jimhines: (Shego - Facepalm)
( Oct. 19th, 2017 07:06 pm)
My Journalpress plugin is no longer posting things to Dreamwidth. I've seen reports that this is due to a change Dreamwidth made in their site security or configuration, but I'm not sure.

I'll be looking for solutions, but in the meantime, you can always find everything on the website at http://www.jimchines.com/blog/

I have a favor to ask of conventions: please design your badges so that names can be easily and clearly read.


I’ve never been good with names. It’s frustrating as hell, and it’s become a bigger problem as I travel to more conventions. I get introduced to so many people, and within 24 hours, a lot of those names escape my brain like Batman villains from Arkham Asylum.


Most of the time, it’s not that I forget the people — just the names. (Sorry, Darla!) Especially if it’s been a while (folks I see once a year at a given convention, for example) or the context is different. Even when my brain retains a tentative grasp on a name, I tend to not trust myself, and still try to check badges to make sure.


Compare these two badges. The one on the left is from Convergence. The one on the right I made up as an example, but it’s pretty close to some I’ve seen at various conventions.


Convergence Badge Fake Convention Badge


Convergence’s badge is relatively easy to read, with clear black text on white. Even my old eyes should be able to read that at a distance. Whereas the other example uses small type in a non-standard font, and is hard to distinguish from the background.


(This will also give me a better chance of spelling your name correctly if I’m signing a book!)


I know folks like cool artwork on the badges. I know a lot of people are better at remembering names than I am. But please take pity on those of us with older eyes and leaky brains.


Thank you,

Jim and the Society of People Who Suck at Remembering Names






Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
( Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:41 am)

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

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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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.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
( Sep. 13th, 2017 11:43 am)

My introduction to The Tick came in the late 90s, with the animated series. A few of my grad school friends and I would get together each week, eat Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, and watch The Tick (and a few other shows.)

I loved it. I loved the humor, the silliness, the undermining of superhero tropes, and the overall sense of fun.

This was my background as I logged onto Amazon Prime to watch their live-action take on The Tick.

It felt like the entire show was filmed using the same Gritty Angst Filter they used on Batman v Superman. They managed to make The Tick almost entirely joyless.

Spoilers follow…

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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ETA: Congratulations to Mel, chosen by the Random Number Generator to win the ARC of Terminal Alliance. And thank you to everyone who donated.

#

Two weeks ago, Sophie received advance review copies of Terminal Alliance. I’ve been meaning to do a giveaway, but I was struggling to come up with a good way to do it.

Sophie with Terminal Alliance ARCs

Then I started seeing the damage reports come in from hurricanes and flooding. The devastation they’ve left in their wakes, and the devastation yet to come. A million people without power in Puerto Rico. Record-breaking rain and flooding in the southwest U.S. 41 million affected by flooding and landslides in South Asia.

And now I know how I want to do this giveaway. You want to win an autographed ARC of Terminal Alliance? There are two things you need to do.

  1. Donate to one of the organizations helping with disaster relief.
  2. Leave a comment saying you donated.

I don’t need receipts or anything like that. I trust you. And there’s no minimum donation, either. I know money is tight for a lot of people. If you can afford to give $100, great. If you can only afford $1, that’s great too. It adds up, and it all helps.

Here are some organizations to consider, though this is in no way a complete list.

I’ll draw one winner at random toward the end of next week.

Thank you.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Surprising nobody, Trump issued a presidential pardon for ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio last week. Arpaio had been jailed for criminal contempt, after he refused to obey a court order “to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants.”

Trump described Arpaio as a “patriot,” someone who “kept Arizona safe,” and cited his “years of admirable service to our nation.” Arpaio tweeted out his thanks:

 

(Note: Arpaio’s contempt conviction came from U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton, a registered independent nominated to the court in 2000 by President Clinton, following a recommendation from Republican senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.)

Trump and Arpaio: Stoking the Birtherism Flames

The Trump/Arpaio relationship goes back years. Arpaio was a strong supporter of Trump’s Birtherism movement. Arpaio assigned a five-man “cold case posse” to investigate Obama’s birth certificate, eventually announcing it was a “computer-generated forgery.” I’m curious how much taxpayer money Arpaio spent on that particular conspiracy theory.

Trump sent him a personally written thank-you note, and praised him on Twitter as well:

 

Trump had Arpaio as a speaker at a campaign rally in 2015, where Arpaio again brought up Obama’s birth certificate.

Arpaio’s “Years of Admirable Service”

Here are some highlights from Arpaio’s “patriotic” career in law enforcement.

Racial Profiling and Anti-Immigration Efforts

Some of Arpaio’s tactics included:

“America’s Toughest Sheriff”

Trump and many of his base love Arpaio for his so-called toughness. But Arpaio isn’t “tough.” He’s a bully and a bigot. He commented recently:

 

The idea that the law could apply to him — that he could face consequences for knowingly and deliberately defying a court order — seems an alien concept. He thinks himself above the law.

I can see why he and Trump get along so well.

His attitude’s mirror Trump’s own comments about Mexicans as criminals and rapists. And a lot of folks support Arpaio’s anti-immigration crusade, and his determination to make jail so horrible it will deter people from committing crimes.

I’d ask those folks if they believe in the Constitution, and that law enforcement officials should follow it. Specifically, the Eighth Amendment, which states:

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”

Cruel and unusual punishment. Things like…

Or maybe we should look at the Fourth Amendment:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

In other words, if you support pulling people over, raiding their homes, raiding their workplaces, just because they’re Hispanic? Congratulations! You’re not just an asshole, you’re also anti-American and anti-Constitution.

I haven’t even touched on instances of Arpaio using the power of his office to attack and punish his enemies, or his neglect of hundreds of sexual assault cases, or the lack of prenatal care and infant deaths that resulted, or destroying evidence in a civil rights lawsuit, or so much more.

I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know what the future holds for Arpaio in terms of civil lawsuits or state charges or the rest.

But I know what I think of Trump and his base holding Arpaio up as a “patriot.” I know what I think of describing Arpaio’s crimes against his constituents as “admirable service to our nation.”

You can be an American who believes in equality and the Constitution. Or you can support Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio.

I don’t see any way you can be both.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

A friend invited us to the Greater Lansing Balloon Festival last night, which was fun. Naturally, I spent most of my time running around taking pictures.

The sky was washed out in a lot of these shots, so I played around with sky overlays in Photoshop.

I’ve got an album up on Flickr. Here are a few of my favorites.

Balloon Glow


Balloon in flight (close-up on basket)


Close-up of burner and flame


For that third picture, the balloonists for “The Flash” saw me with my camera and waved me in for some close-up shots, which was a lot of fun.

I think I need to start taking some sky photos of my own, so I’ll have my own library of overlays to use in the future…
 

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
( Aug. 25th, 2017 09:30 am)

If you’re reading this, you’re in the path of total Friday.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Imprinted Cover: DraftThanks to everyone for your feedback and enthusiasm on “Imprinted.” I’m looking at a tentative release date of January 9, 2018. I’m planning to confirm this and start getting preorder links posted over the next month or two.

A lot of you said you’d be happy to pay $2.99 for this 15,000-word novelette. From your comments, it’s a combination of loving the Magic ex Libris stories, and wanting me to get those nice 70% royalties that you don’t get with anything under $2.99. Others thought $2.99 was a little steep.

What I’m thinking about doing is launching the book at $2.99. Then, after it’s been out for a month or two, I’ll drop the price to $1.99. That way folks have a little more choice about what they’re willing to pay.

A few people said they’d prefer a print edition, and I’m looking into that. I wouldn’t expect a lot of sales here, and we’d be talking about a pretty slim volume, but it’s gotten easier to set up print-on-demand, so I should be able to make that option available.

Finally, here’s the synopsis I’ve put together. What do you think?

#

Jeneta’s magic could give us the stars…or destroy everyone around her.

Seventeen-year-old libriomancer Jeneta Aboderin is a prodigy, determined to move on from the horrors she’s faced and use her power to create a better future. To show the world that magic isn’t a threat to be feared, but a tool of hope. After eight months, she’s ready to present the Venture, a magically-created ship capable of reaching Mars within hours. It will mark a new phase of human exploration and discovery.

But at a crucial moment, her spell is wrested from her control and twisted against her. Whoever sabotaged her magic then begins to strike down those around her. The attacker haunts her thoughts and dreams, reviving Jeneta’s past traumas. And the most powerful magic-users at New Millennium are unable to help.

How do you stop an enemy who strikes from within your own mind?

This 15,000-word novelette is set eight months after the events of Revisionary.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
( Aug. 21st, 2017 07:35 pm)

We didn’t make it down to see totality, but my part of Michigan got about 80% eclipse coverage today, which was still pretty sweet. My son and I went to a library presentation this morning, where I was reminded about pinhole viewing, which led to this:

Pinhole Eclipse Projection

I’d ordered a solar filter for the 100-400mm lens on the camera. We also had some eclipse glasses from Amazon from a few weeks back.

I took a little over a hundred pictures, and was able to stitch some of the best into an animation.

Solar Eclipse Animation

Those black spots are sunspots. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out!

I also stitched together a static time-lapse, and added back a bit of color the filter stripped out. (Click to enlarge this one for a much better view.)

Eclipse - Time Lapse

Didn’t get much else done today, but I’m okay with that. And maybe for the 2024, we’ll be able to make it down to see the total eclipse!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Like many of us, I’ve been struggling to process what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend, and what’s been happening in this country for a while now. The racism and hatred and violence didn’t magically appear out of nowhere. It’s been building up for a long time…in fact, much of it has always been there. It’s just boiling over into the open right now, making it harder (but obviously not impossible) to look away and pretend it’s not happening.

Part of the argument I’ve seen centers around free speech and the First Amendment. Free speech is a right, an important one, and rights apply to everyone. Even people you dislike and disagree with.

But freedom of speech in this country is not and has never been limitless. From the U.S. Federal Courts, here are a few examples of actions not legally protected by freedom of speech:

  • Students making an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.
  • Making/distributing obscene materials.
  • Inciting actions that would harm others (e.g., Shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.)

Now, here are some of the “alt-right” protesters who gathered in Charlottesville.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
( Aug. 16th, 2017 05:05 pm)

I was testing the solar filter for the camera, in preparation for Monday’s eclipse. We won’t be seeing the total eclipse, but I’m hoping to get some good shots of the partial.

As I was processing the results, I realized I’d captured sunspots!  (Those dark spots in the upper left.)

Sun with sunspots

Click to embiggen.

For those who wonder about such things, this was taken on the 100-400mm lens, fully zoomed to 400mm. ISO 640, f/10, with a 1/3200 shutter speed. I had to set everything manually, because the camera overexposed the shot if left to its own devices.

I think next time I’ll try to reduce the ISO down to about 100 and see if that gets rid of the minor graininess.

Processing involved cropping the shot, noise reduction, and an orange overlay.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Some of you might remember me talking about a 15,000-word novelette I was working on between wrapping up Terminal Alliance and starting on Terminal Uprising.

That novelette is called “Imprinted,” and it’s the next Magic ex Libris story.

It’s about Jeneta Aboderin, and it’s set roughly eight months after the events of Revisionary.

I haven’t set a publication date yet. There’s a bit of work left to get everything ready, and with Terminal Alliance coming out in November, I’m guessing it will be available in January or February.

I also haven’t set a price. $2.99 would be ideal, because that’s where ebook royalty rates jump from 35% to 70%. What do you think? Does $2.99 seem fair for a 15,000-word story, or should I bump it down to $1.99 and take the royalties hit?

Finally, as long as you’re here, what do you think of the not-quite-finalized cover?

Imprinted Cover: Draft

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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