geekdom, IDIC, diversity

Education Fund for Hal Bowman’s Daughters

Originally published at ipse illum dicto. You can comment here or there.

A friend of mine, Hal Bowman, passed away on Wednesday. I wasn’t going to say anything here, because I try to follow a “no politics” rule on my blog. How, you may ask, is the death of a friend a political post? Well, because, you see, he was killed in a mass shooting in San Bernadino, and no sooner had the news broken than both social and mainstream media exploded with people politicizing the event. I wasn’t terribly close to Hal — we were both part of a science fiction / gaming group and had therefore played and dined together on a number of occasions but didn’t socialize much outside that — so I felt like I could and should keep quiet. Until this happened:Collapse )

geekdom, IDIC, diversity

Let's run some numbers.

As of the last year we have good data for, 2010, there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. In 2014, the worst year on record, there were, rounding up, around 14,000 terrorist attacks globally, or an average of 38 per day. So, assuming that every terrorist attack was perpetuated by a Muslim (which is very much not the case -- here in the U.S., Christian terrorists have killed more people than Muslim terrorists since 9/11/01), the odds that a Muslim you meet on any given day will be there to blow someone or something up is roughly 1 in 42 million.

This, of course, assumes an even distribution of terrorists, which is not the case. Terrorists emerge in far greater numbers in communities that encourage and endorse terrorism. Communities -- such as those actively seeking to get away from terrorists -- that do not encourage and endorse terrorism have significantly lower occurrence of actual terrorist attacks, since those communities generally detect and intervene before someone who is being radicalized can actually strike. So perhaps a better analog would be to look at the number of Muslims currently living in the United States, estimates put that at 5-12 million, divided by the number of terrorist attacks carried out in the U.S. by Muslims in 2014...

...uh, I found one...

That would be a total of 1/365 attack per day across a low-end population of 5 million and you end up with the odds of any given Muslim carrying out a terrorist attack on any given day in the U.S. as about one in 1.8 billion.

That can't possibly be right. Muslims are supposed to be scary, aren't they? With numbers like that, I need to be far more worried about lightning storms.
geekdom, IDIC, diversity

Join My Clan! (Announcing the Aisteach Tartan)

Originally published at ipse illum dicto. You can comment here or there.

I have no way of researching this, but I think I might just be the first science fiction author with his own official, registered tartan.

For those of you who have no idea what that means, a tartan is a plaid pattern, each unique and distinct (and registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans), used in kilts and other Scottish, Irish, and English garments. Different clans, regions, organizations (and now science fiction writers) have their own tartans, and others exist just to show association with a cause or idea.

So if you’re one of those people who has always longed to wear Highland attire but never knew what tartan you should be wearing, you can now sport mine! Collapse )

geekdom, IDIC, diversity

Release Day Rollercoaster

Originally published at ipse illum dicto. You can comment here or there.

Today is release day for Little Dystopias, which means this should be a gleeful post about how you can now get the book in whatever your preferred reading format is. And if you’re not a Nook user, that’s what this post is. However, please do not download or purchase the Nook version until Barnes & Noble un-screws-up the file. Collapse )

geekdom, IDIC, diversity

Freshman Comp for Fiction Writers

Originally published at ipse illum dicto. You can comment here or there.

I spent today teaching four of my five Freshman Comp classes — Mondays and Wednesdays are brutal for me this semester — all about the different kinds of sentences: simple, compound, complex, and complex-compound. We do this by writing a whole bunch of them, and then asking ourselves what effect we get by having a whole lot of them all in a row. (Hint: the answer we’re looking for is that we want to mix them up.) But it occurred to me that the advice that the classes all seemed to come to is also good advice for fiction writers.

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geekdom, IDIC, diversity

The Muppets

I just have one thing to say to all of you hating on the new ABC Muppets series: I didn't watch it.

I meant to watch it, but the T.V. isn't habitually turned on in this house, and I was working and lost track of the time.

But I don't need to have watched it to know that this premiere was a landmark moment in television history, and you will all be glad for this new Muppets property.

Why, you ask?

Well, to answer that, I'd like to take you back to 1976, when the first Muppet show premiered. The Muppet Show was a comedy variety show. Comedy variety shows were incredibly popular once upon a time. They had a heyday in the '60s. By '76 they were on the way out, though. By the time the series ended in 1981 there were very few left. The odd sketch comedy show held on through the '80s, and there was an aberrant one-show resurgence with In Living Color in 1990, but for the most part the comedy variety show was a dead genre.

In 1979, the Muppets jumped to the big screen with The Muppet Movie -- a classic buddy road picture picture of the style that was popular in the 1940s. Popular in the 1940s, but passé come the late '70s.

And then there was The Great Muppet Caper in 1981. As if you couldn't tell from the title, Caper is a heist film. The remake of Ocean's 11 brought this genre roaring back in 2001, but it really was a relic from the '60s in 1981. And The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) is a backstage comedy, a formula that was at the peak of its popularity in the 1930s!

Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) and Muppet Treasure Island (1996) are both costume dramas -- perennially popular on the BBC, but completely anachronistic in movie theaters in the '90s. Muppets from Space (1999) is an X-Files type science fiction story. The X-Files, for those who have forgotten, is generally accepted to have jumped the shark by the time the 1998 feature film came out (though the show limped on until 2002).

And it goes on. 2011's The Muppets is an '80s-style anti-corporate-greed story. Last year's Muppets Most Wanted is an old-fashioned "switched identity" tale, of the sort you could never get away with onscreen today.

Do you see what I'm saying?

By the time the Muppets tackle a genre, it's dead or dying.

And the new T.V. series? It's a reality show!

Don't you see how important this is? What we've all been praying for for the last decade and a half is finally coming to fruition! Praise God Almighty, the reality show is dead at last!

You may thank The Muppets later.
geekdom, IDIC, diversity

Countless Re-reads

Originally published at ipse illum dicto. You can comment here or there.

Logically, if you think about it, you realize that authors need to read their own work many times. We re-read it as we’re writing. Personally, I re-read before submitting. We re-read while it’s going through the editing process. What hadn’t ever really sunk into me, though, was just how many times I was going to have to re-read the “final” book as part of the proofing process. Collapse )