Blog Archives

Hello blog, I’ve missed you.

Let me just blow the dust off, here.

If you’re wondering where I’ve been the past three months, I’ve been working 55 to 60 hour weeks. When you have as much trouble writing as I do, that doesn’t leave much time for blogging. But things have calmed down a bit now, so I should hopefully be able to post again from time to time.

If nothing else, there’s a lot of books I want to write about.

Speaking of books, here’s a cool thing! StoryBundle offers collections of books in epub format that you pay what you like for. The current offering is the “Epic Fantasy Bundle”, and it lasts for another ten days.

It really is epic, too! If you pay over $12 you get three bonus books. I paid $20, because I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my hard-earned overtime pay and frankly I often undertip.

The one I’m reading now is The Camelot Papers, which should win a prize for misleading cover art. I thought I’d be reading a farcical comedy, and while there are moments of dark humor, this really isn’t one. It is compelling, though, and so far I’ve enjoyed it. I’ll try to write up a proper review once I’m done with it.

Speaking of cool things, Evolution Expo is happening in Oakland this summer! It’s billed as “putting the science back into science fiction”, which is something I can get behind! I fully intend to attend, and you should too!

So, I’m back to writing again. No where near as often as 2012, but hopefully more than 2013. Coming soon, book reports and ultra-short fiction!

A Wet Mars

Stunning news from the red planet! The Curiosity rover has found evidence that at least one part of Mars, where the robot is now, once had fresh water, a warm climate, and the right chemistry to support life as we know it!

Bad Astronomy has the scoop, and it’s difficult for me to think of anything more to say that isn’t just the noise of raw excitement.

This still isn’t evidence of Martian life, past or present, but it is a clear indicator that it’s worthwhile to keep looking. It doesn’t mean that we’ll find life, or that life is or once was there for us to find. But consider that life arose on Earth almost as soon as the planet had the conditions to support it, and we have found the right sort of organic molecules elsewhere in the Solar system, and it definitely seems like we have a good shot at finding something if we keep looking.

And that’s the announcement I really want to read, that solid evidence of extraterrestrial life has been found. This is a step in that direction, if only because it encourages us to keep looking.

Forged in the heart of a star

In my last post I mentioned our connection to the stars and the universe, and I’ve been thinking about that some more. Consider for a moment that every atom that makes up your body was part of a star once. Think about some of the implications.

There’s a young Earth creationist group whose favorite tactic is the phrase “Were you there?” They train children to ask this question in schools, at museums, anytime someone talks about something happening millions of years ago. It’s every bit as childish and annoying as you imagine, all the irritation of a four year old repeatedly asking “why?” with none of the actual curiosity.

The thing is, from a certain point of view it’s a perfectly honest answer to say “Yes”. Yes, I was there when the dinosaurs died out, and so were you. The atoms that make up my body were already here, in the air, the ground, the oceans, and the plants and animals, even in the dinosaurs themselves. Scattered across the world, unbinding from one molecule and binding into another, and passing down through the ages until the time when, for a brief while, they would come together to form me. The same is true of you and everyone else who’s ever lived. Read the rest of this entry

Climate change, and checking the facts.

I had just finished reading this post about climate change at Bad Astronomy and was skimming the comments when I saw an exchange that I thought was worth writing about. The part I want to discuss can be summed up as a scientist rhetorically asking how hard checking the the facts can be and a layman answering “Very”.

Maybe most scientists don’t appreciate how hard something as simple as checking the facts really is for the rest of us. It’s not a matter of stupid or lazy, it’s a matter of time and skills. Read the rest of this entry

To See or Not to See

Today during a discussion it was suggested that a scientific study of a subculture should not be performed because any negative aspects or perceived negative aspects such a study found would be used as weapons by those who stigmatize it. As so often happens in idle conversation the subject moved on fairly quickly, but I found myself thinking about it again and again during the evening. So, since I haven’t written anything in ages, I figure I may as well muse over this a bit.

Interestingly, I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter what subculture this is, so I’ve taken pains not to say it for both anonymity and for what I will call purity of purpose. If you’re reading this and thinking you agree with me unless it’s one specific subculture that you dislike, what does that say about you?

Anyways, the premise that I’m responding to is that a study should not be performed if the results could be used against the subjects. The short version is: I disagree on both philosophical and practical grounds, and will address them in that order. Read the rest of this entry

%d bloggers like this: