Friday, April 01, 2016

My 2016 Hugo Nominations - Writing

Just in time for you to copy my nominations*, here's my ballot, with a few notes:

Best Novel:

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson - All the awesome

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab - Cool setup, great characters, fun read

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - Was a bit light (felt like YA), but a great read

Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie - It's a bit boring to nominate the 3rd book when the first two both got noms (and the 1st won), but this was the best of the three. Another great read 

I am normally skeptical of tie-in works, but this one was excellent! Though it brought *ALL* the feels to the top, still a great read!

Short Fiction:

I only read two, so deciding what to nominate was easy!
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor - A fascinating story, and it opened me up to learning about the Himba people, which was even more fascinating

Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer by Megan Grey - This was incorrectly nominated last year, but it was still a great read. A surly teen and a surly, retired demon are enjoyably surly together!

* If you have a working time machine

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I'm A Lowlife Cheating Scumbag

You flirt a bit, but then you fall in love, you make a decision, you make a commitment, and you stick with it. Sure, you're tempted by that hot new thing in your eyeline, BUT YOU MADE A COMMITMENT. And this relationship, through its ups and downs, it buoys you. I knew this. But then everything changes.

I was always a Canon guy. My photo-Yoda, Jim Veneman*, backed me in my choice. And then, this week, I threw away a relationship of more than 30 years. Sure, I'd dallied with Panasonic**, but we all knew that was just a meaningless fling. Point-and-shoot, it meant nothing. But this? A DSLR? That? That was some serious shiz-nit.This isn't a dalliance, this is CHEATING. And, dammit, I'm ok with it. I'm sorry, Canon, but I've moved on. I'm a Nikon guy. At least for now.

Photos to come!

* Seriously, he's amazing
** Like a different area code or being in Vegas, It doesn't count

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

US News Country Ratings Are Horseshit

US News & World Report partnered with a brand management firm and Wharton (the business school) to whip up a ranking of countries, presumably so that upper and middle class American kids can choose their next citizenship the same way they do their colleges.

Germany came in first (no arguments here), and while that was exciting for me (a German resident), it made me wonder how they were ranked. The methodology has its own page, and after patting themselves on the back, you get this:

"A set of 65 country attributes – terms that can be used to describe a country and that are also relevant to the success of a modern nation – were identified. Attributes by nation were presented in a survey of more than 16,000 people from across the globe where participants assessed how closely they associated one with the other."

So, what these really are is a ranking of how people perceive the countries. This explains why Uruguay, which gets 95% of its electricity from sustainable sources, ranked 33! in the "Best Countries for Green Living". Of course, doing this hand-in-hand with a brand management company should've been a dead giveaway. This isn't ranking reality, THIS IS RANKING PERCEPTION. Rankings are like computer data: Garbage in, Garbage out.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Bucket List

Some web surfing brought me to a blogger based in the 'dorf, GiveForGranted, specifically her post about her bucket list. I started one while I was home last year, but hadn't followed up on it. So, I am blatantly copying her post (which, to be fair, is not the only one of its kind)

  1. Sell my house
  2. Go skydiving
  3. Go bungee jumping
  4. Run a marathon
  5. Play well again* in an ultimate tournament
  6. Visit every country in Europe
  7. Visit every state in the USA
  8. Visit every populated continent (I'm counting American-style with 7 total N/S America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Antartica, which has enough trouble without me)
  9. Visit the Tatooine sets in Tunisia
  10. Visit the new Star Wars location in Ireland (Thanks a lot, The Force Awakens)
  11. Visit all the former Soviet Republics
  12. See the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (not sure what to do about a few that are completely gone)
  13. Pick a list** of 7 existing wonders and see them
  14. Visit Angkor Wat
  15. Visit Machu Picchu
  16. Visit Easter Island
  17. Visit all the US National Parks
  18. Cross a country by bike
  19. Cross a country by car
  20. Backpack across a country
  21. Ride a hot-air balloon
  22. Learn to scuba dive
  23. Learn to snowboard
  24. (Re)Learn to ski
  25. Catch and hold green waves
  26. Brew my own beer
  27. Finish writing a novel
  28. Write an app(pplication, platform isn't important)
  29. Fall in love (again)
  30. Run a marathon
  31. Read Ulysses
  32. Read Infinite Jest
  33. Smoke at a coffeeshop in Amsterdam
  34. Take a cooking course in Italy
  35. Stand on the equator
  36. Learn to ride a skateboard
  37. Do a fjord cruise
  38. Drive around Iceland
  39. Achieve Elite status on Elite/Oolite (childhood goal!)
  40. Return to Taiwan
  41. See Victoria Falls
  42. Go on a 1 week backpacking trip
  43. Ride a Vespa in Italy
  44. Work in a vineyard during harvest
  45. Start my own company
  46. Lead a tour group
  47. Hitchhike
  48. Do a weekend biking trip
  49. Take a running tour of a city
  50. See Petra
  51. See Cobá
  52. See the paintings at Bonampak
  53. Volunteer at an archaeological dig
  54. Visit Rift Valley
  55. See paleolithic cave paintings
  56. Visit a FIFA men's World Cup
  57. Be asked for, and pay, a bribe to cross a border
  58. Visit Tokai
  59. See an F1 race in person
  60. Watch Messi play in person
  61. Go to a USA-Mexico match in Azteca
  62. Go to an England match in Wembley
  63. Visit Pompeii
  64. Attend Carnival in Rio
  65. Take a Nile cruise
  66. Visit the Smithsonian
  67. Watch a Supreme Court case
  68. Watch a debate in Congress
  69. Shave my head
  70. Take a Segway tour
  71. See one of the Ring Cycle live
  72. See an Opera at La Scala
  73. See da Vinci's The Last Supper
  74. Ride the Trans-Siberian Railway
  75. Ride on the outside of a train
  76. Go hunting
  77. Climb a volcano
  78. Stand on the 4 Corners
  79. See a solar eclipse
  80. Learn Morse code
  81. Swim with bioluminescent algae
  82. Spend a night in a desert (of the natural, rather than the moral, variety)
  83. Visit New Zealand
  84. Successfully eat a gimmick spicy food (hottest curry)
  85. Visit North Korea
  86. Leave North Korea without going to jail
  87. Run with the bulls
  88. Jump off a waterfall
  89. Go on a safari
  90. Go to an airport/train station without knowing my (long-distance) destination
  91. Get married
  92. Visit the Galapagos
  93. Take a culinary tour of a city
  94. Tour Chernobyl
  95. Visit Baikonur (during a launch, if allowed)
  96. Heckle a comedian
  97. Do stand up
  98. Go sailing with my mom
  99. Shoot the moon in Hearts... after announcing that I'm going to do it (the technical term for this is "dickbagging")
  100. See the Forbidden City
  101. Visit the ruins of Karakorum
  102. Eat insects (other than those preserved in booze)

* Former teammates are free to argue the validity of the word "again"
** There are a bunch of these floating around, so I need to pick one. Or two.