Friday, February 23, 2007

Man mistakes porn DVD as woman's cries for help

JS Man mistakes porn DVD as woman's cries for help

""It was a woman screaming," he recalled Tuesday. "She was screaming for help."

Sword in hand, he bounded up the stairs, kicked in the door and confronted a man who turned out to be alone - watching a pornographic movie.

"Now I feel stupid," Van Iveren said.

Worse yet, police seized his sword - a family heirloom - carted him to jail and referred the case to a prosecutor who charged Van Iveren with three criminal counts."

Priest jailed for exorcism death

BBC NEWS | Europe | Priest jailed for exorcism death

He has a beard to rival that of God's itself!

Sex attacks blamed on bat demon

BBC NEWS | Africa | Sex attacks blamed on bat demon

"But Mbaruku Ibrahim, who hails from Zanzibar, says the story of the demon is common there and people in his village on Pemba island sleep beside a huge fire outside their houses whenever it is said to appear.

The story goes that the bat is able to transform itself into a man at night and it has also been blamed for rapes of women.

Sheikh Yahya Hussein, a prominent astrologer in Tanzania, claims that the demon is a spirit that is unleashed by witches to torment their opponents."

Could we have hitched a ride on UFOs? | Technology | Guardian Unlimited Technology

Could we have hitched a ride on UFOs? | Technology | Guardian Unlimited Technology

"The documents show that the internal lobbying effort for a UFO study began in 1993. In a briefing note from the secret UFO investigation branch of Defence Intelligence - called DI55 - an unnamed author wrote: "The national security implications are considerable. We have many reports of strange objects in the skies and we have never investigated them."

Colombia clowns killed on stage

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Colombia clowns killed on stage

"Local reports say the audience of about 20 people, mostly children, thought the shooting was part of the show before realising both men had been killed.

Last year, a prominent circus clown, known as Pepe, was also shot dead by a unknown assailant in Cucuta."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Take Two

So this week's writing was a bit of a last minute thing, as I had to work and deal with teaching responsibilities over the weekend. But I think it worked out okay, at least at this stage in the process.

I went back and cut out all of the new exposition and character history that I'd added last week, since I felt it was the weakest part. I still feel that way, and wish I could figure out a way to let the pasts of these characters play out naturally, but they're not major characters in this story. Their story is something completely different; it could be a work of its own, really, and I don't want to get distracted from the goal here.

And I ended up adding some of it back in anyway, since the characters need some sort of touchpoint with the reader.

I've got a complete story that just needs fleshing out. If I get sidetracked with trying to tell the stories of every minor character who really only has a small, extremely limited part to play, I'll never get the main story completed. This isn't a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, it's a stupid horror/science fiction adventure. Nothing groundbreaking about it. I just want to get from point A to point B and make it an entertaining story.

I can always tell their story some other time. If they're that interesting to me, I'm sure I can always go back to them. Hell, I don't even know if I really want to tell their story. I just want the reader to feel for them when the bad stuff happens. And that's coming up quick.

I'm not sure about my pacing either. I have a natural feel for short story pacing. I've spent years writing stories where I cut out all the fat and just deliver focused, lean narratives. But this is different, isn't it? For a novel length work, shouldn't the pacing be a little slower, a little more exploratory? It's not a mode I'm comfortable in, but I should probably just work my way into it and see what I come up with. I can always cut back and reorganize later drafts if the need arises.

Anyway, there's week 3 of this experiment done. I don't know if anyone else is actually going to still be taking part in this by the end of next month. I hope they do. I don't want to keep boring the shit out of everyone, sending my pages off week after annoying week.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Faces of War

Faces of War
"While pioneering work in skin grafting had been done in Germany and the Soviet Union, it was Gillies who refined and then mass-produced critical techniques, many of which are still important to modern plastic surgery: on a single day in early July 1916, following the first engagement of the Battle of the Somme—a day for which the London Times casualty list covered not columns, but pages—Gillies and his colleagues were sent some 2,000 patients. The clinically honest before-and-after photographs published by Gillies shortly after the war in his landmark Plastic Surgery of the Face reveal how remarkably—at times almost unimaginably—successful he and his team could be; but the gallery of seamed and shattered faces, with their brave patchwork of missing parts, also demonstrates the surgeons' limitations. It was for those soldiers—too disfigured to qualify for before-and-after documentation—that the Masks for Facial Disfigurement Department had been established.

"My work begins where the work of the surgeon is completed," said Francis Derwent Wood, the program's founder. Born in England's Lake District in 1871, of an American father and British mother, Wood had been educated in Switzerland and Germany, as well as England. Following his family's return to England, he trained at various art institutes, cultivating a talent for sculpture he had exhibited as a youth. Too old for active duty when war broke out, he had enlisted, at age 44, as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Upon being assigned as an orderly to the 3rd London General Hospital, he at first performed the usual "errand-boy-housewife" chores. Eventually, however, he took upon himself the task of devising sophisticated splints for patients, and the realization that his abilities as an artist could be medically useful inspired him to construct masks for the irreparably facially disfigured. His new metallic masks, lightweight and more permanent than the rubber prosthetics previously issued, were custom designed to bear the prewar portrait of each wearer. Within the surgical and convalescent wards, it was grimly accepted that facial disfigurement was the most traumatic of the multitude of horrific damages the war inflicted. "Always look a man straight in the face," one resolute nun told her nurses. "Remember he's watching your face to see how you're going to react.""

Satellite could see shadow of extra dimensions

Satellite could see shadow of extra dimensions
A satellite to be launched next year could see signs of extra dimensions in the afterglow of the big bang, a new study says.

Some theories – such as string theory – that attempt to unify all known forces into a single "theory of everything" posit the existence of extra spatial dimensions beyond the three familiar ones.

But string theory has proven stubbornly resistant to experimental tests (although some physicists say it could be tested in the Large Hadron Collider scheduled to open by the end of 2007).

Now, Gary Shiu and Bret Underwood, both physicists at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, US, say the shape of the extra dimensions could leave an imprint in the afterglow of the big bang. This glow, called the cosmic microwave background, reveals the structure of the universe about 370,000 years after the big bang.

The science of Godzilla

The science of Godzilla

It's just what it says it is.

Make Your D*** S****** Face

This is just sad.
No one disputes that an on-duty Irvine police officer got an erection and ejaculated on a motorist during an early-morning traffic stop in Laguna Beach. The female driver reported it, DNA testing confirmed it and officer David Alex Park finally admitted it.

When the case went to trial, however, defense attorney Al Stokke argued that Park wasn’t responsible for making sticky all over the woman’s sweater. He insisted that she made the married patrolman make the mess—after all, she was on her way home from work as a dancer at Captain Cream Cabaret.

“She got what she wanted,” said Stokke. “She’s an overtly sexual person.”

Join the police and get away with anything!

Can I avoid the getting off twice joke? I guess I couldn't hold it back. Sorry to get that on ya.

Little Turds at Crunchtime

Ok, so my second week of rewriting has finished. Thank christ.

I had almost 2 pages of original story from the first draft and expanded it to 7 pages of crap. The only plus is that now three characters who had no personalities (or names, really) in the first draft, all have names and are fairly interesting (to me, anyway). Of course, that occurs by having a big block of exposition settled down firmly in the middle of a scene of a guy standing under a tree for a few minutes. Oy.

Oh well. I never really thought that this thing would be complete after a second draft. That's crazy thinking any way I look at it. So at least I have "real" characters to torture and kill, now. Should make the bad things that are about to happen matter a little more. Maybe. A couple of drafts down the road.


The worst part is that I blew off writing all week and instead crapped out these pages at the last minute (as if I were still in college). Granted, the last time I wrote consistently was when I was in college, but that's no excuse to keep up that kind of stupid "schedule." I had all day Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday (before going to work in the evening) and then all day Sunday, and for some reason, only wrote on Sunday. Late Sunday. Horrible.

So that's gotta change. Otherwise I might as well just not bother.

The whole point of this is to actually write something worth reading, isn't it? Why am I asking you? Anyway, I want to write something worth reading. Not something important, just something fun and entertaining and a little disturbing at times. But if I want to do that, then I have to do it. Not just blow it off and crap out little turds at crunchtime.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Future? Brilliant!

"To those worried about downloading in case they get sued: by our calculations, your chances of getting nailed are way less than your chances of winning the lottery. Don't think twice about it.

To all intellectual property landlords: we are aware that OscarTorrents might annoy you -- but contain your righteous indignation for a while, and think: we're only linking to torrents that already exist. Face it: your membrane has burst, and it wasn't us who burst it. Your precious bodily fluids are escaping.

You haven't beaten us, so why not join us? Think of a new business model that doesn't involve overpriced pieces of plastic and skanky cinemas hawking cheap carbohydrates while relying on $6/hr projectionists who can't keep a film in focus -- not to mention insulting your audiences by (to pick a few examples) surveilling us with nightvision glasses, searching bags, 30 minutes of commercials and bombarding us with ridiculous anti-piracy propaganda. Take a look at yourselves. Is it really any wonder we're winning?"

Remember kids, piracy is wrong. Like teenage suicide, don't do it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Physicists Unite Light And Matter

Physicists Unite Light And Matter

Physicists have for the first time stopped and extinguished a light pulse in one part of space and then revived it in a completely separate location. They accomplished this feat by completely converting the light pulse into matter that travels between the two locations and is subsequently changed back to light.

Princeton ESP Lab to Close

Princeton ESP Lab to Close

"If people don't believe us after all the results we've produced, then they never will," Jahn, 76, former dean of Princeton's engineering school and an emeritus professor, told The New York Times for Saturday editions.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

ATHF Is The Bomb

Go here to buy this shirt. I did. It's great.

Great Shirt

Go here to buy this fan-fucking-tastic shirt.

Genetic Architecture

Genetic Architecture
The evolution of life and intelligence on Earth has finally reached the point where it is now deemed possible to engender something almost out of nothing. In principle, a universe of possible worlds based on generative principles inherent within nature and the physical universe is considered to be within the realm of the computable once quantum computing systems become a reality. For the first time, mankind is finally in possession of the power to change and transform the genetic constitution of biological species, which, without a doubt, has profound implications for the future of life on Earth.

Alone in the Wilderness

I guess I should actually try to use this blog for something other than data storage. A workblog is a good idea, I think.

So here goes.

There was a time when I wrote all the time. I have a file of stories that I really enjoyed creating. I wrote a number of stories that won prizes in my college fiction competitions, and I turned them into a collection that served as my Master's Thesis and also took First Place in the West Virginia Writers Conference competition a few years back. But then I stopped writing for a number of reasons I really don't feel like going into.

Anyway, over the last couple of years, I've been trying to get the ball rolling again and have taken part in the the 3 Day Novel competition and tried to take part in this year's NaNoWriMo. That last one didn't work out so well, but I did complete short novels (novellas, really) for the 3 Day Novels. They weren't good, but they had beginnings, middles, and endings, and that's something.

Recently, a friend of mine (Mr. Martini) suggested organizing a writing group in order to help motivate us to actually sit down and put words on the page. It seems that without a deadline, I can't get worked up to write. Since that seems to be the problem with some other people I know, as well, we have kick-started a writing group of sorts. It's fairly minimalist, with a minimum of 5 pages due each Monday, emailed to everyone in the group. There's no reward beyond a sense of accomplishment and personal pride, but there's also no punishment beyond shame and self-loathing. Hopefully that will be enough.

So I've dug out the latest work and begun the painful process of rewrites. And it is painful.

The work I did for NaNoWriMo is horrendous. There are good ideas, I think, but the execution is disturbingly bad. Nerve shaking bad, actually. I used to be pretty confident in my writing skills, and now, reading over this stuff, I considered giving up. Instead, I just put it aside and reread my 3Day Novels.

My first "novel" isn't bad, but is pretty short (70-odd pages) and needs major work. I don't think I'm up to that just yet. But I wasn't horrified by it, so that's good, eh?

My second "novel" also wasn't bad (to me, anyway), and clocked in a healthy 120ish pages, with a solid structure and a lot of entertainment value (to me, anyway). Granted, at the moment it is in first draft shape, meaning it pretty much sucks and needs a lot of attention. But I'm going to give it some love and try to expand it to around twice its current length. Since it was written over the course of 3 days and in a cloud of caffeine and beer there are things that need work. A lot of work, really. So that's actually a good thing.

It's Science Fiction / Horror with a fair balance of humorous and disturbing characters and events. So far, after one week with the writing group, I've reworked 2 short chapters into an 8 page prologue of sorts that I like. For the past few days, I've been thinking about the next section of the story and should start doing rewrites in the morning and all day Sunday. That deadline is looming.

The only real question (and it's not even a question that needs answered just yet) is which storyline do I jump into first. The prologue sets up one storyline and introduces 2 of the main characters, but there are 2 other narratives that I follow through the story. Which to choose?

I guess I'll decide that tomorrow when I start writing again.