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The Red Rook, sequel to Dispensing Justice and the second novel of Nova Genesis World is now available for Kindle or as a paperback at Amazon.

In The Red Rook, Penny confronts her doubts about becoming a superhero as events around the disappearance of one her school mates unfolds.
Sign up for an email notification here. Read free chapters Dispensing Justice here (or get it here). -- Fritz Freiheit

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Link dump for 20110816

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  • 10 Laws of Good Science Fiction | Resources for Science Fiction Writers (Writing, SF, SciFi, Cliche, Rule, List, YourMileageWillVary, Reading)
  • 25 Ways To Make Exposition Your Bitch (Writiing, Exposition, Infodump, Advice, ShowVsTell, ShowDontTell, BadWritingAdvice, BadWritingAdvice.CounterActing)
  • A New Approach To Writing Novels? - Blog - Bright Beehive (Writing, Publishing, Ebook)
  • Am I Still Digging Publishing? -- Stacey Barney (Publishing, ViewFromTheTrenches, Stephanie.F, Ebook, Epublishing, TimesAreChanging)
  • Amazon Cracks Down on Some E-Book 'Publishers' - NYTimes.com (Ebook, Publishing, Eslush, Amazon)
  • Arrggghhh!!!: Writer Frustrations, and Hopefully, a Few Answers -- The Other Side of the Story (Writing, Advice)
  • CEO Pay Up 298%, Average Worker's? 4.3% (1995-2005) - The Consumerist (Salary, EconomicDivide, Graph)
  • Controversial energy-generating system lacking credibility (w/ video) (ColdFusion, Controversy)
    It's been seven months since Italian physicists Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi publicly demonstrated a device that they claimed could generate large amounts of excess heat through some kind of low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR). (Previous descriptions of the process as “cold fusion” are incorrect; although the process is not completely understood, it is likely a weak interaction involving neutrons, without fusion.) The physicists call this device the Energy Catalyzer, or E-Cat. Due to the major potential impact such a device could have for energy production, the scientists have received visits and inquiries from all over the world, but so far the claims seem to be lacking credibility.
  • Creative ways to solve usability problems (Design, UI, Creativity, Advice, HowTo, Variation)
    Design problems and design solutions / There is no shortage of people willing to pass judgement on what they see as the weaknesses of a user interface. But it takes more than design opinions to make a usability professional. What distinguishes good practitioners is that they also come up with design solutions to the problems they find. / There are lots of techniques for finding problems, such as expert reviews and usability tests. But there are no standard techniques I know of that help you come up with suggested fixes. For that, we can turn to a particular creativity technique that will help you come up with lots of design solutions to the problems you find. / Generating Design Ideas / ... / * Substitute something. / * Combine it with something else. / * Adapt something to it. / * Modify, magnify or minify it. / * Put it to some other use. / * Eliminate something. / * Reverse or rearrange it.
  • Dark matter may be an illusion caused by the quantum vacuum (DarkMatter, Physics, Quantum, QuantumVacuum, VacuumEnergy)
    One of the biggest unsolved problems in astrophysics is that galaxies and galaxy clusters rotate faster than expected, given the amount of existing baryonic (normal) matter. The fast orbits require a larger central mass than the nearby stars, dust, and other baryonic objects can provide, leading scientists to propose that every galaxy resides in a halo of (as yet undetectable) dark matter made of non-baryonic particles. As one of many scientists who have become somewhat skeptical of dark matter, CERN physicist Dragan Slavkov Hajdukovic has proposed that the illusion of dark matter may be caused by the gravitational polarization of the quantum vacuum. / “The key message of my paper is that dark matter may not exist and that phenomena attributed to dark matter may be explained by the gravitational polarization of the quantum vacuum,” Hajdukovic told PhysOrg.com. “The future experiments and observations will reveal if my results are only (surprising) numerical coincidences or an ...
  • Do you think traditional publishing is the only way to go? -- LinkedIn (SelfPublishing, Publishing.Self, Forum, QandA, LinkedIn)
    do you think traditional publishing is the only way to go? I hear people who think that self publishing is a waste of time. You have to do the advertising/marketing for traditional too.let's talk.
  • Earth doesn't need the Moon (Moon, Earth, Life, Evolution, Climate, io9)
    The Moon was long considered an essential stabilizing presence in the development of life on Earth. Without its satellite, the Earth would have tilted too much on its axis, making life impossible. But maybe the Moon wasn't needed after all.
  • Eject USB devices quickly and safely with ProEject | freewaregenius.com (USB, Tool, FreeWare, Review)
    One of the things that continue to puzzle me is why ejecting a USB drive remains such a labor intensive affair, even on Windows 7. Luckily, this software can spare you ever having to go hunting for the “safely remove hardware” icon in the system tray ever again. / ProEject is a small, free program that can safely eject mounted drives at the press of a button. It will clear the registry and folders of traces that USB drives can leave behind, such as the MRU (most recently used) sections of the Windows Registry, entries created in the “Run on Startup” key, shortcuts created in the SendTo, Recent, Quick Launch, Pinned (for Windows 7) and the Windows Firewall. / It can also be placed and run from the same drive that you want to eject, in order to automatically eject the drive without a lot of messing around.
  • Escaping gravity's clutches: The black hole breakout (Gravity, BlackHole, Information, Quantum, Theory)
    New research by scientists at the University of York gives a fresh perspective on the physics of black holes. / Black holes are objects in space that are so massive and compact they were described by Einstein as "bending" space. Conventional thinking asserts that black holes swallow everything that gets too close and that nothing can escape, but the study by Professor Samuel Braunstein and Dr Manas Patra suggests that information could escape from black holes after all. / The implications could be revolutionary, suggesting that gravity may not be a fundamental force of Nature. / Professor Braunstein says: "Our results didn't need the details of a black hole's curved space geometry. That lends support to recent proposals that space, time and even gravity itself may be emergent properties within a deeper theory. Our work subtly changes those proposals, by identifying quantum information theory as the likely candidate for the source of an emergent theory of gravity."
  • Georgette Heyer decries plagiarism with her rapier wit | Books | guardian.co.uk (GeorgetteHeyer, Plagiarism, Author)
    Heyer's broadside at Barbara Cartland reveals hell hath no fury like a historical novelist plagiarised
  • Get detailed information on media files right in file/properties with MediaTab | freewaregenius.com (Ms.Windows, Info, Properties, Media, File, FreeWare, Review)
    Ever wish you could quickly look up a media file’s detailed information, such as bitrate, video codec, audio codec, aspect ratio, duration, audio tag info, or anything else you might imagine? / You might already know that MediaInfo gives you detailed information about your media files. But what you may not know about is MediaTab, a Windows explorer extension that inserts MediaInfo data into a new file/properties tab.
  • How computational complexity will revolutionize philosophy | KurzweilAI (Philosophy, Computation, Complexity, AI)
    MIT computer scientist Scott Aaronson has put forward a persuasive argument that computational complexity theory will transform philosophical thinking about a range of topics such as the nature of mathematical knowledge, the foundations of quantum mechanics, and the problem of artificial intelligence.
  • How E-Readers Can Save Reading - Forbes (Ereader, Reading)
  • How I Self-Published a Book, And How You Can Too -- Freakonomics (SelfPublishing, Publishing.Self, Publishing, HowTo, Writing, Author, Advice)
  • How to self-publish an ebook | Fully Equipped - CNET Reviews (SelfPublishing, Publishing.Self, Publishing, Writing, Ebook, HowTo)
  • How to stimulate your brain by shining light through your ears | KurzweilAI (Brain, NeuroScience, Light, Hmmm)
    Ever want to just like, lie down and shine bright white light at the intensity of the Sun into your ears to see if that will wake you up from your deep depression? Me neither. / But Finnish people are apparently desperate. Especially in Winter, when they get as little as four to six hours of Sun a day. So neuroscientists at the University of Oulu in Finland and Valkee decided what the hell, let’s try it. Their hypothesis was that it would stimulate photosensitive regions of the brain — and perhaps deal with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). / They actually got the idea from their previous study of human brain tissue (on criminals designated for autopsy — again, no connection with lambs was stated), which found potentially light-sensitive OPN3 opsin proteins in 18 areas outside the visual system.
  • How to Take Your Short Stories to the Next Level | WritersDigest.com (ShortStory, Writing, Advice, Link, List)
    [A] round up several excellent articles on writing short stories. From an interview with one of the top short story writers of today to plot advice to how to sell short fiction, these articles will help you take your stories to the next level.
  • Indie eBooks: The Gateway "Drug" to Traditional Publishing -- Amy Edelman (Epublishing, Ebook, Publishing, TheNewQueryLetter)
    Gone are the days when a writer had to spend hours hunched over a stack of query letters, only to have their hopes dashed months later with the arrival of an unsigned form letter. / Today, thanks entirely to the creation of the e-reader (yay Jeff Bezos!), there's no longer a need for authors to deal with middle men. For less than what it costs to buy a book, an author can jump directly to the end game: formatting their titles, uploading them to a sales site and finding actual readers. / And while some writers choose to go indie and stay indie, there are many more who are interested in seeing how the other half live. It is for this group especially that e-books are so important, as they have essentially become a "gateway drug," enabling successful indie authors to stroll down the path into the welcoming arms of traditional publishers.
  • IndieReader | Self-Published Books Review, News, and More (Writing, Publishing, Reading, Author, SelfPublishing, Publishing.Self)
  • Inexpensive catalyst that makes hydrogen gas 10 times faster than natural enzyme (Tech, Watch, Hydrogen, Chemistry, Catalyst)
    Looking to nature for their muse, researchers have used a common protein to guide the design of a material that can make energy-storing hydrogen gas. The synthetic material works 10 times faster than the original protein found in water-dwelling microbes, the researchers report in the August 12 issue of the journal Science, clocking in at 100,000 molecules of hydrogen gas every second.
  • Instead of spacetime there is a proposed phase space a curved momentum space (Space, Time, SpaceTime, Theory, Alternate, Physics)
  • Investigation into Underpayment of Ebook Royalties | The Passive Voice (Publishing, Ebook, Royalties, Fail)
    Hagens Berman is investigating claims that several large e-book publishers are under-reporting the number of e-books sold, paying authors less than their share of royalties. / E-book authors typically receive royalty statements, which report the number of e-books sold in a specified time period. The authors are paid based on these sales numbers. / According to reports, the so-called “big six” e-book publishers may be using an outdated accounting systems to track the sales of e-books. As a result, some authors have reported various accounting errors on their statements, including the under-reporting of sales of the e-books.
  • Lasers could power drones in flight or launch rockets | KurzweilAI (Laser, AeroSpace, Propulsion, Power)
    Researchers at LaserMotive have devised a way to beam lasers to power military bases and drones, possibly helping to save lives, since delivering fuel to battle zones can be a dangerous task in wartime. / Although still largely in the R&D stage, laser power beaming has many other potential uses, which include powering vehicles, replacing electric power wiring and transmission lines in difficult places, and even launching rockets into orbit. / The beam is about 8 inches wide as it leaves the transmitter — and then spreads wider as it travels. The beam emitter is located at a ground-based unit and operated by a person, who could control it from the same location or remotely from an entirely different place altogether.
  • Lazarus form recovery: never lose any text or comment typed into an online form again | freewaregenius.com (Blog, Form, Tool, Text, Capture, FreeWare, Review, Firefox, PlugIn, Extension)
    Ever spent a long time typing in a review or a comment or filling out a long form on a website, only to lose your text unexpectedly when you encounter an error or accidentally move off the page?. If so, this software can help. / Lazarus is a free browser extension (for Firefox, Chrome, Safari) that runs in the background and saves text entered into online forms as you type, enabling you to quickly retrieve in case of an error or for any other reason that you need to. / The screenshot below illustrates how Lazarus works in Chrome: once installed, the Lazarus icon appears in every form field that you will encounter on websites, and hovering over it displays a dropdown of saved entries that you can access in a pinch.
  • Life Hacks (InfoGraphic) (LifeHack, InfoGraphic, Image)
  • LyX – The Document Processor || lyx.org (Writing, OpenSource, Tool, FreeWare, Editor)
    LyX is a document processor that encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents (WYSIWYM) and not simply their appearance (WYSIWYG). / LyX combines the power and flexibility of TeX/LaTeX with the ease of use of a graphical interface. This results in world-class support for creation of mathematical content (via a fully integrated equation editor) and structured documents like academic articles, theses, and books. In addition, staples of scientific authoring such as reference list and index creation come standard. But you can also use LyX to create a letter or a novel or a theatre play or film script. A broad array of ready, well-designed document layouts are built in. / LyX is for people who want their writing to look great, right out of the box. No more endless tinkering with formatting details, “finger painting” font attributes or futzing around with page boundaries. You just write. On screen, LyX looks like any word processor; its printed output ...
  • Manage your tasks list on your PC, iPhone, and other devices with Wunderlist | freewaregenius.com (Task, TaskList, GTD, Tool, App, Ms.Windows, Android, FreeWare, Review)
    Let’s face it: not only is the internet everywhere, but computers are now in everyone’s pocket. So it doesn’t really make sense to manage your tasks and to-do’s on a desktop, because your smartphone is just oh-so convenient for accessing your tasks and information right when you actually need to. And oh so convenient for adding new tasks on-the-fly, before they slip out of your mind. / Wunderlist is a free task management software that can be used on a PC, iOS or Android device, or on a web browser. It stores user data in the in the cloud, and has a simple and accessible interface that nonetheless manages to provides considerable depth and functionality, such as sharing/collaborating with other Wunderlist users and publishing tasks online. / Freewaregenius 5-Star PickAs of this writing, Wunderlist Supports Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android. It can also be accessed via a web app.
  • MIND MELD: What Is Your Favorite SF/F/H Saga/Series of All Time? -- SF Signal (MindMeld, SF, SciFi, Fantasy, Series, Reading, Recommendation)
    If there is one thing fantastika has a-plenty, this thing is called the Saga. Unrestrained by the so-called "reality" that plagues mainstream literature, SF, Fantasy, and Horror genres have told us since time immemorial stories that span large swathes of space and time, creating in the best cases new epic legends - or at the very least giving us readers (or spectators, in the case of film or TV series) unforgettable moments of joy and fun.
  • Moore's Law may soon be broken (MooresLaw, Chip, Design, Limitation, io9)
    The future is almost never what you expect it to be. Case in point: Over 40 years ago, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore famously predicted that the number of transistors on a microchip would double every two years. His comment, dubbed "Moore's Law" by computer scientists, has been used countless times over the past several decades to assure consumers that their electronics will always get faster and better at a rapid clip. Moore's Law has also been a pet theory among futurists and science fiction writers who believe that electronics will soon grow in complexity at rate so fast it could upend civilization.
  • More Self-Publishing Blather -- Making Light (SelfPublishing, Publishing.Self, Publishing, Writing, Ebook, Author)
  • Neofeudalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Economics, Culture, Politics, History, EconomicDivide, Wikipedia)
    Neofeudalism literally means "new feudalism" and implies a contemporary rebirth of policies of governance and economy reminiscent of those present in many pre-industrial feudal societies. The concept is one in which government policies are instituted with the effect (deliberate or otherwise) of systematically increasing the wealth gap between the rich and the poor while increasing the power of the rich and decreasing the power of the poor (also see wealth condensation). This effect is considered to be similar to the effects of traditional feudalism.
  • New drug could cure nearly any viral infection including the common cold, SARS and flu (Watch, Tech, MedTech, AntiVirus, Drug)
    Researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Lab have developed technology that may someday cure the common cold, influenza and other ailments. A team of researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection. / The researchers tested their drug against 15 viruses, and found it was effective against all of them — including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever.
  • New nanostructured glass for imaging and recording | KurzweilAI (Watch, Tech, Laser, Light, Glass, DataStorage)
    Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed new nano-structured glass, turning it into a new type of computer memory that has applications in optical imaging and recording. / The researchers used nano-structures to develop new monolithic glass space-variant polarization converters. These millimeter-sized devices change the way light travels through glass, generating “whirlpools” of light that can then be read in much the same way as data in optical fibers.
  • Particle Physicists Chasing Ghosts - Science News (Neutrino, Physics, Matter, Antimatter, Neutrino.Flavor, Neutrino.Sterile, Neutrino.Oscillation)
    Wispy neutrinos could explain why matter dominates the universe. / Two experiments on different continents have found hints that particles called neutrinos can shape-shift in an unexpected way. / This behavior may be the key to understanding why these particles are so weird, says neutrino physicist Jennifer Raaf of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., the nation’s largest particle physics lab. Raaf presented an overview of recent neutrino findings August 9 at a meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Particles and Fields. / The new results also bode well for future experiments with neutrinos that may one day help scientists understand why the universe contains vastly more matter than antimatter. These experiments are part of the changing landscape of particle physics in the United States. With Fermilab’s Tevatron, once the most powerful particle collider in the world, shutting down soon, the government laboratory is reconfiguring itself to ...
  • Phone losing charge? Novel technology allows LCDs to recycle energy (LCD, Energy, Power, PowerScavenging, Display)
    The UCLA engineers have created a novel concept for harvesting and recycling energy for electronic devices — one that involves equipping these devices' LCD screens with built-in photovoltaic polarizers, allowing them to convert ambient light, sunlight and their own backlight into electricity. / LCDs, or liquid crystal displays, are used in many of today's electronic devices, including smartphones, TV screens, computer monitors, laptops and tablet computers. They work by using two polarized sheets that let only a certain amount of a device's backlight pass through. Tiny liquid crystal molecules are sandwiched between the two polarizers, and these crystals can be switched by tiny transistors to act as light valves. Manipulating each light valve, or pixel, lets a certain amount of the backlight escape; millions of pixels are combined to create images on LCDs.
  • Publishing A Book: 7 Cost-Effective Self-Publishing Services (SelfPublishing, Publishing.Self, Publishing, Writing, Ebook)
    Publishing is always a painful issue for the author, as they might be excellent on writing, but suffers when it comes to decide the publishing format, cover design and budget planning. The great news is, there are quality publishing services arise nowadays to help you to publish your book in a quality yet cost-effective manner.
  • Quite Possibly the Most Uncomfortable "Coming Out" Scene from Any Superhero Film Ever (Superhero, Movie, Film, io9)
    Okay, so the "Have you tried not being a mutant" scene from X-Men 2 was pretty squirm-inducing (in a good way). But when it comes to uncomfortable "coming out" scenes in superhero movies, you can't really beat this moment from Disney's Sky High. In which the dad — Kurt Russell! — gets so pissed he practically smashes the table and then pulverizes a phone. / Sky High, like a lot of movies and TV shows about superheroes, tends to focus on the trappings of the genre, perhaps at the expense of the substance of the genre. Although it still does manage to be fun and occasionally actually pretty winsome. In Sky High, the son of two superheroes (Michael Angarano) goes to a special superhero high school. (High point: the gym teacher is Bruce Campbell. Also, the principal is Lynda Carter.) / And for some sadistic, godforsaken reason, the school separates the kids into heroes and sidekicks, which is partly just an excuse for lots of jokes about the cliches of superhero comics and television ...
  • Ready Player One: the best science fiction novel I’ve read in a decade – Boing Boing (SF, SciFi, Book, Review, Reading, Recommendation, BoingBoing)
  • Ren Yuan - A Xia Story - Wuxia Fiction Anthology (Wuxia, Fiction, ShortStory, China)
  • Science fiction — an undeniably popular but often denigrated fiction genre. Who are your favourite established or new SF authors? Who influences your own writing? | LinkedIn (SF, SciFi, Reading, Recommendation, Forum, QandA, LinkedIn)
    Science fiction — an undeniably popular but often denigrated fiction genre. Who are your favourite established or new SF authors? Who influences your own writing? / Carried over from Peter Pollak's discussion about the top 10 American authors of the 20th century, it's clear that there's enough interest among group members to justify a thread devoted exclusively to sci-fi. I attended a talk with author China Mieville last year, and he bemoaned the fact that sci-fi/fantasy/horror genre fiction, despite selling huge volumes, is still rarely taken seriously as "proper literature". / So, what are your opinions about sci-fi? Who are your favourite authors — either old favourites, or some new discovery that has to be shared? If you write science fiction, who are your key influences?
  • Self Publishing tag || huffingtonpost.com (SelfPublishing, Publishing.Self, Tag)
  • Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know | Fully Equipped - CNET Reviews (SelfPublishing, Publishing.Self, Publishing, Writing, Ebook, Advice)
  • Shevi: How I learned to stop worrying and love the e-book (SelfPublishing, Publishing.Self, Publishing, Publishing.Traditional, Comparison, Ebook, Writing, Author, Advice)
    I know my friends mean well when they tell me that an agent and a book deal are right around the corner. Every writer wants to be traditionally published, right? Every writer wants to see his or her book with a Random House or Simon & Schuster logo on the spine, right? And that’s what I’ve been working toward these last nine years. That’s the reason I’ve written seven middle-grade and YA novels, the reason I attended all those writers conferences, the reason I’ve entered contests, and the reason I’ve submitted my manuscripts to agents. I’m getting so close. Why would I want to give up all I’ve worked so hard for when I’m so close to getting it?
  • Some Thoughts on Five Recently-Published Short Stories and A Brief Consideration of the 'State' of Fantastic Short Fiction -- SF Signal (Review, ShortStory, Critcism, SpeculativeFiction)
    One of the dullest exercises in writing about literature, or really any sort of discussion, is to try to codify the "state" of something, whether it be a genre, a literary practice or product (which loops back to genre), a "trend," or any sort of discursive or symbolic thingamajig. I think we drive ourselves rather loopy in these efforts to frequently codify the "state" of a concept or field, as if we can solidify it into something unmoving, intact, and graspable. It can be a compelling exercise to tackle such a topic, but generally the result is partial, overly truncated, or engineered to ignore diversity. Of course, any endeavor to codify such things is contingent and subjective, but the notion of "state" in this sense comes from the idea of status, of discerning attributes and conditions of the standing of the subject(s) being discussed. It has a more formal ring to it, an air of higher purpose and discernment; "I will discuss the state of [insert subject here]" ...
  • Some Tips For Self-Publishers -- Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! (SelfPublishing, Publishing, Publishing.Self, Advice)
    Having self-published four ‘real’ books, plus a small ebook of short stories, I’ve figured out quite a few things that I think would be very helpful to any aspiring writers, so thought I’d share them with you all.
  • Spoiler alert: Stories are not spoiled by 'spoilers' (Psychology, Study, Results, Reading, Spoiler, Storytelling, Plot, TwistEnding, LiteraryFiction, Mystery, Suspense, ShortStory, Accessibility)
    Many of us go to extraordinary lengths to avoid learning the endings of stories we have yet to read or see [...] when discussion threatens to reveal the outcome. Of book and movie critics, we demand they not give away any plot twists or, at least, oblige with a clearly labeled "spoiler alert." We get angry with friends who slip up and spill a fictional secret. / But we're wrong and wasting our time, suggests a new experimental study from the University of California, San Diego. People who flip to the last page of a book before starting it have the better intuition. Spoilers don't spoil stories. Contrary to popular wisdom, they actually seem to enhance enjoyment. / Even ironic-twist and mystery stories – which you'd be forgiven for assuming absolutely depend on suspense or surprise for success – aren't spoiled by spoilers, according to a study by Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt of UC San Diego's psychology department, to be published in [...] Psychological Science.
  • Stanford economist predicts 'large, short-run recession (Economics, 2011, Recession, Uncertainty)
    Associate Professor Nicholas Bloom studied 19 previous uncertainty shocks – events like 9/11, the Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy – and the only certain thing about these is that they lead to large short-run recessions. When people are uncertain about the future they wait and do nothing. / "Based on my research, I predict another short, sharp contraction in late 2011 of about 1 percent, with a rebound in spring 2012. This research looks at the average impact of the previous 19 uncertainty shocks to predict the impact of future shocks. Typically, these lead to reductions of growth of about 2 percent immediately after the shock, with a recovery about six months later once uncertainty subsides."
  • Stanford researcher explores whether language is the only way to represent numbers (Math, Number, Language, Human, Thinking, Thinking.Tool)
    The Mental Calculation World Cup is a brutal contest, and one that threatens to fry the neurons of the unprepared. Over the course of a competition, contestants might be asked to add a string of 10 different 10-digit numbers, multiply 18,467,941 by 73,465,135, find the square root of 530,179 and determine which day of the week corresponds to Aug. 12, 1721 – all without writing anything down. / Template:Ah, but it's still symbol manipulation.
  • Stop Coddling the Super-Rich by Warren Buffett - NYTimes.com (Politics, Economics, USA, Economy, Business, Opinion, Taxes, EconomicDivide, Wealth)
    OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched. / While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors. / These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
  • Stranger in a Strange Land: Cut vs. Uncut || reddit.com (Heinlein, RobertHeinlein, SF, SciFi, Forum, 60s, Novel)
    Has anyone read the cut version? I assume older readers will have, since the 'uncut' version came out in 1991 or thereabouts. / The uncut version is around 33% longer than the original, and I'd like to get a take from someone who's read both on (objectively) what portions of the plot grew in length, and (subjectively) if it improved or took away from the story.
  • Study builds on plausible scenario for origin of life on Earth | KurzweilAI (Life.Origin, Origin, Life, RNA, Chemistry)
    A relatively simple combination of naturally occurring sugars and amino acids formed on Earth before any life existed offers a plausible route to RNA, researchers at the University of California, Merced, have found. / Biological molecules, such as RNA and proteins, can exist as enantiomers. Enantiomers are two molecules that are identical except for the three dimensional arrangement of the atoms that make it up. One of the best examples is your left and right hands — they are the same except they are mirror images of each other. / In biological systems, only one “hand” or enantiomer of the basic molecules that make up DNA, RNA, proteins, and sugars is used. This is a key aspect to how biological systems work: when the molecules interact, only ones with the correct three-dimensional shape will work together — just as the proper way to shake someone’s right hand is to use your right hand and not your left.
  • Team finds Type Ia supernovae parents (Supernova, Astronomy)
    Type Ia supernovae are violent stellar explosions whose brightness is used to determine distances in the universe. Observing these objects to billions of light years away has led to the discovery that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, the foundation for the notion of dark energy. Although all Type Ia supernovae appear to be very similar, astronomers do not know for certain how the explosions take place and whether they all share the same origin. Now, a team of researchers has examined new and detailed observations of 41 of these objects and concluded that there are clear signatures of gas outflows from the supernova ancestors, which do not appear to be white dwarfs. The research is published in the August 12 issue of Science. / The widely accepted theory is that Type Ia supernovae are thermonuclear explosions of a white dwarf star in a close binary system. There are two competing scenarios for supernova ancestry. In the so-called single-degenerate model, the ...
  • The 5 Essential Story Ingredients | WritersDigest.com (Storytelling, Writing, Definition, Advice)
    Imagine that I’m telling you about my day and I say, “I woke up. I ate breakfast. I left for work.” / Is that a story? After all, it has a protagonist who makes choices that lead to a natural progression of events, it contains three acts and it has a beginning, a middle and an end—and that’s what makes something a story, right? / Well, actually, no. / It’s not. / My description of what I did this morning—while it may meet those commonly accepted criteria—contains no crisis, no struggle, no discovery, no transformation in the life of the main character. It’s a report, but it’s not a story.
  • The Gervais Principle, Or The Office According to “The Office” (Politics, Culture, Humor, Hiearchy, Corporation, Office, Relationship, Organization, Sociopath, Clueless, Loser, Dynamics, Group, GroupDynamics)
    My neighbor introduced me to The Office back in 2005. Since then, I’ve watched every episode of both the British and American versions. I’ve watched the show obsessively because I’ve been unable to figure out what makes it so devastatingly effective, and elevates it so far above the likes of Dilbert and Office Space. Until now, that is. Now, after four years, I’ve finally figured the show out. The Office is not a random series of cynical gags aimed at momentarily alleviating the existential despair of low-level grunts. It is a fully-realized theory of management that falsifies 83.8% of the business section of the bookstore. The theory begins with Hugh MacLeod’s well-known cartoon, Company Hierarchy (below), and its cornerstone is something I will call The Gervais Principle, which supersedes both the Peter Principle and its successor, The Dilbert Principle. Outside of the comic aisle, the only major and significant works consistent with the Gervais Principle are The Organization ...
  • Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books -- Your Picks -- NPR (SF, SciFi, Fantasy, Fiction, NPR, Top, Top.100, Book, Novel, List, Reading, Recommendation)
    More than 5,000 of you nominated. More than 60,000 of you voted. And now the results are in. The winners of NPR's Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy survey are an intriguing mix of classic and contemporary titles. Over on NPR's pop culture blog, Monkey See, you can find one fan's thoughts on how the list shaped up, get our experts' take, and have the chance to share your own. / A quick word about what's here, and what's not: Our panel of experts reviewed hundreds of the most popular nominations and tossed out those that didn't fit the survey's criteria (after — we assure you — much passionate, thoughtful, gleefully nerdy discussion). You'll notice there are no young adult or horror books on this list, but sit tight, dear reader, we're saving those genres for summers yet to come.
  • United for a Fair Economy (Economics, Politics, USA, Taxes)
  • Wait! Don’t Kill That Darling! The REAL Skinny on Self-Editing from Samuel Park -- Anne R. Allen's Blog (Writing, Advice, YourMileageWillVary)
    Your mileage will vary.
  • Warren Buffett demands to pay more tax -- BBC News (Taxes, Economics, Economic, EconomicDivide, Politics, USA)
    Warren Buffett has called for Congress to make him and his "mega-rich friends" pay more income tax.
  • Wealth condensation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Economics, Politics, EconomicDivide, Wikipedia)
    Wealth condensation is a process by which, in certain conditions, newly created wealth tends to become concentrated in the possession of already-wealthy individuals or entities, a form of preferential attachment. Those who already hold wealth have the means to invest in new sources and structure, thus creating more wealth, or to otherwise leverage the accumulation of wealth, thus are the beneficiaries of the new wealth.
  • Webcomic The Hero Business goes inside a PR firm for superheroes (Superhero, WebComic, PR)
    With all the time they spend saving people, dying, and coming back to life, superheroes can't be bothered with managing their images. That's where the webcomic The Hero Business steps in, with a PR firm that manages costumes and continuities. / The Hero Business creator Bill Walko worked in marketing and advertising, and had trouble believing that a PR industry wouldn't immediately pop up around spandex-clad crusaders. To that end, he envisioned The Hero Business, a set of old pros who can manage the ever-shifting continuities and diva-like personalities that come with superheroing. If you need to refreshen your costume, choose your first superhero name, or send out a press release detailing your rebooted origin story, you call The Hero Business.
  • Why "business needs certainty" is destructive - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com (Economics, Certainty, Opinion, GlennGreenwald)
  • Why "Start Your Novel With Action" is Bad Advice | WritersDigest.com (Writing, Story, Start, Advice, BadWritingAdvice, BadWritingAdvice.CounterActing)
    The cliché “start your novel with action” has a flaw—and it’s a major one: What good is the action if it isn’t grounded in context that’s important to the story or draws you to the main character? It’s much, much better to start your story with tension, like a character conflict or a character who’s not getting what he wants. This gives the reader a reason to feel connected.
  • Wikipedia says it is losing contributors (Wikipedia)
    Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that allows anyone to edit its entries, says it is losing contributors.
  • Writer’s Reference Shelf -- BOOK VIEW CAFE BLOG (Writing, Reference, Book, Advice)
    If you do a search on Amazon.com for “writing,” over 50,000 books show up. That’s a lot and doesn’t even include the other great reference a writer might use, such as books slang, foreign phrases, and grammar. So I thought I’d share what’s on my writer’s reference shelf, the books I’ve found the most useful and helpful with craft and the inevitable questions that crop up for the odd bits and pieces sometimes necessary to create characters.

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