August 21st, 2007


[links] Link salad, with improved falchions

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day — Deeply cool. Be sure to read the description.

The history of Rocket Mail

Cringe words — Weird. I had no idea this phenomenon existed, let alone was common.

More from Freakonomics on raw talent and developed skill.

The sprint of the Hubbard glacier — Old news, in the sense of being historical. And fascinating. Who knew there were tidewater glaciers?

Interesting comments thread at my post last night about managing detail during the novel writing process

[books] Escapement has a cover comp

Oooooh. Niiiiiiiice.

My only comment at this point is to wish that there were some bright element in the cover to catch the eye from a distance.

ETA: For those of you who've read the draft of Escapement, the scene illustrated is HIMS Notus (f/k/a Borborygmus) being pursued by the Imperial Chinese airship Shi Hsi-Chi (known to the Notus crew as Shirley Cheese).

[links] Link Salad, lunch break

Pastor asks followers to pray for his critics to dieThat's family values. "Jesus loves you, fuck off and die." Plus now I know what an imprecatory prayer is.

The strangest Bushism yet — "I too am a dissident in Washington." WTF? The mind boggles. I can't decide whether to laugh or cry. This goes beyond out of touch with reality and somewhere deep into psychotic narcissism. To quote that master of consistency, Inigo Montoya, on lexicography, "I do not think it means what you think it means."

My favorite political quote of all time — From June 17th, 2000, on NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. It's Carl Kasell speaking at about 2:23 on this clip, attributed to Bill Maher, though I can't find confirmation of the original.

I don't how a country can be taken seriously as a democracy when all you have to do to get elected is to be a former president's idiot kid

They were talking about Bashar al-Assad's succession to the presidency in Syria, of course.

Jokes about Lucas, Prince of Darkness — Only rcovering owners of older British cars need apply.

Aerocar for sale — Another candidate for the next Genre car?

Artificial Life Likely in 3 to 10 Years — "Wet artifical life." Wow. (Thanks to yourbob.)

The economics of used book sales

LJ Book — It has finally occured to me to use the search capabilities of pdf files to locate old LJ entries I want to refer back to. This is a great tool. Can't recall who originally recommended it to me.

[links] Link Salad, whiter shade of pale edition

A reader reacts to Mainspring Powell's | Amazon ] — Apparently I am not a wordsmith.

anacrotech with a brain inside a jar!

Getting Patrick pregnant

My interview with Howard Waldrop is live at Revolution SF — I've listened to it, and was pretty darned entertained.

Digby on Bush as President-for-Life — Featuring commentary excerpted from a conservative think tank with many prominent, allegedly respectable Republicans on the board of directors. Money shot:

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

This reads like an overwrought liberal parody of conservative thinking. Except it's not. It is conservative thinking, from GOP stalwarts. Are you proud of your Republican Party yet?

[writing] Various things

Partway through what will almost certainly be my last pass through Escapement before sending it back to casacorona. I am simultaneously tackling micro and macro issues. I'm also reading each plot thread straight through, skipping the alternating POVs. This is interesting but challenging.

I seem to be committed to about five short pieces now, several of them novellas or novelettes. Once I'm back from Japan I'm going to be jiggy on that for several weeks. I'll probably start Black Tulip after that.

People ask me about Mainspring Powell's | Amazon ] all the time — at the post office, at the coffee house, at work. "How's the book doing?"

One of the weird things about this business is that I have no real idea.

It's not Tor holding out on me. Some information is business confidential — print runs, shipping breakdowns, etc. — but even I know roughly what the book needs to do be at least minimally successful. Tor understands much better than I do what those numbers need to be. They just don't know the data yet either.

Here's one of those things pros and industry types worry about which doesn't make sense outside the people who work directly with this stuff. It doesn't matter how many books shipped, it matters how many books were returned. And because of the lead time on returns, it takes months to really understand how this works.

Others have certainly explained this much better than I can — I presume pnh or alg, for example. Suffice to say that the book retailing industry has accounting and inventory practices which would drive most bookkeepers bananas. So maybe I'll know in December how the book is doing, with two exceptions. If it got huge returns so fast it was tanking like Guy Ritchie's acting career, somebody might mention it to me sooner. If it went into multiple printings, somebody might mention that to me sooner. As it stands, I think it's doing okay, but I can't tell. And I won't know for months.

Remember me mentioning the concept of trading up to a better class of problems? This would be one of them.

Coming early-career followup to paul_m_jessup's post on being a newbie.