April 4th, 2008

Friday's Brain Is Small But Inspired

Economy lost 80,000 Jobs Last Month
Which is a fairly straightforward article. Except that it includes this stunning exchange:
"So, what you're saying is that, although the United States had seven years of economic growth from 1999 through 2006, the middle class saw no benefit from that growth at all. Why is that?"

"Well, it's complicated."
At which point innocent bystanders should be very happy that I wasn't driving. That made me see blinding red. No, you dumb lying sack of loose, black, tarry feces, it's not complicated at all! It's this goddamned simple:

Look at that spike between 2002 and 2005 and tell me "Uh, we can't figure out where the money from all that economic growth went, because it sure didn't go to the middle class."

The Jewish Journal interviews John McCain
And discovers that Mr. McCain isn't very knowledgeable, and doesn't like being told so when people are listening:
"I know [American evangelical leaders] favor a peace process. I know they favor that because of my close relations with them, and pastor John Hagee ... is one of the leaders of the pro-Israel-evangelical movement in America."

I started to correct him -- Hagee and other evangelicals most certainly don't support compromise on territory or Jerusalem, and McCain must know this. That's when I got my first taste of the famous McCain technique: I'll-talk-so-you-can't.

"Look," he cut me off, "I just have to tell you that we should be so grateful for the support of the evangelical movement for the state of Israel, given the influence that they have, beneficial influence that they have over millions of Americans, and then we'll worry about a peace process later on, but I know that they are committed to peace between Palestinians and Israelis as well."
McCain also re-iterated his belief that Iran is behind Sunni Jihadists and claimed that if we didn't stay in Iraq whoever took over would be bad news for Israel. Someone tell Mr. McCain that unless we want to impose viceroy-level administration over all of Iraq, anyone who takes power there is gonna think ill of Israel.

Kathleen Seidel of Neurodiversity faces down a legal thug
Seidel has done a great job over at neurodiversity of documenting how the bottom-feeders and scumsucking lawyers of the "antivaccination brigade" have created havoc in our legal system. Well, now one of them is going after her. Take a look at what she's doing. Hopefully, this gets quashed, and if not she'll have PZ Myers, Orac, and the rest of ScienceBlogs and its allies on her side.

Dirty, Sexy Money
Comic author Rupert Smith writes about how much money he's making writing porn on the side. Damn, now if only I had a plot.
  • Current Music
    Zeng Zhao-Bin, Spring Comes To the Yang-Tze River
  • Tags


In early 2007, the South King County Domestic Violence Task Force asked me to design a simple "poster"-style website for them for their Stop Domestic Violence walk-a-thon. Now, I don't remember all of the details about why they asked me; it had something to do with their graphic designer being some old hand with lots of commercial paper skills but no HTML, and they needed the HTML now. That thumbnail to the right (click on it for a bigger screenshot) is what I came up with, based on a PDF of the original trifold pamphlet. I used their color scheme and riffed it with a pseudo-calico wallpaper to suggest home coziness, and then pulled out my color wheel to get the dark green contrast into the footer. It's a little distracting, now that I look at it, but it's okay. The bullets I hand-cleaned from a crop of the banner, and getting the DIV into the right place was a lot of fun, let me tell ya. I'm not a graphic designer; most of my intelligence is back-end implementation of the stuff designers do. But this was very straightforward; anyone should have been able to handle it. I think the whole design took me maybe four hours once I put my mind to it.

This is what the designer came up with now that she's learned a little HTML. It's a mess. First, the logo isn't properly dithered, so it has all those horrible jaggies on it. The color scheme of dark pink and gray suggests sexual violence (if I were to post this color scheme to ColourLovers, I'd name it "date rape"), and the lowered contrast of black and gray is just irresponsible. The buttons to the left are image tags, badly mangled. And why the heck is there a visitor's counter on the bottom? Why is the black separator so big, and why doesn't it really separate anything since the pink of the menu bleeds into the pink of the background?

I guess I'm miffed. What was wrong with my design that the 2008 version is considered "an improvement?"
  • Current Music
    The Psychedelic Avengers, In which the mighty Silver Wing...

Expelled on Marketplace

I posted yesterday that Marketplace, the "business" show that follows NPR's evening news show "All Things Considered" in most radio markets, was having an article on the "intelligent design vs. evolution" debate.

The teaser was a deception. The article was actually about the marketing of "Expelled," and how it's going.

The main thrust was that Expelled is trying to be a "Passion of the Christ"-sized blockbuster, and that so far the results are mixed. Salient quote:
Expelled is spending millions to succeed, which is huge for a documentary. It's hired four PR firms, it's running a sweepstakes for church groups offering a cash prize for the one that sells the most tickets, it's paying up to ten grand for schools to send their students. The movie even staged a songwriting competition. Oh, and Ben Stein toured across the country in a bright red Expelled Bus.

Lauer [the head of Expelled's marketing effort] went directly to the leaders of religious communities and showed them Expelled. He provided them with reading materials and videos that drive home Intelligent Design's creationist philosophy.
The reporting is uneven. There's not even a whiff of an attempt on the reporter's part to address the merits of the arguments for and against. The ID people are allowed to make their claims loudly and emphatically, although the reporter's own skepticism comes through loud and clear.

One of the speakers was apparently a Christian mover and shaker in the academic world, and he opined that most of the Hollywood movies aimed at Christian audiences "don't have anything serious to say to Christians." Apparently, he feels that Expelled does because he's pimping it.

Overall, several messages came through loud and clear with the interviews given by the marketing arm of Expelled: they have completely given up on any scientific arguments. They have none. They know it. The only way Intelligent Design gets any traction at all is by popular fiat, and the only populace they can need not be educated, it need only be Christian.

They're not doing so well marketing-wise; they're spending megabucks to promote Expelled, but it doesn't seem to be getting mindshare beyond those already inclined to see it at the "free showings". On the other hand, an alarming number of well-meaning and well-educated evangelicals seem to like the movie, Nazi imagery and all, and that bothers me.

Transcript and audio of the show can be found at the Marketplace website under Is film's marketing intelligently designed?.

I request a rules clarification! (For Anne Lamotte fans)

I am in the middle of my first official novel written using the Shitty First Draft technique as advocated by Anne Lamotte. After 35 days I am at 39,500 words, so I am ahead of my requisite 1,000 words a day. To be frightfully honest, I managed to acheive much of that by writing 20,000 words in the first four days of the month and then coasting for two weeks with a vague sense of burnout before picking up the metaphorical pen once more. In the past week I have managed to do approximately 1,000 words a day or more, which makes me feel much better.

However, I have now hit upon a conundrum.

The Heroine, having been given handles on the two major intertwining plots (known to my twisted mind as the "Ford Pinto Memo" and the "Duran Duran" threads) has hitched a in a monster truck-train, on the flimsiest of evidences, out to a warehouse on the surface of Mars somewhere between Wingrad city and Seren Corporation's Fissile Materials Mine #2, and one suspiciously close to where the anti-posthuman Bureau of Natural Science and Technology first had to drop nuke on a rogue group of AI scientists trying to bootstrap a hard-liftoff-ready AI.

As I was writing this (and enjoyed writing the scene of two truck-trains of eight 450 metric-ton cars, each piled with three wide by two high by two long standard shipping cargo containers, playing chicken on a narrow canyon bridge during a 200KPH Martian duststorm. "Wave hi to Boris as he goes by!") I realized that her reasons for going out there would be much more solid if she there had been a scene earlier where she had spoken with her uncle, a retired Bureau agent proudly watching his orphaned niece take her first steps out as a rookie, where he encourages her to follow her hunches. He has an ulterior motive related to the nuke crater described above; what neither of them know is just how much crap she's about to fall into. (Nevermind that when the Duran Duran thread starts to close in, she will Come To The Attention of Very Important People)

So, I'm wondering if I should write that scene.

Cons: It's technically against the rules. You're supposed to run as fast as you can to the end of the story, and then do the revision. This is a revision.

Pros: It'll generate word count. It's not really revision; I'm just adding to the story. Also, these are pretty damn good ideas that deserve not to get lost.

So, Anne Lamotte methodists, the question is: When you have an idea like this, do you go back and put it in?
  • Current Music
    Laurie Anderson, Mach 20
  • Tags