December 8th, 2008

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[links] Link salad for a Monday

leahbobet with a meme and a Lakism — Heh.

Language Log with more on forensice linguistics — Of some interest to writers.

The Soviet Almaz Program — I'm thinking of "Red Star, Winter Orbit." Money shot: It wouldn't do to fire at an attacker only to discover you have deorbited yourself!

Cult spacecraft Part One: The Little Spaceplane That Couldn't — (Hat tip to Dark Roasted Blend.)

Parents Torn Over Fate of Frozen Embryos — Nuanced real life reproductive ethics issues that go far beyond the cartoonish ethics of conservatives. (Thanks to lt260.)

?otD: How many mad scientists does it take to change a light bulb?




12/08/08
Body movement: 40 minute stationary bike ride
This morning's weigh-in: 221.0
Currently reading: The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville


Originally published at jlake.com.

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[books|process] Pratchett's Small Gods

After an enormous amount of galley reading (Green) and critical reading (Demonhead) this weekend, I just couldn't face Herman Melville again, so I gave myself a cookie with my nth re-reading of Terry Pratchett's Small Gods.

Pratchett is one of those rare writers who turns off my Producer brain and taps directly into the Consumer vein. Which is to say, most media I consume hits the internal editor and is processed thereby. This is largely a good thing, I believe, as it is related to my critical thinking skills, professional development, etc. Pratchett can take me back to the sensawunda which kept twelve-year-old me hiding in the bookstacks to devour Andre Norton or a Heinlein juvenile because I wasn't allowed to check out as many books as I could read in a weekend.

A funny thing happened on the way to the literary afterglow, though. Small Gods was the first Discworld book I read. In many ways, it remains my favorite, though The Truth has it in a photo finish, and likewise The Wee Free Men. This time I was noticing the scaffolding of craft which drives Small Gods, and I mean that in a good way.

Brutha has one of the most amazing character arcs I've ever seen in fiction. Regardless of what you think of Pratchett, fantasy or humor in genre, this book is worth reading for the sake of studying what Pratchett does with Brutha's transformation, and how he does it. Plus, if you're not hip to Discworld, this is one of the best entrees into that continuity, as it's more-or-less a standalone work.

What books (genre or otherwise) do you like for demonstrating character arc and development?

Originally published at jlake.com.

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[politics] What has conservatism gotten right?

This has cropped up in conversation several times in the past few weeks, so I am finally getting around to laying it down on the blog here. A fairly simple question, one I'm very curious about answers to all across the political spectrum.

What has conservatism gotten right?

Even the most casual accounting will show that conservatives have been wrong, usually destructively so, on a whole range of now-settled issues throughout American history. For example, slavery, Jim Crow, interracial marriage and Civil Rights. Female suffrage, no-fault divorce, and women's rights. Child labor, wage-and-hour rules, the forty-hour work week, workplace safety and every minimum wage increase ever passed. Environmental quality, pollution control, energy conservation, automobile safety and efficiency. Conservatives opposed our entry into WWII, conservative economic and de-regulation policies brought about the Great Depression, gave us the laughable fraud of supply-side economics and may have brought about the Bush Depression. Conservatives brought us Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. The list is nigh endless.

Things that conservatives are patently wrong about today which will almost certainly be judged harshly by history include global warming, stem cell research, reproductive freedom, Creationism/ID in education, the Iraq War, gay marriage, and Bush-era science policy, Civil Liberties practices and terrorism policy.

I've long averred that conservatism is fundamentally a philosophy of fear — fear of change, fear of inequity, fear that someone somewhere might be benefiting unjustly, fear that Bad People will come to your door and take away what you love most. Looking at the above list, you can see where I get that idea from. So what has the conservative movement gotten right? And why is it trusted by millions of Americans today?

Originally published at jlake.com.

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[sale] Novelette "To Raise a Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves" to The New Space Opera II

I am pleased to announce that the Sekrit Projekt is no longer Sekrit. Space opera novelette "To Raise a Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves" has been accepted for The New Space Opera II, ed. Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan. This is in continuity with Sunspin, the space opera trilogy I plan to write next year, so if you want a preview of that, you'll definitely need to score the anthology.

I am quite excited.

Originally published at jlake.com.