ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Some folks found an awesome new way to fight homophobia: when their lesbian neighbors were vandalized, lots of other people hung rainbow flags.  Not only is this a lovely show of support for the lesbians, and a discouragement to the vandals, it also provides protective camouflage.  Suppose a bigot drives by who doesn't already know where the lesbians live.  How's he going to find them now?  He'll run out of eggs pretty fast.  LOL

I saw this and immediately thought of the leprechaun story.

So pass it around.  We can sure use more techniques for turning all the isms into wasms.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Our nearest celestial neighbor, the Centauri system, used to be extremely popular in science fiction.  As astronomers learned more about space, it didn't seem as promising.  Surprise!  Classic SF writers may have been right after all.  It turns out that Proxima Centauri has at least one planet which is likely to resemble Earth in some key aspects. 

Aaaaaand now I want to go there.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This one is local to me, a new species of sedge has been named after a botanist at Eastern Illinois University. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
These are the four that humans are studying so far. Here's a hint about a fifth.

Now let's step outside what people have the math to explain, and just look at patterns.

Everything is connected. Some people don't think there is a "universal force" because they can't explain it yet. Others are avidly looking for it. The forces we notice are like the fingers on a hand -- connected at the base, yet capable of doing separate things. The fact we haven't found the hand yet doesn't mean it isn't there. We can infer its presence based on surrounding patterns and how the known forces behave in relationship to each other.   Just as we used to think of electricity and magnetism as separate, and now know they're different aspects of the same thing, so it is with the rest of this stuff.

It's very clever of people to go looking for more chapters of information by examining patterns of known chapters, such as observing that "the elusive “protophobic X boson" — a particle that only interacts with electrons and neutrons, instead of the electromagnetic combo of electrons and protons."  Now just go down the list of possibilities, and you will find a bunch more chapters.  What are the other combinations of particles that forces could involve?  If you find particles that are new to you, those can lead you to forces you have not yet explored.

Humanity is just starting to get into the less-obvious stuff.  Seriously folks, the easiest way to find that is to grid what you already have and then look at the gaps.  Where are you not seeing influences between combinations of things?  Those might well exist but they are less apparent so you will have to hunt for them.  It's a lot easier to find things if you have some idea where they would logically be.

Same with applications.  We base technology on electromagnetism and nuclear physics.  So too, it is possible to base technology on gravity.  I don't mind how slow this is going, because we don't have the social technology to handle that level of physical technology, and it's pretty easy to cause planetary-scale damage with lab accidents in that field.  Let's just not hand the blowtorch to the toddlers.  But it does work.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Kenny Baker, the performer who played R2-D2 in Star Wars, has passed away

Since Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) has already given the best possible eulogy, I will simply echo his here: "He WAS the droid I was looking for!"

I grew up watching those movies, but I always had a different perspective than most people, and one of the things I loved about them was seeing droids -- artificial intelligences -- portrayed as people,  even though they were often the butt of the joke.  R2-D2 helped save the galaxy, and I think part of that was made possible because he looked like a garbage can and talked like a machine, so people overlooked him as a possible spy.  We are the thorn in the foot, little buddy.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an article which lays out a modest string of examples why Trump is entirely predictable.  He is simply the natural outgrowth of the Republican platform.  It's not an accident.  I say "modest string" because they've been deliberately aiming in this direction for about 40 years.

I admire their ingenuity and patience in devising a long-term plan to alter American politics.  But the results are disastrous, and this was evident at the very beginning.  People called them loonies for a long time ... and then forgot how stupid and dangerous this nonsense is.  It's the ingenuity and patience of a five-year-old piling objects so he can climb atop the garage to jump off with an umbrella.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
The Harvard Republican Club has issued a ringing condemnation of Trump

Understand that the Republican Party has been building toward this situation for ~40 years.  It's not an accident or a fluke. They have had, and promoted, very long-range plans to radicalize and divide politics to their own advantage.  All the racist, misogynist, classist, etc. nonsense that Trump spouts is just the natural conclusion of the direction in which they have been pushing all this time.  They've been aiming to elect people along those lines, and when it all comes together, we find ourselves faced with this bombastic, testosterone-poisoned troglodyte.

Suddenly, now that the station is in sight, people are deciding they don't want to be on this train.  Well, better late than never. I just hope it's enough.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a good article (although graphic in places) about police training for mental health issues.  I got some good poetry out of this, but it took long enough I lost track of who sent me the link.  Ping me if you want to see the new Officer Pink stuff it inspired.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I saw this article about Little Free Pantries, a variation of Little Free Libraries.   These stock food and beverages, occasionally things like craft supplies that are more typical of a Givebox.  It's an effective way to patch small gaps in food access, which improves public health and safety.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article describes how North Carolina purposely and maliciously disenfranchised black voters, and how a federal appeals court took it down.  Do not scroll down while your mouth is full.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
My partner Doug tipped me to this article about a new species of whale.  

Some extrapolations I can make from available data:

* It is probably not very common, or we would have seen it sooner and more often.  Protection is advisable unless proof of large numbers emerges after further study.

* It probably lives where humans rarely go.  There are few humans in the far north, for example, while whales are fond of feeding in cold waters.  One was found in Alaska.  Beaked whales are also rare in the Pacific, which is large, and they favor deep water.  If these whales spend a lot of time in that territory, it would reduce opportunities for contact. Conversely, several have washed up in Japan, which is higher traffic for humans, and popular as breeding/calving territory for whales.

*  It may be in trouble.  We're finding dead ones.  If human activities (such as underwater noise or oil drilling) or side effects (such as global warming) have made this whale's natural environment less hospitable, then it makes sense they would move elsewhere and that some of them would die.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Scientists are again surprised by how fast and how much the climate is changing. 

Look guys, Gaia is like an elephant.  She is big and therefore usually moves slowly.  That doesn't mean she can't  move fast. She can and will trample your ass once she gets going.  Right now, she's going, and she's still speeding up.  She can switch modes within a single human lifespan.  Doesn't happen often, but it can happen.  So just get used to the fact that you cannot predict this.  You are going to underestimate stuff, and as soon as you plug in new data, it will be outdated by something else she's doing.  It is going to keep happening faster than you think, because you don't understand all the variables and also you are very small while Gaia is very large. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a photo-essay showing the evolution of classic to modern cars.  Some show very little change, mostly a more streamlined form for less wind resistance.  Others are completely different.  That's a problem if you liked and could drive the earlier versions and now can't get a vehicle you can drive.  Same with the rush to electronics; people with a more mechanical approach are out of luck, as are people with low skill at computers and machines in general.  Earlier cars were much simpler. They didn't do the gee-whiz things but they were often more durable and easier to operate.  One of the few innovations I really like is automatic transmission.  Outside that, I have found that the drawbacks of new technology usually outweigh the benefits in cars.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Another thing I didn't realize that humans didn't know: the gravitational pull of moon and sun influence earthquakes quite a bit.  You have a giant ball of mostly-molten rock with a comparatively thin crust, a slightly smaller ball of probably-solid rock and a humongous sphere of flaming gas yanking on it.  How would you NOT connect these with the crust sometimes wobbling?  I can't remember how many SF stories I've read about tidal earthquakes, and especially, the uses of tidal energy on a planet for making it hot when a star isn't close enough and/or for powering earth-engines.  And let's not forget reams of folklore about high-tide earthquakes.  0_o
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 If you've been following the solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse 2 just completed its flight around the world.  \o/
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a look at how history can predict the future.  It's not true that "nobody" ever sees it coming.  Somebody always does. The problem is that the people who can't see the obvious ignore the ones who can.  By obvious, I don't mean that an individual situation looks obvious; it's often obscure.  I mean that the pattern  is obvious, because human history contains many cycles, which makes it very predictable in certain ways.  So when you have studied history and you know the patterns of it, and you start seeing the early moves of a cycle, you know with pretty high accuracy what is going to come next.  If you are a sane person, you will try warning others, and they will either ignore you or punish you.

Welcome to the Cassandra club.  >_<


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