Bush claims to have invented the iPod

Ok, so he just gave the government credit for the enabling technology. But if Rove's scummy spinmeisters can turn one of Al Gore's verbal indiscretions into political hay, by god, 43 deserves no less:

"The iPod -- I'm a bike guy and I like to plug in music on my iPod when I'm riding along to hopefully help me forget how old I am. (Laughter.) But it was built -- when it was launched, it was built on years of government-funded research and microdrive storage, or electrochemistry, or single compression -- signal compression. See, the nanotechnology research that the government is helping sponsor is going to change the way people live."— Via Presswire

And I no longer believe in the slightest that these slips of the tongue are genuine. This is all about signalling to creationist knuckle-draggers that he is just folks. Me not really understand science; me just simple cave man who fell in some ice. Not so much parapraxis as massive craft.

Thanks to RimJob post on Daily Kos

"Keyboard Practice" makes Locus list; now available in mp3

Another wonderful bit of news this week, with my story being listed in among the best of 2005 in the Locus Online recommended reading list.

It's taken a while to crank out the mp3 version of the story, but you can now download it here. (It's a novelette, so even with good encoding, this two-hour clip is still about 60mb.)

Mostly just straight narration, but the two parts of the story which seemed to warrant more sophisticated treatment (the canon and the NTSB voice recorder tape) have been done up multitrack style. And yes, it is kind of hard to hear the voices on the CVR – that's just the way those things are....)

"Keyboard Practice" makes preliminary Nebula ballot

Read "Keyboard Practice" for free online at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The Nebula Awards ® recognize works selected by professional science fiction writers as representing excellence in the field. While this is only the preliminary ballot, I am totally awed and honored to be in this kind of company. (I mean, among other stellar entries, head-to-head with Cory Doctorow's awesome novelette "Anda's Game."

Watch this space — I'm working on a podcast version & some "DVD extras" I'll post soon.

All I have ever wanted to be in my life is an sf writer. There just aren't words for what I'm feeling now, other than humble thanks for all the folks who read the story, and liked it. And, as I said in the story, profound thanks to the crew from the Gibraltar Point writing workshop, especially the late Pat York.

See the full list of nominees at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA®) site. If you're a SFWA member, you can also read it here.

New at CES: Affordable rip, mix, burn for books...

Okay, so most stuff in the booths at CES is still half-vapor; screenlinked demos and soldered boards, a lot of it. But rolling out a potentially affordable automated book scanner is bound to put the Fear into the atavistic/fetishistic paper publishing industry types. "Can you say inducement? I thought you could."

Via PC Mag.com:
ATIZ Innovation, a small start up fronted by former Apprentice candidate Nick Warnock (who was also a former Xerox salesman and now CEO of ATIZ) and former PH. D. student Art Sarasin is introducing at CES 2006 its own $35,000, automated book scanner, known as BookDrive, that literally turns the pages and scans them without much human interaction.

A writerly site for finding historical events in character lifespans

Our TimeLines.com allows you to enter a birth and death year from (Western calendar) 1000 on, and it will plot major historical events, showing the person's age. While it really for genealogists, this is a neat thing for quickly prototyping lifespans for characters in fiction. I'm one of those folks who's usually asking myself, "what's happening when this character is 10 years old?" and end up pulling out "The Timetables of History."

Admittedly, this doesn't replace the spadework of linking up a character to their milieu, but as a first approximation, this site does a dandy job. Just think of it as a Rails scaffold. ;)

For the New Year -- some new (auld) words...

Happy nu Yaaar. Build vocabulary, kick sand in the face of Merriam-Webster, or seek synchronistic connections. A neat perl script from the linguistics department at the University of Pennsylvania that gives you 100 random words. Enjoy!

SCOTUS v. ChuckleBunker, et. seq.

Hey, just because they're the highest court in the land doesn't mean they can't have some fun in the process. An new study of Supreme Court transcripts shows that the justices -- some at least -- can retain their sense of humor and their gravitas at the same time. And guess who's the biggest joker?

Via the New York Times:
Jay D. Wexler, a law professor at Boston University, was quick to exploit the new data to analyze the relative funniness of the justices. His study, which covers the nine-month term that began that October, has just been published in a law journal called The Green Bag.

Justice Scalia was the funniest justice, at 77 "laughing episodes." On average, he was good for slightly more than one laugh - 1.027, to be precise - per argument.

"I disagree with your assertion of unchecked power"

Transcript of today's Nixon Bush press conference, via the Washington Post:
QUESTION: I wonder if you can tell us today, sir, what, if any, limits you believe there are or should be on the powers of a president during wartime.

And if the global war on terror is going to last for decades, as has been forecast, does that mean that we're going to see, therefore, a more or less permanent expansion of the unchecked power of the executive in American society?

BUSH: First of all, I disagree with your assertion of unchecked power.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: Hold on for a second, please.

There is the check of people being sworn to uphold the law, for starters.

BUSH: There is oversight. We're talking to Congress all the time.

And on this program, to suggest there's unchecked power is not listening to what I'm telling you. I'm telling you, we have briefed the United States Congress on this program a dozen times.

This is an awesome responsibility, to make decisions on behalf of the American people. And I understand that. And we'll continue to work with the Congress, as well as people within our own administration, to constantly monitor a program such as the one I described to you, to make sure that we're protecting the civil liberties of the United States.

To say "unchecked power" basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the president, which I strongly reject.

Bitter Pinter at the Nobel mike. Huh, Pinter? Who's he?

Oh, shucks, just the usual whingeing from some Nobel laureate. Puzzled expression. Hey, did this get any airplay here in the US of A? No? Well, no wonder. Bad weather, death row appeals, and Sanjay Gupta has this insightful piece about avian flu, heck, we just couldn't find a spot for it...

BBC News story with video

In memoriam, Robert Sheckley

While he had been sick for a while – anyone who followed sf knew he had been seriously ill – still, his passing is a huge sadness.

While I'm not sure it was the first Sheckley story I read, I can still recall, vividly, reading "Warm" when I was in college; it was one of those moments where you think, 'my god, this guy really is inside my head.' Yeah, an experience that most fans are oh, so familiar with; his haunting and yet playful voice, one of those experiences where you surface from the text, and nothing in the 'real' world is ever, really, quite the same again. One of the highest compliments you can pay to an sf author is that they can do that to you. And man, he could.

We'll miss him.

Sheckley's official site

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