5 Interesting Links for 02-24-2017

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

Pollination (Agriculture)

A lucky happenstance has led to the first steps toward robotic pollinators to supplement falling bee populations. While an interesting idea, it should not take the place of conservation and research into why the bees are dying as bees are ecologically ideal for their niche.

Innovation (Infrastructure)

An alternate method for building roads out of recycled plastic that is good for the environment, and both less costly and easier to maintain. While my vote would still lean toward the solar roadway which offers energy production and better utility connections, this is most likely a cheaper way to do many of the same things while reducing plastic waste. Watch the informational video to learn more.

Scottish (Language)

A dictionary of Scottish words and their meanings useful for creating characters with accents.

Email (Promotion)

Author Stephanie J. Pajonas explains how she uses her mailing list drip campaign to encourage new readers to become true fans.

Culture (Society)

When I returned to the United States as a kid, all my cues were wrong. My accent was British because of British teachers. I knew not to look anyone (especially a man) in the eyes because it was aggressive in the Middle East. I couldn’t even raise my hand to ask a question the “right” way. There were half a dozen things that most don’t recognize as a part of American culture, but I didn’t know. I had to ask a friend in college what “shooting the bird” meant because when Americans had been learning these things, I’d been elsewhere. And I can say with absolute certainty that my experience was a fraction of what American born and bred people who happen to have a different skin tone experience.

Read this article and take the time to hear it. If you’re non-white and didn’t see all this, maybe you’re the exception, rather than the rule. It’s easy to laugh things off, to say not in my neighborhood, or point to a successful black person you know or a non-white group that plays on the same stereotypes they’ve been slapped with. It’s easy to say the article is an exaggeration or only in the South or or or… It’s easy because you don’t have to see. So walk in someone else’s footsteps for the few minutes it takes to read this. See if your experience matches the author’s, and if it does not, maybe learn something about how other folks grow up and live here.

War Child: A Fantasy Short Story

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Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

Pretty Face by Lucy ParkerI started this book because the blurb intrigued me after a lifetime spent around live theater, but I expected a typical romance with some interesting elements and would have been happy to read it. Instead, I was folded into the London theatrical scene, the bias between television and stage acting, rampant sexism, assumptions, infighting, artistic personalities, and so much more. Even economics and far-reaching family feuds had a part to play. This book is epic.

Pretty Face delivers on the romance with Lily and Luc, but it’s no simple tale. The book demonstrates the consequences of falling in love with the wrong person as well as the power of love to overcome the downsides. It shows the love behind driven people even when that drive has negative effects, and the lengths hate can push someone to go. Continue reading

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Things That Make Me Smile No.114: Automata

One of the incredible automata built by Pierre Jaquet Droz in the late 1700s, this is “The Writer,” a scribe created by a Swiss clockmaker and capable of writing any message limited only by the number of characters. It still functions today, 240 years later. Amazing precision technology. Just imagine what a Natural from my Steamship Chronicles world would make of it.

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5 Interesting Links for 02-17-2017

Scientists (Interesting People)

Maria Sibylla Merian was a female scientist before the Victorian Era who, through keen observation, recorded details about plants, animals, and insects that refuted the commonly accepted beliefs of the time. She was celebrated…until the Victorian Era when women were redefined as ignorant and not capable of complex thought. Her efforts are only now being rediscovered.

Homelessness (Life)

An educated homeless man describes both what led him to this state and how it works in a stark truth telling that’s worth the time to read. Continue reading

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Echelon by Z. A. Waterstone

Echelon by Z. A. WaterstoneMix ignorance with assumption and a little mad scientist, and you come close to the cultural conflicts that form the foundation of this novel. The story begins with a group of fugitive human survivors after an alien race, which visited Earth a long time ago, has returned and conquered it. Humans, considered a lesser species, have been enslaved while the Darushee have taken control of everything.

That might be a familiar premise, but Z. A. Waterstone doesn’t stop there. No, these humans have been doing wild experiments with the genetic material captured from the first Darushee to visit and have made themselves hybrids. They have the same mental capabilities as the Darushee who control the humans by inserting nightmares into their minds.

And even that’s not enough, because we get both sides of the picture as we learn about the alien culture and its unbreakable rules, which include that only beings who can walk in the mind space are sapient. Most humans can’t, and they’ve never met any who could. (It’s unclear if only the hybrids can or if the hybridization awoke latent abilities and therefore some normal humans might be able to as well, though the ability is clearly rare.)

We learn the above as the story unfolds, but though it seems like a lot, it is little more than a backdrop for the true story, one that has four separate layers and continues on past this book into the later ones (I assume as I’ve only read this one). Continue reading

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