Filed under: Connections, Emergency, Flu, Health, Marketing, movies, NPR, Pandemic, Plague, Predictions, Press, Promotion, Publishing, Science, Science Fiction, Society, Survival, Writing stuff | Tags: Audie Cornish, blogging, CDC, Communion of Dreams, Ebola, flu, Guinea, health, influenza, jim downey, Liberia, movies, Nigeria, NPR, pandemic, predictions, promotion, publishing, quarantine, science, Science Fiction, Sierra Leone, St. Cybi's Well, Thomas Geisbert, Washington Post, WHO, writing
That was a fairly common advertising phrase used to promote books and movies back in the day, referencing spectacular murders and crazed drug orgies. Writers/publishers/moviemakers would try and cynically cash-in on the public attention these events generated by getting their books & movies out quickly.
And recently, it’s a phrase which has been haunting me.
I’ve mentioned previously that sometimes it feels like I am being a bit too prescient about our own future in writing about the alternate timeline of St Cybi’s Well / Communion of Dreams. Like I told a friend this morning:
I’ve made the comment a couple of times, but let me reiterate that it is just plain … creepy? … scary? … to be hearing comments from the CDC and WHO about the spread of this Ebola outbreak, and how it is a virus we don’t really have any treatment for, and how quarantines are necessary to try and control it … *ALL* of which could be coming right out of the SCW stuff I am writing about right now. Blimey. It’s seriously playing with my brain a bit.
Well, at least I know that all the ‘news’ stuff in SCW will have the ring of truth to it …
News? Ring of truth? Try this on for size:
CORNISH: How have past Ebola outbreaks ended, and what do you think needs to be done to end this particular outbreak?
GEISBERT: Outbreaks usually end when the public health agencies are able to come in and quarantine the affected individuals, and, you know, eventually the outbreak runs its course, and it’s over. You know, in central Africa these outbreaks have tended to occur in a very defined geographic area – for example, a village. And the public health agencies, like the World Health Organization and humanitarian aid organizations like Medecins Sans Frontieres, have come in, quarantined that area, and the outbreak has been contained. I think what’s been difficult with West Africa is that it’s so widespread, and it’s occurring simultaneously in so many different areas, that you really stretch that experienced resource thin, and so that’s a huge problem.
How bad is the current outbreak?
Bad — very, very bad. It’s concentrated in three small West African states: Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where reports of Ebola infections first emerged in February. The outbreak has claimed more than 670 lives and, worryingly, infected medical personnel attempting to stop its spread. A prominent Liberian physician died Sunday.
What’s particularly scary, though, was the recent death of a Liberian man in Lagos, the bustling coastal mega-city in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. The man, a consultant for the Liberian government, had traveled from Liberia through an airport in Lome, the capital of Togo, before arriving in Nigeria. The hospital where he died is under lockdown, and the WHO has sent teams to Togo and Nigeria.
So, yeah, the phrase “ripped from today’s headlines” has been kicking around in my head entirely too much the last couple of weeks.
Ah, well, maybe that just means that some large publisher or famous director will knock on my door and hand me a very large chunk of money so I can ignore everything else and finish the book in a few weeks …
Filed under: Connections, Health, Marketing, Promotion, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, Communion of Dreams, COPD, health, Helping Cassandra, immortality, jim downey, promotion, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, writing
Be Famous! Have your name (or the name of a loved one, pet, etc) included in my next novel! Can be a character, a named place (manor/restaurant/pub), a book title/author, et cetera. Any sort of name you wish.
You have three choices:
- Passing mention. Five available.
- Name and some description. Three available.
- Tertiary character, who will have some dialog & interaction with other characters. One available.
Top bidder in each category will be able to purchase as many of the item that they wish from those that are available, at the winning bid price. After that, the second highest bidder may purchase as many as he/she wishes from those that remain, at his/her bid price, etc.
Option 1: Passing mention
Minimum Bid: $5
Option 2: Name and description
Minimum Bid: $10
Option 3: Tertiary Character
Minimum Bid: $20
There are a number of additional great items up for auction on the site (including a signed & numbered hand-bound, hardcover copy of Communion of Dreams with a reserve bid of just $25), so I’d invite you to check it out. The auction will commence this coming Friday, and go for two weeks. Full details on the auction site*. So if you can, help me help a friend … and make yourself immortal, at least in my thanks.
*There’s also a GoFundMe page if you just want to make a donation. Thank you.
Filed under: Astronomy, Brave New World, Connections, General Musings, NPR, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, SETI, Space, tech, Titan | Tags: Arecibo, astronomy, blogging, Communion of Dreams, Duncan Lorimer, jim downey, Joe Palca, NPR, Parkes Observatory, predictions, radio astronomy, Robert Gish, Science Fiction, SETI, space, Titan
Interesting news item on NPR this morning:
Astronomers have a mystery on their hands. Two large radio telescopes, on opposite sides of the planet, have detected very brief, very powerful bursts of radio waves.
Right now, astronomers have no idea what’s causing these bursts or where they’re coming from. And nothing has been ruled out at the moment — not even the kind of outrageous claims you’d expect to see in tabloid headlines.
* * *
As you would imagine, there’s been lots of speculation about what’s behind these mysterious bursts. Some astronomers think they’re caused by blitzars, pulses of energy from a supermassive star collapsing into a black hole. Others think they may be caused by power solar flares coming from stars nearer by.
And Lorimer says he has to mention it: “There’s even been discussions in the literature about signatures from extraterrestrial civilizations.”
From Chapter 1 of Communion of Dreams when news of the discovery of an evidently alien artifact on Titan is being discussed:
The man sitting next to him got up, stepped up to the holo of the artifact still rotating there in the center. Robert Gish was a little unkempt, his beard untrimmed, his dark hair matted. He was out of shape, almost flabby in appearance. His scientific reputation was as unconventional as his looks. More so. He had been responsible for the radical change in long-range sensing which led to the development of the Advanced Survey Array. Nobel Prize stuff. A true genius, not just brilliant but able and willing to make leaps that took others years to understand. Which was why Bradsen had him here: Gish had been saying for decades that there was other intelligent life among the stars. Saying it so loud and so often that he was considered a crank, since he had no proof and couldn’t even really explain why he believed it to be so, at least in a way that others could accept.
Reaching out as though he was going to touch the object, he said quietly “We know what it is. It is a crack in our shell.”
Interesting news, indeed.
Filed under: Astronomy, Brave New World, Emergency, Fireworks, General Musings, Humor, NASA, Predictions, Preparedness, SCA, Science, Science Fiction, Society, Space, Steampunk, Survival, tech | Tags: blogging, Daniel Baker, humor, jim downey, NASA, predictions, preppers, SCA, science, Science Fiction, solar storm, space, Steampunk, Sun, survival, technology
Just think — all the folks who are prepping to deal with some global emergency almost got a chance to see how well their theories work in practice. My friends who are into Steampunk and the SCA would have reigned supreme!
Back in 2012, the Sun erupted with a powerful solar storm that just missed the Earth but was big enough to “knock modern civilization back to the 18th century,” NASA said.
The extreme space weather that tore through Earth’s orbit on July 23, 2012, was the most powerful in 150 years, according to a statement posted on the US space agency website Wednesday.
* * *
“If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire,” said Daniel Baker, professor of atmospheric and space physics at the University of Colorado.
Ah well. Better luck next time!
Filed under: Augmented Reality, Brave New World, Connections, Emergency, Flu, General Musings, Music, Pandemic, Plague, Predictions, Preparedness, Science, Science Fiction, Society, Survival, Terrorism, Writing stuff, YouTube | Tags: Aeon, augmented reality, blogging, Communion of Dreams, Ebola, Jeconiah, jim downey, Ma'abarot, music, Nick Bostrom, predictions, R.E.M., Ross Andersen, Sarin, science, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, technology, TEOTWAWKI, video, writing, www youtube
I ‘put to bed’ Chapter Nine of St Cybi’s Well yesterday. Meaning that it is completed well enough that I can move on to the next chapter, with the expectation that there will likely be some slight-to-moderate revisions later as the rest of the book is written.
That’s the halfway point in the actual writing of the novel, though since I have a lot of the rest of the infrastructure of the book done, it means that I’m probably more like 70% done. Exciting.
And also a little … sobering. I’ve mentioned it before, but given the events of this book (which is the historical backdrop of Communion of Dreams), this book has an understandable darkness to it. Here’s a bit from the last page of Chapter Nine to show what I mean:
The Jeconiah protocols covered a range of possible emergency conditions. Some would just require all available crews to report to base. Some would accelerate planned shipments. Some would mean preselected VIPs would be transferred to the Moon under increased security.
But Program One meant immediate isolation of the shuttle launch facility under the strictest security possible. Soon the Israelis would be launching all available shuttles with emergency supplies, using only crew who were already in normal pre-flight quarantine. This was in an effort to isolate and protect the New Ma’abarot colonies from whatever was happening here. As far as the Lunar colonies were concerned, Earth was now quarantined. It was a failsafe protocol – probably an over-reaction, but one they were willing to chance. If things turned out to be not too bad here on Earth, the quarantine could be relaxed later.
Or, you know, not.
So yeah, dark. Especially when I read something like this, in a very good article about human extinction:
Humans have a long history of using biology’s deadlier innovations for ill ends; we have proved especially adept at the weaponisation of microbes. In antiquity, we sent plagues into cities by catapulting corpses over fortified walls. Now we have more cunning Trojan horses. We have even stashed smallpox in blankets, disguising disease as a gift of good will. Still, these are crude techniques, primitive attempts to loose lethal organisms on our fellow man. In 1993, the death cult that gassed Tokyo’s subways flew to the African rainforest in order to acquire the Ebola virus, a tool it hoped to use to usher in Armageddon. In the future, even small, unsophisticated groups will be able to enhance pathogens, or invent them wholesale.
Sarin. Ebola. Gee, where have I heard those names recently? Oh, yeah.
Damn, sometimes I hate to be so right about things …
Filed under: Book Conservation, Connections | Tags: art, blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, bookbinding techniques, guillotine, jim downey, Legacy Bookbindery
C’mon, admit it … you’ve always wanted to have your very own guillotine, right? Here’s a very nice one:
Yeah, that’s a bookbinding tool, not the kind designed for decapitations. With it, you can easily slice through a stack of paper about 6″ thick. I have one very much like it.
OK, so here’s the deal: another bookbinder I know is retiring. And she wants to find a good home for all her tools and equipment. Including that beauty above, a number of book presses of various sizes, hot foil stamping machines (and type) and a *bunch* of handtools. It’d be sort of like how I got some of my tools from another bookbinder who was retiring.
If you’d like to see more of the tools and equipment, go over to Facebook. Yes, I know that it’s evil, etc. But it won’t kill you to use it for this very specific purpose. Check out these two album sets on her Facebook Page: One, Two. And while I haven’t seen all the prices she is asking for the different items, the ones I have seen are *very* reasonable. You can contact her directly on Facebook, or if you need an email address, just contact me.
This equipment is fairly rare. And if you’ve ever had a desire to learn the craft of bookbinding, this is a great opportunity.
Filed under: Amazon, Apollo program, Buzz Aldrin, Connections, Feedback, Health, Humor, ISS, Kindle, Man Conquers Space, Marketing, NASA, Neil Armstrong, Promotion, Publishing, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Writing stuff | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Apollo, Apollo 11, blogging, Buzz Aldrin, Buzzfeed, care-giving, Chris Hadfield, direct publishing, free, health, Her Final Year, hospice, humor, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, Michael Collins, Moon, NASA, Neil Armstrong, promotion, science, Science Fiction, space, St. Cybi's Well, writing
And you can pee upside down, which I did, just for fun. Wouldn’t you?
Great little list about the reality of spaceflight at this point in time. Perfect perspective for this weekend, since he manages to capture and convey the wonder and excitement so many of us felt from the Apollo era. It’s so easy to lose your vision, your enthusiasm, in the grim plodding of day-to-day life.
* * *
Thanks to all who helped make the recent anniversary promotion of Her Final Year a success! Worldwide there were about 150 downloads – not a huge number, but it is progress. I hope the book can help those who downloaded it.
* * *
Progress continues on St Cybi’s Well. Hope to wrap up Chapter 9 in the next couple of days.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Health, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, tech | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, dementia, direct publishing, free, health, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, promotion, technology
Today’s the last day to snag a free copy of the Kindle edition of Her Final Year! Remember, you don’t need an actual Kindle to take advantage of this — Amazon has a free Kindle emulator/app for just about any phone, tablet, laptop, or computer out there, and it will sync up with your Amazon account so you can read the same book across many different platforms without any trouble whatsoever. You can find full information there on the page for Her Final Year.
So, get it. Read it. Share it.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Argentina, Ballistics, Bipolar, Book Conservation, Connections, Depression, Failure, Gardening, General Musings, Guns, Health, Italy, New Zealand, Patagonia, Science Fiction, Society, Survival, Travel, Wales, Writing stuff | Tags: Alwyn, Alzheimer's, Argentina, bipolar, blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, depression, direct publishing, feedback, gardening, guns, Habaneros, health, Her Final Year, hospice, Italy, jim downey, John Bourke, Legacy Bookbindery, literature, New Zealand, Patagonia, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, travel, Wales, writing
This will probably come across as a little brag-y. Sorry about that. Not my intention.
The other day I got a phone call. For Legacy Art. The gallery we closed May 31, 2004. Yeah, more than ten years ago.
And after I got through abusing the telemarketer over this point, I got to thinking about the many changes in the last decade.
First thing I should say up front: I’m at a low point in my bipolar cycle, as I’ve noted recently. That means that my self-image isn’t all that great. This isn’t a debilitating depressive episode or anything — I’ve managed to continue to work steadily, as well as enjoy the usual aspects of life. So not horrid. But it is sometimes difficult to not focus on the things which haven’t gone well, and my own failings which are often a component of that. And one of those failings is a sense of not accomplishing much, of being lazy, of wasting my time and the time of others.
Anyway. I got to thinking about the changes in the last decade. And surprisingly, more positive things came to mind than negative ones. That fed on itself, and I found myself making a mental list of the accomplishments.
In no particular order or ranking: wrote two books (one of them as co-author). Most of the way done with another. Visited Wales. And Argentina. And New Zealand. And Italy. Wrote several thousand blog posts. Became something of an authority on small caliber ballistics. Wrote several hundred articles and columns for publication. Was the full-time caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s. Have done conservation work on something more than a thousand (that’s just a guess … may be closer to two thousand) books and documents. Made some great hot sauces. Raised, loved, and then said farewell to a great dog. Tried to be a good friend, and husband. Tried to help others when I could.
We all fail. We all have things we’ve done that haunt us in one way or another. Sometimes, those fears and demons overwhelm. Me, at least.
I may or may not be at a turning point in my bipolar cycle. But I’m glad that at least I can think of things I have accomplished. That helps.
Back to work on St. Cybi’s Well.