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Dan Goodman's journal

March 28th, 2005

March 28th, 2005
03:55 pm


End of this Minicon
Sunday March 27, 2005. I saw a shirtless man in my neighborhood, before the day's temperature had reached its peak.

***I got to one Minicon panel this year: 'Space Opera Some SF stories are driven by the technology that powers the space ship, and others by the people on board. Which books do "character-driven" SF well? Are there any secrets to writing them? Greg Johnson (M), RM Meluch, Lois McMaster Bujold, CJ Mills'

I would classify this panel as audience-driven. Much of the time was taken up by questions and comments from the audience, and responses from the panel. And since many of these were about Lois Bujold's future history, it came close to being a Bujold panel.

For many sf readers, there's a disconnect between "space opera" and "character-driven." (I think of space opera as being action-driven; the characters might be complex, remaindered cardboard, or anything in between.) This got discussed.

One person who profited from this panel: C. J. Mills. She decided that she doesn't write
space opera. She writes adventure stories confined to one planet, which is too small a scale to be proper space opera.

Among questions: If it all happens on board a spaceship, is it space opera?

Not mentioned: There are very, very large spaceships. In Bill Johnson's "We Will Drink a Fish Together," there's one with a population of millions. (The action takes places in a small Plains State town, so by the "large scale" definition that story isn't space opera.)
In Robert Reed's Marrow, the ship has a planet at its center; and everything in our universe may be part of the ship.

R. M. Meluch showed up late, and apologized.
I think this was the most successful Minicon in years.

Writing: I didn't expect to do any. But I got one part of "Dreams Do Kill Themselves" straightened out.

Self-help information:

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06:36 pm


Last observations on Minicon:

On the way to and from the con, I sometimes found myself annoyed that the teleport system hadn't been built yet.

One book in the dealer's room, published in 2003, was set in the far-off year 2005.

A French version of another book was translated from American, rather than from English.

I got too little sleep, and too much salt.

I enjoyed it.

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08:03 pm


Science Press Releases
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 28-Mar-2005
Biological Conservation
'You can't buy conservation,' suggests survey of Africa's rain forest parks
Economic assistance to areas surrounding Africa's rain forest parks does not, as currently applied, contribute to their health, suggests an extensive survey of park scientists and managers. Rather, the survey found the most successful parks are those with public support and strong law enforcement. The survey's authors also said that their findings indicate that careful ecological and compliance monitoring and stable long-term funding are key to park success.
Center for Applied Biodiversity Science of Conservation International

Public Release: 28-Mar-2005
Journal of Applied Physiology
Acupuncture found to lower elevations in blood pressure
Acupuncture treatments using low levels of electrical stimulation can lower elevations in blood pressure by as much as 50 percent, researchers at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at UC Irvine have found.
NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Larry K. Dodge Endowed Chair

Public Release: 28-Mar-2005
Journal of American Chemical Society
Nanotechnology could promote hydrogen economy
Rutgers scientists are using nanotechnology in chemical reactions that could provide hydrogen for tomorrow's fuel-cell powered clean energy vehicles. Researchers describe how they make a finely textured surface of the metal iridium that can be used to extract hydrogen from ammonia. The metal's unique surface consists of millions of pyramids with facets as tiny as five nanometers across, onto which ammonia molecules can nestle like matching puzzle pieces.
US Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences

Public Release: 28-Mar-2005
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Indiana University researchers closer to helping hearing-impaired using stem cells
Results of research conducted at the Indiana University School of Medicine suggest that adult stem cells could be used to treat deaf patients in the future.

Public Release: 28-Mar-2005
Psychological Science
Police officers' racial bias can be eliminated
New research in the March issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society, shows that extensive training with a computer simulation can eliminate this racial bias.

Public Release: 28-Mar-2005
Psychological Science
Blind more accurate at judging size than sighted
Close your eyes and imagine a loaf of bread. With your eyes still closed, estimate with your hands the size of that loaf of bread. Do you think your mental representation is an accurate one? Specifically, how accurately have you gauged its size? According to researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand, you probably overestimated the size of the bread. That is, unless you are blind.
University of Otago

Public Release: 28-Mar-2005
Archives of Internal Medicine
Raw food vegetarians have low bone mass
Vegetarians who don't cook their food have abnormally low bone mass, usually a sign of osteoporosis and increased fracture risk. But a research team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis also found that raw food vegetarians have other biological markers indicating their bones, although light in weight, may be healthy.
National Institutes of Health

Public Release: 28-Mar-2005
Journal of Sport and Social Issues
Economist: Cuba's state-run baseball doesn't go to bat for players
Cuba touts its state-run baseball system as superior, but a study finds that Cuba exploits its players, while offering its fans less-even competition than in the market-driven United States.

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10:04 pm


Another Day in the Ketchup Mine
Monday March 28, 2005. I googled to see if describing someone as "Black Irish" meant what I thought it did.

Results? To begin with, it's used for members of at least three species. For rats and dogs, it seems to be well-defined.

For humans? Many of the sources which turned up applied it to ancestry rather than appearance. What ancestors? The answers include: Shipwrecked sailors from the Spanish Armada; Africans; Jews who escaped from slavery in Egypt and didn't return to the Holy Land.

"Black Norwegian" seems to be used only for dogs and humans.

I didn't see any references to UFO-pilot ancestry for either term, but I didn't look through everything Google brought up. A second search on "Black Irish" and ufo or ufos brought up 243 sites.
Writing: "Dreams Do Kill Themselves" -- a bit more done.

Self-help information:

Decluttering: Did laundry. Took out trash.

From http://stateline.org:
OK: New Senate leader man of many talents
By Ron Jenkins, The Associated Press, Shawnee News-Star

The new leader of the Oklahoma Senate likes to delve into the nitty gritty work of the state budget and does a mean impersonation of Elvis Presley.

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