You Know What They Say

It is kind of horrifying how precisely the main character in this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip matches my own opinions.

It’s like they were collecting data points at one of my dinner parties.

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Worldcon 76!

Well, another Worldcon is in the books.  It was a great con with great donuts, culminating in NK Jemisin’s acceptance speech for the Hugo for best novel.  Well, it didn’t really culminate in that, for those hanging out for the closing ceremony and so on.  But I had an early flight, so I went to bed and arose in the wee hours of the morning to get a cab.  And it was then that I witnessed a melancholy scene.  There were two groups of people engaged in drunken conversation outside the hotel, which is nothing unusual at Worldcon.  But now, only one of the groups contained someone with bright pink hair and a spangly rainbow dress.  The other group was three very well-dressed people sharing a wine bottle while one declaimed about “Winston FUCKING Churchill”.

It was sad, seeing San Jose being handed back to normal old wealthy people who like to yell about Churchill.

Then, on the plane home I overheard a snatch of conversation between two Worldcon-goers: “…so that’s how he found out about furries”, which cheered me up.

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Shedding Some Light on This Situation (Get It?)

There’s been a lot of talk about airborne lidar recently, because it has once again been used to find archaeological ruins in a jungle, as opposed to the standard topographic mapping it gets used for day in and day out.  It has even gotten into the pages of the comics, ever the spot for cutting-edge news and science, in the form of Mark Trail:

The professor here makes a common error, and we need to push back on it.  Lidar is not an acronym, it is a portmanteau of “light” and “radar” (or RADAR, if you prefer, RADAR actually being an acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging or RAdio Direction And Ranging).  Of course, people writing papers in the academic and business world can’t bring themselves to talk about portmanteaux, so they engaged in some revisionist history to turn the word into an acronym so they could just stick that into parentheses after the first use and move on with their lives.  Like radar, there was disagreement about exactly which words went into this putative acronym (“LIght Detection And Ranging” or “Laser Imaging Detection And Ranging”) but unlike radar they don’t both have that awkward way of using two letters from one word, so convention has it that the former acronym is expressed as “LiDAR” with a lower-case i to differentiate it.

So shame on you, Mark Trail, for perpetuating the myth that lidar is an acronym, and an extra “tsk” for, having made that error, not picking the version that would fit with your all-caps font.

We’ll save the thrilling discussion of why no one bothers using all caps for certain acronyms like radar and scuba for another day. Also, maybe we’ll get to why that kid Rusty looks like Ted Cruz now.

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The Existential Horror of Garfield

The other Garfield

Today is the 40th anniversary of the first appearance of Garfield!  To celebrate, please enjoy some favorites of Internet Manifestation, Garfield Minus Garfield, which gets to the very heart of what makes the strip so deeply melancholy and unsettling, and the horrifying Lasagna Cat, where Garfield strips are acted out by real live people.

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Sing Us A Song, You’re The Great Old One

Like me, you may have experienced feelings of dread when listening to Uptown Girl, or seen visions of cyclopean ruins when Captain Jack comes on the radio.

Well, now we know why.

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Black Hats

As frequent readers know, I have a connection with SUNY-Binghamton, and a distaste for mis-used metaphor.  So it is more in sorrow than anger that I read the latest issue of the SUNY-Binghamton Watson School of Engineering alumni magazine.  In it, there was an article about “white hat hackers” which, as the name implies, are hackers who use their talents for good.  But it seems the authors of the article didn’t trust the connotations of “white hat” and “black hat” hackers to be obvious, and in trying to make it more clear, managed to muddy the waters.  As you can see here, they added a sidebar defining white, gray, and black-hat hackers, and illustrated it with little pictures of hats in those colors.  So far, so good, but for some reason they used black, gray, and white fedoras.

Now, as anyone could tell you, the whole “black hat for the bad guy / white hat for the good guy” thing is a metaphor based on westerns, so the hats used for illustration should have been cowboy hats.  But the choice of a fedora makes it even worse, because a) bad guys are not known for wearing black fedoras (is anyone?), but they are known for wearing white fedoras.  I mean, think about the last time you saw someone in a movie wearing a white fedora.

It was this guy, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Nitti in The Untouchables is hardly the first person most people would go to for help, computer-based or otherwise.  Or maybe you thought of Sydney Greenstreet, in some movie where he wasn’t just wearing a fez.  Again, not one of the good guys, I bet.

Now, maybe the illustrator was making a callback to the fact that these days, about the only people who wear fedoras are computer science majors, but in that case, shame on them.  We don’t need anyone encouraging that behavior, especially not at my alma mater.

 

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More Reading Recommendations

Once you’re done working your way through twenty-six years of Galaxy Science Fiction, another possibility is working your way through Tangent Online’s recommended reading for 2017.  The fact that my story, Peddler, in Grimdark Magazine happens to be on the list is, of course, incidental.

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Who Wants to Read Some Classic Sc-fi?

I’m a bit late to this, since it happened a while ago, but did you know that, thanks to archive.org you can read a good chunk of the run of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine for free?

Well, you can.  So go ahead and do it if you enjoy Bradbury and Asimov and so an (and who doesn’t?)

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Peddler

I’ve got a story in the latest issue of Grimdark magazine, and as you can see from the image over there, I’ve maintained my streak of only being published in magazines with unsettling cover art (seriously, check out the ol’ publication page for a gallery). This one isn’t as lighthearted as There Are Rules, which was also under a spooky-pants cover, but it isn’t exactly scary either. Just a bit dark and grim (oh, hey, I just got that).

Anyway, I encourage ya’ll to pick up a copy, in whatever digital format you prefer.

Here, some links to make it even easier for you:

Kindle

Kobo

Nook

Pdf

 

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Finally, I Can Enjoy Books Properly

If you’re like me, you agree that there is nothing more annoying than reading a book in a series out of order.  It’s almost as bad as being prevented from compulsively reading the foreword, afterword, and author’s notes.

So you, too, will rejoice in the website Order of Books.  It lists different series of books in their proper order, both by publication (which is the easy part), and by chronological order, for those series where the author gets all famous and successful and either a) can finally indulge in exploring origin stories, or b) realizes they need to go back in time because they ran too far forward too quickly and risk their characters getting to old to jump from car to car during a freeway chase or whatever.

So now, with a quick check, you can read in comfort, secure that you won’t suffer the horror of reading Sharpe’s Eagle before Sharpe’s Havoc (seriously, Bernard Cornwell – when you give every book in a series a two-word title, and make the first word the same for all twenty-three titles you aren’t giving us all that much to go on)

 

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