Los Links 5/20

Right.  Okay.  So it’s late.  Again.  So what’s new?  Look, I had some frantic fiction writing going on, there was a Peacemakers concert, and then meeting Helena.  I was busy.  But I’ve finally got everything gathered for your reading pleasure.

Before we get on with the rest of Los Links, there’s one I just want to place right up front here:

Harvard Magazine: The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination.  I don’t even care if you despise J.K. Rowling.  Go read her commencement address.  It’s one of the wisest, most inspiring and important things I’ve ever read, and it applies to everyone, regardless of what they plan to become.  And it’s got funny bits in.  And it might just change your life. 

Mississippi Floods

Highly Allochthonous: Levees and the illusion of flood control.  Anne’s fantastic post will make you rethink river systems and our attempts to control them.

Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog: America’s Achilles’ heel: the Mississippi River’s Old River Control Structure.  A wonderful post explaining just exactly how difficult it is to make a mighty river go one way when it really wants to go another.

Science: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back on U.S. Floodplains.  Written in 2005, uber-relevant now.  Ye gods, we’re idiots…

Mount St. Helens Anniversary

About.com Geology: National Volcano Day.  Some excellent points and a wonderful collection of links to various and sundry 31st Anniversary posts.  Including mine.  Squee!

Rapture Nonsense

Mountain Beltway: Five days until… nothing much happens.  Callan at his uncompromising, incisive best.  Don’t miss the bonus fun of the tone troll in the comments!


Uncovered Earth: Take a Hike: Latourell Falls.  A beautiful post about a beautiful setting.  Now that summer’s almost here, it’s definitely time to take a hike!

Not Exactly Rocket Science: Building anti-flu drugs on a computer.  I can’t think of anything clever to say about this because it’s rather too awesome for words.  Amazing what we can do with computers these days, innit?  Also, Life’s deliberate typos.

Neuroskeptic: There’s no DNA in “Disease”.  A good explanation as to why one gene doesn’t always equal one disease.

Starts With a Bang: On Being What You Want, and BigotryEveryone should read this amazing and inspiring post on science, diversity and pursuing your dreams.  That’s why it’s in bold.  While you’re there, also peruse The Fun of Going Faster-Than-Light.

Respectful Insolence: Straw men and projection: Tools of quacks and conspiracy theorists to deflect critical thinking.  Read this post for classic lines like, “Projection this massive should be reserved for 3D movies in IMAX theaters.”

Looking for Detachment: Bighorns on the Overlook Trail.  This one’s got cute animals and some of the most delicious strata you’ve ever seen.  That’s why you should go feast your eyes upon it.  Why are you still lurking about here?

Geotripper: “Are We There Yet?” In Geology, the Journey is the Destination.  The title rather says it all, but I’ll just add that this one’s an especial pleasure for LOTR geeks like meself.

Foundation Blog: After the Debunking: Autism Parents Have Their Say.  Why desperate parents fall for pseudoscience, and how to help them overcome it.

Observations: Space Is an Elaborate Illusion.  Dude, I think this one bent my mind.  Just a little bit.  I love it when a science post changes my perspective!

Aetiology: Pigs with Ebola Zaire: a whole new can o’ worms.  Kay.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve just sworn off anything to do with pigs for life.

Scientific American: Nothing Personal, You’re Just Not My Type.  Those of you worried about intelligent aliens invading earth should probably start worrying about a different sort of alien invasion.  It’s all in the strategy, baby, and I ain’t talking about military tactics.

Slate: Positive Black Swans.  I think the upshot here is that too much fear of falling will never get you flying.  Something for those who fund science to keep in mind.

The Curious Wavefunction: The top four publicly misused chemical terms: A layman’s primer.  This layman certainly appreciated it!

Discover: The Brain Is Made of Its Own Architects.  Brains are awesome.  More awesome than we knew.  Brains build themselves – don’t get more awesome than that, does it?

Cocktail Party Physics: hop, skip and a jump.  Okay, we’ve got a sexy Hollywood actress and a composer teaming up to invent a torpedo guidance system.  Who says artists can’t be scientists?

Myrmecos: Photographing insects with a point & shoot digicam.  So you wanna get a great pic for a post but all you’ve got is this lousy point-and-shoot?  You can still take outstanding photos for science!

Dinosaur Tracking: Tarbosaurus Gangs: What Do We Know?  One thing we know for sure: when something’s hyped out of all proportion, Brian Switek’s standing there with the Righteous Pin o’ Deflation.  You’d think they woulda learned after Ida…

Women’s Issues

The Atlantic: ‘Knowing Your Value’: An MSNBC Host Tells Women They’re Doing It Wrong.  Aren’t we always?  A nice battle cry for telling the UR Doin it Rong crowd to STFU.

Bug Girl’s Blog: Things do get better, sometimes.  Signs of progress, and the way things used to be.  

The Guardian: Being a slut, to my mind, was mostly fun – wearing and doing what you liked.  Clothes, power, and perception.

The Atlantic: Perverse Incentives.  Ladies: your naughty bits are fine just the way they are.  Really.  WTF do you want your vajayjay to look like Barbie’s for?

XKCD: Answering Ben Stein’s Question.  Wherein Ben Stein’s dumbfuckery regarding over-privileged arseholes accused of rape gets the proper boot in the arse.

Indymedia Scotland: Edinburgh City Council Advocates Violence Against Women.  What else can you say when a city council won’t issue a permit for a women’s march because drunk men may harass them?  Rather than, y’know, making it clear drunk men harassing women won’t be tolerated?

Society and Culture

LA Times: The disgraceful interrogation of L.A. school librarians.  This, my darlings, is the sign of a very sick culture.  I’m sorry to say that culture is ours.

Decrepit Old Fool: It’s a dirty job, but…  I have a new appreciation for blue-collar workers after our maintenance guy unclogged my toilet last Sunday.  And this is a beautiful tribute to them, and a good sharp smack for those who fail to realize how important such workers are.  Also treat yourself to Those who can, teach.  You know what, make it a trifecta and read Punishment while you’re there.

CDC: Social Media: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.  The most brilliant hook for emergency preparedness education ever.

Take as Directed: The Freedom Riders and Same-Sex Marriage.  John Lewis, same-sex marriage, and the struggle for civil rights.

Atheism and Religion

Salty Current: Yes, Templeton is antiscience.  Just in case there was any doubt left in anyone’s mind. 

Temple of the Future: Support Sojourners? I Decline.  Anti-gay bigotry rears its ugly head yet again.  Why are people surprised that supposedly “progressive” religious groups can still be so hateful?

Butterflies and Wheels: A split within the movement.  All those accommodationists shouting at atheist activists to shut up ‘cuz they’re rocking the boat too much?  Yeah, think of what would’ve happened if Freedom Riders has listened to much the same advice.

Why Evolution is True: Mooney snatches victory from jaws of defeat.  Yup.  Chris Mooney’s still a disgusting little slimeball, although, like John McCain, he does on rare occasion say something reasonable people can agree on.


Racialicious: If You Haven’t Been On Food Stamps, Stop Trying to Influence Government Policy.  Email a copy of this to every fucktard in office who thinks people on food stamps are living like royalty at the government’s expense.  Better yet, force every fucktard in office who thinks same to live off of food stamps either to the end of their terms or until they stop being so stupid.

The Washington Post: Bin Laden’s death and the debate over torture.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but John McCain is absolutely right (except the bit where he says those who tortured prisoners shouldn’t be prosecuted).  He demonstrates a moral clarity and an attention to reality that’s been sadly lacking on the right.


The Passive Voice: How to Read a Book Contract – How Long Does It Last?  You’ll be horrified at the answer in some cases. Also, What’s Not There? and Inflation.

Musings and Moths: It’s big, it’s bad, it’s a publish button.  This is the only checklist you’ll need as a science writer.  Modify as necessary for other sorts of writing.  Then write!

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Tech Talk and the Active Ebook.  A fascinating look at what books might become.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: Audible Launches ACX, Self Publishing for Audio Books.  Seems like self-publishing no longer means being limited to lame vanity press paper books, eh? 

The Business Rusch: Surviving The Transition (Part One).  As clear a survey of the changes sweeping the publishing industry as I’ve seen.

A Brain Scientist’s Take on Writing: Ebook Publishing Tips from Joanna Penn.  Valuable info for anyone thinking of striking out on their own.

Literary Abominations: Principles of Contracts: The Third Cousins Rule.  No matter what kind of contract you’re negotiating, this is damned good advice.

Bit o’ Fun

Gabbro B-Sides: How Gay Marriage Causes Earthquakes.  Okay, so this is years old, but it made me laugh my arse off and it’s still relevant, so here you are.

Los Links 5/20
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2 thoughts on “Los Links 5/20

  1. 2

    I have a really odd book by David Bohm, entitled "Wholeness and the Implicate Order", which first appeared in print in 1980. If you have a chance to read the Wikipedia article on Bohm, I recommend it – and also that article's link to (his) holographic theory: implicate and explicate order.Reading the book, you get the sense of a classical physicist almost at war with himself – a man trying to pursue truly original ideas, yet at the same time bound to traditional concepts. Its really fascinating – and forcefully reminds one that to the average man, genius is often indistinguishable from insanity.

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