie sea monsters and their return.  I'll let you know when it is to appear. 

Worst Idea of the Month

Friday, June 17, 2011

Unfortunate Headline of the Day

"Weiner Finally Yanks Himself"--headline, New York Post, June 17

(We're really going to miss him when he's gone.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Double Helix

The BBC TV movie Life Story about the discovery of the structure of DNA is on YouTube in ten parts.  I saw it years ago, and for those who remember science and what discovery feels like, it is a very true film.  Follow this to YouTube and you will be cued to continue on each of the parts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Odds and Ends

Congressman Weiner Strikes Again!
"Four Restaurant Customers Burned by Flaming Bananas"
--headline, Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach), June 13

Imagine if He Were Not "Friendship Man"

"Friendship Man Kills Himself and Injures Wife in Process"
--headline, Dyersburg (Tenn.) State Gazette, June 14

Unfortunate Headline of the Week
"Boehner Jokes About Weiner's Name in Ohio Speech"
--headline, Associated Press, June 12

BTW, aren't we all just a little bit happier that Congressman Weiner's given name is not Richard?

Monday, June 13, 2011

There's a Bimbo on the Cover

My old poem "There's a Bimbo on the Cover of My Book" (sung to the tune of "She'll be Coming Round the Mountain") leads off the collection aforesaid.  But early and often. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Week's Most Unfortunate Headline

"MILLER: Harry Reid Hangs Weiner Out to Dry"--headline, Washington Times website, June 7

Middle Earth

Superimposed over Europe and North Africa.  Evidently, during during one of the ice ages or earlier interglacials. 

Ungendering Your Child

There was a recent spate of news stories about a Canadian couple who had decided not to tell anyone whether their new kid was a boy or a girl.  They did this so as to utterly confuse the poor kid based on their crypto-religious belief that "gender" roles are determined by Society™ and not by the science of genetics and biology.  Now, this has been done before with the usual and expected results regarding the Fooling of Mother Nature.  It almost always means the poor kid is a boy.  We shall see. 

Meanwhile, we have this from the late 19th century when girls were girls and boys were....

It Was a Dark and Starry Night....

The Dark Starry Night
, by James Hance

h/t Mark Shea

No comment is necessary.

More can be found here.  Some serious.  I draw your attention to Chthulu the Pooh, Pulp Chaplin, and Mona Leia.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Attack of the Brain Atoms!

Once more a public thinker has set forth to prove in public that he has no mind.  The brain atoms inhabiting the vehicle called "Sam Harris" have moved Mr. Harris's fingers to type a blog post yclept: Free Will (And Why You Still Don't Have It) contending that he did not intend to type a blog post, but was caused to do so by a congeries of external and internal stimuli. 

The post is an excerpt and/or digest of a section of the book which the brain atoms, responding to information from the external world, internal states of the body, and the ennoiasphere, entitled The Moral Landscape.  Like Condorcet before him, Sam Harris expects that he can find morality inductively by means of physical science, as if by knowing the mass of an electron he would tell us whether we should off granny for the inheritance.  In the course of this, his brain output replicated the following external stimuli:

Maundering Becomes Elektra
"The physiologist Benjamin Libet famously demonstrated that activity in the brain's motor regions can be detected some 300 milliseconds before a person feels that he has decided to move.  Another lab recently used fMRI data to show that some "conscious" decisions can be predicted up to 10 seconds before they enter awareness (long before the preparatory motor activity detected by Libet). Clearly, findings of this kind are difficult to reconcile with the sense that one is the conscious source of one's actions." 

Actually, findings of this kind are difficult to reconcile with the idea that they are scientific experiments, since they invariably over-interpret the actual empirical observations.  Identifying the "response potential" with the "moment of decision" is to beg the question. 

In The Belly of the Whale: Publisher's Weekly Review & Pre-Order Links

 Hello Fans of Michael Flynn. I am pleased to let you know that Dad's novel In the Belly of the Whale will be released by CAEZIK on July...