Keep Watching the Skies

This weekend’s meteor shower is supposed to be a good one, with its peak in the early hours of Monday morning. The earth will be passing through one of the denser portions of the trail of debris left along the orbit of Halley’s Comet.

[:rolleyes:] Of course, some of those comet pieces probably have water in them, which will contribute to rising sea levels … I guess we have to take the good with the bad … [cough, cough].

Anyway, hopefully it will be a good show. More details are in this New Scientist story.

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Mayday, Mayday

Not that I’m really in distress, just a little frazzled.

I’m back from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership conference, and trying to get lots of loose ends gathered together — tying them will have to wait — before I head out again for Dave Wolverton’s writing workshop. At least today I got my web site updated, and bills paid.

Onward …

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Spring Daze Travels

Today is Cary’s annual “Spring Daze” arts & crafts festival at Bond Lake Park, so in a little while I’ll walk over there to serve my 2-hour shift in the cultural arts booth. So far as it will involve pretending to know what I’m talking about, it won’t be too different from what I do 99% of the time … just this time it’ll be with respect to public art plans and projects.

In other news, I have a couple of days of traveling coming up so I may not post as frequently as I have been. For the two or three people who actually read this thing, that will probably come as something of a relief ;).

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Publishing and Venture Capitalism

Sat in on a meeting this week chaired by a partner in a local consulting and venture capital firm, and at one point he made this observation: out of every 1000 business plans they receive, they read only about 100 (“because the other 900 are garbage,” he said), and of those 100, they only fund about 3.

I told him at the break that those statistics were very similar to the publishing world. Baen, for example, makes it clear to everyone who reads the guidelines that fewer than 1% of the manuscripts are accepted.

But almost more fascinating was this tidbit: of the 3 business start-ups they fund, they expect to lose money on 2 of them. If they’ve done their research well enough, though — and no doubt they’re very thorough — that last one will make a mint and cover the losses on the other two.

I don’t think any publishers would willingly take that approach. Some books don’t earn out their advances, true, but I believe most publishers won’t take a chance on a book that they don’t expect to sell through a print run.

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L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!

I figured that sentiment–which I always associated with General Patton but which Wikipedia (that electronic fount of knowledge) assures me is paraphrased from Georges Danton–was appropriate, or ironic, or maybe appropriately ironic with respect to finally clawing my way to the end of Senator Obama’s THE AUDACITY OF HOPE.

It’s audacious, alright.

My take on the book is the same as my observation in a religious discussion a few days ago: it’s interesting that, like eyewitnesses to an event, different people can look at the same thing but see it differently and draw different conclusions about it. Point of view has a lot to do with it, whether because of differences in light and shadow and angle in a live event or because of differences of temperament and education and experience in the case of politics.

My frustration with the book was that as soon as I found some point on which I started to agree with the Senator, he took that point to an extreme I didn’t think was warranted or in a direction that I could no longer follow. But it seems that today politics is much more a game of extremes than it used to be, and I am too much a moderate.

Then there were little things, like this indication of a sort of underlying distrust of the populace, from p. 185:

… if we can prevent diseases from occurring or manage their effects through simple interventions like making sure patients control their diets or take their medications regularly, we can dramatically improve patient outcomes and save the system a great deal of money.

It’s unclear if the Senator has thought through the implications of “making sure” people do anything: it’s one step removed from “making” people do something, which is right in line with the kind of fascism people accuse the current administration of practicing. Is the force of the state going to be used to ensure people take their medications, or eat a certain kind of diet? If so, what else will the state try to control?

We can do with a lot less of that kind of audacity.

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The Wave-Particle Duality of Truth

Today on TED I watched a video of author Amy Tan talking about something near and dear to my writerly heart: creativity. Late in the presentation she made a comment about catching “particles of truth” as opposed to the whole truth, and I immediately thought of the wave-particle duality of light and wondered about truth: what wave-like versus particle-like characteristics does it present?

And of course I thought it would be great to write a science fiction story along the lines of “The Wave Theory of Truth.”* Of course, right now I don’t have any idea how I would begin such a tale, and I’d be much better served hammering the keyboard trying to build my novel. So I’ll have to leave this idea for another day. (C’est la vie.)

Anyway, aside from her slides being hard to read, you might enjoy Amy Tan’s TED talk.

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* Not to be confused with the odd (in my estimation) entries available on the web that include the phrase.

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Great Quote on True Religion

Yesterday — the day after I posted about last week’s “discussion” of theology on The Ornery American — a friend from the Codex Writers Group, Kirsten Lincoln, posted an excellent quote she’d found on the Net:

“True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.”
— Islamic scholar Abdal-Hakim Murad

Click on through to read her entire blog entry. Go ahead. Really.

Bottom line: I wish I’d had that quote handy when I was Being Ornery. I think I could’ve been clearer that even though I feel that I’m a better person now than I used to be, I know that I am not yet truly a good person. I still have a long way to go.

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They Also Serve Who Sit and Take Notes

At least that’s what I tell myself, because that’s mostly what I do as our Church Clerk. Some meetings I take lots of notes, because there’s a lot of business being conducted, but I like meetings like the one we had tonight: a Special Called Business Meeting to consider the question of extending a call to a Youth Minister candidate.

One question, one main motion to consider. It was downright relaxing.

And nicely concluded: by secret ballot, the vote in favor was unanimous. One member said it was the first time he’d ever seen that happen in the 18 years he’s been a member.

Now, if I could just figure out all the nuances to Robert’s Rules of Order. Maybe I should watch C-SPAN more often.

Then again, maybe not.

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