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Originally posted by darkspirited1 at SIGNAL BOOST: SAY YES TO GAY YA
This comes from an article by rachelmanija entitled, Say Yes to Gay YA.
(click the link for the full article)

Our novel Stranger has five viewpoint characters; one, Yuki Nakamura, is
gay and has a boyfriend. Yuki's romance, like the heterosexual ones in
the novel, involves nothing more explicit than kissing.

An agent from a major agency, one which represents a bestselling YA novel in the same genre as ours, called us.

The agent offered to sign us on the condition that we make the gay
character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to
his sexual orientation.

This isn't about that specific agent; we'd gotten other rewrite requests before this one. Previous agents had also offered to take a second look if we did rewrites… including cutting the viewpoint of Yuki, the gay character.

It's time to stand up and demand change. Spread the word everywhere if you are just as angry and outraged by this.

One more way to keep people confused
MS-NBC has a poll for those after the Republican Candidate's Debate, over who won it.


Now, at the time I first checked it, it was showing 50.8% of the votes for Ron Paul, 17% for Mitt Romney.  I suspect there's possibly some Ron Paul supporter box-stuffing there, but still...

My issue lies with the graph displayed:


Now, on a bar graph, the length of the bar is *USUALLY* proportional to the value represented - only the scientists use those weird logorithmic graphs.  By my measurements, the bar for Ron Paul is 368 pixels, while the bar for Mitt Romney is 244.  So, for some reason, MS-NBC seems to think it reasonable to show a value 1/3rd as large, with a bar that's 2/3rds as large.

This is ... annoying.  The raw values are also shown, so it's hard to say it's actually fraudulent, but ... it's certainly deceptive.

(no subject)
Rest in Peace, Michael Hart:


Tax Rates & Happiness
The following article is presented as "research":  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110906152459.htm

My problem is - it sounds like rather poor research.

"A more progressive tax system makes people happier" is the title.

It's almost one of those "DUH!" moments.

Now, I do understand the need to verify that what you think is true, actually is true, and that's the source of a number of these otherwise "DUH" research reports.  However, what they present in this summary is fairly useless.  Taxes aren't about making people happy.  I'm sure most people would say they don't much at all.  Taxes are, at least in theory, about spreading the burden of running a government fairly.

And that's where I have the problem.  Sure, take from the rich, give to the poor - it's considered the great virtue of Robin Hood - except Robin Hood wasn't really so much taking from the rich, as taking from the tax collectors monies collected in excess of the needful amount.

So, 10,000 people get free money, while 10 or 100 get their pockets stripped bare.  It doesn't matter how they got the money - tax collectors generally couldn't care less (see the IRS and drug dealers).  So 10,000 people get happier and 100 get sadder - the naive assessment is that society over-all gets happier.  And maybe it does.  But does it do so *fairly*?

Perhaps we should extend this principle.  Let's apply it to *ALL* transactions in society.  Walk into WalMart to get a gallon of milk.  If you make less than $20,000 a year, you pay $1/gallon.  If you make less than $60,000 a year, you pay $2.50/gallon.  If you are in the upper income brackets, though, you get to pay $12-$15 a gallon.  That's fair, right?  Rich person wants something, they should have to pay more for it!  Certainly, we seem to feel that if a rich person wants a fair government, they should have to pay for it.  Perhaps - just perhaps - that's why so many seem to do so.

Studying Math
I really really need to get past my hang-ups in calculus, so I can start to understand Special and General Relativity better.  I keep getting hung up on this one "thought experiment" that is supposed to illustrate the equivalence of "Inertial Mass" and "Gravitational Mass".  Because, except at the very limit...  it doesn't show that at all.

Ok, the thought experiment is the classic one of the person in an enclosed room.  Using a pendulum, timing the swings, said person is in theory unable to distinguish whether the room is resting on a planet, or if the room is aboard a spaceship undergoing the equivalent acceleration.

However, unless the gravitational source is very distant, all it takes is two, non-swinging pendulums to make the determination.  On a ship under thrust, the two pendulums will be parallel.  On a planet, the two pendulums will will each point towards the center of mass, meaning that they will make - admitted, in most circumstances extremely tiny - angles with each other.

So, since this thought experiment is supposed to illustrate the equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass - I'm left with the conclusion that in fact, except at the limit where the gravitational field is indistinguishable from flat, the two masses are *NOT* the same.

And that makes my head hurt.  Because I'm pretty certain I'm not smarter than Einstein, Feynman, Guth, et al., who have been all over this territory.  But, damn, that's some scary math, too.

Just struck me...
 Does it say something about us that the last Shuttle to fly is the one named after a (most likely) mythical continent?

An odd thought
Today, I walked into the local Family Dollar, where I was immediately hammered between the eyes by one of the Great Evils of the 20th Century.

Elevator Music.

Apparently, Corporate has now sent down a CD that all of the stores must have playing constantly.

One CD - aka, one hour of music.

Now, it's got some ads interspersed, but ... it's elevator music.  The *SAME* elevator music over and over again.

And it's not even being played over the store intercom system - the store doesn't have one, as far as I can tell.  It's a boom box sitting on top of the Coke cooler one rack away from the checkout counters.  And they couldn't make it all one long track - so the boom box (being a flippin' cheap one) only has "repeat song" - not "repeat disk" - so the poor store clerk actually has to repeatedly hit the button to re-inflict this music on himself!
No, really - it's one of those $10 red boom boxes Family Dollar sells.  *CHEAP*.
I suppose Corporate is going to send a new CD  every week or so with updated specials, etc.  Still, it's a bit of a waste.
More effective would be to hook up the store computers to the intercom system, and have them download an MP3 file of the new music every so often.  As well, they could easily send larger files - a 700 MB CD image can also be a 700 MB MP3 file containing about 12+ hours of music & ads, more if they use a slightly lower bitrate on the MP3 file than is the normal.
Or even nicer - they could have large files of natural sounds - 12-15 hours of waterfall, or sea shore, or mountain glen...
And having it not repeating on a regular basis, and being something *OTHER* than bloody elevator music, would mean it's much less likely I'm going to go into my local Family Dollar to find it decorated in exploded store clerk brains.  Seriously, that stuff's really enough to make your head explode!
(Down the line, procedural-generated music, where the computer tosses a few random numbers and comes up with new stuff every time, would be the ultimate way to go!  The biggest problem is allowing it to be random enough so it doesn't all sound the same, while not falling into annoying noise territory...)

Space - the Final Frontier
 Lately, I've been getting dis-enchanted with Phil Plait (The Bad Astronomy blogger) ( http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/ ) as his blog has become more of a screed on skepticism, railing on anti-vaccination people, and whining about "climate change deniers".

Today, I have to admit he's said something so very very true about the Discovery:

"Today, Wednesday, March 9 at 11:57 a.m. Eastern time, Discovery — the Orbiter that launched Hubble in to orbit, then serviced it twice; that deployed Ulysses; that was the last Orbiter to dock with Mir; that twice was the first Orbiter in space after another was lost; that served more flight days than any other Orbiter, 365 in total, a solid year; a spaceship built by humans that’s logged 238,000,000 kilometers (148 million miles) in space, the most used spacecraft ever built by humans — set her wheels to Earth one final time.

I’d say "Welcome home", but the ground is not a spaceship’s home."
I must admit, I was rather choked up when I read that last line.

(no subject)
 I was reading the Bad Astronomy Blog's article about SpaceX's Dragon capsule drop test, which went off beautifully.  Then I started wandering around on their website - and found that they're SERIOUS about becoming COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf).  In clear, simple to understand language, they list *LAUNCH* prices, for Falcon Ie, Falcon 9, and Falcon 9Heavy.  They didn't list a price for loading and outfitting the Dragon capsule for flight, but it can't be that much...  and the Dragon capsule is due to be rated for 7 people.

Now, a smaller Drake capsule could probably be built, perhaps something that could fly on a Falcon 1e, or a Falcon 3 (since they're using the same engines! for each system, just ganging more together).  The Falcon 1e launches for circular orbit, 187 miles up is... US$10M.  Figure in a like amount for a recovery capsule of US$ 10M or so, and guess what - you have the same price Dennis Tito payed for his flight to the ISS.  Except with this one - you're not sharing it with Russians, you're sharing it with your chosen companion.  Seriously, though - I doubt you could fit more than one person launched on a Falcon I, which only has a launch capacity of 1 metric ton, and re-entry shield and air is going to take up most of that weight, I'm sure - which I why I mentioned the Falcon 3.

However, the Falcon 9 is already in the pipeline, and it similarly has a listed launch price - US$50M.  Again - the Dragon capsule is rated for 7 people, and I would expect you could fit it for launch and mission for $20M.  Hey!  That works out to only US$10M per person!  And the Dragon capsule is in-orbit maneuverable!  HOLY COW!  That's half the price of previous launching!  And this isn't Virgin Galactic's 15 mins in free fall, which does have it's place (it's only US$200K, much much more affordable for the merely rich, as opposed to the "Money?  Oh, yeah, that stuff I use for toilet paper" rich.  Still, economy of scale always drives prices down, so maybe once Bigelow Aerospace gets done putting up Budget Space Suites, we'll be able to take space honeymoons for US$ 5-10M a trip.  Now, that's something to look forward to!

This really is a game-changer.  These aren't prices quoted for GE or Verizon by Boeing, hidden behind NDAs.  This is something that, at least in theory, ANY private individual could walk in the office of SpaceX with a large briefcase, and plunk down cash money for.  And hey, if the Feds try to screw it up with crazy laws - we can always just buy some south Pacific or Caribbean island in fee-simple and move there, assuming we don't accept an offer from some other country to pay us to move there saying "Look at what those DC idiots gave up!"

Go baby go!!!
 Falcon 9 - 9 minutes to orbit - it's just *APPROPRIATE*.  And who knows?  Maybe it'll be the start of getting us out of this mess with NASA that the last few presidents have gotten us into.  Maybe we'll get the Falcon 16 or Falcon 25 soonish!  (As I understand it, the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 are named for the number of Falcon engines they have).

Maybe the Falcon 1s will become the little couriers on motorcycles, while the Falcon 9s act as Dad's little compact car, that he uses every day to go to work and run his sales route, and the Falcon 16s can be Mom's SUV she uses to take the kids to ballet, soccer, and the Young Astronauts Camp, and the Falcon 25s will be the big-ass dually-pickup that carries the loads of feed to the farm.

A man can dream, anyway.