15 Minutes of Fame…

Maybe you saw it?  My thoughts on where COVID-19 is taking us were included in an article collecting visions of SciFi writers in the Boston Globe:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/29/business/it-actually-may-be-end-world-we-know-it/?fbclid=IwAR0793Z4ai4CTXzPaBPDhmtbGPjWOS70XA2TFm69F5DawjhUcg6p2TB3M50

How to make homemade masks more effective…

candicecoverAs there is a shortage of N95 masks that should NOT be hoarded by non-medical care providers, there is a growing movement to make homemade masks.  Such masks are just not as good as the manufactured medical grade masks, but are better than nothing.

As an inventor and technologist, I’ve been thinking for the past several days how to make homemade masks more effective and protective using materials available in many homes or at least easily available at most supermarkets. I believe I have an easy solution. The masks need to be laundered after wearing to maintain cleanliness… but they should be HAND laundered in very hot water using real soap such as Ivory Soap bars then rinsed in dilute white vinegar. This will leave a film of lipids on the fibers as the acetic acid in the vinegar will convert the soap to a chemically neutral lipid that will cling to the fabric. (making the cloth feel softer, a nice bonus) Here’s why this will work to protect the wearer. Corona viruses are spheres of RNA surrounded by a lipid coat. That’s why washing one’s hands with soap and water works, soap tears that lipid coat apart allowing the RNA to be destroyed. The mask fibers treated with real soap and then vinegar will have lipid coatings that will chemically bond to the lipid coating of the virus particles, trapping the virus, FAR better than conventionally washed fabric.

I’ve been asked what fabric they should be made from:  The best choice is smooth tight knit, fuzzy yarn (but NOT terry) white cotton tea toweling.  Avoid dyed and especially print cloth.

Please share this widely. It could save lives.

Download All The Stars Are Suns Free

What to do stuck at home this weekend? How about reading? I’m putting my SciFi novel on a special for #Covid-19 lockdown this weekend. You may download the novel for free starting Friday through Sunday (3/20 – 3/22). I just ask that you write a fair and honest review on Goodreads, LibraryThing, or Amazon (and anywhere else you think might be interested. Please share this offer?
 

Video Review: DEVS

candicecoverThe only good thing that I have to say about this show is that it avoided the silly SciFi trope of using transparent displays.  My take away?  This show is cheezy anti-tech, anti-Silicon Valley agit-prop.

The show kicks off with the juxtaposition of a high tech couple leaving their nice San Francisco apartment, stepping over a homeless man camped literally on their doorstep, exchanging cheery morning greetings by name.  They then take a private commuter bus down the penisula to the over-the-top woodland tech campus with a creepy & cheezy giant, full color, statue of a little girl in modern clothing, which turns out to be the companies brand image and company name.  There is a hint that this is the Founder / CEO’s dead daughter.  And when we met this CEO, for just a moment, we would be forgiven for thinking that this is the same homeless man that was sleeping in the couple’s doorway.

One of the couple is promoted to work on a super secret project in a super protected and shielded bunker like building.  The inner sanctum is covered in what a good technologist would recognize as an oversized representation of a fractal antenna, like what can be found in modern cellphones… save that it fails to maintain the fractal pattern down to the small size that an actual working device would require.  This signals to me that the visual look was borrowed by the Hollywood set designer with no or little clue as to its actual function.  Then one goes into the sealed off room to see what is instantly recognizably an unshielded quantum computer.  This newly promoted employee turns out to be an industry spy who uses his ‘Dick Tracy’ watch, takes pictures of the code.

Bad Move.

He is discovered and murdered by the CEO and his security goon.  Thus, we are told, as if none of the rest of the obvious allusions didn’t, that they are evil.

The murder is covered up and the victim’s girlfriend tries to figure out what happened to him.  Oh… and there’s another reference to tech workers invading space that doesn’t belong to them when she approaches her old boyfriend for help, and they meet up in a bar in the Castro… get it? Heterosexual tech workers use the gay community’s space as if it was theirs.

OK, let’s unpack some of this shall we?  The well off tech workers stepping over the homeless man… pretty obvious huh.  Then the commuter bus, an icon of gentrification of The City that earlier escapees (always willing to shut the door after they get theirs) from the surrounding burbs have protested for raising the cost of rents and then bussing them to Silicon Valley.  This is clearly supposed to represent and demonize facebook and Google, etc.  The disquieting resemblance between the homeless man and the CEO… cute huh?  The list goes on and on.

As someone who grew up in Silicon Valley yet spent much time as a member of the LGBT community in The City my whole life, I can’t find this amusing nor enjoyable.  It’s crapping on everything I hold dear.  It’s a lie write on the small screens that I helped to develop by a Hollywood team that ungratefully uses all of the tech from people like me.  I won’t be watching it further.

Raven’s Roost On The Homestretch

Candice eetimesFor fans of my first novel, All The Stars Are Suns, who have been waiting for the next book in the series, Raven’s Roost, I am nearly finished with the first draft.  Yes, it’s been over two years since I released the first so it may have seemed like I had abandoned it, but I never did.  I’m not writing pot boiler romances.  I’m writing carefully crafted Hard Science Fiction with just a touch of Fantasy style, keeping in mind Clark’s dictum that a sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic.  World building, as well as character and plot development, have taken time to do right (write?).  Another thing that has taken time is to ensure that what I write won’t conflict with the follow on books (at least two more).  There’s nothing more aggravating than an author who can’t keep her own plots and world building straight.

I can’t make any promises, but I hope to release Raven’s Roost by the begining of summer (for all my student fans).

Religious “Liberties” is a Sham

Candice eetimesRecently we have seen a movement to create “Religious Liberty” laws and a Federal Executive Order that are pitched as a protection of individual and group religious groups rights to “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

They are a sham.  Their real aim is to circumvent both the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and anti-discrimination efforts, most notably those laws protecting LGBT people.

The laws and edict are designed to force government to fund religions that discriminate against others who aren’t living up to their religious edicts.  For example, they require that State and Local government to fund private adoption agencies who use “sincerely held religious beliefs” to deny government funded services to same sex married couples, unmarried people, and transsexuals (married or not).  Another example is that they require both private and public schools to fund religious based campus organizations that discriminate against LGBT people nullifying those schools’ and even States’ anti-discrimination rules and laws, under penalty of losing their Federal funding.

Proponents of these so called “liberties” laws claim this is to protect the right to believe and worship as they chose.  BOLLOCKS !

No one has lost the right to believe, or worship as they chose when a law disallows FUNDING for a group that discriminates against others. But when the government denies funding to an institution for DEFENDING the rights of people against discrimination, or of nullifying anti-discrimination laws by requiring funding of religious based organizations, that is a form of both discrimination and of establishing the power of religion to demand funding from taxpayers in the face of that institution, local government, or State’s “sincerely held beliefs / values” of non-discrimination. Thus in essence, this is not about religious “liberty”… but about bigoted people’s ability to use government power in the name of religion as means to empower themselves and their religion over others.

True religious liberty doesn’t demand this power. True religious liberty in history demanded that government NOT allow this kind of power. Historically, in many of the colonies, and then the States, said polities had laws that demanded that everyone had to tithe to the government sanctioned (both meanings of the word intended) church, no way around it even if others attended another church or no church at all. Some colonies and townships even fined people if they didn’t attend said church. When the authors of the Bill of Rights wrote about Freedom of Religion, that is exactly what they were talking about, the power of the government to force monetary support for a religion that they themselves didn’t believe in and were often mistreated by.

Today, these so called “Religious Liberty” laws are a de facto means of using the power of the government to demand that monies, specifically public taxes be used to empower churches that mistreat others in the same (but sneaky) way that the Bill of Rights was meant to disallow forever.

Fight for our Bill of Rights. Don’t be fooled.

Video Review: Star Trek: Picard

With only two episodes released, it may be early to give a serious review but there are things I feel I can comment upon.

First, Wow… this is so much better than Discovery!

Some things I like, it expands the canon rather than messing with it.  The dialog feels better.  What violence exists moves the plot rather than the other way around.  In just two episodes, we have been introduced to both the longer term plot and to interesting characters, with the promise of more to come.

But there are some silly tropes that I reacted very negatively to.

First is the horrendously dumb visual trope of transparent displays.  As a display technologist and inventor, this just bugs me and I’ve explained why before, but the second episode really demonstrated why its so dumb.  In one scene we have a double agent spy master with open windows viewing a video call on a transparently projected virtual screen with an incredibly low contrast because one can see the brightly lit view of the sunny view outside the window competing with the image on the screen.  Please, please, can we dump this dumb trope?  It’s as dated as silver lame clothing as a SciFi movie trope.

Next is the anachronistic presence of a mid-20th Century lamp shade in a Star Fleet office.  What would a spy master’s minimalist office decor be doing with such lamp shades in the late 24th Century?  Design usually follows function and technology. The modern lamp shade is a late 19th Century invention that came about because of the introduction of bright filament incandescent light bulbs.  Yes, we saw lots of such lamps and shades in Picard’s home.  But then, he is an antiquarian living in a home filled with antiques.  They made sense there.  But not elsewhere

What also didn’t work for me is Picard’s vineyard.  Amazing how much France looks like California’s wine country, complete with dry wild oats between the rows and a California live oak visible in the distance.  Perhaps I’m the only one who even noticed, but it pulled me right out of the story seeing my local wine country being used as a set for France.

Finally, why antagonize the SciFi reading audience with Picard, who is one to read Shakespeare, who refered to Azimov’s robot series as “the classics”, saying that he didn’t “get” science fiction?