June 3rd, 2008


[cancer] Up all night

It's 2:45 a.m. as I write this post. The observant reader will note that I rarely post at this hour.

I've discovered something about kicking the opiates. My habitual inability to sleep on my back is magnified by a lack of sleep-inducing drugs. Right side still hurts immediately. Left side hurts after several minutes. I've even contemplated turning turtle, but somehow lying with my entire weight on the surgical seam sounds just nuts.

So now I'm on the couch with Spike, where I can at least prop myself up comfortably. At some point sheer exhaustion will take hold, but at some point I need to be back at work, too. Even when I am in health I occasionally have a sleepless night, so I'm not too worried. I'd better crash hard tomorrow night.
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    the ticking of the grandfather clock
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[links] Link salad, supersized insomniac edition

New concepts in book marketing

A review of "Dreams With Sharp Teeth" — Everything you wanted to know about Harlan Ellison but were afraid to ask. (From a writer's mailing list I'm on.)

The Miller High Life Cruiser — :: wants ::

Shorpy with a haunting photo of the collecting of war dead at Cold Harbor — Note the elapsed time between the battle and the date of the photo, per the caption.

Just Imagine — Retrofuturism ca. 1930. Cool, weird film clip.

Smallest known exoplanet found — An interesting set of comments on exoplanetary searches and astrobiology.

Magnetic movie — Making magnetic fields visible. A very cool video. Though they don't explicitly say so in the voiceover, these experiments are modeling aspects of the solar magnetic field, then later the Martian magnetic field.

The New Yorker on Buckminster Fuller

On Becoming a Woman — Something else to make me very, very glad that the_child isn't growing up in he 1950s. (Not sure where I snurched this from.)

Nanopaper — No, really. Cool tech stuff.

Get Fuzzy gets funny with language

Nature's Photonic Crystal — Scientists find an elusive diamond structure in a Brazilian beetle. Money shot: "The group is in the process of molding the beetle scales out of a semiconductor." It cracks me up, anyway. Political aside: if you're one of those conservatives who thinks evironmentalism is a liberal scam, consider what this story means. Or research the history of taxol. We constantly derive direct economic benefits from obscure parts of the biosphere. Self-interest alone suggests they are worth preserving.

A chilling global warming forecast — USDA with a detailed forecast of agricultural changes due to climate shift. Some call Limbaugh, the liberal traitors have infested Bush's Agriculture Department! More seriously, conservative America seems to be slowly waking up to the idea that Global Warming is more than a liberal myth, but will they ever accept responsibility for two decades and more of blocking any attempts at resolution? I rather more expect to hear, "But why didn't you try harder to make us understand?"

Time in saddle: 0 minutes (still recovering from surgery)
Last night's weigh-out: n/a
This morning's weigh-in: 258.8
Currently reading: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia Amazon ]


[miscellaneous] Random lunch break thoughts

jimhines lobs a stinker — He asks if all fiction is fan fic.

And this is what's on my mind right now: One of the chestnuts of freshman philosophy is the question of whether intelligence an emergent property of sufficiently complex systems. In SF, we often posit the answer to be yes.

Is it already happening?

For example, do "market forces" within the financial markets represent a form of intelligence? There's a vast network of financial transactions and instruments which collectively generate trends and events out of individual control. A lot of work has been done on the predictive value of markets. (Note this definition of "intelligence" does not require self-awareness.)

Likewise, we talk about the evolution of languages, and their behavior and trends. Just like biological evolution, there is a casual temptation to look back and see linguistic change having been directed toward a goal. What if they are goal oriented?

Some events in linguistic history are very strange — the Great English Vowel Shift, for example. I could construct a paper tiger argument that says English is an apex predator language which uses the cultures and peoples who speak it to enable its further spread at the expense of other languages. Again, there trends and events outside of individual control.

'Nuff said. I have work to do.

[links] Link salad afternoon update

Bookslut with a very nice review of Escapement Amazon ]

My tumor gets aroundkarindira messes with photoshop.

HP's Presto Mail — This is really kind of a neat idea. Basically, a system to print photos and emails for non-computer users. (It's a printer with an OS and an onboard modem.)

Guinness World Record Attempt! — Science students to build world’s largest vinegar and baking soda volcano. I hope to attend the event tomorrow on my lunch hour, the state of my abdomen permitting, and blog forthwith. (Thanks to AH.)

As Oil Prices Soar, Restaurant Grease Thefts Rise — Um, wow. (Thanks to Dad.)

Toad research could leapfrog to new muscle model — Toad-based robots. Paging Dr. Moreau to the Asimov Court.

Scientist Building Own Planet to Research Magnetic Field — I for one welcome our new technocratic overlords.

NASA Office Is Criticized on Climate Reports — NASA's inspector general finds that Bush administration appointees censored and distorted scientific discourse touching on climate change issues. That's inherent in the anti-science, anti-intellectual DNA of modern conservatism. Confidential to conservatives in America: Are you still proud of your Republican party?

Bush: We'll Be in Iraq for 40 Years — "Bush admits to Engel that going to war was a decision based on his personal instinct and not on any long-range strategy for the Mideast." Right. What a moron. Does anyone remember the rhetoric before the war, about how short and simple it would be, how we would be greeted as liberators, how it would pay for itself? I know some of you reading here are passionate supporters of the war, but you've bought into lies based on self-deception. Iraq was not a problem for us, until we invaded and made it one. ETA: This link seems to be borked. The URL is correct, but the server is down as of Tuesday afternoon

[repost] JayCon VIII Reminder

In celebration of both my natal anniversary and my recent triumph over cancer, JayCon VIII, my 8th annual 37th birthday party, will be Saturday, June 7th, here in Portland from 2 to 5 pm at the Flying Pie in SE Portland. Come help me celebrate both my birthday and the life that I get to keep on living.

Flying Pie Pizzeria
7804 SE Stark Street
Portland, 97215
(503) 254-2016
[ Google Maps ]

(At his own request Paul Carpentier is still specifically not invited.)