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“Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science.” - Girl Genius, by Kaja & Phil Foglio

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

Perspective, it's all about perspective ...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Tiptree Award

One of the highlights of WisCon is the presentation of the James Tiptree Award for "science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender."  The winner gets chocolate, a tiara, and a check for $1000.

The winners at WisCon 37 were Caitlin R Kiernan for The Drowning Girl and Kiini Ibura Salaam for Ancient, Ancient.  Ms Kiernan couldn't be there.  Ms  Salaam's acceptance speech brought me to tears.  Everyone else at the table where I sat was in tears as well. 

Ms Salaam has a guest post at SF Signal called Doing What We Can, based on her acceptance speech.  She talks about her struggle to find the time to finish Ancient, Ancient.  How we need to focus on what we can do and not dwell on what we can't do.  It's good and true and well worth reading. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

WisCon 37

I just got back from attending WisCon in Madison, Wisconsin.  It was totally awesome, with many wonderful panel sessions and much food, friendliness and laughter.  I will definitely go again.

For any readers who haven't heard of this particular conference, here's the description from the website:  "WisCon's Focus  -  This is the world's leading feminist science fiction convention. WisCon encourages discussion and debate of ideas relating to feminism, gender, race and class. WisCon welcomes writers, editors and artists whose work explores these themes as well as their many fans. We have panel discussions, academic presentations, and readings as well as many other uncategorizable events. WisCon is primarily a book-oriented convention... with an irrepressible sense of humor."

I haven't had time yet to organize my notes from the panels I attended.  I plan to summarize that in a future post.  

While driving home I thought about the perspective difference between fiction and nonfiction. 

For me, reading a nonfiction book is like taking a bus tour where the author is the driver and tour guide.  I'm in the bus with my nose pressed up against the glass while hearing the equivalent of, "On your right is the locally famous Three Horned Toads Pub."

In the fiction book, it's as if I'm greeted with a warm hug by the author.  "Got the guest room all cozy.  We'll drop off your stuff and head to the pub."  Soon I'm immersed in the sounds and aromas of the Three Horned Toads, watching the local bully being told off by some visitor.

I'm not saying nonfiction is devoid of sensory information or local color, but as the reader I often feel like an observer outside the events depicted.  For me, the fiction perspective is immersion, experiencing life events as a local.  I suppose the preference for immersion is why I don't read many nonfiction books.

Your mileage may differ, of course.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Richard Thompson, recorded live in Cambridge

You probably already know I love Richard Thompson's music.  Found a video with two songs ("Uninhabited Man" and "Johnny's Far Away"), recorded live in Cambridge in 2011.  His guitar work is so smooth, his fingers don't seem to move enough to produce all that sound!  There are even a few glimpses of the famous RT smile.

In other news, I'm poking at two short stories and reading books.  Our weather has been good, so I'm getting outside whenever I can. 

Updates as circumstances warrant. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Beautiful Sunday

This morning my daughter and I went to our favorite breakfast spot.  We only waited about twenty minutes for a table, which on a holiday isn't bad at all.  The special included crab cakes.  I learned to love them when I lived in Maryland.  The midwest is not a good place for seafood in general (folks here tend to majorly overcook it), but these were decent crab cakes.  I left quite happy.

We then went to the stable.  I haven't been there for a while and took advantage of the wonderful weather to get some pictures.  Here's daughter on thoroughbred Layla.  They both love to go fast. 

Layla's 17 hands tall.  Daughter's 5 foot 3 inches (1.6 meters).  A significant difference.  These were taken after the ride, while Layla grazed.  Fresh grass!  Dandelions!  Clover!! 

For the second picture, daughter was on tiptoe.  *grin*

This evening we're having quiet time at home, with tea for her and coffee for me.  It's been a lovely day.  I hope you had a lovely day as well.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Some Spring Flowers

Happy Mother's Day to all who celebrate. 

I recently made my first springtime visit to our local botanic gardens.  I love strolling the paths, checking out the various gardens, seeing how some of my favorite plants are doing.  The day I went it was a breezy, overcast 45° F (about 7° C).  The flowers were there, but not many animals.  I saw a few robins, two male red wing blackbirds challenging each other at the boundary of their territories.  A chipmunk dashed across the path in front of me.  Nothing fancy, like the pair of eagles I saw last spring. 

These foxgloves were near the parking lot.

One of my favorite areas is the landscape gardens, with a mix of native and imported plants.  Prairie smoke is native to the midwestern US short grass prairies.  I used to have some in my garden. 

It works well as a ground cover, grows about ankle high.  When the seeds are fully developed there will be white 'plumes' from what was a flower; that's where the name comes from.  If I time it right I might get a picture of that later in the season. 

The predominant flowers were tulips.  This is just one bed of many. 

Some varieties of crabapple trees have finished blooming and their petals are on the ground.   This one was just reaching its peak. 

It was a pleasant, if chilly, maunder.  Cleared the cobwebs from my mind.  Spring cleaning! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Word Verification for Comments

My spam comments have increased significantly in the last week, so I turned the word verification back on.  Sorry 'bout that.  Hopefully it will stop the 'bots. 

Since that's not much content for a post, here's an old picture of my daughter on her horse, trainer at their side, just before entering the show ring.  Team Rudy!

Yes, Rudy is the only one looking at the camera.  That horse had impressive situational awareness.

Edit 5/10/13
Phyllis asked how they did at the show.  Quite well:
They tied for best in show for both horse and rider.  Those are the two big ribbons and the two trophies on the counter.  I think the two blue ribbons are behind the big ones, clipped to the other pocket of her jacket.  They were in two flat and two jumping classes.  A flat class involves no jumping; you change gait upon instruction from the judge.  Everyone is in the arena at the same time - I don't remember how many were in the flat classes, maybe a dozen.  In one class, the horse was judged.  In the second, the rider was judged.  Rudy took first, Steph took second (the red ribbon).  In the jumping, there's only one horse in the arena at a time.  In their classes I think there were 6 or 8 competitors, jumping 3 feet.  Steph took first and Rudy third (the yellow ribbon - he would never hold a steady pace for jumping; he knew if he was moving faster it took less effort to get over).

Monday, May 6, 2013

Quoted for Truth

I'm feeling rather philosophical today.  Here are some thoughts, profound and insightful.  None of them original to me, but I agree with all. 

Prospero's Precepts -- 11 rules for critical thinking from history's great minds (via inlilac)

"1.  All beliefs in whatever realm are theories at some level.  (Stephen Schneider)

2.  Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own.  You may both be wrong.  (Dandemis)

3.  Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.  (Francis Bacon)

4.  Never fall in love with your hypothesis.  (Peter Medawar)

5.  It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.  Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.  (Arthur Conan Doyle)

6.  A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts, because some of the facts are wrong.  (Francis Crick)

7.  The thing that doesn't fit is the thing that is most interesting.  (Richard Feynman)

8.  To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.  (Charles Darwin)

9.  It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble.  It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.  (Mark Twain)

10.  Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.  (Thomas Jefferson)

11.  All truth passes through three stages.  First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident.  (Arthur Schopenhauer)"

This strikes me as very sensible advice.  IMO numbers 9 and 11 are especially relevant to many current controversies.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

It's Finally Spring!

The daffodils and forsythia have been blooming for over a week.  I saw some tulips as well.  But at lunch today I came across my favorite sign of spring - goslings!

The photo's not great; I was rushing because I felt bad scaring the geese.  The fuzz balls are near the goose on the right by the bank.

I hope spring has happened where you live, too. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Reading of Books

This year, I haven't done much reading of books.  In four months, four books were read.  Rather pathetic.  I must do better.  What I did read was all very good, so that's something...

(1) Elizabeth Bear, Range of Ghosts.  First book of the Eternal Sky trilogy.  (Book two is in the TBR pile even now.)  Ms Bear uses a Central Asian basis for the culture of the story.  It's wonderfully done.  (Are you as tired as I am of Euro-Medieval-based fantasy?  I'm so glad there are authors who feel this way, too.)

(2) Jared Diamond, The World Until Yesterday.  Basically, this is a big book of comparative anthropology.  I learned a great deal about the world view of hunter-gatherers, which at some point will be incorporated into my novel Shadows

(3) Ursula K. Le Guin, The Unreal and the Real, Volume One: Where on Earth.  A collection of realism and magical realism short stories, some of Ms Le Guin's favorites.  I love this author.  She's so versatile - science fiction, fantasy, lit fic, poetry, translations, essays.  Her book on writing (Steering the Craft) is excellent. 

(4) Ursula K. Le Guin, The Unreal and the Real, Volume Two: Outer Space, Inner Lands.  Fantasy and science fiction short stories selected by the author.

I want to write more short fiction, but I'm very much out of practice.  Reading more of it will remind me how this form works.  At least theoretically.  And even if it doesn't, I'll have read a lot of great stories!