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David Tennant Teaches Cellular Biology

I was doing some research this morning and I came across this amazing episode of Secret Universe.  David Tennant, who has done many things but who will always be Dr. Who to me, narrates.

I learned two things this morning: one, cellular biology is much more interesting with fancy CGI, and two, I never want to learn anything again that isn’t taught by The Doctor.

The show is about an hour, but it’s a completely fascinating hour.  I totally recommend taking the time.


Fantasy Circle of Five

Jim Rohn once famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

If that’s true, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could choose those five people?  Wouldn’t you be amazing?  And what if they didn’t even have to be real?

In that spirit, I’ve been tagged by Paige Addams to participate in the Circle of Five challenge.  The rules are that you must list five fantasy (I’m going to assume fictional, rather than the genre) characters that you’d like to spend time with, and that you must pass the challenge on when you’re done.

Here are my five:

1) Nicholaï Hel

The protagonist from the novel Shibumi by Trevanian.  Nicholaï embodies the idea of affecting the world through mastery of oneself.  He survives in a world of violence by seeking tranquility, without confusing peace with being passive.  He is able to spend years on a garden whose full expression will not come in his lifetime and at the same time is a master of the ephemeral arts of romance.  If the Most Interesting Man in the World was a retired spy who could kill you with a plastic comb while contemplating ancient Japanese poetry, he would be Nicholaï.

2) Emile Khadaji

The protagonist from the novel The Man Who Never Missed by Steve Perry.  Over the course of our lives, in small ways and large, we each face choices between our principles and the way we live.  And more often than not, we choose comfort or convenience when we know we should do better.  When we should be better.  Emile does not.  When someone tells you that one person can’t change the world, remember that Emile would ask you why that should make any difference.  The act itself is enough.

3) Death

One of the Endless and the sister of Dream from the comic series The Sandman by Neil Gaiman.  If you’ve read the comics, you already know why Death is listed here.  If you haven’t, imagine for a moment that the embodiment of Death is a woman filled with joy, wit, and compassion, and that by spending time with her you can come to realize that every life is important enough to warrant the attention of the universe itself.

4) Carl

An intelligent automaton from Penny Arcade’s Automata.  More here.  And here.  Though hated, Carl does not hate.  He works to protect a society that largely would see him destroyed and he does it without thanks or reward.  Why?  Because Carl can see the worth of the individual despite the actions of the group and he can separate right and wrong from retaliation and self-interest.  Also, I can’t imagine not wanting to hang out with a robot private detective.  If you can, then we’re veeeery different people.

5) Annie

Annie bears the message that the secret to the universe is gratitude, from the movie happythankyoumoreplease.  More than that, she also knows that accepting the love of others is the same as accepting yourself, and that you can’t truly do one without the other.  Of everyone on this list, Annie is the one that I think the world needs most.

Those are my five.  What are yours?

Consider yourself tagged.


A Winner Is Crowned!

Congratulations to Ed, vanquisher of foes and claimer of books!

Your spoils will arrive shortly, signed by yours truly.  Signature authenticity will be verified by Cher and, in the event that there is any doubt , co-verified by Mojo.  BB used to be on the validation committee, but he tends to nip the corners off the covers as part of his ‘process’.

Even though the contest is over, you can always join the mailing list by clicking the link the sidebar.  After all, isn’t the real prize being notified of free and forthcoming books?

Well, no.  The real prize is a box of actual books that are being mailed to Ed as soon as I deface them with a Sharpie.  But the mailing list is still awesome and you should totally sign up.

Thanks to everyone who entered!


Contest Deadline: Midnight CST Tonight


Two hours to go!

Click here to enter!




My Quarterly Sanity Shipment

For the record, my wife’s sister is a wonderful lady.  But today, she became a wonderful, lovely, and charming lady whose character and intelligence cannot be overstated.  Why?  Because chocolate, that’s why.

Don’t get me wrong, she was terrific before I received my first mail-based truffle bombardment, but there’s something about creamy ganache centers that really highlights her better qualities.  Like her taste in gifts and brother-in-laws, for example.

Of course, setting me up to receive chocolate on a regular basis might have less to do with how wonderful she is and more to do with how annoying I am when I’m out of chocolate, but that’s probably not something I should dwell on.

In any case, if I learned anything today besides who my favorite relative is, it’s that the best Christmas presents are the ones I get ALL YEAR LONG.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my date with a sugar coma.


Dollop of Heaven: June Taylor Jams

I’m officially out of June Taylor Pluot jam.  If you know what I’m talking about, you just made a gasping noise and felt my pain.  If you don’t, then I’m going to suggest, much like your local heroin dealer, that you give it a try.

Watch this:

And then go here.

I mean, you don’t have to.  You could just sit there like some kind of jamless rebel, but what fun is that?



Contest Update:At the Halfway Mark

There’s still plenty of time to join my private army mailing list and win a chance to get this lovely collection of autographed books.  I promise that my laziness will safeguard you from being deluged with mail from me, and that when I can occasionally be arsed to send one out it’ll be for a good reason, like free stuff or a new release.

Don’t forget, the contest ends at midnight on Friday the 25th!  

Click here for details on how to enter.


Working in the Word Mines – Copyright

How do I copyright my work?

This is a popular question in writing communities, and not just among people looking to self-publish.  It also comes up from new authors worried about sending out short fiction to magazines, posting snippets on their blogs, or even before sending out novels to agents.  Fortunately, it has the best possible answer.

Don’t worry about it, you’re already covered.

From the horse’s mouth, aka the U.S. Copyright Office official FAQ:

When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Do I have to register with your office to be protected?
No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.

Piece of cake.  You’re covered for your entire lifetime, plus 70 years after your death.  Personally, even as a holder of copyright myself, I feel that’s a bit much.  If you’re interested in why and what the downsides are for these extremely long copyright terms, take a minute to listen to the entertaining and eloquent CGPGrey on the topic:


Blatant Bribery Without Remorse

Here’s the deal.  I am, without a doubt, the least organized writing guy in the world.  Among my many failings is the fact that I announce time sensitive stuff on my blog.  Or worse, put on a promotion and fail to announce it anywhere.  I have been informed that this is not super helpful.

I suppose you could stalk me to fix this, but as they say on the internet, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”  Also, there’s only room for a couple of people to peer through my office window at a time anyway.

So, in the spirit of being less crap about this kind of thing, I’m announcing the following contest:

At midnight on Friday, January 25th, I will pick one person from my mailing list at random and send them the three books pictured above.  I will even render them slightly used by scrawling my signature inside.

Once on the list, you can expect to hear from my lazy ass very rarely.  I’ll send out a notice when I do a free promotion, which is about once a quarter, and whenever something new is going to come out.  That’s pretty much it.  I’m not a fan of being bombarded with sales stuff, and I know you aren’t either.  That said, I would like people to know I’m doing stuff while they can still get in on it.

To put your hat into the ring, enter your email address at the link below.  Please make sure it’s an address you actually use, because that’s where i’m going to send the winning notification.  Also, note that if you are already on the list, there’s no need to do anything else.  Your name is already in the drawing.

Click here to enter, and good luck!


Worst Design Ever

Loctite is a liquid that you can apply to screw threads to keep them from backing out.  There are two kinds, red and blue.

It’s very, very important that you use the right kind.  Blue isn’t permanent.  With a little force, you can break the seal and remove the screw.  Red will ensure that when the sun burns out, the last two components left on earth will be that screw surrounded by a thin ring of metal threads.

Here’s what the package looks like.  Guess which version this is, red or blue:

That’s right!  Blue!

Way to go, package design guys.