Sweeping Sands

First, let me take your breath away. Just for a moment. I’ll give it back, I promise.

Sand Dunes, Oregon Coast

Back in 2010, my intrepid companion and I went geotrekking with Lockwood, and he took us to see some ethereal dunes on the Oregon coast just north of Florence. This photo comes from a viewpoint somewhere past Darlingtonia Wayside, below Seal Rock Cave. I’ve had it on my mind to write up for ages now. I still haven’t got the research done, but Brian Romans and Galileo’s Pendulum have declared Sand Dune Week, so now’s as good a time as any to tease you with a few photos, and reminisce about Sand Dunes I Have Known.

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Sweeping Sands

Thanks A Lot. Really. I Mean It.

So, Thanksgiving in America. I’m finding myself thankful for a lot of things today. I’m thankful that once I finish today’s shift, I’m free for four days. So, thank you, Sarah Josepha Hale. Thank you for not giving up until we had ourselves a holiday, and for so much else besides.

Thank you, Tree Lobsters, for combining two outrages into something that pokes a sharp bit of fun at the offending idiots:

Tree Lobsters: A Very Megyn Kelly Thanksgiving

Thank you, my amazing, incredible, and deeply appreciated readers, for being the best damned group of readers on the internet. Thank you for making all this worthwhile.

Thank you, my fellow Freethought Bloggers, for bringing me on board, and making me a part of the best damned atheist and freethought collective anywhere.

Thank you, all you writers who taught me how to string a useful sentence together, and ignited me.

Thank you, my dear friends, for joining me in adventure and pulling my irons out of the fire when such becomes necessary. There are far too many of you to call out by name in this short little post, but there will be a roll call in my first book.

Thank you, denizens and creators of the internet, for all the info, without which I couldn’t find things like tasty restaurants and reliable mechanics and science blogs and those weird factoids that suddenly become essential to a scene in the wee hours of the morning when the poor research librarians are trying to sleep.

Thank you, bloggers, for pouring out your passion in prose and podcasts and pictures and video.

Thank you, OWS folks, for taking a stand.

Thank you, scientists, for figuring out how life, the universe and everything works: a journey of discovery that will probably never finish, and which has been one hell of a fun ride.

Thank you, teachers, for giving me the foundation necessary to understand what the scientists are saying, and introducing me to so very many worlds.

Thank you, Mom, Mom and Dad, for giving me this life and then helping me navigate the sometimes wickedly complicated and frequently surprising thing.

Thank you, parents and people and places and pets and all the things in this wide, wild and wonderful universe, for everything that makes this life both possible and worth the living.

Gracias y salud.

Thanks A Lot. Really. I Mean It.

Not Made of Cheese (Definitely) nor Labradorite (Probably): Lunar Anorthosite

When last we left labradorite, we’d discussed the fact that large bits of the Moon are composed of anorthosite. Isn’t that labradorite, you ask? And the answer is no. Not quite. Labradorite is a mineral, and anorthosite is a rock often made of it, but the two are not precisely equivalent.

I’m thrilled to say that ye olde labradorite post inspired another post at Sandatlas on just this topic: Lunar anorthosite. This is brilliant! It clarifies a lot of confusion and explains a lot about the Moon in the process.

So go read that, and enjoy some lovely pictures of anorthosite fetched down from the moon by Apollo astronauts.

Thin section photograph of Apollo 16 Rake Sample(s) 60055,4 using cross nichols light*


Lunar Ferroan Anorthosite 60025


Apollo 17 Astronaut Harrison Schmitt Collects Lunar Rock Samples

*Mind you, that’s “crossed nicols” (.pdf), despite what the caption from NASA says. Thanks to Silver Fox for the correction!

Not Made of Cheese (Definitely) nor Labradorite (Probably): Lunar Anorthosite

Dana's Dojo: Imodium for the Verbal Diarrhea

Today in the Dojo: We begin to come to grips with this hell that is description.


A long, long time ago in a Death thread far, far away, Glynis posted the following question:

I wonder if there is a way to stop before doing in cases of over description?

And I said I’d write a column on the subject someday. I keep my promises. Eventually.

I’m not the world’s expert on description. My first drafts tend for the most part to be somewhat Spartan, sometimes to the point where Wise Readers yell at me for not describing things thoroughly enough (which is a problem when you’re writing SF and supposed to be describing things beyond mortal ken). This wasn’t always the case. My early writing suffered from the verbal diarrhea: long-winded descriptions of buildings, ships, trees or what have you that stopped the story cold; inventories of characters’ appearance, flowery landscapes…. Let’s just put it this way. When it annoys even the writer, it’s too much.

Being the offspring of an Indiana farm boy/coal mine engineer, I don’t get mad, I get even. And I have applied that philosophy to description. I spent a couple of years reading every book on writing I could get my hands on. I practiced varied techniques: describe the character/leave it up to the reader, remove every other adjective, etc., until I found my happy medium between too much and too little. My first drafts got leaner and meaner. I don’t have to do as much slash-and-burn in the revisions. I find myself editing as I go, automatically, as if there’s an alarm that goes off when the description creeps up to dangerous levels and the narrative auto-corrects. Usually. When I’m lucky, anyway. No matter how good you get at this, description will probably never be easy.

That said, I’ll attempt to give you some pointers on hooking up the Over-Description Warning System, and keep it running smoothly as you’re in the throes of prose writing.

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Dana's Dojo: Imodium for the Verbal Diarrhea

Los Links 11/18

Okay, yes, I’m late. I usually post around midnight, and here it is, 4 in the ay-em. Blame the 6-day work week.

As far as why there’s so many links, you can blame the people writing interesting things.

And I know what the writers and writer watchers will say: “But, Dana, aren’t you supposed to be doing NaNo?” And the answer is yes, in a sorta-kinda-halfarsed way, yes, I am doing NaNo. But. Aunty Flow was here this week. I neverever write fiction when Aunty Flow’s around. And I’d just done a 7,000-word weekend. So I gave my wrists (most of) the week off. (And I’d just like to give a hearty thanks to the nurse practitioner at our company clinic, who gave me a miracle drug called Back Quell, which turns out to have done a bang-up job quelling the monthly misery as well.)

With that digression digressed, I give you, at long last, Los Links. Enjoy!

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Los Links 11/18

Interlude with Cat III: Winter Sunshine

Our server’s acting the idiot again, and I have to work on my usual day off, plus I’m needing to get some reading done for Los links, so I’m afraid there won’t be substantial posting today. Here. Have a kitty in the sunshine:

She’s enjoying one of those rare winter mornings where bouncing sunshine hurls itself against the windowpane, waking Mommy up despite heavy curtains. It’s now at an angle where it hits the bed early on, which means she doesn’t have to go through all the hard work of moving on to the floor to find a sunbeam.

Still, even the minimal effort required to find the perfect position from which to enjoy it exhausts the poor dear:

She then attempted to look too dignified for photos.

When this didn’t persuade me to stop, she attacked. I haven’t got pictures of that, because I was trying to prevent her from ripping my hands off. She’s evil. Beautiful, but evil. And when there are sunbeams, she forgets her mother is where warm laps and cat food comes from.

Dog people don’t understand why I can adore such a wee vicious evil beastie. They talk of devotion and unconditional love and affection. When I look at a dog, all I think of is barking, drooling, strange smells, and the necessity of taking the damned thing out in all weather to relieve itself. Dogs are find for them as likes ’em, and I wouldn’t mind owning a nice German Shepherd again someday. But I do so love the strange personalities, aloofness, self-sufficiency, purring, and occasional moment of conditional love interspersed with the unpredictable mayhem that kittehs provide. Keeps me humble and on me toes, that.

Gimme a cat any day.

Interlude with Cat III: Winter Sunshine

He's a Sexist AND a Sockpuppet!

Why, this is adorable!

This comment appeared today on my open letter to Nature regarding that loathsome bit of sexist dumbfuckery known as “Womanspace.” It’s under the handle “Disappointed.” Observe how it appears to be a supporter of the author:

Amazing: someone writes something whimsical, which pokes fun at middle-aged men, and suddenly it becomes about stereotyping women?  Really??  You don’t think that possibly, just possibly, the author was attempting satire?
Ah, well – turns out I like the other two stories held up as being “problematic”, over on Contemplative Mammoth.  That HAS to label me, too.

Actually, Ed, it’s your comment’s metadata that labels you – as the bloody stupid author hisownself.

Sock puppets aren’t loved round these parts. But I’m loving it. I’m loving the fact you couldn’t come right out and defend your own story, but felt you had to drum up “outside” support. It’s precious.

And now I will turn you over to the tender mercies of my readers and my fellow Freethought Bloggers, who shall now do what they will.

Have fun, my darlings. No need to be gentle. He is, after all, wearing a sock.

He's a Sexist AND a Sockpuppet!

My Country 'tis of Thee, Bad Land of Police Brutality

This is what America’s Finest are up to these days:

Note the technique: the insouciant stoll, the pepper spray held at a casual yet effective angle, the expression that says he could just as easily be spraying cockroaches as students, because they’re equally vermin to him. Note that his safety and the safety of others is in no way imperiled by a bunch of students sitting on the ground, yet he feels it necessary to spray them full in the face with a chemical weapon because they were, y’know, protesting. Defying his authortay. Can’t have that.

This is Lt. John Pike. You can go say hello.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/JC_Christian/status/137781926219104257″]

Let him know what you think of actions and injuries like this:

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood. [emphasis added]

If, like me, you have no desire to speak to that piece of shit directly, contact the UC Davis police directly. Maybe you can send them a link to this video and ask them how this comports with their mission to protect and serve the students of UC Davis. And you can let UC Davis know what you think on their Facebook page.

Read this letter from UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi trying to explain away the violence:

And then let her know what you think of her excuses. Maybe just send her a copy of this letter, if you’re too disgusted to write one of your own.

Actions like this are truly disgusting. This is an outrageous way to respond to people peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. But it also shows how terrified those at the top are. They’re terrified enough to make their precarious position even worse by attacking students for the crime of sitting in front of tents.

Keep ’em running scared.


My Country 'tis of Thee, Bad Land of Police Brutality

Dear Nature: There is a Crucial Difference Between Being Contentious and Being a Misogynistic Asshole

Update: Bonus fun! “Womanspace” author Ed Rybicki has appeared in the comments, trying to sockpuppet himself some support under the handle “Disappointed.” Be sure to take this opportunity to speak your mind directly to the responsible party. Enjoy, everyone!

You may wonder what I’m doing here with a can of kerosene in one hand and a match in the other. Why, I’m about to burn a bridge.

Writers are typically advised against doing so, as the person you’re pissed at today may have been the person who’d publish you tomorrow. And yes, it would have been nice to be published alongside our own Stephanie Zvan someday, as I’d figured any publication wise enough to choose one of her stories might prove an attractive market for my own fiction, should I be fortunate enough to make the cut. However, there’s the matter of the other company I’d be keeping. I refer, of course, to the wretchedly sexist story “Womanspace” that appeared in your formerly-august pages in September. No, I won’t link to it. Interested readers will have no trouble finding it, by way of Dr. Anne Jefferson’s masterful takedown of it.

I gave the story a glance. It’s one of those stories in which a writer masturbates to the tune of exhausted stereotypes, and believes the resulting mass is original simply because it emerged from them, and they haven’t got out much. It contains the kind of overdone sexist humor that tickles the underdeveloped funnybones of men who are too inept to figure out teh wimminz. I understand the author’s wife giggled. I’m certain she did. If she hadn’t learned to laugh at her husband by now, she’d be a divorcee. A laughing spouse, however, is no guarantee of quality, a fact which writers who attempt to publish in professional fiction magazines soon learn to their sorrow.

Continue reading “Dear Nature: There is a Crucial Difference Between Being Contentious and Being a Misogynistic Asshole”

Dear Nature: There is a Crucial Difference Between Being Contentious and Being a Misogynistic Asshole