April 15th, 2012


[links] Link salad is a taxing experience

Where I write: Science fiction author Jay Lake fights cancer one blog post at a timeThe Oregonian with a piece on me, writing and cancer. Also a bonus video clip.

Best and Worst Writing Advice I've Ever Been Given[info]kenscholes speaks.

Molecular "Wankel Engine" Driven By PhotonsChemists say exotic clusters of boron atoms should behave like rotary Wankel engines when bathed in circularly polarised light. Coming soon, the Mazda RX-Μ.

The Problems Alcohol Can Help You Solve — What could possibly go wrong with a lede like that?

I Opt In! And Other TSA News of the Day

Study Says The More Walmarts In The Area, The More Hate Groups There Are — Heh. Interesting. (Thanks to [info]threeoutside.)

Liberals and conservatives think differently — Some commentary on recent studies.

?otd: Filed with the IRS yet?

Writing time yesterday: n/a (cancer stress)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride, plus hiking to come in the Columbia Gorge
Hours slept: 7.75 (solid)
Weight: 240.6 (!)
Currently reading: Somewhere Else by Sally McLennan


[movies] Movies I didn't see when they came out

Sometimes I am just a contrarian. For example, it took me years to see E.T. [ imdb ], simply because of all the hype surrounding the film. (Apparently I was a proto-hipster back in 1982.) Likewise, The Karate Kid [ imdb ], because it was billed as "the feel-good movie of the year", and I refuse to go see any movie with that billing. I'm not sure I wasn't right about The Karate Kid, either, though I did enjoy myself when I finally did see the movie.

Alien [ imdb ] was probably my biggest error. I was so afraid of being afraid of the movie that it took me years to see that one as well. It's a hell of a science fiction movie, one of the best in the history of cinema, and I can't believe I deprived myself of that experience either in the original theatrical release, and for years after.

What I wish I could understand today, prior to the advantage of hindsight, is which movies I blew off or ignored, that I would regret having done so upon seeing them. Honestly, my life would have been just fine if I'd never gotten around to seeing The Karate Kid, but if I'd never seen Alien, I would be much the poorer for it.

Do you share this tic of mine, or some equivalent of your own?

What movies (or books) did you ignore and avoid, only to realize your error later?

What overlooked movies (or books) would you urge me to pay attention to?


[politics] This is tax day, and I love it

April 15th in the United States is tax day. (Well, April 16th when the 15th falls on a weekend, as with this year.) It's tax day, and I love it.

Mind you, every day is tax day. We all pay taxes when we buy gas or ride the bus or train for which diesel has been purchased. We all pay sales taxes at the cash register. (Well, except here in Oregon.) We all pay property taxes, either directly through our mortgages or indirectly through our rent. We all pay payroll taxes whenever we received a paycheck through statutory employment. But here in USAnia, April 15th carries all the symbolism.

Do I like filing taxes? Heck, no. The process drives me nuts. This is true mostly because of the Schedule C I have to file for writing income, and specifically the business expenses. I don't make enough money to pay someone else to deal with that stuff for me, so I have to track all the damned receipts myself. It's tedious and annoying, but it's how I can best optimize my tax picture.

Do I like paying taxes? Heck, yes. The outcome is extremely worthwhile. I like having roads and bridges. I like having emergency services available. I like having universal public education and public hospitals and child and family services. I like clean air and clean water. I like the space program and the FAA and the FDA and all the myriad machineries of government that ensure that the goods and services I buy are safe and perform as advertised. Heck, even though I often disagree with how the machineries of national defense are employed by our government, I like having them.

Conservatives like to pretend that government is the problem, but honestly, not a heck of lot of would get done without the enabling processes of government. Everything from stable contract law to decent public roads for the delivery of wholesale and retail goods stems from the government. Conservatives also like to pretend that they did it all themselves, and if they can get ahead in life without handouts, no one else should receive handouts either. Which is absolute bullshit. Programs ranging from government-funded education to the home mortgage interest deduction are handouts that conservatives benefit eagerly from. And let's not even talk about farm supports.

One of the things about being a liberal-progressive is that you have to be intellectually honest enough to recognize the role government and other people play in your life. Once you become that self-honest, it's very difficult not to also recognize you owe payback, to support that role for government and other people to play in the lives of those who come after us.

So taxes? Heck, yeah. They support the life I enjoy today, and they help pave the way for others to enjoy the same, or even better, life in the future.