chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
My Rotary club is having a picnic instead of a meeting today, [insert missing logic here] so have some links.

A) Found via View From the Porch, cogent thoughts on the spate of TV survival shows. Money quote: In the end, regardless of what you think you might have learned via osmosis from TV, if you haven’t actually built a shelter from scratch, gathered wild food, butchered a critter, and drunk water you sanitized yourself, you haven’t yet graduated survival kindergarten.

B) Pretty pictures! 10 Beautiful Places That Actually Exist.

C) The world's oceans can be an unlawful place: murder caught on video but not prosecuted.

D) Presented without endorsement: states with tough gun laws have fewer gun murders. My state, Illinois, is (despite Chicago) below the national average.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
The title of today's post comes from a comment at this post. The short version is Somebody On The Internet Is Upset, this time over a black female pirate in fiction. Well, despite the fact that one such person really existed, the discussion has proceeded along the usual lines. Moving on to the links:

A) La Maupin, a 17th-Century opera singer, swordswoman (fought and won multiple duels) and bisexual (joined a nunnery to get into a nun's knickers). The things you learn on the Internet...

B) Something I really hope is a gag - a handheld flamethrower.

C) A theory on the cause of nearsightedness: not enough outside light. If true, it suggests Martians and other out-planet colonists might all be nearsighted.

D) Is Seattle's $15-an-hour minimum wage forcing restaurants to close? The owners say no.

E) A picture is worth a thousand words:

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
One of the many, many fine whines emitted at volume complaints of the Sad Puppies is that "social justice warriors" keep insisting on changing the races of people in order to advance the cause of social justice.

Then I was referred to this interesting article: black men and the black flag. Turns out that during the Age of Sail, lots of black men were pirates. Like, for example, Blackbeard's crew was 60% black!

Nor were these blacks just grunt labor. There was Diego el Mulato Martin (el mulato = "mixed race" in Spanish) who ended up a commissioned officer in Spanish service. Or Diego de Los Reyes, aka Diego el Mulato Lucifer. Or Black Caesar, who spent a decade terrorizing the Caribbean from his base on Elliot Key, then hooked up with Blackbeard.

In short, what happened is that history whitewashed (literally) the pirates of the Age of Sail. The "social justice warriors" are merely restoring historical accuracy to that era.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
We (my realtor and I) placed an offer on the Willowbrook townhouse last night. I eagerly await the seller's response. If it goes through, I'll still have a two-week period of homelessness, which I'll probably solve by getting an extended-stay hotel room.

Moving on from "all homes all the time" here, have some links.

A) I've been following Jim Fallow's writings on a peculiar set of American police-state actions. Basically, pilots of private planes find themselves detained at gunpoint for several hours by heavily-armed police for no apparent reason. Today's article brings interesting theories as to why.

B) Via [livejournal.com profile] jaylake, an interesting article comparing China's cyberwar on the US to Elizabethan England's pirate wars against Spain.

C) The title oversells the article a bit by claiming This experiment proved that anyone could design a nuclear weapon . Still, it apparently isn't as hard as you'd think.

D) From Tobias Buckell, an interesting article on survivorship bias. Basically, to get a full understanding of success, one needs to focus not just on those who succeed, but those who fail.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Comment The First

From Jay Lake [livejournal.com profile] jaylake I get this: artificial leaf is 10 times as efficient as nature. The article makes a radical claim: the chip [the size of a deck of cards] could produce enough electricity to power a house in a developing country for an entire day. Since the device works by generating hydrogen, it would allow the power to be stored for night-time use.

Obviously, the average house of the developing world uses less electricity than your house or mine, but still, this is a radical improvement. This device, if the claim is true, could make solar power even more competitive.

Comment The Second

Pirates in Somalia remain problematic - the Dutch amphibious ship HNLMS Rotterdam recently shot up a pirate mother ship (pictures at the link). Why the pirates elected to fire on a 12,000 ton warship with AK-47s is beyond me. They lost the election.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
A few parting links:

1) There is a new review and giveaway of my first novel The Mars Run.

2) The blogger of Gin and Tacos says that, in his personal experience, most of the attendees of political conventions of either party are drunk. He calls it "adult spring break."

3) From The Edge of the American West, wisdom from FDR. Just because we're having a problem with government or corporations, it doesn't mean that we should abolish them.

4) Apparently, the Nigerian pirates are running a more traditional piracy mode, that of stealing the cargo of oil tankers.

Now, I am off to Worldcon!
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Travelling tomorrow, and Rotary today, so have a few links:

A) On the piracy front, I see that the European Union has attacked pirate bases on land. I've reported previously, in a life-imitating-art mode, that insurance companies are building their own anti-piracy navy. Well, the first seven ships of that navy will soon be at sea.

B) Presented without comment: Legalize Pot, Save Public Education, and end Student Indebtedness.

C) Definitely presented without comment: Invasion of the Austerians.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
As you may not have heard, US Navy SEALs went deep inland to rescue US and Danish hostages. When the US got on-scene, the Somalis elected to shoot it out with the US.

They lost the election.

Other reports say that nine Somali pirates are reported dead and five pirates were captured.

It's like in golf - the lower score wins.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Because I have a few short and unrelated comments vs one big post:

A) Over the previous weekend, I viewed on pay-per-view the recent movie Cowboys and Aliens. I paid (the same money) for the "unedited" version, hoping to see more of Olivia Wilde. Alas, not so you'd notice, but I did find the movie a perfectly entertaining SF / shoot-em-up, with a side of blow-stuff-up-real-good.

B) Also on the entertainment front, I re-read the classic pirate novel, Treasure Island. I had forgotten a whole sequence where Jim steals back the Hispaniola. It was an entertaining romp with a classic.

C) Remember when ordering lobster was a big deal? I was at Red Lobster last night, killing two birds with one stone by finishing Christmas shopping and eating dinner, and noticed that they had three lobster and steak combos for under $20! Now, one will note that the steak is small and the lobster is neither fresh nor from Maine, but still, ordering lobster used to be a big deal. Not any more.

D) An interesting graphical link (you may have to click through an ad to see it) Correlation or Causation? Need to prove something you already believe? Statistics are easy: All you need are two graphs and a leading question.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I'm going to Windycon this weekend, and tomorrow's a bank holiday, so this is probably the last post for the week. (My schedule at the con is here.)

On the "OMG" front, I saw Rick Perry's brain freeze at the debate last night. Now, as a writer who forgets his characters' names, I sympathize with the man. On the other hand, write it down! He had notes, and I saw him look at them. Make a cheat sheet, dude! For a more in-depth overview of the debate, including the Cargo Cult Of The Sacred Free Market, see Charles P. Pierce.

Moving on, here's a few links for the long weekend:

1) John Scalzi says everything that needs to be said about the Penn State pedophile scandal. I agree completely with his comments.

2) On the pirate front, the maritime insurance companies are creating a private navy to hunt pirates. Something very similar happens in the sequel to Pirates of Mars.

3) The White House officially announces they are not hiding evidence of ETs, but they would, of course.

4) More evidence that we don't understand our own digestive systems - GI Specialists Suspect Specific Carbohydrates May Cause Painful Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

5) A serious look at a not-so-serious problem - Seven scientific reasons a zombie outbreak would fail rather quickly.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Since I'm clearing out anything that might spoil while I'm out of town, have some links:

A) It's piracy season in Somalia again. Now it looks like pirates are setting fires on ships to flush the crew out of hiding. Oh joy.

B) Fighting climate change is not about environmentalism, it's about the human cost of trying to adapt our cities and farms to new conditions.

C) One of my favorite new authors, Tobias Buckell, is using Kickstarter to fund a novel. The book will be a sequel to his Crystal Rain books. On the subject of writing, a humorous look at the rules of genre writing.

D) From Tobias Buckell, I read of (and have no opinion on) the myth of Easter Island's ecocide.

E) I read that With the law now changed, the Marines appear determined to prove that they will be better than the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in recruiting gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.

F) The Birthers now have a posse (literally); Sheriff Joe Arpaio Assigns 'Cold Case Posse' To Investigate Obama's Birth Certificate.

G) An interesting article: Norway: Cruise ship in danger of tilting over. When fighting fire at sea, too much water can be as dangerous as the fire itself.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
On August 3rd, Stephen M. Carmel, a Senior Vice President at Maersk Lines, one of the world's largest ocean shipping companies, was invited to make a speech at the US Navy's Second Fleet Intelligence Symposium. It's a long speech, but well worth the read. I will be "borrowing" concepts from it for my future novels. The speech was about the threat of piracy in Somalia, and had several key concepts:

1) The current level of piracy is low - too low to be a serious threat to merchant interests.
2) Piracy in Somalia is not a threat to US interests. Ships in this stretch of ocean are largely going to and from European, Chinese and Arab ports.
3) The costs of paying ransoms and/or defending ships are vastly overshadowed by the costs of complying with US port environmental regulations.
4) What the international community should do is define what is an acceptable level of self-defense armament on a ship and get the heck out of the way.

Now, as a point of fact, Carmel is correct about points 1 and 2. Somali piracy is only on the radar because piracy used to be practically zero. I would add that, considering Maersk and other shippers spend considerable effort dodging taxes by using flags of convenience, expecting first-world navies to come bail them out would be chutzpah at its finest. Point 3 is relevant to Maersk, although you can color me unsympathetic, and I agree completely with point 4.

There are two key flaws in Carmel's argument. The first is that he is thinking short-term. Piracy is like cancer - it doesn't go away on its own, rather it grows and expands. We're already seeing piracy pop up off of the coast of Nigeria and Benin. Second is the refusal to see any responsibility for his corporation's actions, whether in piracy or in the cost of running a port. So although I agree with his immediate tactical assessment, I take great issue with his conclusions.

Having said that, you will see a character in Night Watch make exactly these arguments!
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Like it says on the tin...

A) Cowboy up and pay your taxes!

B) A fascinating piece from the archives about the history of turning an airplane and flying in clouds - the turn.

C) Via Karl Schroeder, guest-blogging on Charlie Stross's blog, an example of group-think at its finest: in space, all tethers break.

D) Apparently not all of the Viking warriors who went a-Viking-ing were men: Invasion of the Viking Women.

E) A few links of general interest to those who follow maritime activities. First, US Coast Guard rescues 15 stranded on Pacific island. Second, in the sub-category of "more bad news" Italian ship attacked by pirates off West African coast.

F) Lastly, a bit of political humor, I don't agree with the premise, but it's still true: We could have had the moon, instead we get Afghanistan.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Because it's too damn hot for anything more substantial.

A) Why you shouldn't worry about getting cancer from your cell phone: it's in the same risk category as coffee and pickled vegetables.

B) Murder levels in the US are at roughly the level of the least violent era in American history, the late 1950s. The question is why? Not only that, but murder rates over the last two centuries have been trending down, albeit with several spikes.

C) Two bits of naval news: First, China's new aircraft carrier is a piece of junk. It will be decades before Chinese naval aviation is a threat to the US. Second, piracy can be profitable - to insurance companies!

D) You've heard how horrible, bad and no-good Canadian health care is? Well, not so fast, partner. Turns out that Canadian health care is as good or better than the US for significantly less money.

Stay cool and hydrated, people.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Because they're cluttering up my web browser, that's why.

1) The California Vikings?. Actually, evidence suggesting that some of the American Indians came by boat.

2) One of the things that is becoming apparent to me is that advanced civilizations tend to be much more efficient in their use of resources, including energy. Exhibit # 5343? using CRT tubes as light bulbs. (I think I got this from [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann.) On a related note, geothermal energy without breaking rocks. (I think this is a [livejournal.com profile] jaylake find.)

3) The most detailed account yet of the Bin Laden raid. Per the article, OBL was running into a bedroom when he got shot.

4) When dealing with pirates, sometimes you just gotta shoot up their boat.

5) I frequently disagree with Megan McArdle, and she's made some really bone-headed mathematical errors in her posts. However, when she says there's no magic privatization fairy dust that will make any government function work better if privatized, I have to agree with her.

6) Via Making Light, I found this fascinating, although long, article from 1987 pointing out that the Mississippi River is desperately trying to change course and the US Government is desperately trying to stop it.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
There has been other news this week besides the death of Osama Bin Laden:

A) The economy, while still sluggish, added 244,000 jobs last month. Private employers created 268,000 jobs -- the most since February 2006.

B) General Motors made a quarterly profit of $3.2 billion (yes, Virginia, "billion" with a "b") this past quarter. They also had a 25% sales increase over that period - greater than the industry average.

C) Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives, keeping their laser-like focus on jobs, passed a bill to tax abortions. That's right - if you get an abortion, you have to pay taxes on the health insurance used to cover the procedure.

D) The Somali pirates are still at work. However, the Indian Navy prevented them from capturing the MV Full City, a Panama-flagged cargo ship.

E) In personal news, I visited my optometrist last night. The bifocals are coming next week. As somebody said, "getting old's not for sissies."
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Saturday's Bar Stool Golf outing in Westville was a nice way to spend a day. The weather was cool but dry, and the six bars of Westville (down from over 10 in my childhood) are all within a short walk of one another. But today, a weird dream involving me fighting zombies in a Medieval setting (I had a sword and was using a flaming torch for light) woke me up about 15 minutes before the alarm went off this morning. It was a fitting start to a drab and rainy Monday, and a "welcome" to reality.

In other news, the Hugo nominees are out. Peter Watts and my friend Mary Robinette Kowal both got (well-deserved) nods in the short story category. Also, Lynn Thomas' book Chicks Dig Time Lords made the best-related category. Other than that, nothing on my nomination list is in the running.

Also of interest, I came across this series of dispatches, five weeks on a container ship. It's a useful reminder that 90% of the world's goods move by ship, yet the people who operate those ships get little respect.

Link Salad

Apr. 18th, 2011 04:38 pm
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Just because:

1) Just as an FYI, simply letting ALL the Bush tax cuts expire cuts the deficit in half (scroll down to the middle of the page for the graph). All this while returning us to the (not-so-) ruinous Clinton-era tax rates.

2) In military news, US Navy laser sets boat on fire. The laser is a 15-kilowatt solid state weapon. The Admiral running the program won't rest "until I get my megawatt death ray."

3) So, Louisiana wrongfully convicted a man, in part by the prosecutor's withholding evidence. Apparently, this is okay with the Supreme Court. It's not okay by me.

4) Several updates in the war on piracy:

A) I recently read A Captain's Duty, the very excellent account of Captain Richard Phillips' captivity and rescue while on the Somali coast. Highly recommended.

B) Apparently somebody in the FBI is trying to work their way up the pirate food chain: We recently arrested a Somali pirate leader. The man is charged with being the on-shore negotiator for ransoms.

C) The Somali pirates are not happy about the Indian Navy's vigorous anti-piracy response. (Hint - pirates get either dead or jailed in large numbers.) So, they are refusing to release Indian hostages.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
It was nice not having to go into work Friday. It was even nicer getting my weekend stuff done on Friday, allowing me to complete two (2)! chapters of my next book, The Night Watch. I'm right around 20,000 words into it, so, yeah me!

Just so this doesn't become a complete navel-gazing blog post, have some links:

A) On the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, here's an interactive graphic of how labor unions made workplaces safer. They did this by lobbying for stricter fire safety codes.

B) Over at Information Dissemination, they remind us that Obama did outline his foreign policy doctrine.

C) Speaking of foreign policy, the Indian Navy nabbed 16 pirates while sinking a pirate mothership. 61 pirates are now getting a personal introduction to the Indian penal system.

D) A reminder that Republicans really don't care about health care costs: A South Carolina doctor comes up with an idea to save milllions of dollars treating diabetics but can't get a $250,000 grant from his US Senator, Jim DeMint.

E) While on health care, here's an interesting article on what the VA can teach us about reducing medical errors. We as a country spend billions fixing these errors, plus billions wasted on erroneous treatment, so it's a good read.

F) Via Rand Simberg, polymer-dipped carbon nanotube catalysts 650 times cheaper than platinum and slightly more effective. This is (hopefully) another breakthrough allowing for better and cheaper fuel cells. Platinum sells for $30,000 a pound, which had been making fuel cells very expensive. Platinum mining has been sold as a reason to colonize space, so this may be bad news for space buffs.

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