The More Things Change…

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

First, some rumor control. There has been a rash of stories about border guards detaining people for no good reason, and as much as I would like to attribute that to the Trumpster – this is not new. [Watts ended up convicted of a felony, is barred from traveling in or though the US and paid a fine.]

My wife has given notice at Rhino, and I will miss working with her very much, not only because I (obviously) enjoy her company, but because she was also good at her job.I don’t get into Rhino politics online, but from my perspective – which is abnormally well informed – this situation was 100% avoidable had anyone in charge been inclined to take action.

This is neither the first nor last good employee who has had this experience.

March 7th is her last day at Rhino. She took a new job which starts March 8th.

I have started going back to writer’s groups. I go to Central Phoenix one on Monday nights at Grand Central Coffee Company (where I’m work-shopping the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond). and an independent one on Thursday Night at the Armadillo Grill – which seems really familiar.  (My old group met there for years, on Thursday night). Join us if your are inclined, and I will try not to spill beer on my copy of your first or second draft. [Links above are to the Meet-up sites which may require registration]

At Are We Lost Yet?  I report on outdoor retailers vs the Utah GOP.

The twice annual Outdoor Retailers Show has announced that it will pull out of its long time home in Salt Lake City Utah in protest of Utah officials support of eliminating federal lands by transferring them to the states.

At Fantastical History, we continue on with giants, exploring my strange (made-up) theory about the Muans and how they became Asuras.

Muans ( a term made up well after the fact) are a race of supernatural immortals native to southeast Asia. Their lost history informs the legends and myths behind the Asura and Devas and Jinn and Oni of more recent human cultures.

At Curious Continuity, I report both facts and wild conjecture about TRAPPIST-1 and its seven dwarves.

Unless we are captured by alien slavers and dragged there, we are not going to be around when (if) human starships reach the seven rocky dwarf planets orbiting tightly around TRAPPIST-1.  Why wait for that – when we can just make stuff up. Come on – NASA wants you to!

And I updated my writer’s resume to try and land a gig writing for Outer Places. So if they made it this far down checking me out – hi guys! The links were sparse because a lot of what I’ve written for the web has since evaporated in 404 unknown host country.

The more things stay the same, the more they change.

Now you know.

 

MORE ON PETER WATTS:

http://io9.gizmodo.com/5497556/sf-author-peter-watts-found-guilty-of-felony-resistance-against-border-guardhttp://io9.gizmodo.com/5497556/sf-author-peter-watts-found-guilty-of-felony-resistance-against-border-guard

https://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/2009/12/12/us_border_guards_arrest_author_peter_watts.html

http://www.tor.com/2010/04/27/sometimes-we-win/

 

 

Good Advice from Direct Experience

I turned 50 not long ago, so I feel I am old enough to share a few general life lessons.

This won’t take long.

  • Own your life.
    • Do your own thinking.
    • Take responsibility for your feelings.
    • Your circumstances can be an explanation, but not an excuse.
      • My nearsightedness is more of a day-to-day problem for me than my autism, by a good margin. No one fundraises for my nearsightedness. Just saying.
    • Trust your stuff (whatever that stuff happens to be).
      • It is your job to figure out what your stuff is.

If you don’t know, choose the option that leaves the most other options open.

    • Sometimes that means stalling, and that’s OK. I mean, it’s like deliberately fouling to stop the clock, but that’s a legitimate tactic.
    • If you know – then do it. Nike is right about that.
  • Define yourself as broadly as possible. When you say stuff like “as an [x] I believe….” you are artificially narrowing your perspective, and thereby leaving out options to no gain.
    • I am a discrete entity within the time-space continuum, with a definable vector through space time and a known mass.
      • That may be carrying it a little far.

 

I have become fond of the Four Agreements of Toltec Wisdom:

  • Keep your word.
  • Take nothing personally.
  • Avoid Assumptions.
  • Do Your Best.

 

General Work advice:

  • You can get a job by knowing what you’re doing. You make a career by taking responsibility for getting it done.
  • Getting yourself into position to do the work well is never a waste of time.
    • Seriously: measure twice – cut once.
    • Just wear or use the fucking PPE.
    • Absolutely double-check that you have everything before you crawl/climb into the confined space/stupid high place.
  • Building relationships is never a waste of time.
    • Decisions aren’t made in meetings. They are made in the hallway conversation afterwards.

 

Specific to stagecraft:

The four Ks:

  • KNOW the system you are working with.
  • KEEP it in good working order.
  • KNOW what you’re doing
    • And make certain everyone else involved knows the plan as well.
  • KEEP your concentration.

 

The Three A’s

  • ATTITUDE
  • ABILITY
  • AVAILABILITY

These are all equally important in who gets scheduled.

 

Traits of a good stagehand (in order of priority):

  • Show up sober.
  • Be able to follow verbal instructions
  • Get along with strangers (because you will do this every day)
    • Don’t panic
    • Don’t be a dick.
  • Pay attention
    • This is the number one factor in sfaety
    • Also, you can learn things.
  • Remain flexible
  • Take the craft seriously.

 

With the exception of life and safety, nothing important actually happens backstage.

 

Writing Advice:

  • Show don’t tell.
  • Death to cliches.
  • Keep your ass in the chair.
    • Anyhting you write down is more productive than an empty page.
  • It is your job to figure it out.

 

Also, I dreaded writing this thing for about a week, but the answer turned out to be just sit down and write it.

 

Now you know.

Lurching towards an author blog

I’m excited to announce the upcoming releases of my newest books!

Beanstalk and Beyond is volume one of the autobiography of Jack the Giant Killer and chronicles how a young chicken thief in Arthurian Britain grows into a young hero. This is due out from New Link Publishing.

One of 64 tells the secret history of that legendary force, The 64, who would fight interstellar crime and mayhem when our nearest interstellar neighbors were still the wild frontier. This is due out from Radion Media.

Towards those ends, we are reshaping this blog to be a bit more a functional author site, although my personal blog will continue here until I have some compelling reason to stop.

Hence the new look.

News and events are announced here, on my assorted social media holes (Facebook, Twitter, etc. ) and there is an e-mail list. If you want to be included on the latter, contact me at the e-mail listed at the bottom of the About the Author page.

 

Passwords are the enemy of progress

I have a new laptop and a new cellular phone and this has forced a renewal of my electronic life.

There are many places I used to go that I am no longer welcome because of unrecoverable passwords.There are other places I am seeing anew because I can no longer rely upon encoded habits. It’s somewhat like cleaning out a storage room and finding relatively important things you forgot you had. But first, the hardware.

Let’s start with my brand new HP laptop.

THE GOOD: more capacity, bigger screen, a non proprietary HDMI port

THE BAD: The “improved” touchpad is actually less responsive (though that might be a learning curve issue).

The keyboard is smaller than it needs to be given the surface area available.

The primary purpose of Windows 10 appears to be the delivery of adware.

Oh, and memo to HP: The reason I don’t volunteer to give feedback or anything like that is your reputation for flooding any seem with adware – as demonstrated by your printer drivers. I bought the thing already. Back off.

win_20170118_22_43_17_pro

A picture from my laptop of me taking a picture of my laptop with my new phone.

I was actually happy with my trusty Kyocera Torque until I dropped it just the wrong way and shattered the face. I was eligible for an upgrade, but Sprint no longer carries the Torque or anything like it. I valued the Torque’s smaller size and relative durability – but I would have had to go all the way back to a flip phone. . Don’t despair – I have insurance.

The insurance could replace my phone with an equivalent – in this case the Torque XT, which is the same phone with more internal memory. Only we discovered they gained that memory by filling the SD slot with their own card. And the camera would launch. So I took it to the Sprint store

And they restarted it, as they do, it came back demanding a password.

I don’t assign passwords to anything if I don’t have to. This was a refurbished unit, and the encryption was left over from a previous user.

So now I have a second replacement device: a Kyocera Duraforce Pro, which is like 5x the phone it replaces. (Also larger and heavier – so it goes). I just got it activated minutes ago, so we may come back to this.

http://www.gsmarena.com/kyocera_duraforce_pro-8268.php

Not so much a review as someone reading the tech specs verbatim:

https://youtu.be/dNAd0VHvtMU

An actual review:

http://www.phonescoop.com/articles/article.php?a=18607

Cool as this is, there is the problem is getting into my various accounts from devices where those passwords have not been saved. In that regard, I am the reason your IT guy grumbles about the liberal arts.

Here’s what that guy knows that we don’t:

Password security is more about length than variety. Media Labs explains at length:

https://www.ymedialabs.com/password-security/

LifeHacker has similar advice with pictures:

http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2017/01/why-your-brain-naturally-sucks-at-password-security-infographic/
Now you know.

Q&A about uncalled fouls and Russian hacking

Somewhere in the 1990’s Alonzo Mourning’s Charlotte Hornets lost a play-off game to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Mourning complained afterwards that Jordan had fouled him on his last shot (which might have tied the game), but it was not called.

Jordan responded (I’m paraphrasing a little here – it was a long time ago):

“Did I foul him on the hand? Hell. I probably got his whole arm. Should they have called that? Sure. But if he thinks that’s why he lost the game, he’s going to lose the next one.”

I don’t remember if the Bulls swept the Hornets in those playoffs, but I know they prevailed. [update: the Bulls won 3-1 of a best of five]

This is where we’re at with the Russian hacking thing.

Is the Russian hacking thing a real scandal?  Yes – in that laws were broken. Even though the material stolen in the Watergate break-in was a non-factor in the 1972 election, no one disputed that the break-in was a crime.

Should the DNC have had better system security? Obviously.

Is this all the DNC’s fault? No. If you leave your car unlocked, it’s still a crime for someone to steal stuff out of your trunk

Does that excuse anything else that happened? No.

Is it as bad as Watergate? No – in that no-one in either Trump’s camp or the Republican Party had anything to do with it.

Did Vladimir Putin order the hack in an attempt to put Donald Trump in the White House? Not really.

Russian hackers who may or may not have been under contract with the Russian government hacked the RNC server as part of a wider effort to hack any political database. This data appeared, somehow, in the hands of Russian intelligence. Putin, it seems, saw it personally and after he stopped laughing, authorized its release to Wikileaks.

It is not so much that Putin likes Trump. It is that he really hates Hillary Clinton. Really. Hate.

Did this cost Clinton the election? No.

First, James Comey did far more damage with his November surprise press conference about nothing. If anyone should be called for a foul – it’s him.

That said, you know in your heart that Hillary Clinton cost herself the election, the way George McGovern was his own worst enemy in 1972. She was unable to present to voters any compelling reason to vote FOR her. Yeah- point to her position papers buried on her website all you want. This is Presidential politics. You have to find a way to deliver your message – deliver, and get them to listen to it.  The message she delivered was “Trump is worse” which isn’t enough in the fly-over states, as we have seen.

Should we, as a country, be concerned that Russia behaved badly? Sure.

BUT –BUT-BUT this is way down the list of the things that worry me about the upcoming Trump administration. While clearly self-serving, Trump’s admonition that we should all move on actually has some merit. That game is over. Look at the replays all you want – the score is going to stand.

BUT again, at least Jordan admitted that there was probably a foul.

 

 

Anything but politics

Which, so you know, is a struggle.

We went to Palm Springs (actually Cathedral City, but they are separated by a sidewalk) for Thanksgiving, because family. We now know the chair lift that takes you near the top of 8000 foot San Jacinto mountain costs $27/head. I’d tell you more, but that stopped us right there.

If you want to visit Joshua Tree National Park, the best way in is the south entrance. On what a ranger told us was the busiest day of the year, we entered without wait or charge. The visitor center was jacked, but the entrance was unencumbered.

We saw a tarantula. Joshua Tree is actually kinda sparse on huge wonders you can see from the car. It’s a hiking/climbing destination, and I had the wrong crew for that.

Stopping in Quartzsite for sustenance, we visited the Hi Jolly Memorial – so you don’t have to.

kimg0315

My Rheem gas water heater went 14 years before the bottom rusted out, so I bought another one. If you have an old house, like mine, it is worth it to hire a plumber to replace the corroded, seized valve. But replacing the tank itself can be done by anyone of average handyman competence, and a buddy.

My dog has been laying in the same spot for a third straight day with “Old dog vertibulosis” which is basically vertigo. We have medicine for it. It’s yet to really work. We shall see. The folks at Madison Animal Hospital took us in  minutes before closing on a Sunday night as we clamored in with this 70 pound senile dog that we supposed to be near death. They were very helpful.

At Curious Continuity, ghost universes aren’t the same as time travel.

At Fantastical History, I whine about how deep POV ruined my literary vision for a fairty tale.

And at The64, I announce the novel that will actually happen.

Rejoice in a manner befitting your people.

Also this:

 

Now you know.

Post Election Memos to my friends left and right

OK – Let’s get this over with. I am done trying to predict anything our presumed President Elect, Donald J Trump, might say, do or accomplish. I have been wrong at every turn. Now, I have not been alone in this, but at some point you have to stop touching the stove.

So I have been largely ignoring all the social media, bliggidy-blog pronouncements about what the future holds in store for our dear republic, because the only person who knows what Trump might do is Trump, and I can’t say with confidence that even he knows. This is a man who will contradict himself on policy within the same press conference, and then later, when asked to clarify, will offer a third, completely different policy, none of which will square with known facts.

I raise my hands and walk away.

A Memo to my friends standing to my left:

Protesting almost never works. How much did the Occupy movement really change anything? How much better is the Middle East after the Arab Spring? You have every right to do this, of course. But you do not have a right to be taken seriously, and no one who isn’t marching with you is taking you seriously.

(Before you start: MLK and his whole movement persevered for nearly a decade, organized politically, and did most of their real damage through strikes. You guys are nowhere near that level.)

If you want to influence the outcome of the game, you must actually play the game – and I mean politics. Right now, you’re just a bunch of rowdy fans in the cheap seats.

(Also before you start: Clinton beat Sanders by too many votes for that to be all DNC shenanigans. By the time Sanders realized he could win he was already too far behind, which sounds like nonsense, but that’s what happened.)

A Memo to my friends standing to my right:

What I can report with some confidence is that those who were hoping that our New Orange Overlord would wipe away all pretense of political correctness have it exactly backwards. If you are or have been a vocal Trumpster, the presumption is that you’re a racist, or are at least more willing to tolerate racism than the rest of society at large. If you don’t care, stop reading here.

But if you do, if you prefer to be thought of as civil , perhaps even tolerant, you were warned, even if you couldn’t recognize, that Trump has presented himself as the most openly bigoted serious candidate we’ve had since George Wallace ran on Segregation Forever in the 60’s. And you have approved that message – even if you voted for him for some other reason.

Now that doesn’t make you necessarily a bigot until … you post that one slightly bigotted thing on Facebook. You may have noticed, then, that anyone who is not also a True Trumpster reacted quickly and harshly, right?

If Trump actually carries through with his most extreme threats policies, it will become increasingly difficult to carry out a normal, peaceful existence unless you are a straight, white Christian male, ideally older than 40. For the rest of your friends – anywhere – these policies represent an existential threat to their ability to participate in society, if not life and limb.

That is a very different level of anxiety and discomfort than name-calling, which is what calling you a racist or homophobe, or islamophobe, or a general bigot amounts to.  And if you’re doing this on purpose, knowing that it will upset people, the name we use is asshole.

So if you openly endorsed Trump, and you don’t want to be considered a bigot by the majority of us who did not, then it is upon you to not be an asshole.

And so we’re clear, “Why do you say Trump is racist?” or “White lives matter too…” or “I don’t think I bigoted by my definition” or any of that tired, old crap will not work with anyone who does not agree with you already. (And if you’re claiming he didn’t mean any of that, I refer you to the top of the post)  The rest of us are exhausted in explaining this to you, and if you try to make us do it one more time, you’re being an asshole.

You live Trump down by being super cool – just as Jesus would want you to do anyway. There is no other path.