Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Some days, everything modern is maddening

Cryptocurrency mining isn't something I chose to undertake, but plenty of people do. If that's you, please note: "If you’re mining bitcoin from home, you’re now losing money." (In detail, the truth of that assertion depends on the rate you pay for electricity -- but subject to typical retail rates ....)


Do you use any Apple website? How about Amazon? Maybe you care about the integrity of (private) cloud servers used by the DoD. If any of those apply, you would have been justifiably alarmed by this recent Bloomberg headline: "The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies." Only Apple and Amazon deny the assertion vehemently, and other journalism shops find the claim unsubstantiated, impossible to confirm, and otherwise dubious. See (from the Washington Post), "Your move, Bloomberg."

(Is hardware with hidden trapdoors a threat? You bet your sweet bippie. This peril was the premise of a novel I started way back, circa 1990, and then shelved, when the Cold War -- however fleetingly -- went away.)

Get a lot of spam/scam calls on your cell? And the majority spoofed to look like your area code, and plausibly real? Me, too! And the trends are ever more ominous. See (again from the WaPo), "Nearly half of cellphone calls will be scams by 2019, report says."

Monday, October 15, 2018

I *do* exist (and other biological updates)

So, no post last week. A rush task took all my attention (details once the paperwork catches up to make matters official). But that job is done, and I'm back ...

With interests as eclectic as ever. Today: news of topics biological.

The core concept in modern biology is (and long has been) evolution -- and yet there are those who remain skeptical of evolution. Here (not that I expect it to make any difference) is one more demonstration: "Ultra-violet experiment confirms 'Darwin’s moths' "

The (in)famous double helix
Genetics is a messy thing. It's far more complex than was understood when DNA's role was first ascertained, or even after the first genomes were decoded. Witness this analysis of the surprising intelligence of octopi (fair warning: it's a long-ish article): "How the octopus got its smarts."
Did the octopus evolve its unique intelligence by playing fast and free with the genetic code
And turning to truly scary things ...

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Back from Capclave

I just spent an exhausting but fun weekend at Capclave, the excellent annual DC-area con hosted by the Washington Science Fiction Association.

Did I encounter any SF and Nonsense readers there? I wouldn't be surprised. Certainly I had the pleasure of chatting with many readers of my novels, short fiction, and related articles -- and maybe some of my future readers. To all of you who sought me out -- thanks!

Check it out on Amazon
Part of the fun? Picking up an author's copy of the latest antho in which I made an appearance, containing one of my rare fantasy pieces. Seriously, you gotta love that cover.

Here's hoping Dial and Easton wind up doing Horror for the Throne -- because you gotta wonder what that cover will be like. (Cthulhu and an outhouse ... the mind boggles.)

Now back to my post-con to-do list ....

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Of the universe

Today's post is a roundup of recent astronomy news.

First, and closest to home, a look at a neighbor: "Ice Confirmed at the Moon's Poles." Such ice has long been suspected, of course, and indirect evidence of it gleaned -- but this is the most definitive proof yet. Water on the Moon is seriously important to any hopes for a permanent lunar presence.

Lucy (in a few years)
If I may then look ahead to upcoming discoveries, consider "NASA’s Lucy in the sky with Trojans." "Lucy" in this context is a probe to be launched in 2021 to explore (mainly) Jupiter's Trojan asteroids. These asteroids co-orbit with Jupiter, one bunch 60 degrees ahead of the planet, the other 60 degrees behind. (They're called "Trojan" because the first few of these rocks were named for heroes of the mythic war.) And they're darned varied and interesting ...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Fantasy for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads

Ooh! It's released as of today. (In paperback, anyway. E-formats to follow). It is:
Amazon link
Fantasy for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads, edited by Judith K. Dial and Tom Easton.

"Want something to read while you sit down for just a few minutes on the bus or in a waiting room? Here's just the thing -- Forty authors, forty stories, mostly under 2,000 words, mostly reprints. Grouped according to their themes--death, fairy tales, love, magic, and myth. You'll also find the usual suspects -- dragons, ghosts, gods, the undead, weres, and witches.

"Just remember--one sitting, one read! Others are waiting!"

(I'm pleased to disclose: among the forty entries is one of the rare fantasy stories by Yr. Humble Blogger. That's "Chance of Storms.")

Monday, September 10, 2018

Forward the (Faster Than?) Light Brigade

About that subject line:

by John Charlton (1847–1917)
It was impossible, as I sat down at the keyboard to blog, not to channel the Tennyson poem. Not after I'd noticed that this would be my 600th post!

Who'd a thunk it? Certainly not me. At least when (back in 2008! Almost exactly ten years ago!) I began blogging. 

So. Herewith: a small cheer. A medium huzzah. A hearty pat on my own back. Perhaps, even, a woo7.

And how might you observe the occasion? Perhaps by checking out some of the 599 previous posts in the blog archive.

Next post: something more SF and Nonsense-typical  ;-)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Fingers flying ...

Have you been following, over at The Grantville Gazette, the "company man" story arc ? That's my SFnal homage to Dashiell Hammett's acclaimed -- and nameless -- "Continental op."

A beginning (of sorts)
First (May 2017) came "The Company Man." Next (September 2017) was "The Company Dick." And now, I am pleased to report, I've signed the paperwork from TGG for "The Company Mole." In the latest story, our nameless hero(?) confronts the direst -- and lengthiest -- phase yet of increasingly ominous circumstances. In fact, this latest tale will be split across two issues of the zine. Look for it in the November 2018 and January 2019 issues.

And -- with great enthusiasm -- I'm also happy to report finding myself a good 60 pages into the company man's climactic adventure: "The Company Bane." Woo7!

Monday, August 27, 2018

My visit to The Innovation Show

It was recently my privilege to be on The Innovation Show: "an international show for innovators." Host Aidan McCullen and I discussed a lot:
  • Augmented humanity
  • Cyborgs
  • Robots
  • Genetic therapy
  • Brain/machine interfaces
  • Autonomous weapons
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Super intelligence
  • Neural networks
  • Dystopia
  • The future skills of humanity
  • What we (humans) do when everything becomes automated
Let's just say, it was a busy three-quarters hour :-) 

The impetus for this interview? That would be last spring's release of Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction. (And in forty-eight minutes, we covered no more than a third of the topics in the book!)

Curious? Then check out the podcast at "The Science behind Science Fiction with Edward M.Lerner: Augmented Humanity, AI, Superintelligence."