The rest of the circuit

Apr. 17th, 2014

10:00 am - Out of Touch

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

(Kickstarter update! Donations have realllly slowed down over the past few days. If you’re thinking of supporting, please don’t wait until the end to do so? Remember the payment isn’t collected until the campaign closes on May 9th! Click here to chip in or see the details: -ctan)

We had three regular tapas bars. There was the place where we had the gig, there was the place we had gone on the first night when I had arrived in Seville, and there was a place that the older flamenco crowd liked, one of the ones where regular jam/dance sessions broke out. Oddly enough, that was the place that had a radio behind the bar that they turned on to a station that played pop music in English from time to time.

By mid-July it was really too hot to busk outside in the afternoons. Not that we would have minded the heat ourselves, but no one would linger to listen or watch. So we left off going to the park entirely and concentrated on our evening gigs, two shows a week at Gloria’s school and, by then, two nights a week at the bar. It was one of those hot July afternoons when we were in the bar early for some reason. I was sitting with Orlando while he was talking to the bartender, a twenty-something woman with skinny arms but prodigious breasts. I wasn’t really listening to what they were saying since I could barely make out any of it anyway.

A song came on the radio. My ears perked up, something new, something that sounded kind of good…?

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09:31 am - The Myth Of “Nobody Can Make You Feel Bad Without Your Permission”

There’s a common sentiment that goes, “Nobody can make you feel bad without your permission” – generally trotted out when someone’s been hurt by a mean thing that someone said.

The idea, I believe, is that we are all rational, robot-like beings who can control our emotions – and thus if we get upset by someone’s assholic statements, we have chosen to be upset. We could have shrugged it off instead.

Problem is, people don’t work that way.

Now, first off, “shrugging off other people’s insults and accusations” is a learned skill. If you’ve ever raised a kid, you know most of them don’t come pre-baked with the “Eh, whatever” switch – if you yell at them, they cry. If other kids make fun of them, they get upset. Actually placing the “Okay, they’re mocking you, but do you respect their opinion?” switch in place is a process that takes years, requires a healthy ego on the kid’s part, and isn’t 100% successful.

So expecting everyone to have that skill is kinda jerky. Admittedly, it’s a vital skill that everyone should actively cultivate – without it, abusers can emotionally manipulate you into the most awful of situations by pressing your “guilt” button whenever you complain about valid stuff.

But not everyone had nice parents. Not everyone’s discovered how to interrupt their emotions with logic. And as such, sneering, “Well, you chose to feel bad”isn’t actually true. They have yet to develop a barrier between the onrush of primal feelings and the rationality to say, “Wait, no, that’s actually something I shouldn’t feel.”

You might want to start that long discussion of how to get to the point where they can shove off that tidal wave of sadness with a cold freeze of logic… but that’s not how this is used. Instead, the “Nobody can make you feel bad…” argument is generally wielded as a club to make it the victim’s fault when someone decided to be an asshole at them.

Yet hey! What about me? I’ve been on the Internets for years. I’ve received death threats. I’ve had hundreds of blog-entries devoted to what a jerk I am, entire forum-threads of vitriol. Some people loathe me personally, and they’ve never met me – and yet I’m still posting my opinions daily.

So as one of the most thick-skinned people I know, I clearly understand how nobody can make me feel bad without my permission, right? Otherwise I’d just be shivering in a closet.


What I know is that I can shut down those bad feelings that come when someone chucks a nastygram in my direction - but it takes me effort to do so.

I think of it as walking to the store. Under normal circumstances, I’ll get to where I’m going. But with the right insult, some asshole can drop a fifty-pound weight in my backpack. I’ll still get to the store, but thanks to their jerktasticness, it’s a fuck of a lot more effort.

And if I was low on energy that day? Or in a rush to get somewhere?

Lord, those insults can fuck up my day, whether I wanted them to or not.

And that’s not me saying that human interaction should be scrubbed of all potentially harmful content. Some people do get butthurt incredibly easily, and I think there’s a point at which you have to make the decision that this person’s rigid boundaries are going to hem in your speech to unacceptable levels, and blow them off.

(Some people don’t read me because they’re offended by my swearing. I support their right to unfriend me in order to protect their sanity, but stopping? Fuck that noise.)

But when you say, “Well, nobody can make you feel bad without your permission!”, that sets up a world where you have no responsibility for your speech. Were you digging for weak spots, mocking to make a point? Oh, hey, well, you were trying your damndest to make them feel bad, but if it worked it’s their fault for not having sufficient defenses. It’s not 100% correlation, but when I see “Nobody can make you feel bad!” I usually find a taunting dillweed nearby, taking potshots from the brush and then claiming no responsibility.

No. You may not be able to make someone feel bad, but you sure as fuck can make them burn strength they were planning to use for other projects that day. So speak carefully. Try to be kind. And don’t be a dick unless it’s your last choice.

It won’t hurt to be a little nicer, man. I promise.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

09:27 am - daf bit: Beitzah 17

(Today's daf is 18.)

On Shabbat the Amidah (central prayer of the service) has seven blessings, in contrast to weekdays when it has nineteen. On festivals, also, the Amidah has seven blessings. What if a festival falls on Shabbat? Beit Shammai says you pray eight blessings, inserting the festival blessing after the one for Shabbat. Beit Hillel, on the other hand, says you pray seven blessings, using the Shabbat text but inserting a reference to the festival in the middle of it. Rabbi says you should also end this blessing "...who sanctifies Shabbat, Israel, and the seasons". A tanna disputes the ordering in this last phrase, but the halacha follows Rabbi (and Hillel). (17a)


08:57 am - Prepping for Submission

I've dug my way through many submission policy pages, and now I think I know a few places to submit Tropacetic to. Now, after I'm done laying in edits (which I've been avoiding), I need to reformat properly, which is to say, like a profession. This is a skill that I need to know. After that, it's slapping together the paper and the envelope.

I'll be sending to a magazine that says "we don't get enough humor." I didn't write it for them, but I think it's a good match.

08:01 am - My tweets


09:25 am - QotD

Relatedly: "White shooter = mentally ill. Black shooter = criminal. Muslim shooter = terrorist. It's in the AP style book, I think." -- @billmon1, 2014-04-13

08:44 am - Poem

You meet her on the fringes of some tale,
Trade hasty courtesies, and hurry on,
(The mission you're engaged in must not fail)
And when you look for her, of course she's gone.
She comes and goes as lightly as a swan;
Her beauty haunts your dreams, serene and pale,
You can't forget her eyes, the way they shone,
And though the vision fades, it will not stale.

And then one day the story goes awry;
The train has left without you, and you stand
Confused and lost beneath a leaden sky
And that's the moment when she takes your hand.
She is the End of Stories, and the Cause,
And now you know the tale you're yours.

01:12 am - Eggs!

Thinking of debboamerik

12:10 am - I started a joke which started the whole world crying

Motor City Fur Con is one of the offspring of Furry Connection North, which surprised us all by ending its run last year; Great Lakes Fur Con was the other. Motor City has a pretty good claim to being a true successor convention: besides (I hear) a fair number of people on staff coming from FCN, the con started out in the same Novi-area hotel and aimed for a very similar atmosphere, which is to say alcohol provided for people on the sponsor level or higher. Despite the threads of continuity we didn't think to pre-register, probably out of uncertainty whether the first-year convention would be that well-organized, given our disappointment with Great Lakes.

So we expected to have to get up painfully early to get through the registration line and make opening ceremonies. A last-minute check of the schedule revealed we didn't have to get up painfully early, because opening ceremonies were set for 6 pm, even though the con had stuff running from about 1 pm. This was apparently because the hotel had another group (psychologists, which is the sort of thing to amuse furries) taking up the room that opening ceremonies would be in, but, I hope they keep opening ceremonies an early-evening event in the future. Whatever the logical flaws of having some panels and such before opening the timing worked great, and heck, they have Olympics events before the Opening Ceremonies, so, why not?

But the registration line was fearsomely long, winding around the largest meeting room the hotel had. Although they did have people going through the line with iPads taking registration information, this didn't seem to make the process any speedier. It's hard guessing just where the bottleneck was, but my suspicion is they didn't have enough credit card readers, and only the one con badge printer. The badges were handsome things, full-color plastic badges the width and heft of a credit card, instead of a sheet of paper in a fold of plastic, but it did make a choke point for getting people through the line. We'll be more careful about this in the future.

For the handsomeness of the badge, and the pretty sweet usefulness of the drinking glass with con logo (a tipsy jackalope) on it, the con information booklet was disappointing, since as far as we can tell there wasn't one. All there was were two-sided photocopies of the schedule, without explanation of what the panels were. Somewhere on the web site descriptions of the various panels were available, but bunny_hugger just knew this was going to kill attendance at her Letterboxing panel, since the title doesn't suggest much about what the panel's about, and yeah, her pessimism would be proved right. Maybe she needs to bill it as ``Hipster Geocaching'' in future.

Trivia: Within two years of Amerigo Vespucci's 1503 publication of Mundus Novus twelve different editions were printed in Germany alone. Christopher Columbus's 1493 letter announcing his discoveries had been printed once. Source: The Fourth Part Of The World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map that Gave America Its Name, Toby Lester.

Currently Reading: The Concepts and Logic of Classical Thermodynamics as a Theory of Heat Engines, C Truesdell, S Bharatha.

Apr. 16th, 2014

11:58 pm

Huh. The Finnish postal service is putting out tom of Finland commemorative stamps.


08:02 pm - I chose to grow strong

“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”

― Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe

09:09 pm - 20 Years Ago...

Twenty years ago today I was awakened by a 7:30am phone call from my mom informing me my grandmother had died of a heart attack the previous evening.

At the time, I was in a hotel room at the Regal Constellation just outside of Toronto, attending FilKONtario 4. I had been attracted by the opportunity to see Kathy Mar, who I'd previously met at ConFrancisco, and to meet for the first time several denizens of the Filk Category on GEnie's Science Fiction Round Table. With a chance to schedule a few days between the end of a long-term temporary desktop publishing job and the start of a permanent structural engineering position, I'd rounded up Sue Cochran, Steve Brinich and Bill Wells and driven north to the wilds of Mississauga. (With a sleepover at Eli Goldberg's house in Pittsburgh.)

So, having enjoyed a Friday afternoon and evening of introductions, fun and music, I now found myself turning to my new friends. In particular, MEW (who I'd actually met at the first Conterpoint) and Judith Hayman provided shoulders to cry on and advice on making the decision to stay, while folks like Urban Tapestry, Andrea Dale, and Dave Clement provided friendship and fine music to carry me through the weekend.

By the time Sue, Steve, Bill and I rolled back down the QEW on Sunday evening, FilKONtario and the Southern Ontario filkers had established themselves for me as the models of what a filk convention and filk community should be.

I've been back every year since. FilKONtario's one of the most eagerly anticipated cons on my schedule, and the list of memorable moments grows with every visit. (And then there was TorCon III...)

And in just over a week, I'll be joining friends both old and new for another weekend of fun, music and memories!

11:02 pm - Aubergine song

Most of my set last night wasn't quite this lewd, but this was the only song that got recorded!

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

04:09 pm - Bisexual Book Awards announces finalists

Go read the nominees. Look for the bolded one. I'll wait...

Originally posted by biwriters at Bisexual Book Awards announces finalists

IMG_2209 med

New York NY: The Bi Writers Association (BWA) announces the finalists for their Bisexual Book Awards today in six book categories and two additional categories: Publisher of the Year and Bi Writer of the Year. The awards are for books published in 2013.

Sixty books were nominated to our second Bisexual Book Awards. "We are thrilled that an unprecedented number of bisexual books were nominated this year. No book awards has ever seen 60 bisexual book submissions," says Sheela Lambert, Director of the Bi Writers Association. The previous record was held by the Lammy Awards, who received 33 nominations to their bisexual book categories in 2011.

Although this is only the second year of the Bisexual Book Awards, BWA has been working towards these same goals since our formation in 2006. "It’s our goal to increase awareness of bisexual books, to inspire authors to write more novels with bisexual characters, more non-fiction on bisexual topics, more openly bisexual memoirs, and to encourage more publishers to publish them. It’s working!" says Lambert.

Books were allowed to cross-nominate to multiple categories, if appropriate. But the general fiction category got so huge this year, any books also nominated to a genre fiction category, had to be removed. According to Lambert, "judges were complaining they had too many books to read. We were just not expecting this many books!"

A team of judges for each category has been working away for months to read and assess all the books and these are the finalists they have chosen. Winners will be announced at the Bisexual Book Awards Ceremony on May 31st, following Bi Lines VII, a reading and multi-arts celebration of bisexual writing, to be held in New York City. Check this blog for program details and updates.

Finalists for the Bisexual Book Awards:
(listed alphabetically by title)

Bisexual Fiction

  • The City of Devi by Manil Suri, W. W. Norton & Company

  • Corona by Bushra Rehman, Sibling Rivalry Press

  • Hild by Nicola Griffith, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

  • The Last Place She’d Look by Arlene Schindler, ExtravaGonzo

  • My Education by Susan Choi, Viking Adult

  • The Spirit of Detroit by Frank Anthony Polito, Woodward Avenue Books

  • The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt, Bloomsbury

Bisexual Non-fiction

  • Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond Gay and Straight edited by Charles “Zan” Christensen, Northwest Press

  • Barriers to Love: Embracing a Bisexual Identity by Marina Peralta with Penelope James, Barriers Press

  • The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television, Maria San Filippo, Indiana University Press

  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution, Shiri Eisner, Seal Press

  • Kissing Oscar Wilde: A Love Story In The City Of Light by Jade Sylvan, Write Bloody Publishing

Bisexual Speculative Fiction [Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror]

  • Coda by Emma Trevayne, Running Press Kids

  • The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell, Harcourt Children’s Books

  • Inheritance by Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

  • Love in The Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block, Henry Holt and Co.

  • Pantomime by Laura Lam, Strange Chemistry

  • The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj, Circlet Press

  • Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Arthur A. Levine Books

Bisexual Teen/Young Adult Fiction

  • Bi-Normal by M.G. Higgins (Gravel Road Series), Saddleback Educational Publishing

  • Inheritance by Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

  • Love in The Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block, Henry Holt and Co.

  • Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, Arthur A. Levine Books

  • Pantomime by Laura Lam, Strange Chemistry

  • The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Arthur A. Levine Books

Bisexual Biography/Memoir

  • Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond Gay and Straight edited by Charles “Zan” Christensen, Northwest Press

  • Barriers to Love: Embracing a Bisexual Identity by Marina Peralta with Penelope James, Barriers Press

  • The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler’s Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia, Alden Jones, Terrace Books/The University of Wisconsin Press

Bisexual Erotic Fiction/Erotica

  • The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella by Jean Roberta, Lethe Press

  • House of Sable Locks by Elizabeth Schechter, Circlet Press

  • Memoirs of a Gigolo Omnibus by Livia Ellis, Vol. 1-4, Riverdale Avenue Books/Desire

  • The Reunion by Adriana Kraft: B&B Publishing

  • Twice the Pleasure: Bisexual Women’s Erotica edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, Cleis Press

Special Awards:

Bisexual Book Publisher of the Year

  • Circlet Press

  • Riverdale Avenue Books

Bi Writer of the Year

  • Barriers to Love: Embracing a Bisexual Identity by Marina Peralta with Penelope James, Barriers Press

  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution, Shiri Eisner, Seal Press

  • The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella by Jean Roberta, Lethe Press

  • Memoirs of a Gigolo Omnibus by Livia Ellis, Vol. 1-4, Riverdale Avenue Books/Desire

  • The Soundtrack of My Life by Clive Davis with Anthony DeCurtis, Simon & Schuster

  • Twice the Pleasure: Bisexual Women’s Erotica edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, Cleis Press

  • A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz, Snubnose Press

08:42 pm - Please, if you can, don't wait for Amazon

I know that some people who want my books don't like buying from Lulu, and I understand why. Their shipping charges can be horrendous, and at least one person I know of did not get the book he ordered and paid for. (I sincerely hope they've improved since then.) It's for those people that I'm jumping through all the hoops to get my books on Amazon.

But I'm going to ask you, if you possibly can, to buy from Lulu.

The reason's simple. Once I've jumped through all the hoops, and each book has been proofed, approved, ISBNed and submitted to Amazon and the other places, they take eight weeks to decide whether they want to distribute the book. There is every chance they will say no. For whatever reason. Their decision is final, and there is no appeal.

And if they say yes, if they do distribute my book, then for every copy sold, instead of the two pounds or so I get from a copy sold through Lulu, I get...well, for Three And Two it's 15p. For Tetrad 20p, for Oonaverse 22p. I'm not marking up the prices for Amazon, because that would be silly. Not counting the proof copies I have to buy, I spend nothing but my time and energy on this, and if I have to rely on Amazon sales I'll still just barely do more than break even.

I'm not doing this for pin money. This is not our holiday fund. We don't have those. This, and, are my desperate attempt to use my abilities to help keep us financially afloat from week to week, month to month. They are certainly tremendous fun, and I love knowing that someone out there is reading my stuff, but there's also an imperative. I run out of money completely halfway through every month. Every month. This one is no exception.

So please, when you see me post about a new episode of the current story and I say "if you enjoy it, please donate," know that I'm not doing it to finance the next DVD. I'm doing it so that I can maybe pay the mortgage *and* eat, or put fuel in the car *and* have electricity to write the next bit with. So please, if you can, donate. And if you *don't* enjoy the story, for goodness sake *tell* me so I can make it better.

And if you can, please buy my books (and Jan's books) from Lulu. Because eight weeks away is a whole different month, and I am broke right now.

[personal profile] nancylebov suggests adding links to the books, which is an uncommonly good idea and the fact that I didn't think of it...well anyway: will take you to a page where you can see all the books we currently have out on Lulu. Of particular interest at the moment are Tetrad and Oonaverse, the two Dracul novels, and those who don't already have it might be interested in the new edition of Two Magicians, or the omnibus containing that book, the collection Three Windows, and an extra story, Three And Two. You can also find here the Chronicles of Mershane, by Janet M Warner, otherwise known as the Countess; her books are very different from mine, and the best one to start with is still Blood On Bookwalk.

And (or possibly or) the website with the Donate buttons, where The Overly Obnoxious OIK Operation is winding to its close and a new saga is soon to begin for the Two Magicians, is

Thank you for your patience.

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.

01:31 pm

Ars Technica digs through Steam profiles to pull out some truly fascinating statistics.

Like this one:
 photo stacked-hours-correct001_zps4bd99a3d.png

12:05 pm - My tweets

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10:30 am - If you know someone in the EPA, hug them!

(An expansion of a thought I'd put on a different thread on FB- There's nothing really timely about it, I was just following a link to some qvetching about some Environmental Regs)

Working for the EPA has got to be the most thankless job in the world. On the one hand, you've got clear and present environmental dangers that are actually harming people and ecosystems, and it's your job to do something about it. But Heaven forfend if you actually craft a sensible regulation that actually affects how people conduct their business, because then you're the Big Bad Government Man, denying people (and corporations) their "Costitutional Rights" to ignore the consequences of their bullshit. So you try to illuminate the truth with studies and science and now you're "Wasting taxpayers' money" (Again) proving what you already knew while fending off corporate pitbulls and conspiracists trying to block, undermine, and deny your efforts/results just to save their profits and/or delusions.

And on the other hand, you'll get whack jobs going after you about stuff that *isn't* harmful- and in an attempt to illuminate the truth you conduct a (yet another) study that proves (again) that (whatever) isn't harmful. And what happens? You're stuck between Scylla and Charybdis (AGAIN): "wasting taxpayers' money" proving what you knew already (AGAIN) while you fend off an onslaught of idiots accusing you of conspiracy because your lab results fail to back up their delusions.

So- If you work for the EPA, Hugs to You today.

09:42 am - The Novel Cupcakes

These are Novel Cupcakes.


Because I sold my first novel, Gini bought me a dozen cupcakes from my favorite cupcake store and we get to eat them one by one to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime achievement.

Only Gini gets to eat them with me.  Because I could not have done it without her.

And that’s what success tastes like.

You will hear of this no more; no cupcake reviews, no discussing what flavors each of those twelve delicious cupcakes turned out to be.

Because some things we do? They’re not meant to be shared with the Internet.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

09:20 am - I Don’t Feel Guilty About My Privilege. Here’s What I Do Feel.

Yesterday, I wrote about all the hidden privileges that allowed me to sell my first novel.  I still had to put in years of effort, don’t get me wrong, but I had a lot of advantages – being healthy, being financially stable, having the right support group – that let me close the deal when others might not have.

And several conservative friends of mine said something along the lines of, “Yeah, I have those advantages, but I don’t feel guilty about them.”

Which is strange.  I don’t feel guilty, either.  I’m not sure why they’d think I would feel guilty.

I feel a deep duty.

See, when confronted with the idea of privilege, my conservative friends invariably bristle and go, “Well, hard work counts for something.  Real people suck it up and triumph whatever the odds.” To which I inevitably think, “Yes, but is that an excuse to keep handing people shitty odds if we can do something to level the playing field?”

Yes, the human spirit is lovely and noble and inspiring.  But if we can do something to, say, ensure that black kids have an equal chance to white kids, so that both children putting in the same effort will have the same odds of success, why not do that?  Chronically ill people have it hard enough in life without further raining hell down upon them with bills and paperwork – why not try to fix that?

Why are we saying that people should triumph over the odds when we have the power to adjust the odds?

Note that I don’t feel responsible.  Some poor people are poor because they’re lazy, and to heck with them.  I’ve known some chronically ill people who used their illness as an excuse to shirk every responsibility.  I am not, despite how my words may be twisted, feeling any sense of need to save everybody.

But I feel that if people work hard and clever, that work should be rewarded as consistently as possible.  And the simplistic conservative equation of “You work hard, you win” is not borne out anywhere in nature.  There are plenty of people who work their asses off and, thanks to luck or circumstance, fail and fail hard.  Working hard is your best shot at success, but to reduce that to “Work hard and win” is like telling someone if they play the odds they’ll always beat the casinos.

No.  For some very hard-working people, the odds are tilted against them, handed many difficulties that I do not experience and may not even be aware of… and I feel strongly that if those people wish to work their ass off just the way that I did, they should be rewarded proportionately.  Some of those things I can’t fix; not everyone can stay at home programming, like I do.  Some people gotta load cargo.  But there are other factors, such as the way society reacts to me being white, or the lessons I learned about working smart that I got only because I was born into an upper-middle-class family, that I can attempt to patch up.

I don’t feel a goddamned scrap of guilt over my privilege, because what I got I also worked hard for.  Rather, I feel a duty to erase the challenges that I didn’t face, so that everyone has an equal shot at success.

And yes, that’s a battle that I can never win; there will always be inequalities popping up somewhere.  But that’s the nature of any good fight; you’ll never extinguish evil in all its forms, but that’s no reason to never try.  We keep fighting because it’s worth it, and tossing generations of people into the meatgrinder with a shrug of “Hard work will triumph!” is callous.

If you really respect hard work, you want everyone to benefit from it.  And to do that, try to ensure that effort pays off as frequently as it possibly can.

At least that’s how it is to me.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

09:25 am - QotD

"Speaking purely as a developer, I handle requests to add a 'gender' field the way I treat requests to add a 'race' field.
When anyone complains I'm being PC, I'll tell 'em that I'm too busy to add another 'if' statement, don't take it personally."
-- Reginald Braithwaite, 2014-04-13, two tweets -- clicking either should make both visible if you scroll up or down far enough. (Thanks to @tjathurman for retweeting this where I'd see it.)

01:49 am - Project 52

Click here for Week #15Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at

Current Mood: sleepysleepy

04:00 am - Orbital Mechanics

To be fair, my job at NASA was working on robots and didn't actually involve any orbital mechanics. The small positive slope over that period is because it turns out that if you hang around at NASA, you get in a lot of conversations about space.

12:10 am - A light shone in the night some way ahead

Our second convention for the year was Motor City Fur Con, so that should be the theme of relentlessly detailed entries for the next couple days. Before we could go to the con, though, we met up with bunny_hugger's parents so that they could take possession of our pet rabbit and the mouse we're holding in trust. We do that, either going down there or hosting them up here, for any multi-day trip like that and there's not usually much to say about that.

But, this time. Well, bunny_hugger has been talking about the pinball league and how much fun it is playing pinball and the social circles this has put her in. Her parents were curious about the nearby hipster bar where we play, so, after snacks and then dinner we went over there. We played a couple of games, including Medieval Madness and Tales of the Arabian Nights, which are usual pinball league games and here's the important thing: her father did pretty well. He beat me on Arabian Nights, too, which doesn't bode well considering that Arabian Nights is one of the machines we're supposed to play next league night.

It's easy to chalk that up to beginner's luck, but on Monday after the con we went back there --- eating at the bar for a wonder --- and he played very well again in multiple games of Lord of the Rings, Medieval Madness, and Arabian Nights. Is it just beginner's luck? He was doing a lot of that thing beginning players do, of hitting both flippers at once all the time. But he also beat both of us on at least one game apiece, and he'd have nothing to be embarrassed about on league night other than his wandering off after each ball thinking the game was over, and several times he managed to save a ball going between the flippers by hitting both flippers, making the ball hover in the doomed spot a moment, and then tapping the ball just enough to get it back to playable positions.

At this point we really can't rule out that her father is secretly a pinball sharp.

Trivia: Stephen Girard, financier during the War of 1812, endowed a school for orphans in Philadelphia in 1831. His relatives hired Daniel Webster to challenge the will on various grounds, including that Girard allowed for boys to be raised non-religiously. (Webster lost.) Source: Hershey: Milton S Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams, Michael D'Antonio.

Currently Reading: The Concepts and Logic of Classical Thermodynamics as a Theory of Heat Engines, C Truesdell, S Bharatha.

12:09 am - Eraserhood › Panorama 2048_blended_fused_pregamma_1_fattal_alpha_1_beta_0.9_saturation_1_noiseredux_

11th and Vine Streets

Philadelphia, PA

Copyright © 2012, Bob Bruhin. All rights reserved.

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Color Saturation: 1

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11:32 pm - The headache saga continues.

Yesterday I spent trying to get all my medical paperwork filled out, pulled together, and xeroxed. This was in preparation for seeing a new neurologist who specializes in headaches. Five pages of new-patient paperwork, my regular neurologist's report, my list of current meds, and the migraine history I wrote myself. I managed all but the last; my paper copy has gone walkabout and I didn't have time to search for it in the morass that is my computer files.

I saw the headache specialist today and I think it went pretty well. She reminded me of Gilda Radner but with an Italian accent. She has a couple of new ideas, including the wear-it-on-your-head device that the FDA just approved. I'll be starting two new medications, with the introductions separated by two weeks per Karl's and my scientific method. I am to take fewer painkillers, both OTC and prescription (that's the hard one!). I have a follow-up appointment at the end of May.

The crazy thing is that the most important step to improving my frequency and severity of headaches is getting Lydia on birth control pills. My worst headaches have always been the hormone-related ones (at ovulation and the days before my period); those lessened a bit as I entered menopause. Then Lydia's hormones kicked in and now I have hormone headaches on her schedule. She has them, too, and we've discussed the possibility before that her going on the continuous pill or one of the implants would help her, too. So there's another doctor visit coming up. Lydia has to see the gynecologist anyway because when she had her appendix removed last fall they spotted an ovarian cyst the size of a tennis ball. No worries because I've had them frequently and the surgeon said it looked fluid filled.

So now I embark on six weeks of adding new meds and building up dosages. One of the new meds might let me drop my sleeping pill. My insomnia is lifelong and intractable. I remember 50 years ago sitting at the top of the stairs because I couldn't sleep and I wasn't allowed downstairs after bedtime, listening to the "Tonight Show" opening music. I know that's when it was because we only had stairs in one house, the one in Maine where we lived while I was in first and second grade.

Off to bed to dream of headache-free days to come and other fantasies.

Current Mood: cautiously optomistic

09:10 pm - Going home for a visit

So Melissa and I are finally getting to make another trip back east; we have a small amount of unscheduled time, if anyone wants to try and meet up.

08:53 pm - [psych, MA] "King of the Whirras"?

MIT AG peeps: is there anyone in the house who can either point me to a canonical version of "The King of the Whirras" story, or who can tell it? I may be misspelling "whirras". This is from IIRC a game in 1988 (just before my time). Ideally a version which does not name the player it happened to (or really anybody in it).

This keeps coming up -- it is one of the most epic examples of a particular kind of logical mistake -- but I am weak on the details and haven't heard it in 25 years.

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12:42 am - Kitchen Chemistry

The new FutureLearn course started this week, just done this weeks, well, they emailed a list of supplies to do the experiments and I quietly watched videos and looked at the images of the experiments being done, I suspect the toaster hot air balloon one would end in disaster, but I'll do the teabag one tomorrow.

Not sure which is more interesting, learning the science, the clicky link to unlike and oddly named molecules including my fave ranasmurfin which is the toxin secreted by a bright blue Amazon rainforest frog (much more giggling at names possible at this link) or reading about other people's mishaps trying to do the kitchen experiments. Burnt plastic bags, coloured water everywhere, one homeschooled child having gone through an entire box of teabags because it was such a fun thing to do... yes, suspect this may prove the best part *g*

Next week we need a candle and bicarb amongst other things, must add them to the Tesco list.

Apr. 15th, 2014

07:06 pm - hi from snowy cleveland. Oh also Lumsfs vienna

two inches of snow today.

well seder was good and i have new questions i need to talk about at some point. and it was great to see Tylik today, and it would be nice if my foot were happier, and i'm not entirely sure what I think about Particle Fever, the documentary abotu the Large Hadron Collider and the Higgs particle, or more specifically some of the people involved in the journey. the glare on my glasses and the frigid theatre didnt help; suffice to say that it was 97 min and felt longer.

Oh also lumsfs vienna.


06:03 pm

05:41 pm - New term: Troupe

Having inspired a new programming coinage today, let's record it for posterity:

Troupe: a bunch of closely-related Actors in an Actor-based environment such as Akka or Erlang.
I needed a term for my documentation, now that a single Space is getting up to more than half a dozen *kinds* of Actors, and potentially several dozen actual ones -- there was nothing in the standard literature to refer to this collection, so I asked on akka-user. Credit to Daniel Armak for coming up with the great suggestion, based on an idea from Viktor Klang.

Yay for terminology that is appropriate, evocative, and not already being used for something...

10:00 pm - Efficiency?

I don't have a snappy Klingon quote for this one...Collapse )

02:19 am - The Four Players

I wrote this for Alarums and Excursions a few months ago but it seems appropriate to post it tonight.

The good player asks, "what are the rules and customs at this table?" To them, you must explain how the game works, both that which is written down and the rules of gaming etiquette and give them all the responsibilities they can handle and your game supports.

The simple player asks "what do I do next?" To them, you must explain only that which is necessary to plan their next move and begin roleplaying in earnest—If you confuse them with too many options, they might cease playing and/or think the rules are the game, rather than the platform for the game.

The wicked player asks,"what can I get away with?" By framing the game as a source of loopholes to abuse they subvert the purpose of the game and attempt to hurt everyone else's play in favor of their own fun, and you should teach them their error—or even exile them from the table—as soon as possible.

As for the player too shy to ask questions, you must treat them gently, but try to draw them into the game, asking them "what are you doing now?" and "what would you like to do next?" In so doing, you can allow them to develop into a productive player whether or not they give up their shell..

This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Comment there or comment here below.

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Current Location: Next Year, in Jerusalem
Current Mood: fullfull
Current Music: Something about a goat

02:51 pm - whirrrrrrrrrr

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01:34 pm - Quotes, Egon and Ray at Tenagra Edition

h/t to Squid on FB for the title idea

In the spirit of Rule 34, I believe there should be a Rule 35: ‘For every existing system, there is at least one group gaming it.
-- Anne Laurie, Balloon Juice, comments

Actions stink higher than false words.
-- Cole, Alicublog, comments

All of these songs were part of a huge scientific project to which I have devoted my entire life. Namely, the attempt to prolong adolescence beyond all previous limits.
-- Tom Lehrer, quoted in "Looking for Tom Lehrer, Comedy's Mysterious Genius," BuzzReads

I am a reservoir of useless information, just dont ask me to do the dishes
-- fibergurl, Pandagon, comments

If you search out the women’s contributions included in those curious compendia, called ‘one hundred great speeches of history’ and the like, you’ll find that most of the female highlights from Emmeline Pankhurst to Hillary Clinton’s address to the UN conference on women in Beijing are about the lot of women. So too is probably the most popularly anthologised example of female oratory of all, the 1851 ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ speech of Sojourner Truth, ex-slave, abolitionist and American campaigner for women’s rights. ‘And ain’t I a woman?’ she is supposed to have said. ... The authorised version was written up a decade or so after Sojourner Truth said whatever she said – and that is when the now famous refrain, which she certainly did not say, was inserted, while at the same time her words as a whole were translated into a Southern drawl, to match the abolitionist message, even though she came from the North and had been brought up speaking Dutch.
-- Mary Beard, "The Public Voice of Women," London Review of Books Online

Walter, his fruit basket unreceived.Collapse )

Current Location: theoretically working
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
Current Music: none

12:42 pm - Is there a Gnostic in the house?

Or a student of Gnosticism? Preferably one who's seen the movie Noah.

Here's a review of the movie which claims it has a tremendous amount of Gnostic/Kababalistic symbolism: bodies are inferior to being pure spirit, the snake was right, God the creator is bad....

And some ranting about how Christian pastors and leaders couldn't tell how heretical it all was.

Anyone know whether this is a reasonably fair interpretation of the movie?

This entry was posted at Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

12:05 pm - My tweets

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12:04 pm - Transition Season

Yesterday the sun came out and there was no shade from the trees, so I had to tour the shadows. I started to sweat and began to mourn for the end of the winter. I came home with no energy, and a distict ache across my lower belly from the grocery run. Today it's cool with periods of rain, and the possibility of snow tonight. I feel so much better.

On my homeworld, this kind of weather would last for a couple of years at a time, then it would turn warm for another year or so, more like late May, or early June. It seldom got warmer than that unless you lived in the deserts.

I do not look forward to the Hot Season.

This work was Produced Under The Influence To Influence Others Positively (PUTITIOP). Not included with the Premium Package.

11:32 am - Top 10 Reasons not to buy Google Glass


10:00 am - Do You Want To Dance?

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

It gets hot in Southern Spain in the summer. Although was it any hotter than most of the other places I’d lived? Maybe a little. It was regularly above ninety degrees. The apartment had air conditioners set in the walls next to the windows, but only in the bedrooms.

Not sure that’s really why I moved into Orlando’s room with him, though.

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

09:59 am - Rain

After a warm day yesterday, it was a dump of rain today. The only difference between this and a blizzard is that it isn't March.

WIP (work in progress) has reached 20k words. I'm now into the middle of the story. I'm starting to feel how its going to turn the main character right about now, getting her to a new place.

09:44 am - If It’s Not Privilege, Then What Is It?: On Writer Privilege

So yesterday, after twenty-four years of struggle, I sold a novel.  (Read about it here, pre-order it here, if you like.)

Let’s be honest: That took perseverance.  I wrote for hours a day, writing on vacation, writing on my birthday, writing when I was recovering from heart surgery.  I went to critique groups to get better feedback.  I networked online so I could find better people to give me feedback.  Out of any given day, you can point to at least an hour and say, “Ferrett put in his 10,000 hours.”


* I was lucky enough to be healthy, so I didn’t have to deal with days torpedoed by chronic pain issues or going to doctors or filling prescriptions.

* I was lucky enough to have a sedentary, work-at-home job.  Yes, some of that’s career choice, but I went to college for seven years on scholarships and my parents’ dime, and they were rich enough to buy a PC back when they were super-expensive so I got familiarized with computers about ten years before the curve.  I happened to be born male, so people just sort of assumed I could be good at computers.  Now, I work hard at being a programmer – but there’s also a lot in my background that enabled this career choice.  If I had to work an hour away lugging crates at a warehouse, my writing time would be cut into by exhaustion and commutes, rendering me less productive.

* I was lucky enough to be wealthy enough to go to the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop after I got accepted, which costs thousands of dollars.   (As witness this less-fortunate soul raising the bare-bones $3,600 it’ll take him to attend this year.)  It cost me probably $4,500 after all was said and done, and that’s a lot of change to just plunk down.  (Viable Paradise is less expensive, as it’s shorter, but that’s still $1,100 plus travel.)

* I was lucky enough to have a good enough job that they gave me the leave to go away for six weeks, though I was so hot to trot that I would have quit if I’d had to.  Thankfully, they were gracious as they usually are.  Thankfully, I had the financial cushion to be able to walk away if I needed to, and a family supportive enough to deal with my absence for six weeks.

* I was lucky enough to have friends who told me about things like Clarion, and conventions, and what to expect from publishers.  I didn’t go hunting for writer-friends; I happened to have a few who I ran across in town.  If it wasn’t for a friend telling me about Clarion that year, I wouldn’t have heard of it, and you wouldn’t have heard of me.

* I was lucky enough to have wise parents who modeled secure, sane marriages for me, so when I found my wife – who has been wise, supportive, and a stanchion of my writing career – I was smart enough to not destroy the relationship.

Now, none of those gifts take away from my tremendous drive.  And they don’t mention things like, say, my chronic depression, which does in fact take away from my production time.  But those are all advantages that were, in some fundamental way, given to me.  Yeah, I had to work efficiently to keep my job, and yeah I had to be lovable enough to keep my friends, and yeah, I had to be talented enough to get to spend all that money on Clarion – but in all those issues, I had a huge boost from forces beyond my choosing.

It was hard enough getting this damn novel sold.

It would have been even harder if just a few circumstances had changed in my life.  Maybe impossible.  If I’d had young children and a wife with a job at 7-11, going to Clarion probably wouldn’t have happened.  If I’d been incapacitated by chronic back pain for three hours a day, my writing time would have been affected.  If I’d run with a different set of friends, that whole “Clarion” thing – the event that restarted my career – would have zipped on by.

I call those privileges.

And Brad Torgersen (he of the other first novel happydance) said that in the military, privileges are things you earn.  Which may be true.  But I don’t know a better word for those quiet advantages.  “Gifts” don’t seem right, because frankly, me walking around healthy isn’t really a gift, it’s just something I feel most people oughtta have in a sane world.

But whatever you call them, I acknowledge them.  Yes, I worked hard to break through.  Super-hard.  But despite all that effort I put in, it could have been harder.  And writing is such a challenge to get write, requiring such focus to hone, that I don’t think it’s a surprise that a lot of writers are white males who come from middle- to upper-class homes. They’ve got a whole societal structure geared around supporting them.

And again!  Like me, that doesn’t denigrate their effort.  There’s a zillion middle-class white guys, and the majority of them suck at writing because they either don’t care or didn’t put their time into the craft.  Anyone who hauls their ass across this finish line has done something significant.  But there are others who had additional hurdles in front of them on that track, and I think it’s intellectually dishonest to wave that aside.

I guess that’s why privilege is such a difficult concept to express: it feels contradictory, on some level.  It’s You did do something really difficult, but it could have been harder.  And nobody wants to hear that they had it easier than others… particularly when they fail.  Particularly when “privilege” is not a singular power-up that magically erases all difficulty, but a bunch of small factors that can often cascade into greater things.  Particularly when some people only have certain privileges (a decent income, good physical health) but lack others (like my depressive fugue-states chipping away at my mental health).

But that doesn’t erase the concept.  And when I look at my achievement?  I’m happy.  I wanted to publish a damn novel, and now I will have, and I put in my 10,000 hours to get here hard-core.

Yet when I look at society and all the things I’d like to fix, there’s a bunch of people who never got what I did.  I’d like to give it to them, if I can, or just plain make coping with those issues easier.  And I refuse to erase that reality by claiming I’m a self-made man or somesuch.

I had a lot of help.  I had a lot of advantages.  I did a lot of fucking work.

Those concepts are not mutually exclusive.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

08:30 am - Lying With Statistics 101:

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08:10 am - Hoverpony will SAAAAVE tumbling hoverhuman.

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"Just grab the rope and we can go back to WHIRRRRR!"

08:08 am - The importance of spelling.

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07:55 am - LlamallamallamallamaBATMAN!

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09:25 am - QotD

"Late last night, I found myself looking at the Passover Hagadah. 'In every generation,' the text says, 'there are those who would rise to destroy us.' This week, at seders around the world, those words will have extra resonance because they are so obviously still true. They were true before the Klan or Nazis. They are true now, even in cosmopolitan, liberal cities like London and Paris where anti-Semitism is couched in the language of Anti-Zionism. They are true even in my beloved America, in the city that both my grandfathers called home." -- Hampton Stevens, 2014-04-14, writing about the shootings in Kansas on Sunday

02:03 am - Public Poetry In Boston

On the Green Line and about Government Center:

Hooray for National Poetry Month!

Current Mood: hopefulhopeful

12:10 am - No one can succeed like Doctor Robert

And, what the heck, taxes. We did them a couple weekends ago, when we felt there wasn't quite enough stress weighing us down, so this is kind of old news but it's thematically appropriate to the day, I guess.

The stressfulness of it was mostly my doing. Part of it's passive: since I technically work in New Jersey we have to file two-state returns and states really, really don't like people filing two-state returns. Worse, the New Jersey bill came out higher than we expected, which forced us to several rounds of self-doubt because we couldn't figure whether the tax software we were using was just doing it wrong or because who even knows. But the amount seemed to be roughly compatible 2012's figures, and I tried a couple online tax calculators with rough estimates of our income and whatnot and they came out in about the same area so I guess that's just right is all.

So while we were getting refunds from the federal government and the state of Michigan, we owed to New Jersey, which is an annoying state of affairs. This led me to calling work to figure out whether my New Jersey withholding was being done at the wrong rate and to the discovery about the de facto office manager having left. (It can't have been voluntary, she'd surely have sent farewell e-mails, right?)

The other stressful thing is that I have a couple little investment accounts and the tax software wanted details on the transactions done for those. I'd been relying on a kind of Maxwell's Demon form of investing: buy stuff, wait for it to either appreciate by a certain amount or for a long enough time, and sell and take the profit (and hold if it's at a loss), which has treated me tolerably well, but means there was way too much stuff to enter considering how many of these involved capital gains of literally several dollars. I suspect if I were filing by myself I'd just skip it and let the IRS come after me if they cared (actually, I'd just make a rough estimate and reduce it to a couple purchases-and-sales to record), but bunny_hugger is careful about doing this stuff exactly right, at the cost of turning what by rights should be a fairly short project into a much longer, more tedious one. I'm embarrassed to have done that to her.

Trivia: IBM's revenues declined to $17.6 million in 1933. They rose, with considerable help from Social Security and other agency needs, to $31.7 million by 1937, and $45.3 million in 1940. Source: Before The Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand, and the Industry They Created, 1865 - 1956, James W Cortada.

Currently Reading: The Concepts and Logic of Classical Thermodynamics as a Theory of Heat Engines, C Truesdell, S Bharatha.

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