indieWIRE is rooting for Buddy Holly

Lovely article on the Buddy Holly projected at long-time independent film coverage website indieWIRE where they say, “In today’s in-production column, indieWIRE takes a look at an adaptation of the geek-approved sci-fi comic novel “Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede,” which has Jon Heder in the role of a young man who is the target of a resurrected Buddy Holly.”

Read it here.

Earthquake in the Living Room.

Eldest Daughter, AKA Noble Girl, is doing experiments for her Independent Science Project. We built an earthquake table and she is busy destroying civilization (for values of civilization made out of magnetically coupled straws and cardboard.)

She’s using my iPad and an acceleration app called iSeismometer to measure the frequency at which her buildings collapse, then emailing the data to her own account, right from the table.

What have you destroyed today?

“To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing.”

Yet even she fell a victim to the political jealousy which at that time prevailed. For as she had frequent interviews with Orestes, it was calumniously reported among the Christian populace, that it was she who prevented Orestes from being reconciled to the bishop. Some of them therefore, hurried away by a fierce and bigoted zeal, whose ringleader was a reader named Peter, waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her by scraping her skin off with tiles and bits of shell. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them.

Socrates Scholasticus 5th century AD

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s not easy being a woman in the sciences.

Hypatia, born somewhere between 350 and 370 AD, died March 415 (see above) was a Greek scholar from Alexandria in Egypt. Considered the first notable woman in mathematics, she also taught philosophy and astronomy. She was killed by a Christian mob who falsely blamed her for local religious turmoil.

Notable quotes:

“Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.”

“Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for under standing those that lie beyond.”

“To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing.”

Happy Ada Lovelace day. Large chunks of above from the Wikipedia article on Hypatia.

Standing Around the Locker Room Comparing Sizes

Gardner Dozois linked to this on a list we’re both on.  It starts with our moon and then takes progressively bigger objects and sizes them against the previous, ending with the largest known star, VY Canis Majoris, a Red Hypergiant.

(Well worth clicking through to YouTube and Watching it in HD.)

VY Canis Majoris has a diameter of 2,800,000,000 kilometers.  I did some very minor math: if it were in our solar system (instead of our own sun) it’s edge would extend out to the orbit of Saturn.

There are lots of videos out there comparing sizes, but this is the best one I’ve seen so far.  If you’ve got a better link, do put it in the comments.  No rickrolling.  No porn.

(I take it back–if you want to rickroll me, go right ahead.)

Rory and I have Stories Coming Out. Bring Brains.

From the Preliminary Cover copy:

Two years ago, readers eagerly devoured The Living Dead. Publishers Weekly named it one of the Best Books of the Year, and Barnes & Noble.com called it “The best zombie fiction collection ever.” Now acclaimed editor John Joseph Adams is back for another bite at the apple — the Adam’s apple, that is — with 43 more of the best, most chilling, most thrilling zombie stories anywhere, including virtuoso performances by zombie fiction legends Max Brooks (World War Z, The Zombie Survival Guide), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), and David Wellington (Monster Island).

Continue reading

Tourists

"Tourists" by Sean Craven

So, Sean Craven, long time commentor here at Eat Our Brains, sold his first fiction to Tor.Com a while back. I was delighted because I saw the story as his submission to the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop where I got to meet him in the flesh. Click the pic to check out the excellent revised version.

A Hundred Years Hence

I’ve heard that SFWA Grandmaster James Gunn will give a keynote speech for the Cushing Library’s Exhibit above. I wish I could be there. After all, for the last 35 years I’ve witnessed some of that “SF & Fantasy” at TAMU. I remember the first time I ever met Jim Gunn–he came down for something and Dr. Kroiter brought him to the SF as Literature class to talk to us. I hadn’t read much of his work at that time but I was a big fan of the TV series The Immortal.

Since then I’ve learned usual lesson. The source material is almost always better.

Brad Denton was a graduate student under him, writing some of his early short fiction in the program. Read his post about meeting Dr. Gunn back in college, “First Contact with a Grand Master.”

Defending Freedom of Speech Thru Gag Orders or Belief Versus Knowledge

I am a fervent supporter of the separation of Church and State for several reasons.  Among other things, I believe that people should be able to hold any spiritual, religious, and crackpot notions in their head that they want.  Thus, if Tom Cruise wants to believe that the director of the galactic confederacy (a guy named Xenu) brought aliens to this planet, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with H-Bombs 75 million years ago, causing their essences to pollute us ever since, then that’s fine.  If Christians want to believe that children are born inherently sinful, great, go for it.  If Buddhists want to believe that they will be reborn after they die, not necessarily as a human, but reborn nonetheless, fine.  None of them should be able to tell the others what to believe anymore than I should be able to tell them that when we Frisbeetarians die our souls go up on the roof and we can’t get them down.

That’s what faith is about.  A belief in something without evidence.  Yes, the Catholic church believes in miracles.  Documentation on the other hand, is iffy.  Never mind.  Let them believe.

Behavior on the other hand is a different thing.  If we are to agree on public policies that affect everyone, they really need to be based on things we can demonstrate to each other.

For instance, it is generally agreed that stepping off a cliff is a bad idea.  You can demonstrate this in many ways.  I prefer dropping a watermelon rather than an actual person, but we can clearly demonstrate, time and again, that whether the watermelon hits the ground or the ground hits the watermelon, it’s not going to end well for the watermelon.  This is called evidence.  Whether I’m an atheist, a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Scientologist, we can agree, stepping off cliffs–generally bad.

Interestingly enough, it was probably only anecdotal, at first.  “I heard this guy, named Ugh went off the cliff after the mastodon and it was not pretty.” “Yeah?”  Then, through something we call inductive reasoning, we saw that every time someone went off the cliff (and lets not be petty, we’re talking cliff, not a slight drop–fifty feet minimum) there was clean-up involved.  (Unless you landed in a big pile of dung like what happened during the second defenestration of Prague.  And there was still clean-up involved.)

So, here’s where I get really incensed.  I believe that our public policies on health should be based on this evidence thing.  I don’t want people going, “Oh, my brother-in-law got aids and they threw him off a cliff.  It cured him completely.”  In particular, I am upset with the Anti-Vaccination movement, a “health” movement that is killing people daily. In the 1980’s there was doubt raised about the safety of vaccinations and ingredients used to preserve those vaccinations.  When concerns are raised, people conduct studies.  They investigate the concerns.

Consider Vioxx (rofecoxib).  On September 30, 2004, Merck voluntarily withdrew rofecoxib from the market because of concerns about increased risk of heart attack and stroke associated with long-term, high-dosage use.  Previous and subsequent studies demonstrated an 4-fold increase of heart attack and stroke.

In the late eighties, a concern was raised about vaccinations, the preservative thiomersal, and autism.  There was a concern so studies were done.  There was no correlation.  Tiomersal was removed from vaccines though in 1999 and in the interval since, there has been no drop in autism.  More detail here.

And still the anti-vaxxers claim it causes autism, though they’ve mostly shifted their attacks to the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.  Again, evidence is against them.  Unfortunately, their influence has increased the number of families who don’t vaccinate their children leading to increased outbreaks of these diseases, some leading to death or permanent disability.

Here’s a related insanity, aptly described by Rebecca Watson of Skepchik and the Skeptics Guide to the Universe.

Let’s Agree to Disagree

Scott Edelman, over on Twitter, pointed out this amazingly awful attack on the great writers of science fiction by David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service.  It’s not quite James Bond, Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but it does have a ring to it.

Anyway, his post, titled Beware of Science Fiction, uses Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut, and Gene Roddenberry, as examples of agnostic or atheistic proponents.  His descriptions are factual, using quotes from the writers in question.  After reading every one of the quotes, my reaction is “Right on!” but he seems to see them as, uh, damning.

He finishes with:

Science fiction is intimately associated with Darwinian evolution. Sagan and Asimov, for example, were prominent evolutionary scientists. Sci-fi arose in the late 19th and early 20th century as a product of an evolutionary worldview that denies the Almighty Creator. In fact, evolution IS the pre-eminent science fiction. Beware!

So, I’m guessing that evidence based science is just right out of the picture, for him.

I laughed when I read the informational paragraph at the bottom of the website which includes:

OUR GOAL IN THIS PARTICULAR ASPECT OF OUR MINISTRY IS NOT DEVOTIONAL BUT IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO ASSIST PREACHERS IN THE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCHES IN THIS APOSTATE HOUR.

In conclusion, I’m making a unilateral deal with him.  He shouldn’t read ANY Science Fiction and I’ll promise never to read his web site again.

(also posted at Steve’s blog, An Unconvincing Narrative)

I Suspect Rory Harper Is A Vampire

We traveled for the holidays visiting mostly family and some friends in Texas. Among these were supposed to be Rory but he wasn’t answering his phone or texts or emails. Then he did.

“I’m completely turned around,” he said. “I’ve flip-flopped my day-night cycle, staying up all night and sleeping all day. That’s why it took so long to respond.”

A likely story. I suspect he was too busy draining some luscious co-ed in the back alleys to check his phone. I mean, here you are sneaking up on someone and your phone goes off. It must make it difficult to hook up, so to speak.

Now, I can’t personally confirm this since business and weather stuff conspired to scoot us out of the state before planned, but just look at that picture and draw your own conclusions.

I guess we’ll know in February. Blind Lemon Denton and the Lemonaids will be playing AggieCon and Rory plays guitar for them. If he shows up during the daylight hours, I guess I’ll have been mistaken.

Or is that Sunscreen SPF 15 X 10^3?