Thoughtdump 14Jan

Posted on January 14th, 2010 in braindump

Marking/Mapping internet territory: Delicious links for the day auto-posted at midnight. Twitter/RSS auto-posts. Linkblogging. Geotagging. Picture tumblelogging (with credits, preferably).  “I went to this site, found these things, made a couple of notes/hobotags/signposts for future travelers, moved on.”  In this way we map the massive online space for our own benefit (to retrace our steps, to remember which houses had nice people and not mean dogs), bring home souvenirs (pictures, postcards, business cards), and point our fellow travelers to safe-but-interesting routes (in theory).  Of course, sometimes it’s really “I took a picture of the best part of this destination to save you the trouble of ever having to go yourself.”  (A concept that’d be a bit sketch in the real world, but fairly common online.)

Interspersed between other (more “destination in its own right”) content, those are interesting and often useful opinions.  As a “for myself but maybe useful for others” dedicated online notebook, those may also serve a solid purpose.  If you are an internet trailblazer looking to build a Frommer’s (with the audience to go with it)… then you’re in a very crowded market but best of luck to you.  But as a way to fill space – i.e. if you never read your archives, and no one else does, either – it’s the internet equivalent of scrawling Killroy Was Here in the sand at the beach.

Some five to seven minutes later:

Posted on January 13th, 2010 in braindump

Louise M has never read the book, but clearly recalls Carol Blymire having written a blog post about it.

Simultaneously, Cherie Priest has a vague memory of having seen it in a bookstore and with a more carefully constructed google search string, arrives at the same blog post.

“Piping Hot”

Piping Hot

Posted on January 13th, 2010 in braindump

All right, let’s see if this works:  I’m going to call upon the interactive memory of the Internet Collective to identify, not a classic video game or 80s jingle, but an old and probably inconsequential book.  Because it’s an interesting game, is what.  Come on, I can’t be all helpful DIY ideas and commentary all the time.

So: I’m thinking about what to have for lunch today, when I suddenly have one of those Polaroid memories that’s so incredibly fucking crystal clear in the middle, and all faded at the edges, and abruptly stops after three inches.  I can recall (in fact, for a moment there I can’t NOT recall) with perfect clarity, a single page of a book I read (probably owned) when I had to have been barely five or six years old.

It’s a children’s book, probably, because the page I’m remembering has an illustration to go with the handful of words I remember: Lunch, a fried chicken leg, and a thermos of piping hot tomato soup. “Piping hot” is particularly clear, and that’s how I can gauge about how old I must have been and that I probably owned the book – the word “piping” has that extra brightness that accompanies my recollections of my first encounters with certain words, where I not only learned what they looked like, but had to decipher their meaning from context.

So it’s a book about… something… and somewhere in there a girl sits down to have a packed lunch of a fried chicken leg and a thermos of piping hot tomato soup.

I only remember it’s a girl having the lunch because of the accompanying picture:  a nuclear-era black and white line illustration of the girl sitting with a checkered napkin spread neatly in her lap, her impossibly tiny ankles crossed beneath her, primly holding a chicken leg the proportional size of a turkey’s, eyes closed as she takes a single, delicate bite.  I want to say that she’s in school or at the park, but I can feel that’s a more fuzzy idea that may well be imagination or an amalgamation of children’s books trying to fill in a synaptic blank.  I think she might have short, curly hair, but the focus of the memory is too tightly trained on the chicken leg, and it could just as well be a ponytail.  But there’s some tiny nag of something that’s saying “short, perfectly curled hair” was a relevant plot point.

And that’s it.  That’s all I’ve got.  A snapshot of a single page in a single moment of my childhood shaking free some many, many years later as I think about what to have for lunch.  Which is, as you may have guessed, probably going to be fried chicken and tomato soup.

Zzzt crackle hsssss

Posted on January 11th, 2010 in braindump, making things, outbound links

I know, it’s gone a bit quiet over here.  Some of that’s just your normal gearing back up for the new year – everyone’s back to work, things are getting a little busier, there’s a little rush of jobs need clearing out of my inbox, etc.

Some of that’s me having started on some New Ideas that aren’t yet to a point where I have anything to show, yet.  I’ve dropped a few hints here and there about my thought processes lately, and readers of Warren’s site will have seen the day I dropped him five very long emails in a row (I’m scheming!) – I’m just at the point in that process where anything I have to say is going to be pages and pages and pages of theory and braindump… and some of you might not mind trying to unravel all of that, sure – but I haven’t the time to do it and to write it all down.

But! It’s Monday, and IEU is  over our holiday hiatus, so we’re back with a new TOTW!

 

Not a bad way to start the day, that.

Greater than the sum of its crap

Posted on January 3rd, 2010 in braindump, outbound links

Every year, Kieron Gillen does up his personal Top 40 of the previous year, and they’re always fantastic.  Music is something that I listen to, but I never think too much about it past “well, that was blah” or “oh yes, that’s going on repeat.” So I find Kieron’s yearly lists an excellent read not because they’re in-depth reviews or beat-by-chord analyses, but because they’re bite-sized little queries: “Did you hear this song?  But did you hear this?”

I also almost never agree with his rankings. But that’s really not the point at all, because it’s not my top 40 list. It’s a glimpse at how one of my friends (and one who’s a bit more invested in and attentive to the why and how of music than I am) heard the world in the previous year.  And that’s always fun to read, so you should go look, too.

That’s the first music wrap-up I look forward to every year.  The second one is the yearly pop mash-up.  I unapologetically love that every year, several people take the top 20/25/40 charts and smoosh them all into one big “this is what last year sounded like” track.  And this one, from DJ Earworm, is probably the best I’ve seen yet:

That’s the amalgamated poptimism of 2009, right there, isn’t it? Almost every single one of those songs on their own were cheesy little party balls from a crap year for the economy and fun and a whole mess of other things – bubbly little ditties crafted for maximum earworm value and escapism.  But add them all up and they sound all right, don’t they?  They’re still cheesy, they’re still a poppy little earworm that’s far happier than anyone really was last year… but listen, isn’t that the sort of get back up and keep dancing sound you want to take from last year to move you into this one?

It certainly sounds good to me – a ribbon of shiny all rightness pulled off the box of meh that was 2009. It’s a bit of a lie, but it’s one I whole-heartedly endorse on a regular basis: keep the good, file the crap under “lessons learned” – and make something else. But, like I said, music is just something I listen to.  I leave it to the smarter folks to write about the rest. I just like having something nice on to keep me company while I work.

Twennyten

Posted on January 1st, 2010 in braindump, making things

Hello, New Year. There’s so many lovely metaphors for you: you’re like the first page of a fresh empty notebook, the first brush-stroke on a newly-stretched canvas, an empty plot of land just tilled for a new crop, the first needle-loop of a new skein of yarn, and all the other sorts of things you can start with old tools and known skills and a bit of something new to use them on.

Which is the sane way of stating what the cynics in the room (which I’m only ever accused of being when people don’t like my jokes, haha) will have said at midnight:  It is, after all, just the day after last year.

Optimists and pessimists and soon-to-be pessimistic optimists are all flippity flopping about how 2010 will be better or worse or just the same as 2009.  Of course, from where I’m sitting, it’s already better: today’s weather is just a touch warmer than yesterday’s, a little bit of nagging elbow pain faded overnight with some ibuprofen (and that same pressure change that brought the weather, likely), and people have started saying “twenty” instead of “two thousand” – so that’s three points to 2010, just in my first ten hours of it.

But, yes, of course – there are bound to be colder days again, this elbow is a chronic condition, and some people will I’m sure, continue to say “two thousand” for as long as we’re in it.  You pessimists and already-broke-your-resolution-and-so-shortly-joining-them optimists can stop reading now, warm in the assurance that my 2010 may look better but it certainly can’t last.

Silly kids.

Everyone that’s still here, lemme start with the good news: 2010 is going to be better than 2009.  Honestly.  This is based not on some vague feeling or gambler’s fallacy, but on absolute fact: lately I’ve only been on about one thing – making things, and how, and just get ‘er done – and if you’re still here reading me, it’s because that’s what you want to do.  And if that’s what you’ve decided to do, then 2010 can’t help but be better than last year, when you didn’t.  Can (and will) things go wrong?  Yeah.  They can.  And will.  I’m not going to lie to you. And that possi-probability for disaster is the bad news, sure.  But that’s no worse than it’s ever been, so there’s really no need to dwell on that.  All you need remember is that this is the year you decided to Do More Stuff, and so loong as you don’t sabotage yourself, there’s no reason why you won’t.

Eventually.  But very probably this year.  Barring that self-sabotage thing.

Take a look at this pretty little site I found this morning: My Someday. It’s yet another to-do/goal/planning network amongst the gajillion others already online.  I’m not endorsing this particular site over any of the other apps/widgets/sites/etc that already do much the same thing, I just liked the timing of it (it is a rather New Year’s sort of site, innit?)… and it reminded me of something that’s a good thing to remember any time, but especially on January First, while we’re thinking about it.  A little copy paste from the site:

For each Someday, we’ll show you related step-by-step Plans for achievement. You can copy and customize a Plan or build your own.

[. . .]

Help others by posting a Plan with the steps you used to achieve your Someday.

There you go.  Don’t forget those bits, yeah?  I’m not saying sign up for yet another site (although if it floats your boat, then go right ahead. I can already see little mini-nets piggybacking on the service), what I’m saying is that achieving, making, doing anything does require some sort of plan.  And it needn’t actually be that detailed – god knows I make shit up all the time – but parceling your plan into easily managed (and swappable/changeable when necessary) modules never hurts.

And that second part is what I do here, sometimes, and what I always like seeing from other people: there is, again, no harm in lending a hand to other folks that want to make things, too.  There are very few actual trade secrets, in any trade. More often there are just folks that are terrified that if they tell someone how to install a word-processing program, those other folks will finish their books, first.  Which is a ridiculous and, worse, lonely way to work.  It’s worth noting that when you make friends by helping them learn how to do their things, you’re not usually making competitors – you’re making a network of folks that may very well be your first customers, sure, but will certainly be your first supporters.  And that second bit, support, is something you’re not going to succeed without, period.

Of course, don’t give yourself away completely – unless your goal is to become an advice columnist, you can’t spend all your time giving advice.  But there’s a lot to be said, as you all start your new years and your new projects (well, for some of you, that might come after your new hangover, sure, but you know what I mean), about how you’re going to exchange information in 2010.  If you’ve got things you’re going to need to learn how to do to get your thing done, chances are other folks do, too.  It won’t hurt for you to ask, and it won’t hurt for you to offer, either. 

That little segue done, let’s circle back to the start of this post: I can’t honestly say how the year’s going to play out all across the board, but I feel pretty good about mine, and I’ve got a hunch yours is going to turn out all right, too. 

So welcome along in 2010, thank you for reading, and let’s see how it goes, shall we?

A Decade in Review. Hahaha sort of.

Posted on December 22nd, 2009 in braindump

Oh hell I may as well do one too, right?

If I must use a cute double-entendre nickname for the decade, I think I’d pick “the oughties” over “the naughties,” personally.  Because there wasn’t anything particularly mischievous or indecent about the decade, not really.  I cannot, no more than any other ten years, call ‘00-‘09 a Naughty time in the world.  I mean, sure, there was some naughtiness, I suppose – and far more of the childish than of the sexy variety – but really?  Not the defining adjective of the past ten years.

But “Oughties” – now that fits. The archaic spelling of aught gives us “zero” for years and “anything” for the possibilities, but the current and commonly-used definition of ought give us precisely what, for the most part, became the favorite auxiliary verb of the decade: “We really ought to do X.”

We really ought to have done a lot.

And we did do quite a bit, in fairness.  There’s good, bad, and ugly lists showing up all over the magic of the internets right now – I don’t need to give you my personal list of favorites or worsts when you can just type the word “decade” into Google’s  blog search and get some 20 million hits, half of which are probably top-and-bottom ten lists.  But for me (and for many people I know, and for many more I’ve only just met), in between all the stuff you’d really have to have done in ten long years to keep from falling over with an atrophied body and brain, the last ten years really were just the longest making of a To Do List in memory.

Which I think is probably all right, so long as we’re done with the pre-flight and cabin prep, and ready to do some actual taking off in 2010.  (Oh, go ahead and groan at that metaphor, yes. I know it’s awful. But I do like flying.)  Some folks have already started.  Over on Whitechapel they’ve axed the word resolution in favor of the (slightly) less passive manifesto.  It’s still all talk, mind you, and I think I would have preferred map or schematic, but it’s a thing of heavier intent, perhaps, and I’m happy to see that.

But I think part of the reason we soft-launched the new century is that we all spent a bit too much of the first ten years bitching about the previous hundred years, and talking about how much better we ought to be able to do, now.  Funny thing about bitching, though, is it takes an awful lot of time and energy to work up a really good scathing commentary, and often there’s very little left to do anything better at the end of it. (Which is why there are plenty of people who make their livings doing absolutely nothing but saying mean things about other peoples’ work…  but god help them if they ever run out of things to trash because I just don’t know if they can do anything else.)  So, I mean, yeah: go ahead and get a little bit of OHMYGOD2000-09SUUUUCKED out of your system, sure.  Just don’t spend the next ten years still whining about how much you ought to have done, right?

Because every year the temptation is to tally up the wins and losses of the previous, and be unrealistically pessimistic or optimistic about the next – and that’s probably a little worse at the turns of the decades.  And a little bit of that is healthy purging… but too much of that and you’re just doing it all over again.  And with my love of lists, charts, and graphs, I’m as guilty as anyone. But this year, as much as some of it has suuuuucked, I really have found myself pulling up into something better, here at the end.  I could stop and try to figure out where I’m going, next, but I think I’d rather just roll with the momentum for a while, you know?

If all goes well – and I’ve every intention of all going well, so let’s see how that works out – when 2019 rolls around I shouldn’t have to tell you how my decade went.  I’ll have shown you by the things I’ve done, and I honestly hope you’ll have done the same.  A little bit of Getting Stuff Done in 2010, a little more in 2011, narrowly dodging the end of the world in 2012 and getting more done in 2013, and right on out and up.  I’m not planning for any singular moments of greatness that’ll break my heart and set me back if they don’t happen on schedule… just a steady series of more small successes than epic failures.

It’s about time, innit?

What about you?  Don’t make me bust out my standing-ready puns for the next decade – like: The Road To Hell Was Paved With Good InTENtions; or: the Untenable Tens – because nobody wants that.  Nobody.  Just gimme a decade I can’t sum up with any one word or phrase, because we’ll all have done so much more than that.  Just one sure step at a time.

And that, I think, is me signing off for the year, dear internets.  A little bit of maintenance, holidays, cleaning, and inventory.  Have a happy whatever you’re doing, and I’ll see you next year or in a couple of weeks, whichever comes first.

Empty walls and xmas money

Posted on December 17th, 2009 in braindump, making things

(EDIT:  Much of this post refers to an Imagekind Store that’s no longer active.  You can read about my Imagekind thoughts, here.  Suffice to say, I couldn’t find a single reason not to move the image to a Cafepress store — I even found a comparable print size for close to the same price — and now, what the hell, I can offer mugs, too! )

The Venn diagram of Art and Science – the actual image of a circle with nothing outside the overlap – came to me before the rest of the post.  While I was setting the type and measuring out the negative space in photoshop, I was talking through the rest of the conversation in my head.  I do that fairly often, actually – while I’m fiddling with a visual I’m thinking through the conversation, and vice versa.  And I thought it turned out simple and pretty enough that I’ll likely use it as a header when I revisit the idea a little later on.  I’ve gotten such positive feedback – and some really great follow-up questions – that I don’t think I’m done talking about it.

But I was most surprised when @jdaysy on twitter asked if I’d offer a print of the image, because she’d already printed out a low-res version to tack up on the wall.

Because, okay, that’s really just neat, isn’t it?  It’s one thing to think to myself this could be a conversation piece, because if I’m just absolutely wrong, well, it’s just a moment online.  It’s something completely different and wonderful when someone else – someone I didn’t even know until twitter linked us up – says “hey, this is something I’d like to have as a conversation piece in the real world.”

But my first answer was: No, I hadn’t really thought about it – because I don’t really have a set-up to offer prints, and mailing things out seems like something I don’t really want to work into my already busy schedule, and who knows if enough people would want a copy to justify a print run and…

And then I remembered that I’ve been on about POD for months now, and I even spent some time last month trying to convince a very good artist on twitter that he should be offering prints off his portfolio because there’s no real risk involved if you go with something like Imagekind (a Cafepress company).  And I’d even been meaning to get a crack at the seller side of the service for possible upcoming projects of the Mad Science variety (and so I could write about it for the visual artists that read along over here).

And just to give me that extra little kick in the pants, I got another little flurry of links and positive feedback when @jennybmurphy passed the link to the post on to @badastronomer (thank you both!) and several people said nice things about the post – but a few people linked the image.

So, okay, yes.  Absolutely.  The idea of having my simple little print tacked up above easels and lab tables and computers and whatever else – maybe perpetuating the conversation out into the world – that’s so nifty I just can’t say no.  Especially when all the work left on my end – since I already had a .psd on my desktop – was scaling the image up to print resolution and uploading it to an Imagekind account.

So, it may not make it in time for the holidays, since we’re at the tail end of shipping deadlines, but if you’ve got a little extra xmas money kicking around and you want a high quality print in whatever workspace you’ve got, I would be absolutely thrilled if you want one of these:

Either later today or tomorrow (we’ll see what my schedule allows), I’m going to do a write up on using Imagekind for those of you that want to make prints of your own.  Most of my POD talking lately has been books and tees (and mugs, etc), and I know there are a few of you that work at finer resolutions than Cafepress or Lulu (black and white) are good for, or that don’t have enough photos, for instance, to do a full photobook on Lulu or magazine through Magcloud, but would be interested in offering prints – so I’m happy that I might have some useful tools for you, too.

But while I’m working on that, I’d love it if you’d link and twitter this around for me a bit, and thank you in advance.  I’d also really like if the photographers and artists start thinking about what prints you’d like to offer, if you don’t already – because how brilliant will it be if I help more people make pretty things that I can put on my walls?  I’ve got this print right around the $15 range for the three small-to-medium sizes just because I really do just want to get them out there (I’m serious!  Send me pictures of it up in your workspace if you get one! I’m totally linking every shot I get, here.), and there are greeting cards for $3.99 if you want to put one in a picture frame on your desk on the very cheap.  But I do think $20-$30 would be more than fair for your photographs or fine art prints, so that’s something for you to start thinking about, yeah? 2010 wants to see your work out in the world, too.

Thank you!

It’s the most [. . .] time of the year.

Posted on December 12th, 2009 in braindump

Even though I don’t really do any holiday-specific holidaying in December, I still end up dropping my online time like whoa for the last few weeks of the month.  For one thing, almost everyone else does some holidaying – so there’s printer deadlines to be met, last-minute scrabbling to get caught up with people going offline (or out of the city), even (and there have, ack, been a couple years I for got this one) making sure I’ve got supplies to last me through the stores closing and bills paid before the offices close.  So all of that adds up quickly to my being busier than I necessarily should be.

And then there’s the blanket of quiet that covers everything when you all duck offline and leave me to my workshop and my thoughts. I imagine that part’s a little like Santa’s Chief Toymaker feels on the 25th, when everyone’s off celebrating another year down, and he – or she?  Probably she, now that I think about it – has the whole factory to herself, for a bit.

(And suddenly, the way memories work, I’ve a crystal-clear recollection of one quiet day around a holiday or a weekend, when my grandfather and I stopped into the cavernously empty glass-and-metal-making factory he ran for a living.  Just miles and miles of building materials waiting to be built, all lined up quietly and echoing every thought a hundredfold.)

The blinding chill of the past week finally broke this morning when a lid of clouds rolled in and covered my little edge of the world.  It’s drizzling just a bit outside, and the light’s still dim, and the only sound is the roar of the ocean and and patter of drips off the overhang.  I’ve got four dayjob deadlines and a TOTW needs wrapping for Monday, but right this very second it might as well be Christmas day.  I’ve got a hot cup of coffee working its way into my bloodstream, and any moment now it’ll kick me into first gear, but right now I’m just smoking and caffeinating and idling with my thoughts for a minute.

Posting will likely be a little spotty for the next few weeks, here – I’ve got some more POD bits percolating that may or may not be finished soon, but they may trickle in semi-continuously in between projects or they may flood out after the new year.  Today I’m just going to get my Happy Holidays wishes in to those of you that celebrate whatever and are shutting down your machines now or soonest, and my Best of Luck wishes in to those of you that will be, like me, taking the quiet time to Get Stuff Done.

I’ll be around on Whitechapel and Twitter (and, like I said, maybe even here) if you feel like saying hello. And I’ll definitely be here Monday, because I really can’t wait to show you just how mad the next TOTW is. Oh yes really.

The Venn Diagram of Art and Science

Posted on December 7th, 2009 in braindump


(If the above image makes perfect sense to you, you can go ahead and stop reading, because the rest of this post is just going to be me ranting a bit to the people that don’t get what the hell we’re talking about.)

Yesterday, I meant to just post a link over to the ever-excellent I Love Typography blog to answer a FAQ about book layout. And then I accidentally veered off into the start of an unintentional tangent about Art versus Science, because, really, that’s a “debate” that pushes about twenty of my buttons. No apologies for those scare quotes, either, as the word “debate” is supposed to imply some thought and reason… and there’s just not any (sane) reason why Science and Art should be at odds.

Because they’re the same damned thing, that’s why.

No, not “two sides to the same coin.”  That’d mean only one could be showing at the same time, or that one or the other should be used to win any given competition.  No.  Science and Art are two words for the same. exact. thing.

But No! you may exclaim, from whichever side you’ve found yourself aligned, Because Science is all about boring repetition and crazy complicated math / Because art is all about making stuff up with no real logic or proof!

Neither of you has actually ever paid any attention to the either side, though, have you?  You had some (sorry excuse for) a teacher in school that told you that you were good or bad at one of the other, and you didn’t know any better, so you’ve believed them ever since.

Let me talk to the Scientists in the room, first.  (Of all disciplines, yes, and I’m bundling Math and Medicine into this conversation because you’re a part of the whole.) I know a lot of you, personally, and I know that some of you occasionally look over at art with some reverence and a little bit of jealousy, wishing you could understand it a bit better, so that the Artists in the room didn’t recoil in terror when you tell them what you do for a living.  The thing is, you’re both just uninformed.  The opposite of Science is not Art.  The opposite of Science is Ignorance. You’ve known all your life that Science is a means by which we increase and quantify and share our knowledge of the world, haven’t you?  Your biggest battles have been against the people who are unwilling to learn something new, who are stubbornly set in their incomplete views and just don’t care about any proof to the contrary. Those people are not Artists – those people are idiots.  And that some of them have happened to be holding a paintbrush at the time is an unrelated and unfortunate coincidence.  If you can tell me you’ve never met a self-proclaimed Scientist that was actually just a brick of stupid with some basic party-trick math skills… well, you can’t tell me that, because you know that they exist, too.

And Artists, you know I know a lot of you personally, too. (Of all genres, yes, and I’m lumping Writing and Music in, too, because you’re part of the whole.)  Your community is no less scornful of the Scientists than the Scientists are of you.  In recent years I think I’d wager you’ve gotten a bit louder about it, even.  And yet some of you will occasionally look at a beautiful fractal image and not-so secretly lament that you maybe wish you understood the math required to make one. Or you’ve carefully talked around what sort of Writer you are so that the Physicist in the room will take you seriously just long enough to finish talking about something fascinating.  And sometimes you really do wish those particularly assholish folks in the Science community wouldn’t make you feel quite so much like they’re patting you on the fucking head when you tell them what you do for a living.  The thing is, you’re both just uninformed.  The opposite of Art is not Science.  The opposite of Art, really, is Ignorance. You’ve known all your life that Art is a means by which we grow and scale and share our experience of the world, haven’t you?  Your biggest battles have been against the people who are unwilling to look at something new, who are stubbornly set in their unfinished beliefs and just don’t care about any demonstration to the contrary. Those people are not Scientists – those people are idiots.  And that some of them have happened to be holding a protractor at the time is an unrelated and unfortunate coincidence.  If you can tell me you’ve never met a self-proclaimed Artist that was actually just a brick of shallow with some basic party-trick drawing skills… well, you can’t tell me that, because you know that they exist, too.

And those of you in the middle, like  me, well you already know all this.  It just gets a little tiring having people expect you to take sides, doesn’t it? Or just not even asking before they label you as one or the other, depending on the conversation.  Just because I can freehand a straight line doesn’t mean I can’t graph it, too.

Now, I don’t want to get into what we’re taught in schools and how that’s informed the idea of what’s Art and what’s Science.  We all know all the school systems are broken blah blah, but the fact of the matter is we’re all fucking adults, now, aren’t we?  Many of us have learned by now that a lot of things we were taught in school were bullshit, so that’s not really a strong excuse for this.  I mean, I was fucking lousy at History in school, but that doesn’t mean I’m scared of watching the news, now.  Turns out I’m just not wired to memorize dates, duh, but that in no way affects my ability to understand and be interested in events.

You may have been just wretched at Geometry, in school.  You may still have no ability to balance a checkbook.  But if you know where to stand in a room to take advantage of the best light for a perfect photograph, then you’ve got a working knowledge of Physics, and no one ever bothered to tell you so.

You may have been the kid that ate crayons instead of coloring in the lines, in school.  You may still have no ability to draw even a stick figure.  But if you know where to place your fingers to feel for a pulse on a patient, then you’ve got a working knowledge of shape and anatomy that a lot of artists spend years trying to master.

But Science is all about rules and repetition, and I don’t have any rules and I’m constantly changing, you may say.  Well if that’s really true, then you’re a shit artist, and you probably secretly know that. If your style evolves, it’s because you’ve put in the work to get it there, by practice and by applying the lessons you’ve learned along the way.  Maybe you weren’t taught in a brick and mortar school, but if you’ve closed yourself off to learning anything, ever, then you’re a sorry excuse for a human being, let alone an artist.  You certainly don’t exist in a vacuum, which means you are applying theories that others passed along, even if you think you worked your own proofs to get there.  And, you know, the reason you’re a special and unique snowflake is because someone did the math to figure out how many possible angles you’ve got.  (Someone else, of course, figured out that you’re only unique to this particular generation of falling snow, and odds are you may have a twin snowflake somewhere else, you just haven’t met them yet. But I digress.)

But Art is all about making shit up and running with instinct, and I only follow a set of proven rules, you may say.  I’m not even going to bother ranting at you, because if that’s true, then I (and the Physics committee) are very interested in observing the Higgs boson you’ve obviously got on your shelf, thanks.

Writers are professional liars, sifting through the detritus of civilization to create a world never before seen by anyone living today.  Oh, no, wait, I might have meant to say Anthropologists.  Surgeons painstakingly alter organic objects with delicate precision to create or salvage perfected figures that only previously existed in their minds. Oh, nope, whoops, I probably meant to say Sculptors.  Astronomers observe and record subtle and extreme variations in wavelengths in an attempt to not only understand the universe, but to preserve that understanding for future generations.  Or did I mean to say Musicians?

I could do this all day, and maybe I should, maybe I really need to – but I’m going to trust that you can start figuring it out for yourself. Because if you look, if you just look at it, that ampersand between “Arts & Sciences” is clearly not a fucking “or” is it?

All right, then.


(Stealth addendum: Jennifer Day asked me via twitter (@jdaysy) if I’d make a Venn Diagram print, and I really couldn’t think of any reason why not. I mean, honestly, the idea of that Venn on lab/studio/office walls out in the wild just makes me grin. So, if you want one, too, they’re right here. If you do get one, twitter me a picture of it hanging in your workspace, yeah?)

January 15, 2010 via Cherie Priest

Friday January, 15 2010 07:17 AM UTC

Here are tonight’s stats on my second urban fantasy adventure — this time with my neurotic undead thief, her shady agent, a cigar box full of magical penis bones, a mentally ill former NASA engineer-turned-sorceress, and the continued fabulosity of a Cuban drag queen:

    Project: Hellbent
    Deadline: August 9, 2010
    New Words Written: 937
    Present Total Word Count: 10,397



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Gave some background on the kids, as well as the rest of the household regulars.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Day-job work this morning; got my hair done over lunch; drove out to the U-district to sign stuff for Duane at the University Book Store; had a moment of furious panic when the car’s engine began blowing smoke; came back down to earth when this proved to be an easy (free) fix; came home and worked on my Fort Freak rewrites.

    Other: I confess, I don’t really want to be working on this project right now. I’d rather wait until I have feedback from the editor on Bloodshot (since this is its sequel); but Hellbent is the only thing to which I am contracted at the moment, so we work on the work, is what we do. It’s fun — definitely lighter than my usual fare (excepting Bloodshot, of course) — and I’m treating it like a “break” from the hardboiled near-noir of Fort Freak. Which is due tomorrow. That due date is both horrifying and a great relief … horrifying because I still have work to do on it, but a relief because hey, after tomorrow I’m finished (for awhile).

    Total Official Word Count of 2010: 10,397 words

Wikiquote via Lee Barnett

Thursday January, 14 2010 11:57 PM UTC

While I'll sometimes look at the quotes on imDb.com, I rarely look on Wikiquote when it comes to tv series or movies..

However, I came across a cracker when looking at the quotes for the Tenth Doctor.

Someone listed the 'confrontation' between Sarah Jane Smith and Rose Tyler in School Reunion... and linked each line to the episode to which it refers. Hover over the links to see what I mean...
Sarah: I saw things you wouldn't believe!
Rose: Try me.
Sarah: Mummies.
Rose: I've met ghosts.
Sarah: Robots. Lots of robots.
Rose: Slitheen. In Downing Street.
Sarah: Daleks!
Rose: [smugly] Met the Emperor.
Sarah: Anti-matter monsters!
Rose: Gas-mask zombies!
Sarah: Real living dinosaurs!
Rose: Real living werewolf!
Sarah: [emphasising each word] The Loch Ness Monster!
Rose: [stunned] Seriously?

Links for 2010-01-14 via Warren Ellis

Thursday January, 14 2010 11:00 PM UTC

100 Words: Going to Hell Again via Dan Curtis Johnson

Thursday January, 14 2010 10:13 PM UTC

This may have been a terrible mistake.

The Duke comes at me again, preternatural lightning dancing on his arms, even brighter than the light reflecting from his saber. No mere ?palpable hit?: before I can even raise my own blade, he takes a dozen more bites out of my arm, shoulder, and chest. Then he steps back swiftly and I stagger even more.

?You?re starting to look like hamburger, my dear boy,? he says, a genuine note of concern in his voice. ?Ready to yield??

I look at the ground, where tiny red drops fall from me like rain: ?Maybe...??

------
For consideration: "Self-confidence leaks from a thousand wounds."

my god, it's full of futuremugs via Wil Wheaton

Thursday January, 14 2010 06:48 PM UTC

The Memories of the Futuremug makes an appearance in Stellar Cartography:

Wil Wheaton's Memories of the Futuremug at Flickr

Isn't the perspective of the mug and the projector cool?

(Thanks to dotsandlines for taking and sharing this picture at flickr)

Dream: Heeeeeeeeeeeere's...! via Dan Curtis Johnson

Thursday January, 14 2010 04:38 PM UTC

I dreamt that Conan O'Brien's final guest on The Tonight Show was Johnny Carson, perfectly digitally reconstructed. The two of them just cracked wise and reminisced about the show's history, and by extension, the history of television.

------
For consideration: the technology is probably actually there to do it for real, even

Nnggrrrggg via Warren Ellis

Thursday January, 14 2010 02:23 PM UTC

Woke up late. I believe my new phone is downstairs. So I leave you with this wonderful quote from Brandon Graham as I check the package and then go to the pub. Morning.

I have a rule in KING CITY that is – anything I come up with that is fun but doesn’t advance the plot, I try to give more priority and pages than something that does advence the plot.

Podcastary Celebration via Kieron Gillen

Thursday January, 14 2010 09:48 AM UTC

I did a hefty interview with Ideology of Madness, wherein I talk my usual load of nonsense, in probably a more breathless way than usual. It’s part of my charm. At least, I hope it is.

Oh - and ifanboy has made SWORD 3 pick of the week, which means they’ll be yabbering about it on the show.

Oh Mr 2 - Review of SWORD 3 over at IGN, giving it an 8.4.

Hurrah for comics!

January 13 2010 (metrics) via Cherie Priest

Thursday January, 14 2010 06:36 AM UTC

(Just so you don’t think I’ve been skipping out on my resolution or anything…) Here are recent stats on my second urban fantasy adventure — this time with my neurotic undead thief, her shady agent, a cigar box full of magical penis bones, a mentally ill former NASA engineer-turned-sorceress, and the continued fabulosity of a Cuban drag queen:

    Project: Hellbent
    Deadline: August 9, 2010
    New Words Written: 1897
    Present Total Word Count: 9460



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Raylene brought home a drag queen of her very own to play dress-up with.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Over the last few days? Mostly I’ve just done day-job work (in the mornings) and worked on my Fort Freak segments in the afternoons. No, literally. That’s almost all I’ve done. (Though Sunday afternoon I went over to Ellen’s, where we were joined by Caitlin and Suezie and we totally had a girls’ night with Bruce Campbell which was EXACTLY as cool as it sounds.) Still averaging about 500 words a day which isn’t much, but will add up to much if I can keep it steady.

    Other: I’m four segments down in Fort Freak, with thirteen more to go before Friday. I’ve completed one major first pass, answering all the editor’s notes; and I’ve now gone back and answered all my own notes, and added all the content I think I was supposed to add. Now I’m on the final pass to make sure it hangs together, but it is a VERY THOROUGH final pass. Thus my horror at the fact it needs to go by Friday afternoon.

    Total Official Word Count of 2010: 9460 words

January 13, 2010 via Cherie Priest

Thursday January, 14 2010 03:31 AM UTC

I have been assured (to the point of being badgered) that I ought to do this, so here goes: I realize that the Hugo and Nebula awards are in their recommendation phases right now, so here’s what I had published in 2009 that might be eligible.


And I think that’s it, actually. Thanks so much to those who have asked, and to those who might consider my stuff worthy of recommending.

echoes beyond the infinite via Wil Wheaton

Thursday January, 14 2010 02:31 AM UTC

I found this video while putting together the show notes for today's Radio Free Burrito (wherein I perform yesterday's story for you, with music and puppets*) as I said on Twitter, it's not the same as syncing it up with a record and the laserdisc, but it's still pretty awesome if you have about 24 minutes to spend however you want.

Anyway, I'm very proud of today's RFB, and just wanted an excuse to mention it here, because not very many people seem to be hearing it over there.

So now you know, and can tell your friends! Yay!

*please note that RFB is audio-only, so you'll have to use your imagination to properly enjoy the puppet portion of the production.

Oh Lord, this cover is beautiful... via Lee Barnett

Wednesday January, 13 2010 11:41 PM UTC

From the forthcoming Phonogram #7



Due second week in February.

Phonogram is a comic book that simply never fails to deliver. If you're not reading it, you're missing out.

Crackhead via Dan Curtis Johnson

Wednesday January, 13 2010 11:03 PM UTC

I'm through with cashin' those checks that I worked to earn
It's like I made it big and I dunno what I learned
This life hasn't turned out to be all that interesting
(Tell me what you want)

I want some brand new pills that I can't resist
And head full of voices that don't exist
And a king-size bag to drag around all my things
(Yeah, so what you need?)

I need a beat-up coat that fell off a truck
And a cardboard sign that says "Spare a buck?"
Gonna join the local soup line and stand there mumbling
(Been there, done that)

I want a new syringe and a hacking cough
My own flop where I can go nod off
Somewhere between the freeway and river is fine for me
(So how you gonna do it?)

Gonna trade this life for illness and pain
I'll even cut my wrists to find more veins

Cause we all just wanna be big crack heads
Live in cardboard boxes cause we're off our meds
The food is garbage and our friends are creeps
We'll all be twitchy cause we just don't sleep

And we'll hang out and beg for change
On a cold street corner as we grow deranged
Every car we see we're gonna go harass
Every cop we see is gonna beat our ass

Hey hey, I wanna be a crack head.

I wanna be sick as a dog as I scratch my nuts
Know eight different dealers who hate my guts
Pick through the dumpster until I can find a meal
(Is that a quesadilla?)

I'm gonna wipe my ass with some old newspapers
And I'll stay warm thanks to the sewer vapors
Gonna break your window so that I can find some stuff to steal
(So how you gonna do it?)

Gonna trade this life for illness and pain
I'll even cut my wrists to find more veins

Cause we all just wanna be big crack heads
Live in cardboard boxes cause we're off our meds
The food is garbage and our friends are creeps
We'll all be twitchy cause we just don't sleep

And we'll hang out and beg for change
On a cold street corner as we grow deranged
Every car we see we're gonna go harass
Every cop we see is gonna beat our ass

Then we'll hide out and pick at scabs
With a handful of samples from today's fresh tabs
They'll tell you that it's good, it's the same old shit
But it doesn't really matter cause we need a hit

Hey hey, I wanna be a crack head.

------
For consideration: apologies to Nickelback

Phonogram 2.7 Cover via Kieron Gillen

Wednesday January, 13 2010 09:44 PM UTC

The release date, I’m told, is the 10th of February.

Sorry for the delay. It will almost certainly be worth it.

Speaker Circuit via Jamais Cascio

Wednesday January, 13 2010 09:32 PM UTC

My 2010 calendar is filling up already!

  • February 4: The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute's 2010 Annual Meeting (PDF). Morning keynote. San Francisco.
  • Also February 4: State of Green Business Forum -- "Hacking the Earth Without Voiding its Warranty." San Francisco (just down the street from the previous conference, fortunately).
  • February 13: Information Technology Senior Management Forum 2010 Symposium on Green IT. San Jose.
  • Mid-March: NASA-sponsored project on sustainability, coinciding with shuttle launch. Cape Canaveral, Florida. (No public link yet.)
  • April 19: Social Business Edge, Show 1. New York City.
  • April 26-27: Institute for the Future Ten-Year Forecast. San Francisco.
  • May 5-7: Lift10. Geneva.

    ...whew...