Category Archives: Brain Salad

01 Sep

President wants more icebreakers in Arctic

One of the things I noticed while researching Arctic Rising was that the US was not able to do much force-projection or borders patrolling, search and rescue, etc with the current fleet, ranking the US below much, much smaller nations with Arctic borders. Looks like someone is paying attention finally:

President Obama on Tuesday will propose speeding the acquisition and building of new Coast Guard icebreakers that can operate year-round in the nation’s polar regions, part of an effort to close the gap between the United States and other nations, especially Russia, in a global competition to gain a foothold in the rapidly changing Arctic.

(Via Obama to Call for More Icebreakers in Arctic as U.S. Seeks Foothold – The New York Times.)

28 Aug

Digging on artist Mike Winkelmann’s futuristic illustrations here

What I love about this is the John Berkey sense of scale in these. Berkey’s massive starships almost always guaranteed a purchase from me when I was browsing the used book store.


Artist Mike Winkelmann has been making an illustration every day for eight years. As his website will tell you, he hasn’t broken routine for 3,039 days—and over that time his illustrations and process have drastically evolved. In his most recent digital illustrations, he imagines dreamlike futuristic landscapes.

A lot of artists and great thinkers throughout history have had rigorous daily routines that keep them productive and creative, all the while honing their specific set of skills. One of the impressive things about Winkelmann’s practice, besides sheer longevity, is that he switches the tools that he uses to create the images each year.

(Via 3 | This Illustrator Has Created A Picture A Day For The Last Eight Years | Co.Design | business + design.)

24 Aug

Queen’s Young Leaders looking for more Caribbean applications for people working with youth or amazing young leaders

This came through my inbox, I thought I’d pass it along duly. If you are in the Caribbean and doing anything with the youth, you might want to nominate youths doing spectacular things or nominate someone doing something for the young folk:

I am writing on behalf of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society, with a request for you to support the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards.

Following the success of the 2015 Queen’s Young Leaders Awards, the search is now back on to find the 2016 Award winners. Here’s a short film showing the highlights from the ceremony These awards will discover and celebrate inspirational young people from across the Commonwealth who are making a difference in their communities.

We are planning a burst of social media activity over the days before the application deadline, from now until the 7th September. We are asking influential artists from the Commonwealth nations to help us highlight this very special opportunity for young people in their own country, and encourage a final flurry of applications. We’d love to have some more applications from Grenada!

If you would like more information about the programme or how you can help us, please do not hesitate to contact me.

You can see more at Queen’s Young Leaders.

23 Aug

Congratulations Hugo Award Winners. Meanwhile, Sad Puppies smacked on nose with newspaper

I tuned in via UStream to watch the Hugo Awards as I was too busy with deadlines for it to be feasible this year as a trip.

Fandom rejected sad puppies very strongly in favor of no award for any of the areas dominated by slate voting. They’re already spinning defeat as a win, which is funny as they tried so fucking hard to win. Sour grapes.

Interestingly, the one sole category that sad puppies posted a decent piece of art was in movies. Guardians of the Galaxy as a result won. So when they say everyone was part of a social justice conspiracy to vote one way, you know it’s bullshit. Fans were happy to ignore the sad puppy support of GotG and voted for it.

Everything else: fandom basically said ‘don’t piss in a punch bowl and blab about how awesome it is and then tell us it’s a conspiracy against good punch.’

Here are the winners.

Meanwhile, I’m curious to see what the stats are so I can see what great literature was bumped off the final ballots for further reading.

Also, two translated works won. I’m sure chroniclers will update us, but that seems like a big first and it puts the world in Worldcon.

Update: viewing by this pic of one of the voting stats by Charles Stross it is a huge preference for No Award on novella:

Annalee Flower has been twittering posts of the nomination lists, so we can see the lists of writers who were kept off the ballot by puppies slate voting:

Basically we learned the puppies forced a lot of amazing women and people of diverse backgrounds off the ballot.

12 Aug

Yes, Virginia, people of color do fucking read SF/F

Here’s an article in SF Signal about the lack of SF/F books with people of color on the cover. And here’s a fairly typical SF/F fan response in the comments that I want to highlight by a commenter called TheAderian that wraps up all the ignorances I’ve had tossed my way in one big bundle. Here are a couple of quick snips I want to respond to (I can’t respond to all of them, I just can’t):

Firstly, I work in a largely black city in the human services field and have done so for a very long amount of time. It’s my job to get to know people and know them well and so I understand the interests of huge amounts of people. It’s not scientific, but I have a pretty good example of the interests of at least one group of “people who have color”


There are no African nations interested in space flight, exploring space, etc. I have never met an urban black person who talks about science fiction concepts wonders what’s on some planet, some star, etc or laments the loss of the space program, they would rather that money spent in their community. I have met black people who grew up in white areas who dream about these things though, thus proving to me that it’s all cultural.

I see it’s that time of year for the ‘poc don’t read SF/F’ statements from the willfully ignorant.

So, no. Just no.

Meanwhile, here is a post where I walk through an entire con devoted to things SF/F in Barbados, where a large percent of the population shows up:

And here’s a list of online SF/F fans of color standing up to be counted:

Hey, even rappers/musicians are into SF/F: and and many more, I literally just grabbed two links off the top of my head, this shit is all over the place.

So yes, Virginia, POC *do* read SF/F, and it’s common. To remain ignorant takes serious work.

Insisting we don’t exist is a tactic in making us invisible, and a huge part of the problem. Please stop this ignorance.

There is much more ignorance in this comment as well. “There are no African nations interested in space flight, exploring space, etc.” Seriously, 30 seconds with Google easily disproves this.

Fucking ignorant.

15 May

Spying in the Arctic heats up, and Foreign Policy Magazine is there

Foreign Policy magazine has a fun article catching people up to a lot of what I was researching when putting together Arctic Rising:

While the world’s attention today is focused largely on the Middle East and other obvious trouble spots, few people seem to be monitoring what’s happening in the Arctic. Over the past few years, in fact, the Arctic Ocean countries have been busy building up their espionage armories with imaging satellites, reconnaissance drones, eavesdropping bases, spy planes, and stealthy subs. Denmark and Canada have described a clear uptick in Arctic spies operating on their territories, with Canada reporting levels comparable to those at the height of the Cold War. As of October, NATO had recorded a threefold jump in 2014 over the previous year in the number of Russian spy aircraft it had intercepted in the region. Meanwhile, the United States is sending satellites over the icy region about every 30 minutes, averaging more than 17,000 passes every year, and is developing a new generation of unmanned intelligence sensors to monitor everything above, on, and below the ice and water.

If Vienna was the crossroads of human espionage during the Cold War, a hub of safe houses where spies for the East and the West debriefed agents and eyed each other in cafes, it’s fair to say that the Arctic has become the crossroads of technical espionage today.

(Via Frozen Assets: Inside the Spy War for Control of the Arctic | Foreign Policy.)

23 Apr

Water rise visualizations if all the ice melts: shame about Florida

Fascinating visualization of what happens if all the ice on Earth melts. Lots of China on the east coast suffers, South Korea, and the US east coast suffer. Florida just goes away, as does most of the Gulf Coast (Florida’s pretty much in serious trouble no matter what the projections call for, apocalyptic or otherwise. But it’s okay, they banned the words climate change and global warming, I’m sure they’ll be fine).

Looks my investment in fish-scale vests and gills was a bit premature.


27 Feb

Thank you, Mr. Nimoy. Your portrayal of a mixed race person had a big impact on me.

It’s not often that I am struck by the passing of a celebrity. I don’t often feel I need to weigh in. I certainly don’t feel like I had any special connection to that person. Certainly when celebrities that are in the common consciousness who are my age pass, I feel the shiver of mortality, but that’s usually it.

But the news today that Leonard Nimoy had passed had an impact.

I wasn’t a devoted trekker, or trekkie, or what have you. But Spock was one of the first times I saw a living example of a pro-science, pro-rational point of view in a character on a screen who wasn’t the evil scientist.

It was the first time in my life I’d seen a protagonist, a hero, be like that. Spock had a huge impact on my nascent scientific world view, giving me permission to explore a scientific worldview. It took a long time for me to go all in on that, but he was the first that made if feel it was safe.

I’m probably not alone in geek-dom there.

But where Spock really hit me in the feels was when I encountered more about him in occasional re-runs and some of the books.

Spock was half human and half Vulcan. Humans took one look at him and ‘saw’ Vulcan, and coded as such. And Vulcans ‘knew’ he wasn’t really Vulcan because of his invisible human-ness.

Spock was bi-racial. But he didn’t look like a half-human half Vulcan. He coded as Vulcan.

For someone who looked white, but was bi-racial, that had a huge impact on me. Spock was the closest thing I had ever seen in my life, even to this day, to a role model. As a kid, it blew my mind. There was Spock and that was it as far as ‘light not white’ me.

Spock struggling with trying to be accepted by Vulcans and humans, both sides of which kind of pushed him away a bit. That hit me in all the feels. Spock finding his own path, being just awesome as himself. Crewing with a bunch of people who all looked different than him and being down with it. Putting up with being teased for being too rational with calm and equanimity.

Yeah it was all fiction. Cardboard props and bullshit.

But telling a story about a possible path helps.

When I was a kid I was smart enough to be clever. And as John Scalzi famously noted, the failure mode of clever is ‘asshole.’ I fell into some of that. Wanting to be the Dr. House mode of smart, dismissive of stupidity and willing to push through solutions because of your own smarts. And I apologize to all those I hurt while trying to be clever.

As I got older, I realized I wanted to be more like Spock. Smart, but hard-working smart and with genuine warmth. Yes, he’s cold rational. But he’s not rational in the ‘toss you out the airlock’ way. He’s rational in the ‘dies to save the crew even though they’re not as smart as him’ way. He used his intelligence as a tool to try and create a universe that they could all be in. He made friends out of a diverse crew on the bridge. He was even close friends with the womanizing asshole of a captain that ran the ship and who had to often bail out of trouble, because even Kirk had good qualities and challenged Spock to broaden his experiences and grow as thinking creature, to see other modes and solutions, adding to his abilities.

He chose not to reject either side of his identity, but embrace them and synthesize something new out of them (yeah, I know not all the media were perfect about handling this aspect, but seeing it exist at all, when people like myself were/still are invisible, was water in the desert for me).

So, thank you Leonard Nimoy for playing Spock. And for bringing that person to life. Thank you for a great life lived, and continuing to engaged with all the people that loved this thing.

I will do my best to live long and prosper, and to try and always be a friend. There are worse things to try and live up to.

Addendum: I was pointed out this amazing article where Mr. Nimoy writes a letter to a dispirited bi-racial woman in the 1960s who was struggling, and found common ground with Spock.

Now I have double the feels knowing that he was aware of this and wrote letters like this.

11 Feb

Okay, this artificial skylight by CoeLux is somewhat stunning

Holy fuck please take my money how do I buy this?

The pictures, the video, are all pretty amazing.

The cost is brutal, petapixel says its “£40,000 (~$61,000) to buy and up to £5,000 (~$7,600) for installation.”

So rich people’s basements. But hopefully like most technologies it gets cheaper and cheaper to make. Because this would make winter suck a lot less.