Almost There

I might have just done the second last pass of proofing and revising The Francesians. The changes I’m making are getting pretty trivial and that’s a good sign that there’s not much left to do. I figure one more week and I’ll be able to call it finished. Then it’s just a matter of the mechanics of preparing the various formats and creating the cover. I estimate that it will be ready for release by the end of this month.

It’s an odd combination of anticipation, impatience and a vague dread. Oh well, it’s not as bad as the first time.-)

rjb

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Update on The Francesians

Public Domain

Public Domain

There’s not much blogging going on here on Green Comet lately. That’s because I’m immersed in proofing and revising the novel, The Francesians. The temptation is to get it over with and put the thing out there, but my sense of duty won’t let me do it. This is the finale of the Green Comet trilogy and I’m responsible for its quality. I don’t have editors and publishers sending me galley proofs for my approval, so I won’t have anyone to blame but myself if it’s not right. I also owe it to my readers, especially the ones who have supported me in this adventure, to give them something worthy of their time.

Thank you for your patience.

rjb

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Bombogenesis

Don’t touch those wires! Photo credit: NOAA – Public domain

New Word of the Day – Bombogenesis

Today’s new word of the day — a form of neologism* — is bombogenesis. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, bombogenesis is a noun meaning the development and intensification of a major storm. It comes from the recent tendency to describe a major storm as a “snow bomb” or “weather bomb.” Lisa Suhey has written an article for the Christian Science Monitor that explains the term bombogenesis and a few others, including blizzard. The weather service has been using bombogenesis for a while, and they even have specific criteria for it, including “when a storm’s area of lowest surface pressure experiences a rapid drop of more than 24 millibars in 24 hours.” Her article also clarifies what makes a blizzard, and it’s not just a lot of snow. To qualify as a blizzard, in addition to a lot of snow, there must be wind-driven snow that reduces visibility to zero for more than three houfs, with wind greater than 35 MPH (56 KPH.)

*I differentiated “new word” from “neologism” because to get into my New Word of the Day series, the word must be in a dictionary as a new word, while a neologism isn’t necessarily in a dictionary yet. It might have just been invented by a witty punster or a schizophrenic.

Has any of my readers ever lived through a snow bomb?

rjb

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Conservatives Distrust Higher Education

Graduation ceremony – Hendrick van der Burgh – Public Domain

There is a growing distrust of higher education among political conservatives. The linked Chronicle of Higher Education article discusses the phenomenon as it pertains particularly to American politics.

A majority of Republicans and right-leaning independents think higher education has a negative effect on the country, according to a new study released by the Pew Research Center on Monday. The same study has found a consistent increase in distrust of colleges and universities since 2010, when negative perceptions among Republicans was measured at 32 percent. That number now stands at 58 percent.

For years, higher education has been viewed favorably by liberals and less so by conservatives, Mr. Gross said, but political controversies in the past year have drawn attention and increased the negative perception. Protests and incidents of speakers being actively opposed or threatened by students are widely reported, he said, and are often one of the few ways in which the general population encounters college campuses.

A change in the demographics of both parties has also influenced the mistrust of colleges, he said. Whereas 50 years ago, the best predictor of conservative alignment was a high level of education, Mr. Hopkins said, “the popular base of the Republican party is less and less white-collar professionals and is more and more white working-class non-college-educated voters.”

It probably makes sense for conservatives to want their supporters to be less well educated. I wonder what they would consider the optimum level of education. Presumably they would want them to be able to read a little, and be able to do some simple arithmetic, but nothing too sophisticated. Check out the linked article for a deeper look.

via Most Republicans Think Colleges Are Bad for the Country. Why? – The Chronicle of Higher Education

rjb

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Drinking Coffee Could Lead to a Longer Life

coffee-longer-life-640

Credit: © iko / Fotolia

What a great article to read while having my morning coffee! And since it says that more is better, I’m going to go get another one. Here, you read the article while I’m gone.

via Drinking coffee could lead to a longer life, scientist says: Whether it’s caffeinated or decaffeinated, coffee is associated with lower mortality, which suggests the association is not tied to caffeine — ScienceDaily

rjb

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Flumen

Steve Willington – WMO

Cloud of the Day – Flumen

Flumen, from the Latin flumen, a noun meaning river, is another of the new cloud types included in the World Meteorological Organization’s fifth edition of their venerable Cloud Atlas, published in 2017. It’s the first new edition in thirty years so there aren’t many opportunities to get a new cloud in.

Flumen are described as bands of low clouds associated with a ‘supercell severe convective storm’ — a form of cumulonimbus — arranged parallel to the low level winds blowing toward the supercell. So the powerful convection of the supercell is drawing air into its base, and the high speed airflow causes a drop in air pressure with the concommitant drop in temperature, allowing condensation and cloud-forming. This explains why flumen form parallel to wind direction.

Kelvinsong – CC-BY-SA

Flumen are associated with supercells, a particularly vigorous form of thunderstorm featuring a mesocyclone, a rotating updraft. These are the clouds that spawn tornadoes. Flumen are very likely to be associated with precipitation, and then some.

rjb

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Using Copyright to Quash Criticism

zillow-mcmansion-effElectronic Frontier Foundation

Kate Wagner runs an architecture criticism blog called McMansion Hell, where she posts pictures and opinions of examples of what she considers poor design. Mostly she criticizes big houses that are meant to appeal buyers’ vanities. A company called the Zillow Group sent her a cease and desist order saying the pictures she was using were protected by copyright and couldn’t be used. She did what most people would do when threatened by the lawyers of a big corporation. She shut down her blog.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. The Electronic Frontier Foundation(EFF) got wind of it and stepped in to defend Ms Wagner against the specious order. They sent a couple of strongly worded letters to Zillow’s lawyers and let them know they weren’t going to get away with their bullying.

EFF staff attorney Daniel Nazer said, “Our client has no obligation to, and thus will not, comply with Zillow’s demands. Zillow’s legal threats are not supported and plainly seek to interfere with protected speech.”

Zillow quickly changed its tune, claiming that they never had any intention of interfering with Ms Wagner’s freedom of expression. They just thought they were protecting the copyright of the owners of the images she was taking from Zillow’s website. The EFF let them know that they were wrong.

EFF’s response called Zillow’s legal complaints “baseless” and its allegations “unfounded and unsupportable” as it laid out a variety of legal arguments for why McMansion Hell and Wagner were not bound by Zillow’s terms of use and why her use of photographs sourced from Zillow are indeed protected by fair use.

The McMansion Hell blog is back up and running and Ms Wagner is breathing easily again. Chalk up another one for the EFF, those heroes who defend our freedoms.

via Zillow drops complaint against ‘McMansion Hell’ blog after backlash over copyright claim – GeekWire

rjb

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Volutus

Mirostaw – World Meteorological Organization

Cloud of the Day – Volutus

Volutus, from the Latin volutus, which means rolled, is a species of cloud (yes, they actually come in species, and genera too) that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently added to the latest edition if its venerable cloud atlas (2017.) It’s described as

a long, horizontal, tube-shaped cloud mass, often appearing to roll about a horizontal axis. It usually occurs as a single line and seldom extends from horizon to horizon.

This species is usually found in the stratocumulus genera, and more rarely in the altocumulus genera. In either case, volutus is rare.

The more observant among you might notice a resemblance to a previous Green Comet Cloud of the Day: Roll cloud. You would be right. It’s the same cloud, only now the WMO has officially included it in the cloud atlas, and given it a Latin name in keeping with the rest of the clouds. The atlas has to have a consistent naming regimen if it’s to be useful for scientific research.

rjb

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NASA Image and Video Library

You might be aware of the website dedicated to the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD.) You can visit the site and see another great picture every day. Some people even set things up so their computer’s desktop image is the APOD changing daily. It’s a NASA website and just one of the ways that organization shares its discoveries with the public. Today I’m going to direct you to another one called the NASA Image and Video Library. They have brought together about sixty of their media archives into one source. Here’s an article on Space.com about the library.

Here are some samples of the images available. They link to the much larger originals. These images are Public Domain.

Let’s start with a spacewalk.

Next the aurora on Jupiter.

The mystery of Saturn.

Here’s one you might recognize: the Helix nebula.

Finally, a bit of space dust.

Happy rummaging.

rjb

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Unglue.it Tops Two Thousand

Unglue.it Logo

At Unglue.it the combined downloads of Green Comet and Parasite Puppeteers have surpassed two thousand. To be exact, today they added up to 2,001. Unglue.it, which I have previously posted about, has been my most reliable outlet. It hasn’t accounted for the most downloads — that would be the Green Comet website itself. It’s not even the most productive external outlet — that would be BitTorrent Bundles. But it is the steadiest and most dependable outside of this website. While BitTorrent Bundles and other places have had big surges early on, they have tailed off to nearly nothing quite quickly. Unglue.it just seems to keep chugging along.

So, that’s another milestone for me and for my books. And it’s another chance for me to shine a light on Unglue.it. It’s also another chance for you to go there and see for yourself. Green Comet and Parasite Puppeteers aren’t the only books there. If you dig around you’ll find plenty of others that are at least as good. I’ve even reviewed a few of them here. You should go over there and download some of them. If you like them you can go back and tell the authors. You can even give them a bit of money to reward their generosity, if you feel like it. That’s the beauty of Unglue.it. They’re freeing books, and giving us a chance to thank the authors at the same time.

A pretty good example of how to share.

rjb

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