January 9th, 2012


[links] Link salad takes to the skies once more

World building 301: some projections — Charlie Stross on what the world looks like in 2032 and in 2092.

Emi Koussi and Aorounga, ChadTwo neighboring craters in Africa had very different origins.

NASA Rover Takes 'Winter Vacation' to Power Solar Panel — I know how it feels.

Understanding Religious Trauma Syndrome: Trauma from Leaving Religion

The 2011 Climate B.S.* of the Year Awards

Clean Elections — Doing things differently, and sensibly, in Connecticut. Note that one factor is that the reforms were introduced by Democrats, who aren't answerable to a batshit antiscience/antireality agenda.

The Grating SantorumIn a campaign where W. is an unmentionable, Santorum is an unexpected revival of Bushian uncompassionate conservatism.

A Campaign Pruned of Bushes[T]hey simply eliminate 43 from the narrative, a bit of creative editing that helps them pin the mind-boggling level of federal debt overwhelmingly on Obama. Eight years of Bush, six years of the Permanent Majority, taking the country from (relative) peace, economic prosperity and budget surplus to trillion dollars wars, economic disaster and crippling deficits. Yeah, no wonder conservatives hate Obama. Voluntary amnesia makes that very convenient.

?otd: Been to Omaha lately?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo fatigue)
Body movement: Airport walking to come
Hours slept: 7.0 (fitful)
Weight: 215.8
Currently (re)reading: Moreta of Pern by Anne McCaffrey


[books] A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I just finished reading Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of WitchesPowells | BN ], a December, 2011 release from Penguin. It was interesting and a fair amount of fun, but definitely had that 'mainstream author writes fantasy without being aware of the history or tropes of the genre' feel. All the same, and perhaps because of that, Harkness' take on witches and vampires was sufficiently divergent from the classic patterns to be interesting.

Also interesting to me in terms of my own reader reactions to this book was my realization about halfway through that the genre tropes Harkness is working within are more tied to romance than fantasy. Which explained the female witch protagonist's constant fainting and passing out and needing to be carried about hither and yon by the male vampire love interest. That wouldn't fly in a strong female fantasy character, but it is a trope (or subtrope or something) of romance.

What I really did like about the book was that much of it was set at Oxford University, and the sense of scholarship and history in the book is very strong. Our heroine is a historian specializing in the traditions of alchemy, and Harkness really made me believe that in a big way. She acted like a historian, thought like one, talked like one. Harkness' own scholarship in writing the book was certainly deep enough to be utterly convincing to me. Her interweaving of history with the plot was fascinating.

This book was a lot of fun. It's the first third of a trilogy, so very little of the plot is resolved at the ending, but that's life. Worth the read.


[travel|writing] Heading back to Omaha

Heading back to Omaha today for a week in the corporate office. This is my first trip to Omaha since last July (normally I go once every four to six weeks), and except for the November trip to San Jose, my first business trip since then. Part of a return to normalcy for me. Normalcy in 14 degree weather, of course.

This is a big step for me. A big piece of recovery from chemotherapy. A big piece of reclaiming my normal life.

And in terms of reclaiming, I'll be taking a stab at first draft fiction during my downtime on this trip. I often use airplane and hotel time for writing, so we'll see if the writing brain lights up this week. I'm a little fearful and lot optimistic. Wish me luck.