Wednesday, January 30, 2008


It is really dry and electric tonight. Everything I touch gives a little shock. And when I went around purposefully rubbing my feet on the carpet after watching Fly Boys there was enough charge that my extended finger would produce faint sparks of some 6-7cm in length and violet in color. My hair stood on end as if I had touched a Van de Graaff generator. I don't mean a little bit of my hair stood up a bit, my head looked like dandelion ready to release its seeds into the wind. While building up a charge I could hear a bit of noise from my finger discharging into the air with a faint hiss. This is a normal part of living in Colorado in the winter.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Is This Something New?

2 measures Whiskey
1 measure Cherry liquor
1 measure Vodka
4-5 measures sharp ginger ale (Vernors) or ginger beer.

Sweet, but a bit sophisticated. It doesn't taste cloyingly sweet as far too many mixed drinks to. The ginger and the cherry flavors combine to make something new.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Cat Came Back

I remember seeing this on Channel 12 (one of the two local PBS stations) when I was a little boy. It was hilarious little animation then and it is still funny now. The Cat Came Back... possibly not for cat lovers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Interpreting Velvet Goldmine

What does this song actually mean? I've heard repeatedly that it was originally about making out with another guy and got toned down before it was released as a B-side without Bowie's permission. But where is the evidence? I've never been able to figure out where this assertion started.

Going to the lyrics as actually released isn't particularly compelling one way or another. I have come up with a sort of gay interpretation, as you can see, but it isn't particularly gay. It could be things other than making out with a guy.

You got crazy legs, you got amazing head
Okay, this could be about someone giving really good fellatio, but it could just as easily be anything else. And it isn't as if women cannot give 'head'. Or it could be about someone with a pretty face expressed in a inarticulate way.
You got rings on your fingers and your hair's hot red
You got wit from my tongue, name on the sun
I gotcha going to my breast
Cause you're the only one, who uses school to pleasure
Nothing else particularly gay here. I can't even figure out what "uses school to pleasure" might mean. Gets lots of sex at school?
You make me act real gone, you make me trawl along
I had to ravish your capsule, suck you dry
This could mean sucking on another guys penis. I think this line and the one following are the most open to a gay interpretation.
Feel the teeth in your bone, heal ya head with my own
This is what I'm talking about. Bone is a pretty common euphemism for a penis and someone playfully biting and then healing with his own? Sounds pretty gay to me.
Why if I don't have you home, we'll have to fight alone
Hang all together
The only thing I can figure is the last two lines are about "us against the world", nothing particularly gay about that, though it could be.
Velvet goldmine, you stroke me like the rain
Stroking could be about stroking a cock, but it could be just nonsense. I mean what exactly does Velvet Goldmine mean?
Snake it, take it, panther princess you must stay
Take his penis? Possibly, but again what does the rest of it mean?
Velvet goldmine, naked on your chain
Got nothing.
I'll be your king volcano right for you again and again
I could see volcano being about ejaculation.
My velvet goldmine
You're my taste, my trip, I'll be your master zip
Sounds like pure nonsense lyrics made up because the rhyme and sound vaguely dirty without actually meaning anything.
I'll suck your hair for kicks, you'll make me jump to my feet
Long haired guy or a girl?
So you'll give me your hand, give me your sound
Let my sea wash your face, I'm falling, I can't stand
Oooh! put your mink on
CHORUS Repeats
Shoot you down, bang bang
Did he change his mind here and 'shoot down' his friend about having sex? Or is it about shooting in another sense?
CHORUS Repeats

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blogging for Choice

Given today's anniversary in America I think it is a good idea to post about my views on abortion.

I am pro-choice with next to no reservations. I think that if a woman wishes to have an abortion it is fine if she is doing it for either health, wealth, or purely selfish reasons. To me it does not matter because I view abortion as a third or fourth chance to decide not to have a child rather than the ending of a life. This does not mean that I think that pregnancy should be viewed without value or that no wrong has been done to a person who has been forced to get an abortion or given a miscarriage. But it emphatically is not murder or even a homicide.

If a potential mother is so selfish that she would have an abortion just because it is a little inconvenience as it is alleged by anti-abortion people I say it is good that the mother has an abortion. Imagine a child being raised by such a theoretically selfish person or the genes that may be passed on. No, far better for society and children to make abortion easy to get. Not that I believe that more than a few percent (at most) of women seeking abortions are such sociopaths or psychopaths.

I do not know if any of the women I know socially has had an abortion. No one has told me about their experience, but I am convinced of the usefulness of abortion to improve society and the lives of the women who have them by the statistical studies of the legalization of abortion.

I think it might be desirable to have some regulation of abortion to reduce or prevent the problems associated with unplanned genetic editing. For example the selective abortion of girls (as is reported as happening in China and India) or the more theoretical choice to abort fetuses on the basis of having or not have specific genetic traits. Not that I think it would be a bad idea to abort fetuses with defects, necessarily, but it should be considered carefully on an individual and societal level. And forbidding or outlawing might not be the best response either. Perhaps counterbalancing incentives would be a better response. But the first thing to do in this regard is to gather information about reasons given and the actual traits of aborted fetuses, the knowledge of the father, etc... Discover if there are any problems first and legislate carefully (only if required) afterwards.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

New Phone

I now have Sanyo SCP-7050 instead of my old silver Samsung. So far I'm mildly pleased. For one thing it seems rather rugged unlike my old phone which had developed a crack in its case. No camera or the other functions that I would never use, so that's good. I've also figured out how to customize its functions how I want them to work so I can avoid accidentally sending text messages. I still don't get text messages. They seem to cost more than an actual phone call and a quick phone call gets things done so efficiently rather than laboriously typing out a message or a reply.

My old phone also had gotten its contact list corrupted somehow, so I did not transfer things right over. I figured instead that I would transfer one after another if the phone number turned out to be correct. Plus I skipped a number of people who are perfectly nice that I will probably never call again like Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, I only had her in there for convention business back in October after all. And acquaintances with who I never really clicked or never see anymore went into my gmail contact list rather than being transferred.

So I find that I have 29 actual people in my phone. A fair number I suppose. Of those I call nine of them with some regularity. I suppose then I ought to say that I have nine friends, so I guess I don't have more online accounts than friends. (I hope.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Best Professional Artist Nominations, Draft 1

John Jude Palencar, he did the cover of The Ivory and the Horn among others last year. He's usually called upon as a dark fantasy illustrator. I've noticed him doing covers of H.P. Lovecraft collections very often, but he's also done covers for books from Connie Willis (Impossible Things) to Charles de Lint (Waifs and Strays). All that is in the past, so why this year? He has a book out full of his illustrations (Origins: The Art and Illustration of John Jude Palencar) republishing his earlier works that may have been missed by nominators and his inclusion in Spectrum 14 clearly show he is both a professional who has 'paid his dues' but is still producing very good art. (However I am open to arguments that he should be bumped down my list as I have not seen a clearly 2007 standout work from him, still my first choice for now.) His website, but I did not notice anything specifically from 2007 there like the cover of The Ivory and Horn (that link is to a review with a thumbnail rather than Amazon).

Todd Lockwood is my second choice. Mostly he does typical fantasy gaming art. But some of his pieces really do stand out. And he even has the recent ones helpfully arranged on his website for perusal. I think of those Mongoose stands out among the fantasy ones. Yes, it has blasters, but it looks like pure fantasy to me and good creative fantasy at that. I wish that Midnight Tides was 2007 rather than 2006 so I could use it as my nominating example, what a beautiful composition.

David Bowers, I'm nominating him on the strength of Leda and the Swan. It is not exactly my cup of tea, but it seems pretty good as fantasy art goes. I know, I don't exactly sound enthusiastic. I got him from the Professional Artist Recommendation Page. He stands out from many of the others as more technically skilled. And it appears to be recent unlike with so many artists that I cannot figure out when a work was published.

Before you write to me saying "What about $artist?" read the following paragraph and think about it.

Bob Eggleton has won eight Hugos. That's not a reason avoid nominating him. I would argue that it would a reason to nominate... if his art was really standing out at head and shoulders above that of his peers. But it doesn't. It has not gotten worse, but it does not stand out as clearly superior to other professional artists or from his own work. If anything I see a bunch of his stuff that appears to repeat what he's done before. There isn't a work that I've seen (correct me on this if I'm wrong) that jumps out saying, "THIS MUST GET A NOMINATION!" Similarly I would not nominate Donato Giancola, Jim Burns, Michael Whelan, or Don Maitz who between them have every Hugo statue in their category for that last 27 years. Similarly there are a lot of other good artists out of there that I think "deserve" a Hugo who have not done anything outstanding recently. If you can't point to something (even a physical something down at the bookstore) that we can point to as a reason he or she deserves a Hugo it isn't going to work out.

Fashion: Holster Bags

A guy I read, The Flee King, posted a link to Skin Graft Holster Bags as something he is interested in for steampunk costuming. I've worn a holster bag somewhat like those and I find it useful, but difficult to find an outfit to wear with it. Not unlike a woman trying to match a handbag to an outfit, but moreso. On the positive side I think either my single side bag or these items are nearly impossible for someone to surreptitiously fish something out of. But this is because the wearer's arms are mostly down over them and this also makes detailing less effective. If I were to buy one for myself I think I would go for a relatively plain one because of this. And there is the cost... women may be used to $120 a bag to carry things when wearing an outfit without suitable pockets, gut I'm not (the one I have was much less expensive). Lastly I would like to wear this item when it is too hot for a coat and the straps can be uncomfortable in such weather.

My verdict is interesting, but not something I am likely to purchase unless I came into a much, much better job. I also think that such purses suitable for men or women could be better designed. My personal inclination is that the bag might be improved if it was hung about six inches below the belt and secured loosely to the upper leg. This would provide easier access and wouldn't be trapping heat against the torso. Even better from a fashion point of view is that whatever detailing would be visible rather than hidden by the wearer's arms.

My advice to people is that this is an interesting fashion experiment, but only for those who don't mind getting a hairy eyeball or two from people nervous about weapons or punks generally.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Almost a Review: Antique Bakery

This is a manga, but I'm still counting it as a book for the purposes of a count of everything I'm reading in AUC 2762 (CE 2008). Written and illustrated by Fumi Yoshinaga it a light creation about three men working in a bakery. Which, of course, isn't usual since gender roles are very defined and the serving person at a bakery is almost always a female. And they all have an interesting background or past. The chef, who is a gay rake, his apprentice who is a former boxer, and the owner/server, who is a young rich man out to make money. And avoid a job where he has to be clean shaved.

Don't worry about it being too torrid, if Chef Ono were having straight sex the scenes might be rated PG-13, no bits or even clothes off. Out of 191 pages there were two with sex or male-male kissing happening on them. So this wouldn't really be called Yaoi, it is more a compilation of stories about particular social situations found in Japan that happen to intersect in a pastry shop.

I found it interesting to figure out how these three very different men came to be working together and the little side stories that come in for cake and tea. I recommend it to people who like light romance and/or slice of life stories and can stand the right to left page layout of Japanese manga.

Book 5

Monday, January 14, 2008

Difficulty of the Hugos

Since I have a membership in Worldcon I can nominate works for the Hugos. Unfortunately I have read very little that was published in the past year. I am remedying the gap by quickly hitting the library with lists of recommendations. Like reading the Ted Chiang novelette (by the Hugo definition) The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate in the September 2007 edition of Fantasy and Science Fiction, but made available online. It was recommended by Abigail Nussbaum in her journal. I'm going to publish a list of what I'll be nominating later today and as you will all see it is a pathetic anemic thing. So I need anyone within range of this broadcast to point people at me to recommend things.

To answer a question that might otherwise be asked why don't I just use Hugo Recommend over on Livejournal or SF Awards Watch to make my list of things to look at and read? Well because I want more personal recommendations from people who are more closely associated with me by degrees of separation. And won't recommend William Gibson. More seriously I am using them, but I'm wondering if there is something more "Mishalak" that they might have missed.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Almost a Review: Blood Child & Kindred

I read a lot of speculative fiction long after it is fresh. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly does not help me when I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to nominate for the Hugos. Case and point, the titular short story of Octavia E. Butler's collection Blood Child and Other Stories. It is a weirdly gay science fiction story. I don't think I'd ruin it for anyone by saying so as I think it fairly well known given that it won the 1984 Nebula for best Novelette.

On the one hand Octavia says nothing new with these stories. They're all very ordinary science fiction themes. The disease that makes the ordinary amazing. The sort of things that we'll risk for emotional reasons around making our families safe... and to be loved. Genetics and destiny. Yet, there is an extraordinary quality to her writing. I think it would shine through even if I did not know who she was already, very important late 20th century SF writer.

On the other hand her novel Kindred both impressed me with its unromantic view of people, but it was a sort of deadpan magical realism. The fantasy elements are perfectly ordinary and never explained, but not mysterious as it would be in the classic Latin variety of magical realism. I still do not know what to think of them having finished them the day before yesterday and one week ago, respectively. My ability to review falls short of the stories I have read.

But who would I recommend them to? More than anything I think Kindred will appeal to fans of historical novels. A Uncle Tom's Cabin without the stiff language or black and white view of the world. Blood Child and Other Stories might appeal to fans of Bujold's Ethan of Athos or Tiptree's Houston, Houston, Do You Read?. But it is a short collection and I think everyone ought to give it each of the stories a few pages to grab them.

Books 3 & 4

Friday, January 11, 2008

Auld Acquaintances

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? I raise my cup and think of them and times long gone by.

Make a post to your Live Journal, blog, MySpace, Facebook, or whatever, with a list of the names of old friends that you haven't seen in a long time, and would love to get in touch with again. Maybe one of them will Google their name and your post will turn up. Maybe someone on your friends list knows them and can pass the word along.

Jenny Stencil, Paul Domes, and Ro Holden.

And in the spirt of this thing I'm going to try to renew some sort of social contact with Gomez Lemuex, Robin LaChance, Christopher Winterburn, and Garfied Lindo.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Geek Out!

In the process of getting everything I read on LJ into google reader I managed to come across something that I missed from CorwinOfAmber's journal from two years ago. A flash animation of a song called Geeks in Love. This may be one of the cutest things I've ever seen on the net. Geeking out now! The only way it could have been better (in my opinion) is with gay geeks.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Glowing Eyes

Thinking about the traditional fantasy or science fiction species/monster with glowing eye my first speculation is that it would be useless. Glowing eyes are not seen anywhere in nature as far as I know and that is often a very good indication of what is useful (though not only). Though many nocturnal animals (and ones in other low light environments) have eyes with a tapetum lucidum, a bright reflective layer behind the retina that improves low light vision by reflecting it back through the retina. This layer reflecting some light back out of the eye is responsible for the impression of glowing eyes. I can also add a bit of personal experience to my book learning. I once had my contacts glow in while I was in a room lit with an UV 'blacklight'. It made my vision fuzzy and reduced my ability to see less illuminated objects, but I could see my contacts glow when I looked in a mirror, with some difficulty.

I suspect if I was constantly had my lens/eyes glowing I would not notice it as a glow after a time. Instead my brain would compensate and I would not notice the glow or objects of the same color hidden in the glow. So my first thought is that any species emitting light from its eyes would be color blind in a section of spectrum near that part and I could not see any advantage to it.

However this is assuming that the glow from the eyes is in the visual spectrum of the species emitting the light. If instead a species gave off ultraviolet light from its eyes and saw in the normal visual spectrum it would cause otherwise invisible things to become visible to it. So my second though about the subject is that maybe some real world species gives off ultraviolet light and uses that along with eyes sensitive in the blue/green region to see otherwise invisible things as a forensic investigator with an ultraviolet light might.

But ultraviolet is very energetic (relatively). So it might not be possible for anything to bioluminesce in the ultraviolet spectrum. I've not heard of anything that does, though it is possible that it may not be as well investigated by researchers. So what then if a theoretical species had eyes that glowed blue and used the re-emitting of light in longer wavelengths such as green, yellow, or red?

But why even have an eye glow? This is the basic problem that objectively a designer would not want to have a detection device like and eye also emitting what it is intended to detect. It would be much better if using blue or ultraviolet light to find otherwise hidden prey to have the light emitting organ separate. At most you would want it around the aperture of the eye like a ring flash on a camera. That at least could give the classic horror/fantasy look of the glowing eye with a black dot of the pupil in it. If the light emission was under the voluntary control of the animal then it would also be useful for signaling.

So my bottom line is that I think it unlikely to have a creature (or robot for that matter) having glowing eyes. But if a sorcerer or engineer had his heart set on it it could be practically designed. With some drawbacks.

Just A Test

I have been working on what system might work for posting to both my blogger account and to livejournal at the same time. I think I have the settings right so that all my posts appearing on blogger will be posted privately here. At least when I post via email which has its own drawbacks. Such as having to remember each time to include each place I want to post rather than having the computer work it out automatically. Also I wish there was to put tags in rather than having to edit the posts later. Maybe I'll search for a client program that could handle posting to both...

Edited: And that did not really work very well. So that theory of posting to both simultaneously is probably shot. On to either finding a client program or something.