New Worlds discusses rites of passage

Sep. 22nd, 2017 09:00 am
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

The general theme for this month has been stages of life, and we close that out with rites of passage. Next week, because the Patreon passed one of its funding goals a while ago, will be a fifth (bonus) essay, on the more theory-side aspects of worldbuilding!

Comment over there.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Cool Stuff Friday

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:41 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Friday has been having trouble keeping up on the blogging lately…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

rolanni: (Default)
[personal profile] rolanni

For them what indulges, the eARC of Neogenesis, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller -- the 21st Liaden Universe®! -- is now available for download (and reading, natch).

Get yours here!

I will, in the fullness of time, set up a spoiler page at

Hearphones update

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:16 pm
rolanni: (Default)
[personal profile] rolanni

So, we took the car in for the 10,000 mile check-up and tire rotation thingy, then went to IHOP for breakfast and a test drive of the hearphones.

The hearphones...are problematical on two fronts.

Front One:  I can't keep the damned things charged.  Admittedly, this files under Operator Error, but I'm not usually an idiot about keeping the toys charged, so there's some subtlety I'm missing.  And it doesn't lessen Operator Aggravation to arrive at the Test Location and find that the 'phones are, ahem, critically low on power.

Front Two:  Hearing my own voice in my ears is gonna drive me bugs.  And this may actually be a deal-breaker.  Steve urges me to give it another run, to see if I get used to it, which is fair, but at the moment what I'm doing is whispering in an attempt not to hear my own voice, which is...not really much better than sitting like a stump at a group dinner because I can't hear what anyone else is saying.

The plaque (and check) which together comprise "Wise Child's" Readers Choice award arrived yesterday.  The check we deposited in the bank today while we were out and about.  Here is a photograph of the plaque, being modeled by the delightful Mr. Miller.

So, my next order of business is to read another 50ish pages of the Neogenesis page proofs.  Lunch is on the schedule, and, very possibly, a nap, because we not only got up at stoopid o'clock to take the car in, but we got flu shots (the high-test flu shots reserved for those of us who are temporally elongated), too.

Everybody be good.

annathepiper: (Ein Minuten Bitte)
[personal profile] annathepiper

And now, part 2 of my review of Write!, the text editor. In part 1, I talked about my initial impressions of its pricing and subscription model, its treatment of saving to a cloud vs. saving locally, and functionality I was able to learn about on the first couple of menus.

In this post, I’ll talk about the functionality on the Edit and Format menus, as well as the overall look of the thing and the experience of writing in it.

Yep, that sure is an Edit menu

I see pretty standard functionality available on the Edit menu: Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, Copy As (with a few different options as to how you can copy into the window you’re working on), and Find.

(Additionally, since I’m looking at the Mac build, there are also the Start Dictation and Emoji & Symbols options that I see at the bottom of Edit menus on other programs on my Mac. But as those as not specific to this program, I won’t talk about them here.)

The Format menu

Show Context Menu

This brings up a bunch of things that I’d expect to find on toolbars in other programs, and is essentially a glorified toolbar here, even if it’s in multi-tabbed menu format.

I’d be a little annoyed by this, as having to go to the menu seems like a redundant way to get at this functionality, except that I also just discovered I can get to the same stuff by right-clicking anywhere within my edit window. In which case I kinda wonder why there’s a whole menu command to get to this, which, again, feels redundant. But I guess not so much if you’re not used to right-clicking to get to stuff.

Bold, Light, Italic, Underline, Strikethrough, Upper Case, Lower Case

All of these menu options do what I’d expect them to, though I’m a little surprised by “Light”, as this is an option I haven’t seen in word processors or text editors before. It basically appears to be functioning as an opposite of Bold. Except that if you want to un-bold text you can toggle it in every single program I’ve ever dealt with, so I’m not exactly sure why a separate format needed to be here. If I try to bold an entire phrase and then choose “Light” on a word within that phrase, it does the exact same thing as just de-bolding that word.

I do like being able to automatically upper-case or lower-case text, though.

I’m not entirely pleased with all these formatting options being their very own menu items, though, particularly given that they’re all duplicated on the aforementioned Context menu. So there’s another layer of redundancy here, all of which I think would have been entirely fine to eliminate completely with a simple toolbar.

On the other hand, if you have the formatting options on the menu, you can also show the keyboard shortcuts, which is useful, so there’s that. Things like command-B and command-I might be second nature to me (or any other writer who’s been working for a while on a Mac), but I’m not everybody, and it’s important for me to keep that in mind.

Though okay, I just figured out why this menu/context bar bugs me. I’d like to be able to have that context menu floating over on the side so I wouldn’t have to keep bringing it up and dismissing it if I want to reformat text. Or, I’d like these options on a toolbar. This editor is billing itself as a “distraction-free” text editor, but it’s distracting to me to have to keep bringing the context menu up and dismissing it again. I’d be bugged by this less if it were on a mobile device where screen real estate is more important, but I’m on my laptop screen and not lacking for visual space.

Headers and Paragraphs

This is another formatting option that is duplicated on the context menu, and basically covers a small assortment of styles you can apply to text: headings, code, quote, etc. Not too huge a style set, but on the other hand, this is calling itself a text editor, not a word processor. I wouldn’t expect a text editor to get nearly as complicated with its styles as an outright word processor would, so that’s fine.


Left, Right, Center, Justify, and Reset, some basic alignment options for whatever paragraph you’re currently in/selected, and it does appear to work on a paragraph basis. Which is about what I’d expect.

I am, however, a bit surprised that these options are not duplicated on the context menu. This is a bit of inconsistency of behavior, which I almost find a bit more irritating than the aforementioned redundancy.


Bullet, Numeric, and Alphabetic lists styles, including a “Switch” option that apparently just cycles through the three. Not something I feel I’d particularly need when using a text editor for writing.

But, if you’re using this thing as a client to write a post for Medium or some other blogging platform, basic lists could be useful. I use lists in my posts all the time.


Behaves mostly like I’d expect, highlighting a word if I’ve already selected it, or turning on highlighting for whatever I’m about to type next if something isn’t already selected.

However, highlighting apparently does not toggle like Bold or Italic. If I have a word highlighted, and then select the Highlight command off the menu again, or use the keyboard shortcut, it doesn’t remove that highlight.

If I want to remove the highlight, I actually have to go onto the context menu and get at the “Clear Formatting” command on the first tab, or the “Clear Highlight” command on the Highlight tab. Easy enough to find but slightly irritating that I had to go looking for it.

Edit Hyperlink

Okay, I get the intention here: add a hyperlink to text. However, I take issue with the implementation, on the following grounds:

One, “Edit Hyperlink” implies there’s already a hyperlink there to edit, which is not the case if what you want to do is actually add a new one.

Two, if you select some text and then select “Edit Hyperlink”, what actually happens is that the context menu pops up, and the “Hyperlink” command on it is replaced by a text box where you’re supposed to enter the hyperlink you want.

And I’m sorry, but the entire notion of splicing a text entry box into a context menu just makes me go NO. Even if it does appear to work and (presumably) saves the effort of coding a separate dialog box to keep track of that setting. I don’t care. It’s still annoying.

So if editing and formatting annoy me, is it at least nice to write in?

Here’s something good I can say about this program: with sidebars and things turned off, whittling it down to just the basic program window itself, I do actually like the aesthetic look of it. It’s clean. It’s simple. It certainly is nicer to look at than TextEdit.

I am not really a fan of its default sans serif font, and there appears to be no way to change it. Nowhere in the program do I see any sign of ability to change what fonts it uses.

But at least visually, that’s the only nitpick I’ve got with it.

Typing-wise, I’m finding it distracting that it doesn’t auto-indent paragraphs for me like Scrivener does. But I can’t hold that against it, because again, text editor, not word processor. TextEdit doesn’t auto-indent so I wouldn’t expect Write! to do so either.

And here’s a thing I do kind of like. Here’s a screenshot of what the window looks like to me:

The Write! Window

The Write! Window

That little gray square over on the right is a navigation bar, which you can use to get a thumbnail view of where you are in the document, and do a fast scroll up and down. I can confirm, now that I’ve typed enough into the test window to get enough text to scroll, that that does work. I also note that if you don’t happen to like that feature, you can turn it off. (More on this in the next post.)

And OH HEY SURPRISE: down in the left bottom corner, that “1 174” down there? Turns out that’s a word count feature that has no access on the menu whatsoever, so I stumbled across that entirely by accident. More on this in another post, too; I like some of what I see there, but some of it seems buggy as well. The lack of an obvious word count was one of the things I was going to say I didn’t like about the program, but since there is in fact word count functionality here, that’s a distinct advantage over, say, TextEdit.

For now, though, that’s enough for this post. More to come in part 3!

Mirrored from

This Week in Nazi-Punching

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:15 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

A video of a Nazi in Seattle getting punched and knocked out has been making the rounds. Responses range from satisfaction and celebration to the predictable cries of “So much for the tolerant left” and the related “Violence makes us as bad as them and plays right into their hands.”

A few things to consider…

1. According to one witness, the punch happened after the Nazi called a man an “ape” and threw a banana at him. With the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer, that sounds like assault to me. I’m guessing Assault in the Fourth Degree. In other words, the punching was a response to an assault by the Nazi.

The witness who talks about the banana-throwing also says he was high on THC. I haven’t seen anyone disputing his account, but I haven’t seen corroboration, either.

2.Remember when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and people like Geraldo Rivera said it was because Martin was wearing a hoodie, and that made Martin a potentially dangerous “suspicious character”? Utter bullshit, I know. But if our legal system let Zimmerman plead self-defense, saying he was afraid because Martin was wearing a hoodie, doesn’t that same argument apply against someone wearing a fucking swastika?

We’re talking about a symbol that announces, “I support genocide of those who aren’t white, aren’t straight, aren’t able-bodied…”

3. Buzzfeed presents this as anti-fascists tracking a Neo-Nazi to beat him up. While antifa Twitter appears to have been talking about this guy, there’s no evidence that the punch was thrown by someone who’s part of that movement. And even if he was, the guy didn’t throw a punch until after the Nazi committed assault (see point #1).

Those Tweets quoted on Buzzfeed also suggest the Nazi was armed, which could add to the self-defense argument in point #2.

Is Nazi-punching right? Is it legal? As any role-player will tell you, there’s a difference between whether something is lawful and whether it’s good.

The “victim” has every right to press charges. But for some reason, he didn’t want to talk to police about the incident.

Was punching this guy a good thing? I mean, there’s a difference between comic books and real life. The Nazi was standing in front of some sort of tile wall. He could have struck his head on the corner after being punched, or when he fell to the ground. In other words, there’s a chance–albeit probably a slim one–that this could have killed him.

My country and culture glorify violence. I’d much rather avoid violence when possible. I think most rational people would. But there are times it’s necessary to fight, to choose to defend yourself and others. I think it’s important to understand the potential consequences of that choice.

Multiple accounts agree this man was harassing people on the bus, and later on the street. He was a self-proclaimed Nazi. Police say they received calls that he was instigating fights, and it sounds like he escalated from verbal harassment to physical assault … at which point another man put him down, halting any further escalation.

I don’t know exactly what I would have done in that situation, but I see nothing to make me condemn or second-guess this man’s choice in the face of a dangerous Nazi.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
Baen's mass market paperback edition of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is coming up next week. Official launch date is next Tuesday, Sept. 26th. However, I don't think this one has a hard don't-sell-before date, so it will probably start trickling into brick-and-mortar bookstores whenever they get around to opening the boxes in the back room.

My box of author's copies arrived. Front looks like this, more or less -- Baen's shiny foil does not scan well.

The back looks like this:

They somehow got the first draft of the cover copy onto this one, and not the final one as it appears on the hardcover jacket flap. That last line was not supposed to be, misleadingly, All About Miles, but rather to put the focus on the book's actual protagonists and plot, and read, "...the impact of galactic technology on the range of the possible changes all the old rules, and Oliver and Cordelia must work together to reconcile the past, the present, and the future."

Ah, well. Most readers (who bother to read the back at all) will figure it out, I expect. Those that don't will be no more confused than usual.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on September, 20

Rosh Hashana 5778

Sep. 20th, 2017 02:55 pm
filkerdave: (jew roll)
[personal profile] filkerdave

Tonight at sundown marks the start of the Rosh Hashanah and the year 5778. May all of you reading this be inscribed in the Book of Life for a happy, healthy, and prosperous year ahead.

לשנה טובה
rolanni: (Default)
[personal profile] rolanni

For those following along at home:  The hearphone movie test was inconclusive.  I could, indeed, hear the dialog in Fantastic Beasts clearly while wearing the hearphones, but!  So could I without.  I am forced to conclude that the speakers on the new television set are superior to those in the local movie theater.

I have not yet done the Noisy Bar test drive.  I have a window of opportunity tomorrow, when I need to be in Augusta insanely early so the car can get its 10,000 mile inspection, fine-tuning, whatever.  Steve has bravely volunteered to go with me, and the plan (The Plan) is that, after the car is taken care of, we shall adjourn to IHOP, which is really pretty noisy, and I will do a test there.

One of the things that's really freaky about the hearphones, besides hearing yourself talk through your ears, is that there's a option for "silence" -- which turns off your ears.  Or at least feels like it's turned off your ears.  No input gets through.

In other news, the page proofs for Neogenesis, the twenty-first book in the Liaden Universe®; the eleventh Liaden book we've written for Baen -- landed in my in-box yesterday.  Today, after breakfast, Sprite and I sat down with our red pen and our sticky tabs and went over the front matter and the first 48 pages, which takes us through the first section/chapter.

I will now go on to other things, including working on Fifth of Five, the sequel to Neogenesis and the last book in both the five-book arc beginning with Dragon in Exile, and the last book in the arc begun 29 years ago, in Agent of Change.

Twenty-nine years ago.

Well.  I guess I've earned those purple hairs.

Before anyone asks:  Nope, still don't know when the eArc of Neogenesis will appear at a near you.  The last word I had, from two "Baen insiders" (editors, actually, but "Baen insiders" sounds infinitely cooler than "editor") was that the eArc would be available in September.  That is the sum of my knowledge on the subject (honest!).  If you need to know more, you need to write to Baen.

What else?  The fountain pen experiment continues to go well.  I have one pen (out of, er, four?  that escalated quickly) that I'm not really crazy about, but I am declaring success.

So, that seems to be all the news.  Everybody be well.

48 / 435 pages


Off tomorrow!

Sep. 20th, 2017 07:43 pm
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)
[personal profile] 17catherines
On my grand and crazy choral adventure through Europe.  So you won't be seeing a lot of me here, though I will undoubtedly be all over Facebook like a rash.  Incidentally, it turns out that I'm in Paris for the Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre, which is very exciting, and means that I have been madly signing up to free exhibitions and tours of all sorts of things.  I shall report back when I can.

I finished up work on Friday, but have been running around like a madwoman ever since, because what with everyone around me having horrible health scares or worse this year, I'm beginning to feel a bit morbid about my trip and wanted to see everyone before I left just in case I died while overseas.

Yeah, that's the inside of my brain right now.  It does not sleep.  Sleep is for the weak!  (Or for the plane.)

I also have apparently decided that I am only allowed to ignore the postal survey if I have written EVERY IMAGINABLE POLITICS BLOG POST before I leave.  So in addition to the one from last week, I wrote an epic piece yesterday fact-checking one of those long lists about all the ways countries lost their religious freedom after achieving marriage equality (hint: they really didn't. Also, some people are really paranoid about gender fluidity), and I'm working on four more pieces which will publish at various points while I'm away and after I come back.   Because I'm nuts.

Oh, and I posted my vote back on Monday, because that's rather more important than just writing endless essays...

For a different flavour of nuttiness, we're doing the Global Challenge at work this year, and our team is called 'one small step for science', which pretty much mandates an astronaut theme – and so on Saturday, I led my team on our first big group walk to the planetarium.  We met in Brunswick, at Handsome Her, a café that has achieved peak Brunswick by being vegan, environmentally sensitive (glass straws, no disposable cups or serviettes, free compost out the back for your garden) and feminist (men have to pay an 18% surcharge, which is donated to a women's shelter, and the walls are covered with vulva-themed art.  Except in the bathrooms, which have a menstruation art theme.  It's quite... something.).  Also hipster - every item on the menu has about twenty different elements, including things like charcoal brioche buns, smoked avocado and strawberry baobab ice cream.  Oh, and also all menu items are named for feminist icons.  And there are four kinds of non-dairy milk available for your coffee.

It's hilarious.  The food's pretty good, too.

Anyway, having stuffed ourselves silly on vegan yummies, we embarked on our journey, which quickly turned into a bit of a death march because everyone had arrived late, which meant we hit Brunch Peak Hour, which meant we left late, which meant we had just over 2 hours in which to walk the 12 km to the planetarium before our show started.  Ouch.

We started by walking along the Capital City trail, through Royal Park, until we met Flemington Bridge. Which we hadn't been expecting to meet, but evidently we got onto the wrong trail in Royal Park.  Fortunately this was, if anything, a short cut. Then we wandered through the streets of Kensington, and along a rather pretty path between houses and gardens with rather farm like fences that made us feel as though we were being herded like cattle - we were on the site of the old abbatoir, as it turned out!

Next we walked along the Maribyrnong River for a while, past the glorious golden Buddha statue, and then sadly left it behind us to walk along a rather busy road and under the Westgate Bridge. We had to take a slight shortcut at this point, which was a pity, because we missed a nice little footbridge out over the water.

Finally, we reached the planetarium - five minutes before our show was due to start!  We rushed in, and got to watch a gorgeous show about stars and how they work, which had really spectacular artwork - they would visualise the star as it would look, then stylise it into an art-deco / stained glass sort of design, and it was just stunning.  This was followed by a guided tour of the night sky over Melbourne in September, which referenced the indigenous constellations, and was really fantastic.  Finally, we got a special extra video about the Cassini mission to Saturn, which had of course ended the night before.  So that was really a nice touch, and we all walked out resolving to do some actual star-watching at a later challenge date.

And then we caught the ferry home, because if you can catch the ferry, you must catch the ferry.  That is the rule.

It was spectacular, and fun, and I got 26,700 steps and hurt all over for two days.  But it was worth it.

And this is me signing off for now - I have politics blog posts to write and a bag to pack.  See you next month!

Catching up on New Worlds

Sep. 19th, 2017 03:37 pm
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

My Patreon is trucking along, but I haven’t been good about linking to it here. So have a list of recent posts!

This week’s post (sneak preview!) will be on rites of passage, followed by a bonus post on the theory of worldbuilding, since that’s one of the funding goals we’ve reached. Remember, this is all funded by my lovely, lovely patrons — and if you join their ranks, you get weekly photos, plus (at higher levels) opportunities to request post topics or get feedback on your own worldbuilding!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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