Motivation

I have a confession to make…

I have motivation issues.

I know, it isn’t some grand revelation, or deep and meaningful insight, but it is something that I have come to realize about myself over the years. It is something that I struggle with on pretty much a day to day basis.

Sometimes I have an idea and I am going strong in following through on it, then something goes awry, I hit a stumbling block and the moment is gone, my motivation with it, and the idea languishes. Sometimes I make progress, but then I look back and haven’t come as far as I thought I had and my motivation evaporates in discouragement. Other times I look at what I have accomplished and find I simply am not happy with what I have done, I decide to scrap it and begin again, but that never happens, instead what was done is gone and nothing new takes its place. Then there are those times that I simply do not know how to begin, and the trying to figure out the how tos and where fors starting, or staring at the blank page before me, and it overwhelms my motivation and I end up walking away.

Part of it, I know, comes from my own self image. Those that know me know quite well how self-deprecating I tend to be. I, for various reasons, tend not to think very much of myself, and often times wonder what other people actually see in me. I think of myself last, if at all. It is another thing I have struggled with for more of my life than I most often care to admit, and I deal with it better on some days than others.

The two issues are quite often intertwined, motivation and self-image. At least they are for me. I have learned some little tricks over the years, things I can do to help with motivating myself, the carrot on the stick if you will. Incremental rewards help sometimes, even, or sometimes especially, if they are unrelated to the task at hand. Can’t have the ice cream in the freezer until I get at least so many words written, or some other treat for myself upon reaching the next step towards a goal.

They don’t always work, though, and of late for me they seem to be working less and less. Not sure why, but over the past few months it is something I noticed. So, I ask you, my friends and readers: What do you do to keep yourself motivated?

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 4:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The Cause & The Sacred Cow

Mooby the Golden Calf

I’ve been seeing a lot of this on a number of different fronts lately. People getting their panties in a wad because someone is doing something that is “hurting the cause.” It doesn’t matter what that cause is; it could be skepticism, it could be feminism, it could be science, it could be roleplaying, it could be any of a laundry list of things; there always seems to be someone, some group, for whom “the cause” is alpha and omega of it all, and anyone who doesn’t treat “the cause” with what they deem as a proper level of respect and seriousness is the enemy. These causes have become a sort of sacred cow to these people, to be revered, only approached in certain manners, manners approved by them of course, and only by the people that they deem appropriate.

There seem to be two things that raise their ire faster than anything: Humor and Sexuality. If you attempt in any way to inject either of these things you are quickly and vehemently decried as “hurting the cause.”

Humor is an odd dichotomy; to these people it is great to joke, parody or poke fun at those things that they disagree with, however the moment their sacred cow becomes the target they are offended. Living in the infamous Bible Belt you see it a lot. Tell a joke about a Catholic and it’s funny, turn that same joke around and tell is about a Baptist and people are up in arms. It isn’t just limited to the southern part of the country, though, you see it everywhere, especially now in our age of instant, continuous communication. It’s sad, really, to see otherwise intelligent people frothing at the mouth because someone dared to laugh, or because someone showed some cleavage.

It puts people in a bit of a pinch. “Be free!” they say, “Be liberated!” but then they don’t want you to actually talk about sex, or breasts, or anything like that, and if you do suddenly you are objectifying, or hurting the cause. It is a fine line they want people to walk, and a purely imaginary one at that. It exists only in their minds, because they have declared this or that as unassailable, and they have decided that their way is best, and that everyone has to do it their way for they seem to feel that if “the cause” isn’t some monolithic entity that it will crumble and fail.

The thing is, it won’t. No cause will fail because people have different approaches or different views. A group is more likely to fail if the leadership of that group attempts to squelch any dissenting opinions, but even a single group’s failure does not damn a cause. One guild is not all roleplay on a server. One blog is not all of skepticism, nor is one speaker no matter how well known. Nor should they be. Having different approaches, different tones, different thoughts gives breadth. Some work better than others sometimes, and others are better at others, that doesn’t mean either is wrong.

Part of it is quite likely a result of our national view on sexuality, a very closeted, Puritanical view, and one that, quite sadly, lags behind the world at large. Another part of it is, it seems to me, that many times these people who do respond so vehemently to anything that challenges their views do so because they are not so sure of those views as they would like to be. The challenge scares them, because so very often people hate to admit that they might be wrong, and they are afraid to change their stance because it is the idea that has become sacred, rather than the goal that drives the idea.

To extend a metaphor that I have seen Hemant Mehta use about attacking sacred cows; the time has come to take some of these sacred cows and lead them out to pasture, and others to the slaughter house, but whatever is done with them none should be allowed to stand in the way.

So I say go ahead, full force and move those sacred cows where ever you might find them in your way. Let those who will rant and rail against you, let them label you radical and take pride in it because if they wouldn’t do it if you weren’t threatening that sacred cow.

Librarian’s Note: The whole time I was writing this post Logical by Supertramp seemed to be on loop in the playlist in my mind. Especially the third verse:

Now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical,
liberal, fanatical, criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re
acceptable, respecable, presentable, a vegtable!

Don’t be a vegetable, my friends! And do not fear the labels that those who disagree with you might hurl your way. Embrace them with pride, a badge of honor in the fight for reason to prevail.

Published in: on April 21, 2010 at 11:13 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Cthulhu Tracts

Seems Jack Chick isn’t the only one proselytizing with tracts left in bathrooms and on restaurant tables these days. It seems that the Elder Gods have gotten into the act:

Photobucket

::Note:: I found this floating out in the aether between the tubes of the internets and I have no idea where it originally came from (other than perhaps the dark souls at R’lyeh Press somewhere under the sea). If anyone does know who the artist is let me know so I can give proper credit (and shake their hand… or tentacle… or… you know… never mind about the handshake…)

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

From the Stacks: Soulless

I read a lot, that pretty much goes without saying. Sometimes more than others, but that is how things go with work and family and all of that life stuff that insists on intruding on what we want to do. I read a lot of different sorts of things; nonfiction, fiction of genres of all sorts, gaming books, cook books, and so on; but if there is one thing I have always had a certain love for Victorian fiction. Perhaps it is from reading one too many Sherlock Holmes story as a child, or perhaps something of that era just speaks to me, but whatever it is I have always loved a good novel set in Victorian England. And then when you add in gears and steam, well that is just like ecstasy in print form for me.

I just finished reading a book that has all of that in spades. Soulless is the most engaging, entrancing and eminently entertaining book I have read in the past year.

Soulless Cover

Soulless, by Gail Carriger, is set in London, a rather different London than history records, for it is a London where the supernatural is not only common knowledge but also an accepted part of English society, having come out of the shadows, so to speak, during the Renaissance. The story centers around one Miss Alexia Tarabotti, a spinster burdened by her half-Italian heritage, two quaintrelle half-sisters and the lack of a soul. Miss Tarabotti makes up for this lack of a soul with an over abundance of personality, a forthright manner, and a quite unladylike tendency to think for herself, to the great consternation of her mother, step-father and the local Bureau of Unnatural Registry office.

The characters come to life as the world the inhabit unfolds along with the story, gradually immersing the reader in both the world and the narrative without feeling forced or as though you are being lectured to in lengthy scenes of exposition. Ms. Carriger’s characters are infused with a certain life to them, even those that aren’t technically alive. They as a whole feel like real people you could meet on the street, in a dark alley, or at some society soiree.

I will admit that the opening scene did not grab me as perhaps is could have, it may have been that I was not in the mindset to sink myself into the world before me, or perhaps my thoughts at the time were tied up a bit too much in my own writing. Either way, I read the first dozen or so pages and set the book aside with an intention to come back to it in that vague, nebulous “sometime”, and it was a full week before I gave it a second thought. I am glad I did. Picking it up again and reading of the aftermath of the events that were so ruinous to Miss Tarabotti’s dress, and spelt the end of that poor, defenceless treacle tart, and by breakfast with the Loontwills the following morning I was fully engrossed in the book. Every few pages I found myself laughing out loud, I simply could not put it down until it was finished, and even then I found myself wanting more.

The language of the tale is beautifully crafted, the Victorian terms folded neatly in so that they are a part of the whole, with clues enough in the text that even if the reader is not intimately familiar with the terminology of the period the meaning is still quite clear. Her word choice on the whole is a part of the delight of the novel, taking a more Shakespearean approach, using the common language of the period rather than the more commonly seen formal Victorian, giving her the opportunity to use such delightful words as addlepated and flibberty-gibbet. Then I am one of those people who loves words and etymology, and seeing such uncommon, but expressive words used with no apologies is a wonderful thing to me.

I am looking forward to sitting down with the two remaining books in the Parasol Protectorate series; Changeless, which is available now, and Blameless, which will be out later this year; but first I do think I shall have to give Soulless another read. It is well deserving of that, and of many more reads in the future.

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Strong Currents (An indtroduction to my Victorian Steampunk World)

The following is an excerpt (I suppose I can still call it that if it is all I have really written so far, right?) from a larger story set in the (as yet still unnamed) Victorian era steampunk setting that I have been developing for a while now. There is a lot that I want to do with this world that has grown up in my mind over the past year, this story is just the start of it all. This is also the setting that I have been talking on and off with several different people about running an IRC roleplay in.

As always, comments and questions are welcome and encouraged, and welcome to my world.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jonathan Jackson (John to his friends and Jack to the Professor) leaned against the railing, staring out at the water some thousand feet below. The steady thrum of the engine and rhythmic whir of the propellers did little to calm his anxious state. Instead, it was the countless other little sounds that caught his attention: the creaking of the canvas, the intermittent grinding of an unevenly oiled propeller shaft, even the faint squeaking of a ill fitting support of the railing on which he leaned. Airships made him nervous. A wooden hull on water he could understand; wood being buoyant and all that. Even the steel skin most sailing vessels had these days made more sense to him than some strange conglomeration of wood, brass, canvas and steam sailing among the clouds.

This sense of ill-ease always struck him doubly so any time that they were forced to travel on this airship in particular. Jewel of the Empire she was called, and perhaps once she had been just that. Now she was like an old war veteran, carrying the scars of her service, but somehow still limping along. The Jewel had seen many a battle, both in military service in the Reclamation War as well as afterward against pirates and their lot in private trade, and she showed it. Man-sized patches of mismatched canvas dotted the sun faded cover of her lift balloons. Her decking changed color at least three times over its length, John suspecting that little of what was left was original to the ship’s construction. Most telling of all were the numerous copper patches along the hull, breaches that he was sure the captain always intended to fix, but somehow never quite managed to get around to. Yet for some reason the Professor seemed to love the blasted thing, opting to book passage on the Jewel when other, more modern, vessels were available, and at least once delaying one of his research expeditions by nearly a fortnight because the Jewel was in dry dock.

“Jack! There you are old chap. Been looking all over.”

Startled from his reverie John turned to face the approaching Professor.

“It’s John, sir.” He corrected, more out of habit than with any hope of it actually getting through to the man that employed him.

“Of course it is,” The shorter man said as he patted John on the back. “Come along now, Jack, got to go over the maps with Mary before we make berth in Cairo. Have to be ready, no time to lose on this one, don’t you know.”

John had long ago decided that the Professor only had two modes; somber, thoughtful, and pensive, or animated, excited and bordering on frantic. Tonight, it seemed, was he was running full tilt.

The Professor paused without warning, turning and looking at John as though he had just come to some great realization.

“Where’s your jacket, lad? Nan would be most cross with you if she saw you out here without it, you know.” Then, with an equally abrupt shifting of gears he returned to his original train of thought, “But anyway, yes… Map! Come along now.”

He gave a gentle press of his hand upon John’s back, urging him on towards the stairs to the lower decks.

Turned as they were, neither man noticed the dark shape drifting through the clouds some distance away. There were no lights shining on the black ship’s deck, her propellers still in the night air. The thin wisps of smoke from her stacks the only sign that she was not some derelict drifting on the Mediterranean winds. If either had noticed, then there might have been some warning for what happened next.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The steam cannon had been invented not long after the Newton cam came into common use, much to the chagrin of its inventor, Dr. Phinn Newton. He had hoped his creation would lead to breakthroughs in transportation, energy and industry. It did all these things, but as has always seemed to be the case with humanity, anything that can be used to build civilization up can, and will, in time be used to destroy it. While the steam cannon could never match more conventional munitions in range or striking power, it was more than effective at the relatively short ranges that most airship battles occurred, and the advantages, both in weight savings and the safety of not having to carry black powder on board, could not be denied. These cannons proved themselves in the American Civil War, mostly in use on the Union blockade ships, and the Confederate ships that did their best to vex them. By the time of the Reclamation War less than a decade later, they were the primary armaments of almost all airships, and were used along side more traditional canons on most waterborne steam vessels. They were even used by the Army as rail mounted siege weapons in the Battle of New York. Along the way they became increasingly popular with the resurgent pirates, for the weapon had no muzzle flash, and while not completely silent, was near enough to it that quite often the first warning a ship had it was under attack was when the first salvo of shot struck home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Professor had been right. He usually was, and while nice enough about it, he knew it, which could make them make quite insufferable at times. The first thing John heard upon entering the stateroom was the scratchy, mechanical voice of Nan chiding him for being out on deck without his coat. Nan, supposedly short for Nannette — though given her attitude on most things, John was partial to the theory that it was actually short for Nanny — was the Professor’s portable Babbage-Lovelace engine. The Professor had built her himself some years ago, she was the first and, as John prayed in thanks nightly for, only of her kind. The stateroom itself was rather cramped; space tended to be at a premium on board the Jewel; with much of the available floor space taken up by all of the Professor’s trunks, including the pink paisley one that served as Nan’s travel case, leaving barely enough room for the three people now crowded in the room to stand around the stateroom’s lone table.

The three studying the map were a study in contrasts, at a glance no more seeming to belong in the same room together than Victoria Regina herself belonged in the room with a Piccadilly carnie. John stood a good half foot over either of the others, his six foot three inch frame meaning he always had to be aware of the random pipes and any low hanging light fixtures on the Jewel. Dressed more like a lorry man than an assistant to one of the most respected minds in the Empire, his strong nose hinted at Italian somewhere in his southern Colonial American heritage. His dark hair never seemed to want to stay in place stray strands constantly falling in front of his tanned features. Mary had more than once threatened to shave it all off, if only she could reach his head. Mary herself tended to stand out in a crowd, her fiery red hair making sure of that even if it weren’t for how she dressed. Mary wore pants. Not the workman’s trousers that John tended to favor, mind, but pants none-the-less. Her favorite for most any occasion were her pantsuits, tailored to accentuate her athletic figure and leave no doubt that despite how she dressed she was still, most definitely, a woman. She stood across the table from John, leaning forward, a slender pipe; another of her odd foibles; clenched between her painted lips to look at where her uncle, the Professor, was pointing on the map, a spot of nothing surrounded by miles of even more nothing to John’s eye.

The man doing the pointing, Professor Maxwell Ambrose Newton, looked almost every bit the proper Victorian man; always clean shaven, his dirty blonde hair impeccably styled, his suits finely tailored. What stood out about the man, upon closer inspection, was all the little details, from the pattern of interlocking gears intricately embroidered on his waistcoat, to the goggle that seemed to always hang about his neck, to his oddly thick handled walking stick, and the fact that if you listened closely you’d almost swear that you just heard his top hat tick. Then there was his expression, except in his most somber, thoughtful moments, the Professor always seemed to have this perpetual, faint grin; the sort of grin that seemed to say “I know something you don’t,” the sort of grin that seemed to annoy and infuriate people. And when that grin slipped into a full on smile, that was when John really worried.

The Professor was smiling now.

“Right here is where we should find it,” the Professor said as though whatever it was he was saying was a foregone conclusion.

“Find what exactly, Professor? You’ve been on about this for over a week now and I’m still not sure what exactly it is we’re after,” John’s frustration at being left in the dark evident in his voice. He regretted it almost immediately as Mary’s head snapped up from the map, the glint in her green eyes making clear what sort of storm was brewing there. John braced himself for the lecture he was about the receive, the only question in his mind was as to which of Mary’s two favorites it would be, “If you were paying attention, or maybe if you were smarter, you’d know the answer,” or “You’re just here for the muscle, you don’t need to know.”

She never got the chance to begin her tirade, as her mouth opened to begin a sudden lurch of the ship sent falling backwards, flailing, onto the floor, her harsh words instead becoming a startled yell. John would likely have found this uproariously funny if that same abrupt motion had not sent him sprawling forward into the table to land face first upon the maps. Even as they were collecting themselves they could here the flurry of activity all about them as men rushed to their duty stations, the captain’s voice echoing from the tube in the room, “Pirates off t’ port, comin’ in fast!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rushing out onto the deck John got his first look at their attackers. Smaller than the Jewel, the other ship was approaching at a shallow angle, closing the distance while letting the maximum number of her guns to come to bear, her black and gunmetal finish making her lines hard to read against the night sky. The ship’s figurehead stood in stark contrast to this, a silver clad warrior woman, sword held out before her, the name Morrigan painted in the same silver flowing back from the figurehead like a cloak.

While smaller, the Morrigan easily outgunned the larger Jewel, with many of the latter’s guns having been removed over the years to make more room for cargo and passengers. Most of the pirates’ shots passed low, beneath their target, which was at least some encouragement to John as he climbed up the ladder towards the ship’s wheelhouse, rifle slung across his back. Aiming low meant they wanted to disable the ship rather than send it crashing down by bursting the lift balloon with a stray shot. They didn’t want them dead, at least not yet.

He could feel the vibrations in the ladder as steam was diverted from the boilers to the port side cannons that remained. This is going to get ugly, John thought, I hope whatever the hell it is that the Professor is after is worth it.

Published in: on April 9, 2010 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

On Open Mindedness

My boss happened upon this video today, and I couldn’t not share it. It sums up the fallacies of the anti-science crowd so well, and calls them for just what they are, a load of crap.

This has been around for a while, so a lot of folks have already seen it, but some things bear repeating, and the points made in this video are excellent for arming yourself in preparation of the next time you have to assault someone with science.

Published in: on March 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Fine Art Friday: Gears

Gears

Gears. Not something you normally think of when you think of art. Industrial machinery perhaps, but art not so much.

For me they have always been a thing of beauty, something that fascinated me. I have always been the sort to want to know how things work, often much to my mother’s chagrin. Growing up I took things apart to find out what made them tick, and put them back together again (not always successfully). Springs in ink pens, chains on bikes, circuit boards in electronic equipment, belts on a car, but always most of all gears.

There is just something about how they interlock, working together to achieve something. The what of them often being less important than the how. It didn’t matter if they worked a clock or a blender, then inner workings of things always fascinated me. I collected gears, built things out of them, needlessly complex Rube Goldberg assemblages of gears and screws that in the end often did little more than open the door of my latest Lego fortress, or cause a turret to turn.

All of this probably has a lot to do with my love of all things steampunk and Maker culture, but that is another entry altogether.

Gears are beautiful in their own right, but in the hands of a person with a creative bent they can be the most striking sort of art, combining the industrial with the every day, the unseen, often mysterious, inner workings of our technological world revealed in the most entertaining ways.
How Gears Really Work

Or take a more literal approach to impressionist art.
Impressionist Gears

Perhaps give a more striking form to function.
Gear Clock

Maybe even make you look at something in a whole new way.
Clockwork Insect

Look at the world around you. Wonder why the things you use every day work the way the do. Then find out why. This is just as true for nature, astronomy, and ecology as it is for science, engineering and technology. Don’t be a passive person, seek to understand, because only when you know how things work can you find all the ways to make them work better.

Published in: on March 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

End of the World as we know it? Not quite.

A good friend of mine (the ever awesome @furiey) linked a post from a blog she reads on twitter this afternoon. This, in and of itself, is not an unusual thing; we are both WoW (World of Warcraft) players, though I am on a bit of a hiatus from the game, many of our other friends on twitter are also gamers, and quite often links of common interest (as well as cute animals) get shared. What was unusual about this particular link was its content. You see it was a link to a WoW blog, however the post was not about WoW, it was about the end of the world.

Honor’s Code: What In the World Is Going On?

Now, this is the dude’s blog, and he can post whatever he wants, but not only did he proceed to preach at his readers from a rather inappropriate pulpit, he also uses “facts” that are so bad that they aren’t even wrong. Then he didn’t even have the nerve to allow comments on this particular post, which says to me two things: 1) He isn’t so sure in what he is saying that he can handle any sort of criticism of what he believes; and 2) He wants people to listen to him, but isn’t willing to do the same for others; especially those that might not agree with him.

I’ve read through his post. Closed it. Gone back and read it again. Decided about posting about it, then (obviously) changed my mind.

Looking at this, in the end it is more or less the digital equivalent of someone standing on the street corner with a cardboard sign that says “Repent! The End is Nigh!” That’s all well and good, and well within his right to do, what really bothers me is the faulty logic, misconceptions and just plain bad science. Seriously, I could refute pretty much his entire argument with one link. This one, in fact: USGS Earthquake Facts and Statistics

But me being who I am I can’t let it go at just that. Let’s take a look at some of this in greater detail.

After going through the motions and giving all his reasoning for doing this (because he cares about each and every one of you, of course) he goes into what is probably one of the oldest “End Times” arguments of all time:

There are over 50 signs that God said we could look for but one that I keep seeing over and over again is what he said about earthquakes in Matthew 24:7: For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places.

*Emphasis in original

Often times you also see “war and rumors of war” on this list of “over 50 signs”, or whatever else is the hot topic talking point of the day. It is a simple fact that on Earth there are always famines, wars, and especially earthquakes. War is, sadly, just a part of human nature, and earthquakes are a fact of life on a living planet. People have been using these same references and reasoning to announce that the end of the world was at hand since at least the 4th century (Tichonus was sure it was going to end in 381, Hippolytus said 400: A History of the End of the World, Rubinsky and Wiseman, 1982) However, since earthquakes are the latest popular talking point in the news media that is what the rapture set seem to be focusing on lately.

That brings up one of the key points to this, the news media. The world is getting smaller. It was true in 1873 when Jules Verne wrote Around the World in Eighty Days, and it is even truer now in our modern information age. With cell phones, the internet, twitter, email, blogs and everything else we have near instant global communication, and countless 24-hour cable news networks and websites looking for content to fill the hours. So we hear of things sooner, and hear of more things that even twenty years ago would have gone mostly unreported. In 1710 it might take years before someone in, say, London heard about a devastating earthquake in Chile, or a war battle in Baghdad, if they heard about it at all. In 1810 much the same was true, news traveled slowly; it could take weeks or months for major news to travel. By 1910 technology had closed the communication gap to mere days, and as the century went on that gap grew ever smaller. Now, in 2010, we know things within minutes, if not seconds of their happening, I’m sure some news rooms were still trying to find Haiti on a map by the time the news of the earthquake had already made it around the world on twitter.

Unless you live in a cave you should know that earthquakes are everywhere right now, in the last month we have seen three major quakes in Haiti, Chile and in Taiwan. Just yesterday, there was a strong 6.0 magnitude earthquake in Turkey that killed 51 people. Not only were there earthquakes but these four earthquakes in diverse places brought hundreds of aftershocks with each one.

There aren’t more earthquakes, we just hear about more of them, and hear about them sooner than we used to. This is on top of more earthquakes being detected due to advancing technology. Don’t believe me? How about the United States Geological Survey:

The USGS estimates that several million earthquakes occur in the world each year. Many go undetected because they hit remote areas or have very small magnitudes. The NEIC now locates about 50 earthquakes each day, or about 20,000 a year.

As more and more seismographs are installed in the world, more earthquakes can be and have been located. However, the number of large earthquakes (magnitude 6.0 and greater) has stayed relatively constant.

The short of it is that the USGS expects about 18 7.0 or greater earthquakes every year. There have been 4 so far this year, and we are, give or take, about one third of the way through the year, so if we extrapolate that out we should have an estimated 16 earthquakes before the end of 2010.

These numbers do not make the loss of life from these earthquakes any less tragic, but one has to realize that the loss of life in an earthquake is more a factor of where the earthquake happens than how strong it is. A 6.0 earthquake in a heavily populated area, especially one with low construction standards or a large number of old buildings, is going to cause more damage and loss of life than an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in the middle of the Gobi desert. (For those of you who love graphs, I know I do, here is the data in a more visual form: Earthquake Facts and Statistics Graphs)

Maybe you think I’m just over exaggerating.

Actually I think you are being very uncritical in how you are looking at the information, and taking what you are told by others without looking into it deeper on your own to see if the science backs up the claims that are being made.

From here he launches into an appeal to emotion with a story about a man who died in the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980, refusing to leave his lodge at Spirit Lake because he felt that the danger from the volcano had been “over exaggerated.” What he leaves out is that the man, Harry Randall Truman, also told reporters “If the mountain goes, I’m going with it.” While it is another sad story, the tale of a stubborn old man (he was 83 at the time) has nothing to do with earthquakes or the end of the world or anything else he is saying. “This man underestimated a volcano and died, so you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of what I’m saying” is not a valid leap of logic.

From here his post devolves into all the usual suspects of logical fallacies and emotional pleas that you so often see in things like this (Not to mention some comments that come across as down right insulting to any of his readers that might not share his faith). If I hadn’t already gone on so long I might take the time to deconstruct these as well, but this post is already bordering on Oracian in length so I shall leave that for others to do.

Things like this just make me want to assault someone with science.

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 3:05 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

Does Sony’s New Move Mean the Wii Won?

Sony Move Unveiled

They say that imitation is the best form of flattery, and looking at the images from Sony’s big unveiling of their new Move controller I have to say they… well, they look rather reminiscent of something… I just can’t quite seem to put my finger on it though… what could it be…

Wii Controller

Yeah, it looks like a dressed up version of the Wii-mote that was the butt of so many jokes by the PS crowd when it first came out.

Oh, and it’s going to have a “sub-controller” as well, though they didn’t show that at the press event.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Sony or their new bit of tech, I just find it humorous that in the coming months and years those “hardcore” gamers that have delighted in deriding the Wii and its interface are going to end up with the same sort of controller. It will be interesting to see how the Move is used in games, and how developers will be able to use the PS3’s greater processing power to do new and interesting things with the interface, and how everything stacks up once Microsoft finally pulls the sheet off of Natal for the world to see.

But in the final accounting of things, this time it looks like Nintendo was ahead of the game, and Satoru Iwata was right, their motion technology did create a revolution in gaming, it just too a while for it to catch on.

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

Abigayle Comes Home

Yesterday was a very eventful day, to say the very least. We brought Aby home from the hospital. Kaylee was so happy to see her mommy, and she got to meet her baby sister for the first time. Then it snowed!

Quite a day, quite a day indeed.

First, here’s Aby before leaving the hospital in her adorable new hat.

A baby with a hat like that, she ain't afraid of nothing.

Once we got her home Kaylee got to see her for the first time. She didn’t get too close at first, but bit by bit she got closer and closer.

A little unsure
Getting closer
Leaning in
Hey there

It wasn’t long before she wanted to hold her and give her a kiss.

Sister kisses

Kaylee was glad to share her favorite chair with her little sister.

Sharing the chair

She also checked Aby out to make sure she had all her parts.

She has toes

Then she helped to tuck her in her crib for a nap.

Tucking Aby In
Safe and Sound

I’m sure that this will be a common sight for a while to come.

My Girls

We might have to get a bigger chair.

Then the snow came.

Now, to my friends and readers in more northerly climes this is probably a laughable amount of snow, but we don’t see it of any sort here often, so this is a big deal.

Snowscape

At first Kaylee wasn’t quite sure what to make of it all.

Unsure 1
Unsure 2

But it didn’t take long before she decided she liked it.

Lovin' It

And was trying to catch it.

Snow Catcher

She didn’t have much luck with that, but that didn’t deter her in the slightest.

Walking in the snow

It was definitely a memorable day.

Published in: on February 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.