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Here is a chemical comparison of different types of blood in Terran lifeforms: red, blue, green, and violet.  So if you want to make alien blood a different color, these are guaranteed viable.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Explore the massive changes in peaches, watermelons, and corn over millennia.  Science is delicious!
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This poem came out of the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] perfectworry, LJ user Westrider, and Deb1789.  It also fills the "parent(s)" square in my 9-29-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo  fest.  This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.

Read more... )
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This poem came out of the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] brushwolf  and Shirley Barrette.  It has been sponsored by Shirley Barrette.  It also fills the "history" square in my 9-29-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo Fest.

WARNING: This poem contains true stories of genius abuse and neglect.  If that's sensitive territory for you, think carefully about whether you want to read onward.

Read more... )
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The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED for prompts, although more poem thumbnails may appear.  Thank you for your enthusiasm!  

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "mad science."  I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.

Click to read the linkback poem "Testing the Metal" (A Conflagration of Dragons, 17 verses available).

What Is a Poetry Fishbowl?

Writing is usually considered a solitary pursuit. One exception to this is a fascinating exercise called a "fishbowl." This has various forms, but all of them basically involve some kind of writing in public, usually with interaction between author and audience. A famous example is Harlan Ellison's series of "stories under glass" in which he sits in a bookstore window and writes a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Writing classes sometimes include a version where students watch each other write, often with students calling out suggestions which are chalked up on the blackboard for those writing to use as inspiration.

In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is "mad science."  I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.

Cyberfunded Creativity

I'm practicing cyberfunded creativity. If you enjoy what I'm doing and want to see more of it, please feed the Bard. The following options are currently available:

1) Sponsor the Fishbowl -- Here is a PayPal button for donations. There is no specific requirement, but $1 is the minimum recommended size for PayPal transactions since they take a cut from every one. You can also donate via check or money order sent by postal mail. If you make a donation and tell me about it, I promise to use one of your prompts. Anonymous donations are perfectly welcome, just won't get that perk. General donations will be tallied, and at the end of the fishbowl I’ll post a list of eligible poems based on the total funding; then the audience can vote on which they want to see posted.

2) Swim, Fishie, Swim! -- A feature in conjunction with fishbowl sponsorship is this progress meter showing the amount donated.  There are multiple perks, the top one being a half-price poetry sale on one series when donations reach $300.

3) Buy It Now! -- Gakked from various e-auction sites, this feature allows you to sponsor a specific poem. If you don't want to wait for some editor to buy and publish my poem so you can read it, well, now you don't have to. Sponsoring a poem means that I will immediately post it on my blog for everyone to see, with the name of the sponsor (or another dedicate) if you wish; plus you get a nonexclusive publication right, so you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere as long as you keep the credits intact. You'll need to tell me the title of the poem you want to sponsor. I'm basing the prices on length, and they're comparable to what I typically make selling poetry to magazines (semi-pro rates according to Duotrope's Digest).

0-10 lines: $5
11-25 lines: $10
26-40 lines: $15
41-60 lines: $20
Poems over 60 lines, or with very intricate structure, fall into custom pricing.

4) Commission a scrapbook page. I can render a chosen poem in hardcopy format, on colorful paper, using archival materials for background and any embellishments. This will be suitable for framing or for adding to a scrapbook. Commission details are here.  See latest photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"

5) Spread the word. Echo or link to this post on your LiveJournal, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social network.  Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl and #promptcall.  Encourage people to come here and participate in the fishbowl.  If you have room for it, including your own prompt will give your readers an idea of what the prompts should look like; ideally, update later to include the thumbnail of the poem I write, and a link to the poem if it gets published.  If there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.

Linkback perk: I have a spare series poem available, and each linkback will reveal a verse of the poem.  One person can do multiple links if they're on different services, like Dreamwidth or Twitter, rather than all on LiveJournal.  Comment with a link to where you posted.  "Testing the Metal" belongs to the series A Conflagration of Dragons and has 17 verses available. 

Additional Notes

1) I customarily post replies to prompt posts telling people which of their prompts I'm using, with a brief description of the resulting poem(s). If you want to know what's available, watch for those "thumbnails."

2) You don't have to pay me to see a poem based on a prompt that you gave me. I try to send copies of poems to people, mostly using the LJ message function.  (Anonymous prompters will miss this perk unless you give me your eddress.)  These are for-your-eyes-only, though, not for sharing.

3) Sponsors of the Poetry Fishbowl in general, or of specific poems, will gain access to an extra post in appreciation of their generosity.  While you're on the Donors list, you can view all of the custom-locked posts in that category.  Click the "donors" tag to read the archive of those.  I've also posted a list of other donor perks there.  I customarily leave donor names on the list for two months, so you'll get to see the perk-post from this month and next.

4) After the Poetry Fishbowl concludes, I will post a list of unsold poems and their prices, to make it easier for folks to see what they might want to sponsor.

5) If donations total $100 by Friday evening then you get a free $15 poem; $150 gets you a free $20 poem; and $200 gets you a free epic, posted after the Poetry Fishbowl.  These will usually be series poems if I have them; otherwise I may offer non-series poems or series poems in a different size.  If donations reach $250, you get one step toward a bonus fishbowl; three of these activates the perk, and they don't have to be three months in a row.  Everyone will get to vote on which series, and give prompts during the extra fishbowl, although it may be a half-day rather than a whole day.  If donations reach $300, you get a half-price sale for one week in one series.  Everyone will get to vote on which series to feature in the sale, out of those with extra poems available.

Feed the Fish!
Now's your chance to participate in the creative process by posting ideas for me to write about. Today's theme is "mad science."  I'll be soliciting ideas for scientists, lab assistants, hapless victims, minions, henchmen races, laboratories, offices, secret lairs, forming hypotheses, doing experiments, making discoveries, difficult choices, plot twists, safety equipment, doomsday machines, gizmos or super-gizmos, mysterious substances, scientific theories, types of madness, monologues, and poetic forms in particular. But anything is welcome, really. If you manage to recommend a form that I don't recognize, I will probably pounce on it and ask you for its rules. I do have the first edition of Lewis Turco's The Book of Forms which covers most common and many obscure forms.

I'll post at least one of the fishbowl poems here so you-all can enjoy it. (Remember, you get an extra freebie poem if someone new posts a prompt or makes a donation, and additional perks at $100-$300 in donations.  Linkbacks reveal verses of "Testing the Metal.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
So I was following [personal profile] dialecticdreamer's recent thread on SF and I came to this conclusion:

Science is Ask culture.

Religion is Hint culture.

This is why they so often fight like cats and dogs, and why it takes a master linguist or sociologist to convince them to kiss and make up.

This explains so very much.

(Here is a primer on Ask/Hint cultural divide.)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 [personal profile] dialecticdreamer has a thoughtful post about flawed science and how that rarely appears in science fiction.  So many stories that haven't been done to death yet!
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This article promotes the idea of positive SF as a way of encouraging positive futures. Yes! This! I want this! And they have made an anthology of it too, Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future. WANT.

Some further thoughts ...

Read more... )
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Here is an article with some video about a purple siphonophore -- it looks like a living dustmop. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article claims to be about decision-making during sleep, but it's actually about learning during sleep.  See this one for the part about decision-making.  Basically, your brain keeps going while you sleep.  How sophisticated its behavior is during that time depends on a combination of innate talent and learned skill.  Both of these things -- sleep-learning and decision-making -- are easy for some people, achievable for others, and out of reach for some.  If you have the potential, you can develop it.

Sleep-learning is about backloading the subconscious part of your mind with information.  In my experience, this is most effective with iceberg material, where the majority of import lies within the subconscious mind.  For example, in learning a foreign language, vocabulary and grammar tend to go in the conscious mind but pronunciation, tone, native intuition, etc. go into the subconscious mind.  So playing that language while you sleep will help you learn how it's supposed to sound, and then when you wake up, you speak it better.

Decision-making works the opposite.  You go to sleep with everything already in mind, your subconscious processes it, and spits out an answer that comes to you when you wake up.  This works by letting your mind mull over things without being distracted by what you think  you should be thinking.

And of course, if you're a writer or other creative person, you probably have the experience of waking up in the middle of the night with a really hot idea.  Because your creative brain is kind of like a toddler just waiting for waking-you to fall asleep so it can pull everything out of the cupboards, see what fits together, and wake you up with a terrific crash.

There are have been people who say these techniques do not work.  That does not stop those of us who are using them from getting great results.  They're just things that not everyone can do, and they're not in an easy place to study or measure.  But there are starting to be glimmers of confirmation.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... has some obvious flaws.  Some of these are things that Asimov himself explored in stories.  The matter has become more urgent these days with people deploying drones that can kill human beings.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Check out this robotic quadruped which can run and jump.  It's pretty cool.  Legs are more versatile than wheels for traversing uneven terrain and surmounting obstacles.  So this is a fascinating advance.

Although billed as a robotic cheetah, it lacks the characteristic flexible spine which creates the cheetah's famous speed.  I'm thinking more mechanical hound.  This isn't just a random quibble, by the way, it's science in action.  I know how  a cheetah generates so much speed -- that spine acts like a spring -- and I can apply that knowledge to other contexts.  So I knew to look at the spine of the robot.  Now if I were into competition robotics, this would inspire me to experiment with springy-spined robots to see if I could really make a robotic cheetah.  And maybe I'd try to stick a gyroscope in one too, because a cheetah's cornering agility is also a masterful thing, whereas vertical robots have this annoying tendency to wipeout on turns.  (I am impressed by the above robot's ability to stay upright.)  Since I'm not skilled at building robots, I'm putting these ideas online for the amusement of anyone who is.

Just, y'know, don't use it to make mechanical hounds for hunting bookworms.  In this society I feel a need to make that warning.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a cool article about the Amish adoption of technology. They all follow one basic rule: if a new thing is more trouble than it's worth, they won't use it.  Different Amish communities draw that line in different places.  

I actually use that rule myself, again with a different threshold.  I've had people call me Amish, meaning it as an insult, for not using things they think I should be using that I don't use because they're worthless or troublesome for me.  I say, "No, but that is where I got the idea."  It's a great rule.  It saves so many headaches.  I'm neophilic in many ways.  But I've seen society make a lot of stupid mistakes, and its safety precautions are abysmal.  This contributes to my caution about adopting new things myself.  I look for the drawbacks.

Most people don't.  Their default is to accept new technology.  They often don't consider the costs.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... the radioactive wild boar.  Eat one.  Get gored by one.  Stress one enough that it mutates.  Instant superpower.

*laugh*  And some people think I make this all up from whole cloth.  No, really, it's amazing how much of my F&SF inspiration I get straight out of the news.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This poem is from the September 2, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by Anthony Barrette, sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It also fills the "We're all going to die!" square on my 9-1-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest.

WARNING: This poem talks about cancer; the original prompt was for cancer survivors. It's mostly in allegorical terms, but that's the main focus. If this is a squicky topic for you, skip it.

Read more... )
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 Meet the current biggest dinosaur, link courtesy of my partner Doug.  Imagine riding that into battle.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Creepy little predator.  Now imagine if it were big enough to threaten your characters ...
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I was fascinated by this effort to make computers display images that would appear sharp to people with vision defects.


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