Stories

Stories drive everything. One of my day job goals is to do more, and more effective storytelling. Something I feel is lacking in my stories is plot. Just not enough of it. I tend to drive away from conflict personally, so sometimes I do too much of that in my stories. So one of my writing goals is to conflict more. (In my stories…not in my life.)

Stories and Pixar!

Pixar has a class on storytelling at Khan Academy. You can get a free class on stories from Pixar. It’s got a few activities, some videos, I highly recommend it so far. The one for storytelling is out already. There is more on characters coming up.

If you’re enjoying videos there’s a playlist of Ted talks about storytelling.

Science Story

But there were creatures with mouths far more frightening than that of any shark. They lived at a time before fish, even before backbones, and they fed on their neighbors with a nightmare apparatus of moving mouthparts.

That’s good story telling! It’s from Scientific American about this creature.

This is actually one of my favorite written Scientific American articles and I’ve been saving it, go read the whole thing. Here’s another tidbit…

Pamdelurion could push their creepy mouth cone outward into a kind of pyramid before flinging open to present their spikes and close around smaller, softer prey.

Stories at work

Not just our day jobs. Writing is work too. And it is interesting because I think that, at least from what I see, sometimes authors (especially myself!) forget to tell the story to convince someone to buy the story. It’s sort of like how you wouldn’t want a resume from a proofreader littered with errors. That’s literally the tool they are using to sell themselves. Well authors should be amazing at telling the stories to sell our stories.

I feel like I just got too meta.

More from Harvard. (I promise this is the last one for a while! I’m almost at my limit, though I think I could get more through the library!)

The post valentine’s day roundup-NSFW

Very very loosely sex and love related roundup. Very loosely.

NSFW

It’s now a real word! (From Merriam-Webster who is also resisting lies in a fantastic way) It was part of their 1000 new words, but this one is 100% the best for this post.

Bad Chart Thursday

(not this Thursday, every Thursday!) From Skepchick

I was actually surprised to find that at 61%, The Sex Lives of Potato Men is actually more popular than Trump.

Superbowl Porn!

Pornhub statistics are endlessly fascinating. They do serious numbers. Somewhere working at pornhub is a giant stats nerd who has been let loose on the database.

Then something amazing happened — the Patriots began one of the largest turnarounds in football history. As word quickly got around to Bay Staters, traffic plummeted to -53% below average at 10pm, about the same time as it began to increase in Georgia.

And

Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire all dropped more than 40%, while some Southern states like Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi only dropped by 17% to 18% during the game.

Speaking of bad charts? These are phenomenal.

Also, I over-scrolled and got down to the comments. You think the comments are full of sex comments? One of the top comments was asking what was used to plot, Python or R? Giant stats nerds.

Venus

This is a hilarious and awesome video about Venus.

Information and Confessions

Information is critical

You are undoubtedly not surprised by this. If you are, I’m concerned about you. Seriously. Sci Am points out that the free flow of scientific information is critical for democracy. You should also not be surprised by this. But it is a very good article about it. About what is reasonable and what isn’t.

And for sharing that information? The Sunlight Foundation has a list of who is allowed to talk and who isn’t.

It is actually hard to keep track of what is happening today. Which day is today? Something changed. My head hurts.

Information matters. You want a pretty picture of why? Indexed has ALL THE PRETTY

Confessions

I’ve been trying to do the #authorconfession hashtag questions from J M Sulivan every day this month. Take a few minutes and think about your work in progress. Think about it from a different angle, answer a different question. It’s good to keep my brain in the game rather than having it run off screaming which is what it wants to do.

 

Depressing, sad, and nerdy

Comics

I love SMBC. They are weirdly nerdy in so many wonderful ways. Like this one about pop music. And if you are like ugh pop music, SERIOUSLY GO LOOK! You’ll thank me.

Another wonderful comic site, Indexed. This one is something I need to remember over and over and over. We still try. We need to try. Keep trying.

Vaccines are awesome

Seriously, there is probabally someone reading this that is alive because of them. They save lives. Vaccines save lives. Vaccines keep people from getting sick at all. Vaccines keep people from getting acutely ill. So what does the current asshole with all the power want to do? Kill people. Not sorry. That’s what shit like this will do. People will die. Human beings will die if the complete lies that another asshole who was only trying to make money manage to gain traction.

Adults need boosters too. Check yours. Save a life.

Technology is awesome

Heart pumping gif
Heart pumping

I could watch this gif all day, despite the super bloody nature of it, it is still amazing.

This is what happens when you invest research money into science and a range from basic science research all the way to direct impact and outcomes you can …wear? Do you wear a silicone sleeve around your heart? I think wear.

Also from Ars (I do like Ars a lot) net neutrality.

Republicans at the FCC and Congress say they intend to repeal or replace net neutrality rules. Trump’s transition team is also reportedly pushing a proposal to strip the Federal Communications Commission of its role in overseeing competition and consumer protection and to move those functions to the Federal Trade Commission.

If you care about the internet, go read the whole thing. If you are reading this right now? The internet matters to you. Go read the whole thing. Net neutrality matters to you. Even if you aren’t sure? I’m sure for you. It matters to you if you are reading this.

Save

Out of this world roundup

Busy doesn’t even touch on how my last two weeks have been. But I’d like to go out of this world a little so here’s a roundup.

Far far out of this world

Looking for Technosignatures at Centauri Dreams has a great post about one of the great ways to discover life elsehwere, technosignatures.

One thought is to look for signs of imbalance suggestive of technologies like ours, producing air pollution that can be measured by spectroscopic analysis. 

See, pollution might be good. Assuming that you think aliens spotting us would be good.

Explosively

How Do Supernovae Fail? at Universe Today (which I love, and highly recommend)…

But it turns out some supernovae just don’t bring their A-game. Instead hitting the ball out of the park, they choke up at the last minute.

They’re failures. They’ll never amount to anything. They’re a complete and utter disappointment to me and your mother. Oh wait, we were talking about stars, right.

So awesome!

Perspective

Get some perspective on your world over at Universe today (yes, again). With what does Earth look like from Mars? Perspective.

Random Roundup

Mostly not of this earth, but a little of this earth. Just a normal random roundup.

Also humans.

Fire, watch it burn - from Pixabay
Fire, watch it burn – from Pixabay

Not of this Earth

Planetary rings are incredibly beautiful. They may be the remnants of the destruction of dwarf planets.

The rings are pieces of Dwarf Planets that got torn off in passing, which were then ripped to pieces!

Juno – I don’t care how old this is – is out of safe mode and awesome. NASA is awesome. Humans managed to send tiny hunks of metal, plastic, and glass and throw them super hard and whoop they went out into space and made pictures of planets that we can see (and that we can’t) as just little specks of light. Humans. Can. Be. Awesome. Then again, robots are the ones doing the hard work. Packing up, leaving home, journeying through potentially lethal and unknown space to explore the universe. Didn’t humans used to talk about going out and exploring? Now we just let robots have all the glory?

At least that will be another reason for AI to not want to bother to destroy us. If you write about AI I can’t recommend this enough.

The true understanding of natural language, the breadth and generality of human intelligence, our ability to both play Go and cross the street and make a decent omelet—that variety is the hallmark of human intelligence and all we’ve done today is develop narrow savants that can do one little thing super well.

A quick funny – sort of funny?

Whatever public works is important. Or pay the troll!

Underwater roundup

Underwater roundup, well it might not only be underwater. But all waterish related?

Europa

Did people not already want to go and explore Europa? Because I thought that was always on the agenda of awesome places in the solar system to visit. But a lot of the stories I’ve seen about the venting ocean on Europa has been one of two things. OMG WE SHOULD FINALLY GO THERE. Um. Yes. We know. But like without any understanding that it has long been a fascinating place. And two…OMG LIQUID WATER! PROOF OF LIFE. Um…no? That’s…not how…I have a headache.

I’m not sure what happened to my news sources lately but this one just felt rougher than usual.

Europa is awesome. It has long been known to be awesome and fascinating.

On the one hand, they are further evidence that a warm-water, saline ocean exists beneath Europa’s icy surface. On the other, they indicate that any future mission to Europa would be able to access this salt-water ocean with greater ease.

Not gasp shock, but further evidence. Also? Universe Today is awesome and clear.

White Orcas

White (possibly albino) Orcas are being spotted in larger numbers in the western North Pacific which is kind of interesting, but what I thought was more interesting was:

Orcas often live in groups with a distinct cultural identity tied to their hunting style.

Now maybe much like Europa’s venting this was something we knew about long ago that I’m only finding out about now. And I’ve certainly read some things about group identity and tight familial groups.

But hearing them referred to as cultural identities? That’s…fascinating.

Also…

A quick (and as always awesome) comic from Indexed about boats, that’s my tie here.

And fish song. Seriously, like birdsong, but underwater.

Bird Brain

Birds and brains and bird brain, oh my!

Brain

Memory and the brain endlessly fascinates me. Everything I read about it makes me want to know more.

Forgetting seems like a bad idea, but remembering seems even worse. An article from Sci Am about Why We Forget?

The combination of both forgetting processes means that any message is unlikely to ever remain exactly the way you wrote it.

Read the whole thing but this line really sticks with me. I always try to keep this in mind. I think, but I might be misremembering it.

Birds!

ʻalalā
ʻalalā with it’s brilliant brain

Go watch these videos. This is a from Nature about the species wide tool use in Hawaiian crows. There are 6 videos of ‘Alalās using tools. They are extinct in the wild and only exist in captivity but they still use tools. They make their own, they pick the right one for the job.

I know humans who can’t always do that! Seriously, the videos are mesmerizing. (You have to have a subscription to read the whole article, though your local library may have you covered on that, check, librarians are your friends, but the videos are all there for the watching.)

Lest you think it is just the corvid that has a brilliant bird brain, no dear friend, the pigeon is happy to get in on that too.

I think we need to reconsider the “bird brain” insult. I can’t detect cancer cells on a mammogram. And sometimes I write nonsense…Hm.

 

HiRISE

Pretty pretty HiRISE pictures of Mars.

If you’ve never explored some of the photos and some of the amazing work that happens in space I highly recommend it. You can browse through a map.

Sometimes there is so much going on that just looking at thousands of pretty pretty pictures of Mars is amazing, mesmerizing, and a wonderful thing about the world. Human beings populated Mars with robots and they are exploring and finding amazingly beautiful things for us. We are doing powerful things that humans haven’t done before. We are filled with a sense of wonder and we want to discover what else is out there. Each time we discover more it opens more wonder and more ambition. All answers bring about more questions because the universe is amazing.

HiRISE
Slopes
HiRISE
Dune Field
HiRISE
Valley with flows
HiRISE
Gullies and Dunes