Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive
29Jun/120

Friday Linkdump loves airships and philosophy.

So there's this guy named Paul up in Chicago who I don't hear from a whole lot, but I've known him literally half my life. One of his sisters -- Sarah, who is also pretty dang fantastic -- married a guy named Randy, who's an artist.

Well, Randy and Paul are making a game, and you can help make it happen.

Quicksilver: The Great Airship Race is a board game for 2-6 players in which the object is to cross the finish line first while avoiding obstacles and stymieing one's opponents. The prototypes look gorgeous, and everything I'm hearing about playtests suggest that it's going over super well at cons so far.

Basically if you like steampunk, zeppelins, or fun, family-friendly board games, please consider dropping Split Second Games a couple of bucks to make this thing happen.

And now, linkage:

- While I'm thinking about Kickstarter and projects I'm backing, Brendan Myers, a Canadian philosopher working mainly in environmental philosophy and virtue ethics, is writing a college-level logic textbook. Now, before you glaze over and wonder why anybody would care, here's why this is awesome: he's crowdfunding the project to create a high-quality, comprehensive teaching tool that can be distributed in electronic format for free, with an affordable print option. This looks like a great project, and I enjoy Myers' work. If this sort of thing interests you, go check it out.

- The best thing I've seen on the web all week: Party Rock Anthem, meet Star Wars Cantina.

- Why Privacy Matters Even When You've Got Nothing To Hide.
A brief unpacking of the "nothing to hide" argument that gets used against privacy advocates. If you take nothing else from it, the retort "So, do you have curtains?" might be a nice thing to tuck away in your memory banks.

- For my roommate: the usage mistake I keep making, all the damn time. Well, not so much with eminent, but immanent/imminent? I'm going to need a mnemonic.

- Tifton 85 grass linked to Texas cattle deaths
A variety of hybrid grass has spontaneously begun giving off cyanide gas. That's not terrifying or anything. Not at all. (Note: This article originally said that Tifton 85 was a genetically modified grass. It has since been corrected to reflect that Tifton 85 is a hybrid grass, not a GM grass.)

- Finally, confirmation from on high on an issue crucial to the well-being of humanity: Tim Gunn confirms that tights are not pants.

- Christian fundamentalist textbooks touting the Loch Ness Monster as proof of Creationism
Sing it with me now: Je-sus loves the little cryp-tids! All the cryptids of the wo-o-orld...

- I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I'm doing rather well in Paul Cornell's "This Time Next Year" league table. Which reminds me, I need to finish my Hugo votes...

- Chuck Norris Wants Boy Scouts To Stay Anti-Gay! Lesbian Ex-Den Mother Fights Back!
You know what? Screw Chuck Norris. We've got Captain America on our side. I'll take the Avengers over Walker Texas Ranger any day of the week.

- I've been having this really interesting conversation with someone about privilege, responsibility, causality, and radical life changes for about a week or two. It's clearly a thing I need to unpack more, because I keep running into things that make me think about it more deeply. Including, of all things, Indexed. Well-played, universe. Well-played.

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24Jun/120

Your weekend dose of Robert Frost

I had a meeting with some folks via G+ today, and someone mentioned Robert Frost and, specifically, this poem. Which is, of course, amazing.

For best results, read aloud.

"Directive"
by Robert Frost

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost,
May seem as if it should have been a quarry—
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.
And there's a story in a book about it:
Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels
The ledges show lines ruled southeast-northwest,
The chisel work of an enormous Glacier
That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole.
You must not mind a certain coolness from him
Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain.
Nor need you mind the serial ordeal
Of being watched from forty cellar holes
As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins.
As for the woods' excitement over you
That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves,
Charge that to upstart inexperience.
Where were they all not twenty years ago?
They think too much of having shaded out
A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
Make yourself up a cheering song of how
Someone's road home from work this once was,
Who may be just ahead of you on foot
Or creaking with a buggy load of grain.
The height of the adventure is the height
Of country where two village cultures faded
Into each other. Both of them are lost.
And if you're lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
Then make yourself at home. The only field
Now left's no bigger than a harness gall.
First there's the children's house of make-believe,
Some shattered dishes underneath a pine,
The playthings in the playhouse of the children.
Weep for what little things could make them glad.
Then for the house that is no more a house,
But only a belilaced cellar hole,
Now slowly closing like a dent in dough.
This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.
Your destination and your destiny's
A brook that was the water of the house,
Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,
Too lofty and original to rage.
(We know the valley streams that when aroused
Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)
I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it,
So can't get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn't.
(I stole the goblet from the children's playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.

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22Jun/120

Friday Linkdump: 99% Dingo Free

Not that I have anything against dingoes -- ridiculous image to the right aside, which I include only because it made me laugh inappropriately and snort tea out of my nose -- but unless something truly unexpected happens, I can pretty much guarantee that there are no dingoes in my immediate vicinity. Mostly. What with being in North America and all.

(Also, they do not usually eat human infants, and are not unusually vicious creatures. They're apex predators, doing what apex predators do. They are also classed as "vulnerable" on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Be kind to dingoes by steering clear of them, and avoid leaving small, helpless things unattended if you're in their habitat. You can learn more about what dingoes are really about here.)

And now, a random assortment of links:

- Missouri businessman in limbo in China in dispute over debt, unsure when he’ll get back to US
When I travel, I often have a lurking worry that some kind of disaster or mishap will leave me stranded hundreds of miles for home without the money to return. This story is like the Platonic ideal of that fear. Whatever happens, I hope this guy gets home.

- When University Presses Fail
No, not social "fail" as we colloquially use it here on the Internets, but fail as in come apart. It's an odd term to use, considering that the University of Missouri press -- which new UM President Tim Wolfe has announced will be closing shop -- was never intended to be a thing which could "fail" in the business sense. It's a non-profit entity designed to be a part of the service that the University provides in terms of fostering scholarship. The closure is a terrible loss, and I sincerely hope that this decision is reversed.

- Is this Welsh princess the first British woman author?
Princess Gwenllian, daughter of the King of Gwynedd, died in battle fighting the Normans in the late 11th Century. And, according to at least one Celticist, may have been the author the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. The article doesn't get too deep into the evidence, but it's kind of a cool idea, and Gwenllian is certainly someone who rates high on the badassery scale.

- Can Athletes Perform Well on a Vegan Diet?
My diet is decidedly not vegan (I eat a pescetarian diet that also includes no-kill animal products like milk, eggs, and honey), but I'm interested in what we're actually learning about what kinds of diets the body can thrive on other than the diets embedded in the overculture of the last generation. And, while I'm thinking about it, an interesting article about our species' genetic heritage, and its effect on diet, activity, and fat.

- Facebook Has Automatically Signed You Up for Facial Recognition. Here’s How to Opt Out.
Useful!

- The only good abortion is my abortion
A beautifully honest essay by a woman faced with making a decision about whether to terminate her pregnancy. It's poignant and candid, and is a powerful example of why the people trying to control the law surrounding access to contraception and abortion -- being mostly middle-aged white men -- are precisely the wrong people to be having the conversation.

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17Jun/124

It is by caffeine alone I set my hand in motion…

Well, that and a fistful of Mentats. Apologies, of course, to both Frank Herbert and the people of post-nuclear America.

The last week has been pretty eventful. I made a trip East for the annual St. Louis Pagan Picnic, as well as an evening with some friends I hadn't seen since 2010. It was the sort of weekend I come out of wishing that I had a weekend afterward to recover -- I spent Monday on wishing my dogs weren't such effective alarm clocks and quietly cursing Seanan McGuire for writing books that keep me up past my bedtime -- but any 48 hours that feels like community and has a savory coffee house/drag show/gay bar center is worth it.

This weekend has been eventful, too, but in ways that have allowed for falling asleep more or less whenever I want to, with one really brilliant exception: yesterday's Save the Bookstores shindig at Village Books.

I got to spend the morning and early afternoon with Bridget Bufford (Minus One, Cemetery Bird), Martin and Neil from Uncle Robot Presents, B. Kent (Snow Boy, Afraid, and proprietress of The Book Times), and several folks from the Central Missouri Scale Modelers.

Despite the inevitable performance anxiety I always feel, I love to do events like this. It's fun to meet people who want to ask questions or chat, and I love the bizarre conversations I get to have with the other folks involved behind the table. I mean, before yesterday I had no idea that carbaryl (better known as Sevin) is readily absorbed by the scrotum, or that getting a high gloss on a scale model paint job sometimes requires judicious application of toothpaste. Now I do. Plus, selling books at a bookstore tends to result in having a bit of pocket money while being in a bookstore.

Of course, that last bit exacerbates my sleeping problems...

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1Jun/120

Some weeks, reading the news just makes me want to run.

There's Rudy Eugene (now widely and unfortunately for his loved ones known as "the naked, face-eating guy in Florida"), the guy in New Jersey who stabbed himself 50 times and then threw his own intestines at the police, and now there's a student in Maryland who has admitted to murdering his housemate and then eating his heart and parts of his brain.

I am, on a very human level, appalled by the tragedy in all of these cases. There's a part of me that wants to try and speculate about possible causes, social and otherwise, but I'm not really quite to that degree of detachment at the moment. Really, I'm just jolting hard between imagining what this must be like for the families and communities involved and my fiction-making brain. Which, as you can imagine, is having a field day.

I'm also seriously looking at getting back into my cardio routine. Er.

But yeah, it's a strange week when the mainstream media starts throwing around the words "zombie apocalypse" about something that isn't fiction. Or in May and June.

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