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A Few Links for Friday

Blogging has been a bit sporadic due to Daye Jobbe things. Have a couple of links, moving from heavy to light.

A) One of my fellow Hadley Rille authors is wise about women characters.

B) The article above led to a very interesting link Ted Bundy's Success is a Failure of Feminism.

C) On a somewhat lighter note, true size maps. This site allows you to select a US state or country and drag it around the map. As you move relative to the equator, the entity selected gets "bigger" or "smaller" reflecting it's true size relative to other entities. Fascinating.

D) In honor of the reboot of Star Wars, Max Gladstone asks Galactic history or Galactic folk tale?

E) XKCD has thoughts on conspiracy theories. Paging Sad Puppies, Sad Puppies, please pick up the white courtesy phone for an important message.



Day after patches applied and one staffer out on comp day. Too busy to blog.


Happy Trafalgar Day!

1) Happy Trafalgar day - a very interesting animation at the link.

2) Speaking of navies, the Royal Australian Navy just bought two big through-deck amphibs.

We're Hiring

I am the IT director for a midsized, financially stable and growing bank in the Chicago area. I have an opening for an entry-level network support person. We're actively looking, and the official opening is posted here.

We're a small shop (total IT staff, counting me, is four) and I think the pay is competitive for what we're seeking, which is a first-level PC break-fix and installation tech. The job is in Oak Brook, and does involve some driving to other sites in the Chicago area. Mileage is paid, but you need your own wheels. We do various background checks, so if something criminal or credit-related will pop up, I need to know about it up front. We're a Windows shop, running Active Directory. Our mainframe functions are outsourced.


Link Salad, Friday Afternoon Edition

Busy morning equals late posting.

A) Boeing announces metal that's lighter than air.

B) A fun and quick story by a friend of mine.

C) I've not read the report yet, but NASA's plan to go to Mars.

D) Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote a constitution for Haiti. The locals weren't fond of it.

E) An amusing picture:

I threatened to write a post about what Republican Party's current fascination with Ben Carson and Donald Trump says about the typical party member. Then came the flap over who the Republicans would elect to be Speaker of the House. Then came good Doc Gannon's posting of his relatively mild essay on Monster Hunter Nation, which yielded a roasting in comments and the Doc being branded a liar and a coward (or was it the other way round?) by Vox Day. Then I realized they were all instances of the same problem, to wit: the Republican party and the Sad Puppies 1) lack a grasp of reality and 2) value appearances over substance.

Grasp of Reality

The reality is that, politically, Congress has to increase the debt limit. The argument over not increasing it is like deciding to cut spending by not paying your credit card bill. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of those who can be bothered to vote in the Hugos have tastes in fiction not shared by the typical Sad Puppy. The reality is that as long as the Democrats control the Presidency and have more than 34 votes in the Senate, overturning major policy initiatives (Obamacare) isn't going to happen.

The reality is that marching into a new car dealership demanding to pay no more than $1,000 for a new car is not a way to get a cheap car. It's a way to get (literally) laughed out of the building. The reality is, as Jim Butcher noted, that the current Sad Puppies flap is to real warfare what blowing on a cup of hot tea is to a hurricane.

Appearances over Substance

Much of Trump's appeal is that he's a "successful businessman." Yet the guy managed to bankrupt casinos 4 (four) ((!!!!)) times! There is no reset button in world politics, no equivalent of bankruptcy. Trump's claim to "successful businessman" lies primarily in his playing one on a TV show. Ben Carson is undoubtedly a successful surgeon, but he's been clearly ignorant of politics and never managed anything larger than his medical practice.

The Sad Puppies claim conspiracy in Hugo voting. They point to the shocking phenomenon of popular works winning a popular award, somehow finding in that the appearance of conspiracy. They take affront at works, like Ancillary Justice, that appear to advocate a message, ignoring the fact that, in the book, the people advocating the offending message are the bad guys! As stated elsewhere, saying Ancillary Justice advocates abolishing gender differences is like saying Star Wars advocates choking people.

Windycon Schedule

My schedule for Windycon 42, to be held at the Westin in beautiful Lombard Ill on November 13-15:

Friday 4:00 Publishing in Today’s Market: Junior A: How do you decide if you should self-publish, publish traditionally, or use some hybrid of the two? C. Gerrib (M), L. Erlick, N. Litherland, D. Murphy, N. Silk

Friday 5:30-5:55 Reading: Boardroom

Saturday 11:00 Space Seconds: Junior A: Gherman Titov, the second man to orbit the Earth, Apollo 12, the second mission to land on the moon, STS-2, the second flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Everyone remembers and talks about the firsts, but what about the brave men who boldly dared to go where only a couple had gone before? C. Gerrib, B. Higgins (M), J. Liss, J. Plaxco, M. Unger

Sunday Noon Self-Publishing Doesn’t Mean Solo Publishing: Lilac A: Just because a book is self-published doesn’t mean that the author hasn’t had help. From editing to cover art to book design to marketing, self-published authors often look for assistance, especially if when they recognize their own weaknesses. C. Gerrib, L. Erlick (M), D. Murphy, R. Neumeier, D. Sjolander

Sunday 1:00 Does a Good Novel Really Need a Plot? Lilac B: Many readers put plot ahead of all else, but novels include much more to a novel: characterization, themes, setting…Can a novel lack a plot and still be a good novel? T. Akers, W. Boyes, P. Eisenstein, C. Gerrib, C. Moore, K. Swails (M)


I Bought A New Car

Over the Columbus Day weekend, I celebrated by purchasing a GMC Terrain SUV. My 2007 Saturn Vue was getting a bit long in the tooth. So now I've got to re-program the radio, set up IPass, and figure out how the GPS system works.


No Politics Friday, So Have Some Writing

I was going to write a post detailing what I think the Republican party's fascination with Donald Trump and Ben Carson tells us about them. I may yet, but today, I'll talk about writing.

I'm not one of those "write every day" people, at least in the sense of "hands on keyboards." I've occasionally had bursts where for a couple of weeks I'm basically describing the movie that's running in my head, but that's not common. Usually, I actually write once or twice a week.

Having said that, I do get a lot of writing-program-related-activities done between writing sessions. More accurately, while taking a shower, driving to work, or during other quiet times I think. Which, for the current WIP, One of Our Spaceships is Missing, has generated several thoughts.

1) I moved Chapter 2 to Chapter 1. But this still means the story starts too late. I could (and should) spend at least a chapter describing the actual part where the ship goes missing.

2) The passengers have a bit too easy a time. I've got a line on a way to change that, which will put the story more in line with Dan Well's Hollywood Formula. (Said formula is really Aristotle's three-act play in modern English.)

3) Related to the Hollywood Formula, there's a chapter where I figure out how to accomplish something. I as author needed to understand that bit, but you as reader don't need to see it, as it ruins some suspense down the line. This introduces other problems, as my novel is currently (at 60,000 words) a bit too short for commercial fiction. I just now (as I'm typing this) figured out a solution.

4) The original Chapter 1, now Chapter 2, and soon to be Chapter Whatever, had a lot of throat-clearing and scene-setting that doesn't work. It also has a bit about a "hairy ass" that nobody (except me, damn it!) likes. Exeunt ass, stage left, pursued by authorial tears.

Well, that to-do list ought to keep me of the streets for a while.


Two Reviews

I was really impressed with this, Rakunas' debut novel. It's a rollicking action tale set in a semi-dystopian future in which most people are indentured to one of a handful of massive corporations. Thanks to labor organizer and ex-manager Padma Mehta's entertaining narration, what could be a grim future is surprisingly optimistic. This is especially the case since Padma needs to save not only her job, but the entire human-settled universe, by the end of the book. She does so while supporting The Union, the labor organization that makes her life possible. Clear your calendar when you pick this book up - you'll not want to put it down.

Belt Three:

I had to admit that I was a bit reluctant to read Belt Three. The book is set several hundred years after humanity lost a war with aliens - a war in which Earth was destroyed and became asteroid Belt Three. (The other planets were also destroyed and became numbered belts). I'm glad I overcame my reluctance.

The story appears to be that of Gabriel Reinhardt, one of the "names" - members of the 1,000 or so families that escaped Earth. But Gabriel has a secret - one which makes him unusually willing to fight Keldra, a pirate, instead of being ransomed out. Keldra, although funding herself via piracy, actually has a plan of her own, which involves fighting the irresistible aliens. Their interactions in this ruined Solar System are gripping and epic.

Having said that, the book isn't very long - probably 250 printed pages. Even more of a miracle, it's a complete-in-one-volume story. Do yourself a favor and buy "Belt Three."


Link Salad, Mid-Week

Links, they go bad if you don't do something with them:

A) One of my writers' group members, Don Hunt, released a new book. Apparently I'm thanked in it, and so I bought it.

B) Harsh realities in the search for survivors of the wreck of the El Faro.

C) From WWII, a scarily-modern manual on how to make sure nothing gets done at work.

D) I'm not sure if this is a gag or legit: Selling irradiated seeds as "atomic gardens."

A Few Thoughts On Gun Control

Thought 1 - It's The Violence

Per Wikipedia, the murder rate in Great Britain is 1 per 100,000 people. Per the CDC, the US murder rate is 5.1 per 100,000 people. From the CDC data, the non-gun murder rate is 1.6 per 100,000. In short, if you waved your magic wand and all the guns in the USA evaporated, and none of the people who would have been killed by guns were harmed, the USA would still have an abnormally high murder rate.

Thought 2 - Income Disparity

Go back to that Wikipedia link and sort it by murder rate. You'll see that we're in the same league as Mauritania, Kenya, Albania or Latvia. Mexico has a murder rate 4 times ours. What do all these spots have in common? Huge income disparities and less-than-trustworthy police. I'll just leave that for your consideration.

Thought 3 - Mass Shootings as Terrorism

This article has an interesting point, to wit: You don’t just show up with a 140-page manifesto and a large stockpile of weapons one day. You work at it for a long time. And you plan not only the violence, but the presentation for the audience, the performance — what they will see from you, what they will hear from you, the reasons why, the message. It’s all very conscious and deliberate.

Thought 4 - "Problem Shooters"

A final interesting thought - there are problem shooters - people who probably shouldn't be given a gun. Yet we have no real mechanism to deny them a weapon. I'll submit that, under one interpretation of what the Founding Fathers wanted, anybody too nutty to be in the militia wouldn't have a gun. Again, I'll just leave that for your consideration.

Three Things Make a Monday Post

Thing 1 - Sometimes when sailors go down to the sea in ships, they don't come back.

Comes news that the US-flagged containership El Faro is missing and presumed sunk off of the Bahamas, a victim of hurricane Joachim. 33 sailors were aboard. The last communication from the ship was recieved Thursday October 1, and reported she was dead in the water and had a 15 degree list.

The ship had sailed south from Jacksonville Florida to Puerto Rico, presumably thinking that then-tropical-storm Joachim wouldn't strengthen or would move out. They presumed wrong, and ended up sailing into a storm that was briefly a Category 4 hurricane.

Thing 2 - The movie The Martian

On Saturday, I went to a 4 PM showing of The Martian. It was comfortably full and the 2-D version. The story was beautifully-filmed, had appropriate amounts of tension and humor, and was a very accurate portrayal of the book. I highly recommend seeing it.

Thing 3 - Holst's The Planets

In a bit of scheduling that I don't think was accidental, the College of DuPage's symphony, the New Philharmonic, performed Holst's symphonic suite The Planets. COD spent a ton of money redoing their performing arts center, and to show it off the orchestra played while showing pictures of the planets in question. I caught another matinee, this time the 3 PM Sunday show.

Friday's small portion of Link Salad

One of the noteworthy things about cruises is that one can order pretty much whatever food you want. However, the individual portion sizes tend to be small. So, consider this a cruise portion of link salad.

A) A detailed analysis of what happened at the Westgate mall in Kenya during the terrorist attack a few years ago. Basically, the terrorists were killed by private citizens and regular police a couple of hours into the attack, and most of next couple of days was the mall being looted by the army.

B) Michigan's M-185, the only US highway where cars are banned.

C) For fans of the TV series Vikings, when the characters talk in their "native" language, they are really speaking Old Norse, Old English or another period-appropriate language.

Thursday Update

Based on my critique session at last week's Writer's Workshop, I've decided to pull my request for publication for One of Our Spaceships is Missing. It's not quite as good as I can make it. Now I just need to find some time to fix it.


Better To Be Lucky Than Good

When the Writing Excuses workshop and cruise came up, I was concerned because September is the height of hurricane season. Fortunately, we missed all the bad weather. Now comes news that Joaquin has just hit hurricane status and is rambling around in the same waters we were sailing in.


I Can Haz Baggages!

I made it back to Chicago Sunday night, but my checked bag didn't. Fortunately, there was nothing I needed in said bag, so it was more of an annoyance than a problem. Well, Southwest eventually cracked the code and found the bag, and I woke up this morning to find it on my doorstep. Yeah! To celebrate, have a couple of links.

1) An interesting article by Megan McArdle on what Republicans (should) learn from losing Boehner. Money quote: Imagine that you tried negotiating for a car by announcing that you intended to pay no more than $2,400 for a fully-loaded new truck. Would this improve your bargaining position? Of course not; the salesman would decide that you were wasting his time, and go find another customer.

2) The novel Ancillary Justice has been bashed vigorously by conservatives on the grounds that it promotes lack of gender distinctions. But as this fellow points out, the people in the novel doing the no-gender thing are the bad guys! It's like arguing that Star Wars promotes chocking people you disagree with.

Emerging from Radio Silence

I ended up getting off of the cruise ship fairly early, which means that I have a lot of time to sit around and use the Fort Lauderdale airport's free wifi. Herewith, some thoughts on The Cruise and Writer's Workshop That Was.

1) I'm highly indifferent to cruises as a form of vacation. It's nice to only pack / unpack once (more on that anon) but there's a God-awful amount of waiting in line with regards to the ship.

1a) Regarding packing, I managed to not pack deodorant, break my watch at 8 PM Friday night before a 8 AM car pickup Saturday, and leave my phone charger in the intermediate hotel at Fort Lauderdale. I was rather frustrated, and ended up paying too much money for a watch in Falmouth Jamaica.

2) The workshop portion was productive, but some of the shore excursions weren't. We visited a historic plantation in Jamaica, which maryrobinette used for her last book. It was historically informative, and the drive through the desperately poor town of Falmouth opened a few writer's eyes. I got dehydrated due to heat, which made the next day's snorkeling excursion a bit too much for me. (No, Mom, I'm fine, just got a bit tired and spent most of the snorkel trip on the boat..) I cancelled my Cozumel excursion, and other than a stroll to the pier for free wifi didn't leave the boat.

3) As mentioned, I made an "American Regency" costume for the trip. Herewith is me wearing same at the party.

Pre-Travel Link Salad, Take 2

Like the label on the tin says:

A) Pasted here for my convenience: Cherie Priest's key lime pie recipe.

B) Kameron Hurley is wise on how much money one makes by writing books.

C) We're used to seeing the stylized maps of the London Tube. Here's why: the real map is almost too complex to use.

D) A preview of my cruise costume (and yes I have white pants for it):

Day Being Consumed by Gremlins

Send the cavalry!


Comment Policy

This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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