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Apparently Satanists are asserting their religious right to make medical decisions based on science, and claiming that distorted anti-abortion propaganda violates their rights.  So, Satanists are treating people better than Christians are.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
An Indian university has bred seedless mangoes.  Science is SO AWESOME.
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem takes place in Terramagne, even though it came out of the very first Poetry Fishbowl on November 21, 2007, long before Polychrome Heroics was established. Over time I've learned to recognize different worlds and what makes them distinctive, so when I came back across this poem recently, I recognized it as belonging to this setting. This poem was inspired by prompts from LJ users Beetiger and Je_reviens. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] technoshaman.

Read more... )
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This article is really about why most people don't remember being babies

It doesn't mention the fact that some people DO remember.  But the logical explanation connects to at least one reason for remembering: those of us who come into this life with some memories already in place.  Think of it as a scaffold.  If you already have some memories, then you press that template into the barely-formed brain of your new body.  This makes it easier to attach new memories immediately.  The physical plasticity means you'll probably still lose some stuff, but you are way ahead of people who have to start from scratch.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer tipped me to this fascinating article about Naia, the oldest paleoamerican skeleton found. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
In honor of the holiday, here are a few tidbits to enjoy ...

"What Fireworks Are Like" -- John explains to Sherlock why fireworks are not fun for him.

"Fireworks" -- Rai and Bai watch fireworks with their father.

"The Winter Soldier -- Star Spangled Banner" -- gorgeous fanvid, all the feels.

Guide to Firework Colors
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Apparently if you skin frog legs and then salt them, they move.  My inner 12-year-old boy approves.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
The Tesla company, a leading manufacturer of electric cars, has just ditched their patents in favor of placing that information into open source access.  The goal is to encourage more people to use the designs to create more and better zero-emission cars.  

Like copyright, patents began as a way of protecting intellectual property so that people could profit from their work and would thereby be encouraged to invent more things, thus benefitting everyone.  Currently patents have become a morass of legal mayhem that stifles innovation as much as copyright does.  The current trend toward open-source work shows how sharing instead of hoarding can also result in more goodies for everyone.  

The challenge we have here is making sure that our creators -- whatever their field -- have some reliable way of making a living so that they can make the goodies we all enjoy.  Crowdfunding is great for individual projects.  Some people have done really well at it.  I'm one of them; although it's not enough for a secure living, it's a stupendous success in light of poetry's marginal position in this society.  But crowdfunding doesn't tend to produce a steady  income stream.  Some other things that have been proposed include a Basic Income and a Reverse Income Tax, both of which would ensure that everyone has enough to meet basic needs.  We need to do something, because it's clear that corporations no longer want to employ people at a living wage, so we can't rely on them to keep the economy running anymore.  Somebody else needs to step in and make sure that citizens have a way to meet their needs, so that they can do things like invent stuff, write stuff, raise the next generation, and pay bills.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
For the first time, a computer has passed the Turing Test.  While this does not constitute artificial intelligence per se, it is a step in that direction.  As a society, we need to think about the ethical implications.  Given that America is currently busy fucking over human beings for a lot of trumped up reasons, I am not hopeful that AIs will be treated any better.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Kim Stanley Robinson discusses Isaac Asimov's predictions of the future.  Link courtesy of my partner Doug.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This poem came out of the June 3, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "superstition" square in my 5-22-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. You can read about the sonnet form online.

"Mutual Superstitions"
-- a sonnet

Let science scoff at what religion knows --
It was not superstition lit the suns,
Nor wrote the universe in aughts and ones --
The solar wind as breath from God's lip blows.

Let priests roll eyes at scientists' good prose --
It is not prayer that lifts a rocket's tons
Nor is the atom cleaved by singing nuns --
On answered questions, from the mud, we rose.

Our superstition's mutual and blind,
But break through its embrace and so we see
A need as much for spirit as for mind:
Together God and science set us free.
First contact wakes us up to what we find
And bids us kiss the lock, then turn the key.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Useful discussion and resources.

As it happens, Mom and I were discussing science and sexism today. She mentioned how frustrated she was, always being the only woman in physics or computers or whatever.  I was one of two girl-bodied people in Young Astronauts, and was perfectly okay with it.  Maybe it's different for me being genderqueer; I've never felt out-of-place in a male environment.  But part of that is because I had parents who didn't try to make me into a princess.  I had parents who told me what elements made the colors in fireworks.

Sometimes geek feminism is raising kids without mashing them under too many gender expectations.  And sometimes they grow up to write about all the awesome women saving the universe. ;)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

This poem is from the June 3, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by [livejournal.com profile] janetmiles.  It also fills the "friends to lovers / friends with benefits" square in my 1-2-14 card for the Trope Bingo fest.

Read more... )

ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
We watched the new Godzilla  movie today.  (Good kaiju  movie, excellent special effects and references to other movies, overblown emotional yanking in some places.)  It got me thinking about the breadth of superpowers in Terramagne, the setting of my series Polychrome Heroics.

Are superpowers restricted to humans alone -- and if so, why -- or can other species have them also?  

My thoughts include:

* Humans share a lot of DNA with other species, especially mammals.  This leans toward innate powers appearing elsewhere.

* Radiation and some other factors are increasing the rate of mutation, and thus in this setting, the prevalence of superpowers.  Look at the mutated sealife, for example.  Environmental factors are likely to affect multiple species, not just one.  Imagine visiting Chernobyl only to discover that one of the elk has Laser Eyes.

* Superpower manifestation based on the effect of extraordinary circumstances on human will is unlikely to occur in nonsentient species.

* Superpower manifestation based on higher powers is unlikely to occur in nonsentient species.

* A sperm whale's brain averages 7.8 kilograms.  Imagine one with superpowers objecting to how humans treat the ocean.

* Some comics have really gotten into mutated, uplifted, or otherwise modified animals.  This includes everything from natural mutation through accidental enhancement to mad science experiments.  The results range from cringeworthy to awesome.  

* Having something like telepathic trees mindwiping loggers, or superpowered mice in a house, would expand the number of stories that could be told without relying on a human supervillain.  (We've HAD superpowered mice here; they are nerve-wracking to deal with.)  While mad science could already provide such things, that implies very different plot structure than naturally occurring cases.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Many things are chalked up to prejudice or poor decision-making that aren't necessarily so.  This study indicates that mental work takes energy, which can be depleted; and when it's depleted, people tend to choose the default option because it's easier.  There may be prejudice in the nature of the defaults, but it doesn't necessarily belong to that person; such things are readily absorbed from the environment.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a list of 10 newly discovered species.

The clean room microbe made me laugh.  No matter what you do, life will find a way.  The harsher you make the conditions, the more durable the life you will breed.  This is not a surprise.  It is obvious.  It is how evolution works, no matter how much you might wish it didn't.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
The idea was to test what would happen if a person fell into a lava lake, the test packet being organic waste.  I'm not sure this is an apt parallel, though.  A hog carcass would more precisely emulate a human one.  Organic waste may have contained more flammable materials.  But hey, it's a great video.


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