[syndicated profile] thewildhunt_feed

Posted by Nathan Hall

TWH — The end of August dealt a bit of a setback to Pagan music fans when festival organizer David Banach published a series of posts on the CalderaFest Facebook page revealing that the concert was going to be postponed. Fewer than expected ticket sales were the primary cause for the upheaval, as The Wild Hunt reported earlier this month.

The reaction among folks who were planning to attend was mixed.

One commenter on those public posts said, “I’d like to know about the developments about refunds… my group spent $1000 and we’d like our money back. Many of us made special arrangements with work and family to be there. It is WRONG to keep our money if this festival is going to be rescheduled!”

Others pledged their support, offering to volunteer or to do whatever was necessary so that the festival could move ahead.

“What ever we can do to help please let me know, this is such a special event and it must happen,” a commenter said.

The issue brought up most frequently on the festival’s page are inquiries about refunds and people taking exception with the event being postponed rather than scheduled as a new event.

Bands that were scheduled to perform were generally upbeat about the postponement and voiced their support for Banach.

Mannun, bassist and vocalist for Witch’s Mark, said that he was, “Bummed.”

He added, “But I understand, if not enough people are gonna be there to make it worth while then why do it. Try again at a later date when things can possibly be promoted better and maybe more can commit.”

Solo performer Brian Henke also expressed disappointment that it won’t be happening this year, but he also said that, as someone who has experienced concert and festival promotion, he knows about the pitfalls.

“I don’t think most people have any idea of the amount of hard work, attention to detail and courage it takes to do a festival of this size,” Henke said.

There are a lot of variables that make organizing extremely complicated and difficult, he added.

“I have nothing but respect and sympathy for the folks that put this amazing fest together and am very looking forward to being at Caldera 2019!”

Spiral Dance had built CalderaFest into their 2017 tour plans, when they travelled from Australia to the UK, where they’re currently performing before flying to the southeast United States to wrap up their northern hemisphere excursion.

Singer Adrienne Piggott didn’t seem to be too shaken by the change, saying, “We’ve got some house concerts as well as Phoenix Phyre Festival so we’re looking to launching our new CD there. If Caldera happens in 2019 and we can be there, we will!”

What follows is a Q&A with festival organizer David Banach. There appears to be some unresolved issues that he still must face if he wants to rebuild the trust of both those who currently hold tickets and those who may attend in 2019.

Banach is admirably unflappable in his belief in the festival, his love of the bands and the music that they create. It is difficult not to get caught up in his enthusiasm.

Green Album Performers at CalderaFest 2016 [M. Tejeda-Moreno]

However, for the people who are sitting on tickets and are feeling like an event in 2019 is not what they payed for, it will take more than a love of the music to win them back. Banach may need to do some soul-searching, as well as reaching out to ticket holders to come up with creative solutions and compromises.

While he appears to sincerely want to do right by people, he still needs to dig in and figure out how best to make that happen.

TWH: First up, if you can catch me up on what’s happened so far. On August 31 you put up the original post to the Facebook page announcing that the festival would be postponed. What’s happened since then?

David Banach: Mostly, I have been fielding lots of questions and doing my best to deal with the backlash. Mostly, the response has been fairly positive, but there have been some negative comments. I’m doing my best to ignore the negativity and focus on making the 2019 event truly legendary.

TWH: How many folks do you have working on the festival, I think I saw mention that there are two of you right now?

Banach: CalderaFest is myself and my business partner at the financial core. I have two other staff members from 2016 and then we added five other staff members for this year. We are all volunteers in this. We haven’t made a dime. In fact, my business partner and I lost a small fortune putting on 2016. It’s a project we really believe can be successful eventually. We might even make that money back someday.

TWH: Can you say who your business partner is? And do you feel like a larger pool of volunteer help could have helped pull the event off this year or was it solely a funding issue?

Banach: My partner is Mary D. She was in charge of the vendors in 2016. She’s an awesome lady and a good friend. I never could have pulled it off without her last time.

The main issue for 2017 was lack of ticket sales. Putting on this festival is very expensive. When we announced the postponement, we had about a third of the tickets we needed to break even. The other factor was volunteers. We need about 90 to make it happen. At the end of August we had 12. The current plan is that volunteers get a severely reduced rate for working three 6 hour shifts during the festival. I’m currently working on a plan to be able to boost volunteer numbers for 2019 by offering a lower rate in exchange for working one shift as well. I want to give people lots of choices to find the plan that works best for them.

TWH: That’s awesome, I was really sorry I couldn’t make it to the first ‘fest. Are you concerned that you may get into a position where you have enough volunteers but the reduced rate still doesn’t hit the break even point.

Banach: There’s always that concern. I’m also working on alternative ways to fund the next CalderaFest as well. We will be selling some fairly inexpensive sponsorship programs that include advertising on our websites as well as ad banners on the stage and on the festival grounds. Corporate sponsorship would be great, but just like we focus on independent Pagan musicians, I’d like to be able to get independent Pagan businesses, media outlets, and organizations, including other festivals, to sponsor with us so we can help each other grow and be successful.

TWH: Have you worked with any fundraising pros to help you create a plan?

Banach: It’s not something we’ve done in the past, but I will be looking into getting some help in that area.

TWH: You mentioned that you chose the new date because of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. Since that’s about a year and a half after the original planned date, why not aim for some time in 2018?

Banach: That wasn’t the only reason, but I mentioned it to build some excitement for 2019. The other factors involved are simply the amount of time needed for everyone involved to make arrangements to be there. There’s the guests that buy tickets, of course, but also musicians, vendors, and volunteers. Plus we have to work with the venue for its availability and one of our key staff members will be unable to do it in 2018 for health reasons. The best reasonable time we could find was Memorial Day 2019. If we had postponed only a week, or a month, or even a few months, most people wouldn’t be able to make their plans by then. We thought this was the best plan that was the most fair for the most people.

TWH: Since you mentioned musicians, do you have a list that have committed to the new festival date? Are there any lineup changes?

Banach: I really don’t have much info on that yet. Most have said they want to come back, but actual details for 2019 aren’t even tentative yet. The plan is to do a Woodstock thing, so yes, the actual schedule will change a bit. The lineup is yet to be determined.

TWH: Have you heard anything from the bands that were booked for this year? Any gripes? I know Spiral Dance was slated to perform, were they understanding?

Banach: All the musicians were very understanding and wonderful. Most knew that things like this happen, some were very disappointed, one even cried. I love them all like family that I still geek out on when I see them. They are really awesome people.

TWH: People are understandably upset about the changes, are you offering refunds to those who can’t make the new date?

Banach: I want to do what is right. If I had the ability to refund everyone, I would. I have given the people who have tickets several choices and they have been very understanding of the situation. I will do everything I can do for them. I wish I could do it all.

TWH: What are the options that you’re giving them?

Banach: We would really like them to keep their ticket for 2019. I’m brainstorming ideas to benefit those that do keep their tickets. They can also sell their tickets or we can sell the tickets for them via brokerage. When tickets go on sale for 2019, any brokered tickets will be sold first. The last option is of course refunds. I understand that this may be the only option for some. I will do my best to take care of all of the people with tickets.

TWH: Have you had anyone threaten to sue or anything like that?

Banach: There has been some talk about it on Facebook, but fortunately not. I hope people realize that we’re not a giant corporation with unlimited resources. We are just regular people that wanted to make something wonderful happen. I’m doing my best to satisfy everyone.

TWH: Do you feel like you’ll be able to regain the trust of fans/vendors/bands? What would you say to people who are feeling uneasy about investing money for the 2019 event?

Banach: I know this isn’t the first event to be postponed, and hopefully everyone will know that this project is our passion. It’s what we gave every free moment of our time and our life savings to. We want Nothing more than for CalderaFest to return better than ever. I’m asking them to believe in CalderaFest and us. If they need a second opinion, ask those who were there in 2016, fans, and musicians. It was real magick for those few days. We can, and will, do it again. We need everyone’s support to make magick again.

TWH: Thank you so much for your candor, Dave. I appreciate your willingness to share. Is there anything else you want to add that I haven’t touched on?

Banach: I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported this project in the past and we look forward to bringing CalderaFest to you in the future. If anyone is willing to help us make it a success, please feel free to contact me.

[syndicated profile] david_brin_feed

Posted by David Brin

...Another generative idea that could not find a home in any media...

Gerrymandering has reached a point of such outrageous blatancy that it seems likely the US Supreme Court will have another look, soon. This NewYorker article dissects the problem, describing some new insights from logic and mathematics that might help the Court better to understand a foul practice that has warped and partly-stolen American democracy. A lot has changed since Justice Kennedy provided the deciding “we can’t see a way to do anything about it” vote, roughly a decade ago.

As I describe elsewhere, voters in many “blue states” have rebelled against their own Democratic politicians, ending gerrymandering via ballot measures.  Hence, with a few dismal exceptions - like Maryland and Illinois - this cheat has become ever-more associated with the Republican Party.

Ideally, solutions should come from negotiated legislation. When power abuse is generated by legislatures themselves, courts must step in. Hence, aware that losing this battle may end their lock on power, attorneys of the right argue that no alternative is intrinsically fair – including “impartial commissions.” Moreover courts are reluctant to interfere with state sovereignty.

Why did Justice Kennedy opt for the status quo, last time? Even in the face of blatant injustice, judges like to have two things:

* A simple, unambiguous metric that proves actionable harm. 

* At least one clean and simple remedy they can point to as an example.

The first requirement has been provided recently by an elegant standard of “voter efficiency.”  

But for the Court to articulate a workable remedy limiting gerrymandering, what’s needed is a fallback solution that is inarguably better than the present state of affairs - one that can be ordered if a state proves unable to devise a fair and impartial redistricting process on its own. To resolve Justice Kennedy’s dilemma, I will propose a solution so simple that it can be expressed in three sentences.

Here are those three sentences:


1. With allowances for contorted state borders, like Maryland’s panhandle, the districts that are drawn for State Assembly, State Senate and Congress shall meet a basic compactness standard, not falling below a reasonably generous area-to-perimeter ratio limit set by the court.

2. On advice from a non-partisan and unbiased commission, the State Legislature may assign boundaries to the districts of the State Assembly however they see fit.

3. Once those State Assembly boundaries are set, the drawing of boundaries for State Senate and Congressional districts will be computer-generated with the core provision that they must have MINIMAL OVERLAP with each other and with the State Assembly districts, sharing as few voters as practically possible.

There you have it. Three sentences. I’ve offered this suggestion for a decade and I promise that (alas) you’ll find it nowhere else. But what does it mean?

It means that the State Legislature may, if they choose, ignore the ‘neutral commission’ and connive, jigger or gerrymander districts for one house — the State Assembly — limited by some basic rule of compactness. But provision #3 ensures that the districts for State Senate and Congress will be utterly different. The more carefully the legislature’s majority partisans gerry-rig one house, the less effective will be their efforts in the other two.

The chief aim of gerrymander-cheating — to achieve government dominance by the most rabid of hyper-partisans — will be devastated and then grow weaker, over time.

 ==  Illustrating the Minimal Overlap concept ==

For some reason, the notion of minimal overlap seems obvious to some people, while others find it difficult to grasp. So let’s try using illustrations.

Sentence/provision #1 takes care of the worst, egregious cases, illustrated in our first figure.
As Figure 1 shows, a large fraction of gerrymander travesties would be eliminated by a compactness rule, setting upper limits to perimeter-area ratios. This limit can be fairly generous, since the rest of the solution happens through minimal overlap.

In Figure 2 we present a strawman set of six State Assembly districts that are (for the sake of simplicity) highly compact.

Let’s assume that the state legislature has, under rule #2, but limited by the compactness rule #1, arranged these assembly districts to maximize gerrymander benefits for the majority party.

Now, in our third illustration, let’s overlay districts for State Senate. These are required – under the court-ordered remedy of MINIMAL OVERLAP to be computer-optimized so that each senate district shares as little territory and as few voters as possible with any one assembly district.

Assuming the compactness rule is enforced, and that Senate districts are truly drawn according to provision #3, then Minimal Overlap – also called “anti-nesting” -- means that the political character of the Senate will not be warped by gerrymandering. Citizens who were disenfranchised before will likely get attention and an effective vote, in at least one chamber.

The districts for Congress, presumably larger, will nevertheless be kept off-kilter from the gerried State Assembly districts. The party in power will thus only get to have one chamber warped by self-serving, partisan political cheating.

Moreover, even if this method has flaws, it is a clear limiting case that deprives the courts of any “we see no clear remedy” excuse. For all its faults, Minimal Overlap is palliative, equitable and enforceable. It also gives a nod to state sovereignty and legislature privilege, by allowing the legislature to continue complete, discretionary control over one chamber, while the other two are set by a neutral computer reacting to their assembly boundaries.

== Arguments against Minimal Overlap ==

One objection that opponents to such a solution will assert is that voters should be represented by “communities of interest.” For example, one of the commonly used excuses for gerrymandering is that contorted arrangements are necessary in order to ensure that minority populations get some representatives who are of their ethnic persuasion.

There are two, decisive answers:

(a) The “communities of interest” argument is served by having one of three chambers divided that way. So long as those communities of interest are firmly ensconced and represented in one chamber, there is no inherent need for duplication. This is an original merit of bicameral legislatures.

In fact, there are strong arguments in favor of voters facing different coalition needs, in different houses.  Why should their Assembly, State Senate and Congressional delegates be clones of each other?  Apportioned one way — say in the Assembly — the community of interest might map onto national political parties, or else be optimized for ethnic representation. But mapped orthogonally in another house, entirely different matters of community interest — based on geography, markets, or some other basis — might come to the fore. State Senators will discuss different priorities at their town hall meetings than Assembly members, to the benefit of political problem-solving.

Anyway, a state senator who must negotiate among multiple constituencies and interests will be a busier one, and possibly one who achieves a lot more to break down our divisions.

(b) This method is a fallback, intended to persuade the Supreme Court that gerrymandering can be solved intrinsically, in a simple fashion that is inherently more fair than the present, biased-partisan cheating. And what could be simpler than three sentences?

Under the Minimal Overlap method, voters who now feel completely disenfranchised in all ways and in all chambers will thereupon very likely see their position improved. They will gain a chance that at least one of their three representatives will be someone who heeds their concerns. That is an improvement and a palliation of harm, and one that is far from arbitrary.

Voters thus would be guaranteed some relief from a conspiratorial injustice, in a fashion that is simple to execute. States mayopt for some other method to eliminate the injustice. Many already have. But this method provides a backstop ensuring that the worst, most pervasive effects of gerrymandering will end.

== Implications of Minimal Overlap ==

Notice one “judo” aspect of this approach — that it allows hyper-partisans to have their way - somewhat - for a while, in one house. This might lessen resistance to reform by the most fundamentally powerful entities in American political life, state assembly members. It also splits away the self-interest of State Senators, reducing their motivation for hyper-partisanship - which is a desirable outcome in its own right.  Why should Assembly members and Senators connive together? Vive la difference!

Moreover, as State Senate and Congressional delegations become more moderate and less partisan, they will then tend to pressure the State Assembly to damp down its own cheating and partisanship.

The Court should also be made aware of the effect that impartial redistricting has had in many blue states and a few purples. While California remains dominated by the Democratic Party, impartial redistricting and other reforms (e.g. non-party primaries) have resulted in lessbitterness between parties, not more. Less acrimony. Even in districts that wind up heavily Democratic or Republican, voters who are members of the minority party now feel more listened-to than before.

Earlier I mentioned that Illinois and Maryland and few other Democrat-dominated holdouts still outrageously gerrymander. Former President Barack Obama and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have specifically targeted these states, arm-twisting state legislators to end gerrymandering. When those Democratic Party holdouts comply, this horrifically blatant cheat and crime will be seen as an odious offense perpetrated primarily by just one party against the citizens of this great nation.

Nevertheless, the best solution will come from the Supreme Court, whose past reluctance must be met with a web of logic that allows no escape or wriggle room for Justices Roberts, Alito and especially Kennedy, erasing their earlier excuses for inaction. Minimal Overlap can serve as a example of a backstop remedy that’s simple, fair, and undeniably better than the outrageous status quo.



                     Cross-posted on Medium. 


David Brin is a scientist, tech speaker/consultant, and author.  His novel about our survival in the near future is Existence.   A film by Kevin Costner was based on The Postman.  His 16 novels, including NY Times Bestsellers and Hugo Award winners, have been translated into more than twenty languages.   Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and the world wide web.

Dr. Brin serves on the external advisory board of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program (NIAC). David appears frequently on shows such as Nova and The Universe and Life After People, speaking about science and future trends. He has keynoted scores of major events hosted by the likes of IBM, GE, Google and the Institute for Ethics in Emerging Technologies.

His non-fiction book -- The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Freedom and Privacy? -- won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association.    (Website:  http://www.davidbrin.com/ )

The Supreme Court case that could shift how Americans vote rests on a simple math equation, Lola Fadulu, Quartz. 2017       

FINAL NOTE: I tried taking this article every media outfit I could find. It's blatantly original and interesting and potentially of real value. When even the "good" outlets are rigidly exclusive, saving all slots for pals, nepotism and established old-farts, we are crippled as an imaginative, problem-solving society.

[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

Gosh. I was going to say you were obviously Nazis because of the stupidity and self-loathing, but then I saw the HONKIN’ GIANT NAZI FLAG behind you, and decided that was a better reason.

[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

Some people don’t get it. They watch Goodfellas and want to grow up to be Henry Hill. They read Lolita and think Humbert Humbert was unjustly condemned. They watch Breaking Bad and believe that Walter White, especially in his Heisenberg persona, was awesome. Isn’t anyone familiar with the concept of the anti-hero anymore?

Here’s another one: people who watch Rick and Morty and come away from it wanting to be just like Rick. I love that show, but jebus…no one in their right mind should admire Rick. He’s the most brilliant scientist in the multiverse, but he’s also a totally messed-up, broken dude, and everyone in his family is damaged, and every week, the show goes out of its way to highlight that fact.

If we’re to believe Rick is admirable for being a cold, misanthropic know-it-all, the show doesn’t do a very good job of selling it. He’s too rich in his emotions, too human in his failings; the show repeatedly finds him dealing with moments of vague tenderness and regret that he then undermines, contributing to the overall tragic arc of his character. Harmon’s much-scrutinized writing ethos involves richly drawn emotional journeys for every character, and as he said, in the recent response to Entertainment Weekly, “I don’t want the show to have a political stance.” It doesn’t. Rick And Morty’s concern is ambiguous, flawed, relatable characters, slowly changing and slowly staying the same. To assume that Rick—or any of them—represents Harmon’s idea of some ethos to aspire to is to misread his intent.

You can only admire Rick if you ignore all the two-by-fours the show repeatedly slams into your face.

However, it’s absurd to claim the show has no political stance. Writing about “ambiguous, flawed, relatable characters, slowly changing and slowly staying the same” at a time when way too many people are latching onto imaginary paragons (even the show’s oblivious fans!) is a political stance. It’s hard to argue against the idea that everything is political.

Boldini Autumn Scene

24 Sep 2017 09:54 am
[syndicated profile] gurneyjourney_feed

Posted by James Gurney

A statue of a goddess stands in a wild section of the park at Versailles. Autumn leaves cascade down around her. A clump of yellow chestnut leaves passes near us. 

This painting by Giovanni Boldini (Italian, 1842-1931) emphasizes the contrast between artifice and wildness, between the constraints of the human world and the wildness of nature. It also suggests the transience of the seasons versus the permanence of stone.

The painting was probably done from observation on location, but I would guess that the image lived in his imagination first.

Previously: Boldini at the Clark Art Institute
[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

We can keep this one.

Nature published a catastrophically bad editorial a while back, in which an anonymous someone whined about how tearing down statues of scientists like Marion Sims was “erasing history”. You’ve all heard it before — apparently, we’re learning history from dead lumps of marble or bronze. Where will it all end? Next thing you know we’ll be ‘erasing’ Cecil Rhodes and HG Wells, or even Francis Crick.

In the early 1970s, Crick defended other prominent racist scientists who proposed a plan where individuals deemed unfit would be paid to undergo sterilisation. Crick wrote in one letter that “more than half of the difference between the average IQ of American whites and Negroes is due to genetic reasons”, which “will not be eliminated by any foreseeable change in the environment”. He urged that steps be taken to avoid the “serious” consequences. Crick also proposed that “irresponsible people” be sterilised “by bribery”. In the brochure of the institute bearing his name, Crick is nonetheless presented as a scientific hero known for his “intelligence and openness to new ideas”.

Damn. Crick always came across as the good one, but noooope. Everyone is wrong. There are no heroes.
We’ve all got bad ideas that will fail the test of history. So now I’m thinking we’re all asking the wrong question. We shouldn’t be asking whether it’s right to tear down statues and monuments now.

We should ask why we were putting up statues to scientists in the first place.

If you think about it, it is a singularly stupid way to honor science — and let’s not mince words here, statues and monuments aren’t about education, they’re about singling out individuals as exemplary and worthy, or rich and powerful. We’re going to keep fucking up when we yank the occasional prominent individual out of the collective enterprise of science and put them on a pedestal, because that kind of reverence is antithetical to the whole idea of science. Instead of a monument to Watson and Crick, put one up honoring the discovery of the structure of DNA…and sure, slap a plaque on it that explains why it matters (education!), and that lists the host of people, including Watson and Crick, who contributed to the determination.

Ask what the people you want to honor have done that deserves the honor, and celebrate that. This may not be popular. All the statues of generals will have to be replaced with grisly piles of mangled corpses, and the dead tycoons will just have boring dollar signs on their memorials, but that’s OK — being forced to think about what we consider important is, well…educational. Isn’t that the excuse we’re using for not tearing them down?

Let’s not forget posterity, either. A lot of our history is from inscriptions and monuments and tombs and old hunks of stone and bronze, which means much of our history is skewed towards Great Men who were often bloody conquerors and exploiters. Wouldn’t it be nice if future archaeologists, digging up the American Era layers, were making lists of interesting accomplishments, rather than long dry lists of names and dates?

[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

Good news! The world isn’t ending today. The absence of an onrushing Niburu has compelled the original false prophet to retract his claim. Go ahead and throw a party tonight, for good or ill. (For some strange reason, my wife has decided to go on a Christmas movie binge. I’m sitting here praying for Niburu to show up after all.)

Then, remember, tomorrow was supposed to be the start of Freedom Week, that nonsensical few days that Milo Yiannopoulos was supposed to bring all of his asshole friends to Berkeley to test the limits of free speech with advocacy of Nazi policies. There were portents and omens of raging incompetence ahead of time, and now they have been fulfilled — the event has been formally cancelled.

In a Saturday letter to the school, an attorney for Berkeley Patriot, Marguerite Melo, wrote, “On their behalf, you are hereby notified the Berkeley Patriot is canceling all Free Speech Week activities it sponsored.” The letter accused administrators of putting up roadblocks and said the group was “contemplating initiating litigation against the responsible parties and the administration for violation of our clients’ civil rights.”

Yeah. It’s the administration’s fault because the students (and Milo) failed to get speakers signed up and to pay for the auditoriums they wanted to reserve. Except that also it was clear that this was just the alt-light wackaloons trolling the university.

But in a separate email chain obtained by this news organization, Lucian Wintrich, one of the supposed speakers, told Mogulof the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote in an email around 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” wrote a clearly surprised Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?” “Yes,” came Wintrich’s one-word response. Wintrich did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment.

So it was officially cancelled, but everyone behind it had known it couldn’t possibly happen, and…some of them are still claiming it will happen, without any institutional backing or security or venue.

But representatives for Yiannopoulos insisted the event would move forward without the student group. “The Berkeley Patriot may have pulled out of the event, but Milo and his other speakers have not. More details will be released at a FaceBook Live press conference that will be streamed shortly,” spokeswoman Mona Salama wrote in an email around 11:15 am Saturday.

I think that means that aimless disorganized thugs will show up anyway, wander around haplessly, try to cause a little trouble, and get rounded up by campus police. Fun! Chaos! Confusion! And afterwards,
the recriminations and finger-pointing!

Except here. I’ll be home grading papers.

Niburu, where are you?

[syndicated profile] thewildhunt_feed

Posted by Karl E. H. Seigfried

The fall equinox is celebrated in many different ways by practitioners of Ásatrú and Heathenry. Those who practice modern forms of polytheistic religions rooted in Northern Europe have revived, reconstructed, and reimagined a variety of practices and rituals to mark the turning of the year from summer to autumn.

Haustblót (autumn sacrifice) is mentioned by name in the saga of the Icelandic warrior-poet Egill Skallagrímsson. The Ynglinga Saga of Snorri Sturluson tells of laws established by the god Odin, including the timing of the main annual sacrifices:

Þá skyldi blóta í móti vetri til árs, en at miðjum vetri blóta til gróðrar, hit þriðja at sumri, þat var sigrblót.

There should be sacrifice toward winter for a good year, and in the middle of winter sacrifice for a good crop, a third in summer, that was victory sacrifice.

If “toward winter” can be interpreted to mean “in the fall,” the first rite mentioned may be the Haustblót of Egill’s Saga. However, there is more documentation for the historical celebration of the main autumn ritual not on the equinox itself, but approximately a month later.

“The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1565) [public domain].

The modern Icelandic Ásatrúarfélagið (Ásatrú Fellowship) celebrates Veturnáttablót (winter nights blót) in the second half of October, when members of the organization thank the god Freyr for his autumn gifts and ask the deities for a good winter. The U.S.-based Troth also marks Winter Nights in its ritual calendar.

The Heathen holiday celebrated on the equinox is today variously known as Haustblót, Harvest Blót, Winter Finding, or another related term. As with so much of modern Heathenry, the specifics of historical practice are up for debate. Regardless of historicity, the late-September celebration can be deeply meaningful for those who include it in their ritual practice.

As in my column “Nine Heathens Speak of Spring,” which centered on celebrations of the spring equinox, I asked Heathens from a variety of locations to tell me what the autumn holiday means to them personally and how they and their community celebrate it. There is a wonderful diversity in the answers they gave.

I would like to thank all who took time out of their busy schedules to articulate their relationship to this time of the year. I hope you enjoy reading their responses as much as I did.

Lonnie Scott (Illinois, USA)

The autumn equinox rolls around again. This signals the harvest on the way. The cycle of reaping what you sow can be seen in the land all around. The leaves turn and fall. The air grows crisp and colder. In my area, gardens are yielding their final gifts. Corn and beans are about to be harvested. Pumpkin patches are opening. The smell of baked pumpkin goods fills the cool air. Winter is ahead, along with deepening cold and growing darkness.

We honor the nature spirits in group ritual. It’s a good time to show gratitude for the fruits of the earth. This year we honored the Sangamon River in Central Illinois as a specific spirit and ally. Our waterways are the very arteries of the earth, and their gifts to our lives are boundless. We use our waterways for life-giving water, fishing, and even play. It’s also our waterways that suffer terrible pollution, much of which comes from chemicals used in farming and industry. Honoring the river is a good reminder that we need to honor all our land and waterways throughout the year, recognize our own contribution to their condition, and reinforce our duty to be good stewards. I personally spend time reflecting on the rune jera in meditation during the equinox. The seasons have turned, and now I can look back on what I’ve grown in my own life.

I was prepared to say more about my spiritual practice. Then, on Sept. 20 at 11:33 am, a 14-year-old young man walked into my local high school’s cafeteria with a gun and opened fire a few feet from my daughter. Thankfully, a fast-acting teacher named Angela McQueen subdued the shooter before any fatalities happened. One student was injured. Now the hard questions arise about parenting and bullies. Have I raised my kids well enough to be safe and act fast? Have I taught them proper values to respect life and people around them? Have I convinced them to be a voice for those being bullied? Has the system somehow failed the kid who brought a gun to school? That event did not just suddenly happen. Seeds were planted and nourished through a series of unfortunate and painful events. The harvest came in the form of enraged violence in the one place he and other students are supposed to be safe.

This year, and every upcoming year, I will raise a horn to Angela McQueen for her heroic and selfless actions. I’ll continue to meditate and reflect on what I’ve contributed to my community through word and deed. I’ll honor the land, the water, and all the nature spirits with gratitude, offerings, and support to organizations working to protect them. Most importantly, I urge everyone to allow the autumn equinox to inspire reflection on what you’re experiencing and how you contributed to it becoming part of your life.

Destiny Ballard [courtesy].

Destiny Ballard (Oklahoma, USA)

The autumnal equinox is just that for our kindred. Saying that, we do not flinch at it being designated as either Mabon or Winter Finding. We clearly are not reconstructionist. We also clearly do not occupy Northern Europe, ancient or modern. We are influenced by, not dictated to, when it comes to the available lore, history, and archeological remnants of pre-Christian Northern Europe.

We live in a very rural portion of northeast Oklahoma where agricultural harvest is not symbolic and Native Americans celebrate the seasonal shifts most prominently with pow-wow. Along with our wider home community, this equinox represents to us a time of ending hard labor and travel. It is a celebration of what we have sown, how our ancestors prepared the way to be sown, and also the recognition of the life cycle. What is born must ripen and then die, or at the very least go dormant for a time.

Our celebrations over the last several years have been as guests of our regional folk community of Midwest Heathens. First with a group in Manhattan, Kansas, with a long weekend of camping, ritual, games, and communal feasting in a pasture. This year and last year, we are doing the same at an evolving gathering of many Midwestern Heathen groups at a campground also in Kansas called Gaea. There we will have our own activities planned but will also have a communal feast and workday to build gefrain – worthy reputation and trust – with the park board and its eclectic pagan community.

Haimo Grebenstein (Germany)

In our community, celebration of the fall equinox is simply called Herbstfest [fall celebration]. The fact that autumn is my favorite season makes it my most important event on the wheel of the year.

In our ritual practice as an association, we only have the four seasonal changes as commonly practiced holidays in the year, and we leave it up to the groups and individuals to add additional activities on the wheel. Our local group Bilskirnir usually combines the equinox with the harvest festival, since most of the harvest has been done at this time.

Our ritual is based on the nine-part standard we always use, but it has no fixed texts. When I prepare the ritual, I always include some fall poems that have a nature or Heathen context. This year we leave home and visit the Verein für Germanisches Heidentum [Association for Germanic Heathenry] group in northern Austria to celebrate equinox at their stone circle that was set up 10 years ago.

Offerings at a blót held by Kith of the Tree and the Well [courtesy].

Philip John Parkyn (England)

At my home this Saturday evening, our London group, Hendon Heathens, will be meeting for a small, private gathering for an autumn harvest blót. It will be a fairly informal ceremony. No scripts needed, as we have been doing this for many years and are well versed with our form of blót. Around the fire in the garden we will thank the spirits of this place, Oak Harrow Garth, our ancestors of blood and of spirit, and the gods and goddesses with our homemade mead. We will share fruitcake made from homegrown apples, grapes, and plums and leave some as offerings to the old oak tree, Oak Harrow. After some stories, jokes, and songs, the evening will end with a discussion about the next day’s public meeting of our esoteric group, Kith of the Tree and the Well, which we hold every two months.

Sunday lunchtime we will be at our usual venue for KTW, a room booked above a pub near London Bridge. This is a more formal affair and about fifteen people will attend. We start with people introducing themselves, and then one of our members will give a talk on the seasonal customs and deities. We then share out scripts for the blot and give some explanation and instructions about it, and roles are allocated to those who volunteer. For some of the people, this is the first Heathen ceremony they have been to. Some have never celebrated together with others before. The pleasure they get from being able to join in the celebration with like-minded people makes it all well worthwhile for us.

Ryan Denison (Georgia, USA)

I identify as a Heathen Druid with a bit of a reconstructionist streak, and I am a dual member of the Troth and Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Because of this, I honor both the Norse and Celtic traditions.

The autumn equinox, from my understanding of history, doesn’t seem to be celebrated beyond a feast in the Norse tradition — and much the same for the Irish and Scottish traditions — although a lot of reconstruction is going on using traditional Irish folk holidays like Michaelmas as a base. Some modern groups do have a Haustblót or celebrate Meán Fómhair from the Irish perspective.

Our local Heathens of Atlanta are holding an apple festival and equinox blót and plan on honoring Idunn and the local wights. I am hosting our local Grove of the Red Earth (ADF) equinox celebration. The Welsh pantheon will be honored, and therefore we are using the Welsh nomenclature of Alban Elfed. We will be honoring Mabon ap Modron and the Welsh pantheon. Both groups are fond of potluck feasts after rituals and blóts, and this year both groups will have apples as a central theme.

For me having grown up in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky, the equinoxes are a transition between the extremes of cold and heat, when the leaves start to either change color or spring forth. They represent for me balance and a time where the veil between the worlds seems to start to thin. Having been a bit of a jock, fall always means football and family. Some of my fondest memories are playing on Friday nights and in college on Saturday afternoons, then spending time with my family after. For me, too, it is the beginning of the countdown to the celebration of Samhain, my favorite holy day.

Kari Tauring [courtesy].

Kari Tauring (Minnesota, USA)

I am a staff carrier in Minneapolis, Minn. Solar holidays have great importance to Minnesotans. The delicate balance of sun and moon and hot days and cold days determines our favorite things, such as sap collecting in the spring and ricing the autumn.

In the winter, if there is good snow, I practice skiing around my house, so I evaluate the gardens quite heavily at this time. January’s figure-eight ski run goes through today’s pumpkin patch. I must move the larger rocks holding plants up out of the way of my intended ski run before they freeze into the soil. Also, I have to put up the apples, if there are many this year. I sauce them and freeze them for use in frutsøp at winter solstice. What a joy to add the nourishment of autumn to the dark nights of jul!

It is a good time to wash the wool sweaters and blankets. September sun and cool breezes can really dry and bleach the wool nicely before you have to use them from October to April.

In Norse and Baltic traditions, the sun is carried across the sky by a goddess. Sunna comes from my mother’s Norwegian heritage and Saule from my father’s Latvian heritage. I sing their runes and dainas in different ways and for different purposes on each solar holiday.

Hunting season in Minnesota begins soon after the fall equinox. There is a moment each year when the seriousness of impending changeable weather kicks in. It’s different each year, but it always seems to affect the squirrels by the fall equinox.

When the winter is soon here, we must look to our elders and get as much time with them as we can. Always spring and fall equinox see great passings, great deaths. Dark and night hug one another in [the rune] gifu on these equinoxes. Short-lived joy and then nauthiz, dagaz, ingwaz, gifu, wunjo, nauthiz.

I am grateful that I have lived in one place all my life and that this is the place my mother and father lived all their lives. If you live in one place all your life, you will get to know when an equinox feels stable, or if it feels “katywampus,” as my mother would say.

When we raised chickens on this little ski run in Minneapolis, my boys and I called fall when they would stop laying around the autumnal equinox. Spring was when they started up laying again. Here in Minnesota, that was about Groundhog Day or St. Brigid’s Day, around Feb. 2

Thursday, Sept. 21 begins the nine nights of the goddess in the Vedic calendar. I will give a gift to two little girls each of the nine days. On Friday the 22nd, I will perform three sets of songs and poems from my family heritage and in ancestral languages and include sets of nine female deities from my Nordic lineage. The concert will be on the steps of Sea Salt Eatery by Minnehaha Falls. If you have a rhythm-stick set which we call stav and tein, I will invite you up for a few. This is what we call “Stavers in the House.”

* * *

The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.
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Posted by James Gurney

Last night an art museum in Connecticut played host to "trolls, nymphs, and mermaids, plus cosmic warriors on alien planets."

The Witch from Karlekens Under, by Gustaf Tenggren, 1922
The Stamford Art Museum and and Nature Center opened their exhibition called "Illustrations of Imaginative Literature: Masterpieces of American and European Science Fiction," with original artwork borrowed from the Korshak Collection.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Arthur Rackham, 1907
The show includes some of the best examples by Arthur Rackham, Frank Frazetta, Jose Segrelles, Willy Pogany, Sir William Russell Flint, Gustav Tenggren, Edmund Dulac, Roy Krenkel, William Heath Robinson, Fortunino Matania, Brian Froud, Heinrich Kley, and Frank R. Paul.

Cheiron the Centaur and Jason by William Russell Flint
The exhibition was composed of approximately 90 works, divided into two main rooms, one showing the European tradition (which was composed mainly of delicate pen and ink drawings and watercolors), and the American tradition (which tended to be brighter in chroma and more exuberant).

Displays of books and magazines in the cases gave context to the original art, and tied the images to the joys of youthful dreaming about faraway worlds. 

Willy Pogany, Tales of the Persian Genii
The opening was packed with people of all ages and backgrounds. There were even some kids looking up from their glowing devices. 

Deathworld 2 James Avati, 1964
"In the last twenty years we've seen science fiction come out of the shadows," said Michael Whelan, a noted paperback cover illustrator throughout the 1980s, as he toured guests through the galleries. "Now it's become part of the mainstream." He remarked about the ease with which contemporary illustrators can submit their work to publishers via email, but "now we're competing with artists all over the world."

Brian Froud
Illustrations of Imaginative Literature: Masterpieces of American and European Science Fiction from the Korshak Collection will be on exhibit at the Stamford Museum, Stamford, CT through October 29, 2017.

​It will then continue at the Chazen Museum at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Novem­ber 20, 2017 - February 4, 2018.

Chainsaw developmental biology

23 Sep 2017 11:37 am
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Posted by PZ Myers

I’m kind of in to how undifferentiated tissue becomes mature and acquires a specific morphology, so I liked this series of photos of a big hunk of driftwood being shaped into an octopus. It gets from here:

To here:

However, I’m used to development proceeding autonomously. I don’t think it would work if I just put a tree trunk and a chainsaw together in a beaker in my yard, which disappoints me. Is it a matter of getting the salt concentration just right? The temperature?

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Posted by PZ Myers

In case any of my readers are interested in doing that (and some of you are! I get your email all the time), here’s a WikiHow article on how to convert atheists. It’s very simple, and I can summarize it in one sentence: be very nice, and for the love of god, don’t talk about Christianity.

I’m not kidding! Every recommendation is about demonstrating how you’re a nice person, but if the atheist confronts you with any of their disagreements with Christian doctrine or mythology, you’re supposed to back away gracefully and avoid addressing any of their points. Let me just inform any of you proselytizers out there that this tactic would simply increase my contempt for your religion, so don’t bother. Thanks.

You know, I read the educational literature to figure out better ways to get ideas across to my students, and there are effective ways to communicate and inform. I’m trying to imagine doing a better job of teaching cell biology by forming a personal rapport with my students, being friendly and kind, but running away every time I’m asked a question about mitochondria. I don’t think it would accomplish any of the goals I have for the class.

Wait! I found another site that reveals what happens when Christians do talk about the specifics of their religion. It’s called PROVING THE INSANITY OF ATHEISM BY FACTS PHYSICS HAS NO FOREKNOWLEDGE, WHICH IS A FACT.

So physics could have never known in advance that man’s body could produce knowledge.

By knowledge we take the proper food to eat which then by our organs becomes blood, and obviously we need this to live because life is in the blood. Even if you eat or if the food becomes blood you are still dead. So what happened to evolution? Who knew in advance that after food becomes blood you need veins all over your body, so the blood can flow throughout your body and also that you need a pump to keep circulating the blood? Is this a proven technology or a myth of physics? And also who knew the heart has to keep pumping constantly otherwise you are dead? Do you put the food into your mouth or evolution does? You do. If you eat food you grow, but if you do not then you do not grow. What do you see here, that food makes you grow or that evolution makes you grow?

So physics puts the food into your mouth or your knowledge puts the food in your mouth? For food to become blood, you must have different organs working to form it. Every organ has a special workmanship in order to complete the foreknowledge of the personality, but again, not by physics because physics has no foreknowledge. The atheists claim it is by physics, however. So the atheists do not understand wisdom.

Welp, I sure am convinced.

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Posted by David Brin

Science fiction as a commercial product, for companies to use in either planning or sales, is not completely new. Monsanto’s 1950s House of the Future, at Disneyland, offered both a public puff piece and a way to focus their corporate culture. The Arconic Corp. re-imagining of the Jetsons comes vividly to mind. And if you want to explore this topic further, there’s a recent pair of Novum podcasts, entertainingly appraising both science fictional portrayals of advertising and advertising uses of science fiction.

A related trend has been asking SF authors to conjure stories and scenarios to dramatize, illustrate or even interrogate a client’s plans and vision.  As far back as the 1980s, I participated in scenario-building exercises for NASA, defense agencies and companies that resulted in brief, fictional vignettes, a couple of which I then developed into pretty good stories.  

I recently collaborated with Tobias Buckell on an action-adventure tale set on the very edge of outer space, in Overview: Stories in the Stratosphere, an anthology of terrific tales for Pluto (New Horizons) explorer Alan Stern’s World View stratospheric balloon company.  The ebook can be downloaded for free on the ASU website.

I’ve mentioned Japan’s ANA Airlines collaborated with the X Prize Foundation in an anthology about an airliner whose passengers left Tokyo in 2017 and arrive in San Francisco of 2037.  Here’s Bruce Sterling’s writeup. Read the stories on the ANA site: Seat 14C.

Now an entertaining article in the New Yorker reveals how Industrial-Grade SF has taken off, especially at Ari Popper’s company SciFutures. Another excellent adventure in Applies Science fiction is Berit Anderson's bold endeavor called Scout. Browse some of the great content
== Sci Fi Cinema ==

We watched the highly touted flick Logan. How sad. It featured excellent dialogue, top actors and good (if uber-violent) action choreography… but the premise and background logic were as atrocious as that over-hyped monstrosity, Mad Max 4: Fury Road. 

Both utterly betrayed the premise of their universe in order to wallow in some of the worst clichés that infest Hollywood today.  Loony-cartoonish villains who deliberately violate every hint of logic or even self-interest. Infinite supplies of disposable henchmen, none of whom have a scintilla of motive for following an asshole into hell – certainly no families of their own or qualities that might question death-loyalty to jerks. Pathetically, the Logan scripters thought that making the viewer wonder "what happened to the hundreds of millions of mutants?"  - yet never giving a hint - would somehow be a delicious puzzle for us all, instead of a grinding scrape of fingernails that persisted through every scene.

Yes, J.J. Abrams did something similar when he annihilated the Planet Vulcan, but at least there he allowed the Federation to be the Federation. Both Logan and Fury Road utterly obeyed the reflexive catechism of lazy Hollywood scripting: “Thou shalt never show any institution functioning, nor any chance of a working civilization. And all your fellow citizens and neighbors are useless sheep.” 

Ironically, the previous X-Men films… and Mad Max episodes one through three… did not follow those insipid rules. In all of them, both citizens and institutions were complex and included elements trying to do the right thing. In fact, X-Men and Mad Max used to be about that! True, Mel Gibson’s character seldom got much satisfaction, except by rescuing a few drips of civilization, but those worth-protecting glimmers existed!  And most of the X-Men flicks were about calling citizens and institutions to rise up to their better natures. 

Don't let fight scenes and good actors distract you from wretched storytelling. Demand: what supposedly happened to all the mutants?  There were hundreds of millions of them! And nations who had made peace with them, incorporating their talents. And billions of people would have started relying on the talented ones.

I sat through these things, as I sometimes do, in a state of self-lobotomization, in order to enjoy the good parts.  In both cases, the action choreography and in Logan’s case, watching Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart and the youngster-with-a-big-future act away.  But every minute after, I got angrier. Then reached a limit and shrugged it aside.

== Life on the sun? ==

On Quora, someone asked: “Could there be life on the Sun?”

Some of those answering sneered about the Sun being too hot for molecular life.  To which I answer: “So? Try actually stretching your conceptual noodle.”

“Life” can be defined as a dissipative structure that utilizes thermodynamic gradients to: (1) produce entropy, (2) export entropy from a confined area in order to create islands of order, (3) reproduces new versions, in order to continue.

The sun provides many kinds of extremely steep energy and thermal gradients. We use some of them here on Earth. In the solar atmosphere (chromosphere) these gradients might by exploitable. Moreover, while it is too hot to allow molecules and molecular chemistry, there is another kind of structure that might, possibly, become self organizing.

In my novel SUNDIVER I portrayed entities consisting of self-sustaining magnetic field loops, that use the copious energy flows to energize, grow, and spawn new loops. We can already do similar things in the lab and we see field loops forming all the time in the Chromosphere. Not in ways that satisfy a definition of life. But it’s not precluded.

See an illustration of my sun beings in the cover art to Sundiver, created by the brilliant Jim Burns. I have it hanging on the wall behind me. And yes, I have had Nobel winners compliment this book, so it ain’t all that crazy… just far-fetched! ;-) 

== Miscellaneous ==

Reminiscent of a scene in my 1989 novel Earth, the National Wildlife Property Repository, near Denver, is crammed with stuffed monkeys and ivory carvings, snow leopard coats and dried seal penises, chairs with tails and lamps with hooves. The repository contains 1.3 million confiscated items.  See a purse of alligator skin; a stool made of an African elephant foot with a zebra skin cushion; walrus tusks; a hat made of black bear skin; medicinal snake wine; an orangutan skull. A room filled with tigers and leopards.  I don’t know if it existed in 1989… but read my ultimate suggestion for what to do with these things… in Earth.

Anyone know David S. Goyer  Or Josh Friedman? Their  plans for a "Foundation" TV series seem to be moving ahead! Just putting it out there that I'm probably the best living expert on the story arcs of Isaac Asimov's universe, having written the ultimate sequel Foundation's Triumph, that tied together all of Isaac's loose ends.  (Isaac's widow and daughter were very happy.)   

Indeed, the producers ought to know where the books of the Second Foundation Trilogy fit in the sequence. Greg Bear and Greg Benford wrote prequels showing Hari Seldon as a young man... and my story fits right in among the opening chapters of FOUNDATION. Just sayin’ that a chat might be called for.

Oh, for the several of you who asked... The Postman is now back on Audible.

== Why Alternate Histories are generally silly – “if the South had won.” ==

Okay, I am going to use a new sci fi parallel world TV series as a kickoff for a historical (hysterical?) rant.

A new parallel world show called “Confederate” seems a timely, provocative riff on our re-ignited American Civil War. “The series takes place in an alternate timeline, where the Southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution. The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone — freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.”

Romantics claim the outcome of the 1860s phase of our ongoing Civil Was was iffy and could have gone either way. But it's just not true. Even the southern-born scholar Shelby Foote avows that "The Union fought with one hand behind its back. If it were ever in peril, it would have just brought out the other hand."

Romantics claim the question teetered on bare chance, at Gettysburg. Bull. The outcome at Gettysburg was foregone, the day the Army of Potomac arrived and Reynold's men gave Hancock's Corps time to form up along a ridge in good order.  All the AoP had to do then was sit tight. Let Lee fumble around and discover why offense was so darn near impossible with 1860s technology. Picket's Charge was just a capper. Lee lost before the battle began.

And if he had won? Crushed the AoP and moved on to Washington? So? The AoP had proved its stunning resilience over and over, and always reformed within a week after even devastating losses like Chancelorsville. Augmented by truly vast numbers of alarmed northern militia and led by Sherman, the reformed AoP would have fallen on Lee's rear while he tried to noodle a way around Washington's defenses.  Without any conceivable source of supplies, he'd be doomed.

And yes, this holds even if both France and Britain joined the slave-holders' side (they wouldn't, but pretend they did.)

Let's recall that the very day Lee ordered his last gambit at Gettysburg, Grant finished off the Confederacy's last outpost on the Mississippi, Vicksburg. Half of the CSA's ports were already taken by smaller Union armies. So, let's say Lee takes Washington and forces an armistice. Or say McClellan wins the 1864 election and signs a treaty. The "Confederacy" might include much of the official territory you see on maps...maybe even (unlikely) including Texas and Arkansas. But none of the great waterways or rivers.

Moreover, consider what happens next. Even supposing McClellan lets the CSA have transport rights on the Mississippi, the economic power of the CSA will be negligible. Texas would likely declare independence, or else rejoin the Union.  And both sides would spend the next ten years re-arming for another war. And the 1870s phase would not be in doubt past the first day, the first minute.

Industrial and military capacity in the Union was skyrocketing by the end of the war.  Heck, in our own timeline, in 1865, the US military could have taken on all of the armies and navies of the world, combined. Propelled further by a deadly grudge, by 1875, the US would far outstrip the industrial capacity of Britain. The behemoth faced by the South would have been overwhelming.

But look at history. The 1875 war would not have been for unification, but punishment and correction. The CSA would have lost Virginia, Florida and the Mississippi Valley... and the slaves would have been freed. Perhaps they'd be given Georgia.  All of it. Every house and stick of furniture. What remained could then call itself the Confederacy.  Until they provoked a third war.

Is that parallel world better than this one?  You'll see it in no sci fi paratime novels, because an equal struggle makes better drama. But it's the likely course, had Lee or McClellan got their wish and Lincoln not prevailed.

Let me be clear. Those of who who denigrate the Confederacy are right on every moral or historical plane, save one. That horrific "cause" had one unsullied and spectacular grace... martial courage, resilience and audacious effectiveness. Them rebs were fighters, all right. And southern men sign up for military service at higher rates, even today. And you have no right to criticize faults, unless you have the calm maturity to acknowledge virtues. Those that are there.

Still, here's your Halloween costume.
== Weirdly connected to sci fi ==

The internet goes wild and… okay, Snopes says this is for real. I mean, there it is, a scanned document. The book, "Baron Trump's Marvelous Underground Journey", by Ingersoll Lockwood, was published in 1893. A tale of a boy named Baron Trump who can time travel. Lockwood's next book was called "The Last President", of which the president had a cabinet member named Pence. 

Now calm down all you fantasy maniacs. Isn’t it likely that Donald Trump would have known of this book, and then later have named his son after it? No need for time travel, dudes.  Heck, one is more impressed with the episode of a 1950s cowboy series called Trackdown, that is about a conman named Walter Trump who convinces the townsfolk that the world will end—unless they build a big wall around the village. 

In fact, the other book – “The Last President” – is a little polemical tract attacking the real Democratic candidate for president, William Jennings Bryan and the Free Silver movement, prophesying what would happen if they took power.  While I am no fan of Bryan – the famed prosecutor in the infamous Scope Monkey Trial (played brilliantly by Frederick March in Inherit the Wind) – the other side was even worse, as evidenced by Lockwood’s turgid tirade screed.  Other than the irrational screaming, it has zero overlap with Donald Trump, that I can see.

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Posted by PZ Myers

Wow. Every person on the planet saw one version or another of this “Octopolis” story and had to send it to me. It was the subject of a Friday Cephalopod a year ago, you know.

Apparently, this is the second octopus city discovered, which is interesting — they’re exhibiting more complex social behaviors.

However, I have two complaints.

  1. A lot of the stories are describing Octopolis/Octlantis as “gloomy”. Why? Is it because the inhabitants aren’t swimming around with toothy grins? The cephalopods look quite normal to me.

  2. A more serious complaint, about this quote:

    The discovery was a surprise, Scheel told Quartz. “These behaviors are the product of natural selection, and may be remarkably similar to vertebrate complex social behavior. This suggests that when the right conditions occur, evolution may produce very similar outcomes in diverse groups of organisms.”

    Nope. You don’t know that. There’s no evidence and no reason to think this behavior is the product of natural selection — quite the opposite, actually. It looks to me like the spontaneous emergence of a novel property of octopus behavior in an unusual and fortuitous environment.

New Books and ARCs, 9/22/17

22 Sep 2017 06:52 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Just in time for the weekend, a new batch of books and ARCs at the Scalzi Compound for you to peruse. Which would you want to give a place in your own “to be read” stack? Tell us in the comments.

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Posted by PZ Myers

Rebecca Otto is running for governor of Minnesota, and she has some good, progressive ideas for improving our energy self-reliance.

Here’s the elevator speech version: Minnesota residents get around five thousand dollars cash (over several years), monetary incentives to upgrade all their energy using devices from furnaces to cars, some 80,000 new, high paying jobs, and in the end, the state is essentially fossil fuel free.

About half of that fossil fuel free goal comes directly from the plan itself, the other half from the economy and markets passing various tipping points that this plan will hasten. The time scale for the plan is roughly 10 years, but giving the plan a careful reading I suspect some goals will be reached much more quickly. This means that once the plan takes off, Minnesotans will have an incentive to hold their elected officials accountable for holding the course for at least a decade.

I like it. It’s incremental, it provides incentives for citizens to do things that will be good for them and the state, and it’s a great long term investment. My only concerns at this point are that the sums are on the small side — I could use $5K to make some small improvements in energy efficiency in my house, but big changes require bigger capital investment — and it’s not obvious how these incremental investments will get us to the point of being free from fossil fuels. There are more details, and I’ll have to look into it.

Even if it cuts fossil fuel usage by 20%, though, that’s an improvement worth doing. I might have to vote for this person in the next election and get this plan implemented.

Tracking the foliage

22 Sep 2017 04:59 pm
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Posted by PZ Myers

It’s that time of year, and we’re watching the DNR for optimal fall color watching.

Stevens County has a ways to go yet, and it’s still rather green outside, but in the next few weeks…. If you’re trying to figure out which county is mine, we’re the square one. I know, like that helps. The square one on the west side, due east of the protruding wart on the middle of Minnesota’s back, that is half green and half yellow.

Column: a Most Peculiar Gray

22 Sep 2017 05:02 pm
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Posted by Manny Tejeda-Moreno

There is a famous pataki about  the orishas Oyá and Changó. In the story, Changó had been in battle and fought continuously against his enemies, but despite his victories, many more of them came to attack him and soon he was overwhelmed. Changó called to his horse for help, but it never came, so he hid in the brush, moving from tree to tree and hammock to hammock to escape. His enemies were relentless, scouring and razing any area where they thought Changó could be hiding. He moved deeper into the brush and swamp. Still, they followed, undeterred by the dense wood. After many days, Changó began to tire. He had drank what he could but had not eaten or slept. Finally, deep in the heart of the bush, Changó came upon Oyá’s house. He hesitated getting closer — he was too proud to ask for help — but finally called to Oyá, and she brought him inside.

Oyá gave him food and drink and had him rest, but they both knew the enemies would soon find her hut, as they could hear them moving in the distance and getting closer through the swamp. Changó then said these enemies were different. They were immune to his strength, his thunder, his lightning and fire.

Oyá was unconcerned. She promised Changó that he would return to his kingdom where he would regain his strength and defeat his enemies. Changó thought she would cast a spell or summon a storm. Instead, she reached for her makeup, then one of her dresses. Finally, she carefully cut off all her hair.

Changó watched probably thinking, “SRSLY? WTF?”, only in Yoruba. Oyá then quickly formed a wig from her hair and told Changó to put it on with the dress. She put some makeup on him, and told him to walk to his kingdom at nightfall, right past his enemies.

That evening, Oyá lit no fire and told Changó to go. He did. He mimicked Oyá’s proud and careless gait, barely glancing and nodding at each of his assailants, and they let him pass, still looking for Changó.

Oyá is a complicated orisha with many spheres of control. Commandingly intelligent, she is a powerful witch and ruler of cyclonic storms. She is shrewd in business, controlling the markets because they too change and move like the weather, and she is unmatched as a warrior, skilled and fierce; Changó prefers her to all other partners in battle. All her nine children died, and so she became the protector of the dead and controls the gates the cemetery and access to ancestors. In a way, above all Oyá is the orisha of sudden, even chaotic change, the one unleashing transformative upheavals through destruction. When Oyá passes, things will not be the same.

The pataki with Changó also shows Oyá’s intelligence. She did not need to use witchcraft nor call a storm to help Changó. What Oyá did do, is what she does impeccably well: expose weakness.

Changó’s enemies were very powerful. They came close to defeating the great warrior orisha. Oyá focused on their weakness: their assumptions about who they were looking for, and how they should find him. She unleashed their prejudices, assumptions and pride to destroy them.

Across the Olosha community these past few weeks there has been a great deal of attention given to what orisha Oyá is saying these days. There were offerings, supplications, meditations and wemileres (rituals with drumming) to answer that question; it is something that every person impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria is also asking. Those recent hurricanes have unleashed historic devastation in the Caribbean from Barbuda — now uninhabitable — to Puerto Rico to Cuba and the Florida Keys. Southeast Texas was overwhelmed by wind and floods, while Florida was engulfed in a weaker-than-expected but far more expansive storm.  Some underestimated the power of the storms, others experienced their constant chaos, evacuating out of the path then into the path. In Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the storms have brought historic shock and grief. In the continental United States, the storms affected the area from Miami to Corpus Christi to Atlanta. Irma launched what may end up being the largest mass evacuation in U.S. history, slogging the major traffic corridors of the southeast for days. The breath of Oyá has been cataclysmic.

With her breath passing through,  the basic question is simple:  What has Oyá exposed?

She has, in my opinion, exposed our social and ecological hubris. Oyá overwhelmed many first responders and will teach them how to build better human systems. Her ashé openly revealed the motivations of some political and religious leaders. She showed how some communities that we think are important fell silent during the crises.

Oyá exposed the weaknesses of some hurricane codes, and the strengths of others. She exposed how some institutions recognized their duties to the community by offering free services, while others took advantage of the storm.

Oyá exposed that climate change is not an engineering problem, and she further unmasked our dependence on engineered environments solely for convenience and greed. Oyá reminded us that we cannot build without regard for the land. That we are addicted to electricity. That we confuse comfort, want, and need over and over again.

Oyá reminded us that we do not control water and that we have lost respect for it. She reminded us that water remains essential for our life and mocking its strength will bring only ruin. As people scrambled for bottled water, Oyá revealed collective obsessions and ill-placed faith in corporations. Water that is plentiful was instantly and unnecessarily commoditized.

She exposed how we consistently fail as international neighbors. How we let political borders dictate our sympathy and empathy.  And how we become callously tribal when faced with chaos.

Most terribly, she reminded us that it is we who are the invading, exotic species obsessively choosing to live where we shouldn’t.

Perhaps above all, Oyá exposed that fear serves little purpose.

Oyá is also a compassionate orisha. She is the orisha of the last breath of life and sees the suffering that comes with it. She has lived through the death of all her children and intimately knows the pain. As she passes, she also unveils individual strengths to ease her aftermath.

She has exposed personal, social and psychic resilience while also teaching on a personal level. Every person assaulted by these storms learned — is learning — what they are each capable of, and what each personal weakness is. It’s now out there, for reflection, when life becomes more stable.

I saw many confront their own fears and memories in the storms. Some learned to balance their personal and professional roles and others learned their strength in the service of others. All of us learned who our family is. All of us learned that there are no wrong ways to feel our emotions about the dangers of the storm and the aftermath.

Some of us learned and some were reminded that being hot (hot as in “warm”) really sucks, and that humidity adds to the suck; we were also reminded that there is a sky full of stars when the power is out.

Oyá has also exposed community strengths. The members of Everglades Moon Local Council, for example, went into overdrive to support one another; and our covenant colleagues across the country checked in constantly. Many of us learned that our air conditioners are barriers to neighborliness. We even learned that some of the people we see every day can actually speak.  We learned to say “hello” again.

On a personal level, Oyá can speak to each of us, and she has left each affected by the storms with a private message. For me, I got a toughen up and keep perspective as a lesson. I was so busy before the hurricane focusing on what I still can’t do after spinal surgery that I would paralyze myself, ironically the very thing my surgery was to prevent. In the aftermath of the storm, I’m coming to terms with what my limitations actually are based on my condition versus what I had led myself to believe they were from learned incompetence. Oyá also took the opportunity to point out that chain stress-eating mantecado (Latin vanilla) ice cream will only lead to insulin dependence and uninterrupted borborygmus, as well as new pants. I’m sure there will other lessons with more reflection.

Oyá has exposed our current relationships with ourselves, our neighbors and our planet. She has reminded us that we are both children and guests of the planet, both of which can become annoying, especially when the relationships are not nurtured, respected and reciprocated. She reminded us that we have a choice to live in harmony with the earth or hear our requiem; because one thing that is certain about orisha Oyá is that she will come again.

* * *

The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.
[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

North Korea is a tyrannical, backward mess, and suddenly I’m made to feel like their country is the sane one compared to our commander-in-chief. Here’s the full text of North Korea’s reaction to Trump’s UN speech.

The speech made by the U.S. president in his maiden address on the U.N. arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean Peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.

Shaping the general idea of what he would say, I expected he would make stereotyped, prepared remarks a little different from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment as he had to speak on the world’s biggest official diplomatic stage.

But, far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors.

A frightened dog barks louder.

I’d like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and to be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.

The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the U.N. arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.

His remarks remind me of such words as “political layman” and “political heretic” which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign.

After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.

His remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.

Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy the D.P.R.K. [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.

Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.

As a man representing the D.P.R.K. and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the D.P.R.K.

This is not a rhetorical expression loved by Trump.

I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue.

Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation.

I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.

Our madman is egging their madman on. As the country with the greater power, it is our responsibility to cool this war of words down…and our president is incapable of normal, rational diplomacy. People will die over these words at this rate.

[syndicated profile] gurneyjourney_feed

Posted by James Gurney

Next month, two author/illustrators will be releasing visual novels set in imaginary worlds of their own creation. 

Armand Baltazar, formerly of Pixar, produced Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic, and illustrator Gregory Manchess invented Above the Timberline

They both agreed to be interviewed, and I thought it would be fun to ask each of them the same series of questions by email. Neither of them knew what the other guy said.

1. Please give us the one-sentence pitch of your story.

Manchess: On a future frozen Earth, an obsessed explorer goes missing on an expedition to a lost city under the ice, his only chance for rescue is a young inexperienced pilot…his son.

Baltazar: Timeless follows the adventure of a thirteen year old boy named Diego and his friends as they travel across the world fantastically changed by the fragmenting of time in order to rescue his father from a 2nd century Roman general and a scientist from the future who plot to reshape the world to their liking.

Art by Greg Manchess from Above the Timberline

2. How many illustrations will there be, and what is the balance between text and visuals?

Manchess: Including the book jacket and the case cover, there are 124 major oil paintings. Each turn of the page reveals the progress of the story through a combination of text and images, in varying amounts.

BaltazarTimeless is a 600 page book with about 440 pages written with about 160 pages of full color illustrations interspersed between the prose totaling around 200 mixed media paintings in varying sizes. It reads like a novel using traditional spreads and spot illustrations blended with graphic novel style sequential panel storytelling.

Armand Baltazar, preliminary and finished art from Timeless
Greg Manchess, sketch and finish from Timberline
3. How did you plan the book—for example, did you do written outlines, pencil storyboards, color scripts, value thumbnails, or compositional line drawings?

Manchess: I started with some simple notes, then began with very small, rectangular thumbnail sketches, designed for strong compositions, to get a feel for the rhythm. These led to writing, which led me to sketching again. Back and forth, until it was established. Then years of tweaking! It took seven years to get it in book form.

BaltazarFor the writing I alternated between traditional novel writing using outlines and revising drafts with elements of screenwriting and graphic novel layout. Visually I approached the chapters like a film script and would often thumbnail, then storyboard sequences, and build lighting and color scripting into those panels. I used a combination of thumbnailing, CG set model building, and drawing in line and in digital paint as part of my design and painting process.

4. How much did you have completed before you sold the idea to the publisher?

Manchess: While patiently waiting to get it sold, I’d already finished several drafts of the manuscript and had it completely laid out, page by page.

BaltazarI had about 12 to 15 full color illustrations and drawings completed and one complete "very" rough draft of the story. The first five chapters of that draft were more refined and what I initially shared with potential publishers.

Armand Baltazar, from Timeless
5. Did the making of the visuals cause you to rethink the story?

Manchess: Absolutely! The writing spurred visual ideas, and those initiated more scenes of writing and dialog. I played it over and over in my mind and got new ideas after many run-throughs. Then I’d start again to make the storyline cleaner and more interesting. Constant development.

BaltazarYes, but more specifically... how I wrote the story. We (with the editor) made the decision to use illustration to both bring the text to life visually and to replace sections of written text to tell the story. In those places the imagery would drive the storytelling, so in the written manuscript [there] were entire segments left unwritten to be completed with visuals.

Greg Manchess, from Above the Timberline
6. Is this a project you could do in your spare time, or did you have to clear off your other commitments? 

Manchess: I kept a busy schedule while writing, through several major projects, and taught every week online. Even through a couple of gallery shows. I couldn’t wait to get through an assignment so I could work on the book in the evenings, early mornings, whenever I got a chance. I was possessed. Once it sold, I spent eleven months painting all the images straight through.

BaltazarIt started off in my spare time but as I became more serious and invested in the project, I realized I needed more time to focus so after completing my work on Pixar's Inside Out, I made the decision to take a break from animation and work on it full time. Afterwards I was fortunate when HarperCollins read my story and wanted to publish it and later when Twentieth Century Fox approached me to develop it for a film.

Armand Baltazar, from Timeless
7. Did you get enough of an advance from the publisher to cover your work time, or did you have to cultivate other sources of income?

Manchess: The publisher gave me an advance, but I also had to supplement my income with other work. I was in a unique position to complete this novel, almost as if I’d been training for it my entire career. I’d written many finished projects before working on Timberline, and of course, I’d been training to hit deadlines for several decades. So I was able to manipulate my time between commissions and building the novel. 

BaltazarAfter I left Pixar to work on the book I took on freelance to pay the bills. After my story was picked up, it was the combination of both the publisher advance, and the movie studio option that enabled me to work full time .

Greg Manchess, from Above the Timberline
8. What kind of editorial input or guidance did you get? Did you meet any resistance or skepticism about being an artist-turned-writer?

Manchess: Initially, publishers were skeptical about whether it would sell, or even if I could get it done. I admit, I wasn’t always confident I could do it! But once it was sold, and I started, Saga Press was very hands-off. I built the entire book from the ground up visually, with minor coaching on writing from my editor, Joe Monti. He was brilliant, and helped keep the story from getting too cumbersome.

BaltazarI have a great agent who was an accomplished YA writer that gave me great guidance in finessing my story for a middle grade audience in terms of length, tone, and craft. I met with rejections, skepticism, and bias, but I understand that rejection is part of the journey and in the end it was about working hard to improve as a writer and ultimately find the kind of publisher that was right for my story.

Layouts by Armand Baltazar, from Timeless

9. Did you work on several paintings at once, or did you approach them sequentially? Why?

Manchess: I approached it like a film: between the beginning and the middle. This helped disguise my learning curve, allowing me time to get in a rhythm of painting which will keep the viewer from detecting my confidence levels. I got better as I got deeper into it, naturally, working back and forth. I had multiple paintings going at once, sometimes 25 to 30 pieces in progress, all pinned to the walls!

BaltazarDesigning and illustrating for animated film is sequential storytelling that requires all aspects of the visuals to be in lockstep like instruments in an orchestra performing a symphony. That discipline had a direct influence on my method and workflow for the book. I approached the chapters as sequences within acts of the story and I would compose, design, light, and paint illustrations that would define the arcs of the character and story.

10. What did you learn about your own productivity and time management, or your own psychological or physical limits?

Manchess: I learned a boat-load about how I work, and how I could set myself up to work in "The Zone." I worked with a general schedule: up, showered, breakfast by 9am, reference gathering and sketching until about 1pm, paint until 6pm, break for hot chocolate, dinner, paint until 11 or 12am, watch a film or read, sleep. Not everyday was exactly the same, depending on the specific image I was attempting.

BaltazarManaging time, productivity, stress, and health and wellbeing was one of the most difficult aspects. Writing and illustrating a dense epic adventure is daunting enough but learning to manage how to work, live, and have a healthy life with your family and friends required the same Herculean effort! I came out stronger and hopefully... wiser on the other end.

Armand Baltazar, from Timeless
11. Were you thinking about the potential of this project as a movie as you developed the book? Did you actively court movie producers with that idea as it was in development? Were the movie rights included in the book deal, or did you reserve them?

Manchess: My literary agent got us in touch with a film agent right away because of the strong cinematic visuals associated with the story. I was discussing film locations before I’d even painted a stroke! Crazy. But Hollywood is rather fickle. First and foremost, my mind was focused on making the book work as a novel. I did reserve the film rights, as the publisher wasn’t interested in them.

BaltazarI fantasized that someday it would be great if my story became a movie , but in truth that was the furthest thing from my mind as I worked on it. Early on I was approached by producers but refrained, wanting to secure Timeless as a book first before entertaining any opportunities. In the end I reserved the movie rights separately from the publisher.

Greg Manchess, from Above the Timberline
12. How is the nature of the illustrated book as an art form different from a movie?

Manchess: The book is definitely not a film on paper. I can control time far better in this format than a linear film can. I can jump back and forth, as long as it’s clear for the reader, they’ll stay with it. Our thoughts work like that anyway. We are back and forth, past and present, future and past. Our thoughts are rarely linear. Film is restricted, but the culture is learning to push out of that restriction.

BaltazarThe illustrated book is very different as it is your vision that drives the art and story of the book. A movie is a collaborative art form whereas the end result is the product of the director, producers, writers, artists, musicians, craftsmen, technicians, and support working collaboratively on a (sometimes) massive scale to create the cinematic story.

Armand Baltazar, from Timeless
13. Are you comfortable with your book being classified as young-adult or placed in the kid’s section of the bookstore, or will it be presented as adult science fiction?

Manchess: I had started with an older protagonist, but it was suggested that the YA market might open it up to a wider audience. I think the book will appeal to adults, because it’s written from an adult perspective, but one that young adults can easily access, and will appreciate the approach.

BaltazarI feel very good with Timeless book 1 as a Middle Grade children's book geared towards 9–13yr olds and up. It follows a path similar to the Potter series as Diego and his friends begin the series as young teens and end as young adults. The maturity in the themes, writing style, and tone will evolve with the characters with the last few books in the completed series transitioning to YA.

Greg Manchess documented the making of the first painting long before he envisioned the book.

14. How will you and your publisher be marketing and promoting the book? In an ideal world, if budgets and time were no obstacle, how would you want to see your book marketed? 

Manchess: Publishing, like the art world, is incredibly hard, if not impossible, to gauge what works and what doesn’t. Saga Press has been very supportive about this novel, but still the best promotion any book can receive is word-of-mouth; to have readers and fans talk about it. Honest appraisals. In an ideal world, I’d want every reviewer, librarian, and bookstore talking about it. I’ll be working hard to promote the book, and with that I’ve produced a few video book previews to get readers excited. And they’re fun!

Baltazar: We will be marketing the book in all the traditional ways with video interviews, school and store visits, book fairs, and conventions. If the sky was the limit...I'd love to have a traveling art show with models, maquettes, costumes and props we made on exhibition at all the schools, stores, and venues we are promoting the book and maybe a cool animated book trailer for later books!

Preorder on Amazon:
Releases October 10: Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic by Armand Baltazar
Releases October 24: Above the Timberline by Greg Manchess

If you are interested in 'visual novels', you might want to check out:
Gnomes by Rien Poortvliet and Wil Huygen
Dutch Treat: The Artist's Life, Written and Painted by Himself by Rien Poortvliet
Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee
Wyeth at Kuerners by Betsy Wyeth
Expedition by Wayne Barlowe
Dinotopia, A Land Apart from Time, Expanded edition by me
Dinotopia: Journey To Chandara, Expanded edition by me
The Katurran Odyssey by Terryl Whitlatch
Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi
Tales from the Loop by Simon Stalenhag
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

And being an “Audible Deal of the Day” means you get to spend very little to get the book — in this case something like $3. The deal as far as I know is limited to the US and maybe Canada, and it’s only for today. So if you want it at this price, you need to jump on it. It’s perfect for the folks who love audiobooks, or for the folks who have never tried audiobooks but would be willing to give them a chance at a low price point, or for the folks who simply want Wil Wheaton to read to them in those dulcet tones of his.

Here’s the link to the audiobook. Enjoy!

Wood’s boiled cider

22 Sep 2017 12:00 pm
[syndicated profile] kingarthurbakes_feed

Posted by Julia Reed

Wood's Boiled Cider via @kingarthurflour

The Fall 2017 issue of Sift magazine features one of our favorite secret ingredients – boiled cider – and the story of a family’s effort to preserve this New England tradition. Wood’s Cider Mill sits on a rolling hillside, overlooking a sweeping valley below. Steam billows out of the boil room into the crisp autumn air, where the […]

The post Wood’s boiled cider appeared first on Flourish - King Arthur Flour.

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