January 12th, 2013


[links] Link salad is still baffled about yesterday

Acts of Whimsy — The first two Acts of Whimsy from my cancer fundraiser. Mary Robinette Kowal reads classical literature as phone sex, and Paul Cornell (with special guest) sings the Kate Bush song "Wuthering Heights". Put down your coffee before looking at these. This stuff is stupid funny. Also, last night, we unlocked Cory Doctorow's head.

PayPal Apologizes For Freezing Science Fiction Writer Jay Lake’s Cancer Fundraiser, Promises Greater Transparency — Yes, this really happened yesterday. Things are weird in my life right now. Weirder than my usual background radiation of weird, I mean.

The Lakeside Kickstarter for the documentary about me, [info]the_child, and cancer. And of course, the Sequence a Science Fiction Writer fundraiser for a needed genetic test for me. Both have made goal, but are still open to extended support.

Doctors Turn to Genetics to Search for Cancer’s Achilles’ Heel — Wow. Very apropos. (Via several sources, including [info]daveraines and Shlom Ster.)

Why can’t doctors tell cancer patients the truth? Medical journals and physicians underplay what treatment is really like. And it hurts patients. (Via [info]shsilver.)

As Nurse Lay Dying, Offering Herself as Instruction in Caring — I understand this.

Harper/Voyager UK to Release SF/F Classics with Beautiful Minimalist Covers — (Snurched from Cora Buhlert.)

Why are images from space probes always in black and white?The Straight Dope is interesting today.

Assessing Exomoon Habitability

Gorillas Watching TVBehind the scenes at the zoo. Zooveillance? (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

No. 842 — The caption on this Shorpy photo from 1912 is a scream. (Assuming you find sex jokes funny.)

Can airliners really fly upside down? — I'd prefer not to find out personally.

Golden to frozen: California faces epic cold snap — Nothing to see here, citizen, move along.

Climate assessment delivers a grim overviewA draft version of a national report details the accelerated effects of climate change across the U.S., describing battered coastlines, devastating rainfall and drought. I'm sure the GOP will find a way to kill this report, the same way they killed reports on white conservative terrorism and the abject failure of supply side economics, the same way they suppress Federal information gathering and research on the effects of gun violence. As our friends on the Right have proven over and over, when reality doesn't match conservative ideology, ideology always wins. Me personally, I'd die of embarrassment from the wholesale lack of intellectual honesty, but intellectual dishonesty is demonstrably a cornerstone of the conservative movement these days. That's what epistemic closure is all about: keeping the minds of conservative voters safely closed to new information and inconvenient truths.

False balance: Fox News demands a recount on US’ warmest year — Ah, the glory of epistemic closure. Darn those liberally biased "facts" and "data". What's a good conservative propaganda organ that lies daily to masquerade as news supposed to do?

When Christians argue that Jesus Christ has no religious significanceThis is why the separation of church and state is vitally important for Christians. When Christians are standing around arguing that Jesus Christ has no particular religious significance to us, then something has gone horribly wrong.

Biden says ‘no silver bullet’ exists to solve the problem with gun violence — Really? You had to use that term?

Yeager Releases 2nd Video: No Murders ‘Unless It’s Necessary’ — That's the kind of responsible gun ownership that gives me warm fuzzies about gun culture in America. Really, gun owners of America, possessing an instrument of summary execution doesn't give you the power to dispense justice as your sole discretion. We have this little thing called the rule of law (not applicable in Stand Your Ground states, so I guess the gun culture won that debate.)

State Suspends Handgun Carry Permit Of Tactical Response CEO — Huh. Somebody in a Red State is actually doing the right thing about gun abuse. Walkback to the usual gun culture murderous insanity under conservative pressure in 3, 2, 1…

?otD: Do you use PayPal?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (stress)
Hours slept: 6.75 hours (very fitful)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bike)
Weight: 217.8
Number of FEMA troops on my block teaching critical thinking skills to the children of conservatives: 0
Currently reading: The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks


[personal] A brief user's guide to this blog

Given all the Internet activity around me lately, especially with new readers coming in from the fundraisers and/or the recent PayPal kerfuffle, I thought I'd make a quick informational post.

Except in extraordinary circumstances, I make three or four posts per day, almost always in the morning. Posts are always tagged in the title in [brackets] for the benefit of readers using RSS feeds, so they can tell if they want to click through or not.

Link Salad is always the lead, and basically documents my browsing from the day before and that morning, as well as interesting things people send in to me. It covers topics I care about, such as publishing, health (including a lot of cancer news due to my own long-term illness), science and nature, culture, generalized weirdness, and a variety of political topics including climate change, religion in the public square, gun control and conservative hypocrisy. (Yes, I am a flaming liberal, at least by American standards.) I arrange Link Salad in roughly the order described above so that readers who are indifferent to or bothered by my political stances can enjoy the earlier topics then move on if they prefer. Link Salad post titles are fairly random, and tend to reflect my mood, current events in my life, or something that strikes my fancy. I assume the [Link Salad] tag is sufficiently informative. Please feel free to send me interesting links if you find them, especially from out of the way sources.

Moment of Zen is always the second post. That features photos, usually from my photo files, but occasionally something that came across my email inbox from a friend or family member. If you want to send me a photo, it should be your own work. With the exception of photos involving me or my family, I try very hard not to reproduce photos from others for both copyright and creative reasons.

Otherwise, I post about cancer when that's on my mind, as it has been of a muchness lately. When I have the mental and emotional bandwidth, I post about my daughter (a/k/a [info]the_child), or any of the topic areas mentioned above: publishing, health and healthcare, science and nature, culture, generalized weirdness, and a variety of political topics including climate change, religion in the public square, gun control and conservative hypocrisy. I like those to be a bit more substantive, but it doesn't always work out that way.

My blogging philosophy is that I will talk about anything except things which will embarrass my daughter, things which will breach business confidentiality, and things which will breach other people's privacy. On a related note, in talking about the events of my life, I try very hard not to 'out' people in my life who don't have an established public persona in the form of an online footprint. With those exceptions, my own life is pretty much an open book, especially the cancer journey I've been on since 2008. This means if you have a question or suggestion for a post topic, I'm interested in hearing it. This also occasionally means that big, difficult stuff happens to me which I never mention here, for the sake of others' privacy. As always, anything I post here is available for quoting or reposting, but please retain the attribution, especially on photos or fiction to which I hold copyright.

While my audience isn't on the scale of some of the really big dog writer blogs, I have an interesting, friendly and vibrant community of readers and commentors. If you're one of those already, thank you so very much. If you're new to the blog, welcome, have a look around — if this is to your taste, stay a while.


[personal|cancer] Yesterday's PayPal kerfuffle

Last night, I felt like a business school case study. Or possibly a character in the kind of folk song sung around digital campfires. In short, PayPal did something unfortunate to cripple part of the Acts of Whimsy fundraiser for my genetic testing and general health expenses. I mentioned this on Twitter. A classic social media backlash ensued, which eventually flowed up to the president of PayPal. All ended well about two hours later, with PayPal restoring my account, apologizing publicly, and making a donation to the fundraiser as a gesture of goodwill. See news story for the official details, including comments from PayPal Senior Communications Director Anuj Nayar.

PayPal made a mistake, and then they made it right. Credit where credit is due. My profound thanks to Mary Robinette Kowal, Tee Tate, and the legion of Twitter and Facebook denizens who spoke up, placing the public pressure on PayPal that caused them to escalate the problem to swift resolution. Likewise my thanks to both the company and to Anuj Nayar, as well as the PayPal social media manager who contacted me directly.

In long...

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Yet I cannot help wondering how this would have gone without my own social media footprint and widespread network of friends and fans. Would I be looking at weeks of paperwork and a continually frozen account, as my friend has experienced? Fame, even as modest as my own ration, is itself a significant form of privilege. That privilege was exercised in spades late yesterday afternoon. The same question applies to the fundraisers themselves. Would the Acts of Whimsy fundraiser be closing in on 200% of goal if I were just some guy down the street with cancer?

Second-guessing myself will simply give me a bad case of the crazies. I choose instead to honor the generosity of everyone who was contributed time, effort and money to this fundraiser as well as the Lakeside Kickstarter for the documentary about me, [info]the_child, and cancer. Including, quite specifically, PayPal and Anuj Nayar for making things right. Thank you all.

I just hope this experience makes things better for the next fundraiser who works through PayPal. Then the lessons learned will count.