Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Updates and RavenCon Schedule

The Strange Voyages kickstarter is funded! We could use even more money - to spend on art - but the basic funding is there.

RavenCon Schedule:

Friday, 6pm: Online Reviews: The Good and the Bad.
Friday, 8pm: 3-D Printing: The Promise and the Perils.
Saturday, 9am: Doctor Who Through The Ages
Saturday, 12pm: Modern Forms of Writing: Books, Comics, Film
Saturday, 3pm: Writing The Other
Saturday, 8pm: Reading
Sunday, 9am: B Movies, Our guilty but not so secret pleasure.
Sunday, 11am: Powered Armor: Is Disabled or Small still a problem?


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cool Tech Stuff

SpaceX has been jinxed lately. They're going to make another attempt to launch the Dragon tomorrow. Let's hope this one goes better than the previous ones. (To be fair, it's an experimental vehicle and bound to have a few glitches).

Research published puts us one step closer to substituting plastic for silicon in computers. Silicon is a non-renewable resource that has to be mined - making it fairly expensive. Plastic chips could be used to drop the prices of processing power in cell phones and the like - ultimately making cell phones even more powerful. The researchers, at the University of Iowa, have found an energy-efficient way to get stored information off of plastic chips.

Oh, and a new moon may be coalescing from the rings of Saturn. We aren't sure yet - and given the timescale in planet formation... But it's kind of cool.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Science Fiction And Brown People

I came across a post somewhere earlier in which the user complained that he found science fiction books and films that don't have colored people in them "scary." That it implied that something had happened to them all.

Reminds me of how many people freaked out that Rue was black in the Hunger Games movie (hello, people, she was black in the books, too).

So, I'm countering it by trying to collect a list of good science fiction books that, well, do not have an all white cast. I'm taking additions!

So far, I have

"Dance of the Ivory Madonna" - Don Sakers. Lots of black people, some intriguing ideas about the future of Africa. (And also some great stuff about corporate feudalism and non-geographic constituencies).

"River Of Gods" - Ian McDonald. Set in India. Very well written.

"Thirteen" - Richard K. Morgan. Is better understood under the British title of "Black Man." It's a flawed book, but it does go deep into prejudicing, stereotyping, and most especially the idea that young black men are somehow more dangerous and aggressive than their white counterparts.

"Red Rising" - Pierce Brown. I reviewed this book a while ago - it's the one I wanted to hate for being a Hunger Games ripoff. It's not as good as the others, with the veil getting a little thin in places. What's behind the veil? An exploration of Hispanic America under the guise of prejudice against engineered laborers on Mars.

Oh, and in Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon The Deep" it's interesting that the humans in the Beyond are all descended from the inhabitants of a colony named in an African language. I'd have to reread to be sure...but if that was ever made into a movie, it would really be fitting to have them all be black...

Anyone got some more?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dress Codes And Hair Police

There have been a rash of stories lately about kids being sent home from school for violating hair rules - and in at least two cases the hairstyles were being worn in support of a friend or relative with cancer.

Most schools now have dress codes, even at the elementary school level. In most cases, they're fairly sensible, although fear of "gang colors" can lead to some ridiculous rules. Some rules are just plain silly.

It's common, for example, to ban shirts with emblems from other schools, particularly ones that aren't in the state. Why? The "gang" excuse is normally listed, but a 5-year-old was asked to turn a T-shirt inside-out because of it. Five-year-olds aren't in gangs, people.

Hair is a common controversy. Many codes ban long hair for boys, but not girls (sexist, anyone?)

Another school was forced to ban ugg boots - because students were using them as smuggling compartments.

More practically - bans on slippers and pajamas.

Now a Florida school wants to take things one step further - and enforce certain of the rules on parents coming to pick their kids up.

That is starting to get ridiculous...


Monday, April 14, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I'm a nitpicker. I usually find dozens of things wrong with every movie I watch.

This time, I was struggling. Okay, there were a few times when they did scenes setless and I could tell - that technology still isn't quite there yet even on a movie budget.

But that's it. I'm not sure I liked what they did with SHIELD, but I'm willing to give it a chance and see how things develop from here (most especially in the TV show).

Samuel L. Jackson kicked even more butt than usual - some of it literally. It was nice to see Fury shown as something other than a desk jockey.

The appearance of Falcon (who was, by the way, the first African-American superhero created) gave Marvel an opportunity - and they took it! They gave him a new origin closer to his Ultimates origin than the comics, and one which made him a solid, positive role model for black men. We need more of those. I want to see more of the character.

The fight choreography was absolutely superb. This is something I'm very picky about (I also love the fight choreography in Arrow). It's really important in a movie that focuses on lower power levels to have choreography that looks like it actually works - and they managed to make it spectacular as well.

Oh, and thanks, Marvel, for ditching the awful Avengers uniform. The ones he wore in this movie were much better.

And they had a great Bucky.

So. Yeah. Uh...I actually may give this one a very rare five stars. There has to be stuff wrong with it, but I just can't find it right now.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Updates!

The Strange Voyages kickstarter is at 3k of 3.5k with 13 days to go - we really need this to fund. Making the first stretch goal would be awesome - we plan on spending that money on great art.

I also have...can't say yet! But it's very cool and hopefully you'll see it eventually.

As a reminder, Making Fate continues. I'm working on the May "episode" now.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Red Moon?

People used to think it was a bad omen. It's actually just a factor of how sunlight refracts through the Earth's atmosphere to hit the moon. We only see the red coloring during a total lunar eclipse. The moon doesn't vanish, but it's only lit by the light that is bent around the Earth.

The more dust and pollution in the atmosphere, the redder the moon turns - so in some ways a blood colored moon may be a bad omen.

Totality will be visible from:
Detroit
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Guatemala
Washington, D.C.
Havana
Los Angeles
Honolulu
Sydney
Lima
Brisbane
Montreal
Chicago
Rio de Janeiro
Buenos Aires
San Francisco
Caracas
Santiago
New York
Mexico City
Melbourne

Check www.timeanddate.com to find out when, exactly, it happens. It's going to be visible here from 1am until moonset. I'm tossing up whether staying up or getting up to peek is worth it.

Except maybe it's a bad omen after all - I just checked my calendar and it corresponds with...Passover.

Hrm. Conspiracy theorists should be having way more fun with this than they are.